Back now with Part Two of the Big East Preview. In case you missed Part One, you can find it at this link. If you want more details on the factors I'm using, you can check it out here.
The data I used is taken from Pomeroy's site, where I extracted conference data only and worked with that. As a reminder, the factors under consideration were:
- A team that underperformed or overperformed based on last year's stats
- Consistency (or Inconsistency) of the team last year
- Quality of Junior and Senior players (Using data provided by Villanova by the Numbers and then modified)
- Regression of a team towards 0.500
- Quality of incoming players based on RSCI
Projections are forecasts based on limited data. They are inherently inaccurate. Don't focus too much on any predictions regarding specific Wins/Losses or where the selected team is ranked in the preview. The most important value (IMO) is in the areas that I regard as statistical outliers, or where a team may have a red flag or potential bonus.
Clear? Onto the preview
Competing for a BET first round bye
The next six teams are all fairly close, and I'd expect each team to be somewhat in contention for a spot in the top four
#8 - Syracuse
- 2007 Results - underperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Syracuse (9-9), should have finished with a record of 9.9 - 8.1.
- Consistency - Modest impact. Syracuse was one of the more consistent teams in conference last year.
- Quality of Returning Starters - limited impact. Syracuse returns relatively few junior and senior minutes. They also lost Donte Green but will gain productivity from the return of both Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins.
- Expected Regression - They were at 0.500 last year, so no impact
- Incoming Freshmen -Syracuse welcomes 6'7 WF Kris Joseph to a team that was already young and talented. Bonus
#7 - Notre Dame
- 2007 Results - Significant Overperformer. Based on their stats in conference, Notre Dame (14-4), should have finished with a record of 11.7 - 6.3. Red Flag
- Consistency - Modest impact. Notre Dame was one of the more consistent teams in conference last year, which means that I don't attribute their overperformance to inconsistency.
- Quality of Returning Starters - Significant Impact. Notre Dame returns one of the highest percentages of Junior and Senior minutes, as well as last year's BE POY, Floppy McFlopperson. Bonus
- Expected Regression - Significant impact. Based on their win % last year, Notre Dame should feel some pull back towards 0.500. Red Flag
- Incoming Freshmen - No Impact
#6 - Pittsburgh
- 2007 Results - underperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Pittsburgh (10-8), should have finished with a record of 10.7 - 7.3. Of course, some of this was due to the injury suffered by Levance Fields.
- Consistency - No impact. Pitt was just slightly more inconsistent than league average.
- Quality of Returning Starters - limited impact. Although they return most of their players, relatively few of those players are junior and senior returning minutes. (This obviously changes if Mike Cook is granted an 8th year of eligibility). Pitt's on the wrong side of league average.
- Expected Regression - No impact
- Incoming Freshmen - Pittsburgh brings in 6'5 WF Nasir Robinson (#81). Too bad he's not from New York City. I bet you didn't know that Pitt gets a lot of players from NYC. Jamie Dixon also added solid backcourt performer Travon Woodall who should take some of the minutes vacated by the departed Keith Benjamin and Ronald Ramon. Bonus
#5 - Georgetown
- 2007 Results - Significant overperformer. Based on their stats in conference, Georgetown (15-3), should have finished with a record of 13.7 - 4.3. This is just using math to say what everyone in conference knows... Georgetown got lucky last year against West Virginia, Villanova, and even Marquette. Red Flag
- Consistency - Modest impact. Georgetown was one of the more consistent teams in conference last year
- Quality of Returning Starters - Modest impact. I know you're thinking that Georgetown lost everyone from that team (Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace, Little Rivers, Little Ewing, and Vernon Macklin). However, even though they're on the low side of league average for returning junior and senior minutes, they're not at the bottom of the league.
- Expected Regression - Significant impact. There should be a strong pull on Georgetown's win percentage. Red Flag
- Incoming Freshmen - Fresh off of the 07 recruiting class that was top 10 RSCI, Georgetown brings in FOUR players in the RSCI Top 100 list, but can the kids step in and immediately replace the veteran production from last season? JTIII will also welcome 6'10" FSU transfer Julian Vaughn to campus this fall. Bonus
#4 - West Virginia
- 2007 Results - underperformed. Based on their stats in conference, West Virginia (11-7), should have finished with a record of 11.5 - 6.5.
- Consistency - Significant impact. West Virginia was one of the more inconsistent teams in conference last year. Just as mentioned with Providence, this is a red flag, but possible bonus. If Year 2 of the Huggins Experience results in the 'Eers playing more consistently, then that's a boost. Red Flag (but possible bonus)
- Quality of Returning Starters - Modest impact. Yes, I know that West Virginia lost Joe Alexander and Darris Nichols. However, West Virginia still returns one of the higher percentages of Junior and Senior minutes.
- Expected Regression - Limited impact
- Incoming Freshmen - The late addition of former IU signee Devin Ebanks (#22) to go with Kevin Jones (#49) are big reasons why WVU could surprise to the upside this year. Bonus
#3 - Marquette
- 2007 Results - underperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Marquette (11-7), should have finished with a record of 11.3 - 6.7.
- Consistency - Significant impact. Marquette was the most inconsistent teams in conference last year. We even covered it in some depth on this site. Just as mentioned with West Virginia, this is a red flag, but possible bonus. The big question is if experience will result in more consistency, or if the inconsistency is a result of a guard-heavy roster. I hope it's the former, but fear it's the latter. Red Flag (but possible bonus)
- Quality of Returning Starters - Significant impact. Three 1,000 point scorers and a junior in Lazar Hayward that was among the league's most improved players last year. Bonus
- Expected Regression - Limited impact
- Incoming Freshmen - No impact. No offense to Chris Otule, but there are no incoming players on the RSCI Top 100 list. However, there is hope that new juco players Joe Fulce and Jimmy Butler will provide solid contributions.
Truth is, this team underachieved in the regular season last year, yet it returns every meaningful player and introduces a few potentially useful spare parts. Despite coaching turnover, this mix should equate to more wins despite the overall improvement of the Big East across the board. MU has the veteran backcourt that coaches crave, admirable depth, and the seasoning of three straight NCAA appearances.
If this team significantly underachieves with all of their experience and talent, I could care less how good of a recruiter Buzz Williams is. No matter how good the incoming talent will be starting in 2009, Marquette will take a significant step back after losing McNeal, James, and Matthews. Anyone else not that interested in two disappointing years? That puts the pressure on performing well in 2008 - 2009.
The Top Two
I think these two teams will be the class of the Big East next year:
#2 - Connecticut
- 2007 Results - Overperformed. Based on their stats in conference, UConn (13-5), should have finished with a record of 12.3-5.7. Chalk one up to the Hall of Fame coach.
- Consistency - No impact. UConn was about league average
- Quality of Returning Starters. UConn returns the highest percentage of Junior and Senior experience in the league. Bonus
- Expected Regression. Some regression expected, but not significant
- Incoming Freshmen. UConn brings in the 6'1 PG Kemba Walker (#24) and 6'6 WG Nate Miles (#60) to another team that was good and now has a lot of experience. In particular look for point guard Kemba Walker to start fast as coach Jim Calhoun waits for A.J. Price to make a full recovery from knee surgery. Also, Miles can really play and will make UConn fans quickly forget the (for now) departed Stanley Robinson. Bonus
#1 - Louisville
- 2007 Results - Underperformed. Based on their stats in conference, Louisville (14-4), should have finished with a record of 14.9 - 3.1. Injuries surely played a role
- Consistency - Louisville was one of the most consistent teams in the league, which helps when you're good. Bonus
- Quality of Returning Starters. Again, UL returns one of the highest number of Junior and Senior minutes. Bonus
- Expected Regression. Significant regression expected. Red flag
- Incoming Freshmen. Louisville brings in the RSCI #5 player, PF Samardo Samuels, to a loaded and experienced team. Bonus
- Wildcard: Derrick Caracter. Who knows what to expect from this talented yet troubled collegian. For now, he's factored out of the equation.
Again, the focus is more on the potential bonus or red flag areas for each team, instead of the projected wins/losses or projected final ranking. Any of the teams from #3 through #9 could realistically fit in any random order. Besides, if I could accurately model results, I'd be typing this from my own private desert island.
Thanks to NYWarrior for his additional contributions. Finally, want to review the data in depth? Here is a link to the spreadsheet. (The file opens up automatically)