Late last night, CBS Sports' Matt Norlander discovered that the KenPom.com preseason rankings had gone live. Now, we could go on and on about the top five (Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, Arizona), or the preseason favorite in all the notable conferences, or the top ranked adjusted offenses or defenses.
But that's not why you're reading a Marquette blog, is it?
The Golden Eagles start the season at #86 on the KenPom system. For the purposes of context: Marquette finished 2013-14 at #76.
A tumble backwards is to be expected. Marquette has no reliable offensive quantities to help drive the efficiency ratings (where MU is ranked #107 to start the season), like say, a Frank Kaminsky helping Wisconsin to a #4 AdjO rating. Well, I suppose that's not completely true, as Matt Carlino has a deep track record, but he's most likely going to play a lot more than 67% of minutes he got at BYU last year. The same mostly goes for Marquette's experience on the defensive end (ranked #64), although Derrick Wilson finished last year ranked #393 in Steal Rate. You can plot in expected player growth from year to year, but Marquette's success this season will largely ride on almost every single player exceeding the statistical expectation for their growth. Add to the top of this that with a rookie head coach, there's essentially no model as to a rough expectation of how a Steve Wojciechowski team will perform.
Enough about that, though. I suppose you're wondering where this slots MU in the Big East? #86 is ninth, as in second to last, and one notch behind Seton Hall at #85. DePaul brings up the rear at #197, and a wide swath of the conference is somewhere between #22 (Georgetown) and #67 (Butler). Unsurprisingly, Villanova is the preseason favorite at #9. Here's the interesting thing, though: Nova (13-5) and Georgetown (12-6) are regarded as the top teams, but everyone else except for DePaul is either 10-8, 9-9, or 8-10. Marquette finds themselves a part of a four-pack of teams expected to finish one game under .500.
As far as season long projections go, the Pythagorean expectation is that Marquette will go 15-13 this season. That doesn't include MU's two yet unscheduled games as part of the Orlando Classic. Can't put them on the schedule as a prediction when you don't know the opponent, y'know? An individual count of the predicted wins has Marquette at 16-12. If you consider any game between 45% and 55% chance of winning as a coin toss type of prediction without any stats to back this up at this point, then MU has just two of those types of games on the slate: Georgia Tech in the Orlando Classic (53%) and St. John's at home (52%), both marked as wins right now.
Agree or disagree? Is it a fair starting point for the Golden Eagles, or is the algorithm missing something?