We’ve passed another waypoint on the way to the start of the 2016-17 college basketball season, as KenPom.com released their preseason rankings on Sunday evening.
KenPom.com is perhaps the most popular purveyor of advanced metrics when it comes to college basketball, and it’s one of my favorite sites on the internet that doesn’t have a picture of an eagle with a black bar over its eyes in the top corner. If you’ve ever seen anything on this site that’s been talking about fancy math or tempo free statistics, the basis of that has come from KenPom.
Enough preamble. You want to know where Marquette is ranked, right? YOUR Golden Eagles come in at #47, which, yes, by the way, is seven spots better than they were in last year’s preseason rankings. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you have two sophomore guards expected to play big minutes instead of two freshman guards expected to play big minutes.
KenPom does full season and game by game predictions as well. The algorithm projects Marquette to go 18-11 overall this season and 9-9 in the Big East. That overall record is missing one game from the slate as you can only predict games that are known and we won’t know who Marquette will play in their second 2K Classic game in Madison Square Garden until the first two games are completed. That is, interestingly, pretty much the exact same record that was predicted for Marquette a year ago when the system pegged the Golden Eagles at 19-11 and 9-9 in Big East play.
That’s just the full season prediction, by the way. If you add up the game by game numbers, you get 17-12 overall and 9-9 in the Big East. That’s a pretty decent variance from the full season projection, and it just means that MU gets to 18 wins by rounding up their average number of wins when you simulate the season enough times. There are eight games on the schedule where KenPom gives Marquette somewhere between a 40% and a 60% chance to win, and those games are essentially coin toss picks and/or one possession games. They could really go either way, at least without any hard data backing up the numbers before the season starts.
Seven teams in the Big East are in the top 50 in the country to start the season, and yes, Marquette is the seventh and final squad. However, MU has a leg up on both #5 Creighton and #6 Seton Hall because both their preseason offensive and defensive ratings are in the top 50. The Bluejays have a defensive mark in the 50s, while the Pirates are in the 50s on offense. If the Golden Eagles finish the season with offensive and defensive efficiencies in the 40s, both will be the best marks posted by Marquette since Steve Wojciechowski took over as head coach. Heck, finishing top 60 would be a best for the defense, while the offense only needs to be top 110 to be the best team Wojo has coached.