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Tempo Free Predictions For MVC/WCC

Last week VCU joined the A10 which provided the perfect opportunity to present my “way-too-early” projections for the A10 and CUSA. But what should be the lead for a column on the MVC and WCC?

I thought about writing about how the Missouri Valley Conference keeps missing out. VCU stole Wichita St.’s thunder in the NCAA tournament and the A10 added Butler before the MVC even contemplated expansion. I thought about writing about how the West Coast Conference has been strictly boring this off-season. There have been zero coaching changes, and no team shuffling (Pacific won’t join until next year). And as great as he looked in his debut, BYU’s Matt Carlino is no Jimmer Fredette. Still nothing inspired me.

Then I ran into Luke Winn’s Tuesday column on conference realignment. The first thing that struck me is how the WCC is now a Top 10 conference. The eight teams in the WCC in 2010-2011 had a 10-year Pythagorean Winning Percentage (PWP) of 0.5346. The conference added BYU with a 10-year PWP of 0.8266 and Pacific with a 10-year PWP of 0.5704. Combined the new 10 team 10-year PWP will be 0.5674 which would put the league behind the A10 but firmly in the Top 10 of college conferences. And the MVC was already in the top 10. If you care about college basketball, there is no question you should care about these two leagues.

For an explanation of the column headings, click here. Roster information is updated through May 14th.

WCC

PW

PL

P%

FrP%

T10Fr

N100

Total

NC

RV

MOV12

Gonzaga

14

2

74%

29%

0

0

1

N

1.012

0.869

Brigham Young

12

4

69%

31%

0

0

0

N

0.959

0.786

St. Mary's

11

5

66%

10%

0

0

0

N

1.000

0.813

San Diego

8

8

87%

47%

0

0

0

N

1.001

0.382

L. Marymount

7

9

62%

10%

0

0

0

N

0.982

0.544

Santa Clara

6

10

99%

30%

0

0

0

N

1.015

0.248

Portland

5

11

71%

39%

0

0

0

N

1.025

0.228

San Francisco

5

11

30%

2%

0

0

0

N

1.005

0.550

Pepperdine

4

12

39%

19%

0

1

1

N

1.006

0.203

BYU returns a respectable 69% of its possessions from last year, but the Relative Value (RV) column shows that BYU’s returning roster is made up of the least efficient offensive players on the team. Goodbye Noah Hartsock. It was a nice run Charles Abouo. Some people will miss the memories from their Sweet Sixteen run in 2011, but what BYU will really miss is their offensive efficiency. So why does the model still pick BYU for 2nd in the league? First, Dave Rose gets some lingering credit. Rose has now made the NCAA tournament six straight years and my model accounts for coaching ability.  And BYU also gave a lot of possessions to freshmen last year.

San Diego is my ultimate sleeper team. Fully 47% of the Toreros possessions last season went to freshmen and while that led to some growing pains for Bill Grier’s team, Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson have the potential to be special players. Dee made 79 threes last season and Anderson got to the free throw line at an elite rate. Combine their perimeter play with the efficient play of Dennis Kramer inside and you have the building blocks for a surprise team. San Diego struggled on the full season last year posting a 13-18 record and posting miserable Margin-of-Victory numbers (MOV). But by the time the WCC season rolled around San Diego was already playing better basketball. The Toreros finished 7-9 in league play and the growth potential for this team remains significant.

Rex Walters seemed like he might be building something at San Francisco, but the team has seen a number of players transfer. Perris Blackwell, Avery Johnson, Khalil Murphy, Justin Raffington, Charles Standifer, and Michael Williams all departed putting the Dons squarely in rebuilding mode. Luckily UCLA transfer De’End Parker should be eligible due to a family medical hardship waiver.

Team

PW

PL

P%

FrP%

T10Fr

N100

Total

NC

RV

MOV12

Creighton

14

4

81%

12%

0

0

1

N

1.013

0.826

Northern Iowa

12

6

88%

27%

0

0

0

N

1.005

0.704

Wichita St.

12

6

29%

8%

0

1

1

N

0.934

0.923

Illinois St.

11

7

83%

7%

0

0

0

Y

1.009

0.714

Missouri St.

9

9

48%

6%

0

0

0

N

1.019

0.663

Drake

7

11

55%

18%

0

0

0

N

1.021

0.539

Evansville

7

11

70%

11%

0

0

0

N

0.996

0.614

Indiana St.

7

11

38%

6%

0

0

0

N

1.042

0.542

Southern Illinois

7

11

65%

18%

0

0

0

Y

0.986

0.325

Bradley

4

14

76%

13%

0

0

0

N

0.981

0.235 

How is Gregg Marshall still at Wichita St.? After taking Winthrop to three straight NCAA tournaments and earning the rare NCAA victory at the Big South school, all he did was turn Wichita St. into a top 10 margin-of-victory team. I am more than a little skeptical that Wichita St. can finish 12-6 in a year in which the team loses 5 key seniors. But Carl Hall and Demetric Williams are back, and the model gives Marshall a ton of credit for building teams. The last three years the Shockers have finished 12-6, 14-4, and 16-2 in the MVC, and that is the track record of an elite coach. But 7 footers like Garrett Stutz don’t grow on trees, and I’m nervous that his defensive presence will be impossible to replace.

The model is very pleased to see Barry Hinson check in at Southern Illinois. It might take some time to rebuild the Salukis, but the former Missouri St. coach has won in this league before and he will win again. It is hard to believe a Saluki team that once dominated the league hasn’t won 7 conference games since 2009. By focusing on defense, Hinson will have Southern Illinois more competitive in his first year.

Speaking of elite coaches, Ben Jacobson is only two years away from his Farokhmanesh moment, and he brings back every rotation player except Johnny Moran this off-season. Northern Iowa will clearly be a factor. But Doug McDermott is back and that is pretty much all you need to know to be excited about Creighton. The Blue Jays will be the favorite even if last year’s defense was a little suspect.

 

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