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Comparing The Conferences

The Pac-12 has been suffering through a long dark period. The Big Ten has been dominant (at least in the pre-conference schedule) for the last few years. Should we expect a change this year? Is the Pac-12’s slump over? Is the Big Ten’s boom about to come to an end? Let’s take a quick look at some basic roster data and see if we can uncover any trends.

Part of predicting the season is noting the number of elite high school prospects on each roster. Not only are these players more likely to play well as freshmen, but they are also more likely to breakout later in their career. Recall, for example, Michael Snaer of Florida St. Snaer was a former Top 20 recruit, and while it took him three seasons, he broke out in a big way in 2011-12. After adding up the numbers…

- The Big East has the most former RSCI Top 100 prospects on rosters heading into the season with 58.

- But the Big East has more teams, and the Big East has only 3.9 elite recruits per team. The ACC has the most former Top 100 recruits per team with 4.6 per team.

- But James McAdoo is the only former Top 10 prospect in the ACC this season. That seems like an unprecedented lack of super-elite talent for the conference. If you want super elite talent, you probably want to watch the SEC, assuming everyone is declared academically eligible. John Calipari never lets us down on the recruiting trail.

- The SEC, however, is only welcoming ten Top 100 freshmen this year as a whole. Even the Big Ten, the land of typically poor recruiting, is welcoming more Top 100 freshmen than the SEC this season. And yes, the slumping Pac-12 brings in quite a few elite recruits this year.

Conf

T10

T100

T100 Fr

ACC

1

55

22

BE

1

58

17

SEC

4

49

10

B10

1

40

15

B12

3

33

11

P12

3

37

15

MWC

1

15

5

A10

0

11

3

The next table isn’t really roster data, but it does reflect some of my preliminary projections about playing time.

- The ACC is going to be the youngest conference in the nation this year, according to my projections.

- The Big East has a startlingly low number of key seniors on rosters this year.

- As usual, the MWC and A10 have more mature rosters. They lose fewer players to the NBA and that helps the top MWC and A10 teams compete, even without a plethora of blue chip talent.

Class

Sr%

Jr%

So%

Fr%

MWC

35%

30%

17%

17%

A10

33%

27%

19%

21%

P12

28%

32%

18%

22%

B12

32%

19%

26%

23%

BE

22%

32%

27%

19%

B10

27%

26%

23%

24%

SEC

25%

28%

24%

22%

ACC

25%

22%

23%

31%

The Pac-12 is getting older in a hurry, thanks in no small part to an influx of transfers. Note that your transfer numbers may vary slightly. I’m excluding transfer walk-ons and a few JUCOs who seem unlikely to play in the next table.

Incoming Transfers

D1

JUCO+

P12

15

8

SEC

10

11

BE

14

6

MWC

7

5

B12

7

5

A10

8

3

ACC

3

3

B10

5

1

The transfer table doesn’t mean the Pac-12 has suddenly become the conference of transfers. This is all a natural consequence of recent league history. The Pac-12 teams have struggled the last few years making those teams particularly attractive places for transfers to matriculate. If you want to transfer and PLAY in an elite league, you would have chosen the Pac-12 too.  On the other hand, the Big Ten has been on an upswing and few coaches have needed to dip into the JUCO ranks as a quick fix. Deverell Biggs of Nebraska is currently the only incoming JUCO player projected for the Big Ten this year.

Overall, the Pac-12 was a depleted league, but it is adding a number of impact freshmen and key transfers this year. The days of the league failing to field a Top 25 team are over. As for the Big Ten, the jury is still out. The teams at the top still have plenty of talent, but programs like Purdue could be in for a bit of a slip without an influx of can’t miss players coming in.

2012 SEC Power Rankings

The dominance of Kentucky was evident enough simply by watching five minutes of any game, with the talent and athleticism gap being massive. A team built around John Calipari’s bench players is probably a Sweet 16 team on its own. 

But the purely statistical, objective outlook also bears that out. Kentucky was the only team in college basketball to exceed an average FIC differential over 30.0, a difficult feat.

In order to determine our team rankings, we calculate the difference between a team's own FIC per game and their opponents' FIC for the entire conference season.

The FIC is a single statistical measurement that encompasses things such as scoring efficiency, rebounding, blocked shots, etc. Its purpose is to combine the box score into one statistic, both on a team level and for players.

1. Kentucky: 31.97  
2. Vanderbilt: 9.01  
3. Alabama: 6.63  
4. Florida: 6.13  
5. Tennessee: 3.75  
6. Mississippi State: -0.76  
7. Ole Miss: -1.39  
8. Georgia: -5.72  
9. LSU: -5.84  
10. Auburn: -9.87  
11. Arkansas: -12.24  
12. South Carolina: -21.67

Who Is Hot, Who Is Not

Many people believe the season is won (or lost) in February. Some teams get better, the rest get left in the rear view mirror.

But looking at win-loss records in the Last 10 can be misleading because of different schedule strengths. Here are the teams whose opponent adjusted margin-of-victory numbers are trending in the right direction:

ChOff = Change in Adjusted Offense From January 31st to February 27th

ChDef = Change in Adjusted Defense From January 31st to February 27th (I changed the sign so that positive is good.)

TotalCh = Change in Offense plus Change in Defense

Rank = Monday’s Pomeroy Rank

Rank

Team

ChOff

ChDef

TotalCh

131

TCU

5.9

0.2

6.1

65

Tennessee

5.1

0.1

5.2

32

Notre Dame

4.6

0.4

5.0

72

Oregon

4.9

-0.9

4.0

22

Belmont

1.5

2.4

3.9

113

Georgia

2.2

1.3

3.5

14

Memphis

2.6

0.8

3.4

3

Michigan St.

1.1

2.1

3.2

67

Clemson

1.6

1.5

3.1

8

Wichita St.

4.0

-1.0

3.0

Perhaps TCU won’t be a cellar-dweller in the Big 12 next year after all. After beating New Mexico on Saturday, TCU is one of the most improved teams in the nation over the last month. Notre Dame’s losing streak may have come to an end at St. John’s, but February was still a very good month for the Irish. And Michigan St. has staked its claim as one of the top teams in the nation.

Here are some teams trending the wrong direction:

Rank

Team

ChOff

ChDef

TotalCh

41

St. Mary's

-2.9

-3.1

-6.0

111

Arkansas

0.1

-4.5

-4.4

2

Ohio St.

1.2

-5.3

-4.1

70

Wyoming

-3.5

-0.6

-4.1

63

Illinois

-0.3

-3.7

-4.0

91

Oregon St.

-1.8

-2.0

-3.8

39

Creighton

0.4

-4.1

-3.7

81

Mississippi St.

-0.7

-2.9

-3.6

29

Florida St.

-2.2

-1.2

-3.4

30

UNLV

-2.4

-1.0

-3.4

77

Virginia Tech

0.6

-4.0

-3.4

18

Baylor

-2.5

-0.9

-3.4

Here are some teams that are surging on offense, but whose defense has slipped recently:

Rank

Team

ChOff

ChDef

TotalCh

28

Purdue

4.9

-2.2

2.7

51

St. Bonaventure

4.0

-1.8

2.2

49

Iona

3.8

-4.6

-0.8

86

Old Dominion

3.6

-1.1

2.5

46

Drexel

3.5

-4.1

-0.6

43

Seton Hall

3.4

-1.9

1.5

103

Mississippi

3.2

-2.3

0.9

56

Northwestern

3.1

-1.3

1.8

And here are some teams that are surging on defense, but haven’t seen enough offensive improvement to make a big jump in the Pomeroy Rankings:

Rank

Team

ChOff

ChDef

TotalCh

69

South Florida

-3.2

5.6

2.4

62

Davidson

-0.5

2.9

2.4

128

Butler

0.1

2.6

2.7

127

UTEP

-0.8

2.5

1.7

145

Valparaiso

-1.9

2.5

0.6 

So much for Travon Woodall salvaging Pitt’s season.  The Panthers offense continues to trend in the wrong direction.  Here are the teams with sagging offense that are not listed above:

Rank

Team

ChOff

ChDef

TotalCh

90

Pittsburgh

-4.1

0.9

-3.2

52

UCLA

-3.6

1.7

-1.9

15

New Mexico

-3.6

1.6

-2.0

112

Richmond

-3.5

2.0

-1.5

17

Florida

-3.0

0.4

-2.6

100

Oklahoma

-3.0

-0.3

-3.3 

And here are the teams whose defense has gone in the tank:

Rank

Team

ChOff

ChDef

TotalCh

26

Texas

2.2

-3.8

-1.6

98

Georgia St.

2.5

-3.5

-1.0

5

Wisconsin

1.3

-3.3

-2.0

116

Manhattan

1.0

-2.9

-1.9

96

Rutgers

2.9

-2.7

0.2

Trends can be reversed in a moment.  A breakout player will lead to a boost in offense until the scouting reports catch up.  Thus I wouldn’t necessarily believe these are permanent changes.  But if you believe that teams that get better in February win in March, these lists provide plenty of ammunition.

The SECís Most Prolific Offensive Players

When you evaluate breakout players, donít just look at the per-game totals. Look at why the players improved. And when they are more efficient and more aggressive, give them the extra praise they deserve.

Freshmen Bring Hope

Teams that play a lot of freshmen are the most likely to improve as the season goes on, while those with a lot of experience are more likely to plateau. In this piece, we examine freshmen minutes for every major school in the country.

SEC Prospect Watch List

The SEC has three of the top-four freshmen in the country in Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist and Bradley Beal to go with sophomores Patric Young and Terrence Jones.

Conference Rankings (End Of Jan. Edition)

As we have commonly seen in recent seasons, the Big East has been the deepest conference in the country.

 

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