As I promised in April, I will continue to provide some of the details of what goes into projecting next year’s standings. Excluding walk-ons and players that never played, I currently have removed 177 graduates, 31 early entrants, and 31 transfers/dismissals from BCS rosters this off-season. On the whole, that’s a lot of turnover for most programs.


Minutes Lost

St. John's




Boston College




Texas Tech








Penn St.


Virginia Tech


With Dwayne Polee’s decision to transfer, St. John’s returns just one player who played meaningful minutes last year, Malik Stith. But Texas is not in much better shape, returning just two rotation players, Alexis Wangmene and J’Covan Brown. And not only did Boston College lose a ton of players to graduation, Reggie Jackson is an early entrant in the NBA draft.

When you look at numbers like these, it is easy to wonder how we can predict anything about next season. Schools like Texas and Kansas are clearly going to be relevant in the national title picture, but projecting individual players is virtually impossible. Often, the best we can do is look at a coach’s past performance and assume he will continue past trends. A few schools have lost very few players so far:


Minutes Lost





North Carolina
















Note: I am ignoring walk-ons and players who barely saw the floor in these tables.

Frank Haith is walking into a dream situation at Missouri. He inherits an NCAA team with all the key players back except Justin Safford. But the Miami team he left also brings back everyone except Adrian Thomas.

Tempo Free Predictions

Basketball statisticians have clearly established that “minutes lost” are a good predictor of whether teams will fall in the standings the following year. But I like to take it a step further and weight by the quality of the player’s lost. Specifically, I use the possession-weighted tempo free stats of departing players to project a negative impact on each team.

The next step in the process will be to project the impact of transfers and new recruits, but…

I am NOT including elite recruits in these projections yet.

These projections basically assume every team brings in a bunch of three star freshmen and upgrades current backups into the starting lineup. I am saving a discussion on the impact of the elite recruits until the middle of the summer. If you’ve been following the recaps of the McDonald’s All-American game and Nike Hoops Summit, you can pretty easily pick out the teams that will jump up in the projected standings once the elite freshmen are included. (I’m looking at you Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Duke, Texas, Baylor, ect.) But this week I want to illustrate how the standings are impacted now that we have a better sense of early entrants AND player’s transferring out.

Let’s start in the Big Ten, a league where recruiting is not vitally important for projecting the league standings next season:

Big Ten

  1. 1. Ohio St.
  2. 2. Michigan
  3. 3. Wisconsin
  4. 4. Michigan St.
  5. 5. Purdue
  6. 6. Northwestern
  7. 7. Indiana
  8. 8. Minnesota
  9. 9. Illinois
  10. 10. Nebraska
  11. 11. Iowa
  12. 12. Penn St.

Biggest predicted improvement: Indiana

Biggest predicted fall: Illinois

I’m keeping the numerical prediction hidden for now, but Ohio St. is a huge favorite. Teams 2-5 are bunched together pretty tightly. A lot of people are going to drop Michigan after Darius Morris left, but my statistical model still loves the team. Consider that Morris is the only key departure from Michigan, while a team like Purdue loses JaJuan Johnson and E’Twuan Moore. Then consider that Michigan was probably playing the second best basketball in the Big Ten heading into the NCAA tournament last year.

But I’ll even go further and give you a little scouting. Morris was clearly critical to the Michigan offense. He led the team in assists, and he was one of the only Michigan players that could break down the defense with his dribble penetration. When the Michigan offense struggled, Morris was the player who bailed them out. But as the year went on, the entire team started to better understand John Beilein’s system. Michigan became better at creating easy baskets, even without the ball in Morris’ hands. And in the NCAA tournament Michigan walloped Tennessee even without Morris playing a large role. I don’t mean to say that Morris’ departure will not matter. But if you think the loss of Morris drops Michigan out of the NCAA discussion, you have not watched John Beilein coach for the last 15 years. This is a young team that is coming together.

Teams 7-10 in the Big Ten are even more tightly bunched, but as I’ve been saying for awhile, this looks like the year Indiana will finally contend for the NCAA tournament. Penn St. clearly returns little talent. And without a commitment from the university, Ed DeChellis was not about to start the rebuilding project.


  1. 1. Vanderbilt
  2. 2. Kentucky
  3. 3. Florida
  4. 4. Alabama
  5. 5. Ole Miss
  6. 6. Georgia
  7. 7. Arkansas
  8. 8. Tennessee
  9. 9. Mississippi St.
  10. 10. South Carolina
  11. 11. LSU
  12. 12. Auburn

Biggest predicted improvement: Vanderbilt

Biggest predicted fall: Georgia

Unlike the Big Ten, the SEC standings look a little funny without the elite recruits factored in. Even with just Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, and Darius Miller, Kentucky would compete for an SEC title, but once I add in the nation’s best recruiting class, Kentucky will not only be the SEC favorite, they may be the national favorite.

The top four are substantially ahead of the rest of the conference. Georgia is much closer to Auburn than Alabama in these projections. The loss of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie to the NBA draft moved the Bulldogs from NCAA tournament favorite, to a dogfight among the lower teams in the SEC. Mark Fox has shown enough to keep Georgia at the head of that pack, but he’ll have his work cut out for him replacing those two players.

Tennessee also falls dramatically. But you should still be hesitant to move South Carolina ahead of Georgia and Tennessee in the SEC East. Remember that South Carolina’s best player Bruce Ellington had an ORtg of only 87.7 last year, despite never giving up the ball. Sure he made a few plays to win some games last season, but Ellington also caused his team to lose a lot of games with his hideous 39.8% eFG% and high turnover rate. Unless he improves at a historical rate, do not expect South Carolina to climb out of the cellar.

To be continued…