Friday, November 17, 2017

17-NOV Bracket Projection: Feast Week Weekend

348 of the 351 Division I teams have logged at least one game.  Sam Houston and Drake will have their D1 opener this weekend, and we'll wait with bated breath for the Thanksgiving Eve Incarnate Word game.  At this point, it's outliers and small sample sizes (Michigan State and Duke's ranking tells me I have a waaaaays to go).

Of those brave souls who have logged some games this week, here's what I noticed:

Who showed up: Florida/Georgia Line
Jacksonville State is not in Florida, but let's given them an honorable mention for their 1-1 week.  First they went into Richmond and rolled the spiders by 33.  Two days later they went into upstate New York and lost by 5 to a solid Buffalo team.  They could be an OVC obstacle for Belmont and Murray State.

About an hour away from the real Jacksonville Florida you'll find the offensive juggernaut Gators of Florida.  They also have logged two games this week, and are averaging 112 points a game against D1 competition in a pair of 40 point victories.  What's even more scary is Chris Chiozza has only totaled 14 points thus far.

Lastly, Georgia Southern was not satisfied with their opening night upset of Wake Forest and also had a 2-0 week.  On Monday they hosted a top tier WAC program Cal State Bakersfield, and basically just ran away from them from the start.  There isn't much to say about their non-D1 win over apparently Boise State's football turf, but a good start to the season for the Eagles.

First timers: Grand Canyon, Army
Again, there are so few data points, that the biggest benefit in looking at it this early is to work out technical bugs, but for what it's worth at this point there are a couple schools breaking through early on.  Of the 43 schools that have yet to make the NCAA Tournament, I project two to breakthrough.

Grand Canyon, in their first year of eligibility, is projected as the WAC representative.  Buy stock now (no seriously, they have a stock; Nasdaq: LOPE).

My model ignores Army's win over 271 year old John Jay, but it does pick up on their three point road loss to 3-0 Hofstra who continues to strengthen their resume.  It may not seem like much, but it's good enough for an early 13-5 Patriot League projection to edge out Holy Cross and Lehigh.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

12-NOV Bracket Projection: Opening Weekend

Who showed up: Boston College

The Eagles are 2-0, with both wins against D1 opponents and an average margin of victory of 29.5 points.  Granted it was against Kenpom teams of 331 and 348, but one year ago yesterday they opened their season with a home loss to #315 Nicholls State.  Only #301 Sacred Heart is keeping them from their second 3-0 start this decade.  A promising start for a Jim Christian squad who has finished #13, last and last in his three years in Chestnut Hill.

Show yourself out: Palmetto State schools

A rough opening weekend for a couple of South Carolina schools.  South Carolina State was one of the schools that ran into the BC buzz-saw, on the wrong end of a 39 point scoreboard.  That came on the heels of a 35 point opening night loss against Wisconsin.  Perhaps they'll catch a break in the schedule on Tuesday, when they'll get Yale about 48 hours off their own road trip to Madison.  It probably won't be enough, though.  Kenpom still has Yale as the better Bulldogs by 23 points.  For the South Carolina State Bulldogs, their best chance at the first D1 win might not be until they get into some of their intrastate games.  They'll travel to Presbyterian in early December, and if that doesn't work out they might need to look to mid December when they host...

Charleston Southern.  The Buccaneers also started the weekend with a couple of difficult road trips, albeit a little closer to home.  On Friday night, they were treated to an offensive onslaught from Davidson.  The Wildcats assisted 29 times on 35 made shots, and 26 of those makes were from three on 53 attempts.  Oh, and they had just one turnover (got to feel for Carter Collins who had the lone turnover, plus 0-2 from behind the line). 

Things were perhaps a little less bleak when they arrived in Raleigh Sunday.  If you would have told Charleston Southern their opponent would make a respectable, but average 9 of 23 from three, and a much more meager 13 assist to 15 turnovers, I'm sure they would have gladly taken it.  Alas, they responded with 24 turnovers themselves, and other than a 2-0 lead had very little to cheer about in a 78-56 loss.

Bracket: Sample size, nonexistent.

In what will be a reoccurring theme for a while, this is still pretty volatile.  However, it's great to have the games back and at least a few real scores to look at.

Friday, November 10, 2017

09-NOV Bracket Projection: The Ball Is Tipped!

In just a few hours, James Thompson IV and Eastern Michigan will continue their tradition of ushering in another college basketball season.  Much like the Eagles of Ypsilanti, mired in obscurity resulting from questionable decision making and inconsistent effort, I am ready to begin another season with dreams of the post-season.

I've made some changes for this year.  For instance, last year RPI carried heavy weight in my projections.  That will be scaled back.  This is partially in preparation for the selection committee evaluation changes coming in 2019, but also because I over-valued it in 2016-17.

I've also experimented a bit with pre-season predictions, using the past five years of game results, while also sprinkling in some recruiting and coaching changes.  From a macro view, I more pleased than displeased with the results.  However, it's not without flaws (Duke as a #5, Stony Brook as a First Four out).  Regardless, I will be phasing out the predictions by December.

Happy Basketball New Year, and RIP 24 hour Marathon.