The moment that a lot of our statistically inclined writers and fans is finally here for college basketball—THE RELEASE OF THE PRE-SEASON KEN POMEROY RANKINGS! These usually come out in late October, so it was a nice surprise to see them come out yesterday afternoon.
Wake Forest finished the 2016-17 ranked 36th nationally, and after the losses of John Collins and Dinos Mitoglou to the professional ranks it was assumed there would be some natural regression. This guess would be correct, as the Deacs are projected as the 57th ranked team headed into this season.
KenPom projects Wake Forest to go 17-11 (8-10), and this leaves out the additional two games that will be played in the Paradise Jam (moved to Lynchburg). These two games will likely have around a 1.4-1.5 win expectancy out of 2 games, so it would likely put Wake at 19 wins in the regular season.
The over/under of 19.5 wins seems to be right on the nose if counting ACC Tournament. It is thought at this juncture given the schedule and ACC as a whole, that 20 wins will be necessary for the Deacs to return to the NCAA Tournament.
The 50-60 range is about where I guessed Wake would start out, but obviously there is a lot of time to prove this ranking right or wrong.
Last season the Deacs came into the season ranked 76th, which was 13th in the ACC. It projected Wake to have the 69th best offense in the country and the 96th best defense.
The offense was obviously the bright part of last season, finishing 7th overall, while the defense was the shortcoming of the team throughout the year and in the First Four game against Kansas State, ranking 176th nationally.
Wake Forest drastically outperformed the record projection of 12-16 (excluding the extra games in the Charleston Classic) by finishing 18-12 in the regular season and was also 3 games better than the projected 6-12 ACC record.
This year Wake starts at 25th offensively and 96th defensively, projected to play at an adjusted 75 possessions per game (39th fastest team in the country).
For those unfamiliar with the rankings, they are tempo-free rankings based on the four factors of basketball: effective field goal percentage, turnover rate, rebounding rate, and free throw rate.
There is a bit of guesswork in the model as it projects certain freshmen, transfers, and injured players with Division I experience as contributing to each team.
The top 30 freshmen or so have an impact on a team’s rating, but beyond that the system basically does not count freshmen because historically, as a whole, those freshmen do not usually result in average to above average players. There are obviously exceptions to this since it is a large model, but usually works out well.
Wake Forest ranks 11th in the ACC initially, ranking ahead of Syracuse, Boston College, N.C. State, and Pittsburgh.
There are some obvious tiers looking at projected ACC record coming into the season:
Tier 1 (11-13 projected wins)
Tier 2 (8-9 projected wins)
Tier 3 (4-5 projected wins)
Based on these projected wins it is easy to see how 1-2 “extra” wins in the ACC could boost a team into a better ACC Tournament ranking and be the difference between making the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
The Deacs kick off the regular season against 105th ranked Georgia Southern on Friday, November 10th. It will play an exhibition game against Queens Unversity on Friday, November 3rd.