Monthly Archives: September 2015

One working definition of a major conference

Was this a major-conference game? Good question.

Can we do better than a Potter Stewart definition?

Last week I posted a piece at ESPN Insider where I pointed out that the new-look no-football Big East has recorded a pretty nice collective KenPom rating the past two seasons, while the newborn American — even with a national title in its pocket — has not. Little did I know that this piece would win the title for “largest response to anything I’ve ever written about college basketball in September.” Perhaps a further word is therefore in order. Just what is a major conference?

I’ll grant at the top that this might be an untenable dichotomy to begin with, and that maybe this whole “major vs. mid-major” thing is a doomed attempt to put static categorical toothpaste back into a more fluid and dynamic postmodern college hoops tube. It could be the case that old boundaries and vocabularies no longer serve our purposes all that well. Duly noted. Continue reading

Your first look at the AP preseason top 25

There is no AP preseason top 25 yet, but here’s one guess at what it might look like when it arrives next month.

(This is not my top 25. This is a forecast of how my colleagues will vote in the AP top 25. I figured, why stop at 10?)

1.  North Carolina
2.  Maryland
3.  Kentucky
4.  Kansas
5.  Iowa State
6.  Virginia
7.  Duke
8.  Oklahoma
9.  Villanova
10. Wichita State
11. Gonzaga
12. Arizona
13. Michigan State
14. Indiana
15. California
16. Wisconsin
17. Baylor
18. Michigan
19. SMU
20. Utah
21. Georgetown
22. Notre Dame
23. Cincinnati
24. LSU
25. Butler

Others receiving votes: Louisville, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, NC State,
Xavier, Purdue, Florida State, Miami, Oregon, Connecticut. 

Other things being equal, in any given preseason it should be easier to forecast Nos. 1 through 15 or so, than, say, 16 through 25. Anyway, we’ll see how I do.

Your first look at the AP preseason top 10

The Cameron Crazies magnanimously congratulate North Carolina's Marcus Paige on his team's upcoming No. 1 ranking.

The Cameron Crazies magnanimously congratulate North Carolina’s Marcus Paige on his team’s upcoming No. 1 ranking.

I suppose sticklers for quote-unquote accuracy will read my headline and object that that there is no AP preseason poll yet. True enough, but I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what we’ll see in a few weeks when the first rankings drop:

1.  North Carolina
2.  Maryland
3.  Kentucky
4.  Kansas
5.  Iowa State
6.  Virginia
7.  Duke
8.  Oklahoma
9.  Villanova
10. Wichita State

This is merely a prediction, mind you, not a ranking of my own top 10. Still, I’m feeling pretty confident about the membership (if not the exact sequence) of this group and particularly the top seven. In fact if someone other than these seven teams shows up in the AP’s first poll ranked between Nos. 1 and 7, I owe you all a beer.

Maybe I’ll do this every September — if nothing else it’s easily evaluated. I’ll dock myself one point for every spot I’m off the mark with a given team. A perfect score’s a zero.

In other news, Gonzaga, Arizona and Michigan State will head up the second 10.

So much for prognosticating. One question that occurs to me as I peer into the future of the AP poll is why North Carolina and Kansas are going to be seen as such wholly different quantities. After all, the Jayhawks posted a slightly better efficiency margin than did the Heels, and the guys in Lawrence did so in a slightly better league.

True, KU lost Kelly Oubre and the never-entirely-there Cliff Alexander, but UNC lost J.P. Tokoto — as  a result both 2015-16 rosters are essentially identical when it comes to experience (as measured in returning possession-minutes). Lastly Bill Self’s crop of freshmen is superior to Roy Williams’ bunch even assuming Cheick Diallo never gets his eligibility thing straightened out. And if Diallo does get on the floor at some point, KU and California will be essentially tied, by my lights, for the honor of claiming the nation’s No. 4-ranked freshman class behind Kentucky, Duke and LSU.

So why the discrepancy between Carolina and Kansas in the (yet to materialize but oh so accurately forecasted) rankings? Just curious.