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What makes SI's preseason Top 25 different this year
1:48 | College Basketball
What makes SI's preseason Top 25 different this year
Dan Hanner & Luke Winn
Tuesday November 4th, 2014

The model's defensive projection is based on the individual tempo-free defensive stats (rebound, steal and block percentages), plus a few key adjustments that try to account for team-wide aspects of defensive performance. Last year's defensive performance gets a lot of weight unless there is a lot of roster turnover. If there is a lot of roster turnover, the coach's historical defensive performance gets more weight. Experience also matters: Teams with reliant freshmen tend to make more mistakes on defense than do upper-class laden squads. Height is also critically important, particularly at the center position.

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This offseason, we made one key addition to the defensive model. Obviously, teams have little control over their opponent's free-throw percentage. And Ken Pomeroy has shown that teams also have little control over the three-point percentage of their opposition. Our analysis of the data confirms that finding. When teams were particularly fortunate or unfortunate on free-throw defense and three-point defense, it did not tend to carry over to the next season. This is now accounted for in the model.

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North Carolina is a good example of how this impacts the rankings. Last year North Carolina seemed to have a good, but not great defense. But when you look more closely, the Tar Heels mostly excelled at getting their opponents to miss free throws and threes. When you look at the fundamental factors on defense (rebounding, forcing missed twos, forcing turnovers), the Tar Heels were not nearly as good. Normally with so many players returning, you would expect North Carolina's defense to be better. But because the fundamental defensive factors were poor, the model does not expect North Carolina's defense to improve substantially.

The following table illustrates the importance of some of these factors and shows whether we expect each team's defense to be better or worse than last year. We are only presenting this table for the Top 100 teams because the recruiting data is less reliable lower in the rankings, and there is less certainty about whether teams will use a taller or younger lineup.

Defenses
 
team 2013-14
defense
Was last year
a fluke?
return mins use of
freshman
height of
team
opponent
FT & 3s
proj.
defense
Kentucky 96.9 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 65% MUCH LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 94.2
Arizona 88.5 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 64% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 91.2
Wisconsin 97.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 82% LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 95.1
Duke 102.3 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 47% MUCH HIGHER TALLER NORMAL 95.6
Kansas 96.3 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 51% MUCH LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 93.7
Florida 89.3 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 41% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 94.3
Louisville 90 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 56% SIMILAR TALLER LUCKY 92.8
Villanova 94.5 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 78% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 94.5
Virginia 90.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 69% SIMILAR TALLER NORMAL 91.8
Gonzaga 94.4 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 58% SIMILAR TALLER NORMAL 95.5
North Carolina 95.4 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 70% SIMILAR SIMILAR LUCKY 95.4
Texas 98.4 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 94% LOWER TALLER NORMAL 95.0
Ohio St. 89.6 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 48% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 92.5
San Diego St. 91.6 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 67% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 92.8
Iowa St. 99.9 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 66% LOWER TALLER UNLUCKY 96.4
Wichita St. 93.3 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 61% HIGHER SIMILAR LUCKY 96.4
SMU 94.7 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 72% MUCH LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 94.3
VCU 90.2 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 69% SIMILAR SIMILAR LUCKY 94.6
Connecticut 91.8 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 41% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 94.8
Iowa 102.7 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 66% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 101.5
Michigan St. 96.2 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 49% SIMILAR SHORTER UNLUCKY 97.1
Kansas St. 94.8 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 58% MUCH LOWER TALLER LUCKY 94.3
Syracuse 93.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 41% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 95.9
Michigan 102.1 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 46% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 100.9
Utah 96.5 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 79% SIMILAR TALLER NORMAL 96.5
Stanford 97 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 51% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR UNLUCKY 97.6
Oklahoma 100.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 70% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 98.6
Arkansas 98.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 64% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 98.4
Pittsburgh 96.2 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 69% MUCH LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 97.4
Harvard 96.5 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 62% SIMILAR TALLER NORMAL 95.3
Georgetown 102.1 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 60% HIGHER TALLER NORMAL 98.7
Memphis 98.1 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 34% SIMILAR SIMILAR LUCKY 96.7
Maryland 95.5 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 51% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 94.8
Notre Dame 106.4 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 62% SIMILAR SIMILAR UNLUCKY 102.9
UCLA 97.3 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 34% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 99.5
Nebraska 96.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 70% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 96.2
Illinois 93.3 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 59% LOWER SHORTER NORMAL 95.4
Dayton 99.8 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 54% LOWER SHORTER NORMAL 99.9
Miami FL 100 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 34% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 98.8
Minnesota 100.4 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 63% SIMILAR SIMILAR UNLUCKY 99.2
Colorado 96.9 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 91% LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 95.8
Xavier 100.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 54% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 99.3
BYU 101.7 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 74% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 101.4
LSU 99.4 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 37% SIMILAR TALLER NORMAL 96.9
Cincinnati 91.3 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 46% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 96.5
Indiana 97.5 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 45% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 100.0
Oklahoma St. 96.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 39% HIGHER TALLER NORMAL 98.4
Florida St. 98.8 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 65% HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 97.6
Wyoming 100.8 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 70% HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 97.6
California 100.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 57% LOWER SIMILAR UNLUCKY 100.4
Mississippi 102.7 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 69% LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 101.3
Tulsa 96.3 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 72% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 96.3
Colorado St. 107.7 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 59% SIMILAR SHORTER UNLUCKY 102.8
Alabama 100 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 62% SIMILAR SIMILAR UNLUCKY 94.9
NC State 102.9 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 63% LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 99.9
Baylor 100 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 47% HIGHER SHORTER NORMAL 102.6
Georgia St. 103.7 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 57% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 103.4
St. John's 96.8 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 66% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 96.9
Massachusetts 97.4 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 56% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 98.2
Louisiana Tech 96.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 47% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 99.1
Providence 102.2 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 44% MUCH HIGHER TALLER NORMAL 99.4
George Washington 97.8 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 57% MUCH HIGHER SHORTER LUCKY 98.5
Oregon 100.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 25% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 103.2
Georgia 99.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 72% SIMILAR SHORTER NORMAL 99.7
UC Irvine 95.7 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 83% LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 95.0
UNLV 100.6 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 23% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 97.5
Marquette 100.2 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 39% SIMILAR SHORTER NORMAL 98.1
Saint Mary's 101.3 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 35% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 102.5
Washington 104.5 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 62% LOWER TALLER NORMAL 101.0
Northern Iowa 105.6 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 88% SIMILAR SIMILAR UNLUCKY 104.4
West Virginia 104.2 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 62% LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 102.7
South Carolina 102.3 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 76% MUCH LOWER TALLER NORMAL 101.9
Penn St. 100.8 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 72% SIMILAR SIMILAR UNLUCKY 99.4
Richmond 97.5 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 73% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 99.1
Texas A&M 96.3 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 64% SIMILAR SIMILAR LUCKY 97.1
Auburn 106.5 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 47% SIMILAR SIMILAR UNLUCKY 102.9
Tennessee 94.8 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 28% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 100.2
Rhode Island 99 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 79% LOWER SIMILAR LUCKY 98.9
Seton Hall 101.2 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 47% MUCH HIGHER SHORTER NORMAL 99.3
Green Bay 98.4 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 74% SIMILAR SHORTER NORMAL 100.2
Boise St. 104.7 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 61% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 103.8
Creighton 104.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 44% HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 103.1
Fresno St. 105.4 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 69% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 103.3
Clemson 95 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 71% SIMILAR SIMILAR LUCKY 97.9
Purdue 101.2 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 48% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 100.7
Illinois St. 99.8 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 65% LOWER TALLER NORMAL 98.6
Northwestern 94.2 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 69% HIGHER SIMILAR LUCKY 94.0
Manhattan 96.5 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 61% SIMILAR TALLER NORMAL 96.8
Siena 100.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 99% MUCH LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 98.0
Arizona St. 97.6 LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D 41% SIMILAR SHORTER LUCKY 104.7
Iona 108.2 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 49% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 107.3
Old Dominion 101.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 84% MUCH LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 99.2
Temple 109.1 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 67% LOWER SIMILAR NORMAL 104.6
New Mexico 96.1 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 38% SIMILAR SIMILAR UNLUCKY 97.9
Missouri 104.4 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 37% HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 100.7
New Mexico St. 102.5 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 54% MUCH HIGHER SHORTER UNLUCKY 103.4
Houston 108 LY UNUSUALLY BAD D 43% SIMILAR TALLER NORMAL 103.5
La Salle 100.4 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 50% MUCH HIGHER SIMILAR NORMAL 100.2
UC Santa Barbara 104.8 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 68% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 104.7
Murray St. 105 SIMILAR ROSTER or D 80% SIMILAR SIMILAR NORMAL 103.4

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