Human perceptions and SI’s statistical projections do not agree on the Commodores. They were ranked 18th in the preseason AP poll and 20th in the preseason coaches' poll. I like their combination of shooting and size enough to have them 16th here, but the projection system I collaborate on with economist Dan Hanner—the system that decides SI's 1-351 preseason rankings—was less fond of Vandy.
It ranked the Commodores 33rd, projecting them to have the nation's 14th-most efficient offense ... but just the 88th-best defense. It saw a team that ranked 114th in defensive efficiency last season, struggled at defensive rebounding and turnover creation—and lost its most active overall defender, James Siakam, who had impressive rebounding, block and steal rates. It expected Vandy to improve slightly on D due to getting more experienced and giving more minutes to the massive front line of Damian Jones (7-foot), Luke Kornet (7'1") and Josh Henderson (7'0")—but not improve enough to be higher than a 7 or 8 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Next 16
17. Wichita State
21. Notre Dame
32. George Washington