SI's projections for the best defenses in college basketball

1:48 | College Basketball
What makes SI's preseason Top 25 different this year
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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.

Read all of SI.com's 2014-15 college basketball preview content

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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Ranking the top teams in college basketball: 351-1
North Carolina

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.

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

89.6

LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D

48%

MUCH HIGHER

SIMILAR

NORMAL

92.5

San Diego

91.6

LY UNUSUALLY GOOD D

67%

SIMILAR

SIMILAR

NORMAL

92.8

Iowa

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

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

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

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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