North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky lead SI's preseason top 20 poll
For the second season in a row, SI's college basketball projection system has ranked ever team in college basketball from 1-351. A brief explanation of our system, which is a collaboration among economist Dan Hanner and SI's Chris Johnson and Luke Winn: On offense, it works bottom-up, starting by projecting every player's efficiency and shot volume. We do this by incorporating his past performance, recruiting rankings, development curves for similar Division I players, the quality of his teammates and his coach’s ability to develop and maximize talent. Those stats are weighted based on the team's rotation—including human intel on who’s expected to earn minutes—then used to produce each team’s offensive efficiency projection.
Our defensive forecasts are based on a blend of returnees' advanced stats (rebound, steal and block percentages), roster turnover (if churn is low, then 2014-15 performances in areas such as two-point field goal percentage are given a lot of weight; if high, then a coach’s historical defensive résumé matters more), experience (veterans have fewer lapses), height (taller frontcourts make for stingier defense) and depth of talent.
We simulate the season 10,000 times to account for variance in individual performances as well as injury scenarios. The seed lines in this bracket are filled out according to our rankings (teams 1-4 received No. 1 seeds, 5-8 received No. 2 seeds and so on) and the geographic regions are populated according to the NCAA's bracketing guidelines.
Below you can read scouting reports on our top 20 teams, which include projected depth charts, projected conference races and intel from head coaches. Click on the team names to read those stories.