Men's Scouting Reports

November 10, 2014

The projections go far deeper at SI.com/CBBpreview, which has rankings of every team (from 1 to 351), forecasts of each conference race and video of the top scorers, freshmen, transfers and breakout players

PRESEASON POLLS have traditionally been an average of perceptions—of returning talent and key additions, and of a coaching staff's ability to convert all of that into wins. This season Sports Illustrated has adopted a rigorously empirical approach to its 1--351 rankings. Economist Dan Hanner has spent four years developing a statistical model that works from the bottom up, projecting advanced statistics—including offensive rating, possession usage, and rebound steal and block rates—for every Division I player, then using the results to forecast overall team performance. Hanner's model simulates the 2014--15 season 10,000 times, accounting for fluctuations in individual performance and health, and ranks teams according to their median efficiency.

This is the first season Hanner, working with SI's Luke Winn, has attempted to forecast (and publish) raw points-, rebounds- and assists-per-game totals for every player in the top 11 conferences. These projections are based on past advanced-statistical performance in the context of more than a decade of player data; the predictive power of recruiting rankings, both on immediate freshman performance and longer-term development; the quality of teammates and coaches; specific coaches' playing-time distribution tendencies; the estimated pace at which a team will play; and intelligence gleaned from coaches on how their rotations will be structured, which helped Hanner and Winn better understand how many minutes and shots will be available to each player. Read on to see how the top 16 teams stack up.

MEN'S SWEET 16

1 KENTUCKY

2 ARIZONA

3 WISCONSIN

4 DUKE

5 KANSAS

6 FLORIDA

7 LOUISVILLE

8 VILLANOVA

9 VIRGINIA

10 GONZAGA

11 NORTH CAROLINA

12 TEXAS

13 OHIO STATE

14 SAN DIEGO STATE

15 IOWA STATE

16 WICHITA STATE

PHOTOPhotograph by David E. Klutho Sports IllustratedBOLT FROM THE BLUE Aaron Harrison (2) and top-ranked Kentucky may have to go through Wichita State's Fred VanVleet (right) and Ron Baker to reach a second straight NCAA final. PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)