Xavier was 17th in both of the human based polls and 22nd in CBS projection of all 351 teams. All three of those systems, though, are based on nothing but the hunch and intuition of whoever is making the picks at the time. It is, ultimately, nothing but educated guesswork. Numbers, on the other hand, tend to be substantially more reliable. To that end, here are how the teams we elected to keep an eye on fare in two systems based only on the metrics.
Sports Illustrated uses it’s own numbers to come up with their rankings. They trumpet, loudly, on the front page that they are more accurate than Ken Pomeroy. This is something like flipping a light switch after someone else has wired the house and then pronouncing yourself the king of electric. KenPom, of course, makes his appearance here, as does ESPN’s BPI which, as a word of caution, has Wichita State ranked #1 right now.
Villanova- (SI- 5, KenPom- 1, ESPN- 2)
Nova fares the best of all the teams that matter to Xavier and its fans, as well they should. KenPom has the Wildcats #1 on the back of the second best offense in the nation and the sixth best defense. Those things, combined with the usual slow tempo, have combine to suffocate opponents. Sports Illustrated isn’t as bullish on the defense, but all three metric based systems agree: Villanova is elite.
UC- (SI- 6, KenPom- 11, ESPN- 6)
Yeesh. It was easy to clown on people who thought the Bearcats were good, but dispassionate numbers confirming that casts things in a less cheery light. It’s going to be the defense that carries the mail, but all three systems think the UC offense this year is going to be markedly better.
Xavier- (SI- 15, KenPom- 26, ESPN- 15)
Why the big gap from the other two systems to KP? His numbers don’t see Xavier’s offense as being quite overpowering enough to always make up for some defensive shortcomings. Mark that down as a story line right now.
Providence- (SI- 36, KenPom- 25, ESPN- 27)
The Friars are a very legitimate contender in that secnod slot in the Big East. The question will be, as it always is, if they have the depth and legs to play deep into March. The last four years they’ve bowed out in the first or second round. Ed Cooley is going to have to learn what rotation players are, or the Friars will do the same thing again.
Seton Hall- (SI- 25, KenPom- 28, ESPN- 26)
Throw in the 28th that CBS has them, and it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone agrees on Seton Hall. Kevin Willard returns a trifecta of stars that beat Xavier last year and very nearly knocked off Nova. These guys are going to finish higher on all these rankings than where they start.
Creighton- (SI-34, KenPom- 45, ESPN- 56)
Unless ESPN is aware of a coaching change that I’m not, they have the Bluejays too low. SI, by the way, has Butler at 37th. That’s nice for the Bulldogs, but there has been a coaching change there, and it is going to matter.
St. John’s- (SI- 87, KenPom- 51, ESPN- 68)
This is what having a bad coach gets you. Everyone agrees that the Red Storm are talented, but absolutely no one knows what that will mean come game time.
Ohio State- (SI- 77, KenPom- 78, ESPN- 73)
Chris Holtmann is proving to be disturbingly likable. There’s talk of an all-Ohio series starting in the coming years, but until Holtmann has time to do his own recruiting, the Buckeyes are going to be the whipping boy there.
Dayton- (SI- 82, KenPom- 103, ESPN- 162!)
The Flyers are on the edge of the precipice. They just learned the hard way that the college basketball world at large sees them as a stepping stone. Anthony Grant is a retread, albeit a good one, who is taking this shot at resurrecting his career. Dayton, by the way, is now in that nether world where they are not worthy of a non-conference slot Xavier would give to a serious opponent, nor are they so bad that they will get a cupcake spot. It could be awhile until the teams meet again.
DePaul- (SI- 103, KenPom- 119, ESPN- 83)
Georgetown- (SI- 125, KenPom- 79, ESPN- 126)
These two are now inextricable at the bottom of the Big East. What on earth has happened in the nation’s capital? (In terms of basketball, I mean. I’m all too aware of the rest of the situation there). The Hoyas have turned to Patrick Ewing to rescue them, but does anyone really think that is the answer?
Those are the teams that matter to Xavier in, roughly, the order that the metrics see them landing. The top of the Big East is absolutely loaded this year, moreso if you think that Butler is going to survive with a new coach. Games are only a week away now, and all of this will change then. But, for now, these are the standings that matter.