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UConn Men's Basketball: 2015 KenPom ratings released

Ken Pomeroy, purveyor of the popular college basketball analytic site Kenpom.com, has released his 2015 pre-season rankings. UConn finished first in the American, and you might be surprised by the results for the rest of the conference.

Joe Murphy

Basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy uses a formula determined by the Four Factors to create college basketball power rankings. He also tracks coaching tendencies, individual player efficiency and more. The site, which is updated daily during the season, is an invaluable tool for fans, writers, coaches and even players for evaluating individual or team performance. Last year Shabazz Napier finished second in his 2014 Player of the Year rankings.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, here is a brief overview of the four factors, which Pomeroy originally attributes to Dean Oliver:

Effective field goal percentage (eFG%) - this is the same as field goal percentage, except that three-pointers count as 1.5 made shots to account for the additional points earned.

Turnover percentage - turnovers divided by the number of possessions.

Offensive rebound percentage - offensive rebounds divided by offensive rebound opportunities, which is measured by offensive rebounds plus opponent's defensive rebounds.

Free throw rate - measures a team's ability to get to the free throw line: free throw attempts divided by field goal attempts.

These factors combine to form an offensive efficiency rating, and a defensive efficiency rating based on opponents' performances in these factors. From there we get an overall rating.

The preseason rankings take some outside factors to account for new players who haven't accrued stats. Once the season starts, the rankings are based purely on performance with a strength of schedule component as well.

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On to the 2015 pre-season rankings. The UConn Huskies came in at 16th overall, 28th offensively and 15th defensively. With UConn replacing a lot of minutes and production with the losses of Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey, Lasan Kromah and DeAndre Daniels, the Huskies are a relative unknown but are capable of making significant leaps if the new guys perform well.

Notable results across our schedule:

  • Duke, who we will play on Thursday, December 18th, is ranked first overall- first offensively, seventh defensively.
  • The Texas game on November 30th at home looks like the first serious challenge of the season against the 19th-ranked Longhorns (36th offense, 14th defense).
  • Don't overlook the Puerto-Rico Tip-Off field, which includes Dayton (50th overall), West Virginia (55th), Texas A&M (68th) and New Mexico (52nd). Boston College came in at 134.
  • Florida is ranked 7th (9th offense, 5th defense), UConn will be visiting them on January 3rd with the Gators looking to avenge two 2014 losses: last year's Bazzer beater and that time we beat them in the Final Four.
  • Stanford, who beat us last year at home, will be getting a visit from the Huskies this year on January 17th. They are ranked 54th.
The American Athletic Conference, unfortunately, did not show well. The conference is relatively weak up top, with UConn first followed by Memphis and SMU, who came in at 27th and 36th respectively.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Tulsa, new to the conference and coming off an NCAA Tournament berth, is ranked 45th overall and fourth in the conference. They came in right before 46th-ranked Cincinnati.

So according to KenPom, there are four worthwhile opponents in the conference schedule, because after that it bottoms out. Hard.

I think Temple has the potential to be somewhat frisky this year, but KenPom has them at 110th, fifth in the American. After that it gets really, really ugly: USF (158th), ECU (183rd), UCF (188th), Houston (202nd), and Tulane (208th) round out a miserable basement of the conference which has the AAC rated below even the lowly A-10 and (fake) Big East. For the sake of comparison, DePaul, the perennial punching bag, is ranked 197th but is the only team ranked worse than 86th in their entire conference.

It's important to note that these rankings are preliminary; obviously a lot changes over the course of the season. Last year UConn had a number of opponents who were decently rated going into the season, but unfortunately some of them (Washington, Indiana, Boston College, even Maryland) turned out to be duds.

We need to be careful to never assume that statistical rankings like this are binding. After all, his formula only gave UConn a 2.3% chance to win it all going into the Sweet 16. Guess who they were tied with? The very same Kentucky Wildcats who they would end up beating in the championship game. The beauty of sports is that anything is possible; the beauty of being a sports fan in the year 2014 is that we have much, much better information to help guide the discussion. Use it wisely.

GO HUSKIES!!