One of the signs of college basketball getting close is when the analytic websites release their preseason rankings. These predictive metric tools are more important than ever since they get referenced by the NCAA Selection committee, whether to include or omit a team from the field or to help with their seeding process. The preseason metrics don’t end up weighing in the to end of season results (those are all based on what takes place on the court) but considering the respect given to these tools, their preseason predictions can be fairly accurate regarding the quality of teams.
Here are what the main analytics tools are saying about the Gators.
Let’s start with the godfather of college basketball analytics, KenPom. KenPom is by far and away the most popular of the predictive metrics, and would be the most important ranking other than the NET (the NCAA’s own proprietary sorting tool).
KenPom has the Gators…drum roll please…
KenPom, like most predictive analytics, also has a prediction for where teams will rank in both adjusted offensive and adjusted defensive efficiency, and they have Florida as the 24th best offensive team and 34th ranked defensive team. This is notable, because Florida’s coaches have been suggesting that they are much more comfortable with the Gators on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side. That could mean the Gators are better than KenPom’s 34th ranked defensive prediction, and if they are in fact the 24th best offensive team then they could be better than the 34th overall prediction.
Another thing that makes KenPom unique is that there is a prediction for pace, and it suggests the Gators will be 213th in the country in pace. This is likely a guess based on the last few years of data, and considering the Gators have been quite slow for most of the Mike White era, the algorithm probably still thinks that will be the case.
Here are some of the predicted rankings of some of Florida’s key opponents this year both in the non-conference schedule and SEC play:
Florida State (24th)
Oklahoma State (37th)
KenPom predicts the Gators to go 21-9 heading into postseason play, with an 11-7 record in SEC play.
Barttorvik is quickly gaining in popularity, but it still might be the best analytics tool you haven’t been using yet. Barttorvik is highly customizable and totally free, so if you’re someone interested in advanced stats I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Barttorvik has the Gators as the 24th best team in college basketball ranked 28th in offense and 31st in defense.
It’s interesting to see how similar Barttorvik and KenPom see the Gators both in overall ranking as well as in offensive and defensive ranking. Barttorvik, as well as KenPom, thinks the Gators will be better offensively than defensively which is a notable trend.
Something that is unique to Barttorvik’s preseason predictions is that it also has predictions for individual player statistics.
An important note–I am a huge fan of Barttorvik, but these algorithmically generated player stats can be way, way off, though they also can be quite accurate. So, they are interesting to look at, but should be taken with a grain of salt. These are the stats they have laid out:
Myreon Jones (15.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.1 APG)
Tyree Appleby (13.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.3 APG)
Colin Castleton (11.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.3 APG)
Anthony Duruji (9.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1 APG)
CJ Felder (6.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 APG)
Kowacie Reeves (5.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.4 APG)
Brandon McKissic (4.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.6 APG)
Phlandrous Fleming (4.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1 APG)
Niels Lane (2 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.7 APG)
Jason Jitoboh (1.5 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0 APG)
What jumps out about these numbers are definitely that Barttorvik’s algorithm doesn’t expect Brandon McKissic and Phlandrous Fleming to have big impacts, which is definitely counter to what we are hearing from practice about the quality of these players. So again, these numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s a fascinating look.
A couple more relevant numbers from Barttorvik’s predictions–they expect the Gators to be 174th in pace, and they predict they’ll end up with the 63rd toughest schedule in college basketball (a surprisingly low prediction). They also give the Gators a 94% chance at making the NCAA Tournament, a 12.4% chance of winning the SEC, and their predicted NCAA Tournament seed is 5.8.
Haslametrics is another good predictive metric tool, and another one that is free if you want to check it out.
They are the lowest on Florida of any of the relevant analytic tools, predicting the Gators to be the 33rd best team in the country. They’re predicting that the Gators will be the 25th best offensive team and the 36th best defensive team.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty of Haslametrics’ very in-depth predictions (I am talking expected mid-range field goal percentage allowed, potential quick points of breakaway steals, all kinds of incredible stuff) you should go check out the site.
As has been the case in recent years, the analytics seem to, across the board, be higher on Florida than media. Right now the Gators aren’t getting a lot of talk nationally, but a couple of the most respected tools think the Gators are a fringe top-25 team and even the lowest I could find has the Gators only 33rd. If you’re someone who has had trouble getting excited for basketball, these numbers may be encouraging.
It’s also notable that every tool thinks the Gators will be better offensively than defensively, just because the coaching staff seems to be communicating that they are more confident on the defensive side of the ball.
Of course, these are just algorithmic predictions, but it’s a fascinating look at what the Gators could be this season.