Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Surprise team: Florida State

Last night, Florida State destroyed Charlotte, 106-62. Charlotte is an okay team that upset Michigan on a neutral court (although they have some bad losses as well). Florida State also has a nice win over VCU, and its only losses are close ones to Michigan (OT, neutral court), @Florida (67-66), and @Minnesota (71-66).

As a result, they've risen from 105th to 34th in the Kenpom ratings, and they are the only team in the current top 50 that I didn't bother to rate in my own T-Rank preseason ratings. I didn't bother to rank them because they finished 121st in last year's Kenpom ratings, and didn't turn up in the top 75 of any of the other preseason rating systems. Since I was just trying to get a top 40 or 50, this seemed like a safe margin.

But the nice thing about T-Rank is that I can go back and retroactively rank teams since it is all based on historical data and projected rosters. When I did this, I got a nice surprise: turns out, Florida State would have been ranked number 36 in the T-Rank. Nailed it! (Sort of.)

Why was Florida State rated so highly in the T-Rank? Well, they returned four starters from last year's team, including three freshmen. My system expects players who play as freshmen to take a big leap as sophomores. They also returned a good amount of their minutes, about 70%. Third, last year was an aberration for Leonard Hamilton, who had been to the previous four NCAA tournaments; my system uses data from the previous three seasons to come up with the T-Rank, so the effect of one bad season can be deemphasized.

Why was Florida State so underrated by the pundits and other rating systems? Well, Florida State wasn't bringing in any top recruits or transfers. In fact, two players transferred out (Terrance Shannon and Terry Whisnant), though neither was a major contributor on last year's team. Most importantly, they lost by far their best player from last year's team, Michael Snaer. So there were big question marks surrounding this team.

For the record, here are the other teams currently in the Kenpom top-75 that I did not rate for the preseason T-Rank:

52: SMU
56: Drexel
61: West Virginia
64: Geo. Washington
67: Indiana St.
68: Princeton
70: New Mex. St.
72: UC Santa Barbara
74: Toledo

If any of these teams makes a run toward the bubble, I will retroactively T-Rank them as well. Hopefully next year I will have time to rank every D-1 team before the season so we can avoid these kinds of surprises.

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