Sunday, April 05, 2009

Explaining The Conference Previews

I am going to start posting the 2009-10 season previews starting within the next hour or two, and I want to explain what you'll be seeing. Those that are new readers since the last set of previews might be a bit confused, so let me explain what is included:

First of all, I break the previews into three different categories. First you have the BCS Conferences, then the Mid-Majors, and finally the Small Conferences. The BCS Conferences are self-explanatory, but the other differentiation is merely my opinion, and can sometimes be controversial. Fans of conferences that define as "small" sometimes get offended, and insist that their conference is better than one or more that I define as "mid-majors." I want to try to blunt that in advance by saying that how I characterize the conferences doesn't affect how I judge the teams. I readily admit that a small conference or two was better than a mid-major conference or two this past year, or will next year. In the most general sense I want to separate the automatic one-bid conferences from the conferences that are realistically hoping for multiple bids. And just because a conference has one bad year doesn't mean that I'm going to pull them from the land of the mid-majors, because honestly I don't care how teams are grouped and I don't want to waste a lot of time coming up with this breakdown.

The only difference between the different previews are the number of teams I end up listing in bold at the end. For the small conferences I only list the winner. For the mid-majors I will list multiple teams at the end, with the number depending on how good the conference is. For the BCS conferences I will rank every team in the conference.

Second of all, you will see a table at the top of each conference's preview, listing a number of fairly objective stats. The teams are all ranked in one group (conferences with two divisions are all put in one list for ease) by regular season conference records. Overall records are against D-I teams only, and include conference tournament performance but not any other postseason tournament games. The records all come from the NCAA's official RPI page here. The only possibly controversial stat is the "returning starters", because it's slightly subjective. First of all, I'm only talking about graduates, and not accounting for transfers or players going pro early. For example, Seth Curry is listed in the "returning starter" numbers for Liberty, even though he's transferring to Duke. During the actual team previews themselves, I'll specify which players I am assuming are returning, and which I think are transferring out or going pro. This is a source of error, since we can't know for sure about the NBA draft status of certain players right now - they still have time to change their minds. Also, sometimes you have two players who have each started about half of the games, and I use my judgment as to who was the "fifth starter" and who was the sixth man, based on number of minutes and games played. So the five starters I choose aren't always the five players with the most starts, although they generally are. Sometimes I make mistakes, because I don't know all of the players on many of the smaller conference teams. If you feel like I've made a gross error, please contact me. But that stat is not supposed to be a be-all and end-all stat, since it doesn't account for players going pro, or whether many key bench players are coming back, et cetera. It's just supposed to give you a little sense whether a team is losing a lot of key players or not.

Finally, when I talk about recruits I use stats from and If I list a player as "John Doe (Rivals: 5, Scout: 3 PG)" this means that ranks the player as fifth best overall, while rates them as the third best point guard.

As promised, all conference previews and the Preseason BP65 will be published by Monday, April 13th. So expect them to come in bits and pieces between now and then, as the rate they come out is going to depend on when I have free time.

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