College Basketball, like most sports, has plenty of different places for fans to add to their self worth by checking where their team is ranked. The best rankings are always the one that has your team the highest and/or your rival the lowest. This even changes as the rankings change. I’ve heard people say, “KenPom doesn’t make any sense” for the beginning of the season, and then as soon as their team starts to rise, it’s their new favorite rankings and by far the most accurate.
I’m guilty of this too at times, but to help everyone out, and give me a nice place to keep track of these things, I’m going to look at where each SEC team ranks in a few select polls that I value. I’ve broken these into three categories: user polls, computer rankings, and predictive rankings. That’s the basic reasoning for me doing this, so here is where each SEC basketball team stands at the beginning of December.
There are several user polls and almost every major (or minor) blog has their own rankings now. Obviously, the AP poll is still largely most popular, but even it has it’s flaws. Since each poll is limited by it’s voters, I like to look at several polls to see what a larger population really sees in different teams.
The polls I’ve selected are…
AP Poll: The AP Poll is updated each week and features writers and other professionals from around the country. There are some voters that aren’t perfect, but for the most part, the AP poll is voted on by “experts” that focus most of their time on college basketball.
USA Today Coaches Poll: The Coaches Poll is voted on by select coaches from across the country. It’s typically assumed that this is more of an SID poll than a coaches poll, but the name remains. I’m sure there’s a handful of coaches that at least influence their rankings.
CBS Sports Top 25 and 1: Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the college basketball coverage that CBS provides. As such, I also enjoy their rankings that they update almost every day.
Reddit /r/CollegeBasketball User Poll: This one’s different in a lot of ways, but I still find value in it for one big reason. It’s voted on by several fans who are mostly just passionate about college basketball. It usually produces slightly different rankings than the other major polls, but with a larger voter pool, it can give a different look at things on a national level.
These rankings use statistics, head to head matchups, and more data to rank each team from 1-351 based on what they have done so far. These rankings can change quite dramatically and aren’t the most accurate early in the season.
The polls I’ve selected are…
Ratings Percentage Index (RPI): The RPI has it’s flaws, but focused mostly on head to head competition. Despite its flaws, the RPI is still used as a big part of the selection process in March.
Basketball Power Index (BPI): The BPI is similar to the RPI, but also focuses on more modern things like pace of play and which players were active for any said game.
Massey Ratings: A computer rating system based on team’s past performance. Massey rates based on past wins and losses, but also predicts the number of future wins and losses based on the team’s remaining schedule.
Sagarin Ratings: Similar to Massey’s rating system, Jeff Sagarin developed another commonly used computer rating system but the formula remains a secret for obvious reasons. These ratings focus on past competition and any predictions are based solely on two team’s ratings and where the game is played.
Kevin Pauga Index: The KPI rankings are based off of a team’s performance compared to that team’s expected performance. Teams are assigned a score between -1 and 1 for each game. Games are seen as equal to each other and no data from before the current season is used.
Predictive rankings are almost always computer based as well. They are ever changing, but they often use data from past years along with current data for a season in order to predict where the team will end up. As the season goes along, the data from that season is used more in the equations.
The polls I’ve selected are…
Ken Pomeroy Ratings: Ken Pomeroy has been one of the most popular predictive rankings producer with his formula that updates daily and has been evolving each year to take into account new stats such as pace of play, efficiency, strength of schedule, and even luck.
TeamRankings: TeamRankings is a predictive ranking system that also give percentage chances that each team will make the NCAA Tournament or a specific round in the Tournament.
T-Rank Ratings: The T-Rank rating system is based off of similar stats as Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, but is in a more simplified form. The ratings are based off of efficiency along with effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, and free throw rate.
Using the average ranking from each of the 12 rankings systems that I have selected, here is how the SEC basketball teams stand at the beginning of December:
Like I said at the beginning, each rating/ranking system has its own positives and negatives, but when combining 12 of the most popular systems in use today, we can get a pretty good look at where each SEC basketball team stands. If you want to look at a team’s outlook, it’s best to look at the predictive rankings. If you want to see how a team has been doing objectively, then take a look at their computer rankings. If you want to see how a team has been doing subjectively, with a emphasis on recent performance, look at how each team is ranked in the polls.
Stats and matchups tell a lot about college basketball, but the best way to evaluate a team is to watch them yourselves. That’s why I also release my own SEC Power Rankings each week based on what I have seen from each team in the league. These, like a typical poll, weigh recent performance as well as the team’s resume or past achievements.
I hope you enjoyed this look at each SEC basketball team’s rankings and if there is any poll you think I should or shouldn’t have added, I’d love any feedback over on Twitter. I’d like to hear what others like about certain polls and not whether I should or shouldn’t include a poll because it “hates” your team or doesn’t favor them.