The simple basketball fan probably doesn't care about facts, figures, and formulas, but being the stats junkie that I am, Ken Pomeroy's ratings always grab my attention.
For those unfamiliar with Pomeroy (or simply Kenpom), he is essentially the Bill James of college basketball. He loves numbers, formulas, statistics, probabilities, and everything in between. If a number can tell you something about a player, team, or conference, then Pomeroy knows what that something is (or so he thinks). Every year, before the season begins, he uses these formulas and probabilities to create ratings which are used to determine simply how good a team is. Think of it as sabermetrics, only for basketball rather than baseball.
After the jump, who ranks where and what does this mean...On Pomeroy's 2010-11 rankings, he has Seton Hall in the 51st spot, between Old Dominion (52) and Northwestern (50). Taking into account factors such as strength of schedule, offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and pace. If you're reading this and you think Pomeroy (and myself for even talking about this stuff) is a lunatic, you may have a point. I understand that basketball games aren't won by numbers and statistics, and not all factors are taken into account (hustle, determination, momentum, injuries, etc.), however the Kenpom ratings do a great job of giving a general forecast for the upcoming season.
Before I totally lose you, I should probably let you know that Ken Pomeroy's numbers have been vindicated, even when it wasn't pretty. I remember last year, even when Duke did not look like the top team in the nation, Pomeroy firmly believed that they were the best. Even when nobody else wanted to back him up, he remained steadfast. He was positive that Duke would win the National Championship. We all know what happened there. Three years ago, not only did he correctly pick the National Champion (Kansas), but he correctly chose the runner up (Memphis) and the other two Final Four teams (UCLA, North Carolina).
What I'm trying to say is that these numbers may not hold much water right now, but there is definitely some merit to what Ken Pomeroy does and when he speaks, I listen. Below are some photos of the statistics he's come up with.
Kenpom Ratings (41-60)
These are the middle of the tier teams with whom Seton Hall lies.
Kenpom Predictions: Seton Hall
I'm not even going to pretend that I know all of the formulas that go into these kinds of predictions, but I will say that Pomeroy and I share a few similar key wins and losses in our predictions.
The Temple loss seems imminent. Opening up on the road against a Top 25 team under a new coach and a bunch of new players trying to find their footing? That's just asking for trouble. Kevin Willard inherited the schedule, so it isn't his fault but it certainly doesn't play to his advantage. While some of our other choices vary, we both seem to agree that the Pirates are going to beat Villanova at home. Talk about long overdue, Seton Hall hasn't beaten Villanova in five years. Yikes. I also feel strongly about the Pirates taking down Georgetown at home, but that game could also easily go either way.
The Schedule Breakdown
Let's take a look at just how hard Seton Hall's schedule is this year, using Kenpom's ratings...
Games against teams in Kenpom 1-20: 4 (Syracuse x2, Pittsburgh, Georgetown)
Games against teams in Kenpom 21-40: 6 (Temple, Louisville, West Virginia, Villanova, Marquette x2)
Games against teams in Kenpom 41-60: 5 (Alabama, Dayton, Richmond, Connecticut, St. John's)
Games against teams in Kenpom 61-100: 4 (Arkansas, Cincinnati, Providence, Notre Dame)
Games against teams in Kenpom 101+: 9 (Cornell, St. Peter's, Massachusetts, Longwood, NJIT, South Florida, DePaul, Rutgers x2)
Home games: 15
Road games: 11
Neutral games: 2
This schedule is not easy by any means. First of all, 10 of Seton Hall's games are against members of Pomeroy's Top 40 teams (all but one of which are in the Big East). Second of all, for the first time since I can remember, the non-conference schedule is not a walk in the park.
Remember schools like California Baptist, Columbia, Delaware State, VMI, Hartford, etc.? Those teams consistently rank anywhere between 200 and 350 (California Baptist wasn't even a Division I school) in any given year, and they were the types of schools Seton Hall would routinely play in a non-conference schedule. This season only nine teams on the schedule show triple digit Kenpom ratings, three of which have ratings higher than 200.
What does this mean? In layman's terms: Seton Hall hasn't had a schedule this difficult in at least four years.