We’re really not far away now from tipoff to the 2019-2020 men’s college basketball season, where your plucky Virginia Cavaliers to commence their title defense. You know we’re getting close not just because we’ve been counting down on this website for what feels like 3 months now, but because Ken Pomeroy has officially released his initial rankings for the season on KenPom.com, America’s favorite advanced metrics website.
The reigning national champions come in at No. 5., one of four ACC Schools in the Top 6. Michigan State came in as the top dog in the early rankings.
Last season, Virginia, of course, finished atop the KenPom standings (and indeed, atop the entire world...not sure if you’ve heard but the Hoos are the national champions). They finished second in adjusted offensive efficiency and fifth in adjusted defensive efficiency. They also finished as the slowest team in the country, ranked 353 out of 353 in adjusted and raw tempo.
Virginia lost De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and Jack Salt to graduation and the NBA. The Hoos also lost Marco Anthony (transfer to Utah State) and Frankie Badocchi (personal reasons). There’s a lot to replace here.
At the start of this season, KenPom projects that Virginia will finish 18th in adjusted offensive efficiency and second in adjusted defensive efficiency. And, in the interest of stability, the Hoos are projected to be dead last in tempo once again this year.
Out the gate, KenPom predicts an overall record of 22-7 for our Cavaliers, and a conference record of 14-6. The lone out-of-conference loss is predicted to be against Purdue on the road. Going game-by-game, the predicted conference losses are only to Louisville and North Carolina, both on the road. The difference between the prediction of the three game-by-game losses vs. the overall 7-loss season is due to compounding percentages.
Here’s what the ACC is looking like based on KenPom:
6. North Carolina
14. Florida State
28. NC State
42. Notre Dame
54. Virginia Tech
66. Georgia Tech
67. Pittsburgh (remind us of this 65-66-67 combo when we complain later this season how hard it is to differentiate the middle-to-bottom of the ACC)
80. Wake Forest
119. Boston College (bless their hearts)
Rounding out the Top 10 are Kentucky (2), Purdue (7), Villanova (8), Gonzaga (9), and Kansas (10).
Virginia’s schedule opens up at #51 Syracuse, and the Hoos are predicted a 65% chance of winning. If you haven’t subscribed to KenPom.com already, it’s well worth your dollars.