The No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats make their season debut on Tuesday against the Duke Blue Devil in Indianapolis. But before the tip-off at the CBS Champions Classic, both of these teams took a beating at the hands of ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI).
In preseason rankings, Kentucky comes in No. 9 while Duke is ranked No. 11. Although they should be used to being low on this list, as Duke was at No. 14 and Kentucky came in at No. 19 last season.
BPI puts previous experience at a premium, so it is expected that programs that rely heavily on freshman production would rank lower than other teams. The BPI top ten looks like this.
BPI Top Ten
- Kansas Jayhawks
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Gonzaga Bulldogs
- Tennesee Volunteers
- Villanova Wildcats
- Syracuse Orange
- Wisconsin Badgers
- Kentucky Wildcats
- Marquette Golden Eagles
The BPI does not have a great deal of confidence in Kentucky’s post season chances, either. The BPI NCAA tournament projection only gives Kentucky an 80% chance to make the tournament and a 10% chance to make the Final Four.
For comparison, No. 1 Kansas is given a 97% chance to make the NCAA Tournament and a 30% (!) chance to make the Final Four.
The BPI also ranks the SEC as the worst Power 5 conference in college basketball. Despite having two top ten BPI teams in Tennessee and Kentucky, the conference ranks a 5.8 compared to the Big 12’s 7.8 and a 6.8 for the ACC. Even the Big East scored a 6.1.
I am a big fan of analytics, but if you plan to ignore potential production from incoming star players then I find it hard to take your system seriously. Check back in with the BPI in February, then it will have some actual data to use and might make more sense.