Traditional powers Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and more all fall behind TCU in one very important stat with opening day of the 2017-2018 basketball season just eight days away - ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. The metric is defined as:
a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward. BPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Strength of Record (SOR) is a measure of team accomplishment based on how difficult a team's W-L record is to achieve. Game predictions account for opponent strength, pace of play, site, travel distance, day's rest and altitude, and are used to simulate the season 10,000 times to produce season projections. Numbers update daily.
With all those factors considered, Jamie Dixon’s squad has one of the highest ratings in the country, at 9.7, placing them near the top of the leaderboard just over a week ahead of opening day. Returning their top six scorers and welcoming in two experienced transfers certainly helps.
TCU is in a similar situation. For a school that hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1998, BPI is awfully high on the Horned Frogs' prospects. TCU's returning players were just a bit less efficient than the Bearcats' but are returning even more adjusted minutes.
One thing to note in both situations is that the difference between BPI's fifth-ranked team, TCU, and its 12th-ranked team (West Virginia) is less than .6 points per game.
The Frogs, who trails #1 Wichita State, Villanova, Kansas, and Purdue, are given a 14% chance to make the Final Four and a 4% shot to win it all (wait, whut). WVU, just .5 points behind the Frogs, is 12th, Baylor 17th, Iowa State 20th, and Texas Tech 22nd. The Big 12 is loaded, y’all.
The Jayhawks are given the best shot at winning the conference for what would be a 14th straight year, but it’s a crowded race:
Ultimately, while these projections are fun, and bring an additional level of excitement to the coming season, we won’t know anything until conference play start. One thing that it ensures, though, is that once again, the Big 12 is the best conference in basketball, with more than half the league predicted to make the NCAA Tournament:
TCU opens their season at home on Friday, November 10th against Louisiana Monroe.