Let’s take a quick stroll down stats lane and advanced stats boulevard and see how the Huskers are projected to stack up, shall we?
Just because this is my first season covering Husker hoops, I am going to also include a brief blurb describing the basics of each stat tracker (I’m not a stats major, so I can’t do any deep dives here, just basic overviews). I’m sure most, if not all of you, already know this. However, I’m going to for this season opener blurb include the brief description of each ranking system you can refer back to over the season for a one stop shop.
The Huskers come in last in the B1G in KenPom. Every bigly team is top 100 in KenPom to start the season, and the Huskers come in projected at 96th overall. Adjusted offense is 115th with a 103.6 rating. Adjusted defense is 92nd with a 97.1 rating. Adjusted tempo is 20th with a 74.9 rating.
The overall conference is as follows:
No. 1 - Michigan State Spartans
No. 7 - Purdue Boilermakers
No. 11 - Ohio State Buckeyes
No. 16 - Maryland Terrapins
No. 21 - Michigan Wolverines
No. 34 - Indiana Hoosiers
No. 35 - Illinois Fighting Illini
No. 41 - Iowa Hawkeyes
No. 43 - Penn State Nittany Lions
No. 45 - Wisconsin Badgers
No. 63 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights
No. 81 - Minnesota Golden Gophers
No. 87 - Northwestern Wildcats
No. 96 - Nebraska Cornhuskers
Other notable non-con opponents include Creighton 36th, Georgia Tech 66th, and Washington St. at 163rd.
As for KenPom, it is a purely predictive ratings system. KenPom is designed to tell you how well a team will perform if they play tonight, not taking into account injuries or emotional factors. It isn’t designed to tell you how well a team has played all season.
Yes, it is defunct (long overdue) now as the criteria used by the NCAA selection committee, but we still use it in the sport for some reason. So here I am to tell you all about the Huskers and B1G RPI projections entering the season!
I’m kidding. RPI isn’t really worth listing at this point just yet. I will only add Nebraska seems to fall at 48th in RPI for now as the season opens.
First off, Nebraska ranks 90th in BPI. What is BPI you might ask? Good question. It stands for “Burpee puke index” and means the Huskers can do 90 burpees in a row without breaks before puking.
Ok, that’s obviously not what it means. It is ESPN’s “Basketball Power Index.” BPI is not that dissimilar to RPI in a generic sense (I’m not a stats major, so I can’t really sit here and break down the exact minutiae of the differences here, just a broad overview). BPI accounts for missing players in losses and wins. So losses that occur when a star player is missing are weighted lower than losses in which that player participated. For the purpose of starting out the calculations at the beginning of a season, it mostly factors in the following:
Quantity of experience on roster (including transfers)
Quality of that experience
Recruiting rankings for incoming freshmen, with an extra emphasis on five-star players
Coach’s past performance
Then they use that rating to simulate the season. Once games are played, ratings are updated based on team performance, adjusted for opponent.
For a more in-depth explanation, you can read up on it yourself from people who are smarter about stats than I am here.
BPI is high on the B1G, projecting them to place 7.1 teams in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season, higher than any other conference. The B1G also places 7 teams in the BPI top 25, better than any other conference. All but one teams falls within the top 100, Northwestern being the odd man out. As for our Cornhuskers, they currently sit at 90th in BPI. As for the rest of the Big Ten:
1. Michigan State
24. Penn State
25. Ohio State
Joe Lunardi doesn’t have Nebraska in the NCAA tournament projections (not a big surprise, and for anyone saying I’m over-hyping Nebrasketball, I have only said they, at best, might be an upper-tier of the bottom-half of the conference). The main reason I bring him up at this point in the season is to highlight that he projects the B1G to have a nation leading 8 teams make the NCAA tournament this season. Lunardi projects Michigan State as the overall 1 seed in the tournament in the Midwest; Ohio State as a 5 and Penn State a 10 seed in the East; Purdue as a 4 and Iowa an 11 seed in the south; and Maryland as a 2, Michigan as a 9, and Wisconsin as an 11 seed in the West. Minnesota is projected as a next four out. Other notable non-B1G teams include Creighton as a seed in the Midwest and Coach Hoiberg’s Cyclones in the West as a ten seed.
Lunardi isn’t really a stats category in and of itself. He uses his own stats system to come out with a predicted bracket for the NCAA tournament. For anybody thinking I am suggesting Nebraska will find itself celebrating a bid on Selection Sunday, thing again. That would be quite the surprise for the season. I, personally, think that hoping for an NIT bid is a realistic goal to hope for. Nobody should expect it, however, and I am not saying this team will be an NIT team. Merely there is a remote potential here that things could all fall into place with a little luck and hard work and the Huskers repeat for the third straight year as an NIT team. The would be the absolute best case scenario in my opinion over a broad range of outcomes that are all more or less equally likely at this point at the start of the season.
Like its predecessor RPI, NET isn’t really something that is out there for the preseason. However, it is a key ranking to keep an eye on as the season progresses as it is the main sorting tool the selection committee considers when extending tournament bids come March. Getting into the nuance of quadrant 1 versus quadrant 4 is probably best explained by someone else, so read up on it here if you want. I’ll try to expand on it a bit more later in the season most likely.