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Mixed Up! Composite NCAA Basketball Preseason Rankings

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There are too many polls and rating systems to keep track of. Let's aggregate them and see what happens...

Calipari's fresh crop of Wildcats topped one preseason poll...
Calipari's fresh crop of Wildcats topped one preseason poll...

With so many polls floating around these days, it is really hard to get a feel for how the landscape of college basketball looks. Most of it depends on your specific beliefs about what matters as it relates to college basketball. With that said and, since I have this soap box, this season we are going to do our best to aggregate some of the best sources for division one hoops rankings. We also plan to throw our views into the mix down the line but it is probably best to wait and watch some of the action before lining our thoughts up with some of the ones below. In my eyes, there are four polls that matter. Two are familiar to everyone and the other two are probably beloved by most and scoffed at by some. More importantly, two of these polls are based mainly off watching the games and a whole lot of "gut feel" and the other two basically eliminate all human influence. Here is a quick rundown:

AP & Coaches Poll: You know these ones. 65 writers vote in the AP Poll and 31 coaches vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Methodology is...unknown.

KenPom: While it is extremely nerdy, KenPom has become an authority on college basketball ratings. A purely predictive model, Pomeroy takes all the emotion out of rankings as he leaves it up to a computer. For more, I urge you to read as much of his stuff as possible.

Dan Hanner: Similar to Pomeroy, Hanner's methodology is extremely analytical. Basically, Hanner uses historical trends and projects out returning players offensive efficiency to best predict what will happen. He admits there are holes in his model (none of these are perfect) and cites UCLA as the perfect on-paper team but we know how volatile they are.

Rank Team AP Coaches KenPom Hanner
1 Indiana 1 1 3 1
2 Kentucky 3 3 1 2
3 Ohio State 4 4 2 8
4 Louisville 2 2 8 10
5 Kansas 7 7 10 4
6 Duke 8 8 9 7
7 UCLA 13 13 6 3
8 Syracuse 9 9 7 11
9 Florida 10 10 11 6
9 Michigan State 14 14 4 5
11 Michigan 5 5 12 NR
11 North Carolina State 6 6 24 12
13 Arizona 12 11 23 9
14 North Carolina 11 12 15 NR
15 Memphis 17 16 16 18
16 UNLV 18 19 18 14
17 Gonzaga 21 22 14 13
18 Missouri 15 17 NR 16
19 Wisconsin 23 21 5 NR
20 Creighton 16 15 NR 24
21 Baylor 19 18 20 25
22 Texas NR 24 13 20
23 Notre Dame 22 23 17 22
24 New Mexico NR NR 21 15
25 San Diego State 20 20 NR NR
26 Pittsburgh NR NR 22 19
27 Tennessee NR NR NR 17
28 Kansas State NR NR 19 NR
29 Marquette NR NR NR 21
30 Florida State 25 24 NR NR
30 Minnesota NR NR NR 23
32 Cincinnati 24 NR NR NR
33 St. Louis NR NR 25 NR

*Note: Teams that were unranked in any of the four polls were given a 26 when aggregation was done.

A Note On The Zags...

The Zags check in at #17 in our composite rankings and it is an even split between humans and computers. Pomeroy and Hanner have the Bulldogs in the ealry-to-mid teens while the AP & Coaches slot them in the twenties. The difference here is likely due to all the Zags that are returning and how much Pomeroy and Hanner value returning contributors. Humans, on the other side of the coin, will likely remember the Bulldogs falling to SMC in the WCC title game and then exiting early in the tournament (even though they played Ohio State down to the wire). In the end, things will shake out as they should but for now...go computers!

Some Polarizing Results...

Whenever you clash opposing methodologies, there are bound to be a number of differences. It is amplified by the fact that we have no results in 2012-13 yet. Let's take a look at what teams were particularly polarizing in each poll.

Michigan (AP & Coaches: 5th, Dan Hanner: Unranked):

A bit of an anomaly here due to Dan Hanner not ranking the Wolverines which he addresses in his ratings explanation post:

Michigan is almost certainly too low in my prediction, but I haven't been able to use historic data to generate a higher ranking for the Wolverines. John Beilein has never had a top-25 defense, and a team of newcomers is not the situation where a coach typically has his best defensive season. Then again this is the most athletic team Beilein has ever had in Ann Arbor, and it feels like Michigan's defense will be better than what is projected here.

Wisconsin (AP: 23rd, KenPom: 5th):

The loss of Jordan Taylor scared away the human votes and Pomeroy admits that 5th may be a bit strong from his model:

5. Wisconsin: My overrating of the Badgers last season is fueling their rise here. But even if one assumes they were in the 10-15 range last season as Vegas odds indicated, they'd still be in the top ten now. I guess the question to people who don't want to rank the Badgers (or who do so apologetically) is: How much of a dropoff do you expect from Jordan Taylor to a redshirt freshman point guard? It's going to be big, sure, but it would have to be huge to justify the pessimism towards the Badgers. I don't think they're a top ten team, but something in the 10-20 range is reasonable unless you think last season was a total fluke.

NC State (AP & Coaches: 6th, KenPom: 24th):

NC State is the sexy pick in NCAA basketball this season. Whether that ranking is justified or whether it is a product of folks just wanting to see someone other than Duke & Carolina dominate ACC headlines remains to be seen. Pomeroy explains his model's view of NC State:

24. N.C. State: The humans see a late Wolfpack run over the final three weeks of last season. Was that the real N.C. State or were they playing over their heads? If the former, then I could see pushing them ten spots higher. And there's enough human certainty about them being even better than that, that I'm willing to admit there's a non-zero possibility of Richard Howell standing on the rim at the Georgia Dome on April 8, even if it lowers my algorithm's sense of self-worth.

This should be a fun things to track week in week out especially as some of the higher ranked folks begin to falter. See anything that jumps out to you? Let us know in the comments below!