The 2015-16 NCAA Division I Basketball regular season runs from November 13th, 2015 through late February, 2016; setting up a series of conference championship tournaments, sans the Ivy League, in hopes of making the NCAA Tournament, also known as March Madness. With a total of 351 NCAA Division I teams spread across 32 conferences, a total of 68 teams make the NCAA playoffs. Each team plays approximately 30 games in a season, leading to an approximate total of 5,265 games to be played over the course of the regular season. In order to make the tournament a team must: win their conference tournament, win the regular season Ivy League, or receive an “at-large” bid by being deemed as a top team in Division I that did not meet the first two criteria.
For our model, we take into account only three items: wins-losses, home-court advantage, and size of win with diminishing return. What our model does not cover is the impact of injury and “meaningfulness” of the game. For example, currently Duke picked up a 77-79 overtime loss to Utah with stud center Amile Jefferson (Duke) sitting out with a broken foot. This game will only be seen as a Duke 2-point loss to Utah on a neutral court.
We tend to hold off on putting out NCAA rankings early in the season. For instance, a total of 1,666 NCAA Division I games have been played. This equates to approximately 30% of the season being played out. With 351 total teams, several of which have only played 8-9 games, there has not been enough cross-pollination to build a meaningful rankings scheme based on the criteria above. Due to this, strong start teams such as Arkansas Little Rock will get overinflated scores and will rank excessively high in unbiased, merit-based polls.
It should be noted that our rankings will include suspended Southern Methodist University, whereas the AP Top 25 Coaches’ Poll does not include the Mustangs.
Very Early March Madness Predicted Entrants:
This being our first prediction of the participants of March Madness, we caution to the fact that there have been exactly 29 conference games played across the 32 conferences; thanks to the Big South, Metro Atlantic Athletic, and the Mid-Eastern Athletic conferences. No other conferences have played any conference games over the first 37 days of the season. Hence all noted conference champions will be predicted based on our rankings system.
- America East: Stony Brook (6-4, 0-0)
- American: Cincinnati (10-2, 0-0)
- Atlantic 10: Dayton (8-2, 0-0)
- Atlantic Coast: Louisville (9-1, 0-0)
- Atlantic Sun: North Florida (10-4, 0-0)
- Big 12: Oklahoma (8-0, 0-0)
- Big East: Xavier (11-0, 0-0)
- Big Sky: Weber State (6-5, 0-0)
- Big South: UNC Asheville (7-4, 1-0)
- Big Ten: Michigan State (11-0, 0-0)
- Big West: Hawaii (7-1, 0-0)
- Colonial Athletic: William & Mary (6-3, 0-0)
- Conference USA: Middle Tennessee State (7-2, 0-0)
- Horizon League: Valparaiso (10-2, 0-0)
- Ivy League: Yale (5-5, 0-0)
- Metro Atlantic: Monmouth (8-3, 1-1)
- Mid-American: Ohio (7-3, 0-0)
- Mid-Eastern: Howard (7-5, 1-1)
- Missouri Valley: Wichita State (5-5, 0-0)
- Mountain West: New Mexico (7-3, 0-0)
- Northeast: Wagner (6-3, 0-0)
- Ohio Valley: Morehead State (6-3, 0-0)
- Pac-12: Arizona (11-1, 0-0)
- Patriot League: Army (8-3, 0-0)
- Southeastern: South Carolina (10-0, 0-0)
- Southern: Chattanooga (9-2, 0-0)
- Southland: Texas A&M Corpus Christi (8-3, 0-0)
- Southwestern Athletic: Southern (7-4, 0-0)
- Summit League: South Dakota State (10-2, 0-0)
- Sun Belt: Arkansas Little Rock (10-0, 0-0)
- West Coast: St. Mary’s (8-1, 0-0)
- Western Athletic: Grand Canyon (9-2, 0-0)
The remaining 36 “at-large” teams are then the top 36 teams in our rankings. These 36 teams are given as:
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Iowa State
- Notre Dame
- George Washington
- New Mexico
- Texas Tech
- UT – Arlington
In future posts, we will populate the 68 team bracket to display potential match-ups. By this point, some of the conference games should be ironed out and we should have a clearer picture of the more stable contending teams.
Rankings Based on Wins, Location, and Score Disparity
Our preliminary rankings are given below. Remember that there have been no power conference in-conference match ups to date, and only thirty percent of the season has played out. Thus the rankings will seem a little swayed to the teams that are undefeated. Over the next month, the rankings will iron out.