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Breaking down the preseason KenPom rankings

The analytics wizard agrees that Dayton, VCU, St. Mary’s, and Gonzaga are among the nation’s elite

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-VCU vs Oklahoma
KenPom has Mo Alie-Cox and VCU as A-10 favorites.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Selection Sunday is a day without equal. Duh. But for many, its fall counterpart is the night mid-major denizen Ken Pomeroy releases his preseason ratings.

Here are the mid-majors who cracked the top 100, with some accompanying thoughts:

18. Saint Mary’s
22. Gonzaga
33. VCU
34. Wichita State
35. Princeton
37. Dayton
43. Rhode Island
46. San Diego State
54. BYU
67. UT-Arlington
69. Valparaiso
72. UNC-Wilmington
74. Davidson
77. Charleston
78. Richmond
79. St. Bonaventure
82. Northern Iowa
83. George Washington
84. Siena
86. New Mexico
88. Eastern Michigan
89. UAB
90. St. Joseph’s
91. Akron
92. William & Mary
94. Monmouth
95. Illinois State
96. North Dakota St.
97. Chattanooga
100. La Salle

Take it all with a grain of salt

This can’t be said loudly enough. In fact, we should put the clapping emojis between each word. The preseason rankings are compiled based on data from the past nine seasons, not necessarily on how good the team will be this year. Give the rankings about a month to work themselves out before you start to complain.

Here’s a more detailed explanation from Mr. Pomeroy himself.

No Atlantic 10 favorite clarity

The three-team jumble at the top of the A-10 doesn’t get much clearer. KenPom has VCU projected as the best team in the conference on the strength of the 19th-ranked defense in the country. The league coaches/media picked Dayton as the preseason favorite last week, and yet Rhode Island (which finished a hair behind the Flyers) is the only conference team in the Coaches Poll at No. 24.

All three are projected to go 13-5 in A-10 play. So in the end, thanks for nothing, KenPom.

Oh, the bubble potential!

Speaking of the Atlantic 10, the general consensus has been that a handful of teams could contend for the fourth spot in the league, with Jack Gibbs and Davidson being the early favorite. KenPom agrees, with nine league teams within the top-100, and seven within the top-83.

Beyond that, three teams from the Missouri Valley cracked the top 100, making another multi-bid season possible, provided Wichita State and Northern Iowa don’t disappoint. The same could be said for the West Coast Conference, where St. Mary’s and Gonzaga could both be second-weekend teams and BYU is expected to be strong again.

High expectations in the Ivy

Most people took immediate notice that Princeton found itself ranked No. 35 overall. The expectations are high for the Tigers, for sure, but that might be a bit much. We’ll find out quickly how good they are, however: Princeton faced BYU in the first game of the season, and also has games against VCU, California, St. Joseph’s, and Monmouth in the non-conference.