LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We’re 20 days from the start of the 2021-22 college basketball season, and even the algorithms are transfixed on the calendar.
Three of my four favorite computer power formulas posted their preseason rankings. All I’m waiting on is The King — Jeff Sagarin — who typically does not release his numbers until games have been played.
I’ll tough it out without Sagarin, a former pick-up basketball pal of mine in the days when there was actually a sliver of a jump in my jump shot. Don’t take Sagarin into the post. You’ll be in trouble.
Ken Pomeroy, Bart Torvik and Erik Haslam shared their numbers, and they’re encouraging for Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana, WKU and Bellarmine.
If you trust the numbers (and we’re 144 days from Selection Sunday, so buyer beware), Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana are forecast as NCAA Tournament teams. Some years, that is a shrug. But it's not this season after all three missed the party in 2021.
None of the locals are top-10 teams, even though UK ranked No. 10 in the initial human poll filed by the Associated Press on Monday.
According to Pomeroy, Torvik and Haslam, here is the consensus preseason top 10 using those three formulas:
- Gonzaga, which starts on top in all three computer polls.
- Kansas, which is ranked second, third and sixth, a year after finally losing control to the Big 12 to Baylor.
- Michigan, No. 2 in the initial Pomeroy numbers. Juwan Howard rolls on.
- Baylor, the defending national champion.
- Illinois, even without Do-It-All guard Ayo Dosunmu.
- Purdue, which should be Matt Painter’s best team.
- Texas, which flooded its roster with transfers. Fear Chris Beard.
- UCLA, which was ranked second by Torvik, but No. 17 by Haslam, whose numbers likely remember UCLA barely made the NCAA field before rolling to the Final Four last season.
- Ohio State, third in another rugged Big Ten.
- Villanova, as Jay Wright usually finds a way to stay in the photo.
By my calculation, Kentucky checks in as the consensus No. 15 in the computer formulas, also behind Houston, Duke, Memphis and Tennessee.
Torvik ranked Kentucky No 17. So did Pomeroy. Torvik bumped the Wildcats up to No. 13.
Torvik’s formula forecasts that the Wildcats will be a 1.7-point underdog in their opener with Duke on Nov. 9. And then UK should be favored in its next eight games.
Torvik likes Davidson transfer Kellan Grady to lead the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game with West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe averaging close to a double-double: 10.4 points and 8.6 boards.
Torvik even added a likely NCAA Tournament seed of 3.9 for UK.
There are larger gaps in Louisville’s preseason computer numbers. Haslam’s formula placed Louisville at No. 22. Torvik said No. 23. Pomeroy dropped the Cards to No. 36, fourth in the ACC.
Here is the surprise. Fourth in the ACC is behind Duke, Florida State and Notre Dame but ahead of Virginia and North Carolina. Remind me to take a screen shot.
Pomeroy projects a 19-11 season for the Cards, listing Chris Mack’s team as a two-point favorite for their trip to Western Kentucky on Dec. 18 but a six-point underdog at Kentucky on Dec. 22.
Torvik has Louisville as a No. 6 seed in March with a 91.8% chance to make the 68-team NCAA field.
Kenpom preseason numbers for the Big Ten are pretty similar to T-Rank, with remarkable exception of Iowa. So now I have another reason to root against Iowa. pic.twitter.com/29g1l6u7gh— Bart T🏀rvik (@totally_t_bomb) October 17, 2021
Indiana has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2016. Torvik’s formula says that streak will end this season, listing IU as a likely No. 7 seed with an 86.4% chance to make the field.
Torvik ranked IU No. 30. Pomeroy agrees, placing IU at No. 31. Haslam, however, bumped IU to No. 14. That would be fifth in the Big Ten, one spot behind UK and one spot ahead of Duke.
If that happens, I’ll need reaction from the folks that wrote Indiana spent $10 million to make the program worse by firing Archie Miller and hiring Mike Woodson.
The computer formulas have similar takes on Rick Stansbury’s WKU team. The Hilltoppers are No. 90 in Pomeroy, No. 94 in Torvik and No. 99 in Haslam.
UAB, not WKU, is the team to beat in Conference USA. Torvik put WKU’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament at 15.4%.
Do not forget Scott Davenport and Bellarmine. The Knights ranked No. 276 in Torvik, No. 175 in Pomeroy and No. 156 in Haslam.
Torvik put Bellarmine seventh in the ASUN, while Pomeroy has the Knights third.
According to Pomeroy, Bellarmine will be a 21-point underdog for its opener at Purdue on Nov. 9.
It gets more difficult from there. Bellarmine is listed as a 27-point underdog at Gonzaga Nov. 19 and a 17-point underdog when Davenport coaches against his pal Mick Cronin and UCLA on Nov. 22.
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