2015 NFL Mock Draft

Finally, we are just one day away from the NFL’s main offseason event. Fans’ hopes are as high as they get, speculations continue to swirl, and those that are fortunate enough to have tickets are preparing to let their boos be heard when Roger Goodell takes the stage. For this mock draft, we are assuming no trades are made, and each team makes their own pick.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Bubble Breakdown: Safe Side of the Bubble

Nebraska (19-11)

Conference: Big Ten

KenPom Rank – 47

RPI Rank – 42

Best Player – Terran Petteway

How they got here: No team has had a bigger jump since the time of my first writing to today than Nebrasketball. While their tournament chances and RPI took a big jump after they knocked off Wisconsin at home on Sunday to get the #4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, their win was not much of a surprise. They had a 40% chance to win on Sunday and they have been absolutely dynamite at home the whole season. Nebraska has only had one loss at home, to Michigan by one point, and their inspired play at their brand-new stadium has brought them to the doorstep of their first tournament appearance since 1998.

How do they play? Nebraska runs the majority of their offense through Terran Petteway. Petteway leads the Big Ten in percentage of team shots taken (32%) and also in usage rate. Petteway is a balanced scorer who is pretty efficient from both 2 and 3. However, where he is best is at drawing fouls (6 fouls drawn per 40 minutes, 3rd in the Big Ten) and knocking down free throws, where he hits 82%. As a team, Nebraska’s specialty is defense where they rank 27th in the country in defensive efficiency, specializing in a strong defensive rebounding percentage. Nebrasketball plays slower than average, as to be expected for a Big Ten team, and relies on Petteway and Shavon Shields to carry the bulk of the minutes for the squad.

Are they any good? Eh. They are pretty good, but unspectacular. There are two tournament clichés that go against each other when it comes to Nebrasketball. First of all, Nebraska is coming into the Big Ten Tournament on a run, going 8-1 in their last 9 games and beating Wisconsin, and winning at Indiana and at Michigan State. However, their team is run through one player and when a team has a week to completely focus on scouting, that one player is usually taken away in the tournament, making them predictable and vulnerable. Despite that, the bigger Red Herring for Nebraska is this: on Teamrankings.com, Nebraska’s home power ranking is #12. Their away power ranking is #62 and their neutral site power ranking is #135. Here’s a news flash: there are no home games in the NCAA tournament. Can Nebrasketball survive away from their heartland? We will see.

Where do they go next? Nebraska has gained the enviable position of a first round bye in the Big Ten tournament setting up a potential matchup with Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament, a game in which they will be underdogs. Barring a blow out in the Ohio State game, they will be in the tournament come Selection Sunday, and picking up some wins in the Big Ten tournament could move them up potentially as far as an 8 seed.

Dayton (22-9)

Conference: Atlantic 10

KenPom Rank – 51

RPI Rank – 38

Best Player – Devin Oliver

How they got here: Dayton has put together a number of quality wins this year over teams such as Gonzaga, George Washington, and at St. Louis. Dayton has also won difficult road games at Mississippi and Georgia Tech. They, like Nebraska, have gone on a hot streak recently, where they are 9-1 in their last ten games, with a huge win at St. Louis included. Dayton’s recent run has put them in a comfortable, but not guaranteed, spot heading into the next week.

How do they play? Dayton has a very balanced team that relies on a strong team 3P%, 37.5%, which ranks 55th in the country, and a strong offensive rebound percentage, ranking 40th in the nation. This is all embodied by Devin Oliver, who shoots 54% from 2 and 40% from 3, all while pulling down over 7 rebounds a game. In their recent run, they have scored more than 1 point per possession in 8 of their 10 games, which is the strength of their team, ranking 31st nationally in offensive efficiency. Dayton’s defense is lacking and they are a team that fouls an awful lot, ranking 252nd in FTA/FGA nationally.

Are they any good? While they are a little overrated in the RPI rank, this is a team that is still pretty decent overall, while the still may be a little over seeded in the tournament. Dayton has accumulated quality wins this season that have shown they have the potential to make a run. While Dayton has been under the radar all year, they have put together the best offense in the A10 and can really attack from the 3 point line.

Where do they go next? Dayton has a relatively easy path in the A10 tournament, facing the winner of Fordham – George Mason, and then facing an overrated St. Joe’s team in the quarters. This combination helps Dayton fans feel pretty comfortable getting into the tournament as long as they win their first game. Dayton is being projected to get a 11 or 12 seed at this point which could bring the best outcome for basketball fans, Dayton playing in the First Four games at home in Dayton.

Tennessee (20-11)

Conference: SEC

KenPom Rank – 14

RPI Rank – 43

Best Player – Jordan McRae

How they got here: Tennessee has had an awful amount of bad luck to get them here on the bubble, even if they will probably be getting in at the end of the day. Tennessee has had close losses at Xavier, at Vanderbilt, at Missouri, and at Texas A&M. Also well as their close losses, Tennessee has beat down some damn good teams, including a 15 point win over Virginia, a 15 point win over Xavier in a neutral site rematch and a 27 point destruction of Missouri. Tennessee has had a pretty difficult schedule this year, ranking 51st in the KenPom strength of schedule ranking and has the 3rd hardest schedule in the SEC.

How do they play? Tennessee plays quite a slow style yet, they are remarkable efficient on both the offensive and defensive end, ranking 17th in offensive efficiency and 28th in defensive efficiency. They are absolute beasts on the offensive glass, ranking 4th in the nation in offensive rebounding. Tennessee is also graced with the best player in the SEC and a top ten player nationally in Jordan McRae. McRae draws a large amount of fouls and shoots a good percentage from 2 point range, 3 point range and the line, all while taking the 3rd highest percentage of shots in the SEC. His partner in crime Jarnell Stokes is a heck of a player as well, currently ranked as the 3rd best player in the SEC by KenPom and has been dynamite from two point range, shooting 53% while killing it on the offensive boards, where he has lead the SEC in offensive rebounding percentage, and is 16th nationally. On the defensive end, Tennessee still rebounds well, and also holds teams to a very low 2 point field goal percentage, at 44.3%, 42nd in the country.

Are they any good? If you are looking for the team that high seeds want to avoid early in the tournament, look no further than Tennessee. Tennessee is a hell of a team, ranking 14th in KenPom right next to Syracuse, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan. Now imagine being a five seed facing one of those teams in the first game of the NCAA tournament and that’s what a team facing Tennessee will get. Not only do the stats show that Tennessee is that good, Tennessee has shown it already this year when they beat potential #1 seed Virginia by 15 handing them their largest loss of the year. Depending on how the bracket ends up, Tennessee has a very good chance of getting to the Sweet Sixteen, if not the Final Four, even though they will likely be an 11 or 12 seed, with the outside chance of sneaking up to a 10 seed if they beat Florida in the SEC tournament.

Where do they go next? They will probably lock up their spot with a win against Arkansas in the SEC tournament, a team that they are much better than (they should be relatively large favorites in that game). However, Tennessee continues to get unlucky, as while by KenPom they are the second best team in the conference, they have gotten the 4th seed in the conference tournament and a semifinal match up against the dominant Gators. They have a decent chance at beating Florida on a neutral court, but it’s not a game that they are expected to win. However, if they get past the Gators, they have a great shot at winning the whole tournament. Into the NCAA tournament, Tennessee should be hoping to get potentially overrated high seeded teams such as San Diego State, Iowa State, and Saint Louis.

by Robert Garcia, Northwestern University

What is the Probability of Perfection?

After winning its conference tournament this past weekend, the Wichita State Shockers became the first Division I men’s basketball team to enter March Madness undefeated since the 1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. Wichita State was also the first team to go 30-0 in the regular season.

A feat like this requires some degree of luck. There is never a game in which a team has 100% win certainty, no matter how the weak competition. That said it is certainly a lot easier for a team that plays a weaker strength of schedule to run the table.

The perfect Shockers actually had a very average strength of schedule. According to KenPom.com, Wichita State’s Pythagoras strength of schedule was .531, good for 131st out of 351 teams. This means, against an average Division One opponent, the Shockers’ competition would win 53.1% of games. This is slightly above average, but not strong nonetheless. On the other hand, Wichita State’s Pythagoras rating is .9403, good for fourth in the country, behind three major powerhouses: Arizona, Louisville and Florida.

So the question remains, how likely was their run?

First, for simplicity sake, let us consider the case where every one of Wichita State’s games was against its average opponent. Their expected win probability could be adjusted to approximately 93.3% using Bill James’s Log5 formula. Developed by the famed sabermetrician, the Log5 formula, weights the winning percentage of each team to develop a single-game win percentage. While the derivation of the formula is complex, the equation is simple:

             A - A * B
  WPct = -----------------
         A + B - 2 * A * B

Given this, the probability that the Shockers go undefeated is simply .93^34, which is 9.4 percent.

Let’s examine each game a little more in depth, however. The Shockers, who have been criticized for their strength of schedule, have indeed played some strong teams including probable tourney teams like Saint Louis and Tennessee an at-large 11-seed (according to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology). Developed for baseball, Bill James’s formula fails if you assume 1.0 win probability, because clearly team A will always win.

However, if we assume KenPom’s rating is a decent estimation of true winning percentage, then the log5 formula can provide insight into how the shockers did. As I used KenPom’s Pythagoras rating for Wichita State, I also used it for each team they played and applied the log5 formula to each game. I did not count the first game of Wichita State’s season because it was against a non-D1 opponent.

Opponent KenPom rating Log5 Win %
Western Kentucky

0.4582

0.94904233

William & Mary

0.4955

0.941302501

Tennessee State

0.2312

0.981264367

Tulsa

0.7062

0.867595933

DePaul

0.4541

0.949835696

Brigham Young

0.8025

0.794925273

Saint Louis

0.8437

0.744757998

Oral Roberts

0.4734

0.946005567

Tennessee

0.8989

0.639179631

Alabama

0.6905

0.875926611

North Carolina Central

0.6793

0.881458018

Davidson

0.6056

0.911170633

Southern Illinois

0.5218

0.935209503

Northern Iowa

0.6733

0.884292074

Illinois State

0.5566

0.926183658

Missouri State

0.5342

0.932128408

Bradley

0.3949

0.960213505

Indiana State

0.6426

0.89754137

Illinois State

0.5566

0.926183658

Drake

0.4278

0.954683114

Loyola (IL)

0.3277

0.969981789

Evansville

0.3991

0.959537799

Indiana State

0.6426

0.89754137

Northern Iowa

0.6733

0.884292074

Southern Illinois

0.5218

0.935209503

Evansville

0.3991

0.959537799

Loyola (IL)

0.3277

0.969981789

Drake

0.4278

0.954683114

Bradley

0.3949

0.960213505

Missouri State

0.5342

0.932128408

Evansville

0.3991

0.959537799

Missouri State

0.5342

0.932128408

Indiana State

0.6426

0.89754137

To calculate the probability that Wichita State won all these games, I simply multiplied all these single game probabilities together.

Probability of going undefeated  = 4.37%

Clearly, the Shockers are very lucky. They didn’t suffer injuries to any major players. Also, they are in the Missouri Valley Conference, a conference that is suitably weak to cultivate an undefeated campaign. Nonetheless, Wichita State is a team to reckon with going forward. This season has not been a simple cakewalk for them. Games against Tennessee, Saint Louis and Brigham Young were games that although they were expected to win, posed a significant threat to their perfection.

Unless the selection committee shocks (pun intended) the nation, Wichita State will be a number one seed after reaching the Final Four last season. Will they reach the Final Four once again? That remains to be seen, but just like their perfect season, it will require a lot of skill and a little bit of luck.

by Jacob Lynch, Harvard College

Introduction to the Bubble Breakdown

Welcome to March.

We are closing in on the tournament, and the bubble is starting to shrink. We can close in and analyze who has the best chance of getting in and who is going to the NIT. At time of this writing (Sunday Night, March 9th), I have calculated that there are 42 locks, and 17 more 1 bid leagues, teams that will get 1 team in but no more, that have not crowned their champion. That leaves 59 spots in the tournament already decided, and 9 total spots on the bubble. First, before touching on each team and their chances of moving into the tournament, I want to discuss what is dangerous for all of the bubble teams – bid stealing. A pet peeve of mine is when TV analysts begin to talk about the bubble and they talk about how if one team wins one game they could go from the middle of the bubble to a lock. Even more of a pet peeve is when analysts forget to include the lost bubble spots to bid stealing. Here is an example of what I mean by bid stealing: Toledo is a great example of a team that could really screw over some bubble teams this postseason. Toledo is a bubble team as well as the favorite to win their conference tournament because of their very strong RPI. If Toledo wins their tournament, the MAC will be a 1-bid conference and the bubble will stay the same size. However, if Toledo loses in their tournament (which really wouldn’t be too big of a surprise as they are not even the #1 seed in their conference), the MAC could become a 2 bid conference and make the bubble shrink. Other more common scenarios are when a low level team in a top conference such as the SEC or Big 10 comes out of nowhere and wins their conference tournament, like Georgia did in 2008, winning the SEC tournament and getting a 14 seed in the tournament. So pay attention, bubble teams. Along with your team, you are rooting for the favorites the rest of the way out. At the end of the day, based on the conference tournament win probabilities, we can expect around 2 bids to be stolen, which brings our bubble to 7. Now lets start breaking down the bubble teams and where they stand.

Locks: Arizona, Florida, Wichita State, Villanova, Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan, Syracuse, Virginia, Creighton, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, Michigan State, Iowa State, San Diego St, Cincinnati, UCLA, Oklahoma, Connecticut, VCU, New Mexico, Harvard, Eastern Kentucky, St. Louis, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Texas, Memphis, Ohio State, Massachusetts, Oregon, Baylor, SMU, St. Joseph’s, BYU, Kansas State, George Washington, Colorado, Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Iowa

Beautiful, done with that. In my next post, we’ll start classifying some teams.

by Robert Garcia, Northwestern University