Duke, Kentucky, Kansas lead SI’s preseason top 20 poll

Now in its third season, SI's College Basketball Projections System has produced the most accurate preseason poll for the past two years. We don't rely on human voters, but instead build team by team projections from the players up. On offense, we begin by projecting every player's efficiency and shot volume, incorporating his past performance, recruiting rankings, development curves for similar Division I players, the quality of his teammates and his coach's ability to maximize talent. Those stats are weighted based on the team's rotation—including human intel on who’s expected to earn minutes—then used to produce each team’s offensive efficiency projection.

Our defensive forecasts are based on a blend of returnees' advanced stats (rebound, steal and block percentages), roster turnover (if churn is low, then 2014–15 performances in areas such as two-point field goal percentage are given a lot of weight; if high, then a coach’s historical defensive résumé matters more), experience (veterans have fewer lapses), height (taller frontcourts make for stingier defense) and depth of talent.

We simulate the season 10,000 times to account for variance in individual performances as well as injury scenarios, and the final product are these projections. To read are full rankings of every team in Division I, from 351–1, click here. Below, we offer a scouting report, player projections, conference projections, a coach's take and an X-factor for each team in our top 20.

 

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