Sunday, October 30, 2016

MBB Preview: The Schedule

Last year, BG benefitted in its overall schedule by playing a pretty soft set of opponents...and I think you will see a similar trend this year.  This preview is based on the analysis, which as predictions goes is pretty much as good as anything else.  Let's take a look.

Overall, game-by-game, he projects BG to go 16-15 and 7-11 in the MAC.  Actually, on overall probability, he thinks we go it is between those two.  That indicates a 2-3 game improvement in MAC play for BG and a finish slightly below the middle in the conference.

I think it is reasonable to expect BG to have a winning November.  There's the Bill Frack challenge so BG will play a lot of home games...and Duke ain't walking through that Stroh Center door.  Anyway, with a loss at Oakland, they see BG going 6-1 in November...which would mean 10-14 after that.  SO...if you're shooting for a winning record overall (and that's a good goal for this team as we see it now), that's going to be important.

6-1 would mean losing to Oakland, winning @South Dakota, and then beating UMKC, Green Bay, Murray State, Morgan State and Notre Dame (not that Notre Dame) at the Stroh.  Within those wins, you have a road win--never a sure thing, even against South Dakota, and home wins against good Green Bay and Murray State teams.  So, could be 4-3, could be 6-1.

Things get tougher.  BG is likely to lose @UC and @Evansville, but then has four straight winnable games.  You would expect BG to beat Detroit at the Stroh...lose @San Jose...and then beat Alabama A&M and Norfolk State at the Stroh.  In fact, San Jose State is not very good and that's almost 50/50 according to Kenpom.

That takes us to the end of the pre-season.  BG could be as good as 10-3 and as poor as 7-6.

Then you enter MAC play.

Here are the projections.

Looking at this, you can see a couple things...first the real chances for that 8-10 record (or better) are going to come at home.  I kind of feel like anything between 40 and 60 is an open question...that's the difference of just 1 game if you played five.  Basically, all but Miami and Kent are inside that range.  Now, history tells us that Akron has around a 90% chance of winning against BG, but basically (due to home court) these are very competitive games.  BG is going to have to beat very good NIU, Ball State, OU and Buffalo teams to get the 6-3 project record.  Also, they have no recent track record beating Toledo, who are not supposed to be great this year, but still.  BG won only 2 MAC games at home last year and they're not going to ever contend until that gets turned around.

Conversely, BG did play relatively well on the road at 3-6.  The projection has them going 1-8 on the road.  I can see this going better.  I'm not sure how BG ended up, for example, with a 33% chance of winning at CMU, but I suspect its higher than that, and I also suspect there's a higher than 31% chance at WMU.

By the time you mix all that out, I think 7-8 wins is a pretty good target.  Even if you adjust a couple of those road games, it just seems like a lot of uphill climbs for such a young team.

So, add it up, maybe you get as good as 18-13/8-10 and as poor as 13-18/6-12.

I'd like to see the whole thing be improved over last year, particularly in the MAC, by 2-3 games.  A .500 MAC season would be great.  Anything better, and things are really looking up.

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