How much should last year’s performance be factored into preseason college basketball rankings?  

It depends on health, whether the coach is back and/or how many of the team’s top players have returned. Right?

Our preseason TRACR rankings factor in things like the previous year’s performance, recruitment classes and ratings, returning minutes to the team and the caliber of transfer players added to the program.

Overall, it’s a rating adjusted for the team’s conference and roster for the season. TRACR’s data points are trained on over 15 years of college basketball data. Factoring these inputs together produces an accurate measurement into how the men’s and women’s teams will perform during the season.

The model removes some of the bias that AP Top 25 voters have when it comes to name recognition of the blue-blood programs and overvaluing teams that went far in the previous year’s NCAA Tournament.

The biggest examples of this ahead of the 2023-24 season were Miami (FL) and Florida Atlantic being ranked 23rd and 10th, respectively, after reaching the Final Four in 2022-23.            

Our model can also help us get a clear idea of which conferences as a whole are the best in the country by average TRACR, which is updated throughout the season. As an example, the Big 12 was the No. 1 league heading into the 2023-24 season with an average team rating of plus-20.9.

2023-24 TRACR Preseason Conference Rankings

  1. Big 12 (20.9)
  2. Big Ten (19.0)
  3. SEC (18.7)
  4. Big East (18.0)
  5. Pac-12 (12.3)
  6. ACC (11.7)
  7. Mountain West (7.8)
  8. AAC (5.2)
  9. West Coast (4.5)
  10. Atlantic 10 (2.8)
  11. Conference USA (-0.7)
  12. Sun Belt (-2.0)
  13. Missouri Valley (-2.6)
  14. Western Athletic (-4.1)
  15. Atlantic Sun (-4.9)
  16. Big West (-5.1)
  17. Ivy League (-5.2)
  18. Mid-American (-6.0)
  19. Southern (-6.2)
  20. Big South (-7.2)
  21. Metro Atlantic Athletic (-7.9)
  22. Coastal Athletic (-7.9)
  23. America East (-8.3)
  24. Horizon (-8.5)
  25. Big Sky (-8.7)
  26. Summit League (-9.9)
  27. Patriot League (-10.2)
  28. Ohio Valley (-11.6)
  29. Southland (-12.0)
  30. Mid-Eastern (-14.6)
  31. Northeast (-15.1)
  32. Southwestern Athletic (-15.1)
  33. Independents (-15.7)

Let’s take this a step further.

A team with a TRACR of 0.0 is considered an average team and a team with a rating in the positive indicates how much it would outscore the average team.

So let’s say that San Diego State has a TRACR of 0.0 and Arizona has a rating of 14.0. If San Diego State and Arizona played each other at a neutral site, the most likely outcome would be a Wildcats victory by about 14 points.

And don’t forget to check out our TRACR rankings for college football.

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