Big East play opens on Tuesday with Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh and Providence vs. St. John’s. Therefore there’s no better time to start running random simulations in order to figure out what teams have a legitimate shot at winning the conference title and which teams are going to have to watch their backs in order to avoid a winless season.
For this exercise I created a program that takes the Ken Pomeroy rankings and simulates any number of random seasons. Ten thousand seems like a nice round number, so that’s what I’m using here. Simulating that many seasons allows for a good deal of randomness in the results. For instance, every team’s “best” season is above the .500 mark in conference. Let’s take a look at all of the results. Note: The winning percentage column doesn’t add up to 100% because of ties.
As you can see, Syracuse dominates the projections. The Orange are currently ranked fourth in the overall Pomeroy rankings and have been particularly impressive during their 13-0 start. On Pomeroy’s site he’s giving Syracuse a 2.4% chance of going undefeated in conference. The simulation was in a similar range. At a 74.2% chance to at least share the conference title, the Orange look like they’ll have a great seed at Madison Square Garden.
Three other teams though have a chance of 1) Winning the conference title and 2) Going undefeated. Interestingly enough, it’s Louisville who had the second most undefeated seasons. The reason Marquette has so few undefeated seasons is the second and third games of conference play. The Golden Eagles have to play at Georgetown and Syracuse back-to-back.
Then there are the five teams at the bottom of the rankings. St. John’s looks to be in trouble here. The Red Storm’s best season was just 10 wins, two worse than any other conference team. Of the 10,000 simulated seasons, 108 ended in St. John’s finishing without a win.
There is some hope. The ratings in the simulation are static. As the season goes along the addition of Amir Garrett and the development of the freshmen could help the Red Storm improve their Pomeroy ranking. It’s quite possible that the team at the end of the season will be better than the one that starts conference play. Even accounting for some improvement, it’s going to be an uphill battle.