The computers appear to be higher on BYU hoops than the humans heading into the 2023-2024 season.
KenPom — widely regarded as the go-to college basketball analytics — released its first rankings of the 2023-24 season and has BYU ranked 36 out of 362 D1 teams. This is the highest preseason ranking in Mark Pope’s 5 years as BYU head coach. BYU started 71 in 2019-2020 before finishing 13, started 88 in 2020-2021 season before finishing 20, started 38 in 2021-2022 before finishing 58, and started 44 last season before finishing 77.
BYU’s 36th ranking is 8 out of 14 Big 12 teams. KenPom projects BYU with an 18-11 regular season record and 9-9 finish in conference play. KenPom is missing BYU’s 12/1 game versus Fresno State, and BYU will play one additional game versus Vanderbilt or NC State as part of the Vegas Showdown on Black Friday.
Below is the ranking for all 14 Big 12 teams. The Big 12 is rated as the strongest conference in KenPom’s rankings.
25. Kansas State
31. Iowa State
43. Texas Tech
64. West Virginia
68. Oklahoma State
An eighth place finish would almost assuredly secure BYU a NCAA Tournament bid. 7 of the 10 Big 12 teams made the NCAA Tournament last year.
Another prominent college hoops analytics site — evanmiya.com — also likes BYU. Evan’s rankings have BYU rated 30th nationally, good for 7th in the Big 12. He has Aly Khalifa as the 14th best player in the Big 12 and Fousseyni Traore at 23.
BYU’s returning production is likely a main factor for the favorable projections. BYU has the most returning scoring production in the Big 12 and adds transfers Aly Khalifa, Dawson Baker, and Trevin Knell from injury. Marcus Adam Jr.’s waiver is also a wildcard. Additionally, Aly Khalifa is a analytics darling with his assist and shooting numbers.
Big 12 returning scoring by percentage:— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) July 17, 2023
Oklahoma State 39.3%
Kansas State 33.4%
Iowa State 31%
Texas Tech 28%
West Virginia 9.1%
BYU was picked to finish 13th in the preseason coaches poll, and you’ll be hard pressed to find many pundits predicting a top 10 conference finish. The rationale makes sense — BYU is coming off two consecutive fifth place finishes in the WCC and now steps into the toughest conference in college basketball. The analytics like BYU’s returning production and experience sprinkled in with a couple proven transfers.
We’ll get our first chance in less than a month to see how BYU stacks up. BYU hosts San Diego State the second game of the season on November 10. The Aztecs are ranked 17 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll and 29 in KemPom. KenPom gives BYU a 58% win probability and predicts a 70-68 Cougar win. If BYU can beat the defending national runner-ups, they could set themselves up for a season that beats the human projections.