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Compu-Picks 2011 Preview: Sun Belt

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Jul 24, 2011


2011 Compu-Picks Previews Each 1-A League: Sun Belt

Below is the preview for the Sun Belt, consisting of three tables.

The first table outlines the projected rankings for each Sun Belt team, sorted from best to worst, and then presents the following selected key stats:
Rank - Projected 2011 ranking, from 1 to 120
2010 Rank - 2010 ranking using the current compu-picks model
Prev 4 yr - ranking of the average rating from 2006-2009
Recruit Rank - ranking of past 4 years of recruiting (each year equally weighted), from scout.com
Recruit Trend - the difference between the past 3 years of recruiting and the previous 3, ranked from best to worst
Injuries - starts lost to injury during the 2010 season (from Phil Steele)
Turnovers - turnover margin during the 2010 season, from cfbstats.com
Draft Losses - based on the 2011 draft
Ch - new head coach, per collegefootballpoll.com (1 indicates a new coach, . indicates no new coach)
Starters - returning offensive / defensive starters, per Phil Steele magazine (* if the QB returns), with some edits due to subsequent news

The second table shows the expected number of total wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

The third table shows the odds of winning the league, the expected number of league wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of league wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

Projected ranking and key statistics

Team Rank 2010 Rank Prev 4 yr Recruit Rank Recruit Trend Injuries Turnovers Draft Losses Ch Starters
Troy 72 68 55 80 89 23 -1 5 . 5*/8
Louisiana-Monroe 89 102 96 101 78 12 -6 0 . 10*/7
Florida International 96 82 114 98 72 9 4 1 . 8*/7
Middle Tennessee State 100 113 78 100 85 20 -19 0 . 7/3
Western Kentucky 108 110 120 107 33 21 3 0 . 7*/8
Louisiana-Lafayette 109 114 101 115 90 48 -3 0 1 6*/7
Arkansas State 111 97 106 111 96 5 1 0 1 6*/7
Florida Atlantic 116 111 93 118 99 7 -9 5 . 7/5
North Texas 117 103 119 104 116 37 -3 0 1 5/7

Projected Results - All Games

Team Rank SOS E(wins) 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Troy 72 105 7.56 . 1% 5% 12% 18% 20% 17% 11% 7% 4% 2% 1% 1% 0%
Louisiana-Monroe 89 104 6.28 . 0% 1% 4% 10% 17% 19% 15% 14% 8% 5% 4% 2% 1%
Florida International 96 113 6.00 . 1% 3% 5% 8% 12% 14% 16% 13% 11% 8% 5% 3% 2%
Middle Tennessee State 100 107 5.46 . 0% 1% 3% 5% 10% 14% 16% 15% 14% 9% 7% 3% 2%
Western Kentucky 108 103 4.95 . 0% 1% 2% 4% 6% 11% 15% 19% 16% 14% 10% 4% .
Louisiana-Lafayette 109 116 4.84 . 0% 1% 2% 5% 7% 11% 14% 16% 15% 12% 9% 6% 3%
Arkansas State 111 114 4.66 . 0% 1% 2% 4% 6% 10% 13% 14% 16% 13% 10% 8% 3%
Florida Atlantic 116 99 3.16 . . 0% 0% 1% 2% 4% 6% 11% 14% 16% 18% 16% 10%
North Texas 117 98 2.73 . 0% 0% 1% 1% 2% 3% 5% 7% 12% 17% 19% 20% 14%

Projected Results - League Games

Team Rank League Odds E(wins) 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Troy 72 41.2% 6.27 . 27% 26% 22% 13% 6% 3% 2% 1% 1%
Louisiana-Monroe 89 17.6% 5.12 . 9% 17% 21% 18% 15% 10% 6% 3% 1%
Florida International 96 11.2% 4.54 . 5% 11% 17% 20% 18% 13% 9% 5% 2%
Middle Tennessee State 100 8.5% 4.35 . 3% 10% 16% 20% 18% 16% 9% 5% 3%
Western Kentucky 108 7.0% 3.77 . 4% 6% 11% 15% 19% 17% 14% 10% 4%
Louisiana-Lafayette 109 5.7% 3.58 . 2% 5% 9% 15% 18% 20% 15% 11% 5%
Arkansas State 111 4.5% 3.28 . 2% 4% 8% 12% 17% 20% 18% 14% 6%
Florida Atlantic 116 2.7% 2.75 . 1% 3% 5% 9% 14% 17% 20% 19% 11%
North Texas 117 1.5% 2.34 . 1% 2% 3% 8% 10% 17% 21% 23% 15%

Some commentary about the projections:

1) There really isn't anything hugely interesting about this league's preview table. Troy is a solid but not overwhelming favorite, and no one near the top of the league has a quite soft enough schedule to think that they're likely to seriously challenge for 10+ wins (even though Troy's table shows a 18% chance of 10+ wins, more realistically it's probably around 10% with it being a HUGE reach for any other Sun Belt team).

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

3) This preseason model is primarily based on the main compu-picks model. Essentially, it attempts to predict how well a team will rate given its rating history, as well as a number of other data points, such as returning starters, draft talent lost, turnovers, recruiting, etc. This means, among other things, that the rankings are power rankings based on how good a team projects to be, as opposed to a more cynical (though accurate) model that attempts to project how the BCS will rank a team by making adjustments to favor those with easy schedules and punish those with tough schedules.

4) For three teams (Auburn, Oregon, UNC), you can see that they're projected to half a new coach. This was a manual adjustment I made to the data based on the off-field issues that each program is dealing with. A new coach is a negative predictive factor, so estimating a 50% chance of having a new coach makes an impact. For UNC, it's more that there's a pretty reasonable chance that they'll replace Butch Davis (or be forced to) before the season. For the other two, it's more a reflection of the possibility that the ongoing investigations will unearth more trouble, possibly leading to a coach replacement and/or current players being declared ineligible. For those two, estimating a 50% chance of a new coach is mainly a proxy for that possibility. It's admittedly arbitrary, but I believe that it's reasonable given the current climate.
I have also provided adjusted division (or league) odds in a number of instances. For the Pac-12 South, it shows the odds of each team winning adjusting for the fact that USC will be ineligible (the original calculation does not account for this). For various other instances, it would only be relevant if the team in question does in fact become ineligible for the division/league title. Should that not happen, you can ignore the adjusted odds.

5) There is a substantial amount of noise in these projections, which is to be expected given the large number of unknowns (who will have good and bad luck with injuries, which young players will improve and which won't, how specific matchups will come into play, etc.). Right now the standard error is a bit over 0.2 on a scale of about -1 to +1. It's important to look at the projections with this in mind to get a sense of how material the projected differences are. Given a standard error around 0.2, it is safe to project Alabama to be a much better team than Mississippi St, but it is not safe to project Arkansas to be any better than LSU, much less a lot better.

6) At this point, there are a number of model features that need to be investigated further. Chief among these is the distribution of extreme events. It appears that the model may be overstating the probabilities of extreme events, such as 12-0 or 0-12 records, or major underdogs winning their division/league. Please keep this in mind when looking at the distribution of win probabilities.

2011 Compu-Picks Blog

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