How this season is going to go...Prediction made BEFORE Georgia Tech game

OK…I’ve seen enough to make an educated guess at what kind of season we’re going to have.

I’ll start by saying that I’m excited… very excited…about the trajectory of the program. I feel that Muss will have us in the hunt for an SEC Championship in 2 years. Not saying we’ll win it that soon (but also not saying we won’t). This guy has a plan, not only for the team, but for each individual on the team. I’m really impressed by his approach and organization - which extends beyond our players into the scouting of the opposition. This guy is an Eddie Sutton for 2020. They’ll play very strong defense, run when the opportunity calls for it, and shoot the 3 as analytics indicate teams today should. Once he gets the recruiting where he ultimately will (IMO), we’ll be rocking and rolling.

This year? Well, we’re about to find out in the next few weeks. But I think we’ll be an interesting and fun team to watch. IMO, we will win 7-9 SEC games and end up in the NIT. I’d love to be wrong and see us get into the Big Dance, but I won’t be disappointed or upset if we don’t - so long as I continue to see the effort and improvement on the court that we’ve seen so far.

I know Arkansas fans well enough to know that some already are convinced we’ll be dancing in March (heck - I already know a few of them personally!). Sure, we’re 5-0. And the good news is, though facing teams we should beat (though some of our victims have surprised a little in what they’ve done in their other games, early), we have dominated them. That may sound like a small thing, but if you’ll look back the last several years, we have seemed to play down to the competition we’ve faced instead of rubbing our heels in their nose as we used to. This team does that, and I like it - a lot!

But we have a couple of obvious “flaws”, and I believe those will catch up with us several times once we play better competition. None of this is news, but the flaws I see are that (1) we’re too oriented on the outside shot. Some nights, when Joe, Jones and Desi (sounds like a 60’s pop band!) are hitting from outside (and we’ve had some of those already), we’re pretty good. But there will be other nights when they arent’; and then, where will our points come from?

Tonight was an example of that, and the answer - tonight - was Whitt. Jimmy was a mismatch for this opponent and killed them with mid-range jumpers. But if I were coaching a team against Arkansas, I’d do whatever it took to take Joe out of the game (by scheme, not hurting him) and then take my chances with the other shooters we have. I’d make THEM beat me…not Joe.

This leads to a discussion of flaw #2, which is lack of size - I know…another “bulletin”. When the 3’s are falling, this one isn’t as big a deal as when they aren’t. Or, if the other team has a talented inside scorer, we don’t really have an answer for him. But offensively, if your outside shooters are having an off night, the best way to get the O going is to go inside and get some baskets there to take the pressure off the outside shooters. We really don’t have a consistent option for that, offensively. I will note that Bailey is playing noticeably better, and that’s a plus. But we will face teams that can handle him (and Chaney) with sheer numbers and height advantage.

Getting back to flaw #1, I do find it a little worrisome that we’re only shooting 27% as a team from the 3 point line. Especially since most of those attempts have been “quality”; i.e., not closely guarded. I’d like to see it in the 33-35% range, and I think that’s attainable, but it’s a number to watch as the season goes by. This team cannot shoot below 30% from distance and do a lot of damage against the teams we will be playing during the meat of our season.

Yes, I know that Desi will pick it up, in particular. I hope Jones will. Joe is about where you’d expect him to be, and Harris is…well…Harris. He teased us a little by hitting his firs two 3 pointers of the season. Since then, he is 1 for 8…12.5%…about what he shot last year. He will finish the season no higher than 25% from 3 point distance - if I HAD to bet on the over/under, I’d take the under. Fortunately, I believe this head coach (if that percentage is close to right) will take the option out of Harris’ hands sooner than later.

Finally - flaw #3 - is that this team makes far too many unforced turnovers. They don’t make a lot of turnovers in the grand scheme of things; but of the ones they do make, too many are just bonehead plays and not due to good defense. I don’t know what their conversion rate is on fast break opportunities, but it’s not good.

The 3 strong points I see are (1) hustle/effort - especially on defense; (2) rebounding…this team hits the boards hard; and FT shooting. Curious, because our shooting numbers otherwise are very pedestrian so far against mediocre competition. but we’ve hit well at the stripe (78%). If that holds up, it will help in a couple of close games.

So, in summary, I foresee a 17-13, or 18-12 regular season that is very entertaining, with many close games that go both ways. Then a couple of games in the NIT. A good start to the Muss bus era…then we load up with some more new talent next year…and off we go.

I’ll check back in 3 mos. and see how well I did. Either way, I’ll own it.

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That’s pretty much like I figured it also.

I’m concerned about the 3 point shooting. I thought it would be better than it has been. Hope the guys get it going.

It’s going to be tough when we play Auburn and Kentucky. So long and athletic.

My only argument is versus the foregoing. The Hogs were 8-10 in the SEC last year. At 30,000 feet, are you suggesting we’re no better than last year? I think I see a better team; perhaps much better at some things.

I will argue that Auburn appears much better than last year and I’ll note we play Tenn twice - so, we don’t have an easy SEC schedule this season.

I do believe the game at GT will be a great barometer for the rest of the season, so I wish the OP made his prediction after the GT game…my view is we’ve been able to compensate for our lack of height because we’ve made it up in volume (of guards) while playing in Fayetteville against so-so teams. GT is more like a peer, with an athletic big…how we address this Monday eve will be foretelling.

I think we end up 11-2 in non conference (loss to Indiana and GT, but WKU worries me. Bassey is a legit inside presence, so maybe 10-3). I think we at least equal last years SEC mark at 10-8. If we win 20, we will be in the tourney. Only one time in our history have we not made the tourney with 20 wins. The SEC was considered 6th or 7th at that time. Now they are considered a much stronger conference (last two years they were ranked Top 3).

Edit: By the way Warren Nolan now has AR projected to finish 29-2. The women are now projected to finish 26-3. They also have GA (who beat GA Tech, now at 4-0) projected to finish 13-16, and Ga Tech projected to finish 8-20.

It’s difficult to project a season record when you primarily focus on one (your) team. If you are equally educated about the future opponents as you are your own team, then your concerns (or not) have more validity. So, my projection is no more valuable than anyone else’s with limited info on the rest of our opponents.

I have seen Kentucky play twice. I watched about 10 game minutes of one Auburn game. Same for Alabama. Same for MSU. Same for LSU. Watched the whole second half of UGA/ Ga Tech. Saw bits and pieces of an Ole Miss game. Same for Tennessee. Same for Missouri. Highlights only of FL, Vandy, and USC. Haven’t seen Aggies. So…

We are good enough to beat all of those teams. We we have some weakness that could result in losing to most of those teams (although that scenario is more unlikely than sweeping them all). So, I can understand any projection (guess) that we might win 7-10 conference games.

For my eye, I see an outstanding defensive team. Only 5 games, yes, but I believe time will tell that we have already beaten at least one NCAAT team. Teams that play defense like we play rarely are out of the game in the final 10 minutes. Usually at least close to most opponents in the final 5. So, I expect most every game that we may lose to be a slim margin.

That’s my long preface to say, if we finish in the lower half (8th or worse) of the final conference standings from what I have seen so far, then the SEC from top to bottom might be as good this year as it as ever been since we’ve been in it. More likely, in my estimation, we will finish in the upper half - regardless of how that translates in wins/losses - and be talked about by many as the “surprise” team in the league.

There are two factors left to consider:

Playing on the road and playing in conference play. Those two things really affect teams.

Beat GT and you’ll have the confidence to beat Indiana. Beat both and you’ll have major confidence going into conference.

We will have a lot more data to analyze come New Years Day.

They are better than I expected. A seasoned group that won’t get rattled on the road because they’ve been there. Won’t get out coached very often either. I’m happy with the improvements and will not complain this year, regardless of record. Pretty disciplined team that has bought into their coaching.

Good analysis Wiz. I think we’ll do slightly better. If you go to ESPN and click on each of our games in the schedule it shows their “predictor”. Obviously as more data factored in predictions become more statistically relevant.

I clicked on all of our games and as of today they predict us to win all home non-conf games and lose to the three road ones. In conference again they predict us to win all home games (slight favorites over KY and Auburn) and win 2 road games (Alabama and A&M). That’s 11 - 7 and 21 - 10. That would get us the tourney. That may be a little aggressive. But I think we’ll win one of the 3 road non conf games.

Defense travels as they say so we’ll be in a lot of close road games.

I could not agree more. Excellent post!

GHG

Just confirms to me we are NCAA bound! :sunglasses:

If our strength through these 5 games was offense (winning 90 to 75) I would agree with the OP. But it’s not, it’s our defense. It’s much more difficult for a talented team to beat our defense than it is to stop our offense. VA is proof.

I think the only thing that would stop us from making the NCAA this year would be a major injury to Whitt, Joe, or Jones. I’ve also listed those in order of importance to the team. Not saying Jimmy is better than Joe. Just that he’s more important to the success of this team this season.

Well, I made the post before the game because I already feel “this way” today. As the season goes on and more results are know (a) there is less to predict (because the results of the games already played is, obviously, already known); and two, there is more information upon which to make predictions about subsequent games; more information (in theory) makes for better projections.

As the season wears on, fans will continuously make and update their projections. To me, the earlier one makes an accurate prediction, the more “impressive”, I suppose you could say. That’s why this post made a point of saying it was a Pre-Ga Tech analysis.

Hey…it’s all in good fun anyway. Time will tell…and that’s why we all watch the games!

I got that, but it’s both the next game and the first road game. Significant to me.

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Ken Pom has GTech a tad better, 15-14 and 9-11. Just bumped the Hogs
projection to 22-9 and 11-7. Interesting come Monday night. :sunglasses:

I’ll go 10-3 in non-conference games and 8-10 in conference ones.

So that’s 18-13 heading into the SEC Tournament.

Right now I would say this is an NIT Tournament.

I reserve the right to change it, especially if Chaney becomes the player that I think he can be.

I have not yet seen great offensive consistency from the Hogs. Like yesterday, most of our key guys had subnormal games…it took an exceptional game from Whitt to win it. If Muss can turn this, I think we’d do better than 8-10 in the SEC (which is what we did last year).

No offense, daboar…but this is kind of an odd point to make a big deal about. I don’t deny that both the opponent and the venue are important…but that’s NOT my point. Saying that the post/prediction is “before the Georgia Tech game” is merely to “time stamp” it, as it were. I’m fully aware that the Tech game “is the first road game”, and that we will learn a lot from it…as we will learn more EACH game we play, as I noted. I don’t think it’s important that I specifically mention that the post was “before the first road game”, as that is implied by saying it’s before the Ga Tech game, which IS the first road game.

Said another way, as the season comes to an end, we will see posts of people talking about the predictions they made. What they rarely do is mention WHEN they made them. Someone will come back and say how close their prediction was, but not say they made it when we had played our first 5 or 6 conference games. I’d think we’d both agree that while it’s never easy to make season predictions that end up being close to accurate, it’s much more difficult to do so early than late - when (a) some of the results are already known, and (b) there is more real information upon which to make those projections.

Get it?

That looks familiar. I overlooked the TCU non-conference tilt (sitting in the middle of SEC play) when I glanced at the schedule to count regular season games, but the win totals are the same - as is the post-season destination… . .

I’m so happy where this team is and not necessarily just the winning. Muss has completely changed the mindset to his system, defensive intensity and the team has bought in 200%. An example is early in the Friday’s game, Mason made a move to the baseline and was called for a charge (nitpicking call at best) and he pointed to his shoulder (where he was fouled before the charge) to the official and got ignored. He ran straight to the Hog bench showing Muss what happened to make sure there was not an interpretation by the coach for a lack of concentration on his part. He took his benching from the previous game like a man and only wants to please his coach and you can see this across the team. I believe we make the NCAA, but if not, that’s OK. Next year we’ll be there and the Hog team will focus on the fundamentals, defense, and each player will understand their role. The recruiting is headed upward and Muss will maximize their talent and put us in a position to win the games we should and beat some that we shouldn’t. A fun ride ahead…

I feel like you do about the 17 - 18 win likelihood, but I need to see how the current version of the Hogs will bear up on the road against a couple bigs…and Tech is much bigger than the Hogs.

In my mind, our smallish Hogs just might be good enough to fare well away from home, but I don’t have real insight since I haven’t seen an away game against a single peer. It just might be that 40 minutes of Muss’ intense D just might wear on teams away from Fayetteville, that’s what I’d like to see before I say “I’ve seen enough”.

If we had played a peer, or an away game, like we did last season against Texas during our first five game run, I’d have more confidence. But, we’ve played 5 teams that are not peers and all games were at home. We haven’t been pushed or stretched in any way - heck Muss lets his kids hoist anything they’ve wanted to chuck thus far. And, I bet he calls a time out in Atlanta.

Anyway, let’s say the Hogs played Tech in Atlanta as our game 4, and won that (72-68) to be one of our 5 wins, would you feel different about the 17/18 prognosis?