Mountain West Basketball: Week 5 DPI Computer Rankings
Aggies and Aztecs already separating themselves from the pack
‘Tis the season…for computer rankings
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone—and more importantly, with nearly 1,200 Division I games having been played—it’s time to start looking at how teams are stacking up against one another.
To do so, allow me to introduce my analytics system, the Dieckhoff Power Index—or DPI, for short.
The DPI assigns teams an overall rating out of 100 points, which will hopefully make it easy to digest for people who, like me, have little to no knowledge of advanced math.
Without getting into too long an explanation, the DPI is a mixture of:
- offensive efficiency
- defensive efficiency
- statistical performance in the “four factors”: shooting, turnovers, offensive rebounds, and free throws.
A deeper explanation of the history and methodology behind the system can be found at the DPI website. The site has the full rankings for all 353 teams and will feature bracketology projections later in the season.
But for our purposes here at Mountain West Wire, all you really need to know is this: high scores are good and low scores are bad. These ratings paint a picture of how the eleven teams in the MWC match up on both sides of the ball, nationally and within the league.
Updated DPI rankings for the Mountain West will be posted here weekly throughout the season. I will also give some insights into each team and track their movement in the standings.
Without further ado, here are the first batch of rankings for the DPI on the heels of the holiday weekend. The grades and rankings are current through all games played on Monday, December 2.
(Note: Games against non-Div. I opponents are not counted in the DPI.)
Utah State (#1 MW, #11 overall) — DPI GRADE: 86.50
- Offense Grade: 88.9 (#1 MW, #11 overall)
- Defense Grade: 83.9 (#2 MW, #19 overall)
- 4-Factor Grade: 86.7 (#2 MW, #45 overall)
Though it seems counter-intuitive with potential All-American Sam Merrill in the mix, Utah State’s weakest offensive trait so far has been its shooting. The defense has also struggled to force turnovers. But when the Aggies get Neemias Queta (knee) back, both of those marks should go up considerably. These issues are minor, though, as Utah State has been a top-20 team on either side of the ball. They’re still tops in the MW—for now.
Games this week: 12/4 @ San Jose State; 12/7 vs. Fresno State
San Diego StATE (#2 MW, #20 overall) — DPI GRADE: 84.95
- Offense Grade: 80.9 (#2 MW, #61 overall)
- Defense Grade: 85.8 (#1 MW, #8 overall)
- 4-Factor Grade: 88.1 (#1 MW, #32 overall)
Outside of Michigan, the Aztecs had probably the best weekend out of any team in the country. After garnering lukewarm NCAA Tournament consideration before the season, SDSU is already knocking on the door of the Top 25 polls after just four weeks. Their top-10 defense has been the key, with the Aztecs allowing the 17th-lowest effective field goal percentage in the country. They are charging hard for Utah State’s throne.
Games this week: 12/4 @ Colorado State; 12/8 vs. San Jose State
COLORADO STATE (#3 MW, #109 OVERALL) — DPI GRADE: 76.15
- Offense Grade: 77.8 (#3 MW, #88 overall)
- Defense Grade: 69.0 (#7 MW, #165 overall)
- 4-Factor Grade: 81.6 (#4 MW, #91 overall)
A bit of a shock here, as the Rams were picked to finish ninth in the preseason Mountain West poll. Colorado State has a couple regrettable losses already, but recent wins over Washington State and Loyola Chicago were encouraging. The team has shot the ball relatively well, but its secret to success so far has been getting to the free throw line. The Rams have already made more than 200 trips to the line, a top-10 mark nationally.
Games this week: 12/4 vs. San Diego State; 12/7 @ Boise State
NEW MEXICO (#4 MW, #110 overall) — DPI GRADE: 76.07
- Offense Grade: 75.2 (#6 MW, #126 overall)
- Defense Grade: 72.4 (#4 MW, #127 overall)
- 4-Factor Grade: 80.7 (#5 MW, #105 overall)
It’s been a mixed bag so far for Paul Weir’s new-look Lobos, but the results have been mostly positive. New Mexico would surely like to get that game to UTEP back, but their win over Wisconsin cancels out the loss to the Miners. The Lobos were above-average at mostly everything in November, but those numbers are boosted by some blowout victories. Early indications are that UNM will be closer to .500 than they will be to the NCAA Tournament.
Games this week: 12/4 vs. Boise State; 12/7 vs. Wyoming
NEVADA (#5 MW, #120 OVERALL) — DPI GRADE: 75.63
- Offense Grade: 75.6 (#5 MW, #120 overall)
- Defense Grade: 69.5 (#5 MW, #159 overall)
- 4-Factor Grade: 81.8 (#3 MW, #89 overall)
There’s precious little daylight separating Teams 3 through 5 in the Mountain West right now, as the Rams hold just a half-point edge over the Wolf Pack. New head coach Steve Alford has already experienced some turbulence, as Nevada has lost to its three best opponents so far. But their shooting and turnover stats indicate that they should be a Top 100 team soon.
Games this week: 12/4 vs. Santa Clara; 12/7 @ Air Force
Head to the page 2 for the back half of the standings.