The eye test never lies ... or does it?
That's what I set out to prove in going through 14 years worth of Ken Pomeroy ratings to see if this SU squad isn't as bad as we think they are. I wanted to prove that the offense isn't as bad as we think and the chances of making the tournament are better than we think.
First, I needed to prove that Ken Pom's data is a reliable indicator of team success. So what did Syracuse's national rankings in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency look like from 2002-2014.
OK, makes sense so far. Great offensive teams in '09, '10 and '12. Great defensive teams in '12, '13 and '14. A very well-balanced National Champion in 2003. Good start.
Now, how about the correlation to overall team success? For this, I added the total ranking of offensive and defensive efficiency together to try to figure out total success on both sides, and sorted from lowest (best) to highest (worst).
This is probably the most telling way to confirm Ken Pom's data. The top four teams on here consist of two #1 seeds in the NCAA tourney, a final four team, and the national championship team. Meanwhile, the bottom four teams include three who missed the tournament entirely, and one ('06) who would have missed the tournament if not for a magical four-day stretch in New York.
There are two noticeable outliers in the chart above, which make perfect sense. First, is last year's team, which Ken Pom would have predicted to finish much worse than a 28-6 record. We all knew by the end of the season this team wasn't as good as their record said. And the second is the 2013 squad, whose record indicated a mediocre team, but was obviously capable of making a run to the Final Four.
So what does it all mean for this team?
Well, nothing right now, as these ratings are certainly capable of changing as the year goes on. If Kaleb Joseph starts to look like a real point guard, or Trevor Cooney matches some of the success he showed on Sunday, or Tyler Roberson proves to be a legitimate offensive player, the offense could absolutely get better than this. Likewise, as the unit gels defensively, I would expect the defensive rating to improve, but you never know for sure.
But right now, it's a cause for concern.
Syracuse's 104 combined ranking would be its 4th worse since 2002. It would slot the Orange in somewhere between the 2007 team, which missed the tourney - but likely would have made a 68-team field - and the 2008 team, who I compared them to last week - another NIT team. SU's 75th best offensive rating would be the worst since 2002, and its defensive rating the worst since 2009.