With postseason play beginning Saturday, we wanted to quickly revisit our preseason predictions, because we only went as far as the end of the regular season at that time. It is always instructive and helpful to go back and evaluate our picks, so that we know what went right and what didn’t.
ROSTER AND MINUTES
In our preseason predictions, we projected a “starting” five of Kizel, Wolfin, Thompson, Lynch, and Jensen. We mentioned that Jensen might move to the bench and Roberts might start, as we later learned would be the case, but chose our five because we wanted to give more in-depth profiles on the guys who would see the most court time. As it stands, our five lead the team in minutes, with Jensen in fifth and Roberts in sixth. That is, our five ranked 1-5 in minutes, which is what we were aiming for. (Also, check out our Nolan Thompson preview; we said he was primed for this type of breakout senior campaign).
In our reserve player predictions, we had the “next four” going as follows: Roberts, Brierley, Merryman, Bulluck. Those four players indeed filled up the next four spots, though it ended up going in a different order: Roberts (19.1 mpg), then Merryman (17.2 mpg), then Bulluck (9.3 mpg), then Brierley (7.3 mpg). The numbers of the last two were affected by midseason injuries.
Next up among reserves we put Chris Churchill, who has appeared to forge a spot the eight man rotation based on his playing time over the past several games. Among freshman, we said that Henry Pendergast was the “most game-ready.” He led the class with 7.0 minutes per game.
So, we successfully predicted the top five minutes-getters, and which players would play significant roles off the bench.
WIN-LOSS RECORD AND CONFERENCE STANDINGS
We predicted that Middlebury would finish the season 21-2, which was correct. We picked them to go 8-2 in conference, and 13-0 out of conference, both of which were correct. Our only mistake was picking Middlebury to lose at Tufts and to beat Amherst, when in fact the opposite happened. Not bad, considering the Panthers beat Tufts by just one point, and the Amherst loss came in the waning seconds of triple overtime.
As for the other teams:
We predicted that Williams would finish conference play 9-1, which was correct.
We predicted that Tufts would finish conference play 7-3, which was correct.
We predicted that Amherst would finish conference play 8-2, which was incorrect; they finished 10-0.
To sum up, we correctly picked which four teams would host tournament games (Amherst, Williams, Middlebury, Tufts), and were off by two combined wins with their four projected records. At the point in the year when we made the predictions, as any reader of d3boards can tell you, most everyone was, 1) down on Williams, and 2) high on Wesleyan. Wesleyan was a preseason top-25 team nationally, coming off a third-place NESCAC finish and returning their three stars, while the Ephs were unranked, coming off of a lackluster season and having lost superstar James Wang.
We did not successfully pick the order of the rest of the NESCAC; our order was as follows: Wesleyan, Bates, Hamilton, Connecticut College, Bowdoin, Trinity, Colby.
Instead, teams 5-11 finished in this order: Bowdoin, Wesleyan, Bates, Colby, Hamilton, Trinity, Connecticut College.
So, our biggest mistake with the lower part of the conference was undervaluing Bowdoin’s program, as they did a tremendous job replacing the voids left by Hanley and O’Connell with their young core. Since we had never seen so many guys who were stepping into big roles on so many of these teams in the lower tiers, the less consistent picks here were unsurprising.
We will not know how our preseason All-NESCAC teams ended up for a couple weeks, although it is safe to say we were right about most guys with a few changes needing to be made. On a related note, we will be publishing our All-NESCAC picks soon.
Final recap: the five guys we gave blown up profiles played the most minutes, our next four played the next most minutes, and we highlighted the two most significant additional contributors as well. We were a one-point win and a triple overtime loss away from going 23-0 in our game-by-game predictions, and we picked the four top seeds in the conference, including Williams and excluding Wesleyan, hitting the win-loss record of three of the four exactly.