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Grammer: Grading the preseason hoops predictions from a year ago

Preseason polls and predictions are meaningless. We get it.

But the same fans and coaches who are quick to tell you that are the same ones who eat up every piece of information they can get this time of year because it generates discussion, which is always good for the sport of college basketball in the middle of football season.

And this year, there’s already plenty of preseason magazines on news stands, blog posts up online and on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nev., at the preseason media conference, this season’s official preseason media poll will be released. My preseason ballot will publish in Sunday’s Journal and post online over the weekend.

Other than being easy targets for criticism and useful sources of motivation, what most preseason polls lack are accuracy and accountability.

So last year, I saved some of the Mountain West preseason rankings I saw, read or heard in advance of the 2017-18 season so I could revisit them this preseason. Some were from articles, magazines or podcasters actually ranking one through 11 their picks. Others were computer systems predicting the order of finish based on various data.

Regardless, here are the results of 14 preseason MWC basketball rankings I gathered from last year and how they compared to the actual order of finish last March.

I’m proud to say I tied for first in this sample, which I know flies in the face of the fun we all have with the fact that my daughter beat me in actually picking games last season, as I wrote about last March in this column.

Since there are no ties allowed in preseason rankings or ballots, they aren’t allowed here, either. I used the league tournament seeding to determine actual spots for this analysis.

I didn’t go crazy trying to quantify how accurate the polls were. I used a very basic formula, counting one point for every place in the final standings a team was away from the preseason prediction. If a team was picked ninth, but it finished third, that counted as six points, with the lowest total being the best.

As a refresher, here is the actual order of finish for the 2017-18 MWC men’s basketball season, based on tournament seeding:

1. Nevada
2. Boise State
3. New Mexico
4. Fresno State
5. San Diego State
6. Wyoming
7. Utah State
9. Air Force
10. Colorado State
11. San Jose State

Grading last year’s preseason picks

Based on 2017-18 preseason MWC basketball picks with 1-point added for every spot away from an exact pick in final standings.
Rank Poll Name Total points Exact picks
1st (t) Geoff Grammer 14 4
1st (t) ESPN’s BPI 14 3
3rd (t) Bart Torvik 16 4
3rd (t) 16 3
5th (t) John Gasaway 18 5
5th (t) NBC’s CBT 18 3
7th (t) 20 3
7th (t) Athlon 20 3
7th (t) CBS Sports 20 2
7th (t) Sports Illustrated 20 2
11th (t) MWC media poll 22 2
11th (t) MWC Wire 22 1
13th Jon Rothstein 24 1
14th Lindy’s 28 1
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