West Virginia’s Basketball Team Is Getting A Lot of Love From ESPN’s BPI
It’s awfully early to start rating basketball teams. After all, college hoops doesn’t start for another three and a half months.
But already the Mountaineers’ 2018-19 men’s basketball squad is getting high acclaim. ESPN recently released its Basketball Power Index (BPI), and WVU was No 5 on that list.
The BPI factors in things like the experience on a roster, the quality of that experience, recruiting ratings and a coach’s past performances, and it comes up with an offensive rank, defensive rank and an overall BPI number.
Even with the graduation of Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, West Virginia is ranked as having the fourth best defense in the country and the 14th best offense. Its overall BPI number is 9.7, which is the fifth best nationally. Fellow Big 12 member Kansas is No. 1 on the list with a BPI of 12.0. Gonzaga (10.8 BPI) is No. 2, while Tennessee (10.7 BPI) is No. 3, Marquette (10.6 BPI) is No. 4, and North Carolina (9.5 BPI) is No. 6.
After Kansas and WVU, other Big 12 members in the BPI’s top 25 include Kansas State (No. 14, 8.3 BPI), TCU (No. 23, 7.1 BPI) and Texas (No. 25, 7.0 BPI). Overall, the Big 12 is the top conference in the country, according to the BPI, with an average BPI number of 6.8. The Big Ten was second (6.1 BPI average), with the ACC third (5.9), the SEC fourth (5.6) and the Big East fifth (5.2).
West Virginia’s defensive ranking of No. 4, according to ESPN’s BPI, trailed only Virginia, Syracuse and Alabama. The top ranked offense was Marquette, followed by Kansas, Nevada and Gonzaga.
While the Mountaineers lost their starting backcourt to graduation from last year’s 26-11 Sweet 16 team, their three starters up front – Esa Ahmad, Sagaba Kontate and Wesley Harris – all return, as do key reserves Lamont West, Beetle Bolden, Chase Harler and Logan Routt. It also adds a six-man recruiting class that is ranked in the top 25 nationally by most services.
Kansas must replace three key pieces from last year’s Big 12 champions, as Devonte Graham, Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk all have departed. But imposing center Udoka Azukuike is back in the middle, and Lagerald Vick returns at a forward. To this group coach Bill Self adds a pair of five star recruits in shooting guard Quentin Grimes and point guard Devon Dotson and three highly acclaimed transfers who are now eligible – Dedric Lawson from Memphis, K.J. Lawson from Memphis and Charlie Moore from California.
Elsewhere, CBSSports.com has WVU as the No. 15 ranked team in its too early top 25, while ESPN’s list from Myron Metcalfe places West Virginia No. 13 and the A.P. rates the Mountaineers No. 17.