Returning possession minutes: the American Conference

I'll use Kentucky as an example for why you should care about returning possession minutes (RPMs). Last season, not a single preseason poll had Kentucky lower than 4th. Then – despite being more talented than every team they faced – they promptly became an NIT team and got booted in the first round by Robert Morris.

For whatever reason, that team never gelled. But experts assumed they would, and there's the problem. Unless you've seen them play together at this level, then all you can do is make assumptions.

Meanwhile, there are teams who return their entire starting lineups, and you pretty much know what you're going to get. The only real question is how much they improved over the summer, and how the new recruits will fit in.

To get at this, John Templon over at Big Apple Buckets, created the RPM stat. RPMs are simply a players % of minutes played the previous season, multiplied by the % of possessions he used. For example, Mason Plumlee played 86.7% of Duke's minutes, and while on the floor he was responsible for 25.2% of their possessions. His RPMs would be 21.8 (86.7 x 25.2/100). If a team returned their entire roster, their RPMs would total 100.

The higher that number for a team, the easier it is to predict how good they'lll be. Low numbers don't indicate that a team will be bad, they're just much more difficult to project. 

Regardless, here are the RPMs for the American (AAC).

Team RPM
SMU 89.2
Connecticut 88.9
Villanova 76.8
UCF 76.3
Louisville 70.2
Houston 64.6
USF 60.8
Cincinnati 57.9
Memphis 56.3
Rutgers 51.1
Temple 27.5

SMU, UConn, UCF, and Villanova all return a ton of their roster, and will be intriguing teams to watch. Any one of them could be better than people are predicting. At the other end Temple has been decimated. It's not too often that Temple has to completely rebuild, but this is one of those years.

For individual RPMs, here are the 10 highest in the conference.

  player %min %poss RPM
1 Isaiah Sykes 86.3 29.5 25.5
2 Nick Russell 90.2 27.4 24.7
3 Russ Smith 74.5 32 23.8
4 Ryan Boatright 87.5 25.6 22.4
5 Sean Kilpatrick 85 25.2 21.4
6 Shabazz Napier 83.8 24.3 20.4
7 TaShawn Thomas 79 25.4 20.1
8 Jalen Jones 80.6 24.3 19.6
9 Victor Rudd 80.5 23.1 18.6
10 JayVaughn Pinkston 64.2 28.6 18.4