People like to downplay the importance of recruiting rankings by citing any number of players who were wildly over-or-under estimated by the evaluators. Which is fine. Dispute away. But also be very clear that recruiting rankings matter. The number of consensus top 100 recruits on any roster is directly correlated with winning. There are plenty of other factors – experience, depth, coaching, commitment, fit, etc… – but talent is the the first place to look when trying to figure out which teams are going to be good next year.
I looked at all of last year's BCS conference teams. First, I tabulated how many consensus top 100 recruits were on their roster, and then I looked at their win-loss record in conference games. It turns out that there were 18 teams which had either zero or one top 100 recruit on their roster. Of these 18 teams, one – Kansas State – had a winning conference record. On the flip side, teams with eight or more top 100 recruits had an average conference record of 13-5, and none won fewer than 11 conference games.
This chart shows the percentage chance of having a winning conference record, based on the number of top 100 recruits on the roster. Recruiting rankings matter.
Now, on to the conference distributions for the 2013-14 season. Over the next week I'll be charting the ACC, AAC, Big East, B1G, Big 12, Pac 12 and the SEC. Today, it's the ACC. For my consensus rankings I use RSCI, the oldest and best in the business. For current rosters, I used Verbal Commits.
As usual, Duke and North Carolina have a ridiculous amount of talent on their rosters (note: PJ Hairston is included, until I hear otherwise). The main difference this year is that Syracuse is in the conference now, which gives the blue bloods a team which can match them in terms of depth of talented players.
Nine of the teams are grouped in the 3-6 range, while Miami (1), Clemson (0), and Boston College (0) are at the bottom. The curious thing about those three teams is that the first two are clearly in for a long season, while BC has a decent chance at a >.500 conference record. They might be this year's Kansas State.
Narrowing it down to high 4*s and 5*s, Duke's compilation of talent really shows. Nine consensus top 50 players is insane. There are four teams in the nation that have that many top 100 players, and Duke has that many top 50. The rest of the conference plays out similar to the chart above.
Finally, the consensus 5* recruits are more of the same. Duke, UNC and Syracuse lead the way. If you're predicting the ACC and you don't have those three on top, you might want to double check your thought process.