Shabazz Muhammad

How accurate are preseason mock drafts?

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People love rankings.

Whether it be top 100 recruiting lists, preseason top 25s, mock draft, best point guards, or simply a list of the best Vince Vaughn movies since 2000 — he’s never come close to replicating the success of Wedding Crashers.

Rankings let us argue the pointless and speculate about the future. For those of us covering college hoops, they generate page views while leading the discussion about Player X on Team Y doing this, that and the third this season.

But rankings, particularly preseason rankings, aren’t much more than educated guesses by people that pay just a bit too much attention. They aren’t a crystal ball looking into the future, and on Monday morning, Ken Pomeroy proved just that with an insightful look into preseason mock drafts and the likelihood of a player actually getting picked.

Pomeroy looked at the preseason mock drafts from Draft Express over the last six seasons and, after crunching a bunch of numbers (if that’s your thing, head over to KenPom.com and read through how he generated the data; it’s interesting), figured out that only the top 22 players have a better than 50% chance of actually getting picked in the first round. If you’re projected as the No. 30 pick in the draft, there’s only a 34.9% chance you’re drafted in the first round and just a 74.4% chance you get picked at all. If you’re projected as the No. 5 pick, there’s only a 66.0% chance you get drafted in the lottery. That number drops below 50% from the projected No. 9 pick and down to 33.8% from the projected No. 14 pick.

Some of that is the result of stars inflated by high school rankings — Perry Jones, Willie Warren, Jared Sullinger, Shabazz Muhammad — slipping through the cracks and some of it is unheralded kids — Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams — flying up draft boards.

Why is that relevant this season?

Because with such a heralded freshmen class entering this season, it’s important to remember that there are no guarantees. Preseason hype is quickly forgotten if nothing is proven once the games actually begin.

“Stay away from the Internet because that’s the one thing that’s worse for the kids,” Muhammad, warning this year’s class, told SNY.tv. “It hypes up your head. Just looking at the rankings and the draft the beginning of the year, the draft doesn’t really matter where you’re starting at. It’s where you are at the end, and that’s one thing I learned.”

This isn’t a knock on Draft Express — these results are actually pretty impressive — but it certainly goes to show you how helpful the one-and-done rule can be. Dominating at the high school level is a lot different than competing in college.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: