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Blue Blood Schools Again Taking Country's Best Talent

The McDonald’s All-American Game is no longer the only big event on the all-star circuit, but it is still the most prestigious. If you look through the game’s rosters over the last decade, you will recognize most of the names. Even the guys who didn’t make the NBA usually had great NCAA careers. The programs who reel in multiple players from the McDonald’s game are the sport’s blue bloods - not every elite player from the class of 2014 was in Chicago, but most were.

You can see that in the distribution of this year’s crop. There were 13 schools represented at the game, but only five with multiple recruits - Duke and Kentucky with 4, UNC with 3, Kansas and UCLA with 2. In college basketball, the ability to consistently attract elite recruits is what separates good jobs from the great. If any of those jobs came open, every coach in the country would at least listen. There’s no substitute for talent and those schools always have it.

For a school like Seton Hall, securing the commitment of even one McDonald’s All-American can be a program altering move. Isaiah Whitehead is the first player from the McDonald’s game to go there in 14 years. Getting the first is always the hardest - elite players want to play with other elite players, whether it’s in college or the NBA. Whitehead, the only player in this year’s game headed to the new Big East, will be a marked man for the next four seasons.

Kentucky, in contrast, has so many McDonald’s All-Americans they don’t even know what to do with them. There will be more elite recruits coming off their bench next season than there will be in the entire Big East conference. John Calipari is the only coach in the country who can run off a kid from this game and not think twice - Kyle Wiltjer (2011) averaged 17 minutes a game in two years in Lexington before deciding to transfer to Gonzaga this season.

His recruiting class last season was considered one of the best of all-time and you can make the argument that this year’s bunch is even better. Karl Towns and Trey Lyles aren’t as big as Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee, but they are more skilled and more comfortable playing on the perimeter. It’s the same story in the backcourt - Tyler Ulis and Devon Booker project as better shooters than the Harrisons, who shot 42 percent and 37 percent from the field as freshmen.

In five seasons at Kentucky, Calipari has made an Elite Eight and three Final Fours. No matter who decides to go pro in 2014, he shouldn’t miss a beat in 2015. Towns has a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick while Lyles and Booker both have first-round measurables. Even without the five projected first-rounders from this year’s team - Randle, Johnson, Willie Cauley-Stein, James Young and Andrew Harrison - the Wildcats have a McDonald’s All-American at every position.

Duke could lose two lottery picks - Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood - and be a better team next season. Jahlil Okafor, the consensus top player in the class of 2014, gives the Blue Devils a legitimate post presence at the center position, something they have not had in many years. Okafor means Marshall Plumlee, a McDonald’s All-American in 2011, will spend another year on the bench after averaging six minutes per game in his first two seasons in Durham.

On the perimeter, the three other McDonald’s kids from this year’s class - Tyus Jones, Grayson Allen and Justise Winslow - will be competing for minutes with one from 2011 (Quinn Cook) and 2012 (Rasheed Sulaimon). For the most part, everyone on Duke can shoot 3’s, which will allow Okafor to play in a tremendous amount of space around the rim. If there’s a weakness on next year’s roster, it’s at PF, where they might have to get by with a four-star recruit.

Even with the addition of Louisville, things should be back to normal in the ACC, with Duke and UNC fighting for the crown. The Tar Heels never recovered from losing PJ Hairston to eligibility issues and they struggled to space the floor and score from the wings all season. Next year, they are bringing in two McDonald’s All-Americans on the wings (Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson) to complement the one they have at PG and the four they have in the frontcourt.

Kentucky might be the only team in the country with the size to bang with Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and Joel James. NBA scouts will learn more from watching the UNC big men in practice than they will from watching them against most of the ACC. The Tar Heels didn’t have enough perimeter shooting to exploit their size this season, but next year’s group, with Marcus Paige running the show, should blow most teams off the floor.

Kansas has a chance to be better without Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. Bill Self runs the most consistent program in the country because he doesn’t need his McDonald’s All-Americans to dominate as freshmen. Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre won’t have to carry the Jayhawks - they will be playing off Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor. With no other Big 12 team represented in Chicago, Kansas will be favored to win their 11th consecutive league title.

UCLA’s lack of size was exploited by Florida in the Sweet 16, but that should change in the coming years with the additions of Kevon Looney (6’9 210) and Thomas Welsh (7’0 230). With Brice Alford, Jordan Adams and Norman Powell still in the fold, the Bruins will just need their young big men to catch and finish around the rim next season. When Looney and Welsh start putting on weight, they are going to be way too big and skilled for the vast majority of the Pac-12.

When a coach can throw multiple McDonald’s All-Americans at every hole on his roster, it makes his life pretty easy. And when you are bringing in 2-3 a year, you aren’t held hostage to every recruiting mistake or off-court incident. Imagine the Miami Heat getting a lottery pick in every draft and you can see why there isn’t much parity in college basketball. A single-elimination tournament gives every team a chance, but some teams get more chances than others.

The blue-bloods were a little down this year, which opened up room for a team from the Missouri Valley Conference to get a 1 seed and made the NCAA Tournament more wide open than usual. However, with so much of the elite talent in the class of 2014 concentrated in so few schools, 2015 could look a lot more like 2012, when Kentucky and UNC dominated the sport. In college basketball, the rich don’t stay down for too long. They just get richer.

The Bigs Of The Incoming 2014 College Class

At this time last year, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle were already household names, at least among households who follow the NBA. This year’s group of McDonald’s All-Americans, in contrast, is relatively anonymous. After a week of practices in Chicago, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus No. 1 overall prospect in the incoming college class of 2014. The talent is concentrated among the big men, who develop at a slower pace and aren’t as flashy as perimeter stars.

The biggest name is Jahlil Okafor, the Duke-bound center coming off a dominant showing at last summer’s U19 world championships, where he posted a 40.2 PER. Okafor is a throwback - a 6’10 270 post player with an advanced back to the basket game. As an undersized center who can’t shoot 3’s or play on the perimeter, it’s unclear how his style of play will translate to the modern NBA, where everyone wants to push the pace, spread the floor and run pick-and-roll.

Okafor, for all his skills, plays more like the No. 1 overall pick in 1994 than 2014. For a glimpse at where the game is going, you have to look at Karl Towns and Myles Turner, two of the other top big men in the class of 2014. Towns, a Kentucky commit, pulled off a blindfolded windmill in the dunk contest and says his favorite player is Len Bias. Turner, who is still undecided, grew up rooting for Kevin Durant and finished in fourth place in the three-point contest.

At 7’0 250, Towns is a fluid athlete who can play inside or out. He’s the most skilled big man John Calipari has recruited since Anthony Davis, far more comfortable playing on the perimeter than Randle, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein or Dakari Johnson. Towns played for the Dominican Republic and backed up Al Horford in the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament last summer. He wouldn’t look out of place coming off an NBA bench right now.

The LaMarcus Aldridge comparisons were inevitable for Turner, a skilled and athletic 7’0 from the Dallas area. The biggest difference is generational - Turner has been encouraged to play out on the floor from an early age while Aldridge’s desire to float to the perimeter was viewed much more skeptically. Like Aldridge, who improved every year from 18-28, Turner has only begun to scratch the surface of his potential on the high-school and AAU levels.

Like with most big men, Towns and Turner’s college production will depend as much on their guard play as their own development. Unlike Anthony Davis, a high school guard until a late growth spurt out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they have been big men all their lives. For the most part, they won’t be bringing the ball up the floor and initiating the offense next season. They will need guards who can slow the pace, spread the floor and get them the ball.

After Kentucky’s unlikely run to the Final Four, the situation Towns will be walking into next season is more in flux than it was a few weeks before. Before the NCAA Tournament, Willie Cauley-Stein seemed all but gone and the Harrisons looked like they would have no choice but to stay in school. Now the dynamic has flipped - Cauley-Stein may have to come back if his ankle injury is serious while the Harrisons draft stock has been boosted by their postseason heroics.

If Andrew Harrison opts for the NBA draft, Towns will be depending on the rapid development of Tyler Ulis, a 5’9 McDonald’s All-American from the Chicago area. Ulis has the athleticism and floor game to make up for his lack of size, but it’s unclear how much of an adjustment period he will need against much bigger and more physical guards in the SEC. James Young is all but gone already, so Kentucky won’t have much experience on the perimeter to take the load off Ulis.

If Cauley-Stein comes back, the Wildcats will have an embarrassment of riches in the frontcourt. The Cauley-Stein and Johnson duo would take most of the minutes at C, which would push Towns to the forward positions, where he would be sharing time with fellow McDonald’s All-American Trey Lyles as well as Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee. While Towns has the skills to manage the transition, how many shots and minutes he will get next season is unclear.

Most of the recruiting consensus has Turner choosing between Kansas and Texas, but he shot down that notion on Media Day. As the only All-American still on the board, Turner has been pursued by every program in the country and he has shown no indication of making his decision anytime soon. He’s playing things close to the vest - at this point, the only thing we know is that if Joel Embiid returns, there probably won’t be enough playing time for Turner in Lawrence.

If Turner goes to Texas, he will join a crowded frontcourt that already includes fringe NBA prospects Cam Ridley and Jonathan Holmes. None of the Longhorns guards are proven three-point shooters, so if Turner comes to Austin, opposing teams will pack the paint and force him to give up the ball. That’s why I think SMU has a real chance at Turner, since Larry Brown can pitch playing with two PG’s in Nic Moore and Emmanuel Mudiay, the best guard prospect in the class of 2014.

Either way, whatever happens with Turner and Towns next season shouldn’t have too much of an impact on their NBA potential. With the league becoming smaller and more perimeter-oriented by the season, big men with the skill and athleticism to play on the outside are worth their weight in gold. Okafor, in contrast, will have to be placed in a very specific situation at the next level, a la Al Jefferson in Charlotte, with a team that builds its offense around him.

And while Okafor may be close to his ceiling as a player, Turner and Towns have a lot of room to expand their game. The next step for both is learning how to make their teammates better - either by drawing double teams with their back to the basket or facing up and putting the ball on the floor. There’s just not many big men at any level of basketball with the size and athleticism to bang with Turner and Towns around the basket or run with them on the break.

As athletic big men who can shoot the ball, Turner and Towns can slide into almost any situation at the next level and be successful. They can be small-ball 5’s on an uptempo team that spreads the floor or they can be face-up 4’s on a huge team that pounds the ball inside. Their versatility is what makes them so intriguing - they could conceivably share a frontcourt in the NBA. A franchise that puts two 7’0 like that on the same team would have something really special.

Coaches That Peak Early In The Year

Believe in the Cyclones because you should believe in the Hawkeyes

For a lot of poll voters, Iowa St.’s home victory over Iowa won’t be that impressive. Many observers will say this was just another case of “Hilton Magic”. They will say weird things happen in that loud arena and that led Iowa’s Mike Gesell to miss two free throws in the final minute.

But I think that sells this game short. This game wasn’t defined by Hilton Magic as some of Iowa St.’s other games have been. This wasn’t a game with a bunch of huge three point shots, a huge run for the home team, and a road team looking shell-shocked.

That’s not to say the arena wasn’t rocking. From the opening tipoff, the fans were loud. They were as passionate as any fans will ever be in December. But this game was not about Iowa being rattled. For most of the game, the Hawkeyes played like a veteran team. They executed beautiful out-of-bounds plays, including one gorgeous lob in the second half. They ran the secondary break so well, with Aaron White constantly finding defenders out of position, that Tar Heel fans would have been jealous. And when things got stuck in the half-court, Roy Devyn Marble and Mike Gesell were effective at getting into the lane and finding cutters. Iowa’s consistent effort and execution was at a much higher level than what we have seen from any Iowa St. opponent this year. For 38 minutes, every time Iowa St. went on a run, Iowa had an answer.

The announcers seemed surprised by this. Perhaps Iowa is sneaking up on people because they missed the NCAA tournament last year. But by almost every statistical measure, Fran McCaffery’s rebuilding project is reaching the end. The next table shows how Iowa’s Efficiency Margin (opponent adjusted offense minus opponent adjusted defense) has improved since McCaffery became head coach in 2010-11. The table also shows how McCaffery has reinstated the fast-paced style of basketball that made Iowa a joy to watch in earlier eras.

Year

 

Coach

Pace

Eff. Margin

2009-10

Todd Lickliter

62.6

-1.1

2010-11

Fran McCaffery

67.9

5.7

2011-12

Fran McCaffery

68.6

7.2

2012-13

Fran McCaffery

67.4

16.5

2013-14

Fran McCaffery

71.9

21.1

The reason Iowa is not getting more credit is because as good as they have looked in most games, Iowa simply does not have the resume wins against quality teams. Last year in Big Ten play against NCAA tournament teams, Iowa picked up three quality wins. They beat Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. But against most of the NCAA tournament teams the Hawkeyes faced, they lost nail-biters. Iowa lost to Michigan St. by three points twice, lost to Indiana by four, lost to Minnesota by three, and lost to Wisconsin in 2OTs. And because they could not finish those games, a lot of people were unwilling to acknowledge how well the team was playing.

Those same skeptics will be out again this year. In Iowa’s two games against elite competition this season, against Villanova and Iowa St., Iowa came up short. The Hawkeyes lost in OT and lost by three points on the road. To some observers, Iowa’s inability to win close games against elite teams proves that this is not a quality team.

There is one part of that poor close game execution story that I buy. This isn’t so much about Gesell missing those two free throws, but it is about Iowa’s extreme balance. Balance is a great thing when the team is playing well. But it can be a problem in close games. Iowa does not have a Keith Appling type closer, a guy who can get into the lane in crunch time and punish his opponent by knocking down his free throws. (Roy Devyn Marble should be that guy, as his driving has reached another level this season. But Marble’s free throw stroke has been off this year, and he doesn’t have the confidence in close games right now.) Perhaps, the lack of a “closer” is a real concern.

But this emphasis on Iowa’s flaws undersells what Iowa St. did to win this game. Dustin Hogue, the undersized JUCO forward at 6’6”, played like the biggest man on the floor, dominating the boards and being strong at the free throw line in crunch time. DeAndre Kane couldn’t make a basket, but he didn’t let it stop him from playing smart basketball. Kane penetrated and dished out 9 assists, and his inbounds pass off of Adam Woodbury’s back for a lay-up was brilliant. But most importantly, Georges Niang was the closer that Iowa wishes they had. Niang got the ball time-and-time again down the stretch, and no one on Iowa could keep him out of the lane.

And when I looked up the Sagarin Ratings on Sunday morning, according to Sagarin’s margin-of-victory based predictor, Iowa St. and Iowa are both in the Top 10. It is early, and I am skeptical that both teams will be there in March. But after watching these two teams play polished basketball on a Friday night in December, it felt about right.

On the Flip Side

At some point during Saturday’s North Carolina vs Kentucky game, Dick Vitale said we should all call our friends and tell them that the game was close. Suffice it to say, I passed on that recommendation. Whatever you think about these two teams, this was not a fun basketball game. There were way too many fouls and way too many free throws. And it didn’t feel like a game with athletic plays and fierce defense leading to more free throws. It just felt like a lot of bodies running into one another with no continuity. (Worse yet, the foul shooting wasn’t even that great. North Carolina was 26 of 45, while Kentucky was 29 of 43 from the charity stripe.)

Now, I don’t want to say there were not some surprising performances. Kentucky’s Alex Poythress seemed to be playing inspired basketball for once, before he fouled out. Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison got into the lane and found his big men for a few highlight reel buckets. North Carolina’s JP Tokoto proved that we shouldn’t yell “terrible shot” every time he jacks up a long range jumper.  And North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo, went back in a time machine and started playing like he did last season when he was often the most important player on his team.

But this was still a game where neither team seemed to “get it.”

-Kentucky threw so many lazy passes that I thought John Calipari’s head was going to explode.

-Meanwhile North Carolina seemed unable to take advantage of Kentucky’s constant switching on defense. The Harrison twins are tall at 6’6”, but they shouldn’t be able to guard North Carolina’s forwards in the paint.

-Projected top NBA draft pick Julius Randle struggled against a team that could throw multiple big bodies at him in the paint.

-And North Carolina walk-on Jackson Simmons and 6th UNC forward Desmond Hubert were two of the most impressive players on the day, in no small part because they simply knew where to be offensively and defensively.

If ESPN’s speculation is correct, and PJ Hairston will be back in January, I still like the upside for both these teams. But at one point, Dick Vitale leaned over and said, “I don’t really like Kentucky’s offense here. They don’t seem to have any rhythm.” Kentucky was leading in the game at this point. And the comment was pretty much spot on. Nothing that happened in this game looked like a finished product.

Coaches Whose Teams Do Not Get Better

Last week I showed the list of coaches whose teams tend to improve the most in-season. Today I show the list of coaches whose teams usually peak early. Some of these coaches will make sense. There is a reason Dayton fans were happy to see Brian Gregory leave. There is a reason Paul Hewitt was forced out at Georgia Tech. More often than not, their teams built high expectations early in the year, and then faded.

But some names will be a surprise. Over the last 10 years, Mike Krzyzewski’s team has never played better after January 1st than before January 1st. This is true even after adjusting for opponent and venue which is what the Pythagorean winning percentage measures.

But I also want to say that these lists are not necessarily predictive of future results. Part of the reason Krzyzewski shows up on this list is that his teams have historically been dominant in November and December. Even his national title team from 2010 started hot at 11-1, with the only loss coming by a narrow margin in a road-game at Wisconsin. Because Duke has started so hot, there has been nowhere to go but down. With a weaker start this season, Duke does have room for improvement, and I expect we will see it. Still, the last two columns of this chart are fairly amazing:

Mike Krzyzewski

Off Nov/Dec

Off Later

Def Nov/Dec

Def Later

Pyth Nov/Dec

Pyth Later

2003-04

117.7

125.3

80.4

86.7

0.9802

0.9777

2004-05

118.0

118.3

76.9

87.3

0.9878

0.9577

2005-06

123.9

119.9

87.5

90.7

0.9725

0.9461

2006-07

111.1

115.2

79.2

88.0

0.9695

0.9408

2007-08

121.4

118.5

83.4

89.1

0.9791

0.9491

2008-09

117.0

118.2

82.8

91.9

0.9717

0.9293

2009-10

124.3

123.6

85.6

86.5

0.9786

0.9749

2010-11

122.2

119.9

82.6

89.8

0.9824

0.9505

2011-12

119.9

115.8

91.0

97.0

0.9441

0.8597

2012-13

119.5

119.1

84.0

91.9

0.9737

0.9349

Overall, here are the coaches with the biggest average drop in production from early in the season until later in the year. (Note: I only count seasons while coaching in a major conference and only show coaches with at least 4 years of data.)

In-Season Drops

Teams

Pyth Nov/Dec

Pyth Later

Diff

Brian Gregory

Georgia Tech/Dayton

0.7519

0.6605

-0.0915

Ken Bone

Washington St.

0.7676

0.6774

-0.0902

L. Eustachy

Colorado St./S. Miss

0.6503

0.5889

-0.0615

M. Anderson

Arkansas/Missouri

0.8671

0.8106

-0.0566

Tom Crean

Indiana/Marquette

0.8012

0.7489

-0.0522

Rick Barnes

Texas

0.9183

0.8841

-0.0342

Dave Rose

BYU

0.8694

0.8361

-0.0333

Tim Miles

Nebraska/Colorado St.

0.5702

0.5374

-0.0329

M. Krzyzewski

Duke

0.9740

0.9421

-0.0319

Paul Hewitt

G. Mason/Georgia Tech

0.8086

0.7772

-0.0314

Tim Miles is a bit of a surprise given that he tends to rebuild programs, but oddly last year at Nebraska was the first time in six years that his team played better after January 1st than before January 1st.

Bullets

-Big Ten teams didn’t necessarily look horrible this weekend, but their failure to pick up a signature win may be costly in March. Iowa narrowly lost at Iowa St. Michigan lost to Arizona at home. Illinois lost to Oregon. Indiana lost to Notre Dame. Purdue lost to Butler. And Penn St. lost in OT at home to Princeton. The league had lost 23 games through the first five weeks of the season and lost 6 games in the span of 27 hours.

-Indiana’s offense was always going to be a work in progress with so many new players, but it is a bad sign that the team could not find a way to score against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish defense had been a sieve against the team’s four previous Top 100 opponents.

-Boise St. and La Salle were trendy mid-major NCAA tournament picks in the pre-season. Both were guard-led teams that played well late last season and brought just about everyone back this season. But right now I can feel people jumping off the band-wagon for both teams. After La Salle lost its fifth non-conference game on Sunday to Villanova, and after Boise St. lost at home to St. Mary’s neither team has any remaining shot to build a tournament worthy non-conference profile.

-I really enjoyed Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery’s call of the St. John’s vs Syracuse game on Sunday. But it is hilarious to hear the two together because they both like to emote after the game’s biggest plays. You could really tell Johnson was deferring to Raftery more than he normally would as St. John’s cut into the lead. Syracuse eventually won the game thanks to two huge baseline shots from CJ Fair.

-This week PG Tom Maayan left the Seton Hall team to return to military service in Israel. I’ve gone on the record before to say that Maayan’s departure should not be devastating to the Pirates. His turnover rate the last two years has been 54 percent and 45 percent. But then PG Sterling Gibbs went down with a knee injury in Seton Hall’s OT loss to St. Peter’s. And Gibbs is a huge loss. He led the team in percentage of possessions used, led all starters in efficiency, led the team in assist rate, and was one of the Top-5 players in the nation at getting to the free throw line this year. For the second season in a row unexpected player losses might stop Seton Hall from being competitive in the Big East.

-The calf injury to Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler is also worth watching. Seldom-used senior forward Tyler Neal picked up the rebounding slack after Spangler went down, but Oklahoma can ill-afford to be missing its only clear post-defender and rebounder for an extended period of time.

-When Rutgers hired Eddie Jordan, I thought he would face an uphill climb due to all the roster attrition. But he did a brilliant job bringing players back who planned to transfer, and adding key pieces like JJ Moore. (This week the team also announced the addition of Georgetown transfer Greg Whittington.) It certainly seemed like Rutgers had a lineup that could compete in the AAC this year. But unfortunately, Jordan doesn’t seem to know how to teach defense right now.  This is the worst Scarlet Knights defense in the 12 years Ken Pomeroy has been keeping track of tempo free stats. For a power conference bottom feeder, it is never good to be setting a new standard of poor play. But that is exactly why Rutgers keeps dropping non-conference games.

Notes On 2013 ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Although there wasnít a conference crowned the champion of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge because of a tied 6-6 outcome, plenty of story lines and questions emerged from the event. We take a glance into some intriguing aspects seen in the challenge.

Why The NCAA Loses Nothing By Eliminating Amateurism

The NCAA can act like the NBAís disinterest is a burden for the NCAA, but itís really an opportunity to make $11 billion over 14 years to put on a March basketball tournament. There are plenty of people who want to watch the best 18-20 year old basketball players in the world.

2013 Holiday Tournaments (Part 2)

In the second of a three-part series, we breakdown the NIT (with a potential Gordon vs. Parker matchup), Maui Invitational, Legends Classic, CBE, Gulf Coast Showcase and the Cancun Challenge.

A More Meaningful McDonald's Game

With a few exceptions (Anthony Bennett, Marcus Smart) last yearís class didnít quite live up to typical McDonaldís All-American game standards. But with Andrew Wiggins headling, we are confident that this yearís class will be different.

Comparing The Conferences

The Pac-12 has been suffering through a long dark period. The Big Ten has been dominant (at least in the pre-conference schedule) for the last few years. Should we expect a change this year? Is the Pac-12ís slump over? Is the Big Tenís boom about to come to an end?

Unconventional Thinking On Michigan, Duke

In beta-testing a new predictions model, we look at whether Michigan is still a top 25 team and if Duke should be considered the favorite of the ACC.

Team-By-Team Gold Medal Winners

The Jazz and Thunder have had the most Gold Medalists since the USA began bringing NBA players in 1992, while Duke leads amongst colleges. How do the other 29 NBA teams rank?

Notes On The 2012 Jordan Brand Classic

Anthony Davis wanted to wear Michael Jordanís number in this game last year. This year no one chose to wear #23. Maybe people are right when they say this yearís class of high school seniors is missing a larger than life star.

Major Conference Tournaments Day 4

Baylor broke through, Michigan and Tennessee had huge game tying 3's, but the true action on Friday took place in the A10.

Rivalry Week Musings And More Conference Shuffling

Breaking down Duke/North Carolina, Syracuse/Georgetown, Kansas/Baylor and Florida/Kentucky, along with which conferences are improving with the new round of shuffling.

Top NCAA Coaches Of Past Five Years

There are a lot of complicated ways to evaluate college coaches, but in this edition we look at the coaches with the best per possession numbers over the last five years.

Freshmen Bring Hope

Teams that play a lot of freshmen are the most likely to improve as the season goes on, while those with a lot of experience are more likely to plateau. In this piece, we examine freshmen minutes for every major school in the country.

The Census: RealGM's NCAA Rankings For Dec. 12

Syracuse has yet to leave New York and have played a relatively soft schedule, with their only impressive wins coming against Florida and Stanford, but they are 10-0 and now No. 1 in RealGMís weekly poll.

The Census: RealGM's NCAA Rankings For Dec. 5

Aaron Craft, Jared Sullinger and Ohio State were ready to trounce on the No. 1 slot in RealGM's rankings if not for an Anthony Davis block.

College Continuity

The average BCS team loses 38% of its minutes each offseason. Teams that have more returners also have more continuity and more early season wins. Here is how they rank.

The Census: RealGM's NCAA Rankings For Nov. 28th

Kentucky at No. 1, North Carolina drops to No. 4, while Saint Louis, Harvard, San Diego State and Creighton enter RealGM's rankings.

Midnight Madness 2011

A quick look back at Friday's season tip-off celebrations for North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, Pitt and Vanderbilt.

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