*****THIS ARTICLE IS HEAVILY EDITED AFTER I DISCOVERED THAT LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE RUINED THE FUN FOR EVERYONE. THE BELOW CHARTS ARE NOW 100% CORRECT IN REFERENCE TO THE TALENTED EXPERIENCE CHART.******
Now of course this requires a precursor that high school rankings don't mean everything. They don't. But this gives you a pretty good idea of at least what raw materials every squad is currently working with. Whether they be McNeese State or Kansas every coach has to get the talent on the roster in order to mold it into a championship caliber squad. Only one team in the last 20 years has won a national championship without a McDonald's All-American, so recruiting talent matters.
Below you will find the a table of the top 25 squads in the nation in raw talent, including their average star ranking. Credit to VerbalCommits.com for having all of this information on their website to combine all of this data. Also included below the chart is the link to the entire list.
As you can see there are specifically 4 teams that you could call absolutely loaded this year in terms of raw talent. Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas should all feel really good about their team's talent levels. They're all sky high, but you'll also notice with a little further digging that Kentucky's and Kansas's experience levels are not high. Kentucky's is the lowest at .23 years per player and Kansas is close behind at .71. A lot of that raw talent is relying on their incredibly impressive freshmen classes. Duke is also in the bottom 100 in experience. On the flip side, North Carolina is the most experienced team in the nation at 2.77 years of experience per player.
For some reference, 6 of last year's Elite Eight (Duke, Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, Florida and Ohio State) finished in the top 22 of combined talent and experience. If we expand that to the Sweet Sixteen field, 10 of the 16 fell within the top 23 of combined talent and experience. 12 fall in the top 50. So it appears with the outrageous sample size of just one year, experience has just as much of a factor in the tournament as talent does.
So which teams this year have the best combination of talent and experience this year? Below is the top 25.
|North Carolina Central
Correlate some of this data with what Pomeroy and some of the computers have seen so far this season and I think we can come up with a decent idea of what teams are finding their way into the Sweet Sixteen this year and most likely a championship run. North Carolina, Louisville and Ohio State are terrifying. They're all very talented. All very experienced and all three have been playing very well. Add in Michigan State, Florida, Oregon, Memphis, Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan and Connecticut to top 25 Pomeroy teams that fall into this top 25 as well.
Well it was discovered that Louisiana Lafayette ruined the fun for everyone. Turns out Pomeroy lists them as UL Lafayette and my other data sheet had them as Louisiana Lafayette. Therefore the data transfer from one sheet to the other via alphabetical order was botched. You will rue the day you met me UL Lafayette.
So the top 25 of experienced talent gets a pretty dramatic face lift. Gone are the likes of North Carolina's gaudy #1 ranking. They don't even crack the top 150 now. Michigan also takes a tumble, however they are replaced with the likes of Baylor, UMass and Saint Louis. All three teams that will be hot choices in this year's tournament as teams most likely to make unlikely deep runs (is that a thing?). Ohio State remains intimidating at the top, but the difference between the leaders and the rest of the field has dropped considerably.
If you're someone not interested in the Hoosiers specifically you can stop reading here. Being as this is an Indiana blog, I would be remiss to leave out where Indiana ranks. The Hoosiers are currently third in the Big Ten in talent, but also third to last in experience. As a result, Indiana is only 10th in total talent and experience. Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin top the conference list.
Now obviously this metric isn't rock solid as a team like Kentucky isn't going to finish second to last in the nation, but they're far from a bad team, but it does provide a little more context to what each team is working with. The Hoosiers have an uphill battle going into the conference season in a little over a week. Not many can match up to the talent of this squad but pretty much everyone is more experienced. The question becomes which one weighs more in the end and who gets the credit?
***EDIT: There were a few botched figures in the spread sheet. Michigan State because of this has now vaulted into the top 25 as well. I will continue to make sure every other number is accurate.