If there’s one thing that is much of a certainty this college basketball season it’s that nothing is certain. We’ve discussed parity all year long and, if anything, things have become even more unpredictable.
As there are more Top 5-ranked teams losing this season prior to the month of February than any season in history, we’re going to argue the opposite of what most sports pundits have been bitching about: there is more depth in college basketball than ever.
Okay, so the one and done has ruined college basketball, but that doesn’t necessarily lend to the argument that there’s less talent. And while this year will be a down year for the NBA draft (despite all the “green room” comments by ESPN), pro talent and college talent aren’t one in the same.
As I currently sit and write this up, I’m watching Cincinnati against Memphis and we see one team (Cincy) with a previous lengthy Top 25 ranking and the ability to get back there and another (obviously Memphis) with a good bit of potential and not as much depth. But if you told me that both teams made the NCAA Tournament, you couldn’t tell me that both teams don’t have a reasonable chance to win 3 games. There’s your depth.
Another take on the depth in college basketball is the overall depth per team. Ten or fifteen years ago, college teams would regularly play short rotations and red-shirts were common for even the most talented of prospects. Yet there’s more college-ready players these days and so you tend to see more teams with benches of 7 scholarship players and teams that actually go 9 or 10 deep. Obviously, it’s all about player rotations and whether they are better for success or not. We saw with Kentucky last year, a team with probably 14 legit D-1 talents but only really 8 or 9 spots needed to play. If you play too many guys, not everyone has a role and there’s not as much consistency.
While teams like LSU have a ways to go to get into the Big Dance, it’s likely they will (along with a few other SEC teams- who all are seemingly on the bubble). This year makes some of the after-thought money-machine tournaments that no one pays attention to (like the NIT, CBI, and I’m pretty sure there’s two others) somewhat appealing. One this is for certain this year, whoever picks the perfect bracket for March Madness will be all luck.