The basic premise of my post was that I expect Indiana to be included in the field of 68 in the NCAA tournament next year. I had three reasons why I believed this to be so, 1) IU will be more talented with the addition of Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington minus the departing contributions of Jeremiah Rivers. 2) IU will be a more experienced team in general than it is this year. 3) The rest of the Big Ten is losing either experience or talent or both. Purdue and Wisconsin in particular are losing quite a bit of production, and the replacement recruits are not as highly ranked as the players they are replacing. Even with Robbie Hummel coming back, Purdue loses quite a bit on the net talent front.
This post is going to look at the last point in more detail. While one can debate the merits of the Rivals Rankings for players coming out of high school, and one can debate how much improvement we should expect from players with an extra year in Crean’s system, one can not debate that the conference was loaded with a very talented senior class, this past year, and team’s are losing quite a bit of production.
How much? Well look at this chart for starters;
|Team||# of Seniors||% of Scoring|
|Average of Rest of Conference||3.2||39.5%|
Now I’m sure Bruce Weber has a secret plan to replace 3/5ths of his offense next season, and one of the advantages of having legitimate seniors is that you’re able to ease in a freshman class and not lean too heavily on them for production. But to put this in perspective, the average for the other Big Ten teams is equivalent to IU having to replace Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey’s production, in addition to Rivers for next year.
So assuming IU moves up to the middle of the conference, is that improvement simply fool’s gold? I say yes and no. In one way it is fool’s gold, in many of the cases, IU will improve simply by other team’s getting worse. But on the other hand, I would argue that for the foreseeable future, IU’s underclassmen will be more talented as a whole than the departing seniors. Either because there will be enough younger talent maturing, or because there are simply more talented recruits coming in.
So as long as IU continues to improve, which I expect they will, this will not be fool’s gold so much as it is a big step forward which will make up for the baby steps we’ve seen in years 1-3.