Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some notes on the BP65

With all of the previews done, it's time for a little analysis and recap of the previews. And if there's one theme of the BP65 it's a return to normalcy, which is what should be expected of next year. This past year was the Year of Mediocrity, with a lot of the top programs down or in rebuilding phases, and a lot of second-tier teams were able to fill in the gaps. The Mid-Majors, especially, had a very successful year. The million dollar question is whether Gonzaga, George Mason and the Missouri Valley were signs of the future or flukes. The answer is probably that they were flukes. The Mid-Major conferences are definintely improving with more television exposure, but the improvement is not going to be that drastic. They took advantage of a weak year from the Major conferences, and expect the mid-majors to take a step back next year.


In addition to mid-majors, the second-tier major conference teams flourished in 2005-06. Teams like LSU and Florida were able to jump in and take advantage of the fact that there were no really good teams. They had no teams like UNC and Illinois in '05 to deal with. So, they were able to get hot and make a run. Despite what many gushing sportscasters have been saying, Florida and LSU were not the two best teams in the country. There were just a dozen or two teams with similar ability, and Florida and LSU were the hottest of those. That's part of the fun of the Tournament, of course - it's rare that the best team wins. If you think that LSU would have beaten Duke in a 7-game series then you're nuts.


So, before doing a preview for next year, it's important to remember that Florida and LSU were not the two top teams in the nation this past year. There were other teams that were better, and which will also bring in better recruiting classes. This is why it doesn't make sense to rank Florida as the #1 team in the nation, even if they return everyone.


Unlike this past year, next year will be greatly influenced by a strong high school class coming in. A lot of very good players will come in and dominate, many of whom would have gone straight to the NBA out of high school under the old draft rules. The fact that these kids are all going to the big programs, and that some will even stay more than a year (because they enjoy college or because they realize that they aren't as good as they originally thought), will mean that the big programs should regain some of their traditional power. Don't expect any mid-majors to reach the Final Four next year, and don't expect any mid-major conferences with multiple Sweet 16 teams. Order will be restored in 2007.

1 comment:

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