With the news of Terrance Jones being in Lawrence and Josh Selby signed to join the Jayhawks, I've finally gone through some numbers looking at how successful young teams have been at the ultimate goal in college basketball. That's obviously talking about winning the National Championship, it's a question that's been in my (and some others) head since the early exit from the tournament this year. The 2009-10 Jayhawks were the best team throughout the regular season but couldn't get it done in the tournament. Kentucky was probably the second best team throughout the regular season and they couldn't get it done in the tournament. Duke's top five minute earners were all juniors and seniors this year. Coincidence?
As the research for this was started, I found this post at Rush The Court. Their findings showed that in the era of "one and dones", the team with the most experienced starters in the Final Four has won the Championship. Pretty close to what I'm after, though I did take it one step further and split up each team's minutes by class.
Over 75% of their minutes to juniors and seniors.
Just over 70% of their minutes to juniors and seniors.
68% of their minutes to juniors and seniors.
76% of their minutes to juniors and seniors.
For the years from 2000 to 2006 (pre-one and done)
Couple of quick thoughts- First, I'm definitely not saying that Kansas should flash a "No Vacancy" sign to Jones. He's an elite talent and you just can't turn those guys away. With the Morri, Reed, Morningstar, and Taylor coming back, Kansas will be a very experienced team.
Second, I do think there is something here. For college teams to win a championship, you can't discount the positives gained from experience and playing with each other for multiple years. Syracuse being the only team to win a championship with freshman leading in minutes for the last 10 years has to say something, right? This is where getting the guys that will be around for three or four years can really pay off. They may not require a hat presser but they will pay off in the long run.