Ranking the 10 Best ‘Small Ball’ Lineups in NCAA Basketball for 2014-15

With Kentucky having seemingly every talented big man in the country, VCU, Wichita State and Michigan State headline what figures to be a long list of college basketball teams employing small-ball lineups during the 2014-15 season.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the ability of the dog to make ample three-pointers and limit turnovers well enough to make up for an inevitably negative rebounding margin on a nightly basis.

In ranking these top 10 small-ball lineups, we put together our best guess at their projected starting lineups and then subjectively graded them in both the “best” and “small” categories.

As you’ll see, it was a delicate balance.

Indiana ended up just two spots behind Michigan, even though we fully expect the Hoosiers to finish at least five places behind the Wolverines in the Big Ten standings. But because Indiana is so ridiculously small this year and because Michigan figures to start four guys who are 6’6″ or taller, they ended up in close proximity to one another.

Any team projected to start two players 6’8″ or taller was immediately removed from consideration. Beyond that, the smaller they are and the better they are, the higher they ranked on the list.

 

All advanced stats via KenPom.com (subscription required), NCAA.com and Sports-Reference.com.

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NCAA inquiry part of story at Syracuse media day

Jim Boeheim set for his 39th year at Syracuse with NCAA probe of program nearing conclusion

      
 

 

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NCAA basketball countdown: No. 16 Oklahoma

USA TODAY Sports breaks down the projected NCAA tournament field of 68.

      
 

 

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NCAA Basketball Stars Playing in the Perfect System in 2014-15

Sam Dekker and Kennedy Meeks are two of the most notable college basketball stars who are playing in the perfect system this season.

When good basketball players end up on the right team, it’s a magical thing. Even average players can evolve into stars if the dominoes fall properly.

Just look at Marshall Henderson and Aaron Craft.

If those two guys had switched teams, no one would have ever heard of Craft, and Henderson would have been reviled for his antics and average shooting.

But Henderson thrived in Ole Miss, where he was free to take as many shots per game as he wanted. And Craft was a stud for the perennially defensive-minded Buckeyes.

Maybe these 10 players won’t receive the unadulterated love of Dan Dakich, but they are in the perfect position to succeed in 2014-15.

 

All advanced stats via KenPom.com (subscription required) and Sports-Reference.com.

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NCAA inquiry part of story at ‘Cuse media day

Jim Boeheim set for his 39th year at Syracuse with NCAA probe of program nearing conclusion

      
 

 

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Predicting the Top Double-Double Machines in the 2014-15 NCAA Basketball Season

Shawn Long and Alan Williams were two of the top double-double machines during the 2013-14 NCAA basketball season, and they figure to be among the best in the country once again this season.

Unlike three-point percentages or efficiency metrics, double-doubles are often rewarded to durable players in the proper system. An incredible post player could finish a season with fewer double-doubles than an average big man who just so happens to serve as the best forward on an up-tempo team that misses a lot of shots.

Case in point, Southeast Missouri State’s Tyler Stone had as many double-doubles last season as Duke’s Jabari Parker.

In ranking these top 20 double-double machines, we searched for big men with great rebounding rates who are in the perfect position to be the primary interior threats for their respective teams. Players with at least 10 double-doubles last season were given extra consideration, as they have already shown an ability to dominate the category.

 

All advanced stats via KenPom.com (subscription required) and Sports-Reference.com.

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NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Latest Buzz on Top Uncommitted Players in 2015 Class

The 2015 college basketball recruiting trail had a major player pull off the road Thursday and set up camp for next year with the news that 5-star prospect Henry Ellenson had committed to Marquette.

The pledge by Ellenson, a 6’10″, 230-pound power forward from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, makes him the 12th of 24 players listed as 5-star recruits (according to 247Sports’ composite rankings) in the 2015 class to commit.

The school choice was somewhat of a surprise considering the Golden Eagles went through a coaching change during the offseason, but it’s also a sign that new coach Steve Wojciechowski has no plans to take his time rebuilding the Marquette program. It’s also one of the few pieces of concrete news related to a top prospect in the 2015 class, as most information about the best of the lot falls more into the realm of speculation or “buzz” than hard facts.

But that buzz can’t be ignored since where the collegiate stars of tomorrow may end up is big news for basketball fans. With that in mind, here’s a recap of some of the most noteworthy happenings involving some of the top uncommitted players in the 2015 class.

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NCAA denied bid to have two lawsuits dismissed

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken says lawsuit different from Ed O’Bannon cases

      
 

 

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NCAA Tournament Regulars in Danger of Missing the Big Dance in 2015

Marquette tops our list of NCAA tournament regulars most in danger of missing the Big Dance in 2015.

To be defined as a tournament regular, schools need to have either competed in at least 10 of the 15 tournaments since 2000 or competed in at least seven of the past 15 tournaments with at least four of those invites coming in the past five years.

By that definition, there are 32 tournament regulars in the country.

Many of themArizona, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Wisconsin, to name a fewcouldn’t possibly be in less danger of missing the 2015 tournament.

Others like BYU, Missouri and Temple would need a minor miracle to continue their recent trend of making the tournament more often than not.

Teams on the following slides are listed in ascending order of perceived likelihood of missing the 2015 NCAA tournament.

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Predicting the Best 3-Point Shooting Teams in NCAA Basketball for 2014-15 Season

Predicting which college basketball teams will successfully attempt the most three-pointers is hardly an exact science, but it’s pretty safe to assume that Michigan will be among the best in the nation.

It’s such an inexact science, in fact, that two of John Gasaway’s projected top five three-point shooting teams (Insider subscription required) for this year made fewer than 33.0 percent of their three-point attempts last year. Not one of them ranked in the top 50 in three-point percentage.

Last season, Princeton led the nation in three-point attempts per field-goal attempt with 47.8 percent of its shots coming from beyond the arc. The Tigers made 35.7 percent of those attempts. The season before last, they shot 40.3 percent from downtown while only attempting 34.2 percent of their field goals from that distance.

Cleveland State ranked third in the country in three-point percentage in 2013-14 despite failing to finish any of the previous 12 seasons in the top 60.

In lieu of some magic formula to predict those drastic changes, we’re left to put our faith in the teams returning a respectable number of above-average long-range shooters.

Teams on the following slides are ranked by how likely we feel they are to make at least 8.0 three-pointers per game while shooting 37.5 percent or better in the processa feat that only 21 teams accomplished last season.

 

Statistics are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com and KenPom.com (subscription required).

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