Four of the past five NCAA Championship games featured a roster averaging less than one year experience AND a top 10 NBA Pick. It is a rare combination, with only 15 rosters in all of D1 averaging less than one year of experience and only two of those teams ALSO featuring a projected top 10 pick at NBA Draft Express.
Marquette and projected No. 7 pick Henry Ellenson pulled off an almost unheard of road win against a Top 10 team Tuesday night. Meanwhile, an LSU team that Marquette already defeated blew out the other team to meet both criteria - Kentucky and projected No. 4 pick Skal Labissiere. Here are the other four teams to accomplish the feat in the past five seasons.
|less than 1 yr experience, seed||Season||NCAA Wins||Yrs||Experience||Top 10 NBA Pick|
|Marquette ?||2016||?||0.86||344||Henry Ellenson 7 proj|
|Kentucky ?||2016||?||0.95||341||Skal Labissiere 4 proj|
|Kentucky 8||2014||Runner-up||0.31||351||Julius Randle 7|
|Michigan 4||2013||Runner-up||0.73||342||Trey Burke 9|
|Kentucky 1||2012||Champion||0.77||340||Anthony Davis 1|
|Connecticut 3||2011||Champion||0.94||332||Kemba Walker 9|
For one night at least the talent and ceiling was evident - even if the odds of making the tournament are still low. The 15% chance Marquette was given of winning at Providence (www.kenpom.com) let fans see a team with enough talent to possibly go into the Big East tournament and win three in a row - a much easier feat than when UConn started at 49th at www.kenpom.com, lost at home to Jimmy Butler and Marquette late in the season, and then had to win SIX straight games to win the Big East title.
That team had 0.94 years of experience yet the freshmen were turning into sophomores by the end of the year and became one of only four 3-seeds to win the title in the last 28 years. Kentucky was expected to win the title in 2012 with only 0.77 years of experience. However, Trey Burke led one of the youngest teams in the land in Michigan to the title despite them only being a 4-seed, and then an 8th seeded Kentucky (0.31 years experience is the second youngest team since www.kenpom.com started tracking in 2007) went to the title game in 2014.
Ellenson is an inconsistent freshman to date, but he has also shown he can take over and dominate in many ways. If Marquette's freshmen gain confidence and experience and can just find a way to sneak into the tournament they have that rare combination.
The fantastic 65-64 win at Providence - a team with upset wins at Rhode Island and Butler, and neutral court wins over Evansville and Arizona before battling Michigan State even until the final few minutes - shows on a given night the team can beat anyone. MU has now beaten two of the leading candidates for National Player of the Year in Ben Simmons (LSU) and Kris Dunn.
In looking at all teams that have made the NCAA tournament despite having a roster averaging less than one year experience - the overall tournament record is 45-23, better than expected based on seeding. Having the consistency to win enough games to make the tournament will still be difficult - but if MU finds a way to sneak in they have a magical combination that could make for a high ceiling based on recent history.
|Other less than 1 yr||Season||NCAA Wins||Yrs||Experience|
|Western Kentucky 16||2012||1||0.84||335|
|San Diego 13||2008||1||0.94||325|
|North Carolina 1||2007||3||0.87||329|
|45-23 four games > ave.|