Last year, prior to the '09-'10 NCAA basketball season I went through my preseason ritual of trying to find the best value for a futures bet (a bet on which team would win the NCAA Tournament that season). I had an idea that Purdue might be my pick, they were returning all their key contributors, including some NBA talent from a 27-win squad. It seemed like a lock.
Then I found a team that one-upped the Boilermakers. Plucky little Butler was returning every player, including some NBA talent, from a 26-win team and they were starting the season at 80-1 to win the title. So, I plopped down $124 on the Bulldogs and later that March I plopped down $7700 on Duke in the Championship game. End result - LasVegasBruin takes his girl on a couple of nice little vacations.
I told you that story to tell you this one, next year's Ben Ballers could join last year's Butler team as the only other squad in the last 10 years of which the following could be said:
A. finished the previous year in the RPI top 50
B. returned all of its players
C. returned multiple future NBA players
Here's a list of the other teams that came close to meeting those three criteria over the past ten seasons (each failing to return 100% of it's production from the previous season):
|Season||Team||% Retention||Final Record||Final RPI||Final Outcome|
|03-04||St. Joseph's||91%||30-2||4||Elite Eight|
|04-05||North Carolina||99%||33-4||2||National Title|
|08-09||North Carolina||89%||34-4||3||National Title|
Note that the only real outlier here ('02-'03 Georgia) technically met my criteria by having two future NBA draft picks but the second of those picks was Rashad Wright, the final pick of the '04 draft who never played a minute in the NBA as far as I can tell.
While I hold little hope that we end up returning every player from this year's team, I just thought I'd illustrate why I feel that complete retention of this year's squad could and almost certainly would mean a return to elite status next season.
Final note: "production" here is defined by the NBA's "efficiency" stat [ (points + rebounds + assists + steals + blocks) - (missed field goals + missed free throws + turnovers) ].