2011 March Madness: We Could Be Seniors Simulation From WhatIfSports.com image

2011 March Madness: NCAA Senior Awareness

Griffin, Love, Rose and Beasley could have been dancing in 2011

By Ryan Fowler - Whatifsports.com
March 4, 2011

The "one and done" rule remains basketball's mistress.

The fan base, namely college basketball purists who yearn for school pride to mean something again, are astutely aware the taboo relationship exists. A blue chip's freshmen season is merely a fling of finances as he awaits his payday in the NBA. The NCAA, playing the role of the loyal housewife, would rather the harlots of hoop check into a hotel room and lay low until the affair is over come early April.

The NBA's escape clause has caused college coaches to age twice as fast. The programs that land the top recruits run the risk of rebuilding/reloading every off-season when their freshman leave for the NBA. Coaches like Thad Matta have endured the wrath of the mistress more often than his cardiologist would probably prefer. Because she's here today and gone tomorrow, it's the mistress that forces college basketball columnists, analysts and experts to commend and highlight freshmen like Jared Sullinger, Brandon Knight and Josh Selby prior to praising seniors Kyle Singler, E'Twaun Moore and Jimmer Fredette. The elder statesmen are bequeathed similar accolades as their younger brethren, but at a cost of four times the sacrifice.

The Senior Class Simulation

NCAA Seniors

The "what-if" world is swirling with possible March Madness simulation scenarios had some of the NBA's best stuck around campus all four years. Using our NCAA basketball simulation engine, we selected the top 24 college basketball players (based on NBA draft position) who would be college seniors this season. We had the two teams "play" each other 1,001 times and generated each team's chances of winning and average score. If you don't agree with our senior-laden starting line-ups, you can make a call to the bench and alter the rotations to your liking.

What-if 2011 NCAA Seniors
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
Missing the Madness 62.5103.5Boxscore
Senior Citizens 37.599.5Change Depth Charts

Although both rosters are loaded, the front court of Missing the Madness with Indiana's Eric Gordon running the point proved too much for the Senior Citizens featuring Derrick Rose and Kevin Love. Missing the Madness won nearly two-thirds of the 1,001 simulations by an average margin of victory of four points.

Senior Citizen Starters
Player Position
Derrick Rose PG
James Harden SG
Evan Turner SF
Kevin Love PF
J.J. Hickson C
Change Depth Charts

Miss. the Madness Starters
Player Position
Eric Gordon PG
O.J. Mayo SG
Wesley Johnson SF
Michael Beasley PF
Blake Griffin C
Change Depth Charts

It's in the "what-if" world where you have to wonder where that six-pack of talent would rank if the NCAA class of 2010-11 held true to form. This year's tournament could include a senior class of Derrick Rose at Memphis, Kevin Love at UCLA, Blake Griffin at Oklahoma, Michael Beasley at Kansas State and Eric Gordon at Indiana. If not for Jimmer building a Steve Young-esque legacy at BYU, college basketball could fail to produce a compelling storyline featuring a senior basketball player heading into March Madness.

Three members of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Love, Beasley and, at one point this season, Kosta Koufos, chose an early check out and entered the NBA draft following just one season in college.

"It kind of just hit me," Love told Whatifsports.com before a recent game against the Pacers. "It is crazy that even some of these guys on the team and around the league have college eligibility left and would be seniors and juniors."

Love, three years removed from his freshman season, said he likes to provoke the former Wildcat, Beasley, about the good ol' days of college.

"I usually tell him that UCLA was better and if we were still in college that would still be the case."

Would they? Ben Howland's program has paid the ultimate price for strong recruiting practices as they continue to lose talent early to the Draft. The Bruins migration to the NBA has left the cupboard empty this season with no seniors on the roster.

Three years in to his NBA career, it's Beasley who finds himself a strong proponent of the "one and done" rule and has distanced himself from his one-hit-wonder at Kansas State.

"I'm in the NBA," Beasley said with a tinge of superiority. "As far as college I really don't think about it. I really don't reminisce"

Unlike his teammates, Koufos has struggled in his NBA transition since entering the Draft in 2008. In three seasons as a member of the Utah Jazz, Timberwolves and now Denver Nuggets, the 7-footer out of Ohio State has started eight games, averaged 3.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. When we caught up with him in Indianapolis while still a member of the Wolves, he had seen an uptick in minutes played, but since our interview had slid back down the bench before being traded again.

With the Buckeyes poised to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, I asked Koufos if he ever missed his days in Columbus.

"I like to think of the past a little bit," Koufos said. "But I'm in the NBA and I have to focus on what I have to do."

"(The Buckeyes) They're doing well. I give them all the credit in the world. Coach Matta has done a wonderful job. I wish them the best. I will always be rooting for them. I view a national championship this year."

Had Koufos stayed all four years at Ohio State, he would join only three other seniors on the road to Houston this March. Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale were in his same freshman class and David Lighty earned a fifth year of eligibility.

The tone of this article may paint me as a college basketball purist trying to channel his inner-Norman Dale. This is not the case. The progressive sports fan inside me promoted economics over education two years ago. I understand it's hard to justify risking injury on the off chance a national championship can be won three years down the road when 1.2-million dollars (Koufos' average NBA salary) is a signature away.

Still, it's hard to ignore that while some may believe the "one and done" rule has assisted the NBA, the mistress has weaseled her way into the psyche of every college basketball player with a jump shot and condensed a programs narrative, once shared over three to four NCAA tournaments, into Cliffs Notes for freshmen. The short-term affair winds up hurting the quality of play and the people that love the college game the most, the fans.

Are you interested in creating your own all-time NCAA tournament dream team? Check out our NCAA Basketball Dream Teams feature and start loading up your roster with guys like Duke's Christian Laettner, Indiana's Isiah Thomas, Georgetown's Patrick Ewing, and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough. Then simulate your roster against other dream teams or any NCAA basketball program past or present. Best of all, it's FREE!

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Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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