Mario Chalmers

71 percent of NBA champions have had an NCAA champ on the roster

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While much of the basketball world discussed (and obsessed with) what an NBA title would do for LeBron James, there were also two Miami Heat players who joined the list of NBA champions with NCAA titles as well.

Shane Battier (Duke, 2001) and Mario Chalmers (Kansas, 2008) can now add their names to the list, and according to the Sporting News 71% of the teams who have won a title have had an NCAA champ on the roster.

Battier became the first Blue Devil to accomplish the feat while Chalmers is the second Jayhawk to do so (Clyde Lovellette).

Since the first NBA champion was crowned in 1950 with Utah’s Arnie Ferrin helping the Minneapolis Lakers win it all, 43 of 61 NBA champions included at least one player who first won an NCAA title. If the Heat win, that’ll make it 71 percent of all NBA champs that included an NCAA champ in its rotation.

That list of players includes three of the best to have ever picked up a basketball in Magic Johnson (Michigan State, 1979), Michael Jordan (North Carolina, 1982) and Bill Russell (San Francisco, 1955 and 1956).

The Miami Heat also supplied the most recent player before last night to accomplish this double as Derek Anderson, who won a national title at Kentucky in 1996, was a member of their 2006 championship team.

Does the experience of winning at the college level prove beneficial at the pro level? The percentage above (along with the number of players who have won both titles) seems to offer evidence that it does help.

Whether it’s college coaches who try to mine successful scholastic programs or NBA teams that like to draft players from winning colleges, adding players who “know how to win” can provide the ultimate reward.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Comparing Kentucky to other champs who replaced everything

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Now the all five of Kentucky’s underclassmen stars are officially headed to the NBA (along with senior Darius Miller), it’s time to marvel at the production coach John Calipari must now replace.

Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague and Miller represented93 percent of the Wildcats’ scoring, 94 percent of their rebounds, 95 percent of their blocks, 96 percent of their steals and 96 percent of their assists. Those are simply staggering numbers, per Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal. (He has a complete listing of those totals and by player.)

It’s not anything new for a champion to lose a hefty amount of production. In just the last 10 years, at least four teams have been in the same position.

The 2005 Tar Heels lost their top seven scorers (Sean May, Rashad McCant, Ray Felton, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams and Jackie Manuel), but those players “only” accounted for 84 percent of the team’s scoring. (David Noel and Reyshawn Terry managed to get on the scoreboard.) Those seven did account for massive amounts of rebounds (93 percent), but nothing else was above 83.

When Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Frasor and Danny Green, it wasn’t nearly the same amount of attrition.

Kansas lost 80 percent of its scoring from its 2008 title team (Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun), but returned a sixth man in Sherron Collins and a big man who played a key role in the Final Four in Cole Aldrich.

Even the back-to-back Florida champs didn’t have replace as much even though it also lost its six top players (Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey, Chris Richard and Corey Brewer). Those six accounted for 83 percent of the scoring, 77 percent of the rebounds, 81 percent of the assists, 81 percent of the steals and 87 percent of the blocks. (Having Marreese Speights, Walter Hodge and Dan Werner helps).

Kentucky will probably be similar to ’06 UNC and Kansas. Both of those teams made the NCAA tournament the following season (Kansas was 27-8, won the Big 12 and reached the Sweet 16; UNC was 23-8 and second in the ACC). Florida (24-12) and the 2010 Tar Heels (20-17)  were in the NIT. The Wildcats’ incoming class – which will likely still add another impact newcomer – has elite players ready to step in at every position. And we’ve already learned that Calipari excels at replacing entire rosters.

It’ll undoubtedly look different, though. When you’re replacing everything, that can’t be helped.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

How do other hauls compare to Kentucky’s recent classes?

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Some things never change.

Kentucky landed 2012’s top prospect in Nerlens Noel Wednesday night, a move that’ll almost certainly give the Wildcats the top-rated recruiting class in college basketball. Consider coach John Calipari four-for-four while in Lexington.

(He’s not done yet, either. Power forward Anthony Bennett, another 5-star player, is considering Kentucky, as are 5-star forwards Amile Jefferson and Devonta Pollard. Bennett is the best bet for the Wildcats, though.)

That’s a run unlike any other in college hoops history and gives the Wildcats four of the top recruiting classes the game’s seen since 2002.

Per Drew Cannon, who’s done work analyzing prospects for Scout.com and Basketball Prospectus, only North Carolina’s 2006 class and Duke’s 2002 class can compare to any of the last four groups Kentucky’s gathered. He places all of the ‘Cats classes ahead of 2007 Ohio State – the Greg Oden-led group that reached the title game – and ’06 Texas, which boasted Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James and Dexter Pittman (!).

Here’s his rundown of the top 16 classes since 2002, a combination of highly rated prospects and number of guys in said class:

That makes 2012 the closest hoarding of elite talent at a select group of schools since 2006. And those were some good groups in ’06.

All of the above classes include at least one 5-star guy, most have at least two or three. Some, like ’05 Kansas, feature four 5-star guys. And many were extremely successful. At least four (’11 Kentucky, ’06 UNC, ’05 Kansas, ’06 Duke) provided the backbone for national title teams.

The only question I have: Where will Kentucky’s 2013 class fall on this list?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Is John Calipari truly the villain against Bill Self?

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Over the coming two days, one of the story lines that will be the most intriguing to follow is that of John Calipari and his quest to win his first national title.

Calipari is a polarizing figure in the sense that Kentucky fans worship him while most everyone else, with or without a rooting interest, either hates him or is accused of hating him by those same Kentucky fans. And regardless of what percentage of the college basketball watching nation feels the same as Drew Sharp does about Calipari, the bottom-line is that Calipari is quite clearly the villain in this narrative.

It’s not difficult to see why. Two of his four trips to the Final Four have been vacated by the NCAA. All you have to do is spend an afternoon at a high-level AAU tournament and you’ll hear ten stories about Calipari on the same level as the one involving $200,000 that made its way into Anthony Davis’ pocket.

The irony in all of this?

The villain has a record that is just as clean as the good guy’s, Bill Self. Those two Final Fours that were vacated? One was because Marcus Camby was commiserating with an agent. The other was because Derrick Rose cheated on his SATs. It Calipari blameless? No, but he’s about as guilty as the parents of a teenager that is busted smoking pot.

In fact, I think there is an argument to make that there is just as much smoke around the Kansas program as there is around the Kentucky program. Think about it:

– Darrell Arthur may never have been eligible to play college basketball due to grade changes he may have received in high school. Nothing came out of the investigation, but the school did vacate a state title a year after Arthur left due to grade tampering.

– Arthur’s classmate Mario Chalmers came to Kansas as a package deal, as his father received a spot on the Jayhawk’s staff as the Director of Basketball Operations.

– Josh Selby was suspended for the first nine games of his freshman season due to improper benefits he received while he was in high school.

– Three members of this year’s recruiting class were ruled ineligible for the 2011-2012 season.

None of that has been put on Self, the same way that Calipari is still without a record, according to the NCAA.

More intriguing is the fact that the coach of last season’s national title team, Jim Calhoun, actually has gotten himself into trouble with the NCAA. He was, essentially, caught with knowledge of the fact that an alum and an NBA agent was supplying a recruit (Nate Miles) with illicit benefits. But the vitriol sent his way was more or less limited to this column from Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com.

The point here is not to defend Calipari. I’m not trying to drag Self or Calhoun through the mud, either. These are all facts, and it will be interesting to see how they are portrayed over the next 30 hours.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Much more on the line for Calipari and Self than a rematch

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NEW ORLEANS – By the time that Louisville and Kentucky tipped off on Saturday afternoon, I’m reasonably sure that every single college hoops fan across the country could recite, from memory, the entire story behind the deteriorated relationship between John Calipari and Rick Pitino.

That’s how much play that story line got in the media, and if you weren’t sick of it by then, than you may have been the only one.

Things may not be all that different heading into Monday’s national title game, with the only change being that instead of hearing and reading endless words on how Pitino and Calipari no longer want to hang out, you’ll be hearing and reading all about the last time Calipari and Bill Self met up in the national title game.

It was 2008. It was Bill Self’s most talented Kansas team taking on Calipari’s Derrick Rose-led Memphis Tigers. (Well, technically, Kansas didn’t actually beat anyone in the title game. You can thank Rose for that.) It was an opportunity for two head coaches to try and justify their legacies.

If you’ve forgotten, at that point in his Kansas tenure, Self wasn’t exactly the most popular head coach in Jayhawk history. There were the first round exits against Bradley and Bucknell. There were the four careers trips he had made to the Elite Eight — two of which came with Kansas — without a Final Four to show for it. Even in 2008, he barely got KU over the hump, beating Davidson by two points when a Jason Richards three-ball bounced harmlessly off the side of the back board.

In the same vein, the 2008 season was the only time that Calipari had managed to get Memphis to the Final Four. It was also the first time that he had put together a team in the one-and-done model he currently employs at Kentucky. And while that trip to the title game helped to legitimize Coach Cal’s standing nationally, his inability to win a national title in his career is one of the biggest reasons that he’s still considered more of a talent aggregator than a basketball coach.

This season is a chance to change that. Winning a national title would define him. It would force the media that loves to drag his name through the mud to put him on the same level as guys like Self and Jim Boeheim. As of now, Cal’s title game legacy involves missed free throws and Mario Chalmers more than One Shining Moment and a net necklace.

Self is also looking to change the way that he is viewed. His Kansas program has won at least a share of eight Big 12 titles in a row. The dominance his program has in a very good basketball league is mind-boggling, but you don’t hear his name mentioned enough when it comes to the best coaches in the country. Winning his second title in five years would be a great way to change that fact.

Both coaches have a lot riding on the outcome of this game, and it goes far beyond the simple fact they coached against each other in the same game five years ago.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Five great NCAA tourney rallies that weren’t Tuesday night

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Two epic comebacks during Tuesday’s First Four games — BYU’s 25-point rally vs. Iona and Western Kentucky’s furious finish against Mississippi Valley State — will only be a footnote on the rest of the Tourney because it came in a 16 vs 16 play-in game. Here are some of the comebacks that are remembered:

1. Kansas over Memphis, National Title Game, 2008.  20 years after Danny and the Miracles won a National Title for Kansas, Mario and the Miracles did the same thing. John Calipari’s Memphis team held a 9 point lead with 2:12 to play, but missed four of five FTs down the stretch. Then Mario Chalmers hit his shot to put the game into overtime, where KU was able to pull away.

2. Illinois over Arizona, Elite 8, 2005.  Trailing by 15 with less than four minutes to go, Illinois guard Dee Brown claims what happens next was divine intervention. From that point Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head took over, and by “took over” I mean they couldn’t miss. After a Williams three in the waning seconds, this game went to overtime as well, where Illinois won by one.

3. UCLA over Gonzaga, Sweet 16, 2006. This is the game that ended with Zags star Adam Morrison face down and  crying on the court (who can blame him, considering they almost beat a UCLA team with 6 future NBA players). Gonzaga held an 9-point lead with 3 minutes to play, and UCLA scored the final 11 points.

4. Kentucky over Duke, Elite 8, 1998.  How many great comebacks involve a walk-on? The Wildcats would end up winning the National Title, but first they had to overcome a 17-point Duke lead in the 2nd half. They ended up winning by two, and got a key three-pointer from walk-on Cameron Mills, which sparked a hit rap song (okay, I made that part up).

5. Stanford over Rhode Island, Elite 8, 1998. Contributing to one of the greatest Elite 8 rounds in Tournament history, the Cardinal overcame a 6-point deficit in the final minute to beat Rhode Island and move on to the Final Four.