Morning Five: 11.03.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 3rd, 2011

  1. It’s a precipitous drop down the face of a monolith like El Capitan to go from the national championship game to losing to a D-II school at home, but Butler found itself in just that situation Wednesday night. The Northern State (SD) Wolves entered one of the most historic and difficult arenas in the nation in which to play — Hinkle Fieldhouse — and walked out with a 53-50 exhibition win after NSU’s Alex Thomas nailed a three at the buzzer to cap off a late 12-0 run. An image of the final shot can be found here (h/t @ryan_hilgemann), but nobody on the north side of Indy should go apoplectic just yet. After having lost three star players in the previous two seasons, the easy storyline is that Butler is going through a transition year, but the truth is that last season was a transition year too — all the way up until around March 15 when the Brad Stevens magic kicked back in. Butler is definitely going to have some growing pains as they figure out some things, but write off the Bulldogs at your own peril.
  2. Connecticut freshman guard and dunking machine Ryan Boatright is facing eligibility issues with the NCAA reportedly as a result of an issue involving his AAU team in his hometown of Chicago. Without knowing what the issue might be, it’s difficult to say how long this might drag out. But what we do know is that Boatright is expected to provide a backup role for starting point guard Shabazz Napier this season, and if he’s unable to do so, the Husky attack suddenly becomes much more tenuous. At that point, the depth chart moves into walk-on territory with freshman Brendan Allen next in line, although Jeremy Lamb would most likely be called upon to slide over from the shooting guard position and run the team — not an ideal situation, but one the Huskies may have to face.
  3. While on the subject of eligibility, Maryland freshman center Alex Len received a ruling from the NCAA on Wednesday that will allow him to resume practice immediately but will force him to miss the team’s first ten regular season games as penance for playing with an overseas club team. The seven-foot Ukranian will be eligible to rejoin the Terps’ seven other healthy scholarship players on December 28 against Albany, but Mark Turgeon’s team will have to tread water with limited personnel for the first few weeks of the season against a tough nonconference schedule that includes Alabama, Wichita State (possibly), Illinois and Notre Dame.
  4. Now this is the kind of news we like to read and put into the M5. Last week it appeared that Louisville freshman wing Wayne Blackshear was likely to miss the entire season due to a shoulder injury. Rick Pitino said on his radio show this week that surgeons found a better-than-expected situation when they opened him up, and with proper rehabilitation and a little luck, the star rookie could be back in action in as soon as 6-8 weeks. In case you’re doing the math, that’s right around the time that the Cards will make their biennial trip 60 miles east to play a certain game in Lexington. Welcome to college basketball, kid?
  5. Finally, Matt Norlander over at CBS Sports has put together a fairly interesting analysis prospectively looking at strength of schedule metrics for the upcoming season. As he says in the article, the gold is in the graphic that shows every power conference team (+ eight others, including Xavier, Memphis, Butler and Gonzaga) and how its 2011-12 schedule rates on a number of criteria. Long Beach State, for example is off the charts, playing a nonconference slate that features six true road games and a set of opponents who collectively averaged 26.2 wins a year ago. DePaul‘s opponents, on the other hand, averaged 12.8 wins last year. It would have been interesting to take another step with this data set and accounted for the personnel losses and incoming talent of the opponents (as Dan Hanner has done in the past), but there are still some interesting takeaways available here.
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