We live in a one-and-done era, yet one often hears it said in college basketball that experience is everything. Even coaches with access to one-and-done talent, such as John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski, still feel more comfortable when their dazzling freshmen are accompanied by at least a few veterans, and indeed both of those coaches have won national titles in the past four seasons with starting lineups that featured three freshmen and two returnees.
Then again if experience is really so important, both Kentucky and Duke should be concerned at the moment. Both rosters are less experienced than what we saw from these programs one year ago, and in fact the Wildcats and Blue Devils rank among the greenest major-conference teams in the nation this season. Is any such concern justified?
By way of answering that question, allow me to introduce you to the most-and least-experienced major-conference teams for 2015-16. To measure experience, I use a handy item I call possession-minutes. Basically it's the percentage of minutes that a player is on the floor, multiplied by the percentage of possessions he used last season (as seen at KenPom.com). I add those products up for each player on a given team from last season, and calculate what percentage of that total number is returning as possession-minutes (%RPMs) for this season. For 2015-16, the average major-conference team will return about 60 percent of its possession-minutes from last season.
Enough with the method to this madness. Here are the most experienced major-conference teams you'll see this season: