September 26, 2010

Which late departure will hurt most?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. We had two questions this week, one Saturday and one today.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Which relatively late personnel decision is going to hurt the most?

David Fox's answer:
Providence losing Jamine Peterson and LSU losing Bo Spencer are major losses, but I doubt those teams were going to be particularly competitive in the first place. When I look at the late departures, I'm trying to pick out a situation that could drop a team from the NCAA tournament to an NIT team or worse. In that case, the clear choice is Northwestern's Kevin Coble. He was hurt last season, and the same cast of characters missed the tournament. Thanks to John Shurna, Michael Thompson and Drew Crawford, Northwestern may be a bubble team, but Coble could have been the guy to keep the Wildcats competitive with Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State and Illinois.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Three players jump out at me. Frankie Sullivan's injury assures Auburn of finishing last in the SEC West - and probably the SEC as a whole. Defense-challenged Providence needed to outgun opponents to win, but that will be harder without Jamine Peterson. Thing is, those teams really weren't that good with those guys. Because of that, I think the toughest loss to overcome is going to be Kevin Coble's at Northwestern. When healthy, he was the Wildcats' best offensive player. The Wildcats were a fringe NCAA bubble team without Coble last season. But the Big Ten is tougher this season, meaning Northwestern likely slides back in the standings without Coble. With Coble, the Wildcats had a shot at the NCAA tourney, with the NIT as the fallback. Without him, they have a shot at the NIT, with the CBI or CIT as the fallback.

Jason King's answer:
The loss of Jamine "Greedy" Peterson is going to be devastating for Providence. He averaged 19.6 points and 10.2 rebounds last season before deciding over the summer to pursue a pro career. Losing one of the most underrated players in the country should make for a long season for the Friars, who also had two players arrested in April. Look for Providence - which hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2004 - to finish among the Big East's bottom three.

Steve Megargee's answer:
Providence and Auburn probably suffered the biggest losses from a talent standpoint because each team lost the best returning player on its roster. Jamine Peterson averaged a double-double for a bad Providence team, while Frankie Sullivan was Auburn's only returning starter. But I'd argue that the loss of Michigan State guard Chris Allen hurts the most, if only because the Spartans have the most to lose. Auburn and Providence weren't going to make the NCAA tournament with or without the guys they lost. Michigan State is the only legitimate national title contender on this list, unless Connecticut makes a dramatic improvement from a disappointing 2009-10 season. Michigan State is talented enough to be a top-10 team even without Allen, but his absence could end up keeping the Spartans from making a third consecutive Final Four appearance.

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