Road To The Final Four: Top 25 Fail Factor
Every year several top 25 teams inexplicably fall apart and don't live up to expectations. Last season, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Tennessee all entered the season as preseason top 15 teams, but none of them fit the bill as elite teams.
Using the Bleacher Reports Writers Poll, I'll take a look at the odds each team in the top 15 will drastically not live up to expectations.
On a scale of one to 10, teams will be rated on the fail factor scale. A one means only devastating injuries will keep this team from performing at a high level. A rating of 10 means the team is bound to fail: the team is talented, but various factors has this team destined to fail.
1. Kansas, Fail Factor: 4 and rising.
Rewind about a month ago and the Jayhawks' fail factor would stand at about two. But Tyshawn Taylor's fight with the football team, Brady Morningstar's DUI, and Markieff Morris' car accident has Kansas faithful on edge in Lawrence.
As for on the court, Kansas isn't really relying on freshmen or have lots of roster overturn. Considering the Jayhawks outperformed last year's expectations, it would unlikely they'd take a 180 this year.
2. Texas, Fail Factor: 3
The Longhorns are a very experienced team, but also extremely deep. If the two stud freshmen Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton struggle, Rick Barnes has a 14 player roster ready to backup the two stud young guns. Texas is so deep, Florida transfer Jai Lucas is a walk-on this season.
The Longhorns did fade down the stretch last season with the same core of players, so the potential to fail is there.
3. Michigan State, Fail Factor: 2
The same group of players that led the Spartans to the National Title game return to East Lansing. MSU has a veteran backcourt and won't be relying on freshmen to lead them back to the promise land.
4. Villanova, Fail Factor: 5
The Wildcats lost several key seniors from last year's team and will need a freshman, Mouphtaou Yarou, to anchor the frontcourt. If 'Nova doesn't recreate the success of a few years ago when using a guard dominated lineup, the Wildcats will not live up to the top five preseason expectations.
5. Kentucky, Fail Factor: 6
The Wildcats return just one key player, Patrick Patterson, but do have one of the best recruiting classes in the last decade. John Wall is one of the best players in the country and the rest of the class is filled with very talented players, but this Kentucky team isn't like John Calipari's Memphis teams.
When Derrick Rose exploded onto the scene for the Tigers, Memphis returned a loaded starting lineup. Calipari at Kentucky must figure out how to get six newcomers used to being the star to play together.
Odds are Kentucky will be extremely dangerous, but there's significant potential the Wildcats might not shape up this year.
5. Duke, Fail Factor: 5
The Blue Devils have a very thin backcourt and will need their talented freshmen big men to give Mike Krzyzewski some kind of contributions for Duke to emerge as a top five team.
Jon Scheyer will take over the point this season after playing the last 12 games of the season last year as the floor general. He's not a pure point guard in the least bit and could be the source of Duke's downturn if he doesn't run the offense effectively.
7. North Carolina, Fail Factor: 6
The Tar Heels return just two major components of last year's team and will need freshmen to run the offense. That's never a recipe for success, but luckily for Roy Williams, the five player class UNC brings in is ultra-talented and the second best group of freshmen in the country.
7. West Virginia, Fail Factor: 3
The off the court indiscretions are behind the Mountaineers because both Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla have been reinstated after their problems. West Virginia is loaded in the frontcourt which should carry the Mountaineers this season. Unless the point guard play is very shaky, WVU isn't going to struggle this season.
9. Purdue, Fail Factor: 2
The Boilermakers aren't the best team in the country, but they should be one of the most consistent. Purdue losses no one too important from last year's team. Purdue is one of the safest bets to stay in the top 10 all season.
10. Tennessee, Fail Factor: 8
The Volunteers return a loaded roster losing only Emmanuel Negedu whose career might be over because of a heart ailment.
But this Tennessee team drastically failed to live up to expectations last year because this group of players don't play a lot of defense. With all those same players back, who's to say they'll play defense this year?
11. Washington, Fail Factor: 7
The Huskies have a fantastic backcourt, but an undersized frontcourt could hurt Washington in the postseason. Lorenzo Romar put together a pathetic non-conference schedule so the non-conference record is going to look great.
12. California, Fail Factor: 6
The Golden Bears had an early exit last year and at times looked shaky in the Pac-10. The defense as awful last year and Cal isn't exactly doing anything to fix it. If teams figure out how to stop Cal's potent offensive attack, the Golden Bears will be in lots of trouble.
13. Connecticut, Fail Factor: 6
The Huskies only return three pieces from last year's final Four team, so this team's success will revolve around the play of freshmen. Jim Calhoun said last year that incoming freshman Ater Majok, had he been eligible, would have played 20 minutes per game for last year's Connecticut team.
Alex Oriakhi is also a McDonald's All-American and should be a force around the basket. Jerome Dyson is returning from a severe knee injury and may need the non-conference schedule to be back in full basketball shape.
14. Minnesota, Fail Factor: 4
The Golden Gophers return everyone from a great defensive team. The offense struggled at times, but a strong freshmen class should help add some offensive pop. Tubby Smith is one of the best coaches in the country and won't let this team fail to take another step forward in 2010.
15. Mississippi State, Fail Factor: 6
There's still uncertainly whether Renardo Sidney will actually suit up for the Bulldogs this season and he could be the missing piece that turns MSU into a top 15 team. The returning players are solid, but the offense wasn't very efficient. Sidney could change that, but as a whole, Mississippi State needs to improve its shot selection and hit the offensive boards harder.
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