Top Value Add Stars Clash in No. 1 Arizona's Win over Michigan
Glenn Robinson finally looked like the preseason Value Add Player of the Year, hitting all seven of his first half shots against the No. 1 team in the nation Saturday. Two years ago, Value Add projected Arizona as one of the top two teams in 2014 after they grabbed our top-ranked transfer TJ McConnell, and today they are only team in the country with six of the top 500 players in the nation at www.valueaddbasketball.com, including Nick Johnson, whose top 20 Value Add ranking was featured on the University of Arizona's website last year. (see table of rankings for all players on both teams below)
Robinson gave No. 25 Michigan a 51-46 lead off an alley-oop dunk with 11:24 to go just after 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski went down with an ankle injury. However, Tarczewski (pictured watching Robinson score) returned, and Arizona's defense did not allow Robinson another shot as they rallied for a 72-70 win.
Because Value Add measures how good opposing defenses are, many Low- and Mid-Major players who have a big game or two against a tough opponents rank high early in the season before the teams in the tough conferences start to rise through the ranks. So those who play well on both teams against Pac12 and Big 10 opponents this year will rise toward the top.
Value Add projects Nick Johnson, who was spotted early in Value Add rankings picked up by Arizona last year), TJ McConnell (who was spotted early by Value Add as an All-American level player when playing in obscurity at Duquesne in 2010) and superstar freshman Aaron Gordon to all be among the top 40 players in the country. Tarczewski could join those three in the NBA in the next few years, giving Arizona plenty of firepower to contend for the national title.
Michigan has not lived up to the preseason Value Add rankings as the top team in the country, hurting more than expected by the loss of last year's Player of the Year Trey Burke. The Wolverines could still contend with three players of their own who project as top 20 players and possible future NBA players. However Robinson has not played at the top level until his last two games, Mitch McGary does not seem to have recovered from early injury, and only Nik Stauskas has been a top 200 player.
However, if Robinson and McGary get going, they will benefit from the surprisingly great play of Caris LeVert.
The team projections from two years ago have some pretty good to actual performance, but you cannot take them to the bank. There are some duds on that list like Texas, Houston and Providence, who looked just two years away from being among the elite, but are simply not close to that mark.