Despite Scandal, Count Me as a Pollyanna College Hoops Fan

Rick Pitino

As I prepared to release these Value Add Basketball ratings right before Midnight Madness, the day that thousands turn out at 351 Division 1 schools to watch the first day of practice and dunk contests, news spread of the arrest of four coaches as the result of an FBI investigation, and the firing of Rick Pitino of Louisville. Count me as the Pollyanna who wants the cheaters caught so that those who refuse to cheat, like Tom Izzo, compete on a level playing court (see Detroit Free Press).

Years ago an NBA source reviewing my Value Add Basketball ratings in preparation for the NBA Draft told me of a Horizon League school that was about to surge into the national spotlight, until a star recruit was apparently snatched away by a school with a reputation for “leaving money on the street.”

The Value Add projections for 3,718 college basketball players about to top off for 351 teams in 32 Division 1 conferences are listed below and in the Value Add database, which also includes a historic link to the ratings of players going back to 2002. College basketball allows every team a chance to make a run by winning their conference championship and then proceeding to March Madness for that one stunning upset that nets them and the other schools in their conference around $100,000.

And in basketball one All-American can be worth more than 10 points a game (Bonzie Colson is projected to be worth 11.33 extra points a game to Notre Dame this year, tops in the nation). The idea that one school can pay a coach to convince, with financial inducements, that one big star to go to their school should offend everyone who really understands competition.

So that being said, count me as a Pollyanna on the billion-dollar March Madness that culminates every college basketball season that starts with Midnight Madness practices next week. Yes, it is much more fun to talk about the cheaters getting caught, but if you are with one of the programs that works very hard to stay within recruiting rules (e.g., one assistant coach at Marquette was fired for throwing a t-shirt to a recruit as he left the call), and know that these developments give your school a better chance to land that one key player rather than lose them to someone paying off a “recruiter” steering the high school kid to your rival.

Pick your conference from the 32 links below for a quick rundown of the top basketball players and teams, and just for fun a comparison on how each football team ranks.

  1. ACC: Duke Joins Louisville as National Contender with Bagley Signing
  2. American Athletic: Ex-Football Big East Schools Add Basketball-only Wichita State
  3. American East: Albany Chasing Vermont Again
  4. Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure Duo Could Challenge Dayton, Rhode Island and VCU
  5. Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast Shoots for More Upsets If they can Hold Off Lipscomb
  6. Big 12: TCU’s Bursts into Football Title Hunt, Then Could Challenge in Toughest Hoops Conference
  7. Big East – St. John’s Most Likely to Replace MU to Give Big East 7 Bids Again, Unless MU Defense Improves
  8. Big Sky: Top 100 Player Hall Leads Balanced Hoops Season after E. Washington Football Dominates
  9. Big South: Asheville’s Top 100 Duo One of Best, But Liberty a Balanced Threat
  10. Big Ten: Purdue and Michigan State Ready to Seek Hoops Title After Other Big Ten Teams Shoot for Football Title
  11. Big West Teams All Get to Visit Hawaii While Settling Balanced Hoops Season
  12. Colonial Athletic Association: After JMU Football, Charleston and Elon Should Battle for March Madness Bid
  13. Conference USA: UAB Returns to Football Field While Future NBA Star Leads Middle Tennessee
  14. Horizon League: Hayes Leads 4 Oakland Stars to Potential Title
  15. Ivy League: Princeton Builds on 23-7 Season to try to hold off Harvard and Yale for Title
  16. MAAC: Iona Once Again Team to Beat with Edogi Transferring to Join McGill
  17. Mid-American: Western Michigan Battles for Top Football and Basketball Teams and Top Hoops Player
  18. Mid-Eastern Athletic’s Morgan State Favorite to Dethrone NC Central Behind POY Kendley
  19. Missouri Valley Teams Battle for Title with Wichita State’s Departure, Valpo’s Arrival
  20. Mountain West: UNLV Edges Nevada in Tough Hoops Conference, While San Diego State Football Power
  21. Northeast: 5-foot-5 Star Shoots for Player of Year, Repeat Title for Mt. St. Mary’s
  22. Ohio Valley:Jacksonville St. Football Dominance Builds on Hoops Upset of Belmont
  23. Pac-12: USC Hoops Could Surpass Arizona Hoops and Even USC Football
  24. Patriot – Bucknell Dominance of Patriot League Hoops Should Follow Army-Navy Classic
  25. SEC: Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M and Mizzou Join Kentucky As ‘Basketball’ Schools This Year
  26. Southern – Darryl Strawberry’s Son Gives Mercer All-Southern Conference Duo, After Football Team Almost Shocks Auburn
  27. Southland – Jalan West Given 7th Year for Quest for All-American Status and 1st Southland Title Over Stephen F. Austin
  28. Summit League: Analytics See Denver Hoops Challenge to Dakota Schools That Dominate Football
  29. Sun Belt: Lafayette or Georgia Southern Could Deny Troy and Arlington Repeat Hoops Titles
  30. SWAC: Jerry Rice and Grambling NFL Greats Yield to March Madness Hopes
  31. WAC – 33 Years After Football National Title, WAC Hosts 1st For-Profit Basketball School
  32. West Coast: After Football BYU Will Challenge Basketball-only St. Mary’s & Gonzaga

Corrections are welcome. Simply email pudnerjohn@takeback.org or call or text 404.606.3163. You are welcome to use links or cite top players on any list as “Value Add All-Conference Players.” The first five players on each list are 1st team All-Conference players, the 6th through 10th are 2nd team, and the 11th through 15th are third team based on the actual additional points they add to their team. In most cases, this ranking is similar to what sports writers or sports information directors would perceive, but players can come off the bench with incredibly efficient three-point shooting or dominance around the basket that makes them more valuable than starters who are not as efficient. You can always run your own search of projections for current players or ratings for all players since the 2001-02 season by going to www.valueaddbasketball.com.

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