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Michigan State Spartans Basketball: A Look at (Recent) B1G Experience History

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Using KenPom stats to analyze team compositions

*Searches for B1G logo
*Searches for B1G logo
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

This post was first inspired by this tweet talking about Michigan's experience ranking from KenPom and Alex Cook's subsequent tweet about who made up the rotation. From that I wanted to take a deeper look and get a better visual of what those experience ratings looked like. After a little excel working, this chart ensued:

I think for the most part this chart is pretty self-explanatory but one simple thing I'd like to point out is that you can read it by following a recruiting class diagonally. For example: by reading this you might infer that Gary Harris, Denzel Valentine, and Matt Costello came in and played 27.9% of the minutes as freshmen, 36.2% as sophomores, and 42.6% as juniors. However, in reality Harris left after his sophomore year but was replaced by Bryn Forbes who was also a junior making up for a good chunk of Harris' departing minutes%.

Some interesting notes:

  • Saying Michigan's "Fresh Five" (Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, Spike Albrecht) came in and contributed a lot might be an understatement. Their 52.6% of the minutes was the most by any freshman class just ahead of the "Baby Boilers" (2008-12 Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson) at 48.2%. However, the first 3 I listed left after their sophomore years leaving just LeVert and Spike to carry the torch.
  • Speaking of which the Baby Boilers were consistent contributors across their 4 years, but they never reached higher than their 48.2% that they set their freshman year. Hummel missed 5 games as a sophomore, 8 as a junior, and his entire senior season due to an ACL tear, forcing him to be a senior in 2012 when Moore and Johnson were already gone.
  • You want to play at Wisconsin as a freshman? Good luck with that. Their two highest years were 2013 and 2014 when they brought in Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes respectively.
  • Talor Battle and his class (2008-2011) were a big part of Penn State finishing in the KenPom top 50 for the only time in the KenPom era (since 2003). Since then they've finished 127, 148, 82, and 82. Wait... why did they fire Ed DeChellis?
  • Ohio State's class with Evan Turner, David Lighty, and Jon Diebler were a big part early on and after Turner left early for the NBA, Lighty and Diebler overlapped with Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft's class on a team that was eventually the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
  • The 2011 season was just an anomaly for MSU. They only graduated 13.7% of their minutes from a team that made the Final Four and although they lost Korie Lucious and Chris Allen before/during the season, they still had a ton of battle-tested experience on their roster.
  • They still have a hill to climb to the get to the NCAA's for the first time, but Northwestern has something to be optimistic about next year. Their solid freshman class gets to develop this offseason and play with a senior class that's been pretty consistent for them.
  • I don't think anyone told Tom Crean that minutes are supposed to increase as a class gets older.
  • Probably not a coincidence that Illinois' best KenPom ranking since 2006 came in 2011 when senior minutes% was highest nor is it likely a coincidence that their worst KenPom ranking came the next year when they lost those seniors (Demetri McCamey, Mike Tisdale, Mike Davis) and had their youngest team.
  • Minnesota had a weird changes for the senior class in 2012 to go from 44.5% as juniors to 8.7% as seniors. Colton Iverson transferred, Ralph Sampson played fewer minutes because Elliott Eliason came in, and Trevor Mbakwe got hurt 7 games into the season.
  • Iowa is going to have a lot of experience next year but the problem is the only efficient guy returning is Jarrod Uthoff (who I really like). Aaron White was efficient all four years and he was extremely efficient last year. Continuity is great to have but it's going to be interesting who they really want to get shots outside of Uthoff.

Here's the KenPom Chart about weighted average experience

(It's on a 0-3 scale. To put it simply: a team with a 3 would be all seniors, a team with a 0 would be all freshman)

If you have any questions about the charts, feel free to ask in the comments below.

Also, here's a good look at how some of them have been historically on a national level:

(Because some teams went in and out of D1, there were 353 teams available between 2008-2015. The only teams younger on average than Michigan were Kentucky and Centenary)