Breaking down the Sweet 16 rosters

Here is a look at where the players who will be playing a staring role this weekend rated coming out of high school.

On Thursday evening the Sweet 16 tips off. Every year there is the question of how much do recruiting rankings translate to on court success. Using the rankings from 2007 through 2011, here is a look at the roster composition of teams playing on the second weekend.

In dissecting the rosters what was taken into account is the players within the rotation who have had a significant impact on their team making it through the first weekend of the tournament. Because of that players who sit at the end of the bench or that were injured or ineligible such as Fab Melo of Syracuse and Branden Dawson of Michigan State weren't included since they didn't have a part in the first weekend of the tournament.

With that every team had either seven or eight players who would be described as major or key contributors, and overall on the 16 teams there were 117 players who met the criteria.

Of those 117 players the numbers broke down like this. 27 of them were five-star prospects, 38 were four-star prospects, 36 were three-star prospects, and then 16 were either two-star prospects or prospects who didn't receive a rating at the time of their enrollment to the division I college level.

While there is no set number of five-star, four-star, and three-star prospects every season, obviously the numbers go up exponentially when you go down each star level, so proportionally it is clear that five-star prospects are very well represented on rosters.

Two schools really stand out when looking at things in terms of talent acquisition and they are Kentucky and North Carolina. Both the Tar Heels and the Wildcats employ a strong seven man rotation, and of those 14 players, 11 of them were rated as five stars and then the other three were rated as four-stars. In fact all 14 players who receive significant time on the two squads were rated in the top 50 coming out of high school.

Given how superior those two squads are at assembling talent, it is no surprise that coming into the tournament, and before the potential injury of Kendall Marshall, North Carolina and Kentucky were the runaway favorites by most pundits to win the tournament or play in the championship game.

While North Carolina and Kentucky clearly set the curve when it comes to highly touted talent on their roster a group of five schools make up the second group of talented teams. All five of these teams have multiple five-star and four-star prospects making up key contributors in their rotations.

The two squads leading the way here are Florida and Ohio State. Both teams have three five-star prospects in their rotation. After those two, Baylor, North Carolina State, and Louisville all have amassed talent.

However it is interesting to note that Baylor and Louisville have some very important pieces that were either unranked coming in or two-star prospects. Baylor has Pierre Jackson who was a junior college transfer who wasn't evaluated though he would have likely been seen as a four-star prospect given his body of work and then Louisville employs the services of Chris Smith and Russ Smith. Both of them weren't seen as huge contributors coming in, yet both are playing a huge role in getting the Cardinals to the second weekend and possibly further.

The next group is an interesting one because it is made up of teams with one five-star prospect in their rotation, and primarily all five and four-star prospects in their starting lineup. Also it is worth noting that Michigan State and Syracuse are in here, and both are missing a five-star key contributor who helped them during the regular season in the aforementioned Dawson and Melo.

Along with Michigan State and Syracuse, Indiana and Kansas fit this mold. Indiana has a five-star freshman in Cody Zeller while the Jayhawks use Thomas Robinson, who was a five-star, to carry their load on the floor. What is interesting is Michigan State's top player, Draymond Green, was a four-star and a low four-star while Syracuse's Brandon Triche was only a three star, though the rest of their lineup was very highly touted. Also the Spartans use two two-star prospects in their starting lineup, outside of Ohio University they are the only school that can say that.

Four teams that don't have a five-star prospect on their roster make up the next group of talent. They would be Xavier, Marquette, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati. Xavier uses a mix of four four-star players and four three-star players in their lineup while the Golden Eagles are paced by two three-star junior college players in Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom.

Somewhat surprisingly the Badgers and Bearcats didn't have a ton of hyped talent on their roster. For Cincinnati only Yancy Gates was seen as a four-star talent and Wisconsin actually doesn't have a top 50 prospect in their rotation with Jared Berggren being the most touted prospect when he was a prep star.

Then there is the case of the Ohio Bobcats. Ohio University has five two-star or unrated prospects in their core group of seven, though their two top players, Walter Offutt and D.J. Cooper, were three-star prospects and rated just outside of the four-star range.

No other team in the Sweet 16 has more than two two-star or unrated prospects in their rotation while the Bobcats have five, so that obviously shows they set the curve on the back end like Kentucky and North Carolina do it at the top of the chart.

Overall the numbers break down pretty clearly. If you want your team to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament the way to do it is by amassing talented prospects who are highly thought of.

Of course nothing is perfect. There are plenty of very highly touted players on loaded teams sitting at home right now while other schools are still remaining such as Ohio University, still at least for this year unless you have a top 50 prospect on your roster it is going to be very difficult to make a run deep in the month of March.

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