Building a Final Four team

Here is a look at how each team is constructed and what types of players are essential for a Final Four roster. More importantly, how to project which teams can expect big tournament runs in the future.

This weekend the college basketball world will descend on the city of Indianapolis for the Final Four. All year long three of the four teams dominated college basketball the only surprise being Michigan State. Here is a look at how each team is constructed and what types of players are essential for a Final Four roster. More importantly, how to project which teams can expect big tournament runs in the future.

The one thing all four teams have in common is that they have a five-star prospect in their starting lineup. For Michigan State, that five-star is senior Branden Dawson, for Wisconsin it is junior forward Sam Dekker, and then both Duke and Kentucky start multiple five-star prospects. So in that respect, this year shows that if you want to play on college basketball’s biggest stage, you better land an impact recruit.

Now there are definite differences between the teams, although the construction of Michigan State and Wisconsin is similar just as the construction of Kentucky and Duke is similar as well.

In the cases of Kentucky and Duke, it is all about bringing in elite players. However, the challenge is getting them to play hard on the floor and play together. This idea means players will have to sacrifice individual numbers for the greater good of the team.

Kentucky and Duke both start four five-star prospects and one four-star prospect. The only four-star starter for UK is Willie Cauley-Stein while the only four-star starter for Duke is senior Quinn Cook. Coming off the bench, the two teams are similar although Kentucky is a bit deeper. Two five-stars in Amile Jefferson and Grayson Allen come in for the Blue Devils along with a four-star in Marshall Plumlee. While Kentucky has five-stars Tyler Ulis, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee earning minutes along with four-star Devin Booker.

Overall these two teams are an embarrassment of recruiting riches, and it is why most consider them two of the top three teams in the country overall.

Michigan State and Wisconsin rosters are also comparable, but vastly different than the Wildcats and Blue Devils. The Badgers start a five-star in Dekker and surround him with veteran three-star prospects in Nigel Hayes, Frank Kaminsky, and Josh Gasser. While on occasion, four-star Bronson Koenig gets the start for the Badgers as well. Coming off the bench, the selection of talent is the same. The rotation is made up entirely of three-star prospects and player who fit the Badgers' system.

Michigan State profiles the same way as the Badgers. They have a five-star in Dawson and a four-star in Matt Costello, everyone else was considered a three-star recruit. Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice were both high three-star recruits, but they were three-star recruits nonetheless .

At Michigan State and Wisconsin, it is always about developing talent, toughness, and integrating players that fit the system to go along with coaching.

Clearly there is no one way to build a team and be successful. Sometimes there are diamonds who emerge like Kaminsky, and other times it is the Jahlil Okafor’s of the world who lead you to the promised land. With that, it is tough to profile someone who should be in the Final Four next season. It is even tougher considering no one knows who is committing where and who is declaring or not declaring for the NBA Draft.

However, there is no reason to expect Kentucky to fall off in any way. Duke also should be fine as long as they can generate consistent point guard play. While other teams such as Maryland, North Carolina, and Syracuse should have loaded rosters next season capable of making a deep run. The fun, however, is just that you never know. The NCAA Tournament can be unpredictable, but one thing is for sure, having a five-star on your team definitely helps the process of cutting down the nets.



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