Dance Lessons: Depth charge?

A deep bench is not important for a deep March run

Updated: March 16, 2010, 12:32 PM ET
By LaRue Cook | Special to ESPN Insider
TennesseeDale Zanine/US PresswireThe Vols are in the top 30 in bench minutes via KenPom. This may be a bad thing against SDSU.

How often have you heard the clichés? "Defense wins championships." "Live by the 3, die by the 3." But are they truth or myth? Dance Lessons looks back at NCAA tournaments past to see whether these truisms check out, and examine which teams they help and hurt in 2010.

Bracket pools be advised: The wise men who say a deep bench equals a deep tournament run aren't all that wise.

For three seasons, Ken Pomeroy has been charting how frequently teams use players off the pine, and only one ranked in his top 30 has reached the Sweet 16. That was the 2008 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, who were ousted by UCLA once they arrived at the second weekend. And that lesson applies to a large number of teams in this year's tournament.

Insider looks back at 80 Elite Eight teams going back to 2000 to find the right balance of core scorers and bench depth. Sign up today and see who this helps and hurts in the 2010 field, plus get access to Bracket Predictor, Bracket Analyzer, Lunardi's team capsules, Giant Killers and other helpful office pool tools.