Commentary

Dance Lessons: The experience factor

Veteran squads may be fashionable, but experience doesn't factor until later rounds

Updated: March 17, 2010, 1:56 PM ET
By Elena Bergeron | ESPN The Magazine
WallFrank Victores/US PresswireJohn Wall's inexperience might not factor in until the Final Four.

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

Youthful errors stick out, let's face it. Whether it was the Fab Five shooting 29 percent from the floor against Duke or Memphis frosh Derrick Rose short-arming free throws to open the window for Kansas, sometimes even surefire pros can't get over freshman jitters. Those title-game flubs might be what's remembered about baby-faced teams, and might point to a big problem for John Calipari's crew. Statistically, there's no conclusive evidence that having unflappable older players is an indicator of victory in early rounds of the tournament. But in the final weekend, recent history shows age can be an edge, and that could waylay frosh-heavy Kentucky's hopes.


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