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Rick sez: "love your site. I'm on it all of the time and can't really imagine a day without it. I'm just a normal fan but my curiosity was piqued last night as I tried to get my mind around 7 McDonalds All Americans at UNC and a 16-15 record. So I did a quick study of the past 4 years of McDonald's all Americans and made a few observations about the Duke team and the UNC team."

One of the most shocking considerations in regards to UNC's 2009-2010 collapse is the number of McDonald's All American players on this team. The attached chart is a tabulation of all of the MAAs for the past four years, including how many are still playing, and below are some observations regarding how these MAAs might factor into the 2009-2010 season for UNC and Duke.

I'm a simple fan, not an expert, and doubtless others can conclude more from this data than I have here.

1. Only 24 MAAs are named each year, which means there are 96 named MAAs over the four-year period 2006-2009.

2. UNC leads the nation in the total number of MAAs signed over these past four years (10). They led the country in MAAs in 2009, 2008, and 2006 (and they lead again in 2010 with three signees). This means that over 10% of the MAAs named in these four years (10 of 96) became Heels (Duke follows closely behind with 9 MAAs but Duke has just one MAA next year).

3. To put this in perspective, while UNC has had ten MAAs these past four years, basketball giants like Michigan State and Illinois have not had a single MAA.

Programs such as Indiana, Virginia, Wake Forest, Clemson and Pittsburgh have had just one.

And basketball powers like UConn, Kentucky and Syracuse have had just two.

Clearly one can build a national championship with non-MAA players, but it is staggering to think of UNC getting 10 while schools like UConn have had just two.

4. The success of some schools without MAAs does not, however, diminish the importance of MAAs, or the fact that they bring exceptional talent. In fact, this is confirmed by how quickly MAAs jump to the NBA. Only 7 of 24 players remain in school from this year's senior class of 2006 (29%) and just 11 of the 24 honorees in this junior class from 2007 (46%) still play college ball.

Think of it this way: there are only 18 total juniors and seniors throughout the entire country still playing ball who were MAAs. The vast majority of senior/junior MAAs play pro ball somewhere.

5. Of these 18 veteran juniors and senior MAAs, incredibly four play on a single team: Duke. Almost one-quarter of the country's veteran MAAs play for Duke: seniors Lance Thomas and Jon Scheyer from 2006 and juniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith from 2007. Surely this is a primary reason for Duke's success this year.

6. There are only seven teams in America who have three or more MAAs on their roster this year. Here they are with their current RPIs (in decreasing order of the number of MAAs):

# of MAA RPI
UNC 7 85
Duke 6 2
Villanova 5 9
Georgetown 4 14
Georgia Tech 3 44
Kansas 3 1
Oklahoma 3 109

What happened at Oklahoma?! UNC and Oklahoma prove that one can lose while having highly honored MAAs, yet apart from these two schools, and the underperforming Georgia Tech, the presence of MAAs, not surprisingly, suggests that a team is pretty good.

7. If one were to arbitrarily weigh the experience of these MAAs, giving four points to a senior MAA, and three points to a junior, etc., then it looks like this (in decreasing order of the weighted scale for seniority):

#MAA RPI Weighted for
Duke 6 2 16 (2 Srs., 2 Jrs., 2 Fresh)
Villanova 5 9 12 (1 Sr., 2 Jr, 2 Fresh )
UNC 7 85 10 (4 sophs, 3 fresh)
Kansas 3 1 8 (1 Sr., 1 Jr, 1 fresh)
Georgetown 4 14 7 ( 2 Jrs, 1 soph)
Georgia Tech 3 44 6 ( 1 Jr, 1 soph, 1 fresh)
Oklahoma 3 109 4 (1 soph, 2 fresh)

Doing this shows that Duke has amongst the most senior/junior MAA talent in the country.

8. Note that schools with three or more MAAs, who have a senior MAA, are all in the top ten in the RPI. Obviously a senior leader, who was skilled enough to be an MAA coming out of high school, is both a rare and coveted commodity (I hate to mention it but Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Greene and Bobby Frasor were all senior MAAs from 2005 who helped lead UNC to last year's national championship)

9. Anyway you look at this data on MAAs and UNC, it's hard to understand UNC's 16-15 record. They have the most MAAs in the country. Surely the youth of their MAAs is part of their challenge. Oklahoma has all sophomores and freshmen MAAs and has seriously underperformed and imagine if the Duke team this year relied primarily on Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee (Duke's two freshmen MAAs).

But youth can't account for all of UNC's woes. Even when weighted for their inexperience, one could expect a much greater output than 16-15. The vast majority of basketball schools, even perennial power schools, never see even one MAA come through in four years, let alone seven.

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