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November 8, 2010, 10:48 AM ET
The most interesting team in college hoops is…Detroit?

by John Gasaway

The 2010-11 season will commence this evening a little after 7 Eastern, when Rhode Island tips off at Pitt. But I know that, like me, what you’re really waiting for is the game this Saturday when New Mexico hosts Detroit. Analytically speaking Ray McCallum Sr.’s group is pretty much the It Team of 2011. 

Indeed, for a group that went 9-9 in the Horizon League last year, the Titans sure got a lot of attention in the must-have book of the century, the College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11. (Buy it today! Covering all 345-D-I teams, CBP ‘10-11 is 359 pages of tempo-free delicious!)

Just to touch a few bases here….

  • Ken Pomeroy, page 5, explaining why his new team projection system (which the marketing-savvy Ken has christened ”the system”) predicts that Detroit will finish eighth (!) in the Horizon this year even though humans think UDM will finish second to Butler: ”The Titans bring in the best recruiting class in the Horizon coming off of a seventh-place finish in the league last season. Despite a fair amount of roster attrition, most observers expect them to significantly improve. The discrepancy here owes to the system having trouble distinguishing between the 20th best recruit in the country (which Detroit has in Ray McCallum Jr.) and your average Horizon freshman.”
  • Drew Cannon, page 32: “I really want to predict that McCallum’s arrival in the Horizon League will be like dropping the Beatles into the rock world of 1962–especially since, with his dad coaching, the cautionary tale of Adrion Graves‘ 113 freshman minutes will likely be moot.”
  • Yours truly, pp. 210-11: “The conventional wisdom looks at a defense that is already excellent and talent like Eli Holman, McCallum, and 6-6 wing Chase Simon and says that this team will finish second to Butler. I might agree with the conventional wisdom if Detroit had a conventional offense, one that included threes. But assuming UDM is again all-paint and no-perimeter this year, they will again be one of the easiest scouts in D-I. I’m predicting 1.05 points per trip or fewer on offense and a fourth-place finish.”

Of course the problem with me saying that the Detroit offense is doomed to mediocrity because they never shoot threes is that Coach McCallum could well read those words, slap his forehead, and say “This Gasaway’s a genius! [I get that a lot.] Let’s acknowledge it’s not 1983 anymore and start attempting some of these ‘three-point shots’ that the youngsters talk about nowadays.” The mere act of stating the prediction can mess up its accuracy. (How Hegelian!)

So, yeah, whether they’re good or merely average, the Titans should be noteworthy in 2011. I for one will be keeping a close eye on Dick Vitale’s old program

BONUS programming note! I’ll be doing the live-chat thing to plug the book and talk hoops Wednesday at 1 Eastern. Post your question(s) in advance right here.   

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