The Afternoon Links are (intermittently) back, and they are exactly what they say they are. Some days will bring more than others. This is the offseason, after all. If you have a link you'd like included, your best bet is to hit me on Twitter. You can also e-mail your link to collegebasketballnation at gmail.com, or use the submission form here. Just don't expect me to call it a "bitmark."
It's no secret the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats were one of the most talented teams we've seen in recent seasons. Chad Ford's mock draft is confirmation enough of that fact. But one of the more underrated aspects of the Wildcats' success -- one we talked about a lot during the Final Four, but which risks being lost to history in the Anthony Davis narrative -- is how truly balanced Kentucky was. SI's Luke Winn decided to try to quantify this balance. How? Luke looked at the disparity in usage rate between the past 16 national champions' top five players, and graded that balance on the Herfindahl Index (a market-concentration metric which sounds complicated but provides a rather elegant number). Luke found that not only was Kentucky the most balanced title team of recent seasons, but the most balanced of any of the past 16 champions. One more remarkable fact considering the youth and talent in Kentucky coach John Calipari's lineup. (Oh, and in case you're wondering, the most imbalanced national champ of the past 16 years was the Carmelo Anthony-led 2003 Syracuse Orange. Anthony? Imbalanced scoring? Never!)
Basketball Prospectus' Drew Cannon spent the past week unloading 2012 player rankings list after 2012 player rankings list, and on Friday he concluded with his tally of 2012's 25 best. The most interesting selection? Colorado forward Andre Roberson comes in at No. 25, a testament to Roberson's Thomas Robinson-level pace-adjusted rebounding efforts last season. Cannon's top five returners for next season: Doug McDermott, Cody Zeller, Isaiah Canaan, Jeff Withey, and Roberson. It's going to be a wacky 2012-13 season, kids.
Probably the best image I've seen all week: A photo of former Purdue coach (and current St. John's assistant/mentor) Gene Keady tying the knot in Hawaii. That's all well and good, but the best part is the cameo by Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, pictured standing behind Keady with a lovely bouquet in tow. Weber as flower girl? Like I said, great image.
Speaking of Weber, Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez is sounding entirely thrilled about his new coaching staff. Good news, that.
Earlier this week, two doctoral students at the University of Georgia released a paper finding that schools who change conferences often see not only financial and exposure-related benefits but also, interestingly enough, an increase in the school's "ability to attract and retain high-quality students."
Beyond the Arc's Rob Dauster argues that replacing Kendall Marshall will be North Carolina's toughest impending task. I'd argue that replacing the core of UNC's excellence last season -- the interior rebounding and defense of Tyler Zeller and John Henson -- will be tougher, but the point is well taken.
Kansas fans were not entirely thrilled to learn Bill Self had scheduled a two-year home-and-home series with former Big 12 member Colorado, wondering why the Jayhawks would give a game to an upstart program that left the Big 12 in the cold during the first wave of recent conference realignment. Self, it turns out, has no hard feelings: “No one ever held Colorado responsible for them leaving the league. They did something they felt they had to do,” Self said. “There were so many rumors they could be left out in the cold, too. Everybody respected that without question. There are no hard feelings there. With the climate, the landscape at that particular time (summer, 2010), with all the talk about Texas, Oklahoma, A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, all those schools going to the Pac-10 back then ... all the talk before that about Missouri and Nebraska going to the Big Ten ... Colorado was just making sure they had a conference affiliation. No hard feelings about that.”
Today's Jason King feature seeks insight on the difficulty of replacing a legendary coach -- a simultaneously unenviable and desirable task, because replacing a legend usually means taking over one of the nation's truly elite programs. As a complement, Andy Katz, Dana O'Neil and Myron Medcalf argued for which current top coach will be hardest to replace: Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Calhoun, or John Calipari.
If you're reading this post, you've almost certainly seen our writers' and analysts' poll of college hoops jobs rankings, as organized by conference. Yesterday, I ranked the top 10 jobs in the country. Myron and I debated that top 10 (and mostly the top two), I discussed my logic with y'all in a chat, and discussion elsewhere on the Internet has been robust and largely pleasurable.
Early in the week, King wrote a really fun piece about coaches who never played high-level basketball, and the unique challenges that background presents, while I listed some of the best former players turned coaches and O'Neil discussed the way the modern game has somewhat stifled coaches' once-outsized public personalities.