Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tyler Herro, Duke and stuff

1. Whitnall’s Tyler Herro committed to Kentucky yesterday. As you know, he was committed to Wisconsin before re-opening his commitment last month. Depending on who you believe, he isn’t going to Madison because he’s either a snake, wasn’t smart enough, is delusional about his talent or a bag man got to him and his family.

None of those is the case. He wants to play in the NBA. If you want to play in the NBA, you don’t go to Wisconsin. If you want to play in the NBA and Kentucky offers you a scholarship (This applies for Duke as well), you take it. The vitriol coming from a segment of the Badger fanbase reflects poorly in the program itself. If you don’t think other top flight recruits in the state haven’t noticed, you’d be wrong. Nothing wrong with being disappointed but spitting venom at a high school kid you have no relationship with? That’s low class.

2. Being less than a week into the season, it’s silly to read too much into results. Things will change dramatically in the next four months but Duke’s win over Michigan State will probably be the most impressive of the non-con season. Doing so without Marvin Bagley is quite impressive. Grayson Allen is going to be a monster this season so get ready for a flood of Duke hate not seen since Laettner. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

3. Other good wins include Minnesota winning at Providence and Purdue winning at Marquette. It wasn’t that Purdue won, I expected that, but they executed so brilliantly and like last year, earlyb signs point to a team with a solid defense and offense. Both these teams are capable of winning the Big 14.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Marquette: 2017-18 Guesses

We enter year four of the Wojo era are at Marquette. Gone are any remnants of the Buzz era. The upperclassmen are Wojo recruits. This is his team, for better or worse.

Last year’s club was a less talented mirror of Duke. Electric offensively, massively deficient on defense. Like Duke, Marquette’s hopes for the season revolve solely around how the defense performs. You should be concerned. 

The backcourt will be lead by the undersized but prolific scoring duo of SR. Andrew Rowsey and super sophomore Markus Howard. There will be nights they shoot the opposition out of the gym. There will be nights they get torched on defense. Howard has the ability to become a good defender and if he wants to play at the next level, he needs to start showing he can this year. Neither is a true point but both will be bringing the ball up the court and setting the offense. Marquette can’t afford for them to get into foul trouble.

There are some wild cards. Junior Haanif Cheatham regressed badly over the second half of his sophomore year. A return to freshman form will boost what the Golden Eagles can do. In their scrimmage last Saturday, RS sophomore Sacar Anim had the ball in his hands quite a bit and wasn’t afraid to attack the rim. His shot still appears to need some work or teams will sag on him. He missed half his FTs as well but showed a knack to get there.

Freshman Greg Elliot saw plenty of minutes in Rowsey’s absence. I doubt he sees a lot of minutes once they role into conference play but he gives them athleticism and length they lack.

In the frontcourt, junior Matt Heldt, Wojo’s first recruit will take over as the big man. At times awkward, he’s gotten a lot stronger and will give them plenty of good nights. My hunch is, he’ll have a tough time staying out of foul trouble against more physical teams. Freshman Theo John has a Big East ready body and early reports indicate he should contribute this year. SMU transfer Harry Froling will be eligible by league play. How he integrates will be interesting. He was a top recruit a year ago. He could be a big addition.

The best player will likely be sophomore Sam Hauser who was one of the most efficient offensive players in the nation last year. Will his efficiency remain will higher usage? Perhaps not but he’s a great shooter and underrated rebounder. The Novak comparisons are legit even if they’re race lazy. 

Jamal Cain is the last man left and how he’ll be used is a mystery. He’s long and athletic and considered a solid defender. 

Marquette will go as far as their defense takes them. They’re the youngest team in the Big East. The league will be very competitive and a grind. A .500 season would be a success and give them a legit chance at dancing. It won’t be easy, though.

And It Begins......

And Cincinnati collects the first win of the year vaulting up to the top of AP Poll.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brian's Not All That Bold but Fearless Predictions That May Be Somewhat Correct

Here I was, already to type out my Final Four picks and such and suddenly Kurly’s post comes across with basically the same Final Four as mine.  The only difference I had was no Villanova with one of his other contenders in their place.  I’m hesitant to put Duke at the top but quite frankly they do have the top roster from top to bottom.  It comes down to two “simple” things.  Defense and maturity.  Can their defense be a top 20 defense and can Greyson Allen finally mature.  If those things happen, and possibly if only one of them happen Duke is the team to beat.

On to the rest of the predictions

National Champion:  Duke – I’ve already mentioned the reasons why above.  I’m going to peg Marques Bolden as the X-Factor here.  He doesn’t need to score 15 points but he needs to give them Zoubek type numbers and minutes.  15 minutes, 6 points, 8 rebounds.  Be a presence in the middle

The Other of the Final 4:  Kansas, Michigan State, Cincinnati.  As Kurly said, it’s chalky but sometimes that’s what it is.  I like Cincinnati a bit more than he does and I thought about putting St. Mary’s here as a big surprise.  Everybody has Wichita State pegged as the best Mid-Major but the Gaels may be better.

Other Contendesr:  Also known as the rest of my Elite Eight.  Wichita State, St. Mary’s. North Carolina, Kentucky

3 That are Underrated: Wisconsin, St. Mary’s, Notre Dame – I’m mentioned the Gaels already.  Wisconsin lost a lot but I think they end up being a solid Sweet 16 team.  Notre Dame has a player of the year candidate in Bonzie Colson

3 That are Overrated:  Florida, Texas A&M, Northwestern – I’ve mentioned my disdain for the SEC even if I’d like one of those teams to usurp Kentucky as the alpha-male.  Northwestern made strides but I don’t think it’s sustainable

Player of the Year:  Miles Bridges, Michigan State, Marvin Bagley, Duke, Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Eric’s Bold, Fearless and Certainly Wrong Predictions

National Champion: Duke - I think the Blue Devils are the most talented team and one of the deeper teams in the nation. The focus will be on the freshmen but Grayson Allen will be the guy carrying them. It won’t be popular but given the black cloud hanging over the sport, it’s least popular player holding the trophy at the end of the season seems appropriate. Doesn’t hurt he’s an All-American candidate. 

The Others of the Final 4: Villanova, Kansas and Michigan State - Seems chalky? It’s chalky. I think this is Villanova’s best team of the last 3. Omari Spellman is going to be a load. They get a full year of Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges is going to be a breakout player.

Kansasn brings back Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk to form a potent backcourt. Lagerald Vick is also back. They add Malik Newman who if disciplined, could be one of the nation’s best bucket getters. The name to know be big man Udoka Azubuike. He’s going to be a stud.

Despite my disdain of Tom Izzo is March, this team is as talented as any he’s had in East Lansing. Miles Bridges is a popular choice as Player of the Year. Anything less than a Final 4 is a miss this year.

Other Contenders: Arizona, Cincinnati, Wichita State, Florida, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, USC

3 That are Underrated: Xavier, Purdue and St. Mary’s- Truth is, I’ve seen a lot of press on these 3. Hell, Tom Crean has Xavier winning it all. St. Mary’s has 3 great seniors lead by C Jock Landale. Purdue isn’t as sexy as Northwestern but I think they’re better. 

3 That are Overrated: Kentucky, Wichita State and West Virginia- Wichita State has some early season injuries to overcome and though the AAC isn’t very good, it is a step up in competition. West Virginia is down Esa Ahmad to start the year. The numbers will like them but I’ll have to see them to believe in them. Kentucky is as young as it’s ever been. Again, I think we have to see them piece it together. They could be 2012 good. They could repeat 2013. My guess is they’re wildly erratic but a legit threat come March. KenPom has them as 1. That seems OVERrated.

Player of the Year: Grayson Allen, Duke


Power 6 Preview Part 6 - ACC

Projected Champion:  Duke
Possible Contenders:  North Carolina, Virginia
At-Large Bids: Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess Louisville does not play in the NCAA tournament this year.  Two months ago they had enough talent to be a legit Championship contender.  Now, not so much.  Enough on that though.  Duke pops up as the #1 preseason team but I’d be weary of giving them the title already.  As Kurly said earlier if they can’t be a top 25 defense they can’t win a title.  That’s still a legit concern in Durham.  North Carolina is poised to be a top 10 team and when Joel Barry comes back from his broken hand this team is going to be a handful.  Virginia will continue to bore the hell out of me and beat a bunch of un disciplined teams.  Notre Dame will be fun to watch and is a dark horse Final Four contender.  Miami has enough talent to get a mid-range bid and Buzz Williams gets enough out of his players to get a low seed.  Syracuse is always in the mix for an at-large bid regardless of their poor Non-Conference schedule.  Count them as sweating out Selection Sunday.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Power 6 Preview Part 5 - Big-10

Big 10
Projected Champion:  Michigan State
Possible Contenders:  Purdue
At-Large Bids: Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Maryland, Indiana

As is the theme this year with the Power conference there is a clear cut favorite to win the conference.  In the Big 10 it’s Michigan State.  There is no doubt this is top 5 team and outside of a certain team in the ACC they may be the second favorite to cut down the nets in March, actually April.  Purdue seems to be on everybody’s radar as the number two team but after that its going to be like throwing darts at a wall.  Northwestern should be good but I was so sick of hearing about them last year I’m almost cheering against them.  Wisconsin should be good, but not Final Four good.  Minnesota, Michigan, and Iowa all seem to be in the same 7-10 range.  I guess one team could get hot and make a run but it seems like a stretch at this point.  I’m predicting Maryland to bounce back and get a low seed and as a surprise Archie Miller puts Indiana on the map sooner rather than later.