Lauri Markkanen

Why is nobody talking about Lauri Markkanen?

We all knew there was something special about this draft class. This group was just loaded with talent, so much so that Malik Monk fell to No. 11. A player of his caliber is almost always a top five selection.

Throw in Ben Simmons playing his first NBA season and the “rookie” class gets that much better. Simmons is the frontrunner for rookie of the year now, but there are so many other rookies having exciting seasons.

Jayson Tatum has stepped up in Boston to fill the hole left by Gordon Hayward. The third overall pick is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game and been a key part of why the Celtics have the best record in the NBA.

De’Aaron Fox is also looking impressive so far this season. The fact he is on the Kings has not kept fans from seeing his production. With averages of 12.3 points and 5.5 assists per game, it is a wonder he has only started two games. He also just hit a game-winning shot to beat Simmons and the 76ers.

Fox’s former teammate, Malik Monk is also looking nice. He started off slow, but is now averaging almost 10 points per game with the Hornets. He has had some explosive performances like his 25 points in 23 minutes against the Bucks and 21 points in 27 minutes against the Knicks.

The most talked about rookie in this class has definitely been Lonzo Ball, but not because he has been one of the top rookies in this class. Sure, the No. 2 overall pick has had some nice games like his almost triple-double in his second game, but he only has topped 10 points once since then.

Ball’s fellow rookie teammate, Kyle Kuzma, is also looking good. Kuzma is third amongst rookies in scoring at 14.8 points per game and is also grabbing 6.5 rebounds.

Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell, Mike James, John Collins, Josh Jackson and Bogdan Bogdanovic are also averaging double figures in points per game. This class has been truly amazing.

I purposely left a name out of that list though, and you may not have noticed because of how little he has been talked about. That name would be Lauri Markkanen.

Quietly dominating

If you remember the draft, Markkanen was picked seventh overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but then was traded along with Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn for Jimmy Butler.

Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen has quietyly been the most successful player from this year’s draft. (Photo by Getty Images)

In his one season at Arizona, Markkanen averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from behind the arc.

He has put up similar stats in his 10 games with the Bulls, as he is averaging 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Those numbers are both good for second amongst rookies behind, you guessed it, Ben Simmons.

With all the hype surrounding Simmons, the struggles by Ball and Markelle Fultz and Tatum and Boston being so successful, Markkanen’s production has seemed to go unnoticed.

It more than likely has something to do with the fact that he is playing with the Bulls. With so little star power in Chicago, why would anyone talk about them? They also are second to last in the Eastern Conference. It is hard enough to get talked about in the East with all the stars playing in the West and getting all the attention.

Scouting report

Let’s take a look at what Markkanen’s draft profile said about him. According to Draft Express, Markkanen’s biggest strengths were his shooting ability and size.

He’s definitely a good shooter. Known as a stretch big at 7-feet, 230 pounds, Markkanen’s field goal percentage is 42.6 and his 3-point percentage is 36.1. Not bad numbers for a rookie big.

For comparison, Kristaps Porzingis had a 39.8 field goal percentage and 21.4 3-point percentage through his first 10 NBA games. Porzingis has obviously improved since then. But in today’s game, you have to be able to shoot around 40 percent from deep, and that percentage should only improve for Markkanen as his career progresses.

Markkanen’s size puts him right up there with guys Porzingis, Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki. Obviously they aren’t exact in height and weight, but they are all big men that can stretch the floor and open lanes for their teammates. You have to respect their shot because they all can hit 3-pointers.

One of the bigger weaknesses in his draft profile was his defense. His lack of weight and length prevents him from being physical inside and blocking shots. Guys like Porzingis and Anthony Davis got a whole foot of length more than him with their 8-foot wingspans.

This is not as big of a concern to me though. A lot of the rookies coming in had question marks about their defensive abilities. This is also something that can be improved over time.

I’m also not going to let something like length determine if a guy can be good in this league or not because Love and Nowitzki also don’t have significant length.

Of course you can’t make assumptions this early on in a rookie’s career. Fans love to declare guys future Hall of Famers or busts early on in the season. But you cannot judge a guy that early. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged less than seven points per game in his rookie season. Now he is the leading candidate for MVP in his fifth season.

Maybe Markkanen peaks at his rookie season. Maybe he continues to improve. Maybe we will see him in the 2020 All-Star game playing in front of his home crowd in Chicago. What we know for sure is he has exploded onto the NBA scene faster than his fellow members of this draft class.

So why is no one talking about Lauri Markkanen? I have no clue, but the numbers speak for themselves. This guy is ballin.

 

Featured image by Getty Images North America

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Heisman watch 11/5/17

Now that the college football season is through ten weeks, the Hiesman Trophy race is becoming a lot more clear. Here are the top players that should be on the “Heisman Watch” after the weekend’s good slate of games:

6. Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona

Heisman Watch

Khalil Tate (Photo by yahoo.com)

The electric quarterback has come on strong for the Wildcats. He only made his fourth start of the season against USC and once again showed how valuable he is, even in a loss. He threw for 132 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but was able to do some more damage on the ground. Tate rushed for 161 yards and another score.

He has now rushed for over 1,000 and passed for just under 1,000 yards on the season. Tate is the man that  has sparked a good season for Arizona. It would be a stretch to see him win the award, but if he keeps up at the current pace he is on track to be in contention to at least be a finalist.

Season stats: 930 passing yards, 8 passing TDs, 61.2% completion, 5 interceptions, 1087 rushing yards, 9 rushing TDs

5. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

It is unfortunate that Adams got injured and had to leave the game against Wake Forest and as a result loses a chance for another big game. That’s how it goes in college football though. He managed to rush for 22 yards on five carries. His team was able to win without him, which is always good for a Heisman campaign.

Adams has been the master of long runs this season as he has had several runs of at least 50 yards for touchdowns. He benefits from a great offensive line, but he does a lot of damage after contact. Ultimately if he wants to win the award, he needs to play in the last three games of the regular season and put up a lot of good numbers.

Season stats: 1,191 rushing yards, 82 receiving yards, 9 total TDs

4. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Heisman Watch

Jonathan Taylor (Photo by dailyherald.com)

Taylor is having an amazing freshman season for the Badgers and that continued on Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers. He finished with 29 carries for 183 yards and one rushing touchdown. The Badgers remain undefeated, but Taylor lacks a “Heisman Moment”, as they haven’t played in any big games thus far.

On the season, Taylor has rushed for 1,368 yards already. He is gaining yards as a freshman at the same pace and even faster than some of the all time greats. Taylor needs to continue racking up the yards and have Wisconsin win most if not all of their remaining games to have a shot to win it.

Season stats: 1,368 rushing yards, 41 yards receiving, 12 total TDs

3. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

Love sat out the game against Oregon State, which hindered his chance to break some serious records, like the all-purpose yards in one season record. He did play this weekend against Washington State and had his worst game of the season totaling 69 rushing yards and one touchdown. His team also lost, which sets him a little further behind.

The thing that keeps Love his high in the rankings is his gaudy stat line. He already is approaching 1,500 yards, even with sitting out the Oregon State game. He very well could have 2,000 yards rushing at season’s end. Love needs to get to 2,000 yards rushing to win the award, but should be able to get invited with his current stat line.

Season stats: 1,456 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards, 12 total TDs

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Yes, Barkley and Penn State have really slowed down, while number one on this list is picking it up. The Nittany Lions lost to Michigan State for their second straight loss, which damages Barkley’s campaign a little bit. More importantly though, he only had 63 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving in this game with no touchdowns.

Barkley has fewer than 1,000 rushing yards, which is alarming considering one of the quarterbacks on this list, Tate, has 1,000 yards rushing in four starts. One thing Barkley brings to the table is versatility, as he has over 500 receiving yards on the season and also has two kickoff returns for touchdowns. He also has some highlight plays that make him look like he is a created player in a video game. He needs to pick it up down the stretch and see Baker Mayfield stumble to win the award.

Season stats: 864 rushing yards, 502 receiving yards, 14 total TDs

1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Sooners got another big win, defeating Oklahoma State in Stillwater. It was a high-scoring game which afforded Mayfield the opportunity to let the ball fly. The win helps the Heisman case, but the stats are just downright crazy. He threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns to help lead his team to victory.

Mayfield still has a few games left, including a possible Big 12 Championship Game, but already has 3,226 passing yards. He is lighting up defenses and has the Sooners in place to make a run at the College Football Playoff. His “Heisman Moments” at Ohio State and at Oklahoma State also help improve his case for the Heisman. The crazy thing is, he still has a few big games coming up to further his case for the Heisman.

Season stats: 3,226 passing yards, 28 passing TDs, 71.7% completion, 5 interceptions, 181 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs

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College football week 10 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make their college football picks for week 10 including all games that include FBS teams.

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Bowling Green Kent State Dix Stadium, Kent, OH Kent St Kent St
Miami (OH) Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
Central Michigan Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
Northern Illinois Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Ball State Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI EMU EMU
Navy Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Navy Navy
Idaho Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium , Troy, AL Troy Troy
Marshall Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU Marshall
#22 Memphis Tulsa Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK Memphis Memphis
UCLA Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
#4 Wisconsin Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Wisconsin Wisconsin
#7 Penn State #24 Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Penn St PSU
#16 Auburn Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX Auburn Auburn
UMass #21 Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss State Miss St
Margin of victory 28 33
Florida Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Florida
Kansas State Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX Texas Tech TT
Western Kentucky Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Vandy Vandy
Baylor Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS Kansas? Baylor
Illinois Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Purdue Purdue
East Carolina Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Houston Houston
Syracuse Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL Syracuse Cuse
Georgia Tech Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA GT GT
Appalachian State Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA App St App St
Georgia State Georgia Southern Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, GA Georgia St Ga State
Rice UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL UAB UAB
New Mexico State Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX New Mex St NMSU
South Carolina #1 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia UGA
#3 Ohio State Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA OSU OSU
Wake Forest #5 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN ND ND
#6 Clemson #20 NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC Clemson Clemson
#14 Iowa State West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV WVU WVU
#18 Stanford #25 Washington State Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wazzu
South Florida Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT USF USF
Maryland Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Maryland Maryland
Charlotte Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom ODU
North Texas Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA UNT La Tech
Northwestern Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska NW
Army Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO Air Force AF
#8 Oklahoma #11 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
Ole Miss Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Kentucky Kentucky
Coastal Carolina Arkansas Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR Arkansas Arkansas
Cincinnati Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA Tulane Tulane
Louisiana South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
Oregon State California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA Cal Cal
Utah State New Mexico Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM New Mexico NM
Hawai’i UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV Hawai’i Hawai’i
Nevada Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Colorado State Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Col St Colorado St
UT San Antonio Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU UTSA
Texas #10 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
#15 UCF SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX UCF UCF
Southern Mississippi Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN So Miss So Miss
UTEP Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN MTSU MTSU
Minnesota Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Michigan
#19 LSU #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama Alabama
#13 Virginia Tech #9 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Va Tech Va Tech
Colorado Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Arizona St ASU
Oregon #12 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
San Diego State San Jose State CEFCU Stadium – Home of the Spartans, San Jose, CA SDSU SDSU
#23 Arizona #17 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA Arizona Zona
BYU Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno Fresno
Gameday Guest Picker (Stillwater) Big Country Reeves Barry Sanders

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College basketball preseason top 25: 5-1

It is the end of October so that means college basketball is right around the corner. What teams should be looked at as the best of the best? This is the final installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 10-6, click here.

5. Kentucky Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Hamidou Diallo (Photo by bostonherald.com)

The Wildcats lost a heart-breaker to UNC in the Elite Eight last season. Like most years they have to replace most of their team. They don’t return much at all and will be led by freshman, but they have a very talented freshmen class yet again that should be able to be successful.

Versatility is going to be the name of the game for the Kentucky bigs. Kevin Knox, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt are all capable of playing on the perimeter and in the paint. How they fit in together is a big question. Vanderbilt is currently dealing with injuries and will not be ready for the start of the season. Nick Richards is the tallest on the team and will fight for minutes. The returnees Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Kileya-Jones and Tai Wynyard will fight for minutes. Gabriel started 23 games last season and can be valuable if he knocks down outside shots. Wynyard is a very physical player who can step in if the other players aren’t rebounding. While there are a lot of talented players, Calipari will play the most talented.

Quade Green ad Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are both highly touted recruits who will handle the point guard duties. Whoever does not start will be able to play off of the ball. Hamidou Diallo got to campus last year in the midseason and John Calipari decided to redshirt him. His half-season with Kentucky last year will pay dividends, as well as his summer trip representing Team USA in the U19 World Cup. Diallo is an athletic freak, who needs to shoot the ball better to be a dynamic player. Jemarl Baker was supposed to provide some outside shooting for this team, but Baker had his knee scoped and will likely be out for three months.

As always if the young talent can mesh together, the sky is the limit for Kentucky. They may start off slow, but come March, Kentucky will be a factor once again.

4. Kansas Jayhawks

College basketball preseason top 25

Devonte’ Graham (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Kansas made their second straight Elite 8 last season and can do so again this season. They will have to deal with the losses of Carlton Bragg, Josh Jackson, Landen Lucas and, most importantly, Frank Mason. That is a lot to replace, but there is some significant talent returning.

Udoka Azubuike returns after getting injured last season. He will be asked to play way more than his 12.9 minutes per game that he averaged last season. In those minutes though, he showed flashes of being a great player. His per 40 minutes stats are great, as he would’ve averaged 15.5 points and 13.5 rebounds. Billy Preston, no relation to Bill S. Preston Esquire, is a great incoming freshman that is going to be thrust into any minutes Azubuike can’t be on the floor. He is very athletic, but needs to work on his inside game. The only other big on the roster is Mitch Lightfoot, who will see an increased role as the third big. There is not much depth in the frontcourt, so the Jayhawks will have to stay healthy and out of foul trouble.

The backcourt is loaded with talent. Devonte’ Graham returns and will take over at point after the loss of Frank Mason. He is a great defender that showed he could score too last season. He will need to set up teammates and find his own shot this season. Lagerald Vick and Svi Mykhailiuk return on the wing. Both can knock down the three point shot, while Vick has more athletic ability. Mykhailiuk may need to step more inside to cover up for the lack of bigs on the roster, seeing as he is 6’8″. Two transfers will have to step up for Kansas as well. Malik Newman was a big recruit going into Mississippi State and is hoping his career has new life at Kansas. Sam Cunliffe is an Arizona State transfer who will be eligible in December.

The guards and wings will be hard to match up with, but if Kansas’ frontcourt doesn’t step up it will be hard to reach a third consecutive Elite 8. Luckily they have talent so the sky is the limit.

3. Arizona Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Allonzo Trier (Photo by draftexpress.com)

The Wildcats got upset by Xavier in the Sweet 16 last season, but have a lot of returning talent and incoming recruits to help them get to a Final Four. They lose Kadeem Allen, Chance Comanche, Lauri Markkanen and Kobi Simmons, but this team is actually better. Can Sean Miller reach his first Final Four of his career?

The frontcourt is going to be led by superstar recruit DeAndre Ayton. He can protect the rim and stretch the floor, making him unique. Dustan Ristic started 34 games last season and can play alongside Ayton or back him up. Rustic has a refined inside game that can compliment Ayton. Keanu Pinder is a good role player who will rebound and defend. Behind these three there isn’t much, but the guards on the roster should be able to play big if they need to.

Allonzo Trier is back after leading the team in scoring last season with 17.2 points per game. He could’ve gone pro, but elected to come back for another season. He can do a little bit of everything offensively, as a solid shooter and driver. Rawle Alkins also choose to come back to Tucson after considering the NBA. Alkins will improve in his second season with the Wildcats. Parker Jackson-Cartwright is back at point guard and will likely start every game. Backing these three up will be frehsmen and transfers, but they are talented. Emmanuel Akot, Brandon Randolph, Dylan Smith and Alex Barcello will all be expected to fight for minutes.

Sean Miller needs to get to a Final Four and this season offers his best chance to do so. If Ayton is as good as advertised, the Final Four should be an expectation for Arizona.

2. Michigan State Spartans

College basketball preseason top 25

Miles Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Tom Izzo gets a chance to make his first Final Four since 2015 with this squad. He has a lot of talent and depth, which is something he didn’t have last season due to injuries. If the Spartans can stay healthy, the team is going to be tough to beat.

Miles Bridges returns on the wing. He is going to be the best player in all of college basketball this season. As a freshman he averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He didn’t have a lot of help last season, but will this year. Nick Ward was thrust into playing a lot last year as a freshman and was a physical force on the inside. Jaren Jackson is a very good recruit who will be hard to keep off the floor. Gavin Schilling, Ben Carter and Kenny Goins return to give them some of the best frontcourt depth in the country. They can ride the hot hand this season.

Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairns Jr. is a senior leader now who is a great defender and can set up his teammates. He needs to hit more perimeter shots to be more effective in the offense. Cassius Winston has turned heads with his passing and playmaking ability and will provide Michigan State with a chance to have two point guards on the floor at once. He can also shoot the ball and spread the floor. Mike McQuaid will add a three point specialist to the backcourt. Joshua Langford will also play a bit and is a good wing that can drive and shoot.

With so much talent and perhaps the best player in college basketball, this team can win the National Championship.

1. Duke Blue Devils

College basketball preseason top 25

Marvin Bagley (Photo by accsports.com)

Coach K has had one and dones before, but Coach K has fully embraced recruiting one and dones. He has a roster chalk full of them. A few key players return from a team that lost in the second round, but the freshman are what make this Blue Devils’ squad the best in the country.

Marques Bolden returns at center after a disappointing freshman season. He only played 6.5 minutes a game and needs to improve. He is the only returning player that will see significant minutes. Marvin Bagley Jr. is a dynamic player that is in contention to be the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He reclassified to play at Duke this season and added to their great recruiting class. Wendell Carter is another freshman who can add to the depth on the inside. He is more of a stretch four and should get a lot of minutes, even if he is overshadowed by Bagley.

Grayson Allen is back for his senior season. Love him or hate him, he is a good scorer that has a lot of experience, which is something this team desperately needed. He saw his scoring decline last season as Luke Kennard stepped up, but may be asked to score a lot until the freshmen get into their groove. Trevon Duval is one of the best point guards of the class and will be the best point guard that Duke has had since their National Championship in 2015. If for some reason he fails, or gets injured, Allen can play point guard once again and run the offense decently well. Gary Trent Jr. is a great wing that will play on the wing with Allen, giving Duke a very talented starting lineup. Depth could be a problem, so role players will need to step up.

The only thing that can derail Duke this season is Grayson Allen’s attitude or a lack of depth. If Coach K can get the most out of this team, he may be cutting down the nets in April.

 

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Five things to watch for in college football week 10

The college football playoff race is getting heated and a lot of great story lines are going on in college football. Here are five things to watch this week:

1. Bedlam

Yes one of the best things to watch this week is bedlam. This is the rivalry game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Both teams have just one loss and want to keep it that way so they have a better shot of making the College Football Playoff. These games are always exciting, but with the added pressure, it will be a joy to watch.

These two teams have two high-powered offenses, both of which rank in the top six in scoring. These teams also have Heisman Trophy contenders in Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph. There will be a lot of passing and offense in this game, so defenses need to step up and get some key stops. Whoever’s defense steps up will win this game.

The game is in Stillwater, so home field advantage goes to the Cowboys. Make sure to check out this game at 4:00 p.m. EST, as it will have CFP ranking implications.

2. ACC Coastal Clash

Week 10 college football preview

Josh Jackson (Photo by detroitnews.com)

The two best teams in the ACC Coastal will square off as well. Like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, this game has CFP implications. Miami is undefeated, but hasn’t beaten anyone of note yet this season. Virginia Tech is very similar in that regard and they have a loss to Clemson earlier in the year.

Because these are the two best teams in the ACC Coastal, this game will likely decide who ends up playing in the ACC Championship Game. Miami hasn’t been playing well as of late and survived an upset bid from the woeful North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend. The defense will have to continue to be solid in this one and Malik Rosier will need to make throws against talented defenders for the Hokies. Virginia Tech has been kicking butt ever since their loss to Clemson and has a lot of NFL talent on its roster.

The game is in Miami, where they are hosting the biggest game they have had in a long time. Will the fans show up and create a dynamic atmosphere?

3. Pac-12 South contest

After last weekend the Pac-12 South got a little more clear. Arizona and USC are the two teams that are most likely to go to the Pac-12 Championship and they square off this weekend. Both teams have just one loss in conference and will play this weekend to take a commanding lead in the division.

Sam Darnold has been turnover prone and will need to play well to give USC a chance. The defense is extremely average and will need to have their best game of the season if they have any shot to win. Khalil Tate has taken over as starting quarterback for Arizona and is a great dual-threat. Since he has taken over, Arizona is a completely different team and is now even ranked. They are very dangerous.

This game will offer up a battle of quarterbacks with completely differing styles, but it will be very fun to watch. The quarterback that plays the best will win this game.

4. Battle for ACC Atlantic

College football week 10 preview

Kelly Bryant (Photo by tigernet.com)

Another battle in the ACC that has title implications is N.C. State vs. Clemson. Clemson has one loss to Syracuse, while the Wolfpack haven’t lost in ACC Play. Clemson is favored by over a touchdown, but N.C. State has had a solid season.

Clemson got back on track last week with a win over Georgia Tech, after losing to Syracuse two games ago. With quarterback Kelly Bryant healthy the team is good enough to go to the CFP. The defensive line creates havoc for any offense. N.C. State’s defensive line is good itself, but they just got gashed by Notre Dame. The offense protects the football well, while moving the ball well, which is hard to do.

The Tigers will likely win the game, but if the Wolfpack’s defense can stop Clemson’s offense, it’s anyone’s game. N.C. State will have the game at home, which should make it more interesting.

5. Other big matchups

There are seven games this weekend involving ranked teams so get the remote ready.

Michigan State takes on Penn State. The Nittany Lions are still a great team, but can’t have a hangover after their tough loss to Ohio State. The only way Michigan State has a chance is if Mark Dantonio’s defense can slow down Saquon Barkley.

Stanford travels to Pullman to take on Washington State. The game features the passing attack of Washington State, with whatever quarterback they decide to play, and Stanford’s power game, which may not feature Bryce Love due to injury. The Cardinal are seemingly on their late season roll and can still make the Pac-12 Championship Game. The winner still has to take on Washington, but this will show a lot about the Pac-12 North standing.

LSU is going to Alabama for their annual game. The Tigers will have to do something to make up for their lackluster offense in this game. The Crimson Tide just need to keep on rolling. This is the toughest stretch of their schedule, but they are a much better team than LSU. The rivalry game gives this game more juice, as LSU will play with extra pep in their step.

 

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Five things we learned in college football week 9

Week nine was wild and crazy. College football is an awesome sport an there is still a lot more to be played. Here are five things we learned in college football week nine:

1. It’s going to be chaotic

There has already been a fair amount of chaos, but there is more coming. This weekend Ohio State beat Penn State, which knocks the Nittany Lions out of the top four for now. TCU was also in the top four and lost to Iowa State. In a matchup of two good teams Notre Dame enhanced their case to be considered for the CFP with their win over N.C. State.

The field has been narrowed down to four teams from power five conferences who are undefeated. Alabama and Georgia are two of these teams and will likely play each other in the SEC Championship. Miami and Wisconsin are also undefeated, but haven’t played anyone of note. With plenty more good games (Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech-Miami, Notre Dame-Miami, Alabama-Auburn, etc.) the current rankings will not hold to form.

Buckle in, more great football is coming.

2. J.T. Barrett is Clutch

week 9 college football recap

J.T. Barrett (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

J.T. Barrett is a record setting quarterback at Ohio State, but takes a lot of blame for the losses he has suffered while at Ohio State. His first few years as quarterback he had a lot of NFL talent around him, but lately that hasn’t been the case, particularly this season. He hasn’t played well in big games and he hasn’t had much help from the rest of the offense.

Ohio State needed to win to stay alive in the College Football Playoff race and that was a tall order with Penn State coming to town. They started off trailing and had to try to play catch up the rest of the game. It looked like the game was over at several different points, but Barrett kept on scoring. In the fourth quarter he was 13/13 passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns. This concluded with a touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh with under two minutes left to take a one point lead over the Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes were able to hold on for the big win.

Barrett turned in one of the best fourth quarter performances of all time to get his team the victory and proved a lot of haters wrong in the process.

3. Iowa State is really good

When Iowa State beat Oklahoma a lot of people thought it was a fluke, but the Cyclones have put a nice season together now. This week they took on TCU and won a tough, physical game 14-7. They have now beaten two top five teams this season and are 6-2. Because of their success Iowa State is in a four way tie for first place in the Big 12.

Matt Campbell has done a great job of turning this program around and they are already bowl eligible. They still have tough games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, but there is a possibility they can go to the Big 12 Championship Game. Even if they don’t get that far, Campbell has to be in the discussion for a lot of coach of the year awards.

4. Notre Dame’s offensive line is the best in college football

Notre Dame got another good win this week over the N.C. State Wolfpack. The big matchup in the game was the Notre Dame offensive line against the stout Wolfpack defensive line. The Fighting Irish were able to control the line of scrimmage again and win the game, which put themselves in the thick of the College Football Playoff picture.

The offensive line did allow a sack to future NFL player Bradley Chubb, but otherwise played a great game. Josh Adams was able to rush for 202 yards, which is partially due to his talent and partially because of the great line in front of him. Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, future NFL draf picks on the Notre Dame offensive line were able to clear a lot of holes for Adams. McGlinchey did allow the sack to Chubb, but the line still looks like the class of college football.

5. Arizona can win the Pac-12

College football week 9 recap

Khalil Tate (Photo by sfgate.com)

Arizona picked up another win this week to set them up nicely for the Pac-12 race. This week they beat Washington State 58-37, which officially ended Washington State’s CFP hopes. The offense has been sparked by quarterback Khalil Tate, who has used his dual threat abilities to torch opposing defenses. This game Tate had 275 yards passing and 146 yards rushing.

With Tate at the Helm, Arizona can win the Pac-12. Right now their main competition in the Pac-12 South is USC. The Trojans still only have one loss in Pac-12 play and look to be back on track with their domination of Arizona State this weekend. Arizona has been on a tear and can take advantage of the holes in USC’s defense. If they can get by USC they will find themselves in the Pac-12 Championship Game after starting the season off with lower expectations.

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 10/26/17

The basketball season is fast approaching and it is never too early to start thinking about the NCAA Tournament. This bracketology will project how teams will finish this season. Here is the preseason bracketology for the 2018 season. Click on bracket to zoom.

First four teams out: Missouri, Oregon, Virginia, VCU

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College football week 9 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make their college football picks for week nine including all games that include FBS teams.

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Eastern Michigan Northern Illinois Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL NIU NIU
Toledo Ball State Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN Toledo Toledo
South Alabama Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA Georgia St USA
#20 Stanford Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR Stanford Stanford
Tulane #24 Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Florida State Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA BC Florida State
Tulsa SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX SMU SMU
Buffalo Akron InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH Akron Akron
#5 Wisconsin Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Wisconsin Wisconsin
#8 Miami North Carolina Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC Miami Miami
#11 Oklahoma State #22 West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV OK State Ok State
Rutgers Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Michigan
Arkansas Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Arkansas Arkansas
Texas Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX Texas Texas
Louisville Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Louisville Louisville
Virginia Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Uva UVA
California Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO Colorado Cal
Florida Intl Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
Kansas State Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS K State K-State
Air Force Colorado State CSU Stadium, Fort Collins, CO Colorado St Col St
San Jose State BYU LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT BYU BYU
#2 Penn State #6 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH OSU OSU
#3 Georgia Florida EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL Georgia Georgia
#4 TCU #25 Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA TCU TCU
#14 NC State #9 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN NC State ND
UCLA #12 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
#16 Michigan State Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW Michigan State
Georgia Southern Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium , Troy, AL Troy Troy
Margin of victory 33 23
Appalachian State UMass Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst, MA App St App State
Louisiana Tech Rice Rice Stadium, Houston, TX La Tech La Tech
Indiana Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Indiana IU
Houston #17 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
Vanderbilt South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC South Carolina South Carolina
Florida Atlantic Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY FAU FAU
Austin Peay #18 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Louisiana Monroe Idaho Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID ULM ULM
Utah Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Utah Utah
Texas State Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Coastal Coastal
Missouri Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT Mizzou Missouri
Old Dominion North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX UNT UNT
Minnesota Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
UAB Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS USM USM
Mississippi State Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX A&M TAMU
Duke #13 Virginia Tech Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA VT VT
New Mexico Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY New Mexico Wyoming
Tennessee Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Kentucky Tennessee
Nebraska Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Nebraska Nebraska
Georgia Tech #7 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
Texas Tech #10 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
UT San Antonio UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX UTSA UTSA
Arkansas State New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM Ark St Ark State
#15 Washington State Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Wazzu
UNLV Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno St Fresno St.
Boise State Utah State Romney Stadium, Logan, UT Boise Boise
#21 USC Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ USC USC
San Diego State Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Hawai’i Hawaii
Gameday Guest Picker (Columbus) Archie Griffin A.J. Hawk

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Five things to watch for in college football week 9

It is coming down to the end of the season, which means more good games are on the way. Here are five things to watch for in college football in week nine:

1. Notre Dame’s offensive line vs. Bradley Chubb

Week 9 college football

Bradley Chubb (Photo by: fansided.com)

Notre Dame is coming off of a good win against USC and now has a bunch of hype surrounding them. N.C. State only has one loss and will be traveling to South Bend with high hopes. This game will be a marquee win for whichever team ends up winning and the game will be won in the trenches.

N.C. State has one of the best defensive linemen in the country in Bradley Chubb. Chubb has 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on the season. He has worked his way into being in the talk to be a first round draft pick. Chubb has been able to help the Wolfpack defense to hold opponents to 639 rushing yards on the season. He and the entire N.C. State defensive line will need to step up to stop Notre Dame’s running game.

Josh Adams has worked his way into the Heisman conversation now. He is a big play threat and has had several long runs for touchdowns. The offensive line has been key in clearing holes for Adams. Both Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson anchor the left side of the offensive line and are probably going to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The team that wins the trenches will win the game and move up in the rankings.

2. Big Ten East Clash

Both teams have been waiting to play each other again after last season. Penn State beat Ohio State, which gives the Buckeyes a reason to want revenge, while the Nittany Lions missed the CFP in favor of OSU, so they will want to leave no doubt who the better team is. This game will be one of the best games of the college football season, so it needs to be watched.

Penn State won big over Michigan and looks like one of the best teams in the country. The offense is star-powered with Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley and the defense hasn’t allowed more than 19 points this season. The Nittany Lions still haven’t won a game over a great team so they have a chance to do that for the first time this year.

Ohio State also hasn’t beaten a good team all season. They have likely been itching for a chance to win a big game since their loss to Oklahoma early in the year. The Buckeyes have the top scoring offense in the country and the tenth best scoring defense, albeit against mostly lackluster competition. These units will be put to the test this weekend against Penn State.

The environment will be electric in Columbus on Saturday and the winner will likely make the CFP this time.

3. important Big 12 Shootouts

There are five teams in the Big 12 with one loss or less and four out of the five will be trying to knock each other off this weekend. While there is still a lot of football to be played, this will be a key weekend to figure out who will be in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia matchup in a game in Morgantown, West Virginia. There will be a lot of offense and passing yards, as both teams are ranked in the top five in scoring and passing yards. Whichever defense can get more stops will win the game and put themselves in a good position in this weird round robin Big 12 setup.

In the other game, TCU will take on the hot Iowa State Cyclones. TCU looks like the best team in the Big 12, with a good offense and defense. They are also the only undefeated team left in Big 12 play. Iowa State has a loss to Texas, but got the big upset win over Oklahoma. The Cyclones have gone to Kyle Kempt at quarterback with Jacob Park on injured leave and Kempt has done well. Iowa State is still a pretty big underdog, but they are used to that by now.

4. Pac-12 after dark games

College football week 9

Khalil Tate (Photo courtesy: washingtonpost.com)

Pac-12 after dark always has wild and crazy games and this week is no different. There are two matchups that will be exciting, while also featuring some of the favorites to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

In the first game, Washington State takes on Arizona. Both teams can put up a lot of points. Washington State has only one loss on the season, coming at the hands of Cal. They are still in good position to make the Pac-12 Championship Game and have a great offense. Arizona is a surprise team that could end up winning the Pac-12 South. They have found new life with quarterback Khalil Tate, who has amassed over 1,000 yards in his three starts. There will be a lot of offense and a lot on the line.

The second game on the docket for Pac-12 after dark is USC at Arizona State. Both these teams, along with Arizona and UCLA, are still vying to win the Pac-12 South title. USC just lost to Notre Dame big time and need to get back on track. That starts with Sam Darnold protecting the football better and the defense being more physical. Arizona State surprisingly beat Washington to get on track. The Sun Devils’ defense has stepped up as of late, giving up 17 points in their last two games.

As crazy as it may sound it is likely the Arizona schools that will provide the biggest competition for USC in the south.

5. USF vs. Houston

USF is a team that a lot of people thought would go undefeated due to their easy schedule. There schedule is a little tougher with the emergence of other teams in their conference. Even so, the Bulls have to win out to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

This week they play a Houston team that was supposed to be one of their toughest games of the season. Houston has stumbled a bit, but it will still be a good test for USF. If the Bulls can win this game they will likely win all others until their regular season finale.

If this result holds to form and there are no upsets in the AAC, the last few games will have a lot riding on them. First USF will play UCF in a rivalry game in a battle of unbeaten teams. The winner will go to the AAC Championship Game to face Memphis, who has only one loss. The winner of that game will likely be in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Buckle up. The last few weeks of college football are going to be wild.

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Five things we learned in college football week 8

Every team is now half way through their season, which has given fans an idea of how good teams are. While there are still a lot of more good games in the next few weeks, a lot has been learned. Here is what we learned in week 8:

1. Notre Dame and Josh Adams are for real

Notre Dame didn’t just beat USC, they blew them out. Their running game was going and Brandon Wimbush showed that he can make good throws down the field. USC may not have been as good as expected, but the Fighting Irish still dominated a solid team that has a possible number one overall draft pick on its roster.

Josh Adams has inserted himself into the Heisman Trophy race. He has the most average yards after contact and has broken several big runs on the season. In seven games on the season he has 967 rushing yards on 9.2 yards per carry with eight total touchdowns. Not only does he need to get more love in the talk about the Heisman, but also needs to get more love in terms of the NFL Draft.

Adams and Notre Dame still have some tough games to end the season, but they are in a good position to reach their goals.

2. Penn State is really good, Michigan is not

College Football week 8

James Franklin (Photo by: philly.com)

The Nittany Lions got their payback on Michigan for last season and won big. Saquon Barkley enhanced his Heisman campaign and helped the Penn State offense make Michigan’s defense look bad. Coming into the game Michigan’s defense was one of the best in the country, but it now looks like their numbers may have been inflated due to the level of competition they have played.

Michigan failed to stop Barkley this year, but a lot of teams have failed with that. The defense had a bad game, but it’s the offense that has real problems. They can’t move the ball and have few playmakers on offense. With two losses in the Big Ten already, it looks like Michigan is headed to a fourth place finish in their own division, the Big Ten East. It is still one of the best divisions in football, but Michigan expected better things this year.

We’ll find out even more about the Big Ten East when Penn State travels to Ohio State in week nine.

3. Khalil Tate is must see T.V.

Khalil Tate didn’t start the season as Arizona’s starting quarterback, but has come on and dominated the last few weeks of the college football season. He has generated over 1,000 yards of offense in the last three games alone. The dual-threat quarterback has also totaled 11 touchdowns in that stretch too. He is the quintessential stat sheet stuffer.

Not only has Tate come in and put up some stats, he has made Arizona a much better football team. In the past three weeks Tate has helped the Wildcats rack up wins on the road against Colorado and Cal, while they have also beaten UCLA on their home turf. They still have to outscore every team they play, because their defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the Wildcats have to feel good with Tate at the helm.

It is still conceivable that Arizona could win the PAC-12 South. They are 3-1 in conference and play both USC and Arizona State still, their biggest competition for the spot in the Pac-12 Championship. The next two weeks will be tough with games against Washington State and USC, so Tate will have to prove himself once again.

4. The American Athletic Conference will be in a New Year’s Six Bowl

College Football Week 8

Quinton Flowers (Photo by: tampabay.com)

With San Diego State losing last week, it has made it a lot easier for an AAC team to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. The only question is: Which one? There were three ranked AAC teams in action this weekend and all three came out with wins. If they can avoid beating up on each other, one of them will be in a major bowl game.

On Friday Memphis beat Houston on the road. The Tigers are 6-1 and should be able to win the AAC West. Their only loss is to UCF, who is another one of the ranked AAC teams. They only have one more tough game in the regular season, against SMU. They should be able to win out and get into a New Year’s Six play-in game in the AAC Championship.

USF was able to hold on against a very inconsistent and streaky Tulane team. They are still undefeated at 7-0, but haven’t played an FBS team that has a record above .500. They will be tested this week against Houston. If the Bulls can get by this week with a win, they likely set up a top 15 matchup with UCF at the end of the season before the AAC Championship.

The Golden Knights of UCF have are also undefeated at 6-0. They have blown out Maryland and Memphis to show that they aren’t messing around. Their game against Georgia Tech got cancelled due to a hurricane, which would have been another opportunity for a big win. This week the Golden Knights were able to beat a previously ranked Navy team 31-21.

In a few weeks there could be three top 15 AAC teams vying for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game if they don’t slip up beforehand.

5. Bret Bielema is another SEC coach on the hot seat

Everyone knows about Butch Jones being on the hot seat, but Bielema has done an even worse job this season and if he doesn’t turn it around fast he will be gone. The Razorbacks lost 52-20 to Auburn this weekend in their fifth loss of the season already. They have been blown out in all of their losses except their game against Texas A&M. The only wins on the season for Arkansas so far are against Florida A&M (FCS) and New Mexico State.

This season is on pace to be Arkansas’ worst season since Bielema’s first season when the Razorbacks finished 3-9. Bielema hasn’t been successful in his four and a half years as the head coach. They have an overall record of 27-31 and an abysmal SEC record of 10-26. While their shouldn’t be the highest expectations for Arkansas football, that isn’t good enough. If he doesn’t finish strong it is time for a change.

Arkansas still has games against Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri on their schedule. While they should beat Coastal Carolina, they will have to grind out wins in their other games. They need to win four of their last five to make a bowl game and perhaps save Bielema’s job.

 

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