Trevon Bluiett

All hail Xavier: Trevon Bluiett is coming back

Christmas has come early for the Xavier men’s basketball team. Trevon Bluiett announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Here’s a few reasons why this isn’t your regular old sports update- this is BIG news.

Trevon Bluiett gets buckets

I think the headline says it all. Bluiett has been a dream for head coach Chris Mack because his scoring average has consistently gone up each year. As a freshman he averaged 11 points per game, which increased to 15.1 his sophomore year and 18.5 this past season. He has also averaged over four rebounds per game in all three seasons.

Let us not forget when he dropped 40 points against Cincinnati this year, despite losing the game. In fact, he shot better from behind the 3-point arc (81.8 percent) than he did from the free throw line (77.8 percent). Now that is respectable.

The Indianapolis native shot 43.8 percent from the field while averaging 35.1 minutes per game throughout the season. It’s no doubt he’ll be putting in a lot of time this summer to further increases his averages and draft stock for next year.

future big east title

Trevon will be in good company with returners J.P. Macura (who averaged 14.4 PPG last season), Sean O’ Mara, Kaiser Gates and Quentin Goodin.

Quentin Goodin averaged 3.4 assists per game and 5.1 points per game. As a freshman he averaged 24.1 minutes per game and gave the team good boosts throughout the season.

He scored 16 points against St. John’s the second time around and 15 points in a two-point victory over Creighton. Throughout the tournament he played a lot of minutes but didn’t put up big numbers. Hopefully with a year of experience under his belt, he’ll be able to contribute more next year.

Trevon Bluiett

Mandatory photo credit: Orlando Rising

Sean O’ Mara will bring great senior leadership to Xavier’s squad. He and Trevon will be able to fearlessly lead the team. Sean only played an average of 13.8 minutes per game last year, but with players leaving, there will be an opportunity to pick up more minutes.

Kaiser Gates, the 6-foot-8 forward from Georgia, will be entering his junior year for the Musketeers. He added 14 points against Florida State in the second round of the tournament and will be a strong presence in the forward position.

In addition to the wealth of returners, Xavier has the 12th-ranked incoming freshman class as well as Kerem Kanter (Green Bay graduate transfer).

As for freshman, the Musketeers are adding Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Jared Ridder, Elias Harden and Kentrevious Jones to their roster. Scruggs had offers from Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas, Indiania, Washington plus a few more. At Xavier, he’ll have a direct impact at the point guard position.

Xavier came in seventh place in a very tough Big East conference this past year. They were topped by Villanova, Butler and Marquette to name a few.

However, not many teams have the same amount of returning power and young guns to compete with this seasoned Xavier team. Next year will be interesting to watch as the Musketeers look to run at a high-pace in conference play and the tournament.

NCAA tournament hopes

Tournament time might as well be known as Trevon time. He averaged 21.3 points per game in their four-game tournament run. If you don’t recall their March Madness run, here’s a quick recap: wins over Maryland, Florida State and Arizona but a loss to Gonzaga.

Trevon knows the atmosphere and he’s already showed that he can perform well under pressure. Surely, he will do the same thing next year.

As a whole, Xavier is bringing back six out of nine of their top scorers. Don’t forget, they still reached the Elite Eight without Edmond Sumner (torn ACL) and they have a great freshman class, as stated above. The sky is the limit for this team.

Xavier has always been a consistently good tournament team as well. Last year they made it to the second round and lost by three to Wisconsin. Trevon’s freshman year, the Musketeers made it to the Sweet Sixteen and lost by eight to a second-ranked Arizona team.

The statistics speak for themselves, Xavier is not a team you want to mess with, especially with Trevon Bluiett coming back.

 

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NCAA Tournament Teams to Cheer For

Tournament Time: Who You Should Cheer For

As Dick Vitale would say, “It’s tournament time baby!” I don’t know who is more excited, the fans or the players. Even if your team didn’t make it to the dance, there is still a lot to cheer for.

I know the term bandwagon fan carries a lot of negative connotation, however for bragging rights, you want to be cheering for the right teams. Now fair warning, these might not be the teams that have the best statistics or record. Half of the battle is figuring out how the bracket is set up, which has a large impact on how teams do rather if it is admitted or not. Here are the teams to root for if yours didn’t make the cut.

The underdog: Middle Tennessee State

The beauty of tournament time is that anyone can win on any given day. Pay attention to the season statistics but also expect the unexpected when the final buzzer sounds.

Middle Tennessee State is that Cinderella team that could get out of the first round and surprise us all. The Blue Raiders are 20-1 in its last 21 games and they only have three underclassmen. So if they want it to happen, this is the year to do it.

Their team is ranked in the top 50 for overall defensive efficiency. All four of their losses this season have been relatively close and they only allow 63.3 points per game (ranked 21st). Let’s not forget MTSU beat Michigan State last year and could very well do the same to Minnesota.

NCAA Tournament Teams to Root For

Giddy Potts of Middle Tennessee State (DNJ.com)

Giddy Potts is leading the charge for his talented squad. Potts is averaging 15.8 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game. What makes him special is his work effort and ability to score at all three levels consistently.

He was named MVP for their conference tournament after putting up 30 points against Marshall. Potts is the guy who will hit contested threes, but burn his opponent with a quick first step if they close out too hard.

Potts may be getting buckets, but he isn’t out on an island. He has the help of JaCorey Williams who is shooting 54.1 percent from the field right now.

Reggie Upshaw and Tyrik Dixon are also contributing large minutes and statistics for the Blue Raiders.

After beating Minnesota, the Blue Raiders will take on either Butler or Winthrop. Butler is a good tournament team and known for upsets in the past, but Middle Tennessee State has proven to be a tough team.

Keep an eye on notre dame

The Irish have proven to be a wholesome team over the duration of this season. They are coming off a close loss to Duke which should propel them throughout the tournament.

The key to success for Notre Dame is sharing the ball. They are 37th in the nation for assists, averaging 16 per game. They have strength at all positions and when they share the ball, they can’t be stopped.

NCAA Tournament Teams to Cheer For

Bonzie Colson of Notre Dame (Photo Credit to Zimbio.com)

If Bonzie Colson is having a game for himself, Notre Dame is just as good as any team in nation. Duke may have won the ACC tournament but Colson put up 29 points and pulled down nine rebounds in a stellar performance.

Colson isn’t putting on a one man show though. Matt Ferrell is a special point guard dishing out 5.5 assists per game and shooting 41.3 percent from behind the arc.

The Irish are killer from behind the arc because of Ferrell and a few other key players. Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem are shooting over 36 percent from three-point range. This will be tough to guard for their opponents.

The Irish often are over looked when it comes to tournament time. Last year they made it to the Elite 8 and lost to UNC. This year they have a better record coming out of regular season play and more experience.

Arizona deserves a lot more respect than they’re getting

All of the talk regarding the PAC-12 has been about UCLA mostly because of Lonzo Ball and his father’s interesting comments. Most recently LaVar Ball said he could’ve beaten Michael Jordan in his hay day and his son is better than Steph Curry. One could see why the press would jump on that. UCLA is also ranked 78th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to pre tourney data (kenpom.com) which is a weakness for sure.

However the real team to watch from the PAC-12 is Arizona. They just won the conference tournament, and beat Oregon and UCLA to do so. They likely won’t see any true competition until the Sweet Sixteen if they play to the best of their ability.

Right now it’s the combination of Lauri Markkanen and Allonzo Trier that are making offense flow for the Wildcats. Markkanen is a freshman with the skills to play inside and out. Trier is basically doing it all from scoring and rebounding to distributing the ball. Both guys are shooting over 40% from behind the arc.

The team itself is highly efficient from three point and on offense in general. Their top five player of Allonzo Trier, Lauri Markkanen, Rawie Alkins, Dusan Ristic and Kadeem Allen are all shooting over 37% from three-point land. They are also all over 44% from the field. Not only that, they also allow only 65.4 points per game on the defensive end.

The west is a tough region but the Wildcats have the personnel to do some damage.

Iowa state could go far in the midwest

Lots of people are saying that Kansas has a cake walk to the National Championship game. Everyone seems to forget that Iowa State has gone 10-2 in its last 12 games including a road win against Kansas.

They beat Miami early on in the regular season. They only lost to Baylor by two early on, then beat them by three in late February. The Cyclones also beat Kansas in overtime in early February as previously mentioned. To sum up, they have the heart and the gumption to beat some high caliber competition.

NCAA Tournament Teams to Cheer For

Monte Morris flexes on the baseline after a big play (Photo Credits to YouTube)

The team itself is comprised of a bunch of guys who put up good numbers. They aren’t anything out of the ordinary, they just get the job done. Monte Morris leads the team with 16.3 points per game but the next few guys are all putting up anywhere from 12-16 points on average.

After a win over Nevada, they will likely see a very good Purdue team.

When it comes down to it, all the statistics in the world can only tell so much. March is the month of madness for a reason.

 

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National Signing Day 2017: Pac 12

The Pac-12 is on their way back to prominence, with USC’s resurgence and Washington making the College Football Playoff. With that has come better recruiting classes. This page will be updated throughout the day. Here is how the Pac-12 Signing Day is going:

1. USC Trojans

Commitments: 19, 5*: 1, 4*: 7, 3*: 10, Other: 1

Clay Helton has started getting USC back to prominence by recruiting well. Running back Stephen Carr is their only five-star commit, but may not get too many carries early in his career. Linebacker Levi Jones choosing the Trojans on Signing Day was a huge coup. Joseph Lewis will help fill the void at receiver left by JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dareus Rogers and Adoree’ Jackson.

Top Prospects Signed: RB Stephen Carr (4*), WR Joseph Lewis (5*)

2. Stanford Cardinal

Commitments: 14, 5*: 1, 4*: 8, 3*: 5, Other: 0

The Cardinal have a lot of elite prospects this season that should help them compete with Washington for the Pac 12 North. Quarterback Davis Mills has to have Cardinal fans excited as he fills a huge need and is a great prospect. Two five-star tackles will be tasked with protecting him in Foster Sarrell and Walker Little.

Top Prospects Signed: OT Foster Sarrell (*5), TE Colby Parkinson (4*)

3. UCLA Bruins

Commitments: 18, 5*: 2, 4*: 4, 3*: 11, Other: 1

UCLA always has talented players, but they are well on their way to putting together one of the best recruiting classes of all time. They have a great pass rusher in Jaelen Phillips, who is a five-star prospect. Another five-star is corner back Darnay Holmes. Both should help replace a lot of talent lost in the past few years on the defense.

Top Prospects Signed: OLB Jaelen Phillips (5*), Darnay Holmes (5*)

4. Washington Huskies

Commitments: 17, 5*: 0, 4*: 6, 3*: 11, Other: 0

Chris Peterson got the Huskies to the College Football Playoff and has now put together a good recruiting class to get back to that stage. Running back Salvon Ahmed is the best player in the class so far for the Huskies, but may not see the field too early in his career with Myles Gaskin there. Their recruiting is centralized on getting prospects from Oregon, Washington and California.

Top Prospects Signed: RB Salvon Ahmend (4*), OT Henry Bainvalu (4*)

5. Oregon Ducks

Commitments: 19, 5*: 0, 4*: 6, 3*: 13, Other: 0

Oregon has a lot of problems, but the main one is defense. They signed a good corner in Thomas Graham to help out with that problem. The Ducks also have their athletes that the always sign to help make their team, most likely offense, a lot better.

Top Prospects Signed: CB Thomas Graham (4*), ATH Jaylon Redd (4*)

6. Arizona State Sun Devils

Commitments: 18, 5*: 0, 4*: 6, 3*: 10, Other: 2

Arizona State needs to have a good recruiting class to get back on track. Quarterback Blake Barnett formerly played at Alabama, then went to JuCo, and is now moving to Tempe. He was a coveted player before and still has a lot of potential. Corner back Alex Perry should help revamp the defense.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Blake Barnett (4*), CB Alex Perry (4*)

7. Colorado Buffaloes

Commitments: 23, 5*: 0, 4*: 7, 3*: 14, Other: 2

The Buffaloes followed up a successful season with a better recruiting class than they are used to. They have a lot of commitments, but Jake Moretti and Grant Polley are some of the best players in the class so far. Both should bolster the offensive line for Colorado.

Top Prospects Signed: OT Jake Moretti (4*), OG Grant Polley (4*)

8. Utah Utes

Commitments: 13, 5*: 0, 4*: 3, 3*: 10, Other: 0

Kyle Whittingham has successfully recruited a lot of JuCo players. Their best JuCo prospect is guard Jordan Agisava, who is one of the best in the class. Corner Jaylen Johnson is not a JuCo player, but is the best recruit.

Top Prospects Signed: OG Jordan Agisava (4*), CB Javelin Guidry (4*)

9. Arizona Wildcats

Commitments: 25, 5*: 0, 4*: 2, 3*: 23, Other: 0

Arizona needs to bounce back quickly for Rich Rodriguez. Nathan Tilford is one of the four-star prospects of the class as a running back from Canada. The Wildcats have a well balanced class of both offensive and defensive three-star prospects.

Top Prospects Signed: RB Nathan Tilford (4*), DE Jalen Harris (4*)

10. Oregon State Beavers

Commitments: 21, 5*: 0, 4*: 1, 3*: 16, Other: 4

The Beavers don’t look like they will be making huge jumps in the Pac-12 any time soon. They got a great wide receiver recruit in Isaiah Hodgins, who should play immediately. Jake Luton will provide depth at the quarterback position. He leads a predominantly offensive class.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Isaiah Hodgins (4*), QB Jake Luton (3*)

11. Washington State Cougars

Commitments: 21, 5*: 0, 4*: 2, 3*: 17, Other: 2

Mike Leach and the Cougars had a great season this year, but fell short in recruiting. They do have a good quarterback signed in Connor Neville, so it will be interesting to see how he fits in Leach’s system. A lot of offensive players are in the class making Mike Leach happy.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Connor Neville (4*), Anthony White Jr. (4*)

12. California Golden Bears

Commitments: 12, 5*: 0, 4*: 2, 3*:6 , Other: 4

Cal’s late coaching change really hurt their recruiting class. They are getting passed by group of five teams and other lackluster programs. Quarterback Chase Garbers is the best player in the class and gives them a slight bit of hope.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Chase Garbers (4*), WR Tariq Johnson (4*)

 

ACC Signing Day- Here

Big Ten Signing Day- Here

Big 12 Signing Day- Here

SEC Signing Day- Here

Top Five Sophomores to Skip the 2016 NBA Draft

Nowadays the one-and-done is the pinnacle of college basketball. Players are looked down upon if they play two, three or even four years in college. The reality is that some players could benefit from a longer stay in the amateur basketball world to further develop their game. The schools also receive the benefit of the production of the player for an extended period of time. Here is a list of the five most impactful players to return to school for their sophomore season. It is important to consider both the player’s abilities as well as the context of the school to which they are returning.

Next Page

 

Omaha’s Eight

Super Regional Picks: 5 for 8

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

The Gauchos shocked the college baseball landscape with two straight wins over Louisville, a team with only one home loss until then. They lean heavily on their pitching, especially ace Shane Bieber, who held Washington and Louisville to a combined three runs on 14.1 innings pitched. The bullpen is also solid, anchored by Kyle Nelson who has nine saves with a 2.02 ERA for the year. To take home the title, UCSB will need to see more of the offense they showed in the ninth inning against Louisville in game 2. They loaded the bases against Zach Burdi, one of the best pitchers in the country, and catcher Sam “no relation to Seth” Cohen launched a changeup over the right field wall. It sent the Gauchos to Omaha for the first time, and if this offense shows up there, UCSB could continue their run.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys have been as dominant as any team in the tournament, winning all five games without trailing once. Their pitching was on full display, giving up just one run in each game to sweep South Carolina. The scary thing for the rest of Omaha is that they didn’t even have to use all of their depth. Freshman Jensen Elliott, who shut down Clemson in the regional final, went unused in Columbia, but he could have a major impact if the Cowboys go deep. The offense will need to get continued productivity from Donnie Walton, JR Davis and Conor Costello, but there is no doubt that Oklahoma St is as hot as any team in the country, and will be a very tough out in Omaha.

Miami Hurricanes

Miami is making their 25th appearance in the College World Series, and is looking to add championship #5 to the trophy case. They have as good of an offense as any, with Zack Collins, Brandon Lopez, Johnny Ruiz and Carl Chester all batting above .340.  They also get serious power from Edgar Michelangeli, which Boston College found out about the hard way. They lead the nation in fielding percentage, at .983, and have a pair of solid lefties at the top of their rotation in Michael Mediavilla and Danny Garcia. The Hurricanes had two tough games against Long Beach St, and lost one to Boston College in the super regional, but on paper this team is absolutely stacked with very few holes. If they put it all together, the Canes are one of the favorites here in Omaha.

Arizona Wildcats

The second West Coast team in Omaha, Arizona will look to have similar results as in 2012, when they won the National Championship. The Wildcats don’t light up the stat sheet, but are a gritty team that knows how to get on base when it counts, as they did in the comeback win over Mississippi St. They also feature plenty of speed, with seven starters who each have at least seven steals, and a 71% success rate on stolen bases. They also have plenty of arms, with five pitchers capable of providing a quality start, including Bobby Dalbec, a two-way player who pitched well in the super regional. One of the question marks going into the Tournament was a lack of experience – no one on this team had played in the postseason before – but after winning in Lafayette and Starkville, it is time to put those concerns to rest. Arizona is a tough, blue collar team who has proven to shine in big games. They certainly have the skills and the depth to continue shining.

Florida Gators

The number one overall team had a bit of a scare, losing game 1 to rival Florida St, but rallied to take the series. The Gators have a top 25 offense, and it was rolling against the Seminoles. Peter Alonso, a second round pick by the Mets, has made a big difference in both the quality and the depth of the lineup. He and JJ Schwarz provide power for this offense that few teams can match. The rotation is also elite, and got an especially great performance from Logan Shore in the super regional. When AJ Puck and Nick Faedo are also pitching at a high level, the Gators are very difficult to beat. Florida was the number one overall seed for a reason, and might be the best team on paper. They will need more consistency this week in Omaha, but have a great chance to win their first ever National Championship.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Coastal Carolina might seem like a Cinderella to the casual fan, but the Chanticleers have become a college baseball powerhouse. Coastal won their third regional in the last eight years, and finally broke through to Omaha this time. With this team, any lead they can get will most likely be held by relievers Mike Morrison and Bobby Holmes. Morrison is probably the best closer in the country with a 1.06 ERA, and showed the ability to pitch multiple innings in wins over NC State and LSU. Their offense is also very dynamic, led by Michael Paez and Connor Owings. The Chants lead the nation in home runs with 94, and can put runs up in a hurry. They are a veteran team that excels in big situations, and that is a very dangerous thing to face in Omaha.

TCU Horned Frogs

Make it three consecutive College World Series appearances for TCU, who advanced with a second straight win over Texas A&M in the super regionals. They hope to breakthrough and win their first title this year, and can certainly do it with star freshman Luken Baker. The Horned Frogs bat .304 as a team, and have begun to show quite a bit of power. TCU also features a loaded pitching staff, where their depth was on display against Texas A&M. Brian Howard, number three in the rotation, pitched seven innings with no earned runs against an explosive Aggies offense. The Frogs are a fairly young team, but they do have quite a few players with Omaha experience, and they just got passed a tough hurdle in College Station. They have the depth and talent to make a run in Omaha this year.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech has to feel confident as they ran away with a Big 12 title in a conference that sent three teams to Omaha. They survived a scare from East Carolina in the super regional, but showed why they earned a national seed with an 11-0 beatdown in game 3. Offensively, they are led by Tanner Gardner, who has a .485 on base percentage, and Eric Gutierrez, who bats .326 with a team leading 12 home runs. The pitching staff is young, but showed plenty of talent throughout the season. Erikson Lanning pitched seven shutout innings in the decisive win over East Carolina. They also have a deep bullpen with both Hayden Howard and Robert Dugger capable of pitching multiple innings in relief. This team might be young, but they didn’t win the Big 12 by accident. They have a very dynamic offense, and if their pitching holds up, Tech could absolutely win the whole thing.

The Verdict: Obviously, all eight teams proved they are capable of beating anyone. With that said, I like the Miami Hurricanes, particularly because of their explosive offense. They are well rounded and experienced, and I think they bring another trophy to South Beach.