2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology February 12

The NCAA selection committee released their top 16 seeds this Saturday to give a look into how they would seed the teams right now. This can officially put everyone in the mindset for March Madness. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

 

First four out: SMU, Nebraska, St. Bonaventure, Utah

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West Virginia blows another second half lead

No. 15 West Virginia entered its highly anticipated showdown against Kentucky desperately needing a victory. Head Coach Bob Huggins went back to what the Mountaineers do best: apply pressure defense.

In the first half, West Virginia jumped all over a sluggish Kentucky team. The Mountaineers forced 11 turnovers and shot approximately 58 percent from three point range. Kentucky did not appear to belong on the same floor as West Virginia.

Then the second half came and Coach John Calipari’s Wildcats saved their season. Kentucky rode freshman forward Kevin Knox’s season high 34 points to an impressive 83-76 comeback win on the road. Kentucky outscored West Virginia by 22 points in the second half in a stunning turnaround that saw Huggins’s crew blow yet another second half lead.

West Virginia is now stuck in a brutal stretch which has seen them lose four of their last five games, squandering double-digit leads in three of those games.

Inconsistent Half-Court Offense

Freshman Teddy Allen has endured an up-and-down debut season for the Mountaineers (Photo by Kevin Kinder/BlueGoldNews.com).

Every coach knows how West Virginia wants to play each game. Huggins is going to implement his aggressive full-court press and force opposing teams to turn the ball over at a high rate. This allows guards Jevon Carter and Dexter Miles to utilize the fast break to score easy baskets and avoid the half court offense.

However, in order to successfully apply this pressure, West Virginia needs to score. This has proven problematic in their recent stretch as Huggins’s offense has been prone to lengthy cold streaks. West Virginia only shot 32.4 percent from the field in the second half against Kentucky and, as a result, was only able to press four times. This allowed Kentucky to set up its half court defense and force WVU into uncomfortable offensive situations

Press Virginia

 The staple of any Bob Huggins coached team is his press defense, predicated on hard traps, communication and rotational timing. Obviously, as stated above, the primary goal of this aggressive defensive style is to force turnovers.

This playing style allows Carter and Miles to dictate the pace of play. West Virginia’s dynamic defense wears its opponents down physically and mentally. It is especially difficult for freshmen-dominated teams such as Kentucky to survive a team such as WVU, as breaking this pressure requires composure and communication. However, strong on-ball defense and rebounding will prevent West Virginia from obtaining desired open looks from three and second chance opportunities it thrives on.

Paging Teddy Allen

Freshman forward Teddy Allen has been a pleasant surprise for Huggins, providing a critical offensive spark early in the season. Allen proved he could play at this level with a breakout game in West Virginia’s 89-76 win over Oklahoma, scoring 20 points shooting 81.8 percent from the field.

However, Allen quickly fell out of favor with Huggins due to issues with his attitude. Huggins did not cite any off-court incidents, but simply said Allen needed to mature. Huggins has taken on the reputation of a no-nonsense head coach who will not play to a single player’s wants and desires over what is best for the team. However, with the Mountaineers mired in their recent slump offensively, it might be time for Huggins to give Allen a second chance.

Verdict

A simple solution for the struggling Mountaineers is to increase offensive efficiency. That is easier said than done, of course. The Mountaineers have the talent to not only win the Big 12 Tournament, but also make a Final Four run. But until Huggins can solve West Virginia’s offensive issues, fans should not trust “Press Virginia” as a legitimate title contender come postseason play.

Featured image by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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The best player in college basketball: Trae Young

Every year in college basketball, there is one player who stands out over the rest. Two years ago it was Buddy Hield, while last year Josh Hart was argued as the best player, although Caleb Swanigan had a pretty good case as well. The best player doesn’t necessarily mean the person who scores the most, gets the most assists or rebounds the best, but it sometimes ends up that way. This year there is only one choice for the best player in college basketball: Trae Young.

The sooners’ Rise

The best player in college basketball: Trae Young

Trae Yong (Photo by 247sports.com)

Young came in to college as the 23rd best recruit in the class according to ESPN. As the fourth best point guard in the class, he was highly sought after, but wasn’t by any means projected to be this good. He chose to go to Oklahoma because he was a fan of the team growing up and rooted on players such as Blake Griffin.

Oklahoma wasn’t highly thought of coming into the season, as they were picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 during the conference’s media day. Most thought that they had lost too many good players from years past, like Hield, Ryan Spangler, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard.

Most Oklahoma fans probably would have taken a bid to the NCAA Tournament, but because of Young, the Sooners have been able to do much better than this.

There were signs of Oklahoma’s offense being explosive after their first two games. They beat Ball State and Nebraska-Omaha while scoring 108 points in each game. Oklahoma lost their third game of the season to a solid Arkansas team, but that was the game that Young proved he could play against good competition. He finished with 28 points and five assists.

The Sooners did not lose another game until conference play started. Their biggest non-conference wins were over Wichita State, Northwestern, Oregon and USC. Against Oregon, Young finished with 43 points and seven assists for an impressive performance against a big conference team. He also had a game against Northwestern State, in which he had 26 points and 22 assists. This tied the NCAA Division I record for assists in a game.

Conference play has provided some stiff competition. Still though, Oklahoma is 4-3 in conference and ranked 12th in the country. They have wins against TCU (twice), Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Their losses have come at the hands of West Virginia, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

While he continues to score, with a good shooting stroke, and assist at a high rate, there are some concerns about his decision making and turnovers. Any player who has the ball that much will turn over the ball a lot, but most of the problems can be fixed with a little coaching and a change in mindset.

The stats

The best player in college basketball: Trae Young

Trae Young (Photo by oudaily.com)

Young leads the country with both 30.5 points and 9.7 assists per game. If he finishes the season well, he can be the only person in NCAA Division I history to lead the country in both statistics. Keeping up that stat line makes him a legend and is a feat that may never be seen again.

The points are impressive enough. Not many people that walk the earth can say they averaged over 30 points per game in a season. Since 1985 only ten players have averaged that many points per game for a season. Young can join the likes of Glenn Robinson and Hersey Hawkins with a strong finish. Before this time frame, Pete Maravich, Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird all averaged at least 30 points per game. This again, puts him among the all-time greats.

He has the points, but he also sets up a lot of teammates for easy scores. Since 1985 only 26 players have averaged more than nine assists per game. If Young can complete the season at that rate, he will be in company with Avery Johnson, Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd.

While there are some players who have done one or the other, there is no other player in the history of college basketball that have officially put up at least 30 points and nine assists per game. Young is in a class all by himself.

From here on out

It won’t be easy, but keeping up the stat line would cement his legacy in college basketball history. He does need to cut down on turnovers and step up his defense, but is still by far the best player on the college hardwood.

Outside of the stats, Young has completely elevated the Sooners’ level of play and made them national contenders. What else can he do to make his time in college better? A deep run in the NCAA Tourament, would certainly do it.

While Young is the best player in college basketball, don’t get too comfortable with him in a Sooners uniform, because the NBA will be calling his name this offseason.

 

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Trae Young

Can Big 12 teams slow Trae Young down the second time around?

Well Trae Young is still leading all of college basketball in assists and scoring. However, now there are scouting reports, and most teams in the Big 12 have already gotten a taste of him.

Although his numbers are impressive, this is where the part of the schedule gets difficult. This is the time for Wooden Award candidates to show if they really are special. Conferences are ready to get another swing at Trae Young, and this is where numbers start to slow down a little for star players.

Can Big 12 teams slow down Trae Young the second time around? Or will his numbers continue to be off the charts?

Schedule

Oklahoma has played one of the hardest schedule’s in all of college basketball this season. They have played six games against ranked teams so far. They are 5-1 in those games and swept TCU, which has only lost four games all season.

Young has continued to put up numbers, but has struggled shooting wise to get them. He has also struggled with his increasing turnovers. He has had halves of games where he shoots under 30 percent, but still finds a way to get to 30 points and 10 assists. Young is finally seeing signs of struggle and proving that he might actually be human.

The truth is, Kansas State may have just shown the blueprint in how to contain and beat the Oklahoma Sooners. A team scoring over 92 points a game scored 69 points and never even got close to on track on offense. Young had 20 points and 6 assists, but turned the ball over a career-high 12 times. It seemed like the first time all season where Young didn’t help his teammates and instead hurt their production. He shot just 2-for-10 from three and went just 8-for-21 overall.

One of the biggest things that Young likes to do is get to the free-throw line. Like James Harden and other NBA stars, getting to the free-throw line is an easy way to not only get your shot on track, but also get some quick and easy points. Trae Young went just 2-for-4 from the free-throw line in the game against Kansas State. He did not leave his normal Trae Young impression on the game.

In games that Young has drastically less than 10 assists and more than four turnovers, the Oklahoma Sooners are going to struggle. Against West Virginia, Young had 29 points and five assists. He also had eight turnovers to go along with those five assists.

Seeing him twice

Trae Young

Trae Young taking it into the TCU defense. (Photo from Tulsaworld.com)

The Big 12 is starting to become familiar with the explosive Trae Young. He is getting a lot more attention, and teams are learning that he wants to play fast. They are slowing the game down and attempting to cut down on live ball turnovers.

What’s crazy about Young seeing TCU two times already is he was actually better the second time around.

In the first matchup, Young had 39 points on 9-for-23 shooting and 15-for-18 from the free-throw line, He also added four rebounds, 14 assists and seven turnovers.

In the second time around, Young had 43 points on 15-for-27 shooting and 3-for-7 from the free-throw line. He added 11 rebounds, seven assists and nine turnovers as well.

For a team that’s well coached and has seen Young twice, TCU got torched by the young guard. What does that mean for the rest of the Big 12 and stopping Young and the Sooners?

How to slow the Sooners down

It’s definitely not easy to do so, but slowing Young down is a five-person job. One thing that has been done is getting the ball out of Young’s hands early in the possession.

Making the offense run through someone else means that Young isn’t as involved. Obviously Young is the most dangerous with the ball in his hands. He shows that to us with his scoring and assisting statistics.

Another thing that’s vital is chasing him off the perimeter. Obviously that’s easier said than done due to his extended range, but it’s always better to give up twos against bigger guys than to give up threes where he is most comfortable.

The most important part is slowing the game down. Young loves to get out in transition and getting easy baskets because of it. If a team controls the speed of the game, he gets frustrated and is more likely to try and force things. He gets frustrated and looks to make plays that are tougher because the way he plays is taken away.

Don’t let him get to the free-throw line and get him in a groove easily from the stripe.

Moving Forward

Even though Oklahoma has stumbled as of late, they are still in the thick of the Big 12. Young is one of the toughest people to guard in all of basketball, and it is going to be tough for almost every team from here on out moving forward. Trae Young is the best guard in America right now, and it takes a whole team to contain him on any given night.

 

Featured image from USAtoday.com.

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Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Alabama had a thrilling comeback to win yet another title. It included putting in a freshman quarterback, who hadn’t played a meaningful snap all season long. The game just goes to show that college football is unique and great. While the 2017 season is now over it is time to look ahead to the 2018 season. Here is the early college football top 25 for the 2018 season:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

While they always lose talent to the NFL, Alabama can replace it. Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa will lead the offense alongside any of the talented running backs that decide to return to school. Najee Harris found some daylight in the title game and will also be back. The defense will lose a lot more talent to the NFL, but they always step up. A lot of players got experience this season due to injuries.

2. Clemson Tigers

Clemson made a third straight College Football Playoff and will compete for another next season. Kelly Bryant and the talented running backs will be back. Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow need to make their decisions still, but Clemson can replace them. The defense always reloads and will at the very least have stud defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to build around.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

J.K. Dobbins (Photo by cleveland.com)

J.T. Barrett may be leaving, but Dwayne Haskins looked good in relief against Michigan. Add him with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and the majority of the offensive line returning and it has the makings of a good offense. The defense will still have Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones, which will help make up a good defensive line.

4. Washington Huskies

The Huskies had a young team this season that saw them replace a lot of NFL talent on defense. Jake Browning should return to school to lead the team at quarterback. Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis could both be lost to the NFL, but if Gaskin elects to return to school, the offense will be solid. The majority of the defense will return, but will have to fill holes left by Vita Vea and some very good linebackers.

5. Miami Hurricanes

Is Malik Rosier the answer at quarterback? Only time will tell. The Hurricanes should have him, Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards back to make plays. They do lose a lot on the offensive line, but should be able to replace it. Miami should also get most of their defense back, which includes a great back seven of talented linebackers and a good secondary.

6. Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott decided to return to school, giving Michigan State almost all their starters back for next year. After winning ten games this season, they should be expected to compete even more next season. Brian Lewerke is a dual-threat that is expected to improve this offseason. The defense was very young and should also get a lot better next season.

7. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs just played in the National Championship, but are going to lose a lot of talent, especially on their defense. They could lose up to nine or ten players from the defense, which will not be easy to replace. Georgia has some playmakers on offense returning in Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift and Riley Ridley. Most of their offensive line also returns.

8. Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin got a huge win when linebacker T.J. Edwards said he was returning for his senior season. He will give the defense some stability, as they lose a lot this offseason. The offense will be expected to pick up the slack, as Jonathan Taylor had a fantastic freshman season and most of his offensive line will return. The question is: How well can Alex Hornibrook play?

9. Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley did a fantastic job in his first year as head coach, but now has to move on without Baker Mayfield. Kyler Murray was a highly-touted recruit that Riley can mold. Freshman running back Rodney Anderson also returns after having a great season and Rose Bowl. Add those two to wide receiver “Hollywood” Brown and the offense should be set. Defensively, some talent will move on, but the offense is the strength of the team.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Josh Jackson (Photo by cjonline.com)

Josh Jackson had a fantastic freshman season that resulted in nine wins. His progression is what carries this ranking. Travon McMillan and Cam Phillips, his two offensive weapons at running back and wide receiver, are gone. Young receivers will need to step up and they will also need to replace a few offensive linemen. The Hokies will return about six or seven starters on defense, but will need to replace some NFL-level talent.

11. Penn State Nittany Lions 

Saquon Barkley is gone, but Trace McSorley is back again. He will now have to be the focal point of the offense with a new offensive coordinator. Most of the offensive line returns, but a lot of new faces will have to step up on defense, as they had a lot of seniors getting significant playing time.

12. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers had a great season that resulted with them playing in the Cotton Bowl. Auburn gets quarterback Jarrett Stidham back, while Kerryon Johnson is leaving for the NFL. They will lose some quality players on defense, but will get the majority back for 2018.

13. Stanford Cardinal

Bryce Love is likely going to the NFL. The good news for Stanford is they can seemingly plug in a lot of running backs into their system to be productive. K.J. Costello also showed some flashes of being a very good quarterback. They lose more than half of their defense to seniors, but the returning players are solid.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Both Josh Adams and Equanimeous St. are trying to make it at the next level. Losing Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson deals a significant blow to the offense of Notre Dame. They still have some good offensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers who will step up next season. That only leaves the matter of quarterback. Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush will battle it out in the offseason for the starting role. The seniors leaving the defense will leave a mark, but a lot of players returning have gotten significant playing time due to injuries over the previous few seasons.

15. Boise State Broncos

Boise State has a chance to be in the national spotlight again this year, after fading in the past few seasons. Quarterback Brett Rypien and running back Alexander Mattison return, which should help keep the offense rolling. Losing wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and some offensive linemen will hurt, but they will manage. The defense is young and pretty much all returning next season, meaning they should be dominant.

16. LSU Tigers

The Tigers will have to replace a lot of their offense, but they have some talented recruits waiting to take the team to the next level. Myles Brennan looks to take over at quarterback after seeing action in six games this season. He was a highly-touted recruit that should be able to make plays with another year under his belt. A lot of good players from LSU’s defense will be missing as well, so they’re recruits will need to step up.

17. Michigan Wolverines

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Shea Patterson (Photo by freep.com)

Michigan won the Shea Patterson sweepstakes and the quarterback transfer from Ole Miss. Brandon Peters also showed potential at the position this season. They’ll need skill position players to step up next season. Donovan Peoples-Jones is in store for a big year at wide receiver if the quarterback play is good enough. The defense returns most of its key players. A player to watch is linebacker Devin Bush, who is one of the best in the country.

18. USC Trojans

Sam Darnold helped lead USC back to prominence, but now he is gone. Gone too are running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Two offensive linemen also graduate, so they will have some big shoes to fill in Los Angeles. A lot of their players on the defensive side of the ball will be testing the NFL Draft waters, so sophomore corner Jack Jones will have to step up and be a leader.

19. West Virginia Mountaineers

Will Grier had a great season for West Virginia and has decided to return to school. With most of his weapons back, Grier should have the Mountaineers in good position to have one of the best offenses in the country once again. While the defense isn’t the strength of the team, a lot of returning players will be good to work with.

20. Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic hit a home run when they hired Lane Kiffin. He took a team that was supposed to be very bad and made them a conference championship team. Running back Devin Singletary was one of the most productive running backs in the country this season and will be back for his junior year. A young defense should also improve as a lot more people hop on the “Lane Train”.

21. Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder is back for another season. They won nine games in 2016 and eight games this season with young teams. Now, with a bunch of veterans, the Wildcats are looking to compete more in the Big 12. Wide receiver Byron Pringle will be asked to do a lot for this team, but they will mainly try to run the football. If D.J. Reed decides to return at corner, it should be another solid year for the Wildcats.

22. Northwestern Wildcats

They won ten games this season and will be back for more next season. While their career leading rusher, Justin Jackson, is graduating, they seem to believe freshman Jeremy Larkin can be a workhorse back in his sophomore year. Quarterback Clayton Thorson is also back for next season, but is recovering from a torn ACL in the Music City Bowl. Freshman linebacker Paddy Fisher looks like he will be on of their all-time greats.

23. Florida State Seminoles

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Deondre Francois (photo by gridironnow.com)

Willie Taggart did a good job of turning around Oregon in his one season in Eugene. He is a solid coach who will get some talent returning. With Deondre Francois back at quarterback, Cam Akers at running back and a lot of good receivers, they should be solid on offense. The offensive line has struggled in the last few years, they are young and shold improve. A lot might need to be replaced on defense, but they have recruited well.

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs

If Nick Fitzgerald can recover from a gruesome leg injury, the Bulldogs have the makings of a good team. They get most of their team back, which is encouraging, but Dan Mullen left for Florida. Joe Moorehead will try to make Mississippi State’s offense a lot better, just like he did at Penn State.

25. Texas A&M Aggies

Jimbo Fisher is a great haul for Texas A&M. He will have to work with quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel, but they can be successful. Trayveon Willliams returns at running back, along with a lot of the offensive line, but they will have to replace Christian Kirk. A lot of their best defensive players will be playing on Sundays next year, so Fisher has a little bit of work cut out for him on that side of the ball.

 

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Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Why teams should think twice about drafting Baker Mayfield

The NFL playoffs begin this weekend. However, the majority of NFL fans are now focused on the NFL draft.

This draft is loaded with quarterback prospects. Some of the top talent includes Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.

There has also been a lot of NFL talk about Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Some people think he can be successful in the NFL. Others see him as a bust.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid drafting Mayfield, at least early on. Here is a list reasons why NFL teams should think twice before taking a chance on the former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback.

The Big 12 Conference

NFL quarterbacks come from all over the country. Case Keenum went to Houston. Carson Wentz went to North Dakota State. Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami, OH.

Don’t forget about the big schools either. Tom Brady went to Michigan. Aaron Rodgers went to California. Matthew Stafford went to Georgia.

Mayfield joins a nice list of dominating Oklahoma quarterbacks. Jason White and Sam Bradford also won Heismans during their time with the Sooners. But there is something disturbing about the quarterbacks the Big 12 has been putting in the NFL.

Mayfield joins the list of dominant Big 12 quarterbacks. (Photo by Associated Press)

Since 2000, 22 Big 12 quarterbacks have been drafted. None of them have panned out as dependable starting quarterbacks. The most notable names to come from the Big 12 include Chris Simms, Vince Young, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradord, Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith.

Some of these guys showed promise early on, but none of them panned out. Simms never started more than 10 games in a season and only played five seasons in the NFL. Young started off nice by bringing the Titans to the postseason a couple times, but ended up busting as well. The Dolphins have only finished over .500 once under Tannehill. Griffin’s knees didn’t survive. Bradford has also spent plenty of time on the sidelines due to injury. Yes, a few of these guys started off nice, but didn’t end well.

Some of these guys put up big numbers in college and even stayed healthy in the NFL. They just were ineffective in the pros. Smith, Weeden, Freeman, McCoy and Gabbert all failed to deliver.

There was no primary starting quarterback from the Big 12 this season. Why does the conference struggle to put out big-time NFL quarterbacks?

The Big 12 style of play is all run and gun. The Big 12 is known for their high scoring games with almost no defense. Oklahoma has had conference wins that ended with scores like 49-41 over Baylor, 42-35 over Kansas State, 62-52 over Oklahoma State and 59-31 over West Virginia.

Oklahoma State was the Big 12’s second best offense and put up scores like 41-34 over Texas Tech, 50-39 over West Virginia and 49-42 over Iowa State. They are scoring a lot of points, but they are also giving up a bunch.

The Big 12’s quarterbacks have inflated stats. You can’t take them seriously because they aren’t playing against any defenses. It may not be fair to say an NFL quarterback can never come from the Big 12, but it’s not that ridiculous of a statement. Times change and quarterbacks can come from even the smallest of conferences. With the Big 12’s current style of play, don’t expect any star quarterback coming from the conference anytime soon.

Size and attitude

One of the bigger knocks on Mayfield is his size. ESPN lists him at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. Scouts and fans always like a big quarterback.

Yes, there are smaller quarterbacks that start in the NFL. That list includes Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor. There have been smaller quarterbacks in the past that have also succeeded. Don’t rule out a guy just because of size.

Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Mayfield has issued a few apologies this season after receiving criticism for his antics on the field. (Photo by Getty Images)

The thing about Mayfield is that he reminds people more of Johnny Manziel than Drew Brees. Both Manziel and Mayfield won Heisman Trophies, completed around 70 percent of their passes, were athletic and mobile and made fans hate them with their antics on the field.

Mayfield has already received criticism for talking trash with his opponents, grabbing his crotch and planting an Oklahoma flag on Ohio State’s logo. Manziel received criticism for things mostly off the field like partying, gambling and not working hard.

Do NFL teams want a quarterback that has been labeled as a punk by some? If you look at the NFL’s current starting quarterbacks, none of them have an attitude like Mayfield. The closest guys you could argue would be Cam Newton and Jay Cutler.

Newton has been criticized for a poor attitude before, but not many would call him a punk. The same goes for Cutler. He is known more for whining than anything else.

Mayfield’s personality does not fit the NFL quarterback mold. It is something teams should consider before drafting him.

Final verdict

Former Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner Jason White, along with Chase Daniel from Missouri and Graham Harrell from Texas Tech are notable Big 12 quarterbacks this century to go undrafted. Mayfield probably won’t go undrafted, but teams should proceed with caution.

Taking Mayfield in the first round is risky. Teams interested in Mayfield should wait until the middle rounds to take him. No team should sweat over another team taking Mayfield in the first round. Waiting gives teams more of a low risk high reward.

 

Featured image by Getty Images

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl is a College Football Playoff game, which means the best of the best are playing. Many of these players will go onto the next level eventually and have their impact felt. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Rose Bowl:

Georgia Bulldogs

Roquan Smith, LB

Smith is the most complete linebacker in the 2018 NFL Draft class and is the leader of the Georgia defense. The past two years he has produced a lot, but this year he took his game to a whole new level. He has 113 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

He is 6’1″ and 225 pounds which is good enough size to play inside linebacker. He could play in any system that is thrown out there in the NFL. Smith will be the first inside linebacker to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Trenton Thompson, DT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Rose Bowl

Trenton Thompson (redandblack.com)

Thompson doesn’t have many stats, but the good play of a defensive tackle doesn’t always show up in the stat line. He has 33 total tackles and three tackles for loss. The lack of production is a little concerning, but he does a good job with gap integrity and stopping the run.

At 6’4″ and 295 pounds, Thompson is a perfect fit as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Defensive tackles don’t usually go high in the draft, but should be selected on day two.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-3rd round

Nick Chubb, RB

Chubb is one of the best running backs in SEC history. He has battled injuries, split carries and played against tough competition and has still produced. In his career he has 4,599 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns for the Bulldogs. He isn’t the best running back in the class, but has some of the best production.

He is 5’10” and 225 pounds which is good enough for the NFL. Day two of the NFL Draft is likely when Chubb will hear his name called.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Other Georgia prospects: RB Sony Michel (3rd round-5th round), TE Jeb Blazevich (7th round-undrafted free agent), OL Isaiah Wynn (2nd round-4th round), LB Lorenzo Carter (2nd round-4th round), LB Davin Bellamy (4th round-6th round), LB Reggie Carter (7th round-undrafted free agent), CB DeAndre Baker (4th round-6th round), S Dominick Sanders (4th round-6th round)

Oklahoma Sooners 

Baker Mayfield, QB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Rose Bowl

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

Mayfield is the best player in college football as the Heisman Trophy winner. That doesn’t always translate into a good pro prospect, but he has done about everything to prove that he can make it in the NFL. In his career, he has 14,320 passing yards, 129 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

Size is a big issue with Mayfield, as he is 6’1″ and 225 pounds. This doesn’t mean he can’t be successful, but NFL executives want prospects to meet their measurables.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Orlando Brown, OT

Brown has a lot of experience blocking for a very explosive offense. It has afforded him the opportunity to get a lot of reps run blocking or pass blocking. He has NFL bloodlines, as his dad played in the NFL. Brown hasn’t shown the greatest mobility, but is still a good prospect.

At 6’8″ and 345 pounds, not many tackles are bigger than Brown. NFL teams will try to take Brown because of his size and try to mold him into a player for their system.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE/OLB

Okoronkwo is a good pass rushing prospect and one of the few players from Oklahoma’s defense that can make it to the next level. In his Oklahoma career, he has 157 total tackles, 33 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. That is impressive given that he has only had two years of solid playing time.

He is a little undersized at 6’1″ and 241 pounds, but has production. He will need to show good speed rushing skills in order to move up draft boards.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Other notable Oklahoma prospects: TE Mark Andrews (2nd round-4th round), CB Jordan Thomas (4th round-6th round), S Steven Parker (6th round-undrafted free agent)

2018 Rose Bowl preview

The first College Football Playoff game is the 2018 Rose Bowl between Georgia and Oklahoma. Conflicting styles will go at it with one high-powered offense going up against a good defense. Here is the 2018 Rose Bowl preview:

3 Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)

2018 Rose Bowl preview

Roquan Smith (Photo by profootballfocus.com)

Georgia is one of the few teams that had a chance to avenge a loss and did so by beating Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. They were tested and beat plenty of tough teams in Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky and Auburn. Facing Oklahoma is a new challenge, but they have some really good players who can make an impact.

The offense scores 34.9 points per game and is fueled by a good running game. Nick Chubb is the leader of three running backs who gain a lot of yardage. Chubb has 1,175 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Sony Michel chips in with 948 yards and 13 touchdowns. Freshman D’Andre Swift is the best third-string running back in the country with 597 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

When Jacob Eason went down with an injury, a lot of Bulldog fans got nervous, but Jake Fromm has stepped up to lead this team to an SEC Championship. He doesn’t have the biggest stat line, but has made some nice throws. He has 2,173 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and five interceptions on 63% completion. Javon Wims and Terry Godwin are the two leading receivers for the Bulldogs. Wims has 631 receiving yards and six touchdowns, while Godwin has 540 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Their defense has been great and will need to be at its best against Oklahoma. They allow just 13.2 points per game, which is fourth best in the country. Georgia is 11th against the run and second against the pass. The best player on their defense is linebacker Roquan Smith. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year has 113 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks this season.

2 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1)

2018 Rose Bowl preview

Baker Mayfield (Photo by wsj.com)

The Sooners have ridden the great play of quarterback Baker Mayfield to the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma only lost to Iowa State this season and has some pretty impressive wins. They beat Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU twice.

They have a potent offense that averages 44.9 points per game. While Mayfield gets a lot of the headlines, the running game is good too. Rodney Adams leads the team with 960 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Trey Sermon and Abdul Adams also get a lot of carries and produce. Sermon has 710 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while Adams had 542 rushing yards and one score.

Mayfield has had a great season that has garnered him the Heisman Trophy. He has thrown for 4,340 passing yards, 41 touchdowns and five interceptions on 71% passing. This Georgia defense will put him to the test, but he hasn’t shown he can be totally stopped. His leading receivers are Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. Brown has 981 receiving yards and six touchdowns, while Andrews finished with 906 yards and eight touchdowns.

The defense is average, but only has to get a few stops a game with the good offense. They allow 25 points per game, with them ranking 41st against the run and 88th against the pass. Pass rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has 70 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks and three forced fumbles this season.

Prediction

Baker Mayfield is a premier player who isn’t easily stopped. While he will be slowed down by Georgia’s great defense, the Sooners will come out on top. They can throw the ball and run it well, which will keep Georgia off balance. On defense Oklahoma will key on stopping the run and will make Jake Fromm try to keep up with Mayfield. Mayfield will come out on top.

Oklahoma Sooners 34 Georgia Bulldogs 30

 

 

 

 

Trae Young is the real deal

Under the Radar

Trae Young. It’s a name that most casual college basketball fans don’t know- yet. Trae Young was the number 23 recruit out of high school last season. He’s a five-star guard out Norman, Oklahoma.

That is where the connection to college goes. Trae turned down offers to play for both Bill Self and John Calipari come signing day. He ended up staying local and finding himself wearing Sooner red this season. Even with his high recruit status, he’s still not being talked about much in the college basketball world. In due time people will know about Trae Young.

Pre-Sooners

Trae Young

Trae Young, (thestepien.com).

He is a six-foot-one, 170 pound point guard who was ranked number four in the country for point guards in the 2021 class.

Trae Young is a McDonald’s All-American who won a gold medal with the 2016 U18 Mens National team. He was Oklahoma’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2016.

 

The hype of Trae Young decreased a little bit with his commitment to Oklahoma. The Sooners finished second to last in the Big 12 and finished at 5-13 in conference in the 2016-17 season. They finished 11-20 overall and lost three games by 20+ points.

The Sooners didn’t seem like the likely choice for Young, but a hometown hero role seemed attractive. Taking a recently sub-par Sooner team and taking them back to a few years ago with Buddy Hield was the idea Young seemingly had in mind.

Young is the last addition to the Wooden Watch list and he’s one of eight freshmen to make the list. So why is he not getting talked about like the other stars are? Young is looking to take a previously below average team and make them a contender in the Big 12, and so far he is off to a hot start.

Trae Young’s Hot Start

Through seven games this season, Young has 28.7 points per game, 8.7 assists per game and 3.9 rebounds per game. He has already had three 32+ point games and has scored over 40 once.

Young has two games of 28+ points, eight assists and five rebounds and has dazzled in the early part of the season. He has three 15+ point and 10+ assists games already and is showing that he is more than just a dynamite scorer.

The most impressive thing is the shooting splits that Young has so far. He is shooting 48 percent from the field, 38 percent from three and 89 percent from the free throw line through seven games.

Obviously there are a couple criticisms of his early season play. One is that teams don’t know how to play him because they don’t have scouting reports yet this early in the season. The second one is that he has yet to play a big time team. Not to knock Arkansas and Oregon but the other five teams the Sooners have played haven’t been exactly power conference quality.

Sooner Comparison

Young hasn’t played the Big 12 competition yet, and it’s a small sample size, but he is putting up senior season Buddy Hield statistics so far. Hield’s senior statistics consisted of 8.1 made field goals out of 16.4 attempts per game. In seven games this season Young is averaging 8.6 makes on 18.0 attempts.

Hield shot about 50 percent from the field while Young is shooting around 48 percent. Hield shot 89.3 percent from three while Young is sitting at 88.9 percent. The one difference that is apparent is that Hield shot 47.3 percent from three when Young is shooting 37.9 percent.

The majority of difference between the three point shooting point to positions. Hield had a lot of catch and shoot opportunities his senior season. Young has been doing the majority of his damage with the ball in his hands.

Hield averaged 25.1 points per game while Young is at 28.7 points. The numbers and shooting percentages are very similar, but can Young take the Sooner as far as Hield did in the Big 12.

Can Oklahoma make the jump?

Oklahoma is striving to be a contender again. Trae Young is one of the best underclassmen in the country and is a scoring machine. The Big 12 has been Kansas’ for a long time but maybe Trae Young and company can make a push for the regular season crown.

 

Featured Image soonersports.com.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

College Football Playoff Bracketology 12/3/17

The season is over and all that is left is for the committee selecting the teams for the College Football Playoff (CFP). Here is how the committee should rank the teams in their final rankings of the season:

In the playoff:

1. Clemson Tigers (13-0)

The Tigers won the ACC yet again. This time they beat Miami to secure the ACC crown. They were ranked first last week by the committee and that shouldn’t change in the final rankings.

Clemson has a great resume and beat nine teams who are playing in bowls this winter. The loss to Syracuse happened when Kelly Bryant wasn’t healthy and didn’t play the full game. If the Tigers aren’t ranked first by the committee it would be a surprise.

2. Oklahoma Sooners (12-1)

Oklahoma locked up a spot in the CFP with their 41-17 win over TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game. Winning would’ve been enough, but they really put their stamp on this game and proved to the committee that they belong in the CFP.

The Sooners have the one blemish on their record that came at the hands of Iowa State. Their resume is great outside the loss. They beat Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU twice. With the second best strength of record at the completion of their game, Oklahoma doesn’t have much to worry about.

Can the Sooners’ defense step up in the College Football Playoff?

3. Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)

Georgia avenged their only loss of the season with a big win in the SEC Championship over Auburn. This was a play-in game for the CFP, so Georgia is in.

The Bulldogs tested themselves with a game at Notre Dame and passed the test. Adding that game to their wins over Mississipi State and Auburn, along with the fact that they are the SEC Champions, puts them in the CFP.

Georgia finally has the chance to play for a national title, but what can they do now that they have the chance?

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)

College Football Playoff Bracketology

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

Ohio State was able to hold on in the Big Ten Championship and beat Wisconsin 27-21. The Buckeyes will now be hoping their resume looks better to the committee than Alabama’s does.

The Buckeyes have a lot of solid wins, which puts them in the conversation to be in the CFP. They beat Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan. Three of these teams will be in or around the top 15 in the CFP committee’s final rankings. Alabama will have one team beat near the top 15, being LSU. I’ll take Ohio State beating three top 15 teams over, Albama’s possible one.

A Big Ten Championship is nice, but the Buckeyes feel they deserve to make the CFP.

First four out:

5. Auburn Tigers (10-3)

The Tigers lost in the SEC Championship Game. They would have been in had they won, but since they didn’t they will have to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Auburn lost three games, all coming to good teams, but was the only team to beat Alabama. They also beat Mississippi State and Auburn in their first meeting. At the end of the day, Auburn was in the position they wanted to be in at the end of the season, but failed to execute.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

College football playoff bracketology

Nick Saban (Photo by usatoday.com)

Alabama was the only team with realistic CFP chances that was idle this weekend. The Crimson Tide will be hoping that their metrics and resume can get them into the playoff.

The strength of record was sixth in the country heading into the weekend, but likely will drop when all the metrics are updated. They beat LSU, Mississippi State and Fresno State for solid wins, but other than that their resume isn’t great. They failed to beat an elite team all season (unless LSU is considered elite) and are paying for it now.

Had Florida State been as good as expected the resume might have had the necessary boost to get Alabama in the CFP.

7. Wisconsin Badgers (12-1)

Wisconsin lost in the Big Ten Championship and lost their chance to play in the CFP. It was a well fought game, but they ultimately fell short.

The Badgers didn’t play a great schedule, which meant they had no room for error this year. Wins over Northwestern and Michigan are nice, but won’t get anyone in the playoff without a conference championship.

It isn’t what Wisconsin fans wanted, but the team will still get to play in a big time bowl game.

8. USC Trojans (11-2)

USC won the Pac-12 Championship over Stanford in a 31-28 win. It’s a too little too late for the Trojans, but they have secured a second straight New Year’s Six bowl.

The Trojans beat Stanford twice and Arizona for their best wins of the season. Their losses to Washington State and Notre Dame aren’t bad, but they haven’t beaten enough good teams to warrant a higher ranking than this.

Next four out:

9. Miami Hurricanes (10-2)

Miami got off to a slow start against Clemson and were never able to recover in the ACC Championship Game. They had a great season, but came up just short of the CFP. A New Year’s Six Bowl game is not a bad result for Mark Richt in his second season.

The Hurricanes successfully beat Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, but were unable to accrue any other great victories. The loss at Pittsburgh, who didn’t qualify for a bowl game, really hurt Miami’s chances. If they were undefeated heading into the ACC Championship Game, they may have been able to afford a loss.

Mark Richt has started to bring the “U” back, but they haven’t gotten all the way back.

10. UCF Golden Knights (12-0)

UCF completed the undefeated record heading into the bowl games. They beat Memphis in a double overtime thriller 62-55 to win the AAC Championship.

It’s a shame that UCF, isn’t getting more recognition for the CFP, but they did lock up a chance to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Their two wins over Memphis are great and they also beat a Power 5 conference team in Maryland. If their game against Georgia Tech wasn’t cancelled due to a hurricane, they would’ve gotten much more love from the committee.

Scott Frost is reportedly out, so how will UCF respond in their big bowl game?

11. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

Penn State did not play this weekend, but drop in the rankings as a result of other teams winning conference championships.

The Nittany Lions only have two solid wins, one over Michigan and one coming at the expense of Northwestern. They lost in both games in which they had a chance to really impress the committee. Had they beaten Ohio State and/or Michigan State, they would rightfully be in the CFP talk. They’ll have to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl.

Might we see another Penn State vs. USC matchup?

12. Washington Huskies (10-2)

Like Penn State, the Huskies didn’t play anyone this week. They benefit from teams losing in conference championship games though.

The Huskies couldn’t put it all together this season against good competition. Their best wins were over Fresno State and Washington State, but had a horrid schedule outside of those games.

Washington will also have to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

 

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