Five things we learned in college football week 3

The third week of college football has reminded fans why we love the sport. It is crazy, dramatic and unpredictable. In all of the football played, here are five things we learned:

1. Kelly Bryant is capable of leading Clemson to the ACC Championship

Clemson’s defensive line has gotten a lot of the press in the opening weeks and they continued their dominance with four sacks of Lamar Jackson. Really the whole team has played well, but there were some questions on whether quarterback Kelly Bryant could step up against good competition. On Saturday night he proved that he can.

Bryant threw for 316 yards and a touchdown, while running for two more scores. The most impressive thing about his performance was how he completed a lot of throws down the field. He utilized his offensive weapons, which he has a lot of. If he can continue his progression Clemson will be even tougher to beat.

The remaining schedule has a few tough games left, including matchups with Virginia Tech and Florida State. Even if the Tigers drop one or two of their games, they should still be able to make the ACC Championship Game and possibly the College Football Playoff.

2. Baker Mayfield has a huge lead in the Heisman race

College football week 3

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

Mayfield has the most signature moment of the season with his flag-plant at Ohio Stadium. He also has led his team to the best win of the season thus far. With 715 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions he is on the right track to make himself this year’s Heisman winner.

Against Tulane Mayfield threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns to continue his great pace. The Big 12 struggles with defense, so he will likely put up some ridiculous numbers in the next few weeks. He will have a chance to have more big moments against Oklahoma State later in the season.

Part of the reason why Mayfield is so far out ahead is because of Lamar Jackson’s loss to Clemson. There is still a lot of football to play and Jackson, along with others, have time to play catch up with Mayfield.

3. The SEC West is murky behind Alabama

Week 3 college football

Nick Fitzgerald (Photo by al.com)

Alabama is off to a great start to the season with a big win over Florida State. They also took care of business against Fresno State and Colorado State. There were some contenders for the SEC West, but they have all already lost. This doesn’t mean teams can’t improve and compete, but right now Alabama looks like a runaway favorite in the SEC West.

Last week, Auburn lost to Clemson and this week they struggled to pull away from Mercer. LSU was thought to be another one of Alabama’s contenders, but they got destroyed at Mississippi State this week. Arkansas lost to a good TCU team, but looked very bad doing so. Texas A&M lost to UCLA and had a horrendous first half against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. The new trendy contender is Mississippi State, but only time will tell if they can hold up.

While many people predicted Alabama to win the SEC West and more, it is looking like it might be easier than expected. It is unlikely an SEC East team will be able to knock them off in the SEC Championship game either.

4. Don’t kick to Dante Pettis

Week 3 college football

Dante Pettis (Photo by seattletimes.com)

Dante Pettis is a dangerous wide receiver for the Washington Huskies, but is also a star in the return game. He returned a punt 77 yards against Fresno State for a touchdown and reminded everyone that they are better off kicking the ball out of bounds.

The punt return touchdown against Fresno State was the eighth of his career, which ties an NCAA record. Seeing how much success he has had, it would not be a surprise to see him break the record soon. While Washington hasn’t played anyone of note yet this season, his punt return ability could prove to be an x-factor in a much bigger game down the road.

Hopefully teams don’t learn and continue to kick to Pettis so that football fans get to see more highlight reel plays from the dynamic playmaker.

5. It’s going to be a wacky season

College football week 3

Chase McGrath (Photo by nbclosangeles.com)

Texas was supposed to lose by a lot, they took USC to overtime. Memphis beat UCLA in a thrilling game. Kansas State traveled to Nashville and lost to Vanderbilt. Stanford went to San Diego and lost to the Aztecs. Mississippi State upset LSU. Florida beat Tennessee on a last second bomb. Northern Illinois upset Nebraska in Lincoln. Are you not entertained?

This was seen as a rather mundane weekend going into it after two good weeks of football, but it turned out to have a lot of good games. More of this will go on as the season progresses. The main lesson is to be very careful of road games and who you schedule on the road.

With how crazy the football season has already been, watch out for a lot of surprises still to come.

 

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College football week 3 picks

The first two weeks of college football have had some surprises and big games to go along with a hurricane causing games to be cancelled. Rob Doerger and Joe DiTullio continue their picks for every single FBS college football game. Here are the week three picks:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
New Mexico Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Illinois #22 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL Illinois USF
UMass Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Temple Temple
Arizona UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX Arizona Zona
Air Force #7 Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Michigan
#9 Oklahoma State Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA OK State Ok State
#25 UCLA Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis UCLA
Northern Illinois Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska Nebraska
Louisiana Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX Texas A&M TAMU
Kansas Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
Delaware State West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV WVU WVU
Iowa State Akron InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH Iowa St ISU
Connecticut Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA Uva UVA
Furman NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC NC State NC State
Baylor Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Duke Duke
Coastal Carolina UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL Coastal Coastal
Northern Colorado Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO Colorado Colorado
Utah State Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake Wake
Tennessee Tech Ball State Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN Ball St Ball St
#10 Wisconsin BYU LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT Wisconsin Wisconsin
#16 Virginia Tech East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC VT Va Tech
SMU #20 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
#23 Tennessee #24 Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL Tennessee Florida
Central Michigan Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY C. Mich Syracuse
North Carolina Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom UNC
Notre Dame Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA ND ND
Morgan State Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Rutgers Rutgers
Middle Tennessee Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minnesota
Florida Intl Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Indiana IU
North Texas Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
Mercer #15 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Auburn
Purdue Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Missouri
Army #8 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH Ohio St OSU
Oregon State #21 Washington St Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wazzu
Tulane #2 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
North Carolina A&T Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC Charlotte Charlotte
Colgate Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Buffalo Buffalo
Bethune-Cookman Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU FAU
Kent State Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
Colorado State #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama Alabama
#12 LSU Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS LSU LSU
Southern Mississippi Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA USM USM
Southern UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA UTSA
Louisiana Tech Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
Oregon Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Ducks Oregon
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Arkansas St Ark St
Idaho Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
Alabama A&M South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
Tulsa Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Appalachian State Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX App St App ST
Idaho State Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV Nevada Nevada
Georgia State #5 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St Penn St
Margin of Victory 54 42
Samford #13 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia Georgia
#18 Kansas State Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Kansas St Kansas State
Kentucky South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC South Carolina SC
Bowling Green Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
#3 Clemson #14 Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Clemson Clemson
Rice Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Houston Houston
Troy New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM Troy Troy
Cincinnati Miami (OH) Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH Miami (OH) Cincy
Arizona State Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX Texas Tech TTU
Texas #4 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
Fresno State #6 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
San José State Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
#19 Stanford San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA Stanford Stanford
Ole Miss California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA Ole Miss Ole Miss
Gameday Guest Picker (Louisville) Tom Jackson Jennifer Lawrence
Total Points this season 133 138

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Five things to watch in college football week 3

After a great slate of games in the first two weeks, week three doesn’t have the same amount of marquee matchups. There are still some interesting games to look out for and upsets are always possible. Here are five things to watch this weekend in college football:

1. Clemson’s Defensive Front vs. Lamar Jackson

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Lamar Jackson (Photo by si.com)

The biggest game of the weekend is by far Clemson at Louisville. This is a game that can really help to figure out the ACC in terms of the College Football Playoff race. Both teams have won both their games, but there are some visible causes for concern. In this game though the battle to watch is the Clemson defensive line against Lamar Jackson.

Clemson’s defensive line was relentless against Auburn and totaled 11 sacks. They are one of the most talented units in the country and will need to be at their best Saturday. Lamar Jackson won the Heisman last year due to his dynamic dual-threat abilities and has gotten this season off on the right foot. Avoiding the Clemson defense will be a good challenge for him.

This game last year was one of the most thrilling games of the college football season and Louisville will be looking for revenge after falling to Clemson. The winner of this game is in a good position to win the ACC Atlantic Division and may be in line for a CFP spot.

2. Two great quarterback prospects dueling

Five things to watch for in college football week 3

Justin Herbert (Photo by kgw.com)

When Oregon and Wyoming play on Saturday night, two future NFL quarterbacks will be playing against each other. That is not a statement that would have been thinkable too many times, but both teams have recruited very good signal callers to lead their teams.

Wyoming has Josh Allen, who could end up being the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen is a big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback who has drawn some comparisons to Cam Newton. He did struggle in the Cowboys’ season opener against Iowa, but he still has plenty of football left to prove he is worthy of being the first player selected.

Justin Herbert is only a sophomore, but has shown he can be a great quarterback in the future. He also is big and has a strong arm. Herbert makes throws down the field and has shown the ability to make NFL-level throws. In the Ducks’ game against Nebraska he threw for for 365 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

There will be a lot of scouts in Laramie, Wyoming for this game and a lot of fans should check out what could be future NFL quarterbacks as well.

3. Rematch of a National Championship

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Vince Young (Photo by si.com)

Texas and USC are playing each other in a rematch of one of the best National Championship Games in history. The game concluded with Vince Young running in a game winning touchdown in Pasadena on January 4, 2006. This game still rubs USC supporters the wrong way, as they are now calling it a “vacated loss” as a result of the Reggie Bush scandal. Unfortunately they can’t erase the memory of Vince Young running into the end zone to win it for the Longhorns.

This game may not be very competitive, but is at least a matchup of two historic programs. Texas lost to Maryland in week one, but beat San Jose State in week two. USC has two impressive wins over Western Michigan and Stanford. USC should win this game pretty easily, but they will show plenty of highlights of the 2006 Rose Bowl to keep viewers interested. Plus any chance to see Sam Darnold in action has to be taken.

4. SEC East matchups

Five things to watch in week 3 college football

Feleipe Franks (Photo by alligatorarmy.com)

There are two SEC East games that could mean a lot in a pretty murky division. First Tennessee plays Florida in the afternoon. Tennessee has two wins, but there are a lot of questions still for them. Florida looked really sloppy against Michigan. Their offense was awful and they will need to find some solutions. Their defense should keep this game close. The winner should be able to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title.

Kentucky will travel to take on South Carolina in an under the radar game. With Georgia playing a freshman quarterback, while Jacob Eason is injured and Tennessee and Florida not looking to good thus far, there is a window of opportunity. South Carolina will be relying on Jake Bentley getting the ball to Deebo Samuel. The Wildcats on the other hand will try to run the ball with running back Benny Snell. Whoever is more successful at carrying out their offensive game plan will win the game.

5. Upset alerts in the early games

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Riley Ferguson (Photo by zimbio.com)

The early games on Saturday have a lot of games that could be closer than the experts think. One such game will take place in Memphis with UCLA coming to town. The Tigers have been a solid program, have a good quarterback in Riley Ferguson and have the benefit of being at home. UCLA will have to travel across the country for a very early start. The game will be close and UCLA is favored by just three points.

Oklahoma State will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in the noon EST time slot as well. The Cowboys should win the game, but Pittsburgh should play them tough after keeping the game close with Penn State in Happy Valley last week.

If Michigan plays like they did against Cincinnati, they may lose to Air Force. The Falcons beat VMI 62-0 in their one game so far and are ready for the Big House. If Jim Harbaugh can get Michigan to play up to their potential, this game could be a blowout, but Michigan has yet to get to that point this season.

It may end up that none of these games result in an upset, but at least a couple of the noon games will be interesting to watch.

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College Football Bracketology 9/6/17

The first week of the college football season is in the books and some teams made big impressions already. While there is still a lot of football left to be played, it is never to early to start looking at what teams are looking like contenders. These rankings will be heavily weighted on who the teams played and beat already, which takes precedence over preseason rankings or future schedule. Here are the rankings:

Playoff Teams:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

College football playoff bracketology september 6

Calvin Ridley (Photo by usatoday.com)

The Crimson Tide challenged themselves in week one and came away with a victory beating Florida State 24-7. While they didn’t necessarily blow out the Seminoles, Alabama controlled the game. They look like the team to beat in college football, but still have their fair share of things to clean up.

The offense had trouble in the game, albeit against a very good Florida State defense. Jalen Hurts threw for under 100 yards and the running game totaled 173 yards. In the future getting Hurts throwing the ball better will be imperative to the success of the offense.

Alabama’s defense performed really well with a lot of new faces on the field. In addition to that Calvin Ridley had a solid start against a very good secondary. Keeping him involved in the offense is going to make Alabama’s offense dynamic.

This Week: vs. Fresno State Bulldogs

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State played a trap game at Indiana on a Thursday night in one of the biggest games in Hoosier football history. They started slow, but finished strong. People who think that Indiana is the team of five years ago, won’t think the win is impressive, but they are a solid Big Ten team now that has made two straight bowl games.

The offense had a good ground game with J.K Dobbins rushing for 181 yards in his debut game. J.T. Barrett showed flashes of his former self, but ultimately his receivers let him down and there were some throws he should have made. Defensively, the run defense was great and the pass rush was unrelenting. The problem is their coverage, as they gave up over 400 yards through the air.

This Week: vs. 5 Oklahoma Sooners

3. Michigan Wolverines

And here is where your typical rankings differ from looking at teams from a College Football Playoff perspective. These rankings will fluctuate. Michigan scheduled tough in week one by playing Florida. Florida is still a solid team, even though they had a lot of players unavailable for this game.

Jim Harbaugh’s defense stepped up and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown, as Florida’s defense was the only unit to find the end zone for the Gators. Wilton Speight was pretty rusty, but doesn’t need to do much if the defense keeps performing and the running game stays potent. They rushed for 215 yards and will need to continue doing so.

This Week: vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

4. Virginia Tech Hokies

As everyone can see, the theme of these rankings is: who’s resume is better? Virginia Tech took center stage on Sunday night with a big win over West Virginia, who started off the year as a top 25 team and will likely end up back in the rankings at some point this season.

Josh Jackson had a great debut as quarterback of the Hokies with 336 total yards and two touchdowns. If he can continue producing it can be a great season for Virginia Tech. Cam Phillips looks like he is ready to be a playmaker with his 138 yards and touchdown in the first game of the season. The defense gave up a lot of yards, but took the bend and not break approach, as they allowed just 24 points.

This Week: vs. Delaware Blue Hens

First Four Out:

5. LSU Tigers

LSU was another team that was without a lot of their players due to suspension, but they still had a dominant performance against BYU in a “neutral site” game that was played in New Orleans. BYU is always a tough team, but did struggle against Portland State in their first game last week.

The Tiger defense looks to be elite as they allowed 97 total yards in the game, headlined by the fact that BYU had negative yards on the ground. Danny Etling looked sharp completing 14 of his 17 passes, but the running game took a lot of pressure off of him. Time will tell if the offense is really more dynamic than in years past.

This week: vs. Chattanooga Mocs

 

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

College football playoff bracketology september 6

Mason Rudolph (Photo by charlotteobserver.com)

The Cowboys got their offense rolling in their 59-24 victory over Tulsa. Tulsa isn’t a big name program, but has had two straight bowl appearances. They will likely be going bowling again and may approach nine wins on the season if they play up to their potential, making it a solid win for Oklahoma State.

Mason Rudolph, James Washington and Justice Hill all did their parts and the offense is going to be explosive all year. The defense, as always, is going to be the Achilles’s heel of Oklahoma State, as they allowed over 400 yards of offense. If the defense can get some key stops this season, the Cowboys may find themselves in the College Football Playoff.

This Week: at South Alabama Jaguars

7. Georgia Bulldogs

Some experts said to watch out for the Appalachian State Mountaineers to beat the Georgia Bulldogs in week one, but Georgia handled them. The problem is that they lost quarterback Jacob Eason to injury and he won’t be able to play for a while. They still played a good team and won and deserve this spot in the rankings.

Jake Fromm came in to replace Eason and played decently, but there is an obvious talent gap between the two. Both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel had nice starts to their seasons on the ground. The defense gave up fewer than 300 total yards and showed flashes of being dominant later on in the season.

This Week: at 24 Notre Dame

8. Maryland Terrapins

The question you have to ask is: How good is Texas? They have a lot of high expectations and good players to go with their new head coach Tom Herman, but they were a 5-7 team last season. It was still impressive that the Terrapins were able to beat the Longhorns in Austin.

Maryland may not be on many other rankings, but they have a big win on their one data point for the committee to look at so far. Tyrone Pigrome was solid in his first start, although he is now likely to miss the rest of the season,  and Maryland was able to get the running game going. The defense almost gave up 500 yards and will need some work, especially at stopping the pass.

This Week: vs. Towson Tigers

Next Four Out:

 

9. USC Trojans

It was sloppy at times, but USC came out with a win over Western Michigan. P.J. Fleck is gone, but there are still some talented players left in Kalamazoo for the Broncos. USC will need to step up their level of play, but they got the win, which is most important.

Sam Darnold and the passing game wasn’t good, while Ronald Jones was good in the running game. Jones had three touchdowns to lead the Trojans’ offense. Defensively, USC needs to stop the run better, as they allowed 263 rushing yards to Western Michigan and will be tested in that regard in the coming weeks.

This Week: vs. 14 Stanford Cardinal

10. Tennessee Volunteers

In one of the many thrilling games of the big weekend in college football, Tennessee’s comeback in their opener really finished the weekend out with bang. Beating Georgia Tech in Atlanta is no small feat, but now the Volunteers must keep this up in order to save this spot in the rankings.

While the Yellow Jackets are a good rushing team, Tennessee has some real holes to fill. They allowed 535 yards rushing to the Georgia Tech and over 650 total yards, not to mention 41 points. Offensively John Kelley and Quinten Dormady both did well in their first major action of their careers. If they can keep this going, it could help them compete for the SEC East.

This Week: vs. Indiana State

11. South Carolina Gamecocks

College Football Playoff Bracketology September 6

Deebo Samuel (Photo by charlotteobserver.com)

No this team isn’t even in the AP poll this week, but South Carolina had a good win over NC State in the opener and that is what this list is about: resume. Will South Carolina be moved off of this spot at this time next week? They most likely will, but as of now they have one of the best wins in college football.

While the offense or defense wasn’t dynamic one way or another, the Gamecocks made the most of their opportunity and came out with a victory. Deebo Samuel deserves a lot of credit with his three touchdowns, including one return touchdown. The running game was not viable in this matchup. The defense was much the same, good against the run, but needs a lot of work against the pass.

This Week: at Missouri

12. UCLA Bruins

What a comeback for the UCLA Bruins. Down by 34 points, the Bruins had to get something cooking and that is when Josh Rosen started heating up. It was a tale of two halves for UCLA, but they got a very impressive win over Texas A&M to open up their 2017 season.

Josh Rosen started off looking like something was wrong with him and then went off. He threw for 491 yards and four touchdowns. He needed to do every last bit of that to get the win because the running game wasn’t working for them. On defense UCLA couldn’t stop the run, but were fortunate that Aggie quarterback Nick Starkel got hurt, because Kellen Mond was terrible. He completed three of 17 passes. All the credit to UCLA for making the plays to come back though.

This Week: vs. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors.

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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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“From Our Haus to Yours”

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

What’s Up Down Under? Australian Open Week One Takeaways

By the time this is published the second week of the Australian Open will be just a few hours from getting under way. There will plenty of time to look ahead. Here is look back at some of the best, wackiest, and most unexpected stories from week one in Melbourne.

Djokovic Stunned Early

Just when you think you have the answers, sports changes the questions. Six time Australian Open champ and pre-event favorite Novak Djokovic was ousted by 117th ranked wildcard Denis Istomin in round two. Istomin is a career journeyman who his coached by his mom partly because he cannot afford a traditional full time coach. That tells you all you need to know about the kind of win this is for him. He backed it up with another win and is still alive in the event.

Even so, Djokovic is the bigger story here. He has not won any of the three majors since he capped off his career Grand Slam in Paris in June. In two of those events, he has failed to reach the second week. Ultimately, this had more to do with Istomin playing the match of his life than Djokovic playing poorly, but it was still shocking that the Serb could not find a way. I think Djokovic will be fine, but he is vulnerable for the first time in a long time. How he handles that is the magic question going forward. Meanwhile, everyone else still alive has to feel they have more of an opportunity,

Jennifer Brady’s Fairytale Run

 

Photo Courtesy of ausopen.com

I will be the first to admit I had no clue who Jennifer Brady was prior to this event, I was not alone. However, the Pennsylvania born former UCLA Bruin has won three qualifying matches and three the main draw to reach the last 16. She had never won a Grand Slam main draw match before and will break into the top 100 with this result. While the Cinderella story will likely soon end, in a draw full of upsets, Brady’s is manageable for at least one more round.

 

 

Federer Turns Back the Clock

After a six month injury layoff and a scratchy first two rounds, questions about the all-time men’s Grand Slam winner were still running rampant as he faced 10th seed Tomas Berdych in the third round. Vintage Federer are the only two appropriate words. He raced through Bredych in 90 minutes, 6-2-6-2-6-4. You can watch the best of the best at his best in the small snippet below thanks to the KingOfTennis YouTube channel.

While fifth seeded Kei Nishikori will be tough task for Roger in the next round, it sure looks like the projected Federer-Andy Murray quarterfinal will decide the winner of this event, especially with Djokovic out of the picture.

 Safarova Saves Nine Match Points, wins

 

The early award for nuttiest match of 2017 goes to Yanina Wickmayer and Lucie Safarova in the first round of this Aussie Open. Wickmayer controlled the vast majority of the match, but every now and then the tennis gods remind us all that the last point is the toughest one to get. Safarova saved an incredible nine match points in the second set ended up winning going away, 3-6 7-6(7) 6-1. You can watch the drama below courtesy of tennis.com. Safarova was beaten in straight sets by Serena Williams in round two.

https://www.ausopen.com/en_AU/news/match_reports/2017-01-17/nine_match_points_saved_safarova_advances.html

Tennis Channel and/or the ESPN family of networks continue coverage beginning nightly at 7 PM ET for a few more days. Unfortunately for us Americans, as we get closer to the finals, live match coverage will take place almost exclusively at 3:30 AM ET with re-airs later in the morning.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers along with Dylan!

 

 

Can the Flying Ducks Keep Their Streak?

Oregon basketball has started a streak. They have won their past nine games of this season and have a 33-game win streak at home. The last time the Ducks lost at home was on March 14, 2015, against Arizona, who was ranked fifth in the nation at the time.

Since their last loss at home, winning has been a commonplace for Oregon. The Ducks finished their 2015-2016 regular season at 14-4 in conference play and earned a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. They knocked off Holy Cross, Saint Joseph’s, and Duke to make it to the Elite Eight. The moral of the story is that this team knows what they are doing.

This raises two new questions: Who got them to this point? More importantly, what is to come?

PERSONNEL


Oregon has five players putting up double figures as they enter conference play. First on the stat sheet is senior Chris Boucher, who is averaging 14.1 PPG while playing 26.4 MPG. However, Boucher currently has a boot on his right foot (ankle injury) and is not expected to return until later in conference play. He leads the team in blocks with 35 on the season, which ranks 10th in the nation overall.

The void of Chris Boucher being gone has been filled quite well by Jordan Bell. He had a career-high 23 points against Fresno State last Tuesday. He also chipped in 16 points against UNLV (the first game Boucher was out). Bell is averaging 10.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG and has 33 blocks in total this season.

The absence of Boucher also allowed Dillon Brooks to make his first start of the season against UNLV and contribute 20 points to the victory. He also added nine points against Fresno State. He is a 6-7 threat who averaged 16.7 PPG last season and as a junior, he has the experience and knowledge to impact the game greatly.

Scorers for the Ducks are coming from all classes in addition to Brooks and Bell. Tyler Dorsey is a sophomore and he is averaging 13.5 PPG just behind Chris Boucher. Senior Dylan Ennis distributes the ball well and averages 3.3 assists per game. Finally, Payton Pritchard, who is playing 27.5  MPG, a rather large amount for a freshman on an experienced team.

Experience is the name of the game for the Ducks. However, the UCLA Bruins’ combination of fresh talent and experience could be road block to this long home win streak.

UPCOMING OPPONENTS


Oregon opens conference play against the UCLA Bruins on Wednesday. They do not get a “warm-up” game. They are taking on the second team in the nation that is led by freshmen. TJ Leaf averages 17.5 PPG and Lonzo Ball is adding 13.7 PPG in addition to 8.3 APG. Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford provide the experience for the team and contribute major points as well as high free-throw percentages, which will be key in late-game situations.

Oregon basketball

UCLA Bruins forward TJ Leaf (USA TODAY Sports)

UCLA has the personnel to end this streak. The meeting of these two teams is a rivalry with some bad blood in the past. From 1970 to 1976, UCLA had a home-game win streak of 98 games which included four National Championships. This streak was ended by the Ducks.

This however, is what great games are made of. First, there are two teams with history. Second, both teams have a lot at stake. UCLA puts up 95.8 points a game and leads the nation with 23.6 APG. Their untarnished record for this season would also dissipate. The Ducks risk a 33-game win streak and a win could would be tremendous for their overall ranking.

A win against UCLA does not mean the road gets any easier. After UCLA, the Ducks will take on USC just two days later. USC and Oregon are relatively close in many of the statistical areas. The Trojans are averaging 83.2 PPG while the Ducks average 78.3 PPG. Field goal percentage, rebounds per game, and assists per game are relatively the same. The teams are quite evenly matched and the Trojans are also on a 13-game win streak.

The Ducks can keep their streak if they can contain the Bruins’ large scoring margins by limiting the damage done by impact players like TJ Leaf and Isaac Hamilton. If they can handle UCLA at home and gain some confidence going into USC, then the Ducks should maintain their streak for another week.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers along with Cam!

Five Lessons from Feast Week 2016

Thanksgiving week is a time for family, food, football and of course basketball! Over the past week, dozens of NCAA teams have made apparent their strengths and weaknesses. Here are the five most important insights that fans can pull from the plethora of Feast Week tournaments:

The Tar Heels are Elite

North Carolina won a not so climactic Maui Invitational and moved to 7-0. They won it with an average margin of victory of 30 points. Granted, one of those games was against Division II opponent Chaminade. Despite that, they obliterated the two Division I teams they faced, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin, by 32 and 15 points respectively.

These are not normal, run-of-the-mill teams. Wisconsin was on the preseason top ten list for many behind Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. Jawun Evans leads the Oklahoma State Cowboys as an elite scorer at 24.7 points per game. Evans was one of only two Cowboys in double figures against the Tar Heels.

Freshman Tony Bradley (5) is an excellent back-up for Kennedy Meeks. (Photo courtesy of newsobserver.com)

Freshman Tony Bradley (5) is an excellent back-up for Kennedy Meeks. (Photo courtesy of newsobserver.com)

North Carolina currently has five players averaging over ten points per game. They can spread the ball well and do not rely on one player to stay above water. Returnees Kennedy Meeks, Joel Berry II, Justin Jackson and Isaiah Hicks have made it business as usual for Roy Williams. Five star recruit Tony Bradley is a nice addition at 10.7 points per contest and 6.3 rebounds.

This is a very long Tar Heel team that possesses the ability to frustrate defenses by tipping balls away. Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks dominate the boards, keeping teams from getting too many second chance points. Each also possesses the ability to protect the rim with good size and length. North Carolina is not one-dimensional.  They are a threat to the two-headed monster of Duke and Kentucky come Phoenix in April. Their next test is Wednesday against Indiana.

Oregon is a Work in Progress

Dana Altman’s team was elite last year, achieving a one seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. With the big three returning for the Ducks, fans and analysts expected much of the same. With the early pre-season injury to Dillon Brooks, that has not been the case.

At the Maui Invitational, the Ducks dropped their first game to the Georgetown Hoyas. Rodney Pryor had 26 points and 10 rebounds for a stellar offensive performance against the Ducks. Despite that, Oregon’s problem has been offense, not defense. With Brooks still not at 100 percent, the team has struggled to put up points while holding every opponent below 70. That is including an overtime game against Tennessee.

Chris Boucher (25) had 13 blocks in three games at tghe Maui Invitational. (Photo courtesy of fox5vegas.com)

Chris Boucher (25) had 13 blocks in three games at the Maui Invitational. (Photo courtesy of fox5vegas.com)

Chris Boucher is the face of Oregon’s defense. He averages a whopping 3.0 blocks per game so far after setting the school record in 2015-16 with 110. As a side note, Boucher also leads the team with 15.0 points per game. That should change as Brooks transitions back into the line-up. As of now, Brooks has only 18.7 minutes per game. The most he has played all year is 25 against Tennessee which included overtime.

The bright spot in all of this is the development for the Ducks players in Brooks’ absence. Freshman Payton Pritchard has amassed a mountain of minutes, getting used to the collegiate game speed. His 29.7% three point mark is not the best but this should rise. As Pritchard’s role decreases and Brooks gets back into the swing of things, the freshman will see better looks with less defensive attention.

Despite the Ducks dropping a game to Georgetown and struggling against the Volunteers they showed some promise during Feast Week. Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey are each looking like their old selves, Brooks is settling in, and the Ducks have proven the ability to gnash their way to a win in a physical game. As Altman’s boys continue to mesh, watch for them to climb back up in the rankings.

 

Virginia Maintaining Identity without Austin Nichols

Examples of things that are certain in life: death, taxes and the Virginia Cavaliers as a defensive based team. Tony Bennett coaches this team year after year to the same sort of style. This year he has the added stress of doing it without key transfer Austin Nichols. Nichols played in only one game before being released by the team. He had previously violated team rules in October.

Virginia took down Providence for the Emerald Coast Classic Championship. (Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com)

Virginia took down Providence for the Emerald Coast Classic Championship. (Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com)

Regardless of the reasons for his dismissal, Virginia still looks like the top tier team that they have been over the past few years. Since Nichol’s discharge, the Cavaliers have been nothing short of brilliant. The team’s Feast Week exploits consisted of a dominating performance at the Emerald Coast Classic. They held their opponents to 42.3 points over the three game span of the tournament. While Grambling State is lesser competition, Iowa and Providence do not operate in the same category.

Better yet for the Emerald Coast champs are the two contests they played outside of Feast Week show their consistency. Virginia held Yale and St. Francis (NY) to under 40 points. Their points allowed average since Nichol’s left is 39.4 points.

The one detriment to the Cavaliers is that they do not score. Their 72.8 points per game through six games ranks them 214th in the NCAA. The only game which holds that average above water is the 90 point showing against Grambling State. Additionally only one player averages double figures in scoring: Darius Thompson at exactly 10.0 points per game. Virginia does play ten players, but they need someone to step up. Balance is great but they have no go-to player at this point. London Parrentes should turn into that player at some point this season.

UCLA is an Offensive Juggernaut

Okay, so with the exception of Texas A&M, UCLA has not exactly played anyone yet. Still, the offensive accomplishments and efficiency the team has put together is daunting. Putting up the numbers they have against anyone is impressive.

Lonzo Ball (2) has been one of the most impressive freshman in the country. (Photo courtesy of usatoday.com)

Lonzo Ball (2) has been one of the most impressive freshman in the country. (Photo courtesy of usatoday.com)

Lonzo Ball is the major recruit of this class for Steve Alford and he has not disappointed. Nothing short of brilliant, he averages 16.0 points, 9.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.  Nearly averaging a double-double as a freshman is impressive. What about having two freshman nearly averaging a double-double on the same team? T.J. Leaf was the other stellar recruit for the Bruins and he sits at  17.1 points (leading the team), 8.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Additionally, four other players are averaging double-digit scoring figures totaling six for the team as a whole. Bryce Alford is second on the team with 17.0 points per game. He also is first in shots made from behind the arc with 19 and is shooting at 44.2%.

There is a laundry list of personal accomplishments, but the team’s overall statistics are the most astounding. Through six games the team is second in the nation in field goal percentage, sixth in three point percentage and first in total assists. They average 96.9 points per game. UCLA has 249 made field goals and 169 assists meaning they assist on 67.8% of their baskets. Not only are they extremely efficient, but they also share the ball well.  That should be more than apparent with the aforementioned six players in double figures.

NCAA Champions Points Per Game
Year Team Points Forced Points Allowed
2015-16 Villanova 78.0 63.6
2014-15 Duke 79.3 64.2
2013-14 UConn 71.8 63.2
2012-13 Louisville 74.5 58.8
2011-12 Kentucky 77.4 60.6
*UCLA 96.9 Forced, 75.3 Allowed

The one caveat would be the lack of defensive efficiency. Sure, the team does not rely on one player for its scoring. However, they currently allow 75.3 points per game. They may have a high powered offense, but their defense needs to improve when they do hit the tougher schedule. Generally, championship teams do not allow that many points.

The Bruins won a lackluster Wooden Legacy tournament during Feast Week. The only game that caused them any trouble was the grind-it-out match-up Texas A&M. The Aggies have some surprising new faces contributing, but are not of the same caliber as the Bruins. December 3rd they will face Kentucky in Lexington. This will be the first true test for Alford and company.

Michigan State is Still Difficult to Trust

Tom Izzo’s teams are the epitome of March basketball. Right now they are searching for a legitimate identity. Between a rough early schedule and some early individual struggles the Spartans they have yet to establish consistency.

Michigan State started off the year 0-2 after a last second loss to Arizona and a less than stellar performance against Kentucky. After a 100 point performance against Mississippi Valley State, the Spartans won a controversial game against Florida Gulf Coast 78-77.

Miles Bridges (22) is the most dynamic athlete for the Spartans. (Photo courtesy of zagsblog.com)

Miles Bridges (22) is the most dynamic athlete for the Spartans. (Photo courtesy of zagsblog.com)

Tom Izzo’s squad spent their Feast Week at the Battle 4 Atlantis. They took down St. John’s 73-62 to start. They were then dominated by Baylor 73-58. Miles Bridges was the only player in double figures for the Spartans with 15 points. Bridges is the highest rated member of a stellar Spartan recruiting class. Bridges has had some up and down games, including struggles against Kentucky and Florida Gulf Coast, but is still the team’s leading scorer at 17.4 points per game. His dynamic athleticism has him averaging 1.7 blocks per game and defensive win shares. Bridges decision making is still a point of weakness with 3.4 turnovers per contest, also leading the team.

Michigan State finished up with a 77-72 win against Wichita State, but the Shockers nearly willed their way to a win in this one. Bridges led the team with 21 points, but this time four other players also achieved double figures. Senior Eron Harris, a West Virginia transfer, has had the most inconsistent year. In the contests against Arizona, Kentucky and Baylor this year he averaged 4.0 points. On the flip side he had 31 against FGCU. The Spartans will need Harris this year to have a deep tournament run and find some sort of team identity.

On the Rise: UCLA Bruins

The UCLA Bruins are on the short list of possible teams to have a big come back in 2016-17. They absolutely should be. The 2015-16 Bruins went 15-17 in a PAC-12 that under performed in the tournament. For that reason, many analysts are writing them off. However, this season will be completely different. From top to bottom of the situation the Bruins will improve in the 2016-17 season.

To begin, the Bruins are led by a coach who has established a culture of winning at each landing spot. He may be on the hot seat this year after a poor performance last season, but there is little to worry about in terms of him turning things around. This was Steve Alford’s first losing season since 1999-00, his first year with Iowa. The following year his team went 23-12 and won the Big 10 tournament. He is in a better situation now than he was then considering the current roster.

UCLA Under Steve Alford
Year Record Result
2015-16 15-17 N/A
2014-15 22-14 Sweet 16
2013-14 28-9 Sweet 16

UCLA went 22-14 in 2014-15 and returned majority of their roster for the following year. They did lose Kevon Looney and Norman Powell, each now in the NBA. However they returned starters from both the front court and the back court. UCLA should have been a lot better than 15-17 considering they added two four-star recruits.

This year the only notable losses are big man Tony Parker to graduation and Jonah Bolden. Bolden made the decision to play basketball professionally in Australia. Despite these losses, UCLA still has remaining parts from a 2014-15 winning campaign and the talent on this roster is worth noting.

Bryce Alford was UCLA’s second leading scorer and had a PER of 17.6. (Photo courtesy of dailybruin.com)

Leading scorer Isaac Hamilton showed increases in every major statistical category. He averaged 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. Right behind him was Bryce Alford, Steve Alford’s son. Bryce’s totals remained much the same in the Bruins first losing season since 2009-10. Thomas Welsh’s contributions skyrocketed from those of 2014-15. He doubled his rebounding totals from 3.8 per game to 8.5 and tripled his scoring average from 3.8 points per game to 11.2.

In addition to the pieces left over from the previous winning season, the 2015 recruiting class progressed immensely. Aaron Holiday played significant minutes as a freshman and was a main contributor on the offensive end. The freshman led the team in steals as well showing his versatility. Prince Ali also saw more than 10 minutes of floor time each contest with decent returns. Each of these four star recruits is primed to be a contributor in what will be a large turnaround in win totals this season.

There is even more to be excited about in the outlook for UCLA. They add the top rated point guard in the class, Lonzo Ball, as well as 5-star TJ Leaf and 4-star Ike Anigbogu.  Ball’s court vision and passing ability should greatly assist in opening up the court for his teammates. So despite the Bruins’ losing two players, this top 10 recruiting class is power-packed with talent and play makers to fill the void.

There is a lot to like about this team. They have a coach that wins. They have remaining pieces and leaders that know how to win. Their young talent showed progression last year. Finally, they add some exciting new pieces. Despite the juggernaut that is Oregon, this is a team that will have a huge turnaround. This is a 25-win team. They should not settle for anything less than that.

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