2018 NBA mock draft May 17

The NBA Draft Lottery has finished and now teams can start putting their plans into place. With the NBA Draft in just over a month, who will some of these teams be targeting? Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft May 17:

1. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton has said it would be cool to play with Devin Booker and how good of a one-two punch it would be. The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

2. Sacramento Kings- Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 39.7%. Sacramento was a lucky team in the lottery and can now get a real impact player. Bagley can slide in nicely with the Kings young core of De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield.

3. Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia

Doncic has the size of a wing player in the NBA but actually plays on-ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three-point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. The Hawks don’t have much talent on the roster and can play Doncic alongside Dennis Schroeder.

Michael Porter Missouri

Michael Porter Jr. (Photo by cbssports.com)

4. Memphis Grizzlies- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri 

Porter can play the three or the four for the Grizzlies. He came back from his back injury and was rusty, but showed flashes of why he was rated so highly coming out of high school. Memphis has an aging roster and could use a young star like Porter, who can do almost anything asked of him on the court.

5. Dallas Mavericks- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

The Mavs tried to tank, but it backfired with the lottery results. Jackson is an athletic player, who protects the rim well. He can also stretch the floor, hitting nearly 40% of his threes over his one year at Michigan State.

6. Orlando Magic- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

The Magic need good guard play and have a void after trading Elfrid Payton. Young brought life to college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggled on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

7. Chicago Bulls- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Sexton is one of the best point guards in the class and is able to drive and distribute the ball well. This ability would fill in well with Lauri Markkanen for the future of the franchise.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Carter can play the four and the five and presents a player who can even stretch the floor with his shooting. The Cavs will likely try to select Trae Young or Collin Sexton to get a point guard but may need to trade up to do it.

9. New York Knicks- Mo Bamaba, C, Texas

Bamba will be able to defend the paint, as he averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has been compared to Rudy Gobert, with his good defense, and he’ll have to develop his offensive game. The Knicks can play him next to Kristaps Porzingis in what could be a dangerous frontcourt.

10. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky

Knox has good size and can shoot well. He is inconsistent though, as he can go off in some games and disappear in others. The 76ers can get another freakish player with this pick and Knox will help open up the game for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

11. Charlotte Hornets- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova 

Bridges will walk in the door as a legitimate “3 and D” prospect but has a chance to develop into much more. He’s got good length but does need to add some more strength. The Hornets need to find pieces to fill in between Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Kentucky

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by 94feetreport.com)

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly but need a point guard of the future.

13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams displayed what he is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. He has great athleticism for a big but doesn’t have the best motor. The Clippers could use another productive big with the departure of Blake Griffin.

14. Denver Nuggets- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could fit in nice with the Nuggets’ young core.

15. Washington Wizards- Lonnie Walker IV, PG/SG, Miami

Walker doesn’t fill the biggest need for the Wizards, but he is a good value here. He didn’t produce a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential, making him worthy of consideration here.

16. Phoenix Suns- Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, USA

Simons has created some buzz after deciding to declare for the NBA Draft out of prep school. He can shoot and get to the basket well. The Suns will need a better point guard than Payton for the future.

17. Milwaukee Bucks- Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Robinson sat out this year to prepare for the draft after initially signing with Western Kentucky. Milwaukee could use a young developmental big.

18. San Antonio Spurs- Khyri Thomas, PG, Creighton 

The Spurs need a point guard to take over and lead the team. Thomas can get his own shots but needs to learn how to set his teammates up better.

Zhaire smith dunk

Zhaire Smith (Photo by blazersedge.com)

19. Atlanta Hawks- Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

In the NCAA Tournament, Smith electrified the crowd with his dunks, but he can also hit the three-point shot at a high percentage of 45%.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Gary Trent, SG, Duke

The Timberwolves need to spread the floor more and find some good shooters. Trent is a knockdown shooter who needs to improve his defense to see the floor in Minnesota.

21. Utah Jazz- Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Jazz have some young pieces but could use another wing player. They can also afford to have a draft and stash if Musa fits that bill.

22. Chicago Bulls- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter doesn’t get as much publicity as his brother but had a solid season at Missouri. They got a guard with their first pick and can now get some depth for the frontcourt.

23. Indiana Pacers- Troy Brown, PG/SG, Oregon

Brown is a tall, athletic guard, but doesn’t shoot well from three-point range. He needs some development but could be a good player next to Victor Oladipo.

24. Portland Trail Blazers- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

The Trail Blazers don’t have a lot of size and can get McCoy and help him develop.

Jacob Evans NBA

Jacob Evans (Photo by downthedrive.com)

25. Los Angeles Lakers- Jacob Evans, G, Cincinnati

Evans is a “3 and D” player, who could find his way as a solid role player in the NBA.

26. Philadelphia 76ers- Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova

DiVincenzo can stay in Philly to help the 76ers spread the floor even more.

27. Boston Celtics- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

The Celtics have good point guard play, but who knows how much longer they can keep Terry Rozier in a bench role behind Kyrie Irving after his performance in the playoffs. Marcus Smart will also likely not be retained.

28. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr broke through this season and now has a chance to be drafted in the first round. He is a big guard, who can shoot and take over for Shaun Livingston.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Hutchison was a star at Boise State who did a little bit of everything for the Broncos. With the right coaching, he can turn into a solid NBA player.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Brunson won multiple Player of the Year awards. He is fundamentally sound and uses that to his advantage.

 

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2018 NBA Draft big board

The NBA Draft is under two months away and there are going to be a plethora of prospects to pick from. This post will highlight the top 50 NBA Draft prospects to watch out for and will be updated until the draft. Check back for updates when players go through the combine, testing and some go back to school.

1. DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona, Fr. – 7’1″ 250 lbs

2017-18 stats: 20.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 61.2% FG, 34.3% 3pt FG

While this isn’t a time in the NBA that will be known for its dominating centers, Ayton has too much game to pass up. His size, athleticism, rebounding and scoring will entice a GM to take him very early in the NBA Draft. He couldn’t be defended well in college because he was a lot bigger and stronger than his competition, but he still showed a light enough touch, shooting a great percentage from the field.

2. Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke, Fr.- 6’11” 234 lbs

2017-18 stats: 21 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 61.4% FG, 39.7% 3pt FG

The Duke star reclassified to play in college last year and now is eligible for the NBA draft a little earlier than expected. He has a good stroke and can post up, making him a natural four-man in the NBA. He will have to add some strength to play against some of the bigger interior players in the NBA, but his length can deter shorter offensive players from going to the rim.

3. Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia- 6’6″ 218 lbs

2017-18 stats: 14.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.6 apg, 46.4% FG, 30.2% 3pt FG

Doncic very well could be the number one overall pick and does a great job of setting up his teammates. There are some holes to his game, as he isn’t the greatest scorer or shooter. His three-point shooting is inconsistent at best, but that can be improved. He fits the mold of a shorter Ben Simmons, who does a little bit of everything, but his own offense needs to be worked on.

4. Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri, Fr.- 6’10” 215 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 33.3% FG, 30.0% 3pt FG

Porter is a supreme talent, but had to miss the vast majority of his college season at Missouri after having spinal surgery. That will be a concern for teams thinking about drafting him and his three-point shooting may hold him back a little as well. His athleticism, height and ball-handling abilities will get him drafted, but teams will have to go all the way back to high school to see good tape of what he can do.

5. Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State, Fr.- 6’11” 242 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 51.3% FG, 39.6% 3pt FG

Michigan State was loaded with talent, so Jackson played just over half of most games. His per 40 minutes stats jump off the page: 20.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game. His elite protection of the rim can get him on the floor early in his career. His offensive game needs to develop a little bit but is already solid.

6. Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma, Fr.- 6’2″ 180 lbs

2017-18 stats: 27.4 ppg, 8.7 apg, 42.2% FG, 36.0% 3pt FG

He lit up the college basketball world by leading the nation in scoring and assists, but Young struggled down the stretch. Turnovers were his main issue and he also lost his great shooting touch. The spacing in the NBA actually could help his turnover problem but he could be successful off-ball with his shooting if the turnovers continue.

7. Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama, Fr.- 6’3″ 190 lbs

2017-18 stats: 19.2 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.8 rpg, 44.7% FG, 33.6% 3pt FG

Sexton made Alabama into an NCAA Tournament team this season. He is very effective at getting to the basket and at times could do it at will in college. His defense isn’t great, but he has the skillset to improve.

8. Mo Bamba, C, Texas, Fr.- 6’11” 225 lbs

2017-18 stats: 12.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.7 pg, 54.1% FG, 27.5% 3pt FG

If teams are looking for a premier rim protector and miss out on Jackson, Bamba could be their pick. He’s been compared to Rudy Gobert for his rebounding, shot-blocking and limited offensive game.

9. Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke, Fr.- 6’10” 259 lbs

2017-18 stats: 13.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 56.1% FG, 41.3% 3pt FG

He was overshadowed by Bagley at Duke, but Carter had a good year in his own right. He has a good post game and can stretch the floor with his three point shooting. His limited athleticism leaves him a little lower on this list, but he should go in the top ten picks.

10. Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M, So.- 6’9″ 237 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 63.2% FG, 0% 3pt FG

Williams could have left after his freshman year, but decided to return for a second year as an Aggie. He is athletic and will find a nice home on the inside. His motor has come into question in the past.

11. Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova, Jr.- 6’7″ 191 lbs

2017-2018 stats: 17.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 51.4% FG, 43.5% 3pt FG

Bridges is the typical “3 and D” prospect that is valuble to NBA teams. In order to be more than that, he needs to work on his ball-handling and creating his own shot.

12. Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky, Fr.- 6’9″, 215 lbs

2017-2018 stats: 15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 44.7% FG, 34.1% 3pt FG

Although he models his game after Kevin Durant, Knox is an inconsistent shooter. When he gets hot, he can light up the scoreboard, but at Kentucky there were many stretches where he would miss a lot of shots or wouldn’t take as many shots as he needed to. With his size and scoring ability, he should be a lottery pick.

13. Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State, So.- 6’7″ 230 lbs

2017-18 stats: 17.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 45.7% FG, 36.4% 3pt FG

Bridges is another sophomore in the draft class that could have left after his freshman season. He’s athletic, has an NBA body and does a little bit of everything well.

14. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky, Fr.- 6’6″ 180 lbs

2017-18 stats: 14.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.1 apg, 48.5% FG, 40.5% 3pt FG

He wasn’t the best freshman walking in the door at Kentucky this season, but he is one of the best ones walking out. His length and height for the point guard position is uniquely large. He excels at running the pick and roll and has a nice shot. He will need to add some strength to his frame.

15. Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami, Fr.- 6’4″ 192 lbs

2017-18 stats: 11.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 41.5% FG, 34.6% 3pt FG

His only season at Miami didn’t yield the best results, but Walker was able to show off his potential. He didn’t set up his teammates the best and if he wants to play point guard in the NBA will need to improve in that area.

16. Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech, Fr.- 6’5″ 195 lbs

2017-18 stats: 11.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 55.6% FG, 45.0% 3pt FG

Smith is the highest player on the list that hasn’t hired an agent. That may change soon, as his athletic ability will be hard to pass on. He had highlight reel dunks in his lone season in Lubbock, but also shot the ball well. Teams will be intrigued with his upside.

17. Mitchell Robinson, C, USA, HS- 7’0″ 223 lbs

2017-18 stats: N/A

He initially committed to Western Kentucky, but left the school before the season ever started. Since that time he has been preparing for the draft. Robinson is a former five star recruit, but a team will have to take a risk on drafting a player whose highest level of competition was high school.

18. Anfernee Simons, PG, USA, HS- 6’3″ 181 lbs

2017-18 stats: High school

Simons is heading to the NBA draft straight from prep school. He is eligible for the draft because he spent five years in high school. He was thought to be one of the best point guards in the recruiting class and now will be selected mainly on potential rather than results.

19. Troy Brown, G, Oregon, Fr.- 6’7″ 215 lbs

2017-18 stats: 11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 44.4% FG, 29.1% 3pt FG

Brown is a big and athletic guard, but needs to improve his shot to be truly successful at the NBA level.

20. Dzanan Musa, G/F, Bosnia and Herzegovina- 6’8″ 195 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 42.9% FG, 36.4% 3pt FG

Musa might be the first draft and stash candidate selected in this draft. He’s only 18 years old and needs to develop his game a little more before getting NBA minutes.

21. Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton, Jr.- 6’3″ 200 lbs

2017-18 stats: 15.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 53.8% FG, 41.1% 3pt FG

He wasn’t the leading scorer on Creighton, that accolade belonged to Marcus Foster. Thomas’ skill-set figures to be more of an NBA fit. He still has the option to return to school, as he hasn’t hired an agent.

22. Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke, Fr.- 6’6″ 209 lbs

2017-18 stats: 14.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 41.5% FG, 40.2% 3pt FG

Trent would have had bigger stats had he not chosen to go to Duke, but was able to prove that he can stretch the floor with his shooting.

23. Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV, Fr.- 7’1″ 250 lbs

2017-18 stats: 16.9 pts, 10.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 54.5% FG, 33.3% 3pt FG

There are a limited number of big men in the class and McCoy can go in the first round because of this. He didn’t play the best competition in the MWC, but there still quite a few solid teams in that league.

24. Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA, Jr.- 6’1″ 185 lbs

2017-18 stats: 20.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 46.1% FG, 42.9% 3pt FG

Holiday has the NBA bloodlines with his brothers Jrue and Justin already being in the league. He has the shooting and playmaking ability to make it himself, even if he doesn’t quite have the athleticism or length desired to play in the NBA.

25. Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri, Fr.- 6’11” 240 lbs

2017-18 stats: 9.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 43.7% FG, 36.4% 3pt FG

Yes, the brother of Michael, Jontay was able to play a full season for Missouri. He is more of an inside player than his brother, but was effective. He likely would move up draft boards if he went back to school to develop.

26. Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State, Sr.- 6’7″ 190 lbs

2017-18 stats: 20.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.5 apg, 47.5% FG, 35.9% 3pt FG

Hutchison was a do-it-all player for the Broncos throughout his career. He likely will see a huge hit to his numbers in the NBA, but can be a viable role player.

27. Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College, Jr.- 6’7″ 181 lbs

2017-18 stats: 20.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 48.5% FG, 40.9% 3pt FG

ACC competition is tough and Robinson played well despite not having the best support.

28. Tony Carr, G, Penn State, So.- 6’5″ 204 lbs

2017-18 stats: 19.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg, 40.8% FG, 43.3% 3pt FG

Penn State hasn’t had a player of Carr’s caliber in quite some time. He’s a big point guard who really came into his own in his second season as a Nittany Lion.

29. Bruno Fernando, PF/C, Maryland, Fr.- 6’10” 240 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 57.8% FG, 33.3% 3pt FG

Fernando isn’t the most polished and is a project, but a team will take a chance on him in the late first or early second.

30. Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova, Jr.- 6’3″ 199 lbs

2017-18 stats: 18.9 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.1 rpg, 52.1% FG, 40.8% 3pt FG

Brunson is good fundamentally and has championship experience, which teams will love.

31. Bruce Brown, G, Miami, So.- 6’5″ 190 lbs

2017-18 stats: 11.4 pg, 7.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 41.5% FG, 26.7% 3pt FG

32. Rawle Alkins, G, Arizona, So.- 6’5″ 220 lbs

2017-18 stats: 13.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.5 apg, 43.2% FG, 35.9% 3pt FG

33. Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova, So.- 6’5″ 200lbs

2017-18 stats: 13.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 48.1% FG, 40.1% 3pt FG

34. De’Anthony Melton, G, USC, So.- 6’4″ 190 lbs

2017-18 stats: N/A- Sat out for FBI investigation

35. Trevon Duval, PG, Duke, Fr.- 6’3″ 186 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 5.6 apg, 42.8% FG, 29.0% 3pt FG

36. Grayson Allen, G, Duke, Sr.- 6’4″ 195 lbs

2017-18 stats: 15.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, 41.8% FG, 37.0% 3pt FG

37. Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC, Jr.- 6’11” 215 lbs

2017-18 stats: 15.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 52.3% FG, 30.0% 3pt FG

38. Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan, Jr.- 6’10” 210 lbs

2017-18 stats: 14.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 52.8% FG, 39.4% 3pt FG

39. Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky, Fr.- 6’5″ 190 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 42.8% FG, 33.8% 3pt FG

40. Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State, So.- 6’4″ 179 lbs

2017-18 stats: 14.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.2 apg, 48.9% FG, 44.3 3pt FG

41. Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati, Jr.- 6’6″ 210 lbs

2017-18 stats: 13.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.1 apg, 42.7% FG, 37.0% 3pt FG

42. Melvin Frazier, G, Tulane, Jr.- 6’5″ 200 lbs

2017-18 stats: 15.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 56.6% FG, 38.5% 3pt FG

43. Shake Milton, G, SMU, Jr.- 6’5″ 195 lbs

2017-18 stats: 18.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.4 apg, 44.9% FG, 43.4% 3pt FG

44. Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova, Fr.- 6’9″ 260 lbs

2017-18 stats: 10.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 47.6% FG, 43.3 3pt FG

45. Devonte’ Graham, PG, Kansas, Sr.- 6’2″ 172 lbs

2017-18 stats: 17.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.2 apg, 40.0% FG, 40.6% 3pt FG

46. Keita Bates-Diop,  F, Ohio State, Sr.- 6’7″ 190 lbs

2017-18 stats: 19.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 48% FG, 35.9% 3pt FG

47. Justin Jackson, F, Maryland, So.- 6’7″ 225 lbs

2017-18 stats: 9.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 36.6% FG, 25.0% 3pt FG

48. Tyus Battle, G, Syracuse, So.- 6’6″ 205 lbs

2017-18 stats: 19.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 43.3% FG, 32.2 3pt FG

49. Elie Okobo, G, France- 6’2″ 180 lbs

2017-18 stats: 12.8 ppg, 4.5 spg, 2.6 rpg, 46.8% FG, 38.6% 3pt FG

50. Kevin Huerter, G, Maryland, So.- 6’7″ 190 lbs

2017-18 stats: 14.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.4 apg, 50.3% FG, 41.7% 3pt FG

 

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2018 NBA mock draft April 6

The college basketball season is now over and prospects are looking forward to the draft. Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft April 6.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by uproxx.com)

1. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton has said it would be cool to play with Devin Booker and how good of a one-two punch it would be. The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

2. Memphis Grizzlies- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 39.7%. While there have been some strains in the relationship between Marc Gasol and the organization, he should be on the team next season making Bagley fit in nicely next to him on the floor.

3. Atlanta Hawks- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Dennis Schroeder is the best thing the Hawks have going for them and they need to find players on the interior to help him out. Bamba will be able to defend the paint, as he averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has been compared to Rudy Gobert, with his good defense, and he’ll have to develop his offensive game.

4. Orlando Magic- Luka Doncic, G, Spain

Doncic has the size of a wing player in the NBA but actually plays on-ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three-point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. The Magic need good guard play and have a void after trading Elfrid Payton.

5. Dallas Mavericks- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri

The Mavs have guards and wings and now need some bigger players for the future. Dirk Nowitzki is the only really productive big on the roster and will be gone in a few years. Porter can play the three or the four for the Mavs. He came back from his back injury and was rusty, but showed flashes of why he was rated so highly coming out of high school.

6. Sacramento Kings- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

Zach Randolph is the leading scorer on the Kings and is playing out his last few NBA years. By selecting Jackson, the Kings could replace Randolph and add another young player with potential to the starting lineup. Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also is a good rim protector.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Well, LeBron James has already talked about how good Trae Young is. The Cavs just got George Hill, but he is aging and could help develop Young. They can also play Young off-ball. Young brought life to college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggled on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

8. Chicago Bulls- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

Bridges will walk in the door as a legitimate “3 and D” prospect but has a chance to develop into much more. He’s got good length but does need to add some more strength. The Bulls have some good guard play and Lauri Markkanen but could use a solid wing defender.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

Collin Sexton (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

9. New York Knicks- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

The Knicks selected Frank Nitilikina last year and traded for Emmanuel Mudiay, but neither have been great. They’ll need a legitimate point guard if they are ever going to compete. Sexton is one of the best players available, who is able to drive and distribute the ball well.

10. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky

Knox is still deciding whether he will enter his name into the draft, but if he does, he is a lottery pick. The 76ers don’t have too many needs and can elect to take a player like Knox, who can be a key role player before potentially breaking into stardom.

11. Charlotte Hornets- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could complement the two key pieces the Hornets do have in Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard.

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Will DeAndre Jordan be with the Clippers much longer? He says he wants to be there, but they are rebuilding. Carter would present good value here and could play next to Jordan if the Clippers decide to keep him.

13. Denver Nuggets- Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke

Denver has some good young players at almost every position and can take the best player available. Trent can provide even more shooting to a team that ranks fifth in the NBA in three-point percentage.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly but need a point guard of the future.

15. Phoenix Suns- Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, USA

Simons has created some buzz after deciding to declare for the NBA Draft out of prep school. He can shoot and get to the basket well. The Suns will need a better point guard than Payton for the future.

16. Phoenix Suns- Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

He hasn’t produced a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential, making him worthy of consideration here. The Suns can fill a few different needs with their first-round picks.

17. Washington Wizards- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams displayed what he is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. He has great athleticism for a big but doesn’t have the best motor. The Wizards need an inside player for John Wall and Bradley Beal to play off of.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

Zhaire Smith (Photo by aol.com)

18. Atlanta Hawks- Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

In the NCAA Tournament, Smith electrified the crowd with his dunks, but he can also hit the three-point shot at a high percentage of 45%.

19. Utah Jazz- Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Jazz have some young pieces but could use another wing player. They can also afford to have a draft and stash if Musa fits that bill.

20.  Chicago Bulls- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter doesn’t get as much publicity as his brother but had a solid season at Missouri. They got a wing with their first pick and can now get some depth for the frontcourt.

21. San Antonio Spurs- Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

The Spurs will need better guard play with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili winding down their careers. Brown is a tall, athletic guard, but doesn’t shoot well from three-point range.

22. Indiana Pacers- Khyri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton 

Indiana needs a point guard to add to Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner.

23. Philadelphia 76ers- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson sat out this year to prepare for the draft after initially signing with Western Kentucky. The 76ers had depth at center for years when they were “trusting the process”, but now need to find someone behind Joel Embiid.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Minnesota is 19th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage and Allen can help them off the bench in that category.

2018 NBA Mock draft april 6

Caleb Martin (Photo by Nevadaapeal.com)

25. Los Angeles Lakers- Caleb Martin, SG/SF, Nevada

Martin played well at Nevada this season and the Lakers could use more wing players.

26. Portland Trail Blazers- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

The Trail Blazers don’t have a lot of size and can get McCoy and help him develop.

27. Boston Celtics- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Boston should be better next year with all their players healthy, but don’t have many young bigs.

28. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr broke through this season and now has a chance to be drafted in the first round. He is a big guard, who can shoot and take over for Shaun Livingston.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

The Nets need to acquire more talent but are stuck with the second to last pick in the first round. Wagner presents good value and could help fill their need of an interior player.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Brunson won multiple Player of the Year awards. He is fundamentally sound and uses that to his advantage.

 

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The player you need to know from each team in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

With the NCAA Tournament looming, some players will blossom into stardom. Who they are is dependent on how far they can carry their team. Every team has one, if not more, players to keep an eye on. What players could have a huge impact in the Tournament?

South Regional

1. Virginia Cavaliers- Kyle Guy, G

Kyle Guy is not only the leading scorer on the number one overall seed, he made the All-ACC First Team. If the Cavaliers are able to make it to the Final Four, Guy will play a huge part in it.

16. UMBC Retrievers- Jairus Lyles, G

Lyles made headlines when he mad the game-winning shot in the AEC Tournament Final against Vermont to send the Retrievers to the big dance. The truth is he has been scoring at a high rate for thee years now at UMBC with over 20 points per game this season.

8. Creighton Bluejays- Marcus Foster, G

Well Foster’s name will be mentioned a lot in the first round because he is good and because he started off his career at Kansas State, who the Bluejays are playing. He averages 20.3 points per game and will be looking to pour it on his former school.

9. Kansas State Wildcats- Barry Brown, G

Both Barry Brown and Dean Wade are expected to play after sustaining injuries in the last few weeks. Brown is a floor general, who averages 16 points and 3.4 assists per game. He also called a team practice on a team off day to correct some problems, which helps his reputation as a coach on the floor.

5. Kentucky Wildcats- Kevin Knox, F

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was also in contention here, but Knox is the x-factor and the player who will likely be drafted the highest. At times the Wildcats go as Knox goes. He is the teams leading scorer at 15.6 points per game.

12. Davidson Wildcats- Peyton Aldridge, F

Another tough call here, as Kellan Grady is a great freshman, but Aldridge is a senior who is averaging 21.5 points per game. If Davidson can upset Kentucky, he and Grady will be why.

Players you need to know in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by sportingnews.com)

4. Arizona Wildcats- DeAndre Ayton, C

This one was not as tough to pick. Ayton is a generational talent at center and is peaking at the right time of the season with his 32 points a piece in the last two rounds of the Pac-12 Tournament. He averages 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and should get a touch every time down the floor for the Wildcats.

13. Buffalo Bulls- C.J. Massinburg, G

Buffalo has a lot of solid players, but Massinburg is the teams leading scorer and rebounder with 16.9 and 7.4 per game respectively. The rebounding numbers are especially impressive for a guard.

6. Miami Hurricanes- Lonnie Walker IV, G

Walker has a chance to be a one and done player and has showed potential. While he has been inconsistent at times, if Miami makes a run, it’ll likely mean he is playing well.

11. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers- Clayton Custer, G

The junior leads the team in both points (13.4) and assists (4.3) per game. Loyola is a trendy upset pick and if they make a “Cinderella run”, Custer will have the ball in his hands the most.

3. Tennessee Volunteers- Grant Williams, F

Williams is an undersized forward, but he is tough and plays hard. He was rewarded with the SEC Player of the Year award for averaging 15.3 points and six rebounds per game.

14. Wright State Raiders- Grant Benzinger, G

At some point during the game they will mention that Grant’s dad Todd was a World Series champion for the Cincinnati Reds in 1990, but the real story is: Grant can play. The guard averages 14.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and exploded for 31 points in a big game against Northern Kentucky.

7. Nevada Wolfpack- Caleb Martin, F

Martin and his twin, Cody, may be remembered for their time at N.C. State, but they have both done well at Nevada this season. Caleb is averaging 19.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

10. Texas Longhorns- Mo Bamba, C

Bamba missed the Big 12 Tournament with an injury, but said he is 100% now. He was one of the most coveted recruits in this past year’s recruiting class and is one of the best rim protectors in college basketball.

2. Cincinnati Bearcats- Gary Clark, F

The Bearcats are having their best season in recent memory and have one of the program’s greatest players as a senior. Clark won the AAC Player of the Year this season and leads the team in scoring and rebounding.

15. Georgia State Panthers- D’Marcus Simonds, G

Simonds is only a sophomore, but averages 21.1 points per game. He scored 27 in the Sun Belt Tournament Final, but will have a tough time scoring against a good Cincinnati team in round one.

West Regional

Players to watch in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Trevon Bluiett (Photo by wcpo.com)

1. Xavier Musketeers- Trevon Bluiett, G

Bluiett had a good tournament run last year with Xavier, when they were an 11 seed. For his senior campaign he has averaged 19.5 points per game. If he plays up to his potential every game, the Musketeers could be heading to their first Final Four in school history.

16. (Play-in) NC Central Eagles- Raasean Davis, C

Davis averages 15 points and eight rebounds per game this season and helped lead NC Central on a crazy MEAC Tournament run to secure the auto-bid.

16. (Play-in) Texas Southern Tigers- Demontrae Jefferson, G

Jefferson does a little bit of everything for the Tigers with 23.5 points, three rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.

8. Missouri Tigers- Michael Porter Jr., F

Porter Jr. only played for a few seconds before sitting out most of the season with a back injury. The talented freshman came back for the SEC Tournament, but was rusty. With some more time, he can shake off the rust and show everyone why he was such a coveted recruit.

9. Florida State Seminoles- Terance Mann, G

He went cold in the ACC Tournament, but Mann is Florida State’s leading scorer with 13.2 points per game. Hopefully he can find his stroke again for the NCAA Tournament.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes- Keita Bates-Diop, F

Bates-Diop was one of the most improved players in the country this season under new coach Chris Holtmann. He’s averaging 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and is tough to guard.

12. South Dakota Jackrabbits- Mike Daum, F

Daum has been in the last two NCAA Tournaments with the Jackrabbits, but has not yet secured a win. The junior averages 23.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and is an inside-out threat.

4. Gonzaga Bulldogs- Killian Tillie, F

The Bulldogs have several good players, but Tillie is heating up at the right time. He’s scored over 20 points per game in each of the last three games. During that span he hit 13 of 14 three point shots.

13. UNC Greensboro- Francis Alonso, G

Alonso is from Malaga, Spain and averages 15.6 points per game. He has represented the Spanish National Team in FIBA competitions for the under 20 ranks.

6. Houston Cougars- Rob Gray, G

Houston has had a great season and Gray is the team leader. He had a turnover at the end of the AAC Tournament Championship game, which made him look as if he was physically sick. The 6’1″ guard averages 18.5 points per game and will want to make up for his mistake.

11. San Diego State Aztecs- Trey Kell, G

The senior only averages 10.4 points per game, but exploded for 28 against New Mexico in the MWC Tournament Championship. He is taking less shots than in years past, but is shooting more efficiently.

3. Michigan Wolverines- Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, G

Mo Wagner was also in contention, but Abdur-Rahkman is coming off of a good Big Ten Tournamen, where he scored 21, 15 and 15 in three games. He is also a very good defender, which will be needed to shut down opponent’s best wing players.

14. Montana Grizzlies- Ahmaad Rorie, G

Montana has a do-it-all guard in Rorie, who averages 17.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Rorie spent a year at Oregon before transferring to Montana and gets to the free throw line frequently.

7. Texas A&M Aggies- Robert Williams, F

Williams is the fourth leading scorer at 10.3 points per game, but is the difference-maker for the Aggies. He is the team’s best draft prospect, but has a questionable motor. If he plays hard, the Aggies can go on a run this March.

10. Providence Friars- Kyron Cartwright, G

While he is just the team’s third leading scorer, he proved that when he’s on, Providence can beat anyone. He averaged 15.7 points per game in the Big East Tournament and is looking good heading into the NCAA Tournament.

2. North Carolina Tarheels- Theo Pinson, F

Joel Berry and Luke Maye are both quality names, but Pinson does a little bit of everything for North Carolina. He averages 10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game and could be the key to a long tournament run for the Tar Heels.

15. Lipscomb Bisons- Garrison Mathews, G

Mathews averages 22.1 points per game for Lipscomb after averaging over 20 points per game last year. He is averagine 28.3 points per game over the last three games.

East Regional

players to know in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Jalen Brunson (Photo by draftexpress.com)

1. Villanova Wildcats- Jalen Brunson, G

Mikal Bridges is also an option, but Brunson is in contention for Player of the Year. He scores and assists at a high rate and is an absolute floor general. He gained a lot of good experience when Villanova won the championship two seasons ago.

16. (Play-in) Radford Highlanders- Carlik Jones, G

Jones is the second leading scorer, but hit the game-winning shot in their conference tournament to get them into the NCAA Tournament.

16. (Play-in) LIU-Brooklyn- Joel Hernandez, G

Hernandez scores 20.9 points per game and is coming off a 32 point outing at Wagner to secure the automatic bid for the NEC.

8. Virginia Tech Hokies- Justin Robinson, G

Virginia Tech is a good offensive team and Robinson is their leading scorer and assist man with 13.8 and 5.6 respectively.

9. Alabama Crimson Tide- Collin Sexton, G

Another one of the most heralded recruits in the freshman class, Sexton is peaking at the right time. He averages 19 points per game and gets to the foul line a staggering 7.5 times per contest.

5. West Virginia Mountaineers- Jevon Carter, G

Carter is not only their leading scorer at 17 points per game, but is also their best defender. He helps make West Virginia into “Press Virginia”.

12. Murray State Racers- Jonathan Stark, G

The Munford, Tennessee product averages 21.8 points per game and scored 21 against Auburn in December. The game gave the Tigers a scare as the result was 81-77 in favor of Auburn.

4. Wichita State Shockers- Landry Shamet, G

Shamet leads the team in both scoring and assists. He has been around for a few years and can set his team up for a deep tournament run.

13. Marshall Thundering Herd- Jon Elmore, G

Talk about a guy who can do it all. Elmore averages 22.8 points, six rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. The last player to average 28/6/6 in college basketball? Evan Turner.

6. Florida Gators- Chris Chiozza, G

Chiozza hit the big shot for Florida in last year’s NCAA Tournament to beat Wisconsin and is back for more. He scores and passes well for the Gators.

11. (Play-in) St. Bonaventure Bonnies- Jaylen Adams, G

While he doesn’t get a lot of publicity, Adams produces at a high rate. He averages 19.8 points and 5.4 assists per game. The senior has been at St. Bonaventure has become an all-around offensive threat.

11. (Play-in) UCLA Bruins- Aaron Holiday, G

Aaron is the little brother of former UCLA standout, Jrue Holiday, who now plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. Aaron is a good player in his own right who averages over 20 points and five assists per game.

3. Texas Tech Red Raiders- Keenan Evans, G

Evans has been the catalyst for a quick turnaround at Texas Tech. He averages 17.1 points per game and plays good defense for the Red Raiders.

14. Stephen F. Austin- Kevon Harris, G

He is the second leading scorer on the team, but Harris pulls down a lot of rebounds and shoots a scorching 43.2% from deep.

7. Arkansas Razorbacks- Daniel Gafford, F

The senior guards for the Razorbacks are great, but Gafford can help take the team to the next level. The freshman has shown flashes of being great, but still averages 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

10. Butler Bulldogs- Kelan Martin, F

Martin has gotten better every year at Butler, but has really taken his game to the next level this season, as he is averaging 20.8 points per game.

2. Purdue Boilermakers- Vincent Edwards, F

Edwards is the choice for Purdue because of his versatility. The 6’8″ forward can play on the inside or on the outside and is tough to guard.

15. Cal State Fullerton Titans- Kyle Allman, G

He is shooting 43% from deep and takes 3.2 three point field goals per game. The Titans will need to get the best shooter on their team open for threes for a chance to knock off Purdue.

Midwest Regional

1. Kansas Jayhawks- Devonte’ Graham, G

Graham was the Big 12’s Player of the Year and has patiently waited to take over point guard duties from Frank Mason. He averages 17.5 points and 7.5 assists per game.

16. Penn Quakers- AJ Brodeur, F

In the Ivy League Tournament, Brodeur scored 25 against Yale and 16 against Harvard. He shoots 54.6% from the field and scores, rebounds and assists at a high rate.

8. Seton Hall Pirates- Desi Rodriguez, F

The senior has improved every year at Seton Hall and now is one of the best players in the Big East. He averages 17.8 points per game, but also helps out with rebounding duties.

9. N.C. State Wolfpack- Omer Yurtseven, C

The seven footer from Turkey is not easy to guard. He can shoot from the outside, as well as do damage on the inside. If the Wolfpack go far in the big dance, he will have to play well.

5. Clemson Tigers- Marcquise Reed, G

Donte Grantham, likely would have been the pick here, but Reed picked up the slack in his absence. He leads the team in points and assists, but also is one of the best rebounders on the team.

12. New Mexico State Aggies- Zach Lofton, G

Lofton is one of the best scorers in the country at 19.8 points per game. New Mexico State is a trendy upset pick and if they are to win their first round matchup with Clemson, Lofton will have to produce.

4. Auburn Tigers- Bryce Brown, G

While he is just the second leading scorer, when Brown shoots efficiently, Auburn does better. The Tigers aren’t deep, so Brown will need to play big and stay out of foul trouble.

13. College of Charleston Cougars- Joe Chealey, G

He is second on the team in points scored, second in rebounds and first in assists per game. Chealey is one of three big scorers on the Cougars, who can help get the job done.

6. TCU Horned Frogs- Alex Robinson, G

The Texas A&M transfer has been huge for the Horned Frogs, especially after the loss of Jaylen Fisher to injury. He scores 9.8 points and dishes out 6.1 assists per game.

11. (Play-in) Arizona State Sun Devils- Tra Holder, G

Holder has been a star for years at Arizona State and now gets to display this on the big stage. He and Arizona State have been slumping the last half of the season, so he has to pick it up.

11. (Play-in) Syracuse Orange- Tyus Battle, G

Battle is the best player for the Orange by far and is the reason Syracuse was able to make the tournament. He is only a sophomore, so this may not be the last fans see of Battle in the NCAA Tournament.

players to know in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Miles Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

3. Michigan State Spartans- Miles Bridges, F

Spartans fans were elated when Bridges decided to come back for his sophomore season. He is the best player on the team and one of the best in the country.

14. Bucknell Bison- Zach Thomas, F

He nearly averages 20 and 10 for Bucknell and can even stretch the floor with his three point shooting. He was cold the last two games of the Patriot League Tournament and will want to be at his best for the NCAA Tournament.

7. Rhode Island Rams- Jared Terrell, G

Terrell is a good defender and leads the team in scoring, which is aided by his great three point shooting. He will need to play well for the Rams to advance.

10. Oklahoma Sooners- Trae Young, G

Oklahoma has the only player in the history of college basketball to lead the nation in both points and assists per game. Trae Young is just a freshman and does turn the ball over at a high rate, but if he’s on, Oklahoma is tough to beat.

2. Duke Blue Devils- Marvin Bagley III, F

Bagley is a future NBA star who leads the team in points and rebounding. With his size and skill, there aren’t too many players who could guard him.

15. Iona Gaels- Rickey McGill, G

In his last three games McGill has only scored 12 points, but the game before that against Rider he poured in 40. Getting him the ball will be a priority for Iona.

 

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The 6 teams that can win the 2018 NCAA Tournament

While upsets happen all the time in the NCAA Tournament, there are usually only a handful of teams that can win the tournament. These teams are efficient on both ends of the floor and are usually battle-tested as well. The last team to win it all and not be top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency was UConn in 2014. That UConn team is the only team since 2002 not meet those parameters and still win the championship. With that being said, here are the six teams that can come out on top this March Madness:

Virginia Cavaliers

This is the most obvious of the teams because they are the number one overall seed and have just two losses on the season. They weren’t highly thought of at the start of the season, as they weren’t ranked in the AP or coaches polls. There have only been four teams to go from being unranked in the preseason to winning it all since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. Virginia was underrated, but is now the team to beat in this tournament.

Why are they one of a few select teams that can win the NCAA Tournament? They rank first in points allowed per 100 possessions and 21st in points per 100 possessions. Their style of play slows the game down for opponents. The Cavaliers play lock down defense, then take their time to get a good shot by running good half-court offense.

Their bracket will be tough, with possible matchups with Kentucky, Arizona, Tennessee or Cincinnati, but Virginia has proven to be able to beat just about everyone they play this season. Can Tony Bennett finally find the tournament success that he desires?

Villanova Wildcats

teams that can win the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Mikal Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Villanova did not win the Big East regular season title, but did win the Big East Tournament. The Wildcats have lost some questionable games this season, but have also beaten the best of the best. This includes two wins over number one seed Xavier, a win over number three seed Tennessee and a win over number four seed Gonzaga.

The Wildcats are the most efficient offensive team in the country, averaging 127.4 points per 100 possessions. They are also pretty good at defense, ranking 22nd in defensive efficiency. The offense is run by Jalen Brunson, who does a good job of setting up the offense from the point guard position. Villanova also has Mikal Bridges, a future lottery pick, who is a great two way player. His length helps him guard great wing players and limit their effectiveness.

They also have some difficult games that they will have to get through in their bracket. West Virginia, Wichita State, Texas Tech and Purdue are all possible matchups they could have in the second weekend of the tournament. At times they rely too much on three point shooting, but when they get good shots, they are capable of winning six straight games and taking home the trophy.

Duke Blue Devils

Duke had a great recruiting class, but was only able to obtain a number two seed. Even though they didn’t get a one seed, they have a better chance of winning the tournament than the one seeds not listed here. Like Villanova, Duke has beaten some great teams, but also has lost some head-scratchers.

A lot has been made about Duke’s defense this season, but has gotten much better the last month of the season. They rank seventh in the country in defensive efficiency now. The Blue Devils have gone to a zone defense and use their length to contest shots. They also rank third in the country in offensive efficiency, with great offensive threats like Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III.

With their defense fixed, they have every opportunity to cut the nets down in San Antonio. They have a possible rematch with Michigan State in the Sweet 16 that could be the game of the tournament. Duke won the first matchup 88-81, but that game was months ago.

Michigan State Spartans

teams that can win the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Miles Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

The Spartans only had four losses all season, but got a four seed. This was partially due to scheduling, but also an effect of the Big Ten being down this season. They only lost to NCAA Tournament teams this season in: Duke, Ohio State and Michigan (2x).

Michigan State is both efficient on offense and defense ranking ninth in both categories. They have too many good players to get on the floor consistently, so they are deep and stay pretty fresh. Another key factor here is that Michigan State ranks first in points per game with 19.8. This has helped them have five scorers in double figures for the season.

With stars like Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., the Spartans certainly have the talent to win it all. They will likely have to get past Duke in the Sweet 16, but if they get past that point, the Spartans will be more widely accepted as a favorite to win the whole thing.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga got a four seed with only four losses on the season, because they play in the WCC. Their only loss to a non-tournament team came to St. Mary’s, who was a bubble team. They also beat quality teams such as Ohio State, Creighton and Texas.

The Bulldogs rank 12th in offensive efficiency and 17th in defensive efficiency. While they may not have the stars like the last two seasons, Gonzaga has some solid players that can help them win the title. They have five players averaging over 10 points per game and have some matchup nightmares in Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie. Point guard Josh Perkins has necessary tournament experience and has run the offense well in his first season taking over those duties.

The West region is there for the taking, as the number one seeded Xavier plays selective defense. The Musketeers rank 59th in defensive efficiency, which means Gonzaga should be able to do some damage on that defense. If they can get to the Elite 8 and play what will likely be UNC or Michigan, anything can happen.

Kentucky Wildcats

teams that can win the 2018 NCAA Tourrnament

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by draftexpress.com)

The Wildcats are peaking at the right time, but are still the least likely on this list to win the NCAA Championship. They won the SEC Tournament, showing that they have improved throughout the season. Kentucky has won games over Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Alabama (2x), Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee, who are all in the field of 68.

Surprisingly, Kentucky ranks 25th in offensive efficiency and 23rd in defensive efficiency. While their half-court offense still needs some work, they get out in transition very well. Their length is what helps them on defense, as there are times when the shortest person on the floor is 6’6″. They create matchup problems with 6’6″ point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox, who has the size of a big man, but plays mostly on the perimeter.

The South region is going to be tough to come out of, especially for a very young team like Kentucky. The second round features a matchup with DeAndre Ayton and Arizona. If they happen to get to the Sweet 16 to play Virginia, they will have to play the game of their lives to win.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft March 7

March Madness is quickly approaching, which has given NBA personnel almost a whole season to look at prospects. While the prospects have been playing, they also have been jockeying for position on NBA Draft boards. Here is the latest 2018 NBA mock draft.

1. Memphis Grizzlies- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Not too many mock drafts have Bagley going this high, but he should be considered for number one overall. The biggest mistake teams make when picking this high is to reach and fill a need. The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 34%. While there have been some strains in the relationship between Marc Gasol and the organization, he should be on the team next season making Bagley fit in nicely next to him on the floor.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by sportingnews.com)

2. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

3. Dallas Mavericks- Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State

Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also is a good rim protector. Dallas just drafted Dennis Smith Jr. to fill their need at point guard and need to pair him with a young big for the future.

4. Sacremento Kings- Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri

Porter has been injured since Missouri’s first game and had to have surgery on his spine. That is a serious injury, but Porter was a highly-coveted recruit and has the ability to play point forward. The Kings could bolster their lineup to include: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Porter, Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein.

5. Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Spain

The Hawks just need to acquire talent on their roster in any way possible. Doncic projects as a wing player in the NBA, but actually plays on ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Well LeBron James has already talked about how good Trae Young is. The Cavs just got George Hill, but he is aging and could help develop Young. They can also play Young off-ball. Young has been the best player in college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggles on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

7. Orlando Magic- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

The Magic trade Elfrid Payton to the Suns and need a new point guard of the future. Sexton is one of the best players available, who is able to drive and distribute the ball well.

8. Chicago Bulls- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

The Bulls have struck gold with Lauri Markkanen and now need to give him more support. While Markkanen is an offensive big, Bamba will be able to defend the paint. Bamba averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has had a lingering toe injury, but should be perfectly fine by the time the daft rolls around.

9. New York Knicks- Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

Knox is a big small forward that can shoot, but is inconsistent. The Knicks have decent guards, big men and a star in Porzingis, but need a small forward who can score.

10. Charlotte Hornets- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Wendell has been a very solid player, who sometimes gets overshadowed by Bagley. He has limited athletic ability, but he is very effective. Carter even shoots the three at a solid clip of 46%. Charlotte has drafted a lot of wing players, but could focus on the interior here.

11. Philadelphia 76ers- Miles Bridges, SG/SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could feed off of Ben Simmons’ passing.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (photo by aseaofblue.com)

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly, but need a point guard of the future.

13. Utah Jazz- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

The Jazz’s roster changed with the NBA Trade Deadline and could use a young wing. Bridges can shoot and play defense, which at least makes him a good three and D prospect.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

The Clippers just traded away Blake Griffin and may want to replace him at power forward. Williams hasn’t had a very productive year at Texas A&M, but he is talented. His motor has been questioned, but if the Clippers get the most out of him he can be a good player.

15. Phoenix Suns- Tony Carr, PG/SG, Penn State

Not too many people are as high on Tony Carr, but the sophomore can play. He scores and distributes the ball well, but also can stretch the defense with his 46% on three point shots. Carr also has great size at 6’5″ and can fill a need for the Suns.

16. Milwaukee Bucks- Omer Yurtseven, C, N.C. State

Thon Maker isn’t developing as planned, so the Bucks may elect to go with another big. Yurtseven is 7’0″ and has taken a huge step forward this season for the Wolfpack.

17. Philadelphia 76ers- Lonnie Walker, PG/SG, Miami

With Markelle Fultz’s status being up in the air, the 76ers might want to get a player who can play both guard spots. He hasn’t produced a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential.

18. Denver Nuggets- Gary Trent Jr., SG/SF, Duke

The Nuggets have a few good young pieces and just need to keep adding quality players and maybe snag a key free agent. Trent is a good shooter, but needs to work on his defense.

19. Washington Wizards- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson is a former five star prospect who chose to attend Western Kentucky, but it didn’t work out. He has since been preparing for the NBA Draft. If the Wizards can acquire a good interior player, they can compete even more in the Eastern Conference

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Landry Shamet (Photo by draftexpress.com)

20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State

The Timberwolves have Jeff Teague, but might want another option in a few years. Landry Shamet  is another lanky point guard which should help him on defense at the NBA level.

21. Indiana Pacers- Khyri Thomas, PG, Creigthon

Thomas has gotten better every year at Creighton and shoots the three a nice clip of 43%, but needs to work on his passing. The Pacers don’t have a great point guard on the roster and can develop Thomas.

22. San Antonio Spurs- Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Musa is 18 and only averages 10.5 points per game in Europe, but could be a good draft and stash if he develops. Given the Spurs nature to use the draft and stash effectively, this could be their pick.

23. Atlanta Hawks- Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

Diallo is athletic enough to play in the NBA, but struggles shooting the ball and on defense.

24. Los Angeles Lakers- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

The Lakers are going to try to make a splash in free agency. Taking Allen would give them a role player who can shoot the ball and bring energy off the bench.

25. Chicago Bulls- Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

The Bulls can use this pick to develop a wing player. Brown is an athletic wing, who needs to develop his outside shot more.

26. Portland Trail Blazers- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Metu has developed an outside shot this year and can benefit from playing with Portland’s talented guards.

27. Boston Celtics- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

Boston can use a developmental big to pair with a bunch of their young players.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Daniel Gafford (Photo by arkansasonline.com)

28. Brooklyn Nets- Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas

With 12 points and six rebounds per game, Gafford has had a good freshman season for the Razorbacks. The Nets are thin on the inside.

29. Golden State Warrios- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

Shaun Livingston can’t play forever and more depth is needed at point guard for the Warriors.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter has had a good freshman season at Missouri with the absence of his brother. The Hawks already have drafted two back court players in this mock, so will need to get more depth on the interior.

 

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The FBI investigation in college basketball: What is going on?

The FBI continues to build a case against a lot of major names in college basketball, who are connected with getting payments from agents and apparel companies. The latest report from Yahoo Sports gave details to the information was gathered from the FBI’s raid of ASM, an agency that had many NBA clients. Over 20 schools were listed in the report.

Assistant coaches have already been arrested for their alleged participation in this, but now Tom Izzo and “Villanova Coaches” were found on this report. It has since been removed from the report. If coaches are connected to the agency in any way, there will likely be heavy sanctions on those programs and the coaches will likely be fired.

Not only were former players named, but current players like Miles Bridges, Kevin Knox, Wendell Carter and Collin Sexton, were all mentioned in the report to varying degrees of receiving money. Some were given loans and payments, while others just met with the agency for dinner. With the former players, wins will likely be vacated, as well as other additional sanctions. The current players may be ruled ineligible if and when the NCAA gets all the details.

The likely situation for all current players is that they will play out the season and be off to the NBA before anything happens. While the NCAA would love to have all the information, this is an FBI investigation that could take years to sort out. The FBI has no obligation to give any documents to the NCAA or help in the NCAA’s process of finding information.

Only Xavier has responded to this report so far. Edmond Sumner was a sophomore point guard on the team last year and was listed as having received $7,000 from the agency.

“I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates. He plays no role in the recruitment of potential student-athletes on Xavier’s behalf. Beyond that, our staff has never created a path for him to foster a relationship with any of our student-athletes while enrolled at Xavier. Any suggestion that I or anyone on my staff utilized Andy Miller to provide even the slightest of financial benefits to a Xavier student-athlete is grossly misinformed. We are prepared to cooperate with any and all investigations at any level.”

The NCAA has since responded with a statement from President Mark Emmert.

“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York’s indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”

What’s next?

Don’t worry about the rest of this season through March Madness. That will go on as scheduled, as there is no way the NCAA gets all of the information needed to punish teams yet. It may be vacated later, but just enjoy watching good basketball. If they don’t get the information from the FBI, then they will likely make overall changes to their current procedures and rules to make these things easier to catch, as well as start to investigate on their own.

It’s a long process for these FBI investigations. The public having this information already is going to create some impatience. The FBI is going to turn over every leaf and hopefully get some confessions. They will likely want to find out how many coaches were involved with the agency actively. Izzo and Villanova coaches are likely going to be fired at some point if this report rings true, since they had direct communication with this agency.

Fans of college basketball who want to know everything now will have to wait. Keep an eye on Yahoo Sports, as they have been the only site to be granted access to these documents. Any further information will likely come from them.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft February 3

+-The NBA season is over the halfway point, which means the “tanking” will intensify. There are some good prospects that many teams will covet in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft February 3:

1. Atlanta Hawks- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Not too many mock drafts have Bagley going this high, but he is the best player in the class. The biggest mistake teams make when picking this high is to reach and fill a need. Atlanta needs talented players more than anything and Bagley would provide that. The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 34%.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Luka Doncic (Photo by youtube.com)

2. Orlando Magic- Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia

Doncic projects as a wing player in the NBA, but actually plays on ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. Orlando lucks out in that they are getting a really good player and they have a need for perimeter players.

3. Dallas Mavericks- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

With their selection of Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks have a pretty well fit out backcourt. They need some good players on the interior. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

4. Sacremento Kings- Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

Porter has been injured since Missouri’s first game and had to have surgery on his spine. That is a serious injury, but Porter was a highly-coveted recruit and has the ability to play point forward. The Kings could bolster their lineup to include: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Porter, Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein.

5. Phoenix Suns- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Young has been the best player in college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggles on defense, but the offense should make up for it. The Suns need a point guard to replace Eric Bledsoe and to feed the ball to Devin Booker.

6. Chicago Bulls- Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

The Bulls have struck gold with Lauri Markkanen and now need to give him more support. With the selection of Knox, Chicago can go small with Knox at the four and Markkanen at the five or play a big man and play them at the three and four. Knox has heated up as of late with some clutch shooting and will soon see his name rise on draft boards

7. Memphis Grizzlies- Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State

Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies can pair him and Marc Gasol together on the inside, if Gasol stays in Memphis.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Cleveland needs more players who are willing to accept their roles and be worth the paycheck. Bamba will be great for defense and rebounding, much like Tristen Thompson should be. He will provide very little on the offensive side of the ball other than dunks.

9. Philadelphia 76ers- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Is it too early to give up on Markelle Fultz? Who knows, but his jump shot isn’t looking too much better. Either way, Sexton is a great player that can get to the basket and distribute the ball.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Mikal Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

10. Charlotte Hornets-Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova

Bridges is one of the most improved players in college basketball this season. He is shooting 43% from deep on the season and provides some good athleticism. The Hornets really need to find out what they are doing with Kemba Walker before taking this pick, as he is seemingly on the trade block every year.

11. Utah Jazz- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

The Jazz hit on Donovan Mitchell in last year’s draft, which means they are set on wing players. They also have Rudy Gobert in the middle. Taking Gilgeous-Alexander to groom behind Rubio wouldn’t be a bad idea. He is a lanky point guard, who plays great defense.

12. New York Knicks- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Wendell has been a very solid player, who sometimes gets overshadowed by Bagley. He has limited athletic ability, but he is very effective. Carter even shoots the three at a solid clip of 46%. While the Knicks do have Porzingis, he and Carter are versatile enough to play on the court at the same time.

13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

The Clippers just traded away Blake Griffin and may want to replace him at power forward. Williams hasn’t had a very productive year at Texas A&M, but he is talented.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

With the Clippers having an extra pick due to the Griffin trade they can also improve their perimeter players. Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body.

15. Philadelphia 76ers- Omer Yurtseven, C, N.C. State

With the earlier pick going to the backcourt, this pick needs to be used on frontcourt depth. Yurtseven is 7’0″ and has taken a huge step forward this season for the Wolfpack.

16. Denver Nuggets- Jared Vanderbilt, SF, Kentucky

Vanderbilt has been out most of the year with an injury, but has come on strong for Kentucky. He is long, which helps him rebound well, but needs to shoot better. The Nuggets can slowly bring him on to fill out the starting lineup.

17. Chicago Bulls- Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

The Bulls got Knox with their first pick, who can play the three or four, so they now select the super athletic shooting guard. Diallo may be the most athletic in the class and can get to the basket with his strong drives.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Mitchell Robinson (Photo by sportingnews.com)

18. Milwaukee Bucks- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson had intended to go to Western Kentucky, but then dropped out of school to prepare for the NBA draft. The Bucks need more inside depth.

19. Indiana Pacers- Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Indiana could use some backcourt depth and Walker is really starting to come on for the Hurricanes. Both he and Victor Oladipo are versatile, meaning they can play on the court at the same time if need be.

20. Washington Wizards- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

McCoy can provide the Wizards with some much needed front court depth and also be a good developmental player.

21. Phoenix Suns- Bruno Fernando, PF/C, Maryland

The Suns picked Josh Jackson last year and Trae Young with the first pick in this mock. They can get a big here to help fill out the roster.

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Metu has progressed every year in college and has even developed an outside shot this season.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State

Minnesota gets a good defender and a point guard that can learn for a few seasons before challenging for starting minutes.

24. Atlanta Hawks- Dznan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzogovina 

The Hawks get their star rookie with the first pick in Bagley and can afford to select a possible draft and stash this one.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

Duval has played well at Duke and can develop into a good pro. Cleveland’s point guard situation can get a little bit murky after the season.

26. San Antonio Spurs- Troy Brown, G, Oregon

Brown is an athletic wing who needs to develop his outside shot more. Fortunately for him the Spurs are successful at teaching players how to shoot better.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Alize Johnson (Photo by si.com)

27. Brooklyn Nets- Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri State

The Nets acquired Jahlil Okafor, but still need some more production from the inside.

28. Boston Celtics- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Allen can shoot, which will be good for the Celtics’ bench next season.

29. Atlanta Hawks- Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona

In this mock draft the Hawks have drafted Bagley, a possible draft and stash wing and now get a perimeter scorer.

30. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

The Warriors will likely need to replenish their guard depth this offseason and Carr has been a star for Penn State.

 

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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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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Kentucky Wildcats basketball

Lowering expectations for the Kentucky Wildcats

It seems like this happens every season. A Kentucky team filled with young talent normally finds a way to get it together midseason. The No. 2 recruiting class in the country has been struggling as of late.

They struggle to score outside of the paint and outside of second-chance opportunities. What’s even worse is it seems like this team just lacks toughness when the game is on the line. This Kentucky team hasn’t taken a step to being a title contender, and with the SEC being a strong basketball conference this season, who knows if they ever will.

Recent

The last two games, the Kentucky Wildcats have blown a second-half lead. They have lost to both South Carolina and Florida in those games. They blew a 10-point second half lead to South Carolina and let the Gators go on an 11-2 run to lose by two.

The Wildcats struggle to make plays because they have no clear leader. In past years, they have had at least one upperclassman around to lead a young recruiting class. This season, the Cats have 14 players on their roster, eight of them are freshmen and four are sophomores. Wenyen Gabriel is the most experience Wildcat on the team. He played nearly 18 minutes a game last season and now plays significant minutes again. He is used to SEC conference play and has more experience than others on the team who played less minutes last season.

Kentucky is 0-2 against the top 25 and are 2-3 in their last five games. They have lost five games this season to Tennessee, UCLA, Kansas, Florida and South Carolina and struggle in the clutch because they don’t have any defined playmakers.

Losing to South Carolina seemed to be one of the tougher losses for a struggling Kentucky team, especially since South Carolina struggles on the offensive end.

The biggest strengths of Kentucky is their length and their big men. They dominate the glass and the paint. However, Chris Silva had 27 points and eight rebounds in the Gamecocks’ win. He controlled the game and the paint. He especially controlled the paint in the waning minutes of the game, when the Wildcats began to falter.

The offensive struggles

Kentucky Wildcats basketball

Quade Green, Kentucky guard (Photo from USA Today)

In the five games that Kentucky has lost this season, they are 3-for-13, 6-for-21, 7-for-19, 1-for-11 and 4-for-17 from three. In total, that is 21-81, which is 26 percent.

The two most capable offensive weapons on the Kentucky Wildcats are Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington. Washington has been quoted by John Calipari as, “The toughest kid on our team,” and both have shown flashes of being the go-to guy.

With no clear go-to guy, the Wildcats struggle to close games. In years past, they have always had a guy who steps up and takes the shots when the game gets tough. Last season, they had Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. Prior to that, they have had Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Brandon Knight among others.

As of right now, the Wildcats haven’t established that person yet. They are still in search of a leader and someone to take the important shots.

Figuring it out

The talent is there with this team. There is no doubt they are similar to previous Kentucky teams. Any team coached by Calipari has a good chance of getting a clear identity.

The sky shouldn’t be falling yet, but there is cause for concern. Kentucky as of right now isn’t a skilled enough team from the perimeter or in the clutch to run deep into March.

What they can do

Kentucky is now unranked for the first time since 2014. Two out of their next three games are at home against some of the bottom of the SEC. One thing they need to do moving forward is to find an identity before it’s too late for them.

Every season, Kentucky finds a way to take young talent and turn it into National Championship contenders. This season, Calipari is going to take the underdog mentality and have the whole Wildcats team rally behind it.

Don’t write the Cats off yet, but they still have a long way to go before March comes around.

 

Featured image by Chet White of UK Athletics

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