Grading college basketball’s coaching hires

This post will be updated throughout the next few weeks, as programs look to fill voids at their head coaching position. While there are a lot of teams and conferences out there, this article will grade college basketball’s coaching hires in the AAC (select programs), ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, SEC and Pac-12.

Louisville Cardinals: Chris Mack

Chris Mack has made the tough decision to leave his alma mater to go to a school that is currently under investigation by the FBI. Mack posted a 215-97 record while at Xavier and was the program’s all-time winningest coach. He made the tournament in eight out of his nine years as the head coach of the Musketeers, which includes three Sweet Sixteens and one Elite Eight appearances.

He is a great offensive coach and really excels at drawing up good offensive plays out of timeouts. This season he used those skills to lead Xavier to the eighth most efficient offense in the country. Defensive coaching is not his forte, which will seem odd at a place like Louisville, but he did implement a variety of defenses (including a 1-3-1 zone that was tough to deal with) to try to change things up on opponents.

With everything going on at Louisville right now, they hit a home run with this hire. Mack is a top 10 offensive coach in the country and can recruit well. If Mack doesn’t succeed at Louisville, it is likely more due to what sanctions are given to them than Mack’s coaching ability. To top it all off, Louisville is only paying him $4 million in annual salary. With a program in its current state, many thought the price tag would be almost double that.

Grade: A

Pittsburgh Panthers: Jeff Capel III

Grading college basketball's coaching hires

Jeff Capel (Photo by zagsblog.com)

Pittsburgh is another program in an interesting situation, but it is mostly their own doing. After Jamie Dixon left to take the job at TCU, they replaced him with Kevin Stallings, a coach that underachieved given his talent at Vanderbilt. Stallings depleted all the talent in Pitt’s program and coached them to a 0-18 ACC record this season (0-19 if you include the ACC Tournament). They reportedly had the job turned down by a few coaches that normally would have taken the job in a heartbeat.

Jeff Capel will be another Duke assistant leaving the program for a head coaching job. He was formerly a head coach at VCU and Oklahoma. He has made three NCAA Tournaments in his time and even an Elite Eight with Blake Griffin leading the Sooners. Unfortunately, the program was found to have committed major NCAA infractions while he was in charge. He reportedly didn’t know about the violations happening but was still fired. As a head coach, he has recruited players like Blake Griffin, Willie Warren, Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders.

Capel has been credited with helping Duke get some of the country’s top prospect since he joined the staff in 2011. Recruiting is his major calling card. He has filled in for Coach K on occasion, who has had a few issues with his health over the last few seasons.

It seems like, over the past several years, Capel hasn’t been talked about as a major candidate for jobs. That is probably due to the NCAA infractions that happened under his watch and the bad season he had in his last year at Oklahoma with some talented players on his roster. Pittsburgh, who doesn’t have much talent, will need his recruiting abilities and decided to take the risk.

Grade: C

UConn Huskies: Dan Hurley

Hurley has been the coach of Rhode Island since the 2012-2013 season. Before that, he was at Wagner as the head coach for two seasons. In his last season at Wagner, he posted a 25-6 record but was unable to make the NCAA Tournament. At Rhode Island, he went from an 8-21 record in year one to a 26-8 record in his final season. He has made two straight NCAA Tournaments, but the Rams were bounced in the second round each year.

UConn fired Kevin Ollie after winning a championship only four seasons ago. He was unable to find sustained success and was fired due to a pending investigation. The program isn’t in the best shape at the moment and is stuck in a lackluster AAC. Hurley should be able to find some decent success at UConn, but bringing the program back to national prominence probably isn’t in the cards.

Grade: B

Memphis Tigers: Penny Hardaway

Memphis firing Tubby Smith after a 20 win season seemed like it was a bit too soon, but they wanted Hardaway the whole time. While he was an iconic player in the NBA and for Memphis, he has no coaching experience in his background.

Hardaway should be a good recruiter, as some recruits will recognize him and he will be able to relate to the situation they are in. The program should have more interest in it, but it is hard to tell how a coach will do in his first go at it. This is probably too good of a job for a first-time coach (he hasn’t even been an assistant yet at the college level).

Grade: C

Georgia Bulldogs: Tom Crean

Grading college basketball's coaching hires

Tom Crean (Photo by indystar.com)

Tom Crean spent one year at ESPN and is now back in the college game. He is 356-231 overall in his two coaching jobs at Marquette and Indiana. This includes one Final Four and three Sweet Sixteen finishes. Crean was one of the most experienced and accomplished coaches on the market, even though he was fired by Indiana.

He is a great offensive coach, with his last two seasons at Indiana ranking in the top ten in efficiency in the country. Crean also is a solid recruiter and will get some talent to Athens.

Mark Fox had the program in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid at the end of the season, but they came up a bit short. The team was based on one great player in Yante Maten, who is now gone. Crean will have to turn around a program in a conference that is currently really strong in basketball.

Grade: B+

Ole Miss Rebels: Kermit Davis

Davis may not be as known as other coaches on this list, but he has a lot of experience as a head coach. He has had stops at Idaho, Texas A&M and Middle Tennessee with a record of 403-238. He has recently led Middle Tennessee to three NCAA Tournaments in six years, with two of those resulting in round one wins.

Ole Miss parted ways mutually with Andy Kennedy, who made two NCAA Tournaments and several NITs. The Rebels do have some players returning, but they went 12-20 this past season. Davis was given a long time (he started coaching there in 2002) to get the Blue Raiders on track and likely won’t get as much time at Ole Miss, with the SEC have so many good teams and coaches.

Grade: C-

Xavier Musketeers: Travis Steele

Mack leaving Xavier, his alma mater, was a surprise. In the last thirty years or so Xavier has done a great job of targeting and hiring coaches, which has helped lead the programs to new heights in the 21st century. It is hard to replace a Xavier legend, but they have found a guy who should keep the Xavier tradition alive.

Steele was one of Mack’s assistants and had been with the program for ten years. A lot of the current and former players publicly vouched for Steele to be the next head coach on Twitter. He is great at drawing up plays and recruiting.

He has no head coaching experience, but neither did Mack or Sean Miller when they were hired for the same job. While it was reported that a lot of big-time division one coaches were interested, Steele is a good fit and should be able to keep the program steady.

Grade: B+

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 10

It’s March and the madness has already begun with conference tournaments. There are still a lot of games to be played before Selection Sunday, but it’s always good to take stock of where the teams are standing. The Game Haus will be updating a new bracketology every day and sometime multiple times a day before Selection Sunday, so please check back! Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 10. Click to zoom.

Last four byes: Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s, USC, UCLA

Last four in: Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State, Notre Dame

First four out: Louisville, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Baylor

Next four out: Middle Tennessee, Syracuse, Marquette, Penn State

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 9

It’s March and the madness has already begun with conference tournaments. There are still a lot of games to be played before Selection Sunday, but it’s always good to take stock of where the teams are standing. The Game Haus will be updating a new bracketology every day and sometime multiple times a day before Selection Sunday, so please check back! Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 9. Click to zoom.

Last four byes: Florida State, USC, Texas, Oklahoma

Last four in: Alabama, UCLA, Notre Dame, Louisville

First four out: Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee State, Syracuse, Arizona State

Next four out: Baylor, Marquette, Penn State, Oregon

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 8

It’s March and the madness has already begun with conference tournaments. There are still a lot of games to be played before Selection Sunday, but it’s always good to take stock of where the teams are standing. The Game Haus will be updating a new bracketology every day and sometime multiple times a day before Selection Sunday, so please check back! Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 8. Click to zoom.

Last four byes: Kansas State, USC, Texas, Oklahoma

Last four in: UCLA, Alabama, Notre Dame, Arizona State

First four out: Baylor, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Syracuse

Next four out: Marquette, Boise State, Utah, Penn State

 

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2018 ACC Tournament preview

The ACC Tournament has so many teams that are fighting for different things, whether that’s a number one seed or just a spot in the tournament. As always, it will be competitive and fun. Here is a preview of what will take place in Brooklyn this week.

Overview

Virginia won the ACC this season by four games this season, a feat that not many saw coming. They only have two losses on the season, to Virginia Tech and West Virginia. If they win this tournament, they will get the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Behind them Duke will be looking for a number one seed as well. Five of their six losses came in conference, but their defense has gotten better in recent weeks. They have also gotten healthier, as Marvin Bagley III has returned from his sprained knee.

North Carolina has a slight shot at a number one seed, but is likely looking at a two or three seed this season. With one of the best point guards in the country, Joel Berry, and a good inside-out player in Luke Maye, the Tar Heels can make a run and win this tournament.

Clemson, Miami, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Florida State are all likely in the NCAA Tournamnet, barring disaster scenarios. Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse are both on the bubble and need to do some damage in the ACC Tournament to secure a spot in the big dance. Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh finished at the bottom of the conference and are playing for pride unless they can make a run to win the whole ACC Tournament to get an automatic bid.

All-Tournament Team and MVP

The All-Tournament team is very dependent on who goes deep in a tournament. Who will be the best players in the ACC Tournament?

Joel Berry, G, UNC

Kyle Guy, G, Virginia

Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke

Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

Omer Yurtseven, F, N.C. State

MVP: Kyle Guy

Darkhorse: N.C. State Wolfpack

2018 ACC Tournament preview

Coach Kevin Keatts (Photo by sportingnews.com)

N.C. State will play Boston College, after the Eagles beat Georgia Tech in the first round. That shouldn’t be too tough of a game, as the Wolfpack already beat them this season, 82-66. After that they get Clemson, who is without one of their best players, Donte Grantham, who is injured. They split the season series with Clemson, but they had Grantham in both of those games. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games of the season and are clearly reeling without Grantham.

Picking up those two wins would give them some momentum. If the bracket holds to form, they would have to play Virginia and then Duke to win it all. While Virginia did beat the Wolfpack easily, N.C. State was able to beat Duke. That tournament run would be tough, but they should be able to get out of their first two games without too many problems.

Coach Kevin Keatts has done a fantastic job of putting a good team on the floor and getting the most out of them in his first year. They’ve got a good combination of inside players and guards. Omer Yutseven is a legitimate NBA prospect at center, who is tough to match up with. Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Malik Abu are good role players at forward, who have experience.

Markell Johnson runs the point well with 7.4 assists per game. Allerik Freeman, Torin Dorn and Braxton Beverley all give a good scoring punch to this team from the guard position, averaging over 10 points per game each. With so many different scoring options, the Wolfpack will be hard to stop this week.

Champion: Virginia Cavaliers

2018 ACC Tournament preview

Kyle Guy (Photo by accsports.com)

Virginia will have to play Louisville or Florida State in their first game, then likely have to go through N.C. State/Clemson and Duke to win the tournament. With just two losses on the season, they have beaten all of these teams. Florida State and Louisville created good games against the Cavaliers, but couldn’t come up with key plays at the end, giving Virginia victories. They are 3-0 against teams they’d meet in their first game.

For their likely second opponent of the tournament, they beat both N.C. State and Clemson without any problems. They held Clemson to 36 points, when Clemson still had Grantham. If they make the championship against Duke, they were able to beat them at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 65-63.

They are clearly the class of the ACC, with only one loss in conference. Their defense is what sets them apart, as they allow just 52.8 points per game. That would be hard to do in any conference, but they managed to do that in one of the toughest, if not the toughest, conferences in the country. The Cavaliers hold opponents to just 37.5% from the field and play the game at their pace.

Virginia’s best player is Kyle Guy, who averages just 13.9 points per game, but that’s because they run good offensive sets and milk the shot clock. He scores 17.5 points per game, which is probably what he would score if Virginia played at most teams’ paces. Devon Hall and Ty Jerome are also both solid guards who average over 10 points per game and defend well.

Outside of the three scorers, the Cavaliers have role players that don’t care about numbers and just focus on doing their jobs to secure victories. De’Andre Hunter, Isaiah Wilkins, Jack Salt, Mamadi Diakite and Nigel Johnson all fill significant roles and are capable of stepping up their games when called upon.

Tony Bennett will have his team ready to play in the ACC Tournament and is hoping that they can make the third Final Four in school history.

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament Bracketology February 26

March is only a few days away and the anticipation for the NCAA Tournament is growing. The bubble teams are sorting themselves out, while the top teams are vying for the best possible seed. Where do the teams currently sit? Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament Bracketology February 26. Click to zoom.

First four out: Baylor, Washington, Utah, UCLA

Next four out: Penn State, Nebraska, Boise State, Oregon

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Louisville and Mississippi State will play in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl and have some quality players going head to head. Some of these players will be making plays on Sundays in no time. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl:

Louisville Cardinals

Lamar Jackson, QB

Jackson has always been a dynamic athlete, but some doubted he could play quarterback at a high level. He has improved his accuracy and worked his way up to being a first round pick. He has thrown for 3,489 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 60.4% passing.

He is 6’3″ and 211 pounds which is decent for a NFL quarterback. He will need to add some weight if he plans on scrambling as much as he did in college. Not many teams will be able to pass up on his athletic ability.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Geron Christian, OT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Geron Christian (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Christian has been a starter since he walked on Louisville’s campus. The junior shows flashes of being a good tackle, but is inconsistent. Christian has been recognized as an All-ACC lineman. He could elect to go back to school to show he can be more consistent, which will raise his stock.

At 6’6″ and 314 pounds, he is good size for an NFL tackle. He is a prime candidate for the middle to late rounds of the draft, who teams will draft and try to work with.

Pojected draft range: 4th round-6th round

*CB Jaire Alexander and LB James Hearns have decided to skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Hearns’ draft range: 2nd round-4th round. Alexander’s draft range: 1st round-3rd round.

Mississippi State Bulldogs 

Martinas Rankin, OT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Martinas Rankin (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Rankin has been a star for Mississippi State after transferring in from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. He has shown a proficiency for pass blocking for the Bulldogs and has a lot of experience clearing holes for Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams.

He is 6’5″ and 302 pounds, which is decent size for a tackle. His physicality and run blocking ability will be questioned at the NFL level. Rankin will likely go in the first few round of the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Johnathan Abram, S

Abram started his career at Georgia, before transferring to Mississippi State. The junior has 62 total tackles, three tackles for loss and three passes defended this season. That is a solid start for his career as a Bulldog, but Abram probably needs another year of development.

He has good size for an NFL safety at 6’0″ and 216 pounds. Abram doesn’t have the best ball skills or production, which is a concern.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

*CB Jamal Peters is missing the bowl game for personal reasons. Peters’ draft range: 4th round-6th round.

 

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2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview

The 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl has the ACC, in Louisville, and the SEC, in Mississippi State, going head to head. This game features two of the best rushing offenses in the country, but the Bulldogs will be without some key pieces. Here is the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview:

Louisville Cardinals (8-4)

2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview

Lamar Jackson (Photo by courier-journal.com)

The Cardinals went 8-4 in the regular season for the second straight season. This year, after only losing to bowl eligible teams, the Cardinals beat Purdue, Florida State, Virginia and Kentucky for their solid wins. They were unable to beat any top quality teams, but had a solid season.

Lamar Jackson leads one of the best offenses in college football that averages 39 points per game. The running game is great, averaging 249.9 rushing yards per game. Jackson is their leading rusher with 1,443 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Malik Williams and Reggie Bonnafon are the other primary rushers and both have over 400 yards. When in doubt Jackson is able to pick up key first downs with his legs.

Jackson has really improved his accuracy this season, which has led to a good season as more than a runner. He has 3,489 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 60.4% completion. Although he didn’t have the hype this year that he had last season, he is still an elite player in college football. Jackson’s top targets are Jaylen Smith, Dez Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins. Smith leads the way with 873 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The defense has been just below average, allowing 27.1 points per game. They rank 53rd against the run and 78th against the pass. Linebacker Jonathan Greenard and defensive back James Hearns have combined to get pressure on the quarterback with seven sacks each.

23 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4)

2017 Taxslayer bowl preview

Aeris Williams (Photo by djjournal.com)

Mississippi State at times looked like one of the best teams in the country, but were inconsistent. They won eight games, including four games over bowl eligible teams. These big wins included victories over LSU, Louisiana Tech, Kentucky and Texas A&M. Their head coach, Dan Mullen, decided to leave the school for Florida and will not be coaching the bowl game.

The offense scores 32.1 points per game, but is losing its best player in Nick Fitzgerald. He was a key part of the running game that averaged 249.6 rushing yards per game. Running back Aeris Williams is the teams leading rusher, but fed off of having Fitzgerald in the backfield as a running threat. Williams has 1,019 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season. Backup quarterback Keytaon Thompson has shown he can run the ball with 299 yards and three touchdowns. More will be expected out of him in this game.

Thompson has had struggles completing passes at just 45.7% completion. With that, he only has 261 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. The passing game will likely not do too much damage in this game. There isn’t a go-to-guy in the receiving core, but five receivers have over 200 yards, but less than 300 on the season, with Keith Mixon having the most.

Their defense allows 20.4 points per game this season and has been good. They rank 23rd against the run and 12th against the pass. Defensive lineman Montez Sweat has been one of the best pass rushers in the country with 9.5 sacks.

Prediction

This would’ve been a really interesting game if Fitzgerald had been healthy. Without him, Mississippi State’s offense will be lost. While their defense is good, going up against Lamar Jackson will not be easy. Jackson will carry his team to victory.

Louisville Cardinals 33 Mississippi State Bulldogs 18

 

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College basketball preseason top 25: 20-16

It is the end of October so that means college basketball is right around the corner. What teams should be looked at as the best of the best? This is the second installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 25-21 click here.

20. St. Mary’s Gaels

College basketball preseason top 25

Jock Landale (Photo by zimbio.com)

St. Mary’s made the big dance for the first time since 2013 last season. There run ended in the round of 32, but it was a big step just to get back to the dance. With most of their scoring returning, the Gaels should make it to the second consecutive NCAA Tournament.

Leading scorer Jock Landale returns after averaging 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He will receive serious consideration for WCC Player of the Year. Calvin Hermanson is the second leading returning scorer and plays on the wing. He lights up the scoreboard, which is a theme for this team.Evan Fitzner is another returning starter in the frontcourt, who will start at power forward, even though he only played 15 minutes a game. He can stretch the floor as a three point shooter. Kyle Clark and Tanner Krebs will provide experience and depth.

Emmett Naar will be the sole point guard this season and brings back a good all around game. Starting at the two guard will be Cullen Neal who is a senior transfer from Ole Miss.This is his third college team as he played for three seasons at New Mexico before becoming a Rebel He has over 1,000 career points already and brings a lot of experience. They aren’t very deep at the guard spots so Jordan Ford, Tommy Kuhse and Kristers Zoriks will need to step up.

The Gaels have a good enough team to beat Gonzaga in the WCC and also do some damage in March.

19. Minnesota Golden Gophers

College basketball preseason top 25

Nate Mason (Photo by kare11.com)

Last season Minnesota was one of the biggest surprises in all of college basketball. They had eight wins two seasons ago and last year improved to 24 wins. They did end up losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but with a lot of players returning the Golden Gophers’ future looks bright.

Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch are two great inside players for Richard Pitino. Murphy is more of an inside scorer and rebounder, while Lynch is a great defender who blocks a lot of shots. Lynch was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season. Eric Curry played 19.9 minutes per game as a freshman and will have to eat up a lot of minutes again and be effective. Davonte Fitzgerald had a torn ACL last year, but is figuring to make impact this season.

The backcourt returns a lot of experience. The best player on the team is point guard Nate Mason. He averaged 15.2 points and five assists per game and is a great floor general. Amir Coffey is a lengthy wing who started all 33 games as a freshman and should improve in his second season. Dupree McBrayer is the best three point shooter on the team at 41.6% and played 27.8 minutes per game in his sophomore campaign last year. Not too many other guards play a lot of minutes so those three will need to stay out of foul trouble or the Golden Gophers will have to rely on freshmen.

While they likely won’t beat out Michigan State in the Big Ten, Minnesota will be a really solid team that will make another NCAA Tournament.

18. Louisville Cardinals

College basketball preseason top 25

David Padgett (Photo by thecardinalconnect.com)

Louisville got knocked out in the round of 32 last season, but a lot has happened since. Rick Pitino is out and they lost incoming star prospect Brian Bowen because of the Adidas scandal. The Cardinals still have a lot of good players returning, but David Padgett has a lot of work ahead of him coaching this team.

The Cardinals’ best player is Deng Adel, who is a good wing athlete. He does a little bit of everything for Louisville and will need to be the go to guy this season. Adel needs to improve his three point shooting and if he can, he will be one of the best players in the ACC. Anas Mahmoud and Raymond Spalding are the only returning interior player, who provide some experience, but they won’t wow anyone. They will be asked to defend, make open interior shots and rebound. For depth, their talented freshmen will need to step up. Malik Williams, Jordan Nwora and Lance Thomas need to provide an impact down low, while transfer Dwayne Sutton has to provide depth on the wing.

Quentin Snyder has been at Louisville for what seems like forever. He is the floor general that needs to be the leader of the team as they go through this difficult time. He averaged 12.4 points and 4.1 assists per game, which will need to improve this year. V.J. King was a great recruit who saw some minutes as a freshman, but will need to be a star for the Cardinals for the team to be successful. Depth will be a question as recruits need to step up and make a difference.

The Cardinals may not be eligible for the NCAA Tournament when the FBI investigation is all said and done, but Louisville has a talented roster that is deserving of being ranked.

17. Northwestern Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Bryant McIntosh (photo by indystar.com)

Northwestern finally made the NCAA Tournament in 2017. They also got their first ever win and now are looking for more. The Wildcats return four players who averaged over 30 minutes per game last season and have good veteran leadership to rely on.

Dererk Pardon returns on the inside for Northwestern and with improvement can average a double double, even though he is a little undersized. Barret Benson will see an increased role this season after averaging eight minutes last season. Vic Law is a talented wing that can get to the basket and knock down threes. He also is the teams second leading rebounder. His defense is a game-changer. Gavin Skelly is a senior that will get minutes an help out more on the inside.

Senior point guard Bryant McIntosh can score and set up his teammates with 14.8 points and 5.2 assists per game. He will be flanked by shooting guard Scottie Lindsey. Lindsey will get to the basket and is the second leading returning scorer behind McIntosh. Isiah Brown will be asked to do more as a sophomore as the lone returning depth piece at the guard spot. Anthony Gaines is a freshman that will need to fill in some minutes for the Wildcats.

Back to back NCAA Tournaments is a probability for a team that took so long to get one appearance in the big dance.

16. Purdue Boilermakers

College basketball preseason top 25

Isaac Haas (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Purdue broke through to the Sweet 16 last season. They lost their double-double machine in Caleb Swanigan, but have a lot returning to help them be successful once again. The Boilermakers are coming off a big offseason of representing USA in the World University Games and came away with a silver medal.

The middle of the floor is anchored by Isaac Haas. He hasn’t been the prime time player yet in his Purdue career due to Swanigan and A.J. Hammons getting more minutes in years past. He will have to use his 7’2″ frame to score over shorter defenders and grab all the rebounds lost by the departure of Swanigan. At the four spot Vince Edwards is a very versatile player that can shoot the three and get to the basket. He is the perfect power forward for college basketball and averaged 12.6 points per game last season. Jacquil Taylor was redshirted last year due to injury and will need to provide depth.Matt Haarms is bigger than Haas and will back him up at center, while Eden Ewing and Aaron Wheeler will be asked to step in and provide depth.

Perimeter play is not something Purdue will be lacking. Carson Edwards, P.J. Thompson, Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline all return. Carson Edwards is a great defender that had a good freshman season. Thompson, Mathias and Cline all knock down shots from deep. Mathias adds senior leadership and a good perimeter defender to the team. With these four players, the Boilermakers are in great hands.

The sky is the limit for this Purdue team even without Swanigan. Matt Painter will have this team ready for another run in March.

For teams 15-11: Click here.

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Five things to watch for in college football week 6

This week may not feature the greatest matchups, but there is still going to be a lot of good football played. Here are five things to watch this weekend:

1. Lamar Jackson vs. NC State’s Defense

College football week 6

Bradley Chubb (Photo by nbcsports.com)

Lamar Jackson has had another great start to the season and leads a Louisville team that still has just one loss. They travel to Raleigh to take on the NC State Wolfpack on a tricky Thursday night game.

Jackson has 1,636 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He has also been completing passes at a higher rate this season with a mark of 64%. While he got knocked off the Heisman race a little bit with his early loss to Clemson and other players stepping up, he is still an electric player. If Jackson is on, he is hard to stop.

NC State’s defensive line boasts one of the best players in the country Bradley Chubb. Chubb already has 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season. He will be a lot to deal with for the Cardinals’ front. The Wolfpack have only given up 428 yards on the ground and with there good pass rush, should create a pretty good challenge for Jackson.

A lot is on the line for both teams, as Louisville still only has one loss and NC State just jumped into the AP rankings this week.

2. Big 12 Shootout

College football week 6

Will Grier (photo by roanoke.com)

Two of the most high powered offenses will be facing off against each other this weekend. TCU and West Virginia are both trying to make the Big 12 Championship Game this season and this game could have a lot to say about it.

The Horned Frogs have Kenny Hill at quarterback who has had a bit of a resurgence this season. He is the main reason that TCU is averaging 47.8 points per game. He has dual-threat abilities and a completion percentage of 76.2%. They bring a solid balance of running and throwing the ball that can make any defense struggle.

West Virginia does most of its damage through the air. They are seventh in the country in passing yards per game and second in points per game. Quarterback Will Grier is deserves some thanks for that. Grier already has 1,374 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. He spreads the ball around well, making the offense difficult to stop.

With two offenses like this going at it, look for turnovers to be the key factor in the game. Be careful when changing the channel on Saturday, because if you hop off of this game, you may miss a couple scores.

3. Rivalry Games

College football week 6

Jim Harbaugh (Photo by usatoday.com)

While rivalry week is still a long ways off, there are a few rivalries that are going on this weekend. The extra emotion that comes with these games can make the games closer than they should be. Never underestimate any result when it comes to rivalries.

Florida State versus Miami was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma and will now take place this weekend. Miami is on a roll, having just come off a big win over Duke. Florida State got their first win of the season over Wake Forest. The Seminoles have owned Miami in recent years, but this year it could change. Florida State hasn’t looked particularly well since losing starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the season. With all that being said, this could be Miami’s year to do some damage.

This weekend also features the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry that has produced some crazy finishes in the past. Michigan State still looks like a team that needs some work, but are already doing better than last year. Michigan looks shaky on offense, but the defense has some real playmakers. John O’Korn will get the start at quarterback, while Wilton Speight is injured. This game might end up being low scoring, but the intensity will be there as always.

4. Can Bryce Love keep it up?

College football week 6

Bryce Love (Photo by ruleoftree.com)

Bryce Love has had a fantastic start to the season and could win the Heisman if he keeps it up. He is averaging 11.1 yards per carry on the season and is a force to be reckoned with. No one has been able to contain him thus far.

This week Stanford has a tough road game at Utah. If the Cardinal want to make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game, they likely need to win out. The Utes have a good defense that allows just 17.8 points per game and 87 rushing yards per game.

Love will have to bring his “A” game for Stanford to win because the quarterback play hasn’t been great. If he keeps up at this pace, he could break a lot of records.

5. Washington State in their first road game

College football week 6 preview

Luke Falk (Photo by seattletimes.com)

The Cougars are 5-0 and up to 11 in the AP rankings. With a weird schedule this season, Washington State hasn’t had to play a road game yet. A lot is known about the Cougars, but they can’t be true competitors for the CFP until they prove they can win on the road.

On Saturday they travel to Eugene, Oregon to take on the Ducks. Oregon was looking like a much improved team, but then starting quarterback Justin Herbert got injured. He is out four to six weeks with a broken collarbone. This game might not be as good as a result, but with the Cougars not having proven anything on the road yet, it could still be close.

This game gives Washington State a chance to be 2-0 in Pac-12 play and get on a roll before they have to face the likes of Stanford and Washington.

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