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 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 Pac-12 Tournament preview

The Pac-12 (or the conference of champions, as Bill Walton will remind the audience on most Pac-12 broadcasts), has several teams who have had interesting seasons for a variety of reasons. While it is not the deepest conference this season, there are still competitive teams who can make a run in this year’s Pac-12 Tournament.

Overview

Arizona was able to win the Pac-12 by two games this season, despite having some distractions in recent weeks. Sean Miller is back with the team after sitting out a game, due to reports stemming from the FBI probe. They clearly have the most talent in the conference and will be looking to secure a very high seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Washington and Utah are all teams on the bubble for the big dance this season. All are capable of making a run in this tournament, but have been inconsistent. Oregon and Stanford finished in the middle of the Pac-12 standings, but would need a lot of help to make the NCAA Tournament. Colorado, Oregon State, Washington State and California had rough seasons and will be looking to salvage something this week.

All-Tournament and MVP

The All-Tournament team is very dependent on who goes deep in a tournament. Who will be the best players in the Pac-12 Tournament?

Aaron Holliday, G, UCLA

Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon

Allonzo Trier, G, Arizona

Chimezie Metu, F, USC

DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

MVP: DeAndre Ayton

Darkhorse: Oregon Ducks

2018 Pac-12 Tournament preview

Payton Pritchard (Photo by zimbio.com)

Oregon had to replace a lot of production from their team last season, but have had a solid season. Their first game is against Washington State. While the Ducks did just lose to the Cougars, they won when they played them at home. They are also the superior team in terms of talent. Oregon should be able to get past the first round.

Their second game, if they win, will be against Utah. They lost to Utah in their only matchup of the season, but that was the first game of the conference season. Oregon is a better scoring and rebounding team, so if they can limit second opportunities for the Utes, they should be able to emerge victorious.

In the third round, assuming the tournament holds to form, they would play USC. They did lose both regular season matchups with USC, but only by seven total points. The Ducks will need to get hot from deep to win, but with their players, that isn’t asking for the world. The championship game would be against Arizona, a team they just beat at the end of the regular season, although Arizona was without Trier and Miller. While it’s not likely they win the whole thing, watch for the Ducks to go on a mini-run in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Pritchard runs the offense well and also leads the team in scoring and assists. With Elijah and Troy Brown adding a scoring punch from the wings, teams will need to have a good perimeter defense to beat them. Victor Bailey provides them with depth, averaging over 15 minutes per game.

On the interior, MiKyle McIntosh, Paul White and Kenny Wooten are all undersized, but have been productive. They rotate in and out, having very diverse games. McIntosh and White have an inside-out game, while Wooten is best staying on the inside.

Champion: Arizona Wildcats

2018 Pac-12 Tournament Preview

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by theathletic.com)

It would be hard to pick anyone, but Arizona with how much talent they have. With Miller and Trier back in the fold, they shouldn’t have too much competition either.

Their first opponent will be the winner of the Colorado-Arizona State game. They split the series with Colorado, but swept Arizona State. Against either team, if they feed Ayton the ball, they will be fine.

If form holds, they will play UCLA in their second game. While they did lose to UCLA in the regular season, they should be able to get revenge against the Bruins. Ayton Had an off-game against UCLA, shooting below 50%. The chances that happens again is very low.

In the final game of the Pac-12 Touranment, Arizona will likely play USC. They beat USC by 14 in the regular season. Their biggest mismatch is with their wing players in this matchup, meaning Trier should have a big game to lead the Wildcats to a title.

With Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins all being good guards, they really don’t have a weak point in their backcourt. Their frontcourt is also strong with Trier and Dusan Ristic, so it will take a lot to beat Arizona. If they get in foul trouble, the Wildcats could be in trouble as their leading bench scorer, Dylan Smith, averages less than five points per game. With Miller back, they should be able to go on a run in March.

 

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2018 NFL Draft: Potential first round wide receivers

If any team is looking for a wide receiver early in this draft, they may be taking them too early. The NFL has been blessed with several high-quality wide receiver classes over the last five years.

Because of these classes, there seems to be a stigma on this one, due to the lower quality of players. However, there are a few players that can make an impact for teams next season.

Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Calvin Ridley

Photo from foxsports.com

Ridley has stood out amongst the rest of the pack in terms of draftable receivers. The 6-foot-1 receiver from Alabama does not have the stats that are going to jump off of the page, but that is mostly due to the lack of quarterback talent and a heavy run game.

After starting for three years, Ridley has received a lot of praise for his solid hands, quick feet, long speed and great route-running ability. He has the size to play on the outside, while having the shiftiness and speed to play in the slot.

Though he is a late first-round talent, he will probably go anywhere within the top 15 picks.

Courtland Sutton, SMU

Sutton NDT Scouting

P

If there is a wide receiver that might be better than Ridley, it may be Courtland Sutton. Sutton racked up over 1,000 yards for his second straight season while totaling 22 touchdowns during that span.

Sutton doesn’t have the versatility of Ridley, but he is more of a threat in the red zone with his great body control. His body control allows him to high point the ball and make great catches over defensive backs. Sutton’s size and hands make him a great red zone guy and a matchup nightmare because he is still relatively quick for his size.

Sutton will be picked anywhere between late in the first round to the beginning of the third.

 

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Christian Kirk

Kirk may be the only other potential first round pick at the receiver position. He has been a big part of the Aggies’ offense for the last three seasons where he has totaled 234 catches and nearly 3,000 yards.

However, not only is he a great wide receiver, but he is a dangerous returner too. In his career at Texas A&M, Kirk has scored seven special teams touchdowns, six of them from punt returns.

At 5-foot-11, he will mostly play in the slot and on special teams because of his speed and quickness. One thing that many have questions about is the consistency of route running and his catching ability.

Final thoughts

There are several talented wide receivers in this draft, but these three are the only ones that have the opportunity to be taken in the first round. This can change depending on how the draft process goes for each of these players.

Some receivers just missed the cut. That includes James Washington (Oklahoma State), Deon Cain (Clemson), Jordan Lasley (UCLA) and Deontay Burnett (USC).

 

Featured image by Brett Deering from Bleacher Report

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Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

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

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

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

2. Clemson Tigers

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

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

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

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

4. Washington Huskies

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

5. Miami Hurricanes

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

6. Michigan State Spartans

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

7. Georgia Bulldogs

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

8. Wisconsin Badgers

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

9. Oklahoma Sooners

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

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Josh Jackson (Photo by cjonline.com)

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

11. Penn State Nittany Lions 

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

12. Auburn Tigers

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

13. Stanford Cardinal

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

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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

15. Boise State Broncos

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

16. LSU Tigers

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

17. Michigan Wolverines

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Shea Patterson (Photo by freep.com)

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

18. USC Trojans

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

19. West Virginia Mountaineers

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

20. Florida Atlantic Owls

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

21. Kansas State Wildcats

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

22. Northwestern Wildcats

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

23. Florida State Seminoles

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Deondre Francois (photo by gridironnow.com)

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

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs

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

25. Texas A&M Aggies

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

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl

This may not be a College Football Playoff game, but the 2017 Cotton Bowl has some really good players in it. With Ohio State and USC matching up, it should be a good game and a foreshadowing of what some players can do at the NFL level. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl:

USC Trojans

Sam Darnold, QB

Darnold was the projected top pick before the season started, but had issues turning the ball over early in the season. He has 12 interceptions, with six coming in the first three games. The sophomore redshirt has also had issues fumbling the ball. He has rebounded well for a solid season with 3,787 passing yards and 26 touchdowns on 63.7% completion.

He is the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback at 6’4″ and 220 pounds. Darnold has the arm strength and accuracy to make any throw, but has trouble with decision-making. If a good NFL coach gets him on his team, he can work out the kinks.

Projected draft range: Top 15 pick

Ronald Jones III, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl

Ronald Jones (Photo by dailynews.com)

Jones has been the best running back USC has had since Reggie Bush. The junior has 3,555 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground. He is overshadowed by Darnold, but Jones is a great running back. This season he has 1,486 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

At 6’0″ and 200 pounds, Jones can be an every down back in the NFL. He doesn’t have the most experience catching the ball out of the backfield, but he can do a lot of things when the ball is in his hands.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Porter Gustin, DE/OLB

Gustin is doubtful for this game with a toe injury, but is a good prospect. He has experience playing defensive end and linebacker. The junior has only been able to play four games this season, but last year he was dynamic. In 2016 he had 68 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

He has the size of an NFL pass rusher at 6’5″ and 255 pounds. The most sacks he had in a season was 5.5, so there will be some concerns about his pass rushing ability.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Other notable USC players: LB Cameron Smith (3rd round-5th round), DE/DT Rasheem Green (3rd round-5th round), DE Uchenna Nwosu (3rd round-5th round), G Viane Talamaivao (5th round-7th round)

Ohio State Buckeyes

Denzel Ward, CB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Cotton Bowl

Denzel Ward (Photo by ohiostatebuckeyes.com)

Ward started off the season with a bad start against Indiana, but has been great ever since. The junior has two interceptions and 15 pass break ups this season. With the more playing team he gets, the more he produces. Ward has shut down some pretty good wide receivers in the Big Ten over the last three seasons.

At 5’10” and 191 pounds, he is a little undersized, but has proven to be able to match up with bigger receivers. He has speed, athleticism and ball skills which will help him get drafted early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Sam Hubbard, DE

Hubbard has great athleticism for a defensive end and even played safety in high school. He has 26.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks in his three years at Ohio State. While he is solid at rushing the passer, Hubbard is one of the best defensive ends at stopping the run.

It is weird to think that a 6’5″ and 265 pound defensive end played safety in high school, but with more time to learn his position, Hubbard could turn into a star. He is limited to playing 4-3 defensive end, but is a good prospect.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Parris Campbell, WR

Campbell has been the best receiver for Ohio State. At times he can be inconsistent, but that isn’t entirely his fault. This season he has totaled 576 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Ohio State has given him some experience running the ball out of the backfield as well.

He is 6’1″ and 208 pounds, which is good enough for the NFL. His production isn’t great, but in Ohio State’s system players often don’t reach their full potential while in college.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Other notable Ohio State players: G/C Billy Price (1st round-2nd round), OT Jamarco Jone (2nd round-4th round), LB Jerome Baker (2nd round-4th round), DT Dremont Jones (2nd round-4th round), S Damon Webb (3rd round-5th round), QB J.T. Barrett (6th round-undrafted free agent)

 

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2017 Cotton Bowl preview

The two winners of the power five conferences that did not make the College Football Playoff will play in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. These teams have played a lot historically, with USC leading the all-time series with a 12-9-1 record. It should be another good one in Dallas. Here is the 2017 Cotton Bowl preview:

USC Trojans (11-2)

2017 Cotton Bowl preview

Sam Darnold (Photo by nj.com)

USC was a trendy pick to make the College Football Playoff, but ended up not being able to live up to expectations. They still won the Pac-12 and got to ten wins, while beating seven different bowl eligible teams. The Trojans lost a close game to Washington State and got blown out by Notre Dame, which cost them their chances to play in the CFP.

The offense has some future NFL players on the unit and score 34.5 points per game. Ronald Jones II and the running game are a huge part of that and average 194.9 yards a game. Jones II has 1,486 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. He is often overlooked because he plays next to Sam Darnold, but is a star in his own right.

Darnold was thought to be the first overall pick, but struggled early on in the season. He has since rebounded and finished well. He has 3,787 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 63.7% completion. After throwing six interceptions in the first three games of the season, Darnold has only thrown six the rest of the season. Deontay Burnett has 74 catches for 974 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the team Other receivers have produced, but will need to step up against Ohio State.

Their defense is average, allowing 26.3 points per game. They rank 56th against the run and 97th against the pass. Defensive linemen Christian Rector and Rasheem Green have created a good pass rushing duo. Rector has 7.5 sacks, while Green has nine. Corner Jack Jones leads the team with four interception. There is talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they are going to be put to the test against Ohio State.

Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)

2017 Cotton Bowl preview

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

The Buckeyes thought they should have been in the CFP over Alabama, but a loss at Iowa held them back. Other than the loss to Iowa, their only other loss was to Oklahoma. They do have quality wins over Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin on their resume.

Offensively they have stepped up this season by scoring 42.5 points per game. They do have struggles at times, but overall they have had a good year. The Buckeyes do a lot of damage on the ground with 249.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks 15th in the country. J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and quarterback J.T. Barrett create a three headed rushing attack behind Rimington Award-winning center Billy Price. Dobbins has 1,364 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while Weber has 608 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Barrett makes the offense dynamic with his running ability with 732 rushing yards and 10 toucdhowns.

Throwing the ball hasn’t been the most consistent thing for Barrett, but he is a very experienced starter. He has 2,939 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 64.7% completion. Barrett threw four interceptions in the loss to Iowa, but otherwise has played well for most of the season. They spread the ball around with eight receivers having over 200 receiving yards. Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill are the top receivers with over 500 receiving yards and three touchdowns a piece.

The defense has been really good this season, allowing 19.9 points per game. They rank eighth against the run and 20th against the pass. Their defensive line is one of the best in the country and has helped the Buckeyes get 37 sacks on the year. Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis all are excellent pass rushers that are hard to deal with.

Prediction

Ohio State’s offense will be able to run the ball on USC and will throw to keep them off balance. Darnold has been doing better at protecting the ball, but will be pressured into making mistakes by the Buckeyes’ defensive front.

Ohio State Buckeyes 41 USC Trojans 34

 

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College basketball’s biggest takeaways

It is now Dec. 23, and finals are wrapping up. College basketball has been in full swing for about five weeks, and just like every other year, it has been highly unpredictable. It’s time that we take a look at what we’ve learned so far in the young college basketball season.

Trae Young is really, really good

Young put up 26 points and 22 assists in 29 minutes in a win over Northwestern St. on Tuesday. In his latest stat line, Young put together 31 points and 12 assists in 27 minutes in a win over Northwestern. He’s leading the country in both points (28.7) and assists (10.4) per game. He is on pace to be the best statistical scorer in Big 12 history.

Considering the talent the Big 12 has had with players like Buddy Hield, Michael Beasley, Andrew Wiggins and Blake Griffin, it is even more impressive. He has turned the Sooners into a nationally ranked team, and is doing it in impressive fashion.

Arizona State came out of no where

There are very few teams undefeated this season, but the Sun Devils are still in that category.

They are 12-0 and are No. 3 in the AP top 25. Two of their wins have come against top 15 teams in both Kansas and Xavier, and they are seventh in scoring offense in the country.

A team that finished 15-18 last season is now one of the best teams in the country, and I don’t think that anyone saw it coming.

USC is not who we thought they were

Once a top 10 team, the Trojans are struggling immensely. They are 7-4 and just gave up 103 points to a 5-6 Princeton team.

The Trojans are struggling most on the defensive end. They are allowing 72.1 points per game. Their troubles started in a loss to SMU on the road and scored just 25 in the second half. Since then, they are 3-2 and haven’t played very well.

It has been a rough start for a team with a lot of preseason promise. With Arizona State, Oregon and Arizona all playing great basketball, the Pac-12 could be tough for the struggling USC Trojans.

Duke needs to play better defense

It’s hard to criticize a 12-1 team that has the best offense in college basketball. With that being said, I’m about to. Duke is in the top three in rebounds, points and assists. They are also 193rd in the country in points allowed at 72.5.

I don’t think this will be a problem moving forward. After the Boston College loss, Duke held Evansville to 40 points and beat them by 64. But for a while, the defense was beginning to be concerning.

Giving up over 80 points to Portland State and South Dakota does not scream dominant, but the Duke Blue Devils have enough talent to figure it out.

Experience is showing

Obviously Duke is the exception here, but it’s refreshing to see some teams led by upperclassmen be this successful. Teams like Xavier, Wichita State, Cincinnati, Arizona State and Texas A&M have all been in the top 25 and have done it with seasoned and experienced leaders.

Some of the teams that are notorious for having younger guys are struggling early on in the season.

What’s wrong with the Gators?

Remember them? The team that was scoring over 100 points a game to start the season and had Duke in crunch time but lost? Yeah, they lost to Loyola Chicago at a neutral site and basically fell off the earth. A team that had a dynamic offense has disappeared as of late.

Ultimately, the college basketball season is very young. There is a lot of growing teams need to do in the next three months.

There are many different things that we have learned from the first part of the college basketball season. These are some of the things that are the most important in the early going.

 

Featured Image from slamonline.com.

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College Football Playoff Bracketology 12/3/17

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

In the playoff:

1. Clemson Tigers (13-0)

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

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

2. Oklahoma Sooners (12-1)

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

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

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

3. Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)

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

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

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

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)

College Football Playoff Bracketology

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

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

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

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

First four out:

5. Auburn Tigers (10-3)

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

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

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

College football playoff bracketology

Nick Saban (Photo by usatoday.com)

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

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

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

7. Wisconsin Badgers (12-1)

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

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

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

8. USC Trojans (11-2)

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

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

Next four out:

9. Miami Hurricanes (10-2)

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

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

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

10. UCF Golden Knights (12-0)

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

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

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

11. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

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

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

Might we see another Penn State vs. USC matchup?

12. Washington Huskies (10-2)

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

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

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

 

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College football conference championship week picks

Conference championship week is here, which means less games to pick. Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger pick their conference champions and more!

Away Home Location Rob Joe
#12 Stanford #10 USC Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA Stanford USC
#20 Memphis #14 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Akron Toledo Ford Field, Detroit, MI Toledo Toledo
North Texas Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU FAU
UMass Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU FIU
Louisiana Monroe Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL FSU FSU
#11 TCU #3 Oklahoma AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Oklahoma Oklahoma
Georgia Southern Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Georgia Southern Georgia Southern
Idaho Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA Georgia St Georgia St.
Louisiana Appalachian State Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, NC App St App St
#6 Georgia #2 Auburn Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA Auburn Auburn
South Alabama New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM USA USA
Troy Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Troy Troy
#25 Fresno State Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
#7 Miami #1 Clemson Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC Clemson Clemson
#8 Ohio State #4 Wisconsin Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN Ohio St Ohio State
Gameday Guest Picker (Charlotte) Michael Jordan Ray Lewis

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