NBA Draft steals

The best NBA draft prospects outside the lottery

Year after year, NBA front offices look for a diamond in the rough. Drafting is hard enough to pull off as it is, but some draftees fall under the radar.

Jimmy Butler, Isaiah Thomas and Giannis Antetokounmpo are all examples of non-lottery picks that have turned into stars. Some of the biggest steals fall in the draft.

It is up to the front offices to put the right guys in the right systems. Here are some of the best underrated players in the 2018 NBA draft class.

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State

Projection: Late first round

The NBA loves a guy who can play inside out. Bates-Diop is one of the more offensively complete college players in this draft class. He went from being a good prospect his sophomore year to a great prospect his junior year.

He averaged 19.8 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game his junior season. He will have to be more of a small forward in his transition into the NBA. But with a 6-foot-7 frame and high release, he should have no problem shooting over defenders.

He scored 20 or more points in 15 of the 34 games he played in his junior season and scored under 10 just twice. He recorded 13 double-doubles and shot 48 percent from the field, 35.9 percent from the 3-point line and 79.4 percent from the free-throw line. Bates-Diop’s game transitions extremely well to the NBA.

He has a very polished offensive game and has the ability to guard almost anyone on defense. His draft stock is rising fast, as it should. Bates-Diop has one of the best all-around games in the 2018 draft class.

Omari Spellman, Villanova

Projection: Late first round

We go from a very proven college athlete to a young guy. Omari Spellman is a first-year player out of Villanova. He averaged 10.9 points and eight rebounds in his only season. Spellman also shot 47.6 percent from the field and shot a very impressive 43.3 percent from the 3-point line. His totaled just one less 3-pointer made than Bates-Diop, but shot less of them.

What makes Spellman interesting to NBA scouts is his athletic ability as well as his ceiling. In almost an opposite direction from Bates-Diop, going to the NBA now makes using the unpredictable an advantage. Spellman played so well with a group of stars and was a key part to a National Championship. It was his best move to advance to the NBA.

Spellman’s ceiling really falls within his athleticism. He has a 7-foot-2 wingspan even though he stands at just 6-foot-9. He is very explosive around the rim, but does not necessarily have an above-the-rim game. He has a great nose on the boards despite being undersized for his position.

He does not have a complete game in the sense that he is not a back-to-the-basket player. However, he is very comfortable away from the basket and is also comfortable facing the basket. Those two things translate extremely well to the NBA’s style of play.

Brandon McCoy, UNLV

Projection: Mid-second round

NBA Draft steals

Brandon McCoy (Photo from Review Journal)

Here is a guy that many people might not know of. Brandon McCoy is extremely skilled as a 7-foot-1 traditional center. He is 250 pounds and is a monster on the boards. He has not necessarily had his chances against Power-Five competition. However, against projected No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, he put up 33 points and 10 rebounds.

McCoy averaged 16.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in his freshman season. He shot 54.5 percent from the field and 72.5 percent from the free-throw line.

In a way, he is similar to Dwight Howard when he came into the league. He is extremely strong, but is also offensively raw and does not have too much diversity in his game. He is very good in the pick and roll and is also very good with his back to the basket due to his size.

He does not have a fantastic face-up game. However, he did show he could make a three, he just never had the confidence to shoot in bulk.

McCoy has the ability to dominate the paint given the right system. He is extremely raw, but can still come into his own given some time. After all, he is only 19 years old.

Malik Newman, Kansas

Projection: Late second round

Malik Newman started at Mississippi State and finished at Kansas. If you look at the difference in statistics, he looks like a completely different person.

Since his Mississippi State days, he has improved all his statistics drastically. In one season, he went from shooting 68.7 percent from the free-throw line and improved all the way to 83.5 percent at the end of his sophomore season.

His sophomore year percentages were 46.3 percent from the field, 41.5 percent from three and 83.5 percent from the free-throw line. He averaged 14.2 points, five rebounds and 2.1 assists. The thing that makes him most interesting is that during the back half of his sophomore season, his statistics skyrocketed.

Newman can be an important piece to any NBA roster. He reminds many of former Jayhawk Ben McLemore. He has a great jump shot and also has a ton of athletic ability.

 

Featured image from Bleacherfan.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

A recap of the 2017-2018 college basketball season

The 2017-2018 college basketball season was nothing short of unpredictable. Whether it was crazy upsets or scandals that seemed to drop out of nowhere there could not have been more of an unpredictable season. As the young freshmen were the focal point of many of the preseason polls in September, it was a back-court of upperclassmen that cut down the nets a week ago today in early April.

The Craziness:

This season, many teams struggled. The good teams hiccuped early and the depth of college basketball showed. A lot of teams seemed to be able to beat anyone if they were given their home court. Teams like Arizona State rose to the top five in the AP poll after not being ranked at all in the preseason. Then proceeded to free fall and almost play their way out of the field of 68. Notre Dame lost two home games against Ball State and Indiana and played their way out of the NCAA tournament.

Teams with fantastic freshmen like Duke struggled to defend at times but then would seemingly turn around and win by 30 in the next game they played. In every single game that Duke lost this season, they followed it up with a double-digit victory in that next game. And finally, a team of just three Crimson Tide,  led by standout freshman Collin Sexton, almost knocked off the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Heading into 2018, there wasn’t a single team that was undefeated, which just goes to show the depth and talent in all of division one college basketball.

The college basketball regular season was a roller coaster ride with ups, downs and unpredictability. The draw it had was that any team could win at any given moment. Like anything, college basketball’s unpredictability made it more interesting and in turn made March even more crazy and exciting than it normally is.

NCAA Tournament:

College Basketball

(USA Today).

This is a year that will go down in the history books. First off, in the tournament’s history, there had never been a number one seed losing to a 16 seed. As of this March, college basketball fans were blessed and some cursed, with the first win for a 16 seed over a one. But not only was it just “another one seed” it was THE one seed. A unanimous number one pick, the ACC regular season and tournament champion. A team with the number one ranked defense that although historically disappointing in the NCAA tournament, seemed like a lock to win against a UMBC team that lost to the University of Albany 83-39. The Cavaliers gave up 53 second-half points to the Retrievers (One less than their entire game average) and went into the history books for all the wrong reasons.

Loyola-Chicago emerged as the Cinderella destined to dance after a young Kentucky team couldn’t get out of a bracket that had an 11, seven and nine seed in front of them. Let me repeat that again. An 11, nine, and seven seed all made it to the sweet sixteen, and they were all in the same region. Ultimately the big dance stopped when the Ramblers ran into the sizzling hot Michigan Wolverines who went on to face Villanova for a chance at the throne.

Villanova:

Through all of that was Villanova. Through all the unpredictability and upsets was the 2016 National Champions. A team that dropped just four games all season and the highest scoring offense in the country. A team so balanced that they may have slid under the radar. With six 10+ point scorers, the Wildcats were incredibly balanced. Led by Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson Villanova had the best identity in college basketball.

The Wildcats did everything this season in convincing fashion. Out of their 36 wins this season, only one was by less than eight points and of their four losses never lost by more than eight. Villanova proved themselves as both the most consistent basketball team as well as one of the most explosive ones.

Through all the unpredictably and all of the noise, one thing that ended up making sense was the Villanova Wildcats cutting down the nets last week. Even though the story is that offense wins games and defense wins championships, in the end, defense didn’t win Virginia a game and offense won Villanova a championship.

Featured image from Beinsports.com.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Way too early 2018-19 college basketball rankings

The college basketball season has just ended, which means it is time to look ahead to next season. Who are the teams that will be looking to cut down the nets in the 2019 NCAA Tournament?

25. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

The Ramblers do lose Ben Richardson, Donte Ingram and Aundre Jackson, but return a lot of key players. This includes their two leading scorers, Clayton Custer and Marques Townes. Custer won MWC Player of the Year and will be a frontrunner to win the award again next season. The Ramblers have also been able to keep their head coach Porter Moser for the time being, who should keep the ball rolling.

24. Clemson Tigers

Clemson outdid expectations this year to earn a five seed in the NCAA Tournament. Mark Donnal, Gabe DeVoe and Donte Grantham are headed out the door, but they were successful after Grantham went down with an injury. Marcquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas will lead the team next season as seniors. Reed led the team in scoring and looks like he could break out next season.

23. Cincinnati Bearcats

Gary Clark and Kyle Washington are lost to graduation, but to add insult to injury Jacob Evans has declared for the draft and doesn’t plan on returning. The Bearcats still have talent and should be the favorites to win the AAC again. The backcourt play will be great with Jarron Cumberland, Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome returning. Cincinnati will have to find productive frontcourt players to really be a threat to great teams, but they are solid as is.

Way too early 2018-19 college basketball rankings

Mike Brey (photo by cbssports.com)

22. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame seems to lose about two or three key players a year and do fine anyways. This year’s departing class will be a little harder to replace though, as the Fighting Irish lose point guard Matt Farrell and star Bonzie Colson. They do however have T.J. Gibbs, Rex Pflueger and Martinas Geben returning, along with a solid recruiting class, which should help them compete in the ACC.

21. TCU Horned Frogs

The guard play should be good for the Horned Frogs next season as Alex Robinson and Jaylen Fisher return. Their two leading scorers, Kenrich Williams and Vladimir Brodziansky, are both graduating and other players will need to step up to help make Jaime Dixon’s third year at TCU successful.

20. UCLA Bruins

Thomas Welsh graduates and Aaron Holiday has declared for the NBA draft. They do have a good incoming recruiting class, ranked third in the country by 247 sports, and some returning talent on the roster to work with. Holiday should be the only player who keeps his name in the NBA Draft, meaning Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands will be returning leaders.

19. LSU Tigers

Will Wade did an admirable job in his first season as LSU’s head coach. It was a program that wasn’t in the best shape and they finished with 18 wins. Tremont Waters and Skylar Myers will make the backcourt really good and they have the fourth best recruiting class (247sports). With two five-star big men coming in, they have a chance to compete again in the SEC.

18. Maryland Tigers

Maryland didn’t have their best season in 2017-2018 but have their top five leading scorers returning. This team will be headlined by Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando. Assuming they all return to school, Maryland can make some noise.

17. Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs had a nice run in the NIT and will return all key players from the team. To go with that, they have the ninth-best recruiting class, which should help push them into the NCAA Tournament. Ben Howland has plenty of experience of winning at UCLA and now has the players to do so at Mississippi State.

way too early college basketball rankings 2018-19

Terance Mann (Photo by news-press.org)

16. Florida State Seminoles

Leonard Hamilton led the Seminoles on a dream run to the Elite Eight. They used their length and athleticism well and created havoc. Phil Cofer and Braian Angola are moving on, but their best player, Terance Mann returns. With a lot of key players and length returning, the Seminoles should have a better regular season than this past season.

15. Virginia Tech Hokies

Justin Bibbs is gone, but the rest of the notable Hokies will return. Virginia Tech had a really good offense and should be able to fill the void left by Bibbs. Justin Robinson and Kerry Blackshear Jr. will be senior leaders who will be able to lead the team to a lot of wins after being two of the three top leading scorers from last season.

14. Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State surprised some by making the NCAA Tournament, then surprised everyone by making the Elite Eight. They don’t lose any key players either, which should lead them to compete in the Big 12, although it will be tough to beat out their in-state rival. Dean Wade and Barry Brown will be starring in the conference next season.

13. Oregon Ducks

Troy Brown is reportedly leaving for the NBA Draft. He could still return, but they will lose MiKyle McIntosh to graduation. Other than that the Ducks should return everyone from a 23 win team. They have the second-best recruiting class in the country, which includes a unique talent in Bol Bol, son of Manute Bol. Payton Pritchard took a huge step from year one to year two and should take another step forward in year three.

12. Tennessee Volunteers

The Volunteers had a young team this year and will return everyone. Rick Barnes has done a fantastic job early in his tenure at Tennessee. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield will lead the team again with their great physical play. They are not expected to add anything special in the recruiting class because they aren’t losing anyone.

11. Michigan State Spartans

A lot has to be figured out with the situation at Michigan State, but as of now, they look like a good team heading into next season. Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges are going to the NBA. Gavin Schilling and “Tum Tum” Nairn will graduate, but a lot of talent should be returning to East Lansing. Cassius Winston, Matt McQuaid, Nick Ward and Joshua Langford should all be returning to school and will work with the 11th best recruiting class.

way too early 2018-29 college basketball rankings

Caleb and Cody Martin (Photo by twitter.com)

10. Nevada Wolfpack 

Nevada has five of their six key players who could potentially be coming back for next season. Caleb and Cody Martin could leave for the NBA, but the smart decision would be to come back to school. With those two, head coach Eric Musselman and Jordan Caroline returning and teaming up with some new recruits should make the team even better next season.

9. Auburn Tigers

The FBI investigation could have derailed Auburn’s season, but they outdid expectations. They return all key players and should have Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley returning at some point next season. If the FBI investigation doesn’t progress too much further Auburn is a contender to cut down the nets at the end of the season. Mustapha Heron and Bryce Brown will create a great backcourt.

*Heron has since declared for the NBA Draft and hired an agent.

8. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Johnathan Williams and Silas Melson are both graduating. If Killian Tillie returns, Gonzaga is in store for another successful season. Four of their top five leading scorers would return and Mark Few can get another top seed. Making the Final Four isn’t out of the picture again for Gonzaga.

7. North Carolina Tar Heels

Losing Joel Berry and Theo Pinson is going to be tough to deal with early in the season, but UNC has a lot of returning talent. Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams all averaged double figures and will have a chance to be leaders of the team next season. The Tar Heels will also have two five star recruits coming in with Nassir Little and Coby White.

6. Michigan Wolverines

This ranking depends on Moritz Wagner coming back to school. He isn’t projected to be a lottery pick and could go back to school as he loves playing for Coach Beilein. With Wagner, Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson back, they have the necessary pieces to be good again. Jordan Poole will take on a bigger role and the 16th best recruiting class is coming in.

5. Virginia Cavaliers

The sting of being the first one seed to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament will be there for a while, but they only lost three games all season. Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall leaving will hurt, but Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter should be able to lead Virginia to success.

4. Villanova Wildcats

Villanova is now a perennial contender and will be back next year. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges will likely be in the NBA next season, but there is so much talent returning outside of them. Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman will be stars next season. They also have the 12th best-recruiting class in the country including a five-star point guard in Jahvon Quinerly, who should be able to take over point guard duties from Brunson.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

The majority of Kentucky’s team should be back next season after securing a five seed and reaching the Sweet 16. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox should probably go to the NBA but are reportedly torn on what to do. Even if they leave, the Wildcats will have a great team next season. They have the sixth-best recruiting class in the country to pair with the vast returning talent.

way too early 2018-19 college basketball rankings

R.J. Barrett (photo by espn.com)

2. Duke Blue Devils

While most, if not all, their starters leaving, Duke will have a lot to replace. Fortunately, they have the top three recruits in the class coming in. All three were highly coveted and hyped. R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish will have NBA scouts going to Cameron Indoor Stadium often. Five-star Tre Jones was also signed to play point guard. Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier and Alex O’Connell are the leading returning players and need to grow up fast.

1. Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas will feel some growing pains while trying to replace Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk. If Malik Newman, Udoka Azabuike and/or Lagerald Vick decide to go pro, Kansas will fall down these rankings a bit. Assuming they all return, Kansas should be one of the best teams in the country. They have those key players returning and the fifth-best recruiting class. To add to it, they have the Lawson twins, who were highly productive at Memphis, transferring in.

 

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NBA Draft prospects in the Final Four

The Final Four is finally here after two great weeks of basketball in the NCAA Tournament. While these certainly aren’t the four teams with the best NBA Draft prospects, they have been given a chance to prove themselves on the big stage. NBA scouts will be watching. Here are the top NBA Draft prospects in the Final Four.

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers’ prospects

Clayton Custer, PG

Loyola will likely not have anyone drafted, but rather thrive on good ball movement and defense. Custer is the best player on the team and just won the MVC Player of the Year award. He averages 13.2 points and 4.2 assists per game and has helped get Loyola to the Final Four for the first time since 1963.

Custer is still a long shot to make the NBA, but he has the best chances of anyone on the Ramblers. He is just 6’0″ tall and 175 pounds but has some necessary skills that will help him when being evaluated. He has a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio, which is good considering how much he handles the ball. Custer also can light it up from deep, shooting 45.2% on the year.

He is just a junior and will likely return for his senior year before trying his luck as a professional.

Michigan Wolverines’ prospects

Moritz Wagner, PF/C

NBA Draft prospects in the Final Four

Moritz Wagner (Photo by sportingnews.com)

Wagner is a matchup nightmare in the college game, due to his size, shooting and mobility. He hasn’t had the best NCAA Tournament, other than a 21 point outing against Texas A&M, but is a very talented player nonetheless. Michigan was a trendy pick to reach the Final Four, with Wagner being a major reason for it.

At 6’10” and 210 pounds, Wagner fits the bill as a modern day big man in the NBA.  He has good post moves and shoots 39.6% from three-point land. To help his offensive game, he handles the ball well and can take bigger defenders to the basket. His defense has been good this season, he has a defensive rating of 92.1, but there are some questions on how he will do in that regard against NBA competition, as he isn’t a rim protector.

Most NBA mock drafts have Wagner as a late first or early second-round pick, but he is just a junior and could return to school.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, G

Abdur-Rahkman is a senior combo guard, who is the leader of this Michigan team. Michigan is usually a good offensive team but leaves a little to be desired defensively, but Abdur-Rahkman has helped change the narrative this season.

His on-ball defense is some of the best in the country, as he continually frustrates opponents trying to get to the basket. He picks up a steal a game, which helps solidify him as a good all-around defensive player. He isn’t the best shooter, at 38.8% from three-point range, but hits enough to keep defenders honest. While he can drive to the basket decently well, he needs to be more aggressive on offense at times.

Villanova Wildcats’ prospects

Mikal Bridges, SF

Bridges is a prototypical “3 and D” NBA wing prospect. He has improved every year he has been at Villanova and is now a star. He already has one National Championship under his belt and now can go for another.

His defense and shooting ability have put Bridges in a good position to be a lottery pick. His defensive rating has actually gotten worse every year he has been at Villanova, but Bridges now guards the opponent’s best perimeter player. His length, at 6’7″ really helps him contest shots. He shoots the three well too, at 43.6%, but needs to work on getting to the basket more off the dribble. Bridges will also need to add some muscle to match-up with some of the elite small forwards in the NBA.

Bridges is the best draft prospect left in the NCAA Tournament and will have to prove it for Villanova to win the title.

Jalen Brunson, PG

Brunson has won some national Player of the Year awards and is the best point guard in college basketball. The junior was also a part of the 2016 Villanova team that won the title but now gets a chance to get one where he is a major contributor.

He has decent size for a point guard at 6’3″ and 290 pounds. When watching Brunson, it is easy to see that he has done a lot of reps in order to hone his craft. This season he averages 19.2 points and 4.6 assists per game. He only turns it over 1.8 times per game, showing he values the ball. He can shoot from deep, drive to the basket, pass and even post up. Brunson will need to play better defense at the next level.

Most mock drafts have Brunson as a late first or early second-round pick, but he may elect to go back to school for his senior season.

Kansas Jayhawks’ Prospects

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG

Mykhailiuk is just 20 years old, but is already a senior. He went to Kansas when he was just 17 and is another player that has been given the time to get better.

If this were a really concise article, the reasons for Mykhailiuk the reason he’d be considered a draft prospect would be: Height and shooting ability. He is 6’8″ and is known primarily as a three-point shooter. With Kansas’ lack of size this year, he has been able to prove he can rebound and defend against bigger players as well.

He is a senior, who will be looked at late in the first round or early in the second.

NBA Draft Prospects in the Final Four

Devonte’ Graham (rockchalktalk.com)

Devonte’ Graham, PG

Graham has waited his turn to be the point guard behind Frank Mason. His patience has paid off, as he has led the Jayhawks to the Final Four, which is not something they have done since 2012.

He’s 6’2″ and 175 pounds, which is good enough to play point guard in the NBA. He is a great defender and protects the ball well on his end, with 1.8 turnovers per game. He averages 17.2 points and 4.1 assists per game. His defense has always been good, but his offense has had to develop. His three-point shooting could be a little better, but he has done a decent job of hitting from deep.

Graham too is a senior and will be likely selected in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

*Udoka Azabuike and Malik Newman are also NBA Draft prospects, but will likely come back to school for another year. 

 

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March Madness 2018

Surprises in the Elite Eight

March 25, 2018 By: Josh Robinson

 

The 2018 NCAA March Madness this year has been an event full of upsets and close calls. As we enter the Final Four, teams will fight in order to earn their spot in the National Championship. There are some teams that weren’t supposed to make it this far. Now that everybody’s brackets have been busted, it’s just time for us to enjoy the rest of the tournament. Things are about to get very intense coming up this week.

Loyola Continues to Shock the World

Loyola continues to hold on for their life in this tournament. For a private college, from the windy city of Chicago, this team has built the fire and determination to make a name for themselves. They were trailing behind Nevada by 12, but they were able to bounce back with a 28-24 league at halftime. Loyola drove and attacked the basket every time they had the ball during the second half. Junior guard, Marques

Loyola March Madness 2018

Loyola Basketball (bleacher report.com)

Townes, closed the game with a three-pointer to narrow the game to a one point lead, 69-68.

The Nevada Wolfpack tried to answer back, but there was no time left. Townes also led the Ramblers with five assists and 18 points.
That’s not all to this Cinderella story, Loyola completely shut down Kansas state in the Elite Eight to a 78-62 victory. After one point wins, the Ramblers had a game that they could easily sweep away with.

During the first half, Loyola led a double digit lead, 36-24 at halftime. Kansas State wasn’t used to being down by that much, for they’re the ones who would dominate other teams. The Ramblers shot 57 percent from the field, going 9 for 18 from three-point range. Kansas only shot 35 percent. During the second half, the underdog team just kept their foot on the gas, leading by double digits in order to close the game away. Xavier Sneed may have led the Wildcats to victory, with 22 points against Kentucky on Thursday, but he couldn’t do anything against the Ramblers but only scored 16 points.When the game clock hit zero, Loyola made its way to the Final Four. Now, they will prepare for Michigan and will try to see if they can pull another upset.

Will Villanova Continue to Move on?

Villanova Wildcats

Villanova Basketball
(Usatoday.com)

Villanova, with no doubt has a high chance of winning the whole tournament. They are the number one seed after all. But the question is can they finally end Texas Tech’s streak? Villanova had blown out all of their opponents by double digits in every round. They had completely embarrassed West Virginia in the Sweet 16, 90-78. This powerhouse team has dominated on both sides of the ball throughout this whole tournament, scoring a tournament high of 258 points in three games.They also have an outstanding starting lineup that will make an impact for this game.
But Texas Tech’s defense will put this dominating team to the test. The Raiders’ defense is ranked in the top 15 in the nation. If the Red Raiders are able to stop Villanova’s three-point offense, then they might have a good chance on upsetting the number one team in the nation. They will have to keep up with the Villanova offense in order to keep it close.

Duke vs Kansas

Duke Basketball

Duke Blue Devils
(Busting brackets.com)

This should be a great match between these two teams. It could easily become anybody’s game. Duke is a young, team that’s been struggling a lot this season. They play a zone defense that has been nearly effective this whole tournament. They also performed well on offense and were able to hold on to clinch a win agains Syracuse.

Kansas is the best offense that Duke will face throughout this tournament. If the Blue Devils are able to play with confidence against Kansas’ talented offense, then they should put up a fair fight. They will also have to stop Kansas center, Udoka Azubuike.
Kansas has two talented guards, Devonte Graham and Malik Newman. They are a major key to this team. If these two have a perfect game against Duke’s defense, then they should have a good chance of winning and advancing to the Final Four. Kansas must also play defense in order to stay alive.

Will Michigan End This Cinderella Story?

Well, Michigan relies on their defense, when all else fails. They held a close score against Florida State throughout the whole game. Because of their defense, they were able to defeat them, 58-54; now they have clinched a spot in the Final Four. This is the Wolverines’ first Final Four appearance since 2013. If they continue to play good defense, then they will be able to crush Loyola’s dreams of making it to the championship. They also must be disciplined and must have a strong offense as well.

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“From our Haus to yours!”

Teams most likely to make the Final Four

While choosing who can win some of the first round games is hard enough, picking the wrong team to make the Final Four can ruin your bracket. There are so many good teams every year who don’t end up making it to the final weekend of college basketball. With it being so tough to pick who will get there, this article should help pick the team from each region with the highest chances of reaching the Final Four.

South Regional: Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia and Kentucky are one of two teams in the region that rank in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Being ranked within those parameters, is a good indication of success in the 21st century, as all but one champion since 2002 were able to hit those marks.

The Cavaliers are really good defensively at 53.4 points allowed per game. The most points they have given up in a game this season is 68, which came on the road at West Virginia. Defense always travels, so even if they have a poor shooting game, the defense should be able to keep them competitive.

Stacking them up against everyone else in their region, Virginia is clearly the best and most battle-tested team. The two seed,Cincinnati, has some big wins over Wichita State and Houston, but were unable to beat good teams throughout the season. Tennessee, the three seed, is vastly undersized, which will make it easier for teams to match up with them. The four and five seeds in the region are Kentucky and Arizona, have potential, but are inconsistent.

Virginia has the best odds to win the whole tournament from the region at 5/1 odds. The next likely team from the region to win it all is Arizona at 12/1 odds, but they were only able to win a down Pac-12 by two games. They will be without sixth man De’Andre Hunter, but the Cavaliers should be able to cope without him.

East Regional: Villanova Wildcats

teams most likely to make the Final Four

Jalen Brunson (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Villanova is the number one seed and the most likely to advance out of the East. They had only four losses all season, which all came in conference play, and finished with 29 wins. While they fell short of winning the Big East in the regular season, they were able to win the Big East Tournament.

The Wildcats have the best offense in the country that scores 87.1 points per game. They are fueled by future NBA players Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. Brunson is a point guard who can score, set up his teammates for easy shots and protect the basketball. Bridges is a mismatch for a lot of teams as a solid wing player that can shoot and drive.

Purdue will be a tough test as a two seed, but they have lost the last three games they have played against teams who made the tournament. The three seed, Texas Tech has not been able to beat a ranked team in over a month, when they beat a reeling Oklahoma team on February 13. Wichita State and West Virginia, the four and five seed in the region, but Wichita State hasn’t played the toughest competition this season and West Virginia hasn’t won four straight games (the number necessary to make the Final Four), since non-conference play.

Villanova is tied for the best odds to win the tournament with Virginia at 5/1. Purdue is the next likely from the region at 15/1 odds. They are a trendy pick to make the Final Four, but Villanova has the best chances to reach San Antonio.

 

Midwest Regional: Duke Blue Devils

Duke is just a two seed, but is the team most likely to come out of the Midwest. The Blue Devils finished the season at 26-7, but had a young team that had to take time to gel together. While they won neither the ACC regular season championship or the ACC Tournament, they have one of the most talented teams in the whole bracket.

The defense of Duke was criticized for most of the season, but Coach K then made the switch to go to a 2-3 zone, which has worked wonders for the Blue Devils. They are now one of the top ten most efficient defenses in the country. Their offense has never been in doubt, as they score 84.7 points per game and average the ninth most assists in the country at 17.5 per game. With Marvin Bagley III and Grayson Allen, along with a few other players who produce at a high rate, Duke has enough talent to win the whole thing.

Kansas is a solid number one seed, but they are very thin and have relied on point guard Devonte’ Graham all season. If he gets in foul trouble or injured, they are in some real trouble. Michigan State is a real threat, but Duke already beat the Spartans earlier in the year. Auburn and Clemson are both teams that are trying to overcome the loss of players, whether for injuries or the FBI investigation.

Duke has the third best odds to win the tournament at 6/1. Michigan State isn’t too far off in the region at 8/1. Duke has better odds by most sportsbooks, but Michigan State has a more experienced team. If you believe that Michigan State has a better chance at winning and want to get good value out of your wager, but don’t know where to start, take a look at Bovada sportsbook review. All the reputable reviews and user experiences will dampen any confusion that you may have.

West Regional: Michigan Wolverines

teams most likely to make the Final Four

John Beilein (Photo by usatoday.com)

Michigan came in fourth in the Big Ten, but got hot and were able to win the Big Ten Tournament. They finished the season at 28-7 and were rewarded with a number three seed in the West. While they are a three, they actually have the best chance to make the Final Four.

Under John Beilein, the Wolverines have always had good offenses. This year though, Michigan has a great defense that ranks ninth in the country allowing 63.5 points per game. Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman is a senior leader and scores from the perimeter, while Moritz Wagner is a do-it-all center, who is hard to stop.

The other teams in the region have their weaknesses. Xavier and North Carolina don’t have the best defenses and Michigan could take advantage. While Gonzaga has a good offense and defense, they haven’t faced the same level of competition as the rest of the region.

The Wolverines have the best odds in the region to win it all at 8/1 odds. North Carolina has the next highest odds in the region to take home the trophy at 18/1, which makes this region as rare as they come.

 

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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 NCAA Tournament bracketology: Selection Sunday

It’s March and the madness has already begun with conference tournaments. It is now Selection Sunday! The Game Haus will be updating a new bracketology every day and sometimes multiple times a day, so please check back! Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology: Selection Sunday. Click to zoom.

 

Last four byes: Virginia Tech, St. Bonaventure, USC, UCLA

Last four in: St. Mary’s, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State

First four out: Notre Dame, Louisville, Arizona State, Baylor

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

 

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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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