West Virginia blows another second half lead

No. 15 West Virginia entered its highly anticipated showdown against Kentucky desperately needing a victory. Head Coach Bob Huggins went back to what the Mountaineers do best: apply pressure defense.

In the first half, West Virginia jumped all over a sluggish Kentucky team. The Mountaineers forced 11 turnovers and shot approximately 58 percent from three point range. Kentucky did not appear to belong on the same floor as West Virginia.

Then the second half came and Coach John Calipari’s Wildcats saved their season. Kentucky rode freshman forward Kevin Knox’s season high 34 points to an impressive 83-76 comeback win on the road. Kentucky outscored West Virginia by 22 points in the second half in a stunning turnaround that saw Huggins’s crew blow yet another second half lead.

West Virginia is now stuck in a brutal stretch which has seen them lose four of their last five games, squandering double-digit leads in three of those games.

Inconsistent Half-Court Offense

Freshman Teddy Allen has endured an up-and-down debut season for the Mountaineers (Photo by Kevin Kinder/BlueGoldNews.com).

Every coach knows how West Virginia wants to play each game. Huggins is going to implement his aggressive full-court press and force opposing teams to turn the ball over at a high rate. This allows guards Jevon Carter and Dexter Miles to utilize the fast break to score easy baskets and avoid the half court offense.

However, in order to successfully apply this pressure, West Virginia needs to score. This has proven problematic in their recent stretch as Huggins’s offense has been prone to lengthy cold streaks. West Virginia only shot 32.4 percent from the field in the second half against Kentucky and, as a result, was only able to press four times. This allowed Kentucky to set up its half court defense and force WVU into uncomfortable offensive situations

Press Virginia

 The staple of any Bob Huggins coached team is his press defense, predicated on hard traps, communication and rotational timing. Obviously, as stated above, the primary goal of this aggressive defensive style is to force turnovers.

This playing style allows Carter and Miles to dictate the pace of play. West Virginia’s dynamic defense wears its opponents down physically and mentally. It is especially difficult for freshmen-dominated teams such as Kentucky to survive a team such as WVU, as breaking this pressure requires composure and communication. However, strong on-ball defense and rebounding will prevent West Virginia from obtaining desired open looks from three and second chance opportunities it thrives on.

Paging Teddy Allen

Freshman forward Teddy Allen has been a pleasant surprise for Huggins, providing a critical offensive spark early in the season. Allen proved he could play at this level with a breakout game in West Virginia’s 89-76 win over Oklahoma, scoring 20 points shooting 81.8 percent from the field.

However, Allen quickly fell out of favor with Huggins due to issues with his attitude. Huggins did not cite any off-court incidents, but simply said Allen needed to mature. Huggins has taken on the reputation of a no-nonsense head coach who will not play to a single player’s wants and desires over what is best for the team. However, with the Mountaineers mired in their recent slump offensively, it might be time for Huggins to give Allen a second chance.

Verdict

A simple solution for the struggling Mountaineers is to increase offensive efficiency. That is easier said than done, of course. The Mountaineers have the talent to not only win the Big 12 Tournament, but also make a Final Four run. But until Huggins can solve West Virginia’s offensive issues, fans should not trust “Press Virginia” as a legitimate title contender come postseason play.

Featured image by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/22/18

Conference play is now in session, which means a lot is known about college basketball teams already. There is still more to be known throughout conference play, as a lot of teams have already been upset in the first few weeks. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

First four out: Syracuse, Maryland, Georgia, Washington

Next four out: Western Kentucky, Baylor, UCLA, St. Bonaventure

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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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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/8/18

Conference play is now in session, which means a lot is known about college basketball teams already. There is still more to be known throughout conference play, as a lot of teams have already been upset in the first few weeks. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

West Virginia and Utah are set to meet in the 2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. Two of the best prospects from this game, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver David Sils V, have already announced they are returning to school. West Virginia has one of it’s NFL Draft prospects sitting out this game to prepare for the NFL Draft in Justin Crawford. With all that being said, here are the NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl:

Utah Utes

Lowell Lotulelei, DT

Lotulelei is the younger brother of former Ute Star Lotulelei. He has been on the NFL’s radar for years now. In four years at Utah, Lotulelei has 18.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. This season Lotulelei missed four games and finished with one tackle for loss and no sacks. This lack of production has hurt his stock greatly, but he still has a great chance to get drafted.

At 6’2” and 320 pounds, Lotulelei could play defensive tackle in a 4-3 or nose tackle in a 3-4. The versatility helps his stock along with his ability to take on multiple blockers. His production problems will need to be addressed.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Darren Carrington, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl

Darren Carrington (Photo by sltrib.com)

Carrington transferred to Utah from Oregon for his last season of eligibility. With inconsistencies at the quarterback position for Utah, Carrington still had 918 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also produced at Oregon and in his career totaled 2,837 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.

He has a good build at 6’2” and 205 pounds. If he performs well at the NFL Combine and in workouts he can be drafted and make an NFL team.

Projected draft range: 6th round-undrafted free agent

West Virginia Mountaineers

Gary Jennings, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl

Gary Jennings (Photo by smokingmusket.com)

Jennings is just a junior like some of his counterparts, but hasn’t made a comment on his NFL Draft status yet. He is an easy target to throw to with 94 receptions for 1,030 yards and a touchdown on the season. After not producing much in his first two years in Morgantown, with Grier at quarterback Jennings has thrived.

He has solid size at 6’1” and 204 pounds, which should help his stock. He has experience on special teams as a returner, which should also help his case. Jennings probably should stay for another year with Grier and Sils V, but does have a chance to be drafted if he decides to leave early.

Projected draft range: 6th round-undrafted free agent

 

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2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl preview

The Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl will pit the Utah Utes against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first post-Christmas bowl game. The Pac-12 and Big 12 conferences will go at it, but there are some important players who may not play. Here are how the two teams will stack up:

 

Utah Utes (6-6)

2017 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl Preview

Zack Moss (Photo by slttrib.com)

Utah had a four-game losing streak in Pac-12 play, but were still able to scratch and claw their way to a bowl game. They beat two bowl eligible teams this year in Arizona and UCLA. Four of their six losses came by one possession.

The offense is decent, but has had tough times figuring out its identity this year. They have scored 29.5 points per game. Surprisingly, their running game lagged the passing game this season. Zack Moss rushed for 1,023 yards and nine touchdowns. Quarterback Tyler Huntley is the team’s second leading rusher with 480 yards and four touchdowns.

Huntley usurped the starting quarterback role from Troy Williams this season, for the most part. In the losses to Stanford and USC, Huntley did not play. To go along with his rushing yards, Huntley has thrown for 2,246 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Former Oregon receiver Darren Carrington is the leading receiver on the team with 918 yards and six touchdowns.

Their defense has been able to keep most teams at bay with 23.9 points allowed per game. They rank 37th against the run and 52nd against the pass. Sophomore defensive lineman Bradlee Anae leads the team with seven sacks and three forced fumbles.

West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5)

2017 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl preview

David Sills V (Photo by hailwv.com)

The Mountaineers had an up and down season, but got a solid seven wins. Their quality wins include Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas Tech. They lost the last two games of the season, to Oklahoma and Texas, which thwarted any hopes of being in the Big 12 Championship Game.

West Virginia is all about offense and score 36.3 points per game. Their passing game is better than the running game, but the running game is still solid. Justin Crawford has led the team in rushing with over 1,000 yards on the season, but has decided to sit out the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. This means Kennedy McCoy, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry will need to step up in this game.

Will Grier has been a great quarterback for the Mountaineers, but he broke his finger late in the season. He will not play in this game. Because he can’t go in this game, Chris Chugunov will take over. He did not look good when filling in for Grier at the end of the Texas game and the entire Oklahoma game, but extra preparation time before the bowl game should help.

They have plenty of talented receivers in Morgantown. Gary Jennings leads the team with 94 receptions and 1,030 receiving yards, while David Sills V led the entire country in receiving touchdowns with 18. Ka’Raun White, the brother of former West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, has done well too with 978 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. All three receivers have over 900 yards this season.

With the offense being so good, the defense lags behind and gives up 31.6 points per game. They rank 105th against the run and 99th against the pass. Senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton is tied for eighth in the country with 73 solo tackles.

Prediction

With Grier in the game, this pick likely would’ve gone West Virginia’s way. Chugunov hasn’t looked good and has made Utah the favorite in this game. They will use their physicality and solid defense to win the game.

Utah Utes 30 West Virginia Mountaineers 21

 

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College basketball preseason top 25: 10-6

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 fourth installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 15-11, click here.

10. USC Trojans

College basketball preseason top 25

Bennie Boatwright (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Andy Enfield has built a team that constantly improves year to year at USC. Last season they made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before getting knocked out. With NBA-level talent returning to L.A., the Trojans should be able to take another step forward this season.

Bennie Boatwright is one such player that could have gone pro after last season. Boatwright can do a little big of everything at 6’10” tall, from stretching the floor to getting to the basket. The other NBA-level talent who decided to stay a Trojan for another year is Chimezie Metu. Metu plays above the rim with his dunks and blocks. He also specializes in rebounds. With these two in the game together, there may not be too many better frontcourts in the country. Nick Rakocevic got some playing time last year and will come off the bench once again. For more depth USC will need some other players to fill in.

Jordan McLaughin is back to run the offense at the point. He sets up his teammates well and can also score on his own. He is the Trojans’ best three point shooter out of players who normally shoot them. Elijah Stewart is back for his senior season as well and provides a good athlete and a decent, yet inconsistent shooter. There will be plenty of players vying for whatever minutes are left over. Shaqquan Aaron, Jonah Matthews and De’Anthony Melton all return after playing over 20 minutes per game last season. Joining the backcourt is Charles O’Bannon Jr. and Jordan Usher as freshman. Former Duke point guard Derryck Thornton also joins the team and will be a good player off of the bench.

The Trojans have grown each year and didn’t lose any key pieces from last year’s team. Sweet 16 should be the expectation, but the Trojans can do even better than that if they live up to their potential.

9. North Carolina Tar heels

College basketball preseason top 25

Joel Berry (Photo by ncaa.com)

The reigning national champions should be competitive yet again. Roy Williams put together a good recruiting class and has enough returning talent to make another run in March.

The frontcourt will need the most work to make this team successful. Luke Maye returns after being a hero in the NCAA Tournament against Kentucky. He can rebound and shoot well, but needs to defend better. Garrison Brooks, a freshman, is regarded as a solid inside player that will likely start for UNC. Outside of these two the Tar Heels have other freshman who need time to get better. Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley both have potential and will need to fill key minutes for UNC.

Joel Berry II is back for his senior season, which is the main reason why UNC is ranked this highly. He can shoot, drive and dish to teammates extremely well. He will need to be a leader on this young Tar Heel team. Unfortunately he is out for about a month after losing in a video game to Theo Pinson. Pinson is back to provide great defense and athleticism, but should rely on getting to the basket on offense. Kenny Williams and Seventh Woods return and will need to play well in Berry’s absence. Cameron Johnson transfers in from Pitt and will shoot lights out. Jalek Felton, Raymond Felton’s nephew, will also join the fold this season.

The Tar Heels have a lot to prove without Berry in the first month of the season, but it could help the development of the other players who need to step up. With Berry UNC can play with anybody.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

College basketball preseason top 25

Bonzie Colson (Photo by indystar.com)

Notre Dame did lose Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachum, but have had to deal with losing key players before and they still produce. Mike Brey has a lot of talent coming back, including one of college basketball’s best players. If his players can improve year to year like they usually do, Notre Dame will be one of the best teams in basketball.

Bonzie Colson is a double-double machine, who is one of the best in basketball despite his size of 6’5″. He attacks the glass with ferocity to get rebounds and has clever moves to get his shot up over taller defenders. Colson can even step out and knock down shots from the perimeter, making him a tough matchup. The Fighting Irish run a four out, one in system, so Colson will eat up a lot of minutes on the inside. To give him breathers, Elijah Burns, Martinas Geben, John Mooney and Austin Torres will have to fight among themselves for the minutes.

Matt Farrell was one of the most improved players in the country last season and runs the Fighting Irish offense perfectly. He is a threat to score, but feeds the post and shooters well. With him and Colson as a one-two punch the Fighting Irish are sitting pretty. In addition to those two, Rex Pflueger can knock down perimeter shots and defend well. T.J. Gibbs, whose brothers starred in college basketball, will also be asked to step up. Gibbs is the best athlete on the perimeter for Notre Dame. Nickola Djogo and D.J. Harvey, who are both freshman, are going to need to take up some minutes and be productive.

If Farrell and Colson can get some support, this team is capable of going deep into March Madness.

7. Wichita State Shockers

College basketball preseason top 25

Markis McDuffie (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Wichita State is joining the American Athletic Conference this year to see an increase in competition. The Shockers are the best team in the conference and have all of the key parts from a young team that made the second round of the NCAA Tournament back for another year.

Shaq Morris is productive down low and effective when he is on the court. He is the Shockers’ best post player. Markis McDuffie thought about going to the NBA, but returned for his junior season. McDufie does a lot for the Shockers, from being the leading scorer to defending well to being the leading rebounder on the team. He is a star and will improve again this season. Darral Willis Jr., Rauno Nurger and Zach Brown all return after logging at least 10 minutes per game last season. They are good role players that will complement the stars on the team.

Landry Shamet proved to be a good point guard in his freshman season and will be even better once he returns from foot surgery. He has great length for defending and can knock down three point shots. Another three point shooter returns in Connor Frankamp. Frankamp is a three point specialist who knocked down 44% of his three point shots last season. Austin Reeves is the only backup who logged more than 10 minutes per game from the guard position last season. He, C.J. Keyser and JUCO transfer Samajae Haynes-Jones are going to need to step up to provide good depth.

The Shockers are in store for a big season. Not only should they win their new conference, but they should also be competitors on the national level.

6. West Virginia Mountaineers

College basketball preseason top 25

Jevon Carter (Photo by zimbio.com)

West Virginia made the Sweet 16 last season and have a few key players that should be able to lead them beyond this mark this season. Bob Huggins is a Hall of Fame coach who can lean on his returning players to make it far in the NCAA Tournament this year, and maybe beat out Kansas in the Big 12.

Esa Ahmad is a good wing player that can shoot and has great length, which is perfect for West Virginia’s press. He averaged 11.3 points per game last season and should see an expanded scoring role. Sagaba Konate is in store for an increased role, but he will be more of an inside presence focused on rebounding and blocking shots. The offense will come, but with a main focus on those two traits, it will fit West Virginia nicely. Lamont West got significant playing time as a freshman and can shoot from the perimeter, but needs to help in the rebounding department more. Maciej Bender saw less minutes than West, but is a similar player. Wes Harris is a JUCO transfer that will make his way into the rotation early with his athleticism.

The two stars of the team are Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles. The seniors lead one of, if not the best backcourts in the country. Carter runs the point, scores and plays stifling defense. He is the leading returning scorer with 13.5 points per game. Daxter Miles has averaged just 8.5 points throughout his career at West Virginia, but has a bigger impact than that. He is very athletic and is also a great defender in West Virginia’s press. Depth is a question, but James Bolden, D’Angelo Hunter or Brandon Knapper should be able to step in for the few minutes that Miles and Carter leave behind.

West Virginia lost five players who averaged at least four points a game, but return some stars who will be aided by newcomers. Their press will once again be strong and the Mountaineers are looking at a great chance to make an elite eight.

 

For teams 5-1, click here.

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 10/26/17

The basketball season is fast approaching and it is never too early to start thinking about the NCAA Tournament. This bracketology will project how teams will finish this season. Here is the preseason bracketology for the 2018 season. Click on bracket to zoom.

First four teams out: Missouri, Oregon, Virginia, VCU

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College football week 9 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make their college football picks for week nine including all games that include FBS teams.

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Eastern Michigan Northern Illinois Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL NIU NIU
Toledo Ball State Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN Toledo Toledo
South Alabama Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA Georgia St USA
#20 Stanford Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR Stanford Stanford
Tulane #24 Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Florida State Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA BC Florida State
Tulsa SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX SMU SMU
Buffalo Akron InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH Akron Akron
#5 Wisconsin Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Wisconsin Wisconsin
#8 Miami North Carolina Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC Miami Miami
#11 Oklahoma State #22 West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV OK State Ok State
Rutgers Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Michigan
Arkansas Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Arkansas Arkansas
Texas Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX Texas Texas
Louisville Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Louisville Louisville
Virginia Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Uva UVA
California Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO Colorado Cal
Florida Intl Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
Kansas State Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS K State K-State
Air Force Colorado State CSU Stadium, Fort Collins, CO Colorado St Col St
San Jose State BYU LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT BYU BYU
#2 Penn State #6 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH OSU OSU
#3 Georgia Florida EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL Georgia Georgia
#4 TCU #25 Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA TCU TCU
#14 NC State #9 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN NC State ND
UCLA #12 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
#16 Michigan State Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW Michigan State
Georgia Southern Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium , Troy, AL Troy Troy
Margin of victory 33 23
Appalachian State UMass Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst, MA App St App State
Louisiana Tech Rice Rice Stadium, Houston, TX La Tech La Tech
Indiana Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Indiana IU
Houston #17 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
Vanderbilt South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC South Carolina South Carolina
Florida Atlantic Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY FAU FAU
Austin Peay #18 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Louisiana Monroe Idaho Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID ULM ULM
Utah Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Utah Utah
Texas State Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Coastal Coastal
Missouri Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT Mizzou Missouri
Old Dominion North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX UNT UNT
Minnesota Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
UAB Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS USM USM
Mississippi State Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX A&M TAMU
Duke #13 Virginia Tech Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA VT VT
New Mexico Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY New Mexico Wyoming
Tennessee Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Kentucky Tennessee
Nebraska Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Nebraska Nebraska
Georgia Tech #7 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
Texas Tech #10 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
UT San Antonio UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX UTSA UTSA
Arkansas State New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM Ark St Ark State
#15 Washington State Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Wazzu
UNLV Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno St Fresno St.
Boise State Utah State Romney Stadium, Logan, UT Boise Boise
#21 USC Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ USC USC
San Diego State Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Hawai’i Hawaii
Gameday Guest Picker (Columbus) Archie Griffin A.J. Hawk

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Five things to watch for in college football week 9

It is coming down to the end of the season, which means more good games are on the way. Here are five things to watch for in college football in week nine:

1. Notre Dame’s offensive line vs. Bradley Chubb

Week 9 college football

Bradley Chubb (Photo by: fansided.com)

Notre Dame is coming off of a good win against USC and now has a bunch of hype surrounding them. N.C. State only has one loss and will be traveling to South Bend with high hopes. This game will be a marquee win for whichever team ends up winning and the game will be won in the trenches.

N.C. State has one of the best defensive linemen in the country in Bradley Chubb. Chubb has 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on the season. He has worked his way into being in the talk to be a first round draft pick. Chubb has been able to help the Wolfpack defense to hold opponents to 639 rushing yards on the season. He and the entire N.C. State defensive line will need to step up to stop Notre Dame’s running game.

Josh Adams has worked his way into the Heisman conversation now. He is a big play threat and has had several long runs for touchdowns. The offensive line has been key in clearing holes for Adams. Both Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson anchor the left side of the offensive line and are probably going to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The team that wins the trenches will win the game and move up in the rankings.

2. Big Ten East Clash

Both teams have been waiting to play each other again after last season. Penn State beat Ohio State, which gives the Buckeyes a reason to want revenge, while the Nittany Lions missed the CFP in favor of OSU, so they will want to leave no doubt who the better team is. This game will be one of the best games of the college football season, so it needs to be watched.

Penn State won big over Michigan and looks like one of the best teams in the country. The offense is star-powered with Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley and the defense hasn’t allowed more than 19 points this season. The Nittany Lions still haven’t won a game over a great team so they have a chance to do that for the first time this year.

Ohio State also hasn’t beaten a good team all season. They have likely been itching for a chance to win a big game since their loss to Oklahoma early in the year. The Buckeyes have the top scoring offense in the country and the tenth best scoring defense, albeit against mostly lackluster competition. These units will be put to the test this weekend against Penn State.

The environment will be electric in Columbus on Saturday and the winner will likely make the CFP this time.

3. important Big 12 Shootouts

There are five teams in the Big 12 with one loss or less and four out of the five will be trying to knock each other off this weekend. While there is still a lot of football to be played, this will be a key weekend to figure out who will be in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia matchup in a game in Morgantown, West Virginia. There will be a lot of offense and passing yards, as both teams are ranked in the top five in scoring and passing yards. Whichever defense can get more stops will win the game and put themselves in a good position in this weird round robin Big 12 setup.

In the other game, TCU will take on the hot Iowa State Cyclones. TCU looks like the best team in the Big 12, with a good offense and defense. They are also the only undefeated team left in Big 12 play. Iowa State has a loss to Texas, but got the big upset win over Oklahoma. The Cyclones have gone to Kyle Kempt at quarterback with Jacob Park on injured leave and Kempt has done well. Iowa State is still a pretty big underdog, but they are used to that by now.

4. Pac-12 after dark games

College football week 9

Khalil Tate (Photo courtesy: washingtonpost.com)

Pac-12 after dark always has wild and crazy games and this week is no different. There are two matchups that will be exciting, while also featuring some of the favorites to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

In the first game, Washington State takes on Arizona. Both teams can put up a lot of points. Washington State has only one loss on the season, coming at the hands of Cal. They are still in good position to make the Pac-12 Championship Game and have a great offense. Arizona is a surprise team that could end up winning the Pac-12 South. They have found new life with quarterback Khalil Tate, who has amassed over 1,000 yards in his three starts. There will be a lot of offense and a lot on the line.

The second game on the docket for Pac-12 after dark is USC at Arizona State. Both these teams, along with Arizona and UCLA, are still vying to win the Pac-12 South title. USC just lost to Notre Dame big time and need to get back on track. That starts with Sam Darnold protecting the football better and the defense being more physical. Arizona State surprisingly beat Washington to get on track. The Sun Devils’ defense has stepped up as of late, giving up 17 points in their last two games.

As crazy as it may sound it is likely the Arizona schools that will provide the biggest competition for USC in the south.

5. USF vs. Houston

USF is a team that a lot of people thought would go undefeated due to their easy schedule. There schedule is a little tougher with the emergence of other teams in their conference. Even so, the Bulls have to win out to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

This week they play a Houston team that was supposed to be one of their toughest games of the season. Houston has stumbled a bit, but it will still be a good test for USF. If the Bulls can win this game they will likely win all others until their regular season finale.

If this result holds to form and there are no upsets in the AAC, the last few games will have a lot riding on them. First USF will play UCF in a rivalry game in a battle of unbeaten teams. The winner will go to the AAC Championship Game to face Memphis, who has only one loss. The winner of that game will likely be in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Buckle up. The last few weeks of college football are going to be wild.

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