Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Conference USA (30-4, 17-1)

 by Joel Welser

Middle Tennessee shocked the college basketball world last season by beating #2 seed Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Raiders lost their next game to Syracuse 75-50, but that did not deter the Cinderella story. Coach Kermit Davis returned much of the talent from that team and this is a group ready for a little more March magic.

Big Wins: 11/25 vs UNC-Wilmington (68-63), 12/8 Vanderbilt (71-48), 12/14 at Belmont (79-66)

Bad Losses: 11/19 Tennessee State (63-74), 12/21 Georgia State (56-64), 2/4 at UTEP (54-57)

Coach: Kermit Davis, Jr.

Why They Can Surprise:

MTSU relies heavily on their big three players. Giddy Potts is again the team’s top shooter. He averages 15.8 points per game and connects on 39.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Potts may be a shooter, but he is also extremely tough and will attack the basket effectively and help out on the glass. But most of the rebounding is done by Reggie Upshaw and JaCorey Williams. Upshaw is the dynamic scoring threat who can bang in the paint and step outside and knock down some jumpers. Williams, who leads the team with 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, is the more traditional post player. He transferred in from Arkansas and has really helped with his experience and interior toughness.

Why They Can Disappoint:

With wins against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt and the domination of Conference USA, the Blue Raiders are in a good position to make things interesting again in the postseason. There are some concerns though. This is not a good rebounding team and there is not much size on the perimeter. Last year Coach Davis had big wings that could help rebound and use their length to cause havoc on defense. That is no longer the case and the defense has suffered because of it.

Probable Starters:

Giddy Potts, Junior, Guard, 15.8 ppg, 1.9 apg

Tyrik Dixon, Freshman, Guard, 5.8 ppg, 3.3 apg

Edward Simpson, Junior, Guard, 3.5 ppg, 2.2 apg

Reggie Upshaw, Senior, Forward, 14.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.4 apg

JaCorey Williams, Senior, Forward, 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg

Key Role Players:

Brandon Walters, Junior, Forward, 4.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg

Xavier Habersham, Senior, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 1.8 apg

Antwain Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 4.4 ppg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 74.2 (155th in nation, 5th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 63.1 (20, 2)

Field-Goal Percentage: 48.7 (15, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (85, 3)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (272, 8)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.4 (114, 5)

Free-Throw Percentage: 69.7 (188, 9)

Rebound Margin: 5.4 (37, 2)

Assists Per Game: 15.1 (74, 4)

Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (17, 1)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 win over Michigan State

2016    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Syracuse

2015    CIT      First Round loss to Kent State

2013    NCAA Opening Round loss to St. Mary’s

2012    NIT     First Round win over Marshall

2012    NIT     Second Round win over Tennessee

2012    NIT     Quarterfinal loss to Minnesota

2010    CIT      First Round loss to Missouri State

1989    NCAA Round of 64 win over Florida State

1989    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Virginia

1988    NIT     First Round win over Tennessee

1988    NIT     Second Round win over Georgia

1988    NIT     Quarterfinal loss to Boston College

1987    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Notre Dame

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Iowa State Cyclones

Big 12 (23-10, 12-6)

 by Joel Welser

Coach Steve Prohm is just in his second season at Iowa State, but has done a great job continuing their consistency. The Cyclones have reached the NCAA Tournament every year since 2012 and usually win a game or two once they get there. This is a very experienced squad that has proven that they can beat anybody. The Cyclones have played very well on the road too, beating Kansas in Lawrence and nearly knocking off Baylor.

Big Wins: 1/11 at Oklahoma State (96-86), 2/4 at Kansas (92-89), 2/25 Baylor (72-69)

Bad Losses: 12/8 at Iowa (64-78), 1/14 at TCU (77-84), 2/7 at Texas (65-67)

Coach: Steve Prohm

Why They Can Surprise:

The amount of talent and experience in the backcourt is staggering. Monte Morris leads the way with 16.3 points, 6.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds. Morris is superb when it comes to attacking the basket and he is a huge reason why Iowa State commits a mere 10.2 turnovers per game. Nazareth Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas and Deon Burton are also senior starters on the perimeter and average double figures in the scoring department. Mitrou-Long and Thomas are the main outside shooting threats on the team and both have been relatively consistent this season. With that much experience on the perimeter, Iowa State rarely beats themselves and that is especially important during the NCAA Tournament.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Coach Steve Prohm does not have much of a choice except to play small. His frontcourt lacks bodies and it shows on the glass and defensively. Freshman Solomon Young has done an admirable job, but transfers David Bowie and Merrill Holden have not had as big of an impact as many expected. The backcourt, especially when Morris is being as efficient as usual with the ball in his hands, can win games, but eventually Iowa State will run into a team that can contain the backcourt relatively well. Then it will be up to the frontcourt to step up their production and at least be a threat on the offensive end of the floor so Mitrou-Long and Thomas can get some open looks.

Probable Starters:

Monte Morris, Senior, Guard, 16.3 ppg, 6.1 apg, 4.8 rpg

Nazareth Mitrou-Long, Senior, Guard, 15.5 ppg, 2.8 apg, 4.7 rpg

Matt Thomas, Senior, Guard, 12.0 ppg, 1.6 apg

Deon Burton, Senior, Guard, 14.8 ppg, 1.8 apg, 6.2 rpg, 1.4 bpg

Solomon Young, Freshman, Forward, 4.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Key Role Players:

Nick Weiler-Babb, Sophomore, Guard, 4.2 ppg, 1.6 apg

Donovan Jackson, Junior, Guard, 6.3 ppg, 1.2 apg

Darrell Bowie, Senior, Forward, 5.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Merrill Holden, Senior, Forward, 2.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 80.4 (31st in nation, 4th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 71.9 (167, 7)

Field-Goal Percentage: 46.2 (81, 6)

Field-Goal Defense: 42.7 (121, 6)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 10.0 (14, 1)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.9 (17, 3)

Free-Throw Percentage: 69.8 (185, 5)

Rebound Margin: -4.0 (302, 10)

Assists Per Game: 15.9 (46, 4)

Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (8, 1)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 win over Iona

2016    NCAA Round of 32 win over Arkansas-Little Rock

2016    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Virginia

2015    NCAA Round of 64 loss to UAB

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over North Carolina Central

2014    NCAA Round of 32 win over North Carolina

2014    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Connecticut

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Notre Dame

2013    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Ohio State

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over Connecticut

2012    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Kentucky

2005    NCAA Round of 64 win over Minnesota

2005    NCAA Round of 32 loss to North Carolina

2004    NIT     First Round win over Georgia

2004    NIT     Second Round win over Florida State

2004    NIT     Quarterfinal win over Marquette

2004    NIT     Semifinal loss to Rutgers

2003    NIT     First Round win over Wichita State

2003    NIT     Second Round loss to Iowa

2001    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Hampton

2000    NCAA Round of 64 win over Central Connecticut State

2000    NCAA Round of 32 win over Auburn

2000    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over UCLA

2000    NCAA Regional Final loss to Michigan State

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Duke Blue Devils

ACC (27-8, 11-7)

 by Joel Welser

By Duke standards, last season was a disappointing trip to the NCAA Tournament. They snuck past UNC Wilmington and upset minded Yale in the first two rounds. Those were not easy games. The Blue Devils then lost 82-68 to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen. This time around Coach Mike Krzyzewski and company will hope to repeat their 2015 tournament performance when they won the national championship.

Big Wins: 12/6 vs Florida (84-74), 2/9 North Carolina (86-78), 2/28 Florida State (75-70)

Bad Losses: 1/23 N.C. State (82-84), 2/22 at Syracuse (75-78), 2/25 at Miami FL (50-55)

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Why They Can Surprise:

Duke certainly has the talent to win it all. Grayson Allen has had another great season, averaging 14.1 points, 3.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He can score from everywhere on the floor and his defensive intensity is contagious. Luke Kennard has emerged as the team’s top scorer though. The 6-6 wing has really stepped up his outside shooting during his sophomore season and averages 20.1 points per game. He is not just a shooter though and will do plenty of damage attacking the basket.

The other big time scorer is freshman forward Jayson Tatum. He can get up and down the floor in a hurry for a 6-8 forward and can stretch the defense with his ability to shoot the ball. Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles join Tatum in the frontcourt. Jefferson is a beast in the paint on both ends of the floor and Giles is brimming with potential despite an inconsistent debut season.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Duke can get into the habit of rushing shots and not sharing the ball. This team will score quite a few points and usually shoot well from the floor, but that is not always the case. At times the Blue Devils will force shots, usually three-pointers, and eventually that can catch up to them. Duke does not share the ball very well for how many points they score and sometimes that extra pass would lead to a much better shot than somebody trying to create something for themselves. Of course, with the talent Duke has, it is not always bad or ineffective for a player to take on a defender one-on-one.

Probable Starters:

Grayson Allen, Junior, Guard, 14.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.7 rpg

Luke Kennard, Sophomore, Guard, 20.1 ppg, 2.5 apg, 5.3 rpg

Matt Jones, Senior, Guard, 6.8 ppg, 2.8 apg

Jayson Tatum, Freshman, Forward, 16.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.2 apg

Amile Jefferson, Senior, Forward, 10.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg

Key Role Players:

Frank Jackson, Freshman, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 1.6 apg

Harry Giles, Freshman, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 80.5 (29th in nation, 4th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 69.1 (95, 5)

Field-Goal Percentage: 47.3 (40, 3)

Field-Goal Defense: 43.5 (165, 9)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.4 (86, 4)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.6 (64, 6)

Free-Throw Percentage: 75.4 (33, 3)

Rebound Margin: 3.8 (67, 4)

Assists Per Game: 13.5 (178, 13)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (41, 5)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 win over North Carolina-Wilmington

2016    NCAA Round of 32 win over Yale

2016    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Oregon

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over Robert Morris

2015    NCAA Round of 32 win over San Diego State

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Utah

2015    NCAA Regional Final win over Gonzaga

2015    NCAA National Semifinal win over Michigan State

2015    NCAA National Final win over Wisconsin

2014    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Mercer

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Albany

2013    NCAA Round of 32 win over Creighton

2013    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Michigan State

2013    NCAA Regional Final loss to Louisville

2012    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Lehigh

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over Hampton

2011    NCAA Round of 32 win over Michigan

2011    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Arizona

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff

2010    NCAA Round of 32 win over California

2010    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Purdue

2010    NCAA Regional Final win over Baylor

2010    NCAA National Semifinal win over West Virginia

2010    NCAA National Final win over Butler

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Binghamton

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over Texas

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Villanova

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Belmont

2008    NCAA Round of 32 loss to West Virginia

2007    NCAA Round of 64 loss to VCU

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

 Arizona Wildcats

Pac-12 (30-4, 16-2)

by Jacob Young

Arizona enters the NCAA tournament looking to erase last year’s first round exit from their memory. Sean Miller led his team to consecutive Elite Eight appearances before last season’s early departure. Between injuries and suspension, Arizona has had a tough time getting their full squad on the court together this season. Despite losing Ray Smith before the season even started, not having star forward Allonzo Trier until late January and having three other rotation players suffer injuries throughout the season, Sean Miller has done an outstanding job guiding this team to a 30-4 record and a Pac-12 championship.

Big Wins: 11/11 vs Michigan State (65-63), 1/19 at USC (73-66), 1/21 at UCLA (96-85)

Bad Losses: 11/25 vs Butler (65-69), 12/3 vs Gonzaga (62-69), 2/25 UCLA (72-77)

Coach: Sean Miller

Why They Can Surprise:

Arizona is one of the more well-rounded teams heading into the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats have six players averaging more than nine points per contest. Strong guard play is crucial to success in March and the Wildcats have two upperclassmen manning the backcourt for them in Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Projected lottery pick Lauri Markkanen is a versatile forward that can score from anywhere on the floor. As a team, Arizona shoots 39.0 percent from three and they have become more of a threat from the perimeter since Allonzo Trier returned from suspension. They also shoot 76.5 percent from the free-throw line, which is a valuable strength to have during the tournament. Arizona is stingy on the defensive end as well, as they’ve only allowed 64.3 points per game this season.

 Why They Can Disappoint:

It’s not easy to find weaknesses in this team, but a good place to start is their 85-58 beat down at the hands of Oregon in February. The Ducks shot a ridiculous 65% from the floor in that game and showed that Arizona’s defense can be vulnerable. Even in their big win at UCLA, Arizona allowed 85 points to the Bruins. Also, even though Arizona shoots a high percentage from three, the Wildcats don’t attempt many outside shots and can become too dependent on succeeding in the paint. If they are matched up with a long, physical team, then Arizona could struggle to score.

Probable Starters:

Kadeem Allen, Senior, Guard, 9.7 ppg, 3.1 apg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 spg
Allonzo Trier, Sophomore, Guard, 17.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 5.0 rpg
Rawle Alkins, Freshman, Guard, 11.0 ppg, 2.0 apg, 5.1 rpg
Lauri Markkanen, Freshman, Forward, 15.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg
Dusan Ristic, Junior, Center, 10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg

 Key Role Players:

Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Junior, Guard, 5.9 ppg, 4.2 apg
Kobi Simmons, Freshman, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 2.1 apg
Chance Comanche, Sophomore, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Keanu Pinder, Junior, Forward, 2.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 75.2 (124th in nation, 8th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 64.3 (28, 2)

Field-Goal Percentage: 46.9 (55, 4)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (63, 4)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (249, 9)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.0 (26, 2)

Free-Throw Percentage: 76.5 (19, 1)

Rebound Margin: 6.9 (19, 3)

Assists Per Game: 13.8 (153, 7)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (39, 3)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Wichita State

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over Texas Southern

2015    NCAA Round of 32  win over Ohio State

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Wisconsin

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Weber State

2014    NCAA Round of 32 win over Gonzaga

2014    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over San Diego State

2014    NCAA Regional Final loss to Wisconsin

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Belmont

2013    NCAA Round of 32 win over Harvard

2013    NCAA Regional semifinal loss to Ohio State

2012    NIT     First Round loss to Bucknell

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over Memphis

2011    NCAA Round of 32 win over Texas

2011    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Duke

2011    NCAA Regional Final loss to Connecticut

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Utah

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over Cleveland State

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Louisville

2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to West Virginia

2007    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Purdue

2006    NCAA Round of 64 win over Wisconsin

2006    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Villanova

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

North Carolina Tar Heels

ACC (27-7, 14-4)

 by Joel Welser

Following their disappointing loss to Villanova in the national championship game, North Carolina will look to take one more step and claim another title. With an ACC title under their belt, this group has the talent and experience, which is not always the case with Tar Heel squads, to make it happen in 2017.

Big Wins: 1/14 Florida State (96-83), 2/18 Virginia (65-41), 2/22 Louisville (74-63)

Bad Losses: 11/30 at Indiana (67-76), 12/31 at Georgia Tech (63-75), 1/28 at Miami FL (62-77)

Coach: Roy Williams

Why They Can Surprise:

North Carolina does a lot of things well, but what they do best is crash the glass. It helps that Coach Roy Williams has a lot of size in his starting five. Theo Pinson, who is 6-6, and Justin Jackson, at 6-8, start on the wing. Pinson and Jackson usually matchup with players who struggle to deal with their size and athleticism. Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are the bruisers in the paint. Meeks is one of the best rebounders in the country and averages 9.1 per game. This team will get a lot of second chance points from their willingness to hit the offensive glass and that can be extremely demoralizing for the opposition. It also leads to plenty of points and few teams have had any luck slowing down this offense.

Why They Can Disappoint:

The two things that can slow down the Tar Heels offense are turnovers and poor shooting. Much of that comes down to Joel Berry II. The junior point guard has done a very good job setting up his teammates and scoring himself, but it is his job to make sure the North Carolina offense stays under control and works through Hicks and Meeks in the paint. Along with Jackson, Berry is this team’s three-point shooting threat as well. The season ending injury to Kenny Williams has really limited North Carolina’s shooters. Nate Britt is basically the only shooter on the bench and if Jackson and Berry are struggling with their shots, Britt better be ready to come in and knock down some shots and help stretch the defense.

North Carolina is not a team that is going to rely heavily on three-pointers, but they do need to make some. The loss of Williams has also hurt the overall depth. Coach Williams will still make his line switches by bringing in four or five new players at a time, but not all those players are going to stay in the game very long since this group really only goes eight deep, not nine or ten.

Probable Starters:

Joel Berry II, Junior, Guard, 14.8 ppg, 3.7 apg

Theo Pinson, Junior, Forward, 6.3 ppg, 4.1 apg, 4.5 rpg

Justin Jackson, Junior, Forward, 18.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.7 apg

Isaiah Hicks, Senior, Forward, 12.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg

Kennedy Meeks, Senior, Forward, 12.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Key Role Players:

Luke Maye, Sophomore, Forward, 4.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg

Tony Bradley, Freshman, Forward, 7.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg

Nate Britt, Senior, Guard, 4.5 ppg, 2.3 apg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 85.2 (11th in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 70.5 (128, 7)

Field-Goal Percentage: 47.2 (43, 4)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (62, 6)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (181, 9)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.0 (84, 8)

Free-Throw Percentage: 70.0 (176, 11)

Rebound Margin: 13.0 (1, 1)

Assists Per Game: 18.0 (4, 1)

Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (73, 8)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 win over Florida Gulf Coast

2016    NCAA Round of 32 win over Providence

2016    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Indiana

2016    NCAA Regional Final win over Notre Dame

2016    NCAA National Semifinal win over Syracuse

2016    NCAA National Final loss to Villanova

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over Harvard

2015    NCAA Round of 32 win over Arkansas

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Wisconsin

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Providence

2014    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Iowa State

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Villanova

2013    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Kansas

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over Vermont

2012    NCAA Round of 32 win over Creighton

2012    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Ohio

2012    NCAA Regional Final loss to Kansas

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over Long Island

2011    NCAA Round of 32 win over Washington

2011    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Marquette

2011    NCAA Regional Final loss to Kentucky

2010    NIT     First Round win over William & Mary

2010    NIT     Second Round win over Mississippi State

2010    NIT     Quarterfinal win over UAB

2010    NIT     Semifinal win over Rhode Island

2010    NIT     Final loss to Dayton

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Radford

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over LSU

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Gonzaga

2009    NCAA Regional Final win over Oklahoma

2009    NCAA National Semifinal win over Villanova

2009    NCAA National Final win over Michigan State

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Mount St. Mary’s

2008    NCAA Round of 32 win over Arkansas

2008    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Washington State

2008    NCAA Regional Final win over Louisville

2008    NCAA National Semifinal loss to Kansas

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Eastern Kentucky

2007    NCAA Round of 32 win over Michigan State

2007    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over USC

2007    NCAA Regional Final loss to Georgetown

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

UCLA Bruins

Pac-12 (29-4, 15-3)

 by Dan Levine

UCLA jumped onto to the scene early with impressive play, climbed the polls, and never looked back.  They are one of the few teams that have relied heavily on freshmen this season.  It has worked out for them.  Steve Alford, who has had success everywhere he’s coached, has his best team to date with these Bruins.  The up-and-down style lends itself to a lot of points.  UCLA can make a run towards April with this group – if they improve their defense.

Big Wins: 12/3 at Kentucky (97-92), 2/9 Oregon (82-79), 2/25 at Arizona (77-72)

Bad Losses: 12/28 at Oregon (87-89), 1/21 Arizona (85-96), 1/25 at USC (76-84)

Coach: Steve Alford

Why They Can Surprise:

Point blank this is one of the most offensively talented teams in the country.  In a back-and-forth game, not many teams can outlast UCLA.  Their freshmen stars, point guard Lonzo Ball and forward T.J. Leaf, have been nothing short of sensational.  Ball, a projected top-2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, is an outstanding leader as a freshman.  He is such an important part of what they do that he leads the team in minutes.  An elite assist man (over seven per game), he also shoots 41 percent from three.

Their transition offense is stellar and they can beat you inside the arc or from long range.  Bryce Alford, the coach’s son, always seems to be able to hit a big three for the Bruins whether it’s to stop an opponent’s run or to get the crowd fired up.  Six players are averaging double-figures for Alford’s squad.  That is proficiency at its finest.  They will be hard to stop.

Why They Can Disappoint:

If UCLA has a weakness it was on display during their “swoon” in mid-January against Arizona and USC.  Their defense was lackluster at best and it spelled doom for them in those two games.  Even in their wins, their opponents are filling it up.  They allow over 75 points per game which is among the bottom third nationally.  Usually they are able to mask their defensive weaknesses with their explosive offense.  But if the shots are not falling, than the Bruins might find themselves in some trouble.  They have played the same style all season to resounding success.  They will live and die with it.

Probable Starters:

Lonzo Ball, Freshman, Guard, 14.6 ppg, 7.7 apg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 spg

Thomas Welsh, Junior, Center, 10.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg

T.J. Leaf, Freshman, Forward, 16.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.2 bpg

Bryce Alford, Senior, Guard, 15.8 ppg, 2.6 apg

Isaac Hamilton, Senior, Guard, 14.1 ppg, 2.8 apg

Key Role Players:

Ike Anigbogu, Freshman, Forward, 4.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg

Aaron Holiday, Sophomore, Guard, 12.6 ppg, 4.2 apg

Gyorgy Goloman, Junior, Forward, 3.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 91.3 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 75.0 (245, 9)

Field-Goal Percentage: 52.6 (1, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.7 (69, 5)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 10.1 (9, 1)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 41.5 (3, 1)

Free-Throw Percentage: 73.6 (65, 5)

Rebound Margin: 4.3 (52, 4)

Assists Per Game: 21.7 (1, 1)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (39, 3)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over SMU

2015    NCAA Round of 32 win over UAB

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Gonzaga

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Tulsa

2014    NCAA Round of 32 win over Stephen F. Austin

2014    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Florida

2013    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Minnesota

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over Michigan State

2011    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Florida

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over VCU

2009    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Villanova

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Mississippi Valley State

2008    NCAA Round of 32 win over Texas A&M

2008    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Western Kentucky

2008    NCAA Regional Final win over Xavier

2008    NCAA National Semifinal loss to Memphis

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Weber State

2007    NCAA Round of 32 win over Indiana

2007    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Pittsburgh

2007    NCAA Regional Final win over Kansas

2007    NCAA National Semifinal loss to Florida

2006    NCAA Round of 64 win over Belmont

2006    NCAA Round of 32 win over Alabama

2006    NCAA Regional semifinal win over Gonzaga

2006    NCAA Regional final win over Memphis

2006    NCAA National semifinal win over LSU

2006    NCAA National Final loss to Florida

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

South Carolina Gamecocks

SEC (22-10, 12-6)

 by Joel Welser

South Carolina nearly made the NCAA Tournament in 2016. They had to settle for another trip to the NIT instead of their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004. Coach Frank Martin did come into this season with some big holes to fill, but he is starting to build a winning culture in Columbia.

Big Wins: 11/23 Michigan (61-46), 1/4 at Georgia (67-61), 1/18 Florida (57-53)

Bad Losses: 12/21 Clemson (60-62), 12/30 at Memphis (54-70), 2/7 Alabama (86-90)

Coach: Frank Martin

Why They Can Surprise:

The winning mentality comes from aggressive, physical defense. This season the Gamecocks allow just 64.5 points per game. The opposition shoots just 39.6 percent from the floor and a dismal 29.2 percent from beyond the arc. Those are some impressive numbers, but the South Carolina defense is not just about forcing the opposition to take bad shots; it is also about not allowing them to get a shot off in the first place. Only a few teams in the country force more turnovers than South Carolina. Sindarius Thornwell is the team’s top defender, but the 6-5 guard does everything else too. On top of his team high 2.2 steals per game, Thornwell also averages 21.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Why They Can Disappoint:

PJ Dozier and Duane Notice join Thornwell in the backcourt and form a very good trio. All three are at least threats to shoot the long ball and are not afraid to attack the basket as well. Yet, this offense can be stagnant at times and the Gamecocks often have to rely on their defense to create easy offense. The team also takes a big step back when forward Chris Silva is not on the floor. Silva, a 6-9 sophomore, is the team’s most dangerous interior scorer and a solid shot blocker as well. However, he runs into a lot of foul trouble and the Gamecocks are a very different team when he is not on the floor. When the opposition attacks Silva and he is forced to the bench, South Carolina could be in trouble.

Probable Starters:

PJ Dozier, Sophomore, Guard, 13.6 ppg, 2.9 apg, 4.8 rpg

Duane Notice, Senior, Guard, 10.1 ppg, 2.3 apg

Sindarius Thornwell, Senior, Guard, 21.0 ppg, 2.8 apg, 7.2 rpg, 2.2 spg

Chris Silva, Sophomore, Forward, 9.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg

Maik Kotsar, Freshman, Forward, 5.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg

Key Role Players:

Sedee Keita, Freshman, Forward, 1.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg

Justin McKie, Senior, Guard, 4.3 ppg, 1.3 apg

Rakym Felder, Freshman, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 1.3 apg

Hassani Gravett, Sophomore, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 1.5 apg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 72.7 (188th in nation, 9th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 64.5 (31, 1)

Field-Goal Percentage: 69.4 (196, 8)

Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (18, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (223, 7)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.1 (222, 9)

Free-Throw Percentage: 69.4 (196, 8)

Rebound Margin: 1.4 (142, 7)

Assists Per Game: 12.8 (225, 9)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (224, 9)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NIT      First Round win over High Point

2016    NIT      Second Round loss to Georgia Tech

2009    NIT      First Round loss to Davidson

2006    NIT      First Round win over Western Kentucky

2006    NIT      Second Round win over Florida State

2006    NIT      Quarterfinal win over Cincinnati

2006    NIT      Semifinal win over Louisville

2006    NIT      Final win over Michigan

2005    NIT      First Round win over Miami

2005    NIT      Second Round win over UNLV

2005    NIT      Quarterfinal win over Georgetown

2005    NIT      Semifinal win over Maryland

2005    NIT      Final win over St. Joseph’s

2004    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Memphis

2002    NIT      First Round win over Virginia

2002    NIT      Second Round win over UNLV

2002    NIT      Quarterfinal win over Ball State

2002    NIT      Semifinal win over Syracuse

2002    NIT      Final loss to Memphis

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Purdue Boilermakers

Big Ten (25-7, 14-4)

 by Dan Levine

Purdue has had a great regular season.  After a bit of a slow start to the conference season, Purdue finally emerged as the solid conference favorite alongside Wisconsin.  At the end of the wild year in the Big Ten, Purdue indeed emerged as the regular season champion.  It’s easy to see why this was Purdue’s year.  When you boast a potential player of the year candidate in Caleb Swanigan, good things are bound to happen.  This team is tournament ready.

Big Wins: 12/17 vs Notre Dame (86-81), 1/8 Wisconsin (66-55), 2/4 at Maryland (73-72)

Bad Losses: 1/12 at Iowa (78-83), 1/29 at Nebraska (80-83), 2/25 at Michigan (70-82)

Coach: Matt Painter

Why They Can Surprise:

Despite a few hiccups throughout the season, Purdue has looked like the most complete Big Ten team all year.  They only lost four conference games all season.  Even in a down Big Ten, Purdue proved their mettle by battling excellent teams outside of the conference.  They lost really early in the season to defending champion Villanova by three and then battled Louisville on the road before falling.  Still those were close games, and Purdue has only gotten better.  They are going to be a tough matchup for any tournament opponent mainly because of their size.  Swanigan and Isaac Haas are two mountains down low.

They do not play a ton together, but the Boilermakers constantly have a presence on the blocks.  They are a very good rebounding team as a result – 17th in the country in rebounding margin.  Additionally, freshman guard Carsen Edwards has been a steadying force in the backcourt.  Guard play has been a question in years past, but Edwards has played with poise all season.  This team has enough scoring potential and defense to make a run at the Final Four.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Their head-scratching losses would be cause for someone to question how far this team can really go.  Losing to Nebraska and Iowa in conference play was out of character for the Boilermakers.  An off shooting night and a hot opponent could create an issue for Purdue going through the postseason.  Michigan also found a way to dispatch Purdue late in the season with some timely 3-point shooting.  Purdue will also want to watch their turnovers.  For all that they do well, they are prone to turnovers in key situations.  Foul trouble to Swanigan will also play a key role.  Few players are as important to their team as Swanigan is to Purdue.  He will need to stay on the floor for this team to go far.

Probable Starters:

Caleb Swanigan, Sophomore, Forward, 18.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.9 apg

Dakota Mathias, Junior, Guard, 9.9 ppg, 3.6 apg

P.J. Thompson, Junior, Guard, 7.2 ppg, 3.0 apg

Vince Edwards, Junior, Forward, 12.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.2 apg

Carsen Edwards, Freshman, Guard, 10.4 ppg, 1.9 apg

Key Role Players:

Isaac Haas, Junior, Center, 12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg

Spike Albrecht, Junior, Guard, 1.8 ppg, 1.3 apg

Ryan Cline, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 ppg, 1.5 apg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 80.5 (30th in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 66.9 (55, 4)

Field-Goal Percentage: 48.0 (27, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (52, 7)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.0 (46, 2)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.6 (9, 1)

Free-Throw Percentage: 77.0 (15, 2)

Rebound Margin: 7.1 (17, 2)

Assists Per Game: 18.2 (2, 1)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (162, 7)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Arkansas Little Rock

2015    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Cincinnati

2013    CBI     First Round win over Western Illinois

2013    CBI     Quarterfinal loss to Santa Clara

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over St. Mary’s

2012    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Kansas

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over St. Peters

2011    NCAA Round of 32 loss to VCU

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Siena

2010    NCAA Round of 32 win over Texas A&M

2010    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Duke

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Northern Iowa

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over Washington

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Connecticut

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Baylor

2008    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Xavier

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Arizona

2007    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Florida

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Michigan State Spartans

Big Ten (19-14, 10-8)

 by Joel Welser

Coach Tom Izzo had to deal with a lot of injuries this season and Michigan State never really got going. Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling were out for the year before the season even began and that left the Spartans with very little experience in the frontcourt. And then Miles Bridges missed some time and senior Eron Harris suffered a knee injury in February and will miss the postseason. However, Coach Izzo is one of the best in the business for a reason and this is still a dangerous team.

Big Wins: 12/27 at Minnesota (75-74), 1/29 Michigan (70-62), 2/26 Wisconsin (84-74)

Bad Losses: 12/18 Northeastern (73-81), 1/7 vs Penn State (63-72), 1/21 at Indiana (75-82)

Coach: Tom Izzo

Why They Can Surprise:

Bridges has had a superb freshman campaign, averaging 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks. The 6-7, 230 pound wing is a matchup nightmare since he can consistently knock down the long ball and score inside. The frontcourt injuries paved the way for Nick Ward to get an opportunity to play as a freshman. And he certainly has taken full advantage of that opportunity. The 6-8 freshman averages 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Bridges and Ward, along with reserve Kenny Goins, do not make this a typically dominating Michigan State team on the glass, but they are solid. And their shot blocking abilities have turned this into a pretty good defense that always has at least one shot blocker patrolling the paint.

Why They Can Disappoint:

This group has quite a few potential problems. They do not get to the free-throw line nearly enough for a team that wants to be physical. Nor do they force turnovers and get easy buckets the other way. But the biggest problem is the turnovers and the overall play of the backcourt. Lourawls Nairn and Cassius Winston can find their teammates effectively, but this team cannot afford to continue to commit 14.3 turnovers per game. The pressure is also on Alvin Ellis and Joshua Langford to help replace Harris. Both are very good shooters, but somebody needs to develop into a bigger scoring threat so the opposition cannot just focus on Bridges and Ward.

Probable Starters:

Lourawls Nairn, Junior, Guard, 3.7 ppg, 3.7 apg

Alvin Ellis, Senior, Guard, 6.5 ppg, 1.2 apg

Joshua Langford, Freshman, Guard, 6.6 ppg, 1.1 apg

Miles Bridges, Freshman, Guard, 16.7 ppg, 2.0 apg, 8.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Nick Ward, Freshman, Forward, 13.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Key Role Players:

Kenny Goins, Sophomore, Forward, 3.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg

Matt McQuaid, Sophomore, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 1.2 apg

Cassius Winston, Freshman, Guard, 6.7 ppg, 5.1 apg

Kyle Ahrens, Sophomore, Guard, 2.7 ppg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 72.0 (211th in nation, 11th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 69.1 (94, 8)

Field-Goal Percentage: 47.2 (45, 4)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (42, 5)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (130, 6)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (49, 3)

Free-Throw Percentage: 66.3 (289, 12)

Rebound Margin: 3.2 (84, 5)

Assists Per Game: 17.1 (12, 3)

Turnovers Per Game: 14.3 (281, 13)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Middle Tennessee State

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over Georgia

2015    NCAA Round of 32 win over Virginia

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Oklahoma

2015    NCAA Regional Final win over Louisville

2015    NCAA National Semifinal loss to Duke

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Delaware

2014    NCAA Round of 32 win over Harvard

2014    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Virginia

2014    NCAA Regional Final loss to Connecticut

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Valparaiso

2013    NCAA Round of 32 win over Memphis

2013    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Duke

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over Long Island

2012    NCAA Round of 32 win over St. Louis

2012    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Louisville

2011    NCAA Round of 64 loss to UCLA

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over New Mexico State

2010    NCAA Round of 32 win over Maryland

2010    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Northern Iowa

2010    NCAA Regional Final win over Tennessee

2010    NCAA National Semifinal loss to Butler

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Robert Morris

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over USC

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Kansas

2009    NCAA Regional Final win over Louisville

2009    NCAA National Semifinal win over Connecticut

2009    NCAA National Final loss to North Carolina

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Temple

2008    NCAA Round of 32 win over Pittsburgh

2008    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Memphis

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Marquette

2007    NCAA Round of 32 loss to North Carolina

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Florida State Seminoles

ACC (25-8, 12-6)

by Joel Welser

After four straight misses, Florida State is finally back in the NCAA Tournament. After some success in the NIT, the Seminoles will hope to make a big impact on their return to the NCAAs. FSU started strong with a 16-1 record. That included wins over Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Duke. Those tough road games in the ACC did cause some problems, but Coach Leonard Hamilton always had his team ready to rebound from those losses.

Big Wins: 1/10 Duke (88-72), 1/18 Notre Dame (83-80), 1/21 Louisville (73-68)

Bad Losses: 11/24 vs Temple (86-89), 1/25 at Georgia Tech (56-78), 1/28 at Syracuse (72-82)

Coach: Leonard Hamilton

Why They Can Surprise:

This Florida State offense has gone to another level during the 2016-2017 campaign. An amazing amount of depth has certainly helped the offense remain fresh and competitive all season long. Dwayne Bacon is the team’s top scorer and averages 16.9 points per game, but the backcourt also boasts Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Terance Mann, CJ Walker, Braian Angola-Rodas and Trent Forest. Rathan-Mayes averages double figures as well and also is responsible for setting up the rest of the team. Mann has been inconsistent at times in the scoring department, but he is a very good rebounding guard who can also pass the ball effectively. Walker, Forrest and Angola-Rodas are all capable of providing a nice spark off the bench.

Why They Can Disappoint:

The depth continues in the frontcourt, but this group is a little disappointing on the glass. Jonathan Isaac is a very good rebounder, scorer and shot blocker, but he does not get too much help on the glass. Michael Ojo and Jarquez Smith will block some shots and play solid defense, but they are not all that effective when it comes to rebounding. The other potential issue is Florida State’s outside shooting.

This is a team that is efficient when attacking the basket, but they often struggle to stretch the defense. Bacon, Isaac and Rathan-Mayes are capable three-point shooters, but the team as a whole ranks towards the bottom of the ACC in three-point field goal attempts and percentage. The Seminoles are smart enough not to force outside shots, but at some point in the NCAA Tournament it would be very helpful to be able to stretch the defense and open gaps for the slashers to get to the basket.

Probable Starters:

Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Junior, Guard, 10.4 ppg, 4.8 apg

Dwayne Bacon, Sophomore, Guard, 16.9 ppg, 1.7 apg, 4.0 rpg

Terance Mann, Sophomore, Guard, 8.5 ppg, 1.7 apg, 4.7 rpg

Jonathan Isaac, Freshman, Forward, 11.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg

Michael Ojo, Senior, Center4.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Key Role Players:

Jarquez Smith, Senior, Forward, 4.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Phil Cofer, Junior, Forward, 3.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg

CJ Walker, Freshman, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 1.4 apg

Trent Forrest, Freshman, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 1.6 apg

Braian Angola-Rodas, Junior, Guard, 4.7 ppg, 1.2 apg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 83.0 (17th in nation, 2nd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 71.2 (147, 9)

Field-Goal Percentage: 48.5 (18, 2)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.1 (46, 5)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (206, 12)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.1 (130, 12)

Free-Throw Percentage: 68.9 (216, 12)

Rebound Margin: 2.7 (98, 7)

Assists Per Game: 14.9 (84, 7)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (56, 6)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016 NIT First Round win over Davidson

2016 NIT Second Round loss to Valparaiso

2014 NIT First Round win over Florida Gulf Coast

2014 NIT Second Round win over Georgetown

2014 NIT Regional Semifinal win over Louisiana Tech

2014 NIT National Semifinal loss to Minnesota

2013 NIT First Round loss to Louisiana Tech

2012 NCAA Round of 64 win over St. Bonaventure

2012 NCAA Round of 32 loss to Cincinnati

2011 NCAA Round of 64 win over Texas A&M

2011 NCAA Round of 32 win over Notre Dame

2011 NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to VCU

2010 NCAA Round of 64 loss to Gonzaga

2009 NCAA Round of 64 loss to Wisconsin

2008 NIT First Round loss to Akron

2007 NIT First Round win over Toledo

2007 NIT Second Round win over Michigan

2007 NIT Quarterfinal loss to Mississippi State

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Florida Gators

SEC (24-8, 14-4)

by Joel Welser

Coach Michael White has used the experience on his roster to put Florida back in the NCAA Tournament. After winning a couple games in the NIT last season, the Gators are ready to try and make a run in the NCAAs and this team has the potential to do just that.

Big Wins: 12/29 at Arkansas (81-72), 2/4 Kentucky (88-66), 2/21 South Carolina (81-66)

Bad Losses: 12/6 vs Duke (74-84), 1/18 at South Carolina (53-57), 1/21 Vanderbilt (66-68)

Coach: Michael White

Why They Can Surprise:

Florida has toughness, experience and plenty of depth. KeVaughn Allen, Canyon Berry and Devin Robinson do much of the scoring. Allen leads the way with 13.9 points per game and is the team’s most prolific three-point shooter. Berry, a 6-6 wing, is a very effective all-around scorer off the bench. He can spark this offense and that is very important for a team that can struggle to consistently score points. Robinson is a big 6-8, 200 pound small forward who can shoot over smaller defenders and dribble around bigger opponents. With Kasey Hill getting the scorers the ball, the Gators have plenty of weapons.

Why They Can Disappoint:

However, those weapons are not always consistent when it comes to scoring, especially with the injury to center John Egbunu. This is a team that can have some very long scoring droughts and they must remember to continue to attack the basket instead of settling for tough outside shots. Coach White can deal with the inconsistent offense as long as the defensive intensity stays high. The strong defense allows the Gators to stay in the game even when the offense goes a few minutes without scoring. More importantly, Florida almost always gets an opportunity to shoot the ball. Thanks to Hill, the Gators rarely turn the ball over and that too makes a few missed shots much easier to swallow.

Probable Starters:

Kasey Hill, Senior, Guard, 9.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 1.7 spg

KeVaughn Allen, Sophomore, Guard, 13.9 ppg, 1.4 apg

Devin Robinson, Junior, Forward, 10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg

Justin Leon, Senior, Forward, 7.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg

Kevarrius Hayes, Sophomore, Center, 6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Key Role Players:

Canyon Barry, Senior, Guard, 12.1 ppg

Chris Chiozza, Junior, Guard, 6.9 ppg, 3.7 apg

Keith Stone, Freshman, Forward, 3.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 78.8 (57th in nation, 4th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 66.4 (48, 3)

Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (127, 5)

Field-Goal Defense: 40.7 (35, 4)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (133, 3)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.6 (108, 3)

Free-Throw Percentage: 72.7 (97, 6)

Rebound Margin: 2.0 (116, 6)

Assists Per Game: 12.8 (228, 10)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (67, 2)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016 NIT First Round win over North Florida

2016 NIT Second Round win over Ohio State

2016 NIT Quarterfinal loss to George Washington

2014 NCAA Round of 64 win over Albany

2014 NCAA Round of 32 win over Pittsburgh

2014 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over UCLA

2014 NCAA Regional Final win over Dayton

2014 NCAA National Semifinal loss to Connecticut

2013 NCAA Round of 64 win over Northwestern State

2013 NCAA Round of 32 win over Minnesota

2013 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Florida Gulf Coast

2013 NCAA Regional Final loss to Michigan

2012 NCAA Round of 64 win over Virginia

2012 NCAA Round of 32 win over Norfolk State

2012 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Marquette

2012 NCAA Regional Final loss to Louisville

2011 NCAA Round of 64 win over UC-Santa Barbara

2011 NCAA Round of 32 win over UCLA

2011 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over BYU

2011 NCAA Regional Final loss to Butler

2010 NCAA Round of 64 loss to BYU

2009 NIT First Round win over Jacksonville

2009 NIT Second Round win over Miami

2009 NIT Quarterfinal loss to Penn State

2008 NIT First Round win over San Diego State

2008 NIT Second Round win over Creighton

2008 NIT Quarterfinal win over Arizona State

2008 NIT Semifinal loss to Massachusetts

2007 NCAA Round of 64 win over Jackson State

2007 NCAA Round of 32 win over Purdue

2007 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Butler

2007 NCAA National Semifinal win over UCLA

2007 NCAA National Final win over Ohio State

2007 NCAA Regional Final win over Oregon

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Dayton Flyers

Atlantic 10 (24-7, 15-3)

by Jacob Young

Archie Miller has now led the Flyers to four straight NCAA tournament appearances and looks to get them to the second weekend for the first time since 2014. Dayton has a rather uninspired non-conference résumé with their best wins coming against middle of the pack SEC teams Alabama and Vanderbilt. Their three losses outside of the A-10 came by a combined nine points to Saint Mary’s, Nebraska and Northwestern. The Flyers were able to take care of business in conference play with a 15-3 record.

Big Wins: 12/21 Vanderbilt (68-63), 2/10 at Rhode Island (75-74), 3/1 VCU (79-72)

Bad Losses: 11/24 vs Nebraska (78-80), 12/17 vs Northwestern (64-67), 1/11 at Massachusetts (55-67)

Coach: Archie Miller

Why They Can Surprise:

Experience is key to have during March and Dayton has one of the oldest teams in the tournament. There are no freshmen in the rotation and half of the players that see the floor are upperclassmen. The four seniors on this team were there for the Elite Eight run three years ago and look to find similar success this year. Dayton’s biggest strength statistically is their defense. The Flyers allow just 66.3 points per game and opponents shoot a measly 41.2 percent from the field against them. Depth is also an advantage Dayton has with ten players averaging double-digit minutes per game and no one getting more than 32 minutes per contest.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Frankly, Dayton hasn’t quite proven they can beat anybody this season with a few decent wins among the relatively easy schedule. The A-10 had a down year, preventing Dayton from collecting many quality wins and they failed to add a strong victory during non-conference play. Even with their experience and depth, Dayton is hard to put much trust in with their lack of impressive wins this season. Looking at Dayton’s numbers, nothing jumps out as a major weakness except they aren’t very good on the offensive glass.

Probable Starters:

Scoochie Smith, Senior, Guard, 13.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, 1.5 spg Darrell Davis, Junior, Guard, 5.7 ppg, 1.3 apg Charles Cooke, Senior, Guard, 16.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg Kendall Pollard, Senior, Forward, 14.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.5 spg Xeyrius Williams, Sophomore, Forward, 8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg

Key Role Players:

Kyle Davis, Senior, Guard, 8.1 ppg, 2.7 apg, 1.7 spg Ryan Mikesell, Sophomore, Forward, 5.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg Josh Cunningham, Sophomore, Forward, 6.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg

John Crosby, Sophomore, Guard, 2.9 ppg, 1.3 apg Sam Miller, Sophomore, Forward, 4.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 76.8 (99th in nation, 2nd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 66.3 (47, 3)

Field-Goal Percentage: 47.2 (42, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.2 (48, 2)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.0 (115, 4)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.5 (40, 1)

Free-Throw Percentage: 69.1 (210, 9)

Rebound Margin: 0.4 (183, 7)

Assists Per Game: 15.8 (49, 3)

Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (81, 4)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016 NCAA Round of 64 loss to Syracuse

2015 NCAA Opening Round win over Boise State

2015 NCAA Round of 64 win over Providence

2015 NCAA Round of 32 loss to Oklahoma

2014 NCAA Round of 64 win over Ohio State

2014 NCAA Round of 32 win over Syracuse

2014 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Stanford

2014 NCAA Regional Final loss to Florida

2012 NIT First Round loss to Iowa

2011 NIT First Round loss to College of Charleston

2010 NIT First Round win over Illinois State

2010 NIT Second Round win over Cincinnati

2010 NIT Quarterfinal win over Illinois

2010 NIT Semifinal win over Mississippi

2010 NIT Final win over North Carolina

2009 NCAA Round of 64 win over West Virginia

2009 NCAA Round of 32 loss to Kansas

2008 NIT First Round win over Cleveland State

2008 NIT Second Round win over Illinois State

2008 NIT Quarterfinal loss to Ohio State

2004 NCAA Round of 64 loss to DePaul

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

ACC (19-13, 9-9)

 by Joel Welser

Wake Forest failed to pick up a big win in non-conference action, losing to Villanova on a neutral floor and at Xavier and Northwestern. None of those are bad losses. But after a 1-4 start in ACC action, many wrote off the Demon Deacons. However, Coach Danny Manning and company battled back and turned into a respectable team, especially after their huge March 1st victory at home against Louisville.

Big Wins: 1/18 Miami FL (96-79), 2/22 Pittsburgh (63-59), 3/1 Louisville (88-81)

Bad Losses: 11/28 at Northwestern (58-65), 12/31 Clemson (68-73), 1/24 at Syracuse (76-81)

Coach: Danny Manning

Why They Can Surprise:

Wake Forest has made their late season surge because of their offense. John Collins, Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods are all extremely dangerous scorers. Collins, a 6-10 forward, leads the way with 18.9 points and 9.8 rebounds. He is a menace in the paint and often gets the opposing big man in foul trouble. More importantly, Collins is a pretty good free-throw shooter. Crawford draws quite a few fouls too. The sophomore point guard averages 16.1 points per game and is extremely dangerous when attacking the basket. Woods tends to stick more to the perimeter, but can use his 6-3 frame to mix it up in the paint. Austin Arians and Mitchell Wilbekin are also consistent shooters and help create space for the rest of the team.

Why They Can Disappoint:

The defense is improving, but this is still a team that will give up 90 points with relative ease. The opposition shoots 45.1 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc. Most of the time, Wake Forest has little choice but to concentrate on their offense and hope for the best in a shootout. And as good as Collins and Bryant are at getting their opponents in foul trouble, the Demon Deacons will run into foul trouble of their own. With a team that would prefer to go seven deep, that can be a big problem.

Probable Starters:

Bryant Crawford, Sophomore, Guard, 16.1 ppg, 5.4 apg, 3.8 rpg

Keyshawn Woods, Sophomore, Guard, 12.8 ppg, 3.5 apg, 4.3 rpg

Austin Arians, Senior, Forward, 8.3 ppg, 1.2 apg

John Collins, Sophomore, Forward, 18.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Konstantinos Mitoglou, Junior, Forward, 9.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Key Role Players:

Mitchell Wilbekin, Junior, Guard, 7.0 ppg, 1.5 apg

Brandon Childress, Freshman, Guard, 6.6 ppg, 2.2 apg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 82.1 (21st in nation, 3rd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 77.2 (291, 13)

Field-Goal Percentage: 47.0 (50, 5)

Field-Goal Defense: 45.1 (241, 13)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.0 (119, 6)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.3 (44, 5)

Free-Throw Percentage: 77.0 (14, 2)

Rebound Margin: 3.3 (83, 6)

Assists Per Game: 15.7 (52, 4)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (65, 7)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Texas

2010    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Kentucky

2009    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Cleveland State

2006    NIT     First Round loss to Minnesota

2005    NCAA Round of 64 win over Chattanooga

2005    NCAA Round of 32 loss to West Virginia

2004    NCAA Round of 64 win over VCU

2004    NCAA Round of 32 win over Manhattan

2004    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to St. Joseph’s

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB