Final Four Breakdown

There was noise about the lack of drama in the initial weekend. Fair or not, we can all agree that the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 delivered in a big way. Here’s what we can take away from the second weekend as we try to project what might happen in Phoenix.

Defense, defense, defense. It matters.

Kansas and UCLA were popular picks to win it all. The temptation was understandable. The Jayhawks and Bruins are fantastic offensive teams that boast as much fire power as anyone.

But had either won the title, it would have been unprecedented in the modern era. Since 2002, no team has won the NCAA tournament with a defense that ranks 22nd or lower.

Kansas is 24th in adjusted defensive efficiency. UCLA is 86th. Compare that to the teams who are Phoenix-bound:

 

Final Four defensive efficiency rankings

TEAM RANKING
Gonzaga 1
South Carolina 2
North Carolina 18
Oregon 19

 

This isn’t to suggest that you can win a national championship with an elite defense and a clogged-toilet offense. South Carolina struggled to score in the regular season, but the Gamecocks are averaging well above a point per possession in the tournament.  And one day, an offensive-minded team will buck this trend.

But last weekend reinforced the idea that both sides of the floor matter. Remember that before going all googly-eyed over the next UCLA.

Dillon Brooks might be the third-best player on Oregon, and that’s scary if you’re North Carolina.

Brooks, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, is a 6-foot-7 locomotive capable of scoring from all over the court. He’s also a crunch time assassin that has played well in March.

So the fact that he’s been Oregon’s third-best player in the tournament has to be terrifying if you’re a UNC fan. Brooks has two game-winning buzzer-beaters this season, yet Tyler Dorsey is the Ducks’ go-to guy in the waning seconds, and for good reason. Dorsey is averaging 24.5 points on 67 percent shooting in the tournament. He’s making 65(!!) percent of his 3s on a hefty dose of attempts. Some of the shots he hit against Kansas were just silly.

And to put in perspective how good Jordan Bell has been: Dorsey shot 67 percent and didn’t win the Most Outstanding Player award in the Midwest Region. That went to Bell, who posted an 11/13/8/4 line against Kansas.

The eight blocked shots were amazing enough, especially considering that a truly dominant rim-protector affects other shots he doesn’t touch. Bell had Kansas guards pump-faking ghosts on Saturday. Anticipating a Bell block attempt late in the second half, Devonte’ Graham lofted a floater so high it came up about three feet short in the lane. The Oregon center was in the Jayhawks’ heads. We’ll see if he can have the same effect on North Carolina in Phoenix.

Depth still counts …

Luke Maye was the best fourth big man on any roster in America this season. Without him, North Carolina wouldn’t be here:

The best teams have multiple players who can be dangerous to opponents. Gonzaga, for instance, brings Zach Collins off the bench. He’s arguably the best NBA prospect heading to the Final Four. North Carolina brings Maye and Tony Bradley off the bench. It’s certainly possible to win the national title with a short rotation – Dana Altman only uses seven players at Oregon – but life is much easier with nine or 10 capable dudes.

… and so does experience.

These four teams are stacked with veterans:

 

Final Four experience

TEAM C F G/F G G
Gonzaga Przemek Karnowski (Sr.) Johnathan Williams (Jr.) Jordan Mathews (Sr.) Josh Perkins (Soph.) Nigel Williams-Goss (Jr.)
South Carolina Chris Silva (Soph.) Maik Kotsar (Fr.) Sindarius Thornwell (Sr.) PJ Dozier (So.) Duane Notice (Sr.)
North Carolina Kennedy Meeks (Sr.) Isaiah Hicks (Sr.) Justin Jackson (Jr.) Theo Pinson (Jr.) Joel Berry (Jr.)
Oregon Jordan Bell (Jr.) Dillon Brooks (Jr.) Dylan Ennis (Sr.) Tyler Dorsey (Soph.) Payton Pritchard (Fr.)

 

The more college basketball changes, the more it stays the same. Defense, depth and experience can get you a long way. Don’t expect these players to be overwhelmed by the moment in Phoenix.

Gonzaga is loaded at every position.

The average college basketball fan doesn’t watch much Gonzaga from January through March. The games are on late for much of the country and the Zags are not involved in a lot of marquee matchups. Totally understandable.

But this is Mark Few’s most talented team ever, so it’s fitting that the Bulldogs are headed to their first Final Four. Nigel Williams-Goss will likely be an All-American. Jordan Mathews is a good 3-and-D guy. Any team would happily take Josh Perkins as its secondary ballhandler. Johnathan Williams is a springy power forward that gave Trevon Bluiett fits in the Elite Eight. Przemek Karnowski is an interior beast. Collins may be the team’s best player, and he comes off the bench.

Gonzaga deserves this. It’s great to see that outstanding basketball exists outside of the high-major conferences.

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

Posted in CBB

March Madness

Championship Game

#1 North Carolina vs #2 Villanova Preview

It’s the college basketball game of the year. March Madness is coming to an end, so prepare to feast your eyes on what’s sure to be the game of the year.

North Carolina is a great shooting team, but even when they don’t make the shot they score points. The Tar Heels come down with the best offensive rebounding rate in the UNC rebounds a whopping 39.9 percent of its own missed shots,

The Tar Heels’ three primary big men – All-American Brice Johnson and juniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks – all rank in the top 110 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage among individual players.

UNC, which scores 82.4 points a game, gets 9.6 percent of those points from putbacks, or nearly a 10th of its scoring.

Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige was 3-of-7 from beyond the arc; the rest of the team was 1-of-10 in their Final Four matchup versus Syracuse. That will not be good enough against the red-hot Wildcats on Monday night.

Sharp-shooting Villanova shot 71.4 percent from the field on Saturday against Oklahoma, good for the second-best mark in Final Four history and have drained 58.1% of their shots from the field through their first five games of the tournament. Those stats are both records, set by themselves in 1985 when they won their only national championship.

They’ve also made 49 percent of their 3-pointers since March Madness began.

Another important trait shown by the Wildcats is their killer instinct. They’ve won four of their March Madness games by at least 19 points (Kansas by 5).

The gameplan is simple, turn balls over (72) and make the effective play. They start by looking inside, specifically to big-man Daniel Ochefu, and kick it out for the open trey.

It’s a classic battle between the consensus top team, and a streaking contender.

We’ll soon find out who will reign victorious in 2016.

Posted in CBB

Final Four Scores

March Madness

Final Four Scores – Armed with a couple of blowouts, the Final Four may not have been as thrilling as the previous rounds, but you won’t anyone complaining about witnessing two quality teams put in work.

Now that the Final Four has come to a close and March Madness is nearing it’s finish, it’s time to reflect upon what has been another great show by our nations best young basketball players. It’s been an exciting run that began with 68 teams competing to be crowned champions, but now only two remain.

Those two teams competed for the right to play in that title game on Saturday, April 2nd.

finalfourscores

No. 2 Villanova easily handled No. 2 Oklahoma by a score of 95-51. That 44-point spread was the biggest margin of victory in Final Four history.

Later that evening, North Carolina took care of business against Syracuse and came out on top of an 83-66 score. Syracuse kept it close for most of the game, but UNC was just too dominant down low again.

Villanova has reached the national championship game for the first time since 1985, while North Carolina returns for the first time since 2009.

The March Madness Championship Game takes place on Monday, April 4 2016 at precisely 9:19 PM at NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas.

Posted in CBB

Final Four

#2 Villanova vs #2 Oklahoma Recap

Final Four Gamecenter Box Score

finalfourvillanovavsoklahomoa

During Saturday afternoon action, No. 2 Villanova not only beat, but embarrassed No. 2 Oklahoma by a score of 95-51. That 44-point spread was the biggest margin of victory in the history of the Final Four.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-point lead by the half, topping 40 points in the first 20 minutes of play alone. Sooners superstar Buddy Hield scored only 9 points the game and was held without a field-goal for virtually the entire second half.  His only three-pointer was on the opening possession of the game.

Josh Hart led Villanova in scoring with 23 points, while Jordan Woodard led Oklahoma with 12 points.

Box Score

finalfourvillanovaboxscore

No. 1 North Carolina defeated No. 10 Syracuse easily later on that evening in their Final Four matchup, so the Tar Heels await Villanova in the championship game to be played on Monday, April 4 2016 at precisely 9:19 PM at NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas.

Posted in CBB

NCAA Basketball Final Four preview

Villanova Wildcats vs Oklahoma Sooners

Buddy Hield’s Oklahoma Sooners are one game away from the national championship and will face the Oklahoma Sooners in a matchup featuring 2 of the best College Basketball programs in the nation for this Final Four. Houston’s NRG Stadium will host this matchup highly anticipated matchup Saturday. FanPicks is proud to bring you this NCAA Basketball Final Four preview. Come enjoy our March Madness Fantasy contests at Fanpicks with over 5 MILLION dollars in prizes for the NCAA TOURNAMENT.

NCAA BASKETBALL Final Four

Buddy Hield really made this NCAA March Madness Tournament into a personal highlight reel and the stage will get bigger tonight when he will lead the Sooners to their 1st Final Four in 14 years against the Villanova Wildcats in Houston. Hield, scored 37 points in the Elite 8 victory over Oregon last weekend, and currently averages 29.3 pts  with a 56.7 shooting percentage this NCAA tournament.

 

The Wildcats’ coach Jay Wright knows the threat Hield poses for his team and is well aware that the Sooners will have a sixth man with the crowd, as Oklahoma’s campus isn’t so far from Houston. But after kicking the nation’s # 1 team Kansas last week, he feels his squad heads into this game with extreme confidence. The two teams already met earlier this season but it was another story as some of their players were very inexperienced and struggled from the field. Their starters combined for 1 of 16 from the 3 pt range however have a 42.6 percent from beyond the arc in the tournament. We were an inexperienced team and it really showed, so I think we are a much more experienced team now.” That trio combined to go 1-of-16 from 3-point range against Oklahoma, but have posted a collective 42.6 percent mark from beyond the arc in the tournament.

 

On the Sooners side, Buddy Hield should have a tremendous game and will be helped by guard Jordan Woodard. Woodard is averaging 16.8 pts per game while Cousins has been struggling with only 13 pts in the past 2 games. With Hield hitting the triples against Oregon and taking at least 10 shots beyond the arc. The Wildcats will definitely need to be on their game early since the Sooners have outscored their opponents by 14.3 on average in the 1st half.

Posted in CBB

March Madness

#6 Notre Dame vs #1 North Carolina Recap

NDvsNCscore

March Madness – North Carolina became the only #1 seed to survive the regional final after beating the Fighting Irish. The Tar Heels reach the Final Four of March Madness for the 19th time in school history, a fourth time with Head Coach Roy Williams and first time since winning the National Championship in 2009.

NC forward Brice Johnson was the fantasy basketball star of the day. Johnson scored 24 points by going 10-of-15 from the field,  plus 15 rebounds. It was his third consecutive game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Everybody knows how good the Tar Heels offensive rebounding was coming in, but in a tournament style format that no doubt includes some desperation shots, it becomes even more valuable. They out-rebounded ND by a wide margin 31-14.

  • Box Score

NCvsNDBoxscore

March Madness continues on April 2, 2016 when North Carolina will face #10 Syracuse in the Final Four.

Posted in CBB

March Madness

Elite 8

#10 Syracuse vs #1 Virginia

syracusevsvirginiascore

The widest spread among remaining seeds, we saw #10 Syracuse upset #1 Virginia by a score of 68-62.

Syrcause used a 29-8 run to rally from a 16-point deficit and stun Virginia in the regional final. Syracuse is now the first #10 seed to ever reach the Final Four, and the first double-digit seed since VCU accomplished the feat in 2011.

Don’t be confused though, the Orange are no stranger to the Final Four. They were there in 2013, and 2016 will mark the sixth time they reach the Final Four.

Guard Malachi Richardson hit three 3-pointers and shot 8-of-9 from the line to lead all scorers in this game with 23 points. He also tallied seven rebounds and a couple of steals. Perhaps the most impressive stat line though, is that 14 of Richardson’s points came in the game’s final nine minutes of the game. Very impressive for a freshman. Talk about clutch.

London Perrantes made a valiant effort as he went 6-for-10 for three, and led Virginia with 18 points in what ended up being their last game of the tournament.

#10 Syracuse has a tough task ahead, as the lone remaining #1 seed North Carolina await them in the Final Four.

Posted in CBB

March Madness

#2 Villanova vs #1 Kansas

Elite 8

villanovavskansas fanpicks.com

Villanova is off to the Final Four of March Madness for the first time since 2009.

Another #1 seed was knocked off the podium on Saturday when Kansas came up short against #2 ranked Villanova 64-59.

Turnovers were an issue all day for Kansas, as the Jay Hawks had 16 turnovers to Villanova’s nine. Villanova’s efficient style has guided them so far through March Madness 2016, and accomplished the feat yet again.

Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham led all scorers with 17 points, while Jay Hawk teammates Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III added 16 points each.

Star forward Perry Ellis only had 4 points in the losing cause.

Villanova got by with another great team effort as three players shared the lead with 13 points apiece (Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, and Ryan Acridiacono). Daniel Ochefu had another strong game on the inside for ‘Nova shooting 5-for-8 from the field, hauling down 8 rebounds, a block and two assists (second on team, leader Jenkins 3). He has been a rock throughout all of March Madness.

The #2 Wildcats will play #2 Oklahoma in Houston, Texas for the right to compete in the championship game.

Posted in CBB

March Madness

Elite 8

#2 Oklahoma vs #1 Oregon Recap

oklvsoregscore

 

Oklahoma is off to the Final Four for the first time since 2002.

Buddy Hield dropped 37 points in a Steph Curry like performance to send Oregon home from March Madness. Oh yeah, and he did it just to impress Kobe Bryant. As Hield said after the game “As soon as I saw Kobe was here, I knew I had to put on a show.”

He followed that up with “It was special man, I can’t tell you how special… A guy you really looked up to growing up. You don’t get that everyday…It’s kind of special that he knows who I am now. I appreciate Kobe taking his time coming out and watching, it means so much to me.”

Isaiah Cousins had the second best fantasy basketball day with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal, while Jordan Woodard contributed 13 points, 1 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal himself.

Oregon’s Elgin Cook dropped 24 points plus 4 assists in the loss.

#2 Oklahoma will face fellow #2 seed Villanova in their Final Four matchup to see who will win the right to compete in the March Madness championship game.

Posted in CBB

Wisconsin Badgers vs Kentucky Wildcats- 4/4/15 NCAA Fantasy Sports, Basketball Picks, Odds & Predictions

NCAA Cash Draft Picks

There will be excitement of the Final Four for mock draft managers on Saturday April 4th as the action on the college hardwood is intense as teams get closer to the National Championship. In the late game from Indianapolis Indiana at 8:49PM Eastern Time on TBS TV will feature the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats locking horns with the Wisconsin Badgers.  The winner of this game moves to the National Championship game on Monday to face the winner of Duke and Michigan St.

Kentucky opened up the NCAA Tournament with three blowout wins. They were challenged in an Elite 8 matchup on Saturday as they pulled out a two point win against Notre Dame 68-66. The biggest margins of victory and point total for Kentucky has come when they have more than one day to prepare for an opponent. In the NCAA Tournament in those spots the Wildcats have averaged 78 ½ points per game compared to the 66 points scored when playing with only one day of rest.

Wisconsin Badgers had a difficult voyage to the Final Four once they got past Coastal Carolina in the second round. The Badgers faced Oregon, North Carolina and Arizona winning by five points or greater in each game. What was impressed by the Badgers victories against those three teams was the amount of offense generated as the team averaged 78 points in those victories. Against a very good defensive team in Arizona, Wisconsin was able to scored 85 points as they shot 55% from the field and over 66% from the three point line to the delight of college basketball fantasy participants.

Kentucky Wildcats Guards: The Wildcats are filled with depth up and down their lineup. The most averaged time on the court for any one player is the 25.7 minutes per game average for sophomore guard Aaron Harrison. Harrison has played two seasons for Kentucky and in 2015 are averaging 11 points and nearly three rebounds per contest. He had a 13 point game against Cincinnati and against West Virginia Harrison poured in 12 points. Freshman guard Devin Booker put up 12 points in a Sweet Sixteen win against Cincinnati and against Notre Dame in the Elite Eight the guard in 27 minutes had ten points.

Kentucky Wildcats Forwards: Karl Anthony Towns has been up and down in the scoring department. He had a monster game in the Elite Eight against Notre Dame by scoring 25 points, pulling down five rebounds and dishing out four assists as he worked 25 minutes. Junior forward Willie Cauley Stein is in his third year with the school. In four NCAA Tournament games Stein has averaged seven rebounds and eight points per game. He can pull up college basketball fantasy points on the defensive end of the court as he has averaged over two blocks a game thus far in the tournament.

Kentucky Wildcats Centers: Seven footl sophomore center Dakari Johnson has seen inconsistent time on the court. He played just eight minutes against Notre Dame and had no points and two rebounds. In the Elite Eight victory Johnson saw 24 minutes of playing time and contributed with 12 points and six rebounds.

Wisconsin Guards: Senior Guard Traevon Jackson has seen limited action during the NCAA Tournament playing nine minutes in the Sweet 16 and seven minutes in the Elite Eight and contributing with very little. Senior guard John Gasser has averaged 38 ½ minutes over his past three games. The point total in those three games was an average of 6 ½ with 3 ½ assists per game. Sophomore guard Bronson Koenig played 33 minutes in the win against Arizona in the Elite Eight and had six points and three assists. We have not seen much production from the Wisconsin guards in this NCAA tournament as their points for college basketball draft managers have come from the forward position.

Wisconsin Forwards: This is the position where college basketball fantasy cash players earn the big bucks from their leagues utilizing Wisconsin players. Frank Kaminsky has seen no less than 38 minutes of playing time over the past three games for the Badgers in the NCAA Tournament. He came up with a big effort in the win against Arizona by scoring 29 points and pulling down six rebounds. The player had eight boards and 19 points hitting a perfect 8 of 8 from the line against North Carolina in the Sweet 16 victory. Junior Sam Dekker has averaged 25 points in the wins against Arizona and North Carolina. In those two games combined the Badgers forward shot 18 of 16. He went 5 of 6 from the three point line in the win against Arizona.

 

College Basketball cash fantasy picks for One-Day Leagues

Guards: Aaron Harrison (Kentucky), Devin Booker (Kentucky)

Forwards: Frank Kaminksy (Wisconsin), Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)

Center: Dakari Johnson (Kentucky)

Cash Draft Contest

Posted in CFB