Complete SEC preview for the 2018 season.
After winning its fifth title in nine seasons last year, Alabama is primed for another run at the national championship and SEC title in 2018. The Crimson Tide are the pick in 2018 SEC predictions to edge Auburn and win the West Division and knock off Georgia in the conference title game to claim the league championship. The Bulldogs are also primed for another run into the CFB Playoff. Coach Kirby Smart continues to add elite talent on the recruiting trail, and there’s a strong foundation to build off the 2017 season. Auburn is Alabama’s biggest challenger in the West, followed by Mississippi State and Texas A&M. The race to finish second in the East is wide open. Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky or Missouri are next up, with Tennessee and Vanderbilt projected at the bottom of the division.
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen embraces the incredible expectations that drove his former boss, Urban Meyer, to retire for a season and cost Will Muschamp and McElwain their jobs at Florida. Mullen’s ability to develop quarterbacks is critical given the long-standing issues under center. He and his staff must prove to be strong recruiters to rebuild Florida’s talent level and depth after four straight classes outside the top 10. The 46-year-old will benefit from a favorable schedule. Doubling last season’s total of four wins is within reach.
Georgia doesn’t have the experience coming back that it did last year, but it may have as much talent. It’s just younger and inexperienced talent, and that does matter, and would be a reason not to expect another CFB Playoff run. Then again, the schedule is far from daunting. Georgia has to go to LSU, and September games at South Carolina and Missouri could be troublesome. Auburn visits Athens.
Georgia should be a heavy favorite to repeat as SEC East champion. Everything else probably depends on how quickly the defense reloads.
If Kentucky can find a competent quarterback, there is enough experienced talent at the other positions to envision the Wildcats breaking through the seven-win plateau for the first time in the coach Mark Stoops era. If not, the Wildcats could be in danger of taking a step back by either falling to a lesser bowl than the last two seasons or missing postseason play altogether.
There’s just enough turnover to give one pause, but most of the reasons for last year’s second-half surge return. That suggests a pretty high floor in a division that features quite a few teams that bottomed out in 2017.
If a Will Muschamp-coached team is ever going to get the offense going, this would seem the year with QB Jake Bentley and WR Deebo Samuel in the fold. The defense has personnel question marks, but Muschamp and 3rd year defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson have earned the benefit of the doubt on that side of the ball.
With Florida and Tennessee in transition thanks to coaching changes, South Carolina can realistically enter the season with its eye on second place in the SEC East, the same spot it claimed a year ago. It’s probably a bit much to expect the Gamecocks to compete with defending conference champion Georgia, but South Carolina gets the Bulldogs in the second game of the season at home, so there’s always hope.
Tennessee doesn’t have much margin for error, particularly with a challenging schedule that opens with offensive juggernaut West Virginia. The Vols plan to be efficient with a low-risk offense, mindful of turnovers while featuring aggressive blitz packages and coverage schemes. New coach Jeremy Pruitt hopes that recipe is good enough to produce (at least) six wins in Year 1.
The overall win total dropped by only one game from 2016 to 2017, but a deeper dive into the numbers reveals that the Commodores took a significant step back in coach Derek Mason’s fourth season. To get his team back into the bowl picture — and to stay off the hot seat — Mason will need to solve the Commodores’ defensive issues. Even if QB Kyle Shurmur and the offense continue to progress — a realistic proposition with an improved offensive line and the addition of Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield — Vanderbilt will struggle to stay out of the SEC East cellar if the defense is allowing 40-plus points in league games.
There was a different feel to Alabama’s most recent national title. For one thing, the Tide had to overcome a bewildering rash of injuries and a November loss to Auburn. There also were the emotional swings of the title game, topped off by the iconic second-and-26 walk-off winner.
The end result was the same, though — a fifth national title in the past nine seasons — and the expectations remain, thanks to many of the players who were involved in the crucial moments of that wild night in Atlanta. Alabama will begin the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. And there’s a good chance the Tide will end the season in that spot as well.
It would be unreasonable to believe the Razorbacks could go from 1-7 in conference play to a contender in the SEC West in the course of one offseason. Quarterback play will likely go a long way in determining whether the offense builds up steam in coach Chad Morris’ debut. And the defense — which gave up a staggering 7.1 yards per play in SEC games — needs major help at all three levels. The debut of Morris should provide some splash and dash, but the Razorbacks need a further injection of speed and depth across the board to make a significant move in the brutal SEC West.
Gus Malzahn faces some lofty expectations. The Tigers’ sixth-year head coach just signed a seven-year contract extension for $49 million, with $36.75 million guaranteed, after a 10–4 season in which he won the SEC West and defeated both National Championship Game participants (Alabama and Georgia). Now, though, many fans will define an Auburn season as a success or failure based on whether it defeats those two rivals, and the Tigers must do so on the road in 2018. Good luck, Gus.
LSU’s schedule isn’t conducive to finding a path back into the SEC’s upper echelon. The Tigers will face two teams that played in the College Football Playoff (Alabama and Georgia) and two teams that played in New Year’s Six bowls (Auburn and Miami). Add games at home with Mississippi State and at Texas A&M, and it’s difficult to picture the Tigers being able to challenge for SEC West supremacy. The key for coach Ed Orgeron is not to slip so far that he’s facing a must-win-big scenario in 2019 to keep his job.
When Dan Mullen left Mississippi State after nine seasons to return to Florida, the school elected to go outside of the SEC and hire Joe Moorhead as coach. There’s some risk there (mostly related to recruiting), but the hire was hailed by outside observers, and 2018 could prove why immediately. Mississippi State lost very little of consequence from its 2017 team, and despite a fairly challenging schedule, there’s reason for optimism in Starkville. Eight wins are expected, and some believe that this could be a 10-win team with the right breaks.
Coach Matt Luke led the Rebels to a 6-6 mark in a tumultuous 2017 that included the cloud of the NCAA investigation hovering above. His candidacy for the full-time job was not looking strong until the Rebels won three of their last four games, including a 31-28 upset at No. 16 Mississippi State.
Barring a reprieve, Ole Miss is banned from a bowl game for the second straight season. The Rebels have enough firepower on offense to pose some serious problems, but they will need to show significant improvement on defense — most notably against the run — to reach the six-win mark again.
Weary from four consecutive seasons with eight wins or fewer, A&M pulled off a major coup and lured Coach Jimbo Fisher to College Station. The Aggies have bet $75 million over 10 years that Fisher can duplicate the success he had at Florida State, where he won the 2013 national championship. Fisher inherits 15 returning starters and some top-flight talent. But the Aggies have lacked the physicality and depth to compete for championships in the rugged SEC. If significant strides are made in those areas, A&M could make a run at exceeding the eight-win plateau. Competing immediately for an SEC championship may be asking for too much too soon.
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March Madness Round 64 Preview
Davidson vs. Kentucky
Davidson stole an NCAA Tournament bid from a bubble team with a surprising run to the Atlantic 10 tournament title and is looking for its first Tournament win since Stephen Curry led Davidson to the 2008 Elite Eight. Standing in the way is fifth-seeded Kentucky, which rolled to the SEC tournament title and hosts No. 12 seed Davidson in the first round of the South regional in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday.
Davidson picked up its first A-10 tournament title by knocking off top-seeded Rhode Island in the title game and cruises into its 14th NCAA Tournament with wins in four straight, during which it allowed an average of 62 points. Davidson won 11 of its last 13 games to come into March Madness hot and will lean on defense after forcing the Rams into 14 turnovers and 38.5 percent shooting in Sunday’s 58-57 triumph. That defense will have its work cut out for it against Kentucky, which is averaging 80.4 points over its last eight games and features four players averaging double figures in scoring. “Every situation and experience is new to them, so you don’t really know what they’re going to do, and we need as many of these kinds of things as we can going into next weekend,” Kentucky coach John Calipari told reporters of his young team. “So proud of them. Really proud of them.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT DAVIDSON (21-11): Davidson will counter Kentucky’s young, balanced attack with some experienced scoring in senior forward Peyton Aldridge, who averages over 21 points and was named the co-Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10. Aldridge was held to 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting in Sunday’s win over Rhode Island but went over 30 points five times on the season, including a 45-point outburst in a triple-overtime loss at St. Bonaventure on Feb. 27 – the team’s lone setback in the last nine contests. Davidson can’t match Kentucky’s young talent but does have a freshman in guard Kellan Grady averaging over 18 points.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (24-10): Freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way with 29 points in Sunday’s SEC championship game win over Tennessee and is averaging 18.4 points over the last seven games. The Canada native is also emerging as a team leader due to his hard work. “He will miss guys sometimes, but he’s gotten so much better,” Calipari told reporters of Gilgeous-Alexander. “But it’s taken film and practice and talks and one-on-ones. The kid is a great kid in trying to do the right thing. These kids know, if a guy’s – it’s hard to lead if you’re not the hardest guy working it. It’s hard to lead if you’re not the first one in there. It’s hard to lead if you’re not a guy that’s capable to go on the court and win games. I’m not following you. Who wants to follow you? I mean, you’ve got to be that guy.”
1. Kentucky fell in the Elite Eight last season and last made the Final Four in 2015, which capped a run of four consecutive Final Fours.
2. Davidson bowed out in the first round in each of its last three NCAA Tournament appearances – 2012, 2013 and 2015.
3. Kentucky beat Davidson 75-55 in the first round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament – the only other time the teams faced off in March.
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Mississippi State at Kentucky
Kentucky plays as an unranked team for the first time in nearly four years when it tries for its 11th straight victory over visiting Mississippi State on Tuesday. The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back losses at South Carolina 76-68 on Jan. 16 and to No. 22 Florida 66-64 on Saturday, but coach John Calipari still has faith in his young team coming together at the right time.
“I know there’s some people out there that will be panicked and all this,” Calipari told reporters after the Gators snapped Kentucky’s 30-game SEC home winning streak. “Be panicked. I’m glad I’m not sitting with you because I am fine.” The Wildcats hope to receive a boost from 6-9 freshman forward Jared Vanderbilt, who has averaged 5.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 13.5 minutes in his first two games of the season since recovering from a foot injury. “I think I’ve showed flashes,” Vanderbilt told Kentucky.com, with Calipari adding that Vanderbilt could be the leader the Wildcats appear to be missing. “As I get in better shape, the more minutes I play … just to have an extra spark of energy, just a boost for the team.” The Bulldogs are coming off a 68-62 loss at Alabama – their fourth setback in the last five games, and have dropped 11 straight on the road.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (14-5, 2-4 SEC): Junior forward Aric Holman (12.1 points, team-high 7.3 rebounds per game) has recorded double-doubles in consecutive contests, averaging 14.5 points and 12 boards. Junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon leads the team in scoring (14.5 points) and assists (4.1), also contributes 5.8 rebounds, and is 17-for-34 from the field in his last three games – lowering his field goal percentage to 50.5. Sophomore guard Lamar Peters (8.0 points) scored 17 versus Alabama, making a season-high four 3-pointers in 10 attempts, and is averaging 12.3 in his last three contests.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (14-5, 4-3): The last time the Wildcats did not appear in the poll was March 10, 2014 before they made a run to the NCAA national championship game, losing to Connecticut 60-54. Freshman guard Quade Green (10.2 points) scored two points in 17 minutes versus Florida in his first game since missing three with a back injury. Freshman forward Kevin Knox (team highs of 14.3 points and 32.2 minutes) scored nine points Saturday after averaging 17.7 in his previous three contests.
1. Kentucky has won 94 of the 114 meetings, including 47 of 52 in Lexington.
2. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in fewest points allowed at 64.7 per game and were 21st nationally in field goal percentage defense at 39.5 through Sunday’s contests.
3. The Wildcats have never lost three straight under Calipari, with the victories after a two-game losing streak by an average of 14.9 points.
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Kentucky at South Carolina
Injuries and illness are starting to catch up with Kentucky, but the results have been pretty healthy so far. The 16th-ranked Wildcats look to win for the sixth time in seven games Tuesday when they visit South Carolina in SEC play.
Kentucky’s Quade Green (back) sat out the last two games while Tai Wynyard (back) has missed four straight, limiting the Wildcats’ options Saturday in a 74-67 win at Vanderbilt. Kentucky coach John Calipari used only seven players in that one with three of his starters logging at least 38 minutes. “These guys should be happy,” Calipari told reporters. “They got tired. … But you ask these guys, ‘Would you rather play half a game or play every minute?’ What do you think they’re going to say? ‘I’ll be good. I’ll play every minute.'” This is the fourth road game in the last five outings for Kentucky, which beat South Carolina by 16 in the only matchup last season.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT KENTUCKY (14-3, 4-1 SEC): While Kentucky has played fairly well of late, the team still has not scored more than 74 points in any of its last five games and has made a total of seven 3-pointers in its last two contests. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been productive in five of the last six games and scored 22 points against Vanderbilt – the second-highest total of his freshman season – while also dishing out six assists. Kevin Knox (14.2 points) paces five double-digit scorers despite playing fewer minutes of late, although he is 14-of-15 from the foul line over the last three games.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (11-6, 2-3): The Gamecocks, a surprise Final Four team last season, had lost four of six before slipping past Georgia on Saturday thanks to Frank Booker’s 17 points. South Carolina somehow won despite shooting a season-low 27.1 percent with the team’s five forwards combining to go 6-of-32 from the field. Leading scorer Chris Silva (14.2 points) nearly missed his fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and nine boards versus the Bulldogs.
1. Knox (23) is the only Kentucky player who has made more than 18 3-pointers in the team’s 17 games.
2. Gilgeous-Alexander is a 47.6 percent shooter from 3-point range, but has attempted only one in the last three outings.
3. After shooting 29.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc as a junior at Florida Atlantic, Booker is up to 41.5 percent this season.
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NCAA Football 2017-18 Season
SEC East Preview
It’s a tight battle at the top of the SEC East Division between Georgia and Florida. The Bulldogs get the nod over the Gators thanks to 11 returning starters on defense, and the emergence of quarterback Jacob Eason. However, the addition of quarterback Malik Zaire as a graduate transfer should provide a boost under center for Gators coach Jim McElwain. Outside of the top contenders, South Carolina and Kentucky headline some of the dark horse teams to watch in 2017. The new season of fantasy college football kicks off Saturday August 26 at FanPicks.
Tennessee needs to find a competent quarterback and develop playmakers if it’s to compete for an SEC East Division crown. The schedule is unforgiving, with road trips to Florida and Alabama and a November visit from LSU. The Vols defense and special teams are solid, but ultimately Tennessee will only go as far as their new quarterbacks can take them.
Two trips to Atlanta for the SEC title game are an impressive start to head coach Jim McElwain’s regime. The next step will be more difficult. The 55-year-old coach will get a feel for his Gators quickly. Florida opens 2017 against Michigan in AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys. Tennessee visits on Week 3 to begin a stretch of five SEC games, including visits from LSU and Texas A&M.
McElwain is just 3–7 against ranked opponents. That will have to change, or 2017 could be a step back for his program.
If the defense plays up to its potential, and the offense and special teams improve even a little, Georgia has a very good chance to win its first SEC East title in five years. There’s a chance to go even further, depending on how quickly the young talent develops, and how Kirby Smart improves as a head coach. And there’s also a chance to disappoint, which Georgia has tended to do lately.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Will Muschamp and his coaching staff took over a roster so depleted that some of the struggles of the 2016 season — such as an offense that finished last in the SEC in scoring with 20.8 points per game — can hardly be held against them. It’s a different story in Year 2. The Gamecocks should build on the offensive momentum established with QB Jake Bentley at the helm in the last half of 2016, but Muschamp’s defensive acumen will be tested by this year’s thin group.
The schedule starts out with a toss-up game against NC State that could set the tone, and there are another half-dozen games on the schedule that could go either way. How South Carolina fares in those will determine whether the Gamecocks are able to make a move in the SEC East standings.
Kentucky ended its six-year bowl drought last season with a bid to the TaxSlayer Bowl, and with the bulk of its offense and defense returning the Wildcats seem poised for a special season by the program’s middling historic standards. If quarterback Stephen Johnson can build on the momentum of his outstanding performance in the upset of Louisville in the 2016 regular-season finale, there’s plenty of talent around him for the offense to make up for some of the defense’s deficiencies. If the defense improves as well, the Wildcats could be a dark horse candidate in the SEC East race.
Perhaps no program changed its trajectory in the final two weeks of the 2016 regular season more than Vanderbilt. Double-digit wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee sent the Commodores to a bowl game for the first time under Derek Mason tenure as head coach. Vanderbilt showed tangible signs that the program was headed in the right direction. Sustaining success has always been difficult for them, but Mason has a veteran team — 20 of the projected 22 starters are in at least their third year in the program — that should remain competitive. If the offense continues to progress, Vanderbilt is likely to make another trip to the postseason.
Missouri games were more high-scoring in 2016, and that was only partially good. The Tigers were better statistically but won one fewer game. Finishing the season with two conference wins in three tries gave the fan base a jolt of optimism, but while a seasoned offense seems to have a high ceiling, the defense has far more questions to answer than it did 12 months ago.
Sweet Sixteen Day Two
Friday CBB Rundown
Here is the NHL rundown. We’ve got picks from Friday College Basketball matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!
No 4 Butler Bulldogs (25-8) vs No 1 North Carolina Tar Heel (29-7)
The Bulldogs have been crisp on offense in the tournament, shooting 50 percent overall and 47 percent from 3-point range, with Memphis transfer Avery Woodson (8.9 points) going 8-of-14 from behind the arc. The Tar Heels nearly met their match with Arkansas’ frenetic style of play, but their up-tempo game should match up better against the Bulldogs.
No 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (24-10) vs No 3 Baylor Bears (27-7)
This marks the fourth time in 14 seasons under Scott Drew that the Bears made it to the Sweet 16 and they’ve advanced to the Elite Eight twice with wins over Saint Mary’s in 2010 and Xavier in 2012 while losing to No. 2 seed Wisconsin in 2014. Seventh-seeded South Carolina takes part in the school’s first Sweet 16 under the current NCAA Tournament format. SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell was somewhat under the radar nationally until Sunday’s upset of Duke when the 6-5 senior guard filled up the stat sheet with 24 points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists as the Gamecocks exploded for 65 second-half points.
No 2 UCLA Bruins (31-4) vs No 3 Kentucky Wildcats (31-5)
Bruins freshman point guard Lonzo Ball had one of his most impressive performances of the season in the second round and should be motivated to play well against the freshman backcourt of Kentucky. Isaiah Briscoe is the third starting guard for the Wildcats and also has good size at 6-3, and is the best rebounder in the backcourt, posting four double-doubles this season and ranking second on the team at 5.4 rebounds. The Bruins need to decide who to put on Briscoe, and that could be Ball, who has the length at 6-6 to keep him off the glass.
No 8 Wisconsin Badgers (27-9) vs No 4 Florida Gators (26-8)
The Badgers have two key seniors with multiple Final Four experience in Koenig, who has drained 11 3-pointers en route to 45 points through two games of this event, and Nigel Hayes, who is averaging 17.5 points and nine boards through two NCAA contests. The Gators are 8-1 all-time in the Sweet 16 and have an excellent shot at improving that mark if Devin Robinson continues to shine.
Gonzaga sprungs into first place
Gonzaga takes over the men’s basketball poll top spot from Kansas in what was the craziest week of the college basketball season. For the second time in school history, 22-0 Gonzaga is the No. 1 team in the nation. The Zags last held the top spot during the 2013 season, for a period of three weeks.
A week ago, it was all about West Virginia’s two disappointing losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State. Fast-forward to today, and the Mountaineers are a solid top-10 team after knocking off Kansas and Texas A&M. The Jayhawks made West Virginia look even stronger by handling Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday; just when you think foes have solved the press, WVU reminds you that it’s one step ahead of the pack. The Aggies coughed the ball up 23 times in Morgantown two days ago.
Setting up the madness early
College basketball is a sport that too often gets relegated to one month’s worth of relevance. Outside of March, it’s hard to generate buzz that surpasses that of the NFL, NBA or even college football. The men’s basketball election committee announced Tuesday it will reveal its in-season top 16 seeds during a CBS broadcast on February 11 at 12:30 p.m ET (set up with seeds 1-4 in each assigned region). The actual, final bracket will be unveiled on Selection Sunday, March 12.
“We are excited about giving the fans a glimpse to what the men’s basketball committee is thinking at this point of the season, and creating a buzz as we look towards Selection Sunday,” committee chairman Mark Hollis said in a statement. “It’s important to recognize after this list has been released, there is still a significant portion of the regular season to be played and every league must stage its conference tournament.”
Following in the footsteps of big brother… kind of
This announcement follows three years of College Football Playoff in-season ranking shows, which drew a ton of attention and outrage on a weekly basis. College basketball’s power brokers did not replicate that, opting instead for a one-time preview of the four top seed lines.
“Some of the reaction the last couple of years of teams being surprised where they were seeded … that’s where the thought process started for me,” Gavitt said in 2014. “Are there things we can do that would better communicate what’s the likeliness? Frankly, I didn’t think there were a whole lot of very different seeds going in. There seemed to be consternation. If you were to do something along the way to be more transparent, maybe there would be a better understanding but an understanding that this didn’t come out of left field.”
Creating some buzz
And, even if data points shift as résumés change over the final month of the season, fans should get that. Unlike rankings put out on a weekly basis, like college football’s, it’s harder to get boxed into a team being in a certain position or one piece of a résumé being emphasized over another. College basketball has so many data points for each team and so many games that will be played over the final month that it lends itself well to a sneak preview. The understanding that seed lines could change depending on how teams (and their opponents) perform that final month.
Plus, it allows CBS and the selection committee to reap benefits from a cottage industry they have created… the bracketology. Almost every national sports outlet and some regional ones hire bracketologists to project the field throughout the season leading into Selection Sunday. Yet CBS and the people actually tasked with evaluating, seeding, scrubbing and bracketing the real field haven’t had any of those pre-March eyeballs. Until now.
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March Madness Scores
Round of 32
Another exciting day of March Madness has come and gone, so we’re here to catch you up on all the action. Twelve games were played on Saturday, and as usual there was an abundance of excitement, drama, baskets, blocks and jams.
The tournament gets real fast once you hit the second round. Surprises like Yale, who made it through the first round with a heck of an effort now have to face top seeded powerhouses such as Duke for example.
They almost pulled it off too, as Yale dropped 39 points on Duke in the second off, trying to rally for the miraculous comeback. But allowing 48 opening half points was just too much to overcome against Coach K and his Blue Devil crew.
Some favorites like Duke won, while some couldn’t find the inspiration to pull through. Or maybe, the fighting spirit of the underdog is just too strong. That’s why the games are actually played out on the court, and not decided on paper.
The round of 32 continues tomorrow, meanwhile some teams already punched their tickets to the Sweet 16.
Here are all the results from yesterday’s action.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
The big squads like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Virginia advanced, while Kentucky joined Michigan State looking from the outside in.
Intriguing games on the schedule tomorrow include Middle Tennessee facing Syracuse, and Stephen F. Austin versus Notre-Dame.
Stephen F. Austin could be a bad matchup for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish will need some of that fighting spirit I mentioned to slow down SFA leading scorer Giddy Potts. Widely considered the nations top three-point shooter. We’ve seen the Steph Curry affect in the NBA, and the swing on the game it causes in college ball is even more dramatic. If Potts gets hot, Notre-Dame will be another big school on the wrong end of a headline.
NCAA Tournament Fantasy Preview:
East Region Preview
A day after the selection committee’s final decisions, one thing is sure is that the East region was more predictable than others. FanPicks is proud to bring you this preview of this NCAA Tournament fantasy preview of the East region’s top teams and players.
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The North Carolina Tar Heels may have a clear shot at a title run and Elite 8 berth. It won’t be an easy task but the way they’re playing, dropping only 1 game out of their last 7 and securing the ACC tournament championship once more, anything is possible. They could’ve obtained possibly the top overall seed the way they played. With 3 of the top basketball programs among the 16 teams fighting for a place in Houston, Kentucky, Notre Dame and the Tar Heels will be in a hell of a battle.
Top Players to watch:
- Brice Johnson :
Johnson is not only a well rounded played but surrounded by top-level talent on his squad, making him even more dangerous. He could possibility carry UNC to a 3rd title under Coach Roy Williams. The playmaker is projected to be drafted already in the 1st round of the NBA Draft in June. John averages 16.6 pts per game with 10.6 boards, with a steal and a block per game.
- Tyler Ulis :
Ulis, still considered the nation’s top point guard averaging 16.8 pts per game, 7.2 assists and a 1.4 steals. He will try to carry the Wildcats past the tough East region favoured by UNC. With Jamal Murray, their Final Four aspirations may be possible
- Jamal Murray :
Murray has scored over 20 pts in 12 of his last 13 games with the Kentucky Wildcats, making a deadly threat for opponents. He will most likely continue his form with Tyler Ulis calling the shots on their offense.
- Kris Dunn :
The junior out of Providence is one of the top prospects for June’s NBA draft and most explosive player in the region averaging 16 pts with 6.4 assists. If he keeps his turnovers down (3.5 turnover/game) look out for him.
- Nigel Hayes:
The junior forward is hoping to add a third trip to the Final Four with the Badgers. An instrumental player for Wisconsin, his production can lead the Badgers very far in the tournament despite the loss of key players last year. He’s averaging 16.3 pts per game with almost 6 boards, 3 assists and 1 steal. Those numbers are unlikely going down.
- Yogi Ferrell
Ferrell is less spoken about, unlike Kris Dunn or Tyler Ulis when it comes down to the best PG in the nation. However, he led the Hoosiers to a regular season Big Ten title and nearly double doubled in the conference tournament final. He averages a huge 17 pts per game with 5.5 assists and a steal per game.
Team to watch out for:
The Michigan Wolverines have been finding ways to win, including their upset in the conference final to # 1 seed Indiana. If they get past Tulsa in the First Four matchup to face Notre Dame, they may cause the first upset of many in the tournament if their shooting beyond the arc remains the same.
First round upset possibilty:
There have been a lot of talks about Indiana possibly not getting past Chattanooga. This should be an interesting game with Chattanooga’s defense known to cause a lot of turnover and Indiana actually being one of the worst teams in terms of turnovers per game.
Wisconsin Badgers vs Kentucky Wildcats- 4/4/15 NCAA Fantasy Sports, Basketball Picks, Odds & Predictions
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)