Pictured: Jeremiah Martin
Source: Getty Image North America

Preview: Connecticut at Memphis

Connecticut has had its share of ups-and-downs in the first year under coach Dan Hurley, but it is about to face perhaps its biggest challenge playing without senior star guard Jalen Adams for the next four to six weeks – which could mean the season. Looking for a new leader, the Huskies will take to the road Sunday to play a Memphis team that is 11-2 at home with both defeats coming against ranked opponents.

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UConn began the season 6-1, including a win against Syracuse, and fans seemed attracted to Hurley’s intense attitude and aggressive play on the court, but the club has dropped all five of its road games in American Athletic Conference play and seven of its last 11 games overall. Adams, who played just six minutes in the 81-63 defeat to Temple on Wednesday before suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee, was leading the team in scoring (17.0 points) while contributing 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. Memphis has its own star guard in Jeremiah Martin, who made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points against No. 23 Cincinnati, but it wasn’t enough as the Bearcats rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the second half for a 69-64 victory on Thursday. “We didn’t rebound the ball (well) in the second half and they got a couple of easy baskets,” said Martin, who was coming off a career-high 41-point effort at South Florida. “That’s what allowed them to push away.”

TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network

ABOUT CONNECTICUT (13-10, 4-6 American): Sophomore forward Josh Carlton (8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds) didn’t post a double-double in his first 54 games at UConn, but the 6-9 forward had 18 points and 13 boards against Temple for his second straight, following a 20-point, 16-rebound performance against East Carolina. Junior guard Christian Vital (14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds) had 18 points and 13 rebounds against the Owls, while Eric Cobb added 13 points and five boards as guard Alterique Gilbert (13.0 points, 3.8 assists) missed his third straight game with a shoulder injury. UConn won the battle of the boards, 41-30, but shot just 40.3 percent, including 4-of-18 from 3-point range, and allowed the Owls to shoot 52.7 percent, including 11-of-23 beyond the arc. 

ABOUT MEMPHIS (13-10, 5-5): Senior forward Kyvon Davenport (14.3 points, 7.4 rebounds) had 12 points and 10 boards as the Tigers lost for the first time this season when holding an opponent to less than 40 percent from the field (39.7 percent). In his past two games, Martin (16.7 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds) has scored 67 points and connected on 22-of-39 field goals and 15-of-23 shots beyond the arc to reach 1,301 career points – 20th most in school history. Freshman guard Tyler Harris, a Top-100 recruit, is averaging 12.1 points but is shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor, including just 31.8 percent on 7.7 attempts beyond the arc per game.

TIP-INS

1. Memphis swept the season series last season. 

2. Martin is four points behind David Vaughn (1992-95) and 18 points behind his coach, Penny Hardaway (1992-93) and Alvin Wright (1975-78) on the school’s all-time list.

3. Richard Hamilton, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1999 Final Four after leading UConn to its first NCAA National Championship, is scheduled to return to Connecticut to join his former teammates for a celebration on Sunday, Feb. 24.

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Posted in CBB, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Memphis at Central Florida

Seventh-ranked Central Florida attempts to finish the job after an emotional week and earn a second straight American Athletic Conference title when it hosts surging Memphis in the championship game Saturday. The Knights extended their national-best winning streak to 24 games with a resounding 38-10 victory at South Florida last Friday, but the triumph came at a cost as star quarterback McKenzie Milton was lost to a severe right knee injury.

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“Everyone in our program has great love and respect for McKenzie and our thoughts and prayers are constantly with him,” UCF coach Josh Heupel told reporters regarding the junior from Hawaii, who was responsible for 34 touchdowns this year. “At the same time, we’re gonna go out and play our hearts out. He’ll be part of who and what we’re doing on the field.” UCF, which is eighth in the College Football Playoff rankings, will hand out 40,000 leis to fans at the game to honor Milton, while freshman quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. gets the job of trying to lead the Knights to another title. Memphis comes to Orlando, Fla. with one of the nation’s best running backs in junior Darrell Henderson, a four-game winning streak and the confidence of two near misses against UCF during the Knights’ winning streak – but a 1-12 all-time record against the Knights. “We’ve competed extremely well against them, but at the same point, we always had mistakes late in games that have cost us,” Tigers coach Mike Norvell, whose team lost in double-overtime at last year’s title game and 31-30 against UCF on Oct. 13, told reporters. “They’ve made plays late in games that have helped them to victory.”

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: UCF -3

ABOUT MEMPHIS (8-4, 5-3 American): Henderson is second in the nation in rushing yards (1,699), tied for second in TDs on the ground (19) and second in yards per carry (8.6) after gaining 178 and scoring twice in the 52-31 win over Houston last week. Junior quarterback Brady White is 53 passing yards from reaching 3,000 on the season, but has thrown four interceptions (seven overall) and three TD strikes (25 overall) in the last two games. Sophomore wide receiver Damonte Coxie is White’s top target with 63 catches for 1,062 yards and seven scores while junior Tony Pollard had career highs of eight receptions and 116 yards last week and is one of the top kick returners in the nation.

ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (11-0, 8-0): The Knights will lean more toward the ground attack with the 6-3, 230-pound Mack at the helm as he has run for 281 yards (7.0 per carry) and completed just 48.8 percent of his passes in a limited role. UCF’s rushing attack has gotten better each game and sophomore Greg McCrae (895 yards, eight TDs on the ground) took the leading role at the end of October while junior Adrian Killins Jr. (1,023 yards rushing and receiving) is always a threat. The Knights’ defense, led by sophomore defensive back Richie Grant (team highs of 98 tackles, five interceptions) and senior lineman Titus Davis (six sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss), must step up again versus the talented Tigers.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Memphis junior RB Patrick Taylor Jr. needs 106 yards rushing to give the Tigers two players with 1,000 in a season.

2. UCF sophomore WR Gabriel Davis leads a balanced receiving corps with 44 catches for 655 yards and six TDs.

3. Tigers LB Bryce Huff is tied for 14th in the nation is tackles for loss per game (1.5) with 18 overall.

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Posted in CFB, Top Fantasy Picks

NCAA Fantasy Football Preview

The American Athletic Conference

The time has come for college football. With a little less than two month before kickoff in Sidney, FanPicks previews the NCAA 2016 campaign. First off is the American Athletic Conference holding twelve programs on their list. The Houston Cougars came out on top, winning fourteen out of their fifteen 2015 games including the Peach bowl. They’ve stunned Florida State, who came in as the heavy favorite, to win by a score of 38-24 and take home silver football.

The American Athletic Conference last claimed the national championship in 1982, when the SMU Mustangs won it for two consecutive years. The Cincinnati Bearcats barely missed a participation to the BCS championship after recording a 12-0 season in 2009. The American Athletic Conference may not be has strong of a conference as the Big 12 or SEC, but has what it takes to make some noise as one of the five power conferences in the BCS.

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Cincinnati Bearcats Cincinnati logo

One team that may be pretty surprising going into the 2016 season is the Cincinnati Bearcats as they could make some noise in the AAC. They have a good problem right now as any one of their three quarterbacks (Hayden Moore, Ross Trail and Gunner Kiel) could win the starting job.

Connecticut Huskies Connecticut logo

Running back Arkeel Newsome led the AAC with 1,686 all-purpose yards as a sophomore, including two 100-yard rushing performances in the Huskies’ final five games.

East Carolina Pirates East Carolina logo

One of the top returning receivers in the nation, Isaiah Jones hauled in 98 passes for 1,099 yards and five touchdowns last season.

Houston Cougars Houston logo

The Cougars are coming off a breakthrough 13-1 season and Peach Bowl upset of Florida State. Dynamic dual-threat QB Greg Ward Jr. (2,828 yards and 17 TDs) should continue to develop under guru Tom Herman. He’ll have help from RB Duke Catalon and WRs Chance Allen and Isaiah Johnson.

Memphis Tigers Memphis logo

Doroland Dorceus was Memphis’ top all-around back last season, rushing for 661 yards and eight TDs while adding 217 receiving yards and three TD catches.

Navy MidshipmenNavy logo

The Navy Midshipmen had one of their best seasons in program history last year, going 11-2 and winning the Military Bowl. It was a relief for Navy’s fan to see coach Ken Niumatalolo decide to stay rather then take the offer to coach BYU this winter. Senior QB Tago Smith will have to follow in the footsteps of four-year starter Keenan Reynolds.

SMU Mustangs SMU logo

The 6-foot-4 sophomore, Courtland Sutton, is ranked fifth nationally among freshmen receivers with 862 yards and tied for the conference lead with nine TD receptions.

South Florida Bulls South Florida logo

Tailback Marlon Mack ran for a school-record 1,381 yards last year and led the conference in rushing, averaging 6.6 yards a carry with 13 runs of more than 20 yards.

Temple Owls Temple logo

QB P.J. Walker, a senior with 33 starts, holds school records for TD passes (52) and total offense (8,237 yards), and with 7,374 passing yards, he’s 121 short of the school record.

Tulane Green Wave Tulane

Former Tulane starting QB Tanner Lee has transfered to Nebraska. This means, Sherman Badie and Dontrell Hilliard, whom have both rushed for more than 600 yards in a season, should see more carries in an offense designed to run the football with multiple backs.

Tulsa Golden Hurricanes Tulsa logo

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior, Dane Evans threw 25 TDs and completed 63 percent of his passes with just eight picks. He threw for 427 yards and four TDs with no interceptions at Oklahoma.

UCF Knights UCF logo

New University of Central Florida head coach Scott Frost introduced new uniform for the team, in hopes that they can shine from the few bright spots that they’ve offered last year. Wide receiver Tre’quan Smith led the Knights in receptions (52), receiving yards (724) and receiving TDs (four) and was one of the team’s few bright spots.

Posted in CFB

Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Memphis vs. Auburn

As we continue our College Football Bowl games roundup; Fanpicks.com is proud to preview the Birmingham Bowl featuring Memphis and Auburn.  We predict a rather one sided game in favour of Memphis by a score of 42 – 28.  Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com; the premiere and most exciting destination for daily fantasy sports.

Memphis will head into bowl season without the head coach that guided them into the College Football Playoff Rankings before a late-season swoon. Justin Fuente took the vacant head coaching job at Virginia Tech, and the Tigers brought in former Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell on a five-year contract to be the new coach, but interim coach Darrell Dickey will guide Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., against Auburn on Dec. 30. Dickey is expected to remain with the program as part of Norvell’s staff moving forward.

Auburn had big expectations heading into the season but ended up falling off the pace as Jeremy Johnson struggled early at quarterback and eventually lost the job before regaining it down the stretch. The junior threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more in a 56-34 win over Idaho on Nov. 21 that gained the team bowl eligibility but struggled again in a loss to Alabama the next week. Johnson threw only one of his seven interceptions on the season in the final four games.

Memphis will have the best quarterback on the field in senior Paxton Lynch, who might be the top quarterback taken in this spring’s NFL draft. Lynch threw for 28 touchdowns and three interceptions, with seven of those TDs coming on nine completions in a 63-0 victory over SMU in the regular-season finale. Lynch guided an offense that averaged 510.4 yards and 42.7 points.

MEMPHIS Season Overview (9-3): While Lynch is auditioning for pro scouts, most of the rest of the roster will attempt to impress Norvell and the new coaching staff. Norvell is expected to keep a similar up-tempo pace after guiding an Arizona State offense that averaged 39.3 points. The Tigers made big strides as a program under Fuente and ranked 13 in the first CFP rankings after beginning the season 8-0, but consecutive losses to Navy, Houston and Temple buried any hope the team had of a New Year’s Six bowl.

AUBURN Season Overview (6-6): Auburn was supposed to have an offense to rival the top teams in the SEC but never got things going under Johnson or freshman Sean White, who is recovering from a knee injury and could be back for the bowl game. The extra month of bowl practice gives coach Gus Malzahn a chance to work with a defense that lost coordinator Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson to the annual carousel. “Our goal in these first three practices is just get better with what we do,” Malzahn told reporters in mid-December. “That’s a big advantage with these bowl practices for that development of your guys as far as fundamentals … development of your young guys and also evaluate your young guys, because a lot of these guys have been on the scout team all year.”

Posted in CFB

Cincinnati Bearcats versus Memphis Tigers College Football Fantasy Preview

The Memphis Tigers will be hosting the Cincinnati Bearcats from college football from the AAC conference. Fantasy football draft GM’s can tune to ESPN TV at 7:30PM Eastern Time on Thursday night September 24th.

The Cincinnati Bearcats will enter play with a record of 2-1 on the campaign. Their defeat came in week two losing at home to Temple 34-26. Last week the Bearcats visited Miami Ohio a MAC school and came away with a 37-33 victory. Cincinnati drove for a touchdown with a minute remaining for the victory. The team was able to move the football for 545 yards with 282 yards rushing. Defensively the Bearcats allowed 448 yards to the Red Hawks. Cincinnati will have to clean up the four turnovers from last week.

Memphis is a perfect 3-0 on the year. They have notable road wins at Kansas winning 55-23 and went into Bowling Green last week and won 44-41. The Tigers are fifth best in college football in scoring and rank eighth in the nation in total yards with 570 yards.

Cincinnati Bearcats QB:

Gunner Kiel

Junior quarterback Gunner Kiel has completed 63% of his throws for 805 yards with five touchdowns and four picks. In his lone road game at Miami Ohio Kiel hit on 15 of 26 passes for 145 yards with a touchdown.

Cincinnati Bearcats RB:

Tion Green

Green leads Cincinnati in carries with 49 rushes for 252 yards with three touchdowns. He is averaging 5.1 yards a carry on the season. On the road at Miami Ohio, Green had 19 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Hosey Williams

The senior running back has 44 carries for 221 yards and a touchdown. He had 81 rushing yards in the road win at Miami Ohio last week on 17 carries for nearly 5 yards per rush.

Cincinnati Bearcats WR:

Johnny Holton:

Holton had eight catches for 167 yards with two touchdowns. He is averaging nearly 21 yards per reception on the campaign.

Shaq Washington:

The senior wide out has caught 17 balls for 166 yards and a touchdown. He had four grams for 44 yards last week at Miami Ohio.

Memphis Tigers QB:

Paxton Lynch:

The six foot seven inch junior quarterback has hit on 76% of his throws for 818 yards with six touchdowns and no picks. Last week at Bowling Green Lynch threw for 386 yards on 29 of 40 throws with three touchdowns.

Memphis Tigers RB:

Jarvis Cooper:

Cooper leads the Tigers in carries with 36 on the year with 174 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore back saw nine carries at Bowling Green and ran for just 15 yards for less than 2 yards per rush average.

Doroland Dorceus:

The sophomore back has rushed 29 times for 143 yards with four touchdowns. At Bowling Green last week Dorceus ran for 75 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown and a long run of 17 yards.

Memphis Tigers WR:

Mose Frazier

A senior wide out Mose Frazier has 17 catches on the year for 232 yards with two touchdowns. He caught seven passes at Bowling Green last week for 66 yards with a long gain of 26 yards.

Phil Mayhue:

The Tigers sophomore wide receiver has nine catches on the season for 124 yards. Week two was his most productive with five catches for 68 yards with a long reception going for 32 yards.

Tevin Jones

Jones has seen significant action in all four years with the program. He has five receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He caught three balls at Bowling Green for 98 yards and a touchdown. He had a catch go for 48 yards last week.

Posted in CFB