Annual NBA to NCAA Player Comparison

Each year I welcome football-first fans back to the wonderful world of college basketball once their season is over.  If you qualify, I joke that you haven’t watched college basketball since the 1990s.  Last year, I compared NCAA players to the 1992 NBA Roster.  This year I see similarities between the 2002 NBA Finals and some current NCAA players.  See below and enjoy!
Nets Spurs

2002 NBA Finals 2015 NCAA Comparison School
NETS Richard Jefferson Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Arizona
Reason A Wilcat, part-Jefferson, extremely athletic and developing a jump shot
Keith Van Horn Sam Dekker Wisconsin
Oversized small forward, scorer, perhaps less aggressive than coach would like
Kerry Kittles Rayvonte Rice Illinois
Thrives in transition scoring, mostly below-the-rim, great shooter
Jason Kidd Fred VanVleet Wichita State
Smooth distributor, deceptive scorer, clutch
Kenyon Martin Montrezl Harrell Louisville
Strong, plays angry, rebounds, defends
Brandon Armstrong Chasson Randle Stanford
Pass first point guard who can drop 20 points if you need
Brian Scalabrine Jake “The Snake” Kurtz Florida
Hard-woker, forward who can stretch the floor yet do the dirty work
LAKERS Rick Fox J.J. O’Brien San Diego State
Quintessential “glue guy,” fills up a stat sheet, rebounding small forward
Derek Fisher Will Cummings Temple University
Experienced, heady point guard who can score as shot clock winds down
Shaquille O’Neal Isaac Haas Purdue
Huge, sometimes a double-team just won’t get it done
Kobe Bryant Michael Qualls Arkansas
The best athlete on the floor at shooting guard, above the rim, scorer
Robert Horry Justin Anderson Virginia
A defense-first power forward who can hit the 3 pointer
Mitch Richmond Caris LeVert Michigan
A shooting guard who gets his shot off best off-the-ball, but can break down defender
Mark Madson Adam Woodbury Iowa
Not a scoring option at center, but a strong guy who can get you rebounds and assists


71% Against the Spread so far this season

Matty D’s, aka my, record against the spread so far this year is 17-7-1.  That one tie was Texas Tech recently losing to Texas by nine points to mimic the odds.  As a self-proclaimed master of the “eye test,” I like to test myself with an actual opponent.  What better measuring stick than the all-knowing Las Vegas sports books?

I use the website Vegas Insider as my source for the current odds.

I also tweet my predictions hours before the first Saturday morning tip, using the hashtag #SuspectSpreadsSaturday.  It means that I am exposing the odds that I think are “suspect” or questionable.

Tweeting my picks each week also allows me to time stamp proof that I’ve made the predictions before the games.

For the week of Saturday, January 10, I suggest taking the following teams:
Louisville +5 @ North Carolina
Purdue +5 vs. Maryland
Iowa St. +5 @ West Virginia
Butler – 3.5 vs. Xavier
LSU -3 vs. Georgia

*Please note that I am dipping my feet in the water with five different major conferences:  ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East and SEC.

Here is a history of my selections so far this season:
(Starting with the most recent)

Eye Test Tuesday: Stanford vs. Washington debrief

Allow me to give some love to the West Coast for a moment.  I’m from New York, grew up a Big East fan, live in Lawrence now as a KU season ticket holder, but constantly keep my East Coast bias in check.

I am focusing on what appears to be a first weekend matchup.  The Eye Test tells me that Stanford and Washington could very well be 3 and 6 seed showdown in the NCAA Tournament.  They played Sunday night.  (You were likely reacting to the NFL’s Elite 8).  Other West Coast teams like UCLA, UNLV and San Diego State are struggling.  I have already profiled how legit Gonzaga and Utah are.

Stanford is a very aggressive bunch.   They forced nineteen turnovers against Washington, including 11 steals.  The high IQ level of Standford need not be explained.  The result could be another upstart run in the NCAA tournament.  Chasson Randle just became The Cardinals all-time leader in three-pointers made.  I think he is an underrated point guard in the national scene.  Stanford turned the ball only nine times as they defeated Washington in an overtime game.  Shooting guard Anthony Brown has arrived in his senior season.  He is completing that one-two punch in the scoring column.  (Brown’s offensive production was also vital in its win against Texas).  I also love Stefan Nastic, a center who takes a lot of pride on the defensive end.  Nastic was instrumental when Stanford beat Andrew Wiggins and the Kansas Jaywaks in last year’s first weekend.  The guy reminds me of a college basketball version of Marcin Gortat of the NBA.  He will never wow you with his post-move arsenal or above-the-rim athleticism.  Nastic will battle with your big man and do the cliche “little things” it takes to win.

Washington, meanwhile, also has a lot of players peculating at the right time.  Robert Upshaw is the nation’s best shot-blocker.  Shawn Kemp Jr. has a role as a second, third, or fourth scorer that he seems comfortable with (he led the Huskies in scoring this game–an anomaly when considering the season trend).  Andrew Andrews and Nigel Williams-Goss are a great backcourt because they can clearly create their own shots when its necessary.  Coach Lorenzo Romar always has his teams well-prepared if and when they make the big dance.  Washington had this game won against Stanford before letting Chasson Randle get to the rim for a layup on the final possession.  The Huskies won 68-60 in overtime.

Cousy Award Reconsideration: Frank Mason Jr. is deserving

How is Frank Mason III not on the list of the nation’s most valuable point guards?  The Bob Cousy Award watch list includes thirty-six guards.  I would argue no other player is more important to a top 25 ranked team’s success, let alone a point guard, than Mason is to Kansas basketball.
Frank Mason post game  courtesy college basektball eye test dot com
Since Kansas freshman Devonte Graham went out a couple weeks ago with injury, coach Bill Self has relied on Mason even more.  Since Devonte Graham’s injury, Mason has played all but 28 minutes in six games.  That includes resting for 12 minutes against a far inferior Lafayette team.
KUs Frank Mason dribbles between legs  courtesy college basektball eye test dot com
Mason Jr., a sophmore, averages 11.9 points and 4 assists per game.  Compare that to Kasey Hill of Florida’s 7.7 points and 4.4 assists per game or Tyler Ulis’s 5.8 points and 3.7 assists per.
KUs Frank Mason scores on a transition layup again
Today Frank Mason III led his Jayhawks in scoring against a feisty UNLV club in a Kansas win.  He scored 18 points, dished 7 assists, grabbed 4 rebounds and helped himself to 4 steals.  This very rare photo below showcases the two minute period in which Wayne Selden Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. alternated a possession running point guard.  It was the only sequence in which Mason Jr. did not control his offense.
Kelly Oubre runs point  courtesy college basektball eye test dot com

Today’s college hoops action in 200 words

Marcus Foster looked emotionless during his benching for a majority of the Oklahoma State rout of K-State.  Veteran clubs George Washington and Virginia dominated early before furious, late, and, ultimately, unsuccessful runs by Saint Joseph’s and Miami respectively.  Purdue pushes Michigan towards the NIT conversation as its bigs A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas push the Wolverines around.  Haas continues spelling Hammons for small portions as the two centers hardly ever play together. Seton Hall validated its legitimacy by beating Villanova. This is not a stunner, folks.  The Pirates previously lost to only Wichita State and Georgia.  Seton Hall’s twelve wins also include George Washington, Mercer and St. John’s.  The Red Storm lost its second straight against Xavier in its first game without Ryshawn Jordan.  Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russel had a coming out party at home, playing 40 minutes in an impressive win against Illinois. Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas had his own coming out party as Oklahoma handled Baylor.  Isaiah Taylor looked energized in his return as Texas beat Texas Tech.  West Virginia platooned without Juwan Staton to give TCU its first loss.  Jarian Grant provided the poster of the year as Notre Dame “hangs on” in OT against Georgia Tech.

Suspect Spreads Saturday: Rysheed Jordan situation

Where there is smoke, there is normally fire.  Let me say first, I wish the best for St. John’s guard Rysheed Jordan.  His coach declared that Jordan was taking an indefinite leave as of the new year begins to tend to family and personal issues.  The fire that I suspect is ablaze… that Jordan is somehow disgruntled with his role at St. John’s.

I think Butler will cover 5 points against St. John’s for this adjustment period.  For the same reason, I feel Texas Tech will cover a 9 point spread against Texas.   The “adjustment period” for Texas is quite the opposite scenario.  The Longhorns are regaining their point guard leader in Isaiah Taylor.  However, it is still an adjustment to re-insert someone into a lineup and Tubby Smith’s Texas Tech Red Raiders are more athletic than to lay 9 points at home.

Here are the five games I highlighted for Saturday, Dec. 3rd action.
If you’re a gambling man (or lady), I suggest taking the teams on the left:

Also see #SuspectSpreadsSaturday on Twitter
Texas Tech +9 vs. Texas
Illinois +8.5 @ Ohio State
George Washington -2 @ St. Joes’s
UCONN  +8 @ Florida
Butler +5 @St. John’s

Let’s get back to the Rysheed Jordan situation.  Do you think that it is coincidental that he averaged more than 30 minutes per game before sitting out with a “stomach bug” Monday Dec. 22nd before playing only 22 and 23 minutes respectively in his most recent two games?  I don’t.  Jordan recently lost a family member.  Only Jordan knows what that means to him.  Follow people like Jeff Borzello for more attribution on how Jordan is dealing with that loss:

I am just a St. John’s fan who is concerned his absence is a sign of less Red Storm commitment to come.  The sophomore has NBA aspirations and this is the mid-year turning point in which he would either set up a transfer to a higher profile school or freeze his batting average (i.e. points per game) at the current mark to win a crown.  Again, all wild speculation on my behalf, but that’s pretty much what I designed this blog for.  Enjoy my picks, this Saturday’s basketball, and you better retweet this article if I go 3-2 or better on my picks.