Fantasy Value Players: Puerto Rico Tip Off

It’s the day of the Puerto Rico Tip Off and you want to get into daily fantasy.

You want to get college basketball’s newest diaper dandy, LSU’s Ben Simmons, on your squad, but he costs and arm and a leg.

Here are three players that can bring production at a great value.

Josh Gray, G LSU ($5,100 Draft Kings)

First, Josh Gray is a good option right there on the LSU roster. He returned from suspension and played 22 minutes in his first action against Kennesaw State. He is a score-first point guard by nature, but has played better over his LSU tenure (formerly of Odessa Texas Tech college).  Last year with underclassmen such as Jordan Mickey, Gray showed an ability to run the floor and contribute in transition. He obviously has the resources surrounding him now. Especially with point guard Keith Hornsby still out with an injury, Gray is a great option.

Peter Jok, G Iowa ($4,500 Draft Kings)

Peter Jok is expected to return tonight after suffering an ankle injury.  The 6-6 junior averaged 7 points last season, but is sure to see an expanded roll with Roy Devyn Marble having moved on.  He is an active defender and can score you a couple of steals.  Jok also hit 2 of 3 three pointers in his first game against Gardner-Webb.  Most daily fantasy leagues reward bonus points for 3’s.

Isaiah Zierden, G Creighton ($5,800 Draft Kings)

Although lesser competition, Creighton blew out its first two opponents.  The Blue Jays scored 196 points.  Versatile guard Isaiah Zierden led Creighton in points, steals and minutes played in its last win against UTSA.  Check out these highlights, courtesy of Creighton Athletics, and pay close attention to number 21.



Eye Test Tip-Off All Stars

Here are the guys who not only stood out while watching the Tip-Off Marathon, but also led their teams to victory.
Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.34.10 PM
First Team All Eye Test Tip-Off All Stars 
G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
G Charles Cooke, Dayton
F  James White, Georgia Tech
F  Patricio Garino, George Washington
Second Team All Eye Test Tip-Off All Stars 
 Paul Jorgenson, George Washington
G  George King, Colorado
G  Jeremy Morgan, Northern Iowa
F  Nick Faust, Long Beach State
Jordan Loveridge, Utah
First Team Notes:
Tyler Ulis played near-mistake free basketball.  Denzel Valentine was quiet in the first half but chipped away at a triple double and willed his team to a win over Kansas Tuesday night.
Charles Cooke scored a third of his team’s points as Dayton led 57-31 at one point against Alabama.  Cooke, a James Madison transfer, shot 66% from the field.  That included two threes and a dunk in transition to put a punctuation early on what amounted to an 80-46 win.
 James White led Georgia Tech with 17 points in the first half to help the Yellow Jackets set the tone and fend off Rick Barne’s Tennessee Vols.
Patricio Garino looked like Tony Kukoc against Virginia.  His length on defense bothered Cavalier wings and he finished with a 14 point second half for the upset of the marathon.
                                                 Second Team Notes:
Paul Jorgensen was another star of a huge team win for George Washington.  We all know about Josh Scott for Colorado, but George King dropped 32 on Auburn to get a quality road victory.  His contribution could greatly help in the scoring void left by Xavier Johnson’s season-ending injury.  Jeremy Morgan was known last year as a defensive stopper for Northern Iowa, but on Tuesday he showcased his offensive moves early.  Morgan scored seven in the opening moments as Stephen F. Austin was made to look pedestrian for a second consecutive game.  Nick Faust, the Maryland transfer, did it all for Long Beach State in its win against BYU.  He scored 10, grabbed 8 rebounds, had an assist and dove on the floor late for an important loose ball and a resume building victory.  Jordan Loveridge missed this holiday stretch portion of the college basketball season.  Monday night, he benefited from a fluid balance to the Utes offense and scored 21 on 55% shooting for a home court win against San Diego State.

George Washington Colonials Win Tip-Off Marathon

Before the Tip-Off Marahon double-feature finale, the true college basketball fanatics already had a winner.

If you happen to follow George Washington basketball, you know that the story of 2014-15 is of what could have been.  The Colonials began the season 16-4, including wins against Wichita State and Colorado.  But the wheels came off in February and George Washington was not invited to the dance.

Fans in the nation’s capital looked forward to its internationally decorated roster getting a boost from, of all places, Syracuse.  Wake Forest transfer and Western New York native Tyler Cavanaugh delivered toughness to help gain a huge early season win against 6th-ranked Virginia.  Cavanaugh finished with 18 points.

Paul Jorgensen also came in the clutch, especially in the first half.  As point guard Joe McDonald gave up three first half turnovers (to be fair, Cavanaugh had 3 early as well), Jorgensen compensated with 8 points and solid play at point.

McDonald redeemed himself knocking down two threes moments apart.

Kevin Larsen also looked like a point guard from the post position, finishing with 5 assists to go with 7 rebounds and 9 points.

George Washington won 73-68 and, at times, it didn’t look that close.

Patricio Garino, pardon the cliche, let the game come to him.  The Argentinian had four points in the first half while focusing on defending guys like Anthony Gill.  Garino then finished with 18 points.

The producers behind the all-GW-basketball podcast, Hail to the Buff, sums it up best.  The handle tells on Twitter that the key to win was simply “interior passing and composure.”

There were some impressive wins, some bubble-on-bubble-crime wins, some wins that reaffirmed authority from some of the national powers, but this win by George Washington was the most advantageous win.  It’s an “upset” for now, but it puts George Washington in the drivers seat to keep on the gas petal from last year’s success.

Enjoy this one, George Washington.  Perhaps we’ll see your patriots in late March.


Tip Off Marathon Schedule, Predictions

Tennessee at Georgia Tech
7 p.m.
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Kevin Punter, Tennessee Guard
Line: Georgia Tech -4 Tennessee +240 Prediction: Georgia Tech 73 Tennessee 58

If you had trouble finding highlights for Tennessee’s bare escape of UNC Ashville, you are not alone.  Click here to see them, courtesy Knoxville news channel WVLT.  Rick Barnes has an undersized squad in his first year with the Vols while Brian Gregory has five upperclassmen in his starting lineup.  This game could become a track meet.

7:30 p.m.
Virginia at George Washington
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Isaiah Wilkins, Virginia Forward
Line: Virginia -7, George Washington +195 prediction: Virginia 58 George Washington 53

With Justin Anderson now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, expect Isaiah Wilkins to fill the role and introduce himself to a national primetime audience.  The stepson of Dominique Wilkins showed flashes last season coming off the bench.  Look for George Washington to make a game of it, however.  Point guard Joe McDonald runs a solid offense and forward Patricio Garino will give Virginia a taste of its own medicine in terms of lockdown defense.  (Click here for a preseason preview with George Washington student beat writer, Josh Solomon).

9 p.m.
Kennesaw State at LSU
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Tim Quarterman, LSU Guard
Line: N/A prediction:  LSU 73 Kennesaw State 56

This will effectively be a continuation of the NBA Draft showcase for LSU super freshman Ben Simmons.   But Yonel Brown just dropped 34 for Kennesaw State in its opener loss to Alabama and LSU didn’t exactly blow out McNeese State, either.  Caution:  LSU point guard Keith Horsnby is still sidelined with an injury.

9:30 p.m.
San Diego State at Utah
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Malik Pope, San Diego St. Forward
Line: Utah -2 1/2, San Diego State +195 prediction:  San Diego State 68 Utah 66

If there is anything San Diego State traditionally does well, it is double-team the post.  And while Jacob Poetl is being crowned as the next Bill Walton in some circles, the freshman will have to contest with the rim protection of seniors Skylar Spencer and Angelo Chol.  This is a classic role reversal according to last year’s eye test.  San Diego State should be ranked 16th in the nation with its returning talent of Winston Shepard, Malik Pope and Trey Kell on offense.  Utah should be the team with something to prove now that it is without Delon Wright (now a member of the Toronto Raptors).

11:30 p.m.
Baylor at Oregon
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Rico Gathers, Baylor Forward
Line: PICK EM prediction:  Baylor 85 Oregon 82

Baylor looked very impressive in its win against in-state irritant, Stephen F. Austin in its season opener.  Ishmail Wainright was especially steady, scoring 8 points with 9 rebounds and 6 assists.  Look for this to be a high-scoring, tight matchup throughout.  It may even make the marathon even more marathonish with an overtime session.  Oregon’s carved a steady reputation as a team that plays no defense, and its additions this offseason don’t seem to solve that.  Oregon does, however, bring in an electric scorer in freshman Tyler Dorsey from Los Angeles.  He dropped 20 in the Ducks opener on 5-6 shooting in 27 minutes of play.


1:45 a.m.
BYU at Long Beach State
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Kyle Davis, BYU Forward
Line: BYU -6 Long Beach State +220 prediction: BYU 61 LBST 52

BYU returns a backcourt of experience while Long Beach State loses precious veterans such as Mike Caffey.  Pay close attention also to Utah State transfer for the Cougars, Kyle Davis.  He scored 17 in his debut at BYU.

4 a.m.
Nevada at Hawaii
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: D.J. Fenner, Nevada Forward
Line: Hawaii -12 1/2 prediction: Hawaii 70 Nevada 52

This may be the game to sleep on, literally.  Hawaii plays a fun brand of basketball, but it oftentimes looks like that last game you play at the YMCA before they shut the lights out on you.  The Rainbows rarely find a shot they don’t like.  Hawaii’s backcourt is Isaac Fleming and Roderick Bobbit, whose generous listing each at 6 foot 3 inches is a creation of the sports information department.  D.J. Fenner is a well-rounded forward returning from a team that went 9-22 last season.

6 a.m.
Green Bay at East Tennessee State
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Jordan Fouse, Green Bay Forward
Line: Green Bay -2 1/2 East Tennessee State -108 prediction: Green Bay 64 ETST 53

Now that Keifer Sykes has moved on to the NBA Developmental League, this is Carrington Love’s Phoenix ball club.  Love is a senior and returns a similar skill set which includes command of the offense and an ability to score when tested.  East Tennessee State has scheduled an ambitious pre-conference schedule, which includes Villanova, this Green Bay team, Tennessee and Georgia Tech.  We’ll see if they live up to the competition.


8 a.m.
Stephen F. Austin at Northern Iowa
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin Guard
Line: Northern Iowa -4 Stephen F. Austin +130 prediction: UNI 65 Stephen F. Austin 55

Stephen F. Austin’s run as a tournament darling seemed to be cooling off as it struggled mightily against Baylor days ago.  Northern Iowa lost national player of the year candidate Seth Tuttle, but still maintains its identity as a gritty defensive bunch with shooters on the perimeter.  UNI struggled against Colorado State, but the eye test tells you that the Rams were an athletic and aggressive team.

10 a.m.
Valparaiso at Rhode Island
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Vashil Fernandez
Line: PICK EM prediction: Valpo 59 Rhode Island 55

This could be the most evenly-matched game of ESPN’s Tip Off Marathon.  After falling short of a tournament berth last season, both of these teams have shown signs of hunger in the early going.    Valpo held sharp-shooting Iona to 29% shooting in its last game and Rhode Island rolled past American in its opener.  The one major buzzkill is that Rhode Island lost its star forward, EC Matthews, for the season with a torn ACL.  If you’re working at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, set a DVR for this one.  One of these teams will be in the NCAA Tournament, if not both, and this could be a defacto playoff game to prove who.

1 p.m.
Alabama at Dayton
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot:  Scoochie Smith, Dayton Guard
Line: Alabama +15, Dayton +400 prediction: Dayton 61 Alabama 58

In the rapidly changing environment of college basketball, this is perhaps the game showcasing the most turnover.  Dayton is far removed from its Elite 8 appearance and not much is known yet about how Avery Johnson’s role will change the tide.  For Dayton, the first game’s win would indicate that coach Archie Miller’s bunch can still spread you out and knock ’em down.  Freshman Ryan Mikesell hit five three-pointers in his debut and the Flyers shot 51% against (okay) Southeast Missouri State.

3 p.m.
Colorado at Auburn
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Cinmeon Bowers, Auburn Forward
Line: Colorado -4 prediction: Auburn 67 Colorado 55

You know coach Bruce Pearl will have his hometown Tigers hyped for this national showcase.  Colorado looked beatable in the post against Iowa State, despite the growing draft stock of center Josh Scott.  Cinmeon Bowers looks hungry for some points down low.

5 p.m.
Oklahoma at Memphis
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma Guard
Line: Oklahoma -4, Memphis +140 prediction: Oklahoma 72 Memphis 51

For Oklahoma, Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins are a top 5 backcourt nationally.  For Memphis, the loss via transfer of forward Austin Nichols is a role that needs replacing.  Keep a close eye on how brothers, freshmen, and top 50 recruits K.J. and Dedric Lawson do as far as filling that void.  (Read more about the Lawsons, courtesy CBS Sports Gary Parrish’s 2013 article).

5 p.m.
DePaul at Penn State
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot: Billy Garrett, DePaul Guard
Line: Penn State -7 1/2 prediction: Penn State 64 DePaul 63

DePaul was impressive in a second half comeback against Western Michigan.  However, Penn State showed a balance in scoring it hasn’t seen in years in its rout of VMI.  Although not giant, the roster for the Nittany Lions could pose size issues for a smaller DePaul squad.

7:30 p.m.
Kentucky vs. Duke
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot:  Marcus Lee, Kentucky Forward
Line: Kentucky -4 1/2, Duke +180 prediction: Kentucky 70 Duke 60

Two words:  Skal Labissiere.

9 p.m.
Georgetown at Maryland
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot:  DeVonte Smith-Riviera, Georgetown Guard
Line: Georgetown +5 prediction: Maryland 69 Georgetown 61

Wow, Radford beat Georgetown in the first game of the season.  I apologize for questioning the AP for not placing the Hoyas into the preseason top 25.  It would appear they still need to work off some of the prosciutto and polenta poundage gained in their offseason trip to Italy.  Meanwhile,  Maryland senior forward Jake Layman gained 25 pounds of the welcomed type: muscle.  Melo Tremble and this Terrapins bunch has a ranking, 3rd, that feels very worthy at this point.

10 p.m.
Kansas vs. Michigan State
Daily Fantasy Roster Spot:  Frank Mason III, Kansas Guard
Line: Kansas -8 1/2 prediction: Michigan State 66 Kansas 59

Kansas is ranked 4th in the nation and Michigan State 13th, yet Kansas is an 8 1/2 point underdog.  That’s yet more proof that Las Vegas should be replacing the Associated Press in ranking these teams.  Anyway, Kansas is very much figuring things out during the highly publicized wait for the eligibility of freshman Cheick Diallo.  While this means newly found playing time for post players Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas, the Michigan State equivalent is veterans Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling.  And while you can’t see Diallo in action, enjoy Jayhawk freshman Calton Bragg Jr., who has had a terrific preseason.





Young Cincinnati Bearcats Claw Colonials Apart

It was a bizarre sports weekend that began with college basketball upset wins for Western Illinois, Monmouth, William & Mary and Radford.  They were the type of season openers that could only make sense on Friday the 13th.

And as the oddity of outcomes transitioned to Sunday football, with Green Bay losing at home to the lowly Lions and Peyton Manning effectively benching himself, a traditional power in college basketball returned to form.

The Cincinnati Bearcats ripped Robert Morris, winning 106-44.

Robert Morris was a tournament team last season.  However, they only returned four players to this current roster.  (This is also the same Robert Morris program that defeated Willie Caulie-Stein/Kyle Wiltjer’s Kentucky team in the 2013 NIT).

Still, Cincinnati ran circles around the Colonials with 32 team assists for the game.

Chad Brendel is the co-owner of and was in attendance.  After the game, he was asked by if this was for real.

“Bearcats are very much for real,” Brendel responded.  “Robert Morris not as good as last year, but still (a) decent mid major. (Robert Morris) just got rolled.”

Bearcat fan Walt Merritt agrees.  “(They) passed my eye test — making shots they didn’t make last year.

“(Their) defense struggled in first game but killed it today,” Merritt said.

The Bearcats repeatedly launched 20-something to single digit scoring runs.  The Bearcats shot 53.5% from the field.  Senior Shaq Thomas put a punctuation mark on it all:

Bearcat fans were excited by Mick’s boys taking a track meet approach.  Timmy Hinds watched the game on TV.

“(I was) impressed by how much better shape the bigs are; those guys look so much better and fluid,” Hinds tells @CBBEyeTest on Twitter.

“The maturity of the team is great,” Hinds continued.

Freshmen Jacob Evans and Justin Jenifer played quality minutes.  Jenifer scored 11 and dropped 9 assists in just 16 minutes of action.

The win had some national pundits, like CBS’s Jon Rothstein, demanding a top 25 ranking.  And that’s what you can expect to happen early this coming week.

Wisconsin Badger Fans Digest Loss to Western Illinois

As for a college basketball eye test, Wisconsin Badger fans are questioning what they just saw.

It was supposed to be a night to celebrate.

The Wisconsin Badgers rose the banner for their Final Four berth before the season opener against the Western Illinois Leathernecks.

Bo Ryan’s squad was one half away from a national championship, having been tied with Duke at halftime last April.

But on this November night, fans witnessed what growing pains losing Frank Kaminsky, Traevon Jackson, Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser will result in.

Western Illinois won this opener, 69-67.

“Since I’m a believer I’m just calling it a fluke,” super fan Marci Williams tells Williams was in attendance at the Kohl’s Center in Madison Friday night.  She said that the Badgers lack of defense and chemistry was apparent.

Jonathan Eckelberg is an ambassador for the Badger State, working for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.  This loss won’t cost the state any tourism to the Kohl’s Center.  Eckelberg says the team just needs to fix the little things.

“They needed to make more free throws for sure. Easy points that they threw away,” Eckelberg told @CBBEyeTest on Twitter.

Danny Lemanske boasts on his Twitter bio as being the biggest Badger fan ever.  He watched the game at home.

“They got beat over and over again inside.  They don’t have a rim protector. (It) seemed like offensive ball movement was a lot worse,” Lemanske said late Saturday.

If you follow Badgers Men’s Basketball on Twitter, this offseason would have you thinking Nigel Hayes is primed to be the next Arlando Tucker:

And it won’t be long before that excitement returns.  In fact, it appears Wisconsin fans are already over it.  Most tweets Saturday night point to Bo Ryan’s ability to develop young talent to fit his system.

Lemanske said “suddenly I don’t feel so bad,” after seeing that coach Buzz William’s Virginia Tech team lost to Alabama State.

Let’s also put into context who this Western Illinois Leathernecks team is.  First, they hail from the Summit Conference, which recently brought you the North and South Dakota state division 1 teams to the NCAA Tournament.  In 2014, North Dakota State defeated 5th seed Oklahoma.  Last season, they lost to Gonzaga by just 10.  In prior years, South Dakota State earned itself as low as a 13 seed and competed well round one against Baylor and Michigan respectively.

Contrary to Wisconsin, this Western Illinois team got 136 minutes contributed from its senior players.  Perhaps our takeaway should be less about Wiscsonsin’s chemistry and more about who the Summit League’s next representative may be.

Going to a college basketball game this season?  Share your eye witness report by tweeting @CBBEyeTest.

My 5 Underdogs for 2015-16 NCAA College Basketball Futures

Before you just say, “Oh, just another basketball blogger in his basement blowing steam,” allow me to clarify:  I am just another blogger in his basement!  But my past picks paved the way for some street cred.  In 2013, I listed UCONN as one of my five top value picks (click here to read the archive).  In 2014, all five of my underdog value plays made the NCAA tournament.  That included Utah, which I correctly threw the flag on Vegas when it listed the Utes at 200-to-1.

Of course, this past March Madness, ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell shared my winning ticket after parlaying UAB and Georgia State for first round upsets:

Here are my top 5 underdogs for the 2015-16 college basketball season.  I am taking this show on the road, as in down the street, by visiting college basketball’s epicenter: