Feast Week Eye Test Recap

Feast Week Meaning for College Basketball

College basketball’s “feast week” features special out-of-conference match-ups.  There are a few factors that make these pairings special.  For one, similar to the college basketball tournament itself, these holiday tournaments represent a cross-section of conferences big and small.  Another special factor is that games are played on a truly neutral floor.  This means that neither team has home court advantage.  This very rarely happens during the college basketball regular season.  In the case of Kansas playing in Kansas City’s Sprint Center, or Duke playing in New York’s Madison Square Garden, there are times that blue bloods are advertised as playing at a “neutral site,” but those places actually represent a hotbed of fan support for those respective programs.  Third, the championship games (and even third place consolation games) often serve as a defacto playoff game.  It may determine which teams survive the famed “bubble.”  Because of the reasons mentioned above, committee members will be looking back to November’s rare match-ups to decipher which team has a resume worthy of a tournament invite.  Lastly, there is the element of rawness to these tournaments.  You’ll see a lot of rosters loaded with new talent, but still without ironing the roles within their team.  That makes for an exciting watch!

Below are eye test analysis of games, a work-in-progress on 11/24

2K Empire Classic

The 2K Empire Classic’s invite list reads like a veiled excuse to have Georgetown battle Duke in a championship game.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Coach Patrick Ewing’s Hoya squad looked like a poised group.  Its guards went on the offensive in the first half, and Georgetown actually led by about 10 points early.  In the end, Duke’s talent (and therefore #1 national ranking at the time) took over.  However, Georgetown’s electric play under the bright lights should be noted.  Mainly, sophomore point guard James Akinjo accelerated for 19 points and 6 assists in 35 minutes of play.  He made the audacious move of wearing #3 as a Georgetown point guard…mildly acceptable.

Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Tournament

The Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Tournament featured a team no one is talking about.  Ironically, that team is the national champion.  Virginia returns more talent than it gets credit for.  Kihei Clark and Mamadi Diakite are names you’d recognize.  But fans should be excited about Jay Huff this season with long-time center Jack Salt graduated.  Huff brings more range and scoring pop.  Jay Huff had some big points in a pivitol stretch again Vermont.  This may be the marquee game worth taking a second look at come March 2020.

Battle for Atlantis

There are many layers of the onion to pull away here from the 2019 Battle for Atlantis.  Four teams in the top 13 came to paradise to see whose sand castle would stand up to the rocky waters of stiff competition.  UNC’s did not.

You watched as the Tarheels started the tournament with a sleepy performance against the inferior Alabama team.  They coughed up 20 turnovers and gave up a lot of easy baskets at the rim.  The 38% shooting percentage for Alabama won’t tell the story about some of the lackadaisical plays that UNC allowed.  Then they got crushed by Michigan.  Finally, they won against Oregon (a team exhausted by two heavyweight battles: Seton Hall and Gonzaga contests decided by a total of 3 points).

Now, for that Michigan win.  Wow.  We saw that this was a team with all the right pieces.  Jon Teske was awarded the tournament’s MVP as he shows a lot more skill down low than many people thought.  Zavier Simpson is a veteran point guard who can orchestrate and defend.  Isaiah Livers looks like a lot of Michigan wings of recent years.  He can go inside, he can float out and cause matchup issues.  It’s not easy to speed him up.  His game looks some like D.J. Wilson, his predecessor at SF/PF who now plays in the NBA.   Coach Juwan Howards looks really comfortable.  When the broadcasts show his moments in the timeout, he is loose and sharing the huddle with his fellow coaches and players.  He is a pro.  Howards has incredible credentials as a professional coach.  And, what better motivational speaker for a young Wolverine?  This team passes the eye test with flying colors. Battle for Atlantis bracket 2019 results courtesy Wikipedia

Next, you have Oregon and Gonzaga.  The two Northwest schools couldn’t be more different.  But they’re about equal.  Oregon PG Peyton Pritchard is as advertised.  Last year’s 16 Sixteen run he led was not a fluke.  He is one of college basketball’s best competitors.  And Dana Altman’s attitude of just making it work year-to-year with a motley crew of junior college transfers and highly touted recruits is incredible.  This guy knows how to cultivate a winning culture on a deadline.  On the flip side, Gonzaga has its renowned international basis and the versatility that comes with it.  That said, Serbian Filip Petresev looks to be what makes this team go.  This is going to sound crazy, but his game resembles a young Kevin Garnett.  He is long, lean, crafty, can shoot the midrange jumper, and has a mean streak.  Petresev thrives on the jump hook, and likes play with his back to the basket or off the offensive glass.  Watch his activity and compare it to a rookie Timberwolf.   All in all, both these Pacific Northwest teams could be playing in an Elite 8.  I put the odds in Oregon’s favor given their strength at point guard.  But the highlights of this game is worth a re-watch in early March as you’re prepping to fill that bracket.

Maui Invitational

Michigan State losing to Virginia Tech might be the headline of this entire week.  We saw glimpses that Michigan State might not be the no-doubter #1 seed as it struggled against Kentucky’s athleticism in the first game of the season.  And then Virginia Tech happened.  The V-Tech Hokies won wire-to-wire against Michigan State by swinging the ball all around the horn and daring to hit 3’s all night.  Spartans coach Tom Izzo sat Cassius Winston midway through the first half as he had 2 fouls.  That ended up biting them in the Sparty.  Winston committed his second foul at the 9:56 mark.  They trailed 17-18 at that point.  It looked like Virginia Tech seized all the momentum in the building for the next quarter, hitting two 3-pointers and taking a 32-28 lead into the locker-room.  Virginia Tech now gets the luxury of playing the rest of the season with house money, with a 6-0 record at a top 5 win on a neutral floor already on its resume.  If the Hokies played to a .500 record in the ACC, it would be hard to argue against them getting into the NCAA tournament.  As the broadcasters said on the telecast, this team was put together with 3 players having to reclassify in order to make a roster (after the offseason departure of coach Buzz Williams).  New coach Mike Young had made noise during his tenure at tiny Wofford.  In this “Maui Wowie,” he proved his cinderella story isn’t done being written yet.

Myrtle Beach Invitational

The championship game from the Myrtle Beach Invitational was HUGE.  The 17th ranked Villanova Wildcats took on the 24th ranked Baylor Bears.  When you do the math, you can see how the winner may be rewarded with a 3 or 4 seed in the Big Dance, and the loser a 5 or 6 seed, if things remain mostly equal going forward.  The winner was Baylor.  And it seemed that the Bears learned from their disappointing loss to the Washington Huskies in another early season yet gigantic non-conference opportunity.  Coach Scott Drew got more shooters into the game late and made defensive subs as needed.  The Bears actually made it look easy in the final four minutes against a very young Villanova bunch.

Sons of NBA Players in College Basketball 2019-2020

Sons of NBA Players in College Basketball

If you’re a fan of 1990s NBA basketball, you’re old.  Another annual reminder is this newest crop of former NBA players who are now playing in college basketball.

And David Robinson’s son is still on a college basketball roster.  He is 23-years-old.

2019-2020 Roster

Duke’s Justin Robinson is the son of Hall-of-Fame center, David Robinson

North Carolina’s Cole Anthony is the son of former New York Knick Greg Anthony

Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. is the son of Chicago Bulls 6-time Champion Scotty Pippen

Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis is the son of ex-Indiana Pacers forward Dale Davis

Arizona State’s Jalen House is the son of sharpshooter Eddie House

Bucknell’s Walter Ellis is the son of former Denver Nuggets LaPhonso Ellis

Butler’s Derrik Smits is the son of former Indiana Pacers great Rik Smits

Rutger’s Ron Harper Jr. is the son of Ron Harper, a member of the 72 win Chicago Bulls

UC Irvine’s Jeron Artest is the son of Ron Artest, former Lakers, Bulls and Kings player

Archive: Sons of NBA Players in College Basketball

2018-2019
2017-2018
2016-2017
2015-2016

 

 

5 Best 2019-20 NCAA Basketball Value Bets

College Basketball Futures
Best Values 
BY MATT DE SARLE

Like you, I am always curious to know the future odds for teams winning a national championship.  My curiosity spikes right before the season begins.  That’s when I am convinced that past performance dictates future results.  And, as the disclaimers at the end of financial services commercials say, that cause-effect is never guaranteed.

However, the past performance from these 5 teams has me intrigued.  If you’re reading this blog for the first time, welcome to the College Basketball Eye Test.  As always, I am going to discuss characteristics that I see.  A team’s personality dictates its winning potential.  Yes, KenPom.com is outstanding at tracking metrics.  Here, we track warning signs that are visible.  You can see when a team is selfish, timid, lacking leadership, soft.  On the contrary, it’s so enjoyable to watch a team that navigates adversity well, shows aggression, and doesn’t flinch when pushed.  Here are my five times to consider putting a small wager on for a huge payout.

South Florida Bulls Basketball

5.  Odds 750/1 in Preseason

The Bulls return nearly everyone from the 2018-2019 campaign.  Alexis Yetna was on a lot of people’s radar as a possible breakout star.  But he suffered a season ending injury as this season begun.  As devastating of news as that is, the Bulls still have a lot of potential.  And now they have a cause to rally around, and Yetna is still a young player with a bright future.

This team popped on my radar as it ran Memphis out of its gym last season.  The Bulls got off to a 20 point lead by ripping the ball away, running the fast break, and banging threes with no conscience.  Coach Brian Gregory has an impressive resume that includes leading a competitive George Tech team in the ACC and serving as an assistant to Tom Izzo at Michigan State.  This team has the talent, identity, and leadership necessary to still make the tournament without Yetna.  If they make the tournament and you have a 750-to-1 ticket (a $5 bet would pay $3,750) in your pocket, be sure to hedge your bet by taking its opponent as well.  You will likely have a dangerous team heading into the field of 32.

Ohio State Basketball Future Odds

4.   60/1 in the preseason

Headlined by brothers Kaleb and Andre Wesson, this team is very interesting under the leadership of coach Chris Holtmann.  Holtmann had immediate success at Ohio State, after also ushering a transitional era after Brad Stevens departure from Butler.  There is a solid core here with a lot of guards who will compete for playing time and relevance.  Holtmann should be trusted to pull the strings successfully.  In a conference that hasn’t won a championship since 2000, and that program in Michigan State prepped to get all the attention, Ohio State may just slip under the radar until a Sweet 16 berth.

Wichita State Basketball Future Odds

3.  400/1 in the preseason

Give me Gregg Marshall and 400-to-1 odds any year.

Colorado Buffs Basketball futures

2.  Odds 250/1 in the preseason

Tad Boyle is one of college basketball’s most under-appreciated coaches.  Boyle has made 7 of 8 postseasons in his Colorado tenure.  He has also supported the development of future pros, sending rotation-ready guys like Spencer Dinwiddie into the league.  Last year was the first time in Boyle’s tenure that Colorado did not make the CBI, NIT, or NCAA tournament.  However, a roster laced with underclassmen developed, and you could see it during the PAC-12 tournament.  They advanced to the semifinals and gave #1 seed Washington a run for their money.  Tyler Bey is a Shawn Marion in the making.  The Colorado Buffs can run the floor, clog you up, and play any discipline they want.  They’ve been surging in the PAC-12 while their peers like Arizona, UCLA and USC are amidst major changes (even some identity crisis).  This is a conference where it was recently Utah’s turn for a tournament bid, Arizona State’s turn, and now it’s the Buffs turn.  When the Buffs come to eat in the tourney, they’re arriving hungry.

Seton Hall Basketball Futures Odds

  1.  50/1 in the preseason

Seton Hall might be the sexiest of all sexy picks, so I won’t dwell too much.  The bottom line is that Myles Powell may be the nation’s player of the year.  If he does that, it should be in the fashion of a Jimmer Fredette or a Buddy Hield.  He is a score-first guard but can distribute well.  Sophomore wing Jared Rhoden showed flashes last year as a freshmen.  If he and Myles Cale can be the complimentary swingmen they’re capable of, this roster has no shortage of dogs who can defend and rebound down low.  Head coach Kevin Willard was rumored to take on jobs like UCLA and Virginia Tech this offseason, but doubled down on his pirates by declaring himself disinterested in those (perhaps) higher profile jobs.  Willard will serve a two game suspension to start this season for transfer tampering.  All in all, I am shocked that this team is a nebulous 50-1 wager headed into the season.

 

 

Asking for Witnesses at the College Basketball Eye Test

The college basketball eye test is a blog that generates a few thousand page views every year.  We are looking to expand this year with contributions from around the country.  We are asking for contributors who are able to write and Skype for our team.  We will mimic the tournament bracket with one contributor from every region:  South, East, Midwest and West.  This opportunity is voluntary.  The benefits include cross-promotion on social media and hyperlinks on our website, in addition to great experience.

Preference will be given to people who will be in attendance during marquee games.  The tentative list of teams we are interested in for contributions from each region include Ohio State in the Midwest, Colorado in the West, Seton Hall in the East, and Kentucky in the South.  We are not married to these teams, but think they’ll be a center of action for the 2019-20 season.

Please e-mail a resume or just tell us about your interest level by e-mailing mattydmedia@gmail.com.