Eye Test Analysis for Every Tourney Team

Bradley 
Bradley beat the 7 seed in its conference to win the Missouri Valley Championship.  While its win against Valpairaso was impressive, you could see the 7 seed ran out of gas in its third game in 3 days.  Bradley senior Darrell Brown is the perfect point guard to run circles around you if you are on your heels.  And junior forward Elijah Childs is a prolific finisher and ambidextrous.  I just question if some of the athleticism they put on display during Arch Madness would look as impressive against a March Madness opponent.

East Tennessee State 
Returning only 1 of 5 starters from last season, head coach Steve Forbes deserves all the credit in the world for returning ETSU to March Madness after a one year hiatus.  Many people expected ETSU to be in the tourney in 2019.  This version of the Buccaneers plays similarly to the other dangerous squads Forbes has overseen.  They stretch the floor both by the perimeter and by the way of how they can penetrate.  The Bucs shot 42% from 3PT to polish off Wofford in its championship game.  But, when you watched, they also gave up some decent looks for Wofford around their perimeter.  Luckily, Wofford only hit 6 of 25.  The Bucs also lost the turnover battle, being victim to dig outs and surrendering 13.  This is a team of runs.  In its champ week win against Wofford, it came out hot leading 11-2, then got tied around half, before building a 5 or 6 possession lead early in the second half.  In its most high profile game of the season, it suffered a 5:12 minute scoring drought against LSU in the first half.  Then the Bucs went nuts.  They finished the first half on a 16-7 run and built a 21 point cushion in the second half.  (Editor’s note:  LSU has been known to have defensive lapses from the perimeter itself this season).  The Bucs are a team that can blow a high major team out of the gym.  It’s also a team that can suffer from its streakiness.  In its last lost, it jacked up 22 threes against Mercer, only hitting three in an otherwise close game (also shot 44% from FT).  Buckle up for the Bucs, it will be interesting either way.  Their pace of play won’t register high on analytics, in part because of its sound defensive metrics, but it can get hot and excite a neutral crowd.

Hofstra
For a second consecutive year, Hofstra held conference rival Northeastern’s (7th ranked in the nation) scorer Jordan Roland to 11 points in the title game.  So there’s that.  Hofstra plays like a street ball team.  When someone gets hot, they ride the hot hand.  They play four guards most of the time, and do thrive on one-on-one creation for shots.  The Hofstra Pride can also get creative in the transition game.  But heaven help Hofstra if Isaac Kante gets into foul trouble.  The 6’7″ junior serves as their lone big man for the most part.

Liberty
You will hear between now and the Thursday of March Madness dozens of times that Liberty beat Mississippi State last year as the 12 seed versus a 5 matchup.  That Liberty team lost to a very good Virginia Tech squad.  This year’s Liberty team is better.  Caleb Homesley is a red-shirt senior who looks like the Atlantic Sun version of Tracy McGrady.  He never looks like he is in a rush, but when he accelerates, it’s normally to finish with ease.  Power forward Scottie James is an enforcer, Darius McGhee is a high jumper at point guard, and Elijah Cuffee is a shooting guard adding scoring contributions at the right time.  This team looks like the 2005-2006 George Mason team.  There will be a few of us that believe that, as an 11 or 12 seed, that this team could make a Final Four run.  But those who do believe may be rewarded.

Caleb Homesley courtesy Liberty Mens Basketball

Photo courtesy: Liberty Flames Men’s Basketball/Twitter

Northern Kentucky
Jalen Tate is the straw that stirs the drink for the Norse.  He may qualify as their third guard, but he plays like a forward in the way he can get into the paint (then operate).  Northern Kentucky, and its three guards, love to shoot the three.  What they lack in efficiency, they make up for in shot attempts.  Conversely, they have shown some defensive lapses in both guarding the three point line and defending deep post position.  This is a team that can probably get embarrassed by a bigger team, but could also upset a smaller at-large if the Norse get hot from deep.  ‘

Robert Morris
It’s tough to balance the judgement of Robert Morris after an electric, athletic, energy-filled creciendo of their season with an emphatic conference championship win at home against St. Francis PA.  The Colonials share the ball really well.  It’s ironic they have two brothers from Akron on the squad, given the brotherly sharing.  Robert Morris runs a lot of down screens around the elbow and free throw line, getting action and open shots on the perimeter.  They shoot 36% from three, which is top 50 (43rd) in the country.  Junior AJ Bramah is a double-double waiting to happen.  He crashes the boards for a threat on the offensive glass.  This team does not look like a 16 seed.

Utah State
Utah State is a team that looked like it leaped over a hurdle in its win against San Diego State in the Mountain West Tournament.  Big man Neemias Queta, who missed the first month of the season, was too much for the Aztecs to handle in the closing stanza of this game.  And that’s really what the tournament is about.  Teams take their advantage and ram it down your throat.  Utah State has no shortage of heady perimeter players.  Queta is the perfect compliment and the key to a deep run.  23-year-old senior guard Sam Merrill played all 40 minutes, dropped 27 points, and hit the game winning three.  And its was the presence of Queta that kept the Aztecs on its heels.  This experience on the perimeter and high low combo could make Utah State very dangerous.

Winthrop
The best thing I can say about the Winthrop Eagles is that they can take a punch.  Hampton had them down 22-9 in their house after one quarter of play in the Big South Championship game.  D.J. Burns is a big with girth and left-handed banger who can produce in a traditional post game.  But, at 6’9″, will that size translate on a national stage in the Big Dance?  Winthrop’s top scorer is another left-handed shooter, combo guard Hunter Hale.

 

 

 

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.

NBA Mock Draft Stocks Due to Rise

College Players Whose NBA Stock Will Rise

The so-called NBA prospects that rank highly in early February are not always the ones to rock the baseball cap in the first hour of the NBA Draft.

No, stocks rise and fall.  And the whole sports nation watches March Madness.

Modern History Lesson: College Players Whose Stock Rose on NBA Draft Boards Because of March Madness

In 2006, LSU forward Tyrus Thomas was on no one’s radar as a top 10 pick.  After his sensational play led the Tigers to the Final Four alongside Glen “Big Baby Davis,” Thomas found himself drafted #4 overall.  That was moments before the likes of Rudy Gay, Randy Foye and Brandon Roy that year.  A similar scenario happened with Joakim Noah during that era.

Hey, even the great Steph Curry wasn’t really on people’s radars until his Cinderella run with #10 seed Davidson.  He was even deemed a risky pick at #7 overall in 2009.

Stock Up for these 5 NBA Prospects Come March 2019

Here are some players who currently don’t rank on the top 10 on the fashionable draft boards, but you’ll be hearing about spring of next year on an NBA roster.

Eric Paschall’s NBA Draft Stock

  1.  Eric Paschall – Villanova G/F

If LeBron James takes to social media to compare you to current NBA pro Paul Millsap, there really isn’t much else to say.  I will say this for the people not familiar with Millsap’s game.  At first glance, you might make the mistake of thinking he is undersized.  Paschall is a tenacious rebounder, scorer, defender, there isn’t an act on the basketball court that this guy does half-ass.

However, currently, he is listed as a second round draft pick by top Google search result, NBA Draft.net.  Those experts have him going 33rd overall to the Orlando Magic as this article premieres on February 3, 2018.

Cameron Johnson’s Draft Stock

2.  Cameron Johnson – North Carolina F

Do you know of an NBA team not looking for a “power 4” who can stretch the floor with 3PT-abilities.  Johnson has the perfect measurables at 6-8 and 215, and was torching the nets at 47% from 3PT in early February.  His teammate Nassir Little ranks in the top 10 on draft boards, but two Tar Heels could soon occupy the top 10.  NBA Mock Draft.net currently has him listed at #42 overall.

Rui Hachimura’s NBA Draft Stock

3.  Rui Hachimura – Gonzaga F

In early February, Sports Illustrated updated its mock draft board to reflect the “skyrocketing” prospects.  Somehow they fell asleep and didn’t include Rui Hachimura in the top 10.  This dude will be a top 7 pick, and has the ceiling of being a top 3 pick.  He is one of college basketball’s best mid-range jump shooters.  Hachimura is a tough cover, as a slippery 6-8 for bigger guys and a large load to handle for the smaller guys.  Rui averages 20  points and 6 rebounds a game, on a loaded roster.  We get it, this Gonzaga swingman was listed 11th overall by SI.com at the time.  However, when this Gonzaga squad gets it rolling in March, look for #Rui trending on a Twitter timeline near you.  And he’s just a junior.

Check out #21…

Bruno Fernando’s NBA Draft Stock

4.  Bruno Fernando – Maryland C

If Deandre Ayten can go #1 overall, Fernado is a lock for top 10.  He is not the full court sprinter as much as Ayten, but might compensate with a little more nastiness on the defensive end.  Fernado is becoming more agile as a new age NBA center type.  Ayten is the comparison worth considering.

To pick on SI.com again, they had Fernando going #17th overall to the Brooklyn Nets.

DeAndre Ayten Bruno Fernando Comparison

Markus Howard’s NBA Draft Stock

5.  Okay, this one actually pisses me off.  In world where Trae Young is drafted #5 overall, how the hell is Markus Howard ranking #41 overall as we speak?

If you haven’t seen Howard, it may be because he doesn’t play on ESPN channels.  And therefore, the hype machine hasn’t been pumping the way that machinery has been moving since Thanksgiving with Zion Willamson.  You rarely see a Markus Howard highlight package on SportsCenter.  But this guy is averaging an even 25 points a game, having dropped 45 points on 14th-ranked Buffalo, 53 on Creighton, and 45 on the K-State Wildcats (widely considered on of the nation’s best defenses).

Dude, come on now.

Watch the highlight package…

Related:  Does it seem like less sons of NBA players are in the college game today? You’ll be blown away to see how many there were just three years ago!  Click here.  

NBA Mock Drafts Predicted in February 2018

NBA Mock Draft snapshot nbadraft.net February 3 2019

March Madness game times and locations Thursday

Here are the teams, times and locations for Thursday’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

All times Eastern Standard. 

(10) Oklahoma vs. (7) Rhode Island
12:15 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(14) Wright State vs. (3) Tennessee
12:40 p.m. in Dallas, TX

(13) UNCG vs. (4) Gonzaga
1:30 p.m. in Boise, ID

(16) Penn vs. (1) Kansas
2 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(15) Iona vs. (2) Duke
2:45 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(11) Loyola-Chicago vs. (6) Miami (Fla.)
3:10 p.m. in Dallas, TX

(12) South Dakota State vs. (5) Ohio State
4 p.m. in Boise, ID

(9) NC State vs. (8) Seton Hall
4:30 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(16) LIU-Brooklyn/Radford vs. (1) Villanova
6:50 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(12) Davidson vs. (5) Kentucky
7:10 p.m. in Boise, ID

(11) San Diego State vs. (6) Houston
7:20 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(14) Stephen F. Austin vs. (3) Texas Tech
7:27 p.m. in Dallas, TX

(9) Alabama vs. (8) Virginia Tech
9:20 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(13) Buffalo vs. (4) Arizona
9:40 p.m. in Boise, ID

(14) Montana vs. (3) Michigan
9:50 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(11) St. Bonaventure/UCLA vs. (6) Florida
9:57 p.m. in Dallas, TX

 

The Real Champions Classic

Each year, ESPN’s Champions Classic is promoted as the real tip-off to the college basketball season.  It always features a rotation of match-ups among these powerhouses:  Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Duke.

There are also reports that the Champions Classic may literally kick-off the NCAA season next year, with no games tipping off before it.  This year, it featured a sloppy matchup of Kansas versus Kentucky (Jayhawks win 65-61) and a Duke victory over Michigan State that left the viewer asking, “was this really a matchup of number 1 and number 2?”

However, tonight when Florida plays Duke and Michigan State plays North Carolina, it will feel like the Champions Classic that would have been if the planners had the ability to pair the nation’s best four teams.

Kansas’s roster is thinner than recent years. Kentucky’s is even more immature than recent years.  Meanwhile, top 10 ranked teams like (2) Arizona is struggling (losing three consecutive games) and (6) Wichita State is without its primary scoring wing, Markis McDuffie.  Swapping-in defending champion UNC with an incumbent veteran roster of Gators would be the ideal substitute for a Champions Classic.

Luckily, for college basketball fans, they’ll get that final four after a full slate of football Sunday.  It’s the semifinals of the PK80 Invitational!

(1) Duke versus (7) Florida
TIP OFF 10:30 EST 

Let’s start with Florida.  The gators are returning an experienced team, highlighted by its gritty backcourt of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza.  Add-in Russian-born guard Egor Koulechov, Kevarrius Hayes, and a load of talented underclassmen, and you have a national contender.  The Florida Gators already accomplished a great resume-builder during this tournament.  They beat the defacto hometown team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs (games in Portland).  Meanwhile, Duke had an impressive win itself.  They came storming back in the final stanzas against a Texas Longhorns team that looked like it could bring Havoc to teams down the line.  It’s Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s youngest starting roster since 1982-83.  The Blue Devils start senior Grayson Allen with 4 freshmen, headlined by forward Marvin Bagley III.

(4) Michigan State versus (9) North Carolina
TIP OFF 8:30 EST 

UNC is somehow overlooked at number 9.  Yes, they have lost Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley to the NBA draft.  However, they return importance piece of last year’s championship team.  They include Joel Berry II, Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson.  Michigan State has the next coming of Vince Carter in Miles Bridges, along with a huge cast of sophomores who can grow into something special.

 

 

March Madness Longshots Worth a Look

Click here for an A-Z Breakdown of all NCAA Tournament teams.  

And it begins.

Cdpd_bzW0AALh6-

The pilgramage of college basketball fanatics to Sin City is on.

There is only one guarantee:  Madness will happen.  To capitalize on it is the challenge.

At first glance, some deserving teams are being shown no love from the sports books across the desert.  Dayton, for example, has had its hiccups late in the season.  However, 100-to-1 odds in such a wide-open season seems too generous.

In five short weeks, Oregon has gone from unranked to a one seed.  Between Bill Walton’s drumming of the glockenspiel and the West Coast time zone, the seriousness of the Ducks was drowned out to a national audience.  Now they’re 15/1 to win the entire thing.  Most books have them as the 6th favorite in line to win a national championship.

But we remember the glockenspiel.  We remember watching this team and hearing about their deficiencies — ranked outside the top 5o in effective defense, a point guard you cannot name, and a wildly athletic yet still raw and super thin (6-10, 190 lbs) center in Chris Boucher.

What we’re saying is that Saint Joseph’s at 200/1 to win a championship, as is Cincinatti at 100/1, because those teams look a lot like Oregon.  Whatever team wins the 8-9 matchup will likely take on the ducks.  The Cincy Bearcats especially resemble the Ducks, as they appear to have four or five small forwards who get playing time.  For Saint Joe’s we have a whole lot more to tell you about star De’andre Bembry.  Click here. 

If Oregon plays anything like the glockenspiel game, you guys will be in business with those odds.

Some other odds that caught our attention was Providence at 200/1 with one of America’s best players, Wichita State at 75/1 with their experience, and Stephen F. Austin for an absolute haymaker for 500/1.  If the Lumberjacks get past West Virginia, they could grab momentum in a sweet spot of the bracket.  Plus, this system at Stephen F. performed well against so-called “Havoc” two years ago as they beat VCU.  West Virginia’s press shouldn’t be a knockout punch.

We’d love to hear from you.  Follow @CBBEyeTest on Twitter.  

 

 

Sons of NBA players in the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament

There are 13 sons of NBA players in this years NCAA Basketball Tournament, by our count.

Here’s a chart of the second generation players across college basketball.
Son Current team NBA dad NBA team of note
Gary Payton, Jr. Oregon State Gary Payton Seattle Supersonics
Domantas Sabonis Gonzaga Arvydas Sabonis Portland Trailblazers
Jalen Brunson Villanova Rick Brunson Toronto Raptors
Sam Cassell Jr. UCONN Sam Cassell Houston Rockets
Isaiah Wilkins Virginia Dominique Wilkins (stepfather) Atlanta Hawks
Elgin Cook Oregon Alvin Robertson San Antonio Spurs
Justin Robinson Duke David Robinson San Antonio Spurs
Wyatt Lohaus Northern Iowa Brad Lohaus Milwaukee Bucks
Bryce Alford UCLA Steve Alford Dallas Mavericks
A.J. English III Iona A.J. English II Denver Nuggets
A.J. Davis UCF Antonio Davis Indiana Pacers
Trey Mourning Georgetown Alonzo Mourning Miami Heat
Aubrey Dawkins Michigan Johnny Dawkins Philadelphia 76ers
Kameron Rooks California Sean Rooks LA Clippers
Brandan Stith Old Dominion Bryant Stith Denver Nuggets
Nick Kerr California Steve Kerr Chicago Bulls
Lasani Johnson Stephen F. Austin Larry Johnson Charlotte Hornets
Avery Johnson Jr. Alabama Avery Johnson San Antonio Spurs