Post-Super Bowl College Basketball Season Summary

BY MATT DE SARLE

In case you’ve been in a cave, or dedicated your winter viewing to NFL football, you may have missed some major developments in college basketball. Let’s get you caught up!

Runaway Trains Baylor and Gonzaga Basketball on Collision Course

The first thing you need to know about the first 3 months of this college basketball season is the dominance of Baylor and Gonzaga. As always, Gonzaga has tested itself out of conference. And as of right now, they’re undefeated. They lost Filip Petrušev from last season but replaced his talent with Jalen Suggs. Suggs played high level football in high school and is giving the Bulldogs an intimidation element at guard they’ve rarely had. Speaking of intimidating guards, Baylor has also been unstoppable. With the addition of junior college transfer Adam Flagler, they now have 4 guards who can go for 15-20 points any night. And, the Baylor Bears still have the muscle down low that sometimes resembles its football team. To stick with the football analogies, Baylor and Gonzaga are seemingly runaway trains set for a Super Bowl collision in early April. In fact, they were supposed to play in December, but COVID-19 canceled that. The status of the game has ironically remained “postponed,” as it’s the odds-on favorite to happen as a National Championship.

Big 10 Can Send 10 Final Four Worthy Teams to the Tournament

After the dominance of Baylor and Gonzaga, the national landscape is relatively wide open. The SEC has a few top 20 teams (Alabama, Tennessee and Missouri) and the Big East returns a veteran Villanova and Creighton team. However, the Big 10 is really crazy talented. Every team in the Big 10 has a big man who can take over a game. The NCAA recently announced its final 13 finalists for the best center in the game. That’s the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award. Three of those finalists are from the Big 10. The frontrunner for player of the year is also from the Big 10: Luka Garza. Baylor and Gonzaga might get the top two seeds, but Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan might snatch up the next 2 and 3 seeds. Michigan was undefeated for the first two months of the season. Ohio State returned a great core and is having some great talent come off the bench. Illinois might have the most dangerous 1-2 punch in Ayo Disunmo and Kofi Cockburn. Meantime, teams like Indiana, Minnesota, Rutgers, and Purdue will all only just squeeze into the tournament in the 6-10 seed range because of how difficult it is to get wins in the conference. Read other Big 10 roster rotation movements of note here.

Mid-majors and other non-Power 5 Programs to Watch in College Hoops

If you include the Big East, college basketball really has six power conferences. As usual, there are multiple teams outside of the major conferences who can disrupt March Madness. This year there’s Houston as a perennial top 10 team. They look like a lock to win the American Conference. You also have Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference. They were recently ranked in the top 25 with their undefeated record before losing to Valpairaso. Other mid-major teams putting together tournament-worthy resumes include Western Kentucky, Belmont, and Winthrop, to name a few. The Mountain West has 4 or 5 teams that could make the tournament. They’d all be dangerous. Right now San Diego State, Boise State, and Colorado State are flirting with an 8 or 9 seed. You also have a very veteran bunch in Utah State with a legit 7 footer with skill in Neemias Queta. An interesting trend to watch is how many of these smaller conferences are managing the COVID-19 risk by playing back-to-back games. Or, one team will visit an opponent’s city and even play back-to-back days. That’s the story in Conference USA where North Texas, for example, just split a Friday-Saturday pairing with LA Tech. What’s interesting about this dynamic is that it mimics the NCAA Tournament.

Winthrop is one of the mid-major schools in 2020-2021 set to make noise in March Madness

How College Basketball Postseason Looks During COVID-19

The NCAA has decided to host its entire March Madness event in the Indianapolis area. The thought is that these smaller bubbles of players, staff, and supporters will mitigate the risk while traveling in smaller circles. The games will be held in some of the area’s iconic basketball venues (ex. Assembly Hall and Hinkle Fieldhouse). When it comes to Conference Championships, each conference is navigating the travel and fan participation in its own unique way. Here is a weblink where we are tracking all of the Championship Week updates.

College Basketball Traditions Continue Despite COVID-19

Even though fans can’t be in attendance in most cases, college basketball is still doing a great job at continuing many of its tradition. One recent tradition that continues is the college game’s presence of second generation talent. Here’s a full list of this year’s sons of NBA players in college basketball. Thank you for reading!

3 New Rotation Wrinkles to Watch in Big 10 Basketball

BY MATT DE SARLE

Big 10 Coaches Tweak Rosters As Season Enters Home Stretch

Anyone watching college basketball this season with an unbiased view will admit that the Big 10 is the best conference in basketball. So when subtle changes happen to some of the best team’s rosters, those are developments worth watching. Here are some late season roster tinkering that could become a factor in March Madness.

Rutgers Swingman Jacob Young Coming Off The Bench

If you listen to Twitter (don’t), Rutgers fans will tell you that Jacob Young is trash. Well, that’s not true. The Euro-stepping swingman from Houston has a 20 point game in his grasp each time he steps on the floor. His defense has been questioned. And this mid-season, Rutgers coach Steve Pickel relegated Young to the bench. The Scarlet Knights responded by hitting a 4 game winning streak as January rolled into February. Young might not be a starter, but he pairs well with Ron Harper Jr. as a closer.

Michigan Coach Tom Izzo Searching for Starting Point Guard

Tom Izzo certainly doesn’t need my sympathy. He’s a championship coach and definitely not reading this blog article. However, I feel bad from any coach who loses Cassius Winston in one COVID-ravaged season and has to enter a COVID-complicated following season with few choices at point guard. Rocket Watts was auditioned at point guard early in the season, but it was determined (not surprisingly) that he is a shooting guard. Izzo then turned to freshman A.J. Hoggard as the head man. Sparty also has 6 foot junior Foster Loyer on the roster. Hoggard has slipped from the leading minutes-getter at point guard and the leading assists man at Michigan State is forward elder statesman forward Joshua Langford. As crazy as this all sounds, if Michigan State even makes the tournament, you’d have to feel shaky taking them against any team that has an established star point guard.

Does the Big 10’s Best Point Guard Come Off The Bench?

CJ Walker went out early this season with a wrist injury. The Buckeyes responded well with play from underclassmen, including the insertion of a Cleveland star who re-classified to leave high school early (Meechie Johnson Jr.). The Buckeyes jumped into the top half of the AP Top 25. Then, when Walker was recovered from his injury, coach Chris Holtmann had him come off the bench. And so can you believe that a player who averaged 3.4 assists in 2019-2020 is still coming off the bench for a top 10 team? This speaks not only to CJ Walker’s willingness to win but Ohio State’s incredible depth.

2021 NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments: Schedules, COVID-19 Updates

The 2021 NCAA Conference Tournament schedule is coming together for some regions. In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, decision-makers in college athletics are wrestling with the logistics of in-person events. That includes college basketball conferences across the nation, which are deciding how to crown its champions. One year ago the college basketball season was paused and then canceled altogether, literally as conference championship games were occurring live on television. This article provides major updates from the power 5 conferences and more for 2021’s evolving game-plan.

DEVELOPING NEWS: NCAA to allow 25% capacity for NCAA Tournament. Read more.

The ACC 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Returns to Tar Heel State

The ACC Conference will go down in sports history as one of those conferences that had the unpleasant experience of literally pausing play on its basketball tournament as COVID-19 stopped the 2019-2020 NCAA season. It was also one of the major conferences to make early concessions for its 2021 tournament. The ACC announced in November that it would be coming home in a way, relocated its championship tournament to Greensboro. In recent years, the conference had played in perhaps sexier destinations such as New York City and Washington, DC. However, repositioning its conference tournament in the Carolinas obviously puts it closer to a majority of its teams (Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State, North Carolina, Duke located in the Carolinas).

Big 10 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

In an era where the size of events is so often in question, the Big 10 Conference is making a statement on its tournament website: “all 14 teams will advance to the tournament.”

Currently, the Big 10 Conference is predicted to have 10 teams in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. And so giving the other four teams an opportunity to compete for a bid brings back the true intrigue of March Madness.

According to its conference tournament website, the “Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament will be held in Chicago for the 11th time and was last held at the United Center at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.”

Big 10: “All 14 Teams Will Advance”

Click here to read full details from the source.

The Big 10 Men’s College Basketball Championship game will be held on Sunday, March 14th. The conference hinted at it being aired on CBS Sports.

Big 12 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

According to the Kansas City Star, the Big 12 will hold its tournament on March 10-13 at T-Mobile Center. As of February 1st, the conference had not decided on whether to hold the event without fans or at 25% capacity. The T-Mobile Center has a website ready to sell tickets, but the landing page currently has a “TBA” designation on the ticket sessions.

Still-frame Photo Courtesy ESPN Networks/YouTube

The Big 12 Conference had fans in attendance for its football championship on December 19 2020, although the state health and safety guidelines in Texas may differ from Missouri’s.

The newly named T-Mobile Center in Kansas City is set to host its first conference tournament.

Big East 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

As of February 1st, the Big East hadn’t updated any news on whether the Big East Tournament will take place (with or without fans) at its normal home of Madison Square Garden.

On MSG’s event calendar, a concert for late March is listed as canceled.
However, you Justin Bieber fans will be excited that his concert is on!

The last men’s basketball action published on The Big East’s “master schedule” is on Saturday, March 6, 2021 with a flurry of marquee match-ups. In the event there is no tournament, you would assume Providence would have to beat Villanova and Seton Hall would have to defeat St. John’s to even have a chance at an NCAA Tournament bid.

In early February, the Big East “master schedule” showed its last action happening in early March.

Pac-12 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

The Pac-12 may have been the most cautious major conference in terms of letting fans attend games this season. This winter they extended the prohibition of fans in attendance across the board. A footnote in the policy states that there is some discretion based on local and state regulations.

The Pac-12 has not yet made an announcement about whether players will compete in person this March for a conference champion. If recent tradition continued, the Pac-12 would be playing its conference tournament in Las Vegas between March 10-13. The Bay Area News Group/East Bay Times is reporting that conference Athletic Director Larry Scott showed no signs of cancelling that version of the event during a recent meeting.

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 recently announced in January that Larry Scott will serve out his contract and move on June 2021. Read the full statement here.

Click here to read the full report by the East Bay Times.

With projections showing that the PAC-12 has five teams in great position to make the NCAA Tournament with at-large bids, there is an argument to make for canceling the tournament. This is because the sixth best team in the conference currently, Arizona, is ineligible for postseason play because of violations. This almost makes the decision of punting on a conference tournament as “easy” (relative terms here) as it may ever be for a power 5 conference.

SEC 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

On January 20, 2021, the SEC Conference posted an article on its official site announcing the in-person conference tournament schedule for mid-March. It takes place in Nashville, Tennessee.

In late January, the Southeastern Conference announced its in-person conference tournament

Much to Kentucky Head Coach John Calapari’s shagrin, the SEC championship game itself will take place on Selection Sunday (March 14th)!

Read more “Championship Week” updates from non-power 5 conferences below…

The American East 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament tweaks its format

The American East announced it will host its conference tournament over two weeks and in regional pods. The American East Men’s College Basketball Championship game will take place as it traditionally does, on the Saturday morning before Selection Sunday.

The American Athletic Conference 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

According to the most trusted source of news on the Internet, Wikipedia, the tournament will be played at the Dickie’s Arena in Texas. Read more.

The Atlantic 10 Tournament 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

The Atlantic 10 took a unique approach to managing its conference tournament during COVID-19. Two rival schools will co-host the event. In early January, the conference announced it is pulling out of the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn amidst pandemic concerns. Two weeks later it announced that the event will be co-hosted by two schools in the city of Richmond.

Click here to read the official announcement from the A-10 Men’s Basketball Conference.

CBS college basketball insider Jon Rothstein reports that the Atlantic 10 will play to a limited crowd.

Conference USA Champions “Pod Integrity” in its plans to crown a Champion

The Conference USA plans to host its conference tournament at “The Star in Frisco,” which is a massive training facility for the Dallas Cowboys. According to the venue’s website, tickets will be on sale. A COVID-19 protocol fact sheet is included on its website. The protocol calls for pods of tickets where groups of people who know each other are admitted. It stresses “pod integrity,” meaning that tickets aren’t relayed to unknown parties.

The Star in Frisco posts a throrough COVID-19 protocol list to protect fans and participants

Conference USA plans on having 12 teams participate for the men’s basketball tournament March 10-13, meaning that the last place team from the two divisions would not qualify for the playoff.

Mountain West Conference Championship set to peak with matinee matchup

The Mountain West Men’s Basketball Tournament will continue its recent tradition of battling in Las Vegas and playing its championship game on a late Saturday afternoon. This game is normally shown on Network TV, with Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan calling the game in recent years on CBS. All 11 seeds are slated to play each other in person over four days (March 10th-March 13th). This sets the table for Utah State to have a chance to 3-peat as the Mountain West Conference Championship on Saturday.

Western Athletic Conference Championship Also Returns to Vegas

The WAC returns to the Orleans Arena, but didn’t have much info about tickets in late February.

Which team is college basketball’s most streaky?

BY MATT DE SARLE

Poll Results: Which is the streakiest college basketball team in the AP Top 25?

College basketball fans were polled about which team is the most streaky

The Minnesota Gophers were recently voted as the most streaky team in college basketball. Similar to the gopher animal itself, the team’s movements include popping up high and burrowing down low. They beat Iowa on Christmas day with a dramatic offensive sequence by Marcus Carr. They crushed Michigan State a few days later. Those are the high pops. They looked like national championship good in the first half against Purdue. However, in the second half they let a freshmen laden team come back from a big deficit for the win. The Minnesota Gophers don’t have any bad losses, but it’s confusing how they oftentimes either crush teams, or get crushed. They beat Ohio State by 17 but lost to Michigan by 25 and Illinois by 27.

After watching a weekend of dramatic action across the college basketball landscape, some team identities are starting to crystalize. Which of these teams do you think can get hot (or cold) at the game reaches crunch time?

Case Study: How to Hedge College Basketball Futures

How and When to Hedge College Basketball Futures Odds

It’s the great debate. That is, at least in sports books around late March. “Hey, I have XYZ team at 80-1 to win a title. Now that they’re in the Sweet 16, should I start hedging?” said every amateur bettor in this position, ever (even if to himself).

So, what’s the best answer?

Like everything else in 2020-2021, there is no simple answer. However, below is a great case study to help structure our debate…

Futures odds listed in January of 2021 at a William Hill Sports Book.

Best Time to Pick College Basketball Futures Values

Let’s simulate a bettor making futures picks at the start of the season with $100 bucks. Or, in this case, $108 to be exact. In November when these picks are made, there are naturally some good values. For example, the Houston Cougars out of the American Athletic Conference were 50-1. Although they play in a non-power 5 school, Houston would ascend into the AP Top 10 throughout that season. The team’s value increased to 12-1 by February.

So when do you hedge?
Should you sell a ticket that doubled in value on a secondary market, such as PropSwap?
If you had two future tickets like it, and sold one on ProSwap, that would be considered hedging your bet.

When to Hedge College Basketball Futures

Let’s fast forward. Now that games have been played and you can use your eye test to analyze teams, who do you like? In our case study, the longest shot odd of North Texas (above) is having a difficult year. Meanwhile, in its conference, UAB and Western Kentucky are piecing together a quality resume. In fact, it’s within the realm of possibilities that one of those teams get an at-large bid. And so, instead of throwing out the North Texas bet that could win $10,000, we hedge it by also investing in the other in-conference rivals. This way, it becomes a statistically likelihood the bettor will have a Conference USA team in March Madness.

See Western Kentucky and UAB below.

A second round of futures value bets are made with $100 after watching the first half of the season.

You can see that for just $3 dollars and $4 dollars respectively, the odds are probably around 95% at this point that the better will have the Conference USA team among its roster of teams in the actual March Madness bracket. Did we mention this was betting on a budget?

And so at this point the bettor would have 13 teams in play. We are conceding that 2-4 of those teams won’t make the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (let’s say two Conference USA teams in addition to one other). So let’s say that 10 teams will be in the tournament and for $200 the bettor can himself to win at least $1,000 in those ten scenarios. And so the next question may be: When would he start hedging if he acknowledges Gonzaga and Baylor look far-and-away like the nation’s best teams (at +350 and 6-1 for their respective futures).

How to Hedge Your Bets on Selection Sunday

Back to reality, on this particular season North Texas did win its conference tournament. And so the bettor brings into the tournament a $10,000 lottery ticket. Should he hedge by immediately taking the opponent of North Texas? Continue reading to review some specific strategies to consider, each with their own nickname, for betting futures on a budget during March Madness.

Don’t Let a Crowded Region Cloud Your Final Four

Let’s say that four of the futures bets made in November land in one region during March. At face value, this could look like a horrible outcome for the budget bettor. However, it you change your mindset as the investor, it could work for you. Let’s say that Texas, Houston, Colorado and West Virginia all entered the same region. Instead of seeing the National Title game, or ever the Final 4 itself, as the climax of the tournament, that person would just have to move up its timeline for the tournament climax. The climax may actually be when all of those teams have an opportunity to cover the spread on the first two days. Or, the climax might be a money line parlay on all of those teams winning outright in the field of 32. Either way, a crowded region should immediately have the bettor move up the finish line in his mind. A textbook parlay in this scenario would be to take the 4 teams to cover a first round spread to win at 10-1. It might also be worth lookin at what factor a money line parlay pays. It can be typed in before canceling the bet on a kiosk. On the flip side, a reverse haymaker wheel could make sense as an insurance policy. For example, two team pairs of underdogs could be bet on in a rotation to hedge two real losses happening for Texas, Houston, Colorado and West Virginia.

Bracketology example from January 22, 2021 courtesy Joe Lunardi/ESPN

In terms of hedging futures, there will likely be a situation where 2 or 3 of the preseason futures teams are in one eighth of a bracket.  In this case it wouldn’t make sense to hedge so that more than three teams are covered.  For example in this eighth of a bracket above, an ideal sweet 16 matchup would be the two futures (Colorado and Houston) against each other in the sweet 16. Chasing both UNC and Texas State on futures here might muddy the water too much with losses.  Perhaps a very small amount on UNC to win a title (because their final 4 odds will likely be in the 6-1 ballpark) and short the high value Texas State single bet as a lone insurance policy.  

Investing in Short, Mid-size, or Long-range College Basketball Futures

With the overview example, this person might have 6 teams in the tournament. Especially if those are high value tickets, the plays has to be hedged in some way: Let’s call it long, single, or mid-sized. In the hypothetical scenario that his North Texas ticket draws Florida State in a 14 seed matched up against a 3, he might go one of three ways. In the long example, he would simply take Florida State as a title contender at 20-1. And so this could become a line in the bracket that he just commits to and invests in, depending on the winner. Betting $100 on Florida State at 20-1 would guarantee that he would have a 1 in 32 shot of winning at least $2,000 for $105 invested ($2,000 if FSU wins title, $10,000 for North Texas). The mid-sized play in this hypothetical would be taking Florida State to win the region. That bet would be roughly one quarter of the title future. So Florida State might be 5-1 to win this region, although they’re more likely to be 4-1. And so betting $25 at 4-1 would pay $100 and, again, guarantee that some investment survives and advances into the field of 32. A short term play would be to just focus on the single game between North Texas and Florida State. It would be easy to just root for North Texas to cover a 13.5 point spread. Another tempting short term play (although one that’s rarely advisable) would be to bet heavy on the chalk. Florida State might be -750ML in this hypothetical, so the bettor would have to put up $150 to win $20 bucks (and profit $15 from his original $5 bet on North Texas).

Standing by to Wait-and-See which Seed Starts Growing in March Madness

There’s no shame is standing by to watch the first two days of the tournament to see who has truly brought their A+ game. We will learn a lot about these teams as we see them live in action. Many of the nagging injuries would be proven a hindrance or a non-factor. If you have high value future bets that have made it to March Madness, that could be an excuse to save money by not betting a single game itself. For example, this bettor might have 6 seed Colorado squaring off against 11 seed Louisville. If Louisville wins the game outright, perhaps it’s time for the bettor to take the Cardinals to win the region or the title. Besides, he bet Colorado because he thinks they’re a good team, so by default he would have to like Louisville if they won this first round matchup.

Suspect Spreads Saturday 2021 Compilation College Hoops Picks

BY MATT DE SARLE

Suspect Spreads Saturday exposes College Basketball Odds

This blog is currently 40-40-1 against the spread (ATS) for the 2020-2021 college basketball season. Those 40 wins include six underdogs at 6+ or greater who won the game outright.

February: 20th, 13th, 6th
January: 30th, 23rd, 16th, 9th, 1st
December 26th, 19th, 12th, 5th

I use the Las Vegas odds as a measuring stick to test my own eye test. The College Basketball Eye Test blog went 65-53 against the spread in the 2018-2019 NCAA Basketball Season.  Click here to see that season’s thread on Twitter. The 2019-2020 season was incomplete, but CBBEyeTest on Twitter was 2 games above .500 as the season got paused.

College basketball odds and picks for February, 20201

College Basketball Picks from January 2021

Below is an archive of tweets with predictions for the 2020-2021 season:

College Basketball Eye Test Midseason Report 2021

BY MATT DE SARLE

In a “normal year,” this would be the time of the season where college basketball teams are just now getting into conference play. However, there have already been some critical in-conference games that have been played by January 5, 2021. San Francisco already had its crack at blemishing Gonzaga’s perfect record, Texas embarrassed KU in Lawrence, and Northwestern has made itself a tournament team with strong play at the start of the Big 10 schedule.

Here are some of my observations from the last month or so of play.

Gonzaga poised to runaway with NCAA Championship

Right now Gonzaga looks like the Dream Team. And I am not exaggerating. Look at the recent games they played against Iowa and Virginia. A 20+ point loss looks respectable from Virginia. (They are like the Croatia in this metaphor). And Iowa was beat wire-to-wire by Gonzaga. Their 11 point loss on paper is different from what we saw on TV. Gonzaga has something they have not had, perhaps ever. Jalen Suggs has the type of swagger of a top 5 NBA pick. He is great. And he knows it. You’d have to think back to Adam Morrison to envision the type of game-changer that Suggs can be. And, Suggs is just a freshman surrounded by all time great Gonzaga players such as Drew Timme, Corey Kispert, and Joel Ayayi. The fact that Gonzaga landed stud transfer Andrew Nembhard is just evidence that the rich get richer. Sure, Baylor could give Gonzaga a great game if/when they play in a NCAA Championship game. I don’t believe that regular season game will be rescheduled, because there is far too much hype to build on for that to be the title game all broadcasts “tease ahead” to. Alas, Gonzaga is laughable at this moment as a 3 1/2 -to- 1 favorite to win the title. Would you take a bet on the USA Dream Team at 3 to 1? Because that’s what we are starting to watch from Gonzaga. Their WAC conference schedule wins may be taken for granted in January and February, but don’t forget what they looked like against Kansas, Iowa, and Virginia when it comes to March.

Midseason departures shake up College Basketball’s Top 10

In my preseason prediction video, I picked West Virginia and Houston among a shortlist of great value bets. Each team has slowly progressed into the top 10. However, each team has also lost a star player here midseason. Houston’s Caleb Mills has stepped away this past week from the team, citing personal reasons. His status for returning is uncertain. Mills was the pre-season pick as player of the year among American Athletic Conference beat writers. However, most recently in the team’s loss against Tulsa, Mills was coming off the bench. The Cougars rebounded well in a win on the road against a feisty SMU squad. However, it will be tough to replace Mills’s ability to create a basket late in games. Houston has no shortage of wing scorers, but Mills is not the type of offensive firepower you want to lose when you have championship aspirations. The hope, of course, is that his personal situation is not too serious and that the team culture can rally in his absence.

West Virginia lost Oscar Tshiebwe and he’s not coming back. The Karl Malone watch list candidate (i.e. best power forward candidate) left the team after a shockingly lower-than-expected productivity in the first half of the season. West Virginia quickly transitioned to a smaller team that put up more three point attempts. As this transition took place in real time, West Virginia lost its first game without Tshiebwe to Oklahoma. On TV there were moments where this game looked like a 3-point-shooting contest. The Mountaineers lost. Afterwards, they played another tough road contest against a soon-to-be-bubble-team: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were leading heavily heading into the 2nd half and throughout the 3rd quarter. Then something clicked. The shots started going in. In March, it will be interesting to see if the perimeter shooters like Sean McNeil, Miles McBride, and Taz Sherman meet the moment. Emmitt Matthews Jr. also had a great game on defense and in transition during this pivotal Oklahoma State win. It will be interesting to see if he becomes an X-Factor for their success.

The Big 10 is the best basketball conference ever

I am not a “hot takes” writer. I don’t like making bold predictions in order to get clicks. But if you watch college basketball, you realize that this Big 10 is the best college basketball conference ever. In a season where conference league play will look more like an intra-team scrimmage (as COVID-19 took away offseason, preseason, and all traditional dress rehearsals), Big 10 teams will hit March Madness as dangerous as ever. Just look at the landscape. Michigan is undefeated and blossoming with young talent and transfers to fill what little gaps remained from 2019-2020. Northwestern is winning big games. Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin came into the season as championship hopefuls and remain that. Rutgers has carried on its success from 2019-2020. The Scarlet Knights have basically the same roster as the one that shocked national onlookers last season. Indiana is playing for a bid. And Michigan State is fighting for its life to stay in the top 25 while (Survivor style) battling its allies in each challenge. The big men remain a mainstay of this conference. Marcus Carr looks like a closer who can win clutch games for a Final 4 team (at Minnesota). I didn’t even mention Purdue, which has two giants who play consecutive sessions at center. The ACC has had some great years with double digit teams making the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. But have we ever seriously had this many legitimate Final 4 contenders from one conference? And the irony is that none of these teams will snag a 1 seed, which is a crime. The conference is canabalizing itself. Joe Lunardi’s bracketology on January 5th shows all four 2 seeds as Big 10 teams!

Joe Lunardi’s bracketology predictions on January 5, 2020 show four Big 10 teams as 2 seeds.
College basketball blogger Matty D. dips into his notebook for a midseason report.

Sons of NBA Players in College Basketball 2020-2021

The blood lines of former NBA players has strong ties to the current college basketball landscape. From NBA players who filled out the final spot of a 12 man roster, to the stars of the 1990s, college basketball has plenty of second generation representation.

Let’s start with the college hoops players who are having an impact of this NCAA season and undoubtedly making their NBA dads proud.

Ron Harper senior played for one of the best NBA teams ever, the 1996-1997 72 win champion Chicago Bulls. This midseason, Ron Harper Jr. emerged as his own special talent. His Rutger Scarlet Knights were a likely tournament team in the lost 2019-2020 season. This year, they are a mainstay in the top 25. And Harper Jr.’s play is a major reason why. He was even named ESPN’s Player of the Week in late December.

The Big 10 has another second generation player who is part of what could be a special season. Illinois basketball fans will remember Frank Williams Senior. The point guard went on to play for the New York Knicks, among other teams. Today, his son Da’Monte Williams is quietly steadying a Illini ship that could easily sail into a Sweet 16. The younger Williams doesn’t get a lot of national hype as his backcourt mate Ayo Dosunmo gets national publicity and NBA Draft hype. Yet, Williams is a solid starter who always plays major minutes, is a tough defender, and contributes in a variety of ways. The Duke win in the early season shows the traditional story. Williams contributed a stat line of 10 points, 3 rebounds, an assist and 2 steals with no turnovers. Final Four teams have players like Da’Monte Williams.

Below are some other sons of NBA players you might spot in the college game.

Shaq and Penny have kids in college hoops

There is no Blue Chips type of drama with where Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway sons are going to school. The young pups are following in pop’s path. Shaquille’s son Shareef O’Neal is rocking a jersey in the thirties with his father’s alma mater. Penny’s son quite literally followed his father to Memphis, as it’s now a father-son, coach-player arrangement. Jayden Hardaway even wears the number one.

Thinking of the mid-1990s Orlando Magic might remind you of the Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Bulls. Check out a box score from their infamous 1995 series. About half of the players have had sons who played Division 1 basketball. There’s of course Michael Jordan, whose son Marcus played at UCF. Horace Grant and Steve Kerr also have kids who have already passed through the NCAA.

Then, there’s another star’s son currently playing: Scotty Pippen Jr.

Side Note: Kent State’s Danny Pippen II is reportedly not related to Scottie Pippen.

Dennis Rodman has a kid in college basketball

DJ Rodman is playing for the Washington State Cougars. His stat-line rarely accumulates as many rebounds as his father, but he definitely scores more points with further range than pops.

Larry Nance has one son playing at Northwestern, and another son playing for his former NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Otis Thorpe’s Son Wears the Same Number for the Cal Bears

Otis Thorpe played 17 season in the NBA including an NBA Championship with the Houston Rockets, and he has a son that many years old playing college hoops now.

D.J. Thorpe wears his father’s number 33 for a young but talented Cal Bears team.

Eric Williams Jr. is another junior of NBA player in college hoops

Eric Williams was a Boston Celtic, among other teams.

Photo courtesy Goducks.com

Sons of NBA Players Set for NCAA March Madness

This compilation has become a throwback to the mid-nineties basketball. And whether you’re a college basketball fan or an NBA fan, you’ll remember NCAA Champion (with Kentucky) Jamal Mashburn. His son, Jamal Mashburn Jr., is getting some playing time as a freshman at likely tourney team Minnesota.

Trayce Jackson-Davis is the son of former Indiana Pacers forward Dale Davis.

As you are reading, there are multiple tournament-worthy teams with “second generation” talent stemming from NBA roots. Another example is Colorado. The Buffs have a bouncy forward who comes off the bench with energy and skill. He is the son of former Maverick and Laker, Samaki Walker. Ten games into the season, Jabari Walker was averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds with just 12 minutes of playing time on average. When you watch, many of those stats are scored with hustle plays. As a freshmen, not many offensive sets are drawn up for him. But the Buffs have a more Sweet 16 appearance to them when you see this type of talent coming off the bench.

Before he was Meta World Peace, he was apparently Ron Artest, the second. That’s because Ron Artest has a son playing college basketball right now, named Ron Artest III.

Former NBA bench players with kids in college basketball

If you collected basketball cards in the early nineties, you likely had a lot of duplicate Adam Keefe cards piling up in your collection. Now his son James is piling up the wins with Stanford basketball. Stanford started its season with quality out of conference play, including a win against Alabama, a tight one against UNC, and a loss to Indiana.

Meanwhile, also in the 1990s, UCLA basketball stamping its legendary brand on a new era of basketball. The O’Bannon twins, Ed and Charles, were leaders on a star-studded roster that won the 1995 NCAA Basketball Championship. Toby Bailey was a stud freshman who went on to lead UCLA for years. Tyus Edney perhaps went on to log the most NBA minutes from that team. But Charles and Ed O’Bannon were the big dogs on that roster. Ed was drafted 9th overall in the NBA draft. Charles was selected in the second round. Today, Charles Jr., known as Chuck, plays for TCU.

Photo courtesy GoFrogs.com

Scottie Pippen isn’t the only former NBA Champion with a son currently in college hoops.

Follow College Basketball Eye Test on Twitter. We will retweet your game observations.

WVU and Houston top value picks in college basketball preseason

WEST VIRGINIA 28-1 
As the season begins, there are a handful of teams hovering around the 10/1 mark to win a national championship, according to https://www.vegasinsider.com/nfl/odds/futures/.  Those chalky teams were Gonzaga, Villanova, Iowa, Baylor and Virginia.  One team is notably missing from the sub 20/1 category.  And that’s the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia.  When assessing a college basketball team, I like to look first at the point guard.  Like a quarterback in football and a starting pitcher in baseball, the point guard should normally dictate the betting line.  With West Virginia, although I don’t have a huge sample size to get familiar with one point guard per se, the depth of this roster is overwhelming on paper.  And the factor that is overwhelming to the eyes is the mountainous combination in the post.  The team’s blog went as far as referring to Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe as twin towers.  Although I wouldn’t go as far as harkoning images of Tim Duncan and David Robinson, I would say that Oscar Tshiebwe compares favorably to a young Karl Malone (and is understandably on that watch list).  The size, strength and quickness is there.  Also I’ve heard multiple interviews this preseason with coach Huggins and players where a national championship is obviously spoken about as a realistic goal.  And Huggy Bear isn’t exactly the type of personality to hype up bold predictions.  He went as far as to describe to Jon Rothstein on his college basketball podcast…how amazing it would be to travel from small town to small town across West Virginia to let fans touch the championship trophy.  Talk about “Country roads, take me home to the place I belong!” 

HOUSTON: 50-1
It’s ironic that Houston’s college basketball team mimics the design of its pro basketball team.  In fact, I take that back, the Cougars might have more size down low.  But the Cougars definitely have an abundance of scoring and athleticism at the guard spot and wings.  Once upon a time, Junior guard Quentin Grimes was college basketball’s top 10 recruit coming out of high school.  His skills speak for themselves on tape.  Add the speed, scoring and athleticism of numbers 0 through number 3, literally, as Macus Sasser, Jamal Shead, Caleb Mills, and Dejon Jarreau are all a nightmare to guard.  This team won’t be 50-1 for long.  In fact, I’ve seen them drop already in some books to 25 to 1.

Why Seton Hall Basketball is Still Dangerous

At the time that this blog article is being published, the pirates are pausing basketball play due to COVID-19 concerns. First and foremost, we hope that the student athletes are safe, healthy, as well as coaches and staff.

Sandro Mamukelashvili headlines a returning class for Seton Hall that is way too far overlooked.  If you look back to last season, you’ll remember the game that turned the pirates season around was against then 7th ranked Maryland without Myles Powell and without Sandro, compassionately referred to as “Mamu.” 

Jared Rhoden and Myles Cale stepped up, among a core nucleus of other talented players.  Shavar Reynolds is one of the most fun on-ball defending point guards to watch in college basketball.  They add veteran point guard transfer Bryce Aiken from Harvard and retain 7+ footer Ike Obiagu.  Sophomore Tyrese Samuel from Montreal also showed flashes last year as a somewhat raw but super athletic freshman.  Watch for this nucleus to return with something to prove and a major chip on their shoulder given the low expectations. 

Did you really need an excuse to listen to Gus Johnson call game highlights?

I mean, look at the first preseason top 25 list from the associated press.  You have to scroll down to the very bottom to see that they only got 2 votes!  I guess two beat reporters have some idea of what’s going on and are actually watching the games.  

The Seton Hall Pirates enter the 2020-2021 season as 100-1 underdogs to win a national championship.

Tweet https://twitter.com/CBBEyeTest to make your predictions known before the action.