Upset Alert Teams to Win a College Basketball Conference Tournament during “Champ Week”

BY MATTY D.

Cinderella can reside in the Power 5. In 2021, Georgetown surged in unlikely fashion after a horrible regular season. The Hoyas went dancing in March Madness as the Big East Tournament winner. The team had only gone 7-9 in the conference regular season and had an overall record of .500 (13-13).

Similarly, Oregon State went from an expected pre-season bottom feeder in the Pac-12, to The Elite 8.

Here are seven teams that could burst a bubble team’s dreams. It shouldn’t shock anyone who is watching college basketball to see these teams in a conference tournament championship game.

Maryland Terps 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Big Ten Conference

In an era of global turmoil, it’s safe to say that Maryland still had a rocky season. They brought in two highly touted transfers in Fatts Russell and Qudus Wahab. However, the Terps season got off to a slow turtle crawl. They lost to in-state non-rival George Mason. And Head Coach Mark Turgeon and the administration, reportedly, agreed to part ways mid-season.

Danny Manning took over as head coach. As you watch the team play, they are slowly rounding into form. A game against Nebraska in mid-February showed off their ceiling. Yes, it’s a lousy Nebraska team, but you saw freshman forward Julian Reese show off his stuff.

The roster is still beefed up with veteran players who have been in plenty of March Madness battles. Eric Ayala and Donta Scott come to mind. It was Danny Manning and the Miracles which made one of college basketball’s most magical runs ever. If some Big Ten teams get complacent during their conference tournament, it could be the Terps that go on a miraculous run.

Photo courtesy umterps.com

Florida Atlantic Owls 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Conference USA

By NCAA Tournament standards, Conference USA is a major conference. Just in the last decade, look at what Middle Tennessee and North Texas have done to wreak havoc on the bracket. UAB, North Texas and even Louisiana Tech have been on the radar for modest at-large chances this season. However, the Florida Atlantic Owls are staying up late into February with relevant play in its league. In a seven game stretch over January to February, they won 6 of 7 games in conference. That includes the Owls’ dominating win against Louisiana Tech where the Owls shot 52% from the field, 45% from 3 point territory, and led by as many as 20 points.

Like many deep sleepers, this team features some sizable international talent. Its front-court features size and versatility with players from Kosovo, Russia, Senegal and Kongo all contributing.

Arizona State Sun Devils 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Pac 12 Conference

This one is simple. You cannot watch the Arizona State Sun Devils inspired play against Final 4 favorite UCLA and not be inspired to think they can go on a magical run. After an era of Arizona State pumping guards into the NBA, its powerful forwards forced the action against UCLA late. They beat the Bruins and the Oregon Ducks in February. They also scored a win against Colorado and were very competitive against an AP Top 5 team in Arizona.

Forwards like Jalen Graham are dropping double digits with regularity late in the season.

Bobby Hurley is one of the sports all-time great point guards. Perhaps he can be the floor general as head coach of the Sun Devils and lead them to a conference crown.

Utah State 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Mountain West Conference

Google the phrase college basketball elder statesman, and Brock Miller’s mug shot might pop up. This team is as aged as the sandy ledge of a mountain boarding the small town of Sandy, Utah. And they can shoot. Sure, big man Neemias Queta moved on to bigger and better things. But there’s still plenty of residue remaining to roll up a run. You could look at their record and say they’re toast. Or, you could look at their record and give props to just how good the Mountain West has been this year. Wyoming, Colorado State, and San Diego State are likely tournament teams regardless of what happens in the Mountain West Tournament. The Aggies are only middle of the pack in terms of college basketball’s best three point shooting team. On February 24th they ranked 159th in the nation with a pedestrian 34% from 3PT. However, that’s not indicative of the shooting stroke you could see from senior leaders Miller and Justin Bean. So why not let loose in Vegas and roll the dice with a bunch of bombs from downtown during Champ Week?

This list included Mizzou and Northwester weeks ago, but their play has since soured.

George Mason 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Atlantic 10

The Atlantic 10 is filled with teams that are capable of “stealing a bid.” In fact, it will likely happen. Davidson has enjoyed a lead atop the league for most of the season. However, they face stiff competition with St. Louis, VCU, Dayton, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, and George Mason, to name a few. George Mason is coached by former Mizzou baller Kim English Jr. They are a bit of a mystery, with a lots of bad losses on their record. However, they have one of the conference’s purest shooters in Colorado transfer D’Shawn Schwartz. 6-9 forward Josh Oduro is having a solid season. He averages 18 points and 7 rebounds on the season. Their wins over St. Bonaventure, Dayton and Richmond should be noted as proof this team could compete for the conference championship.

George Mason is an up-and-coming program in college basketball.
Photo courtesy: gomason.com

White Privilege on Full Display During Aggression towards Juwan Howard …Again

AN EDITORIAL BY MATT DE SARLE

A white head coach called a timeout in the final seconds to prolong a lop-sided victory, then grabbed an African American head coach by the arm to assert his opinion in the handshake line, but many people in the college basketball universe are calling for Juwan Howard to be suspended.

Why promote Black Lives Matter campaigns during in-game commercials and with warm up apparel on the sidelines, when we can’t seriously take a look at these aggressions (and micro-aggressions) as a society?

Greg Gard grabs Juwan Howard in handshake line courtesy CBS Sports HQ

Juwan Howard took a swing at a Wisconsin coach after this ugly scene played out. No one would argue that’s a justified act. However, in what universe is it okay for Wisconsin coach Greg Gard to put his hands on Juwan Howard in the first place? Any thoughts about why that’s acceptable can only be explained by white privilege.

(A similar scene occurred last season when Maryland’s coach approached Howard’s sideline).

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. What if Juwan Howard called a timeout in the closing moments to avoid his backup players from temporary embarrassment. As Greg Gard explained in the post-game interview, that’s exactly why he called this unnecessary timeout. He didn’t want his offense committing a 10 second violation while being covered full court by a Michigan man defense. Taking that violation wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the game. It would have instead saved college basketball from this ugly scrum.

What if Howard had done this? Do you think Greg Gard would have stood by like a little school boy, having his arm held for a quick lecture in the handshake line? The timeout needed no explanation. Only someone who feels privileged would be compelled to compound the insult with a lecturing justification.

Even the press release by the Big Ten Conference doesn’t reference the physical contact initiated by Greg Gard. Instead, it says “The Big Ten Conference is aware of a physical altercation involving Michigan Head Coach Juwan Howard…”

Some people are calling for a season-long suspension for Juwan Howard. He did not apologize in his post-game press conference. Few are calling for the aggressor, Greg Gard, to lose his job of even face a multiple game suspension. I think an equal penalty for both coaches would reflect a society that values equality.

Arizona UCLA College Basketball Game Recap: Top 10 Matchup Delivers

In college basketball’s regular season, top 10 match-ups rarely live up to their billing, but Arizona and UCLA looked like an Elite 8 game.

BY MATTY D.

UCLA hosted the game as the AP 7th ranked team in the nation. After only losing once this season, Arizona entered the game as the 3rd ranked team by the AP. With USC and Oregon finding its tournament resume footing, both teams are part of a PAC-12 Conference that has several dangerous threats for a Final 4.

Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd entered the game as the clear-cut front runner for coach of the year. The longtime Gonzaga Bulldogs assistant coach is leading his Wildcats to a 16-1 record as a first time head man.

Arizona vs. UCLA First Half Recap NCAA Basketball

The starting lineups for each team featured subtle different wrinkles as compared to their norm. Lithuanian big man for Arizona, Azuolas Tubelis, started the game on the bench because he was nursing a sprained ankle. He came in shortly after the game started and contributed immediately.

Jaylen Clark missed the game for UCLA after suffering an injury at practice, according to the ESPN telecast.

UCLA went with a “smaller” starting lineup, considering that Rutgers transfer and center Myles Johnson wasn’t in the starting lineup. UCLA went with Riley, Juzang, Jaquez Jr., Campbell and Bernard.

The start of the game showcased exactly why these are two Final 4 caliber teams. The shooting was electric. Both teams raced up and down the floor. UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell and shooting guard Johnny Juzang would probe the paint and then secure points. Arizona’s blossoming pro prospect Bennedict Mathurin would answer with a perfect posture three point shot. Each team started the game shooting at an unsustainably high percentage.

ESPN color commentator Bill Walton was on the call. He aptly described the game, multiple times, as a showcase of athletes in top physical fitness. This game started as a track meet.

After the electric start, Arizona suffered the first scoring drought of the game. They found themselves in a 36-25 hole after going 3 for 21 from the field during one stretch.

Arizona stopped the bleeding in terms of scoring droughts with its size down low. Oumar Ballo and Christian Koloko scored on a put-back and alley-oop styled layup respectively. Pelle Larsson then raced down the floor for a full court layup drill to cut the halftime lead to 40-29 UCLA.

Arizona vs. UCLA Second Half Recap NCAA Basketball

The second half started with Arizona eagerly double-teaming Johnny Juzang and feeding Christian Koloko in the post. Koloko missed hook shots on consecutive possessions as both teams started cold from the field.

Jaimie Jaquez scored his first points of the game to tie UCLA’s biggest lead of 15 at 44-29.

Bennedict Mathurin rushed the ball back down the floor for a do-it-yourself and-1 to cut the lead to 12. Johnny Juzang took the same approach with a one-man-fast-break against the half court defense after a free throw make.

Both UCLA and Arizona alternated between clubs that wanted to play half court offense and transition showtime. The on-ball pressure was also ratcheted up by both teams.

The game started to slow down around the 14 minute mark with each team getting to the free throw line more. Bennedict Mathurin was barking encouragement at his teammates. He fed Tubelis on a lob for a close range layup attempt where he was fouled. On the next possession, Mathurin hit a step back three pointer to cut the deficit to 10.

UCLA continued with the same four guards and forwards in the rotation, alternating Myles Johnson into the game around that 14 minute mark.

Jaime Jaquez continued getting hot as he drove the lane and scored after pump faking two defenders out of the picture. UCLA led 58-46 athe the 11 minute mark when Juzang drove the lane and fed Johnson for an and-1 bucket down low.

Scoring came to a screeching halt around the 10 to 8 minute marks. Finally, it looked like fatigued settled in slightly.

Senior UCLA guard David Singleton got some rare minutes around the 7 minute mark when he hit a three pointer. Jules Bernard doubled-down with another 3 for UCLA on the next possession. It looked like the dagger. Jaime Jaquez blocked his second shot (team’s 7th block) on the next defensive possession.

Arizona suffered its second long scoring drought around the mid-way point of the second half. The Wildcats missed 12 of 13 shots in one stretch. Guard Kerr Kriisa was 0 for 9 from the 3 point line as Arizona looked like it was taking some desperation shots. Azuolas Tubelis played limited minutes late as Justin Kier provided some scoring.

UCLA grew and sustained the lead for a final score of 75-59.

After watching the Arizona Wildcats versus the UCLA Bruins, you should be buying stock in both teams.

Sons of NBA Dads in College Basketball in 2022

The list of second generation basketball players seemingly grows each year, with sons of former NBA players competing in college hoops nationwide. Below is a full list of sons of NBA dads we’ve spotted in college basketball. If we have missed any, please tweet us at CBBEyeTest.

CLICK HERE FOR LAST YEAR’S LIST OF SONS OF NBA PLAYERS IN NCAA 2020-2021

The leading man for the second generation players list of 2022 has to be Jabari Smith. He is a likely top lottery pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

As a freshman, Jabari Smith Jr. is leading the Auburn Tigers as a possible future 1 seed for March Madness.

Jabari Smith senior’s rookie card from 2001 becomes an interesting collector’s item on eBay.

His father, Jabari Smith senior, had a lesser-known NBA career versus some of the names below. He played 108 games in his NBA career.

For fans of 1990s NBA basketball, this list continues to provide entertainment. It brings back memories of some of the great battles for NBA supremacy during the decade, especially in the Eastern Conference. In fact, the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls actually featured at least 8 (future) fathers of kids who would go on to play Division 1 basketball.

One of those blasts-from-the-past is Brian Shaw. His son B.J. Shaw wears the same number 20 and competes with UC Davis.

Former Orlando Magic and LA Laker’s guard Brian Shaw’s son B.J. currently plays at UC Davis.
Photo courtesy: ucdavisaggies.com

Another important rotation player from that series was Ron Harper. As you may know, his son Ron Harper Jr. is one of the best “juniors” across the college basketball landscape.

Ron Harper Jr. had one of the season’s most memorable moments when his buzzer beater helped defeated the then-number 1 ranked Purdue Boilermakers.

You cannot have a conversation about the 1990s Bulls without talking about Scottie Pippen. Yes, his son is playing college basketball too! Scotty Pippen Jr. is being coached by another all-time NBA great, Jerry Stackhouse, and averaging over 19 points for Vanderbilt in his junior season.

Note that the Generation Z player spells his name with a “Y” while pops spells Scottie with an “i.e.”

What sort of tangent would this article be about the 1990s Bulls without a reference to Dennis Rodman?

Yes, his son plays Division 1 Basketball too!

DJ Rodman is a junior with Washington State.

Steve Kerr’s son Nick played college basketball with Cal a few years ago, which means that 1996 Bulls team could have fielded a full team of future fathers of college players.

Meantime, those 1996 Orlando Magic had a few scholarship players in their gene pool, too.

The most famous Magic ever, Shaquille O’Neal, has a son playing college hoops right now at LSU.

After transferring from UCLA to his father’s alma mater at LSU, Shareef O’Neal is a blue chipper.

This story wouldn’t be complete without a Shaq-and-Penny connection. Penny Hardaway is actually coaching his son with the Memphis Tigers in 2021-2022 as well. Jayden Hardaway has earned his minutes over the years and is now a regular rotation player with the Tigers.

The 1990s Eastern Conference is well represented in this list.

Dikembe Mutombo’s son Ryan continues a big man family legacy at Georgetown.

At midseason, Simaki Walker’s son Jabari Walker already had eight double-doubles for Colorado.

Former Indiana Pacers guard Harold Workman’s son Bryce plays D1 ball.

Jameer Nelson Jr. is a junior guard and plays guard for Delaware.

Photo courtesy bluehens.com/sports/mens-basketball/roster

The East Coast doesn’t just dominate this status of talent inheritance. On the West Coast, players like James Keefe of Stanford and Eric Williams Jr. of Oregon are sons of NBA players.

Eric Williams Jr. plays for the Oregon Ducks.

Jamal Mashburn’s son is following in his footsteps, in more ways than one. Jamal Mashburn Jr. has also followed a Pitino coach. In fact, Mashburn Jr. played for Rick Pitino’s son Richard at both Minnesota and now with New Mexico.

New Mexico basketball has two sons of NBA players in the rotation. Eddie House’s son Jaelen House is another scoring guard on the team.

Otis Thorpe’s son DJ Thorpe plays for the Cal Bears.

Photo courtesy calbears.com

Here’s another random, 1990s sir name, nostalgic, NBA nugget: Marčiulionis.

Do you remember that name?

Photo courtesy smcgaels.com/sports

The second generation NBA talent discussion has an international flair as the son of Sarunas Marciulionis has been imported from Lithuania to St. Mary’s basketball. Augustus Marciulionis is a 6-4 freshman with the Gaels.

It’s not only the 1990s Eastern Conference powers represented, but also 1980s NBA playoff teams with sons in power 5 schools. Cleveland Cavalier’s great Larry Nance’s son Pete continues carving out his own professional basketball career. That status would mean that he follows in both father, and brother’s, footsteps.

Pete Nance is leading Northwestern as a possible tournament team.

Nance continues a growing trend of second generation players populating the entire Big 10 Conference.

According to IUHoosiers.com, Trayce Jackson-Davis is the “son of for Indiana Pacers standout Dale Davis and Ray and Karla Jackson.”

Photo courtesy iuhoosiers.com

https://iuhoosiers.com/sports/mens-basketball/roster/trayce-jackson-davis/15620

The Fab 5 even makes a cameo on this list. Juwan Howard is another former NBA player who is coaching his son currently.

Jace Howard is a sophomore at Michigan University. Photo courtesy: mgoblue.com

Da’Monte Williams is one of the best glue guys in college basketball. He is also the son of another Illini player, Frank Williams.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER…

Best College Basketball Handicappers Picks for Suspect Spreads Saturday

BY MATTY D.

The best college basketball handicappers all share one common trait: Wins! And the against the spread picks by collegebasketballeyetest.com have had a successful 2021-2022 season. Every Saturday, Matty D. shares his picks on Twitter on the hashtag #SuspectSpreadsSaturday. The phrase alerts fans about which Vegas spreads look suspect, or questionable. During the regular season, this website boasted a 70-49 record against the spread. That’s a winning percentage of 59%.

Now, this hashtag is getting taken over for March Madness 2022 picks!

Looking for the best long-shots to win March Madness? CLICK HERE!

My record against the spread this season is 70-49-2 as of March 7, 2022.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL PICKS FOR FIRST/SECOND ROUND OF THE TOURNAMENT:

These picks appear in order of confidence level, from the lowest confidence pick at 12 all the way down to the most confident pick at number one.

14. Delaware Hens +15.5 vs. Villanova
13. Longwood Lancers +16.5 vs. Tennessee
12. Providence Friars -2.5 vs. South Dakota State
11. Davidson +1.5 vs. Michigan State
10. UCLA -13.5 vs. Akron
9. Arkansas -5.5 vs. Vermont
8. New Mexico State +7 vs. UCONN
7. LSU -4 vs. Iowa State
6. Norfolk State +21.5 vs. Baylor
5. Richmond Spiders +10.5 vs. Iowa
4. Loyola -1.5 vs. Ohio State
3. UAB +8.5 vs. Houston
2. V-Tech +1.5 vs. Texas
1. USC -1.5 vs. Miami

Honorable mention: If you are a fan of Big Ten basketball, a 3 team money line parlay with Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois could make sense. Each team will fluctuate between a 4 to 7 point favorite, but could all win a close game. If you like Indiana, they sit in a similar position as a small favorite against Wyoming in the play-in game.

Check out some of our Elite 8 Articles Trending Now! Just click on your pick below…

Select the seed to survive and advance to the next article!
The collegebasketballeyetest.com bracket features a 12 seed in the national title game.

Matty D’s Philosophy for College Basketball Picks Against the Spread

Just like a Thursday or Friday in mid-March, a Saturday offers the widest sample size of games to choose from. If you’re a college basketball fan, you’re probably familiar with the power 5 schools. If you’re a better, it’s also good to get familiar with a few mid-major conferences. For example, I have gotten cozy with the Conference USA and American conferences over the years. This familiarity helped me go undefeated with 7 correct picks (and one tie) in the selections below.

Underdogs like Providence and Western Kentucky proved their worth early in the season.

My rule is to always bet any 6 point (or more) underdog to cover the first half. If and when an underdog challenges a favorite, it’s normally off of adrenaline and a lack of familiarity in the first half. I would always wager a dollar amount equal to, or slightly more than, the entire point line for the game. I would also traditionally bet 10-30% of that dollar amount on the money line. If I really believe that a 6 point underdog will win the game, I might bet 30% of my point line bet on the money line. For example, if I bet $10 on Providence to cover a 6.5 point spread, I would bet $3 on them to win the game outright. The money-line odds in that situation would be somewhere in the ballpark of 2-1 or 3-1. The advantage to being able to play on sports betting apps is that you don’t have to pay the traditional $5 or $10 minimums per bets at the physical casino. This helps betting on a budget. On FanDuel’s app you can make a minimum bet of 9 cents whereas DraftKings offers a 10 cent minimum.

If you or someone you know is struggling to set limits with sports betting, help is available.

Matty D’s Running Tally of ATS Picks for College Basketball Season

Here is a running tally of the college basketball sports betting picks for the 2021-2022 season with the newest up top.

These picks on February 5, 2022 went 6-5 on the week.
Pick are always published on Twitter before tip off on Saturdays with the same hashtag.

Please follow on Twitter to join the conversation!

Best College Basketball Games for December 2021

BY MATTY D.

Here are December’s most epic match-ups around the college basketball 2021-2022 season.

These are my choice for the top 4 games in December and why…

4. December 30, 2021 Arizona vs. UCLA

Before the season tipped, it was a foregone conclusion by the “experts” that UCLA would win the PAC-12 conference in convincing fashion. And as Arizona State head football coach would say, “that’s why you play the game.”

Arizona will visit UCLA at the end of the month in what I consider to be the biggest barometer game of the month to figure out how good these teams really are. UCLA got blown out by Gonzaga, which brings up a lot of questions about its previously vaunted defense. Meantime, Arizona has risen from a 80-1 favorite to win it all to the 25 or 35-1 territory. This happened pretty fast. Arizona’s dominant win against Michigan opened a lot of eyes. They also handled a very underrated Wichita State team. One of these teams has built a strong out-of-conference case for having a top seed in the tournament, and it’s not UCLA. This is a true test.

3. December 7, 2021 Villanova vs. Syracuse
Madison Square Garden

You better start Googling Big East Basketball history if you don’t know the significance of this matchup and this location.

2. December 11, 2021 Cincinnati vs. Xavier i.e. “The Crosstown Shootout”

This would be a bad day to physically attend a game, because there’s going to be so much must-see TV drama in your living room. Xavier scraps with Cincinnati in what I consider college basketball’s longest-standing local rivalry with genuine bad blood. The last time tempers really flared up in this one, it involved former Cincy Coach Mick Cronin accusing JP Macura of throwing some F-bombs his way.

And it’s hard to believe that it’s already been 9 years since this all-out brawl at the Cintas Center:

  1. December 11, 2021 Missouri at Kansas
    Allen Fieldhouse

This matchup is what history is made of, literally.  The rivalry between the Jayhawkers of the Free State and the confederate forces of Missouri is well documented.   The hatred lasts to this day.  And Missouri left the Big 12 in recent years to join the SEC.  Without it, there was no natural meeting between these two heated opponents.  With conference re-alignment tearing at the fabric of what makes the regular season great, this is a big win for college basketball that this rivalry is renewed.

More Honorable Mentions and Notes for Upcoming Dates:

Dec 4:  Buffalo Bulls at St. Bonaventure Bonnies 

St. Bonaventure fell hard outside of the top 25 after taking a tough 10 point loss to Northern Iowa.  However, St. Bonaventure should still be everyone’s underdog darling after the way it waxed Marquette (and others) during the “Feast Week” holiday platform.  This Buffalo team was perhaps where St. Bonaventure is ascending to, now.  They are both often overlooked schools in Upstate New York that play for formidable basketball conferences.  Buffalo rose to respectability (and a 2018 tournament game win) under coach Bobby Hurley’s watch.  St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt has been with the Bonnies since the 2007-2008 season and has built a similar threat upstate.  In fact, St. Bonaventure has been considered by some a top 10 mid-major program for a few consecutive years.  This contest could determine who, if, and whether both teams can make a NCAA Tournament with some juice.  

Dec 5:  Richmond vs. Northern Iowa 

It’s not only power 5 conference bubble teams that need to score some out-of-conference wins before the winter officially kicks off.  Richmond and Northern Iowa play each other in a similar, possible, resume building spot.  Richmond was a darks horse candidate to make some noise around the pandemic shortened and canceled seasons.  The same can be said for Northern Iowa.  Big picture, these programs could be on the decline in terms of their bids for an at large in any upcoming tournament.  A game like this could prove otherwise.  

Dec 6:  Iowa vs. Illinois 

Dec 7:  Villanova vs. Syracuse (at MSG) 

Dec 8:  Utah St. vs. BYU 

Dec 9: Iowa vs. Iowa State 

During a week when in-state rivalry let rip, a role reversal might play itself out in the Hawkeye State.  The Cyclones were picked to finished last in the Big 12.  Yet, they found themselves ranked 19th in the AP Top 25 at the start of December.  With Iowa figuring its identity out without graduated Luka Garza, this could be an Iowa changing of the guard.

Dec 10:  Murray State at Memphis 

The school that helped produce the blossoming legend of Ja Morant visits his new home (of the Memphis Grizzlies).  And when it comes to which team has inherited the best new crop of point guard talent, the edge might go to Murray State.  The Racers enter December with only one loss at the top of the Ohio Valley conference.  Memphis, despite having NBA talent, is struggling to run its offense in simple terms.  

Dec 11:  Missouri at Kansas 

This matchup is what history is made of, literally.  The rivalry between the Jayhawkers of the Free State and the confederate forces of Missouri is well documented.   The hatred lasts to this day.  And Missouri left the Big 12 in recent years to join the SEC.  Without it, there was no natural meeting between these two heated opponents.  With conference re-alignment tearing at the fabric of what makes the regular season great, this is a big win for college basketball that this rivalry is renewed. 

Dec 12:  Rutgers vs. Seton Hall

Dec 13:  UMBC vs. Princeton 

Dec 14;  Alabama vs. Memphis 

Dec 15:  UC Irvine vs. USC 

Dec 16: UT Arlington vs. Oral Roberts

Dec 17: St. Mary’s vs. San Diego State

December 18-19: This weekend featured a grand finale of the out-of-conference season.

December 22-25: For college basketball, The Diamondhead Classic is likely the most relevant action around the Christmas holiday itself. BYU has looked awesome at times, but slipped outside of the AP Top 25 ahead of this holiday tournament. Still, the Cougars can score the ball in a variety of ways and come in as the betting favorite. Meantime, a first round matchup between Liberty and Northern Iowa features two mid major programs that have been extremely relevant in the past 3-5 years. A lot of talent has passed through each of these programs, but they remain legitimate threats to pull an upset win, especially in a tournament scenario like this one. Each team retains consistency at the head coaching position. Ben Jacobsen has been leading Northern Iowa since 2006 and Ritchie McCay has made an impact at Liberty almost immediately when getting the job in 2015.

December 30, 2021 Arizona vs. UCLA: UCLA had to pause its activities a week before this game because of COVID-19 issues. Meantime, Arizona drives through a brutal stretch of games around this holiday. The Wildcats play Tennessee after the Vols had ample time to prepare on the heels of Memphis canceling their game in last minute, dysfunctional fashion.

Whichever team, Arizona or UCLA, can navigate the adversity best might find itself as a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament come March.

College Basketball Eye Test’s Best Value Bets for 2021-2022 Season

BY MATTY D.

Read about 5 value picks to win the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship from a website that produced 5 of 6 long-shot picks last season.

Last season, this website identified 6 value picks to win the tournament at an average of 392-1 odds. Five of those teams made the tournament and one of those teams made the Final Four after starting the season as a 50-1 underdog.

Watch Matty D’s prediction for this season below and get your hedging hat on in March!

The favorite of the underdogs is Louisiana Tech, starting the season at 200-1.

Big man Kenny Lofton Jr. is a big reason why the Bulldogs are a good value bet. He led the USA Men’s Basketball U19 team to a Gold performance this summer. His game resembles the girth and footwork of other college basketball legends, such as Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Watch some of Lofton Jr’s highlights from the summer in the link below. And be sure to see the other 4 picks as great futures values in our season preview.

Courtesy: FIBA Basketball/YouTube Channel

6 March Madness Trends Fixed as Annual Traditions

BY MATTHEW DE SARLE

The NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament overcame COVID-19 in 2020-2021 to produce on of the best tournaments ever. This version of March Madness featured a Cinderella 15 seed nearly making the Elite 8, ten double digit seeds making the field of 32, and one final upset for the record books.

And we buried our lead about 2021’s March Madness. That’s because historic basketball icon UCLA actually made the Final Four as an 11 seed!

Despite the unusual year including quarantines and mask-wearing, college basketball observers shouldn’t be surprised by some of the normal antics. Here are 5 normal ingredients that renewed themselves as fixtures in a melting pot of madness.

6. Skaky Teams Get Shocked in The First Showdown

This happens literally every year. A team that has flirted with the AP Top 10 throughout the season gets bounced in the first pair of days. People look at the roster on paper and ask, “how can this happen?” This year was saw NBA draft pick Jericho Sims surrounded by a fleet of future (possible) lottery picks like Greg Brown and Kai Jones. You watched them lose at home down the stretch of the regular season to other in-conference mid-Top 25 AP programs like West Virginia and Texas Tech and ask “how is this happening?”

5. Leading Scorers Nationwide Need Be Feared Regardless of Conference, Size

If CJ McCollum and Harold “The Show” Arceneaux haven’t taught us anything, then Max Abmas and the Oral Roberts Eagles have made it officially official. The scoring abilities of a guard who ranks top 5 (or first overall) in scoring nationwide can translate in the tournament.

4. CBS Hosts a Questionable Yet Must-See TV Immediate Sunday Matchup

Wichita State basketball fans are still not over the let-down of losing to 8 seed Kentucky on Sunday, March, 23rd of 2014. Sorry, too soon? Yet, they have good company now this season with Illinois basketball fans. Anyone who follows basketball, especially the inner workings of how the bracket is constructed, knows that Illinois had no business playing Loyola Chicago as a 9 seed just 72 hours into the tournament. And yet, it happened. Loyola Chicago was ranked in the neighborhood of the 10th best team in the nation when the tournament started, according to which poll you subscribe to. However, the Sunday matinee television programming of Sister Jean and the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers renewing their Cinderella ways against an in-state foe was too flavorful for the NCAA to pass up.

Sister Jean roots on Loyola Chicago Courtesy CBS Sports/NCAA

You tell me that NCAA and CBS aren’t working together to make that storyline possible, and I have the Clark Street Bridge I want to sell you. The game was amazing and Loyola Chicago dominated down the stretch to upset the 1 seeded Illinois. It was just too good of a television programming moment for committee and/or television executives to pass up.

And it happened again. The following year, in 2022, Sister Jean returns to the road to root on her Ramblers. That’s because CBS and/or the committee arranged for a perfect All-American showdown against Christian-founded schools, Villanova and Loyola Chicago. And with each team’s early play on Friday, this sets up perfectly for a holy matchup right after Sunday mass. Was this divine intervention on the bracket construction, or might the hands of man have his fingerprints on this one?

In fact, let’s just have the NCAA and TV executive comes out and say it. “We schedule the bracket in such a way to provide great sports drama on television!”

I mean, I for one would not protest that sentiment if it got published to the record. I want sexy matchups in the bracket, but I would prefer we call it for what it is.

3. Getting Back Together with the Ex – NCAA Committee’s Fascination with Reunions

To take this a step further, the orchestration of great storylines goes far beyond this niche Sunday matchup. The committee also loves to arrange for an awkward date between two exes. That also makes for great TV drama! The most recent example is how Michigan State transfer Foster Loyer will be playing against his old team in round 1. The committee didn’t even wait for the field of 32 to re-unite this broken relationship!

The marriage between players and their ex-teams in the field of 64 or the field of 32 has happened countless times. It also frequently happens for coaches. The most recent example that comes to mind is when 11 seeded Arizona State got paired with 6 seeded Buffalo in the first round. That presented an awkward meeting between Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley and his former school. What’s even more suspect in this situation, is that the mid-major team was the higher seed. It’s not only that Buffalo played against its former coach. The players also got the opportunity to play their former coach on the heels of their highest-ever tournament seeding. What drama! And the mid-major Buffalo Bulls in fact did beat the 11 seeded Arizona State Sun Devils in 2019.

Foster Loyer plays for Davidson after transferring from Michigan State.
Photo courtesy: davidsonwildcats.com

2. Play-In Game Winners Gain Momentum and Beat the Odds

Last year, UCLA won it’s play-in game as an 11 seed and continued its magical run all the way to the Final 4. As improbable as this sounds, the play-in game winner has become very dangerous. Those teams carry momentum. They get the natural advantage of getting familiar with the arena on a Tuesday or Wednesday before they play the at-large opponent on Thursday or Friday.

In 2018, Syracuse made the Sweet 16 as an 11 seed after beating Arizona State in the play-in game.

In 2017, 11 seed USC upset (4 loss) SMU in the first round after winning its play-in game.

In 2016, Fred Van Vleet and the 11 seed Wichita State Shockers beat Vanderbilt in the play off game before upsetting 6 seed Arizona.

And so this trend of the 11 seed gaining momentum…is gaining momentum.

Fun fact: In the last 30 years, an 11 seed is much more likely to make a Final 4 as compared to a 6 seed. The last 6 seed to make a Final 4 was the Fab Five in 1993. Meantime, there have been four 11 seeds to make the Final Four since 2006 (George Mason, VCU, Loyola Chicago, and UCLA).

Photo courtesy goshockers.com
  1. Future NBA Greats Don’t Always Dominate

    If you’re a fan of 1990s NBA hoops, think of the best players of the past 3 decades who actually played some college basketball: Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan. None made a Final 4. In fact, most of these greats struggled to advance beyond the first weekend.

    Conversely, the media darling doesn’t always excel. Jimmer Fredette and Luka Garza became National Players of the Year, as well as media darlings. However, they never cracked the Sweet 16.

Final Thought: In closing, it’s a murky picture. Some might even say it’s madness. As you pick your bracket in future years, remember that your future NCAA legend should be good, but not too great. The team should be must-see TV, but not have a tragic character whose reputation could never outpace his play. Good luck with that.

Max Abmas made a name for himself in 2021’s March Madness.
Courtesy: CBS Sports/YouTube

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CollegeBasketballEyeTest.com Author Matty D’s March Madness 2021 Picks

BY MATT DE SARLE

When it comes to college basketball experts, I am the 15 seed. I play with an independent league of opinionated amateurs on Facebook and Twitter, but I am also the budget bettor that no sports book “wants to see” in its bracket. There’s no major sponsor or platform here.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s roll into my official picks for March Madness 2021!

Predictions for the NCAA Men’s Basketball West Region

When it comes to this West Region, I agree with CBS’s Gary Parrish. There is no imagination coming from the committee when you have the possibility of rematches between Gonzaga and either/all of Kansas, Iowa, and/or Virginia. And that’s why I think only one of those rematches will happen: the most important one. This is also why I think Iowa is the first sexy futures bet at 16-1 as of March 16th. A rematch is always tricky for any victor. And in the December showdown between Iowa and Gonzaga, the Hawkeyes were simply blown out. Although Iowas has since lost Jack Nunge, the cliche is true when you can say they are “battle tested” by a historically great Big 10. I mean, to put the greatness of the Big 10 into context, this COVID-19 shortened season still cost the jobs of Indiana coach Archie Miller and 8 year head man at Minnesota, Richie Pitino. But I digress. Iowa can legitimately beat Gonzaga, I would comofortably have them covering any 2-3 possession line, but I have to go with Jalen Suggs and Gonzaga to advance.

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Everyone is picking against Creighton, and they clearly had a rough start to the month of March. But maybe they’ll be the team that goes in like a lamb and out like a lion. Its win against a popular UConn team showed us what telnet they have. I am also taking Ohio because Jason Preston is someone I cannot root against. As ESPN documented in the game telecasts, he lost his mother as a 16-year-old to cancer. And he plays like the moniker says, “life is short.” His imagination passing the ball and risk taking could capture the nation’s imagination. That’s the emotional side of my brain on that pick. The logical side of my brain also says that UVA is having a rough patch with COVID-19 scares and may not even play the game as the 4 seed there.

The West Region can include a Sweet 16 of two Pac-12 teams

Oregon and USC will represent the PAC-12 well in this region. Each had disappointing losses in the conference tournament, but should not be the judge of how talented each team is.

Predictions for the NCAA Men’s Basketball East Region

I watched Colorado and Texas all season. They’re too talented to come up short in this tournament. And I also watched Saint Bonaventure shred VCU in the A-10 Championship game. That game was not as close as the score would lead you to believe. I have major upsets happening in this region, because you’re not truly picking a March Madness bracket without the madness part. I will have 9 seed advance to the Elite 8 and 3 seed Texas represent the region in the Final Four.

The triangles that you see on my bracket are the underdogs who I like to cover the point spread along the way.

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Predictions for the NCAA Men’s College Basketball South Region

When you look at the history of the bracket, the cumulative total when you add up all the seed number is the Final Four is normally almost always 10 or more. And so this is where I am picking the hometown team Purdue Boilermakers to represent the South region as the highest seed to enter the Final Four and get my cumulative seed count up to 10 exactly. Everyone and their mom expects UNC’s size and muscle to give Baylor a run for their money. But I am looking a step ahead and saying that Purdue’s size will actually give Baylor trouble, paired with the Boilermakers outstanding freshmen class. Players like Jaden Ivey just haven’t gotten enough publicity this season. I expect this team to be March Madness-ready after, again, the rigors of the Big 10 Conference have prepared them.

I also like 6 seeds to show up in the Sweet 16 this year and won’t be surprised if one of them break into the Final Four. A 6 seed hasn’t made the Final Four since 1991-1992 with the Fab Five.

Predictions for the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Midwest Region

The committee did Illinois no favors in its draw. If we are looking for a 1 seed to have a difficult time, I think this would be the region for it. And who better to spoil the party than Cinderella herself, Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean? I would love to see a field of 32 matchup between Cam Krutwig and Kofi Cockburn. It would harken back to my childhood and watching giants tussle in the WWE (formerly WWF). Here are 8 other field of 32 player matchups I am hoping to see.

If Illinois avoids a field of 32 upset from a scrappy Georgia Tech or Ramblers bunch, they have #1 overall NBA pick Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State to look forward (potentially).

Texas wins the National Tittle among a Final 4 of Houston, Purdue and Gonzaga.

A team often overlooked is Houston because it plays in the American Athletic Conference (which got weaker with UConn’s exit). I also think the college basketball powers to be aren’t trying to promote Kelvin Sampson, a once-disgraced coach for NCAA infractions. However, with the shooting stroke of Quentin Grimes, return of Fabian White, and a great balance among other upper/underclassmen in the rotation, I think this team is destined for the Final Four. They return really the entire nucleus from a canceled 2019-2020 season with exception of Caleb Mills.

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.