- Elite 8 Recap March 26, 2017 College Pride Press
And…..we are down to 4. If you guessed these 4 teams would be headed to Phoenix you are lying. The Elite 8 games provided us with a mixed bag of good games and blowouts as has been the theme of this NCAA Tournament. Here is a recap of each game and my thoughts on the game.
#1 Gonzaga Beats #11 Xavier
Final Score: 83-59
Headline: Xavier’s Magical Run Comes to an End.
MVP: Nigel Williams-Goss (23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists)
Xavier’s magical tournament run comes to an end in the Elite 8 as they ran into a buzzsaw. Gonzaga has gone deep into the tournament a number of times on Saturday they played like they were not going to get denied. Gonzaga punched their first ever ticket to the Final Four. Nigel Williams-Goss has been spectacular all season and he was the key setting up the Zags for open shots early. Gonzaga knocked down 12 three pointers at a 50% rate (12/24). They were hitting shots early and often. I tweeted out “Gonzaga is hitting shots. Look out.” early in the first half. Gonzaga only got a combined 11 points from big men Pzemek Karnowski and Zach Collins but it did not matter. Xavier focused on stopping the Gonzaga front court and it led to wide open looks for their guards. Mark Few finally gets his team to the Final Four with a legitimate shot of winning it all.
#3 Oregon Outlasts #1 Kansas
Final Score: 74-60
Headline: Kansas Shoots Their Way to an Elite 8 Exit
MVP: Jordan Bell (11 points, 13 rebounds, 8 blocks, 4 assists)
Another Elite 8 appearance, another Elite 8 exit for the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks looked unstoppable in their first three games in the tournament but Saturday was not their night. Kansas made just 20% of their deep shots and their offense just couldn’t get going. Jordan Bell was the difference in this game. Once the Jayhawk deep shots were missing they drove to the rim where they were met by Jordan Bell. Bell blocked 8 shots but was involved every time the ball came into the paint. Dillon Brooks is an All-American level player, but Tyler Dorsey has played better than him in their four tournament games. Dorsey pumped in 27 points with some clutch deep shots to not allow Kansas back into the game. Oregon has so many talented players and arguably the tournament’s best player in Tyler Dorsey. Ducks are flying to Phoenix!
#7 South Carolina Advances Past #4 Florida
Final Score: 77-70
Headline: South Carolina Wins the East Region
MVP: Sindarius Thornwell (26 points, 7 rebounds)
The east region was tough for many brackets as they had to choose between Villanova and Duke. Well South Carolina ended up winning the region after a great performance against Florida. Florida was coming off an emotional win over Wisconsin but South Carolina just played their game like they have all tournament. They played great defense and held their opponent to 70 points. Sindarius Thornwell played like the leader he has been all tournament. He poured in 26 points and PJ Dozier added 17 of his own to help the cause. Frank Martin’s team may be the lowest seed in the tournament, but they are legit and are hotter than any team in the tourney.
#1 North Carolina Beats #2 Kentucky
Final Score: 75-73
Headline: Luke Maye Saves the Day
MVP: Luke Maye (17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists)
Kentucky fans had their heart ripped out by Luke Maye. Justin Jackson missed the front end of a 1 and 1 giving Kentucky a chance only down 3 points. Malik Monk did Malik Monk things and drained a three to tie it. Roy Williams left his timeouts in his pocket and let his guys play. A Theo Pinson drive lead to a pass to a wide open Luke Maye for a midrange jumper with only .3 seconds left. Maye was huge with 17 points. Maye is usually a big man who gives the Tar Heels spot minutes. He averages 5.5 points a game. Maye had 3 games with double digit points in the regular season. He has 3 such games in the NCAA Tournament. He has really stepped up when the lights are bright. North Carolina dealt with more Joel Berry ankle injuries in this game. They need him to get that ankle as healthy as possible before the Final Four begins on Saturday.
- Sweet 16 Recap: Friday March 25 March 25, 2017 College Pride Press
Two great games and two lopsided games to bring us to 8 teams. The games today were not as exciting as last night’s games but still provided plenty of storylines and entertainment.
#7 South Carolina Destroys #3 Baylor
Final Score: 70-50
Headline: What in tarnation?
MVP: Sindarius Thornwell (24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals)
What in tarnation? South Carolina did not beat Baylor, they destroyed the Bears in all aspects of the game. Sindarius Thornwell did Sindarius Thornwell things with his all around game. He had twice as many points as the second leading scorer for the Gamecocks. South Carolina allowed Jonathan Motley to score getting 18 points but no other Baylor player achieved double digits in the scoring column. This was a blowout at halftime and South Carolina did not let up in the second half. Frank Martin’s team is playing exceptionally and will look to continue their hot streak with a chance to go to the Final Four on Sunday.
#1 UNC Beats #4 Butler
Final Score: 92-80
Headline: UNC Does UNC Things
MVP: Joel Berry (26 points, 2 assists)
The score does not do this game justice. UNC was ahead by more than 15 for most of the game before Butler made a late run when the game was no longer in doubt. Looking at the stats shows this to be an average North Carolina game. They knocked down a decent amount of deep shots at an average rate of 35%, they out rebounded their opponent, and Joel Berry filled it up. Happy to see the Tar Heel point guard back to being healthy after dealing with an ankle injury last weekend. The Tar Heels played their game and that formula punched their ticket to the Elite 8. They will play Kentucky for a chance to go to the Final Four.
#2 Kentucky Beats #3 UCLA
Final Score: 86-75
Headline: De’Aaron Fox > Lonzo Ball
MVP: De’Aaron Fox (39 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists)
De’Aaron Fox was sick of your “Lonzo Ball is amazing” takes. He put on a show in Memphis with 39 points. Kentucky held UCLA to 75 points which is an accomplishment given what the Bruins have done this season on the offensive end of the floor. Once Thomas Welsh got into foul trouble it seemed to go downhill as the other UCLA bigs struggled to keep protect the rim and keep Derek Willis off the glass. Fox and Monk carried the bulk of the scoring combing for 60 points while Dominque Hawkins came off the bench to pour in 11 points. UCLA did not have the giddy up in the second half to get on a run and Kentucky stayed in control of the game. The Bruins looked defeated well before the game was decided. Kentucky will go on to face fellow blue blood North Carolina in another rematch of a non conference game that Kentucky won earlier this season.
#4 Florida Outlasts #8 Wisconsin
Final Score: 84-83 OT
Headline: Game of the Tournament!
MVP: Chris Chiozza (8 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds)
This was the best game of the NCAA Tournament thus far. Two great teams going back and forth and needing the extra five minutes to decide the winner. Both teams fought through adversity with foul trouble and Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig played injured in the last 6 minutes of the game. Zak Showalter stepped up and made a ridiculous three pointer in the closing seconds of the game to tie it up and force overtime. Wisconsin had a chance to put the game away with a breakaway layup but Canyon Berry came out of nowhere for a season saving block which led to an easy layup for Florida to tie the game. Nigel Hayes than found his way at the line and knocked down both his free throws with only 4 seconds left. Chris Chiozza did not want to see Zak Showalter’s shot on a loop for the next 2 weeks so he topped him by going the length of the court in 4 seconds and drained a running three pointer at the buzzer to get the win and advance to the Elite 8. As great as Chiozza’s shot was, the Gators wouldn’t have been in any position to win if it wasn’t for KeVaughn Allen’s 35 points. He has broken out of his shooting slump and did so in a big way to propel the Gators to the Elite 8. He carried their offense at times and kept them within striking distance.
- Elite Eight Preview: #1 Gonzaga vs. #11 Xavier March 24, 2017 College Pride Press
#1 Gonzaga vs. #11 Xavier
Saturday 6 pm EST, TBS
Player to Watch: Przemek Karnowski
The polish senior big man has had a huge season for the Zags averaging 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. He has a variety of post moves and his experience could give him the edge that Lauri Markkanen did not have against the Musketeers. Xavier is very thin inside so Karnowski has a matchup advantage that must be exploited to knock off the Cinderella team.
X Factor: Stopping Trevon Bluiett
Trevon Bluiett has been a monster for Xavier in the tournament. If Gonzaga wants to win this game they will need to slow him down. The troubling thing is that Mark Few does not have a perfect matchup to put on Bluiett. The Bulldog backcourt could keep with Bluiett but at 6’5 Bluiett could easily shoot over them. The front court could block some shots but Bluiett could blow right by them. The Zags must stop Bluiett to come out on top.
Player to Watch: Trevon Bluiett
As mentioned above Bluiett has been an animal this tournament. With Michigan and Derrick Walton getting knocked off, Bluiett becomes the most important player left in the tournament. Without Bluiett Xavier is dead in the water. Bluiett has cashed in point totals of 21, 29, and 25 in the Musketeers tournament games thus far. On the season he is averaging 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. All eyes will be on him as the game gets late on Saturday.
X Factor: Crowd Control
I was greatly impressed with the number of Xavier fans that made the trip to San Jose. That is not exactly an easy trip for a Thursday night game. The majority of the fans at the Elite 8 will be Gonzaga fans. There will be a ton of Arizona fans selling their tickets that will surely get gulped up by Gonzaga fans. Xavier can control the crowd by not allowing any major runs and responding to Gonzaga big plays with buckets of their own. Once the crowd gets rolling it can be tough to stay poised and execute your game plan.
Prediction: Gonzaga 75, Xavier 70
I keep picking against Xavier and they keep winning. Either team winning is a great story for the Final Four but Gonzaga is too talented and experienced to not get over the hump into the Final Four.
- Sweet 16 Recap: Thursday March 24 March 24, 2017 College Pride Press
What a crazy day in college basketball. The four games provided us with some close finishes, one blowout, and one huge upset. If you weren’t able to watch all of the games just keep on scrolling because we are going to recap them for you right here.
#11 Xavier over #2 Arizona
Final Score: 73-71
Headline: Who is Ed Sumner?
MVP: Trevon Bluiett 25 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
Let’s start it off with a bang. The team that seemed to be done after losing star point guard Ed Sumner to a season ending injury is going to the Elite 8. Chris Mack has done a tremendous job and getting past the red hot Wildcats was no easy task. Bluiett might be the MVP on the offensive side but Kaiser Gates and Sean O’Mara were the studs on the defensive end holding star freshman Lauri Markkanen to only 9 points. Bluiett was huge for Xavier handling the ball and providing the team with a third of its points. He needs to continue to play like this if Xavier has aspirations of advancing farther. The Musketeers will face Gonzaga for the chance to go to the Final Four. It would be a phenomenal story if Xavier can pull off another upset.
#1 Kansas over #4 Purdue
Final Score: 98-66
Headline: The Kansas guards are good at basketball
MVP: Frank Mason 26 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists
I am an IU fan but I felt bad for Purdue. IU went through the same thing last year with a UNC team that was clearly on their way to the championship game. Kansas has that feeling to them this year. Those guards they have a pretty good at basketball with both Mason and Graham scoring 26 points a piece. Bill Self is a great coach and drew up a defense to slow down Caleb Swanigan. Landen Lucas, Dwight Coleby, and Carlton Bragg all helped the cause guarding Swanigan in the post. Kansas was too much for the Boilermakers to handle on defense. The dynamic duo of point guards scored and distributed while Josh Jackson crashed the glass and ran in transition. Kansas will play Oregon on Saturday and these teams matchup perfectly together.
#3 Oregon Beats #7 Michigan
Final Score: 69-68 (nice)
Headline: Michigan’s Magical Run Comes to an End.
MVP: Jordan Bell 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks
Michigan’s magical run from the Big Ten Tourney ends in Kansas City with a loss in the Sweet 16. Derrick Walton had an open jumper in the last possession but could not get it to fall. Oregon’s three point defense is the reason they won this game as they held Michigan to 35% from deep. Jordan Bell was massive in this game for the Ducks. He had 16 points and 13 rebounds, including two big offensive rebounds down the stretch. Bell has stepped up big time to replace Chris Boucher and did so honorably tonight. His offense was great but his defense was even better as he held Mo Wagner to only 7 points. I stated that Bell’s defense on Wagner would be the difference and it was crucial. I cannot talk about this game without mentioning Tyler Dorsey who poured in 20 points. While all eyes were on All-American Dillon Brooks, Dorsey had open looks and easy driving lanes. Dorsey has played his way to being Brooks’s sidekick in this tournament.
#1 Gonzaga over #4 West Virginia
Final Score: 61-58
Headline: Late Game Offense Costs West Virginia
MVP: Jordan Matthews 13 points, 3 rebounds
West Virginia had Gonzaga right where they wanted them until they needed to score in their half court offense. West Virginia held Gonzaga to 61 points and turned them over 16 times. That was exactly how Bob Huggins drew it up…except for the end. One disastrous possession costed them a shot at the Elite 8 and possibly the Final Four. Gonzaga endured the pain that is Press Virginia and used a balance scoring attack to overcome it. The Zags had 3 players score 13 points and that was the team high. Jordan Matthews is the MVP because he made 3 of Gonzaga’s 4 made deep shots. His shooting was crucial to stretch the floor and provide some scoring in such a low scoring game. The Bulldogs survived and advanced and will play Cinderella Xavier in the Elite 8. Hopefully that game will be a little bit more up and down pace.
Check back tomorrow for game recaps for the rest of the Sweet 16 games.
- Sweet 16 Preview: #2 Arizona vs. #11 Xavier March 21, 2017 College Pride Press
#2 Arizona vs. #11 Xavier
Storyline: Xavier has nothing to lose. Arizona has everything to lose.
Arizona is a top tier team. They were one of my top title favorites once I saw their draw. They are a very complete team with talent and depth at all positions. Combine that with Sean Miller’s acumen and sweating and that is a winning combo. When ranking the Sweet 16 teams I had Arizona ranked second just behind UNC.
The story of this game is to find out whether Xavier is for real. It is tough to peg this #11 seed because they played most of the season with point guard Ed Sumner. Xavier went through a brutal stretch after losing Sumner losing 6 in a row before a win over Depaul to close out the regular season. Before the tournament, the once Top-25 team had only one notable win since February 1st with a win over Butler in the Big East tournament. Then the tournament started and the Musketeers beat both Maryland and Florida State to advance to the Sweet 16. Both those wins don’t necessarily show that Xavier has fixed their Sumner-less problems as Maryland relies mostly on freshman (Melo Trimble excluded), and Florida State seemed to flame out after a torching hot start to ACC play.
It is extremely shocking that the Musketeers are here and they are really a team with nothing to lose against Arizona. No one will blame Chris Mack for losing a game without one of his Top 2 players. (Indiana lost one of its top 2 players in conference play and missed the tourney). Getting to the Sweet 16 is impressive enough for this Xavier team. Advancing farther will be legendary.
Sean Miller is definitely spending his week focusing on stopping Xavier’s catalyst in Trevon Bluiett. He is the leading scorer and will need to have a big game to top the Wildcats. Luckily for Miller, Kadeem Allen is stud defensive player and the rest of the Wildcat guards are very tall with Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins, and Allonzo Trier all similar heights to the combo guard/forward Bluiett.
Xavier will spend its week preparing for the slew of skilled big men that Arizona will throw at them. Xavier has no one that could conceivably match up with Lauri Markkanen. Combine Lauri with Chance Comanche and Dusan Ristic and that is one heavy burden for Rashid Gaston and Sean O’Mara to deal with for 40 minutes. This matchup will be the difference in the game and that is why the Wildcats will move on to face Gonzaga in the Elite 8.
Prediction: Arizona 82, Xavier 65
- Sweet 16 Preview: #1 North Carolina vs. #4 Butler March 21, 2017 College Pride Press
#1 North Carolina vs. #4 Butler
Storyline: What is the status of Joel Berry’s ankle?
The Tar Heels are on their revenge tour after the heart breaking loss in the National Championship game last season. Luckily, the Tar Heels do not have to worry about Kris Jenkins but they do have to worry about the Butler team that handed Nova two losses this year.
If Roy Williams is worried about his team not bringing their A-game for this game all he needs to do is put on the Butler vs. Villanova game tapes. Butler does not have any superstar or big name player but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts for the Bulldogs. They play together and are fundamentally sound.
The big storyline in this game is the status of Joel Berry’s ankle. Last year the Tar Heels had Berry and Marcus Paige to split the ball handling responsibilities. Paige is now graduated and the other guards on this year’s team have failed to step up to give Berry a helping hand. That makes Berry’s ankle so important. Berry played through the injury in the second round, but he was clearing favoring it and was not at the top of his game on either side of the ball. Roy Williams needs to get his point guard healthy if they want to make it to the Final Four.
Butler is a team that does everything very well. Nothing really stands out as a strength when looking at the stats. They are in the top 50 in most KenPom categories. North Carolina does one thing better than any team in the country and that is grab offensive rebounds. Kennedy Meeks, Tony Bradley, and Isaiah Hicks are monsters on the offensive glass. Chris Holtmann and his staff must find a way to have their front court of mostly 6’7″ forwards keep the Tar Heels off the glass. Getting offensive rebounds kills an opposing team because they will have to defend for more time, it puts the offense in a position for easy put backs, and it also can open up the outside to get easy catch and shoot threes for Berry and Justin Jackson. Butler’s biggest player is 6’10” Nate Fowler and although he only plays 30% of minutes, he will need to step up big time in this game.
Prediction: UNC 81, Butler 74
- NCAA Tournament Preview #1 Villanova vs. #16 Mount St. Mary’s March 16, 2017 College Pride Press
#1 Villanova vs #16 Mount ST. Mary’s
6:10 PM CT/CBS
Player to Watch: Josh Hart PPG 18.9 RPG 6.5 APG 3.1
The Champs are back and now they are trying to do what lots of sports people say is the hardest thing to do…back to back championships. Well they are in a good spot to do it with getting a number 1 seed. This team dominated led by seniors Josh Hart, and Kris Jenkins all season. The most consistent team all year alongside with Gonzaga.
For the wildcats to win they need to stay in their offensive which scores at a near 50% from the floor, top 10 in the country. Josh Hart is going to need to set the tone and get it going for this tournament for this Wooden award candidate. Shouldn’t have too much trouble defensively when Mount St. Mary’s only 68 points a game which is close to the worst in the country.
Mount ST Mary’s
Player to Watch: Elijah Long PPG 15.1 RPG 5.3 APG 4.4
Winners of the NEC conference with a 14-4 conference record and winning the first 4 game vs New Orleans in a 1 point thriller. This team struggled big time vs other teams in this tournament by an average of 25 points. Yeah not pretty.
“Great moments are born from great opportunities.” Haha yeah I know I laughed writing that one. Look I know one of these years I going to pick a 16 seed to beat a 1 seed and actually think it will happen but not this year my friends and especially not this game. Let me just throw some stats at there to you. Never and yes, I said never, has a 16th seed ever beaten a #1 seed. #1 seeds are 128-0 against the 16th seeds. Villanova is favorited to win 99% and are 27 point favorites to win this game. The Mountaineers have had their chances against the big boys but failed all 5 times. Look I like Cinderella stories too pal but in the great words of Double X Posse “I’m not gonna be able to be able to do it.”
Match-Up to Watch- Coach Jamion Christian vs Coach Jay Wright
Going to do this differently from the other writers. For games like this I love to see how coaches prepare their team for games like this. For Jay Wright and his wildcats are they going to come out swinging or just stay in their groove like they have all season? For Coach Christian, are they going to try something new and crazy or stick to what has gotten them this far? As a aspiring coach I like to see what coach do in these situations.
- NCAA Tournament Preview: #7 South Carolina vs. #10 Marquette March 14, 2017 College Pride Press
#7 South Carolina vs #10 Marquette
9:50 pm, TBS
Player to Watch: Sindarius Thornwell: ppg 21.0 rpg 7.2 apg 2.8
Thornwell’s individual play throughout the season represents South Carolina’s play as a team: When Thornwell is on, so is the team. He is a pure scorer who can both get to the paint and shoot the three. If South Carolina wants to set up a probable matchup with Duke in the second round, Thornwell needs to be at his best.
X Factor: Defense
South Carolina time and time again has shown that they are a defense heavy team. The Gamecocks maintain one of the best defensive squads in the nation, averaging 8 steals per game, ranking in the top 25 in that category. Against a team like Marquette, defense is essential. The Golden Eagles, hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are an offensive power, averaging third in the Big East or better in points per game, free throw percentage, field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, and assist per game. If South Carolina wants to survive and advance, they’ll have to slow down a high powered Marquette team.
Player to Watch: Markus Howard: ppg 13.2 rpg 2.3 apg 2.2
Markus Howard has excelled in his freshman campaign as a point guard and a deadly threat from three point land. Despite having only just turned 18 years of age, Howard shows great poise in the back court and is capable of controlling the game. His best contribution to the Golden Eagles comes from behind the arc, as he currently leads the nation in three point field goal percentage at a stunning 55%.
X Factor: Shooting
While Marquette has dealt with struggles on the defensive end throughout the year, they have been able to combat this with very impressive shooting. As a team, the Golden Eagles currently top the table in three point field goal shooting percentage, with a 43% success rate. The X Factor in this statistic is that there are numerous players who are more than capable of shooting the three. Depending on the lineups designed by coach Steve Wojciechowski, 4 to 5 guys on the floor are a threat from deep at all times. If Marquette can stay hot from three, they can expect to move on to the round of 32.
Match-Up to Watch
A good match-up to keep an eye on throughout the game is between South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell and Marquette’s Jajuan Johnson. Both players excel at getting to the hoop, and both players can finish when they get there. The deciding factor in this match-up is three point shooting. Thornwell and Johnson are both capable three point shooters, however, both lack consistency. Look forward to seeing these players with the ball in their hands during crunch time.
A key factor to the success of Marquette is their offensive balance. The Golden Eagles have five players who average in double digits for scoring, and 7 players who score 8 or more per game. Marquette is such a tough team to prepare for because all of their players are capable of heating up at any time. A key factor for the Gamecocks is their ability to speed up the game. While Marquette also likes to play fast, South Carolina is a huge momentum team. Their offense lives on huge scoring runs and momentum swings, thanks to the seniority and stamina of Sindarius Thornwell.
Prediction: South Carolina 79, Marquette 83
Despite South Carolina’s defensive strength, Marquette’s high scoring offense and unmatched three point shooting ability will be too much for the Gamecocks. Assuming Marquette can score with balance like they did in the regular season, they should be able to add another notch to the win column.
- NCAA Tournament Preview: #6 Maryland Vs #11 Xavier March 13, 2017 Alex Handorf
#6 Maryland vs #11 Xavier
6:50 p.m. ET, TNT
24-8, (12-6 Big Ten)
Player to Watch: Melo Trimble (17.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG)
Melo Trimble has been the highlight of Maryland’s team for the last 3 years. Between his acrobatic layups and game winning 3-pointers, Trimble has been the team’s leader. Trimble is one of the best at the pick and roll, and is one of the most dangerous guards in the NCAA… if the rest of the Terps can pick up and play to his level. Remember to #StayMelo Terp fans.
X Factor: Size
Jaylen Brantley and Anthony Cowan, both are listed as 6’0 and under, really struggle with matchups against taller guards. Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura, Xavier’s leading healthy scorers, are both standing tall at 6’6 and 6’5. If Cowan struggles to score and defend against these taller guards, then Maryland will have to compensate. In Maryland’s losses against Purdue, Penn State, and Wisconsin, Cowan scored less than 7 points. Cowan alleviates the pressure on Trimble, and is essential to allow Trimble to rest easy on the bench.
21-13, (9-9 Big East)
Player to Watch: Trevon Bluiett (18.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 APG)
Trevon Bluiett is an amazing guard and leading scorer for the Musketeers. Bluiett is playing almost 25 minutes per game. Bluiett is coming off an ankle injury, and while he had to sit out the Musketeers had no chance against their opponent.
X Factor: Injuries
Xavier, much like Maryland, has lost 7 of their last 10 games. Xavier is struggling without Myles Davis, who has left, and Xavier’s second leading scorer, Edmond Sumner, who has a season ending injury. Xavier lacks big men, and is a guard-oriented team. Without Sumner, only 2 Musketeers score in the double digits.
Match-Up to Watch: Melo Trimble vs. Trevon Bluiett
Melo Trimble and Trevon Bluiett. Both are their team’s leading scorers, both have had nasty game winning shots, and are both calm and level headed during games. This is a matchup many will want to see. Trimble will be assisted defensively by Cowan, but it will be exciting to see some of the tops guards in the nation battle it out with everything on the line.
Key Stat: Defense
Xavier is 153rd in the country in scoring defense, allowing their opponents to score 71.4 points per game, along with 117th in country in 3-point defense. If Maryland, a 36.3% 3-point shooting team can get hot behind the arc, then the game will be over. Maryland has shooters like Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson at the wing who can cause damage.
Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 69, Xavier Musketeers 63
Although Maryland struggles against taller guards, Xavier lacks big men. Maryland’s leading rebounder, Justin Jackson, is only 6’7 but has a 7’3 wingspan, and 6’11 Damonte Dodd will have an easier time rebounding against Xavier’s starting center, 6’9 RaShid Gaston and 6’10 backup center Sean O’Mara. If Maryland can out rebound and are successful in the paint, Maryland will breeze over the Musketeers.
- NCAA Tournament Preview: #8 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. #9 Seton Hall Pirates March 13, 2017 Tyler Calvaruso
#8 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. #9 Seton Hall Pirates
South Region 1st Round
Friday 1:30 p.m. ET, TNT
25-9 (12-6 SEC)
Player to Watch: Dusty Hannahs (14.6 PPG, 1.2 APG)
When you look at this Arkansas team, you see a very balanced team and contributions across the board. The one player that does stand out is senior guard Dusty Hannahs. The Little Rock native leads the team with his 14.6 points per game and it is a very efficient 14.6 points per game. Hannahs is shooting 44% from the field, 38% from beyond the arc and 90% from the free throw line. He is easily Arkansas’ best shooter and if he gets going he can be difficult for Seton Hall to slow down.
X Factor: Rebounding
Arkansas has only one player averaging over five rebounds a game and Seton Hall is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country led by Angel Delgado, so the Razorbacks will have to keep the double-double machine off the offensive glass if they want to have any shot at winning this one.
Seton Hall Pirates
21-11 (10-8 Big East)
Player to Watch: Angel Delgado (15.3 PPG 13.1 RPG)
The last time we saw Angel Delgado on a basketball court, he was being consoled by Villanova’s Josh Hart after missing an easy shot that would have sent Seton Hall to overtime against the Wildcats in the Big East Semifinals. Delgado may still be reeling from the miss, but Seton Hall will need him to bounce back in a hurry if they want to advance to the Round of 32. Delgado is a walking double-double and against an Arkansas team that doesn’t have a standout big man to slow him down, he could be in for a big day.
X Factor: Free Throw Shooting
The Pirates have been one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country all season long, but things have started to change as of late. Since head coach Kevin Willard took over the free throw shooting in practice, the team has been noticeably better from the line. This trend will have to continue if Seton Hall wants to make any kind of run in this tournament.
Match-up to watch: Angel Delgado vs. the Arkansas big men
Again, this game is going to come down to how Arkansas deals with Delgado. He gets most of his points on offensive rebounds, but he can get it done in the post and has no problem passing out of double teams when teams inevitably double him down low. If Arkansas can’t contain Delgado, they will be in for a long day. If they can, Seton Hall’s offense could become stagnant and the Razorbacks’ shooting can help them to pull away for the victory.
Prediction: Seton Hall 74 Arkansas 63
I don’t see Arkansas keeping Delgado quiet in this game and with him doing his thing, there is really no way that Arkansas can survive his prowess on the offensive glass. Arkansas’ shooters will keep them around, but Seton Hall will eventually pull away with some timely buckets.
- NCAA Tournament Preview: #4 Butler vs #13 Winthrop March 12, 2017 Jackson Borman
NCAA Tournament Preview: #4 Butler vs #13 Winthrop
March 16th at 1:30, TNT
Player to Watch: Kelan Martin (16.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 APG)
Martin has been the Dawgs’ leading scorer all season and has come up big against tournament-caliber teams. In their win against Northwestern, Martin had 22, in their win at Villanova he had 22, in their win at Xavier he had 25. Look for this trend to continue against Winthrop.
X Factor: Containing Keon Johnson
Butler has struggled in the past to stop elite guards from taking over games. They let Shamorie Ponds go off for 26 points in their loss to St. John’s. Mo Watson put up 21 and seven assists in their loss to Creighton. Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett basically single handedly took the Dawgs out of the Big East tournament, scoring 23 points and getting to the basket (and foul line) with ease. In this game, Butler will have to stop Winthrop’s star guard Keon Johnson from taking over the ball game.
Player to Watch: Keon Johnson (22.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.6 APG)
5’7” Keon Johnson might not look like much, but on the court he is a beast. The Senior guard is a three point machine, hitting an average of three long balls every game. He has seven 30-point performances this season and is a huge factor for the Eagles’ offense. He will have to carry them to victory over this strong Butler team.
X Factor: Forcing Turnovers
Butler is one of the best teams in the country at taking care of the basketball, but the Eagles force an average of 13.6 turnovers per game. In all but two of Butler’s losses this season they have had double digit turnovers. If Winthrop wants to come up with an upset over Butler, they will have to bother the Dawgs’ ball handlers and create some transition offense via giveaways.
Key Matchup (Xavier Cooks vs Andrew Chrabascz)
Winthrop’s Xavier Cooks is a scoring and rebounding machine. He averages over 16 points and nine rebounds per game, but only stands 6’8” tall. Butler big man Andrew Chrabascz stands just short of 6’8” and is beefier than Cooks, but is also a big time scoring option for the Bulldogs. The battle between these bigs should be back and forth and extremely entertaining.
Keon Johnson has 99 made three pointers this season. The next best shooter from deep based on makes on either team is Butler’s Avery Woodson with 65. The three ball should be a big factor in this game, especially for Winthrop.
Prediction: Butler (76), Winthrop (69)
Butler has performed well against great teams and poorly against average ones. With this being said, they have had a full week to rest and prepare for this game after getting knocked out of the Big East Tournament by Xavier, so I think they will be ready for the Eagles. Winthrop’s guard play will keep them in it early, maybe even leading at some point, but in the end Butler’s defense will prevail and the Bulldogs will advance. Make me eat my words Keon Johnson.
Photo Credit: Big East Coast Bias
- NCAA Tournament Preview: #6 Creighton vs. #11 Rhode Island March 12, 2017 Chris Walz
#6 Creighton vs. #11 Rhode Island Midwest Region
Friday, March 17 4:30 PM ET CBS
(25-9, 10-8 Big East)
Player to Watch: Marcus Foster
Marcus Foster has been sensational all year for the Jays. He averages just over 18 points per contest while shooting just under 47% from the field.
X Factor: Containing Rhode Island’s Big Men
Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson are rebound magnets. Together they average almost half of Rhode Island’s rebounds per game. If Creighton can rebound effectively, then they can get out in transition quickly and play how they want to. If Creighton does not contain these two beasts on the boards, then this will become a halfcourt game which favors Rhode Island.
(23-9, 13-5 Atlantic 10)
Player to Watch: Hassan Martin
Martin is the anchor of the frontcourt for the Rams. He averages 14 points and 7 rebounds per game, and shoots a phenomenal 59.6% from the floor
X Factor: Slowing Creighton Down
The BlueJays like to run up and down and score a lot of points. The Jays average 82.5 points per game and they have scored over 90 points in 8 games this year. If Rhode Island can force Creighton into half court offense and hold them to under 75 points they have a very good chance of pulling off the upset.
Match-Up to Watch
Marcus Foster (Creighton) vs. EC Matthews (Rhode Island): Marcus Foster and EC Matthews are both very athletic playmakers and scorers. They both finish at the rim well, through contact. Foster and Matthews also have very similar body types so neither of them will be able to exploit the other with any of their physical traits. This match-up breaks down to the fundamentals; scoring and defense.
Creighton shoots 50.8% from 3-point land while Rhode Island shoots an even 34%.
Prediction: Creighton 72, Rhode Island 69
Creighton will have trouble controlling Martin and Iverson on the boards which will make this a close game. However, Creighton has more pure shooters and scorers. Their ability to make clutch shots will propel them past Rhode Island in a nailbiter.
- Postgame: Butler falls to Xavier 62-57 March 10, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Dawgs are knocked out of the Big East Tournament by a recovering Xavier team in the second round. The 2 seeded Bulldogs end a stellar conference season, in a slightly disappointing fashion, but turn their eyes towards the real prize: the NCAA championship.
Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett carried the load for the Musketeers offensively scoring 23 points and having four assists. He also hit the jumper that put Xavier ahead with just 16 seconds left in the game.
Malcolm Bernard also performed well for Xavier, hitting three long balls and finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists as well.
The Dawgs struggled a bit from the floor, shooting just 42% from the field and a miserable 21% from three.
Kethan Savage and Kelan Martin coming off of the bench provided most of the offense for the Dawgs, scoring 13 and 15 points respectively.
The play of the game might have been made by Tyler Lewis in the second half. The senior point guard drove to the basket for the lay in, but his momentum took him flying into the cheerleaders on the baseline. Xavier inbounded the ball and began taking it up the floor with Lewis still on the ground. Out of nowhere, the veteran guard came running up from behind, stole the ball, and took it to the hoop to draw the foul.
Xavier did a good job of limiting Kamar Baldwin’s impact on the game. Despite having four steals, the Freshman couldn’t get anything going and was just ⅙ from three point land- including a trey that would have put the dawgs ahead in the final seconds.
With sixteen seconds left, Bluiett hit a midrange jumper to put the Musketeers ahead by just two. Butler’s coach Chris Holtmann called a timeout. The following possession, Butler inbounded the ball to Baldwin who took a quick three and missed. The ball fell perfectly to Butler’s Tyler Lewis at the freethrow line who missed a fadeaway jumper with just seconds left. Not a very clutch performance by the Dawgs.
Player of the game:
Trevon Bluiett seems to have Butler’s number, and this game showed nothing has changed. Xavier knew he would be instrumental in a win, the man played all 40 minutes of the game and was the leading scorer in the contest.
While it is disappointing to see Butler out early in the Big East Tournament, it might be a win win situation for everybody. Xavier desperately needed a win to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive- this should solidify them in the big dance. And now Butler gets to rest and practice in the week leading up to the tournament.
Photo Credit: newsday.com
- Pregame: Butler Bulldogs vs Xavier Musketeers March 9, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler takes on Xavier in Madison Square Garden for their first game of the Big East Tournament at 7 ET. This is the third meeting of the season for these two conference rivals. Butler won both of those matchups. Will this game be the same old, same old, for the Bulldogs or will March Madness be in full effect?
Butler is the 2 seed in the Big East Tournament so they had the bye for the first round. Xavier played lowly DePaul and beat them 75-64. A complete Big East Tournament guide can be found here:
Butler has looked strong all season, dodging around the top 25 and winning big games seemingly every week to solidify their strength. Lead by star scorer Kelan Martin (16 PPG), senior big man Andrew Chrabascz (11 PPG), and freshman sensation Kamar Baldwin (10 PPG), the Dawgs have exceeded all expectations for the season to finish 2nd in the Big East.
Xavier started the year out strong but due to injuries and personal changes began to fall off the table. At the end of the regular season they lost six straight to the likes of Marquette (x2) and Providence. In the Big East tournament they must win multiple games to keep their tournament hopes alive. The Musketeers are lead by Trevon Bluiett (16 PPG) and J. P. Macura (14 PPG).
Butler will look to continue to take care of the ball in this one. In both of their previous games against Xavier the Dawgs managed single digit turnovers. They will also have to stop Trevon Bluiett. In their last meeting, Bluiett dropped 21 on 44% shooting.
Xavier will have to be better from long range if they want to continue in the Big East Tournament. In their last two games against Butler, the Musketeers averaged just 33% from deep. They will also have to stop Kamar Baldwin. The freshman guard had 21 and 17 respectively in their last two meetings.
Players to Watch-
Kamar Baldwin seems to have the Musketeers’ number and has had no problem scoring against Xavier this season. In addition to his offense, in their last matchup, Baldwin had five steals. Keep an eye on the freshman to see if he can perform come tournament time.
Nate Fowler has had his role on Butler’s team expanded drastically from the beginning of the season to now. From being way down the bench to starting against Xavier for the teams’ first clash this season, Fowler has definitely become a staple in the Butler lineup. His inside scoring ability as well as size on defense makes him a great asset. Don’t let his size fool you though, he has a great three point shot.
Trevon Bluiett is a skilled guard who can drive and score or shoot it from deep. Stopping Bluiett is essential to Butler continuing on in this tournament and a big game from him could keep them from advancing.
J.P. Macura has taken on a bigger offensive role since the injury to Xavier’s Edmond Sumner earlier this season. Primarily a shooter, Macura can pick apart a defense by spreading the floor and leaving room for his team mates (i.e. Bluiett) to get to the basket. Keep an eye on J.P. as well.
Photo Credit: topbet.com
- March Preview: Seton Hall Pirates March 7, 2017 Tyler Calvaruso
It’s been an up and down season for the Seton Hall Pirates, but it seems like they have finally figured it out. After a victory at then No. 13 Butler last Saturday afternoon, the Pirates look to be a lock to make their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Just like last season, Seton Hall will have some momentum going into March, which can only bode well for their chances to make a run in the tournament.
Seton Hall isn’t the deepest team in the field, but they have a bunch of guys who can get the job done in a variety of ways. Madison Jones can distribute and play solid defense for 40 minutes while also being able to hit an open shot when necessary.
Although inconsistent, Khadeen Carrington has the ability to take over a game, as was evident in his 41 point performance against Creighton in February. The junior guard can sink the three and get into the lane at will.
The same goes for Desi Rodriguez, who thrives off the dribble but has no problem hitting shots from beyond the arc. Myles Powell is a dead-eye shooter, but can also excel driving to the hoop.
Down low, Angel Delgado is a walking double-double, Ish Sanogo is one of the best defenders in the Big East and Michael Nzei can get it done on both ends of the floor.
If one thing is working in this team’s favor, it’s their ability to beat you in a bunch of different ways.
Weakness: Free Throw Shooting
March is known for it’s comebacks and most of those comebacks are fueled by the other team’s inability to knock down free throws at the end of a game.
Seton Hall is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country and it is a problem that has hampered them all season long. They have gotten better as the season has progressed, but it’s still a major problem for almost every rotation player.
The Pirates have lost games at the line this season and it could very well be the reason why Seton Hall will be a one and done in the tournament.
- Postgame: #22 Butler Bulldogs defeat Xavier 88-79 February 26, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Dawgs add another big road win to their regular season schedule as they take the W over rival Xavier in Cincinnati. In what turned out to be a tight game with tons of lead changes, Butler pulled it out in the end.
The Bulldogs were led offensively by Kelan Martin, who scored 25 points coming off of the bench. Martin also had seven rebounds in the contest. He seems to have settled into his role as a high scoring bench player for the Dawgs.
Andrew Chrabascz was in on the action for the Dawgs as well, scoring 11 points, and dropping six dimes. The senior forward is adept at getting to the rim and easily twists through the lane to drop in turnaround shots at the basket.
Kamar Baldwin also had a big game for Butler. The freshman star had 17 points, five rebounds, and three assists, in another complete performance. His highlight of the game came in the second half in which he crashed to the rim to grab the rebound, got fouled, and threw in a backwards no look layup for an and-one. This young man can play.
The Musketeers would not go down easily though. Trevon Bluiett kept Xavier in the game, knocking down threes, midrange jumpers and getting to the rim. The Xavier star had 21 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
J.P. Macura had a huge game for Xavier, scoring 17 points on 63% shooting. He also had two steals.
The story of the game was (surprisingly) Butler’s perimeter defense. Guards Kamar Baldwin and Kethan Savage combined for nine steals and it felt like Xavier couldn’t make a post entry pass to save their lives. Those two seemed to deflect almost every pass that the Musketeers attempted, which gave them easy transition layups.
This is Xavier’s fifth loss in a row, the programs first stretch of five losses in decades. On the other hand, Butler has won four straight, and are looking to close out their regular season with a home win against Seton Hall on this upcoming Saturday.
Photo Credit: bigeastcoastbias.com
- At-large bid breakdown by Conference February 26, 2017 College Pride Press
At-Large Bid Breakdown
By: Jonathon Warriner
Lock- There is no possible chance this team misses the NCAA Tournament
In Good shape- Not a lock but they are safely off the bubble for now
On the Bubble- These teams may be projected as in or out, but they are clearly in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament
Still in consideration- Teams that will need to keep winning to make a statement to the NCAA Tournament committee
Better luck Next Year- Teams that will have to win their conference tournament to make the NCAA Tournament
Locks- North Carolina, Duke, Louisville, Florida State, Notre Dame, Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech
On the bubble- Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest
Still In consideration- Clemson, Pittsburgh
Better Luck Next Year- NC State, Boston College
Locks- Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State
On the bubble- Kansas State, TCU
Still In Consideration- Texas Tech
Better Luck Next Year- Texas, Oklahoma
Locks- Purdue, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota
In Good Shape- Michigan State, Michigan
On the bubble- Northwestern
Still In Consideration- Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa
Better Luck Next Year- Penn State, Nebraska, Rutgers
Locks- Villanova, Butler, Creighton
In Good Shape- Xavier
On the Bubble- Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence
Better Luck Next Year- Georgetown, St. John’s, DePaul
Locks- Oregon, Arizona, UCLA
In Good Shape- USC, California
Still In Consideration- Utah
Better Luck Next Year- Colorado, Arizona State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State
Locks- Kentucky, Florida
In Good Shape- South Carolina, Arkansas
On the bubble- Vanderbilt
Still In Consideration- Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi
Better Luck Next Year- Texas A&M, Georgia, Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, LSU
Locks- SMU, Cincinnati
Still In Consideration- Houston, Memphis
Better Luck Next Year- UConn, UCF, Tulsa, Temple, East Carolina, Tulane, South Florida
In Good Shape- VCU, Dayton
On the bubble- Rhode Island
Better Luck Next Year- George Mason, St. Bonaventure, Richmond, La Salle, Davidson, Fordham, George Washington, St. Louis, Duquesne, Umass, St. Joseph’s
Locks- Gonzaga, St. Mary’s
On the bubble- Wichita State, Middle Tennessee, Illinois State
Still In Consideration- UNC Wilmington, Nevada, Akron, Monmouth, Princeton
- Pregame: #22 Butler Bulldogs vs Xavier Musketeers February 25, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler travels to Cincinnati to take on their conference rivals, the previously ranked Xavier Musketeers. Butler has looked hot and is coming off of a big win against the defending champions Villanova. Xavier on the other hand has lost their last four (three of them by double digits).
In their last meeting, Butler took the win at Hinkle. That was against the then #15 ranked musketeers lead by point guard Edmond Sumner. Since then Xavier has lost their ranking to a bad loss at Providence, and their point guard to a torn ACL.
In that last game, Xavier was lead by Sumner in scoring, assists, and steals. (22, 3 and 1). Musketeer guard J.P. Macura had a big game, knocking down four long balls and scoring 16 points in the end. Trevon Bluiett also had a big game for Xavier, scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds.
Bluiett injured his ankle in Xavier’s loss against Villanova, but was back in their last game: a loss @ Seton Hall. In that contest he played 38 minutes and scored 14 points on 42% shooting. He looks like he is back.
Butler ended up winning 83-78. This was one of the first games where Butler fans were shocked to see star Kelan Martin out of the starting lineup. Martin ended up playing 20 minutes and scoring 13 points.
Freshman guard Kamar Baldwin had a huge game, scoring all of his 21 points in the second half. He also had nine rebounds and two steals.
Butler’s defense was spectacular in that game. The Dawgs snagged eight steals and forced 16 turnovers. Despite this effort, Xavier’s three point shooting kept them in it.
In their last game, a win at #2 Villanova, Butler looked solid. Kelan Martin seemed to be back to his old offensive magic, scoring 22 points off of the bench in just 28 minutes played. Butler fans hope that he can keep it up.
In this matchup, Butler will try to limit Xavier’s three point looks and come out with a big road win.
Players to Watch-
Kamar Baldwin was electric in the second half last time against Xavier. The freshman shot 64% from the field, and got the Hinkle crowd on its feet to close out the game. Look for the quick guard to try to repeat this performance.
Kelan Martin played great against Xavier in their first meeting, and played great against Villanova in Butler’s last game. Martin will need to be in peak form in March if the Bulldogs want to make a run at the championship. Look for the elite scorer to continue to try to get on that track.
J.P. Macura has been hot for the Musketeers as of late, scoring 22 in their last game. The shooting guard excels from long range, scoring primarily from behind the arc and from the freethrow line. With Sumner out for the season, he has had to step up in the offense as a scorer. Watch out for his sweet stroke from three point land in this matchup.
RaShid Gaston is a senior forward for the Musketeers and frequently used his strength inside to carve out space for rebounding and scoring alike. He averages eight points per game and seven rebounds per game. The veteran big man will definitely be looking to make an impact in his last career home game against a ranked opponent.
Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer
- March Preview: Creighton Bluejays February 25, 2017 Jackson Borman
Creighton has been to the big dance 19 times (three times in the last five years) but have never broken into the Final Four. The Bluejays were one of the last teams to lose the title of ‘undefeated’ this season until they lost to Villanova on New Year’s Eve. Regardless, this Creighton is a capable bunch, and should not be overlooked.
Creighton is a team that can shoot the lights out. On the season, they shoot well over 40% from three point land, and have four individual players that shoot over 45% from deep, including 7’ big man Justin Patton. In one of their best wins of the season (@ #16 Butler) the Bluejays made 13 long balls and shot a combined 62% from the three point line. If a team can’t find and stop Creighton’s shooters, they are going to have a long night.
Creighton is straight up solid on the offensive end of the floor. They are ranked 14th overall in team offensive efficiency and make 52% of their shots on the season. They have scored over 90 points seven times this season. Creighton’s tournament games are likely to be a shootout.
Creighton suffered a devastating injury to their point guard and team leader Mo Watson Jr. in mid-January that put him out for the remainder of the season. Up until that point, the Bluejays had only lost one game all season. Since Watson went down, Creighton has been working to rediscover themselves. They still look to be one of the best teams in the Big East, but are definitely are not as good as when they had their point guard. (Watson averaged 12 PPG and over 8.5 assist- still would lead all of college basketball).
Creighton’s high powered offense covers up their defensive flaws. The Bluejays rank 169th in opponents PPG and frequently have won games by simply outscoring opponents. If their shooting is off come tournament time, Creighton could go down in a big way.
Photo Credit: gocreighton.com
- March Preview: Villanova Wildcats February 24, 2017 Jackson Borman
The defending NCAA Champions will be looking to repeat this Spring, and very well could. This season, the Wildcats have shown that they are indeed a very solid team and capable of another championship. Nova has been to the big dance for the last four straight years and coach Jay Wright is determined to keep it that way.
Villanova has been a versatile, three headed monster all year. Lead by Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, and Kris Jenkins, they have no trouble scoring the basketball. All three of these players can shoot the ball, drive the ball, and finish inside. And if you take one away, then the other two will just score 20 instead.
Experience is another strong suit of the Wildcats. Eight of their 14 players are returning from last year’s tournament run, so they have been there, and they have done that. Villanova is definitely a favorite for many reasons, but the title of ‘Defending Champions’ has a lot to do with that.
Despite their experience, Nova does not have a very deep bench. Jay Wright runs a very tight ship and frequently plays just seven players throughout an entire game. This could be a problem if they run across into a team with lots of fresh legs or get into foul trouble. In their two losses to Butler and their loss at Marquette, the Wildcats were upset by teams that played at least nine guys.
Villanova has also fared poorly against physical teams at times this season. Early in their season, they were pushed around by Purdue’s physical big men. Butler managed to win both matchups with the Wildcats by playing gritty interior defense. Often times, their stars bailed them out with big offensive performances, but they can’t stay hot forever.
Photo Credit: Villanova.com
- March Preview: Butler Bulldogs February 23, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler is a team that has looked insanely strong at times this season, but has taken some rough losses along the way. This will be Butler’s 15th tournament appearance (third straight under coach Chris Holtmann) but the Dawgs have still never won it all.
Defense has been a strength of Butler’s, especially under Chris Holtmann. In arguably their two best wins of the season (against #1 Villanova and later #2 Villanova) the Dawgs held Nova to just 58 points the first time, and 66 on Villanova’s home turf. In their big win against then #8 Arizona, Butler held the Wildcats to just 65 points. The Bulldogs are especially good in the halfcourt setting, where they can get steals that lead to transition offense.
Depth is another strong suit of Butler’s game. Chris Holtmann regularly plays nine or ten players which keeps them rested and the opposing defense on its heels. It also comes in handy in late game scenarios where foul trouble can be a problem. In Butler’s win @ Villanova, two of Holtmann’s best guards had fouled out by the final minute, and the next two had stepped up to fill their role brilliantly.
Throughout the season, Butler’s defensive weakness has come at the guard position. Frequently the Dawgs have given up 20+ point games to scoring guards (Jalen Brunson x2, Markus Howard, Mo Watson, James Blackmon, ect.) but manage to win most of those games with solid team defense. If Butler comes across a team with an elite scoring guard, or a couple, they might be in trouble.
Offensively, Butler has struggled at times in the season. When they played Marquette at home, the Dawgs only put up 25 points in the first half, but then exploded in the second half to win the game. @ Seton Hall, Butler only put up 61 points, but still won the game, holding the Pirates to 54. Butler isn’t going to blow anybody out of the water, but they typically win with their defense anyway.
Photo Credit: Butler Sports.com
- Postgame: #22 Butler upsets #2 Villanova 74-66 February 23, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler came, Butler saw, Butler conquered. The Dawgs came into the Pavilion in Philadelphia to complete the sweep of the defending champs in the same fashion that they beat them at home. Butler took control of the pace of the game and pulled away late in the second half to secure the win. Villanova took their first home loss since 2013.
Kelan Martin came off of the bench yet again to lead Butler offensively with 22 points. The newly appointed ‘6th man’ shot 64% in the game. He also pulled down eight rebounds. Martin played a key role defensively as well; his size and strength made him a key in stopping Nova. Over the course of the game, Martin guarded a variety of players, including Jenkins, Hart, and Brunson.
Kamar Baldwin was shining once again for Butler. The freshman guard scored 15 points, and defensively recorded a steal and a block. Baldwin did all this, despite fouling out before the final minutes.
Kethan Savaged fouled out in the final minutes of the game as well, but not before grabbing four steals for the dawgs.
Avery Woodson was an offensive force yet again, scoring 13 points and kept the Dawgs in the game, especially in the first half.
Butler’s offense thrived when they were working the ball inside. Post entries to big men Andrew Chrabascz and Nate Fowler opened up holes in Villanova’s defense and created offense for other players. Chrabascz alone recorded eight assists.
For Villanova, the usual suspects were hitting on the offensive end. Jalen Brunson scored a game high 24 points on 69% shooting. Butler simply cannot stop him from scoring. But he also had five turnovers, which was a dagger to Nova’s offensive game.
Josh Hart started out slow but hit what seemed like every three late in the game for the Wildcats. The star scorer shot 40% from three in the game, draining four long balls and finishing with 18 points.
In a game with 31 combined turnovers (uncharacteristic of both teams) defense won it for Butler. The Dawgs held the defending champs to just 66 points (12 less than their season average), and forced 15 turnovers (four more than their season average). Nova finished the game shooting just 25% from deep, rough compared to Butler’s 40% from three.
This is yet another huge with to add to Butler’s long list of impressive victories on the season- perhaps even their best win of the season. Coming up for the Dawgs, they take on rival Xavier in Cincinnati, and then end the regular season at home against Seton Hall. Butler is now looking at a very real possibility of winning out to finish the season.
Player of the Game:
Kelan Martin was back to his prime from, shooting the ball well from three, making solid shot selections, and rebounding with the best of them. Without his performance tonight, Butler is looking at a big fat L at the hands of the Wildcats. But with his performance tonight, the Dawgs are celebrating.
Photo Credit: Newsday.com
- Pregame: #22 Butler Bulldogs vs #2 Villanova Wildcats February 21, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler travels to Villanova to take on the Big East best Wildcats for the second time this season. A Butler win means another upset for the Dawgs. A Nova win means that they clinch the regular season Big East championship.
In their last meeting, Butler came up with a massive win against the defending champs and, at the time, the #1 team in the country in Hinkle Fieldhouse. This was and still is the Dawgs’ biggest win of the season.
In that game, Butler played their brand of basketball. The Bulldogs had four players in double figures (all their usual offensive threats), took care of the ball (only giving up eight turnovers), outrebounded the Wildcats, and shot a perfect 15/15 from the foul line. Butler will have to be on their A-game yet again if they want this road win.
Andrew Chrabascz and Kethan Savage both scored 13 in their last game against Villanova, almost exclusively scoring in the paint (Chrabascz made the duo’s only three pointer). Savage was getting to the rim and drawing fouls, making all five of his free throw attempts.
That game was also during a time that Kelan Martin was still in the starting lineup. While he scored an unimpressive 12 points, his size, rebounding, and defensive presence (especially when matched up against Villanova Star Josh Hart) was much needed.
For the Wildcats, Hart was quiet in that loss. The Dawgs held the star scorer to just 13 points on 3/11 shooting. Butler will look to contain Hart once again in their second matchup.
Villanova has seen their young point guard Jalen Brunson emerge as yet another star this season. The sophomore averaged nearly 15 points per game, can shoot from deep and finishes seemingly everything in the paint. Against Butler, Brunson scored an impressive 23 points and contributed on the defensive end with a couple of steals as well.
Because Butler struggles to stop scoring guards, Brunson will most likely have another career game. The key lies in eliminating Nova’s other offensive weapons, and playing solid team defense to contain Brunson as much as possible.
Butler has been on a hot streak lately, blowing out their last two opponents at home. Can Butler pull off another remarkable upset? Or will they fold to Villanova’s solid team, just as the last seven teams that faced the Wildcats have.
Players to Watch-
Kamar Baldwin is likely to play a ton of minutes in this game, as he is necessary for stopping the Wildcats on the defensive end. The freshman is currently fourth in the Big East in steals per game, and seems to be the team’s only hope in stopping Jalen Brunson. Oh yeah, he also shoots 49% from the field and scores 10 points per game. The dude can play.
Kelan martin has been a bit of a question mark recently. He has been coming off of the bench as of late, but Butler could definitely use his experience, size and defensive skill set against this tough Villanova team. Will coach Chris Holtmann decide to start the star junior, or keep to his guns? Either way, Martin is definitely a player to watch in this matchup.
Josh Hart is currently leading the Big East in scoring and is fourth in rebounds per game. The Villanova star is a force to be reckoned with on the court, and has yet to be held to single digits in scoring this year. Watch for Hart to put his print on this game in a big way.
Jalen Brunson is arguably the best player for his team in this matchup, even considering his team mates. On top of his scoring ability (he shoots 54% from the field) Brunson is also an orchestrator of the Nova offense- he dishes out nearly five assists every game- putting him at third in the conference for dimes. Keep an eye on this young man in this game, and in the future.
Photo credit: NCAA.com
- Postgame: Butler defeats DePaul 82-66 February 19, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Dawgs take their second straight home blowout win against the DePaul Blue Demons, this time, on the back of some stellar defense.
Butler held DePaul to just 66 points, their best defensive performance since their win against Marquette. DePaul shot just 29% from deep (and an even better 11% in the first half). All lower than their average team statistics. The Dawgs also had six steals in the game.
Butler had 12 players check into the game, including walk-on senior guards Steven Bennett and Trey Pettus.
Sophomore center Nate Fowler lead the Bulldogs in scoring with 15 points off the bench. Fowler was 7-9 in the game, but only played 19 minutes. Talk about offensive efficiency.
Senior guard Tyler Lewis also had quite a game, scoring 10 points and dishing out eight dimes. Lewis also came off of the bench and played just 19 minutes.
Kelan Martin and Avery Woodson shot the lights out from deep once again, making six combined long balls at a 60% clip. Martin again came off of the bench, and grabbed eight rebounds in the contest as well.
For DePaul, Eli Cain once again picked the Butler defense apart, scoring 24 points on 69% shooting. He also had six rebounds and three assists.
DePaul junior forward Joe Hanel had a solid first half, going 100% from the field and scoring eight points, but then slowed down in the second half to only score once more. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Besides Cain and Hanel, no Blue Demons reached double figures. Butler did an effective job of sharing the offensive load, and played good team defense to stop DePaul from scaring them yet again.
The Dawgs seem to be back on track, scoring effectively, playing good team defense and winning the games that they should. Kelan Martin is becoming an effective bench player, and providing needed scoring on limited minutes.
Butler’s next game is at Villanova on Wednesday. They will need to have everything going for them if they want to upset the defending champs yet again.
Player of the game:
Nate Fowler scored efficiently, played solid interior defense, and was a force with his short range post moves against DePaul. The sophomore’s role on the team has been increasing all season, but will be even greater next year with the graduation of senior scoring big Andrew Chrabascz. Look for Fowler to be doing big things for the Dawgs in the near and distant future.
Photo Credit: Jimmy Lafakis on Twitter
- Bracketology Preview: Big East Predictions February 17, 2017 Brett Siegel
Day 3 of my Bracketology Previews has rolled in, which means it is time to take a look at the “Granddaddy Conference” of them all, the Big East! The Big East always supplies the College Basketball world with tons of powerhouses each year. Since 2011, the Big East has brought home three of the past six National Championships. When the Big East “collapsed” back in 2013, lots of people thought that this would be the end of Big East Basketball. They were wrong! Villanova, Creighton, and others flourished as a result of the decline in numbers in the conference. Looking at the Big East today, there are 7 possible tournament teams still alive and a repeat championship dream for Villanova on the line. After a wild season once again, let’s examine how the Big East will finish!
(* Denotes neutral court game)
Villanova Wildcats (25-2) (12-2)
RPI Rank: 3 BPI Rank: 1 AP Rank: 2
Best Wins: @ #10 Creighton, v.s. #12 Virginia, @ #15 Purdue
Worst Losses: @ Marquette, @ #18 Butler
The defending champion Wildcats have not missed a beat this season on their quest to repeat! Villanova has been arguably the best team all season with a 25-2 record and a 6-1 record versus the AP Top 25. Led by senior guard and National Player of the Year candidate, Josh Hart (18.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 40.4 3P%), the Villanova Wildcats have been virtually unbeatable. They have shown resilience in many games this season by coming back from a halftime deficits, and continue to add to their impressive resume. Villanova currently finds themselves atop the Big East rankings yet again and should be the top team in the Big East Tournament in a few weeks. Let’s take a look at who Villanova still has to play before the tournament:
February 18th- @ Seton Hall – W 75-70
February 22nd – v.s. Butler – W 77-68
February 25th – v.s. Creighton – W 82-80
March 4th – @ Georgetown – W 85-69
Final Record: 29-2 (16-2)
Down the stretch, Villanova has four tough games, but based on how they have played this whole season, I cannot see Villanova losing another regular season game. They will most definitely be the favorite in every game they play for the rest of the season and regardless of the outcome of their next four games, should be a lock for a #1 seed come time for Selection Sunday! The Wildcats are on a mission to repeat and it should be interesting to see if anybody can stand in their way!
Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 1
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 1
Butler Bulldogs (20-6) (9-5)
RPI Rank: 13 BPI Rank: 25 AP Rank: 24
Best Wins: v.s. #1 Villanova, v.s. #8 Arizona*, v.s. #9 Indiana*
Worst Losses: @ Indiana State, @ St. John’s, v.s. Georgetown
Always known for their upsets, Butler has once again put together a very solid season. Currently 20-6, Butler ranks #24 in the country in the AP ranks and has a very stellar resume. Wins over three top 10 teams in the country, two of which being on a neutral court, will go a long way in the committee’s eyes. The Bulldogs have been inconsistent of late, losing three of their past five matchups, but Butler is a program that lives for the tournament and will turn things around quickly. Butler is always a team to watch down the stretch of the season and they could be gaining some momentum late in the season:
February 19th – v.s. DePaul – W 81-63
February 22nd – @ Villanova – L 68-77
February 26th – @ Xavier – L 73-76
March 4th – v.s. Seton Hall – W 68-64
Final Record: 22-8 (11-7)
Butler’s final three games of the regular season are very tough. Two road games against two solid teams in Villanova and Xavier and then a home matchup against a hot Seton Hall team could be worrisome for Bulldogs fans. Their matchups against Xavier and Seton Hall could go either way, but I think they will split these games 1-1. Finishing the season 22-8 would be a big achievement for the Bulldogs as they prepare for another March Madness run!
Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 3
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 4
Creighton Blue Jays (21-5) (8-5)
RPI Rank: 18 BPI Rank: 24 AP Rank: 20
Best Wins: v.s. #9 Wisconsin, v.s. #12 Butler, @ #16 Butler
Worst Losses: v.s. Marquette, @ Georgetown, @ Seton Hall
Although Creighton has had its ups and downs this season, I have been really impressed with what the Blue Jays have been able to do. In the middle of conference play, Creighton’s star, senior guard, Maurice Watson Jr. went down with a knee injury that ended his season. The very next game, they got blown out at home to Marquette, and it looked like Creighton’s season was about to take a tumble. Marcus Foster (18.0 PPG, 47.8 FG%) and Justin Patton (13.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.7 BPG) quickly shut down these rumors about the decline of Creighton. It took time, but Creighton was able to make the adjustment and start winning again without their leader. Losing one of your star players and having to make adjustments without him in the lineup is one of the hardest things to do in College Basketball. To continue to play at the level the Blue Jays have been, and to continue to be an elite team in the Big East is truly remarkable. Here is what Creighton has coming up for them:
February 19th – v.s. Georgetown – W 77-71
February 22nd – v.s. Providence – W 84-72
February 25th ...
- Pregame: #24 Butler Bulldogs vs DePaul Blue Demons February 17, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler takes on DePaul at Hinkle Fieldhouse in their second to last home game of the season. Butler is coming off of a big win against St. John’s and DePaul has lost their last nine (!) straight games. The game is on Sunday the 19th, in Indianapolis at 1:30.
In their last matchup, DePaul was showing up. Butler was losing for the majority of the game, but was able to tie it up and force an overtime, in which they barely outscored the Blue Demons. Butler won the game 70-69.
Butler Point guards Kethan Savage and Kamar Baldwin went off in the game, scoring 20 and 18 respectively and accounted for 10 rebounds and a handful of steals combined.
Kelan Martin started in the last game and scored 12 points on a terrible 23% shooting. While he hasn’t been in the regular starting lineup recently, Martin has been looking better, and is a possibility for a big scoring night.
Last time for DePaul, Star scoring guard Eli Cain was on fire, draining 6 threes in the game, shooting 61% from the field, and ending with 32 points. He also had six rebounds and four assists.
Billy Garrett Jr. also made an impact for the Blue Demons, scoring 16 points, but the Dawgs held him to just 21% from the field. Butler will be looking to limit his and Cain’s scoring in this conference rematch.
Butler seems to be back on track after struggling in a handful of conference losses, most recently at Providence in Rhode Island. Their win against St. John’s at home was an explosion of offense, with dunks and three point shots seemingly every other possession. Butler fans hope that they can carry this momentum into their last conference games.
Players to Watch-
Kelan Martin looks to be back into the swing of things, and has settled into his new role of coming off of the bench (he now has five games of being the ‘6th man’ under his belt). He still is a great scorer, but the limited minutes have forced him to make every shot count. For example, in the Dawgs’ last game against St. John’s, Martin scored 19 points on 46% shooting. Look for him to continue to be a fantastic scorer and provide a much needed offensive burst off of the bench.
Kethan Savage has become a big part of Butler’s lineup, despite missing time at the beginning of the season due to injury and sickness. His size and ability to get the the rim have made him an offensive weapon, and he has started the last three games for the Bulldogs. Watch out for Savage in this game against DePaul.
Billy Garrett Jr. is one of the Blue Demons’ best offensive players, and much of their offense runs through him. However, last time, he shot the ball terribly and had to resort to scoring primarily at the freethrow line. Garrett Jr. will definitely be looking to make a stronger offensive impact in this rematch.
Chris Harrison-Docks is a senior transfer guard for DePaul. He is the 6th man for the Blue Demons, but was held to just three points last time Butler visited Chicago. In DePaul’s last two games (losses against #23 Creighton and #2 Villanova) Harrison Docks showed up big time scoring 33 points in both games combined. The veteran guard is a prolific shooter and will be looking to come up big for DePaul again, coming off of two hot performances.
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports.com
- Postgame: Butler routs St. John’s 110-86 February 16, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler returned to Hinkle Fieldhouse victorious, taking down the St. John’s Red Storm in an offensive explosion that gave the Dawgs their 20th win of the season.
Butler was everywhere on the offensive end of the floor in this game, shooting 50% from three (13/26), 58% from the field, and a barrage of putback dunks and transition scoring. The Dawgs flew out to an impressive lead on one of their best offensive nights of the season.
Avery Woodson lead the way for the Bulldogs, knocking down six threes and tallying 20 total points in the game. Big man Andrew Chrabascz also scored 20, and knocked down two long balls of his own.
Kelan Martin once again came off of the bench, but scored 19 of his own points, and also grabbed nine rebounds. While this isn’t where Martin is meant to play on the team, he filled this strange new role well in this game, and lead his team to a big win.
Big man Tyler Wideman had a double double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He was dominating the offensive glass and had a couple of impressive dunks in the game that got the home crowd hyped up.
St. John’s was lead (not surprisingly) by their guards. Freshman guard Shamorie Ponds scored 18 points and had four steals and four assists. Shooter Federico Mussini came off of the bench to lead the Red Storm with 20 points, coming primarily from deep.
Bashir Ahmed carried St. John’s in the beginning of the second half, effortlessly getting to the rim against mismatches with Butler big men Nate Fowler and Tyler Wideman. He scored 15 in the game and had four rebounds.
The Dawgs lead for the entirety of the game. This offensive explosion was exactly what Butler needed to bounce back from their last couple of disappointing loss. With another tough stretch of conference games coming up to end the regular season (@Nova @Xavier and vs Seton Hall) the Bulldogs will need to be playing their best.
Butler will look to continue to improve their play and boost their offensive confidence this weekend against DePaul at Hinkle. Watch out world, Butler is back on track.
Player of the game:
Avery Woodson was hitting every shot he took in the first half. The veteran shooter had a breakout performance for his highest scoring game of the season. Woodson wowed the Hinkle crowd, and will need to continue to be a factor for the Dawgs, especially come tournament time.
Photo Credit: Jimmy Lafakis on Twitter
- Pregame: #24 Butler Bulldogs vs St. John’s Red Storm February 14, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse in the search for the Dawgs’ 20th regular season win. The game is against St. John’s, a team that handed Butler their second loss of the season in earlier December. The contest will be at 8:30 ET and on FS1.
In their previous matchup, fantastic guard play by St. John’s was the difference maker that kept Butler from pulling away.
Freshman guard Shamorie Ponds put on a show in St. John’s bigtime home win, scoring 26 points and pulling down 7 rebounds. And Ponds isn’t even St. John’s best offensive player.
Another freshman star for St. John’s is Indiana native Marcus LoVett. He is averaging 17.3 points per game, and also a fair amount of assists (Lovett ranks 5th in the conference for PPG and APG). In these teams’ last matchup, LoVett came off of the bench and played limited minutes, only scoring 10 points. He should be a bigger factor in this game.
On the defensive end, St. John’s has two sophomore big men that lead the conference in blocked shots per game. 6’11” Tariq Owens and 6’7” but tremendously strong Kassoum Yakwe average over two blocks per game, and both had two against Butler the last time around. Additionally, Shamorie ponds leads the Big East in steals per game.
On top of these individual players, the team has put together some big wins this season. They stomped Syracuse by 33 points and turned around and beat Butler in their next game. They also beat Marquette handily. St. John’s has some nice young pieces on their roster, the conference is just waiting to see if they can consistently put those pieces together.
In their first matchup with St. John’s Butler struggled from deep shooting 24% in the contest. Avery Woodson was seemingly the only Dawg who could get the long ball to fall, shooting 50% from three in the game and scoring 10 points.
Offensively, Butler was lead by big man Tyler Wideman, who scored 20 and had four offensive rebounds.
Butler will need to overcome their struggles against scoring guards and bounce back from their loss at Providence in this game. Recently, star offensive player Kelan Martin has been playing limited minutes and in those minutes has not been playing like he should if he wants that starting spot back.
The Dawgs have not looked sharp in recent games. Will they overcome the adversity to take down St. John’s at home, or will they fold under the pressure that is definitely going to be brought by Marcus LoVett and company?
Players to Watch-
Avery Woodson is a veteran guard for Butler and should be their primary shooting threat for the Bulldogs in this game. He also has been seeing increased minutes that once belonged to Kelan Martin.
Kelan Martin has been one of the sources of Butler’s struggles recently. Taking the player that the offense is designed around out of the regular rotation is bound to cause trouble, but Martin has shined so brightly in so many games, it makes me feel like the benching isn’t going to last forever. Martin is either going to play big minutes and sore the ball a ton like he was at the beginning of the season, or Coach Holtmann will once again hand the reins over to Freshman Kamar Baldwin to lead the charge. Either way, keep an eye on Kelan Martin.
Shamorie Ponds is one of the best young guards around the conference, and even around college basketball. The headband rocking Freshman is likely to put up big numbers against the Dawgs yet again, so watch out, world.
Bashir Ahmed is a Junior guard for the Red Storm who scored 19 against Butler in their last matchup. He is also one of the team’s best rebounders, despite his small size relative to players like Tariq Owens. Look for Ahmed to try to tear the Dawgs up again.
Photo Credit: Indy Star.com
- It’s do or die time for Seton Hall February 14, 2017 Tyler Calvaruso
After a weekend loss to St. John’s, it’s do or die time for the Seton Hall Pirates.
The team is entering a key stretch with three straight home games against Creighton, Villanova, and Xavier, with Creighton coming to town on Wednesday night to kick things off.
The Pirates will need to take at least two of those three games to help their fading chances of making the NCAA tournament, but there is still some hope.
According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, the Pirates are the last team in on his last four teams in list, a list that features Marquette, Arkansas and Clemson. Teams like Indiana and Tennessee find themselves on Lunardi’s last four out, but both have compelling cases to jump Seton Hall for an at-large bid.
How do the Pirates stack up to the rest of the teams on the bubble?
According to CBS Sports, Seton Hall currently owns an RPI ranked 49th in the country and a strength of schedule rating ranked 48th in the country. The Pirates have a dismal 1-5 record against top 25 teams with the lone win coming against a South Carolina team playing without their best player in Sindarius Thornwell. At this point, the team’s best win came at the Pearl Harbor Classic against California, who seems to be safely in the tournament.
In comparison, Marquette has an RPI of 84, a strength of schedule of 63, and a 2-4 record against top 25 teams, their signature win coming against Villanova, who was ranked number one in the country at the time.
Arkansas has an RPI of 44 and a strength of schedule that ranks 66th, but are 0-3 against top 25 teams and have a bad loss to arguably one of the worst Power-Five teams in the country in Missouri.
Clemson has an RPI of only 56 and have struggled to a 1-6 record against top 25 teams, but have the 18th strongest schedule in the country working in their favor.
On the outside looking in are Indiana and Tennessee, who each have signature wins that are equal to, if not better than most of the other teams on the bubble.
Indiana has an RPI of 93 and a strength of schedule of 43, but the Hoosiers have knocked off powerhouses such as Kansas and North Carolina. Tennessee on the other hand has an RPI of 47 and the fifth strongest schedule in the country. Their signature win came almost a month ago against Kentucky.
To be frank, the bubble is extremely weak this year as is evident with some of the teams that currently find themselves on it. In a normal year, a team like Arkansas would have been written off a long time ago due to their average RPI and strength of schedule combined with an awful loss to Missouri and no wins against the top 25.
Seton Hall still has a chance to pick up some signature wins and they will have a crack at three teams safely in the field starting with Creighton on Wednesday, but there is still work to be done. The team must avoid bad losses down the stretch to the likes of DePaul on the road and Georgetown at home and take care of business against some very good teams if they want to avoid ending up in the NIT.
- Postgame: Providence Friars defeat Butler 71-65 February 11, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Bulldogs took their sixth loss of the season at the hands of the Friars in a nearly sold out Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The game was slowed down by horrific offense, especially in the first half, where both teams combined to shoot just 31% from the floor. The halftime score had butler in the lead, 25-23.
At the half, Butler had not made a single three point shot, missing all of their first eight. Their offensive problems plagued everyone, up and down the lineup.
Leading scorer Kelan Martin came off of the bench for his second consecutive game, Coach Chris Holtmann’s decision, and had just four points on 28% shooting at the half. Martin finished with just eight points in 26 minutes played.
Second leading scorer, and Rhode Island native, Andrew Chrabascz was scoreless at halftime despite four field goal attempts. Chrabascz finished with 12 points on just 33% from the field.
Providence was equally bad at the half. The Friars’ top three scorers (Rodney Bullock, Emmitt Holt, and Kyron Cartwright- all of which average over 10 PPG) had just eight points combined.
The Friars were great from deep, shooting 50% in the first half, but couldn’t get anything else going for them.
Things picked up offensively in the second half for both teams.
For Butler, sophomore big man Nate Fowler was on fire from everywhere on the floor. The 6’11” center finished with 19 points (a game and career high) on 3-3 from deep, and 78% shooting in the contest.
Freshman guard Kamar Baldwin scored just five points in the game, but tallied a career high 11 rebounds.
Providence guard Alpha Diallo, five of which came from the foul line. He was Providence’s leading scorer. Bullock, Cartwright, and Holt all eventually reached double figures as well.
In the final minutes, Butler coach Chris Holtmann lost his cool after what he thought should have been a reach in foul call that would have sent Kamar Baldwin to the line. Holtmann was rewarded with a technical, who’s free throws sealed the victory for Providence.
In a bizarre game of terrible offense for both teams, Providence squeaked out their fifth conference win as Butler surrendered their fifth conference loss.
Butler will look to get back on track in a home game against St. Johns (who beat the Dawgs in New York earlier this year) this week.
Player of the game:
Providence’s Alpha Diallo lead his team in scoring, made clutch free throws late in the game, and dominated the boards: grabbing three offensive rebounds for the Friars. While he is far from a household name, Diallo was the factor that set Providence above in this conference win.
Photo Credit: NCAA.com
- Postgame: #22 Butler defeats Marquette 68-65 February 8, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs squeak past another Big East opponent on solid shooting and all around defense despite a weak bench performance.
Butler started the game with an unlikely cast of characters starting. Veteran scoring guard Kethan Savage got his first start of the season, along with shooter Avery Woodson, Kamar Baldwin, and big men Wideman and Chrabascz.
Junior star and season scoring leader Kelan Martin did not play at all the first half and barely played the second half based on Coach Chris Holtmann’s decision. Martin finished with one point, compared to his 16.3 per game average.
Chrabascz picked up the scoring slack, leading all scorers with 21 points on 73% shooting. The senior forward also had five rebounds, four assists, five steals and a block. A masterful performance on both ends.
Avery Woodson also played a big role for Butler’s offense, scoring 17 points and grabbing 6 boards.
Freshman guard Kamar Baldwin had a decent night offensively, scoring eight points, but was a star on the defensive end, recording four blocks and a steal.
Marquette had a couple of hot players in this game as well. Freshman guard Markus Howard tore up Butler’s defense yet again, scoring 19 points on five made three pointers and had two steals.
Marquette big man Luke Fischer also scored 19 and raked in 13 rebounds for his third double double of the season. While his stat line seems impressive, Fischer’s inability to guard Andrew Chrabascz off the dribble was a big reason for Marquette’s loss.
Marquette’s high powered offense was held to less than 70 points for the first time since New Year’s Day against Seton Hall. Butler guards held a hot Andrew Rowsey to ZERO points off the bench.
Butler’s offense had a great shooting night, at 49% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. Unfortunately, the Dawgs also recorded 13 turnovers, three more than their season average.
Despite this, Butler came away with a solid conference road win for their 19th victory of the season. The W also came off of two home losses, and was an important victory for the Dawgs to get back on track.
Player of the game:
Andrew Chrabascz’s lockdown defense and offensive exposure of Luke Fischer was key for Butler to come away with this big win. Without his leadership, the Bulldogs may be stuck with another unfortunate road loss.
Photo Credit: SI.com
- Postgame: Creighton defeats Butler 76-67 February 1, 2017 Jackson Borman
Once again, the Creighton Bluejays bully the Bulldogs. This was Butler’s second straight home loss (the first time that they have been handed consecutive L’s at Hinkle since 2014). Creighton’s shooting was the difference maker.
The Bluejays finished with 13 made threes, and shot 62% from deep in the contest. Creighton’s starting lineup was 12/18 shooting behind the arc, and scored 62 of the team’s 76 points. Even big man Justin Patton got in on the long ball action early on in the contest, knocking down a transition three in the first half.
Patton was busy on the offensive end in other ways as well, scoring 15 points in total, including a couple of alley oops off of masterfully executed pick and roll actions from the Bluejays. Patton also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots.
Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas also scored 15 a piece, and knocked down a combined six three pointers.
Tyler Clement also played a big role for the Bluejays off of the bench, filling the point guard slot and dishing out six assists in just 25 minutes played.
For the Bulldogs, Kamar Baldwin was once again the star, scoring a team high 14 points on 43% shooting. Kelan Martin scored 11 and grabbed a game high eight rebounds as well. No other Dawgs would reach double digits.
Butler shot only 41% from the field and a miserable 26% from three point land in the contest. They simply could not keep up with the hot hands of the Creighton offense.
In the past, Butler has opted for an extended 2-3 zone to mix it up against good three point shooting teams (for example, Marquette). Against Creighton, they ran a defense that involved Andrew Chrabascz leaving his man to double team Justin Patton- which left shooters open at the perimeter.
Eventually, they switched back to a straight up man to man with long defensive players Sean McDermott and Henry Baddley playing extended minutes at the end of the second half. Baddley had a thunderous putback dunk in the final minutes of the contest which gave the Hinkle crowd some hope, but the Dawgs ended up folding once again to Creighton.
Butler is back in action on Wednesday, February, 7th at Marquette. They will look to get back on track in that game, a rematch of a game that featured one of their best offensive halves of basketball (ever). Go Dawgs.
- Pregame: #16 Butler vs #22 Creighton January 30, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs take on the crippled Creighton Bluejays at Hinkle fieldhouse on Tuesday nights at 7 ET. Butler is coming off of their first home loss against Georgetown last weekend. Creighton has lost two of their last three (L vs Marquette, L @Georgetown, W vs DePaul).
Creighton recently lost their star point guard, Maurice Watson Jr., for the rest of the season to a torn ACL. Since the injury, the team has looked shaky compared to their 17 and 1 start. What once was a national championship contender, is now merely an above average team.
In their last meeting, Creighton demolished the Bulldogs in Omaha. They held Butler’s leading scorers (Kelan Martin, Andrew Chrabascz, and Kamar Baldwin) to 7, 2 and 9 points respectively.
Mo Watson picked apart the Butler defence, scoring a game high 21 points, dishing out seven assists, and pulling in four rebounds as well. Including Watson, the Bluejays had four players in double digits and lead the Dawgs by 25 early in the second half. It was Butler’s first blowout loss.
This go around is likely to be a much different story, both with the tragedy of Mo Watson’s season ending injury and Chris Holtmann’s defensive scheme that is likely to have switched up since the thromping.
Butler will look to contain scoring guard Marcus Foster, who averages over 18 points per game. The star junior has hit double digits in scoring in 20/22 games this season (his only single digit performances were at Nebraska and against Butler). Foster is likely to go off at any time this year (he has eight 20 point performances this season) and is an offensive threat from everywhere on the court.
Seven foot big man Justin Patton has also been big for the Bluejays this season, averaging 14 points per game and six rebounds. He also uses his size in the interior to block and change shots at the rim.
Butler will have to rely on their defense to win this matchup. While the Dawgs are capable of big scoring numbers (like their 60+ point half against Marquette), they are too inconsistent to rely on scoring to win them games. If they can limit Creighton to scoring less than 70 points in regulation, the Bulldogs will come out with a win.
Players to watch-
Avery Woodson shot the ball well (50% from the field) against Creighton in their last matchup. Look out for the deadeye shooter to give the Dawgs some offensive support from the bench and get the Hinkle crowd fired up with some long balls.
Kelan Martin struggled last game against Creighton but looked to be back in great form in Butler’s loss to Georgetown last weekend. The star forward scored 22 points and grabbed four rebounds. If Martin can keep up this type of offensive play then Butler will have a fighting chance in every game for the rest of the season.
Marcus Foster was Creighton’s best scorer before Mo Watson’s injury, but now he is likely their best player. Look for Foster to assert himself offensively in this matchup and carry much of the load for the injured Bluejays.
Khyri Thomas has emerged as Creighton’s best passer in the last couple of games. While the Bluejays have looked to fill Watson’s hole with multiple players, Thomas has become their primary facilitator. But don’t let his new role deceive you, Thomas is capable of getting buckets; he dropped 18 on #9 Wisconsin early on in the season and 14 on Butler in their last matchup.
Photo Credit: Busting Brackets.com
- Postgame: #11 Butler falls to Georgetown 85-81 January 28, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler took its first home loss in nearly the last calendar year in front of a sold out Hinkle crowd at the hands of the Georgetown Hoyas.
Butler struggled defensively. Georgetown had three players with at least twenty points. Veteran guard Rodney Pryor had 20 points on 57% shooting. Point guard L.J. Peak had 22 points and six assists on 66% shooting. Georgetown big man Jessie Govan came off of the bench for the Hoyas to score 20 points on 89% shooting. This is not a winning recipe for the Bulldogs.
Butler star Kelan Martin exploded for his first big game in what feels like forever, scoring 22 points. Andrew Chrabascz scored 16, and freshman guard Kamar Baldwin scored 10.
Butler looked good from the field, shooting 55% from the field and 39% from deep. They also finished with an impressive 88% from the freethrow line. Offensively it was a typical night for the Bulldogs, but defensively they were lacking.
At the half, Butler was up one, 41-40. At the start of the half, Rodney Pryor exploded from deep, and the Hoyas started their roll.
Butler’s last home loss was on February, 13th of 2016, nearly an entire year earlier than their disappointing loss against Georgetown.
Once again, Butler struggling to guard skilled perimeter players was the difference maker in the game. The Dawgs will have to regroup defensively if they hope to win against Creighton at home on Tuesday night.
Photo credit: CBS sports.com
- Pregame: #11 Butler vs Georgetown January 27, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler takes on Georgetown for round two of what turned into an overtime victory for the Dawgs last time at Georgetown. Butler is looking for a conference win that could propel them into first place in the Big East, if it is accompanied by a Villanova loss. The game is Saturday at 8 PM at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Since their last matchup with Butler, the Hoyas took a rough loss at the hands of Providence for the second time this year, and more recently picked up an impressive win over Creighton- granted this win was against a crippled Creighton squad who recently lost their star Maurice Watson Jr.
Butler has looked sharp since their win at Georgetown, with only one loss (to Creighton with Watson Jr.) and an impressive win against Xavier. The Bulldogs are still undefeated at home, so look for this game to be a continuation of their home winning streak.
In their first meeting, the Hoyas took Butler to overtime. This go around the Dawgs will look to correct the mistakes that they made, and win in regulation.
When they met last, Butler did a fantastic job of defending star guard, and Georgetown’s leading scorer, Rodney Pryor. He did not score a point the entire game. However the Hoya’s other two starting guards L.J. Peak and Jagan Mosely combined for 41 points. Butler will have to do better on the defensive end in this game.
Kamar Baldwin lead Butler in scoring in the previous matchup with Georgetown. Kelan Martin and Andrew Chrabascz combined for 24 points but shot only 30% from the field in the game. The Dawgs will definitely be looking for better shot selection and hopefully the shots will be falling a little more freely than they were earlier this month.
And as always, Butler will have a little bit of Hinkle magic on their side. It is the Bulldogs’ first home game since their 18 point comeback to beat Marquette in front of the home crowd. Look for the Dawgs to feed off of the energy in the historic fieldhouse for a big conference win.
Players to Watch:
Kamar Baldwin has emerged as Butler’s young star and has been dazzling on both ends of the floor in 2017. In the freshman’s last four games he is averaging over 17 points and five rebounds- all while being tasked with guarding some of the best guards in the conference.
Avery Woodson will need to step up defensively for the Bulldogs if they want to contain L.J. Peak and Jagan Mosely. Woodson is also a weapon offensively, primarily from deep. Look for the veteran shooter to be a key to Butler’s win.
In their loss against Butler, Rodney Pryor did almost nothing for the Hoyas, going 0/8 from the field in the game. Pryor is going to have to get involved offensively if Georgetown is going to come away with a road win.
L.J. Peak is the Hoya’s second leading scorer, averaging almost 16 per game. He is one of their best free throw shooters and leads the team in assists. Peak will have to score and play solid defense against Butler’s guards.
Photo Credit: NBC sports
- Noah Holley Bracketology: January 23, 2017 January 23, 2017 Noah Holley
(Sites: Buffalo, Orlando, Milwaukee, Greenville)
1 Villanova vs 16 NC Central/Fairleigh Dickinson
8 Virginia Tech vs 9 TCU
5 Wisconsin vs 12 Nevada
4 Louisville vs 13 Valparaiso
6 Maryland vs 11 UNC-Wilmington
3 Creighton vs 14 Belmont
7 SMU vs 10 Texas Tech
2 Kentucky vs 15 Princeton
(Sites: Tulsa, Indianapolis, Greenville, Sacramento)
1 Baylor vs 16 Sam Houston State
8 Northwestern vs 9 Marquette
5 West Virginia vs 12 Akron
4 Notre Dame vs 13 New Mexico State
6 Xavier vs 11 Illinois State
3 North Carolina vs 14 Georgia Southern
7 Minnesota vs 10 Arkansas
2 Gonzaga vs 15 North Dakota State
(Sites: Tulsa, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis)
1 Kansas vs 16 UC Irvine/Texas Southern
8 Southern Cal vs 9 Seton Hall
5 Purdue vs 12 Cal/Pitt
4 Duke vs 13 Florida Gulf Coast
6 South Carolina vs 11 Wichita State
3 Oregon vs 14 Winthrop
7 Florida vs 10 VCU
2 Butler vs 15 UNC-Greensboro
(Sites: Orlando, Buffalo, Sacramento, Salt Lake City)
1 Florida State vs 16 Eastern Washington
8 Kansas State vs 9 Dayton
5 Cincinnati vs 12 Michigan State/Miami
4 Virginia vs 13 Monmouth
6 Indiana vs 11 Mid Tennessee State
3 UCLA vs 14 Vermont
7 Saint Mary’s vs 10 Iowa State
2 Arizona vs 15 Bucknell
LAST FOUR BYES
LAST FOUR IN
FIRST FOUR OUT
NEXT FOUR OUT
- Postgame: #13 Butler defeats DePaul 70-69 in OT January 21, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler pulls out yet another scary road win by beating DePaul in an ugly overtime game.
DePaul came to the game shooting the lights out, and rushed to a 25-5 lead over the Dawgs in the first eight minutes of the game. The 20 point lead was their highest of the game.
Most of their offense came from behind the three point line, specifically from Eli Cain. The sophomore guard finished with a game high four assists and a career high 32 points. Cain finished 6/11 from deep.
Tre’Darius McCallum also had a big game for DePaul scoring 15 points and pulling down 11 rebounds as well as sending back a couple of Bulldog shots.
Senior point guard Billy Garrett Jr. was an offensive force for the Demons as well, scoring 16 of his own points and notching six rebounds as well.
Butler came back in the first half to trim the lead back to only two points at halftime. Throughout the second half the Dawgs grappled with a single digit deficit and couldn’t get anything going offensively. But neither could DePaul.
Kethan Savage emerged as Butler’s offensive hope, making clutch layups late in the game and in overtime. Savage finished with a season high 20 points and five rebounds. He also had a couple of steals.
Butler’s big men were cut off entirely from their offensive efforts by DePaul. Tyler Wideman was held to just three points (despite his three offensive rebounds and eight total boards) and eventually fouled out of the game. Butler star Andrew Chrabascz was held scoreless in the game as well.
Once again Kamar Baldwin emerged as a young star for the Bulldogs, scoring 18 points in the game, including a clutch three late in the game and a pair of free throws to win the game in overtime.
Neither team could score late in the game, both teams missing their fair share of important free throws late in the game. In the end, the turnovers made the difference. DePaul finished with 12 turnovers and Butler with only six.
Once again, Butler is scared on the road. They never shoot well, they play down to their opponents levels. We saw this at Georgetown, at St. Johns, at Indiana State. This is just another example of the Bulldogs struggling on the road. Look for coach Holtmann to chew out his team in hopes of a better looking start to Wednesday’s game.
Butler is back in action on Wednesday at Seton Hall.
Photo Credit: The Butler Collegian
- Pregame: #13 Butler Bulldogs vs DePaul Blue Demons January 20, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler travels to the Windy City to take on the DePaul Blue Demons in a conference matchup. The game is Saturday at 2 ET and will be televised on FS1.
DePaul has had an underwhelming season so far with very few moments of brightness. They beat Missouri State early in the season, only to lose against them in December. They came back against #1 Villanova to end up losing by just three in late December in their first conference game.
The Blue Demons are currently last in the Big East. Butler is currently third in the Big East, but a win on Saturday would make them tied with Creighton for second.
Eli Cain is the leading scorer for the Blue Demons, averaging over 16 points per game. The Sophomore guard also averages a handful of rebounds every game. He is also DePaul’s leading three point threat.
Tre’Darius McCallum is the team’s rebounder. He averages more than seven boards per game and nearly 10 points as well. Butler will have to contain him on the glass in this game.
Senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. is DePaul’s second leading scorer. He also leads the team in assists and shoots 92% from the freethrow line.
Butler should trounce DePaul this weekend. However, on the road the Dawgs have been shaky at times- losing to Indiana State earlier in the season, being taken to overtime against Georgetown, and losing to St. Johns on the road as well. Hopefully tomorrow Butler can just get the easy win like they should.
Players to watch-
Kelan Martin is still the Dawg’s leading scorer despite a streak of weaker offensive games and even a couple that he didn’t start. Look for the experienced scorer to take advantage of a weak conference team.
Tyler Wideman has been dominant on the defensive end all season, and is prone to have a couple of big games offensively here and there. Wideman will be instrumental in keeping DePaul’s Tre’Darius McCallum off of the boards in this game.
Tre’Darius McCallum was DePaul’s leading scorer (19 points) in their best game of the season (their close loss @ Villanova). Butler will have to contain this difference maker on the boards, as well as on the defensive end.
Billy Garrett Jr. will most likely be guarded by Butler’s Tyler Lewis for a lot of the game. This makes him prone to explode offensively. While the Dawgs will do their best to limit his production, Butler’s perimeter defense is not strong enough to stop both Cain and Garrett Jr.
Photo credit: Jimmy Lafakis on Twitter
- Noah Holley Bracketology: January 19, 2017 January 19, 2017 Noah Holley
(Key: ↑-moved up, ↓-moved down, italics-new team to bracket, *-automatic bid)
1 Villanova* vs 16 LIU Brooklyn*/Texas Southern*
8 TCU vs 9 Clemson↓
5 Maryland↑ vs 12 Akron↑*
4 Notre Dame vs 13 Valparaiso*
6 Purdue↓ vs 11 Illinois State*
3 North Carolina↑ vs 14 UNC Greensboro*
7 Xavier↓ vs 10 Arkansas
2 Kentucky* vs 15 Maryland-Baltimore County*
1 Florida State* vs 16 Sam Houston State*
8 Texas Tech vs 9 Cal↑
5 Duke↓ vs 12 Miami↓/Marquette
4 West Virginia↓ vs 13 Monmouth*
6 Florida↓ vs 11 Nevada↑*
3 Louisville vs 14 Georgia Southern*
7 Southern Cal↑ vs 10 Seton Hall↓
2 Gonzaga* vs 15 North Dakota State*
1 Kansas* vs 16 NC Central*/UC Irvine*
8 Virginia Tech vs 9 Northwestern
Salt Lake City
5 Cincinnati* vs 12 VCU↓/Kansas State
4 Arizona↑ vs 13 New Mexico State*
Salt Lake City
6 South Carolina↑ vs 11 Middle Tennessee State*
3 Oregon vs 14 Belmont*
7 SMU vs 10 Michigan State
2 Creighton vs 15 Winthrop↓*
1 Baylor vs 16 Weber State*
8 Indiana↑ vs 9 Dayton*
5 Wisconsin↑ vs 12 Wichita State↓
4 Virginia vs 13 Florida Gulf Coast*
6 Saint Mary’s↑ vs 11 UNC Wilmington↑*
3 Butler vs 14 Bucknell↑*
7 Minnesota↓ vs 10 Iowa State
2 UCLA* vs 15 Harvard*
LAST FOUR BYES
LAST FOUR IN
FIRST FOUR OUT
NEXT FOUR OUT
- What Maurice Watson’s injury means for Creighton and the rest of the Big East January 17, 2017 Tyler Calvaruso
When Mo Watson went down with a non-contract knee injury in Monday’s win over Xavier, Creighton fans feared the worst for their star point guard.
Those fears have been confirmed.
Per Watson’s twitter, the senior guard suffered a torn ACL and is out for the remainder of the season.
As a result of Watson’s injury, things just got VERY interesting in the Big East.
Not only was Watson leading the country in assists with 8.5 per game, he was the heart and soul of Creighton’s team. Without Watson, they lose not only a tremendous player, but their leader as well.
The main problem for Creighton is without Watson, they don’t have a true point guard to run the show. Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas are much better players playing off of the ball. The Jays turned to junior guard Isaiah Zierden to play point guard in Monday’s win over Xavier and he will likely remain the point guard moving forward.
Zierden started all 31 of Creighton’s games last season, so he has plenty of experience. However, he is not a true point guard in his own right and is another player who thrived playing off the ball with Watson facilitating the offense.
Creighton, currently ranked number seven in the country, does not have a game until they take on Marquette at home, so they will have almost a full week of practice to figure out their point guard situation.
The Jays are still one of the better teams in the Big East thanks to the likes of Foster, Thomas, and Cole Huff, so it’s not as if the Jays are going to go crashing to the bottom of the Big East standings with the loss of Watson, but there is the potential for some slip-ups along the way.
Looking past Creighton, here is what Watson going down for the season means for the rest of the Big East.
Villanova is now the clear favorite
If there was any doubt about Villanova being the favorite in the Big East, that doubt should be erased now.
The Wildcats were able to go to Creighton and defeat the Jays with Watson, and winning the Big East just became a whole lot easier with Watson not around to give them fits in their second showdown of the season in February.
The current number one team in the country should be the favorites to win the not only the regular season title, but the conference tournament as well.
Marquette can steal one on Saturday
The Golden Eagles almost went on the road and beat Butler, but squandered an 18 point lead and ultimately wound up losing by eight.
In that game, Marquette showed that they are not scared to play top teams on the road and with Watson being out, they could possibly be back in the position to get themselves a signature win.
Markus Howard is the real deal and a true point guard for Marquette, something Creighton does not currently have. With the Jays searching for an answer at the point, Howard could potentially take advantage of this and have himself a monster game, leading Marquette to an upset on the road.
Howard showed that he is fearless with a strong performance against Butler on Monday and his job just got a lot easier now that he will not have to deal with being covered by and defending the relentless Watson.
Things won’t be so easy the second time around for Creighton
Creighton played four of the seemingly better teams in the Big East to start off conference play in Seton Hall, Villanova, Butler, and Xavier.
They were able to win three of those four games, the lone loss coming to Villanova. All of those games were played in Omaha and with Watson.
Now, Creighton will have to go into hostile environments against four very good teams without their leader and point guard.
All four of those aforementioned teams have something in common: strong guard play.
If Creighton is not able to right the ship quickly, they could easily drop four road games and send them falling down the Big East standings.
The potential for teams to move up
If you haven’t gotten the gist by now, Creighton is vulnerable without Watson.
They are an extremely talented team and Watson did not carry them to number seven in the country all by himself, but without their point guard it remains to be seen how they will respond.
There are plenty of teams near the bottom of the Big East standings in St. John’s, Providence, Georgetown and even Seton Hall who currently find themselves at eighth in the Big East early on. These teams will definitely be looking to take advantage of the Watson injury in an effort to move up in the Big East standings.
- Disastrous road trip sets up must-win games for Seton Hall January 17, 2017 Tyler Calvaruso
Seton Hall’s three game road trip this past week couldn’t have gone any worse.
The Pirates were looking to come back to South Orange having gone 2-1 on the trip, with the lone loss coming to Villanova.
Instead, they return 0-3 after dropping games to Marquette in which they fought back to force overtime, an inferior Providence team, and the number one team in the country in Villanova.
As opposed to 4-2, Seton Hall now finds themselves at 2-4 and at the bottom half of the Big East standings in eighth place.
Going into Marquette was never going to be an easy win and the Pirates didn’t help their cause by coming out flat in the first half. Led by Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez, the Pirates clawed back from a seven point deficit with under a minute left to force overtime.
Nothing went right in the overtime period however, as Carrington would foul out early in the period and big man Angel Delgado was exhausted. Despite a last ditch effort at heroics from Rodriguez, Seton Hall fell 89-86.
Another flat start ensued on Saturday in Rhode Island and Seton Hall could ultimately never recover, losing to the Friars by a 65-61 final. The lack of effort in the first half prompted head coach Kevin Willard to call the loss embarrassing in a variety of ways.
The already dreadful week would come to an end in an even worse way, as Seton Hall couldn’t get anything going against Villanova and lost 76-46. Given the circumstances, the loss was not one of the worst of the Willard era, but it was one of the largest margin of defeats and arguably the most embarrassing loss in Willard’s time at the Hall.
It was a grueling week for Seton Hall with only one day to prepare for the number one team in the country. Willard can complain about the schedule all he wants, but now that the Pirates will play their next two games at home one thing is crystal clear.
These are must win games.
Seton Hall will take on another inferior team in St. John’s on Sunday. The Red Storm have excellent guards, but not much of an inside presence. This could open up the potential for Angel Delgado to have a monster game and lead the Pirates to a morale-boosting win.
Next up after St. John’s will be another tough opponent in Butler. Beating Butler at home is always important because it is nearly impossible to go to the Hinkle Fieldhouse and come away with a win (just ask Villanova about that), but it is important as ever right now.
Even if Seton Hall can manage to defeat St. John’s on Sunday, losing to Butler would put them at 3-5 in the Big East as they head back out on the road. Beating Butler would put Seton Hall back at .500 in Big East play and the Pirates would then have a chance to climb above .500 with a road win over Georgetown.
Things may be gloomy in South Orange right now, but all hope should not be lost. As long as Seton Hall takes care of business at The Rock, a place that they have been extremely successful, these next two games, the Pirates could potentially find themselves right back in the thick of things in the Big East.
PHOTO: USA Today Sports
- Postgame: #13 Butler rallies to defeat Marquette 88-80 January 16, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs overcame a 16 point halftime deficit to beat the Golden Eagles 88-80. Butler moves on to 5-2 record in conference play while Marquette sits at an even 3-3.
Marquette simply lit the Dawgs up in the first half, making seven threes and shooting 50% from the field. On Butler’s side a horrendous 12% three point shooting percentage and an equally bad 36% from the field seemed to keep the Dawgs out of contention. The halftime score was 41-25 Marquette.
The Golden Eagles’ freshman star Markus Howard scored 12 of his 16 first half points in the first five minutes, just picking Butler’s defense apart. He went on to finish with 26 points on 56% shooting.
Coming out of the half down 16 must have been a wake up call for the Bulldogs, who went on to outscore Marquette 63-39. Butler’s offense was rolling in the second half, on the coattails of their offensive stars Kamar Baldwin, Kelan Martin, and Kethan Savage.
Savage scored fourteen points in the second half to finish with 17 in the contest. He also pulled down four rebounds.
Kelan Martin was Butler’s leading scorer for the game, and finished with 22 and a game high seven rebounds. He also turned it on in the second half scoring 14.
Kamar Baldwin shined all over the court once again. He finished with 18 points (13 of which were in the second half). He also had three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. The freshman can do it all, and is dazzling to watch out on the court.
At a key moment in the second half, Baldwin scored a floating layup, and proceeded to steal the ball from Markus Howard on the ensuing defensive possession, leading to another Butler score.
Once again, the Bulldogs shot 30 freethrows in the game, making 23 of them. This production from the line, especially in the second half, helped to carry them to victory.
Defensively, Butler began to alternate between man and 2-3 zone defenses in the second half, confusing Marquette’s offense and throwing a wrench into their drive-and-kick oriented scoring. As a result, the Golden Eagles made only three long balls in the second half, compared to their seven in the first half.
Hinkle Fieldhouse was alive and buzzing with basketball magic again this afternoon, in an amazing comeback for the Butler Bulldogs.
Next for the Dawgs, they travel to Depaul and then Seton Hall for a two game road trip. The Depaul game will be on the 21st at 2 PM.
Photo Credit: Jimmy Lafakis on Twitter
- Pregame: Butler Bulldogs vs Marquette Golden Eagles January 15, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs take on conference opponent Marquette in a MLK day Big East battle. The game is at noon ET and will be on FS1.
Both teams are coming off of conference wins from Saturday, so it will be a quick turnaround on both sides.
Butler defeated #15 Xavier at Hinkle Fieldhouse and Marquette demolished Depaul at home as well. Great shooting has been the story for the Golden Eagles so far this season.
Marquette excels from behind the three point line, shooting 41% and averaging over 10 made threes per game on the season. Butler will have to chase them off of the perimeter if they want to come away with the win.
Five Golden Eagle players average over 10 points per game. Leading the pack is Senior guard Jajuan Johnson with around 13 per game. He is not a great shooter from deep but on the season shoots nearly 50% from the field.
Freshman guard Markus Howard averages a bit more than 12 points per game and is the team’s best shooter (55% from three and 94% from the freethrow line!).
Senior center Luke Fischer has been a staple of Marquette’s team for the last few years. He is a 6’11”, 250 pounder and also averages 12 a game, but brings in six boards and a block as well.
After playing three top 15 opponents in their last four games, Butler simply cannot relax. They can come away with the win, as long as they keep their focus and play like they have against tougher opponents.
Players to Watch-
Kamar Baldwin scored 21 points in the second half alone against Xavier on Saturday. He was also instrumental in Butler’s defense when it came to stopping Xavier’s talented guards. Look for the Freshman to shine yet again.
Kethan Savage has been playing an instrumental role in the Bulldogs’ offense as of late. Coming off the bench, he has consistently scored around ten points per game and gets a fair amount of assists as Tyler Lewis’ backup. Look for the veteran point to make an impact on the game offensively.
Freshman guard Markus Howard is one of the Golden Eagles’ most efficient scorers and definitively their best shooter. Butler has struggled to contain scoring guards in the past, look for Howard to try to continue that trend.
Andrew Rowsey is a Junior transfer student who stands at 5’10”- Marquette’s shortest player. However, he averages nearly 10 points per game and in their last game scored 24 points on 6-7 from deep. He also had four assists. Look for the deadeye to add to his recent scoring outburst against the Dawgs.
Photo Credits: Jimmy Lafakis on Twitter
- Postgame: #12 Butler defeats #15 Xavier 83-78 January 15, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler overcomes halftime deficit to take down rival and number 15 Xavier in front of a sold out Hinkle crowd. The Bulldogs are now 15-3 and still undefeated at home.
Down 6 at the half, Butler fans were a bit uneasy. The dawgs were once again struggling from the field shooting 36% in the first half and only 25% from three. Freshman star Kamar Baldwin was held scoreless. Butler stars Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman didn’t even start the game: instead shooter Avery Woodson started at the 3 and Sophomore big man Nate Fowler started at center.
Right out of the half, Butler came back to tie the ballgame and eventually pulled ahead on Kamar Baldwin’s 21 second half points. Yes, you read that correctly. Butler also shot 29-32 from the freethrow line in the second half. Yes, you also read that correctly. The’s Dawgs’ 58 second half points propelled them to yet another home victory and another victory against a ranked opponent.
Baldwin finished with 21 points (a career high), 9 rebounds, and two steals. He was perfect from the charity stripe (8-8).
Coming off the bench, Kelan Martin played well. He scored in both of his first two plays of the game, giving the Bulldogs a much needed offensive boost. Martin finished with 13 points.
Butler’s other star, senior Andrew Chrabascz, finished with 16 points, three rebounds and two assists. He racked up his points in his usual way, twisting and spinning through defenders in the post for easy lay-ins.
Xavier’s guards tore up Butler’s defense. Their relatively small starting lineup was in no way an offensive disadvantage, with each of their four starting guards reaching double digits.
J.P. Macura lit up the Dawgs with four threes and sixteen total points in the contest.
Senior guard Malcolm Bernard finished with a near triple double of 10 points and eight rebounds.
Most impressively, Sophomore Xavier guard Edmond Sumner finished with a game-high 22 points, getting to the rim whenever he wanted and shooting 12-13 from the line. He also had a game high three assists.
In the end, free throw shooting won the contest for the Bulldogs. Butler went 33-38 from the stripe and Xavier wasn’t too far behind, shooting 28-39. This was by far the most free throws the Dawgs have shot in a game this season, and one of their best performances from the line, finishing at 87%.
After handing Xavier their second straight loss, Butler has a quick turn around, taking on Marquette at home on Monday for an MLK day matchup.
Photo Credit: Jimmy Lafakis on twitter
- Saturday Preview: Duke and Louisville headline a loaded Saturday slate January 13, 2017 Tyler Calvaruso
Welcome to my new weekly series in which we will take a look at the best that Saturday’s in college hoops have to offer.
Luckily for the first installment of this series, we have some very intriguing games coming up this Saturday starting with Duke taking a trip to Louisville at noon and ending with a late-night WCC showdown.
#7 Duke (14-3) @ #14 Louisville (14-3) 12 P.M. EST ESPN
For two teams loaded with talent, both of these teams find themselves currently on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Coming off of two straight victories after being upset by Virginia Tech on the road, the Blue Devils continued to struggle on the road and fell victim to a red hot Florida State team on the road on Tuesday. Duke is now 0-2 on the road against ranked opponents in ACC play so far this season and have allowed 79 points per game in ACC play, something you would not expect from an always talented Duke team.
The length and athleticism of Florida State gave Duke fits all night long and Louisville has plenty of length and athleticism of their own. Led by Donovan Mitchell (13.5 ppg), the Cardinals will be looking for their third straight victory after grinding out an 85-80 victory against a tough Pitt team on Wednesday night, despite a career high 43 points from Jamel Artis.
Duke has the advantage in talent, but that hasn’t seemed to matter too much in ACC play so far. This Louisville team may not have that one superstar, but they play well together as a unit and always are a tough team to knock off at home. I’m taking Louisville in this one.
#9 Florida State (16-1) @ #11 North Carolina (15-3) 2 P.M. EST ESPN
Florida State was supposed to be a good team coming into this season, but I don’t think anyone could have seen this coming.
The Seminoles have four wins over ranked opponents and will be looking to make it five at Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon after a big win over Duke. Sophomore Dwayne Bacon leads Florida State in scoring with 17.8 points per game, but the Seminoles get contributions across the board from Jonathan Isaac (12.1 ppg), Xavier Rathan-Mayes (12.1 ppg) and Terance Mann (9.4 ppg). Florida State will be able to stay in any game they play because of their length and athleticism on the defensive end. They generate turnovers with their length and run the break well with their athleticism.
It has been business as usual in Chapel Hill this season, as North Carolina is towards the top of the ACC standings as expected. Justin Jackson leads the Tar Heels with 17.7 points per game on an impressive 46% from the field, but are an extremely balanced team in their own right with four players averaging double figures and seven players averaging at least five points per game.
While Florida State has the length and athleticism to compete with UNC, they may not have the strength down low, as the big-bodied Kennedy Meeks is almost averaging a double-double with 9.7 rebounds per game. The Tar Heels are pretty athletic in their own right as well.
Florida State was able to win on the road at Virginia, but a trip to North Carolina will be a true test for the red hot Seminoles. I’m taking UNC to win this game, but there is no reason why Florida State can’t win this game.
#15 Xavier (13-3) @ #12 Butler (14-3) 2 P.M. Fox Sports 1
Both of these teams are coming off of losses to #3 Villanova and #8 Creighton, respectively.
At the same time, both of these teams were not favored to win those games and neither game was competitive for the most part. That will not be the case on Saturday.
These are two evenly matched teams with Butler getting the edge simply because they are nearly impossible to beat at home.
Xavier is led by Trevon Bluiett (17.3 ppg), Edmond Sumner (15.3 ppg), and the scrappy J.P. Macura (14.4 ppg). The Musketeers have also been given a boost with the return of senior Myles Davis from a suspension, which gives them some additional depth.
On the other side, Butler is a veteran, senior-laden team and it shows in the way that they play. They move the ball well and are extremely unselfish, almost always coming away with a good shot and playing stellar defense for all 30 seconds of the shot clock. They are led by junior Kelan Martin with 16.8 points per game, but after Martin, it is really a combination of guys who help to carry the load for this Butler team.
As I previously mentioned, the Bulldogs don’t lose at Hinkle fieldhouse and I wouldn’t expect that to change on this Saturday, even though Xavier will almost certainly give them a run for their money.
#21 Saint Mary’s (15-1) @ #5 Gonzaga (16-0) 10 P.M. EST ESPN
If you needed something to do on Saturday night, here it is.
Every season, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga always get together for a matchup of the two best teams in the WCC and there is a little added juice to this one, as both teams are ranked and Gonzaga is the only undefeated team left in the country.
This will be a game won in the frontcourt, as both teams have extremely skilled big men down low.
Saint Mary’s features one of the best big men in the country in Jock Landale, who is averaging 18 and nine on the season and leads the WCC in rebounding.
While Gonzaga’s big men may not light up the stat sheet, they make a major impact for the Zags. Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins combine to form one of the better frontcourt duos in the country and Gonzaga doesn’t lack in guard play either, led by Nigel Williams-Goss (15 ppg) and California grad transfer Jordan Matthews (10.8 ppg).
Gonzaga is the better team from top to bottom and are another team that rarely loses at home, but don’t write Saint Mary’s off just yet. Landale has the ability to take over ...
- Postgame: #12 Butler falls to #8 Creighton January 12, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Bulldogs take their third loss of the season In Omaha against the number eight ranked Bluejays 75-64.
Butler came into halftime with an insurmountable deficit staring back at them for the first time this season. Creighton gained the 20 point lead by forcing the Dawgs to live, or in this case, die beyond the arc. Butler shot 18% from behind the arc in the first half- on 11 attempts. That was just the beginning of their shooting woes. They finished the game shooting just 41% compared to Creighton’s 55% from the field.
Even when they were down big, Butler relied too heavily on outside shooting, and settled for threes late in the possession instead of working the ball inside and getting to the free throw line. Butler shot just seven free throws the entire game, and missed three of them.
Butler star Kelan Martin could not get anything going, missing his first eight shots scoring seven points on 3/14 shooting in the contest. Scoring Senior forward Andrew Chrabascz also struggled in the game, tallying just two points in 27 minutes of play.
Butler was lead in scoring by shooter Avery Woodson off the bench, who finished with 14 points and was the only Butler player to reach double figures in the game.
Creighton was lead in scoring by point guard and master distributor Maurice Watson Jr. The Senior guard had 21 points and seven assists. Creighton big men Justin Patton and Cole Huff also contributed to the win with 20 points, eight rebounds, and three steals between the two of them.
Creighton’s defense was the difference maker. The Bluejays allowed nothing easy inside and forced Butler to play the majority of the game from three-point land.
And so the saga of the Big East continues: where no win is easy and no team is safe. Butler looks to return to their winning ways this Saturday when they take on Xavier back at home-sweet-Hinkle.
Photo Credit: SI.com
- Seton Hall entering key Big East Road Trip January 11, 2017 Tyler Calvaruso
Coming into this week, Seton Hall finds themselves entering an early key stretch in their Big East schedule.
The Pirates currently sit on a 12-3 record with a 2-1 mark in conference play and will kick off the week on Wednesday as they travel to Marquette to take on the Golden Eagles. The last time these two teams met, Seton Hall was somehow able to pull off a 69-66 victory thanks to Marquette’s inability to haul in offensive rebounds on missed Seton Hall free throws.
Quite frankly, Marquette handed Seton Hall that game and the Pirates should be looking at a 1-2 record in the Big East instead of a 2-1 mark. The Golden Eagles will be hungry to knock off a Seton Hall team that they know they should have beat the first time around on the road.
Don’t think that the Pirates wont be playing with some fire as well, as they find themselves on the verge of being back in the top 25, currently sitting at #27. Angel Delgado led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds against Marquette big man Luke Fischer the first time around and he will be looking to control the paint again in this matchup. The Pirates were able to survive a poor shooting performance (4-13) from junior guard Khadeen Carrington in the first game, so he will be looking to make more of a contribution on Wednesday night as well.
Seton Hall will travel to Providence on Saturday and they will look to take advantage of a reeling Providence squad that lost a tight one to DePaul on Tuesday night. The Friars have dropped five of their last six, the only win coming over Georgetown.
After Providence comes the real test for the Hall. With only one day to prepare, which head coach Kevin Willard is very unhappy about, Seton Hall will travel to the Pavilion to take on Villanova. This will be the first time that the two teams have met since Seton Hall knocked off the Wildcats in last year’s Big East tournament championship game. It’s not going to be any easier for the Pirates to come away victorious this time around, as Seton Hall has not won a game at Villanova since 1994 and for the most part, Villanova does not lose at home in general.
It will be key for Seton Hall to return home from this road trip having gone 2-1 rather than 1-2 or 0-3. Losing to Villanova on the road would be understandable and even expected, but the Pirates need to take care of Marquette and Providence teams that are currently below them in the Big East standings.
Dropping games to either Marquette or Providence would put the Pirates in the position to have some must-win games coming up when they return home to take on St. John’s and Butler.
Although the team has played plenty of games at neutral sites this season, this will be their first true road trip of the season. How they perform on this first trip will say a lot about this team and could potentially set the tone moving forward.
It’s time to see just how tough this team really is.
- Pregame #18 Butler vs #10 Creighton January 8, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs continue their road trip to Omaha, Nebraska, to take on the Creighton Bluejays on Wednesday night at 9 ET. The game will be one of the biggest matchups in College basketball for the week and will be televised on FS1.
The Bluejays recently took their first loss of the season at the hands of then #1 Villanova. Other than that Creighton has had a successful season. Part of this stems from their lack of challenging opponents.
Creighton has only played two ranked teams coming into the Butler game: the loss against Nova and a win in their second game of the season against Wisconsin. The Dawgs, on the other hand, have played and defeated all four of their ranked opponents.
Creighton has a has a high powered offense, averaging 87.5 points per game. There are also four players that average over ten points per game for the Bluejays (their 7’ big man and three guards).
This could be a problem for the Dawgs who have struggled to guard elite scoring guards in the past. Freshman Kamar Baldwin has been a blessing for Butler in this respect- he is able to play defense and score against tough defenses. Baldwin had a career high 16 points and four steals in Butler’s last game.
Butler will have to be strong defensively at the perimeter as well. The Bluejays shoot 42% from behind the arc on the season, and have already made nearly 150 long balls already this season. They have six players that shoot over 40% from three.
Creighton’s big man Justin Patton is their second leading scorer with 14 points per game, and nearly seven rebounds per game. For most teams, he would be a problem, but the Dawgs have been locking down big men all season. On the other end, Patton is a big body who can alter shots in the paint and averages a couple of blocks every game.
Both Butler and Creighton have been great programs to watch this season, and taking on the Bluejays in Omaha will be no easy task. Get ready for a thriller, and Go Dawgs!
Players to Watch-
Kamar Baldwin is coming off of his season high for points in last weekend’s game against Georgetown. The Freshman guard has been a spark for the Bulldogs and will be their only hope to guard the scoring guards of Creighton. Look for Baldwin to be a force offensively and defensively against the Bluejays.
Nate Fowler had a fantastic game against Georgetown as well, reaching double digits in scoring for just the second time this season. The sophomore center will be instrumental in stopping Creighton’s post players, especially if Wideman or Chrabascz get into foul trouble.
Maurice Watson Jr. makes up for his small stature with his skill as a distributor: leading all of college basketball in assists per game. He also averages 13 points per game. Butler will have to stop Creighton’s floor general if they want to come out of Omaha with a win.
Marcus Foster is Creighton’s leading scorer with 18.6 points per game and will be a ‘must stop’ for Kamar Baldwin and the Bulldogs in this matchup. If Butler can’t contain him, things might get ugly.
Photo Credit: Boston Herald.com
- Postgame: Butler Defeats Georgetown 85-76 in OT January 8, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs pull out a close overtime win in D.C. against the Georgetown Hoyas.
Georgetown’s defense kept them in the game with the #18 ranked Dawgs. Butler shot an underwhelming 39% from the field despite a 50% three-point clip.
The Hoyas also limited Butler’s primary offensive weapons. Butler’s leading scorer, Kelan Martin to just 13 points on 23% shooting. Andrew Chrabascz, Butler’s other offensive star was limited to just 11 points in the contest, and was held scoreless in the first half.
Butler did a good job of guarding Georgetown star Rodney Pryor, keeping the typical 20 points-per-game star scoreless for the entirety of the contest. Because basketball is a team sport, this did not take the Hoyas out of contention.
L.J. Peak and Jagan Mosely scored 21 and 20 points for the Hoyas respectively. Sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson also made an impact, scoring 14 points, grabbing five boards and dishing out four assists.
Kamar Baldwin lead the Dawgs in scoring and steals, racking up 16 points and four swipes. Sophomore big man Nate Fowler also had a huge impact on the game, especially late in the contest: knocking down the game tying three and later, game tying free throws to send it to overtime. Fowler finished with 11 points off the bench.
Once again the Dawgs limited a team to under 70 points in regulation, but this time their poor shooting percentage (partially on account of the Hoya’s defense, partially on account of poor shot selection) did not allow them to score their average 77 points per game.
The story of Butler season thus far has been, play fantastically against ranked opponents and at home, and then struggle against weaker teams on the road. This was another example of this strange phenomenon. Especially with a roster that prides themselves on being an experienced bunch, it is about time that the Dawgs figure out how to get a solid win on the road.
Butler takes on #10 Creighton on the road on the 11th in their next game. This could be the perfect time to figure it out.
Photo Credit: Zimbio.com
- Pregame: #18 Butler vs. Georgetown January 6, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler takes on Georgetown on the road in their first game coming off of a big time home win against defending champion #1 Villanova.
Georgetown is 8-7 on the season. So far they are 0-2 in conference play, with losses at home against Xavier and at Providence college. The Hoyas lost to Providence by six, the same providence team that Butler beat on New Year’s day by 27.
Georgetown has three players that average over ten points per game.
The Hoyas are lead in scoring by Senior guard Rodney Prior, with 19.8 points per game. He is their primary threepoint threat and also a great rebounder. He carries the team in most games and has played well against ranked opponents, with a double-double (26 points and 10 rebounds) against #13 Oregon and 20 points against #17 Xavier on New Year’s Eve.
Junior guard L.J. Peak is their second highest scorer with 15.6 points per game. Peak also leads the team in steals and assists. He has also played well against good teams in the past: scoring 21 points against #17 Xavier, 17 against #13 Oregon and 18 against #16 Wisconsin.
Jessie Govan is the Hoya’s best big man, and plays center at 6’10”. He averages 10 points per game and leads the team in shooting percentage, rebounds and blocks. He, however, has played terribly against good teams, combining for just 15 points in Georgetown’s three games against ranked opponents this season.
Georgetown lost to Xavier by just five, and Oregon by just four, but lost to Wisconsin by 16. While the Hoyas have played well against ranked opponents, I don’t see the game being that close.
Players to Watch-
Kethan Savage has been an offensive asset in the last couple of games for the Bulldogs, registering double digit points multiple times. Look for the veteran guard to be a big part of Butler’s offense yet again.
Tyler Lewis is one of the best passers in the Big East and should thrive against the Hoyas. He might even surprise fans with a high scoring game as he has only a handful of times this season.
L.J. Peak and Rodney Prior have been Georgetown’s biggest performer against ranked teams, and should be able to score efficiently against Butler’s less than stellar guard defense. Look for the experienced guards to carry the Hoyas.
Photo Credit: Fox59.com
- 5 Things Around College Basketball January 6, 2017 Zach Beeler
1. What do you make of the Big Ten so far?
Ryan – If you’d have asked anyone before the season who the Goliaths of the conference would turn out to be, you’d likely have received the same answer every time. This league appeared to be built around Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. This prognostication appears to half right, at least to the point we’re at in this season, as the Spartans and Badgers are rolling. Purdue owns a solid road win over Ohio State and sits at 2-1 in conference play, and Indiana is trending entirely the wrong direction.
Then, we have our surprises. Ten days after dropping a home contest to Gardner-Webb, the Nebraska Cornhuskers win in Bloomington, stunning Indiana. The Huskers sit atop the Big Ten Conference at 3-0 alongside Michigan State. Give credit to the Minnesota Golden Gophers as well, owners of a road win at Purdue and a follow-up victory over Northwestern.
All things considered, we are likely to see Wisconsin and Michigan State atop the conference yet again. Some storylines to watch:It will be interesting to see if Purdue can gain back the game they lost on the leaders. Will Indiana mercifully end its nosedive? Can Nebraska continue its dominating streak? Will Northwestern finally crash the NCAA party?
In the end, we’re probably looking at Wisconsin as the team to beat.
Zach – All of those points ring true to me. Similar to last year, I saw a top “tier” of Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State. However, the biggest story thus far to me is the improvement of bottom-dweller Minnesota. You touched on it briefly, but they look like a team capable of winning any game in the Big Ten at the moment, home or away. They are one better play at the end of regulation against Michigan State away from sitting atop the conference with Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Speaking of Nebraska, how about the Cornhuskers? After an abysmal home loss to Gardner-Webb, the Huskers are 4-0 with road wins over Indiana and Maryland. They play a tough brand of basketball with two great guards in Glynn Watson and Tai Webster. To me, two of the more interesting story lines to watch, along with who wins the conference, are whether Minnesota and Nebraska, two teams that struggled last year, can maintain their current push.
2. Who, if anyone, can challenge Kentucky in the SEC?
Zach – Kentucky, as always, brought in an unbelievable wealth of talent with their freshman recruiting class. Players like Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo have the Wildcats looking like the cream of the crop in the SEC…again. Looking at the conference up and down, I see a couple teams that could give them a tough game but not much in the way of a true challenger. South Carolina has a great defense that could stifle Kentucky for a game, but I don’t think they have enough depth to compete over the course of a season. Arkansas has some talent, but again the depth question comes up.
Overall, I see Florida as the only team that could even potentially challenge for the SEC crown. The Gators are a veteran squad that has been in tough games before. The key to dethroning Kentucky will be winning tight road games when the shots may not be falling in. Florida has this kind of demeanor. Along with that, Florida is very good at forcing turnover, ranking in the top 20 in the country in that respect. With a young team, Kentucky could be prone to turning the ball over in their two meetings with the Gators. If Florida can avoid any bad losses, I think it is possible to at least challenge for the SEC Title. But in the end, I just think Kentucky has too much talent and wins the conference by at least two games.
Ryan – Here is a complete list of the teams that can challenge Kentucky in the SEC:
The Wildcats are one of the premier teams in the nation playing in a very weak power conference. There are only a handful of contests one could realistically expect Kentucky to lose, and they are all away from Rupp Arena. Florida, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina all field solid squads, but none of the aforementioned teams are even remotely close to the tier occupied by the Wildcats. Kentucky will win the SEC, and it won’t be particularly close, as I expect Kentucky to win the conference by at least three or four games. Expect more domination from Big Blue Nation in the Southeastern Conference.
3. Can Butler realistically challenge Villanova for the Big East Title?
Ryan – Yes, but it will absolutely not be easy. The Big East Conference is, in my humble opinion, extremely underrated this year, with Villanova, Butler, Creighton, and Xavier leading the pack. The league also boasts a handful of other solid teams with the likes of Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, and Georgetown fielding tough squads. For Butler to dethrone the national champs, the Bulldogs will need to win on the road, a task they have yet to accomplish this conference season. We all know Butler can protect Hinkle Fieldhouse, but can they win away from Indianapolis? Villanova is tried and tested, is coming off of a national title, and has raced out to another superb start. Can Butler dethrone the champs and claim the Big East Title? Sure. But I wouldn’t bet against Jay Wright.
Zach – I tend to agree with you. Villanova may not have the same depth as they had last year, but Josh Hart is playing like the National Player of the Year and is getting plenty of help around him. Kris Jenkins is playing well after his NCAA Title-winning shot, and Jalen Brunson has stepped up his play at the point guard position. All this being said, the Big East is a ...
- Hot Take City: 3rd Edition January 6, 2017 Ryan Dahlkamp
Well, it seems that my prediction of UCLA’s undefeated regular season was proven wrong just shortly after I wrote that article. In my defense, I did say their toughest game left on the schedule was that Oregon road game which they lost. But that is why these are called “hot takes”, they don’t always end up being correct.
Now, in this edition of Hot Take City, I’m here to tell you why I think a team other than Villanova will win the Big East this year. Creighton has a dynamic backcourt in Marcus Foster and Maurice Watson, with rising star Justin Patton up front. The team who took ‘Nova down to the wire in Omaha. So it’s the Blue Jays, right? Nope. What about Xavier and their explosive backcourt with Bluiett, Sumner, and Macura? Wrong again.
I think some people may be sleeping on the Butler Bulldogs as being perhaps the second-best team behind Villanova in the Big East conference. They sure were being overlooked in the regular season when they were picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big East by several experts. Heck, I didn’t even think Butler would be that good after losing Dunham and Roosevelt Jones to graduation.
If there is one thing I’ve learned as an Indiana basketball fan, following Butler pretty close from year to year, is that you can NEVER count out a Butler Bulldogs basketball team. They may not be the most exciting team to watch, or have top-rated recruits coming in each year, but this is a special type of program. Togetherness. Execution. Discipline. Three words that I believe perfectly describe the culture of basketball that Brad Stevens built, and the one Chris Holtmann now builds on at Butler. I love the way the Bulldogs play basketball. Plain and simple, they get the job done. Which is why, at the end of the day, Butler will be crowned regular season champions of the Big East conference.
If you haven’t taken notice to this basketball team yet, I suggest you start opening your eyes. They currently have four wins against teams in the top-25: Villanova, Indiana, Arizona, and Cincinnati. With other quality wins against Northwestern and Vanderbilt. They were battle tested early in the season, boasting the 35th toughest non-conference schedule per Kenpom.com. This experience against solid teams will be extremely important as the conference season progresses. Moving forward, I see a few reasons why I absolutely believe Butler can steal the Big East crown.
The Dawgs value the basketball. Butler is 8th best in the nation at possessing the basketball, averaging only 10.3 turnovers per game. This is astounding to me. They won’t beat themselves, they just won’t. When the Bulldogs beat Indiana in Indy on December 17th, they turned it over 6 times. Their primary ball handlers (Lewis, Baldwin) combined for zero. You won’t lose many games turning it over only 6 times.
Defending Hinkle. Last year, Butler was 13-3 when playing at Hinkle Fieldhouse. This year, they are an unbeaten 9-0 at home this year. 22-3 in their last 25 at home is extremely impressive. Winning nearly all your home games during the conference season is extremely important. That’s exactly what the Dawgs do. It takes some pressure off to win on the road. Butler’s next three games are @Georgetown, @Creighton, vs. Xavier. If they pick up one out of two against G’town and Creighton, and defend the home court like they now how to, they will be in great shape. Although they have to go on the road to Villanova and Xavier later on in the season, winning the home games will allow them some slack.
Kelan Martin. I saw the potential Martin has when he absolutely torched my Hoosiers at Banker’s Life. He is another reason Butler has a chance to be great this season. Often, when you look at teams like Butler, there is a balanced attack on offense. There isn’t that one guy who can go out and get 15-20 every night. Butler, however, has that in Kelan Martin. He is easily one of the best players in the conference; a microwave that could heat up at any time.
Butler can beat any given team, on any given night. The way they execute on offense, get after it on the defensive end, and play like a family is truly something special that people need to respect. The Butler Way, as it is called by Butler folks, is a formula that other programs should be following. It is by no means the most exciting brand of basketball, but it is a beautiful thing to watch, let me tell ya. All I’m saying is don’t be surprised if Butler is hanging a Big East Champs banner in March.
- Postgame: #18 Butler takes down #1 Villanova 66-58 January 5, 2017 Jackson Borman
Number one no more; The Butler Bulldogs defeated the Villanova Wildcats Wednesday night by locking down on defense and winning the rebounding battle. This was the first loss for Villanova of the season bringing them to 14-1. Butler has won four straight games against ranked opponents, putting them at 13-2 on the season.
Despite their poor defense at the guard position (allowing Villanova sophomore Jalen Brunson to score a game high 23 points) Butler held the high powered lineup of Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Brunson and company to only 58 points: their lowest of the season.
Kris Jenkins was held to 11 point in the contest and Villanova star Josh Hart was held to 13. The rest of the team scored 11 points.
Butler had four players in double figures and spread the scoring fairly evenly. Kethan Savage was a big offensive boost off the bench scoring 13 points despite fouling out.
In a turning point of the game, he hit technical free throws after Villanova coach Jay Wright had to be restrained by players and coaches after an apparently blown call. He also made a clutch steal and and-one layup to extend the lead to six points in the final minutes.
Kelan Martin was guarded heavily all night, in the Wildcat’s attempt to shut down the Dawgs’ main scoring options. He still put up 12 points and raked in 6 boards and didn’t force much, shooting 40% from the field.
In a back and forth game there are so many things that you have to do right, and Butler did them all.
The Dawgs turned the ball over only eight times the entire game: three of which coming from the heavily guarded Kelan Martin.
Butler also shot 100% from the free throw line going 15 for 15 from the stripe against Villanova.
Villanova was outrebounded by Butler 33-24. Rebounding is one of the best barometers of who will win in the game of basketball. This is especially impressive against the number one team in the country.
The achilles heel for the Wildcats has got to be their lack of depth. Only 7 players saw the floor for Nova. This kind of play has been done before (for example a very shallow Duke team) but rarely works unless you have multiple people who can score twenty or so a game. That wasn’t going to happen against this Butler team.
Butler plays at Georgetown this weekend coming off their big win against the defending champs. Look for them to pull out a massive win.
Photo Credit: Newsday.com
- Pregame: #18 Butler Bulldogs vs #1 Villanova Wildcats January 2, 2017 Jackson Borman
Butler takes on the defending champion Villanova Wildcats at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, December 4th at 6:30 ET. The game will be televised on FS1.
Nova has sat at the number one spot for the past five weeks. Butler has moves around in the teens and fell to #18 after last week’s loss to St. Johns and a victory against Providence College.
Despite their difference in rankings, the team stats for these two teams are eerily similar.
Butler averages 78 points per game, and allows 64 points per game. Nova averages 79 points per game and allows 62 points per game. Both teams shoot almost exactly 50% from the field, average 14 assists, three blocks and six steals per game.
Both teams are lead offensively by experienced scorers who are almost exactly the same height and weight (Josh Hart for Villanova and Kelan Martin for Butler). Both score around 20 points per game on roughly 40% three point percentage and do their fair share of rebounding as well.
This Villanova team is good. Not only are they the defending national champions but they have not lost a game yet this season. Despite this, they are not unbeatable.
Villanova has had their scares. Early in the season they were almost beaten by Purdue, in a game that the Wildcats ended up winning by three. Just last week they were almost upset in their Big East opener against unranked Depaul, in a game that they also won by just three.
I would argue the Butler has halso had a tougher schedule and has had bigger wins over the course of the season, such as then #8 Arizona or then #9 Indiana. Nova’s only top ten opponent was last game against Creighton where the Wildcats won by 10.
This being said I think both teams play a similar brand of Big East basketball, not too flashy, and not going to score 100 points. Head coach Jay Wright runs a tight ship and has a well oiled basketball machine at his disposal.
This should be fun.
Players to Watch-
Kelan Martin has been less than amazing in his last two games, but the Bulldogs will need a big night from him on Wednesday. Hopefully the junior forward comes through with another offensive performance like the one he displayed against Indiana in mid-December. He will also need to slow down Josh Hart on the other end of the floor.
Avery Woodson has been the Dawgs’ primary outside scoring option besides Martin this year. Look for the veteran shooter to make an offensive impact against Villanova.
Kamar Baldwin has broken out in big moments for Butler already this season, hitting a defining and game-winning jumper against Northwestern. Look for his offense to take a back seat to his defensive prowess while guarding Nova’s sophomore guard Jalen Brunson. The youngster will have to stay out of foul trouble.
Josh Hart is Nova’s leading scorer and overall team leader. He has dominated in big games in the past, such as his 37 point performance against Notre Dame. Look for the offense to run through the senior in this game as well.
Jalen Brunson is Nova’s second leading scorer and is a great sophomore guard. Butler has struggled to contain scoring guards in the past so look for Brunson to try to expose the Dawgs’ fatal flaw in this matchup.
Photo Credit: Fox Sports
- And Then There Were Three January 1, 2017 Noah Holley
And then there were three.
2016 seemed bent on going out destroying as many unbeaten seasons as possible, cutting the list in half. With the previous calendar year behind us, we’re left with Baylor, Gonzaga, and Villanova.
If the past week was any indication, it’s not easy to be undefeated. Heck, if DePaul can nearly do the impossible, who can’t? The unpredictability is the fun of it, I guess, but we got to write about something. So who’s gonna last the longest? Let’s break it down.
The case (and prediction) for each:
Why they’ll be the last remaining unbeaten
It’s pretty clear from what we’ve seen so far that Villanova is one of the toughest teams in the country. Over the past few days, the Wildcats have been pushed to the limits by DePaul and Creighton but refused to be shaken. We also can’t not talk about Josh Hart, who is one of (if not the) best players in the country. Other teams don’t have a guy with his poise and coolness when the going gets tough. Besides all of that, you can’t ignore the fact that they play Butler and Xavier over their next three games after two big-time tests. We know Villanova is tough, but are they that tough? We’ll see.
How long, really, will the unbeaten run last?
I imagine that Villanova loses at least once to Butler and Xavier, more likely to the Bulldogs, since they’ll meet at the historically difficult venues to play in in the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse. If they survive that, the next roadblock is the January 29th non-conference battle with Virginia, which is going to be a slugfest. And you know there’s gonna be a few more DePauls sprinkled in, since the team to beat draws the A-games. I really don’t see the Wildcats making it out of January untouched. I wouldn’t put anything past them, however, as it’s been years since I’ve seen a team this collected and mentally strong, especially with everything that’s been thrown their way.
Why they’ll be the last remaining unbeaten
Baylor is making it look easy. Everyone appears to be in the midst of a breakout year, especially forward Johnathan Motley, who’s going absolutely berserk, and point guard Manu Lecomte, who’s flourishing in his first chance to be a 30-minute guy. The Bears are also a lot deeper than expected. But the one thing that gets you really excited about Baylor is their newfound consistency. After years of being unsure what type of team would step onto the floor, Baylor started out 2016-17 red-hot and hasn’t cooled off…. at all. They way they’re playing, it’s tough to see anyone knocking them off anytime soon.
How long, really, will the unbeaten run last?
Hold up. You don’t really think Baylor can run the table, do you? Ha. No. Not in the Big 12, one of the toughest conferences to maneuver. Its size is the X-factor. Here are the two reasons why:
- The competition is tight. There are no cupcakes in the ten-team Big 12. None.
- You have to play everyone twice. Beating a team – any team – twice is a very difficult thing to do in college basketball.
However, we are here to discuss how long that egg in the loss column stays fresh, not whether it will ever go away, because spoiler alert: It will. The main roadblock ahead for Baylor is January 10th at West Virginia. If anyone’s gonna halt the Baylor train, it’s the Mountaineers and their “Press Virginia” defensive style. I predict that the Bears lose that one and at least one other in before the showdown with Kansas on February 1st.
Why they’ll be the last remaining unbeaten
Three words: West. Coast. Conference. No disrespect to the WCC, but it’s no Big East or Big 12. It’s hardly a distant cousin. The only team in that conference that is capable of knocking off the loaded Zags is 19th-ranked Saint Mary’s. Gonzaga will face the Gaels at home on January 14th, but if I’m picking a day for Gonzaga to lose, it’s mid-February when Saint Mary’s plays host. Either way, I don’t see it happening. The perfect season hype is legit. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a mid-major team this good.
How long, really, will the unbeaten run last?
Like I said, probably for awhile. I can’t deny it will be tough to beat Saint Mary’s twice and especially three times if the two meet in the WCC tournament. And BYU can really rack up points. But to me, the question is whether or not Gonzaga can win it all, not whether they’ll go untouched through Selection Sunday.
- Postgame: #13 Butler defeats Providence 78-61 January 1, 2017 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs ring in the New Year with a big win over Big East foe Providence College at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler shared the wealth offensively, having four players in double figures. The Dawgs shot 62% from the field and 57% from deep.
Kelan Martin finished the game with 15 points and eight rebounds, leading the way for Butler in each category. The Junior star also surpassed the 1,000 career points mark in the contest.
Defensively, Butler struggled once again in stopping an elite guard in Kyron Cartwright. The Junior guard who is known primarily as a facilitator poured in 26 points in an amazing offensive performance. Freshman guard and defensive stopper Kamar Baldwin’s foul trouble did not help the situation as he was limited to just 15 minutes of playing time.
Luckily Butler’s team defense was able to hold Providence’s bench to only five points, as their own bench scored 29 of the team’s 78 points.
Besides their typical woes when guarding the perimeter, there were some red flags that stuck out in this otherwise solid performance.
Over the course of the game, the Dawgs turned the ball over 14 times. Seven of these were from veteran forward Andrew Chrabascz. While these turnovers are uncharacteristic of the Butler team that we say in non-conference play, the team will need to take care of the ball better in the coming games.
Another possible issue is Kelan Martin offensive production. While he came up big against ranked opponents in non-conference play (20 points against Cincinnati, 28 points against Indiana) in the last two conference games he has averaged 14 PPG on 34% shooting.
In the Providence game at times he struggled to finish inside, missing an open dunk and layups with contact. Martin also has a tendency to settle for mid range floaters and fading jumpers which are generally low percentage shots.
The Butler star’s scoring has truly been a barometer for the team’s success and the Bulldogs need him to be a consistent option on the offensive end.
These items may seem nit-picky but against a talented Big East team (ie. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, Seton Hall, St. John’s) they can be the difference makers that separate the men from the boys.
The Bulldogs take on the #1 ranked Villanova Wildcats at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
Photo Credit: Indy Star
- Pregame: #13 Butler vs Providence December 31, 2016 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs look to get back on track hosting Providence at Hinkle Fieldhouse on New Year’s Day.
The Bulldogs have been shaken in the last couple of days. Coming off of a three point loss in their Big East Opener to St. John’s, the Dawgs and their fans were shocked enough. Following the game, the team was flying home when their plane lost cabin pressure and had to make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh. The incident supposedly left some players in tears and coaches texting their wives in fear of not making it out alive. From Pennsylvania the team took a bus back to Indianapolis due to not having a functioning plane available for them.
Back in Indy this week the team will look for things to get back to back to normal.
The Dawgs will take on Providence in their home conference opener in what should be an easy win and a refreshing end for the team’s otherwise crazy week.
Providence is lead in scoring by Junior Forward Rodney Bullock with 18 points per game. Bullock is also the team’s leading rebounder and has a nose for swiping the ball away from post players on the defensive end.
Butler hasn’t had problems with elite big men in the past, so look for this game to be no different. Tyler Wideman and company should eliminate Bullock from making too big of an impact in the contest.
Providence also has College basketball’s fourth best distributor in Kyron Cartwright. The junior point guard makes up for what he lacks physically (standing just under 6 feet tall) with his passing. He also averages just under ten points per game and is a threat from deep.
The Friars’ last game against #17 Xavier in their conference opener, a game that Xavier went on to win by 26 points. Butler should be able to handle this team.
Players to watch-
Tyler Wideman is coming off of a season high 20 point game where he also had nine rebounds: one more and it would have been his second career double double. Look for Big Cat to be a force offensively and defensively against Providence.
Kelan Martin was less than spectacular against St. John’s and Butler needs him to be spectacular. In both of Butler’s losses this season, he has scored less than 15 points. If he is going to carry the team, he needs to carry the team offensively.
Kyron Cartwright is one of the best passers in College basketball right now with nearly eight assists per game. Look for him to orchestrate the Friars’ offense yet again. Against a Butler team that has struggled guarding crafty ball handlers.
Jalen Lindsey is Providence’s primary shooter and scores at a 46% clip from behind the arc. He averages 10 points per game and could blow up on the Bulldogs given their recent performances against scoring guards.
Photo Credit: Indy Star
- Postgame: Butler falls to St. John’s 76-73 in their Big East Opener December 31, 2016 Jackson Borman
St. John’s pulls away to defeat the Bulldogs at home to open up Big East play.
Butler could not handle the quick perimeter players of St. Johns throughout the game, and struggled to guard ball handlers: allowing them to score off the dribble seemingly at will.
Emerging Freshman star Shamorie Ponds lead St. John’s with 26 points along with seven rebounds. He picked apart Butler’s defense by coming off of ball screens and pulling up for midrange and deep 2-point jump shots. St. John’s guard Bashir Ahmed followed suit and scored 19 of his own points in similar fashion.
Butler managed to stop St. John’s other freshman star Marcus LoVett to only ten points in the contest. LoVett came off the bench to start the game but still tallied nearly 30 minutes of playing time.
Butler’s offensive struggles kept them from pulling away in the matchup.
Butler big man Tyler Wideman was the star of the Bulldogs’ offense scoring 20 points and pulling down four offensive rebounds in the contest. Kathan Savage was also an unlikely spark to Butler’s offense in the first half, making two threes and a foot-on-the-line jump shot.
St. John’s was able to lock down Butler’s best offensive players. Bulldog star Kelan Martin was held to only 13 points and shot only 14% from deep. Do it all forward Andrew Chrabascz was held to only four points. Kamar Baldwin got the nod for yet another start and only notched four points as well.
While both teams shot poorly from three, Butler’s long-ball woes were even more damaging because they only made 6/25 attempts. St. John’s knew they wouldn’t win via the long ball, so they only took 16 tries from deep.
The Dawgs forced 16 turnovers in the game, but also gave up 13 of their own. Butler also shot a so-so 68% from the freethrow line. These are areas where in close games, every little bit counts.
Once again, Butler has given up a win to a team that should be an easy win. Poor defense by Butler guards as well as a cold shooting night lost this game. Butler’s defense should be their strongest asset, the asset that gets them the wins in close games like this one.
In games where the Dawgs give up 72 points or more (except for their offensive explosion against Indiana) they lose. Look for this trend to continue, for what could be the Achilles heel for the Bulldogs.
Photo Credit: ESPN College Basketball on Twitter
- Noah Holley Bracketology: Best Resume In Each Power 6 Conference December 30, 2016 Noah Holley
As the 2016-17 season turns to conference play, let’s have a look at the top NCAA Tournament resumes in each conference up to this point:
- Best win: vs Kentucky
- Worst loss: None
- Non-Conference SOS: 14
- RPI: 11
- vs. RPI 1-25: 1-0
- vs. RPI 100-351: 7-0
As of now, Louisville sits on the 3- or 4-seed line. Imagine where they would be if they hadn’t lost that huge lead on Baylor (no. 5 in ESPN RPI) or completed that comeback vs Virginia (no. 7). Anyway, they have a signature win in Kentucky and will have plenty of chances for more down the road in the potential double-digit bid ACC.
- Best win: vs Louisville
- Worst loss: None
- Non-Conference SOS: 49
- RPI: 5
- vs. RPI 1-25: 3-0
- vs. RPI 100-351: 5-0
Early on, it appeared as if the Bears were building one of the best non-conference resumes in recent memories. Michigan State’s fall from grace pretty much ended the chances of that, but Baylor still heads into league play in as good of a position as anybody, Tourney-wise. If they can avoid upsets in the typically booby-trapped Big 12, they will be in the one-seed conversation throughout the winter.
- Best wins: vs Wisconsin
- Worst loss: None
- Non-Conference SOS: 70
- RPI: 3
- vs. RPI 1-25: 1-0
- vs. RPI 100-351: 6-0
In ESPN’s RPI, the Big East places 3 in the top 4 (Villanova, Creighton, Xavier.) It would be easy to say Villanova, who holds the no. 1 rating, but I’ll go with Creighton and their convincing wins over Wisconsin, (who’s better than their no. 45 RPI) Seton Hall, Ole Miss and NC State. No true eye-popper (a win over Villanova tomorrow would shore that up real quick) but they’ve been as good as anybody in the country so far.
- Best win: vs Notre Dame
- Worst loss: None
- Non-Conference SOS: 156
- RPI: 44
- vs. RPI 1-25: 0-2
- vs. RPI 100-351: 9-0
Despite the Big Ten being widely considered as a top-two conference, it failed to make any sort of statement in non-conference play. Only two teams recorded victories vs ESPN RPI Top 25 opponents (Northwestern and Indiana). This decision came down to whether I’m taking a team that played top-level competition and but failed to record a win against it or a team that didn’t really play anyone but took care of business. I ended up deciding on the former in Purdue, who couldn’t get it done against Louisville and Villanova but beat everybody else. There’s still a ton of work left to do for the Boilermakers and pretty much everybody in the Big Ten, who as of now have no one checking in higher than a 4 seed in my current bracket projections.
- Best win: vs Kentucky
- Worst loss: None
- Non-Conference SOS: 176
- RPI: 21
- vs. RPI 1-25: 1-0
- vs. RPI 100-351: 8-0
We could go ahead and judge a resume comparison of UCLA and Oregon by the outcome of Wednesday night’s game, but that’s not really how bracketology works. If we’re putting the margin of victory into play, November really hurt Oregon. Even if we don’t, the extra loss to an average team like Georgetown is something that UCLA doesn’t have, making this a fairly easy choice.
- Best win: vs North Carolina
- Worst loss: None
- Non-Conference SOS: 10
- RPI: 6
- vs. RPI 1-25: 1-0
- vs. RPI 100-351: 6-0
Florida stands higher on the RPI rankings, but that’s only because of their top-ranked schedule. (You can never really trust ratings systems such as that so early.) Kentucky’s victory over North Carolina gives them the best resume in the depleted SEC.
- Best win: vs Arizona
- Worst loss: None
- Non-Conference SOS: 51
- RPI: 10
- vs. RPI 1-25: 1-0
- vs. RPI 100-351: 8-0
I hate to fit all the other college conferences into one category like this, but I couldn’t just ignore Gonzaga, who looks like a serious championship contender. Once again, Gonzaga loaded their non-conference schedule with Power 6 opponents, and took care of business against every single one of them, the highlights being victories over Florida, Arizona and Iowa State.
- CPP Conference Play Preview: Big East December 27, 2016 Sean Bock
With the non-conference season coming to a close, we will be previewing each of the power six conferences based on what we have learned so far this year and guide you through what to look out for as the season continues.
Here is your guide to the Big East.
All-Big East Team
- Maurice Watson, Creighton
- Josh Hart, Villanova
- Kelan Martin, Butler
- Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
- Justin Patton, Creighton
Player of the Year: Josh Hart, Villanova
Looking at his stats, it’s easy to say Hart has been one of the most efficient players in nation. While playing 83% of his team’s possible minutes, Hart is averaging a team-high 20.1 points and is second on the team with 3.6 assists per game. Often times, Hart has carried this Villanova team on his back. Against Notre Dame, the consensus preseason Big East player of the year dropped 37 points while going 14-14 from the free throw line and adding 11 total rebounds to his stat line. In the game against in-state rival St. Joseph’s, Hart posted a triple double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. In the Wildcats’ biggest game of the year, on the road against Purdue, Hart put up 24 points and seemingly willed his team to victory in Mackey Arena by getting to the basket whenever and finishing around the Purdue bigs. He’s the engine that makes his team go and should be at the top of the list for the National Player of the Year award at the season’s end.
What We’ve Learned
- Villanova has a chance to repeat: Even with the loss of Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, the Wildcats have been playing at a high level which rightly earns them their current number one overall ranking in the AP Top 25 poll. At this point in the season, Josh Hart is the best player in college basketball. The combination of Hart and Jalen Brunson at the guards spots gives opposing players and coaches fits as both are able to create their own shot for themselves and their teammates. With neutral and away wins against highly regarded teams such as Notre Dame and Purdue, Jay Wright’s team is poised to run away with the Big East title and should be considered a national championship favorite come March.
- Butler is a Big East contender: Much like Villanova, Butler lost two of their best players from last year’s squad, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, due to graduation. But with the emergence of sophomore Kelan Martin, the ‘Dawgs have arguably the most impressive resume in college basketball to this date. Butler has six KenPom top 75 teams including three wins against No. 20 Cincinnati, No. 18 Arizona and No. 15 Indiana. Although the away loss to in-state rival Indiana State overshadows these victories, the ‘Dawgs have proven they can beat anyone even without a highly-touted superstar on their roster. Balance on offense and the willingness to scrap and claw on the defensive end is a scary combination. “The Butler Way” will be put on display this year and the ‘Dawgs will not be a team you want to play against in March.
- The transfer market is working for Creighton: Greg McDermott’s program hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since his son, Doug, was a senior in 2014 and led his team to a Sweet 16. Now with the addition of transfer guards Maurice Watson (Boston University) and Marcus Foster (Kansas State), the Bluejays are off to their best start in program history with a 12-0 record heading into conference play. Along with the significant guard play, the Bluejays hoist one of the most consistent front court duos in the country with Justin Patton and Cole Huff. Just a freshman, Patton is one of the most improved and surprising big men in the country. The 7-foot center can hurt you inside, hit the three ball, and if you blink, he’ll have your team beat down the floor and finish with an easy layup or dunk in transition. While his stats may not resemble his importance to this team, Huff uses his wide 6-foot-8 frame to battle taller bigs down low and does all the little things that unites this team together and let’s them play such a team-oriented style of basketball. Not many teams have five players that can constantly beat you in the open floor. In order for this Creighton team to contend at the top of the conference standings throughout the year, their going to have to take advantage of their versatility up and down the lineup.
Storylines to watch in Conference Play
- Can Xavier overcome non-conference inconsistency?: While their record sits at 10-2 heading into conference play, it is safe to say that a number of college basketball fans are not as high on this Xavier team now as they were before the season. Although ranked 17 in the AP Poll, the Musketeers have played games to close to comfort against teams such as Northern Iowa, Missouri and Lehigh, all teams three teams are ranked 95 and above according to KenPom. The only two losses this year have been at the hands of No. 4 Baylor and Colorado. Both losses, however, were on the road and were games that could’ve gone either way. Even without veteran Myles Davis who hasn’t played a single minute this year due to an indefinite suspension, Xavier boasts one of the most reliable backcourts in the country with Bluiett, JP Macura and Edmond Sumner. The trio has struggled from the perimeter this year shooting at a combined rate of 34% (61-179). For a team that has no starter over 6-foot-9, these three need to get the ball rolling and step up their play on the offensive side of the ball if this Xavier team wants to make some noise in the Big East.
- How many Big East teams will make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament this year? Five Big East schools heard their names called during the Selection Sunday Show last year. Villanova, Butler, Creighton and Xavier seem to ...
- Pregame: #13 Butler Bulldogs vs St. John’s Red Storm December 26, 2016 Jackson Borman
The Butler Bulldogs travel to St. John’s for their conference opener. St. John’s are 6-7 on the season while Butler still sits at the #13 spot in college basketball with an 11-1 record.
Butler is coming off of a big win against Indiana in which Kelan Martin unleashed a massive scoring output to outpace the nearly equally massive scoring output of Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr.
St. John’s is coming off of blowout win against last year’s final four member Syracuse. They won by 33 points.
St. John’s is lead by freshman guard Shamorie Ponds who averages over 17 points per game and leads the Big East in three pointers made. Last week he was named Big East Freshman of the week for his 21 points and seven assists in St. John’s dominant win over Syracuse. In games where Ponds scores 20+, his squad is 4-1. Butler, and specifically Kamar Baldwin, will have to contain this freshman if the Dawgs want to come out on top.
The Red Storm’s second leading scorer is another freshman guard, Marcus LoVett. LoVett is a versatile guard, averaging 16 points as well as four rebounds and four assists per game. The freshman missed time with an injury earlier in the season, but now is back with a couple of games under his belt and should be ready for action.
Including Pond and LoVett, St. John’s has five players that are shooting over 40% from behind the arc. The Bulldogs will have to lock down the perimeter and shut down their main scoring outlets.
On the other end of the floor, Butler will have to overcome St. John’s defensive minded big men. Forwards Tariq Owens and Kassoum Yakwe have 35 and 34 blocks on the season respectively- which turns into almost 6 blocks per game for the pair.
Despite their record, St. John’s is a solid team with players that are capable of hanging in there against formidable opponents. They lost by single digits to the now 12-1 Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minnesota. They lost by single digits to then 24th ranked Michigan State. They lost by single digits to VCU on Thanksgiving day.
While the Bulldogs definitely have the upper hand, St. John’s is definitely a worthy opponent, and is a must win as the Conference opener.
Players to Watch:
Kelan Martin was back at his scoring ways against Indiana last week and should continue to lead the Dawgs to victory in conference games as well. The veteran scorer has had experience against Big East teams and should have no problem against St. John’s.
Kamar Baldwin should see considerable playing time against St. John’s for his defensive abilities. However, more minutes also means more scoring opportunities for the freshman guard. Look for Baldwin’s floater to come in handy against St. John’s shot blocking forwards.
Shamorie Ponds has become the team leader in the wake of LoVett’s injury. Look for the freshman guard to carry the team offensively against Butler’s weak backcourt defense.
6’ 11” Tariq Owens leads the Red Storm in blocks, and is one of St. Johns’ strongest interior players. Look for him to make an impact, especially on the defensive end.
Photo Credit: Indy Star
- 2017 NBA Draft Board/Top 100 Prospects: End of 2016 Edition December 22, 2016 Brett Siegel
As we enter into the final weeks of 2016 and into conference play in College Basketball, NBA Draft Analyst Brett Siegel has updated his 2017 NBA Draft Big Board/Top 100 Prospects. The year of the freshmen continue as players around the country move into and out of the Top 100 list! Check out the list and see who he has as the Top 100 CBB players in the country!
Conference play is right around the corner, which means it is time to see who is and who isn’t ready for the draft! The top 20 continue to make a name for themselves as others begin their journey and establish their position on my Top 100 list! From all of us at College Pride Press, we wish everyone a Happy Holidays and New Year! Thanks for making this past year fantastic for checking us out and giving feedback!
Ranking Name Position School/Country Year/Age Height Weight – 1 Markelle Fultz PG/SG WASHINGTON Freshman/18 6’5″ 190 lbs ↑ (1) 2 Lonzo Ball PG UCLA Freshman/19 6’5″ 195 lbs ↓ (1) 3 Josh Jackson SF KANSAS Freshman/19 6’8″ 203 lbs ↑ (6) 4 Malik Monk PG/SG KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’4″ 185 lbs – 5 Jayson Tatum SF DUKE Freshman/18 6’8″ 204 lbs – 6 Frank Ntilikina PG FRANCE INTL/18 6’4″ 175 lbs – 7 Ivan Rabb PF/C CALIFORNIA Sophomore/19 6’11” 220 lbs ↓ (4) 8 Dennis Smith PG N.C. ST. Freshman/19 6’2″ 180 lbs ↑ (2) 9 De’Aaron Fox PG KENTUCKY Freshman/19 6’4″ 170 lbs ↑ (4) 10 Bam Adebayo PF/C KENTUCKY Freshman/19 6’10” 240 lbs ↓ (3) 11 Jonathan Isaac SF FLORIDA ST. Freshman/19 6’11” 205 lbs ↓ (3) 12 Harry Giles PF DUKE Freshman/18 6’11” 230 lbs – 13 Lauri Markkenen PF ARIZONA Freshman/19 7’0″ 225 lbs ↓ (2) 14 Miles Bridges SF MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’8″ 230 lbs – 15 O.G. Anunoby SF INDIANA Sophomore/18 6’8″ 215 lbs ↑ (5) 16 Rodions Kurucs SF LATVIA INTL/18 6’8″ 190 lbs – 17 Nigel Hayes SF WISCONSIN Senior/21 6’8″ 235 lbs ↑ (1) 18 Grayson Allen PG/SG DUKE Junior/21 6’5″ 205 lbs ↑ (1) 19 Josh Hart SG/SF VILLANOVA Senior/21 6’5″ 205 lbs ↑ (2) 20 Dwayne Bacon SF FLORIDA ST. Sophomore/20 6’5″ 202 lbs ↑ (12) 21 Jaron Blossomgame SF CLEMSON Senior/23 6’7″ 214 lbs ↑ (27) 22 T.J. Leaf PF UCLA Freshman/18 6’9″ 215 lbs ↑ (32) 23 Luke Kennard SG DUKE Sophomore/20 6’5″ 187 lbs ↓ (8) 24 Marques Bolden C DUKE Freshman/18 6’10” 254 lbs ↑ (5) 25 Terrance Ferguson SG/SF AUSTRALLIA INTL/18 6’7″ 185 lbs ↓ (8) 26 Jarrett Allen C TEXAS Freshman/18 6’11” 227 lbs ↑ (2) 27 Thomas Bryant PF/C INDIANA Sophomore/19 6’10” 245 lbs ↓ (5) 28 Frank Jackson PG DUKE Freshman/18 6’4″ 200 lbs ↓ (5) 29 Frank Mason III PG KANSAS Senior/22 5’11” 185 lbs ↑ (7) 30 Joel Berry II PG/SG UNC Junior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs ↓ (5) 31 Isaiah Hartenstein PF GERMANY INTL/18 6’10” 230 lbs ↓ (5) 32 Jonathan Jeanne PF/C FRANCE INTL/19 7’2″ 195 lbs ↓ (8) 33 Tyler Lydon SF/PF SYRACUSE Sophomore/20 6’9″ 205 lbs ↑ (2) 34 Justin Jackson SF UNC Junior/21 6’8″ 193 lbs – 35 Dillon Brooks SF OREGON Junior/20 6’7″ 215 lbs ↓ (8) 36 Omer Yurtseven C N.C. ST. Freshman/18 7’0″ 228 lbs ↓ (5) 37 Edmond Sumner PG XAVIER Sophomore/21 6’5″ 170 lbs ↓ (7) 38 Monte Morris PG IOWA ST. Senior/21 6’3″ 170 lbs ↓ (5) 39 V.J. Beachum SF NOTRE DAME Senior/22 6’9″ 197 lbs – 40 Alec Peters PF VALPARAISO Senior/21 6’9″ 225 lbs ↓ (2) 41 Devonte’ Graham PG KANSAS Junior/21 6’2″ 175 lbs ↑ (3) 42 Amile Jefferson PF DUKE Senior/23 6’9″ 195 lbs – 43 Melo Trimble PG MARYLAND Junior/21 6’3″ 190 lbs ↑ (7) 44 Caleb Swanigan PF PURDUE Sophomore/19 6’9″ 247 lbs NEW 45 Robert Williams PF/C TEXAS A&M Freshman/19 6’9″ 237 lbs ↑ (19) 46 Maurice Watson Jr. PG CREIGHTON Senior/23 5’10” 170 lbs ↓ (1) 47 Blaz Mesicek SG SLOVENIA INTL/19 6’6″ 190 lbs ↓ (4) 48 Santiago Yusta SG SPAIN INTL/19 6’7″ 200 lbs ↑ (25) 49 Jonathan Motley PF BAYLOR Junior/21 6’9″ 230 lbs ↑ (3) 50 Andzejs Pasecniks C LATVIA INTL/21 7’1″ 220 lbs NEW 51 Isaac Hamilton SG UCLA Senior/22 6’5″ 195 lbs – 52 London Perrantes PG/SG VIRGINIA Senior/21 6’2″ 192 lbs NEW 53 Lagerald Vick SG KANSAS Sophomore/20 6’5″ 175 lbs ↓ (6) 54 Isaiah Hicks PF UNC Senior/21 6’8″ 230 lbs ↓ (17) 55 Chris Boucher PF OREGON Senior/23 6’10” 200 lbs ↑ (4) 56 Jack Gibbs PG DAVIDSON Senior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs ↑ (6) 57 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk SG KANSAS Junior/19 6’8″ 191 lbs ↑ (12) 58 Alpha Kaba PF/C FRANCE INTL/20 6’10” 226 lbs ↑ (7) 59 Malik Pope SF SAN DIEGO ST. Junior/19 6’10” 205 lbs ↓ (19) 60 Wenyen Gabriel SF/PF KENTUCKY Freshman/19 6’9″ 200 lbs ↓ (19) 61 Allonzo Trier SG ARIZONA Sophomore/20 6’4″ 205 lbs NEW 62 L.J. Peak SF GEORGETOWN Junior/20 6’5″ 215 lbs ↓ (7) 63 Isaiah Briscoe PG/SG KENTUCKY Sophomore/20 6’3″ 218 lbs ↓ (7) 64 James Blackmon Jr. SG INDIANA Junior/21 6’3″ 184 lbs ↓ (18) 65 Kris Jenkins SF/PF VILLANOVA Senior/22 6’6″ 240 lbs ↑ (11) 66 Jawun Evans PG OKLAHOMA ST. Sophomore/20 6’1″ 177 lbs NEW 67 Bryce Alford PG/SG UCLA Senior/21 6’3″ 185 lbs ↓ (18) 68 E.C. Matthews SG RHODE ISLAND Sophomore/20 6’4″ 181 lbs NEW 69 Charles Cooke SG DAYTON Senior/22 6’5″ 196 lbs ↑ (20) 70 Manu Lecomte PG BAYLOR Junior/21 5’11” 170 lbs NEW 71 Bonzie Colson PF NOTRE DAME Junior/20 6’5″ 220 lbs NEW 72 Dedric Lawson SF MEMPHIS Sophomore/19 6’8″ 225lbs ↓ (19) 73 Jessie Govan C GEORGETOWN Sophomore/18 6’11” 255 lbs NEW 74 Aaron Holiday PG UCLA Sophomore/20 6’1″ 187 lbs ↑ (17) 75 Moses Kingsley PF/C ARKANSAS Senior/22 6’10” 230 lbs ↓ (14) 76 Malcolm Hill SF ILLINOIS Senior/21 6’6″ 230 lbs ↑ (21) 77 Peter Jok SG IOWA Senior/22 6’6″ 199 lbs ↓ (20) 78 Kobi Simmons PG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’6″ 185 lbs ↓ (8) 79 Aleksander Vezenkov SF/PF BULGARIA INTL/20 6’9″ 225 lbs ↓ (7) 80 Nic Slavica SF CROATIA INTL/19 6’7″ 190 lbs ↓ (20) 81 Antonio Blakeney SG LSU Sophomore/19 6’4″ 177 lbs ↓ (9) 82 Kyle Kuzma PF UTAH Junior/20 6’9″ 221 lbs ↓ (16) 83 Luke Kornet PF/C VANDERBILT Senior/21 7’0″ 240 lbs ↓ (9) 84 Diego Flaccadori SG ITALY INTL/20 6’5″ 172 lbs ↓ (6) 85 Amida Brimah C UCONN Senior/22 7’0″ 230 lbs ↑ (13) 86 Emircan Kosut C TURKEY INTL/21 6’11” 220 lbs ↑ (13) 87 Trevon Bluiett SF XAVIER Junior/20 6’6″ 215 lbs NEW 88 Marcus Keene PG CENTRAL MICHIGAN Junior/20 5’9″ 175 lbs ↓ (21) 89 Josh Langford SG MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’6″ 205 lbs ↓ (26) 90 Chimezie Metu PF/C USC Sophomore/19 6’9″ 210 lbs ↓ (8) 91 Vinny Okouo C CONGO INTL/19 7’2″ 240 lbs NEW 92 Donovan Mitchell PG/SG LOUISVILLE Sophomore/20 6’3″ 210 lbs ↓ (17) 93 Kyle Guy SG VIRGINIA Freshman/18 6’2″ 170 lbs ↓ (1) 93 Zach Collins C GONZAGA Freshman/18 6’11” 220 lbs ↓ (13) 94 Vince Edwards Jr. SF PURDUE Junior/20 6’8″ 225 lbs ↓ (13) 95 Matt Jones SG DUKE Senior/21 6’5″ 200 lbs ↓ (10) 96 Nic Slavica SF CROATIA INTL/19 6’7″ 190 lbs ↓ (1) 97 Kennedy Meeks C UNC Senior/21 6’9″ 279 lbs ↓ (20) 98 Rawle Alkins SG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’4″ 185 lbs ↓ (5) 99 Egemen Guven PF/C TURKEY INTL/19 6’10” 210 lbs NEW 100 Tony Bradley C UNC Freshman/19 6’10” 248 lbs Players By Conference ACC: 24 players Big-12: 10 players Big-10: 11 players PAC-12: 14 players SEC: 9 players Other: 32 players Players By Year Freshmen: 25 players Sophomores: 19 players Juniors: 17 players Seniors: 23 players International: 16 players
- Syracuse Continues Their Poor Play in Loss to Georgetown December 18, 2016 Chris Broderick
The Orange and the Hoyas continued their rivalry on Saturday with a game in Syracuse. This marked the first time that the Hoyas visited the Carrier Dome since the Orange left the Big East for the ACC after the 2012-2013 season. All 25,131 fans in the Carrier Dome were buzzing with excitement before tipoff in what promised to be a great game between two heated rivals. However, most fans left the game disappointed as Syracuse fell to Georgetown 78-71.
One of the biggest issues for Syracuse on yesterday was the play of sophomore point guard, Franklin Howard. Howard has struggled against quality opponents all season and continued the trend against the Hoyas. He finished the game with just 4 points on 2-6 shooting and missed both of his shots from behind the arc. Howard’s passing ability, which is typically his greatest strength, was his biggest weakness against Georgetown. For the first time all season, Howard had more turnovers (6) than he did assist (4). Howard consistently telegraphed his passes, making it easy for the Georgetown players to get steals. The point guard position has been a struggle ever since Tyler Ennis left for the draft following the 2013-2014 season. Having little point guard depth other than John Gillon, who also struggled this game, Howard needs to play up to his ability if the Orange have any hope of turning this season around.
In typical Syracuse fashion, the Orange were outrebounded on Saturday. The frontcourt is something that Syracuse has struggled with for a few seasons and nothing changed against Georgetown. With Pascal Chukwu out following eye surgery, the Orange once again lacked in size. Georgetown outrebounded the Orange 41-30 with 12 of the 41 rebounds being offensive. Free throw shooting was also a major issue for the Orange. While the Hoyas were consistent at the line (22-25), the Orange gave their worst performance of the year going just 14-25 from the stripe.
Andrew White, who has consistently been the Orange’s best player all season, also had a sub-par game. White, who averages 16 points per game, was held to only 12 on 3-11 shooting. Jim Boeheim returned to his old self and only played 7 players (8 if you count Tyler Roberson’s 6 minutes of playing time). This forced many of the SU starters to play more minutes than they are accustom to. This included Andrew White who played all 40 minutes on Saturday. Towards the end of the game many of the players, including White, looked exhausted which may have affected their play.
As bad as the Orange were, the play of Georgetown guard L.J. Peak cannot be overlooked. The junior was all over the court against the Orange. He had a double-double, finishing with a team leading 23 points and 11 rebounds. Peak shot consistently from the field and always seemed to hit a big shot when his team needed one. He took advantage of Syracuse’s defensive struggles and ripped apart the 2-3 zone. If the Orange allow other teams to take advantage of them just like Peak did, it will be a very long season.
Among all the faults in this game, there was a silver lining for the Orange. Tyler Lydon emerged from his season long slump and led the Orange in points and rebounds. Lydon was nearly perfect from the field shooting a total 12-13 from the field (29pts) and a perfect 3-3 from three point range. He was the only dominate figure on the boards for Syracuse, bringing in 9 total rebounds. For everything that the Orange did wrong against Georgetown, the resurgence of Tyler Lydon is a promising sign for the future. If the rest of the team gets out of the funk that they’re in, Syracuse may be able to turn the season around.
The Orange play their next game on Monday December 19th at 7pm at home against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
- Pre-Game: #9 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #18 Butler Bulldogs December 16, 2016 Jonny Gee
#9 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #18 Butler Bulldogs
Saturday December 17, 5:00 pm
The sixth annual Crossroads Classic takes place this Saturday when Indiana and Butler meet to play in the second game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, following the match-up between Purdue and Notre Dame. Both teams enter the game ranked in the Top 25 and are coming off a full week break. Butler rebounded after their tough 72-71 loss at Indiana State with a win at home against Cincinnati. The Hoosiers are on a five-game winning streak after their mishap in Fort Wayne. This will be the 53rd meeting between the two teams; Indiana owns the series with a 38-14 all-time record, although it has been a pretty even contest in recent years. Speaking on behalf of Hoosier Nation, Butler is always a scary game. They are a highly-disciplined team that rarely beats themselves. Both teams are looking for another signature win to add to their resume before the start of conference play. Two ranked Indiana teams going at it in front of a sold out crowd in the home of the Pacers. It’s going to be a fun Saturday afternoon.
Match-Up to Watch
Bad news for Butler… OG Anunoby is back. OG has been in a boot for the last three games treating an ankle injury, but Coach Crean says he is ready to go for Saturday. This is huge for the Hoosiers having their best defensive player and 12.5 points per game back on the floor. His defense will certainly be needed to contain the talented Kelan Martin. Martin is a 6’7” Junior averaging almost 18 points per game. He is a streaky shooter that can get going at any moment, so we will see if Anunoby is healthy enough to handle the dangerous Martin.
X-Factor for the Hoosiers
There are two factors for Indiana that will give them an advantage over the Bulldogs. First and foremost is James Blackmon Jr. Indiana fans are thrilled with his Junior season return. He is averaging 17 points per game and shooting 40% from distance. He has been incredible in big games this year scoring a combined 40 points against Kansas and North Carolina, and Saturday is nothing less than another big game. Butler is a good defensive team, but sometimes struggle at the guard position. Coach Chris Holtmann uses several guards off the bench including Kamar Baldwin, Sean McDermott, and Henry Baddley for defense, but Blackmon could be too much to handle. Just like Martin of Butler, JBJ is a guy who gets going and is almost impossible to stop. Blackmon could be the edge the Hoosiers need to get out of Indianapolis with a win.
The other advantage Indiana brings to this game is their dangerous abilities in transition. The Hoosiers obviously love to get the ball up the court quickly, whether it is after a basket or a miss, and score before the defensive can get in their set. As talented as Butler is they simply cannot run with Indiana for 40 minutes. They will try to slow the game down as much as possible, which is exactly what scares Hoosier fans. Crean will want his team to get out in transition as much as possible and avoid the half-court defense of the Bulldogs.
X-Factor for the Bulldogs
Butler comes into this game forcing their opponents to turn the ball over an average of 16 times per game. Good news for Butler… Indiana ranks 334th in Division 1 basketball in turnovers per game. To sum those statistics up, Butler forces a lot of turnovers and Indiana is horrible at protecting the ball. As stated earlier, Indiana is going to try to speed the game up while Butler will look to slow things down. Coach Holtmann will try to make it a half-court game as much as possible and try to force the young Hoosiers into making mistakes. If the Bulldogs can be successful in this then I think they have a good chance to come out on top, but if they allow Indiana to play their game they are nearly impossible to stop.
Looking past the turnovers, rebounding is going to be crucial in this game. Indiana ranks 3rd in the country in defensive rebounding while Butler ranks 307th. Looking at offensive rebounding Indiana ranks 38th nationally, and Butler comes in at 308th. Every man rebounds for Indiana and Coach Tom Crean emphasizes that. He expects everyone on the floor from Thomas Bryant to Josh Newkirk to crash the boards on both ends of the floor. This is key for them to be able to get out in transition as they like to do. Butler is going to have to figure something out to keep the rebounding margin close. Allowing the Hoosiers to get multiple shots per possession is very dangerous, especially with such an elite shooting team. Indiana will likely outrebound Butler, but the rebounding margin combined with the turnovers will be the difference in this one.
This game could be a race to 80, which is a very favorable number for Butler. Chris Holtmann owns a 25-0 record at Butler when his team has scored 80 points or more. They average just shy of 78 this season compared to Indiana’s average of 87.5. I see tomorrow being a close, high-scoring game that could go either way. Hoosier Nation will fill up the majority of the seats of Bankers Life Fieldhouse tomorrow, and as everyone knows, Indiana plays at a whole new level in front of their fans. With this in mind, I have the Hoosiers moving to 9-1 with an 84-77 victory.
Indiana University | 2020
- Pregame: #18 Butler vs #9 Indiana December 14, 2016 Jackson Borman
On Saturday ranked opponents Butler and Indiana matchup in the Crossroads Classic at Bankerslife Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Butler’s contest will be at 5PM ET and Purdue vs. Notre Dame is earlier that afternoon at 2.
Both teams have looked good recently, with similar “no-name” losses to Indiana schools that make up their only losses on the season. Indiana has been on a home winning streak, beating a solid team in the North Carolina Tarheels and then beating their next three opponents by a combined 93 points.
Indiana is lead by the talented duo of junior guard James Blackmon Jr. and sophomore big man Thomas Bryant. The pair combine for nearly 30 points every game. Bryant is a dominant force on the interior, averaging 2 blocks per game and over 8 rebounds.
Indiana also has a weapon in OG Anunoby, a sophomore 3 man with a complete all around game. Anunoby has been sidelined for part of the season due to illness (partially the reason that the Hoosiers lost to IU Fort Wayne) but should be ready for action against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Hoosiers as a whole shoot nearly 40% from behind the arc, and are a scoring powerhouse, notching 103 in their last game against Houston Baptist.
Butler has been able to shut down dominant big men in the past with their experienced frontcourt, so Bryant and Anunoby should not be too big of a task this time around for Tyler Wideman, Andrew Chrabascz and company.
The main concern for the Dawgs will be Blackmon. The guard put up 69 points in his first three games this season- including 26 in the Hoosier’s first game, a win against a tough Kansas Jayhawks team. Butler has had a problem with defense at the guard position in the past, and Coach Holtmann has attempted to make adjustments (such as starting the springy scoring guard Kamar Baldwin who also averages two steals per game against Cincy last week).
Butler will have to rely on other solid defensive players such as Sean McDermott and Henry Baddley off of the bench to lock down Indiana’s scorers.
If Butler can find a way to stop James Blackmon Jr. while still containing the Hoosier big men then they will come out on top.
Players to watch:
Nate Fowler is anything but a household name, but has logged important minutes for the Bulldogs this season. He is the biggest body that sees worthwhile court time for the Dawgs. He put up 9 points against Cincinnati’s dominant big men and played solid defensively to give Butler the edge in that contest. Look for him to contribute strongly but somewhat quietly against Thomas Bryant.
Andrew Chrabascz will need to come up big for Butler in this contest defensively and offensively in order to top Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby on both ends of the court. He is Butler’s second leading scorer and might need to be number one in the scoring column if Butler is to come out on top.
James Blackmon Jr. is the Hoosier’s leading scorer, can shoot the ball from deep, averages over six boards per game, and is a solid defensive player as well. Butler will need to stop him on the offensive end if they want to win the game.
Photo Credits: Big East Coast Bias.com
- Pregame: #16 Butler Bulldogs vs. #22 Cincinnati Bearcats December 10, 2016 Jackson Borman
#22 Cincinnati travels to Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on #16 Butler on Saturday December 10th at 4:30. The game will be televised on FS1. The game is also a part of the first ever “Indiana Basketball Day”.
Fresh off of their first loss to lowly Indiana State University, the Bulldogs look to regroup against a solid Cincinnati team who beat Iowa State last week.
The Bulldogs will look to remedy their loss by locking down on defense and spreading the offense away from relying on Kelan Martin: two things that they struggled to do against Indiana State on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs allowed Indiana State’s Matt Van Scyoc and Brenton Scott 23 and 25 points respectively. Butler star Kelan Martin shot a poor 26% from the field on 15 shots. Many of which were questionable, including contested midrange jumpers and floaters. The Bulldogs were lead in scoring by Tyler Lewis and Andrew Chrabascz with 15 and 18 points respectively and shot a combined 10 for 19- a nice break from Martin’s excessive volume shooting. Indiana State also dominated with 12 offensive boards, four of which coming from Junior Forward Brandon Murphy off the bench.
Cincinnati is 7-1 on the season and has an impressive one point overtime-win over Iowa State. The win snapped Iowa State’s 37 home-game winning streak against nonconference opponents. In the victory, the Bearcats held the Cyclones to just 54 points, despite going into overtime. Cincy big men dominated the boards in the contest with three players reaching double digits in the rebound column.
Butler will look to contain big man Kyle Washington, who leads the Bearcats in scoring with 17.3 and rebounds with nine per game. Washington also is a force defensively with a strong build and nearly two blocks per game.
Cincy’s second highest scorer is three man Jacob Evans scores 15.6 points per game on 42% three point shooting. He also averages a couple of steals every game.
Butler’s big men will have to dominate the boards on Saturday if they want to win. The Bearcats picked apart Iowa State by owning every rebound. This will be a key for the Bulldogs victory.
Despite their loss to Indiana State on Wednesday. I still believe that the Dawgs take the W at home on Saturday. The Indiana State game was the first time all season that Butler gave up over 70 points to an opponent. Look for the Bulldog’s defense to once again steal the show against this Cincinnati team.
Butler is also playing at home, at the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse. This is a clear boost to the Dawgs, seeing as they are still undefeated at home. Hinkle magic will definitely be in the air come Saturday afternoon. The hometown crowd should be a real pick-me-up to a rebounding Butler team after their first loss of the season.
Players to watch:
Avery Woodson continues to be Butler’s biggest scoring threat from the outside. Look for him to get some serious looks after Martin’s previous poor offensive efforts.
Tyler Lewis continues to be a rock for this Butler team, shooting high percentage shots and facilitating at an extremely high level. He is currently within the top 5 in assists for the Big East. Watch for the Dawgs’ veteran guard to take control of the game when his number is called.
Kyle Washington will look to take control of the game from the post. He is a decent outside shooter as well, so look for him to help space the floor as well.
Gary Clark is also one of Cincy’s best rebounders. He will need to be shut down on the boards if Butler wants to remain undefeated at home.
Photo credits: @angeliallen12 on Twitter
- Postgame: #18 Butler Bulldogs defeat Central Arkansas 82-58 December 3, 2016 Jackson Borman
Butler improves to 8-0 and hands Central Arkansas their seventh loss of the season in a big way. After a shaky first half that left Butler with just a twelve point lead at half, the Dawgs pulled away in the second half on a massive scoring output by Junior star Kelan Martin to finish off the Bears with a 24 point win.
Martin finished off the game with 30 points on 11/22 shooting and five (!) three pointers in the second half. Avery Woodson had a strong start from behind the arc as well, hitting each of his first three long balls, and then going cold missing his next six. He finished with nine points.
Butler’s big man Tyler Wideman had a big game of his own, completing the first double double of his career with 10 rebounds and 10 points on 4/5 shooting. Wideman is shooting 90% from the field in his last two contests.
Transfer guard Kethan Savage logged the most minutes off the bench and made his impact on the game with 6 assists, a game high. Savage had no turnovers and the Dawgs as a team only had 8.
Central Arkansas’ Jordan Howard lead the Bears with 20 points on 5/9 from behind the arc. The Bulldogs struggled to guard him through the second half, which kept the Bears in the game. The Bears’ leading scorer Derreck Brooks, had 15 points of his own, and lead the bears in assists with 4. Both guards had 6 rebounds, a team high.
The pair of Brooks and Howard is what kept the Bears in the game in the first half, much like the springy point guard Jordan Davis kept University of Northern Colorado in that game despite an otherwise irrelevant team. Butler will have to do better at taking high scoring players out of games in the future, especially as they encounter tougher opponents and guards such as Indiana’s James Blackmon, Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, Xavier’s Edmond Sumner or J.P. Macura, or St. John’s Marcus LoVett.
Besides defense at the point guard position (Butler’s Avery Woodson spend most of the game guarding the point instead of Tyler Lewis) Butler has some small adjustments to make to their game. The Bulldogs shot just under 50% from the field, 31% from deep, and 64% from the line. All of these numbers should ideally be higher, especially against a weak opponent like Central Arkansas.
The biggest way to fix this is by being more disciplined with the team’s shot selection. The Dawgs get good looks from three and in close, but take a lot of questionable/contested midrange jumpers and floaters. With big men like Wideman and Chrabascz who have been dominant despite their lack of height, the dawgs should look to them for their inside scoring and to their guards for strong outside shooting, and then take the mid range game when it comes to them easily.
A positive to take away into their next game is that Butler’s defense held the Bears to under 60 points, a feat that they have accomplished four times this season now. They forced 16 turnovers on only six steals. The Dawgs have been eating on the defensive end.
Their next contest will be Wednesday at Indiana State against a Sycamore team who is 3-4 with close losses against Stanford and Iowa State. Indiana State also plays tonight against Utah State. The Butler game will be in Terre Haute and on ESPN 3 at 7:00.
Photo Credits: Kelan Martin on Twitter
- Pregame: #18 Butler Bulldogs vs Central Arkansas Bears December 2, 2016 Jackson Borman
Butler Bulldogs take on the Central Arkansas Bears at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday at 4 ET on FS2
The undefeated Butler Bulldogs take on the 1-5 Central Arkansas Bears in their first home game since their thrashing of Norfolk State nearly two weeks ago. Since then, the Dawgs have pulled off impressive victories against Vanderbilt and Arizona to win the Las Vegas Invitational Championship, as well as a solid victory against Utah to solidify their #18 ranking.
The Bears second leading scorer is point guard Jordan Howard. He is their biggest three point threat and averages over 16 points per game. Butler should be able to stop him, but the Dawgs have had problems stopping high scoring point guards in the past (see University of Northern Colorado’s Jordan Davis with 25 points in Butler’s home opener). The offense runs off of his play so he is a key factor for Central Arkansas on Saturday.
The biggest opponent that Central Arkansas has played is currently #17 Wisconsin. That game was the Bears’ first contest of the season and they lost 79-49. In that game, the Badgers held Jordan Howard to 10 points on 2-11 shooting. If Butler can play defensively anything like what their ranking neighbor did in early November, the Dawgs should be able to keep the Bears offense at bay.
Other than their scoring, Central Arkansas’s weakness in this game will be giving the ball away. On average the Bears commits over 16 turnovers per game and allows 83 points to their opponents. Butler’s defense should tear the Bears apart.
This game is a walk in the park for this experienced Butler team. It should be a good opportunity for the young bench to gain some experience as well. Players like Henry Baddley and Joey Brunk who don’t see much action in big games should log more minutes in this matchup. It will also be a good opportunity for newly healthy redshirt senior Kethan Savage to be integrated back into play.
The Bulldogs should win handily and improve to 8-0 on the season.
Players to watch
Kelan Martin has yet to put up anything less than double digits in the scoring column this season. Especially against a weak defensive team, he is likely to put up big numbers.
Joey Brunk put up 10 points against the weak defense of Norfolk State earlier this month. In the game he was 100% from the field and sunk 4-5 free throws. The 6’11” freshman doesn’t usually log many minutes but he should get to see the floor against Central Arkansas. Look for Brunk to try to assert himself offensively as well as alter shots near the rim defensively.
Jordan Howard is the Bears’ second leading scorer and free throw shooter, and leads the team in three pointers made and steals. Most of Central Arkansas’ offense runs through the junior point guard, so he will have to make an impact in the game if they are looking to hang with the Bulldogs.
Derreck Brooks is a senior guard for the Bears. His experience has lead him to 53% three point shooting and averaging over 17 points per game- which makes him the team’s leading scorer. He also is an exceptional rebounder for standing at around 6’6”, with the second most boards on the team. He also leads the team in blocks. Brooks could be a spark if the Dawgs shut down Howard on the offensive end.
Photo credits: Zaspany.com
- Postgame: #18 Butler defeats Utah 68-59 November 29, 2016 Jackson Borman
The newly ranked Butler Bulldogs defeat the Utah Runnin’ Utes in a Monday night matchup in Utah.
Once again, Kelan Martin lead the Bulldogs with 18 points, three rebounds and a couple of assists. Butler had three other players (Chrabascz, Wideman, and Lewis) in double digits, relying heavily on their starters for offensive production.
Point guard Tyler Lewis masterfully directed the offense with six assists, five of which came in the first half. He also had 10 points, including a made three pointer from way beyond the arc.
Butler big man Tyler Wideman also had a standout game, shooting a perfect 6-6 from the floor for 15 points and tallying 5 rebounds and two steals.
The Dawgs defence was also on the prowl recording 12 steals in the contest. 4 of these came from Freshman point guard Kamar Baldwin who played 21 minutes off the bench.
A weak point for the dawgs was at the free throw line. Butler shot 47% on 15 attempts whereas Utah shot 82% and scored 18 of their points at the stripe.
Utah’s Stars lead the way offensively with Kyle Kuzma scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 boards and star senior guard Lorenzo Bonam scored 17
The Ute’s demise in this game was their shooting and their turnovers. Utah shot 37% from the field and only 15% from deep in the game. Over the course of the game they also gave the ball away 18 times, resulting in a solid amount of points off of turnovers and transition scores for the Bulldogs.
Butler played well, but maybe not #18 well, in their win over Utah. They played against a zone defense for a portion of the game which might have shaken up players who are used their typical screen and roll style offense. The free throws are a thing to work on this week, as they have until Saturday for their next action.
Butler finishes off their road trip with another win to put them at 7-0 for the season. This week they will return to Indianapolis for another game at Hinkle fieldhouse against Central Arkansas on Saturday at 4PM Eastern time.
Photo credit: Fox Sports.com
- Postgame: Butler Defeats #8 Arizona November 28, 2016 Jackson Borman
Butler overcomes a late 2-15 run to beat #8 Arizona 69-65
The Bulldogs are rolling! Butler defeated Arizona in the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament Championship game on Friday night to take their first trophy of the season.
Butler Forward Andrew Chrabascz was awarded the tournament MVP. In the championship game he recorded 14 points and 7 rebounds. In addition to the numerical dominance, The 6′ 7″ power forward waged war against multiple 7′ Arizona forwards for the entire game and still put up big numbers.
Arizona’s star 7′ big man Lauri Markkanen lead the wildcats with 15 points. Zona guard Kobi Simmons came off of the bench in this contest to score 14.
Despite big numbers from their stars. Arizona had a rough night shooting from deep, putting up a lowly 27% shooting percentage from 3.
Butler on the other hand excelled from behind the arc, shooting 40% from three. Starting two-guard Avery Woodson scored 14 points in 17 minutes of play on 4-7 the pointers.
Kelan Martin also put up big numbers in the game, leading all scorers with 16 points and three rebounds.
Butler Point guards Tyler Lewis and Kamar Baldwin played their usual roles in the contest: Lewis with six assists and four points, Baldwin with 11 points off the bench. To end the first half, Lewis assisted redshirt freshman Sean McDermott with a pretty pass leading to a layup to put Butler up two. This momentum carried them through the rest of the game.
Butler’s 6’8″ starting forward Tyler Wideman came up big on the boards for the Dawgs with 8 rebounds against much taller competition. Wideman also put an exclamation mark on the victory with a massive two-handed dunk that resulted in a converted and-one to seal the Butler win.
With a 6-0 start and this big win against a top ten team, Butler is, in my biased opinion, a lock for the top 25 for this upcoming week. Only time will tell. If they are some how left out, they have a big game this week at Utah- and in early/mid December against Cincinnati and Indiana.
Photo credits: ESPN View.com
- Pregame: Butler Bulldogs @ Utah Runnin’ Utes November 28, 2016 Jackson Borman
Coming off of a big win for the Las Vegas Invitational tournament championship against Arizona, the Butler Bulldogs travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Runnin’ Utes.
Butler looked phenomenal in the Las Vegas Invitational. Against both Arizona and Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs overcame huge post players to go on to win. Butler starting big men Andrew Chrabascz and Tyler Wideman (and Nate Fowler off the bench) have been efficiently scoring (shooting 42%, 61%, and 77% respectively) and rebounding against players that are at times six inches taller than them. The post players have dominated against Vanderbilt’s 7’1” Luke Kornet, Arizona’s 7” Lauri Markkanen and Dusan Ristic and 6’11” Chance Comanche. Butler forward Andrew Chrabascz even won Tournament MVP at the Las Vegas Invitational despite this long and talented competition.
Arizona is also undefeated (4-0), but their season has been a bit less challenging. So far, the Utes have put up a scoring margin of +37 and have played an easy schedule. Every game for the Utes has been a home game, this one is no different. Utah has hosted Northwest Nazarene, Concordia (Oregon), Coppin State, and most recently UC Riverside.
Each of these games have have resulted in a 40+ point victory for Utah, except for the UC Riverside who put up a bit more of a fight, losing 85-67.
With a team that really has not played any high quality teams, it is hard to predict how they will play against a certainly high quality Butler Bulldog team.
Butler will be once again up against some big bodies in Utah’s Tyler Rawson and Jayce Johnson (6’10” and 7’ respectively). The pair averages over 16 points and 20 rebounds per game.
6’4” senior guard Lorenzo Bonam leads the Utes in scoring with nearly 16 a game. Utah as a whole struggles from behind the arc, shooting around 32% against less than stellar defense. The team is fairly good from the freethrow line, shooting 71%.
The Bulldogs are hot right now and should be able to handle this Utah team. Butler is more experienced and flat out better on both ends of the floor.
Players to Watch:
Kelan Martin is still Butler’s leading scorer and dominates the stat sheet night in and night out. Expect a big game from the junior forward.
Kethan Savage is back with the team after missing all but the first exhibition game and the matchup against Arizona. The senior guard is coming off of back spasms and pneumonia and will be slowly integrated back into Butler’s lineup.
Lorenzo Bonam is the Utes’ highest scorer. He is not a great shooter, rather an all around type of scorer. He will have to try to carry the load for Utah against Butler’s best defenders.
Jake Connor is the biggest deep shooting threat for the Utes. The 6’3” sophomore is at a solid 42% from beyond the arc and 50% from the field. Watch out for the young guard as he could boost Utah’s scoring production in a hurry from the bench.
Photo credit: The Butler Collegian.com
- Postgame: Virginia defeats Providence 63-52 to win Emerald Coast Classic November 26, 2016 Noah Holley
Finally, a challenger.
But yet another win.
Virginia fought off Providence’s comeback attempt early in the first half to defeat the Friars and win the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, FL. London Perrantes and Darius Thompson each scored 11 to lead the Hoos in their toughest (and only) test yet.
The first half played out for the Hoos similar to how it did in last night’s easy win over Iowa, as Virginia entered halftime with a comfortable 34-20 lead. The second half? Not so much. Virginia played horribly out of the locker room, turning the ball over four times en route to allowing Providence to get within 5 of the lead. The Wahoos wouldn’t score for the first 4:44 of the half.
The Friars proved tough to shake, utilizing a full-court defense throughout most of the second half – something that has proven to be a potential antidote to Virginia’s unflappable offense – but they never got closer than five. Virginia gradually pulled away to seal the win and improve to 6-0 on the year.
Jalen Lindsey went 4-6 behind the arc to lead Providence (4-2) with 18. The Friars were UVa’s first opponent in a while that avoided being humiliated by their defense, scoring the most points as well as shooting at a higher clip (37.5%) than any other.
THREE WHO MATTERED
- Mamadi Diakite: Diakite gave UVa a huge lift late, scoring all 10 of his points (including a pair of three-pointers, the first of his career) in the second half. He also added 3 more blocks. Diakite has been really impressive so far in this 2016-17 season, displaying impressive athleticism and loads of raw talent on both ends of the floor, which is great news for a Virginia team having lost their best interior force in Austin Nichols.
- London Perrantes: Perrantes’ 3-pointer to end Providence’s 9-0 run out of the locker room was the shot of the game for Virginia. That’s what you need your guy to do – hit ’em when it really counts. He also made a fantastic hustle play late in the contest, diving for a ball destined to go out of bounds to keep the possession alive. Perrantes has yet to have a big scoring game, but he hasn’t really needed too, either. It says something about a player when he has achieved his status as one of the best players in the country from his defense, passing, and leadership and not his points per game average. Boy, are we UVa fans gonna miss him.
- Rodney Bullock: Cooley has always coached his team around one guy, and this year with the absence of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil that guy is Bullock. Yes, the forward scored 16 points, but it was a quiet 16 points as he struggled to get the shots he wanted against UVa’s infamous Pack Line defense and ended up 5-20 from the field.
With the Emerald Coast Classic behind them, no. 7 Virginia now looks toward the ACC/Big Ten challenge, where they will face Ohio State for the second consecutive year this Wednesday. Providence will host New Hampshire on the same day.
- Seton Hall suffers first loss of season in Advocare Invitational November 24, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
Seton Hall suffered their first loss of the season on Thanksgiving night, falling to Florida 81-76.
KeVaugh Allen led the way for the Gators with 21 points, and senior Canyon Barry added 20 coming off of the bench.
Seton Hall took a 40-39 lead into halftime, with neither team being able to separate themselves. That trend would continue in the second half, with the game going back and forth for most of the night. Florida built an eight point lead, but the Pirates quickly cut it back down to four.
The game was plagued by questionable officiating on both sides, as Florida saw three players foul out, while the Pirates saw Khadeen Carrington foul out as well.
Carrington led the Pirates with 28 points in the loss, while Myles Powell chipped in 16 points on four threes off of the bench.
-Seton Hall is going to need Madison Jones to more offensively moving forward. Jones, who did not score on the night, does a good job setting up his teammates. However, tonight was not his night, as he had a costly turnover down the stretch with the Pirates down 73-71.
-Free Throw shooting continues to be a problem for Seton Hall just as it was last season. With 20 seconds left, Powell was fouled shooting a three which would have cut it to a one possession game. Powell could not come through at the line, making two of three. On the night, the Pirates shot 17-25 (68%) from the line and will need to improve in that area.
-At times, the offense was extremely stagnant. Powell and Desi Rodriguez were the main culprits of this due to their lack of off-ball movement.
-One bright spot tonight for Seton Hall was the play of Khadeen Carrington. He continued his hot start to the season with a game-high 28 points and will continue to lead the way for this team on Offense.
- Tournament Preview: Advocare Invitational November 24, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
Entering it’s 11th season, the Advocare Invitational (previously named the Old Spice Classic) welcomes eight teams to Orlando starting on Thursday and may have it’s deepest and most competitive field in its 11 year history.
Last year, Xavier took down Dayton in the finals to win the tournament.
Can another Big East team take home the title? Let’s take a look.
Indiana State Sycamores (2-1) vs. #20 Iowa State Cyclones (3-0)- Thursday @ 12:30 P.M. on ESPN2
On the surface, this may seem like an easy one for the Cyclones. However, Iowa State cannot afford to look past a gritty Indiana State team. Led by junior Brenton Scott (22.3 PPG), the Sycamores calling card is defense. The team is is 75-9 when holding teams under 63 points, so they will be looking to slow down Iowa State in order to have a chance in this one.
Iowa State has cruised to three easy wins against Savannah State, Mount St. Mary’s, and Citadel. Not exactly powerhouse programs, but the Cyclones have played well none the less. While Indiana State may prioritize defense, Iowa State has had no problem scoring the ball so far this season. Monte Morris is coming off of a triple-double against Citadel and Naz Long has complemented Morris well so far.
Indiana State may hang around in the beginning, but this one has Iowa State written all over it.
FINAL SCORE: Iowa State: 76 Indiana State:59
Stanford (4-0) vs. Miami (3-0)- Thursday, 2:30 P.M. on ESPN2
In this matchup, we have a battle of the undefeated’s squaring off in the first round.
Stanford has started out 4-0 under first-year head man Jerod Haase , and Miami has gotten off to a 3-0, start dominating in all three of their games under Jim Larranaga.
The Cardinal had to grind out a 56-49 victory over Colorado State in their last game and while their defensive performance may have been impressive, the offensive output was not. Stanford is a veteran team led by guard Dorian Pickens and forward Michael Humphrey, which bodes well for their chance to take down Miami.
While Stanford had to grind for their last win, Miami has taken care of business pretty easily to start off the new season. The Hurricanes find themselves just outside of the top 25 and will be looking to make a splash in the Advocare. In order to do so, they will first have to take down Stanford. Guard Ja’Quan Newton has really come into his own for the Canes and will look to lead the charge on Thursday.
FINAL SCORE: Miami: 68 Stanford: 58
Quinnipiac (0-2) vs. #14 Gonzaga (3-0)- Thursday, 6:30 P.M. on ESPN2
Right now, the Bobcats are 0-2 and find themselves going up against one of the best teams in the country in the Zags. Not only is Gonzaga one of the better teams in America, they are a veteran team who will not let a team like Quinnipiac get the best of them.
This is the shortest preview because the result seems to be pretty clear-cut, but who knows. Indiana did just lose to IPFW, after all.
FINAL SCORE: Gonzaga: 87 Quinnipiac: 64
Seton Hall (3-0) vs. Florida (4-0) Thursday, 8:30 P.M. on ESPN2
The last game of the day might wind up being the best game of the day.
This showdown features two teams in Seton Hall and Florida that are sitting right on the cusp of the top 25 and will be looking to jump into the rankings with some big wins in the Advocare.
Florida will be looking to start 5-0 coming off of a disappointing 2015-2016 campaign after head coach Billy Donovan left for the NBA. The Gators are led by College of Charleston transfer guard Canyon Barry, who also happens to be the son of NBA Hall-of-famer Rick Barry.
Seton Hall went on the road and knocked off Iowa last week behind 26 points from freshman Myles Powell. The emergence of Powell combined with the four returning starters from last year’s Big East Championship team can make the Pirates dangerous not only now, but as the season progresses.
The key for Florida will be to hold the Pirates under 70. Seton Hall has not played a game where they have not had their way offensively, so it is unclear how they would respond in a defensive battle. For Seton Hall, it will be all about forcing turnovers and getting out into transition.
FINAL SCORE: Seton Hall: 79 Florida: 72
8th Place: Quinnipiac
7th Place: Indiana State
6th Place: Stanford
5th Place: Florida
Semifinal #1- Iowa State: 70 Miami:65
Semifinal #2- Gonzaga: 66 Seton Hall: 63
Championship Game: Gonzaga: 76 Iowa State: 64
- Pregame: Butler Bulldogs vs Vanderbilt Commodores November 24, 2016 Jackson Borman
Butler vs Vanderbilt: Las Vegas, Nevada. November 24, 7PM CT
The Butler Bulldogs take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first day of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The still undefeated Bulldogs will take on the 2-2 Commodores in a Thanksgiving matchup in Sin City. The game will be at Orleans Arena at the famous Orleans hotel and casino just a couple of blocks from the main strip. This will be a new environment for both teams; Butler has yet to leave Hinkle Fieldhouse and Vandy has only left their Memorial Gymnasium once this season where they lost to Marquette in Annapolis, Maryland. This will be the first time heading west for both teams this season, and definitely the first time on a big stage like the one that they will experience in Vegas.
Butler is coming off a big time win against Norfolk state where they shot 58% from the field and made a staggering 13 three-point shots. They will look to continue their hot shooting against a Vanderbilt team that is gives up an average of at eight long balls per game.
Vanderbilt’s last contest was a three point loss to the Bucknell Bison: who Butler demolished by 26 points earlier this month. The Commodores will have to capitalize on their strong interior defense, lead by senior big man Luke Kornet, as well as getting to the line to shake up the Bulldogs with foul trouble.
I can’t see the Bulldogs losing this matchup. With the way that they have been shooting, and passing the ball, in the last two games, The Dawgs have yet to give up 70 points in a single game, so look for Coach Holtmann’s defense to be firing on all cylinders yet again. Butler’s squad should squash (thanksgiving joke) the Vanderbilt Commodores this Turkey Day.
Players to Watch
Tyler Lewis is coming off a masterful performance against Norfolk State where he had seven assists in the first half alone. In the last two games the veteran point guard has 15 assists. Look for the offense to be flowing through Lewis’ distribution tomorrow night.
Kelan Martin has been scoring less over the last couple of games, with just 11 points against Norfolk State last Monday. This is a game where I could see Martin exploding for big points because of Vanderbilt’s strength on the inside with shot blockers Kornet and Baptiste, as well as their strong defense against the three point shot. Look for Martin’s midrange game and strong finishes inside to propel Butler in this matchup.
7’1” Luke Kornet Leads the Commodores defensively with 9 blocked shots already this season. On top of that he averages nearly 16 points per game, and shoots 80% from the line. He will be making it tough on the interior for Butler big men all night long on both ends of the floor.
Matthew Fisher-Davis leads Vanderbilt’s squad in scoring with 17 points per game on 13-27 shooting from beyond the arc this season. Butler has had trouble guarding against the three point shot in the past (Northwestern) so Fisher-Davis could be a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs.
Photo credit: Fox Sports.com
- Postgame: Butler Defeats Bucknell 86-60 November 22, 2016 Jackson Borman
The Bulldogs pulled out a substantial win against the lowly Bucknell Bison on Saturday. The game was on the coat tails of Butlers buzzer beater victory over Northwestern on Wednesday night.
In that game, the Dawgs shot only 38% from the field. This number has vastly improved to 62% shooting against Bucknell, on a blistering 53% three point shooting. With these numbers it is no surprise that Butler demolished the Bison.
The Bulldogs were lead in scoring by two guard Avery Woodson with fourteen points and team star Kelan Martin with thirteen points. The Dawgs managed to hold Bucknell’s superstar do-it-all forward Zach Thomas to only three of 11 shooting and only two assists accompanied by four turnovers.
By limiting Thomas’ impact on the game, Bucknell turned to their big man Nana Foulland who lead the team in points and rebounds, 16 and five, respectively.
Standouts for the Bulldogs included Avery Woodson who had a season high 14 points and Tyler Lewis who had a season high seven assists. Kamar Baldwin had yet another nice game off of the bench for the Dawgs, scoring 10 points and shooting 100% from behind the arc.
Look for Butler to continue to attempt to share the scoring load between the starters and the bench. While Martin is nearly a guaranteed double digit scorer every game, other players will have to step up, especially against stronger defensive teams as the season goes on if Butler is to stay undefeated. In this game it was Woodson, in the past it has been Baldwin or Chrabascz, regardless of which player it is on each given night, it is going to have to be someone. Butler has yet to solidify who will be their second go-to scorer when Kelan Martin is locked down by a solid defender.Photo credits: @Joeybrunk
- CPP’s College Basketball Week 2 Awards November 21, 2016 Mark Stouffer
Well, well, well, not a bad first full week of college basketball.
In the first week we saw many games worthy of a February/March feel, with late game dramatics, team reaching deep into their depth, and great individual performances
And this is all before Thanksgiving, with preseason tournaments like Maui and Battle 4 Atlantis still to play. This week is going to be great.
So without further ado, the awards for this week of College Basketball:
Game of the Week
Kansas 77, Duke 75 (5 votes)
Really, guys? You’re going to make me, a Duke fan, write about this game?
Oh wait, I voted for this game too. Never mind.
The jet-lagged Jayhawks and short-handed Blue Devils played a fantastic game in Madison Square Garden, both teams leaving nothing in the tank. Both teams had stellar individual performances, with Kansas being led by Frank Mason’s 21 and Duke by Luke Kennard’s 22.
Both teams overcame significant foul trouble to put on excellent displays of basketball, with Duke taking the lead early, Kansas roaring back for their own double digit lead, and Duke rallying back to tie.
As for the ending?
Well, you’ll just have to read on to our Moment of the Week.
Others receiving votes: Xavier 83, Missouri 82 (2 votes), Maryland 76, Georgetown 75 (1 vote)
Team of the Week
Kansas (3 votes)
This week could not have gone much better for Kansas.
After a brutal loss to Indiana in Hawaii, the Jayhawks bounced back and took down the Blue Devils in a thriller in New York. The Jayhawks have established their identity, as there might not be a better backcourt than Frank Mason and Devonte Graham. And after a poor start, Josh Jackson has looked like the stud freshman he is.
But to top it all off, on Friday, Kansas took down Siena 86-65, giving Bill Self a record 207th win at Allen Fieldhouse.
Self’s record at home is 207-9. Wow.
Others receiving votes: Creighton (2 votes), Michigan (2 votes), Duke (1 vote)
Coach of the Week
Greg McDermott, Creighton (7 votes)
Three major conference opponents in one week. One in the Top 10, one with two five star freshmen.
To many, that is a mountain.
For Creighton, it’s a bump on the road.
After three years of struggles following the departure of Greg’s son, national player of the year Doug McDermott, the Blue-jays are back and are ready to challenge the best in college basketball.
Creighton showed its versatility, on Tuesday by beating #9 Wisconsin 79-67 in a defensive showcase, holding Wisconsin to 41% shooting. Then on Sunday they beat NC State 112-94, shooting 61% and having seven players scoring double digits. In between they took down Washington State 103-77 in a game that could have been a trap.
That is a testament to some phenomenal coaching, and Greg McDermott has his guys ready for March.
Others receiving votes: John Beilein, Michigan (1 vote)
Freshman of the Week
Malik Monk, Kentucky (4 votes)
Here’s a name we should all be getting familiar with.
Against Michigan State on Tuesday, Monk shredded the Spartans for 23 points, including 7 threes in the 69-48 win. Considering one of the big concerns for this Wildcat team was three-point shooting, Monk erased a lot of doubts for this team.
Against Duquesne, Monk followed with a respectable 14 points, while still making splash plays throughout the week.
Just imagine how good he will be by March.
Others receiving votes: Markelle Fultz, Washington (2 votes), Frank Jackson, Duke (1 vote), Charlie Moore, California (1 vote)
Point Guard of the Week
Frank Mason III, Kansas (6 votes)
My goodness is this guy good.
21 points against Duke with 5 assists, including the game winning jumper in spite of battling foul trouble. Then 18 points and 3 assists against Siena, in spite of being on three cross country flights within a week and a half.
The best driver in the country, Mason is relentless at the hoop, always finishing while drawing the foul. But simultaneously his jumper has been locked in with good assist numbers too.
Imagine the damage he’ll do once he’s in the same time zone most of the time.
Others receiving votes: Josh Hart, Villanova (1 vote), Charlie Moore, California (1 vote)
Wing Player of the Week
Luke Kennard, Duke (7 votes)
In spite of their much-highlighted injury concerns, Duke is playing like a Top 5 team.
They owe a good chunk of that to Kennard.
Kennard averaged 20.3 points in three games this week, shooting 54.1%, including an absurd 52.9% from three. He’s done so in spite of almost never resting, including playing the entire 80 minutes of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.
He’s also averaged 5.3 rebounds and played often as the point guard during the week, providing Duke with a much needed consistent offensive threat while Grayson Allen plays hurt and Jayson Tatum is out.
And this guy was supposed to be the 7th or 8th man for Duke.
Be afraid, college basketball.
Others receiving votes: Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan (1 vote)
Post Player of the Week
Hassan Martin, Rhode Island (3 votes)
Something about the name Hassan produces good post players.
The senior posted excellent numbers throughout the week, averaging 13 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks per game, while shooting 70%. He’s done so while frequently playing as Rhode Island’s lone true post player and being in foul trouble.
Against Duke, Martin went for 15, 6, and 5 in helping to weaken Duke’s driving game. Against Cincinnati he took on the bigger frontline and went 5-6.
Most stunning of all, he went 14-14 from the free throw line.
For a big man, this can only be a sign of good things to come.
Others receiving votes: Miles Bridges, Michigan State (2 votes), Kyle Washington, Cincinnati (1 vote), Michael Young, Pittsburgh (1 vote), Eric Mika, BYU (1 vote)
Best Decision of the Week
JP Macura calling time out in the last seconds (3 votes)
#11 Xavier found themselves in quite the dogfight with Missouri in the Tire Pros Invitational quarterfinal.
With the game tied at 82 in overtime, Xavier rebounded a Missouri missed three with four seconds left. Although initially it looked like Xavier would push the ball up the court, forward JP Macura alertly signaled for time out with 1.7 seconds remaining, giving the Musketeers time to set up ...
- 2017 NBA Draft Big Board/Top 100 Prospects: 112 Days Until Selection Sunday Edition! November 21, 2016 Brett Siegel
Week 1 of the College Basketball season is in the past, so let’s continue to analyze the future! NBA Draft Analyst Brett Siegel has updated his NBA Draft Big Board/Top 100 Prospects list for the 2017 NBA Draft based on performances during the first week of the College Basketball season! Check out the rankings to see who has helped their draft stock this past week and who has endangered it!
It has clearly been the year of the freshman so far, but let’s not forget about these upperclassmen either! Take a look and see where your favorite college player ranks among the rest of the prospects, and see how many NBA prospects from your favorite college/country made my list!
Players By Conference ACC: 24 players Big-12: 11 players Big-10: 12 players PAC-12: 13 players SEC: 10 players Other: 30 players Players By Year Freshmen: 24 players Sophomores: 20 players Juniors: 16 players Seniors: 24 players International: 16 players Ranking Name Position School/Country Year/Age Height Weight – 1 Markelle Fultz PG/SG WASHINGTON Freshman/18 6’5″ 190 lbs – 2 Josh Jackson SF KANSAS Freshman/19 6’8″ 203 lbs ↑ (4) 3 Lonzo Ball PG UCLA Freshman/18 6’5″ 195 lbs ↓ (1) 4 Dennis Smith PG N.C. ST. Freshman/19 6’2″ 180 lbs ↓ (1) 5 Jayson Tatum SF DUKE Freshman/18 6’8″ 204 lbs ↓ (1) 6 Frank Ntilikina PG FRANCE INTL/18 6’4″ 175 lbs ↑ (1) 7 Ivan Rabb PF/C CALIFORNIA Sophomore/19 6’11” 220 lbs ↓ (2) 8 Jonathan Isaac SF FLORIDA ST. Freshman/18 6’11” 205 lbs – 9 Harry Giles PF DUKE Freshman/18 6’11” 230 lbs ↑ (3) 10 Malik Monk PG/SG KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’4″ 185 lbs ↓ (1) 11 De’Aaron Fox PG KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’4″ 170 lbs ↑ (10) 12 Miles Bridges SF MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’8″ 230 lbs ↑ (2) 13 Lauri Markkenen PF ARIZONA Freshman/19 7’0″ 225 lbs ↓ (3) 14 Bam Adebayo PF/C KENTUCKY Freshman/19 6’10” 240 lbs ↑ (4) 15 O.G. Anunoby SF INDIANA Sophomore/18 6’8″ 215 lbs ↓ (4) 16 Marques Bolden C DUKE Freshman/18 6’10” 254 lbs – 17 Nigel Hayes SF WISCONSIN Senior/21 6’8″ 235 lbs – 18 Jarrett Allen C TEXAS Freshman/18 6’11” 227 lbs ↓ (3) 19 Grayson Allen PG/SG DUKE Junior/20 6’5″ 205 lbs ↑ (19) 20 Josh Hart SG/SF VILLANOVA Senior/21 6’5″ 205 lbs – 21 Rodions Kurucs SF LATVIA INTL/18 6’8″ 190 lbs ↑ (8) 22 Dwayne Bacon SF FLORIDA ST. Sophomore/20 6’5″ 202 lbs ↑ (15) 23 Frank Jackson PG DUKE Freshman/18 6’4″ 200 lbs ↑ (34) 24 Frank Mason III PG KANSAS Senior/22 5’11” 185 lbs ↓ (5) 25 Tyler Lydon SF/PF SYRACUSE Sophomore/20 6’9″ 205 lbs ↓ (3) 26 Isaiah Hartenstein PF GERMANY INTL/18 6’10” 230 lbs ↓ (3) 27 Jonathan Jeanne PF/C FRANCE INTL/19 7’2″ 195 lbs ↓ (3) 28 Omer Yurtseven C N.C. ST. Freshman/18 7’0″ 228 lbs ↓ (15) 29 Thomas Bryant PF/C INDIANA Sophomore/19 6’10” 245 lbs ↓ (3) 30 Terrance Ferguson SG/SF AUSTRALLIA INTL/18 6’7″ 185 lbs ↓ (5) 31 Monte Morris PG IOWA ST. Senior/21 6’3″ 170 lbs ↑ (5) 32 Edmond Sumner PG XAVIER Sophomore/20 6’5″ 170 lbs – 33 Jaron Blossomgame SF CLEMSON Senior/22 6’7″ 214 lbs – 34 V.J. Beachum SF NOTRE DAME Senior/21 6’9″ 197 lbs – 35 Dillon Brooks SF OREGON Junior/20 6’7″ 215 lbs ↓ (8) 36 Justin Jackson SF UNC Junior/21 6’8″ 193 lbs ↑ (12) 37 Joel Berry II PG/SG UNC Junior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs ↓ (9) 38 Chris Boucher PF OREGON Senior/23 6’10” 200 lbs ↑ (1) 39 Devonte’ Graham PG KANSAS Junior/21 6’2″ 175 lbs ↑ (5) 40 Alec Peters PF VALPARAISO Senior/21 6’9″ 225 lbs ↓ (5) 41 Wenyen Gabriel SF/PF KENTUCKY Freshman/19 6’9″ 200 lbs ↓ (11) 42 Allonzo Trier SG ARIZONA Sophomore/20 6’4″ 205 lbs ↓ (11) 43 Melo Trimble PG MARYLAND Junior/21 6’3″ 190 lbs – 44 Santiago Yusta SG SPAIN INTL/19 6’7″ 200 lbs ↑ (3) 45 Amile Jefferson PF DUKE Senior/23 6’9″ 195 lbs ↓ (4) 46 Blaz Mesicek SG SLOVENIA INTL/19 6’6″ 190 lbs ↓ (1) 47 Kris Jenkins SF/PF VILLANOVA Senior/22 6’6″ 240 lbs ↓ (1) 48 Isaiah Hicks PF UNC Senior/21 6’8″ 230 lbs ↑ (7) 49 T.J. Leaf PF UCLA Freshman/18 6’9″ 215 lbs – 50 E.C. Matthews SG RHODE ISLAND Sophomore/20 6’4″ 181 lbs – 51 Caleb Swanigan PF PURDUE Sophomore/19 6’9″ 247 lbs – 52 London Perrantes PG/SG VIRGINIA Senior/21 6’2″ 192 lbs ↑ (13) 53 Andzejs Pasecniks C LATVIA INTL/20 7’1″ 220 lbs ↓ (11) 54 Jessie Govan C GEORGETOWN Sophomore/18 6’11” 255 lbs ↑ (18) 55 Luke Kennard SG DUKE Sophomore/20 6’5″ 187 lbs ↑ (13) 56 Isaiah Briscoe PG/SG KENTUCKY Sophomore/20 6’3″ 218 lbs NEW 57 James Blackmon Jr. SG INDIANA Junior/21 6’3″ 184 lbs ↑ (40) 58 Kobi Simmons PG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’6″ 185 lbs NEW 59 Terry Larrier SG/SF UCONN Sophomore/21 6’8″ 195 lbs ↓ (5) 60 Jack Gibbs PG DAVIDSON Senior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs ↓ (7) 61 Antonio Blakeney SG LSU Sophomore/19 6’4″ 177 lbs ↑ (29) 62 Malcolm Hill SF ILLINOIS Senior/20 6’6″ 230 lbs ↓ (22) 63 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk SG KANSAS Junior/19 6’8″ 191 lbs ↓ (11) 64 Chimezie Metu PF/C USC Sophomore/19 6’9″ 210 lbs ↑ (20) 65 Maurice Watson Jr. PG CREIGHTON Senior/23 5’10” 170 lbs ↓ (2) 66 Malik Pope SF SAN DIEGO ST. Junior/19 6’10” 205 lbs ↓ (2) 67 Luke Kornet PF/C VANDERBILT Senior/21 7’0″ 240 lbs ↓ (11) 68 Josh Langford SG MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’6″ 205 lbs ↑ (2) 69 Tyler Roberson PF SYRACUSE Senior/22 6’8″ 225 lbs ↓ (9) 70 Alpha Kaba PF/C FRANCE INTL/20 6’10” 226 lbs ↓ (12) 71 Aleksander Vezenkov SF/PF BULGARIA INTL/20 6’9″ 225 lbs ↓ (10) 73 Nic Slavica SF CROATIA INTL/19 6’7″ 190 lbs ↓ (10) 73 Kyle Kuzma PF UTAH Junior/20 6’9″ 221 lbs ↑ (5) 74 Jonathan Motley PF BAYLOR Junior/21 6’9″ 230 lbs ↑ (5) 75 Diego Flaccadori SG ITALY INTL/20 6’5″ 172 lbs ↓ (8) 76 Kyle Guy SG VIRGINIA Freshman/18 6’2″ 170 lbs ↑ (12) 77 Jawun Evans PG OKLAHOMA ST. Sophomore/19 6’1″ 177 lbs ↑ (22) 78 Rawle Alkins SG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’4″ 185 lbs ↓ (12) 79 Amida Brimah C UCONN Senior/22 7’0″ 230 lbs ↑ (7) 80 Keita Bates-Diop SF OHIO ST. Junior/20 6’7″ 235 lbs ↑ (7) 81 Vince Edwards Jr. SF PURDUE Junior/20 6’8″ 225 lbs ↓ (10) 82 Matt Jones SG DUKE Senior/21 6’5″ 200 lbs ↓ (6) 83 Vinny Okouo C CONGO INTL/19 7’2″ 240 lbs ↓ (14) 84 Jordan Woodard PG OKLAHOMA Senior/20 5’11” 181 lbs ↓ (2) 85 Deng Adel SF/PF LOUISVILLE Sophomore/20 6’7″ 200 lbs ↓ (12) 86 Nic Slavica SF CROATIA INTL/19 6’7″ 190 lbs ↓ (12) 87 DJ Hogg SF TEXAS A&M Sophomore/20 6’8″ 220 lbs ↑ (2) 88 V.J. King SF LOUISVILLE Freshman/19 6’7″ 190 lbs ↑ (6) 89 Jalen Brunson PG VILLANOVA Sophomore/19 6’2″ 200 lbs NEW 90 Manu Lecomte PG BAYLOR Junior/21 5’11” 170 lbs ↓ (7) 91 Carlton Bragg PF KANSAS Sophomore/20 6’8″ 225 lbs ↓ (16) 92 Moses Kingsley PF/C ARKANSAS Senior/22 6’10” 230 lbs ↑ (4) 93 Zach Collins C GONZAGA Freshman/18 6’11” 220 lbs ↓ (16) 94 Egemen Guven PF/C TURKEY INTL/19 6’10” 210 lbs ↓ (14) 95 Jabari Bird SG CALIFORNIA Senior/22 6’6″ 200 lbs ↓ (14) 96 Kennedy Meeks C UNC Senior/21 6’9″ 279 lbs ↓ (5) 97 Devin Robinson SF FLORIDA Junior/21 6’8″ 180 lbs ↓ (4) 98 Peter Jok SG IOWA Senior/22 6’6″ 199 lbs ↓ (13) 99 Emircan Kosut C TURKEY INTL/21 6’11” 220 lbs ↓ (7) 100 Trevon Bluiett SF XAVIER Junior/20 6’6″ 215 lbs
- Tournament Preview: Maui Jim Maui Invitational November 20, 2016 Nick Schwartz
ESPN aptly refers to the week of Thanksgiving as “Feast Week” in the world of college basketball. Early season tournaments produce scintillating games and March-like moments during the month of November. The headliner of these events is the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, commonly referred to simply as “Maui”, which takes place the three days before Thanksgiving every year, in the tropical paradise of the Hawaiian archipelago.
This year’s Maui field is headlined by a trio of top teams: Oregon, Wisconsin, and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Other participating teams are Connecticut, Georgetown, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, and of course, the Silver Swords of Chaminade. The small Hawaiian university inspired the idea for this elite tournament with their upset victory over the top ranked Virginia Cavaliers in the early 1980s.
First Round Previews
Tennessee vs. Wisconsin
The Volunteers have had a tumultuous start to the season, losing by double digits against Chattanooga before outlasting Appalachian St., 103-94. Rick Barnes can rely on Robert Hubbs, however, as the senior is averaging 13.5 points and 4 rebounds a game. The Volunteers dearth of size has hurt them considerably, with the 6’5” Hubbs often having to play Forward. Center Kyle Alexander has averaged 10 points and 7.5 boards as the one true big man for Tennessee. Wisconsin has a clear advantage in the frontcourt, behind stars Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. Further depth and size is added by Alex Illikainen and Vito Brown. Leading scorer Bronson Koenig is averaging nearly 16 a game, and should provide the boost that pushes Wisconsin past the Volunteers. Tennessee could hang in and make this game interesting, but the chances are higher the Badgers blow them out. Look for Koenig to be the difference in this being a close game and an easy Badger win. Prediction: Wisconsin 78, Tennessee 62.
Georgetown vs. Oregon
It has been a rough week for the Hoyas, as they lost a heartbreaker against Maryland, before being beaten down by Arkansas St. on their home floor. The talent is there for Georgetown, as both L.J. Peak and Rodney Pryor are averaging 17.7 points a game. Sophomore Center Jessie Govan has averaged 14.3 points a game and 5.7 boards a contest, and continues to be the subject of NBA rumors. Key rotation players Tre Campbell and Jonathan Mulmore have provided crucial depth. If Georgetown puts all their pieces together, they are capable of beating an Oregon team that was thrashed by Baylor this past week. The Ducks are sorely missing Dillon Brooks, while star guard Tyler Dorsey has been underwhelming early in the year, averaging 12.7 points and only 2 assists a game. Chris Boucher, however, has been fantastic, averaging 17 points a game, and Forward Jordan Bell is averaging over four blocks a game. Adding Brooks back to this team makes them instantly a title contender. Still, he is not currently playing, and it makes the depleted Ducks ripe for an upset against a talented team that has been underperforming. The Hoyas should be hungry after the difficult week, and if they play with fire, have a real shot at the upset. Prediction: Georgetown 68, Oregon 64.
Oklahoma St. vs. Connecticut
Connecticut’s shortcomings have been well-documented early in the season, and the road got tougher when freshman Guard Alterique Gilbert went down with a shoulder injury. He will be sorely missed against the Cowboys, in a game where stud sophomore Jawun Evans will be the best player on the floor. The Cowboys’ offense has been electric, topping 100 points in each of their three games this season. Evans is averaging over 23 a game, while senior sharpshooter Phil Forte is pouring in 22 per game. Coming off the bench, Forward Jeffrey Carroll is also contributing 18 a game for the squad’s stellar offense. For the Huskies, sophomore Forward Terry Larrier has been a bright spot in UConn’s dismal start to the season, averaging 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. Amida Brimah will need to be a force against Oklahoma St.’s inexperienced frontcourt; the senior from Ghana is averaging over four blocks a game. Evans and Forte are more than capable of leading the Cowboys past the Huskies solely on their own. UConn’s talented roster needs to play up to its billing, especially seniors Brimah, Rodney Purvis, and Kentan Facey. The x-factor will be Jalen Adams, and if the Huskies’ explosive guard can contain Evans. He’s got the athleticism to keep up with the Texas native. Prediction: Connecticut 70, Oklahoma St. 67.
Chaminade vs. North Carolina
This game will be all Tar Heels. Chaminade has often run into teams, over the course of this tournament, that they can handle and even defeat. This is not one of those games. Juniors Joel Berry and Justin Jackson have been predictably excellent this year. They are respectively averaging 16.5 and 15.5 points per contest. The Tar Heels as a whole score 92 a game. The frontcourt is one of the deepest and best in the nation. Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and freshman Tony Bradley have been tremendous in the post as a trio, and are too much for most power conference teams, let alone Division-II Chaminade. The Tar Heels should win comfortably, and let the players at the end of the bench see some minutes. Prediction: North Carolina 102, Chaminade 61.
Wisconsin vs. North Carolina
This would be a titanic battle, and pit a pair of deep frontcourts against each other. The x-factor would be Bronson Koenig, and how he would handle the matchup against a taller and longer Justin Jackson. Wisconsin would need a major league effort from ...
- Pregame: Butler Bulldogs vs. Bucknell Bison November 19, 2016 Jackson Borman
Saturday, November 19th, 1PM
Butler came out on top of a thrilling but worrisome Wednesday night game against Northwestern. Despite the win, the Bulldogs’ offense struggled, especially in the first half.
Butler looks to turn it around this game against a 2-1 Bucknell team that shouldn’t be too tough of a matchup.
Bucknell’s biggest weakness seems to be defensively, seeing as though they have scored over 70 points in each of three games this season. The Bison have only been able to hold opponents to 42% shooting from downtown, so look for the Bulldogs to capitalize on perimeter oriented offense.
This is an important game for the Bulldogs, not so much that it is a challenging matchup, but more so that it is an opportunity to get their offense back together. After a rough shooting night against Northwestern, Coach Holtmann as no doubt put the team through some shooting drills in preparation for this game.
Look for the Bulldogs to come out, guns blazin’, against this Bucknell team that allowed 94 points to Wake Forest.
The bulldogs will also have home court advantage for their previous two games this season as well. While the atmosphere of Hinkle is typically a factor that can put the dawgs over the edge in close games, like last Wednesday’s, this time might be different. With Butler’s fall break starting this weekend, many students who live outside of the Indianapolis area will not be in attendance. In addition, the game is at 1:00 in the afternoon: not exactly a primetime game.
Players to Watch
Kelan Martin is always a player to watch for Butler. He is a threat from deep as well as in the paint, and basically runs the bulldogs’ offense. Averaging 21.5 points per game doesn’t hurt either.
Kamar Baldwin emerged as the hero of Wednesday’s game against Northwestern after hitting the game winner at the end of regulation. While Baldwin will be remembered in the near future for the big shot, his defensive game is extremely developed: even when matched up against Northwestern’s star offensive player, Bryant McIntosh, Baldwin came out of Wednesday’s game with three steals and a blocked shot. Look for his defense to be on display once again against Bucknell.
Sean McDermott should also be a factor off the bench for the bulldogs. The lanky redshirt freshman excels from behind the arc. Butler should look to him for outside scoring, especially against a Bucknell team that struggles to guard the perimeter.
Zach Thomas is Butler’s biggest threat. He leads the Bison in scoring (20 PPG) and is averaging more than four assists and seven rebounds along with it. With most of Bucknell’s offense coming from this versatile big man, Andrew Chrabascz and the rest of Butler’s forwards will have to lock Thomas down if they want to stop Bucknell’s offense.
Mackenzie Kimbal exploded for 15 points and four steals against a fairly strong Wake Forest team. The bulldogs will try to limit his impact offensively and defensively.
Photo: Fox Sports.com
- Tournament Preview: 2016 Paradise Jam November 18, 2016 Brett Siegel
The first week of the 2016-17 College Basketball Season has come to an end, which means it’s time for all of the early season tournaments!
The Paradise Jam brings many surprises every year and always brings exciting basketball to viewers! This will be the 16th annual Paradise Jam and will feature no previous champions, but will feature #22 Creighton Blue Jays as well as N.C. State Wolfpack and Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
This year’s tournament is being played in The U.S. Virgin Islands, as it is every year. The other five teams participating this year are: Loyola-Chicago, Oral Roberts, Montana, Ole Miss, and Washington State.
Let’s get right to it and talk about each matchup before the tournament begins at 12:30 pm EST on CBSSN/ESPN3!
St. Joseph’s Hawks (2-0) vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (3-0) – 12:30 pm EST Tip-Off
Saint Joseph’s is coming off a great 2015-2016 season in which they made it to the NCAA Tournament. A large part of this was because of Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry contributing to 35.5 PPG combined. Somebody has to step up for Saint Joseph’s this year if they want to be successful in a competitive A-10 conference and return to the NCAA Tournament. Shavar Newkirk (22.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.5 APG) has looked solid through Saint Joseph’s first two games and will look to put the team on his back today against Loyola-Chicago.
Loyola-Chicago is off to its best start since 1997! They have started the season with a 3 game win streak and are averaging 88.7 PPG. Defense has been the Ramblers biggest attribute as they rank 13th in the nation, surrendering 51.3 PPG to their opponents. Loyola-Chicago will not wow you with their shooting, but senior guard Milton Doyle leads the team in scoring with 16.7 PPG and leads this team in athleticism. Expect Doyle to come out swinging early against a slower Saint Joseph’s team. Do not be surprise if the Ramblers keep this game close for a while.
FINAL PREDICTION: Saint Joseph’s 65, Loyola-Chicago 57
Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels (2-0) vs. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (1-1) – 3 pm EST Tip-Off
Losing Stefan Moody may be the worst thing that has happened to Ole Miss basketball ever! He contributed to over a fourth of their points each game and was always the go to guy. So Ole Miss basketball is going to be bad now right? Well, I am quite impressed so far! All of their starters are averaging more than 10+ PPG and everyone on this Runnin’ Rebel team knows their role, this early in the season! I expect Ole Miss to surprise many during the Paradise Jam and could potentially find their way into the final!
Oral Roberts did not look terrible in their first game of the year at Baylor, which was a 76-61 loss. They started slow and couldn’t make a shot to save their lives, but in the second half, the Golden Eagles adjusted to the play style and settled in a little. Oral Roberts will need to start fast and force Ole Miss, a terrible three-point shooting team, to take threes. If Oral Roberts can crash the boards and force the mistakes, they may be able to pull off a crazy upset over Ole Miss!
FINAL PREDICTION: Ole Miss 79, Oral Roberts 63
Montana Grizzlies (0-2) vs. N.C. St. Wolfpack (2-0) – 6 pm EST Tip-Off
Montana is a low scoring type of team that looks to wear down their opponents with their slow-pace and fundamental approach to the game. The Grizzlies lack a go-to-guy, but play very conservative and look for the open shots. They do not turn the ball over much, but do struggle getting rebounds. If the Grizzlies want to try and upset the Wolfpack, they will have to take and make the three, in addition to trying to slow down the Wolfpack’s fast-paced, half-court tempo.
N.C. St. landed two top recruits in Dennis Smith and Omer Yurtseven, but Yurtseven is suspended for a few more games and Smith is recovering from a knee injury. No Anthony “Cat” Barber hurts the offense of the Wolfpack as well, but others have stepped up in his place. The Wolfpack have not been able to get the three ball working for them yet this season, but can be dangerous inside with their height. I fully expect the Wolfpack to hold off Montana and move on to the next round!
FINAL PREDICTION: Montana 56, N.C. St. 71
Washington State Cougars (2-0) vs. #22 Creighton Blue Jays (2-0) – 8:30 pm EST Tip-Off
Washington St. enters this season trying to improve from a 9-22 record last season. Washington St. is a team that will outboard a smaller team and can take advantage of the post. Against Creighton though, they will struggle trying to find inside position. In order to upset the Blue Jays, the Cougars will have force turnovers on the defensive side of the ball, and limit turnovers on the offensive side.
Creighton enters the Paradise Jam 2-0 with a 13-point win over #6 Wisconsin. Maurice Watson, their senior leader, has looked great so far. He has controlled this offense, averaging almost a double-double per game (17 PPG, 9.5 APG). Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas have also averaged 17 PPG so far this season and have taken a lot of pressure and stress off of Watson. I fully expect to see the Blue Jays in the final of this tournament if they continue to play at the level they just played against the Badgers.
FINAL PREDICTION: Washington St. 57, Creighton 83
8th Place: Montana Grizzlies
7th Place: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
6th Place: Washington St. Cougars
5th Place: Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
Semifinal 1: Saint Joseph’s Hawks 64 vs. Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels 68
Semifinal 2: N.C. St. Wolfpack 65 vs. #22 Creighton Blue Jays 72
Championship: Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels 56 vs. #22 Creighton Blue Jays 66
This year’s Paradise Jam should be, once again, a fantastic tournament for all College ...
- Post Game: Butler Defeats Northwestern November 17, 2016 Jackson Borman
Butler Basketball thrills in a last second victory over the Northwestern Wildcats at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Despite a poor shooting first half that left the Bulldogs down three in the first half to get the big win for the home fans. Kamar Baldwin dazzled with a last second jumper to win the game for the Bulldogs.
Butler entered the game as clear favorites but after the first half, one could not be so sure. The Bulldogs shot a terrible 31% from the field in the first half and an even worse 15% from behind the arc. The shooting troubles were not reconciled by the fact that defenders continued to leave open shooters on the wings to help defend the pick and roll combo of Bryant McIntosh and Sanjay Lumpkin. While the Dawgs held the pair to only 22 points, the Wildcats’ Vic Law Jr. exploded from downtown shooting 5-6 and scoring 17 points in the contest.
The game was tied at 68 with a late comeback by the Bulldogs when the freshman point guard Kamar Baldwin hit an impressive mid-range jumper to put the Dawgs up two with a half of a second left. In a last-ditch effort to tie the game, Northwestern attempted to lob the ball up to the opposite rim for a tip in. The ball was promptly picked off by none other than Baldwin of course who was then mobbed by his teammates at center court.
Despite the thrilling victory, the game was a stark reminder to the team as well as the attendance of Hinkle Fieldhouse that this Butler team is not unstoppable. A bad shooting night can endanger even the victories that appear the easiest. We saw that with last week’s game against University of Northern Colorado where the Bulldogs held a skimpy 10 point lead at the half. We saw that tonight when the outcome of the game was in question until the final buzzer.
Butler won this game because of a last second shot. But it could have been the other way around. The Bulldogs need to realize that outside shooting and bad shot selection on the interior will not win them games against even the most mediocre of opponents. For a program with big aspirations come March, a nail biting win against Northwestern is not satisfying.
But in the end this is a growing team. They are now 2-0. Kamar Baldwin has the national spotlight for the first time in his collegiate career. The Bulldogs are learning to play while in foul trouble. These are all things that will benefit this team come the Spring.
The star of tonight’s game was, despite Kelan Martin’s 22 points, Kamar Baldwin. With three steals, three assists and 11 points, including the game winner, the freshman point guard stole the show. In the future look for Baldwin’s role within the team to expand. While he is still young and inexperienced, his great defensive play as well as his consistent shooting looks to be a staple for the Bulldogs so far this year. While I can’t see him replacing redshirt Senior Tyler Lewis in the starting line-up quite yet, but if he keeps up this quality of play, I don’t see how he could be kept from seeing the floor more.
- Seton Hall can make a statement against Iowa November 16, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
On Thursday night, Seton Hall will travel to Iowa to take on the undefeated Hawkeyes in the Gavitt Games. This will be the first true test for a Seton Hall team that has cruised to two easy wins to start off the 2016-2017 campaign.
The Pirates kicked off the season with resounding wins over Farleigh Dickinson and Central Connecticut State, winning both games by an average of 22 points per game. Iowa has also cruised to two early victories, winning both games by an average of 24 points per game.
Iowa is an extremely talented team and beating them at their house will be no easy task. The Hawkeyes return leading scorer and preseason all Big-Ten selection Peter Jok to go along with forwards Tyler Cook and Dom Uhl. Their season came to an end at the hands of Villanova in the NCAA tournament last season and they will be looking to add a strong early season victory to their resume.
For Seton Hall, this could be more than just a resume building win. This game can serve as a proving ground for the Pirates, similar to their victory over Wichita State during last season’s non-conference slate. However, this year’s version of the Seton Hall Pirates do not feature Isaiah Whitehead and Derrick Gordon, who were two key cogs in the team last season. As a result of these departures, the team has been doubted despite returning 4/5 starters from last year’s team and will be looking to silence those early doubters with a big win on the road.
The Pirates have not been able to generate turnovers the last two games and a lot of that goes into the losses of Whitehead and Gordon, who lived in the passing lanes last season. As a result of the lack of steals, the Pirates have not been able to get out into transition, which was a strength of the team just a year ago. In order to go on the road and come away with a win, this is one area where Seton Hall will have to improve upon.
It will be on current leaders Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado to take the lead on the road and keep the younger guys calm in a raucous environment.
“It’s my job to keep everyone calm.” Carrington told SHUHoops’ Chris McManus after Sunday’s game against Central Connecticut. “Guys are going to be a little nervous.”
Delgado has become a double-double machine so far this season and will be looking to lead the Pirates to the respect that they deserve on Thursday night.
“It’s time to make people respect us, because again they didn’t give us a lot of respect. We have to show people we deserve it.”
- Pregame: Butler Bulldogs vs. Northwestern Wildcats November 16, 2016 Jackson Borman
Butler 1-0 and Northwestern 2-0
Butler looks to continue their solid start to the regular season with a high scoring game at Hinkle Fieldhouse against an undefeated Northwestern team. Butler started the season with a 37 point win over University of Northern Colorado in which Kelan Martin scored 21 and point guard Tyler Lewis stole the show, shooting 100% from the field scoring 16 points and dishing out five assists.
Northwestern will be the first opponent that may come as a threat to the Bulldogs. The Wildcats are off to a good start, defeating Mississippi Valley State and Eastern Washington by a combined 45 points. Because this matchup is taking place so early in the season, and because of the number of new players to the Butler program, the team is still definitely working out the kinks and attempting to improve team chemistry. Already this season we have seen a handful of upsets, with Indiana’s win over Kansas, Creighton’s win over Wisconsin, and Baylor’s win over Oregon.
Butler- Kelan Martin, Tyler Wideman, Sean McDermott
Northwestern- Bryant McIntosh, Sanjay Lumpkin
With these games fresh in memory, and so early on in the reason for both programs, truly anything can happen. However with this being said, I predict that the Bulldogs will handle this Northwestern team and hand them their first loss of the season.
The game is a part of the Gavitt Tipoff games series, that has already brought us a thrilling win for the defending champion and #4 Villanova at #15 Purdue game as well as an upset in the #9 Wisconsin at #22 Creighton game.
The game will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 7:00 Eastern time. It will be televised on FS1
- Recruiting: Miami lands 5-star SG Walker November 16, 2016 Noah Holley
5-star SG Lonnie Walker announced his commitment to Miami Wednesday, landing the Canes one of the biggest recruits in program history.
The 6-5 Walker, from Reading, Pa., is gifted with impressive physical attributes and eyebrow-raising athleticism. His arrival will ensure Miami boasts one of the top backcourts in 2017-18.
247sports ranked him as the 3rd-best shooting guard in the 2017 class.
The guard’s commit to Miami comes as somewhat of a surprise. Walker chose the Canes over Villanova, Arizona, Kentucky and Syracuse, all considered favorites to sign him at one point on his recruiting trail.
However, for Walker’s local school, Villanova, this one especially stings. Landing Walker has been the program’s main recruiting focus for well over a year.
Walker is Miami’s 4th commit of 2017. The Hurricanes now have the 9th-ranked class according to 247sports.com.
- 5 Reasons why Butler will Win the Championship November 14, 2016 Jackson Borman
In the heart of Basketball Country, the Butler University Bulldogs are poised and ready for a challenging but promising season ahead. With returning stars, up and coming players, an intense regular season, a legendary homecourt advantage, and a top of the line coaching staff, it seems that the Bulldogs are ready to take on whatever and whoever comes their way in the 2016-17 season.
Despite the loss of two Butler staples in recently graduated players Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, the Bulldogs still have multiple returning impact players.
Junior forward Kelan Martin, last year’s second leading scorer (15.7 PPG) and statistically best rebounder (6.8 RPG) returns looking to lead the team to yet another tournament bid. Over the last two years, we’ve seen Martin improve his 3-point percentage by over 13%, his free throw percentage by over 6%, and his overall field goal percentage by 4%. I can only see these numbers continuing to improve, with much of the Dawgs’ offense running through Martin this season.
The Bulldogs are coming back strong this year in other areas as well. 3 of the top 4 rebounders from last year are returning. 2 of the top 3 assist leaders are returning. Tyler Lewis, the senior point guard out of North Carolina is returning as the team’s leader in free throw percentage and looks to be one of the top distributors in the Big East conference this year.
While the Dawgs will miss Jones and Dunham, they have other returning players that can step and fill their gaps.
Up and Coming Players
Along with their veterans, the Bulldogs have some promising new stars to keep an eye on as well.
Avery Woodson, a transfer from Memphis, started and reached double figures in each of the two pre-season exhibition games at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Kethan Savage, a transfer from George Washington, came off the bench and tallied sixteen points and two steals in the first exhibition game against Wabash College. Savage sat out of the next game for precautionary injury reasons. Sean McDermott, the redshirt freshman from Indiana looks to be another scoring option off of the bench after going 3 for 4 from behind the arc in the Bulldogs’ most recent exhibition game against Saginaw Valley State. These players, coupled with the returning big men should give Butler the boost in scoring that they need.
Challenging Regular Season.
The Big East looks to be one of the most challenging conferences in all of college basketball this year. With teams like the reigning champions, and insanely loaded, Villanova Wildcats, Xavier Musketeers, and the Creighton Bluejays, the Dawgs’ regular season will be a tough one. However, this is a blessing and a curse. With teams that are so highly coveted (all were mentioned in College Pride Press’ top 25 preseason article) Butler’s record may not be as strong as the last two seasons: but at the same time, pulling out some clutch wins against these big time teams will ensure a high seeding come March.
Legendary Home Court Advantage
Butler fans know that Hinkle fieldhouse is a basketball temple in and of its own, but the iconic court also lends itself to an extreme home court advantage, especially in a sold-out environment. Already in the Bulldogs’ second exhibition game on November 6th, Hinkle Fieldhouse was sold out and noticeably ready for some basketball action. This will not be the first time that the stands are packet to the gills. Butler’s schedule this year accounts for 14 home games. The Dawgs also play Indiana in the Crossroads Classics which will take place in Bankerslife Fieldhouse (the Home of the Indiana Pacers) which is fifteen minutes South of campus. Even against high ranked opponents like Villanova and Xavier the benefit of Butler’s home crowd will give the Bulldogs a boost in energy and hopefully wins.
Top of the Line Coaching
Chris Holtmann returns in his third season as the Bulldogs’ head coach. As an acclaimed recruiter and defensive strategist, the Dawgs look to ride their recent success into yet another winning season. In each of his last two seasons at Butler he led the team to over twenty wins and three total tournament wins. Even three years ago in his final season with Gardner-Webb University he lead the Runnin’ Bulldogs to a 21-13 season. With experience under his belt and a team that is hungry for a win, Holtmann is poised for another successful season.
- Pirates overcome slow start to pull out an opening night victory November 11, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
After a sluggish first half that featured nine Seton Hall turnovers, the Pirates kicked things into gear in the second half and pulled away for a 91-70 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday night in the historic Walsh Gym.
Junior guard Khadeen Carrington led the way for Seton Hall with 27 points and was 5-6 from beyond the arc along with junior forward Angel Delgado, who hit 20 points for the first time in his collegiate career and also came down with 14 rebounds. Junior forward Desi Rodriguez also notched a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Seton Hall came out of the gates slow and held only a 33-28 lead going into halftime. The Pirates turned the ball over nine times in the first half, a large part of their early issues.
“First half jitters, a lot” Head coach Kevin Willard said after the first half came to a close.
Seton Hall was able to shake those jitters in the second half and found themselves, shooting 78 percent from the field in the second half while pulling away for a decisive victory on a night that a Big East championship banner was unveiled.
-Angel Delgado left the game for a brief period of time in the first half due to an ankle injury. Willard said it is unclear if Delgado plays on Sunday against Central Connecticut, but Delgado says he will play.
-Freshman Myles Powell had a tough first half, going 0-4 from the field. Powell was able to get things going in the second half, knocking down two consecutive shots. Powell played the most minutes out of any freshman with 20 and will look to be a major part of the rotation moving forward.
-In his first game as a Pirate, Wake Forest transfer Madison Jones got the start at point guard and made the most of it. He notched 10 assists and played a large part in getting Carrington and Delgado good looks all night. Jones will be the starting point guard until Jevon Thomas returns from suspension in December and could potentially keep the job if he continues his strong play.
Next Up: Seton Hall (1-0) takes on Central Connecticut State (1-0) on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Prudential Center. The Blue Devils are coming off of an opening night victory over Hartford.
- Games to Watch: Week 1 November 10, 2016 Chris Garcia
Games to Watch: Week 1
SFA @ Kentucky
November 11, 6pm
First day of college basketball and we already have a great game. Kentucky won’t have a cakewalk with their home opener. SFA showed the nation last season that they can hang with the big dogs. Going to the second round of the tournament beating West Virginia 70-56 and losing in one of the most memorable games in a 1-point loss against Norte Dame. SFA did lose Coach Brad Underwood, who left for Oklahoma State, so taking over is Coach Kyle Keller from Texas A&M. This is a big first test for the Lumberjacks as they go against the #2 Wildcats with all eyes on Freshman Malik Monk. This is a game I will definitely have recorded and ready to watch with my popcorn.
Arizona vs Michigan State
November 11, 6pm
If you don’t feel like watching that first game and want to see two heavyweights going at it in Hawaii, then this is the game for you. With Denzel Valentine gone, Tom Izzo will now look for some new guys to go to like Miles Bridges, Kenny Goins and Nick Ward. What worries me for this team is what Tom Izzo and his Spartans are known for defense and toughness. With Deyonta Davis in the NBA now, their replacement for him is graduate transfer Ben Carter from UNLV. They will know to find that new rim protector that they always seem to have. Izzo will gives his bigs chances to prove their worth against Sean Miller and his Wildcats. The Wildcats will be led by sophomore guard Allonzo Trier, who averaged 15 a game last season. The biggest question for this team is: Can they win against top tier teams? They always come with talented recruiting classes but can’t ever seem to pull it together when it counts. I’m excited to see this game.
Indiana vs Kansas
November 11, 8pm
If you’re watching Arizona vs Michigan State, you might as well stick around for this game cause its right after that game in Hawaii. Kansas has some of the best guards in college basketball in Frank Mason and Devonte Graham. I see them just moving the ball a lot and not just feeding the posting and letting him work. For Indiana it’s going to be weird for me to watch them without Yogi Ferrell. They will be looking for that new floor general that Ferrell did so well in his years for the Hoosiers, but Tom Crean did do a good job of recruiting. I think Jay Bilas said it best “There’s not somebody like Yogi Ferrell that you can just give the ball to and that person is going to run everything. Their point guard is going to have to be by committee, where they can pass the ball ahead. The ball can’t just stick in one guy’s hands and have him run everything. It looks like they’re doing a good job of that. Along with that comes issues of turnovers. As simplistic as it sounds, passing and catching is going to be a big deal and making sure they don’t cough the ball up and put their defense in a bad spot.”
Villanova at Purdue
November 14, 6pm
The Reigning champs are back. Now with Arcidiacono gone, Jalen Brunson, who started 39 of Villanova’s 40 games last year will be handed the keys to this offense for Villanova. Along with the loss of guys like Darrun Hilliard, Jayvaughn Pinkston, and Daniel Ochefu, they will need others to step up this year. Starting in the frontcourt, Pinkston and Ochefu dominated the minutes down low averaging 26 and 24 minutes a game.
Purdue’s loss of one of the best rim protectors in college basketball, AJ Hammons, hurts along with the loss of Raphael Davis, an elite defender. However, if Caleb Swanigan becomes the player everyone projected him to be and if Isaac Haas can step up, the front court will be solid. Along with the transfer of Spike Albrecht and if Vince Edwards can produce well as a scorer the Boilermakers could be the dark horse in the Big Ten this year.
Wisconsin @ Creighton
November 15, 7:30
For the Badgers, it’s all eyes on Nigel Hays because he will take Wisconsin as far as he wants them to. I see this team being in the running for the Big 10 championship title with Michigan State as the prime competitor. Also, Ethan Happ is an elite rim protector who averaged 12 points 8 rebounds a game as a freshman. This team is young but still experienced. Very excited to see this team work this season.
Maurice Watson Jr., Isaiah Zierden and Marcus Foster are the main playmakers for this Blue Jay team. After losing Geoffery Groselle and James Milliken, they will need last year’s redshirt freshman Justin Patton to fuel this team and add a dynamic this team needed last season. The key to this team’s success is their backcourt. They are an elite squad in the Big East led ...
- College Pride Press Preseason Top 25 November 7, 2016 Nick Schwartz
Here at College Pride Press, we value not just the individual familiarity each writer has with their specific school, but the vast wealth of national knowledge that is also present. Using this understanding of the country’s entire college basketball landscape, we have constructed our own preseason poll, based upon the votes collected from ten different writers. Every Monday morning, just like the AP and Coaches Polls, College Pride Press will release its own rankings, based upon the knowledge and opinions expressed by our voters. Without further ado, here is our inaugural preseason poll.
- Duke (1 AP/1 Coaches) – The Blue Devils received all ten first place votes, and are on paper the best team in the country. They also have the best coach in the country. Anything less than a national title for Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum and co. will be a disappointment.
- Kansas (3/2) – Despite losing Perry Ellis, KU is one of the clear frontrunners here in the preseason. Mason and Graham are an electric backcourt, and the Jayhawks added top prospect Josh Jackson to a team that also returns Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg in the frontcourt.
- Kentucky (2/4) – Calipari has reloaded again, with top twenty prospects Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel, and De’Aaron Fox joining returnees Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis. UK won their final exhibition game by nearly 100 points, against an NAIA school.
- Villanova (4/3) – The defending champs are still loaded, despite losing Omari Spellman to eligibility issues. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins give the Wildcats one of the best and most experienced duos in the country. Jalen Brunson is a prime candidate for a sophomore breakout.
- Oregon (5/5) – With Trier in doubt for Arizona, the Ducks are the clear class of the Pac-12. Missing Brooks for the first portion of the season makes them a bit more vulnerable, but Boucher is one of the most underrated bigs in the country and could average over three blocks a game.
- Wisconsin (9/10) – Do not sleep on the Badgers; they return four starters from last year, including All-American candidates Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes. The scariest thing is that someone else may be the best player on the team: sophomore Ethan Happ.
- North Carolina (6/6) – Marcus Paige is gone, but Justin Jackson isn’t. Joel Berry and Nate Britt are both capable of being suitable replacements for Paige at lead guard, while Carolina has their typical absurd amount of depth in the frontcourt, led by Kennedy Meeks.
- Xavier (7/8) – The Musketeers will fight ‘Nova the entire season for the Big East. Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds both could be the conference’s best player, while point guard Edmund Sumner was one of the best freshmen in the country last year.
- Michigan State (12/9) – Tom Izzo reeled in his best recruiting class ever; Langford and Bridges especially have one-and-done potential. There are also a lot of returning pieces, such as Schilling and Nairn that should keep the Spartans from missing Valentine too much.
- Louisville (13/14) – Donovan Mitchell has been tabbed as someone about to break out, and the Cards brought in talented wing VJ King. Mangok Mathiang and Anas Mahmoud are both stellar down low, and Snider is a more than capable lead guard.
- Indiana (11/12) – After missing much of last year injured, James Blackmon, Jr. is back with a vengeance, and forms a potent trio with fan favorite OG Anunoby and potential Big Ten player of the year Thomas Bryant. Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk adds another weapon.
- Virginia (8/7) – The Cavaliers could miss Brodgon’s leadership, but super transfer Austin Nichols is eligible, and London Perrantes, now the lead guard, proved his capabilities as sidekick to Brogdon for three years. Freshman Kyle Guy is a sharpshooter with loads of potential.
- Arizona (10/11) – Much of their season rests on the saga of Allonzo Trier, but the cupboard is far from bare if that situation ends poorly. Freshmen Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons are both athletic freaks, while junior Dusan Ristic has shown flashes of brilliance in the past.
- UCLA (16/20) – Lonzo Ball. No other freshman comes in with a bigger combo of hype and enigma. If he meshes well with a returning core including Thomas Welsh and Bryce Alford, the Bruins’ ceiling could be the third weekend of the NCAA tournament.
- Gonzaga (14/13) – The Zags have a heavily underrated backcourt in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins. Getting back Karnowski for an additional year was a major boost, and incoming freshman post presence Zach Collins was a McDonalds All-American. The future is bright for Mark Few.
- West Virginia (20/18) – Coach Huggins again has an athletic team capable of running a stifling press. The backcourt of Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, Jr. gives WVU two capable veteran leaders. Esa Ahmad was a highly rated freshman a year ago; he could break out as a sophomore.
- Syracuse (19/17) – Tyler Lydon will be a pro, likely after this year. Grad transfers Andrew White and John Gillon give the Orange college experience in a backcourt that also includes stud frosh Tyus Battle. DeJuan Coleman and Tyler Roberson add depth up front.
- Miami (FL) (NR/NR) – The consensus CPP sleeper has a deadly duo returning in Davon Reed and Ja’Quan Newton. They also add a pair of highly regarded freshmen in Dewan Huell and Bruce Brown. Expect the U to contend in a loaded ACC.
- Purdue (15/15) – There is no arguing against the loaded frontcourt, led by Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas. However, they will need to find consistent guard play. A sleeper could be former Michigan man Spike Albrecht, who joins Purdue this year as a grad transfer.
- Texas (21/22) – Shaka Smart is already recruiting at a high level, landing potential lottery talent in Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones. The sophomore trio of Tevin Mack, Kerwin Roach, Jr., and ...
- Takeaways from Seton Hall Media Day October 25, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
On Tuesday, Seton Hall’s Walsh gym was opened up to the media on it’s annual media day session. Coach Kevin Willard was made available for questions along with the rest of his staff and players. Here are some takeaways from the Willard press conference and conversations with some of the players.
New Year, New Defense
Last year, Seton Hall had one of the better defenses in the country, led by junior forward Ishmael Sanogo. With Sanogo back and two key transfers added into the fold, the defense looks to be better than ever. The additions of Madison Jones from Wake Forest and Jevon Thomas from Kansas State will allow the Pirates to play defense multiple ways. With Jones and Thomas on the floor, Seton Hall will be able to press more often, something they did not do a lot of during the 2015-2016 campaign. The bigger lineup, including freshmen Myles Powell and Eron Gordon, will play more zone. The press may not be in full effect until Thomas sets foot on the court (Thomas’ first game with the team will be December 23rd against Rutgers according to Willard), but don’t expect Seton Hall to slack off defensively.
Normally, the saying is senior leadership, but Seton Hall only has one senior on the roster. Instead, the Pirates will rely on their four returning junior starters to fill the leadership void left by the departure of Derrick Gordon. Gordon was the heart and soul of the team on and off the court and played with a fire that rubbed off on his teammates. According to Willard, the four juniors have stepped up as leaders in their own individual ways. This will play a large part in the naturalization of this team throughout the season.
Sanogo, Nzei standing out
Ishmael Sanogo and Michael Nzei were key parts throughout Seton Hall’s NCAA tournament run last season. This season, they will step into even bigger roles. Sanogo, who started last season, has been developing his offensive game since open gyms got underway in the Summer and has improved everyday.
‘He’s a hard-working fool.” Willard said. “And I mean that in the best way possible”.
Sanogo suffered a sprained MCL in practice last Wednesday, but will return to practice next Saturday and will be ready for the season opener for Farleigh Dickinson on November 11th.
Nzei has been labeled the most-improved player on the team by Angel Delgado and Willard agrees with that sentiment. As a result, Nzei will see an increase in minutes this season.
“He played around 12 minutes per game last season.” Willard said. “This season he’ll see around 20 minutes per game”.
Myles Powell has the Potential to be a Star
Coming out of high school, Myles Powell was considered one of, if not the best, shooter in the class of 2016. Some have even called him the missing shooter that the team needed last season.
“He’s the best freshman scorer I’ve coached.” Willard said.
That’s some pretty high praise coming from a coach who had Isaiah Whitehead as a freshman. Powell, who had 19 points in Saturday’s Blue/White scrimmage, has been a gym rat since he arrived at Seton Hall in May, slimming down from 240 to 195 in the process. It may not happen right away, but Powell will be one of the key cogs in this Seton Hall team by the end of the season.
Photo: Asbury Park Press
- 5 Reasons Villanova Will Win The Championship October 18, 2016 College Pride Press
To say that this past season was a success is an understatement. The Villanova Wildcats went from being the laughing stock of the nation, having seen far too many early tournament exits, to national champions. That being said, repeating is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. A target will be placed on the Cats every time they set foot on the court. They have two options: crack under the pressure or shine like stars. Here are five reasons why I believe Villanova will cut down the nets again in 2017.
1. Veteran Leadership
This year’s Wildcats team will return a core group of players vital to the championship run last season. Three of the five starters from the 2015-16 team will be back, including All-American, Josh Hart, and 3-point sharpshooter, Kris Jenkins. Hart was 2nd in the Big East in field goal percentage, while Jenkins led the conference in 3-pointers made. Hart was named as the 2016-17 Big East Preseason Player of the Year. In the mix for a starting position this year will also be tournament defensive standout, Mikal Bridges, and national championship star, Phil Booth. Both players have proven that they can deliver in high-pressure scenarios.
2. Free Throw Shooting
In the 2015-16 season, Villanova ranked 2nd in the nation in free throw percentage, making 78.2% of their shots from the charity stripe. This statistic can make or break a team in crunch time. They only ranked 89th in free throws attempted, but their ability to convert helped them to be ranked 27th in free throws made.
Coach Wright managed to turn a hot-seat into a golden throne. Following the 2015 Round of 32 exit at the hands of NC State, there were calls for a new coach, but Villanova trusted Wright. It sure payed off for them. Another Big East regular season title, a National Coach of the Year Award, and a national championship trophy to top it all off. Wright has been coaching the Wildcats since 2001 and has established himself as one of the nation’s mastermind strategists.
There aren’t statistics that quantify hustle. It isn’t a pretty thing, but all players respect it. Villanova players pride themselves on out hustling their opponents. It is a common sight to see Villanova players leaping the scorers’ table or team benches to save a loose ball. Frequently, teams that are outmatched in talent can win games by making hustle plays. The Wildcats may not always have the most talented players, but they will always be the team that wants to win more.
5. Protecting the Ball
Another crucial part of a championship run is the ability to value each and every possession. The Wildcats put on a clinic in this category. They ranked 260th in the nation in turnovers, allowing them to put together quality possessions and limit the time of possession of their opposition. At the same time, they ranked 13th in the nation in steals, further increasing their number of possessions.
All stats from Sports-Reference College Basketball
Picture from thebiglead.com
- 5 Reasons Seton Hall Will Win the Championship October 13, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
Coming off of a banner year, the Pirates will be looking to advance further into the NCAA tournament after being bounced by Gonzaga in the first round. It will be tough to replace former star Isaiah Whitehead, who is now playing for the Brooklyn Nets, but Seton Hall has the talent to do so. Led by a returning core group and some key newcomers, the Pirates have the ability to not only compete for a Big East title, but a national title as well.
1.A Chip on Their Shoulder
No team wants to exit the NCAA tournament in the first round, especially coming off of a conference title. That was the fate of the Pirates last season, as they took a loss at the hands of Gonzaga. This year’s team will be hungry to not only win another Big East championship, but make a deep tournament run. Ever since Whitehead announced his intentions to enter the NBA draft in May, the Pirates have been almost written off. They went from a potential pre-season top 25 team to a team being picked to finish 7th in the Big East by Bleacher Report. People have been questioning junior guard Khadeen Carrington’s ability to replace Whitehead at point guard. All of these doubts have provided the team with some bulletin board material and come November 11th, the Pirates will be hungry to prove everyone wrong
At times last season, Coach Kevin Willard would shorten up the bench and go with a six or seven-man rotation. This season, Willard will have the luxury of having a bit more depth at his disposal. The Pirates return ten players from last year’s team and retain 4/5’s of their starting lineup from last season. Not only does Seton Hall return ten players, but they add two experienced guards in Wake Forest graduate transfer Madison Jones and Kansas State transfer Jevon Thomas, who will not be eligible until December. They will also add two freshmen guards in Myles Powell and Eron Gordon, who will look to make an instant impact. Combine that with Michael Nzei, Veer Singh, and Myles Carter stepping into expanded roles and the Pirates will have plenty of weapons at their disposal.
The 2013 recruiting class that has essentially changed the program will be entering their junior years and they have only gotten better with age. Carrington steadily improved as a shooter and playmaker last season and will look to be the man offensively with the departure of Whitehead. Forward Desi Rodriguez went from a freshman playing out of position to a threat both ways in his sophomore season. Forward Angel Delgado is back for another season with an improved post game and will look to remain a regular double-double threat. The most improved out of the whole bunch may be Forward Ishmael Sanogo. Sanogo, who is known for his defensive prowess, has reportedly added a jump shot to his game in the summer, which will add a new element to the Pirates offense. Add in the previously mentioned Jones who comes in from Wake Forest and Thomas who comes in from Kansas State and you have two guards who know a thing or two about playing in big games and hostile environments. Seton Hall will not be scared of going on the road and playing anyone, and a lot of that can be attributed the experience of the returning players.
Coach Willard and associate head coach Shaheen Holloway did an excellent job in the 2016 recruiting cycle despite a limited number of scholarships available to them. They added Myles Powell, who is highly regarded as one of the best shooters in the Class of 2016 and Eron Gordon, who is comes in with an extremely refined skillset offensively. Although Madison Jones seems to have the inside track at a starting guard spot as of right now, these two freshmen will be huge for the Pirates as the season progresses. Both Powell, who lost 35 pounds in the offseason, and Gordon have looked sharp in the early stages of practice and will only get better as the season goes on. It would be prudent for one of, if not both of the freshmen to get off to a hot start to help cope with the absence of Jevon Thomas until December. If Powell and Gordon come along as expected, they will be key pieces in what could potentially be a championship team.
5. Shooting and Defense
Shooting and defense have become two staples of the Seton Hall program. Last season, the Pirates shot 44 percent from the field, which was an improvement from the previous season and 34 percent from beyond the arc. Notably, Carrington and Rodriguez became legitimate three point threats last and incoming sharpshooter Myles Powell will help out on the perimeter. Defensively, the Pirates held teams to 40 percent from the field and 31 percent from three, which ranked among the top in the Big East. Led by Angel Delgado down low and scrapper Ishmael Sanogo, the Pirates are in position to be an elite team defensively yet again this season, which can keep them in almost any game against any team. Seton Hall’s elite defense and shooting can provide problems for almost any team in the country and will keep them in contention for a championship.
- 5 Reasons Villanova Will Win The Championship October 11, 2016 College Pride Press
To say that this past season was a success is an understatement. The Villanova Wildcats went from being the laughing stock of the nation, having seen far too many early tournament exits, to national champions. That being said, repeating is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. A target will be placed on the Cats every time they set foot on the court. They have two options: crack under the pressure or shine like stars. Here are five reasons why I believe Villanova will cut down the nets again in 2017.
1. Veteran Leadership
This year’s Wildcats team will return a core group of players vital to the championship run last season. Three of the five starters from the 2015-16 team will be back, including All-American, Josh Hart, and 3-point sharpshooter, Kris Jenkins. Hart was 2nd in the Big East in field goal percentage, while Jenkins led the conference in 3-pointers made. Hart was also named the 2016-17 Big East Preseason Player of the Year. In the mix for a starting position this year will also be tournament defensive standout, Mikal Bridges, and national championship star, Phil Booth. Both players have proven that they can deliver in high-pressure scenarios.
2. Free Throw Shooting
In the 2015-16 season, Villanova ranked 2nd in the nation in free throw percentage, making 78.2% of their shots from the charity stripe. This statistic can make or break a team in crunch time. They only ranked 89th in free throws attempted, but their ability to convert helped them to be ranked 27th in free throws made.
Coach Wright managed to turn a hot-seat into a golden throne. Following the 2015 Round of 32 exit at the hands of NC State, there were calls for a new coach, but Villanova trusted their coach. It sure payed off for them. Another Big East regular season title, a National Coach of the Year Award, and a national championship trophy to top it all off. Wright has been coaching the Cats since 2001, and has established himself amongst the nation’s mastermind strategists.
There aren’t statistics that quantify hustle. It isn’t a pretty thing, but all players respect it. Villanova players pride themselves on out hustling their opponents. It is a common sight to see Wildcats leaping the scorers’ table or team benches to save a loose ball. Frequently, teams that are outmatched in talent can win games by making hustle plays. The Wildcats may not always have the most talented players, but they will always be the team that wants to win more.
5. Protecting the Ball
Another crucial part of a championship run is the ability to value each and every possession. The Wildcats put on a clinic in this category. They ranked 260th in the nation in turnovers, allowing them to put together quality possessions and limit the time of possession of their opposition. At the same time, they ranked 13th in the nation in steals, further increasing their number of possessions.
All stats from Sports-Reference College Basketball
Picture from thebiglead.com
- New Face, New Place: Butler August 30, 2016 Katie McConnaghy
New Face, New Place: Butler
After a fairly strong last season, Butler had some shoes to fill with two of their strongest players- Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones- graduating and moving on from the Big East stage. With three strong three- and four-star recruits that made it on several Top 100 lists as well as academically strong off the court, fans should be ready to watch these new players dazzle with their skills across the conference.
Indy born and bred Brunk, 6’10’’ and 240, will be bringing a fresh start this season to the beloved Butler Bulldogs. Averaging with 18 points and 8 rebounds working the post especially as well as an occasional jump shot, Brunk was a star during his time at Southport, leading them to several championships after several dry-spells. Brunk could be the piece the Bulldogs need to take them to championships with his stance, high shooting percentage, and his soft touch on the court.
Coming to Butler from the great state of Georgia, Baldwin had no shortage of points during his high school career with a whopping 2,593 points and 1,002 rebounds. Standing at 6’2’’ and 170, his shooting capabilities are an asset to the Bulldogs. Averaging 29 points and 10 rebounds his senior year, he also took his Georgia high school to 19-6. Further down the road during this season and beyond, Baldwin will prove to be a qualified replacement for Kellen Dunham with his outside shot and rebound opportunities.
With 19 points per game, Baddley led his Ohio high school to a runner-up finish in the state tournament during his senior year. While Baddley is no LeBron James- the comparison comes as Baddley plays the same position and coming from the same high school, he is 6’4’’ and 175 and one of Ohio’s most improved high school players on the court. His shots have been worked on enough to make a huge difference in his playing, and will definitely make a difference at Hinkle Fieldhouse- especially if he continues to put in the same work he did after the game was long over.
Even though Butler’s recruiting class isn’t as initially impressive as other basketball focused schools, the team is sure to be enhanced by the uniqueness of the recruits from the class of 2020. The Butler staff seem to be putting together a puzzle that could potentially create a picture of several championships at the end of the season. Only time will tell.
- 2017 NBA Draft Big Board/Top 100 Prospects: End of Summer Addition August 14, 2016 Brett Siegel
As the summer of 2016 comes to an end, it is time to see which 2017 NBA Draft prospect’s stocks are rising and falling! NBA Draft Analyst Brett Siegel has updated his 2017 NBA Draft Big Board with a new #1 Overall Prospect! Check out where he ranks your favorite college players and where he ranks this year’s top incoming freshmen among the rest of the college basketball world! Even though we are 323 days away from the 2017 NBA Draft, each day counts for these young prospects looking to make their dreams come true!
Players By Conference ACC: 25 players Big-12: 10 players Big-10: 12 players PAC-12: 15 players SEC: 7 players Other: 31 players Players By Year Freshmen: 24 players Sophomores: 21 players Juniors: 16 players Seniors: 25 players International: 14 players
↑ (3) 1 Markelle Fultz PG/SG WASHINGTON Freshman/18 6’4″ 190 lbs ↓ (1) 2 Josh Jackson SF KANSAS Freshman/19 6’7″ 185 lbs ↓ (1) 3 Jayson Tatum SF DUKE Freshman/18 6’8″ 175 lbs ↑ (2) 4 Lonzo Ball PG UCLA Freshman/18 6’5″ 195 lbs ↑ (4) 5 Frank Ntilikina PG FRANCE INTL/18 6’4″ 175 lbs ↑ (8) 6 Dennis Smith PG N.C. ST. Freshman/19 6’2″ 180 lbs ↓ (4) 7 Harry Giles PF DUKE Freshman/18 6’10” 230 lbs ↑ (5) 8 Isaiah Hartenstein PF GERMANY INTL/18 6’10” 230 lbs ↑ (6) 9 De’Aaron Fox PG KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’4″ 170 lbs – 10 Grayson Allen PG/SG DUKE Junior/20 6’5″ 205 lbs ↓ (4) 11 Bam Adebayo PF/C KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’9″ 240 lbs ↓ (7) 12 Monte Morris PG IOWA ST. Senior/21 6’3″ 170 lbs ↑ (7) 13 Jonathan Jeanne PF/C FRANCE INTL/19 7’2″ 195 lbs ↓ (6) 14 Ivan Rabb PF/C CALIFORNIA Sophomore/19 6’11” 220 lbs ↓ (3) 15 Thomas Bryant PF INDIANA Sophomore/19 6’10” 245 lbs – 16 Nigel Hayes SF WISCONSIN Senior/21 6’8″ 235 lbs ↑ (12) 17 Jonathan Isaac SF FLORIDA ST. Freshman/18 6’10” 185 lbs ↓ (7) 18 Jarrett Allen C TEXAS Freshman/18 6’10” 220 lbs ↑ (17) 19 Lauri Markkenen PF ARIZONA Freshman/19 7’0″ 225 lbs ↓ (2) 20 Josh Hart SG/SF VILLANOVA Senior/21 6’5″ 205 lbs – 21 Justin Jackson SF UNC Junior/21 6’8″ 193 lbs – 22 Miles Bridges SF MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’7″ 225 lbs – 23 O.G. Anunoby SF INDIANA Sophomore/18 6’8″ 215 lbs ↓ (7) 24 Melo Trimble PG MARYLAND Junior/21 6’3″ 190 lbs ↓ (6) 25 Marques Bolden C DUKE Freshman/18 6’10” 254 lbs ↑ (2) 26 Malik Monk SG/SF KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’3″ 185 lbs ↑ (6) 27 Tyler Lydon SF/PF SYRACUSE Sophomore/20 6’9″ 205 lbs ↓ (4) 28 Omer Yurtseven C N.C. ST. Freshman/18 7’0″ 228 lbs ↑ (1) 29 Terrance Ferguson SG/SF AUSTRALLIA INTL/18 6’7″ 185 lbs ↓ (3) 30 Jaron Blossomgame SF CLEMSON Senior/22 6’7″ 214 lbs ↑ (8) 31 Kris Jenkins SF/PF VILLANOVA Senior/22 6’6″ 240 lbs ↓ (7) 32 Rodions Kurucs SF LATVIA INTL/18 6’8″ 190 lbs ↑ (7) 33 Chris Boucher PF OREGON Senior/23 6’10” 200 lbs – 34 Dwayne Bacon SF FLORIDA ST. Sophomore/20 6’5″ 202 lbs – 35 Dillon Brooks SF OREGON Junior/20 6’7″ 215 lbs ↓ (10) 36 Joel Berry II PG/SG UNC Junior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs ↓ (6) 37 Edmond Sumner PG XAVIER Sophomore/20 6’5″ 170 lbs – 38 Frank Jackson PG DUKE Freshman/18 6’4″ 200 lbs ↓ (7) 39 Allonzo Trier SG ARIZONA Sophomore/20 6’4″ 205 lbs ↑ (1) 40 Alec Peters PF VALPARAISO Senior/21 6’9″ 225 lbs ↑ (7) 41 V.J. Beachum SF NOTRE DAME Senior/21 6’9″ 197 lbs ↓ (5) 42 Chimezie Metu PF/C USC Sophomore/19 6’9″ 210 lbs – 43 Frank Mason III PG KANSAS Senior/22 5’11” 185 lbs ↑ (1) 44 Devonte’ Graham PG KANSAS Junior/21 6’2″ 175 lbs ↑ (5) 45 Antonio Blakeney SG LSU Sophomore/19 6’4″ 177 lbs ↓ (4) 46 Isaiah Briscoe PG/SG KENTUCKY Sophomore/20 6’3″ 218 lbs – 47 Amile Jefferson PF DUKE Senior/23 6’9″ 195 lbs ↑ (5) 48 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk SG KANSAS Junior/19 6’8″ 191 lbs – 49 Isaiah Hicks PF UNC Senior/21 6’8″ 230 lbs ↑ (8) 50 Jessie Govan C GEORGETOWN Sophomore/18 6’11” 255 lbs ↓ (7) 51 Caleb Swanigan PF PURDUE Sophomore/19 6’9″ 247 lbs ↑ (4) 52 London Perrantes PG/SG VIRGINIA Senior/21 6’2″ 192 lbs ↓ (2) 53 T.J. Leaf PF UCLA Freshman/18 6’9″ 215 lbs – 54 Blaz Mesicek SG SLOVENIA INTL/19 6’6″ 190 lbs ↑ (8) 55 Deng Adel SF/PF LOUISVILLE Sophomore/20 6’7″ 200 lbs ↓ (10) 56 Carlton Bragg PF KANSAS Sophomore/20 6’8″ 225 lbs ↓ (5) 57 Josh Langford SG MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’6″ 205 lbs ↑ (1) 58 Jack Gibbs PG DAVIDSON Senior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs ↓ (2) 59 Kyle Guy SG VIRGINIA Freshman/18 6’2″ 170 lbs ↓ (5) 60 Matt Jones SG DUKE Senior/21 6’5″ 200 lbs ↑ (5) 61 Jordan Woodard PG OKLAHOMA Senior/20 5’11” 181 lbs ↑ (5) 62 Jonathan Motley PF BAYLOR Junior/21 6’9″ 230 lbs ↓ (3) 63 Malik Pope SF SAN DIEGO ST. Junior/19 6’10” 205 lbs ↑ (10) 64 Aleksander Vezenkov SF/PF BULGARIA INTL/20 6’9″ 225 lbs NEW 65 Santiago Yusta SG SPAIN INTL/19 6’7″ 200 lbs ↓ (4) 66 Luke Kennard SG DUKE Sophomore/20 6’5″ 187 lbs ↑ (22) 67 Kyle Kuzma PF UTAH Junior/20 6’9″ 221 lbs ↑ (15) 68 Malcolm Hill SF ILLINOIS Senior/20 6’6″ 230 lbs NEW 69 Luke Kornet PF/C VANDERBILT Senior/21 7’0″ 240 lbs – 70 E.C. Matthews SG RHODE ISLAND Sophomore/20 6’4″ 181 lbs ↑ (4) 71 Keita Bates-Diop SF OHIO ST. Junior/20 6’7″ 235 lbs ↑ (7) 72 Andzejs Pasecniks C LATVIA INTL/20 7’1″ 220 lbs ↓ (2) 73 Devin Robinson SF FLORIDA Junior/21 6’8″ 180 lbs ↓ (2) 74 Peter Jok SG IOWA Senior/22 6’6″ 199 lbs ↓ (14) 75 Ray Smith SF ARIZONA Freshman/19 6’8″ 210 lbs ↓ (11) 76 Maurice Watson Jr. PG CREIGHTON Senior/23 5’10” 170 lbs ↓ (1) 77 Kennedy Meeks C UNC Senior/21 6’9″ 279 lbs NEW 78 Diego Flaccadori SG ITALY INTL/20 6’5″ 172 lbs ↓ (15) 79 Zach Collins C GONZAGA Freshman/18 6’11” 220 lbs NEW 80 Alpha Kaba PF/C FRANCE INTL/20 6’10” 226 lbs ↓ (8) 81 Amida Brimah C UCONN Senior/22 7’0″ 230 lbs ↓ (14) 82 Chase Jeter C DUKE Sophomore/18 6’10” 239 lbs ↑ (5) 83 Jawun Evans PG OKLAHOMA ST. Sophomore/19 6’1″ 177 lbs – 84 Nic Slavica SF CROATIA INTL/19 6’7″ 190 lbs ↓ (16) 85 Kobi Simmons PG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’6″ 185 lbs ↓ (9) 86 Trevon Bluiett SF XAVIER Junior/20 6’6″ 215 lbs ↑ (8) 87 James Daniel PG HOWARD Senior/22 5’11” 165 lbs ↑ (3) 88 Jalen Brunson PG VILLANOVA Sophomore/19 6’2″ 200 lbs ↓ (11) 89 Vince Edwards Jr. SF PURDUE Junior/20 6’8″ 225 lbs ↓ (9) 90 Egemen Guven PF/C TURKEY INTL/19 6’10” 210 lbs ↓ (9) 91 Emircan Kosut C TURKEY INTL/21 6’11” 220 lbs – 92 Derryck Thornton PG USC Sophomore/19 6’2″ 160 lbs ↓ (13) 93 Rawle Alkins SG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’4″ 185 lbs – 94 Justin Robinson PG MONMOUTH Senior/21 5’8″ 160 lbs ↓ (9) 95 J.J. Frazier PG GEORGIA Senior/20 5’10” 155 lbs ↓ (9) 96 Tarik Phillip PG/SG WEST VIRGINIA Senior/22 6’3″ 200 lbs ↓ (1) 97 James Blackmon Jr. SG INDIANA Junior/21 6’3″ 184 lbs ↑ (2) 98 V.J. King SF LOUISVILLE Freshman/19 6’7″ 190 lbs ↓ (9) 99 Tyler Dorsey SG OREGON Sophomore/20 6’4″ 180 lbs ↓ (3) 100 Austin Nichols PF VIRGINIA Junior/21 6’9″ 202 lbs
- New Face, New Place: Butler July 12, 2016 Jackson Borman
After a fairly satisfying season that finished with somewhat of a question mark for the future of the program (two star senior guards Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones graduating), the Butler Bulldogs and their staff have managed to attract three promising young players. Despite all three missing the mark on the ESPN top 100 freshman recruits list, fans should be reassured that these young men are a great fit for 2017 and future squads to come.
Homegrown boy Joey Brunk stands at 6’10”, weighs in at a solid 240 pounds, and played high school ball just twenty minutes South of Hinkle Field house. Brunk averaged around 16 points and 8 rebounds for his high school team, working almost exclusively from the post with an occasional jump shot. Despite missing time his senior year, Brunk managed to still shoot 60% from the floor but only a bit better from the line.
The Bulldogs desperately needed to build an inside presence for this upcoming year, and they fulfilled this requirement. Brunk will be the biggest body on the court for Butler’s 2016-2017 team; this, paired with his soft touch around the rim, high shooting percentage, and defensive presence will make Brunk an extremely valuable piece for the Bulldogs if they hope to make another run in the tournament come March.
Three star recruit Kamar Baldwin is a scoring machine with a real nose for the ball. Standing at 6’2” and averaging a double-double (points and rebounds) in his last two seasons of high school ball is no easy feat. Baldwin averaged 27 points and 10 rebounds in his final season at his Georgia high school, also putting up 3 steals and 3 assists per game. With a knack for the outside shot, Baldwin will be a great asset for the Bulldogs, maybe not immediately, but in the long term, acting as a replacement for the graduated Kellen Dunham and caring the scoring load for the Dawgs farther down the line.
Coming out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Northern Ohio as a small forward, one is bound to end up being compared to LeBron James. Henry Baddley is no LeBron James, at least physically: but then again, who is? Standing at 6’4” and 170 pounds, the freshman will definitely need to put on some muscle if he intends to continue to play the 3 in Indianapolis. The upside for this freshman is his leadership and work ethic; Baddley has been called the most improved player in the state of Ohio, reportedly stays long after practice to continue to work, and has progressed with his jumper enough to really make it an important facet to his scoring numbers. Baddley averaged nearly twenty points in his senior season, mostly coming from fast break opportunities produced by solid defense on the other end: athleticism is a big part of Baddley’s game. While he may not begin to make a large impact on the Bulldog’s roster initially, look for Baddley to continue to improve at the college level.
While individually, Butler’s freshman recruits seem somewhat unimpressive compared to the draft classes of Duke, Kentucky, or Kansas, however, the Bulldogs seem to be building something strong when the pieces are combined. With the interior presence of Brunk, the shooting of Baldwin, and the ‘lead by example’ mentality that Henry Baddley so personifies, the future of the Butler basketball program looks to be in good hands.
- 2017 NBA Draft Big Board/Top 100 Prospects July 10, 2016 Brett Siegel
NBA Draft Analyst Brett Siegel compiled his “Way-Too-Early” 2017 NBA Draft Big Board/Top 100 Players. Check out where he ranks your favorite college players and where he ranks this year’s top incoming freshmen among the rest of the college basketball world! Even though the 2017 NBA Draft is about a year away, it is never too early to start finding the next hidden gems in college basketball!
Brett Siegel’s 2017 NBA Draft Big Board/Top 100 Prospects July 8th, 2016
Players By Conference ACC: 25 players Big-12: 11 players Big-10: 11 players PAC-12: 15 players SEC: 7 players Other: 31 players Players By Year Freshmen: 25 players Sophomores: 22 players Juniors: 17 players Seniors: 25 players International: 11 players
1 Josh Jackson SF KANSAS Freshman/19 6’7″ 185 lbs 2 Jayson Tatum SF DUKE Freshman/18 6’8″ 175 lbs 3 Harry Giles PF DUKE Freshman/18 6’10” 230 lbs 4 Markelle Fultz PG/SG WASHINGTON Freshman/18 6’4″ 190 lbs 5 Monte Morris PG IOWA ST. Senior/21 6’3″ 170 lbs 6 Lonzo Ball PG UCLA Freshman/18 6’5″ 195 lbs 7 Bam Adebayo PF/C KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’9″ 240 lbs 8 Ivan Rabb PF/C CALIFORNIA Sophomore/19 6’11” 220 lbs 9 Frank Ntilikina PG FRANCE INTL/18 6’4″ 175 lbs 10 Grayson Allen PG/SG DUKE Junior/20 6’5″ 205 lbs 11 Jarrett Allen C TEXAS Freshman/18 6’10” 220 lbs 12 Thomas Bryant PF INDIANA Sophomore/19 6’10” 245 lbs 13 Isaiah Hartenstein PF GERMANY INTL/18 6’10” 230 lbs 14 Dennis Smith PG N.C. ST. Freshman/19 6’2″ 180 lbs 15 De’Aaron Fox PG KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’4″ 170 lbs 16 Nigel Hayes SF WISCONSIN Senior/21 6’8″ 235 lbs 17 Melo Trimble PG MARYLAND Junior/21 6’3″ 190 lbs 18 Josh Hart SG/SF VILLANOVA Senior/21 6’5″ 205 lbs 19 Marques Bolden C DUKE Freshman/18 6’10” 254 lbs 20 Jonathan Jeanne PF/C FRANCE INTL/19 7’2″ 195 lbs 21 Justin Jackson SF UNC Junior/21 6’8″ 193 lbs 22 Miles Bridges SF MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’7″ 225 lbs 23 O.G. Anunoby SF INDIANA Sophomore/18 6’8″ 215 lbs 24 Omer Yurtseven C N.C. ST. Freshman/18 7’0″ 228 lbs 25 Rodions Kurucs SF LATVIA INTL/18 6’8″ 190 lbs 26 Joel Berry II PG/SG UNC Junior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs 27 Jaron Blossomgame SF CLEMSON Senior/22 6’7″ 214 lbs 28 Malik Monk SG/SF KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’3″ 185 lbs 29 Jonathan Isaac SF FLORIDA ST. Freshman/18 6’10” 185 lbs 30 Terrance Ferguson SG/SF AUSTRALLIA INTL/18 6’7″ 185 lbs 31 Edmond Sumner PG XAVIER Sophomore/20 6’5″ 170 lbs 32 Allonzo Trier SG ARIZONA Sophomore/20 6’4″ 205 lbs 33 Tyler Lydon SF/PF SYRACUSE Sophomore/20 6’9″ 205 lbs 34 Dwayne Bacon SF FLORIDA ST. Sophomore/20 6’5″ 202 lbs 35 Dillon Brooks SF OREGON Junior/20 6’7″ 215 lbs 36 Lauri Markkenen PF ARIZONA Freshman/19 7’0″ 225 lbs 37 Chimezie Metu PF/C USC Sophomore/19 6’9″ 210 lbs 38 Frank Jackson PG DUKE Freshman/18 6’4″ 200 lbs 39 Kris Jenkins SF/PF VILLANOVA Senior/22 6’6″ 240 lbs 40 Chris Boucher PF OREGON Senior/23 6’10” 200 lbs 41 Alec Peters PF VALPARAISO Senior/21 6’9″ 225 lbs 42 Isaiah Briscoe PG/SG KENTUCKY Sophomore/20 6’3″ 218 lbs 43 Frank Mason III PG KANSAS Senior/22 5’11” 185 lbs 44 Caleb Swanigan PF PURDUE Sophomore/19 6’9″ 247 lbs 45 Devonte’ Graham PG KANSAS Junior/21 6’2″ 175 lbs 46 Carlton Bragg PF KANSAS Sophomore/20 6’8″ 225 lbs 47 Amile Jefferson PF DUKE Senior/23 6’9″ 195 lbs 48 V.J. Beachum SF NOTRE DAME Senior/21 6’9″ 197 lbs 49 Isaiah Hicks PF UNC Senior/21 6’8″ 230 lbs 50 Antonio Blakeney SG LSU Sophomore/19 6’4″ 177 lbs 51 T.J. Leaf PF UCLA Freshman/18 6’9″ 215 lbs 52 Josh Langford SG MICHIGAN ST. Freshman/18 6’6″ 205 lbs 53 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk SG KANSAS Junior/19 6’8″ 191 lbs 54 Blaz Mesicek SG SLOVENIA INTL/19 6’6″ 190 lbs 55 Matt Jones SG DUKE Senior/21 6’5″ 200 lbs 56 London Perrantes PG/SG VIRGINIA Senior/21 6’2″ 192 lbs 57 Kyle Guy SG VIRGINIA Freshman/18 6’2″ 170 lbs 58 Jessie Govan C GEORGETOWN Sophomore/18 6’11” 255 lbs 59 Jack Gibbs PG DAVIDSON Senior/21 6’0″ 195 lbs 60 Malik Pope SF SAN DIEGO ST. Junior/19 6’10” 205 lbs 61 Ray Smith SF ARIZONA Freshman/19 6’8″ 210 lbs 62 Luke Kennard SG DUKE Sophomore/20 6’5″ 187 lbs 63 Deng Adel SF/PF LOUISVILLE Sophomore/20 6’7″ 200 lbs 64 Zach Collins C GONZAGA Freshman/18 6’11” 220 lbs 65 Maurice Watson Jr. PG CREIGHTON Senior/23 5’10” 170 lbs 66 Jordan Woodard PG OKLAHOMA Senior/20 5’11” 181 lbs 67 Jonathan Motley PF BAYLOR Junior/21 6’9″ 230 lbs 68 Chase Jeter C DUKE Sophomore/18 6’10” 239 lbs 69 Kobi Simmons PG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’6″ 185 lbs 70 E.C. Matthews SG RHODE ISLAND Sophomore/20 6’4″ 181 lbs 71 Devin Robinson SF FLORIDA Junior/21 6’8″ 180 lbs 72 Peter Jok SG IOWA Senior/22 6’6″ 199 lbs 73 Amida Brimah C UCONN Senior/22 7’0″ 230 lbs 74 Aleksander Vezenkov SF/PF BULGARIA INTL/20 6’9″ 225 lbs 75 Keita Bates-Diop SF OHIO ST. Junior/20 6’7″ 235 lbs 76 Kennedy Meeks C UNC Senior/21 6’9″ 279 lbs 77 Trevon Bluiett SF XAVIER Junior/20 6’6″ 215 lbs 78 Vince Edwards Jr. SF PURDUE Junior/20 6’8″ 225 lbs 79 Andzejs Pasecniks C LATVIA INTL/20 7’1″ 220 lbs 80 Rawle Alkins SG ARIZONA Freshman/18 6’4″ 185 lbs 81 Egemen Guven PF/C TURKEY INTL/19 6’10” 210 lbs 82 Emircan Kosut C TURKEY INTL/21 6’11” 220 lbs 83 Malcolm Hill SF ILLINOIS Senior/20 6’6″ 230 lbs 84 Nic Slavica SF CROATIA INTL/19 6’7″ 190 lbs 85 Wenyen Gabriel PF KENTUCKY Freshman/18 6’8″ 210 lbs 86 J.J. Frazier PG GEORGIA Senior/20 5’10” 155 lbs 87 Tarik Phillip PG/SG WEST VIRGINIA Senior/22 6’3″ 200 lbs 88 Jawun Evans PG OKLAHOMA ST. Sophomore/19 6’1″ 177 lbs 89 Kyle Kuzma PF UTAH Junior/20 6’9″ 221 lbs 90 Tyler Dorsey SG OREGON Sophomore/20 6’4″ 180 lbs 91 Jalen Brunson PG VILLANOVA Sophomore/19 6’2″ 200 lbs 92 Derryck Thornton PG USC Sophomore/19 6’2″ 160 lbs 93 Isacc Humphries C KENTUCKY Sophomore/18 7’0″ 260 lbs 94 Justin Robinson PG MONMOUTH Senior/21 5’8″ 160 lbs 95 James Daniel PG HOWARD Senior/22 5’11” 165 lbs 96 James Blackmon Jr. SG INDIANA Junior/21 6’3″ 184 lbs 97 Austin Nichols PF VIRGINIA Junior/21 6’9″ 202 lbs 98 Charles Cooke SG DAYTON Senior/22 6’5″ 192 lbs 99 Emmett Naar PG SAINT MARY’S Junior/22 6’1″ 195 lbs 100 V.J. King SF LOUISVILLE Freshman/19 6’7″ 190 lbs
Download the full chart at NBA Big Board 2017
- New Face, New Place: Seton Hall July 7, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
For the 2016 recruiting cycle, Coach Kevin Willard and his staff did not have many available scholarships to work with. They missed out on what would have been an impact player in the frontcourt in Taurean Thompson, who after a long and drawn out recruitment landed at Syracuse just a couple of days ago. However, the Seton Hall staff managed to land two impact guards who will see a large chunk of playing time due to the departure of Isaiah Whitehead and uncertainty regarding the status of Kansas State transfer Jevon Thomas, who will not be eligible to suit up for the Pirates until December.
Myles Powell- Incoming Freshman Guard (Trenton, NJ)
There are some aspects of Isaiah Whitehead’s game that the Pirates cannot replace, such as his leadership. However, when it comes to replacing his shooting, look no further than Myles Powell. Powell is regarded as one of the best shooters in the class of 2016 and will most likely be battling it out with Eron Gordon for the starting Shooting Guard spot. Regarded as a top 100 player in the Class of 2016 by 247sports, Powell has the chance to come in and make an instant impact. After spending his first three years of High School playing at Trenton Catholic, Powell transferred to South Kent Prep in Connecticut, where he continued to add muscle onto his frame. At South Kent, he improved his ability to get to the rim and finish to go along with his deadly shooting ability. Powell will continue to improve on the getting inside aspect of his game as his career progresses, but his shooting will get him big minutes as a freshman for the Pirates.
Eron Gordon- Incoming Freshman Guard (Indianapolis, IN)
Eron is well known as the brother of newly signed Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon, but he has made a name for himself throughout his High School career. Averaging 19 points per game as a senior, Gordon is an extremely versatile guard who can score, defend, and make plays for his teammates. Gordon says he could play either Point or Shooting Guard, but at this point in time, he is not ready to be a college Point Guard. Seton Hall may see him as a Point Guard down the line, but getting to that point may take a while. Instead, Gordon will be competing with the previously mentioned Myles Powell for the starting Shooting Guard position. While Powell is a deadeye shooter, Gordon can get to the rim at will and is an extremely polished defender for his age. The shooting will come as will the skills necessary to be a Point Guard at the collegiate level, but Gordon has a chance to impact the game in his own way, just like Myles Powell. Regardless of who gets the nod as the starter at the beginning of the season, both Gordon and Powell will see big minutes as true freshman.
- New Face, New Place: Villanova July 4, 2016 College Pride Press
Omari Spellman- Incoming Freshman Forward (North Royalton, Ohio)
At 6’9”, Spellman will help to fill the big man vacancy with the graduation of Daniel Ochefu. At the beginning of the season, it is likely that the starting minutes will go to rising senior Darryl Reynolds, but Spellman has the potential to take over the starting role. He is a threatening presence on the inside at 275 lbs, but also has the ability to shoot the three ball. This will add more confusion for opposing teams, as the Wildcats would have the ability to put out a lineup with five legitimate three-point threats (Brunson, Booth, Hart, Jenkins, Spellman). This small-ball lineup could be disadvantageous in the realm of rebounding.
Dylan Painter- Incoming Freshman Center (Hershey, PA)
Painter will be another key piece in replacing Daniel Ochefu. At 6’10”, he has the potential to be a solid player in the post, both offensively and defensively. His playing time will likely be limited with senior Darryl Reynolds and fellow freshman Omari Spellman ahead of him on the depth chart. He does have a height advantage on both of these players, so in situations where a taller, more defensive-minded player is needed, Painter may get the call.
Eric Paschall- Transfer Sophomore Forward (Fordham University)
After sitting out the required year following his transfer from Fordham, Paschall is ready to be an impact player for the Wildcats. At Fordham, he was selected as the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Year, averaging 15.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He was able to spend this past year practicing with the Villanova team, learning their strategies. Along with that, he was able to watch the team win a national championship, so that experience will surely motivate him to try to help the team get back to that point.
Tim Delaney- Redshirt Freshman Forward (Mullica Hill, NJ)
Delaney sat out the 2015-2016 season after having hip surgery, and is doubtful for this upcoming season. If he were to play, at 6’9”, he would compete with Spellman, Painter and Reynolds for minutes at the power forward and center positions.
- Report Card: Villanova Wildcats June 30, 2016 College Pride Press
Ryan Arcidiacono- Sr. Guard:
Arcidiacono was everything the Wildcats could have asked for and more. He served as the team’s captain for the fourth year in a row, providing leadership and energy on both ends of the court. On any given day, you could find him diving a few rows deep into the bleachers to save a loose ball. His charismatic attitude on the court turned him into a fan-favorite player. He developed a knack for being the team’s clutch shooter over his four years at Villanova. This season, he nailed a game-tying three-pointer against Providence to send the game to overtime. Chants of “Archy” broke out before the final play at our national championship game watch party in the Pavilion, fans fully expecting Arch to be the one to take the big shot. His choice to pass the opportunity to shoot the game winner was the ultimate display of leadership.
In his senior season, the Arch saw an increase in his points per game (10.1 to 12.5) and assists per game (3.6 to 4.2) from his junior year. His collegiate career culminated in being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. After cementing his place as arguably the greatest player in Villanova history, Arcidiacono went undrafted in this year’s NBA draft, but recently signed a deal with the San Antonio Spurs to play on their NBA Summer League team.
Daniel Ochefu- Sr. Center:
The Chef displayed solid improvement this season as he stepped into a leadership position as a team captain. At points during the year, Ochefu struggled with his health, including minor head and ankle injuries. During the NCAA Tournament, it seemed as though every game he would tweak his ankle, causing the entire Nova Nation to collectively hold their breath. Ochefu turned into a dominant force in the post as the season progressed, developing a soft touch to be able to finish at the rim with both hands. In the final moments of the national championship, Ochefu also showed leadership by taking the mop from a floor cleaner to wipe up his own sweat mark in a spot where he would soon set a screen.
Ochefu put together a respectable statistical season, averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He was the team’s leading rebounder and one of four Wildcats to average double digit points. This season marked the end of the Chef’s time cooking at Villanova, and along with Arcidiacono, he will surely be remembered by Villanova fans for a long time. After going undrafted in the NBA Draft last week, Ochefu signed a deal with the Washington Wizards to play in the Summer League.
Josh Hart- Jr. Guard:
Hart had a breakout junior season, in which he went from being the Big East’s Sixth Man of the Year to a legitimate contender for Big East Player of the Year and a Third-Team All-American. Like Arcidiacono, Hart had a tendency to end up in the bleachers while chasing down loose balls. This season, he showed an expertise in penetrating deep into defenses and finishing with power at the rim. His mid-range game also showed improvement, making use of his vertical and a quick release to create space and get his shots off.
Hart led the Wildcats in scoring this season with 15.5 points per game, and also made use of his strength and vertical to be second on the team in rebounding with 6.8 per game. Following the season, he tested his potential in the NBA Draft process, even making a trip to Chicago for the Draft Combine. Ultimately, he made use of the new rule allowing athlete’s to decide to return to school after the Combine if their draft stock is not as great as expected. Hart will be returning to Villanova to play his senior season and fans could not be more thrilled.
Kris Jenkins- Jr. Forward:
Jenkins was an instrumental player in the Wildcats’ run to a national championship. As the season progressed, his role on the team continued to grow, eventually leading to him being considered the most dangerous player for opponents to defensively plan for. At times, it would seem as though he was wasting possessions with his long range three-point attempts, but when he caught fire, the opposing team was in deep trouble. Jenkins’ ability to fade away on the baseline out of the post also became a strong asset in his offensive arsenal. Jenkins also showed a capability to shoot in the clutch, ending the season by draining the greatest shot in the history of college basketball to win the national championship. This shot also showed an incredible amount of confidence, in the fact that he called for a pass from a clutch shooting senior on the sport’s biggest stage. He will surely need that confidence as he becomes a captain for his senior year.
Kris Jenkins became one of the key contributors to the Villanova offense this season, as the second highest scorer with 13.6 points per game. He also averaged 2.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. After the season, Jenkins declared for the NBA Draft, leaving some uncertainty about his future with the Wildcats. To the excitement of the fans, he removed his name from the draft a few weeks later, committing to using the last year of his NCAA eligibility at Villanova.
Jalen Brunson- Fr. Guard:
Brunson came into the season with plenty of expectations. He was very highly ranked on the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2015. Many Villanova supporters were uncertain about how Brunson would fit into the starting lineup with Ryan Arcidiacono, with both players being pure point guards. The two point guard lineup was slightly awkward at first, but it turned out to be a dangerous combination for opposing teams, forcing their shooting guard to defend a point guard. Brunson excelled at finishing at the rim on drives to the basket. Playing in the shadow of an experienced senior guard did not fully allow Brunson to ...
- NBA Draft Breakdown by Conferences and Classes June 27, 2016 College Pride Press
We have been covering everything involving the NBA Draft and now that all the picks have been made I wanted to take a step back and look at the big picture of the draft from a college basketball perspective. 16 international players were selected on Thursday night making that 44 college players selected throughout the night. The first stat I wanted to look at was the players selected by conference.
The ACC is always considered one of the best basketball conferences if not the best conference in the country. The talent level is extremely high and it shows on their teams. The one thing that really surprised me was that the talent was very well spread throughout the ACC with no team having more than 2 players selected on Thursday night.
The Big Ten, Big-12, and SEC all tied for second with 6 picks. Kentucky had a down year with only 3 players getting selected. Most years the SEC has 6 just from Lexington. The Big Ten seemed to have a down year with Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio State all not having a draft pick. Of those three Indiana was the only team with 2 undrafted players. The conference should rebound next year with loads of talent coming into Michigan State and Indiana developing future NBA players.
The PAC-12 was on of the most interesting conferences because two of their five selections came from middle tier team Washington. Conference champion Oregon retained all of their future NBA players. The conference had two consensus first round picks return to school with Allonzo Trier (Arizona) and Ivan Rabb (Cal). Next year will be a big year for the PAC-12 with more talent in the draft.
The Big East brings up the rear of major conferences with 4 draft picks. The national champ Villanova Wildcats did not have any draft picks. Providence had 2 players selected with Marquette and Seton Hall representing the other two picks. The Big East has been very successful competing with the bigger conferences without tons of NBA players on their rosters.
The class standing of the draftees was a little surprising to me with more seniors being selected than any other class. The 2015-2016 year was a big one for seniors all over the country. Four of their draft picks were in the first round inferring that NBA teams still value experience and readiness somewhat. 14 freshmen were selected in the draft to go along with 10 sophomores and five juniors.
Next year should be a heavy year for the freshmen and sophomores. The 2016 recruiting class is loaded with future NBA players and expected “one and done” careers. Combine that with some of the freshmen who decided it would be wiser to spend another year in college and the underclassmen may rule the next draft class.
Indiana University ’18
- 4-star Forward Kostas Antetokounmpo Commits to Dayton June 24, 2016 Drew Dinnhaupt
2016 4-star SF/PF Kostas Antetokounmpo has committed to Dayton over Iowa State, Marquette, St. John’s, UNLV, among others. Kostas is the younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Dayton had no votes in the 247 Crystal Ball. His pledge to the Flyers came out of the blue as no analysts expected Dayton to land Antetokounmpo, and some weren’t even aware Dayton was considered to be a landing spot.
Antetokounmpo is ranked #52 nationally by 247Sports and has loads of potential. Antetokounmpo is not expected to be a one-and-done and likely needs multiple years of collegiate basketball before he is ready for the next level.
- Report Card: Xavier Musketeers June 23, 2016 College Pride Press
PG: Edmond Sumner
Edmond came back this year after a medical redshirt during his true freshman year and promptly emerged as one of the top point guards in the country; being named to the Freshman All-America Team. His 11 points per game were second on the team, and he contributed to overall team efforts with 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Still, his relative inexperience showed at times, as he was often impatient with the ball and tried to force things that weren’t there. Prime example being the charge he was called for in the final seconds against Wisconsin. He had a great season overall, but it was slightly marred by moments like that. It’ll be interesting to watch his progress down the line.
SG: Myles Davis
As a leader on the team in his junior year, Myles Davis did a little bit of everything. The 6’2 guard from Plainfield, New Jersey, contributed to every facet of the Musketeer’s game. He put up 10.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and an impressive 4.1 assists per game from the shooting guard position. His leadership was great for the team, as he often times stepped up and made shots when the team needed a swing in momentum. His versatility was valuable on the floor, but he was often prone to streaks of bad shot selection, sometimes pulling up from what is now considered “Steph Curry range”. All said and done, his contributions to the team shouldn’t be understated, especially his leadership.
SF: Remy Abell
In his second year at Xavier after transferring from Indiana, Abell was a key player defensively, often guarding the likes of Providence’s Kris Dunn and Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono. He dropped an average of 2 points per game from last year, but given his new defensive focus, and the surge of Edmond Sumner, that’s justifiable. He played well throughout the season, and developed a reputation as an elite defender in the Big East.
PF: Trevon Bluiett
Even as a score-by-committee team, Xavier had to have a leading scorer. Key Trevon Bluiett. He was a consistent scoring threat all year. Like any other player, he has flaws: at times his offensive presence would fade from the game, and he could be prone to turnovers. Still, his 15 points per game led a team who often didn’t necessarily have a stand-out scorer. His efforts earned him First Team All-Big East; he was on the Naismith Trophy Men’s College Player of the Year Mid-Season Watch List, and was a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. He was ninth in the Big East in scoring, and fourth in three pointers made. Like every Musketeer, he contributed to the team effort, hauling in 6.1 rebounds per game. He’s poised to be a threat again next year, with his decision to withdraw from the draft.
C: Jalen Reynolds
The big man from Motor City was dominant at times, but non-existent at others. He showed his potential in the NCAA Tournament, scoring in double figures in both games. His strength and power earned him the ranking of ninth best dunker in the NCAA, according to NBCSports.com. His 9.6 points per game don’t necessarily show his offensive value, as he often draws double teams in the post. If he can learn how to dominate in the paint on a consistent basis, and use his 6’10 232 lbs. frame he’ll be fun to watch next year.
Farr showed strength and dominance in the paint at times in the season, but too often was unable to make it a consistent part of his game. He was a monster on the glass, averaging 7.8 rebounds per game, while adding 10.7 points. His contributions go far beyond the stats, though. He contributed unselfishly, often coming off the bench. This earned him a spot on Sport’s Illustrated’s All-Glue Team, a team composed of players who did what their team needed them to regardless of what it was. James had a senior season he can be proud of.
J.P. didn’t have a stellar start to the season, but his game picked up immensely towards the later stages of the season, particularly in the home win vs #1 ranked Villanova. His 19 points and three steals in that game spurred the team onto victory. He was a key role player for the Musketeers, being named Big-East Sixth Man of the Year. His 9.4 points and 2 assists per game provided a spark off the bench. Shooting 36% from behind the arc, Macura had fans out of their seats all season.
Mack led Xavier to their best regular season in history. They reached a school record-highest 5th in the national polls. They finished second in the Big East, finishing only behind future NCAA Champions Villanova. He led the Musketeers to a 90-83 victory over #1 ranked Villanova in late February. He did a decent recruiting job, given that the team was only set to lose three players, and signed three four-star players, all in the top 30 at their position. Despite all of Xavier’s regular season success, Mack was unable to lead the Musketeers to the promised land of the Sweet Sixteen, just about the only bad thing you can say about the season. He was awarded the Henry Iba National Coach of the Year Award, and was named Coach of the Year by many sports writers and magazines. He’s done a fine job building a team with a solid foundation for the future.
- Recruiting Update: 2018 PG Luther Muhammad June 7, 2016 College Pride Press
2018 4-star point guard Luther Muhammad has told us he has offers from Cincinnati, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rider, Rutgers, San Francisco, Seton Hall, St. John’s, and VCU. He also has interest from Arizona, Villanova and Virginia, with Arizona being the most recent interest. The 247 Crystal Ball reads 100% to St. John’s for the young prospect, with only one prediction in total. Muhammad is ranked #43 nationally by 247Sports and ranked the #10 point guard in the class.
Muhammad is a very flashy player. Standing at 6-4, Muhammad can shoot the three ball well and has great vision. He can cross his defender up and find his way to the basket for an easy two points. He is a fantastic offensive weapon. Muhammed has a very high ceiling as he is only a sophomore.
Muhammad has been targeted by many nearby schools including Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John’s, among others. His interest lately has been coming from around the country, including Arizona and San Francisco. Look for Muhammad to be a very highly recruited prospect in the near future.
- Latest on 2016 Power Forward Taurean Thompson June 6, 2016 Drew Dinnhaupt
It seems there is an announcement coming soon from 2016 4-star power forward Taurean Thompson, one of the few uncommitted seniors. Thompson stands at 6-9 and attended Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Thompson appears to be down to Michigan State, Seton Hall and Syracuse. Per a source, Thompson reportedly may announce this week, Thursday to be more specific.
Syracuse has been the frontrunner for Thompson for a long time now, but things are surely changing. Thompson visited Michigan State June 5, and it seems that the Spartans are a legit contender to land the talented forward. Michigan State offered Thompson only a week ago, April 28, yet it appears that the Spartans are a dark horse candidate to land him. After talking with multiple sources, I received many different opinions and could not reach a consensus.
Though Syracuse holds 87% of the 247Sports Crystal Ball, one source told me that Syracuse is less likely to land Taurean Thompson than people may think. This source believes that all three schools likely have an equal chance. Another source believes he is not a lock to Syracuse, and Michigan State seems like an unlikely lander. However, a third source told me that Michigan State is “in a great spot” to land Thompson and MSU has a “better shot to land him” than Syracuse.
There are numerous rumors around Thompson’s recruitment. Regardless, I believe Michigan State will most likely land Taurean Thompson. Michigan State has front court positions to be filled, and Thompson fits right in like a missing puzzle piece. A source told me playing time was a factor in Thompson’s recruitment, which is something Michigan State can use as a selling point with Matt Costello graduated and Deyonta Davis going to the NBA. Syracuse and Seton Hall both return their main front court making it a tougher path to playing time for Thompson. I expect Thompson to be wearing green and white next year.
- Report Card: Georgetown Hoyas June 3, 2016 College Pride Press
Coach John Thompson III
Hoya fans thought that 2015 would be Georgetown’s best season in several years. Devauntes Smith Riviera chose to come back to Georgetown instead of entering the NBA draft, the sophomores got a year older, and Jessie Govan was an excellent big man recruit. But what happened instead was a disaster. Georgetown limped its way to a 15-18 record in a season that saw the Hoyas lose embarassing games to UNC Asheville and Radford. Thompson has remained committed to an old school style of play that is dissuading recruits and causing massive numbers of turnovers, which is hurting the Hoyas performance. Georgetown came nowhere close to making it to March Madness and couldn’t even receive an NIT invite for their atrocious season. The excuses are running out for John Thompson. If he doesn’t turn this team around fast, he deserves to be fired, no matter how long his father coached at Georgetown for.
PG D’Vauntes Smith Rivera
Hoyas everywhere rejoiced when they saw that Rivera would be foregoing the NBA draft for one more season at Georgetown. The junior had averaged an efficient 16.3 points per game in his junior season, despite the presence of several other scorers. In his senior season, he would surely get the opportunity he deserved and get a chance to be the main scorer at Georgetown. Unfortunately, Rivera disappointed and averaged only 16.2 points per game in his senior year. His three point field goal percentage dropped to 33%. the worst in his career. His draft stock has plummeted as a result. Rivera would be extremely luck if he were picked in the bottom of the second round at this point.
C Bradley Hayes
Bradley Hayes came out of nowhere in his senior season to surprise everyone. The Florida native had not played a legitimate role on the team since he had joined it, but he quickly became a major part of the offense. The senior perfected the jump hook enough to average 8.7 points per game. Hayes was also a beast on the boards, grabbing 6.7 rebounds a game. These feats are made even more impressive when you realize that Hayes split time with fellow big man Jesse Govan. The Hoyas got a lot of unexpected production out of this center.
PF Isaac Copeland
This was the season where the sophomore was supposed to put it all together. Copeland had flashes of brilliance, but also had times where he struggled to score the basketball. Copeland averaged only 11.1 points per game, but he occasionally looked unstoppable. The reason for this grade is his poor three point shooting. Copeland shot an absolutely awful 27.2% from behind the arc, which means that he shouldn’t really be shooting threes. It didn’t seem to stop Copeland, who seems to chuck up a three any time he gets an opportunity. If I were coach Thompson, I would tell Copeland to focus on driving to the basket and ignore the three point line.
SG: L.J. Peak
L.J. Peak started the season with some okay performances and it looked like the sophomore could be poised for a breakout season. Unfortunately, Peak started to struggle so heavily that he was pulled out of the starting lineup at the midway point of the season. Ironically, Peak played unbelievable basketball coming off the bench. His three point percentage went from 24.6% in the 2014 season to 40.9% this year. Peak’s scoring also improved, as he averaged 12.3 points, a nearly five point increase from last season. Peak might have been benched, but he proved that he is capable of being a solid player and legitimate scorer last season.
SF: Marcus Derrickson
The freshman recruit struggled in his first year with the Hoyas. He averaged only 7.1 points per game, a very weak statistic for a player that began the year as a starter. Derrickson was recruited for his three point shooting ability, but struggled in most games from behind the arc, shooting only 37.6%. The one positive for Derrickson in his first season was his rebounding, which was highly impressive for the forward/guard hybrid. He was only a freshman, so he could be putting it all together for the Hoyas next season.
C: Jessie Govan
One of the most impressive players for the Hoyas in te 2015-2016 season was Jessie Govan, who played his way into what could be an NBA draft selection next year. Govan averaged 6.8 points per game for the Hoyas, but his impact on the game is not measured by only traditional statistics. His presence in the post helped to create driving lanes and open spaces for guards, who in turn could dump the ball off to the massive center. Govan showed some flashes of brilliance last season, especially in a game against Seton Hall in which he scored 27 points. The Hoyas might have had a rough season, but Govan had a pretty good one for a freshman.
- CPP Podcast: Maryland, Seton Hall, and Purdue Writers Discuss Draft Decisions May 31, 2016 College Pride Press
Shai Bruck, Anthony Alloca, and Ryan Berry join host Brad Kreppel to discuss their school’s draft decisions. We discuss the effect of Melo Trimble and Caleb Swanigan’s decision to come back to school as well as Isaiah Whitehead’s decision to go to the NBA. Thanks to the three writers that joined the podcast. Be sure to follow us on twitter @edupridepress
- Kris Dunn NBA Scouting Report May 29, 2016 Kieran Burns
Kris Dunn, first and foremost, is the fastest player on the court at any given time. Dunn uses his speed and quickness to rip apart defenses and pad his stat line. In addition to his speed, Dunn also has exceptional dribbling skills that allows him to get past defenders as well as getting fast breaks going. Another major strength of Dunn is his leadership on the court. When the ball is in his hands the game feels different and everyone around him plays at his pace. Dunn’s ability to control a game is one that will translate well to the NBA and has impressed scouts this season. On the defensive side Dunn is a lockdown defender and uses his long arms to pick pockets and steal passes. Dunn’s quickness on defense almost eliminates whoever he is guarding from the game.
Anyone who has watched Dunn lately can tell you he struggles with keeping his hands to himself. Dunn, who fouled out against MSU, usually ends games early, or with 4 fouls. Dunn needs to play smarter on defense and not get reaching-in fouls 40 feet from the basket, Dunn needs to stay in the game for as long as possible. Several times this season Coach Cooley has been forced to sit Dunn for periods of time due to foul trouble. Secondly, Dunn needs to be more of a consistent jump shooter, though to his credit, he has come a long way since the end of last season. If Dunn can be as deadly from range as he is getting to the basket there is little stopping him from being the best player in the upcoming draft. Finally, Dunn needs to work on limiting his turnovers. Kris Dunn plays a fast paced game and sometimes he gets ahead of himself and tries forcing passes. This issue will correct itself as time goes on and Dunn gets more experience (seeing as this is only his second full season).
NBA Comparison – John Wall
Many people might think that a player like Westbrook would fit Dunn better, but Wall’s style of play is more suited to Dunn. Kris Dunn is not a shoot-first point guard like Westbrook, but rather, Dunn uses his speed and dribbling to open up defenses and dish to teammates, much like Wall. Also, on defense, John Wall’s speed is what gives him the edge and I believe that’s truly what it boils down to. Dunn and Wall’s speed is what gives them the upper hand on both sides of the ball. I expect Dunn to be an impact player on the court, in the NBA,within 2 years. Dunn has made giant leaps since the start of last season in all aspects of his game. Expect to be hearing his name called early on draft day, and for years to come in the NBA.
- Why My Team Did Win The Championship: Villanova Wildcats May 28, 2016 College Pride Press
Fortunately, I have the unique position of being able to explain why the Villanova Wildcats are the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champions. This championship comes thirty-one years after the Cinderella Wildcats of 1985 shot nearly 80% from the floor to defeat the Georgetown Hoyas and become the lowest seed ever to win the NCAA tournament. Sure, Kris Jenkins made the greatest shot in the history of college basketball, yes, Ryan Arcidiacono made an incredibly intelligent pass, but much more than just the final 4.7 seconds led to the Wildcats cutting down the nets in Houston. Skeptics lurked around every corner, citing the recent tournament failures that Villanova has suffered from and a lack of high-profile recruits that many of the other top programs were able to attract. There were plenty of reasons why the Villanova Wildcats should not have won the national championship, but they did. Here are a few reasons why:
Unlike many of the perennial powerhouse college basketball programs, Villanova tries to avoid recruiting players looking to take the one-and-done route to the NBA. Coach Jay Wright places emphasis on ensuring that players develop to their full potential and graduate with a college degree. This season, four of the five starting players were juniors or seniors. With this, comes a core of more developed players with a great deal of experience and excellent decision making skills. The centerpiece to this group was Ryan Arcidiacono, a senior from Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Arcidiacono has played more games in a Villanova uniform (144) than anyone else in program history. He was a team captain each of his four years at the school, which is a testament to both his leadership and basketball abilities. In the 2014-15 season, he shared the Big East Player of the Year Award with Kris Dunn of Providence.
Villanova quickly became the talk of the tournament with their incredible offensive efficiency. Strong teams like Iowa, Miami and Oklahoma quickly fell victim to the sharpshooting Wildcats’ offense, resulting in blowout wins for Villanova. The peak of this came in the Final Four, when the Wildcats made 35 of their 49 shots (71.4% FG) to eviscerate the Oklahoma Sooners by a score of 95-51, the largest margin of victory (44 pts) in the history of the Final Four.
To complement their strong offensive performances, the Villanova defense put a strangle hold on some of the nation’s most dangerous offensive players. Kansas’ Perry Ellis was held to just four points on one of five shooting (20% FG) in an Elite Eight matchup with the Wildcats. In the Final Four, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, arguably the greatest scorer in college basketball, was expected to tear apart the Villanova defense and send the Sooners to the championship game. Unfortunately, the Wildcats had other plans. Hield was limited to just nine points after scoring thirty-seven in Oklahoma’s Elite Eight matchup with the Oregon Ducks.
Excellent Free Throw Shooting:
In the six games of the NCAA tournament, Villanova attempted 102 free throws. They were able to convert on 83 of these attempts, which comes out to about 81%. This statistic, in most games, is the deciding factor as to who will win, especially in the last few minutes, when every point counts.
World Class Coaching:
Ultimately the players get the job done on the floor, but the coaching staff has the responsibility of watching film with the players to ensure that they are prepared for whatever the opposition throws their way. In addition to this, coaches have to be able to effectively analyze the flow of the game to change the plan if necessary. Villanova’s head coach, Jay Wright, just so happens to be pretty good at this. For the second time in his tenure at Villanova, this year, he was named the recipient of the Naismith Men’s College Basketball Coach of the Year Award. He was chosen over finalists: Bill Self of Kansas, Chris Mack of Xavier, and Tom Crean of Indiana.
Oh, and the Wildcats ran a pretty nice play in the final 4.7 seconds of the championship game. As Kris Jenkins proudly stated in the postgame madness, “I’ve got ice in my veins!”
On behalf of the entire Nova Nation, I’d like to thank the 2015-2016 Wildcats for putting on an incredible show this season. Go Cats!
Villanova University ’19
All Stats from Sports Reference: College Basketball
Picture: CNN (http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/04/05/kris-jenkins-nate-britt-parents-ncaa-championship-pamela-brown-nr.cnn)
- Why My Team Didn’t Win the Championship: Butler Bulldogs May 19, 2016 College Pride Press
In a crazy basketball year, full of upsets and unpredictable outcomes, it truly is anyone’s game when it comes to the NCAA men’s basketball National Championship. With twelve upsets in the first round alone, including pre-tournament favorite Michigan State, the title was up for grabs. One of these first round upsets was the nine-seed Butler Bulldogs over a solid Texas Tech team. Butler had just come out of a pretty stellar season with 22 wins, including some big ones over teams like, Purdue, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Temple, and Cincinnati; and with senior leadership as well as scoring from Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, Butler looked to be on the fast track to tournament success. These factors, along with the Butler program’s storied accomplishments and history paired with a wide fan base of the country’s most rabid basketball community seemed to ensure the team’s advancement in the tournament.
In true fashion of the tournament, five upsets occurred in the first round of the tournament in the Midwest region alone. With heavy hitters like Michigan State, Seton Hall, and Purdue out of contention (the same eliminations that allowed for the ten seed Syracuse to advance to the Final Four), it seemed that Butler had a paved path to the regional final. Instead, their championship dreams were cut short.
A devastating University of Virginia (the only real threat to Butler’s run after the first round of eliminations) team rolled over a 16 seed Hampton by nearly forty points in their tournament opener. Coming off of a season marked by hard nosed defense, Virginia was definitely the team to watch in the Midwest region’s round of 32. With talented athletes as well as scorers in Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon leading them to a 28-7 season, the Cavaliers fully earned their rank as the region’s top seeded team. These two players are exactly what did the Bulldogs in.
In their second round meeting, Virginia and Butler were neck and neck for the first three quarters of play. A late game run ended up propelling UVA to a 77-69 victory over the Bulldogs. To beat the talented Butler squad, Virginia had to rely on their defense: and did they ever. The Cavaliers held Butler’s leading scorer (Senior forward Kellen Dunham) to just eight points on 2-7 from behind the arc: quite a drop off when compared to his season average of over sixteen points per game at a +40% three point clip. This advantage was just enough to push past the typically high scoring Butler club and allowed Virginia to move on to the sweet sixteen.
If Butler had pulled out the win against Virginia, and all of the other outcomes in the region remained the same, their route to the Final Four would have been a walk in the park. Their next matchup would have been against a notoriously turnover prone Iowa State team, who had a handful of more losses than the Bulldogs, as well as a history for choking in the big moments. After that win, Butler would take on the 10 seed Syracuse for their ticket to the Final Four, who, based on the seeding alone, Butler should have been able to oust. From that point on, and as mentioned earlier, it really is anyone’s game for the championship: truly displayed by the insanity at the end of the championship game between Villanova and UNC.
If it were not for that seemingly unbeatable Virginia team, Butler would have had a great shot at the Final Four, and thusly, the championship. But so the Bulldogs beat on, ready to continue their storied program and fight for a championship next season.
- Why My Team Didn’t Win the Championship: St. John’s May 19, 2016 College Pride Press
Yikes what a year it’s been for the Red Storm. After going 21-10 in the 2104-2015 season with coach Lavin, St. Johns, and Lavin agreed to part ways with Lavin, having one year left on his contract. Now at first I was upset because I liked Coach Lavin, and he got the Red Storm into the big dance, 2 times in the last 5 years. But when I heard who was replacing him, my frown turned upside down. Hall of famer, and St. Johns Alum, Chris Mullin. Oh man I was seriously jumping, and skipping (yes skipping don’t judge) all around my house. This guy is a winner, and is known as one of the smartest basketball players to ever play the game. If anyone knows how to win in New York it’s this guy.
No Big Named Players=No Big Wins
With Chris Obekpa transferring, and only having a few players returning, it was almost a fact that Chris Mullin would struggle in his first year. The Johnnies had an 8-24 season (1-17 in big east) that makes St. Johns fans want to be hiding under a rock and waiting for new faces to wear the red and black jersey next season. But let’s get into the players that wore them last season. The leading scorer, Durand Johnson only was scoring 12 points a game, and shooting 37% from the court, and 32% from downtown. If you look at the rest of the big easy (besides Creighton and Xavier that had one dominant scorer), they all had at least 2 guys scoring higher than Johnson. St. Johns had trouble simply putting the ball in the hoop. It doesn’t help at all that the Jonnies weren’t a deep team at all. The Red Storm were a 4 man deep team, Johnson, Mussini, Jones, and Mvouika, and let’s be honest here, they would be great pieces coming off the bench on a deep team, but with a 8-24 record sure doesn’t sound like they’re ready to be playing Villanova and those boys. Any team that had a decent man to man defense won’t give them trouble. I will say this though; the Johnnies were (like always) rim protectors with Yakwe, and Sima leading the Big East in blocks with over 2 a game. And yes I know they beat Syracuse but come on; Syracuse was going through hell with that whole Jim Boeheim suspension fiasco. St. Johns would beat them 1 time if they played 100 times. They just got lucky that their 1 chance to win was that day.
Now for those who don’t know, I coach a rec middle school team and I HATE when we can’t get the fundamentals right and go back to old habits. Now that’s a middle school and I understand that they are young and still learning the game, but what’s St. Johns excuse? You guys are a division 1 basketball team and you can’t hit free throws, or take smart shots? 63% FROM THE FREE THROW LINE? IT’S FREE THROWS. I will never be able to understand if you’re a D1 basketball player or in the NBA and you can’t at least hit 75% at the line. It’s the second easiest shot in the game and you can’t hit it when it counts? Dead last in the conference by the way for those who were wondering. Oh yeah, did I tell you that they were 2nd to last place in the conference in 3 point shooting and DEAD LAST in shooting in general. This drives me crazy as a coach, and a fan, so I can only imagine how mad Chris Mullin was. There was no ball movement either to put the cherry on top. Let’s just say I’m ready for a new season.
To be honest here, I like what Mullin is doing here. Getting solid transfers in Marvin Clark from Michigan State, and Justin Simon from Arizona. Also suiting up for the Johnnies will be 4 star recruit Shamorie Ponds, Juco product Bashir Ahmed, and the 6’8 kid from Germany Richard Freudenberg. How good will these guys become? To be honest here I don’t know, but with Chris Mullin in charge, I have a good feeling about this group. Heck, anything is better than last year. The Johnnies can only go up from here.
- Why My Team Didn’t Win the Championship: Marquette Golden Eagles May 10, 2016 College Pride Press
The 2015-2016 season was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs for the Marquette Golden Eagles, finishing with a solid 20-13 record. There were many problems that contributed to Marquette not winning the National Championship, or even making the tourney at all. The main three reasons for not dancing this year were an extremely tough Big East schedule, a very youthful team, and great inconsistency on a nightly basis. This Marquette team was not even considered on the bubble come March, but I believe that Steve Wojciechowski (Wojo) and his Golden Eagles deserved much more credit than they were given. This was a very young team, led by freshman big man Henry Ellenson, who turned a 13-19 record in 2014-2015 into a 20-13 mark this past year. Although Marquette suffered some difficult losses, they surprised many with big road wins and an overall successful season.
Tough Big East Schedule
Besides the ACC, the Big East is the most competitive collegiate basketball conference in the nation. The Big East was represented by five of its ten teams in this year’s March Madness tourney, including the champion, Villanova, so it is safe to say that Marquette had a challenging conference schedule. The conference opener was played against Seton Hall, this year’s Big East tournament champs, and this game set the tone for the rest of conference play. Marquette finished 8-10 in conference, and never really found their rhythm as the season wore on. Right up until conference play, the Golden Eagles had a run that lasted for more than a month in which they were undefeated. This run began with a huge win against SEC powerhouse LSU, who boasted a young freshman by the name of Ben Simmons. I think that because of Marquette’s youth, the team was not truly ready for the grueling Big East schedule that they had in store. The first two conference games were at home against a crafty Seton Hall team and on the road against a traditionally good Georgetown team. These two tough losses made it difficult for Marquette to truly make a dent within the conference. In the Big East, there is no game in which a team can “take a break.” Every team is a tough matchup and I think that this young team learned that this year and will benefit from the experience in the future.
The most challenging aspect of this year’s Marquette team was its youth. Although Henry Ellenson shined on the nation’s top stage, he was still only a freshman. The other standout freshman for the Golden Eagles was Haanif Cheatham. I believe Cheatham, because of Ellenson’s outstanding play, was strongly overlooked. Those two freshmen were two of three players on the Marquette roster that started all thirty-three games. On top of that, out of the 8 players with legitimate playing time, four of them were either freshmen or sophomores. The lack of experience within the program was a major dilemma come conference play. Wojo blamed the team’s immaturity on many of the losses in the duration of the season. In his postgame interviews he cited different moments throughout the game in which an experienced player would have made a better decision than the freshmen that he had on the floor. For example, Wojo specifically talked about his team rushing to get their shots up instead of working the ball to find a higher percentage shot. Although this Marquette team is young, they have a bright future ahead of them. The experience on the team will grow and the veteran players can assist the younger guys in assimilating into the system that is collegiate hoops.
The final topic of discussion and reason for not having a Marquette national championship is because of inconsistency throughout the season. This reasoning factors in both of the first two, because of a difficult conference schedule and because of youth. There were flares of what this Marquette team could be at different times throughout the season. Marquette basketball was at its best after a month long winning streak in the nonconference schedule, a season sweep of a ranked Providence team, and an appearance in the semi-finals of the Big East tourney. However, these highs were overshadowed by the lows of losses against Belmont, Creighton, and DePaul at home. On top of that, other than Providence, Marquette did not compete with an of the other Big East powerhouses. The top three teams in the conference, Villanova, Xavier, and Seton Hall all swept the Golden Eagles this year. I think that this bad conference experience is necessary for success in the future. Marquette had a decent season, but you can expect more out of the Golden Eagles in years to come, thanks to Wojo’s expert recruiting. The loss of Henry Ellenson to the draft will sting, but recruits like Markus Howard, Sam Hauser, and Brendan Bailey will look to help boost this team to a national championship run in 2017.
Marquette University ‘20
Photo Source: bigeastcoastbias.com
- Why My Team Didn’t Win the Championship: Seton Hall May 2, 2016 Tyler Calvaruso
Coming into the 2015-2016 season, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding this Seton Hall team. With Brandon Mobley graduating and Sterling Gibbs leaving for the University of Connecticut, there would be some holes to fill to go along with some question marks surrounding the returning players and even Coach Kevin Willard. Would Whitehead and company be able to perform consistently throughout the whole season? Would this finally be the year that Willard could get his team over the hump in Big East play? All of those uncertainties turned into what some would call a magical season for the Pirates. Riding high off of a Big East Tournament Championship, they seemed destined to make some sort of a run. However, it was not to be and the Pirates bowed out in the first round of the tournament to Gonzaga.
There are numerous reasons as to why the Pirates were not able to win a national championship; but the ones that stand out are lack of front court depth, players playing bad at the wrong time and just an overall bad draw in the tournament.
Lack of Front Court Depth
Angel Delgado spent the whole season playing Center for the Pirates and did an admirable job-against most teams. For anyone who has watched Delgado play, it is clear that he is a true Power Forward and not a Center. It would show against top Centers such as Villanova’s Daniel Ochefu, who had 20 points and 18 rebounds in a 72-63 Villanova win over Seton Hall in January and Ben Bentil of Providence, who had 21 points and 9 Rebounds in a loss to the Pirates. Not only was Delgado playing out of position, he had very little help coming behind him off the bench. Braeden Anderson and Rashed Anthony were not very good for the Pirates last season, and when Delgado would wind up in foul trouble, the Pirates were forced to play small ball and teams would pound it inside possession after possession. This would come back to bite the Pirates in the first round of the tournament, when skilled Gonzaga big man Domantas Sabonis had 21 and 14 as the Bulldogs cruised to a 68-52 win. Even if Seton Hall was able to advance past Gonzaga, waiting for them in the next round would be Utah’s Jakob Poeltl, who would have surely given Delgado fits down low just as Sabonis was able to do.
Tough Draw in the Tournament
Looking at the way things panned out in the Midwest Region of the bracket, you could make a case that Seton Hall had the talent to make a run to at least the Sweet 16. However, plenty of things went wrong in that regard. First off, the Pirates were dealt an extremely tough hand by having to travel all the way to Denver to face a tough Gonzaga team, who was ranked #9 in the preseason AP Top 25. Granted things didn’t really work out that way for the Bulldogs throughout the course of the season, they were still an extremely talented group and you could easily make the case that they should not have been an 11 seed; especially with a team like Syracuse receiving a 10 seed based on their regular season credentials. Beating a team like Gonzaga was going to be going to be a tall task no matter what, but that task became even taller when Isaiah Whitehead couldn’t buy a basket throughout the course of the game. He finished 4-24 from the field and 0-10 from beyond the arc- not exactly your typical Isaiah Whitehead performance. Combine Whitehead’s performance with bad performances from Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado, and Khadeen Carrington, the Pirates found themselves out of the tournament a lot earlier than they would have liked.
There will be more uncertainties entering next season for the Pirates, most of them surrounding the potential departure of star Point Guard Isaiah Whitehead. Regardless of whether Whitehead decides to come back or not, this looks to be a pretty solid team heading into the 2016-2017 campaign. At the worst, they will return four of five starters and will add Kansas State transfer Jevon Thomas, 4 star guard Myles Powell, and potentially Taurean Thompson, who can play Center and allow Delgado to move back to his natural position at the 4. Hopefully those additions will enable the Pirates to compete for a national championship again, but the reasons were not able to win it this year were clear.
Class of 2020
- Bronson’s Buzzer Beater Helps the Badgers March 21, 2016 Sally Ehrmann
Wisconsin Badgers: 66, Xavier Musketeers: 63
Well, there’s another last-second shot to add to the list of buzzer beaters this NCAA Tournament season. Sunday night’s game was a hard-fought win for Wisconsin. Both teams were playing great basketball. The action of the game was very back and forth, making for an intriguing game for fans across the country. When Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig tied the score with 11 seconds left in regulation, the Scottrade Center in St. Louis went silent. After an offensive foul on Xavier, I assumed the game would be going into overtime. Koenig launched a last second three from the right side. When that ball swooshed through the net, the red and white in the stands screamed. It was a game that will go down in Wisconsin’s history as a classic.
X-Factor in This Game
Greg Gard has been incredible in his first few games as the official head coach of Wisconsin. After the team struggled on Friday night, many Badger fans were worried about Sunday’s game against the solid Xavier Musketeers. The Badgers came out and played some of their best basketball of the season, and this can only be contributed to Gard. He had to deal with the three big men (Vitto Brown, Ethan Happ, and Nigel Hayes) being in foul trouble. He remedied this by subbing bench players in often and playing with different mixes of players. This proved to be helpful in the win because it gave different players a chance to mix things up a bit and give different momentum to the team. As well, he called a timeout with 2 seconds left in the game. Bronson had dribbled up the court, leaving 2 seconds left on the clock before Gard called the timeout. I thought he could’ve kept the game going and see what play came up. However, calling this timeout allowed for better position, allowing Koenig’s buzzer beater to happen. Gard got the Badgers ready to face the Musketeers and made some solid coaching decisions down the stretch, which helped Wisconsin win this game.
Why Wisconsin Won This Game
Obviously, Koenig’s buzzer beater. But, more than that, the bench players for Wisconsin came out and showed up on Sunday night. Brown, Happ, and Hayes (arguably Wisconsin’s three best players) were all in foul trouble. Gard was forced to look to the bench, which included three freshmen and one junior player. While the bench did not score much, only 6 points collectively, they did a lot of damage on offense and defense.
Jordan Hill played 21 minutes. He contributed three assists and managed to make plays on offense, something that the Badgers struggled with on Friday night’s game against Pittsburgh. Hill was helpful because he’s a junior, adding a little bit of seniority to the young Badgers squad. Khalil Iverson, freshman, gave a huge spark to the Wisconsin lineup. He contributed a huge dunk that helped give Wisconsin huge momentum down the stretch. He also played great defense, adding 2 rebounds and 3 blocks. Iverson helped give the Badgers a little spark when Xavier could have pulled away and won the game. Freshmen Alex Illikainen and Charlie Thomas also contributed to the win, with Illikainen giving 2 points to the scoreboard, and Thomas securing 3 rebounds for the Badgers on defense.
Star of the Game
Bronson Koenig was beautiful in this game. He has had his ups and downs this season. This game was one of his “ups”. He was the leading scorer for Wisconsin, with 20 points, six of which came in the last 11 seconds of the game. He made 6 three-pointers and also secured 7 rebounds for the Badgers. One of the great things about Koenig (and also bad, depending on the game situation) is that he never gives up. Koenig went on a run where he missed most of his shots, but he continued to believe in himself, and it paid off. This helps the younger players on the team develop that same confidence, and at the end of the day, that is the main lesson of basketball, never give up.
Dud of the Game
Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes has had a few rough games in the past few weeks. His shots can not seem to fall. Hayes went 2-10 in field goals, 0-5 in three-pointers, and 2-4 in free throws, not his best offensive night. His presence on defense was helpful, as he contributed 8 rebounds and 1 block to the win. However, Hayes really needs to step up and become a star and a leader on offense and defense for this team if Wisconsin is going to advance farther in the tournament (as well as if Hayes will be entering the NBA draft after this season as some say he will).
This is a game that will be a classic for Wisconsin fans for many years to come. At the end of the day, it was just wonderful basketball to watch. Both teams played great, which was evident in the many lead changes and ties. Xavier is a solid basketball team, and this win is incredibly encouraging for the young Badger squad. Wisconsin proved that they can go far in this tournament. Teams and fans from other schools should not discount Wisconsin. The Badgers are a real threat in this tournament, and it will be exciting to watch more Wisconsin basketball. Wisconsin will face the sixth-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Sweet 16 on Friday, March 25, in Philadelphia.
University of Wisconsin, Class of 2019
- Preview: #7 Wisconsin Badgers v. #2 Xavier Musketeers March 20, 2016 Sally Ehrmann
Wisconsin Badgers v. Xavier Musketeers
Sunday, March 20, 8:40 PM
On Friday night, Xavier came out in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis ready to begin the NCAA tournament. They pounded the basketball, making it known to Weber State that they were a real threat this tournament season. Wisconsin, on the other hand, did not come ready to play basketball. They trailed Pitt and could not seem to get any grove going. They squeaked out a win. It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day, the tournament is about surviving and advancing. Xavier will be a team much more physical and fast than Pitt, and Wisconsin needs to come out ready to play basketball. Both teams are tough, physical team. This game might just turn in to a bloodbath, but it will make for a great March Madness game to watch.
Match-Up to Watch
Ethan Happ is going to be facing both of Xavier’s big men, James Farr and Jalen Reynolds. Senior James Farr comes in at 6’10’’ and 247 pounds. Jalen Reynolds, a junior, comes in to the game at 6’10’’, 232 pounds. Happ is 6’9’’, 230 pounds, so he’s close to the two in size. However, both Musketeers are upperclassmen and very comfortable on the court. Happ is just a redshirt freshman, still growing in to his role on the team. Happ has really grown this season, but sometimes he becomes soft and fades in to the background. He can not do this on Sunday. Happ must remain strong in the paint, and keep fighting for rebounds. This is going to be a physical game, and Happ has shown that he can remain strong at the rim.
X-Factor for Wisconsin
Xavier plays both man-to-man and zone defense. As most Big Ten teams tend to play man-to-man defense, Wisconsin always struggles to run an offense against a zone defense. Wisconsin must keep moving the ball around. The swing offense will help with this, but in some games this season, especially Wisconsin’s game on Friday, the team has a hard time setting up plays on offense. Wisconsin must either make shots from behind the three-point line or be able to make layups around the rim to force Xavier to play man-to-man defense. Wisconsin must set up offense and keep swinging the ball, it is the only way the Badgers can beat the zone defense.
X-Factor for Xavier
Xavier’s players are very big and athletic. They are a physical team that can really wear down their opponents. Their team is much older than Wisconsin as well, meaning they are more confident on the court. Xavier must wear down Wisconsin, whether this is through the zone defense or by pounding the ball to the net on offense. If the team comes out as they did against Weber State, Wisconsin will have a tough time keeping up with the speed and physicality of Xavier. Xavier is a strong team on offense and defense, and if they can play hard throughout the game, the Badgers may have a tough time keeping up.
Even though Xavier is such a big team, the Wisconsin starting lineup collectively weighs 68 pounds more than the Xavier starting lineup. Xavier’s starting lineup is taller than the Badgers’, though. Against common opponents which include Michigan, Georgetown, and Marquette, Xavier is 5-1, compared to Wisconsin’s record of 1-2. Xavier has had more chances against these opponents because they have played these teams more, however, it is significant to note that Xavier has a winning record and Wisconsin does not. Wisconsin played Marquette and Georgetown in the beginning of this season when the Badgers were a very different team than they are today. Regardless, Xavier has beaten the same teams more than Wisconsin has. This can give fans an inkling of how the game will go on Sunday night.
This game is going to be a bloodbath. Both teams have a lot to prove. If Wisconsin plays the basketball it was playing on Friday, the Badgers will lose the game by a lot. Wisconsin was not clicking together. The offense could not make a shot, and players were struggling to make defensive rebounds. Against the Xavier physicality, the Badgers will really struggle, especially because Xavier is so strong on offense and defense. If Wisconsin comes out and plays tough from the get go, the Badgers have a chance to win the game. Wisconsin has a spark that can only come from the youth and perseverance of a young team. This spark is often what propels lower-seeded teams farther in the tournament than their higher-seeded counterparts, because these teams really have nothing to lose. At this moment, Wisconsin has nothing to lose, and this tournament is a chance for the younger Badgers to help make Wisconsin a basketball empire. Hopefully Wisconsin will channel the team that was present at the end of the Big Ten regular season and not the one that came to play at the Big Ten Tournament and the game on Friday night.
University of Wisconsin, Class of 2019
- Villanova First Weekend Recap and Preview March 20, 2016 College Pride Press
itation: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Villanova: 86 – UNC-Asheville: 56
On a first round Friday filled with big-time upsets and end of game drama, the Villanova Wildcats took care of business wearing down the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs over the course of 40 minutes, overwhelming them early in the second half and running away with the game late. The Wildcats opened the day with the first game of Session I at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the 12:40 PM tip resulted in a scarce crowd on had early to watch the start of the 2 vs. 15 matchup. As the game progressed, the crowd began to fill in at the Barclays, but the Wildcats were able to produce there own energy from the tip, jumping out to an early 8-0 lead due to their ability to shoot the three and quickly set up in a 1-2-2 zone press to slow the opposing team back down the court. The highlight plays started early for the Cats and didn’t slow throughout the game. From defensive pressure and steals turning into fast break dunks, to back-side alley-oops behind the zone, the Wildcats flexed their muscles on the Bulldogs and maintained control for much of the game despite a lull in their shooting effort during the middle of the first half.
The Wildcats took over late in the first half with a 6-0 run to end the half on back-to-back threes to pull away from the Bulldogs at the break. The momentum shifted to the Wildcats favor when Jalen Brunson banged a three followed by a Ryan Arcidiacono three at the halftime buzzer as Villanova took a 14 point lead into the halftime break and never looked back. Early in the second half, Villanova stretched the lead to 20 points behind the inside play of Daniel Ocehfu and a few open three-point looks from Kris Jenkins. The defensive pressure of Phil Booth and the length of Mikal Bridges proved to be too much for UNC-Asheville, as Bridges was able to convert steals into easy buckets at the other end. The Wildcats extended the lead to a comfortable 30 points over the course of the second half, and the bench mob even received some playing time during the final two minutes of this opening round NCAA tournament game. The bench erupted when senior walk-on Pat Farrell drilled his second three-pointer of the season during the final minute right in front of the Villanova bench, a shot that summed up how the game was going for Villanova.
The X-factor for the game was Villanova big-man Daniel Ochefu who dominated the paint en route to a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The size of Ochefu was simply too much for UNC-Asheville to handle from the tip. Ochefu demonstrated great touch in the paint, displaying hook shots using both his left and right hands throughout the game. His size and dominance on the block was too much for Asheville to overcome, as they couldn’t stop him in the paint or control him on the glass.
The Villanova Wildcats came out on top in this game by overwhelming UNC-Asheville with their size and shooting ability, wearing them down as the game progressed. The Wildcats shared the ball throughout the game, racking up 21 assists on 33 field goals. The hot shooting of Villanova proved to be too much for UNC-Asheville, despite the fact that the Bulldogs entered the game as the best defensive team in the country statistically against the three-point field goal. The hot shooting of the Cats was too much to overcome as Villanova shot 58% from the field and 46% from three accounting for a total of 13 three-point field goals.
The size and skill of the 2 seeded Villanova Wildcats was too much for UNC-Asheville to handle as there upset-bid had very little life throughout the game. The Wildcats were impressive, but they must move on to the next round as nothing will matter if the Wildcats are unable to advance out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament for a third consecutive season despite entering as a top seed
The star of the game was senior captain Daniel Ochefu who provided a double-double for the Wildcats with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ochefu was more or less a non-factor last weekend at the Big East Tournament as he was battling an ankle injury he suffered in practice leading up to the Big East Tournament and was nowhere near 100% in the Big East. He bounced back nicely during this first round of the NCAA tournament, and seems to be nearing 100% in response to his ankle injury.
Josh Hart proved to be the Dud of the Game after being the most consistent player for Villanova all season. Hart produced only 9 points, one of the few games this season in which he was unable to score double-figure points. Hart also only shot 4/10 from the field, a percentage that is slightly off from his usual high efficiency and production. Look for Hart to bounce back in a big way on the offensive end on Sunday against the Iowa Hawkeyes
The stat of the night was the Villanova three-point shooting, as the Wildcats connected on 13 of their 28 attempts from behind the arc for a scorching 46%. The Wildcats also shot the ball efficiently from two-point range combining for an overall shooting percentage of 58% on 33 of 57 shooting. Hot shooting is going to be key to a deep run in March for the Wildcats as Villanova is a guard-oriented team that relies on the outside shot to carry the scoring load for the number 2 seeded Wildcats. The Wildcats were able to ride their hot shooting to their 30th win of the season, running their overall season record to 30 and 5 for the year.
The Wildcats move on to face the number 7 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes who are coming off a last-second overtime win over the Temple Owls on Friday. Although many may have hoped for a Philadelphia Big ...
- Preview: #8 Butler vs. #9 Texas Tech March 17, 2016 College Pride Press
Butler vs. Texas Tech
This Thursday the NCAA Tournament starts up and one of the first games is Butler Bulldogs against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Both of these teams are good three point shooting teams and that I believe will decide the game. Texas Tech is shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers in its last 11 games. Butler is 23rd in the nation in 3 point shooting percentage. The Bulldogs are averaging 38.7 percent for the whole season. Although Butler is terrible defending the three with opponents shooting over 35 percent from deep against them this year. Both teams should be well rested seeing that the both lost their first game in their conference tournament. The Bulldogs are a 4 point favorite and I agree with this. I think the game will be very close but I see Butler coming out on top and facing Virginia on Saturday.
- Benjamin Lowry
- Preview #2 Xavier vs. #15 Weber State March 16, 2016 College Pride Press
2 Xavier vs 14 Weber State
Friday, March 18th 9:30 in St. Louis, Missouri
The Xavier Musketeers begin their tournament run Friday night in St. Louis against Weber State from the great state of Utah. Xavier comes into the game being currently ranked 9th in the AP poll after previously being ranked number 5 for numerous weeks. Weber has not come close to cracking the AP top 25 but that doesn’t mean they will roll over and hand this game to Xavier. Although Xavier should win this game easily, in the year of upset in college basketball nothing is a for sure win.
Weber state has some claim to fame as their most notable basketball alumni is current NBA point guard Damian Lillard. Their current basketball team though relies on guard Jeremy Senglin and forward Joel Bolomboy. Those two score 46 percent of their teams points and really carry the load. The rest of the team is filled with role players, but their main focus on those two guys up there. Both are very quality players but it would be hard to match up against a deep Xavier team.
The keys for Xavier in this game will to come out early and attack aggressively from the start. If X can come out ready to play and have a fast start it will be a long night for Weber State. Xavier needs to do what they do best which is rebound at an impressive rate and play good defense throughout. Look for Trevon Bluiett to take over and have a great game as he usually does against lesser opponents.
Although you never know this year in college basketball, I am going to go with Xavier on this one. Xavier’s deep bench and plethora of quality players is what is going to put them past Weber State, wouldn’t be surprised if it was close though.
- Preview: #8 USC v. #9 Providence March 15, 2016 Kieran Burns
USC V. Providence
Thursday March 17, 9:50pm
The cross-coastal matchup between the Friars and the Trojans is going to be a must see for college basketball fans. The up tempo play of USC against the hard, Big-East style defense of Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn will for sure to produce quite the highlight reel. The 8 Seed Trojans are, however on a downward slope, losing 7 of the last 10 games of the season, but having a notable win over Arizona in the 4OT thriller earlier this season. The Friars too are not immune to slumps, falling into a rut midway through the conference schedule, but finishing the season strong to give them the 9 Seed.
Match-up to Watch
On paper the Friars and Trojans are nearly identical in size so speed, and dominating the transition game is going to be the determining factor. For the Trojans, this weight falls on Sophomore G Jordan McLaughlin. Last year, McLaughlin was selected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team and averaged over 12 points per game. On the Friars side, this role is lead by none other than Wooden Award hopeful, Kris Dunn. Dunn needs to attack the rim off rebounds and steals and not settle for jump shots. The Friars have struggled with relying too heavily on outside shooting leading to some bad losses.
X-Factor for the Trojans
The best way for the Trojans to knockout the Friars is by keeping them out of the lane and forcing them to take contested outside shots. As mentioned previously, the Friars have a tendency to be trigger happy at 3-point line in recent games. Though lately they have improved their shooting percentage from outside, it has not been nearly consistent enough to win many games.
X-Factor for the Friars
Everyone knows the dynamic duo that is Dunn and Bentil, but if the Friars want to make a serious run, they are going to have to get support from Rodney Bullock and Jalen Lindsey. By having Bullock and Lindsey contribute early in the game by making jump shots and getting rebounds, it will force the Trojans to play them more tightly, opening up the floor for Dunn and Bentil to run the show.
The biggest stat is the striking similarities in steals, turnovers, rebounds. The Trojans average 7 steals per game, the Friars average 6.4 steals per game. The Trojans average 12.2 turnovers per game, the Friars average 12 turnovers per game. Finally, the Trojans average 39 rebounds per game, the Friars average 37.
This game is going to come down to heart and hustle, and the Friars are going to take this one home. The talent of Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn is going to overwhelm the younger Trojan team.
- Preview: #6 Seton Hall vs. #11 Gonzaga March 15, 2016 College Pride Press
#6 Seton Hall vs. #11 Gonzaga
The NCAA Tournament first round games begin this Thursday and Friday on a variety of networks. There are many intriguing matchups in the first round of this year’s tournament. Many of them are pale however in contrast though to the first round matchup in the Midwest region between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Seton Hall Pirates. This is the 6-11 matchup in this region with the winner to advance to either play the 3 seed Utah or the 14 seed Fresno State. The loser’s season will be over. These first round games will be played in the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
This matchup features two teams that are two of the hottest coming into this year’s tournament as Seton Hall, winners of the Big East tournament, have won four straight including wins over two top ten teams in Villanova and Xavier. Gonzaga, winners of the WCC Tournament and of 5 straight overall, looked very impressive in beating its two conference foes in BYU and St. Mary’s to take the WCC crown in Vegas for the fourth straight year. This game will be a contrast in styles throughout and it should be one of the more entertaining first round games. Both teams are strong defensively and very efficient offensively. The key to this game will be the frontcourt of Gonzaga, which features possible NBA lottery pick Domantas Sabonis and an outstanding scorer in senior Kyle Wiltjer versus the terrific backcourt of Seton Hall, led by future pro Isaiah Whitehead. The Pirates will look to use their athleticism and strong guard play to run the Zags out of Denver, while Gonzaga looks to lean on their big men to pull off the upset.
The X- factor to this game though may be Gonzaga’s guards and how well they play against such a talented backcourt in Seton Hall. Seton Hall is a young team that plays with no fear and their intensity goes for 40 minutes. If Gonzaga cannot match that, then they will be in for a long night. You won’t find guards like the one’s Seton Hall has in the WCC, so this will be a challenge for freshman Josh Perkins and seniors Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis to step up when it matters most for the Zags. This could be a growing up game for Josh Perkins, as the freshman has been terrific for the Zags in the last part of this season. But how well will he respond in his first ever NCAA tournament game?
Eric McClellan had an absolutely brilliant tournament in Vegas and it will be up to him to slow down Isaish Whitehead who was equally as terrific, if not better in the Big East Tournament. Whitehead has scored over 20 points in 7 straight games and he’s the kind of player that can carry his team to a Final Four. Stopping him from penetrating and making shots may be the biggest thing Gonzaga needs to do to win. Seton Hall however will have to stop Domantas Sabonis and Wiltjer, as these two make up arguably the best frontcourt in this year’s tournament. If Wiltjer has one of those nights where he explodes and Sabonis keeps the Hall off the glass, then Gonzaga will be walk out of Denver with a first round upset.
Gonzaga really got a tough draw in this opening round, as Seton Hall could have easily been seeded as a 4 or a 5. Instead they are a 6 seed, and Gonzaga, who was probably way under seeded for a team that won their conference tournament, settled for an 11. That doesn’t take away the fact that the Zags have no pressure on them in this matchup. Seton Hall is being picked by almost every expert out there and by most people in their brackets. Gonzaga isn’t favored and that makes them dangerous heading into this game.
This is different territory for Gonzaga, as last year they were a 2 seed and they were being hunted by every lower seed. Now they are the hunter and it may make them play that much better as a result. One of these two outstanding teams will be sent home, and whoever can impose their style the best will be the one that’s left standing at the end. Whoever wins this game, will be a handful for their second opponent and they just may play their way into the second weekend.
The last thing to note is the experience of Gonzaga and the fact that Seton Hall has to travel across the country for this game. New Jersey and Colorado aren’t exactly close to one another on a map. The fact that Seton Hall is so far away may affect the way they play in this game. As a team that plays mostly sophomores and freshman, who knows how they will all perform on such a big stage for the first time. Gonzaga has three seniors in their starting lineup and a guy in Sabonis who dominated this tournament a year ago. They know what it takes to win these games and they have been here before. Also, when you take into account that the Zags are much closer to their home in Spokane, Washington, then you may have an arena full of Zag supporters and a home court advantage for the Bulldogs. No matter what happens, you can expect Seton Hall to be reared up and ready to go for this one and the Zags will have to be equally as prepared. We will see what happens on Thursday with both teams, but it looks like this one could be a classic.
- Recap: Xavier vs. Providence January 27, 2016 College Pride Press
In what turned out to be a game that lived up to all the hype before hand, the #7 Xavier Musketeers defeated Big East rival #10 Providence on the road Tuesday night. The game started on a good note for Xavier climbing to a quick 7-0 lead before Providence decided to show up. Shortly after the 7-0 start for Xavier, Providence went on their own 13-0 run, making for a crazy start to the game.
After the two teams stopped breaking out in scoring runs, Xavier essentially locked down on defense forcing Providence to go about six minutes without a made field goal. During that time, Xavier produced enough offense to eventually take the lead back by courtesy of senior James Farr. The hard working big man was on fire making every shot he took including a huge three. The offense and rebounding of Farr allowed Xavier to regain momentum.
Although the first half wasn’t bad (Xavier ended up leading going into halftime), Coach Chris Mack appreciated the second half much more. The key to the second half, and ultimately the game, was another big man from Xavier: Jalen Reynolds. Reynolds was matched up with Bentil whenever he was on the court, and in the start of the second half he made a statement to Providence’s big man. Reynolds dropped a shoulder into Bentil and scored a nice bucket while proceeding to, as the team would say, “Flex on ‘em.” Reynolds finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds and ended up staying on the court for 31 minutes.
The second half progressed smoothly until Providence started to pull close, and with just over a minute to go the game was tight. In the final minute, Xavier had the ball and a 68-65 lead; Coach Chris Mack wanted a timeout, but instead sophomore JP Macura decided to take a deep three and sunk it, giving Xavier a six-point lead with under 50 seconds to go. The shot by JP might not have been what Mack wanted, but after the game he said, “JP… that’s a little of what he has in him.” That shot turned out to be the dagger for Providence, as they could not come back from that point. The big players for Xavier this game were Myles Davis with 13 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, Jalen Reynolds with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 1 block, and as always Trevon Bluiett with 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Surprising freshman stud point guard Edmond Sumner only had 1 point and 3 assists, but that truly shows how deep this team is when arguably their best players have little impact against a top 10 team.
Overall, the game seemed like a typical Big East matchup – hard fought and close to the end while two teams battled hard. The atmosphere in Providence seemed great as their fan section filled up for the top 10 matchup. This was a big win for Xavier on the road that helped the team gain a little more confidence after their loss to Georgetown a week ago. Xavier plays next on Saturday, January 30th at DePaul.
- Recap: UConn Overcomes Georgetown in a High-Intensity Game January 23, 2016 Nick Schwartz
It almost felt like 2009. Two classic Big East programs, duking it out in the physical style the conference was known for. During the years of the Big East, UConn and Georgetown tied with the most conference tournament titles, and this game had that kind of feel. The crowd, immune to the impending snowstorm, was rowdy, and definitely helped the Huskies battle until the end. When that final whistle blew, it was the Huskies who prevailed, posting a 68-62 victory.
Rodney Purvis netted 17 points, including going 7-8 from the line, to lead four Huskies in double figures. Sterling Gibbs added 16 points, while Daniel Hamilton had 11, including a pair of triples in the first half. For the Husky offense, it was a tale of two halves. UConn shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, while hitting five of ten threes, pacing the team to a 40-33 lead. However, the Huskies shot an atrocious 4-21 from the field for 19 percent after the intermission. If it wasn’t for the play of Shonn Miller, who had 15 points over the entire game, the second half could have gotten well out of hand. However, the free throw line allowed the Huskies to carry the day, as they went 20 of 25 in the second half, and 29-36 for the entire game. The defense was solid for the entire game, holding the Hoyas to under 40 percent from the field.
For Georgetown, who jumped out to a 9-4 lead early in the game, the three point arc, not the post, was a major source of offense, as the squad hit nine for the game. Leading scorer Reggie Cameron hit three shots from deep, while posting 13 points in total. Other key players for Georgetown were D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and L.J. Peak, who scored 12 points apiece. The points in the paint statistic was actually not in favor of the Hoyas, something coach John Thompson will likely come to regret, given the advantages Georgetown had in their frontcourt. However, it wasn’t enough to withstand the Huskies.
As previously noted, Georgetown jumped out to a quick lead, as the Huskies couldn’t grab their first advantage until 12-11 with thirteen minutes left on the clock in the first half. From that point, the Huskies maintained a small but constant lead, with a highpoint coming off a Gibbs layup with 3:33 left in the half which pushed the Husky lead to seven. That was the same margin at halftime, with the Huskies up 40-33.
Georgetown started the second half impressively, hitting a bevy of triples early on to comeback and tie the game at 49 with 11:50 left in the game. At the same time, though, a multitude of early fouls allowed the Huskies to reach the bonus just six minutes into the second half, and put several key Hoyas in foul trouble. Still, the horrid shooting of the Huskies didn’t allow them to reclaim the lead. However, the free throw line and some solid defense kept the game close, and the Huskies retook the lead for good on a pair of free throws from Phil Nolan with 2:44 left in the game. Nolan would also draw a crucial charge with under 30 seconds to play in the game to help solidify the victory for UConn.
The game had a very nostalgic feel to it, with two teams from the old Big East meeting in a game with national implications. The competitive spirit also brought a tinge of sadness, because of this being a non-conference game instead of a Big East battle. It is indeed a shame that money and greed broke up the greatest basketball entity ever established.
Despite the omnipresent threat of snow, the seats at the XL Center were nearly full. The game was sold out, but the blizzard definitely forced a few unfortunate fans to stay home. They missed out on an electric atmosphere, one that in the past had only been reserved for UConn home games at Gampel. Therefore, it was nice to see such a good basketball setting at the off-campus home of the Huskies.
Local high school team Putnam Science Academy was among the fans who braved the winter weather. The team features Mamadou Diarra, a four-star caliber high school senior who has signed with UConn and will be a talented Jeff Adrien-type power forward for the Huskies. Also on the team is Hamidou Diallo, arguably the top shooting guard in the junior class. The five-star player is not committed to Coach Ollie’s program, but is considered a UConn lean by most people in the recruiting business.
UConn’s next game is also at the XL Center, and will be another heavyweight battle. On Thursday night, the Huskies will welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats in a crucial American conference game. A win in that clash, combined with a likely win against Central Florida next weekend, would definitely help put UConn back on the national map.
University of Connecticut
- Providence vs Villanova Preview January 23, 2016 College Pride Press
Villanova has been the undisputed king of the Big East Conference for the past two seasons. They have won the regular season crown each of the last two years and won the tournament title at Madison Square Garden last year. They are once again undefeated at 7-0 and have already manhandled some of the league’s best teams, including Xavier and Butler. Providence has the opportunity on Sunday afternoon to shift the balance of power in the Big East.
The number one key for Providence is always Kris Dunn. He tends to play at two different levels: He can be an above-average defender and distributor and be a good impact player for the Friars. There have been many occasions, however, when Dunn has accelerated his game to a whole new level. He is aggressive at attacking the basket and makes flashy passes when the defense collapses on him. Dunn also effectively eliminates the other point guard from the game, forcing the other team to play four-against five and without their primary ball handler. It is at these times when Dunn has looked like he could win the National Player of the Year award. Unfortunately, Dunn hasn’t played at quite the same level in the Big East portion of the schedule. While many of his numbers look similar, one key statistic stands out. Dunn has turned the ball over 4.5 times per game in the Big East.
One turnover can change the outcome of a game, and averaging nearly five per game puts a team in jeopardy. One personal element of playing against Villanova should give Dunn extra motivation. He will be playing against his co-Big East MVP Ryan Arcidiacono and looking to distinguish his game from Arch’s. Dunn needs to take better care of the basketball and play at his superstar level for the Friars to have the chance to beat Villanova.
The pace of the game will likely determine the outcome. Villanova and Providence make up the two most defensively-efficient teams in the conference, so a slower paced-game would seem to favor the Friars considering their being on the road. Not so. Providence has traditionally struggled with scoring in the half-court against Villanova, and their best stretches of offense this season have come when they have pushed the pace. Villanova is extremely dangerous shooting the three from half-court sets and shoots it with so much frequency and success that it will be a necessity for the Friars to speed ‘Nova up. Dunn is always the best athlete on the floor, and Kyron Cartwright and Junior Lomomba have improved offensively. This game won’t be in the 80s, but Providence will need to push the pace to score enough to stay in the game.
The intangibles and experience factor certainly favors ‘Nova. They are the established top-dogs and have no reason to think anyone in the conference can beat them. They always play well at home and remember last season’s drubbing of the Friars at the Pavilion. Jay Wright is a master motivator and tactician and won’t let the postponement to a Sunday afternoon serve as any distraction. All said, Providence will probably need an unbelievable effort from Kris Dunn and nearly flawless performances from Ben Bentil and company to win. Perfection isn’t necessary, but something close is.
Can they get it done? Of course they can, I’m a Providence writer. Friars 66, Villanova 64.
Providence is a team that has proven it is capable of going toe-to-toe with the Wildcats. They nearly knocked off ‘Nova in the Big East Semifinals a year ago and have arguably improved this year, having been ranked as high as the number eight team in the country. However, the Friars lack a signature win. Their victory on the road against Butler to kickoff the Big East schedule was impressive because of the way PC played down the stretch, but the Bulldogs have struggled this season and are in sixth place in the Big East. Beating Villanova would provide Providence the motivation and confidence needed to believe that they can win the Big East this year and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
- Preview: UConn vs. Georgetown January 21, 2016 Nick Schwartz
In a matchup of the two most successful programs in the old Big East, the Huskies and the Hoyas meet in Hartford.
In the shadow of a major snowfall, a storm of a different kind will be brewing in the XL Center, as the Huskies welcome a familiar opponent for a game with major implications. The last time these two teams played, the result was an instant classic, won by the Hoyas in double-overtime. Now, three years later, the teams get another crack at each other. UConn picked up a rather lackluster win on Tuesday, beating Tulane 60-42 in Hartford. Georgetown, on the other hand, pick up one of the best wins, of any team, this season. They defeated top five Xavier, in Cincy, 81-72. Georgetown will be a much tougher test for the Huskies, especially with the momentum the Xavier win built up. The winner of this game has a great shot at being ranked in the Top 25 next week, while the loser will be left scrambling with only a third of the season left to play.
UConn’s win over Tulane offers little for evaluating where the team is at. It was a weekday game against a poor opponent, and felt like the squad was simply going through the motions. Instead, some tendencies from the win at Houston on Sunday give a better image of how UConn’s looking right now. In that 69-57 win, the Huskies showed the poise that had been missing for much of the season, and it is the same poise that they should bring to a game against a historic rival. However, all the poise in the world won’t help Coach Ollie win if his team’s shots simply aren’t falling. Over the past three games, UConn has had a particularly tough time hitting three pointers, going just 16-59 over that span. Most of these shortcomings are due to the mishaps of Rodney Purvis, who for the first half of the season was the best player on the team. However, since the win over Memphis two weeks ago, Purvis has made a single three pointer in 14 attempts. During that same time, Sterling Gibbs has stepped up in his absence, averaging over 15 points per game over that same span. UConn needs to get both Gibbs and Purvis going at the same time to reach their potential.
Georgetown had some horrendous losses earlier in the season. There’s no debating that a team of the Hoyas’ caliber should never drop games to Radford and UNC-Asheville. However this is also the same team that hung with Maryland in College Park, and of course beat Xavier just a few days ago. The Hoyas seem to have finally put their early season struggles behind them, but this team coming to New England is still the same team that lost against a pair of Big South schools. In the win over Xavier, the three point shooting was crucial, especially that of senior leader D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. DSR, as he is affectionally known to college basketball fans, is hitting at a clip of 35 percent this season from beyond the arc. While Smith-Rivera is the unquestioned lead Hoya, the underlying strength of this team is the depth in the frontcourt. Freshmen Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson provide crucial support in the rotation, while senior Bradley Hayes has been a revelation this year, averaging 8.5 points per game and 6.6 rebounds a game. Forwards Isaac Copeland and Reggie Cameron are both athletic beasts who could play in the NBA one day.
No Amida… Yes Problem?
Amida Brimah continues to be on the DL for the Huskies, meaning that their frontcourt will again have to play above their pay grade. The Huskies are facing their toughest big man test since Brimah’s injury in the deep and talented players that Georgetown can put on the floor. Phil Nolan has recently been starting, and playing sufficiently for the Huskies. He’s averaged 12 minutes a game since Amida’s injury, and will need to continue playing like it’s March 2014 for UConn to hold off the Hoyas.
While this is more of an intangible and has nothing to do with the players, the location of this game could prove to be crucial in deciding the winner. UConn is undefeated at their on campus home, Gampel Pavilion, this year, while their only home loss to Temple came at the XL Center. Rumors have also circulated that Georgetown did not want to play this game in Storrs, because of how much better the homeport advantage is for the Huskies when the students are within walking distance of the arena. Time will tell if the Husky faithful can make their home away from home loud enough to stifle Georgetown.
When these teams played in 2013, the heroics of Otto Porter led the Hoyas to a dramatic, 79-78 win at Gampel. This game definitely has the potential to be another classic. While UConn’s homecourt advantage may be stronger in Storrs, the atmosphere in Hartford can still be electric. With an old Big East foe coming to play, expect the crowd to be vociferous. The Huskies have a clear disadvantage on the depth chart, with their starting center still out. However, this game can be won with the backcourt. Rodney Purvis is shooting 51 percent from the field in games played at the XL Center, while Sterling Gibbs has been on fire. With these two getting hot at the same time, and a crowd thirsty to play a high-level game, expect a closely fought Husky victory, where UConn gets dominated in the paint but hangs on for the victory.
Connecticut 68, Georgetown 64.
University of ...
- Meet Kalif Young: The Fastest Rising 2016 Prospect January 20, 2016 College Pride Press
Kalif Young has flown under the radar for most of his high school career, but last night the legendary Duke Coach K spent some Delta miles to send an assistant up to Canada to watch Kalif play. Indiana coach Tom Crean also sent his top recruiter to watch Young play as well. Syracuse will also send a representative north of the border today. With these two major schools sniffing around I wanted to give a little background and scouting report on him. There is no profile for him on ESPN and 247sports has a very limited profile on him.
When I first saw Young’s name flash across my twitter timeline I immediately recognized it from the Athlete Institute/Orangeville Prep program in Canada. This is the program that Jamaal Murray played for and Thon and Matur Maker currently play for. This program is one of Canada’s top prep programs and they play some of the top basketball schools in the United States. This program gives Kalif Young some of the recognition and exposer with top coaches at games to watch the big name players.
Over the years Young has moved out of the limelight and into the spotlight for Orangeville Prep. He was previously Thon Maker’s backup who was just a raw big man but now he has blossomed into a rebounding machine. He is a little small at 6’9″ for a high major center but with his 240 pound frame he should be able to hold his own. He has become stronger throughout the past year and developed his skills to help him succeed. I watched a couple of games and highlight films from 2014 and one thing that stood out was his handle with the ball. He was a very good ball handler for a player of his size and stature. He could lead a break after getting a rebound and has the court vision to find a shooter on the break. He also got the ball at the top of the key and was able to drive by him to the rim. His ball handling is extremely advanced for a big and will only get better once he is in college.
Kalif Young’s best skill may be in rebounding. He has been a rebounding monster on both ends of the floor and is able to use his big frame to carve out space for himself to get the rebound. He has notched the 20 rebound mark a couple times this season for Orangeville Prep. This is a skill that should be able to translate easily to Division I basketball right away, giving Young something to contribute right away as the rest of his game develops.
Defensively Young has an extremely high ceiling. His shot blocking ability looks to be developing at a rapid rate and he still has some bounce and quickness to that 25o pound body. His arms are very long and he manages to block shots without fouling most of the time. He will have the ceiling to be a versatile defender in college with the ability to shut down a stretch forward or bang down low with a bigger guy. Combine the man to man versatility with the rebounding and block shots and that is an extremely valuable big man.
Offensively is where Kalif has the most development in front of him. I have seen some flashes of brilliance with clips of him making 3-pointers at the end of the shot clock but I am not sure if that is an exception due to the shot clock or a regular shot for him. (See link below) One highlight film showed zero offensive plays at all. In Orangeville’s last exhibition he did show the ability to play in the low post showing a nice spin move and a up and under fake. This part of his game is still developing but seeing him show those low post moves bode well for the future.
The strong suits of his offensive game right now are his exceptional passing and his ability to get an offensive rebound. He was given the ball in the low post multiple times and when the second defender came he calmly found a wide open shooter. Those shooters weren’t always successful but in college the majority of those open 3’s will go down.
Overall, Kalif Young has an extremely high ceiling and can contribute in college as his game still develops. After watching more tape I am surprised more recruiting services aren’t talking about Young who in my opinion is one of the top remaining post players in this class. He already has offers from Pittsburgh and Providence but I can’t imagine his list staying at those 2 with Indiana and Duke both flying to Canada to watch him. I wish Kalif the best as he makes his college decision and I hope he makes the best decision for his development.
If you would like a see more recent footage of Young check out the video below. He is #13 in black. He gets the ball in the post a couple times in the first couple minutes.
Check out the first possession of this clip to see a nice post move by Young
- Butlers Slump January 18, 2016 College Pride Press
INDIANAPOLIS, IN- Even though the bulldogs are still ranked in the top 25 at 23rd in the country, they have been in a noticeable slump. Butler men’s basketball team started the season off strong winning 11 of their first 12 games. The only loss in that span coming against a Miami team that is currently 8th in the nation down at Puerto Rico Tip Off. TheyJosé Roberto Rojas Romero gained momentum in the polls getting ranked as high as 9th in the country. Although now they are starting to slip. They have lost 3 of their last 4 with their only win coming when they a DePaul team that is currently dead last in the Big East by 5. They lost a crucial game against Providence at home in Hinkle. Then went on to get blown out by Xavier by 19 points and just this Sunday a loss to Villanova at home put them at 1 and 3 in conference and third to last in the Big East. Although Bulldog nation should get to down in dumps. Like every fan knows Butler is a “March Basketball Team and they haven’t not been playing that terrible. Besides the Xavier loss, all the other 3 losses were relativity close. Butler does not have a terrible loss yet. Their four losses this year have come against the currently 7th,8th,9th, and 12th ranked teams in the country. The bulldogs will start to pick it up Roosevelt is starting to play well and Dunham should start shooting like we know he can. I know many people still do not want to run into this team in the tourney.
- Kris Dunn Delivers January 14, 2016 College Pride Press
It was clear from the opening tap that Tuesday night’s game on the road at Creighton was not the Friars’ night. The way PC came out with missed shots and turnovers gave the game a feel that there was no possible way the Friars could emerge victorious.
Except they did, thanks to Kris Dunn.
Dunn hit a buzzer-beating jumper and scored sixteen points in the second half to deliver a huge road win. Providence shot only 29% for the game and had only scored 25 points at the under-12 timeout of the second half. Dunn struggled for most of the game but finished with 20 points and finally got going late in the second half to help PC steal a road win. He also harassed Big East Player of the Week Maurice Watson, Jr. into 3-16 shooting.
Both teams struggled mightily on offense throughout the game as a combination of tough defense and horrendous outside shooting. The teams finished a combined 9-47 from three-point range and missed countless open shots from the perimeter.
The Friars trailed by 7 with 7:55 remaining in the game before Dunn took over. He scored 12 points in the last 8 minutes and got help from Ben Bentil and Drew Edwards. Bentil hit a three to tie the game with 4 minutes remaining and Edwards had two three-point plays down the stretch to aid the Friar offense.
Providence led by two and had the ball with 30 seconds left, but Dunn turned the ball over and Watson scored to tie the game with 11 seconds to play. Dunn then slowly took the ball up the court, drove to the middle and turned to fade away. He released the ball with over two seconds left and the shot hit the back of the rim and the backboard almost simultaneously before rolling into the hoop with no time remaining. The Friar bench swarmed Dunn and the CenturyLink Center went quiet. The Friars moved to 15-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big East with an undefeated road record.
- Winners and Losers: Week 4-6 December 21, 2015 College Pride Press
After a hiatus from the Winners and Losers column due to studying and exams I am finally back and will try to recap the past 2.5 weeks’ winners and losers.
Well another week and another big Monmouth upset. Monmouth beat Georgetown in a blowout 83-68. This Monmouth team seems like a force to be reckoned with and have built an impressive resume to this point in the season. Shoutout to my hometown Canisius College for beating them when they came to Buffalo.
Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns
Many people were unsure how the marriage between Texas with their big bodies and Shaka Smart’s chaotic style of play. Well we got a glimpse into the possibilities on December 12th when the Longhorns beat North Carolina on a last second shot. This is not only a huge win for their tournament resume and their season, but it is big for a program that is starting fresh with Shaka Smart. This will send shockwaves throughout the recruiting trail and the Big 12 that the Longhorns are here to play.
Fans of the Big 12
Oklahoma went to Pearl Harbor and absolutely destroyed the Villanova Wildcats. Oklahoma pulled out to a big lead early and never let the Wildcats back in. They have been blowing out teams all year with Buddy Hield and Ryan Spangler leading the way.
Kansas has been blowing out every team on their schedule and they are working Cheick Diallo into the lineup. These two teams should make the Big 12 must watch TV throughout the conference schedule.
The Musketeers have been on a terror this season. The reason why they make the winners list this week is because of their win against Cincinnati. Cincy is a team I am very high on this year and Xavier took care of them with ease.
Wisconsin Badgers and College Basketball
College basketball lost one of its marquee coaches last week when Bo Ryan retired at the end of the semester. Bo will truly be missed and I don’t think anyone could replicate the type of program he ran. It will be tough for the Badgers to adjust to the sudden change and be successful in the Big Ten this season. Hope you enjoy the retired life Bo!
Iowa State fans stormed the court after their defeated Iowa after a huge comeback. I understand the game was personal being in state and it was a great come back but really? If you are ranked in the top 10 you should be embarrassed to be storming the court. Try drinking some chocolate milk before the next game you go to, it will help your better court storming judgement. Not only was the court storming embarrassing due to the ranking but also a reporter got injured by someone running onto the court. Storming the court can be a blast but it must be done right. I think the surprise of having the #4 team in the country storming the court left people unprotected.
The Illini came into the season expecting to be in the middle tier of the Big Ten but have been derailed by injuries to almost their entire starting lineup. It could be a long season for Illinois with 5 players applying for medical redshirts.
- Butler Exposes Purdue in Crossroads Classic December 20, 2015 College Pride Press
The Purdue Boilermakers were handed their first loss on Saturday by the Butler Bulldogs in the annual Crossroads Classic. Whether there’s something in the water at Bankers Life Fieldhouse or it’s just an unfortunate stroke of luck, Purdue has a history of underperforming in the Crossroads Classic, having lost every game in its 5-year history. Butler saw some strong performances from its key players, but there was nothing spectacular about the game. Purdue had a better field goal percentage, better three-point percentage, better free-throw percentage, more rebounds, and, not surprisingly, more blocks – so, what happened?
The Achilles heel in this game for Purdue was possession of the ball. Coming into the Crossroads Classic, the Boilermakers had only turned the ball over a combined 16 times in their past two games. On Saturday, they turned the ball over 18 times. Butler’s Tyler Lewis had 4 steals, which was as many as Purdue had in the entire game. As a fan, I found myself filled with more anxiety than excitement whenever we had the ball, knowing that at any moment we might turn it over yet again. As if the turnovers weren’t enough, it was painful watching the Boilers try to scoop up rebounds during the game. By the stats, sure, Purdue had 4 more rebounds than Butler and Butler only had two more second-chance points.
The game itself, however, told a different story. Butler had 15 offensive rebounds throughout the course of the night, which isn’t necessarily an extraordinary number in the books. What is amazing, however, is that Butler managed to do this without a single player above 6-foot-8 playing last night. Between Hammons, Haas, and Swanigan, there was seldom time where we didn’t have 2 players on the court taller than anyone on Butler. While these three guys generally did their duty in terms of boards throughout the night, they also allowed Butler’s Roosevelt Jones to pick up a double-double with 11 rebounds. Jones – who is a mere 6-foot-4 – had almost as many offensive rebounds as Hammons or Haas had total rebounds throughout the course of the game. Tyler Lewis – who is not even 6 feet tall – also fell one short of Hammons and Haas.
While I can’t in good faith say that this was a lack of motivation by the Boilers, I might rather say that there was an excess of determination from Butler. Purdue is infamous for the giants you’ll find waiting for you in the paint, yet a 5-foot-11 Tyler Lewis put up 17 points. While this game was a tough one to watch, it should serve as a nice kick to the seat of the pants for the Boilers in preparation for Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
As painful as it was to watch Purdue turn a 5-point lead into a 16-point deficit (including a 9-0 run in the second half by the Bulldogs that led me to believe I might be having some sort of aneurism), there are some things to be applauded in this game. The foremost of praise goes to Caleb Swanigan. The freshman, who just won his second Big Ten Freshman of the Week, put up yet another double-double on Saturday, dropping 25 and picking up 11 boards. Grabbing 7 points, 2 rebounds, and a steal in the first 5 minutes of the game, Biggie was set for a big night. The 6-foot-9 forward even went 3-for-4 from behind the arc, one of which was to shrink the deficit to 3 with a minute left to play in the second half.
Despite this three-pointer proving that Swanigan has ice running through his veins, it was also the silver lining to the cloud that was Purdue’s shooting from behind the arc. With Kendall Stephens, Dakota Mathias, and Ryan Cline each getting a significant amount of minutes in the game, Caleb Swanigan shouldn’t be your leading 3-point shooter. Aside from the underperformances from some of our other stars, however, there are no complaints from me. Swanigan has nearly unlimited potential, and his progression throughout his time at Purdue will be a blast to watch.
While some may argue that he’ll leave early to play in the NBA, I don’t think that’s a worry at this point. If Swanigan decommitted from Michigan State to come to Purdue, and Coach Matt Painter has retained AJ Hammons through his senior year, I don’t think there’s any way Biggie would leave before completing at least 3 years at Purdue. Of course, only time will tell.
Speaking of time, the Boilers only have 3 days to learn from this loss and come back at home versus Vanderbilt. While the home-court advantage won’t be a huge factor here considering most Purdue students will be watching the game on television from their homes (nearly 75% of Purdue students aren’t from Indiana), the Boilers have played exceptionally on Mackey for the past few years. It should be a great game both to watch and to see the Boilermakers bounce back and regain their stance in the rankings.
All statistics retrieved from PurdueSports.com
Picture retrieved from PurdueSports.com
- College Pride Press NBA Mock Draft December 20, 2015 College Pride Press
A couple of the writers are also very big NBA followers and came up with the idea of doing an NBA mock draft. We set the order based on records at the time drafted and rotated amongst the three writers. The great thing about doing the mock draft was that we chatted with writers at the different schools who have watched every game for a scouting report. This was a huge help for our selections and for our fits for each team. We have posted picks 10-15 here below but all 30 picks will be on our premium forum. If you’d like to join the forum please click here. The link to all the draft picks will be below as well. We hope to update or do a new mock draft every month so keep an eye out for future updates.
10.Washington Wizards- Jacob Poeltl
7’ C, Utah
Washington has struggled this season with some unreliable play beyond John Wall and Bradley Beal. While Wall is a great point guard, he is not a natural jump shooter and is better distributing. Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre are still developing at the 3. Nene is providing quality play at the 4 leaving the clear need at center. Even though Marcin Gortat just received a contract extension his play is diminishing. Jacob Poeltl is a very talented center who can provide quality minutes as a rookie while developing into a high quality player. I have a hard time seeing him as an All-Star but rather as a consistent starter for many years like a Marcin Gortat. -Brad Kreppel
11. New York Knicks- Dwayne Bacon
6’6” SG, Florida State
Bacon has so much upside it really made me overlook the flaws his game currently has. His athleticism and length is exactly what scouts look for, and he is explosive when attacking the basket. However, he is still really working to refine his game. His outside shot can be spotty at times, and he can seem to be complacent through periods of the game. With all the physical tools being in place, these flaws can be looked past and the Knicks can get a home run pick. -Zach Beeler
12. Minnesota Timberwolves- Furkan Korkmaz
6’6” SG, International
International prospects are always hard to decipher, but success stories like Kristaps Porzingis force teams to take the gamble. Minnesota is the type of team willing to take this type of risk, as their last few first-round picks seem to be progressing nicely. Korkmaz is natural-born scorer. He has a knack for getting the ball in the basket, whether that be his beautiful shot, or aggressiveness to the basket. His defense isn’t perfect, but he has the necessary tools to change that. Limited playing time and his size are legitimate concerns, but his potential may be too difficult for Minnesota’s front office to pass up. -Adam Gross
13. Phoenix Suns- Caris LaVert
6’7” SG/SF, University of Michigan
When I looked at Phoenix’s roster there were two real needs: backup big and small forward. TJ Warren has provided some scoring and quality minutes but Caris LaVert is a much better player. LaVert can contribute in so many ways with his passing, rebounding, and defensive abilities. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are very talented guards but both focus on scoring when they touch the ball. Adding LaVert to the rotation could help distribute to everyone creating a better flow. If Jacob Poeltl was on the board here he would be the pick to backup Alex Len. Henry Ellenson and Ivan Rabb both crossed my mind but I felt it would be a reach for both of those players. -Brad Kreppel
14. Utah Jazz- Demetrius Jackson
6’1” PG, Notre Dame
The Jazz desperately need someone with an explosive scoring punch, and Jackson is about as explosive as they come. He is lightning quick, and attacks the rim with toughness and aggression. Along with that, he is a pretty good shooter who can stretch the defense. He is a pest and a ball hawk on the defensive end, and will always make it tough for the opposing point guard to operate. Although the Jazz have Dante Exum in the ranks, he is no sure thing with injury and Jackson for me seems to good to pass on. Although his height may be a bit of a problem, he has the toughness and athleticism to make up for it. -Zach Beeler
15. Detroit Pistons- Henry Ellenson
6’10” PF, Marquette University
Andre Drummond has become the centerpiece of the Pistons, now they need to find pieces to compliment him. Nothing pairs better than a true center and a stretch-four, and that is exactly what Henry Ellenson is. He’s an exceptional athlete with fantastic handles. His defense is questionable, but Drummond’s ability to lock down the paint should lessen those worries. This would be the best need/value pickup of the draft. -Adam Gross
- The Crossroads Classic: Good for Basketball December 18, 2015 Zach Beeler
When you think of Indiana, there is one, iconic theme that comes to mind: basketball. From the snowy, winter days shooting hoops on a basket connected to a barn to the big time AAU players lighting it up in front of college coaches galore, everyone in Indiana is crazy for basketball. There is a reason that one of the best sports movies of all time, Hoosiers, is about a high school basketball team overcoming the odds to win a state championship. There is a reason that some of the names most associated with the sport (Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Oscar Robertson, to a name a few) are all from or associated with Indiana in some way. And thus there is a reason that the annual Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis is one of the best things for college basketball each year.
When I first heard about the Crossroads Classic back in 2011, I had some skepticism to the idea of the event. In principle, it seemed fine; just like any other non-conference event like the Maui Invitational or Diamond Head Classic out in Las Vegas. However, those events rotate the schools invited each year to freshen it up. That’s what makes it fun for me, getting to watch teams play that I rarely have the opportunity to. With only four teams every year to participate in the Crossroads Classic, I was doubtful as to whether there could be a draw for the event each year. Boy, was I wrong.
Perhaps the biggest thing I overlooked was just how iconic basketball is in the state of Indiana. I didn’t think about the magnitude of bringing the four biggest college teams in the biggest basketball state for the biggest basketball Saturday of the non-conference slate. You have Butler, the new comer who always plays with a chip on its shoulder and always finds a way to get it done. You have Notre Dame, the high-powered offense who doubles as being a pretty-dang good basketball school while football isn’t in season. You have Purdue, the defensive scrappers who may not have the most talent, but they always have the most heart. And of course you have Indiana University, the perennial power with one of the biggest followings in all of college athletics. How I overlooked it, I don’t know. But I do know this: the event has produced some damn good games, and it has grown into must see TV for basketball fans all across the state each December.
Take for example the first Classic in 2011, when Andrew Smith’s buzzer-beating put back won the game for Butler against my Boilermakers. Or look at 2012, when Butler again won, this time taking down mighty Indiana, ranked #1 in the country. We have seen some displays of excellent basketball, with each school fighting not only for the win, but bragging rights in a state where bragging rights means everything.
One of the points that goes unmentioned is that the Crossroads Classic is always played in Indianapolis. Over Thanksgiving break a lot of teams go to various spots such as Hawaii or the Bahamas which makes it hard for family members to visit and watch their players. With the games being in Indianapolis, it is much easier for family and friends to go watch the game and visit with the players. We do have to remember that we are still talking about young men so their families are very important.
The Crossroads Classic offers a little bit of everything. In the first game you will see two high powered offenses. Indiana likes to play as fast as possible pushing the ball after every defensive rebound. Notre Dame prefers to set a slower pace to allow them to cut through the defense like an onion. The second game will show a team in the top 10 in Purdue who has 3 very high quality post players and Butler who has a lot of talent in all areas in the game but haven’t truly found their identity yet. These games are must watch games for Hoosiers and Mid-West basketball fans. I can guarantee you one thing: the Crossroads Classic showcases the great basketball in Indiana, and that can never be a bad thing.
I can not wait for this year’s Crossroads Classic! Brad and I will be in attendance sitting next to each other and Notre Dame writer Nick Courtney will also be there to take in the games before heading home for Christmas break.
Go Hoosiers and Boil Up!
Indiana University Class of 2018
- Undefeated Teams of CBB December 15, 2015 Phil Wells
Now that we are well into the non conference season I wanted to take a closer look at the teams that have not lost yet. Some of the teams we have known about and are on the national scene but others have gone undefeated thus-far without the fame or ESPN glory. Here are the remaining undefeated teams and how they’ve done it so far.
The Cyclones have not had many challenges yet other than the Iowa Hawkeyes and Colorado Buffaloes. ISU is ranked 4th in the AP Poll with an 8-0 record. The starting five is averaging double figures per game. Georges Niang could be one of the best players in programs history. The former All American is averaging 18.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 3.6 apg. Junior Jameel McKay is averaging a Double-Double per game; his numbers are 14.6 ppg and 11.6 rpg. The Cyclones will have tough contests coming up against Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Texas.
Coming off their big win against cross-town rival Cincinnati, Xavier is looking to be dominate in the Big East this season. Along with Cincinnati, their resume includes win against Michigan, Dayton and USC. Sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett leads the team averaging 14.6 points per game. Sitting at 10-0, the Muskies deserve a top 10 ranking. Xavier has won nine out of their ten games by double-digit figures. Their upcoming schedule includes Villanova, Saint John’s, Butler, and Georgetown.
The Mustangs sit at 19th ranked in the AP Poll and are first in the American Athletic Conference. Although they had close contests with Brown, Yale, and TCU, SMU has the talent to win the American this year. Nic Moore leads the Mustangs at guard and is averaging 15 points per game. The team also has the ability to shoot the three ball, the team shoots 45.4% behind the arc this season. Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye will be eligible to play in January and will get the chance to help at Forward. SMU faces challenges against UConn, Cincinnati, and Houston.
Michigan State has the talent to make a trip back to the Final Four. Leading the way for the Spartans is Denzel Valentine who has the potential to be the POY. The senior is averaging 18.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 7.2 apg. Along with Valentine is guard Bryn Forbes, and has the ability to shoot from long range and penetrate a defense. MSU has defeated Kansas, Louisville, Providence and Florida. I believe the current number one ranked team will win the Big Ten. Tom Izzo is having one of his best starts in program history. MSU will face Northeastern, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Arkansas Little Rock
The Trojans are deserving of a top 25 spot with their road wins against Depaul, Tulsa, and San Diego State. UALR comes off a 13-18 season from last year. Senior Leader Marcus Johnson Jr. leads the way with 14.9 points and is shooting 55% from three-point range. The Trojans are full of experience. Of the eight players that have appeared in every game, each one is either a junior or senior. Little Rock has an upcoming schedule that includes Texas Tech, Georgia State, and UT-Arlington.
South Carolina has not had many challenges this season, but once their conference schedule comes around we will see how the Gamecocks will respond. Five players on the roster have averaged double-digits this season. Senior Forward Mindaugas Kacinas leads the team with 14.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Kacinas is also shooting 62% from the field. The Gamecocks have beaten every opponent by double figures except one against Tulsa. USC is a sleeper in the SEC this season and is able to pull off upsets against teams such as Vanderbilt or LSU. South Carolina’s upcoming schedule features Vanderbilt, Memphis, and Saint John’s.
I have already marked down Oklahoma in my Final Four. They have proved they can compete at the national level with wins against Villanova and Wisconsin. Both wins were by at least 18 points, handling both opponents easily. The Sooners lineup is loaded; Buddy Hield, Isiah Cousins, and Ryan Spangler are three of the top players in the Big 12. Hield is the returning Big 12 POY and is averaging 22.1 points per game. Cousins has the ability to shoot the three ball and is averaging 14.3 per game. Spangler is known for his gritty attitude on the court and he is averaging 12.4 ppg and 9.3 rpg. As a team Oklahoma has the ability to shoot from behind the arc, being the number one ranked three-point team in country shooting 48.7%. The Sooners will be tested with upcoming conference opponents: Iowa State, Kansas, and WVU.
Sitting at 11-0, the Boilermakers have dominated their opponents this season. They beat Florida and Pittsburgh by double digits. Sophomore Center Isaac Haas leads the team with 13.5 points per game. Supporting Haas is fellow Center A.J Hammons who is averaging 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The duo brings size and leadership to them team, if these two are healthy together then Purdue has a chance to dominate the post every game. Freshman Caleb Swanigan is young and will be a dominant force throughout his next four years, he is averaging 9.9 ppg and 9.2 rpg. Purdue has the ability to win the Big Ten, they have the size, defense, and shooting to do it. The next three games will be a challenge for the Boilermakers; they will face Butler, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin.
- Xavier Gets Huge Rivalry Win over Cincinnati December 14, 2015 College Pride Press
CINNCINATI – Xavier showcased more than their ability to remain consistent against the University of Cincinnati while also nationally ranked, growing that record to 8-0; the Musketeers demonstrated an ever-developing sense of maturity in the face of pressure on Saturday that should be expected of them from this point on.
Jalen began the game soaring, Myles facially declared their determination and Trevon was willing and able to act on these actions; every man, woman and child in the Cintas Center felt the magic in the air, as the team began casting spells early.
Cincinnati never led in the game, much less inched their way to the lead in less than four points. Xavier was on a mission, and they refused to let up.
Admittedly, there were moments in which flashbacks of these two teams 2011 meeting seemed seconds away from repeating themselves. However, Xavier’s newfound maturity furthered the belief that not only are they a better team than most heads and outlets thought they would be, but seemingly the best Xavier has ever seen.
Though, this is not to say that is a negative, more so a representation of the Cincinnati’s evolving, general consensus that this season is memorable, an oral tradition that will spread through campus and city life sensationally for years to come.
The inherent theatrical nature of the series was so present that when Xavier’s 42-26 halftime lead was solidified, it took shape as both its cliffhanger and mini-climax; Xavier displayed such complete control that the idea of a loss quickly became blasphemous, fictional.
Making it to 10-0 is an accomplishment in itself, but entering national rankings at #9 invites a new opportunity full of hopes and expectations that haven’t been felt this early in a Xavier season since the last time the Crosstown Shootout was played at their humble abode.
Xavier is now the highest ranked team in the Big East which means there is a target on their back. Xavier has always been a high quality team that goes under the radar but they cannot do that this year being in the top 10 of the AP poll. If Xavier keeps their mojo going into the start of conference play they will be tough for any team to stop.
Zip ‘em up.
- CPP Podcast Episode 6: Crossroads Classic Preview December 13, 2015 College Pride Press
On this edition of the College Pride Press Podcast we preview the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis next weekend where Indiana plays Notre Dame and Purdue plays Butler. Both games should be very competitive. We breakdown the match-ups and keys to each game. Nick, Zach, and I will all be in attendance as well.
- Xavier vs. UC preview December 11, 2015 College Pride Press
Xavier vs. Cincinnati
Saturday December 11th, 5:30 pm
For those of you who aren’t from Cincinnati, or maybe aren’t a college basketball junkie you might think this is just any old close school rivalry on Saturday between Xavier and Cincinnati. You’d be correct in the thought that these schools were close to each other, three miles apart to be exact, but this rivalry is much more than that.
There is a certain type of dislike and intensity that comes from this rivalry that separates it from other great ones, the biggest display of that was “the fight” in 2011. December 10th 2011 at Xavier’s home court the Cintas Center an all out brawl started between the two teams at the end of a Xavier blowout 76-53. Numerous players received punches to the head, basketballs thrown at them, and even kicked while on the ground, this wasn’t any old pushing and shoving match.
The fight sent shockwaves through the nation and college basketball being a hot topic for weeks to come; even in the postgame interviews players from both teams were still trash talking each other. Each team suspended 4 players, and had to apologize on national television along with each schools Athletic Director. The fight basically ruined Xavier’s year, while being ranked 8th in the nation at the time they fell in the rankings after the fight and lost in the Sweet 16 even though many thought this team would go further.
The Crosstown Shootout was then named the Crosstown Classic and the games were to be played at a neutral site for the next 4 years, student and player behavior was closely monitored and essentially was on probation. With both the students and players acting in a sportsman like way it was decided to bring back the Crosstown Shootout to campus. This year is the first year the game will be played at Xavier since the fight back in 2011.
Now that we know what this game really means to both schools, lets look at some actual basketball facts. Xavier comes into the game 9-0 and ranked 12th in the nation. Xavier has some quality out of conference wins already with the likes of on the road at Michigan, and a thanksgiving tournament championship with wins against Alabama, USC, and most notably a 29-point win against a good Dayton team.
In the last three games Xavier has won by an average of 31 points albeit they played some weak teams, it’s good to see them demolish the teams they should handle easily. Much like Xavier, Cincinnati is having a strong start to the year going 8-1 in their first 9 games with their lone loss a 2-point loss to Butler who is a very good team I think. Unlike Xavier though Cincinnati’s schedule up until now is not as impressive playing many teams below the top 200 mark, but to show they are handling their business in easier games hints that they can play with strong teams too.
Cincinnati is always known for their defense and rightfully so, this year they are 15th in the nation is defensive efficiency, which oh by the way is one spot behind Xavier, but besides their defense Cincinnati is strong and not turning the ball over on offense and rebounding well. Their shooting from 3-point land is 36.6%, which is above average and their inside the arc shooting is also above average at a 53.6% rate.
Xavier this year really has both the offense and defense clicking right now, but Xavier’s biggest strength this year could be depth. The best rebounder in the nation James Farr doesn’t even start for Xavier and JP Macura averages 10 points a game coming over the bench shooting 35% from beyond the arc, he also agitates any and everyone he plays against. On offense it’s all about ball movement and getting it to whoever is open, Chris Mack was asked who the best player on his team this year was and he responded “The open one” and that’s exactly how Xavier plays.
At all times Xavier has 5 guys on the floor that can really score from anywhere. Whether is redshirt Freshman point guard Edmond Sumner slicing to the basket, Trevon Bluiett knocking down shots from well, anywhere he wants or James Farr going and grabbing a rebound and putting it back up Xavier will test this Cincinnati defense and see how good they are.
Keys to the Game
1. Staying Calm- We all know this is going to be an intense game, first game back on campus since the fight maybe heightens the intensity a little more, but Xavier needs to find a way to stay in control and don’t let their emotions get the best of them. The refs have been tight this year and it won’t be any different for this game.
2. Rebounding- Both teams like to play a tough style of basketball and in a game full of emotion and intensity rebounding can really help get some momentum going, or slow you down if you’re weak on the glass. Whoever is tougher inside and rebounds better has an advantage in this game.
3. Protect the ball- Cincinnati is a good defensive team that likes to force turnovers, while guards Edmond Sumner and Larry Austin Jr. have been good this year, they sometimes turn the ball over a little more than they should. They need to focus on protecting the ball and not trying to make too much happen with flashy plays.
When it comes down to it, no matter how much better one team ...
- Postgame: Rivalry Renewed? Not So Much. Xavier Throttles Dayton in Advocare Invitational Final December 1, 2015 Alex HandorfPhoto Credit – ESPNIn the Championship game of the Advocare Invitational, emotions were running high because of a rivalry game that hadn’t been played since 2013, the year the Xavier Musketeers left the Atlantic 10 and headed to the New Big East. Xavier came out very poised and on fire in every facet of the game leading to a 90 to 61 drubbing of the Dayton Flyers. The 90 points that Xavier scored were the most points given up by a Dayton Flyer team coached by Archie Miller. Dayton trailed at the half by only 8 points, 43-35, but that deficit would balloon as Xavier used a 21-0 run early in the second half to completely take control of the game. The Flyers looked depleted as Xavier seemed to not miss any shots early in the half and it just kept getting worse. Finally, the Flyers would break this run with 11:58 to go when Kendall Pollard drove the lane and slammed one home making it 68-41. Archie Miller seemed to use most of the second half of this game as a teaching tool. He put a few odd lineups on the floor, one of them being all freshmen and sophomore guard Darrell Davis which is something that we had not seen all year. In the scheme of all things, this game doesn’t mean a whole lot. Sure, it was a rivalry game that hadn’t been played in 2 years, but in theory it is just a loss to a better team. Flyer fans should not panic as November losses to ranked teams don’t mean a whole lot, but that was just tough to watch. One thing that made this game unwatchable is the fact that the refs like to take over college games nowadays. Obviously, the refs didn’t really play a large part in this game, but there were 28 fouls called in the first half and 55 called overall. In today’s game, a touch foul is constantly called and it destroys the flow of the game. You have to tip your hat to X though. I would’ve never expected this outcome. They were obviously the better team and came out ready to play. They were ball hawking on defense and running their offense very smoothly producing a ton of quality shots. After the game, Chris Mack, Xavier’s coach, was asked if this rivalry would continue some day and his answer to this was “maybe.”
Xavier was 52.4% (33-63) from the field, 42.1% (8-19) from the three, and an abysmal 57.1% (16-28) from the line but that doesn’t really matter when you win by 29. The Musketeers dominated the glass by pulling down 40 rebounds. They assisted on 16 of their shots and turned the ball over 13 times. They also swatted 4 shots and had 9 steals. 6 Musketeers scored in double figures led by freshman guard Edmond Sumner who scored 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting in 24 minutes. Sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett and junior guard Myles Davis each totaled points while senior guard Remy Abell, junior forward Jalen Reynolds, and sophomore guard J.P. Macura each had 11 points.
The Flyers shot 40.9% (18-44) from the field, 25% (4-16) from the three, and 65.6% (21-32) from the line. Dayton was outrebounded for the first time this season as they only grabbed 26 boards. They had another awful assist to turnover ratio as they only assisted on 9 shots and turned the ball over 22 times. The Flyers blocked 2 shots and had 7 steals. Junior forward Kendall Pollard led the way for the Flyers with 15 points in 30 minutes but only made 7 of 14 free throws and turned the ball over 5 times. Junior guard Scoochie Smith managed 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 33 minutes. Junior forward Charles Cooke played his worst game as a Flyer to date as he was 2 for 7 from the field with only 5 points and 4 boards. The Flyers were dominated in second chance points (17-2), points off turnovers (27-13), and points in the paint (46-26).
Xavier hosts Western Kentucky on Saturday at 8:30PM.
The Flyers will return home to play North Florida on Saturday at 2PM.
Alex Handorf ’17
- Providence v. Evansville Recap November 27, 2015 Kieran Burns
Last night the Friars took on the Purple Aces of Evansville in the Wooden Classic held in California. This matchup was one that many Friar fans perhaps overlooked as a “free-win” but to those familiar with both programs, it was actually quite evenly matched. Last season the Purple Aces won 24 games and 9 coming from conference play (MVC). Also, the Purple Aces had 5 returning starters to the lineup. This proved to be a factor in the early minutes of the game when the young Friars team struggled to put the ball in the basket, while Evansville was having their way.
The Purple Aces’ returning leading scorer, D.J. Balentine, hit his first 3’s to give the Purple Aces an early jump. Unfortunately Balentine quickly got into foul trouble resulting in him being on the bench for longer than the team had anticipated. With their leader sidelined, the Friars began to warm up at the hands of Ben Bentil, who finished the game with a career high 24. With Bentil getting to the free throw line with solid down-low play, the offense opened up for other players, such as Kris Dunn.
Dunn was playing with an extra set of eyes from many NBA scouts that were in attendance, and Dunn did not disappoint. In his usual fashion, Dunn filled up his stat line with 6 rebounds, 5 assists, in addition to his 18 points.
The hot Friars team went into halftime feeling comfortable and with a lead of 8. The Purple Aces’ came into the second half as cold as it gets, going 0-10 from the field and not scoring until over 6 minutes into the second half. The Friars capitalized on this cold streak and began causing disruptions on the defensive side leading to many fast break points off Evansville turnovers.
Overall the Friars looked like a strong, well-balanced team that was able to break out of their cold streaks and get the offense and defense moving effectively. In addition to Dunn’s 18 and Bentil’s 24, the Friars also got 13 from Junior Lomomba and 10 from Ryan Fazekas. D.J. Balentine lead the Purple Aces with 18. The Friars will now take on Arizona in the Semi-finals of the Wooden Classic tonight at 11:30.
Providence College Class of 2018
All Stats from: http://247sports.com/StatGame/Providence-Friars-Evansville-Aces-103230#gamestats
- Winners and Losers from Week 2 of College Basketball November 25, 2015 College Pride Press
Well its been a crazy week in college basketball once again with crazy upsets and players putting up big numbers. Here are some of the winners and losers over the past week.
Wake Forest was projected to be in the bottom half of the ACC but Danny Manning and Company showed some resilience on Monday by beating Indiana in the Maui Jim Maui tournament. This was huge win for Wake Forest as they were able to do the impossible by slowing the Hoosiers offense for most of the game. Look for Danny Manning to use this game as a building block for his program.
Northern Iowa knocked North Carolina from the unbeaten ranks. North Carolina traveled to Northern Iowa and lost the game along with their #1 AP ranking. This is not alarming for North Carolina because Marcus Paige has yet to play a game but this is huge for a Northern Iowa program on the rise. This is a huge resume building win as Northern Iowa looks to compete with Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Radford has had a fantastic non-conference schedule beating both Georgetown and Penn State thus far in the young season. They could be a sneaky tournament pick in March as they have stood tall in some tough tests.
Anytime Ben Simmons plays on ESPN
Everyone wins when Ben Simmons plays on national television! He is a highlight reel waiting to happen while being a fundamentally sound player. Ben Simmons is a great combination of exciting plays and the right play. He can create a fast break all by himself with his rebound, ball handling, and court vision. Be sure to check out LSU this season as he won’t be in college for very long. (Just hope that Philly doesn’t win the lottery).
Families of the Players
I am home writing this article after having a great dinner with my family and watching episodes of Netflix together. For many families it must be hard to not have your son home for Thanksgiving. While many teams are at fancy destinations for tournaments during the week off there is no place like home and I am sure it will be hard for families, especially of freshmen, to celebrate Thanksgiving without a key family member.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has suffered two brutal loses in a row to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech. To make matters worse both those games were at home. While this team is struggling with the loss of D’Angelo Russell and others there is some talent on the roster. Hopefully Thad Matta can get this team playing at a respectable level before Big10 play begins but these losses are a bad omen for the Buckeyes.
Butler started the season with national headlines for putting up 144 points in their game against The Citadel but after that game they played a tight game with the lowly Temple Owls and lost in a blowout to Miami. Butler needs to pick back up the scoring soon or they will struggle greatly against Cincinnati and Purdue in the coming weeks.
Had to put something about Indiana here. If this article was written on Friday they would be winners as they blowout Creighton and looked impressive doing so. On Monday they lost a shocker to Wake Forest in the opening of the Maui Jim Maui tournament. It was a game where they should have won and they had opportunities to win as well. The Hoosier fan base does not take loses like this well at all as the overreactions began immediately. In their second game in Maui the Hoosiers beat a St. Johns team that should not have been on the court with them. The defense continues to struggle and the offense did not have the flow and energy as it did just 6 days ago against Creighton. Hopefully the Hoosiers can regain their mojo soon as this roster and year looks bright in Bloomington.
- College Pride Press Podcast: Love/Hate for Top teams November 22, 2015 College Pride Press
With professors cramming in exams before Thanksgiving break we decided it would be best to study hard and not do a podcast, but now we are back at it with some love hate for teams all over the country! We also touch upon IU and Purdue in depth. Hope you enjoy!
- Winners and Losers from Week 1 of College Basketball November 17, 2015 College Pride Press
College basketball picked up right where it left off this weekend with a slew of upsets and craziness that no one anticipated. So much so that I don’t even know where to start when it comes to winners and losers but I’ll try my best to give you a snapshot of the first weekend.
It came to a point this weekend where I felt as if I was watching the first day of the NCAA tournament and should be checking my bracket. The underdogs were pulling off upsets all over the country that no one seemed coming. Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers might have been a little hungover from their trip to last years championship game as they lost to Western Illinois. UCLA lost to Monmouth on Friday and almost lost to Cal Poly last night to start their season. Bobby Hurley had a rough debut as his Sun Devils lost to Sacramento State. Even Radford was able to get the best of Georgetown. NC State lost to William & Mary in a game that was a blowout at halftime. Finally, Illinois lost to North Florida to open their season.
This was an amazing amount of upsets. Fans of underdogs got exactly what they wanted during the first weekend. If this is any indication of how the season will go then we are in for one hell of a ride.
The New Kids
This weekend was our first chance to see the gems of the freshman class at work and they didn’t disappoint.
Thomas Bryant had 11 points and 9 rebounds against East Illinois but made some impressive plays including an emphatic slam dunk worthy of a post board in my room. Lots of excitement around him in Bloomington.
Ben Simmons played his typical game scoring 11 points while snatching 13 rebounds and 5 assists in his debut for LSU. He makes flashy plays and smart plays all game while filling the stat sheet in every possible way. Simmons’s running mate Antonio Blakeney scored 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers. This combo could fly under the radar in the SEC with Kentucky grabbing a lot of attention.
Jalen Brunson added a quiet 12 points and 4 assists in his debut for Villanova. Look for his numbers to increase as he finds his niche on a team loaded with talent veterans.
Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere poured in 26 points and five rebounds in their second game on Saturday.
The freshmen strutted their stuff in the first weekend as they look to show off their skills in front of their new fanbase.
All the games were played this weekend without any major injuries which is a win for everyone. These student athletes put so much time and work into preparing for the season so it was great to see everyone play and stay healthy through the first weekend. Hopefully this trend continues!
Butler scored 144 points in their opening night win against The Citadel. This is insane as some teams strive to score half that in a game. Even Purdue put up 107 points on a Vermont team that has been in the NCAA tournament recently. While the shot clock plays a factor into the number of possessions the defense was atrocious in some games allowing these teams to put up some insane point totals. Hope this was just an aberration with a few lopsided match-ups.
Other than the abysmal defense played in some games over the weekend there was really no other losers. Basketball is back which means that the offseason is finally over and we can start watching games of our favorite teams and others! And we can start preparing our sneaky teams for our tournament brackets, but if this season is full of some of the upsets we saw over the first weekend then my bracket will be in trouble anyways. Tuesday will be a big day as well with Kansas playing Michigan State and Kentucky playing Duke. Those are some premium match-ups that will be a barometer for those teams to start the season.
- Predictions for The 2015-2016 College Basketball Season November 16, 2015 Phil Wells
Ben Simmons will win Naismith College Player of the Year.
There is so much excitement around Ben Simmons. He brings a championship mindset to LSU. His versatility is very special, having the ability to make an impact around the perimeter and in the post. I am very excited to watch the Montverde Academy Graduate.
A 16th seed beats a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Conferences like the CAA, Patriot and the Horizon league contain teams that are capable of defeating a number one seed. The CAA has Northeastern and James Madison who have experienced rosters and big time playmakers. It has to happen at some point in history.
Maryland wins the National Championship.
The Terrapins come in is #3 in the Preseason Poll. It’s scary how good this team is going to be. With players like Melo Trimble (Big Ten Preseason POY), Jake Layman (Preseason All Big Ten), Diamond Stone (No. 6 ranked prospect by ESPN), and Robert Carter (Georgia Tech Transfer), Maryland will be exciting to watch.
Iowa State will be a bust this season.
The Cyclones will not live up to their hype this season. Although they have a core group of players returning, Fred Hoiberg is not there to lead the charge. New head coach Steve Prohm will have many people watching him and needs to perform to show that he was the right hire.
Duke will be back in the Final Four.
Duke reloaded their roster with the departures of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones. The Blue Devils have Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, and Chase Jeter to help fill in those spots.
Wisconsin will really miss Kaminsky and Dekker.
The Badgers lost their two best players due to the NBA Draft last year. Kaminsky average 18.8 per game last season, and Dekker averaged 13.9 per game. We saw the other night how Wisconsin looks without these two (Loss to Western Illinois). This year Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig will need to step up if the Badgers want to compete in the Big Ten.
Villanova makes it past the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The past five tournament appearances have not gone well for the Wildcats. Jay Wright has the coaching ability to lead his team deep. With Senior Ryan Arcidiacono and the addition of Jalen Brunson, look for the Wildcats to do something special this season.
West Liberty wins the Division II National Championship. Wisconsin Whitewater wins the Division III National Championship.
I had to give some love to Division II and III. Wisconsin Whitewater is a powerhouse in every major sport in Division III. They will reclaim their title this year. West Liberty is ranked no. 3 in the preseason poll. The Hilltoppers have made the tournament the past six seasons; they are due for a title.
Baldwin Wallace University Class of 2018
- Why you should join the CPP forum? November 10, 2015 College Pride Press
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- Inside the Friars’ Intrasquad Scrimmage October 26, 2015 College Pride Press
This past Saturday Ed Cooley hosted an intrasquad scrimmage designed as a showcase for season-ticket holders and donors to the program. Luckily for me, I was able to sneak past the ticket collector through a back staircase and get inside Alumni Hall for my first look at the new team.
The team quickly ran through sets of plays before dividing into two teams for the scrimmage. The separation of the best players was interesting: Kris Dunn and Rodney Bullock headlined the white team, while Ben Bentil, Jalen Lindsey, and Kyron Cartwright led the black team. Throw Junior Lomomba in with the white team, and they certainly had the advantage in experienced guard play.
The game consisted of two fifteen-minute halves, and both teams came out playing at a furious pace. More notably, both Dunn and Cartwright demonstrated extreme aggression. Dunn picked up right from where he was last season, making steals, blocking shots, and forcing general havoc on the defensive side of the ball. He finished off one fast brake with a backwards dunk and completely swatted a three-point attempt a few possessions later. Cartwright showed that he has made a big leap from where he was last year. Whereas last season he was often deferring to Dunn, Cartwright drove to the basket frequently on Saturday and made himself a viable offensive threat. While he still has not showed a huge improvement in his outside shooting, Cartwright had the black team’s offense at his best when he attacked the paint and forced the defense to help, leaving Lindsey, Ricky Council, and Tyree Chambers wide-open for threes. The Friars have a plethora of guard talent between Dunn and Cartwright, who could easily be the starting point guard at many other Division I programs.
Ben Bentil stood out as the most impressive player on the floor besides Dunn. He drew fouls consistently and showed prowess on defense, blocking more than one shot from the weak side. He also had the highlight of the afternoon with a monster one-handed jam over Bullock. He caught the ball off a feed from Cartwright, power dribbled, and absolutely terrorized the rim.
The most intriguing component of the game was the pace. Both teams pressed for most of the game, and only rarely did the shot clock get below ten seconds. Both offenses displayed an aggressive style, a good sign considering the graduation of LaDontae Henton. Dunn’s white team won the game by eight points, but both teams showed that the Friars are virtually ready for Harvard on November 14th.
- Butler’s 2016 Recruiting Class: The Best Class Yet October 9, 2015 College Pride Press
As the Butler basketball program grows so does its ability to attract and sign better players. Butler’s recruiting classes keep getting better and better. Their 2016 recruiting class might be the best one in the school’s history. They have already signed four top notch players including two 4 star recruits, one of them being an ESPN Top 100 player for his class.
Joey Brunk who committed on June 14th was the first of the class to commit to the team. Brunk is a 4 star 6”10 center who is the 69th best recruit in the country and 10th best center according to ESPN’s scouting. Brunk is a hometown boy from Indianapolis. He went to Southport High School and was the 2nd best player in the state. Brunk got offers from most of the big schools around the area including Indiana, Purdue, and Michigan State but decided to go with Chris Holtmann’s Bull dogs.
Butler got its second 4 star recruit of the month when 14 days later on June 28th Howard Washington committed to the Bulldogs. Washington is from the Montverde Academy in Buffalo, New York and is the 25th best point guard in the country. He is a 6’2 versatile guard who Chris Holtmann believes fits very well into the program at Butler.
Butler was having a good recruiting season that turned great when they signed two recruits on the same day. On August 8th Kamar Baldwin and Henry Baddley both committed to Butler. Baldwin is a 3 star guard from Winder Guard who scouts see as someone who could grow into being a very productive player. Henry Baddley is a 6”6 small forward who went to the same high school as Lebron James in St. Vincent- St. Mary. Baddley is from Akron, Ohio and played on Lebron James’ AAU team. Baddley is a real talent that was a big score for Holtmann and his staff. The day ended with Lebron giving a shout out on twitter to Butler for getting a great kid. Maybe next year Lebron can take a trip up to Hinkle to watch this extraordinary recruiting class take the court.
Butler University ‘19
- Prepping for the Post-Dunn Era September 30, 2015 Kieran Burns
No one in Friartown wants to come to terms with the fact that superstar PG Kris Dunn is in his final season, but such is the reality and the coaching staff is well aware that in order to maintain Providence College on the national scene a replacement needs to be found.
Late last night, from Richmond, Virginia hope may have been found in an electric 6’2″ Guard, Maliek White. According to ESPN’s Recruiting Nation, White had 5 additional offers to various Division I schools such as Pitt, UMass, Old Dominion, Georgia Tech, and Cincinnati. Many of his videos on Youtube will show a similar play-style to that of Dunn, making White a likely candidate for an impact player as early as next year. White will be walking into an extremely competitive Providence team seeing as there are 2 other guards in So. Kyron Cartwright and Fr. Drew Edwards, this will put Friars Coach Ed Cooley in a difficult predicament, seeing as each guard plays a different style. Cartwright showed last year his exceptional passing and ability to handle the ball, while struggling to make shots from the field. Edwards was known in high school for his shooting accuracy more than his passing. Only time will tell what style the Friars choose to pursue after Dunn is inevitably drafted, whether they will put their trust in Cartwright, Edwards, or even new-signee Maliek White.
In respect to Guards, few teams have the depth the Friars do, but the real struggle will be in the paint. After losing big man Paschal Chukwu (7’2″) to Syracuse, and Carson Desrosiers (7’0″) to the Finnish Basketball League, the Friars are left with Ben Bentil (6’9″) and Quadree Smith (6’8″) to be the big men. In the always competitive and gritty Big East, having a big body in the post is almost a requirement in order to come out on top. This creates many match-up nightmares for the Friar’s defense, especially in games against Georgetown, with Bradley Hayes (7’0″) and Jessie Govan (6’10”), and Xavier, who has 4 players at 6’10”.
The Friars seem to have some serious odds against them, but hey, its a long season and anything can happen in College Basketball.
Kieran Burns ’18
All stats from ESPN.com
- Providence Non-Conference Schedule Analysis September 5, 2015 College Pride Press
Ed Cooley continues to schedule tough non-conference opponents in Friartown. Last season Cooley put together the 19th toughest non-conference schedule according to CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, and this season will be no different with the likes of games versus Illinois and Rhode Island and potential match ups against Arizona and Michigan State looming in the Wooden Legacy. The Friars performed well in non-conference play last year, going 10-3 and punctuated by taking home the Hall of Fame Tipoff Championship at Mohegan Sun.
This season could be different. The Friars have lost a lot of veteran leadership, which goes a long way in November if the opposition is young and has played only a few collegiate games together. The Friars must play on the road against traditional opponents Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Providence went only 5-6 last season with the combination of LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn, and now it is up to Dunn alone to shoulder the leadership load. Those games will also be the first in a hostile environment for Providence’s quartet of freshman. Both could easily result in losses, especially the rivalry game against Rhody and the talented E.C. Matthews.
The neutral-site games do not get any easier. Providence’s first-round opponent in the Wooden Legacy is Evansville, a team from the Missouri Valley that won 24 games and the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Aces may have less talent than the Friars, but they are senior-laden and possess a clear advantage in experience. If Cooley’s bunch gets by Evansville, they will likely play Arizona, participant in back-to-back Elite 8’s. A victory in that game could be dramatically beneficial to the Friars’s season: a win over a traditional powerhouse that instills confidence and gives them the notion of what it takes to beat quality basketball teams, something they will certainly need in the Big East. The Friars could also play Santa Clara in their second game of the tournament and will play a team from the ranks of UC Irvine, Boise State, Boston College, and Michigan State in their final game.
The Friars’ home court will need to be where they do their most damage in the non-conference schedule. Among Brown, NJIT, Hartford, Bryant, and Rider, no team has a talent level close to Providence’s. Don’t count each game as an automatic victory, but if the Friars are prepared for each of those five games, they should be able to assert their will and go 5-0. The season-opener against Harvard presents an interesting match up for Providence. The Friars still have the talent edge, but the Crimson’s veteran point guard Siyani Chambers could give Kris Dunn some problems. Granted, if the Friars play up to their capabilities a victory should be rather easy, but Tommy Amaker knows how to coach and will have his team ready to compete on a big stage for the Ivy League program. Another key game is against Illinois in the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games. The Illini will travel to the Dunk with the overall advantage in talent, but as they likely will all season long, the Friars will have the best player on the floor. This game will show Providence fans just how far Kris Dunn can carry the team. The possibility exists that Dunn will need to make every big play for the Friars to beat Illinois: We will have to wait and see if Dunn can impersonate Superman. The Boston College Eagles fly south to the Dunk in December, and will provide another litmus test as to how the Friars fare against power conference teams. BC loses Olivier Hanlan, who lit up the Friars for 24 points and 8 rebounds last December 5th. With Hanlan gone, Providence has a sure edge in talent and should be able to handle the Eagles at home and pay reparation for their loss last season.
The Friars’ non-conference schedule is yet another challenging slate that should prepare the team for Big East play and reward them with a few easier games. Especially if they can steal a game against Rhode Island or Arizona, the Friars will build a solid non-conference resume that will sway the NCAA Tournament committee well within their favor.
Providence College ’18
- Biggest Question: Providence Friars August 27, 2015 College Pride Press
Which returnee can become their number two scorer?
All the attention around Friar Basketball this summer has been centered squarely on Kris Dunn, and rightfully so. He was a surefire NBA Draft pick last year, and was thought by many to have the potential to be a lottery pick. He was just recently voted the number one player NCAA coaches would want on their team for the upcoming season, based on a poll conducted by CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish. Yet despite all of last season’s accolades and this season’s hype, Kris Dunn cannot single-handedly win 25 games and get the Friars back in the NCAA tournament. Providence needs to find an experienced second scorer who can reduce the load on Dunn’s back and be counted to convert in big situations.
LaDontae Henton was the Friars’ best scoring option last season. He averaged just under 20 points per game and took over 15 field goal attempts per game, tops on the team and one of the higher marks in the country. The scoring that Henton provided was consistent and reliable, the type of production that good teams get. Providence returns three players with starting experience in Ben Bentil, Junior Lomomba, and Kyron Cartwright who all have the opportunity to pick up the scoring Henton leaves behind. Bentil plays with power in and around the paint, but he often shoots with a lack of touch and was unable to be consistent last season. Even if he can improve his outside game, including 30% accuracy from three-point range, he hasn’t given Ed Cooley a reason to make sure he gets 12 or more shots a game. Lomomba provided shadowy defense for long stretches last year, but his offense was always a liability. He shot a dreadful 32% from the floor and was even worse from three, knocking in only 2 of 11 attempts. Only if Lomomba makes a drastic improvement in his shooting form will he be considered a threat by opposing defenses. Cartwright is an interesting option because of his skill level: Quite frankly, it’s really good. But the problem is that his style is very similar to Dunn’s and the Friars lack good outside shooting when they play together. If Cartwright was not such a driving-and-dishing point guard like Dunn and a more perimeter-oriented shooter, he could start alongside Dunn and be the second part of a dangerous combination. Unfortunately for Cartwright, players who shoot 4-for-33 from downtown cannot be starting shooting guards in the Big East.
One other returnee could step up and fill Henton’s shoes is Jalen Lindsey. Lindsey was a highly-regarded recruit from Huntington Prep in West Virginia, who showed flashes of dangerous shooting ability last season. His finest performance came against Florida State at Mohegan Sun, when he knocked down 5-of-6 threes to carry an offense that was firing on all cylinders. It is this three-point shooting that makes Lindsey the best candidate to become the Friars’ number two scorer next year.
There is no question that Lindsey struggled mightily at times to make the adjustment to college basketball. He went through one seven-game stretch in which he did not make a three-pointer and saw his minutes decrease drastically. But what truly impresses is how he responded after that stretch. The next two games following his seven-game nightmare were against Villanova in the Big East tournament and Dayton in the NCAA tournament. Lindsey stepped up to match the stage in both games. Against the Wildcats he made 3-of-5 three pointers, including two big second-half shots that kept the Friars in the game late. His performance against the Flyers felt like deja vu, as he hit big shots to keep Providence in the game and scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep. Lindsey shot only 33% from three last year and 36% overall, but with the improvement he showed late in the year, he is the Friars’ best number two scoring option.
Providence College ’18
All stats from sportsreference.com
- Biggest Question: Butler Bulldogs August 23, 2015 College Pride Press
Can Kelan Martin become a consistently elite scorer?
Butler’s early NCAA tournament exit this March– a second round overtime loss to Notre Dame– stung immensely. That being said, the defeat has catalyzed quite an offseason for the Bulldogs. Verbal commitments have already been made by four stellar 2016 recruits, which gives reason to believe that Butler will be a national competitor for many years to come. While the 2016-17 season looks especially promising, make no mistake in not having high expectations for this upcoming year. The defensive prowess that featured seniors Kameron Woods and Alex Barlow may not be as dominant as last year, but what was lost will be greatly compensated with an improved offense.
North Carolina State transfer guard Tyler Lewis will join seniors Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones in a backcourt that should once again propel the Bulldogs to the top of the Big East. Their starting lineup will also likely feature returning forwards Andrew Chrabascz and Tyler Wideman. Though he’s not expected to begin the season in the starting rotation, sophomore forward Kelan Martin could be the X-factor of the Bulldog’s offense.
At 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, Martin has both the body and skill set to develop into a prolific scorer. He averaged 7.1 ppg last season in just 14.6 mpg. His effectiveness was sporadic, but he often displayed the ability to take control of a game. At the Maui Invitational tournament, he erupted for 17 points in 17 minutes against #5 UNC. Though he certainly has a chance to be Butler’s most assertive scorer this season, 2nd year coach Chris Holtmann tends to heavily rely on his starters, so Martin will really need to elevate his play if he wants to earn more minutes. If he can reach his high potential early in the season, look for Kelan Martin to be one of the more dangerous offensive forwards in the Big East, and eventually the nation.
Keenan Casey ’19
- Freshman To Watch In The 2015-2016 Season August 17, 2015 Phil Wells
Ben Simmons will be one of the most special and exciting basketball players to watch in Division 1 basketball. The Montverde graduate was the number one high school recruit of the 2015 class. The 6’10 forward can do it all. I am very impressed with his athleticism and his versatility. Simmons can guard anybody on the court; he is very quick laterally for his size. Watching him play at Montverde was something special and when Simmons is on the floor he makes his presence known. The lefty shooter has an excellent touch and a pretty release. Simmons is such a rare player, having skill around the post and perimeter. His vision and passing is very mature for his age. It is not often that a 6’10 forward has passing attributes of a 6’2 Point Guard. My only question with Simmons attending LSU is his development. Johnny Jones is not known for developing his players into NBA prospects. Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey did not progress into the superstars they were supposed to be. Even with the question of development, I truly believe Simmons has the skill to be the 1st overall pick of 2016 draft. LSU fans should be very excited about their number one recruit.
Jamal Murray/6’5/Point Guard/Kentucky
Jamal Murray made his impression on me and many others in the Pan Am Games while playing for Team Canada. Murray was originally a part of the class of 2016 but reclassified to the class of 2015. It is scary to think that he is actually a class behind. At the Pan Am Games the Canadian native averaged 17 points and 2.4 assist per games. Those are some good numbers for someone who is 8 years younger than the average age of the players in the games. Murray has the ability to penetrate and finish on any defense. While watching Murray I noticed how much he favors his left hand, which is his off hand. At 6’5 Murray has the ability to be a 2 guard, along with having the handles and passing of a point guard. Along with his handles and passing, Murray has the outside shot that is hard to defend. I believe he has the ability to pull up on the dribble around the arc. Murray going to Kentucky brings a National Championship in sights for 2016. It is going to be scary having Isaiah Briscoe, Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray on the same team. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Murray reacts to playing with two other superstars. For him to be at his best, he needs the ball in his hands. At Kentucky he will have other guys around him that are just as talented. The Orangeville Prep Graduate is going to have to learn to help his team off the ball. But there is no question when he does have the ball, Murray will be something special for the Wildcats.
Brandon Ingram/6’8/Small Forward/Duke
With Tyus Jones, Justice Winslow and Jalhil Okafor gone, Brandon Ingram has the skill and leadership to help the Blue Devils reload their roster. Duke is bringing in 6’10 center Chase Jeter who will fill in for Okafor’s; this leaves Brandon to fill in for Winslow. With Jeter down low, I believe Coach Krzyzewski will have Ingram at a 2 or 3 in his lineup. Ingram went to high school where Jerry Stackhouse (former Tar Heel) coached. UNC fans should be very disappointed that Jerry did not persuade Brandon to attend Chapel Hill. Ingram brings a lot of versatility for Duke. Ingram has the handles of a guard and uses a quick first step to get to the basket. The small forward always remains in control and doesn’t let defenders make him feel uncomfortable. While watching Ingram I noticed when he drives in the lane he looks for contact every time. He wants to draw a foul and is not afraid to get bodied down low. Ingram is a very lanky and long with plenty room for muscle. Blue Devil fans should have another championship in sights with Ingram in the lineup.
Along with a few others in his class, Zimmerman has size and athleticism. At 7 feet Zimmerman looks very smooth handling the basketball. Zimmerman was sought out by many top programs, but decided to stay in Nevada to attend UNLV. The skill I was most impressed in watching Zimmerman was his basketball IQ. He knows where everyone is on the court when he has the ball. His passing ability is very impressive; it is very smooth and fun to watch. The lefty also can shoot from mid-range, but I do not think his shot from behind the arc is at a high level yet. With development and coaching the Bishop Gorman graduate will be able to score from all over the floor. One question for the UNLV center is his frame and strength. Scouts say there is still more room for muscle and some say he needs it to go to the next level. Zimmerman has gained 20 pounds the past couple months, but we do not know if it is enough to fill out his lanky body. Expectations are very high going into UNLV as Zimmerman is expected to help the team bounce back from an average season while losing in the second round of the Mountain West. UNLV fans will look to have Zimmerman producing and excelling right when he steps on campus.
Cheick Diallo/6’9/Power Forward/Kansas
Cheick Diallo could be the best post player in this class. It is fun to see him down low against defenders. Fans will love watching him throw it down on the fast break and in the post. The Our Savior New American School graduate has outstanding rebounding ability. Cheick has the vertical, aggressiveness, and wingspan that ...
- Locked and Loaded: Friartown August 6, 2015 Kieran Burns
After a stellar 2014-2015 regular season winning 22 games, the Friars found themselves a quick and unfortunate exit from the NCAA Tournament at the hands of the Dayton Flyers. The sadness was short lived for the Friars were quickly onto the upcoming season. There’s much to look forward to in Friartown with the incoming freshman class containing 2 four-star recruits in Ryan Fazekas and Drew Edwards, as well as 3-star recruits Ricky Council and Quadree Smith. When asked about the upcoming season, many of those asked pointed to the fact that superstar guard Kris Dunn was returning and excepted to produce big numbers. Last season Dunn lead the Friars, in his first full season since 2012-2013, in Assists and Steals, as well as being second in Rebounding, Scoring and Minutes played, only, to now Golden State Warrior, LaDontae Henton. Dunn’s 2014-2015 season was capped with his numerous honors such as being named NBC Sports.com Second Team All-American, as well as CBS Sports.com Third Team All-American. Dunn was also named to the Lute Olson All-America Team, ECAC First Team All-Star, USBWA All-District I Team, and named First Team All-BIG EAST, BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, BIG EAST Player of the Year, BIG EAST Player of the Week (twice), and BIG EAST All-Tournament Team. Dunn was also projected to be a top 15 NBA Draft pick, but chose to return for his Junior season. His stellar play earned him national attention and his most recent honor of being named as the 4th best player in College Basketball by TheBigLead’s Jason McIntyre. Dunn and the Friars have a lot to live up to, but when asked, only positives from the players.
In addition to the return of Dunn and the incoming Freshmen class, the Friars are currently in the hunt for a top transfer from San Diego St., Brodricks Jones, who recently narrowed his choices to Memphis, UTEP, Syracuse, and Providence.
Kieran Burns ’18
Brodricks Jones Narrows List
Jason McIntyre’s 50 Best Players
ESPN’s Providence College Stats 2014-2015
ESPN’s RN Providence College
friars.com Kris Dunn Player Profile