Projecting the CBB Conference Champions: The Mid-Major Threats

Welcome back. If you read the first part, you’re in the minority. Unfortunately many people don’t care about the one-bid conferences. This is where the fun begins!

Southern: Wofford

The SoCon is no contest. Fletcher Magee and Nathan Hoover form one of the nation’s top 50 backcourts, with Cam Jackson manning the paint. Expect Wofford to run away with the SoCon.

Horizon: Oakland

Oakland tied for the top record in the Horizon last year, brings back all of their key pieces, and the other co-champion left for the Missouri Valley. Thanks, Valparaiso.

Ivy: Harvard

The Ivy League still maintains some bottom-dwellers, but Princeton and Harvard will contend for the title all year long. Yale is a solid team as well, and might contend for an at-large bid. Harvard’s non-conference schedule will buoy their advanced metrics. The Crimson face Kentucky, Minnesota, and St. Mary’s.

Missouri Valley: Northern Iowa

Bennett Koch leads the main beneficiary to Wichita State jumping to the American Athletic against little opposition. Illinois State lost key pieces fresh off a 17-1 record in conference play, while Valparaiso will struggle with the new conference. Missouri State isn’t ready to contend, although their roster says otherwise. The team remaining is Wichita State’s former nemesis, UNI.

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech and UAB present C-USA with four solid teams capable of pulling an upset in March. The foremost of these is the Blue Raiders, who have upset Big 10 teams in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. Middle Tennessee loses two of last year’s top three scorers, but Giddy Potts and Chase Miller lead an explosive team once again.

Colonial Athletic: College of Charleston

The College of Charleston returns every notable player from last year’s 25-win team. Towson, Elon, and Hofstra will be good.

Mountain West: Nevada

San Diego State, Fresno State, and Wyoming will be factors in the at-large race. UNLV will be competitive again with a talented roster. However, Nevada’s the preseason favorite for a reason. They appear a cut above the rest.

Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure

Dayton and VCU will bow into the middle of the A-10 pack after each lost key players and their head coach. Taking the top spot, St. Bonaventure will finally win the conference in sensation Jaylen Adams’ final year.

West Coast: Saint Mary’s

Others argue for Gonzaga, but I think the Zags lost too much from last year’s Final Four run. Saint Mary’s features the nation’s finest center in Jock Landale, along with strong backcourt depth. Look for the Gaels to take the WCC.

Advertisements

Projecting the CBB Conference Champions: The One-Bid Leagues

Welcome to the wildest sport in the world. College basketball isn’t short of contenders this year, but instead of looking at national title implications, today I project the champion of every single Division 1 conference. Beginning at the bottom with the one-bid leagues, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Mid-Eastern Athletic: North Carolina Central

Nothing much to see here. North Carolina Central should again dominate the worst conference in college basketball.

Southwest Athletic: Texas Southern

Texas Southern has regained control of the SWAC, and will win again despite losing six of last year’s eight top scorers.

Northeast: St. Francis (Pa.)

The Red Flash are the best team in the Northeast by far, but a difficult non-conference schedule could force St. Francis into the First Four.

Southland: Stephen F. Austin

The Lumberjacks have slipped, but should have enough to take care of one of the nation’s easiest conferences.

Big West: UC Davis

Chima Moneke’s UC Davis could slip into the top 200 in advanced metrics, and will win this weak league.

Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast

With upstart Lipscomb on their heels, FGCU will need stat-stuffing Brandon Goodwin to deliver. Florida Gulf Coast’s depth will help in big games.

Big Sky: Montana State

Tyler Hall headlines seven of Montana State’s top eight scorers returning. The 23.1 PPG scorer will light up the conference alongside Southern Miss transfer Keljin Blevins.

Big South: Winthrop

Liberty, UNC-Asheville, and Winthrop all have sneaky 13 seed potential, but the defending champions seem a cut above the rest.

Ohio Valley: Belmont

Jacksonville State is a solid contender, but Belmont’s depth and explosiveness will propel them to a conference title.

America East: Vermont

The middle and bottom of the conference will be terrible, but Vermont presents a scary challenge for any five seed. Albany lost too much to contend with the Catamounts.

Metro Atlantic Athletic: Iona

Monmouth lost five seniors from last year’s at-large contender, and Iona’s rebuild is almost complete. Look for the Gaels to take the MAAC.

Patriot: Bucknell

The Bison are so good in comparison to their Patriot League peers. Bucknell should walk to a conference title, and a difficult non-conference schedule with only one team outside KenPom’s top 200 gives them an NCAA Tournament preview.

Western Athletic: Grand Canyon

The wack WAC regains relevance with Grand Canyon’s first year in awhile eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Utah Valley is solid too.

Summit: South Dakota State

Mike Daum’s return automatically thrusts the Jackrabbits to the top. Daum will be a matchup nightmare all year long.

Mid-American: Western Michigan

As soon as Thomas Wilder pulled out of the NBA Draft, WMU became the immediate favorites. It won’t be easy, as Ball State is coming off back-to-back 20 win seasons.

Sun Belt: Texas-Arlington

Georgia Southern is the favorite, but give me UT-Arlington, a team that challenged right until the end last year. Expect more of the same.

 

Playoff Push Picks Week 10

It’s going to be a boring article today. The team is working on some college basketball previews, so I’m placing Baron’s picks in here with mine. It’ll be a quick, short article with little explanation. I promise next week will be more interesting.

 

Seahawks vs. Cardinals

Baron: Seahawks

Owen: Seahawks

 

Jets vs. Bucs

Owen: Jets (upset!)

Baron: Bucs

 

Saints vs. Bills

Owen: Saints

Baron: Saints

 

Browns vs. Lions

Owen: Lions

Baron: Lions

 

Bengals vs. Titans

Owen: Bengals

Baron: Bengals

 

Packers vs. Bears

Owen: Bears

Baron: Packers

 

Chargers vs. Jaguars

Both: Jaguars

 

Vikings vs. Redskins

Both: Vikings

 

Steelers vs. Colts

Owen: Steelers

Baron: Steelers (lock)

 

Rams vs. Texans

Owen: Rams (lock)

Baron: Rams

 

Giants vs. 49ers

Both: 49ers

 

Cowboys vs. Falcons (marquee matchup) 

Both: Falcons

 

Patriots vs. Broncos

Owen: Patriots

Baron: Broncos (upset)

 

Dolphins vs. Panthers

Both: Panthers

College Football Power Rankings Week 10

This week in Bedlam: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown! The freshman wide receiver produced a 9 catch, 265(!!) yard, two touchdown performance against Oklahoma State. What a day.

The top four doesn’t move, but some shuffling ensued after six games between top 25 teams. On a side note, this is the week where I factor in strength of remaining schedule. Auburn is the main beneficiary.

1. Georgia

The Bulldogs clinched the SEC East with a win over South Carolina. Georgia is 6-0 in SEC play, but faces a challenge against Playoff dark horse Auburn.

2. Notre Dame

Brandon Wimbush is the perfect QB for this offense. Wake Forest maintains a solid defense, but Notre Dame hung 48 points on them. The Irish face Miami on Saturday, which could be a play-in game.

3. Alabama

Taking care of LSU keeps the Tide in third, but Alabama needs a quality win as soon as possible.

4. Oklahoma

The Sooners and Oklahoma State combined for 1446 yards of total offense in a thrilling 62-52 shootout. Baker Mayfield’s 598 yards and five touchdowns catapulted Oklahoma into Playoff consideration. The Sooners still need to win out, and TCU is next.

5. Clemson

The Tigers picked up a crucial win against NC State, and Clemson only needs to beat Florida State to book a ticket to the ACC Championship.

6. Miami

Skeptics criticized Miami’s lack of quality wins. Skeptics pointed to the Hurricanes’ struggles against lesser opposition. The skeptics were wrong.

A terrific defensive performance against Virginia Tech launched Miami into Playoff comsideration. Malik Rosier and the offense will need to score with Notre Dame and deliver a statement win. . . or watch their Playoff hopes cling to a thread.

7. TCU

Iowa State’s loss makes the task simple for TCU. Beat Oklahoma and the Horned Frogs control their own destiny on the road to the Big 12 Championship. If they lose? Then TCU will need to win out.

8. Wisconsin

A complete lack of a marquee win puts the Badgers on the outside looking in. Wisconsin can’t afford a slip-up.

9. Washington

The Huskies leap five spots due to chaos in the rankings. A one-loss Washington would likely make the Playoff, but a two-loss Washington would fall outside the top 10.

10. Auburn

The Tigers fell seven spots last week due to every team’s re-evaluation. A loss to LSU crumpled Auburn’s Playoff chances at the time, but the other Tigers won some games to make up for Troy. Strength of remaining schedule is factored in this week, and Auburn’s is ridiculous. Georgia and Alabama will both face the Tigers.

11. USC

The Trojans didn’t exactly stop Khalil Tate and Arizona, but they won the shootout 49-35. USC rises six spots due to the complete chaos that showed people why we love this sport.

12. UCF

The Golden Knights (not the Las Vegas ones) passed the test of SMU. In fact, the Mustangs should comfortably make a bowl, meaning UCF adds another quality win to its resume. The real AAC gauntlet begins now.

13. Michigan State

The Spartans waited three hours due to weathe delay, but a terrific 27-24 victory over Penn State in the dying seconds gives Michigan State a chance to clinch the division with a win over Ohio State.

14. Ohio State

The Buckeyes are out of CFP consideration after their second blowout loss. Iowa isn’t Oklahoma, though. 55-24!

15. Penn State

A second loss appeared on Penn State’s record. The Lions are also out of Playoff consideration with their 27-24 loss to Michigan State.

16. Oklahoma State

Mason Rudolph’s offense put up 52 points. . . and lost. How does that happen? Bedlam.

17. Virginia Tech

A loss to Miami eliminated VT from the ACC race entirely, but the Orange Bowl could be in play if Virginia Tech wins out and gets some help.

18. Memphis

Blowing out Tulsa solidified the Tigers’ spot in the AAC Championship Game. All Memphis needs to do is win out, likely including UCF. Nothing could go wrong!

19. Washington State

A 24-21 win over Stanford was critical to Wazzou’s Pac-12 title hopes, but likely has no impact on the New Year’s Six race.

20. West Virginia

Defeating Iowa State keeps the Mountaineers in the race to the Big 12 Championship, and WVU could rise.

21. Iowa State

A loss to WVU puts a roadblock in the upstart Cyclones’ path to the Big 12 title game, but wins over Oklahoma and TCU give Iowa State almost every tiebreaker

22. Iowa

Someone nominate Nathan Stanley for Heisman. The sophomore quarterback led Iowa to a rout of Ohio State, winning by three touchdowns. Three-loss Iowa could make a late charge to the top 15.

23. Toledo

An key win against Northern Illinois left the Rockets as the MAC’s only New Year’s Six contender. The path won’t be difficult for Toledo, but the Rockets need UCF to lose twice.

24. NC State

The Wolfpack produced a solid performance against Clemson, but fell short by a touchdown. To win their division, NC State will need to win out. . . and Clemson will have to lose to Florida State. It’s far more likely the Wolfpack finish 7-1 and go to a lesser bowl game.

25. Mississippi State 

A slow start against lowly UMass doesn’t boost a lacking resume, and Mississippi State falls.

Playoff Push Post-Week 9 Standings

Photo source: http://vikingswire.usatoday.com

 

It’s time to update the standings of the prediction league. Again.

Last week’s standings

Owen Riley, After the Whistle—14

Baron Carter, After the Whistle—11

Joel Deering, Fourth Quarter Sports—11

I will clarify that I scored 13 points last week, but as the weekly winner received a bonus point. Thus I was three points clear after one week.

This week’s point totals

Joel Deering, Fourth Quarter Sports—13

Owen Riley, After the Whistle—10

Baron Carter, After the Whistle—7

Post-Week 9 (second week of PPPL) standings

Joel Deering, Fourth Quarter Sports—24

Owen Riley, After the Whistle—24

Baron Carter, After the Whistle—18

Baron’s Playoff Push Picks Week 9

Apologies for the delay. I blame procrastination.

Bills over Jets

As my fellow bloggers can prove, I unfortunately picked the Bills. I also dropped Robby Anderson in fantasy.

Saints over Bucs

New Orleans sits atop the NFC South, and that won’t change against the Bucs.

Falcons over Panthers

The defending NFC champions need a win, and will get one here in a close contest. Matt Ryan should get back on track against a banged-up Panthers defense.

Rams over Giants

The Giants will struggle to reach 10 points against this vaunted defense, but Los Angeles will have no such problems.

Titans over Ravens (lock)

Marcus Mariota must love playing in the AFC. This week’s victim is the hapless Ravens defense, who seemed surprisingly competent against a quarterback-less Dolphins team. Don’t expect that to continue.

Jaguars over Bengals

Cincinnati will lose to the AFC’s most intriguing team. Jacksonville will reach 150 yards rushing, and A.J. Green will be bottled up by Jalen Ramsey. Blowout alert.

Eagles over Broncos

No debate here.

Texans over Colts

Deja vú.

Seahawks over Redskins

What is it with all these easy games?

49ers over Cardinals (upset)

Surprised? Jimmy Garoppolo will provide a spark to this offense, and the Cardinals look destined for a top-10 pick.

Chiefs over Cowboys (marquee matchup)

Dark Prescott will struggle against Kansas City’s shutdown secondary, and Dallas’s defense won’t be able to contain Kareem Hunt.

Dolphins over Raiders

Miami will not lose 40-0 again. Oakland should consider tanking.

Lions over Packers

Green Bay is 0-2 since Aaron Rodgers went down, and it could be a long year for the Packers. Detroit will further its case for a wild card.

Preseason College Basketball Power Rankings

Are you ready for some basketball?

Photo source: Flickr

College basketball is back! The first ever release of After the Whistle’s 2017-18 CBB power rankings is filled with surprises and controversy.

1. Michigan State

Others have Duke here, but the Spartans have a ridiculously talented roster. Cassius Winston is a terrific passer, albeit with turnover issues, (read: Chris Paul) and is a top five point guard. Nick Ward returns after averaging 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in under 20 minutes last year. Five star recruit Jaren Jackson slots in at the four.

Then there’s Miles Bridges. The preseason Player of the Year pick is back. What a roster. From Bridges to backup point guard Tum Tum Nairn, (what a name!) Tom Izzo has plenty of weapons to work with.

2. Arizona

Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and center Dusan Ristic add experience to the star-studded Wildcats. DeAndre Ayton, Allonzo Trier, and Rawle Atkins are sublime talents on a championship contender.

3. Duke

There they are! Potential lottery pick Marvin Bagley III headlines a recruiting class also bringing in Gary Trent, Jr.  and Wendell Carter. The Blue Devils get bumped down due to their point guard. Trevon Duval is a terrific talent, but his shoot-first mentality needs to go. Duval will need to run the offense and be a distributor. Unless that happens, Duke won’t eclipse MSU and Arizona.

4. Villanova

Jalen Brunson transformed into a terrific playmaker post-January, small forward Donte DiVincenzo took strides, and redshirt freshman Omari Spellman will anchor the frontcourt. There’s not much to criticize about Villanova, and Jay Wright once again has a Final Four contender.

5. Wichita State

According to many advanced metrics, Wichita State was the most underseeded team in NCAA history last year. Even so, the Shockers pushed Kentucky to the brink. The only player Gregg Marshall lost was a third string point guard. Wichita State features a Player of the Year candidate in point guard Landry Shamet, and center Shaq Morris will be a force in the paint. Noted flamethrower Connor Frankamp is back, and Markis McDuffie could be the best power forward in the AAC.

That’s right. The Shockers left the Missouri Valley to join the American. We get to see Wichita State vs. Cincinnati!

6. Kansas

Devonte’ Graham finally gets to play point guard. Five-star recruit Malik Newman joins him, and could lead the Jayhawks in scoring. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is back at the three. The problem lies with the frontcourt. Once again Kansas has razor thin depth, and the days of playing small ball with Josh Jackson at power forward are over. How will they handle it?

7. Kentucky 

Five star recruits Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo lead a talented Kentucky into a difficult year. Kevin Knox joins them, but Jarred Vanderbilt is out until January. The Wildcats should win the SEC, as Florida projects for a big drop-off. Kentucky has a roster built to defend, but how will they score? No one is particularly adept at shooting threes or spacing the floor. Someone will need to answer, or the Wildcats won’t fulfill expectations.

8. USC

This is the most talented roster the Trojans have ever had. Jordan McLaughlin runs the point with Shaqquan Aaron and Chimezi Metu in the frontcourt. Opponents have to key in on the frontcourt. Can Elijah Stewart knock down jumpers consistently?

9. Miami

It’s almost guaranteed coach Jim Larranaga plays a three man backcourt. Dark horse POY candidate Bruce Brown is joined by Ja’Quan Newton in one of the ACC’s finest guard combos. That’s before five star recruit Lonnie Walker IV is factored in. Miami is going to be good.

10. Minnesota

Akeem Springs is the only player gone from last year’s most surprising team. Richard Pitino and Minnesota are one of three teams in the top 10 not to be mentioned in the FBI’s college basketball probe, and return all their starters. Underrated Nate Mason forms a backcourt also including ever-consistent Dupree McBrayer. Reggie Lynch is a terrific center, and Jordan Murphy provides solid minutes. Amir Coffey is projected to be Minnesota’s first draft pick since Kris Humphries, and could rise into the lottery if he fixes his three point accuracy.

11. UCLA

Lonzo Ball is gone, but the Bruins still have one of the nation’s finest backcourts with Jaylen Hands and Aaron Holiday. Kris Wilkes rounds up a terrific recruiting class, and UCLA will be just as good as last year.

12. Cincinnati

The Bearcats return everyone from a team that won 30 games in 2016-17. Transfer Cane Broome will provide a scoring threat from the point, and leading scorer Jacob Evans will ensure Broome and fellow wing Jarron Cumberland receive plenty of opportunities.

13. North Carolina

Four of last year’s five leading scorers are gone, and Joel Berry broke his hand. Hero Luke Maye will assume a greater role in a shell of a UNC offense, although North Carolina aren’t champions by luck.

14. Notre Dame

Matt Farrell is one of the ACC’s best point guards. No question. The problem with the Irish is size. 6’5″ Bonzie Colson saw time at center due to a lack of depth. Will Martinas Geben take strides?

15. Seton Hall

The Pirates are set to be a threat in the Big East. Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington could be all-Big East good, and Desi Rodriguez can light up a scoreboard.

16. West Virginia

Jevon Carter plays point in a middle of the conference offense featuring Esa Ahmad. Ahmad won’t play until January, but the strength of every Bobby Huggins team is its defense. Press Virginia will not find it hard to keep opponents under 60 points.

17. Northwestern

Bryant McIntosh will vie for B1G Player of the Year, while Scottie Lindsey is an underrated wing. Derek Pardon should do just enough to keep pressure off of the perimeter.

18. Louisville

The FBI investigation’s biggest victim, Louisville’s projections dropped off a cliff. Brian Bowen is gone, Rick Pitino is gone, and more could be implicated. Quin Snider and Deng Adel still anchor the perimeter and frontcourt for a decent Cardinals team.

19. Florida

The Gators come off a surprise Elite 8 trip and lost a lot. KeVaughan Allen is the sole top four returning scorer from a decimated Florida roster. They should be good. . . just not as good as last year.

20. Xavier

When Trevon Blueitt chose to stay in college, Xavier was thrust back into the conversation. Kerem Kanter headlines a solid recruiting class, and Sean O’Mara is still manning the paint. The concern is Quentin Goodin’s point guard play coming off a foot injury.

21. Alabama

KenPom’s 10th best defense in college basketball added the best scorer in the freshman class. Collin Sexton is the point guard the Tide needs to make a tournament run.

22. TCU

Jaylen Fisher returns from a torn meniscus injury to attempt to lead TCU to its first NCAA Tournament in over 20 years. Fresh off a victory in the NIT, coach Jamie Dixon’s team wants more.

23. Baylor

Manu Lecomte is one of the Big 12’s finest point guards. Joined by rim protector Jo Lual-Acuil, Scott Drew will have two big contributors to turn to.

24. Texas A&M

Robert Williams is the star of a talented A&M roster, but the Aggies’ success hinges on Tyler Davis. The underrated center could be a top ten rebounder in the nation, and will need to take pressure off of Williams.

25. Missouri

Michael Porter, Jr. is the obvious star of a decent Missouri roster. Leading scorer Jordan Barnett is back, as well as distributor Terrence Phillips. The pass-first point guard will benefit from having more than one option to pass the ball, and might take some shots of his own.