Reason # 958 Why We Love NCAA Basketball

The college basketball season is in it’s infancy, BUT already we’ve seen highlights so ground-breaking they’d make The Rock strap on a helmet, man the helm of a helicopter and save lives…..”San Andreas”….nobody, hello? 

You think Nic Cage saw that trailer as he looked up from painting a self-portrait of himself gazing dramatically in a mirror while painting a self-portrait of himself gazing EVEN MORE dramatically in a mirror……and screamed out, “Why am I not in that movie!?!?”.  I’m sure he called his agent immediately and is now signed on for “San Andres 2: The Aftermath”

Sorry, I must have been daydreaming about Nic Cage again……back on subject now.

The NCAA hoops season is under way, for the casual hoops fan out there I’m sure you haven’t noticed yet due to the constant onslaught of NFL coverage and advertisements on EVERY damn channel ALL the damn time.  If I see another Fanduel or Draft Kings advertisement, I may lose it completely and set fire to my wallet before I can “take advantage of their 200% reload-deposit promotion that’s about to run out”.

Thank god for college hoops…..here’s many reasons to start paying attention.  Oh, need I remind you that March Madness is only 3 months-ish away.

The Monmouth Bench Squad

Texas Longhorns’ Kerwin Roach

LSU’s Ben Simmons

Kansas’ Cheick Diallo

More of a reason to hate BYU

An Indiana Hoosiers Guard Named Yogi

Kentucky is still good

Syracuse is in trouble

The Big10 – ACC Challenge is GREAT

Kentucky Wildcats Fans BEWARE

draft-lottery

Any talk surrounding the NBA Lottery Draft (giving us a break from Deflategate and the NFL’s monsoon of irrelevant information) tonight has been given an extra exclamation point:

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 2.44.11 PMYou might be saying, “Wait, Calipari is saying he’s not interested in the New Orleans Pelicans job.”

To which I would answer, “Do you still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny too?”

If there’s any real certainty in life whether it be in politics or professional sports or the entertainment business, you can rest assured that if someone says definitively in public they are NOT doing something, then the opposite is probably more likely…and vice-versa.

As if I even need to give examples; Tom Brady and the Patriots (Deflategate, Spygate), Bill Clinton (sexy-times in the Oval office), Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez (Steroids), Tom Cruise, John Travolta (NOT being gay….not that there’s anything wrong with that), George Lopez (considers himself a comedian).  The examples go on forever.

  • Coach Cal was only able to sign 2 of the top 30 Freshman recruits for next year, something that has NEVER happened while Cal has been at Kentucky.  For other programs, that would be a terrific recruiting year, but for Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats fans, that’s missing out on 28 top recruits.
  • Kentucky is losing at least 4-8 players from this year’s roster to the NBA, including arguably their best 4 players (Anthony-Towns, Cauley-Stein, Harrison brothers and Devin Booker).
  • Coach Cal would make upwards of $8 million per year as the NOLA head coach, IF the Pelicans are willing to ante up the dough.

Seems like a good time for Coach Cal to make the move to NOLA and coach two of his favorite former players.

Who wants to dance, NCAA Sweet 16: Breakin-2 Electric Boogaloo

1.  Which higher seeded team has a chance to continue to dance: NC State, Wichita State, Xavier, UCLA or Michigan State?

  • This is a tough call between Wichita State over Notre Dame or Michigan State over Oklahoma.  I’m going Michigan State over Oklahoma based on one man, Tom Izzo.  He continues to impress every single season, he constantly gets the MOST out of all his players and somehow it always culminates in March.  Point Guard play has been great the first two games behind Travis Trice’s 19 ppg, 4.5 apg, and .43 %fg in the NCAA tourney.  NOT TO MENTION, Michigan State has had a tough route to get here already, beating a gritty, athletic Georgia team and then knocking out seemingly everyone’s favorite to come out of the East bracket, the University of Virginia.  Michigan State is primed to make a Kemba Walker/Shabazz Napier-UCONN  kind of run to the Final Four.

2.  Who’s the best players (playing the best right now) left in the tournament?

  • Some of these names may come as a surprise, after peeling back the stats and implementing the old-fashioned eyeball test, several names started to come to the forefront (some of which were very unexpected):

Bryce Alford, UCLA – In two games, he’s averaging 24.5 ppg, shooting .57% fg AND .75% from three-point!!!!  Son-of-Steve is shooting 50-75-80 (fg%-3p%-ft%) over the first two games of the tournament.  WOW!  No wonder UCLA has upset SMU and UAB.

Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga –  No one has been able to stop the silky smooth, long-armed shot-maker from the kennel.  He’s already got a championship ring from his time spent coming off the bench at Kentucky (Kyle transferred to Zaga in 2013), now he’s ready to cut down the nets in the name of the Zags.   Kyle’s two-game average in the NCAA tournament: 23.5 ppg, .75% fg and .67% three-point in only 28 minutes per game so far.  Kyle’s putting in work the second he steps on the floor, he’s a constant threat to score every time he touches the ball.

Jahlil Okafor, Duke – Everyone knows Jahlil’s the best player in the country, he’s the forgone conclusion for the #1 pick in the NBA draft.  BUT there’s a reason for all the accolades, the kid can play.  He has GREAT hands combined with unbelievable, Olajuwon-ish footwork, AND he seems to be improving his mental toughness and physical play each and every game.  He doesn’t shy away from the big plays or the big game lights, he’s ready to lead Duke to an NCAA championship RIGHT NOW.  Jahlil’s stats through two games:  23.5 ppg, .78% fg and 5 rpg.

Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State – Having the coolest (but for some reason incredibly hard to say) last name in the tournament should be reason enough to make this list.

Should we call him FVV, FV-squared or FV2 or maybe the Flying V?  All good choices, regardless the F-double-V has made his presence known in the NCAA tourney to anyone owning a TV that his Shockers of Wichita are not disappearing softly into the Kansas twilight.  Van Vleet is putting up 22 ppg, 5 apg and 4 rpg in the Shockers tourney run.  He will lead his Wichitaians (?) to battle once again this weekend against Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

***Other Post-Season names worthy of note:  Myles Davis – Xavier, Yogi Ferrell – Indiana, Sir’ Dominic Pointer – St. John’s, Nimrod Hilliard – North Carolina Central, Isiah Umipig – Seattle and BillyDee Williams – West Virginia.

Travis Trice, Michigan State – Lead his team to wins over the #10 seed and the #2 seed in the East when lots of college hoops pundits were writing the Spartans off in the first round as an upset possibility.  Travis Trice has been doing his best Shabazz Napier impression in an attempt to WILL his Michigan State posse to the Final Four.  Double T is averaging a gritty 19 ppg on .43% fg and .46% three-point shooting.  Michigan State’s Achilles-heel this season has been consistent scoring, but Trice has turned on the big play ability in the NCAA tournament and seems to have his hand on the wheel and isn’t looking back.

Kentucky…..the whole team – Seriously, have you watched them play?  They are everything and more that you’ve heard all the “experts” talk about.

  1. They’re huge.  Karl-Anthony Towns is 6’11”, Willie Cauley-Stein is 7’0″, Trey Lyles is 6’10” and Dakari Johnson is 6’10”.  They’re ALL athletic, they all can move exceptionally well.  They have two point guards who can do EVERYTHING AND THEY’RE 6’6″ (Harrison twins), by the way shouldn’t it be illegal to have twin 6’6″ point guards on the same team?  I mean that’s just impossible to match up with and more confusing than David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”.  
  2. They’ve figured out how to play together well and share the ball effectively.  Usually when you have 9-10 guys on ONE team that are considered to be NBA prospects and were All-American high school players……wait, that’s NEVER happened before in the NCAA.  They have 10 McDonalds All-Americans!  Anyway, getting all those egos in check is nothing short of a miracle manufactured by Kentucky-basketball Jesus: John Calipari.
  3. It’s really, really hard to go undefeated.  I mean, really, really hard.  No team has done it since the 1976 Indiana University team lead by Bobby Knight and Quinn Buckner.  Only seven teams in the history of NCAA Men’s Basketball have gone undefeated, and those teams had names like Alcindor, Walton, Goodrich, Russell and Jones.   Give Kentucky credit, what they’re doing this season is an unbelievable accomplishment, and we still have a couple games to go.

3.  Final Four (and other) Predictions

  • Kentucky, Arizona, Michigan State and Duke in the Final Four.
  • Duke and Kentucky in the National Championship, an all BLUE championship game with Ashley Judd sightings (over/under crowd-shots set at 7.5) and hopefully Ken Jeong (he went to Duke Med school) will pop out of the Blue Devil mascot’s gym bag completely naked with a big blue “D” painted on his chest and run around the floor during warm-ups.
  • Kentucky wins 78-71, Coach Calipari cries in the post-game interview and then signs 10 more one-n-done freshman for next season before he leaves the locker room.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles enter the NBA draft and are all top 10 picks.
  • The Harrison twins stick around for their Junior years to torment every defender in the country with “twin pranks” for another season.
  • Kentucky is back in the Final Four in 2016, Karl-Anthony Towns comes to the game and sits behind the bench wearing a Philadelphia 76ers hat, Willie Cauley-Stein wears a Boston Celtics hat and Trey Lyles sports a Sacramento Kings hat.  Somewhere the Lakers’ entire Front Office is crying.

You heard it hear first dear readers.  Enjoy the rest of the tournament.

2014-15 NCAA Men’s Basketball Preview

Kentucky is good.

If Kentucky DOESN’T win the National Championship this season, it will be the biggest upset in men’s college basketball history.

So in reality, this preview is based on who will be playing for second place this season.  The #1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats beat the #5 ranked Kansas Jayhawks 72-40 last night, and in reality the game wasn’t even THAT close.  Kansas’ head coach, Bill Self elaborated in the postgame interview:

Kentucky has TEN players on the roster OVER 6’6″, they have FOUR players OVER 6’10”,  and 9 of them are McDonald’s High School All-Americans.  John Calipari has assembled the most talented, video-game all-star lineup that money can buy in the history of the NCAA.

One word to describe Kentucky:  Sick

NCAA Men’s Basketball First Loser Preview

(I’m only discussing teams that are REALLY in contention for the Final Four)

University of Arizona Wildcats

Last season record: 33-5 overall, 15-3 Pac 12 record (1st place), Lost to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight

One word to describe the Wildcats this season: Versatile

The Wildcats have long, lengthy, athletic perimeter players (Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson), a solid returning leader for a PG (T.J. McConnell) and six players over 6’8″ tall that will all contribute big minutes.  What this versatility and size gives head coach Sean Miller, is the ability to guard EVERY position on the floor, rebound the basketball with efficiency and run the floor with major athletes finishing at the rim.  Arizona will be a team that can compete physically with the likes of the other HUGELY SIZED athletes at schools like Kentucky, Duke and Texas.

University of Wisconsin Badgers

Last Season: 30-8, 12-6 Big Ten (t-2nd), Lost in the Final Four to Kentucky

One word to describe the Badgers this season:  Tough

The Badgers can be described as they’ve been described ever since Bo Ryan took over the program in 2001: TOUGH to beat.  Every year they do the same thing, they compete for a Big Ten title and then they reach the Sweet 16 in the tournament.  This season will be no different, except they have a legit POY candidate in Frank Kaminsky at the center position.  Kaminsky was one of the breakout stars of last season, a seven-footer with perimeter skills and the size to overpower smaller defenders in the paint that can also step out and shoot the three pointer.  Along-side Kaminsky, is fellow returner and STUD, Sam Dekker.  Dekker is probably the more talented of the two, a 6-foot-9 wing with three point range and the ability to put the ball on the floor and dunk on a defender.

Duke University

Last Season: 26-9, 13-5 ACC (3rd), Lost to Mercer in the Round of 64

One word to describe Duke:  Talent

Duke may have the most talented team Coach K has had since Jay Williams’ 2001 NCAA Championship team.  That team had six NBA players on the roster and one presidential adviser (Reggie Love).  This current team has at least six potential NBA players and nine McDonald’s High School All-Americans, including the pre-season NCAA All American First Teamer, Jahlil Okafor.  Okafor is THE REAL DEAL, he’s a legit center with back-to-the-basket skills and a feathery touch for a big man.  Duke can compete with ANY team in the country athletically, including Kentucky.

University of Kansas

Last Season: 25-10, 14-4 Big 12 (1st), Lost to Stanford in the second round of NCAA Tournament

One word to describe Kansas: Consistency

Despite the tough outing against Kentucky the other night, Kansas will be a very good team this season.  They are loaded at every position, literally could go two players-deep at every position.  Cliff Alexander is the face of this year’s recruiting class, a powerfully athletic, 6-foot-8 forward that has that look in his eye like he might destroy a backboard or two with a HUGE dunk before the season is over.  Wayne Selden is back and healthy, let’s not forget he has NBA lottery-pick talent that was overshadowed by injury and Andrew Wiggins last season.  Kelly Oubre is this year’s Selden, an elite-level NBA prospect on the wing that may be the most talented player on the roster.  Last but not least, Perry Ellis STILL has the name of a fashion designer specializing in boat-wear, AND he’s still playing for Kansas.  Don’t let the blowout loss to Kentucky fool you, the Jayhawks will compete at the highest level yet again this season.

University of Texas

Last Season: 24-11, 11-7 Big 12 (t-3rd), Lost to Michigan in the second round of NCAA Tournament

One word to describe Texas:  Huge

Texas will be as big and athletic as Kentucky this season at almost every position, they have seven players 6’8″ or bigger AND a returning PG (Isaiah Taylor) who quietly averaged 12.7 points and 4.0 assists as a freshman last season.  Junior Cameron Ridley finally looked like a top ten recruit during his sophomore season while Jonathan Holmes somewhat surprisingly developed into a dangerous combo-forward that can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot.  The x-factor for Texas will be Myles Turner, a top ten recruit and at 6’11” possesses some perimeter skills and outside shooting ability to go with a raw athleticism.  But like most extremely tall and athletic freshman, he brings out the “if” phrase that drives fans and coaches crazy:  IF he plays to his lotery-pick potential, then Texas will be very, very good.

University of North Carolina

Last Season: 24-10, 13-5 ACC (t-3rd), Lost in the Round of 32 to Iowa State

One word to describe North Carolina:  Scary

North Carolina is another team circling around that scary word, “potential”.  Returning starting PG Marcus Paige is a STUD, he can score, he can distribute the ball and as we saw last season several times, he can take over a game when he needs to.  He should be in the conversation for the POY award this season.  The question marks for the Tarheels are about Kennedy Meeks, the returning PF/C that supposedly has lost 60 pounds in the off-season.  If that’s really true, his body-change could completely change the player that he was last season.  He has good touch around the hoop, he battles hard underneath and if he can now run the floor a little bit, the Heels are gonna be in great shape.  The Freshman stand-out and top recruit, Justin Jackson is a silky smooth 6’8″ SF that can score from everywhere on the floor.  His game mirrors another great Tarheel SF from a few years ago that you may remember named Harrison Barnes.  Roy Williams recruited well in the off-season, “potential talent” on this team is through the roof, but can they bring it together for a championship run?  This team will stop and start with Marcus Paige.

University of Louisville

Last season: 31-6, 15-3 American (t-1st), Lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16

One word to describe Louisville:  Pitino

Rick Pitino has done it again, he’s recruited his ass off and filled his roster with names you probably can’t pronounce, but by the end of the season they’ll be college basketball household names.  The rim-rocking and backboard destroying Montrezl Harrell is back with even more hatred for any metal cylinder standing ten feet tall, and I’m told he’s even added a jumper to his game.  He’ll do everything for this team this year, but the offense and defense will begin and end with the new PG Terry Rozier.  Rozier is a 6’2″ combo guard that can do a little bit of everything, including score the basketball very well.  He sat behind the ever-basketball-bipolar Russ Smith last season, but looks to announce his presence with authority this year.  He’s got the ability and star potential to be a NBA lottery pick, this Louisville team will be a typical up and down, pressing, defending, athletic guard-heavy Rick Pitino-lead monster yet again.

Honorable Mention Teams To Keep an Eye on:

University of Virginia, Gonzaga University, Wichita State University, VCU, University of Florida, SMU (yeah seriously), Iowa State University, Michigan State University, Harvard University (yeah seriously) and UCLA.

written by: Casey S. Gutting

Jared Lorenzen is still HUGE

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The “kid” on the right is incoming Kentucky Freshman, Matt Elam.  Elam weighs in at a solid 6’5″, 350-375lbs. depending on what freeway weigh-station he is transporting goods to and from.

READ THAT AGAIN.  6’5″, 375lbs is the SMEDIUM version of Jared Lorenzen.

In other news, several NFL teams need a starting QB right now.  I bet I can get Lorenzen’s cell # for you.

Or maybe just start grilling up some BBQ turkey legs and fry up some twinkies, Jared will come running.  The smoke from the fryer will act as a Fat-Bat-signal.