CBB Cinderella Watch

 

Blue bloods will headline the 2019 college basketball season. However, we all know the main source of excitement and heartache in March will come from random schools beating these powerhouses.

Keep an eye on these mid-majors in the tournament this year.

  1. Buffalo- Coming off an impressive campaign in 2018 the Bison return 5 of their 6 leading scorers from last year. They wrecked the Arizona Wildcats in the NCAA tournament and could be poised for an even deeper run this year. C.J. Massinburg is a stud and their frenetic style of play will continue to wreak havoc on opponents.
  2. Illinois State- This team features a great coach in Dan Mullen and an impressive lead forward in Milik Yarbrough. A senior, Mailik, had an impressive junior campaign averaging 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists a game. The Redbirds boast an experienced roster that will compete with Loyola-Chicago and Sister Jean for the MVC title.
  3. South Dakota State- Jackrabbits should have an electric offense led by Mike Daum. If you didn’t see him last year this dude can hoop. Averaging 21.5 points and lighting it up from deep making nearly 43% from 3. Look for the Jackrabbits with a better roster and Daum with the greenest light to average over 25 points a night.
  4. Western Kentucky- The Hilltoppers have potential to make some noise in the tournament this year. 5 Star stud freshman Charles Bassey headlines a talented young core. A good litmus test for this team will be an early November match-up against a good PAC12 team in Washington.
  5. Marshall- The combo of C.J. Burks and Jon Elmore should strike fear in not only conference USA opponents but all of NCAA. An early season clash with Maryland should give insight on their potential. Not even favored in their own conference, this team has a  back-court that will come in handy come NCAA tournament time.

Week 8: 5 Games to Watch

Rundown for week 8 features some great match ups to plan your day around.

Make sure you listen to Carress’ Corner to get your locks this weekend.

Five Games at five different time slots:

1.  (6) Michigan -7 at (24) Michigan state                                        12:00 FOX

Michigan State is coming off a huge win over Penn State, while Michigan has been rolling since their home opener, this game doesn’t just have implications for the BIG 10 but for the greater college football playoff picture. Early games do not get much better than this match up as an exciting Michigan offense sees if it can keep momentum in East Lansing.

2. (16) NC State at (3) Clemson -17.5                                                   3:30 ESPN

Clemson looks to keep punishing ACC opponents and this game looks to be no different. Enjoying a bye week last week, Clemson watched as 4 top 8 teams suffered losses. The Tigers should be rejuvenated against a likely draft pick at quarterback in Ryan Finley. He has been efficient this year and looks to continue his impressive campaign today at Clemson.

3. (22) Mississippi State at (5) LSU -6.5                                                7:00 ESPN

The Tigers were crushed by the bulldogs last year 37-7. LSU will be looking for revenge, but more importantly to keep momentum. Coming off a great win against Georgia last week the Tigers are playing their 8th straight game and will look to overcome fatigue in this prime-time pairing.

4.  (12) Oregon at (25) Washington State -3                                         7:30 FOX

A home game for Washington State and making them a favorite against the best team in the PAC-12, Oregon. The Cougars have an impressive 5-1 record but with wins coming against Wyoming, San Jose State, Eastern Washington, Utah and Oregon State. Nothing to write home about. Look for Oregon to put up big points in a high scoring game out West.

5. Arizona at UCLA  -8                                                                                 10:30 ESPN 2 

Arizona has been disappointing, as Khalil Tate has been injured from the first game of the season. UCLA finally won a game last week and Chip Kelly hopes he can get this team going in the right direction. Rich Rodriguez’s son, Rhett Rodriguez, will get his first collegiate start at quarterback this weekend. Both defenses in this game are lackluster as both teams have struggled. This game doesn’t feature the best teams, but never sleep on #PAC12afterdark

Wet Like I’m Book

Drake’s prophetic shout out to Devin Booker on the track Sicko Mode seemingly put the league on notice this summer. Yes, he signed a max rookie extension this off-season, yes he won the three point shooting contest last year, but the combination of a hand injury and poor play from the Phoenix Suns lately may have casual NBA fans sleeping on Devin Booker and his potential All-Star campaign this year. Deductions made from opening night may seem hasty, but with Igor Kokoškov putting the ball in Devin Bookers hands during the last 5 minutes of the game, Booker caught fire and closed the 4th quarter scoring 19 points. Booker’s scoring has never been questioned it has been his intensity and defense. While the verdict is still out on Booker’s defense, his intensity and scoring cannot be questioned.

September 10th the Suns announced Booker needed hand surgery with an estimated recovery time of 6 weeks. September 10th seems like years ago based on Booker’s performance tonight. Devin Booker made a statement on the ESPN late game, on a night that was meant for Doncic vs Ayton (Ayton outplayed Doncic who needs a consistent three-point shot). For the first time in 4 years the Suns look poised to improve and have a leader in Igor who knows how to put his best players in positions to succeed. Coach Kokoškov has built an offense with screens at the top of the key, on the blocks and wheel motions allowing players like Josh Jackson to come down hill off hand-offs or screens and creating open shots for shooters like Trevor Ariza and Devin Booker with flares to the corner for threes. To put things in perspective the Suns have already eclipsed last years mark of three-pointers in a single game with 19. The Suns won’t win a championship any time soon, but they have an identity now that starts with Devin Booker controlling the keys to the offense and wings that can shoot and play defense.

Booker finished with 35 points and 7 assists, an impressive line for someone who had been limited in practice coming into the week. During the summer some argued that Devin Booker was a good stat on a bad team guy. Rationalizing that someone had to score on abysmal Suns teams; moreover, a 70-point outburst against the Celtics gave naysayers ammunition. His teammates were actively looking to get him points at the sacrifice of the Suns winning the game. The Suns haven’t been playing for much since Booker was drafted unless you count tanking for the lottery, with win totals hovering in the 20s: 2015-2016 23 wins, 2016-2017 24 wins and 2017-2018 21 wins. Things seem to be coming together for a Suns team: a new coach, a reliable center drafted with the number one pick and Devin Booker leading 3-point barrages.

booker playmake.PNG

Booker finding space for a three pointer off a pick from Ayton in Igors offense consistently worked.

Booker made 6/10 from the three-point line and finished 12/19 from the field. He didn’t force threes and consistently found the open shooter, highlighted by his passes to Ariza and Josh Jackson late in the fourth quarter. A lineup featuring Booker at the point, Jackson at the two, Ariza, Warren and Ayton has the length and ability to switch in any situation as all the players are over 6’6”. With shooters flanking his sides and devastating finishing ability of DeAndre Ayton, Devin Booker has room to create his own shot, dish it to Ayton on the block or find the open shooter. This newfound freedom highlights Bookers 3-point shooting and displayed his play-making prowess. If TJ Warren has truly found his 3-point stroke and Josh Jackson can consistently hit jumpers, Bookers ability to be a play-maker should burgeon during the season.

Bookers night was not flawless as his got into foul trouble in the third quarter; however, this break may have been the reason for his 4th quarter scoring. A consistent effort on defense will be paramount for Devin Booker continued progression. Starting Isiah Canaan worked well tonight, but ideally the Suns can add a bigger more defensive minded guard in the future to help augment Devin Booker’s defensive shortfalls. Keep in mind Devin Booker is doing all of this at the age of 21.  For now we can enjoy the impressive shooting of Devin Booker.

One game into the NBA season makes it easy to scoff at Devin Booker’s performance against an undermanned and seemingly lackadaisical Mavericks team. But the Suns are above .500 for the first time since Nov. 23 2015.

Drake sported a Devin Booker high school jersey at a concert earlier this year.  Drake is aboard the Devin Booker hype train and you should be too.

Instant Reaction: Thunder and Warriors

Russell Westbrook slowly put his sunglasses on after a Schroder 3 pointer airballed in the 4th quarter and with it went the chances of OKC upsetting the Warriors at home. A dose of reality that OKC is not a complete team right now. A competitive game and heroic effort by PG13 in the second half couldn’t overcome Steph and the Warriors.

PG13 and Schroder combined for 48 points while KD and Steph went for 59 points.  PG13 needed more help.

Turnovers plagued the Warriors especially in a sloppy third quarter where everything seemingly went right for the surging Thunder. However, with only Paul George having the ability to create his own shot at the end, the Thunder could not muster up enough points to win. The Warriors had a slight hangover from their Championship ceremony. OKC and Golden State will meet again in March.

Quick Notes

Damian Jones looks like a serviceable starter for Golden State filling the role of McGee of setting screens and playing solid defense, with some impressive put backs in this game. In 27 minutes he had 12 points and made 6/7 field goals.

Klay Thompson shot an abysmal 1-8 from 3 which won’t happen consistently. Some of the misses can be attributed to OKC defense, but it was really an off night for the all-star guard.

OKC defensive intensity was noteworthy down the stretch especially their ability to switch on screens and draw charges. Moreover Schroder looks like an underrated trade piece acquired this off-season.

While OKC lost the game their fans can find solace in the fact that their best offensive player Russell Westbrook and best defensive player Andre Roberson were not on the court tonight.

 

Basketball is Baaaaaaack

The NBA regular season is finally upon us. We made it.

Another exciting off-season comes to an end in dramatic fashion as four playoff teams meet tonight. Every team has hope. Some fans hope their team lose every game and get the first pick in the draft (R.J. Barrett whatup?) while other fans hope their team is a legit contender, how can an NBA fan not be happy today?

Opening night features two intriguing match-ups

First up is Philadelphia at Boston on TNT at 8 pm

This is a rematch from the second round playoff series that the 76ers improbably lost to the undermanned Celtics. A healthy Celtics team should strike fear in the heart of any Eastern Conference team. The 76ers stayed relatively pat this off-season and we will get to see if the new found confidence of Markelle Fultz translates to a live basketball game. Two things to watch for:

Will the Celtics be able to neutralize the elite passing ability of Ben Simmons like in the playoffs? 

Can Kyrie get everyone involved on a stacked Celtics roster? 

The Nightcap is Oklahoma City at Golden State on TNT at 1030pm 

The last time OKC took the court they were bounced by a less talented but more cohesive Jazz team. Golden State can’t be stopped unless they stop themselves. Until Roberson returns healthy, it will be hard for OKC to have the players to be an elite team in the West. The addition of Shroder is timely considering they will likely be without Russ on opening night. Golden State is favored in this early season match up, but don’t be surprised if these two team square off in the playoffs.                                                                   Two things to watch for:

Can Paul George keep this game close and go for his own triple double?

Will Golden State score 130 points tonight?

 

The first game is a better match-up on paper, but does anyone really care?

THE NBA IS BACK.

Week 7: 5 Games to Watch

We are back with a rundown for what to watch this weekend.  Don’t forget to listen to the pod and line-up your bets

Five Games at five different time slots:

1.  Tennessee at (21) Auburn -16.5                                               12:00 SEC

Both of these teams are desperate. Tennessee to stay relevant and Auburn to stay in the SEC title picture. Auburn’s offense is averaging a middling 29 points per game. Is it still warm enough for southern girls to wear sun dresses?

2. (2) Georgia -7.5 at (12) LSU                                                         3:30 CBS

LSU got steamrolled by Florida last weekend, getting embarrassed on defense. This one comes down to LSU’s pass rush on Georgia QB Jake Fromm and his 72% completion percentage. Like most SEC battles this game will be won by linemen.

3. (7) Washington -3.5 at (17) Oregon                                          4:30 FOX

Could be the best PAC-12 game of the year, as the two best teams go at it in Oregon. Justin Herbert has looked much better than Jake Browning and can really solidify his status as the best QB in the PAC-12 with a pivotal win this week. Oregon is coming off a bye-week and should be ready to go at home.

4.  (15) Wisconsin at (12) Michigan -10                                          7:00 ABC

The is Harbaugh good talk? will continue to percolate until he gets Michigan into the CFP. Wisconsin suffered an embarrassing loss to BYU and has rebounded since, crushing both Nebraska and Iowa. College Gameday will be there.

5. (19) Colorado at USC -7                                                                10:30 FS1 

Last game of the night features an undefeated Colorado vs USC. USC still has athletes, but is not the daunting power of past. Colorado is improbably undefeated, granted they haven’t really played anyone noteworthy. Somehow this game will go into overtime and 3/4 of the country will be asleep. Laviska Shenault, just remember that name when you watch this game.

 

Week 5: Five Games to Watch

Week Five has some interesting match-ups as top teams in the Big Ten clash, and the Pac-12 play some key non conference games.

Five Games at five different time slots:

1.  (12) West Virginia -3.5 at (25) Texas Tech                         12:00 ESPN2

Start your day off with offense in a Big 12 shootout. Tech is averaging over 600 yards a game and 52 points. Will Grier the Heisman hopeful takes his team into Texas hoping to avoid an early game-day loss.  WVU hasn’t played a close game yet feasting on lowly Kansas State last weekend.

2. (14) Michigan -9 at Northwestern                                            4:30 FOX

The 3:00 time-slot is rough this week so we will bump to 4:30. Michigan goes on the road hoping to establish there run game early on. Led by Paddy Fischer(great name) and the NW defense will have there hands full against a staunch running game from Michigan featuring senior RB Karan Higdon.

3.  Florida at (23) Mississippi State -8                                           6:00 ESPN

Mullen returns to the Mississippi State for the first time since leaving, look for him to get torched by the home crowd. The Bulldogs hope to bury there old coach with QB Nick Fitzgerald leading the way on the ground. Florida’s offense will struggle to put up points against one of the most talented defensive lines in the country.

4.  (4) Ohio State -3.5 at (9) Penn State                                           7:00 ABC

White out, Game of the week, Saturday night in Happy Valley, electricity. After a slow afternoon of football things heat up at night. This game has playoff implications and will test OSU QB Dwayne Haskins. McSorley vs Haskins will be fun to watch.

4.5. (7) Stanford at (8) Notre Dame -5.5                                        7:30 NBC 

The 7 pm hour is loaded. Find a second tv because this is must watch with two undefeated teams after Stanford’s improbable comeback against a good Notre Dame team. Saturday night prime-time in South Bend featuring a Heisman hopeful in RB Love what else can you ask for?

5.  (19) Oregon -3.5  at (24) California                                             10:30 FS1   

Brutal follow up game for Oregon after the Stanford loss at home last week. Finish the night with a high scoring showdown. QB Justin Herbert the possible first pick in the draft next year, and Oregon look to bounce back on the road.

Ayton vs Embiid

DeAndre Ayton, number one pick, and beacon of hope in Phoenix already has All-Star center Joel Embiid talking. On draft night Embiid tweeted “Don’t compare Ayton to me either… I play DEFENSE.”  And so begins the tale of two centers. Embiid is a dominant two-way center when he is on the floor. His dominant play elevated the 76ers into the playoffs. Ayton averaged a double double during his lone season in Tucson. Ayton is 19 and Embiid is 24, both were born outside the United States and started hooping in High School. The back and fourth has already begun this summer with pictures of Ayton dunking on Embiid, and Embiid feeling disrespected with Ayton comparisons on draft night. Embiid is already feeling threatened by Ayton.

Joel Embiid Kansas

G 28 PTS 11.2 TRB 8.1 AST 1.4 FG% 62.6 FG3% 20.0 FT% 68.5 eFG% 62.9 PER 28.2

DeAndre Ayton Arizona

G 35 PTS 20.1 TRB 11.6 AST 1.6 FG% 61.2 FG3% 34.3 FT% 73.3 eFG% 62.5 PER 32.6

Few TV talking heads appreciate the fact that Ayton was indeed playing out of position at Arizona where his defensive statistics were lackluster.  By guarding smaller players he learned how to play defense on the perimeter an imperative skill for big men in todays NBA.

Another Arizona Wildcat was questioned about their defense around draft time just a year ago, Lauri Markkanen. The Finnisher has surpassed expectations as an on ball defender with his foot speed and proved to be more than a capable defender(Kevin O’Conner gave Lauri an F+ draft grade) and while setting the rookie record for 3 pointers made. Ayton played in the same 4 position as Lauri on defense and hopes to see similiar success defending the perimeter at the next level.

Ayton was a dominant offensive force at Arizona, Embiid could be the best two-way center in the NBA. Both have big personalities and bigger smiles, but will Ayton rise to the level of Embiid?

Embiid played with the number one pick and was relegated to the block at kansas while Wiggins ran the show. Will Embiid every play a full NBA season? Centers in basketball are like quarterbacks in the NFL, a team really never knows what it is going to get until they step on the floor. Embiid improved drastically year to year in the NBA which cannot be discounted, but there is no reason to think Ayton can’t make a similar jump based on his newness to basketball.

The Suns and Sixers will play twice, the first meeting on the 19th of November and the second meeting will be in Phoenix on the 2nd of January, that will also be Deandre Ayton bobblehead night. It is the second game on a back to back for the 76ers, but for some reason I feel like Embiid will play.

First player to dunk on the other wins.

Week 4: 5 Games to Watch

Once College Game Day has finished and Lee Corso dons a duck mask or starts dancing with the Stanford tree, its time to decide what football games are worth watching.

Here are five games at five different time slots and a bonus game for good measure.

1. (23) Boston College  -7 at Purdue                ESPN 2 12:00 pm ET

BC goes to West Lafayette looking to prove its top 25 ranking. If Purdue doesn’t win is Jeff Brohm going to make it the entire season? The line is only 6.5 BC against an 0-3 Purdue team.

2. (22) Texas AM (22) at (1) Alabama  -26      CBS  3:30 pm ET

Alabama is projected to win big no surprise here, but can the AM offense put up some points against this Bama defense? Texas AM didn’t disappoint against Clemson and their NFL ready defensive line.

3. (17) TCU -3 at Texas                                         Fox 4:30 pm ET

UT beat USC last week but will they put together two good weeks? Predicted to be a low scoring game, TCU is the favorite with a more explosive offense. Texas has a 1-5 record against TCU since they have joined the Big-12(ouch). TCU is coming off a loss against OSU.

4. (7) Stanford -2 at (20) Oregon                      ABC 7:00 pm ET

On paper the best game of the day and it’s not even close. If the PAC-12 wants to keep playoff hopes alive they need a Stanford win. Also, how lucky is Oregon that Willie Taggart is no longer their coach, instead he is destroying the storied FSU program.  Another Heisman hopeful in RB Love looks to put up some highlights on national TV. Should be the best uniform matchup of the night.

5. ASU vs (10) Washington  – 17.5                    ESPN 10:30 pm ET

Pac-12 after dark has a compelling case for best time-slot of the day. You’ve lost all your bets for the day, you are at a bar, and you need Washington to cover. Washington is down at halftime, so you double down on your bet, what could go wrong?

Make some money with Arnold and Marco with the locks of the week! PODCAST

NBA Twitter vs NFL Redzone

Games can be consumed on many different platforms today, and football and basketball fans have found their niche. NBA Twitter is 24/7 365, while RedZone is only 17 Sundays during the year (they play sweet music in the off-season).

Sports content consumption is at an all time high and fans have an insatiable thirst. Nightly Sportscenter no longer quenches it. In today’s media, speed kills.  These two platforms define the modern fan. Whether it is highlight reel dunks that can be seen on your timeline, or scoring drives from games across the country, people want in game updates in real-time.

Both mediums provide instant visuals and clever commentary. RedZone has Scott Hanson with his distinct voice, dope music and ability to manipulate multiple television screens for the viewer at home. The juggling act is impressive. This idea launched in 2009 and has grown in popularity since. If your NFL team isn’t playing at the time, NFL RedZone is the spot to get not only a pulse on the league, but important updates for your fantasy teams, and track big bets from the weekend. While NBA twitter will pass important game information to its followers, it has separated itself with ridiculous highlights meshed with memes/burns/breaking news.

The NBA has crowd-sourced their information via NBA twitter during games and even during the off-season with WOJ-BOMBs.  (Are you really an NBA fan if you don’t have notifications on? ) NBA Twitter developed organically from the ridiculousness that is the NBA and everything associated with it. If a player is dunked on look no further than Rob Perez and @World_Wide_Wob literally burying the player and adding him to the graveyard. Don’t get crossed over or you’re about to get retweeted for the foreseeable future. Many sports commentators live tweet during action like Bill Simmons. NBA twitter owns social media in game commentary.

RedZone entices all generations, as old men love the channel as much as the younger sports fans. How many conversations at work have started at the water cooler because someone saw a random team on the RedZone channel throw an interception in the RedZone?  Most sports bars will have a channel dedicated to it. This channel not only gives the people what they want(scoring plays inside the 20 yard line), but plays to degenerate gamblers a burgeoning market. With 3 different time-slots for NFL games on Sundays, Redzone found its niche.( How can an NFL fan watch all the games at once?) A true fan won’t change from their team playing on Sunday, but during other time-slots there is no reason to not watch the most exciting 20 yards in football.

Sports fans attention spans are shrinking. RedZone and Twitter are growing. Whether it is cracking a cold beer and lounging hungover on a Sunday morning for a day full of football or at a sports bar on a Wednesday night to watch some NBA, the NBA and NFL game experience has evolved.

For in-game action, the NFL RedZone is unsurpassed.

For entertainment, NBA twitter is undefeated.