Category Archives: NCAA

3 For The Wooden

At this point of the season, you need to have a closer. A guy you can give the nod and say, “Hey, I need you to take over this game”. Those guys are players that are usually finalists for the Wooden Award.

So today, I will be taking a look at 3 guys who are the favorites. This year, my top 3 favorites come from 3 different conferences, which in the past few years, one of these conferences has been a bit dull. So let’s get down to business.

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The guy who is the favorite in this field has to be Lonzo Ball, the 6 foot 6 inch point-guard from UCLA. Ball is a remarkable player, who has come up clutch this season for the Bruins. Just look at that game against Dillon Brooks and the Oregon Ducks for an example. Ball is a guy who will go in the top 3 of next year’s NBA draft. He is the favorite based off the fact that he can take the ball to the rim and be lethal from downtown. He has a bit of an unorthodox stroke, but when it rains, it pours if you know what I mean. Ball could be the reason why UCLA could make a deep tourney run; he is the best player in the country.

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Many people have this next kid in the top 10, but I have him in my top 3, that kid is Luke Kennard of Duke. Kennard has been averaging 20 a night for the Blue Devils, and has really taken this team over. This was Grayson Allen’s team, but now I think with the emergence of Kennard, Allen has sort of taken a backseat and Kennard is at the wheel. Kennard is in my top 3 because of his emergence. This expanded role for the sophomore is something I really did not see coming. With some more of the clutch gene, Kennard could be seen as the best in the country, which will come next year. But for now, he is easily in my top 3 for the Wooden.

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Speaking of guys who average 20 a night, Frank Mason III, Kansas’s star PG, is my third name on the favorites list. Mason, even though it seems he’s been there since the Paul Pierce days, is in his senior year at KU. Mason may be considered to be the most reliable guard in all of college basketball due to the fact that his 3 point percentage is at 50%. Mason is one of the many reasons why Bill Self’s team has been successful this year. But consider him the quarterback of the Kansas team. When it comes to tourney time, Kansas will not need to fully rely on him, and that’s actually a good thing. But that will eventually hurt his chances at this award.

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Honorable mentions goes to Malik Monk of Kentucky. With Monk, I think it’s one of those things where he needs De’Aaron Fox to be successful. Monk is a star, but he needs a partner to work off of to be a superstar.

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I think the winner of the award is going to be Lonzo Ball. Ball is the favorite, but do not count out Kennard. I am not a fan of Frank Mason, nothing against him, but I am not a Kansas guy. I think it’s going to come down to the clutch gene, and I think that’s where Ball wins it.

So write it in, Lonzo Ball will be the Wooden Award winner.

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The Road To Omaha Is Here

The month of March is right around the corner. Which means college basketball teams are fighting tooth and nail for the chance to play in the March classic. But this week, I am taking my writing talents to the diamond.

College baseball just opened up last weekend, and the road to Omaha has begun. There are teams that I think could be the early favorite, and there are sleepers out there. Let’s get ready to rumble.

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The obvious favorite this year is the TCU Horned Frogs. The Frogs have punched their ticket to Omaha the last three seasons and they also come in as the number 1 ranked team in the country. Why are they my favorite? 22. 22 lettermen return. The Frogs could win 50 or more games this year with their experience alone.

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A team to look out for is the” Vandy Boys”, or as many of us know them as the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Commodores have two of the top draft prospects in Jeren Kendall (CF) and Kyle Wright (RHP), these two could easily go 1 and 2 in next year’s MLB draft. Vandy plays in the SEC, which is one of the top conferences in the game. Especially with perennial powerhouse LSU inside the top 5 to start the season, as well as Florida (who won over 50 games last year) and South Carolina also inside the top 10. The Commodores could be the team to run the table and win the SEC even with all that competition.

The returning champ, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are already struggling to open the season. They opened up 1-2, with Andrew Beckwith getting roughed up in an appearance against Western Carolina. With Beckwith in the bullpen to start the season, the Chants look to be in the rebuild after last season. I don’t like that at all, especially with Alex Cunningham (another big time pitcher) also in the rotation. The Chants will need to figure it out, and figure it out soon if they want a shot at repeating. Beckwith was quoted in saying that they have more starters than relievers, so maybe he is trying to become Coastal’s version of Andrew Miller.

There is always that team that can shock some people. Boston College shocked me last year, and they nearly upset Miami. As a kid from Massachusetts, I would love to see a team like B.C. or U.R.I. make a run in the Super Regionals. Then there is a team like Cal State Fullerton, a no name school in every other sport, then it’s time to lace up the spikes and they are a powerhouse. Watch out for those fellas from Fullerton, they could make a deep run.

I never make college baseball picks for the tournament. But if I am a betting man, I think we might see TCU, Louisville and Arizona all make trips to Omaha. I will also make the bold prediction that Coastal and UCSB might not make it, even though both were lovable teams last year. Stay handsome everyone, till next week.

Grayson Allen: Public Enemy Number 1

Every few years, there is one guy at Duke that every person in the college basketball community can point their finger at. They will say things like “I hate that guy” or “that fella’ is a dirty player”. You may be saying, “Jack, I bet you’re a Duke hater, so you agree with this”. I actually don’t, I am a fan of the guy I am writing about today. So yes, label me a Grayson Allen fan.

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To me, Grayson Allen is the epitome of the Duke Blue Devils. He is an emotional, killer basketball player, who certainly pushes the envelope night after night. Personally, he is the college basketball version of Brad Marchand. A terrific player, who cannot help but be controversial and slightly dirty from time to time, but man can the kid play.  Allen has been suspended a number of times for tripping, and rightfully so, but it just proves the point that some of the best are dirty.

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Allen’s numbers are down from last season. He’s averaging 15 a night instead of 21 he had in his sophomore year. Rightfully so, when you have talented guys like Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum in the lineup right alongside you. Allen proved his worth the other night against North Carolina. Allen dropped 25 points, 7 of 12 from 3 point range, and then fouled out. A pretty good night for the junior, and let me say this, I watched that entire game and Allen hit a handful of big 3’s. The kid has the clutch gene.

Allen is the new Christian Laettner. He is probably nowhere close to as hated as Laettner, but he is damn close. He joins the long line of hated Dukies like JJ Reddick, Shane Battier, Kyle Singler, Grant Hill, the list goes on. But for this decade, I have to say he may be the most hated Blue Devil to date. He impresses me, and it all goes back to the National Title performance. The kid took the game into his hands, brought Duke back, and did the job right.

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Now, Allen will probably be back for his senior year. But that torch of the hated Dukie could be passed by years end. Luke Kennard is the one waiting off to the side. Kennard is nowhere near as controversial, but this kid can play. Kennard is averaging 20 a night and has played in every game for the Blue Devils this season. He has a killer grin that the folks over on Chapel Hill will hate when Allen is gone. Kennard, I will say it, may even be better than Allen. We just don’t know that yet.

Duke is a favorite heading into the tournament. If they escape an early upset, they should be a force to be wrecking with. With public enemy number 1 in Allen leading the way and Kennard by his side, Coach K’s team may be unstoppable.

Until next week, stay handsome my friends.

Thank You Brent

Instead of spewing out some hot takes about the NFL draft prospects or the upcoming conference tourneys. I wanted to sit down and write a thank you to one of the greatest sportscasters of all time. His name is Brent Musburger and he coined the phrase “You are looking live”. Brent called his last game about a week ago from Rupp Arena in Kentucky. And let me say this, his iconic voice will be missed.

Musburger started out with CBS in the late 60’s and soon rose in the ranks at the station. Musburger was heard on the NFL Today and other various sports events on CBS. He was later fired (what a bad decision) by the station in 1990 and his final game called was the National Title game between UNLV and Duke.

He would go on to work for ABC, who had at the time merged with ESPN. Musburger soon rose to the position as the voice of the college football world. He called some of the best games, along with seven BCS national title games. He also called some of the best college basketball games for the network as well. His game calling ability was unmatched, especially when paired with Jay Bilas or Kirk Herbstreit. Brent and Kirk had an unbelievable chemistry, which is something that we rarely see today.

Many knock Brent for pointing out attractive women when on the air. But I always respected it. The man knew a good looking woman when he saw one. I will never, ever knock him for that. So if you ever had a problem with that, then you need to relax.

Thank you Brent. Thank you for descriptions of the classic scenes of Tuscaloosa, Death Valley, and the Big House. Thank you for the prolific calls during some of the best college football and basketball games ever played. And most of all, thank you for the line, that line will never be said by anyone on air other than you.

Until next week, see you readers later.

Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About

Last week, I talked about the teams who could be in the 1 and 2 spots come March. This week, I will be taking a look at just 3 teams out of the field. Three teams that have been overlooked over the past few months. I truly think these three teams, if given a chance, could some how run the table as a 4 or 5 seed. Some teams may have you scratching you’re head. So here we go.

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The Maryland Terrapins right now stand at 20-2. Maryland is led by a tremendous point guard named Melo Trimble. Trimble averages 17 a night over about 31 minutes, he truly is a top guard in the country. The Terps need him and a kid by the name Justin Jackson to be their dynamic duo come tourney time. Their two losses have come to Pitt and Nebraska, and their schedule hasn’t panned out to be as good as once thought. But at 20-2, the Terps look like the best option to run the table as a mid level seed.

Although they stand atop the Big 10 as well, I don’t know if they can win the conference. Don’t tuck in the Terps.

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Let’s stay inside the Big 10 right now, but head down to Illinois and take a look at the Wildcats of Northwestern. Yes, I am saying Northwestern is a sleeper right now, especially with a 18-4 record and 7-2 in the Big 10. Wildcats point guard Bryant McIntosh said the other day that he thinks his team could be better. If they can be better, and finish off some games down the stretch, the Wildcats could easily be a team to take down one of the favorites. McIntosh and Junior guard Scottie Lindsay may have to be two of the bigger names for this team down the stretch. Bracketology has them as a 7 seed right now and I think they can go higher. That tread line could start with a win in Madison against Wisconsin.

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I will throw an American East flavoring as we look at Cincinnati. The Bearcats sit atop the American East with an 8-0 record and are 19-2 on the campaign. A quality win over rival Xavier can only help their cause.

I think if they finish the regular season undefeated in their conference, they clinch a seed in the 3-4 range. What hurts them and why they are being slept on is the conference strength. Which has me clamoring “BRING BACK THE OLD BIG EAST”. Jacob Evans is a name to watch, and he could be a 4 year Bearcat. Only time will tell how far this kid will take the Cats, but I like what I see in him. Evans and the Bearcats could be considered a giant killer in the field come March.

So until next week, leave a comment or shoot me a tweet @jcorsi11 on the tweeter machine.

And as always, stay handsome.

 

Inside 50 Days

We are now inside 50 day until selection Sunday. To the common man, that’s just a gentle reminder. But to a guy like me, it’s a day I have circled and highlighted on my calendar.

Selection Sunday is in my opinion, a national holiday, and is one of the best days of the year. There are some teams that I know are legit 1 seeds, then there are teams with resumes worth noting that could get the top seed or even a 2 or 3 seed. This year’s field is one of the most unpredictable, which makes me happy as a clam. It’s going to be an exciting March to say the least. So let’s look at some teams who I think will be a top 3 seed.

Here are a couple notes I have about the 1 and 2 seeds thus far. I am projecting a couple things with them. For the fourth and final one in each one of the groupings, I have created a group called “The CUSP”. Meaning they are on the edge of being a 1 or 2 seed.

1 Seeds:

during the game at Allen Fieldhouse on January 4, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas.

  • Kansas: Bill Self and the Jayhawks are a perennial 1 seed choice. It seems like these fellas are in this position every season. In fact, they’ve won 12 straight Big 12 regular season titles, and 7 of those regular season titles have transferred into Big 12 Tourney Titles. With just 1 blemish on the record thus far this season, the Jayhawks look to be locking up a 1 seed once again this season.

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  • Villanova: The reigning champs look as good as ever. Jay Wright’s team looks poised to make another run at the crown. Josh Hart looks like one of the favorites for the Wooden Award as well, as he averages 19 points a night. An interesting matchup with Virginia coming up could really bolster that résumé for the Wildcats. If they do win that matchup, then I will say this, Nova could really take over that number 1 overall spot.

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  • UCLA: While the Bruins lost a home contest the other night to Arizona, I love their chances to take a 1 seed. Lonzo Ball and Bryce Alford are two names to watch, especially come tourney time. They are an awesome duo to watch. They, along with TJ Leaf and Isaac Hamilton average over 30 minutes a night, so you know the bench could be a factor if they get into foul trouble. But with a stud like Ball, anything is possible.

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  • The CUSP: In my honest opinion, the final 1 seed could come down to 3 teams. Those 3 teams being Kentucky, Baylor and Gonzaga. My gut feeling says if the Zags stay unbeaten, then they get the 1 seed. But if they drop just 1 game and Kentucky wins the SEC, the Wildcats get it. Baylor is in trouble since they have Kansas and WVU in their conference. I am sorry but whenever Gonzaga a 1 seed, they get to the Sweet 16 and lose. Give the Kentucky Wildcats and the best player in the country, Malik Monk, the 1 seed.

2 Seeds:

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  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels, in my honest opinion, is the team that has underachieved this season. They lost Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, who were the top guys last year. Justin Jackson looks to be coming into his own, and with the addition of Theo Pinson, who missed a majority of this season, the Heels look poised to make a run. Kennedy Meeks is a guy who just doesn’t do it for me; he needs to step up big time. And I really think if you can get the young freshman Tony Bradley going, the Heels could even steal a 1 seed. But I like them at the 2 for now.
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  • Creighton: 1 loss on the season for the Blue Jays. Wow is the word I describe them with for their start. I think Coach Mac has something special in guard Marcus Foster, who averages 18 a night. This kid is a game-breaker and reminds me of guards who have single-handedly taken their teams to the promise land. If they can somehow beat Nova again, maybe that run goes even further. Coach Mac has something great over there and something that could continue to be great for years to come.
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  • Arizona: Now you’re probably saying, “Jack are you pulling my leg with this?” I most certainly am not. The Wildcats look legit now that Allonzo Trier is back. Trier was once said to be done for the year due to a suspension. But after he won his appeal, the Wildcats took down UCLA in Triers opening contest and he scored 12 points. Is Arizona back? I think so.
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  • The CUSP: There are plenty of teams that you could make the argument for in this position. I like two teams in this spot right now, those being Florida State and West Virginia. Bob Huggins and WVU look really good, and are looking like they have the goods to go deep. Florida State, in my opinion, is a sleeper. The Seminoles will go as far as Dwayne Bacon will take them, he’s an future star but if he can be stopped, then the Noles are in trouble. For the Moutaineers, a lot more will be needed to be done to stop them. They have somewhere in between 8 and 10 guys who will go out and give it their all. That depth will get Bob Huggins deep into the tourney.

I leave out such teams like Oregon, Duke and Louisville. Oregon is going to miss Dillon Brooks a lot, he takes them to the elite level. Without him, they look very shaky.

Duke needs to figure it out, and everyone needs to get off Grayson Allen’s back. They have a kid in Luke Kennard who can take them places like Allen once did.

Lastly, Louisville needs Quentin Snider to step up, if he doesn’t then the Cardinals are done for. Too bad Damion Lee is a Boston Celtic, that kid would have elevated them into the top 5 and even the top 3 conversation.

So if you have any questions, comments or concerns, tweet at me @jcorsi11 or throw something in the comments. But until next week, stay handsome my friends.

 

College Football Realignment

College football is a wonderful creature. College football is that beautiful girl you meet at the bar, who tugs on your heart strings from every which way until you’ve fallen in love. She teases you and leads you on so you think it’s serious, and then she crushes your soul every freaking time. But that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?

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Congratulations to Clemson on a tremendous season, what an incredible last drive Deshaun Watson and the Clemson offense went on to seal the victory and defeat the almighty Crimson Tide.

The college football playoff is a wonderful part of the game, and I believe having a 4 team playoff is the best way to go about it. Eight teams would water down the competition to a slight degree. Don’t get me wrong I would love an 8 team playoff as well, but that beautiful Ohio State-Michigan game we all enjoyed earlier this year would be for nothing, because both teams would be in. I think 4 teams is perfect, but the only way to always ensure the 4 most deserving teams get in is to have conference expansion, and a split between college football’s FBS programs.

The Power 4 is my solution. Now I cannot credit this name as my own, I’ve seen it online in other places, but the alignment and process is entirely my own thinking, so be nice should you disagree. The Power 4 will consist of 4 conferences, each in which will have one champion, if you win the conference you go to the Playoff, pretty simple right? No ifs ands or buts about it either, you win your championship game you get to play for a national title. There will be no more “well they won head to head and had a tougher schedule and blah blah blah”. This new playoff is for champions only.

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So the 4 new conferences will consist of the North, Southeast, Midwest, and West; separated into separate divisions with the Northeast and Great Lakes in the North, the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic in the Southeast, the North and the South in the Midwest, and the North and the South in the West. You win your division you play in the conference championship game. You win the conference championship game you play in the playoff. Plain and simple. Of course we keep ranking teams 1-25, that’s half the reason college football is so cool, but in reality it can mean nothing now.

How do we realign the now Power 5 and condense it to a Power 4? Well every conference will have 18 teams, with 9 in each division. You play every team in your division, which will be 8 games. Your other 4 opponents are 1 team from each of the other 3 conferences, and one non Power 4 team. That way everyone has as level as a playing field as you can get. No more Baylor schedule will exist.

Power 4:

4 division winners play for the CFP.

But there’s a buy in system… whichever team finishes last in their respective half of the division gets kicked out for a year. All conferences have 9 teams annually, with a 10th being rotated in to sub out the 9th place team. They can stay so long as they don’t finish 9th. Example, say Boston College goes 0-8 in North play and finishes in 9th; they are replaced the following season by the team that finishes in first in the lower level of the division 1 format. I don’t exactly know what teams and how many will be in this but the conferences almost imitate the Power 4 and each divisions winner replaces the last place team from that year in the Power 4. It’s confusing but it makes sense.

The hardest part of all this is how the hell is this actually going to happen? And what teams get into each conference, and which teams sits out first, and how do we get other teams in the country that don’t make it into these conferences into the lower level conferences? Well, I’m still unsure, but I know this system could work with the right scientists working their best to make it happen. Here’s my idea for the 4 conferences, and the teams I think should be in each. The teams in parentheses are teams I think should be considered as the 10th school in each division:

Southeast:

Atlantic:

Clemson

South Carolina

North Carolina

NCST

Wake Forest

Duke

Tennessee

Louisville

Kentucky

(Vanderbilt/Western Kentucky)

Gulf Coast:

Florida

Florida St

Miami

Alabama

Auburn

Ole Miss

Miss St

Georgia

Georgia Tech

(USF/UCF/FAU/FIU)

West:

North:

Washington

Washington St

Oregon

Oregon St

Boise St

Stanford

California

Wyoming

Nevada

(Hawaii/SJST)

South:

UCLA

USC

Arizona

Arizona St

San Diego St

Colorado

Colorado St

Utah

BYU

(Fresno St/Utah St/UNLV/AirForce)

Midwest:

South:

Texas

Texas A&M

Texas Tech

TCU

Houston

Baylor

LSU

Arkansas

Louisiana Tech

(Rice/TxSt/ArkSt/Tulane/UTSA)

North:

Oklahoma

Oklahoma St

Nebraska

Missouri

Kansas

Kansas St

Iowa

Iowa St

Memphis

(Tulsa/NorthDakotaSt)

North:

Great Lakes:

Minnesota

Wisconsin

Michigan

Michigan St.

Illinois

Northwestern

Indiana

Notre Dame

Ohio St

(Purdue/Cincy/Toledo/WMich/CMich)

Northeast:

Pittsburgh

Penn St

West Virginia

Maryland

Boston College

Rutgers

Syracuse

Virginia Tech

Virginia

(Connecticut/Temple/Army/Navy)

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But what about the bowl games? To hell with the semifinal games taking up “bowl games”. The Rose Bowl will no longer ever be a national semifinal, it will always be a regular New Years Day bowl game between the highest ranked Pacific team to not make the playoffs, and the highest ranked North team to not make the playoffs. Make sense? It should.

The Sugar Bowl is between the highest ranked Midwest team to not make the playoffs, and the highest ranked Southeast team to not make the playoffs.

The Orange Bowl is the second highest Southeast team to not make the playoffs and the second highest North team to not make the playoffs.

The Fiesta Bowl is the second highest Pacific team to not make the playoffs , and the second highest Midwest team to not make the playoffs.

Then the Peach Bowl and Cotton Bowl are left for at large teams, from these 4 conferences that would make the most enticing matchups for fans to watch. No criteria is needed besides the teams must be highly ranked and create enough hype for the game to be watched by millions.

So the national semifinals can still rotate between the 6 New Years Six bowl sites, but they won’t take the title of those respective bowl games. Instead of giving them Bowl names you call it “The National Semifinal brought to you by Dr. Pepper-Pasadena/Glendale/Arlington/Atlanta/New Orleans/Miami.”

Simple as can be as I see it.