Tag Archives: Arizona Wildcats

Sweet and Elite

Wow. What a slew of games that we saw last week as a 1 and a couple of 2 seeds fell in this NCAA tournament. Villanova, Duke and Louisville all packed their bags early, heading back to their schools disappointed and ashamed.

Wisconsin, South Carolina and Michigan all have crashed the party and they did it in both dramatic and convincing fashion. We also have a clash of the titans in the south region, as seeds 1 through 4 all made it to the Sweet 16.

So let’s break down these sweet 16 games, and I will also give you my new picks for the final 4, since I had Duke in my final, my bracket is a bit busted. Here we go, let’s start up in the East.

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(8) Wisconsin vs (4) Florida

This is a great game that we would see in the Capital One Bowl during the college football season. Wisconsin led by Seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes have brought Wisconsin back to the big time with their play in the first two games.  The Badgers have beaten Virginia Tech in a close one, and upset Villanova by 3 in a thriller.

Florida beat ETSU by 15 then smoked Virginia by 26. The Gators have been led by Junior forward Devin Robinson. Robinson has been a big time player for the Gators in this tournament. It’s an awesome matchup, and a tough one to pick. But I like Wisconsin in this one, that Senior leadership of Nigel Hayes is what will do it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.11.15 AM.png(7) South Carolina vs (3) Baylor

I had neither of these teams in the Sweet 16, my matchup was USC-Duke. Boy I was wrong. Let me say this, I am not a Baylor Bear believer, but Jonathan Motley has been a force this year for the Bears. He is making me contemplate changing my mind about them. Baylor walked by NMSU by a bunch and squeaked by USC by 4.

South Carolina smoked Marquette by 20, and then took out Duke by 7. The Gamecocks led by Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, had plenty of scoring in their game with Duke. The Gamecocks had 5 fellas in double figures, 4 with fifteen points or more. I like South Carolina, they’re coming off the impressive win against Duke, and I think if Thornwell gets hot early, then it will be a long night for the Bears.

So the Elite 8 game would pit (7) South Carolina vs (8) Wisconsin, let’s stick with the Badgers to the Final 4. Hayes and Koenig led them back to the kingdom and they’re back as one of the prime teams in the Big 10.

EAST WINNER: (8) WISCONSIN

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(4) West Virginia vs (1) Gonzaga

Gonzaga is in this game because the NCAA didn’t want them bowing out early again. That game against Northwestern was officiated horribly . I think Bob Huggins will coach West Virginia and put Gonzaga coach Mark Few’s mind into a pretzel. The duo of Jevon Carter and Nathan Adrien are what will put the Mountaineers over the top in this one. The Zags aren’t as good as people think they are. If I am wrong, I will admit that. But give me WVU and convincingly.

654271336(11) Xavier vs (2) Arizona

I give Xavier all the credit in the world. They have beaten elite teams night in and night out. The Musketeers first took out Melo Trimble and Maryland then Dwayne Bacon and Florida State, now they get Arizona led by Allonzo Trier. Arizona has blown out North Dakota and slipped by St Mary’s. But this game could be a big one, if Xavier plays to their true potential, then I think they put up a fight. But then again, led by Trier and Lauri Markkanen, the Wildcats could blow this game into the stratosphere and it’ll be over at halftime. I like Arizona by at least 10.

My winner of the Elite 8 game of WVU and Arizona is going to be Arizona. I think Nathan Adrien will get into foul trouble early, and that could crush the hopes of WVU. They’ll close the deficit but Trier and company will be just too much.

WEST WINNER: (2) ARIZONA

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(5) Purdue vs (1) Kansas

Kansas may be the most complete team in this region with Frank Mason and Joshua Jackson. Jackson has had big tournament with big play after big play. Kansas should get their first true test with the Boilermakers on Thursday night.

Caleb Swanigan and Vince Edwards are the duo who I think could give the Jayhawks their toughest match-up in the tourney thus far. Swanigan has at least a double-double a game and Edwards has dropped 20. This could mean Landon Lucas and Devonte Graham will need to be huge for the Jayhawks.

Who’s my pick? I like Kansas by 7 or 8, much closer game than the 2 previous match-ups for Kansas, but I do reserve the right to say if Josh Jackson heats up early, this one could be a double-digit blowout.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.14.35 AM.png(7) Michigan vs (3) Oregon

This game is the biggest one in the career of Dillon Brooks. This game is the legacy game I think for the guard. Brooks and company will face a Michigan team that will have overcome basically every obstacle in their way.

But do the Ducks have someone that can stop Moritz Wagner? I don’t think so, it will be one of those big man on one side and a guard on the other side games. Brooks got help from the other guard Tyler Dorsey against Rhode Island, and he will need all the help he can get in this one. Michigan on the other hand has won a majority of their games in the second half, if they wait that long, they will be blown away. I just flipped a coin and I like the Ducks by 2.

I think Kansas walks out of the Midwest. They boast way too much firepower. Jackson and Mason will eat the Oregon duo alive.

MIDWEST WINNER: (1) KANSAS

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(4) Butler vs (1) UNC

I won’t lie, I think this game comes down to the possible match-up of Kelan Martin for Butler and Justin Jackson for UNC. I think Jackson is most likely the most underrated player in the entire country and Kelan Martin is the most unnamed good player in the country.

Butler needs Martin to take over this game from buzzer to buzzer.  Then again, the starting five that UNC trots out is arguably the best in the nation. After a scare from Arkansas, I don’t think the Heels fool around with Butler, and escape with a 5 or 6 point win.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.16.17 AM.png(3) UCLA vs (2) Kentucky

The rematch we did not think we would get to see. Bruins vs. Wildcats was a thriller earlier this season, with the Bruins leaving Rupp Arena with a win. The Monk-Fox tag-team will have to be at its utmost best from start to finish. This could be the game of the tournament, a true matchup of stars that could give us another rematch. My big pick was Kentucky and I’m sticking with it. The Cats win by 8 as Lonzo Ball has an off game, and TJ Leaf gets into early foul trouble.

I am sticking with Kentucky, no other way to put it.

MIDWEST WINNER: (2) KENTUCKY

 

 

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Trial By Conference Tourney

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, we have almost reached the promise land of the college basketball season. We are just a few days away from what I call Judgement Day, and what mere mortals call Selection Sunday. But before we have teams find out their region, we have what I consider to be the most exciting week of the year, Conference Tournament week. Let’s start in the ACC, and as always, my picks come at the very end.

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ACC-  When you think of the ACC nowadays, 96% of the time you think of them as the deepest conference in college basketball. This year is no different, with plenty of teams in the running, there is only one favorite in my opinion. That’s the returning conference champs, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The Heels are hot at the right time, and are the number 1 seed in the tournament. Justin Jackson is, in my opinion, the most reliable player in the conference. The Heels will look to him a lot when the time comes; I also think Joel Berry will be looked to when the time comes.

Also, don’t count out Duke. The Blue Devils with Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen are bound for a third match-up with Carolina. The THIRD team I think that could make waves is Virginia. The Cavaliers led by London Perrantes (yes he is still there) could surprise a lot of people. They have the first round bye then would take on Notre Dame in the third round. The match-up with the Irish is a favorable one for the Cavs.

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Big East- No one, I repeat no one is beating Villanova. The Wildcats will repeat as Big East champs and move onto being a 1 seed in the tourney. That was easy.

during the game at Allen Fieldhouse on February 1, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas.

Big 12-The Big 12 tournament has been all Kansas as of late. The Jayhawks have won 7 of the Big 12 Tournaments since 2006, as well as 14 straight Big 12 regular season championships. I think that makes the Bill Self’s Jayhawks the favorite.

Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson are a tough duo to beat in the Big 12, and if Devonte’ Graham is on, then the Big 12 is in major trouble.

The only team I think that should at least scare Kansas is West Virginia. Bob Huggins looks to have a team that could stand toe to toe with the Jayhawks. The two are on a collision course for a third meeting; the teams split the two this season. The Mountaineers will need a big tourney out of Nathan Adrian and Jevon Carter; those two are on the warpath right now. I hope we get this third game, it could be a great finale to the Big 12 this season.

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Big 10- Yikes, well I don’t know folks, I have seen wide-open conferences and then I saw this year’s Big 10. I do not like the number 1 team in Purdue. The Boilermakers don’t impress me, I really don’t know why but I am not impressed by them. Also with this tourney, unpredictability comes so often it’s absolutely ridiculous.

I like Maryland this year, which does not come to a surprise to readers who have read my stuff on the Terps before. Led by Melo Trimble, this could be the Terps year to really make a run. Yes they lack Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon, but along with Damonte Dodd, freshmen Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan, Trimble and the Terps look good.

Another one of the favorites have to be Wisconsin. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig (both journeymen) look poised to get the Badgers back to the elite. They would run into Purdue, but I like them matching up against Purdue in any tourney style game.

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Pac-12 The Pac-12 is back, and by back I mean the top 4 teams should dominate in this conference tournament. I like UCLA and Oregon based off their guard play. It is no question that Lonzo Ball (UCLA) and Dillon Brooks (Oregon) are two of the top guards in the nation and are on the road to a showdown in the Pac-12 title game.

UCLA has plenty of weapons though. Besides Ball, you have TJ Leaf and Bryce Alford who could be found taking some big shots down the stretch. The one other team that could be found deep in this tourney is the Arizona Wildcats.

The Wildcats, who has Allonzo Trier back halfway through the season, could be the team to beat either UCLA or Oregon. Trier and big man Lauri Markkanen could be what the Cats use to get to the final against the Ducks. One of these three will most likely win the conference, and what could be one of the best finals in the history of the conference.

during the first half at Rupp Arena on January 21, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.

SEC– Kentucky is the clear cut favorite in my opinion. When the Cats get the top spot in the SEC tourney, they rarely, if ever, lose. Coach Cal and Malik Monk are looking like they are on a path to a deep NCAA tourney run. Monk will need De’Aaron Fox as his healthy tag partner in this tourney. When Fox if healthy, he takes a lot of the spotlight off of Monk. Derek Willis will need to be clutch from outside the arch as well.

Florida is the only other team I see taking this conference. But with their path to the final including a possible Arkansas or Missouri matchup, I think the Gators could be in trouble. They’re in contention but I don’t think they are a credible threat to Kentucky.

ACC- UNC over Virginia

Big East- Villanova over Providence

Big 12- Kansas over West Virginia

Big 10- Maryland over Wisconsin

Pac 12- UCLA over Oregon

SEC- Kentucky over Missouri

Those are my picks and I am sticking to them. Next time you here from me, we will be knee deep in the NCAA tourney. So I will probably have pulled my hair out because my bracket is busted.

So try to stay handsome everyone, and happy tourney season!

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.

 

Championship Wednesday 

Wednesday night in Omaha is the final game of the college baseball season, and also for all the marbles. Coastal Carolina and Arizona will play a final Game 3 to settle who is the college champion. A matchup that has given us two exciting games so far, could lead to one great finale. How did we get here?

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Game 1 went to the Wildcats of Arizona. Arizona used a run in the first and a two run shot later on to clinch game 3-0. Their pitching was dominant in this one. Coastal’s 4-5-6 hitters went 0 for 10, while the bottom of the order did the hitting.

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Game 2 was a back and fourth affair. But as they had before, the Chants came from behind with a 3 run 8th inning to win this one 5-4. G.K. Young hits a huge single, driving in two but is thrown out at second to give the inning its second out. Bad base running there could have given the Chanticleers even more of a cushion. In the end, the one run was enough to beat the Wildcats.

We now get a Game 3 for the third consecutive year. As a fan of the game, these game 3’s are as tension filled as any other sport. This game should be the best one of the year. And will provide us with some pretty sound baseball.

For Coastal, expect to see the ace of the staff Andrew Beckwith on the mound tonight. Beckwith has been nothing short of spectacular for the Chants this year and should be getting the ball tonight. For the Wildcats, I would expect Nathan Bannister on the mound, but Bobby Dahlbeck could be an option as well. But one will be pitching, you can put your money on that.

Truth be told, I have no idea who will win this game. And that’s the best part of the college game. Last year Virginia won games 2 and 3 and the year before it was Vandy winning them. I like Coastal mainly because of the logo. Maybe the best logo in college sports. It’ll be a 8-5 final, Beckwith could go 6-7 innings.

And that will conclude this baseball season in the NCAA. If you don’t tune in tonight, then there is something seriously wrong with you!

Omaha Means Immortality

The tickets are punched, the bags are packed and there are 8 teams on their way to Omaha, Nebraska. The College World Series is set to begin this weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited. This is the last big college event of the year, and possibly the most exciting. So let’s take a look at our four match ups and maybe even dive deeper into the bracket.

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Our opening matchup pits the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the UCSB Gauchos. This is literally the Old West matchup. Cowboys and Gauchos, all we need is John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. Thomas Hatch of O.K. State has to be pitching since he’s the best in the Big 12 and is absolutely lights out. Shane Bieber, yes you’re reading that right, will most likely get the nod for UCSB, he’s their ace as well. As much momentum USCB has, I really like O.K. State in this one.

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The next matchup gives us the third ranked national seed Miami Hurricanes and the Arizona Wildcats. Miami beat BC in 3 games, and Arizona took out Mississippi State in Starkville. I truly think Miami is overrated, but they have gotten the job done. Arizona is a team known for walking-off so let’s just say I’m liking that idea for this game. I have no idea who will face off on the mound, but give me the upset with the Wildcats.

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The battle of Texas starts off the Sunday games where the 5th ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders take on the TCU Horned Frogs. This is an intriguing matchup for this side of the bracket, due to Tech winning the season series 2-1. I would throw the red shirt Freshman Jared Janczak if I were TCU. I think he could be the youth movement to lead the Frogs deep. And with that youth movement, I like the Frogs in this one.

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Our last game of the weekend will be the number 1 ranked Florida Gators and the unranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. This is a game no one expected to see. To me, Florida is a team on a mission, but when there is a hot team like Coastal in your way, you need to tread lightly. You best believe the 12-1 Andrew Beckwith will be the starter against Florida. He’s on fire and can be the one to real trump the Gators. You know what? Give me Coastal! I love the fight in this team!

Overall, I really like Oklahoma State to win it all. I love the fight and heart they bring to the table. The winner of the Texas Tech-TCU matchup is also a viable choice. But my pick is the Cowboys. I really like them, wouldn’t mind a Gauchos run but I believe the Black and Orange will give us a memorable couple games.

It all starts Saturday. ESPN 2 will be covering these games, and the opener starts at 3. Omaha is about to be on point for the next week, and I cannot wait to not leave my couch!