Tag Archives: College basketball

Total Tar Heel Dominance

The National Title belongs to the North Carolina Tar Heels, thus finishing the road to redemption. The Heels, led by Coach Roy Williams, fell victim to a buzzer beater finish at the hands of Villanova last season. This time around, the Heels said they would get the job done. That they did, and with an unbelievable defensive attack in the second half against Gonzaga, the Tar Heels redeemed themselves.

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Joel Berry III was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. The kid played with grit and determination. He dropped 22 points and had 6 assists in the effort. Berry, who is just a junior, could return to Carolina next season, as well as ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson.

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I’d be surprised if Justin Jackson were to return to Carolina. After the season this young man had, he could be NBA bound. But I would love to see him back next year, he could repeat as a champ and an MVP. He is a special player who can really play amazingly in the spotlight, it would be awesome to see him play one more year in Carolina Blue.

The unsung hero for the Heels has to be Luke Maye. Maye stepped up big time in the big game. Remember that shot he hit against Kentucky? Ask Malik Monk, he will tell you all about it. Maye was a solid contributor to the victory, and could be in for a colossal season next year.

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Kennedy Meeks wins in what will be his final game in Carolina Blue. Meeks was a role player in every season that I can remember. His presence will be missed in the middle for Carolina. Although he scored just 7 points, he snagged 10 rebounds in the title win. Those 10 rebounds were pivotal to the winning effort.

Let me say this too. Gonzaga proved me wrong and I apologize to them for counting them out so often. The Bulldogs were a formidable team and Coach Mark Few did what I thought he couldn’t do. They’re effort was admirable and I have to say, they worked their tails off. They now have a lot more credibility in my eyes, I’d just like to see them play a couple tougher games in the coming years. They’ll have a bunch of guys back next year so don’t be surprised to see Gonzaga creep up to a deep tourney run.

We in the college world now take focus on baseball and lacrosse. Two sports that have had a recent jump in viewers so should be a great spring.

Carolina found out that the ceiling is the roof, and boy did they do it impressively.

Stay handsome, everyone!

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Just Four Remain

Four are left standing in this ultimate elimination cage match that is the NCAA tournament. North Carolina, South Carolina, Gonzaga and Oregon all head to Phoenix for the chance to reign as supreme ruler of the NCAA basketball realm.

Alas the final four is set, and we are in for a doozy of games. But let’s first look at a couple things from the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games.

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We saw LaVar Ball’s oldest son, Lonzo, basically no show the biggest game of his career for UCLA, and we saw essentially what will get De’Aaron Fox a seat at the draft. Fox outplayed Ball and helped Kentucky punch their ticket to a rematch with UNC.

What I thought was the game of the year had the finish of the year as well. Malik Monk hits a highly contested three which led to former walk-on Luke Maye hitting the 2 point jumper to punch the Heel’s ticket to the Final 4.

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Oregon in the Midwest had Kansas Jayhawk on the menu in the Elite 8. They had their Jayhawks smoked, and Tyler Dorsey had himself 27 points on the night. Ducks star Dillon Brooks had his hefty helping with 17 points as well.

This duo could just be getting started, as Brooks is just a junior and Dorsey is a sophomore. Dorsey is looking like the tourney MVP for the Ducks, having 4 straight games with 20 points, 2 of those games were 27 point nights. The Ducks might want to lean on Dorsey then go to Brooks in the waning moments.

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I have been a Gonzaga hater this entire season and probably always will be. But I will give it up for the Zags, they have proved their worth to me. The absolutely destroyed Xavier, but still got away with highway robbery against Northwestern. Their Sweet 16 game with WVU was a great one, Jordan Mathews had ice in his veins when he drained that 3 ball. Happy for Mark Few, he finally got to the big one.

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 11.34.03 AMAnd then there is the Cinderella story, the South Carolina Gamecocks. They have beaten a 2, 3 and a 4 seed this tournament. Duke, Baylor and Florida have all been pecked to death by Carolina. One thing is for sure, Sindarius Thornwell can sure play. He has been nothing short of spectacular. South Carolina is now faced with Gonzaga, and can complete the sweep of a top 4 seed grouping.

So let’s start there, Carolina comes in the 7 seed and are playing unbelievably. The contrasting styles, the depth, and the guard play are three things that are going pivotal in this tilt. Thornwell is going to have to be the best player on the court. Nigel Williams-Goss is going to oppose him, and that’s got to be an exciting matchup. I am biting the bullet and sticking with the Cinderella, give me South Carolina in a great one.

Now to the other side of the bracket with Oregon and North Carolina, I am going to be short and sweet with this one. I like Carolina and I like Carolina big. The redemption they are looking for is going to be found here. They are too deep for Oregon, and have too many weapons. After what Luke Maye and Theo Pinson were able to do in the last game, they are just the next guys up. Before them they have Joel Berry and Justin Jackson. Brooks and Dorsey put up a fight, but it’s not enough.

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So the final will be a battle of the Carolinas. The redemption bid against the Cinderella story out of nowhere. Justin Jackson has his career defining game as the Heels win and get their redemption. Thornwell will have himself a night, but will not be able to get the job done. “The Ceiling is the roof”, or whatever MJ said will come to fruition. The Heels will not be denied this time around, Justin Jackson wins MOP.

“Wow, what a finish.” will be said by all.

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

 

 

The Field Is Set, And Here We Go

We have reached the land of no return. With 68 teams entered, 4 have played for their lives already; I can honestly say this year is a mind-bender. Last year, I won 3 or 4 pools, so I am a certified bracketologist. So let me start with the East region and the returning champs Villanova.

652231852EAST: The Wildcats come in ranked number 1 in the region. With a challenging road to the Sweet 16, I like them all the way to the Elite 8. However, I think they may get a challenge from Wisconsin in the round of 32.

Duke is on a tear right now, which makes me feel like it’s one of those years where they lose immediately. But I went with my gut and took the Blue Devils to the Elite 8 as well. The team to watch is at the 11 seed right now, and that’s the USC Trojans. I think they really could make a run.

Virginia still scares me too; they have a chip on their shoulder and could really make some noise.

652637660WEST: I have said it once and I will say it again, Gonzaga being the 1 seed means very little to me. I have the Zags going to the Sweet 16 and falling. To who though?

Well look no further than my main man Huggy Bear. That’s right, Bob Huggins once again will lead West Virginia deep in this tournament. I like this Mountaineer team especially at the 4 seed.

One of the other teams I like is Arizona. Sean Millers club looks like a complete Arizona team, and with the addition of Trier mid-season, they are a scary matchup for almost everyone. I will say this though, if Notre Dame can get by West Virginia, then I think the Irish could be a scary match-up for just about anyone.

The last team I can see making it to the Sweet 16 is Maryland. I am a fan of Melo Trimble, and I believe he will be back for his senior season.  This could just be the stepping stone for next year’s Terps.

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MIDWEST: Bill Self has been the king of the Midwest region for as long as I can remember. I just don’t know if anyone can compare to them going up to the Sweet 16. This is a Big 12 theme, as I think we could see the Cyclones from Iowa State meet the Jayhawks, but they will have a tough test in upset minded Vermont Catamounts, who I love against Purdue.

I don’t care about injuries either, Dillon Brooks is a top 5 player in the country, and I think he gets Oregon to the Sweet 16. I think a second round matchup between Louisville and Michigan; a national title rematch will serve a test for who Oregon will see in the Sweet 16.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 1.17.31 PM.pngSOUTH: You are out of your mind if you don’t have seeds 1, 2 and 3 going to the Sweet 16. UNC, Kentucky and UCLA are on a freight train from hell right now, and they are on a collision course for each other. SO spoiler, I have those three in the sweet 16. I like the upset in this region with Middle Tennessee and Winthrop winning, but this match-up had me pacing back and forth for about 5 minutes. These types of games are the most entertaining, let’s pray it happens. Cincinnati and Wichita State could scare some teams, but I don’t think they match-up with the Goliaths.

But before we get to the picks, heres a complimentary picture of Dickie V from a couple years ago!

138948226So much joy, so much happiness, so much Dick Vital. So now, without further ado….HERE ARE THE PICKS!

EAST: Villanova(1), Florida (4), USC/PC (11) and Duke (2)

WEST: Gonzaga (1), West Virginia (4), Maryland (6) and Arizona (2)

Midwest: Kansas (1), Iowa State (5), Oregon (3) and Michigan (7)

South: UNC (1), Middle Tennessee State (12), UCLA (3) and Kentucky (2)

Go ahead, berate me. I like who I have in the Sweet 16. Next week is a toss-up. So try to stay handsome and happy Tourney season!

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!

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.

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.