Tag Archives: UCLA Bruins

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!

Freshman Ruling The World

As I sat in my TV room with a blanket and a nice cup of hot chocolate, I said to myself during the UNC-Kentucky game, “Freshman are ruling this world”. And the moment came in the dying seconds as one of the best players (a freshman) for Kentucky hit a dagger 3, crushing the hopes of North Carolina. I was never a fan of the kids going right into the draft out of high school, and I think we all win now because of this. This week, I’m going to take a look at a couple of these guys who are just 18 years old, and who are proving to be the top guy for some of the country’s top programs.

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Let’s start with the kid who stomped on the Tarheel’s hearts on Saturday afternoon. That kid is none other than Malik Monk. Monk dropped 47 points in Vegas, and looked unstoppable. Truth be told, if he goes to the NBA after this season, I think he goes number 1 overall. The kid can step back from behind the arc, and take it to the hoop. He is the total package and could possibly have a chance to steal the Wooden Award. Also, it helps that you have Coach Cal as the one driving the bus. He usually does pretty well with the young players. Watch out for Monk in March, he is a human highlight reel.

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Speaking of highlight reel’s, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is also a name to know when it comes to talented freshman. Once known as the best passer in high school basketball, Ball brought that right to UCLA. Looking like Jason Kidd, Ball is averaging nine helpers a night, and along with that, he’s putting up 16 points a night as well. Ball was a key piece to the win against Kentucky earlier this season. As long as he is playing, the Bruins could be the team to beat out west. UCLA has a ton of talent and could go places, Lonzo Ball is the one who can lead the way.

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One other name I am going to throw out there is Jayson Tatum for Duke. Tatum is one of the most skilled players on the wing in all of college basketball. I think if Coach K is smart (he is, no shot taken there), he tries to talk Tatum into staying for another year or two. But that probably won’t happen. The kid is a versatile forward and will most likely go inside the top 10 of the draft. He will keep Duke atop the ACC this season and will make them a force come tourney time. I like the way Tatum plays, and at 6 foot 8, he’s going to win some big battles down in the trenches.

Until we meet again, try to stay handsome.

Seven Unbeaten, Who Falls First?

So far the college basketball season has proved to be an awesome one. With some of the top dogs already falling, there is one huge surprise of all the unbeatens. I will quickly take a look at the seven left, and see who I think falls first.

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Defending National Champions Villanova sits atop the AP and Coaches poll at an impressive 10-0. Coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats did the improbably by beating UNC last season in the big one, a game many didn’t think they would even sniff. There is a chance at the Wildcats repeating too, especially with Wooden Award favorite Josh Hart. Hart is the heart of this team averaging 19.5 ppg and 7 boards a night, the kid can flat out play. He’s aided by Kris Jenkins, and the two make quite the duo. So I will say they will not be the first to fall, and don’t expect them to fall until possibly February when they travel to Xavier.

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The list continues with the number two team and the storied program of UCLA. The Bruins also sit at 10-0 and have possibly one of the brightest stars in the country. Lorenzo Ball is a fun player to watch and when he’s on, the Bruins look unbeatable. Ball had my favorite moment of the season, when he made the “silence the crowd” motion after he hit a huge shot against the then number 1 Kentucky, oh and that was at Rupp Arena. They have a tough stretch coming up soon with Arizona and USC, that’s where they may fall. But they should be good for now.

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Baylor….Wow I did not see the Bears starting off 8-0, and an impressive 8-0. The Bears have beaten 4 ranked teams, 3 of which were ranked inside the top 10. This is a huge surprise, and they look good. But Baylor will begin to fall when Big 12 play gets heated up.

Gonzaga also sits at 10-0, but plays virtually no one relevant. Zaga will remain unbeaten until someone irrelevant beats them later this season. Zaga will probably get a 1 seed too, and I really hate that. They don’t fall first.

The Trojans of USC are also unbeaten so far this season at 9-0. They will fall later this season to UCLA, but they won’t be the first to fall. Neither will South Carolina, who is also unbeaten at 8-0.

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SO the team I think will fall first is the 10th ranked Creighton Blue Jays. Creighton will lose, yes they will lose a home game, to Villanova. I think Nova is the crown jewel of that conference and will reign supreme. Creighton doesn’t have Doug McDermott coming back anytime soon. A guy they could really use when they play the Wildcats. Truth be told, that match-up or the game before with Seton Hall could be the undoing for the Blue Jays.

My guess is Creighton, my next team to lose is most likely Baylor. Like I said, that sketchy Big 12 schedule could be the undoing for the Bears. My other guess would be the Trojans of Southern Cal.

Until next week, keep being handsome everyone.

Rambling On

As we head into this week of the college football season, one thing is for sure, I cannot break the .500 mark. I went 3-3 on my picks last week. This week, I will go above .500 and get the winning streak going. So here go!

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For Ole Miss, this is the biggest game of their season with the Georgia Bulldogs coming to town. I like the matchup, it’s a classic cross divisional matchup between two SEC powers. Chad Kelly for Ole Miss has to be darn near perfect for the Rebels. On the other side, win or lose, Nick Chubb should be electric. This kid really needs to pick it up. This game will most likely be a shootout between two teams with playoffs hopes. Ole Miss takes the L here and they’re basically done, but it’s going to be a high scoring affair.

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Before the season, no one had Wisconsin in the top 25, now they stand at 11. This week, they head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. The Spartans are coming off an emotional victory over Notre Dame and hope to continue that momentum. Wisconsin sat down Bart Houston last week, but I don’t expect him to be out for too much longer. But Tyler O’Conner for Sparty might be the X-Factor in this game. He’s a kid that can be the next big QB. He can solidify himself with a win over the Badgers. Being at home really could be the difference in this one, it’s a typical BIG 10 game. Home-field means everything in one of these games and it’s going to matter in this one.

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My lock of the week involves the Stanford Cardinals. The Cardinals stand inside the top 10 and have a trip to UCLA coming up this weekend. Christian McCaffrey is going to have himself a field day as David Shaw’s Stanford team is going to run all over the Bruins in this one.

Along with the games I mentioned, I will be adding in some quick picks as well.

(12) Georgia 43-(23) Ole Miss 27
(8) Michigan State 27- (11) Wisconsin 14
(7) Stanford 37- UCLA 17
(19) Florida 24-(14) Tennessee 17
(16) Baylor 56- Oklahoma State 38
(10) Texas A&M 35-(17) Arkansas 24
Arizona 35-(9)Washington 32

I have an upset as a part of my quick picks. I am not a believer the Huskies.

Heisman quick rankings
1. Lamar Jackson
2. Christian McCafferey
3. J.T. Barrett

Follow FI on Twitter @FIsports and on Facebook.

-Jack Corsi (@corsi_light)

Prime Pickings In The Pac-12

When you think of the West Coast, usually names like Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre come to mind, or names like Joe Montana or Jerry Rice. Oh, and Tom Brady is from the great state of California as well. But over the last few years, college football dominance has seemingly disappeared from the Pac-12 Conference. The Pac-12 hasn’t had a National Championship victory since 2004 (which USC was forced to vacate it), and three other title appearances which were all losses (two by Oregon, one by USC). The conference has been the one to see upset after upset, as well as a flurry of inter-divisional downfalls. So Jack, you aren’t a Pac-12 fan are you? Not a big one, if you couldn’t tell. But I get payed the big bucks here so without much more complaining, I give you my Pac-12 picks.

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The Pac-12 North winner, in my opinion, is going to be the Stanford Cardinals. When Stanford signed coach David Shaw, I knew the Cardinals would be getting into the winning swing of things. Shaw has brought a commitment to winning football games to Stanford. I like the Cardinals style of football, and it has seemingly brought them a lot of prestige over the last number of years. Replacing Kevin Hogan is going to be tough, but I think Keller Chryst can be the man to do so. Shaw can really find the skill in this kid, and I think we could see big things from him. Oh, they have a kid named Christian McCaffrey as well, he’s pretty good. Lots of experts have the Cardinal dropping a bit, but no chance they do in my eyes.

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Coach Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies are the team a lot of experts like to be Stanford’s biggest competition. You will get zero argument from me there, I like the Huskies this season. They should improve from that 7 win season they had last year. They had a stellar defense in 2015, which ranked among the best in the conference with points allowed. They also boast a dynamic QB-RB combo in Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin. The game to watch is when Stanford travels up to Seattle, that could easily be for the North’s crown.

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So let’s travel down to the South. It’s a two team race in my opinion, and that race is between UCLA and USC. Are we surprised? Not really. But I swear they will both lose games they should win by 40, when it’s the Bruins and Trojans, it’s just how it works. But there is a guy down at Arizona named Anu Solomon and when healthy, he’s arguably a top 3 QB in the conference. I think the South is really a toss up to be honest, because you also have to factor in Arizona State, a tough team to beat at home.

Oregon is the last team I will look at real quick. The Ducks went 9-4 last season, which can be considered a down year for them since they are used to be competing as a top 5 squad. The Ducks will struggle with Stanford and Washington for sure, and they get a trip to Nebraska as well. Oregon could easily be a 4-5 loss team again this year.

Oh have the mighty fallen.

NORTH

Stanford 11-2 (7-2)

Washington 9-3 (6-3)

Washington State 8-4 (5-4)

Oregon 8-4 (5-4)

California 6-6 (3-6)

Oregon State 2-10 (1-8)

SOUTH

UCLA 9-4 (7-2)

USC 8-4 (6-3)

Arizona 8-4 (6-3)

Utah 6-6 (5-4)

Arizona State 5-7 (4-5)

Colorado 3-9 (1-8)

Conference Championship

Stanford over UCLA

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-Jack Corsi (@corsi_light)