Posted on: October 19, 2009 11:37 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2009 11:22 pm

Dantheman's SEC Preview

John Calipari joined the SEC and everything we know about the conference changed in an instant.

Last season the SEC was the laughingstock of the college basketball world with only three teams selected to the NCAA Tournament. Three years before that it was Florida, not Kentucky, celebrating back to back championships while Wildcat fans were promised that Billy Gillespie would turn their program around.

Meanwhile Calipari sat at Memphis, dominating Conference USA, reaching Final Fours, and bringing in top recruit after top recruit. The Tigers reached the national championship game against Kansas two seasons ago and led late before free throw shooting gave the Jayhawks a chance, and eventually the national championship. That was the Tigers one chance to change their mid-major label and become a true elite program.

That's why when Kentucky came calling, Calipari answered. Who wouldn't? Well there is Billy Donovan, Florida's head coach who turned down the Wildcats twice in four seasons, but honestly who wouldn't want the Kentucky job?

I don't want you to believe that SEC coaches are coaching harder just because of what Calipari has been able to do at Kentucky, because that's not true. It is true that the rest of the league knows big blue is back, will not go around soon, and is the team to beat in the conference this year. All that without even coaching a game at Kentucky.

Don't expect the rest of the league to just sit back and let Kentucky run through the league though. This year the SEC is back in a big way. There's a quiet murmur among SEC basketball fans discussing just how good this conference will be next season. Three SEC tournament teams this season? No way. Think more like five, at the minimum. On paper there are eight teams that appear to be potential NCAA Tournament teams for the SEC, but in this conference there's always the chance that another "Georgia" Cinderella run could take place in the Georgia Dome (site of the NCAA Tournament) to add another team to the mix.

And if you're looking for stars, look no further than the SEC. Jarvis Varnado, the big man you don't want to see when you get to the basket, Tasmin Mitchell, Patrick Patterson, and Devan Downey are among the players that will make highlight reels every night among the nation.

Here's my SEC preview (be sure to check out my preseason bracketology as well), along with a prediction of whether each team will be playing in March:

SEC East

1. Kentucky Wildcats: Let's be honest, Kentucky is loaded. Forget Patrick Patterson for a minute, the Wildcat big man that averaged 17.9 PPG and 9.3 RPG last season. Don't think about Perry Stevenson, the X-factor in a lot of Wildcat wins last season. In marches John Wall, the most anticipated freshman guard since Derrick Rose led Memphis to the national title game two seasons ago. In comes DeMarcus Cousins, the aggressive shot blocker that will join Patterson down low.

Biggest Question: We know that the Wildcats will be the most talented team in the SEC next season, by far. The only question in Kentucky is how the new players gel under Calipari. With Wall, Cousins, and Eric Bledose--all gifted freshman joining one of the nation's most prolific programs--the problem might be that there aren't enough basketballs on the floor at once for all the talent.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs North Carolina (December 5th)
Anytime you host the national champions and you're trying to get back to elite status the game can be used as a measuring tool for how far your team is away. The Tar Heels are less talented than they were less season and as vulnerable as the Tar Heels are ever going to be.

Key Conference Game: At Tennessee (February 27th)
Last year Jodie Meeks torched the Volunteers for 54 in Knoxville. This season Meeks isn't on the Wildcats roster. Tenneesee will have revenge in mind at home against the Wildcats. Make sure you tune in for this one. It could decide the SEC East champion.

Key Player: John Wall
Wall hasn't even played a game but has nearly reached legend status for the Wildcats already. All offseason he's been the talk of college basketball. If he lives up to expectations then Kentucky will be extremely good. From what I've seen of Wall, there's no way he doesn't become a star right away in Lexington.

Postseason: Elite Eight (NCAA Tournament)

2. Tennessee Volunteers: What Bruce Pearl has been able to accomplish in Knoxville is pretty remarkable. This offseason his Volunteers are flying under the radar with a roster flooded with talent due to Calipari's storylines at Big Blue. With J. P. Price, Wayne Chism, Bobby Maze, and Tyler Smith back hopes are very high in Knoxville.

Biggest Question: Last season Tennessee's defense allowed 72.5 points per game. That's the nature of the full court press, but can Pearl's defense force more turnovers and allow less easy baskets this season? If they can then Tennessee will likely get a lot of easy wins, something they didn't have a whole lot of last season.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Kansas (January 10th)
The preseason number one team in the country against a team that looks, on paper, like a top 15 team. This is what college basketball is all about. While a NCAA Tournament bid is not likely to be on the line, seeding for the tournament will be.

Key Conference Game: At LSU (February 4th)
There's a tough stretch for Tennessee in SEC play, following what looks to be a schedule allowing the Vols to get off to a great start in conference.  From January 27th to February 13th the Vols play six games against potential NCAA Tournament teams: Vanderbilt, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky. The game against LSU is sandwiched in the middle of that stretch. Going to Baton Rouge and winning could be the key to avouding a February letdown.

Key Player: Tyler Smith
There's a reason he's mentioned as one of the top players in the SEC.

Postseason: Sweet 16 (NCAA Tournament)

3. Florida Gators: Just two summers ago, Billy Donovan's Florida Gators were the talk of the sports world. They had just completed back to back national championships, a feat almost unheard of in the common era, and looked poised to stay an elite program. Fastforwarding to the current state of Florida basketball starts a barrage of questions. How could a team so dominant two years ago fail to make the NCAA Tournament the last two years? The talent level has fallen off, Nick Calathes is gone, and there are more questions than answers in Gainesville.

Biggest Question: Can Dan Werner actually become a dependable player for Donovan? Werner will be the lone senior for the Gators this season, but most Gator fans cannot wait until he leaves campus for good. That's how bad he's been in his career at Florida.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Michigan State (November 27th)
If Florida wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament, they've got to get nice wins outside of SEC play. The last two seasons the Gators haven't even given themselves an opportunity to get those wins because they've chosen not to schedule tough teams.

Key Conference Game: At Vanderbilt (January 9th)
The Gators opener against the Commodores will be huge for their season with Kentucky and LSU up next. The last thing Florida needs on their mission to get back to the Big Dance is three straight losses to begin conference play.

Key Player: Kenny Boynton
It seems as if the entire existence of the Gators basketball program is hanging in the balance, and Boynton is really the only player left to give Florida fans hope this year. Everyone is expecting big things from Boynton.

Postseason: First Round (NCAA Tournament)

4. Vanderbilt Commondores: With A. J, Ogilvy back last season, the Commodores were expecting to go dancing. Instead, the SEC turned into the worst BCS conference in basketball by far, and Vanderbilt finished as one of nine teams sitting at home and watching the NCAA Tournament. With only George Drake gone, and notables like Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal back, Vanderbilt is expecting to make a push for the NCAA Tournament again this year.

Biggest Question: Can A. J. Ogilvy get tougher? Ogilvy has been a great player for Vanderbilt during his first two seasons, but he's also been a slight disappointment. Vanderbilt needs him to be tougher inside, grab more rebounds, and even become more of a scoring threat after averaging 15.4 PPG last year. How did Ogilvy respond this summer? Reports are that he spent the offseason working on his strength and conditioning. If he did, Vanderbilt will be a tough out in the SEC East.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Missouri (December 2nd)
The Commodores need to beat other teams that could potentially be on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. After playing Cincinnati on November 23rd, Vanderbilt gets a large nine day break before taking on Mike Anderson's Tigers. There's no excuse for losing that one, even with Thanksgiving smack in the middle of that break.

Key Conference Game: At Tennessee (January 27th)
When you begin SEC play with Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and Auburn--four teams that figure to be decent but not overwhelming--then you've got to like your chances of a 3-1 or 4-0 start in conference play. The next two, at Tennessee and at Kentucky, might decide whether Vanderbilt is potentially playing for a higher NCAA Tournament seed in February, still on the bubble, or completely out of the tournament picture.

Key Player: A. J. Ogily
I don't want to pick the best player on every team at this spot, and I refuse to, but it's obvious that Ogilvy is the key to Vanderbilt's season. If he ups his game then Vanderbilt might be able to overachieve the expectations most "experts" have for them.

Postseason: NIT

5. South Carolina Gamecocks: Devan Downey might be the best player in the entire SEC, and he's also the main reason a lot of people think the Gamecocks can make a run at the NCAA Tournament.  With his sidekick Dominique Archie back too, and only Zan Fredrick gone, South Carolina is a gigantic sleeper in the SEC. It's hard to rank them in the absolutely loaded SEC East, but at this point I think the Gamecocks overachieved last season and will take a step back this season.

Biggest Question: How big of a role will Brandis Raley-Ross play for the Gamecocks this season? Last season he was the SEC's sixth man of the year. Now he's expected to get an expanded role in the offense while taking Fredrick's place.

Key Non Conference Game: At Clemson (December 6th)
If I told you I was impressed with South Carolina's out of conference schedule then I'd be lying. If the SEC wants to get back to being a conference taken seriously off the gridiron then its teams need to start playing good teams. Clemson, Boston College, and Baylor are the three BCS conference teams the Gamecocks play in the non-conference. All three are expected to be down this season, although the Tigers should still be a NCAA Tournament caliber team. I must also note that playing in the Charleston Classic gives the Gamecocks another chance to play a couple of good teams OOC.

Key Conference Game: At Vanderbilt (March 6th)
It's just a guess, because I could be wrong, but something tells me that the NCAA Tournament picture only has room for either Vanderbilt or South Carolina. Whoever wins this game, the Commodores' final regular season game, will likely stay in the picture. Obviously this is assuming a lot, but I can't see either team being completely out of the picture early in March.

Key Player: Dominique Archie
Archie will be overshadowed by Downey all offeason, and rightfully so. Downey will make the big shots and he will be the guy that helps the Gamecocks get where they go this season, but Archie is the man who will be expected to be the scorer when Downey isn't producing. For the Gamecocks to be tournament bound this year Archie is going to have to up his game to an even higher level than last season (when he averaged 10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG) with Frederick gone.

Postseason: NIT

6. Georgia Bulldogs: New Georgia coach mark Fox looks up from the cellar of the conference at John Calipari, Bruce Pearl, Billy Donovan, and superstars everywhere. His team has no success to count on in tough moments and absolutely no experience in big games. Yet he expects to win, quickly. Two years ago the Bulldogs made an incredible run to the NCAA Tournament by winning the SEC Tournament, but last season the program fell back off the map with a 3-13 conference record.

Biggest Question: Will Troy Thompkins continue to develop into a dependable big man for the Bulldogs? Last season, a freshman, Thompkins averaged 12.5 PPG and 7.4 PPG. With Terrance Woodbury gone the scoring duty will now be put on Thompkins, Dustin Ware, and Albert Jackson. Thompkins represented the USA in the Under-19 World Championships this summer.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Illinois (December 19th)
Let's be honest: Nobody sees Georgia making the NCAA Tournament, not even Georgia fans. It doesn't mean it can't happen. That's what is great about college basketball. If it is going to happen (and like I said chances are it won't) the Bulldogs have to find a way to win nice out of conference games. More than likely games like the one vs Illinois and Georgia Tech will probably have an impact on whether Georgia makes the NIT or CBI.

Key Conference Game: At Kentucky (January 9th)
Georgia wants to show the world it's on its way back. What better way to do that than by beating Kentucky, in Lexington, to begin SEC play? Who knows, in this crazy world of college basketball parity it might even mean something come March, should it happen.

Key Player: Troy Thompkins
With Woodbury gone, the scoring output might be more than Thompkins can handle as a sophmore. His experience this summer will help, but without huge performances from him in key games it's very unlikely that Mark Fox's team will be anything more than a spoiler in mid-February.

Postseason: None


1. Mississippi State Bulldogs: Last year the Bulldogs won the SEC Tournament and saved the SEC from a great deal of embarrasment. This season the expectations in Starkville are higher than they've been the few seasons. With Jarvis Vanardo, the shot blocker extraordinaire, back along with Ravern Johnson, Bulldog fans want a Sweet 16 run (at the very least). If freshman Renardo Sidney is cleared to play then Mississippi State could be one of the nation's elite teams.

Biggest Question: Outside of Sidney's clearance (which Missisippi State cannot control) the key for the Bulldogs is whether Vanardo can develop offensively. Vanardo has been the best shot blocker in the country (this side of NBA bound Hasheem Thabeet anyways) for years. Now Rick Stansbury and Mississippi State are hoping he do more on the offensive end and produce big numbers on both sides of the floor. If he can then he will likely have NBA scouts salivating.

Key Non Conference Game: At UCLA (December 12th)
Any time you play at UCLA, one of the nation's most storied programs, it's a big deal. As a conference this is a huge game for the SEC in general, but it's also a gigantic test for Mississippi State. A win would likely propel the Bulldogs into a lot of December bracketologies and help them overcome some bad losses that are likely to occur over a long season.

Key Conference Game: Vs Kentucky (February 16th)
What a nice schedule the Bulldogs got from the SEC scheduling crew. They avoid any of the big dogs from the SEC (KY, TN, FLA, SC, VAN) until February. The first major game (not counting LSU January 30th) is when the Wildcats come to Starkville in what could be the best team in the East against the best team in the West.

Key Player: Barry Stewart
Stewart hasn't been mentioned thus far, but he is the leader for the Bulldogs. He scored 12.4 PPG last season and should add to that total a little this season. Ravern Johnson, another good choice for this spot, is hte sharpshooter for Missisippi State and will be trusted to take some big time shots.

Postseason: Second Round (NCAA Tournament)

2. LSU Tigers: Last season I correctly predicted that the Tigers would win the SEC West. This year I think the Tigers will once again be in the running to be the best team on the SEC's "lighter" side. With Tasmin Mitchell back to lead the way this team could be very good, or it could miss Marcus Thornton, Garrett Temple, and Chris Johnson as much as it looks like they will on paper. I feel like LSU will be the surprise of the conference, just like they were last season. While everyone continues to pick exactly what the media picks, I will mix things up since I've never seen a conference finish the way the media believes it will.

Biggest Question: How far can Tasmin Mitchell carry the Tigers? With the talent cellar running dry in LSU due to three of the team's best four players gone, it's going to be all on Mitchell and Bo Spencer offensively. Mitchell has shown us what he can do (16.3 PPG) and has to take his game to the next level (if that's even possible).

Key Non Conference Game: At Washington State (December 22nd)
After not playing any teams of note in their first seven the Tigers finally play a noteworthy opponent. The game against the Cougars begins a three game stretch of games against BCS, non conference foes: Washington State, Xavier, Utah.

Key Conference Game: At Mississippi State (January 30th)
Does the SEC West still go through Baton Rouge? If it does the Tigers will show the rest of the conference by winning in Starkville against the Bulldogs.

Key Player: Bo Spencer
With Thornton, Temple, and Johnson gone Mitchell is going to need some help. Who else is better to spotlight than the only other returning starter from Trent Johnson's squad? Last season he averaged 11.4 PPG, but he might have to take that total up to 15 PPG if the Tigers don't find some scoring help and hope to be competitive.

Postseason: First Round (NCAA Tournament)

3. Mississippi Rebels: Chirs Warren is back after blowing out his knee last season, and he's joined by two other guys with injuries that kept them off the court: Eniel Polynice and Trevor Gaskins. With everyone finally back and healthy, Andy Kennedy is expecting the Rebels to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2002.

Biggest Question: Can Ole Miss stay healthy? I know this is a big question for every team nationwide, but it's a big if for Mississippi. As I mentioned, Warren, Polynice, and Gaskins were all lost by the twelth game last season and it really hampered a Rebels squad that went 7-9 in a down SEC. If Mississippi can keep everyone on the court they will likely leave it with a lot more victories.

Key Non Conference Game: West Virginia (December 23rd)
The Rebels are one of eight SEC teams that look to have a defnitite shot at making the NCAA Tournament. Like I've stated many times in this article the first thing the conference has to do is establish itslef so that its wins will be taken seriously. A win over West Virginia would be great for Mississippi and give them a boost heading into conference play.

Key Conference Game: At Tennessee (January 16th)
Following what should be a sure win in Athens against Georgia, the Rebels get a chance to knock off the Volunteers in Knoxville. Games against South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas follow this one, so a great start in conference is likely with a win.

Key Player: Terrice White
While all the talk is focused on Warren and the other injured players returning, the key to Mississippi's season might just be White. Last season he averaged 13.7 PPG and will likely take David Huertas place in the backcourt.

Postseason: NCAA Tournament (First Round)

4. Arkansas Razorbacks: Last season I had the Razorbacks ranked dead last in the SEC West, but quickly made corrections in my bracketology after Arkansas knocked off Texas and Oklahoma early in the season. Then, almost as quickly as it began, Arkansas fell off the map with a 2-14 conference record and became the team most "experts" thought they would be. This year they have to be considered a sleeper due to their big early wins last season and desire to get better.

Biggest Question: Can Courtney Fortson grow up and become one of the SEC's elite talents? Even head coach John Pelphrey said that Fortson was going to have to become an all-league player for the Razorbacks to have success this season. If he does Arkansas could exceed expections and have an outside shot at making the Big Dance.

Key Non Conference Game: At Louisville (November 17th)
Get ready for this early season gem. Not only do we get to see how Rick Pitino's Cardinals deal with a decent BCS league opponent after a turmoil-filled offseason, but we also get to watch Arkansas try to knock off another elite program. If Arkansas can pull off some non-conference upsets like they did last year, the hope in Fayetteville is that they won't go to waste this year.

Key Conference Game: Vs Alabama (January 16th)
It's tough to mark one game for a team with limited expectations. A win in their opener against Alabama would give a team that won only two conference games all of last season a taste of conference success and might propel them into a top three finish in the SEC West. A loss could send them flailing to another under .500 season.

Key Player: Michael Washington
With all five starters back, the Hogs really feel like they can make a big leap this year. While Fortson will get the headlines, Washington (15.5 PPG, 9.8 RBP) is the big man NBA teams want, and will lead the Razorbacks as far as they go. If he takes another step forward this Arkansas team can be very good as long as Fortson takes a step along with him.

Postseason: CBI

5. Auburn Tigers: Last season the Tigers were one of the last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, but the overall strength of the SEC was the main reason why they weren't invited to the Big Dance. With Korvotney Barber, Quantez Robinson, and Rasheem Barrett gone the Tigers basically have to rebuild the team that took them to the fringe of the tournament last year. The good news is that DeWayne Reed, Tay Walker, and Lucas Hargrove return so the talent is still there.

Biggest Question: Can point guard DeWayne Reed get everyone involved and help the Tigers avoid what looks to be a year where they take a step back? It's not all on Reed, but he's got to be the leader when on the court for Auburn this year. Last season he averaged 13.2 PPG and 3.7 assists but with Barber on the floor his job was easier then it will be this season.

Key Non Conference Game: At Florida State (December 17th)
The Tigers play the worst non conference schedule of any SEC team this year with their biggest games being N. C. State, Florida State, and Virginia. If you're going to play the ACC, at least avoid playing North Carolina and Duke, right?

Key Conference Game: Vs Alabama (January 30th)
With Nick Saban in town and Auburn's football team becoming the state's second best team, Tiger fans will take any win over the Crimson Tide they can get. While this could conceivably be to avoid last place in the SEC West, it's not completely crazy to believe one of the two Alabama teams will compete for the West crown.

Key Player: Frankie Sullivan
With Robertson and Barrett gone in the frontcourt, Auburn will attempt to find a replacement that can score in bunches. Sullivan was one of the top high school players in Alabama two years ago and could break out this year.

Postseason: None

6. Alabama Crimson Tide: When I made my SEC preview for last season, I really felt like the Crimson Tide could compete for the West crown and a NCAA Tournament spot. Unfortunately the disappointing, injury-filled career of former star point guard Ronald Steele finally came to an end and left Alabama without anyone to lead the team on the floor. Without Steele, Alabama won only seven games in league play. With new head coach Anthony Grant, the forgotten man behind the scenes when Florida built their championship teams, the Crimson Tide have high hopes. For starters, they'd like to avoid the SEC West basement.

Biggest Question: Who will play point guard for Alabama? After Steele left the team last season, Mikhail Torrance became the main figure at the point. Grant will have to find a floor leader before he can venture into the season. A better question might be: How many dunks will Senario Hillman have on Sportscenter this year? Hillman is a dunker made for television and with the talent-well coming up dry in Tuscaloosa (at least on paper) he might be the single highlight off a bottom-feeding team.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Purdue (December 12th)
If Alabama wants to compete for a postseason birth then it has to find a way to win some of their bigger out of conference games. The NCAA Tournament may be out of reach on paper, but a win over Purdue (even though it may sound unrealistic) might change expectations in Tuscaloosa quickly. Plus, it might be December 12th before Alabama football fans realize basketball season has started. Seriously.

Key Conference Game: At LSU (January 9th)
When your first conference game is a road game in Baton Rouge, it's best not to look too far ahead. It's not exactly LSU football on a Saturday night, but it is still a tough place to play for SEC opponents. If Alabama wins this one it might be best to blow up my SEC West predictions completely.

Key Player: JaMychal Green
To be honest, a lot of Alabama players are going to have to be a lot better than they were last season if the Crimson Tide expect to compete game in and game out in the SEC. With Alonzo Gee gone and Demetrius Jemison lost for the season, it will be guys like Green, Anthony Brock, Torrance, and Hillman that decide where this program is at the end of the year.

Postseason: None

Posted on: October 13, 2009 10:26 pm

Missouri Valley/Mountain West Challenge Pairings

There are some pretty good games in the first year of the Missouri Valley/Mountain West challenge. Here's the complete list:

11/13/09       Bradley at BYU (BYU, 2-1, last met 12/17/77)
11/20/09       Colorado State at Indiana State (tied, 1-1, last met 12/30/81)
11/21/09       Southern Illinois at UNLV (UNLV, 2-1, last met 12/23/83)
12/05/09       Air Force at Missouri State (first meeting)
12/12/09       TCU at Wichita State (WSU, 5-2, last met 12/8/08)
12/19/09       Creighton at New Mexico (UNM, 2-1, last met 11/16/08)
12/19/09      Illinois State at Utah (first meeting)
12/22/09      San Diego State at Drake (DU, 4-2, last met 11/25/77)
12/23/09       Wyoming at Northern Iowa (UW, 3-0, last met 12/13/08)


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 9, 2009 10:38 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2009 11:08 pm

Source: Tebow will "definitely" play vs LSU

David Pingalore from Orlando's WKMG-Channel 6 is reporting that Tebow will play tomorrow night against LSU. Just thought I'd let everyone see the report straight from the source.

My Pick:
Will Tebow play? We don’t know. I’m guessing he will. All early signs are good and the Florida doctors are documenting how the plane ride goes and whether he has any symptoms during or after it. Either way Florida is in trouble. LSU, at home, is virtually unbeatable. Either the nation’s longest winning streak is going down or one of the most incredible stats in sports is ending (LSU’s 32 consecutive home night wins). Florida survives. Remember the blocked kick to beat South Carolina during their first championship run? Expect a game where Florida has to do all the little things right defensively and on special teams to survive unblemished.

Pick: Florida 26, LSU 24

Here's my other picks for Saturday.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 8, 2009 11:53 pm

CBS Users Preasason Conference Picks! VOTE NOW

Which team will win each conference this season? I've created voting for each of the major conferences and am working on adding a few more. Click the link to vote!

Big East
Big Ten
Big 12
Pac 10
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 7, 2009 7:51 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2009 7:52 pm

Big East: Biggest November CBB Games

Second conference preview......biggest games in November for each Big East team (excluding potential tournament matchups)

Toughest Big East Games of November:
At Vanderbilt (November 23)--In Maui Invitational (Nov 23-25)
Connecticut: Nobody of Note--In NIT Season Tipoff (Nov 16-17, 25, 27)
DePaul: At Northern Iowa (November 20)--Paradise Jam (Nov 20-23)
Georgetown: Vs Temple (November 17)
Louisville: Vs Arkansas (November 17)
Marquette: At Xavier (November 26)--Old Spice Classic (Nov 26-29)
Notre Dame: Vs Northwestern (November 27)
Pittsburgh: Nobody of Note--CBE Classic (Nov 15-18, 23-24)
Providence: At Alabama
Rutgers: Vs Massachusetts--Legends Classic (Nov 18-22, 27-28)
Seton Hall: At Cornell
South Florida: At Virginia--Cancun Challenge (Nov 18-25)
St. Johns: Vs Siena
Syracuse: At California (Nov 19)--Coaches Vs Cancer (Nov 9-13, 19-20)
Villanova: Nobody of Note--Peurto Rico (Nov 19-22)
West Virginia: Nobody of Note--76 Classic (Nov 26-29)

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big East
Posted on: October 6, 2009 7:14 pm

Every ACC Team's Toughest November CBB Game

A lot of conference tournaments will be going on in November, but based on team schedules that are set in stone (not including potential tournament games) here's each ACC team's toughest November game:

Toughest Non-Tournament Games In November for Each ACC Team:
Boston College:
November 28 At Providence*
Clemson: November 26 Vs Texas A&M*
Duke: Honestly nobody (Does Play At Wisconsin Dec 2nd)*
Florida State: November 24 At Florida*
Georgia Tech: November 19 At Dayton*
Maryland: Nobody Tough (Does Play At Indiana Dec 1st)*
Miami FL: Tulane November 19 (Does Play Vs Minnesota Dec 2nd)*
NC State: November 22 At Auburn
North Carolina: November 19 At Ohio State*
Virginia: November 30 Vs Penn State*
Virginia Tech: November 27 At Temple
Wake Forest: November 15 Vs East Carolina (Does Plays Purdue Dec 1st)

*Duke does play in NIT Season Tipoff
*North Carolina is in Coaches vs. Cancer
*Maryland is in Maui Invitational (November 23-25)
*Virginia is in Cancun Challenge (November 18-25)
*Clemson is in 76 Classic (November 26-29)
*Boston College is in Paradise Jam (November 20-23)
*Georgia Tech is in Peurto Rico Season Tipoff (November 19-22)
*Florida State is in Old Spice Classic (November 26-29)
*Miami FL is in Charleston Classic (November 19-22)

Category: NCAAB
Tags: ACC
Posted on: October 5, 2009 11:06 pm

First Bracketology & Why Kansas Has Issues

My first bracketology of the year is out . To go along with it I thought I'd begin my daily (hopefully) college basketball thoughts blog.

Kansas is the topic of my first thoughts blog. The Jayhawks have the most talented roster in the country, along with one of the best coaches in the business. Yet, for some reason they can't get out of their own way. Members of the basketball team were involved in a fight with the football team. This is a bigger deal to the basketball team, mainly because there are a lot less players to participate in a fight from the basketball team. The football team has a much larger roster. Brandy Morningstar has been suspended for a DWI. Exactly what the soon-to-be #1 team in the country needs, right? More attention?

Get it together Jayhawks. If you can't get along off the court, or act right, then how are you going to make a run at a national championship?

Jayhawks: #1 Seed in Midwest Region in First Bracketology of the Year

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 18, 2009 6:44 pm

Ranking the top 20 Current College RBs

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Yesterday I released my preseason quarterback rankings for college football and got a pretty large amount of feedback. Now it’s time for the running back rankings.

The top choice is pretty easy. Most people will agree that Jahvid Best is the top running back at the collegiate level right now. He’s the featured part of California’s offense and will be one of the main reasons they do or do not win the Pac 10 this season. After that everything is thrown up in the air.

Obviously Noel Devine, Kendall Hunter, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Jonathan Dwyer are going to be somewhere on the list, but in what order? That’s just part of the decision making process I had to go through. Other decisions included how to evaluate players that were in multi-running back offenses like USC and Florida. Both teams got one player on the list. Also, how do you evaluate running backs that play in weaker conferences?

Again, just like the quarterback list, only players that have been in college for at least a year and have played enough to be evaluated for a list like this are included. That means zero incoming freshman are included. It’s completely unfair to evaluate a prospect without seeing him player against the top level of collegiate competition. Every player looks like a superstar on the highlight film. Most players below were starters last season and all of them saw a large amount of game time.

Without further adieu, here’s my running back list:

1. Jahvid Best (CAL): Best is the top running back in college football hands down. Every time I hear someone speak of him the phrase “darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate” is used to describe him. I’m not sure how a guy that everyone knows about can be a darkhorse, but I guess Best falls under that category. Last season he rushed for 1,580 yards and 15 TDs. This year I expect him to be even better. His Heisman chances will probably come down to his game against USC on October 3rd.

2. Noel Devine (WVU): Devine has been overshadowed a bit in his time at West Virginia by Steve Slaton and Pat White. With White’s graduation both are gone, meaning he will be the main feature of the Mountaineers offense. Coming out of high school Devine looked a guy that could develop into one of the best collegiate running backs ever. So far he hasn’t lived up to those expectations, but he should have a great year this year. Last season he had 1,289 yards.

3. Jonathan Dwyer (GT): Georgia Tech’s triple option attack suits Dwyer just fine. Last season on 200 carries Dwyer rushed for 1,1395 yards and 12 TDs. In the Yellow Jackets final four regular season games Dwyer topped 128 yards every single time and scored seven touchdowns.  His second season in the offense should be even better. Last season Virginia Tech was the only ACC team to completely shut him down. The Hokies come to Atlanta on October 17th.

4. Jacquizz Rodgers (OREST): Last season Rogers announced his existence to the world in an incredible game against USC.  How about this stat line: 37 carries, 186 yards, 2 touchdowns.  In games where Rogers had 20 carries or more the Beavers were 7-2. His short size is what makes him a fan favorite because people can’t believe how good he is at 5-7. Overall last season he had 1,253 yards and 11 TDs. Personally, I can’t wait until Rodgers and Oregon State travel to USC on October 24th.

5. Kendall Hunter (OKST) : The Cowboys offense is going to be deadly with Hunter, Zac Robinson, and WR Dez Bryant back. Last season Hunter rushed for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns while helping lead Oklahoma State to a 9-4 record. This season Hunter should be even better with defenses focused on slowing down Robinson and Bryant–the guys who garner the most media attention. The one thing Hunter can work on is being a bigger factor in the passing game. He scored only once last season on a reception.

6. LaGarrette Blount (ORE): Blount is a human highlight film. Last season against Arizona State he actually had a play where the Sun Devils thought he was down and stopped pursuing him; allowing Blount to keep running and score a touchdown. On the play he kept his feet driving and his knee never touched. When watching Blount play that’s the one thing you will notice about him: his legs never quit driving. He breaks a large number of tackles and seems always poised to make the big play.

7. C. J. Spiller (CLEM): Last season Spiller received the fewest amount of carries he’s gotten in any year he’s been at Clemson with just 116. That resulted in his lowest rushing yards total, but do not be fooled by the low output. When he gets into the open field his breakaway speed takes over and nobody is catching him. He’s also a menace on kick returns when the Tigers elect to put him back deep. Any time Clemson can get Spiller the ball in space they will because there’s a very good chance it will result in a touchdown.

8. DeMarco Murray (OU): Murray scored 14 touchdowns last season playing in the best offense in college football season history. He was second on the Sooners in rushing–behind Chris Brown–but totaled 1,002 yards. This year Bob Stoops will hope to get the Sooners running game going once again. When Murray missed the national championship game against Florida, Oklahoma struggled in the redzone. It’s hard to tell whether having Murray would’ve made any difference, but he certainly wouldn’t have hurt anything.

9. Chris Brown (OU): Since Oklahoma’s rushing duo was so dominant last season I don’t think it’s fair to separate them by too much. Brown rushed for 20 TDs last season which was only surpassed or equaled by four other players. The Sooners offensive line helped make things easier for both Brown & Murray but their numbers are still very impressive. This season they are looking to repeat their success and bring home a national championship (and a win over Texas).

10. Joe McKnight (USC): It’s hard to pick one running back out of USC’s stable of talented backs, but McKnight is easily the most gifted. He only scored twice last season because of the way Pete Carroll rotates his running backs, but he made a ton of tremendous plays. Every single time McKnight had 10+ carries in a game last season he rushed for 99 yards or more. Overall last season on just 89 carries he rushed for 659 yards. Against Ohio State he was one of the biggest stars offensively for the Trojans.

11. Evan Royster (PENNST): Royster is another running back with breakaway speed. Last season he ran for 1,236 and 12 touchdowns while almost leading Penn State to an undefeated regular season.  Royster scored six touchdowns in the Nittany Lions first two game of the season and then scored only six the rest of the season.  In the Rose Bowl against USC (Penn State’s biggest game) Royster had six carries for 34 yards before injuring his left knee and leaving the game.

12. Jeffrey Demps (FLA): Last season as a freshman Demps averaged an incredibly 7.8 yards per carry.  He scored seven touchdowns on 78 carries and was an integral part of Florida’s national championship run. While splitting carries with Chris Rainey, and even at times USC transfer Emanuel Moody, Demps was probably the most impressive Florida running back due to his speed. Most casual fans don’t realize that Demps also runs track for the Gators.

13. Charles Scott (LSU): Scott began the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate due to four straight 100+ yard games to begin the season.  Those hopes came crashing down after Florida held him to just 35 yards on 12 carries. Scott has pretty nice agility for a guy his size (234 lbs) and can run over anyone who gets in his way in Jerome Bettis type fashion. He finished the season on a high note by rushing for three touchdowns in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl.

14. Derrick Washington (MIZZ): Washington gets less attention than Kendall Hunter, Chris Brown, and DeMarco Murray because Missouri isn’t a national championship contender, but he’s a speedy running back that can make a lot of big plays. Last season he had 1,036 yards and 17 touchdowns. Those numbers can’t be ignored, even in the defensively challenged Big 12 conference. Without Chase Daniel to threaten defenses with his arm, he might have a harder time getting anything going on the ground.

15.Da’Rel Scott (MD): Scott was most of the Maryland offense last season. He rushed for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns. He had four 100 yard rushing games last season but the opponents were Delaware, Middle Tennessee State, N. C. State, and North Carolina. Not exactly the toughest opponents to show out against. Still, overall the season was a success with a 5.4 average per carry. In Maryland’s opener against California Scott will get his chance to shine.

16. Mark Ingram (AL): Ingram is the third player on this list–along with Demps & McKnight– in an offense that likes to use multiple backs on a game to game basis. In 2008 he was behind Glenn Coffee, the newest San Francisco 49er, but should get the bulk of the carries of this year for the Crimson Tide. Last year Ingram rushed for 728 yards and 12 touchdowns. He only received double digit carries in seven games but managed to rush for 63 yards or more in all of them.

17. Michael Smith (ARK): Smith became one of the nation’s best running backs last season as a junior. After playing behind Felix Jones and Darren McFadden he finally got his chance to shine and took full advantage of the oppurtunity.  Last season he rushed for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns. His best game was against Kentucky in a 21-20 loss where he had 35 carries for 192 yards and a touchdown. I can’t wait to see what he does for an encore against the SEC’s tough defenses.

18. MiQuale Lewis (BALL): Lewis was a very important part of Ball State’s undefeated regular season in 2008, although quarterback Nate Davis garnered most of the media publicity. He rushed for a NCAA high 22 touchdowns and 1,736 yards. It’s hard to judge just how great he is against MAC defenses, but–like I’ve said in the case of some smaller conference quarterbacks that put up big numbers (example: Tim Hiller)–those numbers are impressive against anyone.

1 9. Toby Gerhart (STAN): Gerhart’s coming out party was in 2008. He rushed for 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season including eight 100+ yard performances. Against USC, in a 45-23 loss, Gerhart rushed for 101 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown. Not bad against the best defense in the country. Against lowly Washington State Gerhart scored four touchdowns and had 132 yards rushing.  In the two years before ‘08 Gerhart had only totaled 515 yards rushing.

20. James Starks (BUFF): Starks was one of the main reasons Buffalo was able to turn around their football program by winning the MAC last season. Head coach Turner Gill will probably feed Starks the ball even more than last season (272 carries) and give him a chance to lead FBS in rushing. Last season he had 1,333 yards and 16 touchdowns in just 12 games. In the last nine games he’s played he’s scored a touchdown. Due to missing the Army game last season his streak is only seven consecutive Buffalo games.

Among Others Considered: Corera Eason (MS), Anthony Dixon (MISSST), Ben Tate (AUB), Jake Sharp (KU), Nic Grigsby (AZ), Stefan Johnson (USC), Vic Anderson (LOU), Harvey Unga (BYU), Matt Asiata (UTAH), Damon Fletcher (USM), Bryce Beall (HOU), Vai Taua (NEV), Daniel Porter (LATECH), Reggie Arnold (ARKST), DuJuan Harris (TROY), Chris Rainey (FLA), Brandon Minor (MICH), John Clay (WISC), Darrell Scott (COL)

Category: NCAAF
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