Category Archives: College Basketball

Swanigan to Purdue: Boilers May Boast Top Frontcourt in NCAA

Swanigan

Well it’s finally official. Caleb Swanigan has committed to Purdue. Now this is a big pickup for Purdue, who arguably had one of the best signing classes, just based off of Swanigan. Swanigan, who originally committed to Michigan State University, decided to go where his heart told him. And by heart I mean his legal guardian and everyone else pressuring him into going to West Lafayette.

In all seriousness, I honestly think that Swanigan really did not know what he wanted, and decided to commit just to commit ealry on. While I have absolutely nothing against Swanigan, I can see why fellow Michigan State fans are upset about the whole ordeal. Who knows, maybe this is all karma from when Branden Dawson left Purdue and Painter in the dust for Izzo a few years ago.

Purdue is going to have plenty of size next year, and will be a major force in the Big Ten and possibly on the national scene. AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas return and they are both solid 7-foot centers who have plenty of room and potential to still grow. Bringing in Caleb Swanigan is huge, because Purdue will be able to play at least two big’s on the floor at the same time.

The biggest test for Purdue will be their outside shooting and guard play. Losing Raphael Davis is a key loss, but the Boilermakers are bringing in two four star guards to possibly help this problem for next year. The Boilers have a legitimate shot at winning the conference next year, but a top 5 finish in the conference should be expected. However, Matt Painter has shown in the past that he can coach talent and bring in a boatload of wins.

The big man Swanigan is the real deal down low in the post. He has excellent size, and can will his way to the basket. On the plus side, he can knock down a sweet mid range shot from the corners rather consistently. The 275 lb. beast can do it all on the floor as long as he has the ball. It’s already crazy to think how good Purdue will be down low with the addition of Swanigan.

Look out, Big Ten.

Brandon Ingram Selects Duke

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Duke’s 2015 recruiting class continues to get better and better. Brandon Ingram decided to commit to Duke University last night. Ingram, the 6’8 forward was ranked #3 nationally on many recruiting websites. Ingram was heavily recruited by Coach K after the departure of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones. Coach K wasted no time convincing the star small forward to come to Durham. The Blue Devils will be young, but stacked next year. Top recruits Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, and Luke Kennard are all apart of the top ranked recruiting class in college basketball for 2015. Ingram said according to many reports that he didn’t want to sign with UNC due to the current academic scandal taking place in Chapel Hill.

Izzo Fo Shizzo: Spartans are Unsung Heroes of March Madness

Photo taken by Seth Wenig

Photo taken by Seth Wenig

It may be his greatest coaching job ever, and that is really saying something. When you look at what Tom Izzo has done over the course of his time at Michigan State, you see a Hall of Fame type career, with now seven final four appearances and a national title back in 2000. However, I think that it is safe to say that even Tom Izzo did not even expect a run like this.

Izzo’s bunch were rather disoriented for most of the season. I mean for Pete’s sake, they lost to Texas Southern at home in December. This was a bubble team at best, and I think that many fans were just hoping that Izzo could continue his streak of getting back into the tournament and call it a decent year.

The best thing to remember about this 2015 Michigan State team, is that you can never underestimate the heart of a champion, and when things fall apart, you can always continue on to your goal if you truly believe. The Spartans were still an average team  heading into the Big Ten tournament in Chicago, but something incredible happened. Yes, there were still the turnovers and sloppy play on offense at times, but the Spartans truly looked like a much different team. They came right out of the gate and stomped on Ohio State in the B1G quarterfinals, then rallied from a 23-7 deficit to defeat the Maryland Terrapins in the semifinals. The momentum carried into the championship game, where MSU had Wisconsin on their heels all game, but the Spartans lost a tough fought game in overtime. A game that they should have won in regulation.

Despite having success in the conference tournament, people were still doubting the Spartans. The NCAA committee for example, gave Michigan State a 7 seed in the East Region. Many people including myself thought that MSU was severely under-seeded heading into the tourney, but never thought that they had a prayer to get to Indianapolis.

After holding off Georgia, it seemed inevitable that MSU would probably fall against an extremely talented Virginia squad. The one thing that you must always remember is to never count out a Tom Izzo coached team in the month of March. He is the man of March for a reason. Izzo’s game plan and adjustments in the Virginia game were spectacular, and sure enough, the Spartans had the Cavaliers playing Michigan State’s game. In the Sweet 16, Oklahoma ran out of gas and looked exhausted in the second half, as MSU slowly yet surely pulled away.

Today’s win against Louisville was arguably the most impressive win of the year. Despite trailing by double digits at halftime, Izzo rallied the troops in the second half, as the Spartans looked like a completely different team. Back and forth they went, as the Spartans refused to go away. In the overtime period, MSU did what we all expected them to do at this point; show up clutch. Bryn Forbes’ 3 pointer and Branden Dawson’s put back sealed the deal, as Louisville’s offense fell apart in overtime. And once again, Tom Izzo is going to the Final Four.

Travis Trice and Branden Dawson have been the key catalysts for Michigan State during this run. Both seniors were desperate to get to a final four, and they were not going to let anything get in the way. Trice’s defense has been solid all tournament, but his ball handling skills, and lethal three point shooting have carried MSU deep into this year’s tourney. Dawson has been the best overall defensive player for the Spartans, and has been the ultimate rebounding machine. Dawson was absolutely impressive against Montrezl Harrell of Louisville in the Elite 8.

Izzo has gotten the best out of his entire team at just the right time. Bryn Forbe’s defense has drastically improved. Marvin Clark Jr. has played several valuable minutes, and can be a major energy booster off of the bench. Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling have turned their defense up big time, and have been incredibly important during this tournament run on both ends of the floor. Tum Tum Nairn has done an excellent job distributing the ball at point guard, and has done a phenomenal job at being a vocal leader on the floor. Denzel Valentine has made a few bone headed plays every now and then, but he is the most clutch player on this Spartan team outside of Trice.

Izzo has always been the most underrated coach in all of college basketball. This year’s team was doubted by many, including many Michigan State fans. It is not a coincidence that the Spartans defeated Virginia, Oklahoma, and Louisville their last three tournament games. Izzo has out-coached everyone so far, and his players have continued to play to their maximum potential.

No one obviously knows how the final four will turn out, but if you have not learned anything yet, one thing is for sure; don’t you dare count out Michigan State.

Sweet 16 Part One: It’s still Kentucky vs. everyone else

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The first weekend of the 2015 NCAA tournament is over. While there are several surprise teams to advance this far, Kentucky is still the overwhelming favorite.

Bold predictions for the Sweet 16 & Elite 8:

  • Kentucky will get tested, but will ultimately survive. – The Wildcats will have an interesting matchup with West Virginia on Thursday night, and then will take on either Wichita State or Notre Dame in the elite 8. This is all assuming Kentucky gets past the Mountaineers. WVU plays an up-temp style offense and they like to go fast. Kentucky has the size to disrupt West Virginia’s offense. The main question will be if the Wildcats can score consistently, especially if Bob Huggins goes into his 2010 coaching form and plays zone all night against the Cats. It should be interesting for a while, but Kentucky should prevail as expected.

 

  • UK will have a rematch with the Shockers- You just have to absolutely love and respect what Gregg Marshall has done at Wichita State. They have some of the best guards in the country in Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet. The Shockers have done a tremendous job doing more with less talent. Plus, we all know Wichita State wants to get a shot at revenge and take down Kentucky.

 

  • North Carolina will upset Wisconsin- I hope I am wrong about this one honestly. I love watching Wisconsin play, and I enjoy seeing Frank Kaminsky dominate every game. That being said, this will be a tough matchup for the Badgers. UNC has the size down low with Kennedy Meeks, and the athletes to beat Wisconsin. The Badgers will need to have productive nights from Dekker, Hayes, Koening, and of course Kaminsky. Marcus Paige will be the key for the Tar Heels. Don’t forget about Joel Berry either.

 

  • Arizona will face Kentucky in the Final Four- I really think Arizona is clicking at the right time on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats are red hot on offense and it definitely helps having Brandon Ashley back. Ashley missed the tournament last year after suffering a sever injury. T.J. McConnell and Hollis-Jefferson have been extremely productive for Arizona lately. If Arizona shows up and plays hard, there is no reason for them to not make the final four.

2015 NCAA Tournament: The Madness Begins

Georgetown v Kentucky

First and foremost, I would like to say that there are many things that are so wrong with this bracket. However, I am not going to spend time talking about how they screwed up several seeds. There were several questionable calls along the way and a lot of head scratches.With that being said, here are my ten bold predictions for the first weekend of the NCAA tourney:

  • Kansas will be eliminated on Sunday. The Jayhawks have not been impressive at all, and should have been on the three seed line or even four. They have absolutely no business being a 2 seed. Cliff Alexander will be out for the entire NCAA tournament as well, due to the pending investigation. Wichita State and Indiana are both capable of beating Kansas and I fully expect one of them too. Kansas is solid, but they have been overrated all year.

 

  • Purdue will give Kentucky fits. For the record, Kentucky very well may not lose a game all year. I do not think they will lose to Purdue, but I really think that the Boilermakers can give the Wildcats a run for their money for most of the game. Purdue plays nice defense, and they have two solid 7 footers in Isaac Haas and AJ Hammons who are very talented. The big problem for Purdue is that I do not think they will be able to score on Kentucky’s defense. Matt Painter is a good coach and I think that the Boilers will give Kentucky a tough test on Saturday, but will ultimately fall.

 

  • We will see at least two upsets in the 14/3, 13/4 seed pairings. When you look at the 3 and 4 seeds altogether, you see some decent teams, but no great teams. Notre Dame and Iowa State are the only safe bets for the first weekend, and they will both be tested in the second round. As for the opening round games, Oklahoma, Baylor, Georgetown, Maryland, and UNC better all be careful. If I was a betting man I would say watch out to Baylor and Georgetown the most. We will see upsets here as several of these teams should have been lower seeded. Yes, I am looking at you Georgetown. What. A. Joke. A four seed? You have got to be kidding me.

 

  • Xavier and Providence will lose to both play in game teams. I just have not been impressed with either Big East team. Both have trouble consistently scoring the ball. Dayton is a tough out along with Boise State and will give Providence all it can handle. BYU should beat Ole Miss and they are easily capable of taking out Xavier.

 

  • Virginia will lose to Michigan State. This is all assuming Justin Anderson can no longer return to full form. The Cavaliers are having major trouble scoring the basketball at the current moment. Akil Mitchell and Joe Harris are not walking through that door either. As strong as the Wahoos defense is, Michigan State matches up very well against them. The Spartans have some solid down low players in Branden Dawson, Matt Costello, and Marvin Clark Jr. Also, you can never count out Tom Izzo in March.

 

  • Wofford and Stephen F. Austin will pull the upset bid. Arkansas is just severely overrated, and SFA has been here before. Utah is also extremely shaky as of late.

 

  • Duke will cruise to Houston. Having arguably the easiest bracket, and by far the easiest path to the sweet 16, look for Duke to roll both opponents they play in the first weekend. There are still a lot of question marks about this team, including quality bench play. Teams like Wisconsin and Kentucky are nightmare matchups for Duke. Yes, I know Duke beat Wiscy in December, but I think the emergence of Bronson Koening has made the Badgers a much better team.

 

  • Butler will make another run. This is a much different Bulldogs team, but they are certainly able to win several tourney games. Chris Holtmann has done a spectacular job with this team, and is an underrated coach. Kellen Dunham will need to shoot well, as Roosevelt Jones and Kameron Woods will need to be solid down low. I do not think that a Final Four is in the making, but the Dawgs could make some noise and get to the sweet 16.

 

  • Northern Iowa will knock out Louisville. The Cardinals just have no offense and the Panthers are red hot. Seth Tuttle will give trouble to the Cardinals front court. Louisville’s offense is way too inconsistent to even consider putting them deep into the tournament.

 

  • Villanova will prove that they are worthy of being a national champion. The Wildcats are being looked down as overrated, despite having a 32-2 record and one of the best if not the best backcourt in college hoops. Jay Wright has done a terrific job with the Wildcat bunch, and they will show just how good they really are on Thursday and Saturday.

Bracketology: My predicted 2015 NCAA Tournament Field

Midwest (Cleveland) 

1.) Kentucky  vs. 16) Texas Southern/ Lafayette

8.) Ohio State vs. 9.) Cincinnati

5.) West Virginia vs. 12) Iona

4.) Louisville vs. 13.) Valparaiso

6.) Providence vs. 11) Purdue

3.) Notre Dame vs  14.) Central Michigan

7.) Oregon vs. 10.) Texas

2.) Maryland vs. 15.) North Carolina Central

 

West (Los Angeles) 

1.) Wisconsin vs. 16) St. Francis

8.) St. Johns vs. 9.) Georgia

5.) Utah vs. 12) Indiana/ Temple

4.) Wichita State vs.  13.) Louisiana Tech

6.) Georgetown vs. 11.) Miami Fl.

3.) Kansas vs. 14.) South Dakota State

7.) San Diego State vs 10.) LSU

2.) Arizona vs. 15.) Belmont

 

 

East (Syracuse) 

1.) Villanova vs. 16.) Coastal Carolina

8.) Davidson vs. 9.) NC State

5.) Butler  vs. 12.) Wofford

4.) Baylor vs. 13,) Georgia State

6.) North Carolina vs. 11.) Colorado State

3.) Oklahoma vs. 14.) New Mexico State

7.) Iowa vs. 10.) VCU

2.) Duke vs. 15.) Albany

 

South (Houston) 

1.) Virginia vs. 16.) North Florida

8.) Dayton vs. 9.) BYU

5.) Arkansas vs. 12.) Stephen F. Austin

4.) Northern Iowa vs. 13.) UC Davis

6.) SMU vs. 11.) Boise State/Oklahoma State

3.) Iowa State vs. 14.) Harvard

7.) Michigan State vs. 10.) Xavier

2.) Gonzaga vs. 15.) NorthEastern

 

 

 

Will Kentucky ever lose? College hoops update

So we have nearly been talking about this for just about the entire college hoops season, but this is a legitimate question; will the Wildcats ever actually lose a game? To be honest, I really think that this team could go 40-0. They have all the tools, and talent to achieve this goal. Despite having several close calls so far, no team out there in America has a better bench than the Wildcats. The only thing that will potentially hurt Kentucky come NCAA tournament time will be getting in foul trouble.

This does not really even happen too often, but it could definitely be a disadvantage lurking down at Calipari’s Cats. If you really look at it through and through, you can see that Kentucky will not lose a game until at least the NCAA tourney. The SEC is an awful conference overall, and the average teams are grossly overrated. I am looking at you Texas A&M, LSU, and Arkansas. I do not care that the Razorbacks are ranked 18th, I mean seriously, who have they beaten? Exactly.

This Kentucky team is so much more different than past Wildcat’s teams. There is not a true star, elite player on this squad, but a bunch of balanced and disciplined players who seem to know their roles on the team. Karl Anthony Towns has the most potential out of this current bunch, but you cannot forget about Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, or even Aaron Harrison.

There are so many different options on this team that they are extremely difficult to defend. Teams like Arizona, Duke, Virginia, and Villanova have a great starting five, but after that they just do not have the depth overall. This is what makes Kentucky so great. In fact, you could make a strong case as to why several teams ranked in the top ten have just as good or even a better starting five than Kentucky.

Ultimately, it will not matter unless you can force Kentucky to get into foul trouble and also hope that their offense goes completely down the toilet in a game. This is a possibility, because during the NCAA tournament, anything can happen.

However, it will be very shocking if Kentucky does not at least make the Elite 8 during this year’s tourney run. This team is just too good overall to have a slip up early on, but once again, who knows, we have all seen strange things happen in March.

College Hoops Update

Final Four: I may not care, but the stage is still huge

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It’s finally final four time in Dallas. After seeing my favorite team (Michigan State) get knocked out of the tournament, it really bummed me out. I honestly still feel the same way, which is, I really do not care who wins the national title. So with that being said, I will play out the four possible champion scenarios and tell you how I would feel about each one. Fun, right?

1.) Florida- To be honest, if there was a team that I would least want to win, it would be the Gators. There is just something about Scottie Wilbeken and Patric Young that just annoy me. Don’t get me wrong, I think Florida is an excellent team and I would not be surprised if they won it all. They play balanced, smart, and experienced basketball which will help them on the big stage this weekend. If Florida does cut down the nets, it will be just like college football. Florida State was the best team on the gridiron all year and won it all. If the Gators do the same, it will just be an “eh, we expected them to win this” kind of feeling.

2.) UConn- How about the Huskies? I mean seriously this is easily one of the most impressive runs ever. UConn looked pretty lifeless after getting pushed around by Louisville in the regular season and lost 81-48. We all knew Shabazz Napier was great, but DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright have been playing major roles in the Huskies run. UConn as a team plays suffocating defense, and when Shabazz is on, UConn is tough to beat. What a job Kevin Ollie has done to get UConn to where they are at. After Calhoun left, many included myself figured UConn to be down for a while. If the Huskies win it all it would be a “nobody saw this but UConn fans” kind of feeling.

3.) Kentucky- They’re back. Oh boy, just like UConn who saw this coming??? The Cats are in the final four? I still can’t believe it. What incredible play from Andrew and Aaron Harrison who have been playing sensational basketball ever since the third round Wichita State game. Kentucky beat last year’s final four Cinderella and this years only undefeated team in the Shockers, defending champion Louisville, and national runner-up Michigan just to reach the final four. Ole Calipari pulled it off again. That makes 3 final fours since he arrived in Lexington. (Reminder: He’s only been there for 5 years). While it would be incredible to see Kentucky win it all after the season they have had, if it happened it would be an “oh crap, UK fans are going to be even more annoying now” kind of feeling.

4.) Wisconsin- I know I said I’m not pulling for anyone, but the Badgers are the team I would love to see win it all. Not only because they start FOUR white guys, but because they play true team basketball and define everything there is about fundamental basketball. Wiscy doesn’t turn the ball over and they shoot the 3 ball exceptionally well. Frank the tank Kaminsky has been en fuego and is starting to make a case for tournament MVP. Also, if there was a coach who deserved it most out of everyone in Dallas this weekend, it would be Bo Ryan. Ryan has finally reached his first final four after coming oh so close several times. This is the Badger’s chance, because let’s face it; Wisconsin is not a powerhouse program that will be in the national title hunt every year. This is Wisconsin’s opportunity to win their first true national title. (They won their first and only one in 1941, but that was so long ago and it was during WWII, so there were only eight teams in the whole tournament!) If the Badgers win it would be a ” Bo Ryan’s strategy can actually win a championship” type of feeling.

 

March Madness 10 Bold Predictions

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1.) Wichita State will not make it to the Final Four- Unfortunately, the Shockers got put into a brutal region featuring the likes of Michigan, Duke, and Louisville. With potentially having to play two of these teams just to reach the final four, it seems very unlikely they will make it to Dallas. It should be noted that I am pulling for the Shockers though.

2.) Virginia will be the first #1 seed to go down- I really like the way Virginia plays with swagger and hard nosed defense, but with their offensive struggles, they will have trouble just making it out of the first weekend of play.

3.) Michigan State will make the Final Four- Every four year player under Tom Izzo has made the final four at least once. Keith Appling and Adriean Payne have one last chance. The Spartans had an up and down year with injuries all across the board, but MSU is healthy and  playing its best basketball right now after rolling through the Big Ten tournament.

4.) Wisconsin and Villanova will both lose in the first weekend- Whether it is the first game or second, both of these teams will be knocked out of it by Sunday. Villanova will have a tough first game against a scrappy Milwaukee bunch and then will have to play either a dangerous St. Joes or UConn team. Wisconsin should advance past American, but will have an extremely tough time with Oregon in the round of 32. Both teams are just too inconsistent.

5.)  Arizona will steamroll through the West Region- The Wildcats do not have much competition besides a potential 3rd round matchup with Oklahoma State. Arizona is easily the best team in this region and should advance very far in the tournament.

6.) Kentucky will lose to Kansas State- I know the Wildcats only lost to Florida by two, but they beat a bad LSU and Georgia team to get to that point. Kansas State is the real deal with Marcus Foster and Shane Southwell. I really think everyone is overlooking KSU. The Wildcats are more consistent and balanced than Kentucky.

7.) Syracuse will be the only ACC team to make it past the Sweet 16- I like the Orange’s draw as opposed to UNC, Duke, and Virginia’s. Syracuse has proven they can win games in bunches with their terrorizing zone and with Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair on offense. Syracuse will be a tough out in this year’s tournament.

8.) Harvard will upset Cincinnati- Cincy looked pretty bad in the American conference tourney. Sean Kilpatrick is the only offensive threat and Harvard pulled the upset on New Mexico last year. It will happen again.

9.) Florida will not win the national title- I know everyone looks at the Gator’s senior’s and leadership to be an effective tool in the tourney but I think the lack of competition in SEC play will come back to bite them. To be honest, the Gators looked sloppy towards the end of the SEC title game. Florida is most definitely beatable.

10.) Providence upsets UNC- The Friars are red hot and UNC is not that good of a team. Bryce Cotton should be able to pick apart this lackluster and overrated UNC defense.