Month: December 2016

CBB Picks: 12/31

TOWSON (+3) over UNC Wilmington

Towson’s strengths offensively matchup perfectly with UNCW’s weaknesses on defense. If they don’t turn it over too much, they’ll have a big day. Defensively, the Tigers force teams to beat them from the outside and the free throw line and shooting isn’t usually a strength of the Seahawks.

Marshall (-4) over FIU

Marshall is lethal when they get going from three-point land and it’s set up well for them against FIU’s poor perimeter defense. FIU will score some points inside (most do against the Herd), but they don’t have a single good shooter on their team. They haven’t beaten anyone that’s remotely quality this year and they’ve played a bad schedule.

AIR FORCE (-2) over Utah State

It’s probably going to turn into a shooting contest and the Falcons are the 5th best three-point shooting team in the country. Utah State is 209th.

Louisiana Lafayette (+2.5) over ARKANSAS STATE

The Cajuns will be fine against the Wolves pressure and content to shoot a ton of free free throws. They should win the rebounding battle by a lot and the turnovers as well, which should give them a lot of extra possessions.

MONMOUTH (-13.5) over Rider

Rider is really going to struggle scoring in the halfcourt. Monmouth forces you to beat them from the outside and Rider is inept in that area. The Hawks will make this happen if they’re able to force enough turnovers, get some long rebounds and get out in transition on offense.

Season: 29-24 (54.7%)

CBB Picks: 12/29

OLD DOMINION (-5.5) over William & Mary

From six days ago:

RHODE ISLAND (-9.5) over William & Mary

The Tribe have been terrible on the road. They’re 0-4 with a pair of 10-point losses to Hampton and CMU. That’s the only D-1 win so far for Hampton. They’ve blown out a few bad teams at home, but nothing that makes you think they’re going to have a chance to beat a Top 25-caliber Rams team.

URI is still without Hassan Martin, but they’ve managed without him. Cyril Langevine has stepped in with Martin being out. He can’t match the offensive production, but he’s done a good job rebounding and blocking shots. They’ll be able to score fairly easily against W&M’s poor defense and they might only have like six turnovers. Rams will give the Tribe nothing from outside.

They didn’t cover that one either. That’s still Hampton’s only D-1 win. ODU is one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Monarchs aren’t great offensively, but they’ve played a tough schedule and have managed 7-4, including taking Louisville to OT.

Loyola Chicago (-5.5) over DRAKE

Loyola has been a pleasant surprise this year. They’re only 1-2 on the road, but those two losses were by a combined six points against NC State and Toledo.

Drake is coming off their first D-1 win of the season, but I’m not sure MVSU really counts because they’re winless and only come within double-digits once all season.

Drake’s not really good at any one thing. They force some turnovers, but they give them up at the same rate and that’s one of the advantages the Ramblers have had over teams all year. Loyola has been killing people in the paint and I’d expect that to continue tonight. Their biggest weakness is that they’re a terrible rebounding team, but Drake isn’t much better.

San Diego (+11) over SAN FRANCISCO

USF is coming off a great showing in Hawaii over the holiday. They beat Utah and Illinois State before going ice cold against San Diego St. in the final. Focus would have to be a concern for a team that got two of the program’s best wins over the past few years, while also coming back from Hawaii and tossing in the holidays for good measure.

It’s not going to help that San Diego is great at limiting teams that shoot from the perimeter and the Dons are so reliant on three-pointers. Since getting trounced at home by USC, the Toreros are on a five-game winning streak, including their last two on the road.

Season: 27-20 (57.4%)

CBB Picks: 12/28

INDIANA STATE (+11) over Wichita State

I’ve mentioned before how consistently inconsistent the Sycamores have been for years now, so take this for what it’s worth. One thing ISU has done well this year is play well in big games. In the A+B games that KenPom indicates, ISU is 2-4. The only game they really played poorly was at Valpo. Otherwise they had wins over Butler and at Utah State and three losses against Iowa State and Stanford on a neutral floor and at Northern Illinois in overtime. Those three losses were by a combined seven points.

It looked like the Shockers weren’t gonna miss a beat with Baker and VanVleet gone, but the ass kicking they received at home at the hands of Oklahoma State seemed to indicate otherwise. It’s just their second time in a true road game this year. They ended up winning by 15 at Colorado State, but that game was much closer throughout. That 15-point lead was the biggest they had all game.

I’ll be honest, there’s not a ton of matchup stuff that makes sense for the Sycamores, but nothing they ever do really makes sense to me.

Central Florida (-6.5) over TULANE

Tulane is pretty bad. Shockingly the washed-up NBA coach that hasn’t coached for six years hasn’t turned around a mid-major program and has actually seemingly made it much worse.

UCF still isn’t the team it was without BJ Taylor, but their defense is still fantastic in the half court. That’s the key for them, keeping this game in the half court. Tulane’s best chance of scoring is getting out in transition. Offensively, the Knights aren’t great, but they’ll be able to score enough with Tacko Fall down low and Matt Williams should have some open looks from outside.

Georgetown (+6) over MARQUETTE

The Hoyas got off to a rough start again this year, but I like a lot about this team. They’re starting to settle into their rotation more Derrickson back from injury and Govan becoming more and more consistent down low. Peak and Pryor have both been really efficient on the wing. I don’t see Marquette doing a great job slowing down their offense very much. The biggest issue for the Hoyas will be turnovers, but they’ve done a better job of that recently. Jagan Mosely had a terrible outing against Oklahoma St. in Maui and it’s skewed his turnover numbers, but he’s been solid lately with only five in the past six games.

The Hoyas biggest problem defensively has been keeping teams off the glass for second-chance looks. If they can keep Fischer from having a field day there, they’ll be in a great spot to win. Best defense for Fischer might be getting him in foul trouble on the other end.


Season: 25-19 (56.8%)

Big Ten Non-Conference Awards and NCAA Tournament Outlook

Image result for trevor thompson ohio state

Five Stars From the Past Week:

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue – averaged 26.5 points and 20.5 rebounds in two wins

James Blackmon, Indiana – averaged 21.0 points on 70% shooting, including 67% from 3P in two wins

Trevor Thompson, Ohio State – averaged 12.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in two wins

Nick Ward, Michigan State – 25 points and 9 rebounds in win over Oakland

Maverick Morgan, Illinois – 19 points and 11 rebounds in win over Missouri

Five Best Games to Watch This Week:

Michigan State at Minnesota, Tuesday, 9:oo pm EST, ESPN2

Northwestern at Michigan State, Friday, 6:00 pm EST, BTN

Louisville vs. Indiana (Indy), Saturday, 12:30 pm EST, CBS

Michigan at Iowa, Sunday, 2:15 pm EST, BTN

Ohio State at Illinois, Sunday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN

We begin with our non-conference awards:

Player of the Non-Conference Season

1. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
2. Melo Trimble, Maryland
3. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
4. James Blackmon, Indiana
5. Peter Jok, Iowa

This one feels fairly obvious to me, as much as I like the other guys listed here. Swanigan is fourth in the league in scoring (18.3 ppg) and first in rebounding (12.5 rpg). He averages three more rebounds per game than anyone else in the league. He’s had three 20-20 games already. He leads the league with 10 double-doubles. The next closest guy has six. He’s won Big Ten POTW three of the seven weeks.

The schedule wasn’t the strongest for Maryland, but as much credit goes to Trimble for their 12-1 record as anybody else. Happ is still the MVP of the Badger trio for me and the best two-way player. Blackmon and Jok both still leave a little to be desired defensively, but they both certainly score.

Coach of the Non-Conference Season

1. Steve Pikiell, Rutgers
2. Richard Pitino, Minnesota
3. Mark Turgeon, Maryland
4. Chris Collins, Northwestern
5. John Groce, Illinois

COTY is always tough because coaches are dealing with different standards and play much different schedules in the non-conference. I don’t have any of the Gard, Crean, and Painter trio listed. Their teams are the three current contenders for the league championship, but I don’t think any of them exceeded expectations much. They just kind of did what you expected.

Pikiell gets the nod for making the Scarlet Knights look like a basketball team, which wasn’t the case a year ago. They didn’t exactly build a tournament resume. In fact, they don’t really have one yet. But they went 11-2 – four more wins than all of last year – and their only two losses were competitive ones on the road at Miami (FL) and Seton Hall.

Pitino’s Gopher team has also made great strides. They’ve been great defensively and will be a near lock to make the NCAA Tournament if they go .500 in league play. Turgeon’s squad wasn’t overwhelming, but they’ve battled to a 12-1 record with a highly inexperienced team.

It would’ve been massive to get the one-that-got-away against Notre Dame, but Collins just might do the impossible at Northwestern this year. Thanksgiving week wasn’t kind to John Groce, but his Illini team has been flawless against a challenging schedule since and find themselves back in the tourney conversation.

Defensive Player of the Non-Conference Season

1. Trevor Thompson, Ohio State
2. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
3. Reggie Lynch, Minnesota
4. Glynn Watson, Nebraska
5. Mike Watkins, Penn State

Maybe the toughest one to really decide. I always think coaches have a much better idea of who the best defensive players are. I’m like most people in that I don’t always pay as much attention to the individual defenders.

Thompson gets the nod for me. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league, if you ask me. Defensively, he’s the only rim-protector the Buckeyes have and he does it really well. He’s the league leader in both defensive rebounding percentage and overall defensive rating. Defensive rating can be a flawed individual statistic, but when no one else on your team is close to you and your team is a Top 25 defense, I think it’s fair to say the numbers back up the eye test with Thompson.

Happ doesn’t have the explosiveness to be a big time shot-blocker, but he’s so damn solid and those block numbers will always hold his defense back from getting the respect it deserves.

Lynch and Watkins have insane block numbers so far and are two of the best in the country. Watson is one of the best end-to-end defenders in the league and leads the B1G in steals.

Newcomer of the Non-Conference Season

1. Mike Watkins, Penn State
2. Nick Ward, Michigan State
3. Anthony Cowan, Maryland
4. Amir Coffey, Minnesota
5. Cordell Pemsl, Iowa

I had a list of twenty that are probably all worthy. To narrow it down, I took out both Tyler Cook and Miles Bridges, just because they’ve both missed a large chunk of the season. Also, I made just one guy eligible per team. This was difficult with all five teams that these guys are on.

Watkins and Ward are probably 1a and 1b for me, but Watkins gets the nod because he’s been in the fire from game one this season. Ward didn’t play 20 minutes in a game until the seventh game of the season. Both have been outstanding big men and are potential NBA guys.

Cowan got the Terp nod over Justin Jackson. He’s been a little more efficient and a solid table-setter. Coffey has slowed down the past few weeks, but he’s also a lot younger than Lynch and Akeem Springs and brings a unique skill set to that team. Pemsl has been ultra-efficient and has been really effective without Cook in the lineup.

Not a lot actually happened this week, so it seems like a perfect opportunity to check in on where all the bracket prognosticators have everybody in the NCAA Tournament projections. It’s obviously still very early, but I think it gives you a good idea of what teams need to accomplish in conference play if they want to go dancing.

Nationally, it’s not the prettiest scene for the B1G right now. KenPom’s ratings have them as the fourth-best league in the country and only have four teams in the Top 40. For comparison, the Big 12 has eight teams (out of 10) and the ACC has nine. As a group, they just didn’t have a lot of big wins in the early season.

Barring A Debacle, They’re Playing For Seeding

Purdue – Bracket Matrix: 4 Seed (29/29 brackets, 4.41 average)

The Big East, ACC, and Big 12 all have three teams higher on the seed list than the B1G’s highest team, the Boilermakers.

There was nothing really damaging for Purdue in the non-conference, but there also wasn’t a ton of resume building either. The Notre Dame win is the only one that would currently classify as “quality”, although Auburn could certainly join that list. The Tigers are 10-2 headed into a pretty weak SEC and they’ve already got a few nice wins themselves.

The biggest takeaway in terms of their seeding chances in the early season was really the opportunities they lost out on. Beating Villanova at home would’ve been major and probably worth at least a full seed line. They’d probably like a re-do on that first half in Louisville, as well. Those are two losses that won’t necessarily hurt them, but could’ve helped them get out of that 4/5 seed purgatory where losing in the first game is a very real possibility, which the Boilers are very familiar with after UALR last year.

This week: Iowa and Minnesota at home

Indiana – Bracket Matrix: 4 Seed (28/29 brackets, 4.75 average)

The Hoosiers collected the two best wins in the league during the non-con. Beating UNC and Kansas will be a big boost when it comes time for their final seeding.

So why are they the same seed as a Purdue team that wasn’t able to win those type of games? Well, SOS would probably be the biggest reason. KenPom has them at 348 out of 351. They’ve only played four games against the KenPom top 250. They went 2-2. Their next best win at the moment – behind UNC and Kansas – would be Houston Baptist, who currently has one D-1 win.

The Fort Wayne loss isn’t all that damaging at the moment. I’ve written before about these arbitrary marks we like to make with the RPI. Any loss outside of the Top 100 in the RPI is considered bad and any win inside the Top 50 is considered good. The RPI is already pretty dumb and these meaningless boundaries we set are even dumber. A win over the #1 team and a win over the #50 team are reduced to being the same value when you lump them under “Top 50 RPI wins”.

I digress. The reason Fort Wayne isn’t a bad loss at the moment is because they’re juuuuuust inside the Top 100 in the RPI at 97.

The SOS will go way up for IU after they go through their B1G schedule and they also will play Louisville this week, which will be a big boost to the non-con SOS.

This week: home for Nebraska, Louisville in Indy

Wisconsin – Bracket Matrix: 5 Seed (29/29 brackets, 4.79 average)

Speaking of Top 50 wins, the Badgers may not have gotten one yet. The RPI is even worse at this point of the year than usual, but while Wisconsin won five games over big-name schools, Georgetown is the highest in the RPI right now at 59. While I’ve repeatedly let my disdain for the RPI be known, it may be correct in that Georgetown, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Marquette, and Tennessee are actually not very good.

Beating Creighton or North Carolina would’ve solidified a good win for the Badgers, but they couldn’t close in Omaha and the Tar Heels blew them out in Maui. If they’re going to get up in to one those Top 2 seeds, they’ll probably have to go something like 16-2 in league play or a couple of those big-name teams they beat are going to have to play much better in their leagues.

This week: home for Rutgers

They’d Probably Be In Now, But Some Work Left To Do

Maryland – Bracket Matrix: 7 Seed (26/29 brackets, 7.35 average)

It doesn’t really matter how you get them and the Terps had a trio of potentially good wins over Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Georgetown. How did they get them? They won all three games by one point.

It speaks to the Terps ability to close games, but is also a reason that some are skeptical if they can be a team that wins double-digit games in conference play. But as I mentioned in the season preview, their schedule is very favorable. While that helps them in terms of their ability to have a chance at winning the conference or coming close, it reduces their opportunities to help out their seeding.

This week: Illinois and Nebraska at home

Minnesota – Bracket Matrix: 7 Seed (26/29 brackets, 7.81 average)

The Gophers are in a fairly similar boat with Maryland, they were just a little more convincing in their victories over decent teams. That doesn’t really change anything with the traditional, antiquated way of viewing resumes, but it helps their standing with power rankings like KenPom and Sagarin, which become part of the conversation more and more every year.

They also have a relatively easy road with their B1G schedule. They play each of the Top 3 only once and only Purdue is on the road. I’m not saying they’re going to win the league, but it wouldn’t be the dumbest thing to sprinkle a little action on them to win the league, either.

This week: home for Michigan State and at Purdue

Northwestern – Bracket Matrix: 9 Seed (23/29 brackets, 8.83 average)

They need Dayton, Texas, and Wake Forest to finish the season strong. They’d also probably like to have a time machine and redo the ends of the Butler and Notre Dame games.

I’m not saying it’s a lock that Northwestern makes the tournament if they go 9-9 in league play, but it’d put a lot of pressure on the committee to keep them out.

This week: at Penn State and Michigan State

Michigan – Bracket Matrix: 9 Seed (25/29 brackets, 8.92 average)

I’m not trying to freak any Wolverine fans out, but their non-con resume is very similar to last year, if not a little worse. They went 10-8 in B1G play last year and still had to beat IU in the conference tournament in order to make one of the play-in games in Dayton. Not saying, just saying.

This week: at Iowa

Things Are Pretty Bubbly

Ohio State – Bracket Matrix: 11 Seed (13/29 brackets, 9.54 average)

I had high hopes for the Buckeyes this year. Even higher hopes after their first half at Virginia. Since then, it appears they’re exactly what we thought they were.

You can get away with playing very poorly and winning close games against Fairleigh Dickinson and UNC Asheville at home. It becomes a big deal for 20 minutes on Twitter as everyone waits to see if you lose. But if you win, just about everybody forgets by the next day and it’s never talked about nationally again. More specifically, it never matters with the committee in March.

Unfortunately that overtime loss to Florida Atlantic could be the difference between making the tournament and playing in the NIT again. In addition, they may still not have a good win. Their only real hope is Providence.

They may need to win 11 or 12 B1G games, including a couple of big ones.

This week: at Illinois

Illinois – Bracket Matrix: 11 Seed (13/29 brackets, 10.38 average)

I’m no bracket expert, but I’d say the Illini have a much better resume right now than Ohio State, but what do I know? Yes, they lost to Winthrop, but Winthrop is a lot better than FAU. They’ve also beaten NC State, VCU, and BYU. Three wins that are right about the same level as OSU’s one win over Providence.

Illinois has a chance to rack up a lot of wins in the B1G, but they only have one chance at each of the Top 3, with only Wisconsin at home. They’re going to need to have to avoid bad losses because they won’t have many opportunities to offset them with big wins.

This week: at Maryland, home for Ohio State

Michigan State – Bracket Matrix: Second Four Out (8/29 brackets, 10.50 average)

They really need Wichita State to be dominant in the MVC again this year. The Shockers were their best win and Wichita left non-con with one decent win over Oklahoma.

They also need Northeastern to have a really good run in the CAA to be a Top 100 team.

Most importantly, the Spartans need to start playing significantly better.

MSU will get the benefit of the doubt when it comes down to Selection Sunday and that’s just a fact. There’s a reason Syracuse made the tournament last year, setting the record for being the team with the highest RPI to be selected to make the field. Also, MSU had the worst record ever for a team selected back in 2011 when they were 18-14.

This week: at Minnesota, home for Northwestern

A Lot Of Work To Do, But Possible

Iowa – Bracket Matrix: N/A

They’re not in a great spot right now, but the Iowa State win was a good place to start and the way they’ve been playing the past few weeks suggests that they may be a factor in the conference. Two big games to start off league play.

This week: at Purdue, home for Michigan

Rutgers – Bracket Matrix: N/A

I mentioned it in the COTNCS discussion, but while Rutgers doesn’t have any good wins yet, they also haven’t done any damage to a potential NCAA Tournament resume yet. Having no bad losses (with plenty of opportunities), puts them ahead of Iowa, Illinois, MSU, and OSU in that aspect.

It’s difficult to imagine them as a tournament team because of how bad they were last year, but we’ve only seen them play two good teams. They were both on the road and the Scarlet Knights didn’t look too bad. They don’t play any of the Top 3 at home. That hurts their chances for a massive win, but it also means they’ll have a good opportunity to win every game at home the rest of the way. It’s not likely, but it’s also not inconceivable. KenPom gives Michigan the best chance to win in Piscataway and he only favors them by four points.

This week: at Wisconsin, home for Penn St.

Maybe Next Year

Penn State – Bracket Matrix: N/A

The Nittany Lions will be frisky, but they’re probably not frisky enough to overcome an 8-5 record with losses to George Mason and Albany.

This week: home for Northwestern, at Penn St.

Nebraska – Bracket Matrix: N/A

There was a glimmer of hope until they lost to Gardner-Webb.

This week: at Indiana and Maryland


CBB Picks: 12/22

Delaware (+4.5) over SOUTH FLORIDA

The Bulls are a mess right now. McMurray’s gone for good now. Holston still isn’t expected to play tonight. They are severely impaired on offense without those two.

The Hens have been pesky all year and they’ve done a good job on the road. They beat Bradley and Miami (OH) and they competed with Seton Hall, Yale, and LaSalle before letting those get away towards the end. All three of those that they lost to are miles better than the current USF team.

RHODE ISLAND (-9.5) over William & Mary

The Tribe have been terrible on the road. They’re 0-4 with a pair of 10-point losses to Hampton and CMU. That’s the only D-1 win so far for Hampton. They’ve blown out a few bad teams at home, but nothing that makes you think they’re going to have a chance to beat a Top 25-caliber Rams team.

URI is still without Hassan Martin, but they’ve managed without him. Cyril Langevine has stepped in with Martin being out. He can’t match the offensive production, but he’s done a good job rebounding and blocking shots. They’ll be able to score fairly easily against W&M’s poor defense and they might only have like six turnovers. Rams will give the Tribe nothing from outside.

Nevada (-11) over UC Santa Barbara

UCSB is horrible.

Season: 24-17 (58.5%)

CBB Picks: 12/21

First big day of the season last year, going 7-0. I’m not as fond of the board today, but still like a few plays.

WESTERN KENTUCKY (+6.5) over Ohio

Similar to James Madison yesterday, this is Western Kentucky’s first home game in a month. However, the difference is they did play really well at home early in the season. They’re finally playing with a full roster, as well.

Ohio is a better team, but they’re so reliant on their perimeter shooting and their two worst shooting performances have come in true road games. That’s been a weakness defensively for WKU, but again, they’ve been playing in other teams’ gyms for a month.

The Toppers have a lot of transfer pieces still coming together, but they’ve got enough offensive skill to beat an Ohio team that’s not always the most focused defensively.

Arkansas State (+6.5) over Alabama

The Tide keeps launching threes, which is a problem because they’re not good at making them. It’s an even bigger problem in this game because the Wolves are limiting teams to 27% from outside.

ASU themselves isn’t a high-volume three-point shooting team, but they knock down a high percentage and that’s where Bama has been beat all year.

The Wolves are 3-1 against Top 100 KenPom teams this year. Bama is 0-5.

BOISE STATE (-12.5) over CS Northridge

Boise is really good at home. They’ve lost two games there in the past 2.5 years. CSUN hasn’t won away from home this year and only came close once (St. John’s). They just lost to something called Bethesda last Friday.

The Matadors will probably score a decent amount, but they’re terrible defensively, they don’t rebound, and they don’t win turnover battles.

Season: 22-16 (57.9%)

CBB Picks: 12/20

Hey, a winning day.

Richmond (-4.5) over JAMES MADISON

JMU has one win this season and that was over Longwood, one of the five or six worst teams in the country. It is their first home game in about a month. While that may provide some comfort, it’s not like they played any better there in the first couple weeks of the season.

The Spiders didn’t quite get it done against Texas Tech, but they were right there the whole game and they had to deal with the scary scene of Grant Golden getting taken off on a stretcher mid-game. Golden isn’t playing and I’m no doctor, but it might be best that he never does again. On a more basketball-specific note, TJ Cline still couldn’t get it going and the fact they were still in the game makes me feel better about Richmond. Maybe Cline can get it going tonight against JMU’s “defense”.

TOLEDO (+1) over Loyola Chicago – POSSIBLY

If Steve Taylor plays, I’ll take the Rockets up to -3. Loyola doesn’t have the inside presence to match him and he’ll have a field day on the glass. If he doesn’t play, it’s a no-go.

Fresno State (+16) over OREGON

Chris Boucher unexpectedly didn’t play against UNLV, but the Ducks still won by 20 (and covered) over the weekend. Boucher is out again and it’s a much bigger deal for this game. The Ducks had a massive advantage down low and Boucher’s absence just made it a little bit less massive.

Fresno has the size to match Oregon and Karachi Edo is making his season debut tonight. Edo was one of the best offensive rebounders in the country last year and a steady scorer. He’ll be a big boost to a team that’s struggled a bit on the glass this year.

WASHINGTON (-13.5) over Cal Poly

It’s a dangerous game running with the Huskies, but Cal Poly was a bad team already and now they’ve lost two of their best three players. Josh Martin hasn’t played for a while now, but PG Jaylen Shead just bounced from the program out of the blue before their game with Cal. Shead would be the guy on the team most suited to slow down Markelle Fultz. He’s also the guy that would’ve picked apart UW’s defense with his drive and dish game. The Mustangs got shredded by a Cal team that has had major issues on offense this year.

MONMOUTH (-4) over Princeton – 2u

The way this one goes sideways is if Princeton gets rolling from outside, which is very possible because they’ll have opportunities against the Hawks defense.

But the Tigers are also down two of their best rebounders now. Hans Brase has been out for a little while, but now they’ve also lost Henry Caruso for the season. Caruso has been a big-time scorer for them the past couple years, as well.

While Princeton might hit enough shots to win this one, they’ve been just okay percentage-wise this season and they’re on the road. I’m more confident that Justin Robinson will have his way and be able to get anywhere he wants on offense.

PROVIDENCE (-13) over Maine – 1H

The Friars have made a bit of a trend of blasting bad teams in the first half and then coming out too relaxed in the second half.

And Maine is pretty bad. They’ve only played two good teams all season. Duke beat them by 39 without Grayson Allen. Va Tech only beat them by 13, but Maine went on a 12-0 run in the final three minutes to make that one look prettier than it was. The one thing the Bears do well is take care of the ball, but the Friars can really turn up the pressure and have caused a lot of turnovers this year.

Season: 15-16 (48.4%)

CBB Picks: 12/19

SMU (-7) over Stanford – 2u

SMU’s defense makes you beat them with perimeter shots. Begs you don’t to launch from out there. That’s not good for Stanford. They’re one of the most unwilling teams to shoot and that’s because they’re aware they stink at it. Their 3PA% is 348th out of 351 and their 3P% is 321st. Many times their best offense is having Reid Travis go and try to get fouled.

The Cardinal D is solid, but not really outstanding in any phase. Their DefEff looks good because they rebound well on that end. They’re going to have to be exceptional against the Mustangs because they’ve got three guys who are relentless on the offensive glass.

COLORADO ST. (-7.5) over Loyola Marymount

Just repeat the general gist of the first paragraph of the SMU game and it’s pretty much the same. In this case CSU is SMU and LMU is Stanford.

Offensively, you worry about the turnovers for the Rams, but Gian Clavell is back and you’d expect him to really help the issue. What will also help is the possible 35 free throw attempts.

MILWAUKEE (+8) over Belmont

Belmont is again a ridiculously high-volume three-point shooting team. However, this year they’ve been very inconsistent, especially on the road. Milwaukee has typically been a pretty tough out at home and I’d expect them to respond positively after a horrible outing against Western Illinois Saturday.

GREEN BAY (-14) over SIU-Edwardsville

The electric pace that the Phoenix play at is only going to further expose SIUE having their biggest playmaker – Tre Harris – out of the lineup. The early returns without him were a 14-point loss at Saint Louis, who’s currently recruiting at 50x the level their current on-court product is playing at. Should be a good day for guys like Charles Cooper and Kerem Kanter (Enes’ brother) against the Panthers swiss cheese interior defense.

Season: 12-14 (46.2%)

Big Ten Power Rankings: Player Comps

Five Stars of the Past Week:

Caleb Swanigan and Vincent Edwards, Purdue – 46 points, 20 rebounds, 5 blocks in win over Notre Dame

Mike Watkins, Penn State – 15 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal in win over St. John’s

Dupree McBrayer and Nate Mason, Minnesota – 40 points and 12 assists in win over LIU-Brooklyn

Deshawn Freeman, Rutgers – 16 points and 11 rebounds in win over Fordham

Maverick Morgan, Illinois – 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in win over BYU

Five Six Games to Watch This Week:

Charlotte vs. Maryland (Baltimore), Tuesday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPN2

North Dakota at Iowa, Tuesday, 9:00 pm EST, BTN

Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis), Wednesday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPNU

Oakland at Michigan State, Wednesday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN

Rutgers at Seton Hall, Thursday, 6:30 pm EST, FS1

Arkansas St. at Minnesota, Thursday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN

I’m gonna keep the team analysis pretty short this week since most teams only played once and a lot of them played trash.

However, KenPom re-released the player comparison feature again and I’ve wasted hours flipping through a ton of them this week. If you’d like to read the formula behind these comps, you can read about it here.

Since there’s not a ton to talk about that happened this past week or what will happen this coming week, I thought it’d be fun to pick one player comp for each of the teams that I think fits the most. I was gonna do full starting lineups, but I did two of them and it took forever and the Bucs just lost and morale is low.

1. Wisconsin (Last Week: 1 / KenPom: 10)

They beat Green Bay, which made them 2-0 against other Wisconsin teams this year. A nice bounceback after going 1-2 last year.

Favorite Player Comp:

Brady Morningstar – Zak Showalter: This is so goddamn spot-on. Showalter and Morningstar are both the fourth or fifth option in lineups where they’re surrounded by big-name players. Morningstar did have a little more talent around him, though. That KU team had the Morris brothers, Thomas Robinson, Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor, Josh Selby, and Jeff Withey. Not surprisingly, they went 35-3 before getting upset by VCU.

2. Indiana (Last Week: 2 / KenPom: 16)

They lost to Butler, which isn’t really that big of a deal. Kelan Martin was absurdly hot in the first half.

Favorite Player Comp:

OG Anunoby – Chandler Parsons: Needed to break the racial barrier down. They had different backgrounds coming into college. Parsons was a 5-star recruit and was part of a loaded recruiting class that never really accomplished anything. Anunoby was more under the radar, but he’s quickly established himself as an intriguing pro prospect. His rise along with this comp is interesting to me because Parsons ended up playing all four years. Parsons has had a nice career and he was never quite the defensive prospect that OG is right now.

3. Purdue (Last Week: 3 / KenPom: 13)

Big-time comeback win for Purdue. That’s a big monkey off the back in a variety of ways. They needed to get a quality win in non-con, they needed to win a game in that event, and winning playing small ball should give them a lot of confidence that they can play a variety of ways.

Favorite Player Comp:

Caleb Swanigan – Derrick Williams: Williams was the better athlete and a master at getting to the free throw line, but their games are pretty similar. Swanigan’s a better passer and rebounder, but they both primarily live(d) on the inside and supplemented with the occasional perimeter shot. If Swanigan follows a similar career path to Williams (getting to the Elite 8 like Zona did would help), you’d have to call it a success.

4. Northwestern (Last Week: 4 / KenPom: 46)

They nearly blew another one, but the win over Dayton was another massive one. It feels like in order to get to the tournament, it’s going be an absolute grind every night that will cause Wildcat fans stress, but it’s gonna be so damn beautiful when it happens.

Favorite Player Comp:

Vic Law – Trevon Bluiett: It’s admittedly boring since Bluiett is still playing, but that doesn’t make it wrong. They’re both long wings who can do a little bit of everything and play a pretty smooth game. I’m not sure either will ever be NBA guys, but they’re good enough for the scouts to keep an eye on.

5. Michigan (Last Week: 5 / KenPom: 28)

They beat a couple of tomato cans by a lot of points.

Favorite Player Comp:

Mo Wagner – Jon Leuer: A strikingly similar first two seasons, albeit Mo is only halfway through this one. They also have the same essence about them that makes you want to punch them in the nose if your team is playing against them. Mo is destined to also be the token white guy off the bench for a new NBA team every season I guess.

6. Minnesota (Last Week: 6 / KenPom: 48)

They beat LIU-Brooklyn. It wasn’t impressive, but they didn’t have Amir Coffey either.

Favorite Player Comp:

Amir Coffey – Evan Turner: Following Turner’s path is probably the best-case scenario for Coffey, which is a pretty good one, despite Turner’s lack of success in the NBA. While the numbers are similar in their freshman years, Turner developed so much over his three years in Columbus. He improved as a defender, was one of the best passers in the country, and was a great rebounder for his position. That last facet might be the greatest area of need for Coffey over his career. For being 6-8 and playing a ton of minutes, he doesn’t have a lot of boards to show for it. It doesn’t help playing with Windex men like Jordan Murphy, Eric Curry, and Reggie Lynch, but still. Akeem Springs rebounds at a higher rate.

7. Maryland (Last Week: 8 / KenPom: 64)

They beat Jacksonville State.

Favorite Player Comp:

Melo Trimble – JamesOn Curry: I LOVED JamesOn Curry back in the day. Unfortunately for him, his pro career never really panned out, which was probably impacted by some of his off-the-court problems. I’m not sure it’s a great thing for Trimble that they’re comparable, but the similarities are definitely there. Melo is more of a driver, but he also has the ball in his hands more. Curry played off the ball. The very noticeable trend that the two share, though, is over the course of their career as they became a bigger part of the team and their usage rate went up, the team got worse. That’s obviously not all either of their fault, but…it’s something. I’m just saying Melo’s comps as a freshman were Shelvin Mack, Jerryd Bayless, Olivier Hanlan, Josh Perkins, and Kendall Williams and now by far the most flattering comp he has is Curry. Maybe it’ll change as the schedule gets tougher.

8. Ohio State (Last Week: 7 / KenPom: 37)

The Buckeyes hung around with UCLA all game, but at the same time it never really felt like they had a chance to win.

Favorite Player Comp:

JaQuan Lyle – Lance Stephenson: This is without a doubt my favorite. I cheated a bit on this because it was Lyle’s comp for his freshman year, but it’s just too perfect. First off, both of them had these long, twisted recruitments where they were going/looked like they were going to a variety of schools. They both have a ton of talent, but their attitudes seem to hold them back. They both think they can shoot, but they can’t. They’re both gifted passers, but they turn it over too much. I want Lyle’s career to be different than Stephenson’s, but I’m not sure he’ll ever even get there.

9. Illinois (Last Week: 10 / KenPom: 66)

Big win for the Illini over BYU in Chicago. They’ve responded with five straight decent wins since Thanksgiving week.

Favorite Player Comp:

Malcolm Hill – Quenton DeCosey: I’m starting to think maybe Malcolm Hill isn’t as good as I thought.

10. Iowa (Last Week: 13 / KenPom: 68)

Northern Iowa isn’t as good as they have been over the past couple of years, but the Hawkeyes destroyed the Panthers. And they only gave up 46 points!

Favorite Player Comp:

Peter Jok – Nick Faust: Not a perfect comparison. Jok is a more natural shooter while Faust is a more gifted athlete, but they both are capable of going for 40 if they’re feeling it while also capable of going 3-18 and taking the whole team down with them. I love them both.

11. Rutgers (Last Week: 11 / KenPom: 118)

Say what you want about the schedule, but the Knights just keep winning. It’s true that none of their 11 wins would be featured on an NCAA Tournament resume, but they’ve won three of them away from their home floor and they seem to keep winning in more-and-more convincing fashion. The three teams below them can’t say the same thing.

Favorite Player Comp:

Corey Sanders – Shaq Harrison: Big Ten fans may remember Harrison as the guy who almost single-handedly ended Michigan’s season in Dayton last year. Sanders isn’t quite the stat-stuffer that he was last year, but that’s probably for the better. He was asked to do way too much last season. His numbers this year are very similar to Harrison’s as a sophomore. Things Sanders should do to be more like Harrison as a senior: reduce turnovers, stop shooting so many threes, attack the rim and get to the free throw line.

12. Michigan State (Last Week: 9 / KenPom: 56)

It shocks me just as much as you to have the Spartans here, but I’ve got to stay true to ranking teams how they’re playing right now and they pretty much stink right now. Miles Bridges or not, they haven’t consistently put away bad teams at home and Northeastern took advantage and hammered them down the stretch. That’s a team that has lost to Harvard, Cornell, Boston, Stony Brook, and LIU Brooklyn. Is it time to panic? No, but a loss to Oakland and you might want to start thinking about it.

Favorite Player Comp:

Miles Bridges – Carmelo Anthony: Now we’re talkin’. It’s definitely not a perfect comp, but I can’t just see Carmelo’s name and pass it up. For one, Melo was a better, more dynamic scorer and Miles is a more explosive athlete, even at that stage of Melo’s career. But they’re similar in that they can’t really guard wings, but they don’t have the traditional height for an NBA 4 either and that they’re both good rebounders.

13. Penn State (Last Week: 14 / KenPom: 109)

They went to the Garden and shredded St. John’s with their dribble penetration. Another nice win for the Nittany Lions. I’m excited to watch them in B1G competition.

Favorite Player Comp:

Mike Watkins – Andrew Nicholson: Watkins’ top 3 comps – Nicholson, Tarik Black, Tyrus Thomas – were/are all NBA players, btw. The obvious comparisons between these two is thier efficiency around the basket offensively and their shot-blocking ability on the other end. Watkins is a better rebounder than Nicholson was at this stage. Nicholson ended up staying with the Bonnies all four years and developed the threat of a perimeter shot by the time he was a senior, which is something that would obviously be a great addition to Watkins’ game and his pro prospects.

14. Nebraska (Last Week: 12 / KenPom: 88)

They lost to Gardner Webb and now they have to beat Southern just to finish .500 in non-con. Not good. They played a very difficult schedule and they didn’t have anything close to a bad loss up until this weekend, but I think you’d have to end up calling this first half-ish part of the season a failure.

Favorite Player Comp:

Tai Webster – DJ Newbill: This is bittersweet for Webster because it’s a compliment to how well he’s playing this year, but an indictment of his teammates.

CBB Picks: 12/17

PSA: I had a terrible run on Saturdays last year. Just a fair warning if you’re new.


SYRACUSE (-6.5) over Georgetown

First true road game for the Hoyas and I question their ability to hit enough shots from the outside. So much of their offense has relied on getting to the free throw line and that could be tough against the Orange’s zone. Cuse has been much better at home this year than elsewhere.

12:30 pm

RICHMOND (+5) over Texas Tech

I’ll admit this one is kind of a feel thing. The Red Raiders have beat up on bad teams and just been so-so against borderline Top 100 teams. First true road game again here. TJ Cline has been off to a slow start for the Spiders, but it’ll be a good chance for him to get it going against TT’s pack-line defense.

1:00 pm

The Citadel (+29) over VIRGINIA TECH

A lot of points to be giving for a team that’s good, not great and playing against a really unique style and pace off of finals week.

2:00 pm

OHIO (-12) over Cleveland State

Bobcats didn’t come through, so no other choice but to double down. CSU has been terrible on the road.

Notre Dame (+3) over Purdue

As a Purdue fan, I am very concerned about this game. If they continually let Matt Farrell in the paint, it’s gonna be a real problem.

Chicago State (+12) over DEPAUL

DePaul stinks. They are capable of losing to anyone and at no point should probably not be favored by 12 over anyone at this level, especially a team that’s been pretty frisky lately. It’ll be a slowly played game

5:00 pm

SOUTH DAKOTA ST. (-2) over Murray St.

Murray just played in Mississippi on Thursday night. Now they’ve got a short turnaround and they’re playing in ice cold South Dakota less than 48 hours later. In a close spread like this, I’ll take the squad playing at home with the best player on the floor, Mike Daum.

6:00 pm

WYOMING (-9.5) over Cornell

Cornell hasn’t played a game in 17 days. They do this every year and they lose big every time. It also helps that they’re always bad.

7:00 pm

WICHITA ST. (-8.5) over Oklahoma St. – 2u

The Shockers have been insane at home. Give Gregg Marshall a week to prepare for OSU’s press and I’m betting they’ll handle it well. The Shockers have been incredible defensively and with Jawun Evans having a bum shoulder right now, it could get ugly.

11:00 pm

OREGON (-16) over UNLV

UNLV has yet to beat anyone in the Top 100, while losing to Duke by 49 and Arizona State by 24 recently. They already lack size and two of their bigger guys – Dwayne Morgan and Christian Jones – are out. Morgan is their one true interior presence.

Season: 7-6 (53.8%)