Final Four - Ohio State v Kansas

College Basketball’s Dream Team

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With the Olympics right around the corner, we got to thinking about what a college Dream Team would look like. So, through a thorough and strenuous email conversation that took way too long to complete, Raphielle Johnson and myself put together a 12 man roster that we believe would be the best that college hoops can produce. Agreements? Disagreements? Why are we morons? We love the feedback.

Point Guard: Aaron Craft, Ohio State: Going with the best defensive point guard as the starter, given the fact that this group has enough offensive ability to flourish with Craft running the show. He’s a pest defensively, which can prove to be problematic for many teams. Craft averaged 4.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game for Ohio State last season, and while he may not be a great perimeter shooter the rising junior did shoot 50% from the field overall. – RJ

Shooting Guard: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: Canaan gets the start at off-guard thanks to his ability to shoot the basketball. The 6-foot-0 combo-guard averaged 19.2 points during an all-american campaign as a junior, knocking down 45.6% of his threes — while taking 6.5 per game — despite being the focal point of every defensive game plan the Racers faced. His size is a bit of a concern defensively, but it is nullified a bit by the number of quality defenders in the starting lineup. – RD

Small Forward: Mike Moser, UNLV: Moser gets the start thanks to his versatility. A 6-foot-9 forward, Moser can rebound the ball, he can make plays defensively and he can help keep the floor spread with his ability to shoot. It also helps that he will be able to play multiple positions, giving more versatility to the lineup. – RD
Power Forward: Cody Zeller, Indiana: Zeller is the best low-post scorer in the country. It’s that simple. He also runs the floor extremely well for a player his size. Zeller’s presence will be the most effective when he slides over to the center spot and a guy like Doug McDermott is at the four. Imagine a lineup of Craft, Canaan, Moser and McDermott playing around Zeller. Who do you help off of? Do you allow Zeller to go one-on-one on the block? That’s scary. – RD
Center: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: Noel may not have played a collegiate game yet but it’s impossible to deny his talent. Noel’s a mobile shot-blocker who should be fine defensively when involved in pick and roll situations, which has become more commonplace in the international game in recent years. Offensively he’s not at the stage where you make him the focal point of the offense, but Noel is plenty talented enough to cause some issues. And with the likes of Canaan and Moser, not being a dominant offensive big man isn’t a problem. – RJ
Bench:
  • CJ McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum provides depth at both guard positions, given his ability to operate either with or without the ball in his hands. His ability to apply pressure to defenses off the dribble (McCollum ranked 9th nationally in free throw attempts) will definitely help off the bench, and he’s a very good rebounder for his position as well. – RJ
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott has a skill set that should fit well with the international game. Versatility tends to serve teams well on the international level, and when you can use a player of McDermott’s caliber in a variety of roles (it can be argued that he should be starting) that’s a positive. – RJ
  • Solomon Hill, Arizona: Hill may be underrated nationally due to the Wildcats’ inconsistent 2011-12 campaign, but his versatility makes the rising senior a good fit for the international game. Hill averaged 12.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season, shooting 50% from the field and nearly 39% from three. – RJ
  • Tony Mitchell, North Texas: We went with Mitchell over Mason Plumlee as a last minute decision for three reasons: 1) his ability to step out and hit a three; 2) he’s a better shot blocker; and 3) he’s not a Plumlee. – RD
  • Patric Young, Florida: Young is a freak athlete, the kind of guy that will be always be the best leaper and strongest player on the floor during an international tournament. Combine that with the effort he gives on a possession-by-possession basis, and his inclusion was a no-brainer. – RD
  • Allen Crabbe, Cal: Crabbe made the roster because we were looking for someone with size and the ability to shoot that can play the two. One thing that became painfully obvious is that there are not a lot of big guards in college hoops this season.
  • Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA: Muhammad may not have played a college basketball game yet, but he’s simply too talented to leave off of this team. His ability to slash and attack the rim will be valuable on a roster that has a number of jump-shooters. A back court pairing of Muhammad and McCollum will be fun to watch. – RD

Coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville: I just think that this roster looks like a Rick Pitino roster. A lot of shooters. A lot of small guards. A lot of athletes and shot blockers up front. I can see this team giving people fits with a 2-2-1 full court press. – RD

Final Cuts: Trey Burke, Michigan; Adonis Thomas, Memphis; Mason Plumlee, Duke; Jamal Franklin, SDSU; DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State; James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina; Wayne Blackshear, Louisville.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.