Introducing #NBCtheLeague

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If you’re like the most of us, your fantasy football team eliminated itself from the playoffs three weeks ago.

So with just a few hours left until the start of college hoops season, the writers here at College Basketball Talk decided to test their fantasy wits and put bragging rights on the line the fir first annual #NBCtheLeague. Thanks to the support staff at FCBLZone.com, we got a league set up, had a live draft and are ready to mismanage and overreact.

Over the course of the season, we’ll update you with league standings, and you can follow along by using the #NBCtheLeague hashtag.

With the season starting tomorrow, let’s take a look at the squads and decide who had the best draft.

 

H to the Tom Izzo
Manager: Dan Martin (@DanielJMartin_)

This team isn’t necessarily built around major BCS stars, but it’s made to score points. Mike Moser, DeAndre Kane, Tim Frazier, and Cleveland Melvin are all able to get points, assists, and rebounds and should be the foundation of this championship team. But the key isn’t Kane, Frazier, Moser, or Melvin, it’s the youngsters. Archie Goodwin should lead Kentucky in scoring, while I expect Ben McLemore to break out in his first year on the court with Kansas. Kyle Anderson has the ability to both score and pass and will be helped along if Shabazz Muhammad is ruled eligible. Anchoring all of it are three solid bigs down low: Gorgui Dieng, C.J. Aiken, and Richard Howell.

G DeAndre Kane  (Marshall, Sr.)
G Tim Frazier (Penn State, Sr.)
G Ben McLemore (Kansas, Fy.)
G Archie Goodwin (Kentucky, Fy.)
G/F Kyle Anderson (UCLA, Fy.)
F Mike Moser (UNLV, Jr.)
F Cleveland Melvin (DePaul, Jr.)
F/C Richard Howell (North Carolina State, Sr.)
F/C C.J. Aiken (St. Joseph’s, Jr.)
C Gorgui Dieng (Louisville, Jr.)

 

Cool Hand Lutes
Manager: Raphielle Johnson (@RaphielleJ)

I’ll take my forwards and put them up against any other group in this league. Period. First there’s Tony Mitchell, a guy who averaged a double-double last season and is expected to be a lottery pick in the next draft should he go pro. Scoring? Washington State’s Brock Motum, the reigning Pac-12 scoring champ, can handle that while Arizona’s Solomon Hill is a versatile three who will help across the board stats-wise. Jamelle Hagins is one of the best players in the CAA, and I’m on the Steven Adams bandwagon in regards to him impact at Pittsburgh. In the backcourt I’ve got one of the nation’s best passers in Phil Pressey, one of the more electrifying floor generals around in Chaz Williams and two very good scorers in Chase Tapley and D’Angelo Harrison. With Harrison running the point for a young St. John’s team, look for him to have a greater impact as a sophomore. Lastly I took Dominic Artis, who will run the point for Oregon and could be a Pac-12 All-Rookie Team member when it’s all said and done. Rob and anyone else can guarantee whatever they want, the Cool Hand Lutes will just go out and let the numbers do the talking.

G Chaz Williams (Massachusetts, Jr.)
G Chase Tapley (San Diego State, Sr.)
G Phil Pressey (Missouri, Jr.)
G D’Angelo Harrison (St. Johns, Soph.)
G Dominic Artis (Oregon, Fy.)
F Brock Motum (Washington State, Sr.)
F Solomon Hill (Arizona, Sr.)
F Jamelle Hagins (Delaware, Sr.)
F Tony Mitchell N(orth Texas, Soph.)
F/C Steven Adams (Pittsburgh, Fy.)

 

T-Pain University Auto-Tuners
Manager: Terrence Payne (@Terrence_Payne)

After attempting to sabotage the draft according Troy and Rob, The T. Pain University Auto-Tuners decided to take Cody Zeller with the third pick overall because the third one is the charm (right Luke and Tyler?). Good experience inside and out should be big for the Auto-Tuners. Michael Snaer, Rodney McGruder  and Vincent Council  led the backcourt, while Patric Young, C.J. Leslie, Elias Harris, and Mouphtaou Yarou will add balance contributions and should hold their own on the glass. The Auto-Tuners stick in the Big 12 for the two freshmen selections. Marcus Smart should see more minutes since Brian Williams is done for the season. Cameron Ridley? Because I felt like it.

G Michael Snaer (Florida State, Sr.)
G Rodney McGruder (Kansas State, Sr.)
G Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, Fy.)
G Vincent Council (Providence, Sr.)
F Elias Harris (Gonzaga, Jr.)
F C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State, Jr.)
F/C Patric Young (Florida, Jr.)
F/C Mouphtaou Yarou (Villanova, Sr.)
F/C Cody Zeller (Indiana, Soph.)
C Cameron Ridley (Texas, Fy.)

 

Cal Tech One-and-Dones
Manager: David Harten (@David_Harten)

If I’m going to build a team, no one player is going to fill a role, every player will be able to rebound, pass, defend and score, in that order. Though it doesn’t hurt to have scorers, which is why I base my team around a guy who can fill it up, but can do everything, in Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum. I also added scoring with the unheralded Frank Gaines of IPFW (or Fort Wayne, if you’re into the new pronunciation). Having a volume shooter like Florida’s Kenny Boynton doesn’t hurt. Rebounding is the what separates good teams from great in some aspects, so I nabbed Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael and Chane Behanan of Louisville. Nerlens Noel was my pick at center. Call it a hunch that Calipari will work his magic. Maybe.

You need distributors and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant was the best on the board at just over five assists per game. I was amazed that a first-round pick like Deshaun Thomas from Ohio State was still on the board when I got him midway through the draft, but hey, look who I’m drafting against? (Lookin’ at you, Dauster). Allen Crabbe is one of the best-kept national secrets out of California and should be a first team all-Pac 12 pick this season. LeBryan Nash can give coach Travis Ford and Oklahoma State fans fits with his inconsistent play, but this season, he’ll have some help and should be a breakout player in the Big 12.

G C.J. McCollum (Lehigh, Sr.)
G Frank Gaines (IPFW, Sr.)
G Kenny Boynton (Florida, Sr.)
G/F Allen Crabbe (California, Jr.)
G/F Jerian Grant (Notre Dame, Soph.)
G/F LeBryan Nash (Oklahoma State, Soph.)
F Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State, Sr.)
F Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State, Jr.)
F Chane Behanan (Louisville, Soph.)
F/C Nerlens Noel (Kentucky, Fy.)

 

Mythical Frontcourt Jesus
Manger: Rob Dauster (@RobDauster)

These fools had no clue what they were doing. This is a fantasy team. My first two picks were Nate Wolters and Lorenzo Brown, two stud guards that will put up big assist number while also scoring their fair share of points and helping out on the glass. Up front, I picked up Andre Roberson in the third round, a rebounding machine who will shoulder a much bigger offensive load this season. I snagged Jarnell Stokes and Brandon Davies, two guys that are listed as both forwards and centers, to man the middle while using my mandatory freshman spot on Alex Poythress, the Kentucky Wildcat that I think will end up being their most productive player. On my bench, I gambled on breakout seasons from Michael Carter-Williams and James Michael-McAdoo while stashing Shabazz Napier and Fordham’s Chris Gaston. They might as well give me the title now.

G Nate Wolters (South Dakota State, Sr.)
G Lorenzo Brown North Carolina State (Jr.)
G Shabazz Napier Connecticut (Jr.)
G Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse, Soph)
G/F Andre Roberson (Colorado, Jr.)
F Chris Gaston (Fordham, Sr.)
F James McAdoo (North Carolina, Soph.)
F Alex Poythress (Kentucky, Fr.)
F/C Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee, Soph.)
F/C Brandon Davies (BYU, Jr.)

 

Western University Dolphins
Manager: Troy Machir (@TroyMachir)

It’s very simple. The rest of these chumps drafted players as if they were making a dream team. Problem is, we’re drafting player based on pure statistics. So sure, go ahead and laugh at me for drafting the likes of Colt Ryan, Anthony Ireland, Augustine Rubit, Keith Rendleman and Mike Muscala. I’ll be the one laughing when my ragtag bunch of mid-major all-stars are stuffing the stat sheets like Josh Smith at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

But I didn’t shun the BCS-conference stars all together.  Not when my team name pays homage to the single greatest recruiting class in the history of cinematic college basketball (Blue Chips, 1994). It only made sense that I take a flier on the most high-profile recruit in the country, Shabazz Muhammad.

I like my team.

G Anthony Ireland (Loyola Marymount, Jr.)
G Trey Burke (Michigan, Soph.)
G Pierre Jackson (Baylor, Sr.)
G/F Shabazz Muhammed (UCLA, Fy)
G/F Keith Rendleman (UNC-Wilmington, Sr.)
G/F Colt Ryan (Evansville, Sr.)
F Anthony Bennett (UNLV, Fy.)
F/C Mason Plumlee (Duke, Sr.)
F/C Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Jr.)
F/C Mike Muscala (Bucknell, Sr.)

 

Charlottesville Tech Anthropomorphized Varmints

Manager: Eric Angevine (@STFhoops)

I had the draft’s first pick, and I used it on Doug McDermott without hesitation. The league is based on points, rebounds, blocks, assists and steals, and McDermott can do all of those things. After that, I was able to snag SDSU’s Jamaal Franklin and Unfrozen Caveman Point Guard Matt Dellavedova for my backcourt. This league requires a freshman to start in every game, and the other guys had already snagged the likes of Nerlens and Kyle, so I felt I’d better grab Rasheed Sulaimon, who should figure prominently in the guard mix at Duke, especially with Seth Curry battling injury. I also have Peyton Siva and Delaware’s Devon Saddler riding the pine, ready to go. In the middle, I took a big chance that Trevor Mbakwe will stay healthy and out of trouble, but was able to back him up with Jeff Withey as my final selection, so I’m feeling OK either way. The rest of my frontcourt is big and nasty, just the way I like it, with Marshawn Powell backed up by Jack Cooley and his Notre Dame buzzcut. Just wait until these other jokers get a load of the Anthropomorphic Varmints mascot, and our truly bloodcurdling fight song.

G Matthew Dellavedova (St. Marys, Jr.)
G Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State, Jr.)
G Devon Saddler (Delaware, Jr.)
G Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke, Fr.)
G Peyton Siva (Louisville, Sr.)
F Doug McDermott (Creighton, Jr.)
F Jack Cooley (Notre Dame, Sr.)
F Marshawn Powell (Arkansas, Sr.)
F-C Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota, Sr.)
C Jeff Withey (Kansas, Sr.)

You can follow the action (See: trash talk) with the Twitter hashtag #NBCtheLeague

USC lands four-star 2018 guard Elijah Weaver

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USC landed an important commitment for its future on Monday night as four-star Class of 2018 guard Elijah Weaver.

Regarded as the No. 35 overall prospect in the Rivals’ national Class of 2018 rankings, the 6-foot-5 Weaver gives the Trojans a floor leader to build around for the future as he provides great size in the backcourt. Capable of playing multiple guard spots, Weaver has a lot of upside for a program that has done a very solid job of developing backcourt talent under head coach Andy Enfield.

Weaver’s commitment is also important for the Trojans because it comes despite the looming FBI investigation that the program is dealing with thanks to former assistant coach Tony Bland. USC had recently lost a four-star commitment from forward J’Raan Brooks, so the commitment of Weaver is a huge momentum boost for them as they get right back on track in the Class of 2018.

With Weaver in the mix, USC now owns three four-star pledges in the 2018 class as he joins four-star forward Taeshon Cherry and four-star guard Kevin Porter.

Jim Larranaga believes he’s ‘Coach-3’ in FBI investigation

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Despite losing key contributors Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy from last season’s NCAA tournament team, the Miami Hurricanes are expected to be a player both within the ACC and nationally this season. But instead of having the focus solely on the likes of JaQuan Newton, Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker, Jim Larrañaga’s program is also having to deal with the impact of the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball.

While no one connected to the Miami men’s basketball program was arrested last month, the program is referenced in the FBI report. On Monday, Larrañaga stated during a press conference that he believes that he is “Coach-3” in the FBI report. Larrañaga also maintained his innocence, saying that he had done nothing wrong while also being thankful that none of his assistant coaches were involved.

“It’s been a strain, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” Larrañaga said according to the Palm Beach Post. “It’s something that’s there. I have to deal with it. I have the support of my wife and a wonderful family. I have the support of the university, my staff and players.”

According to the FBI report, “Coach-3” requested that payments totaling $150,000 be funneled to “Player-12” in order to ensure his commitment to their university. It has been reported that “Player-12” was 2018 five-star prospect Nassir Little, who has also stated that he had done nothing wrong. Two of the schools recruiting Little at the time, Arizona and Miami, have been entangled in the FBI investigation to varying degrees.

While Miami has not had anyone connected to its program arrested, Arizona assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson was one of the four Division I coaches were were indicted. As a result Little removed both Arizona and Miami from consideration before ultimately committing to North Carolina earlier this month.

There’s no telling what the FBI investigation will ultimately uncover, which for the schools involved could take a heavy toll not only for the 2017-18 season but for future years as well. The FBI case has been comparatively quiet since the first set of indictments, with future moves likely to be influenced by what authorities learn from the ten individuals named in the first announcement.

Miles Bridges discusses being offered money during recruiting process

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With the FBI launching an investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball last month, the entire sport has found itself under the microscope. Ten people, including four Division I assistant coaches, were arrested and there’s no telling just how long the FBI’s investigation will last or what information it will produce.

Michigan State forward Miles Bridges is considered by many to be the leading candidate for national Player of the Yeah honors, and he had the opportunity to turn pro after a good freshman season. But Bridges made the decision to return to East Lansing, and with that comes questions as to why he would do that as opposed to cashing in on his NBA potential as soon as possible.

In an interview with Brendan Quinn of The Athletic (subscription required) Bridges discussed a host of issues, including being offered money by people while going through the recruiting process.

“I mean, if you get caught, that might be the end of your career. I wanted to play in college really bad,” Bridges told Quinn. “I don’t know — materialistic things, they don’t really get to me. So when people were offering me money, I would say no right away, because I wanted to be able to live out my college experience. But really, I don’t know, it is hard, especially because I was so young at the time — 17.”

Given the ongoing investigation, high-profile players and teams will be on the receiving end of increased scrutiny even if they aren’t part of the FBI probe. It’s an unfair situation for a player like Bridges to deal with, as even in the actual cases of alleged wrongdoing the players themselves are essentially commodities whose services are being auctioned as opposed to the main characters looking to cash in.

Unfortunately, due to recent events a decision like the one made by Bridges will result in some questioning whether or not the player received something from the school or another entity/individual. And that’s a tough — and unfair — thing for a young player to have to deal with.

Broken hand sidelines North Carolina PG Joel Berry II

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North Carolina’s defense of its national title will likely begin without its most important player, as it was announced on Monday that senior point guard Joel Berry II will miss approximately four weeks due to a broken bone in his right hand.

Berry started at the point each of the last two seasons, earning Most Outstanding Player honors in April as the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga to win the national title. As a junior, Berry averaged 14.7 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game and started 37 of the 38 games in which he played. Berry shot 42.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three, with the latter percentage being the best on team amongst players who attempted at least two three-pointers per game.

Berry was named an NBC Sports Preseason Third-Team All-American in late September.

With Berry out of the lineup, North Carolina loses its floor general as well as one of their top perimeter shooters. Sophomore Seventh Woods and freshman Jalek Felton become more important options at the point as a result of Berry’s injury, and the team doesn’t lack for perimeter shooters either with Cameron Johnson, Brandon Robinson, Kenny Williams and freshman Andrew Platek all being capable of helping to pick up the slack.

North Carolina opens its regular season on November 10 against Northern Iowa.

Bill Self’s stance on Kansas/Missouri series remains unchanged

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Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, bitter rivals Kansas and Missouri got together on the basketball court for the first time since 2012, with the Showdown for Relief raising $1.75 million for recent hurricane victims. In what was an entertaining game, the Jayhawks won by the final score of 93-87 with point guard Devonté Graham leading the way for the winners with 25 points and ten rebounds.

Kansas finished the game with five players in double figures, including Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman (17 points) and center Udoka Azubuike (16). On the other side freshman Michael Porter Jr. paced four Tigers in double figures with 21 points while younger brother Jontay grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench.

However despite the excitement for the two rivals being on the same court in any capacity, Sunday’s meeting was different given the circumstances. Following the game Kansas head coach Bill Self was asked about the possibility of the two teams meeting in a regular season game, and he maintained the stance he’s held since Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC.

“I’m not going to say never, but I don’t think there’s been any change in our position as far as the university goes,” Self said following Sunday’s exhibition. “I’m the spokesman, I guess, on this but trust me, I’m not the only one that feels that way.”

While it would certainly benefit college basketball if Kansas and Missouri were to renew acquaintances down the line, it is understandable that Self — and maybe some others on the Kansas side of things — would have reservations. The programs, even with the arrival of Cuonzo Martin in Columbia and the freshman class led by the aforementioned Michael Porter Jr., are in different places right now.

The Jayhawks have their sights set on a 14th consecutive Big 12 title and a run at their first national title since 2008, Missouri is looking to fast-track a rebuilding process after struggling mightily under former head coach Kim Anderson. Yet with that being said, the state of the two athletic departments during realignment likely has more to do with the teams not playing each other.

Missouri was a school with options earlier this decade before joining the SEC, but that was not the case for Kansas. Had the Big 12 broken up as some believed would be the case, where would the Jayhawks have landed? Fortunately for the school the Big 12 survived the realignment craze, losing four schools (Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten) and adding TCU and West Virginia to get their membership number to ten.

Given that, the best bet for college basketball fans who want to see this rivalry played during the regular season may be to hope for the programs wind up in the same in-season tournament. Even better, how about the same NCAA tournament region?