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

Elite 8 Preview: Sunday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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No. 4 FLORIDA (-3) vs. No. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA, 2:20 p.m., CBS: If you’re a fan of uptempo, wide-open basketball, of teams running beautiful offensive sets, spreading the floor and using the three-point line like it should be used, this game probably is not going to be for you.

This is going to be as physical and as tough as any game you watched all season long. Both the Gamecocks and the Gators are top five teams in defensive efficiency, and both of them get out and pressure defensively, Florida in the full court and South Carolina in the half court. They shun shooters for the toughest athletes on their roster. They pride themselves in being tougher, both mentally and physically, than whoever they end up playing.

And they think that a game played in the 50s is beautiful basketball.

So bet the under if you can.

But the pick I like is Florida here. Their ability to defend is going to make it very difficult for South Carolina’s offensive renaissance to continue, and their guards will be able to make the plays offensively that South Carolina dares you to make.

PREDICTION: Florida (-3)

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. No. 2 KENTUCKY, 5:05 p.m. CBS: This is the rematch we all wanted, right?

Ever since that day three months ago, when Kentucky got 47 points from Malik Monk in a 103-102 win over North Carolina in Las Vegas, I don’t think there is a soul in the country that would have told you otherwise.

There are two major differences between these two teams now and those two teams then. The biggest is the presence of Theo Pinson, North Carolina’s best perimeter defender. Pinson has dealt foot injuries all season long, and when these two got together in December, he was not yet healthy enough to play. I assume that he will draw the assignment of Malik Monk, chasing around the man that had definitively been Kentucky’s most dangerous scorer. Pinson will make life more difficult for Monk than it was the first time around.

But is he going to spend the entire game on him?

Because after De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point outburst against UCLA on Friday night, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Pinson may be better suited to taking on the task of keeping Fox from getting into the paint. Whatever Roy Williams opts to do, the bottom line is pretty simple — if he needs to find a way to keep Kentucky’s back court in check.

The other difference between now and then is that Bam Adebayo has been playing up to his potential for the past six weeks. He was solid earlier in the year. He can be dominant at times now, and that is going to be critical for the Wildcats, who are going to be outsized by a significant margin by UNC’s front line. The Tar Heels lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and they are one of the only elite teams that thrives playing two bigs at the same time. In other words, one of Wenyen Gabriel or Derek Willis are going to have to deal with Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley. That’s a matchup that favors UNC, which is why Aebayo is going to have to play up to his size.

In the end, I think Pinson’s presence and North Carolina’s size advantage will be too much.

But if Fox and Monk play their game, they can carry Kentucky a long, long way.

PREDICTION: North Carolina (2.5)

Lawrence Police Department trolls Bill Self following Elite Eight loss

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Kansas had its season ended with a 74-60 loss to No. 3 seed Oregon.

The Jayhawks were the top seed in the South region. They were playing a de facto at the Sprint Center, which is 40 miles away from the school’s campus. As you can imagine, fans in Lawrence were likely unhappy, especially since it’s the second year in a row KU has been bounced one-game shy of the Final Four.

The Lawrence Police Department, while prepping for potential riots, couldn’t help tweeting a joke at the future Hall of Famer’s expense.

Bill Self’s teams have been eliminated seven times in the Elite Eight during his tenure at Kansas. He’s led the Jayhawks to a pair of Final Fours, winning the national championship in 2008.

Kansas finished the season 31-5.

Gonzaga passes the title of best program without a Final Four to Xavier in win

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In 1999, Gonzaga was not yet “Gonzaga”.

A No. 10 seed in just their third NCAA tournament, the Zags won three games against high-major competition, coming within a possession of reaching the Final Four in a loss to No. 1 seed UConn.

UConn, at that point, was one of the best programs in the country under Jim Calhoun, but the knock on the Huskies at that point was that they couldn’t win the big one. They had been to three Elite 8s and three more Sweet 16s in the previous eight seasons, but it wasn’t until they knocked off that Gonzaga team that they finally were playing on college basketball’s biggest stage.

For 18 years, Gonzaga tried and failed to get to a Final Four, becoming one of the nation’s premier basketball programs without having the postseason success to legitimize themselves in the eyes of idiots around the country. That ended on Saturday night in San Jose, as No. 1 seed Gonzaga ended No. 11 Xavier’s thrilling run to the Elite 8 and passing on the torch that UConn passed to them.

Xavier can now claim the title of the best basketball program that has yet to make a Final Four, which is both a compliment and a curse.

The Musketeers have been to the NCAA tournament 25 times since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. They’ve been to nine Sweet 16s and three Elite 8s. They had a winning record in NCAA tournament play until Saturday’s loss and now lay claim to the title of the team with the most NCAA tournament wins without an appearance in the Final Four.

Xavier is going to get there eventually. Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the business. Hell, if Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner both return to school, it could very well be next season that they snap that streak. It’s coming at some point.

I don’t even think it’s an insult to say this about Xavier. I don’t think it’s a shot at the program or the coaches that have come through it. Getting to the Final Four is hard. Bill Self is a lead-pipe lock to be a Hall of Famer, and he’s been to just two Final Fours in his career. He’s 2-7 in the Elite 8, and if Derrick Rose could make his free throws, the discussion of just how good of a coach Self is if he can’t win a title would be raging with the Jayhawks flaming out of the tournament on Saturday night.

But as with Gonzaga and UConn before them, Xavier is going to have that monkey on their back every time they suit up in March.

VIDEO: Tyler Dorsey hits dagger after dagger in upset of Kansas

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Tyler Dorsey is building himself quite the reputation for being a big-shot maker.

He hit the game-winner that got Oregon to the Sweet 16. He hit two threes at the end of the first half to push Oregon’s lead to 11 points over Kansas. And he hit this three, the dagger through the heart of Kansas:

Dorsey finished with 27 points. He’s scored at least 20 points in every game since the NCAA tournament began.

No. 3 Oregon heading to first Final Four in 78 years

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Oregon, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, made what looked to be a smooth path to Phoenix into a bumpy road. But after 78 years, the Ducks are going back to the Final Four, defeating No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, in Elite Eight on Friday night in Kansas City.

Everything went right for the Ducks in the first half. Josh Jackson was called for two fouls in the less than three minutes. The Jayhawks were limited in transition. Tyler Dorsey’s two 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds gave them a double-digit lead at halftime. Oregon stretched it to as many as 18 in the second. Kansas couldn’t buy a basket from three (a far cry from the 3-point barrage it put on Purdue two nights earlier). When the Jayhawks drove to the basket, it was Jordan Bell (11 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks) who either blocked or altered their shots.

However, the Ducks not only left the door open for the Jayhawks, they held it open. Kansas’ comeback attempt was a mix drink that was equal parts KU putting the clamps on defensively, Oregon playing a bit of hero ball, and the Ducks playing not to lose instead of to win. Up six with less than two minutes remaining, Dorsey (27 points) buried a dagger 3-pointer that all but sealed the win — and a spot in next week’s Final Four — for the Ducks.

Oregon will play the winner of the South region, which will either be No. 1 North Carolina or No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday.

The slogan of the NCAA Tournament is “The Road to the Final Four”.

Outside of Duke, the runaway preseason favorite, and it’s months-long narrative of “Is Duke back?”, you could make the case there wasn’t a Final Four contender with a journey filled with more ups and downs than Oregon.

Weeks following a season-ending loss to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight, Oregon learned that both Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey would return to school for the next season. In July, Dylan Ennis was granted a sixth-year of eligibility. With Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell returning, and Payton Pritchard joining the program, the Ducks were an easy choice for a preseason Final Four pick.

Brooks’ offseason foot surgery — and the recovery that followed — raised concern about whether or not Oregon could fully reach its preseason potential, entering conference play without a notable win. Brooks’ Pac-12 Player of the Year season put to rest the status of his foot, leading the Ducks to a 16-2 Pac-12 record.

Hours before Oregon was set to battle with Arizona, it was announced that Chris Boucher had torn his ACL and would be out for the remainder of the season. Not only could this have played a role in the team’s seeding by the selection committee, but Boucher offered more than rim protection, as he helped space the floor given his ability to step out and shoot from the perimeter.

After fending off a good fight from Iona, the Ducks looked to be part of a Rhode Island’s magical postseason run. Tyler Dorsey ended that. In the Sweet 16, Oregon was matchup with Michigan, dubbed as the team of destiny. Bell and Dorsey, Oregon’s two tournament stars, stepped up in critical moments once again. Slated as an underdog for the second straight game, Oregon proved its Final Four worth by handing Kansas its worst tournament defeat of the Bill Self era in a regional final game that was played 40 miles away from the KU campus.

“I’m happy for our team,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said following the game. “I’m happy for, as I mentioned, our university and our state. It’s been a long time coming and now we just need to go continue to play well.”

For Oregon, its road to the Final Four has come full circle.