February is right around the corner, which means that we’ve officially hit the stretch run of the college hoops season.
With a little more than a month left in the college basketball regular season, we figured today would be as good as any to take a look at stretch-run Final Four picks:
- Arizona: The foul shooting is a bit of a concern but I think the Wildcats will be able to properly navigate that when the time comes. Their defensive versatility, with multiple players have the ability to defend multiple positions, is what stands out to me.
- Syracuse: They need Trevor Cooney to get back to the form he displayed earlier in the season, and they can’t afford another interior injury with DaJuan Coleman out. However with Tyler Ennis & C.J. Fair leading the way I won’t bet against the Orange.
- Kansas: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden…and now Naadir Tharpe’s raising his level of play at the point. Deep, with a nice mix of youth and experience.
- Michigan State: My preseason pick to win it all, I can’t bet against them even with Dawson and Payne currently out. They get healthy, the Spartans will get to Arlington.
- Arizona: The No. 1 team in the country is just so big, athletic and balanced. It’s hard for me to see a team knocking them off before the Final Four, especially if they stay out West like they should.
- Kansas: The Jayhawks have a chance to be scary good if Embiid and Wiggins keep improving — and stay consistent — and Tharpe stays steady with the ball. Kansas has played the most difficult schedule in the country; they’ll be prepared for all comers.
- Florida: Billy Donovan has done it before and with the way this Gator group has persevered through close games, injuries and suspensions, they’ve been tested as much as anyone in the country when it comes to getting through adversity.
- Michigan State: Much like Florida, the Spartans have dealt with injuries or illness to nearly all of their starting five while also playing a very tough schedule. As long as Michigan State stays healthy enough — which I believe they will — they are the best team in the country and I don’t see how they miss the Final Four.
- Kansas: The Jayhawks played a tough schedule early in the season, but within the last month the talent on that roster has really developed into a serious national title contender.
- Syracuse: I like was the Orange have to offer, with plenty of holdovers from last season’s Final Four team and the addition of point guard Tyler Ennis. I’d be more confident in this pick if Trevor Cooney finds his shot again.
- Florida: Chris Walker is set to join the Florida lineup in the coming weeks, adding another big body to that talented frontline. The Gators have dealt with injuries and Walker’s absence, and have been just fine so far. They can be dangerous with the whole team together.
- Wichita State: Like Cuse, the Shockers have guys back that helped lead last year’s Final Four run. Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker, an Cleanthony Early have the toughness and talent to bring them back in 2014.
- Arizona: They are so tough defensively, and Nick Johnson is playing like a legitimate NPOY. Top to bottom, Arizona has all of the pieces to cut down the nets in April.
- Florida: I still believe we haven’t seen the best that Florida has to offer. How Chris Walker transitions into the rotation will largely depend on whether the Gators firmly supplant themselves as a true national title contender.
- Michigan: A trendy pick right now, but has there been a more impressive team during conference play? With freshman point guard Derrick Walton nicely filling the void Trey Burke left, Michigan is as lethal as they come on the offensive end.
- Syracuse: The Orange made the Final Four a season ago, and they are better this season. C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis, and Jerami Grant is a trio that matches up with anyone out there.
- Arizona: The NCAA tournament is all about matchups. Arizona will never be on the wrong end of a mismatch, not with their size up front, the versatility of Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and the defensive ability of T.J. McConnell and Nick Johnson.
- Kansas: Joel Embiid came into his own earlier this month. Andrew Wiggins has scored 56 points in the last two games. Naadir Tharpe is playing great basketball. If the Jayhawks hit their stride, if everything clicks, this is the most talented team in the country. Oh, and Bill Self.
- Michigan State: Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Tom Izzo. They’re not healthy right now. When they are, do you really want to bet against them?
- Florida: The Gators are elite defensively. Ask Tennessee. That’s before they brought in Chris Walker. They have some issues on the offensive end, but if anyone can iron out those kinks, it’s Billy Donovan.
Buffalo sophomore Quate McKinzie is facing a litany of charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attempted to strangle a female acquaintance.
McKinzie, who is 20 years old, was later handed more charges after he made threatening phone calls to his accuser from jail.
From the Buffalo News:
The original charges placed against the UB sophomore were second-degree strangulation, a D-felony; misdemeanor counts of criminal obstruction of breathing, assault, menacing, harassment; and stealing the victim’s vehicle.
The latest charges are third-degree witness intimidation and first-degree criminal contempt, both E-felonies; and two misdemeanors, aggravated harassment and disobeying a court mandate, according to Tonawanda Police Patrol Capt. Fredric Foels.
“University Athletics is aware of the alleged incident and is in communication with university and local authorities,” Buffalo released in a statement. “Quate McKinzie is currently enrolled at the University at Buffalo and is suspended indefinitely from the university’s basketball team. Due to the ongoing investigation and federal protections on student information, we will have no further comment on the matter at this time.”
McKinzie is a 6-foot-8, 195 pound forward that played in 17 games last season. He averaged 3.9 points and 4.3 boards.
Auburn center Austin Wiley has a stress fracture in his left leg and will be out 4-6 weeks, the school announced Monday.
No surgery is required, but Wiley, who played with Team USA’s U19 team in Egypt earlier this month, will miss Auburn’s trip to Italy.
“You know how tough and committed a young man is when he plays through the pain of a stress fracture,” said Pearl. “He was receiving treatment while in Egypt, but had no way of knowing the extent of his injury. Doctors say it is in a good spot for healing, and he will be fine.”
Wiley averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.1 minutes this past season. He started 21 of the Tigers’ 22 games after he enrolled in school midseason.
Virginia Tech suffered a brutal blow earlier this month when Ty Outlaw went down with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Outlaw is one of the best shooters on Virginia Tech’s roster, banging home 48 percent of his three-balls last season, and he was expected to be a major part of the rotation following a season where he scored in double-figures in six of the last eight games, including four games of better than 16 points in that stretch.
This is a blow to Virginia Tech’s depth, but it is also a tough break for Outlaw, who transferred to Virginia Tech from a Junior College and had to sit out the 2015-16 season due to a heart issue. The redshirt senior will likely be eligible to receive a medical redshirt should he decide to apply for one.
The Miller family does not appear to be worried about sibling rivalry.
According to a report from FanRag Sports, Archie, the head coach at Indiana, and Sean, the head coach at Arizona, have agreed to a three-year deal to have the two programs face-off against each other. They’ll start in 2019-20, playing in Arizona, then face-off in Bloomington the following season before finally heading up to Madison Square Garden in 2021-22.
If you can get past the fact that we are now scheduling games for 2022 (!!!), this is actually going to be a pretty neat and unique thing. How often do two brothers end up coaching at the Division I level? The Drew brothers — Bryce at Vanderbilt and Scott at Baylor — are one pair, but they cancelled a series that would have seen the two programs square off last season. James and Joe Jones at Yale and Boston University are another pair. They were league rivals for eight yeas when Joe was the head coach at Columbia. When Sean Sutton was the head coach at Oklahoma State, his brother, Scott, beat them was the head coach at Oral Roberts.
So it’s not typical for this to happen, mainly because it’s not easy to compete at something so important against someone you care about so much.
Think about it.
Imagine working in a profession where your success comes at the expense of your brother? It’s one of the major reasons — beyond the obvious — that no one believed Sean Miller would actually consider taking the Ohio State job when it opened. Facing off against your brother in a non-conference game you choose to play is one thing. Competing for league titles against him for the foreseeable future is something totally different.
Which is a long way of saying that this should be an enticing matchup, however it plays out.
Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.
The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.
The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.
(h/t: Courtside Films)