Ethan Miller/Getty Images

NCAA Tournament: Previewing Friday’s bracket action; picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

1 Comment

GAMES OF THE DAY

No. 7 Michigan (-2) vs. No. 10 Oklahoma State, 12:15 p.m., CBS: I have a feeling that this is going to end up being the best game of the afternoon, and I don’t know if it will be all that close. Both the Wolverines and the Cowboys have a star point guard – Derrick Walton vs. Jawun Evans — and both teams love to put up points while seeming morally averse to playing any kind of defense. Great guard play + elite offenses + bad defenses = aesthetically-pleasing basketball.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma State (+2)

No. 7 Dayton vs. No. 10 Wichita State (-6), 7:10 p.m., CBS: This is a fascinating matchup, not only because of what Wichita State went through with the Selection Committee — they were vastly underseeded — and not only because that negligence from the committee means that a No. 7 seed is a six-point underdog in the first round, but because of Indiana. Both Gregg Marshall and Archie Miller are elite coaches outside the college basketball power structure, and both would be in the mix to get the Indiana job with Tom Crean gone. Winner moves to Bloomington?

PREDICTION: Wichita State (-6)

No. 6 SMU (-6.5) vs. No. 11 USC, 3:10 p.m., truTV: There are two things about this game that make it really interesting: This is rematch of a game played earlier this season where UCLA won, a game that very likely got USC into the NCAA tournament, but perhaps more interesting is the fact that this is the first game that SMU, one of the trendy sleeper picks in this year’s bracket, will play in front of the nation.

PREDICTION: SMU (-6.5)

No. 8 Miami (-2) vs. No. 9 Michigan State, 9:20 p.m., TNT: This is another matchup that should be all kinds of fun, as the floor will be stocked with high-end athletic talent. Miami’s perimeter players are far better than you think, but I don’t know if any on Miami will be an answer to Miles Bridges when he gets going.

PREDICTION: Michigan State (+2)

UPSETS BREWING

No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 Rhode Island, 4:30 p.m., TBS: This is one of my two favorite upset picks of the first round. (Middle Tennessee State was the other.) Rhode Island is a really talented team that has been battling injuries but it finally getting healthy at the right time. Creighton is slightly overseeded because they got credit for things that they did before Mo Watson was injured.

PREDICTION: Rhode Island (even)

No. 6 Cincinnati (-3.5) vs. No. 11 Kansas State, 7:27 p.m., truTV: I actually think that Bruce Weber’s club matches up pretty well with Cincinnati, although I fully expect Mick Cronin to have his boys ready to play. Jacob Evans vs. Wesley Iwundu will decide this.

PREDICTION: Cincinnati (-3.5)

No. 7 South Carolina (-1.5) vs. No. 10 Marquette, 9:50 p.m., TBS: This is a fascinating clash of styles. South Carolina is one of the nation’s elite defenses but is physically incapable of scoring at times. Marquette is lethal offensively and couldn’t guard a streetlight.

PREDICTION: Marquette (+1.5)

BLUE BLOODS IN ACTION 

On Thursday, both Gonzaga and Villanova, as No. 1 seeds, were pushed in the first half before pulling away in sloppy games in the second half. On Friday, the tournament’s five blue-bloods — plus Louisville! — all square against teams seeded 14 or lower. Do any of them have a shot?

  • No. 1 North Carolina (-27) vs. No. 16 Texas Southern, 4:00 p.m., TNT: No. 1 seeds have struggled twice in this tournament. I don’t think UNC will. PREDICTION: UNC (-27)
  • No. 2 Duke (-20) vs. No. 15 Troy, 7:20 p.m., TBS: Duke landed three come-from-behind wins last week in the ACC tournament. Hopefully they won’t fall behind by 15 in this one. PREDICTION: Troy (+20)
  • No. 3 UCLA (-18.5) vs. No. 14 Kent State, 9:57 p.m., truTV: Which UCLA shows up here? The only that can put up 120 points on anyone, or the one that doesn’t want to play any defense? PREDICTION: UCLA (-18.5)
  • No. 2 Kentucky (-20) vs. No. 15 Northern Kentucky, 9:40 p.m., CBS: I actually think NKU makes this into a slugfest, and I think they give Malik Monk some trouble. Kentucky wins, but NKU cover. PREDICTION: Northern Kentucky (+20)
  • No. 1 Kansas (-23.5) vs. No. 16 UC Davis, 6:50 p.m., TNT: It feels like the bigger story here is everything that is going on with Josh Jackson, whose name popped up in another legal incident on Thursday.
  • No. 2 Louisville (-19.5)vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State, 2:45 p.m., CBS: Ray Harper has had a ton of tournament success in his career. That run ends today. PREDICTION: Louisville (-19.5)

HOPEFULLY, IT’S CLOSE LATE

  • No. 3 Baylor (-12.5) vs. No. 14 New Mexico State, 12:40 p.m., truTV: New Mexico State is one of the best mid-major programs that you haven’t paid attention to. The Aggies went 28-5 this season. I don’t, however, think they have an answer for Johnathan Motley. PREDICTION: Baylor (-12.5)
  • No. 8 Arkansas (-1) vs. No. 9 Seton Hall, 1:30 p.m., TNT: This game should give us some fireworks as well, as Arkansas loves to press and run in transition while Seton Hall is loaded with athletes who are tough and play hard. It may not be pretty, but it will be exciting. PREDICTION: Seton Hall (+1)
  • No. 3 Oregon (-15) vs. No. 14 Iona, 2:00 p.m., TBS: We’re still waiting to see how Oregon is going to adjust to playing without Chris Boucher, and 15 points is a lot of points to cover for a team that may be trying to figure themselves out. PREDICTION: Iona (+15)

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

(YouTube)
Leave a comment

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)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

Leave a comment

Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
1 Comment

The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

Leave a comment

Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

Leave a comment

Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.