2014-2015 Season Preview: CBT’s College Basketball Draft

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Jahlil Okafor (AP Photo)

Over the weekend, the four writers for this website held our very own college basketball draft. The rules were simple: draft a 12-man college basketball team and pick the coach that you would want to lead that team through an entire season.

Before we get into each team, here is how the draft broke down:

1. Jahlil Okafor: He’ll be the focal point offensively for Duke, and given his size and skill set he’ll be productive. (Raphielle Johnson)
2. Marcus Paige: The best floor leader in the country can make big shots or find open teammates. (Scott Phillips)
3. Frank Kaminsky: A matchup nightmare for opposing big men with his ability to score inside and out. (Terrence Payne)
4. Georges Niang: the best offensive weapon in the country, the newly slimmed down Niang will nullify any size advantage on the other end. (Rob Dauster)
5. Sam Dekker: pairing Dekker and Niang at the forward spot basically makes my team unstoppable. (RD)
6. Delon Wright: One of the most productive perimeter players in the country (15.5 points, 6.8 boards, 5.3 assists, 2.5 steals per game) is expected to have another big season for the Utes. (TP)
7. Stanley Johnson: The Arizona wing fell this far? You guys are stupid. (SP)
8. Montrezl Harrell: He’s working to expand his game offensively, and his intensity makes him an incredibly tough matchup at the four. (RJ)
9. Fred Van Vleet: Impressive leader, and he’s also good when it comes to making plays for himself or his teammates. (RJ)
10. Karl Towns: Tremendous talent, can step out and make plays and has great natural size. With Johnson, Paige and Johnson, you guys are screwed. (SP)
11. Kelly Oubre: I’ll add some more depth to my perimeter, with a 6-foot-8 freshman who can get to the basket and is a capable 3-point shooter. (TP)
12. Marcus Foster: Foster is a straight-up beast. I’m not sure there is a more underrated player in the country right now. (RD)
13. Ron Baker: I know I’m loading up on wings right now, but I just love Baker’s ability to play and defend three different positions. He’ll take over for Aaron Craft as the guy that earns all the sportswriting cliches this season. His poise. He’s a winner. Plays the right way. (RD)
14. T.J. McConnell: Terrence, of course, is battling email issues. (TP)
15. Caris LeVert: Good luck defending Paige, LeVert and Johnson on the wing. My roster looks like an All-American team. (SP)
16. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: His perimeter shot has improved, and good luck getting between him and the basket. (RJ)
17. Wayne Selden: Absolute steal in this spot. Game over. (RJ)
18. Cliff Alexander: My fifth pick is a deluxe rebounder, energy guy and an immensely entertaining power dunker. (SP)
19. Perry Ellis: This pick will give me an experienced, skilled front court. (TP)
20. Juwan Staten: Staten is so underrated. While you guys all load up on ‘brand name’ Big 12 player, I’ll snag a potential first-team all-american this late. To quote Raph, “an absolute steal”. (RD)
21. Buddy Hield: Fits the mold of my team to perfection. Tough perimeter defender, big time scorer on the wing. (RD)
22. Malcolm Brogdon: For everything he does on the floor, I think Brogdon is a steal here. (TP)
23. Chasson Randle, Stanford: To get the potential Pac-12 Player of the Year, who can play both guard spots, as my 6th man bodes well for my team. (SP)
24. Myles Turner: Sure, I’ll take a high-level freshman big. (RJ)
25. Joseph Young: Quick points off the bench, and he shoots good percentages too. (RJ)
26. Terran Petteway: Scoring wing is experienced and leads the scoring on my bench. (SP)
27. Willie Cauley-Stein: Always room for a 7-footer, who averaged almost 3.0 blocks per game, on my team. (TP)
28. Brandon Ashley: Another versatile forward to add to my arsenal. I’d love to know how a team with two seven-footers covers Georges Niang and Ashley. (RD)
29. Tyus Jones: A perfect compliment to Staten at the point. Jones is the ideal point guard for the uptempo style my team will play. Oh, and he’s a stud, too. (RD)
30. Treveon Graham: Matchup problem, will be productive scoring the ball and on the glass. (TP)
31. Tyler Haws: My bench scoring between Randle, Haws and Petteway is unreal. (SP)
32. Kaleb Tarczewski: Another big man never hurts, “Zeus” can defend and rebound, and his offensive skill set is coming along as well. (RJ)
33. Ryan Boatright: I think he’s underrated on the defensive end of the floor, especially considering how well he defended during the NCAA tournament. (RJ)
34. Trey Lyles: Somehow, the talented McDonald’s All-American is still here for me to take? My team is going to own this. (SP)
35. R.J. Hunter: One of the best shooters in the country at just under 40 percent from three last season. (TP)
36. Branden Dawson: With Ashley, Niang and Dekker on my front line right now, I need some toughness. No one’s tougher than Mr. Dawson. (RD)
37. Bobby Portis: He boards, he blocks shots, he can hit a mid-range jumper, he can play uptempo. The ideal big man for Team Dauster. (RD)
38. Jordan Mickey: Will add depth to the frontline after a solid freshman season. (TP)
39. Jonathan Holmes: My second unit would make a Sweet 16 my team is so good. (SP)
40. A.J. English: Going off the radar with this one for a guy who can play both on and off the basketball. Underrated nationally. (RJ)
41. Jordan Loveridge: He’s back playing his natural position after spending two years as an undersized four. Look out. (RJ)
42. Terry Rozier: Seriously, he made it to 42? My team is beyond stacked in the backcourt. (SP)
43. Monte Morris: Looking for another ball handler, so I’m going with a guy who rarely turned it over when he was out on the floor. (TP)
44. Shawn Long: Big enough to hold his own against the likes of Okafor and Towns. A rim protector. A three-point shooter. Perfect big to spread the floor for my 5-out, none-in offense. (RD)
45. D’Angelo Russell: He’s being slept on this preseason. Russell is a dynamic playmaker with range that will be Ohio State’s best player by December. (RD)
46. Alan Williams: Double-double machine. (TP)
47. Sam Thompson: Tremendous defender on the wing and can be a good role guy. (SP)
48. Jerian Grant: CHAMPIONSHIP. (RJ)

This is what each roster looks like, with a quick explanation from each GM as to why his team is the best.

RAPHIELLE’S TEAM:

G Fred Van Vleet (Wichita State)
G Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)
G Wayne Selden (Kansas)
PF Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)
C Jahlil Okafor (Duke)

Bench: Ryan Boatright (UConn), Joseph Young (Oregon), A.J. English (Iona), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona), Jordan Loveridge (Utah), Myles Turner (Texas), Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona)

Head coach: Mike Krzyzewski

There are multiple reasons why my team is the best. First off, they’re being led by a Hall of Famer who has four national titles to his credit not to mention his success running the United States men’s national team. Those experiences, and just being a great coach period, will certainly help Coach K in getting this roster to mesh. As for the players themselves, I think we’ve accounted for all possible issues here. Okafor can attract the attention of opposing teams on the low block, which will open things up for guys such as Grant, Selden and English as perimeter shooters. And we have multiple playmakers on the perimeter, beginning with Van Vleet and Boatright at the point. And the front four depth, with Tarczewski, Myles Turner and Montrezl Harrell on board, is in very good shape.

ROB’S TEAM:

G Tyus Jones (Duke)
G Marcus Foster (Kansas State)
F Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)
F Georges Niang (Iowa State)
F Brandon Ashley (Arizona)

Bench: Juwan Staten (West Virginia), D’angelo Russell (Ohio State), Ron Baker (Wichita State), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Branden Dawson (Michigan State), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), Shawn Long (Louisiana)

Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg

When you’re drafting teams like these, you have to keep the coach and the system that they run in mind. Fred Hoiberg like to play uptempo basketball, playing four or five players on the perimeters in half court offense. That creates space and mismatches, particularly for the big men on the roster. That’s what my roster takes into account, and it’s why my back court is loaded with talented play makers with three-point range and why everyone in my front court can do at least two of the following three things: hit jumpers, beat slower big men up and down the floor and protect the rim defensively. We might not get a ton of stops, but good luck trying to play at our pace.

SCOTT’S TEAM:

G Marcus Paige (North Carolina)
G Caris LeVert (Michigan)
F Stanley Johnson (Arizona)
F Cliff Alexander (Kansas)
C Karl Towns (Kentucky)

Bench: Chasson Randle (Stanford), Terry Rozier (Louisville), Tyler Haws (BYU), Terran Petteway (Nebraska), Sam Thompson (Ohio State), Johnathan Holmes (Texas), Trey Lyles (Kentucky)

Head Coach: Tom Izzo

My team is easily the most talented team in the draft and you can just look at all of the scoring options and lineup variables my team has and they’re unstoppable. Marcus Paige is the best floor leader in the country, backed up by a NBA prospect in Terry Rozier and Caris LeVert, Chasson Randle and Tyler Haws all do different things well while scoring at a high level. Stanley Johnson Terran Petteway and Sam Thompson are three competitive wings that can get stops or create from the perimeter. Cliff Alexander and Trey Lyles are both active on the glass and talented enough to score in double figures on their own and Karl Towns is a monster down low and Jonathan Holmes provides additional depth.

This team is stacked and can score with the best of them. They compliment each other skill wise. They’re deep and can shoot. With Tom Izzo coaching, it’s over.

TERRENCE’S TEAM:

G T.J. McConnell (Arizona)
G Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia)
F Delon Wright (Utah)
F Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
C Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)

Bench: Monte’ Morris (Iowa State), R.J. Hunter (Georgia State), Treveon Graham (VCU), Kelly Oubre (Kansas), Alan Williams (UCSB), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Perry Ellis (Kansas)

Head Coach: Billy Donovan

Coaching my fictional all-star team is Billy Donovan, a future Hall of Famer who, given his track record, is more than capable of coaching a team as deep and as talented as this one. As far as the roster, I went with a lot upperclassmen (five seniors, three juniors). Frank Kaminsky will continue to be an offensive mismatch, but to make up for his defensive limitations I paired him with another 7-footer, Willie Cauley-Stein. In the back court, I have the steady veteran T.J. McConnell handling the rock, matched him playmaking Delon Wright and the all-around game of Malcolm Brogdon. I’ll plenty of key reserves to with R.J. Hunter, Treveon Graham and Kelly Oubre among others.

Best Bets: Previewing the weekend’s biggest college basketball games

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There are no Vegas lines for these games just yet. All analysis will be based on KenPom projections, which typically end up close to the opening lines anyway.

No. 7 NORTH CAROLINA at No. 5 VIRGINIA, Sun. 4:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Virginia 61, North Carolina 55

I am going to be fascinated to see where the line for this game opens up, because neither of these teams are playing all that well right now, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Virginia was blown out by unranked Purdue on the road, 69-40, while North Carolina is coming off of a drubbing at the hands of Ohio State in their own building, 74-49.

My initial lean here is going to be the Virginia side, depending on how much they are laying, but I do think that the best bet would likely be the under assuming the line opens at or around 116. The logic is relatively simple, really. Virginia has still been one of college basketball’s most intimidating defenses this season despite what happened against Purdue. While nice, 69 points doesn’t sound like a lot, but the 1.19 points-per-possession the Boilermakers did post was one of just four times in the last two-plus years that a team has done that against Virginia.

Purdue has done it twice.

That’s because the Boilermakers run the precise kind of action you need to run to beat the Pack-Line. There is a ton of motion, guys running off of screens every which way and action happening simultaneously on both sides of the floor. This is not what North Carolina does, and when combined with the fact that – as shown in the video embedded below – the Tar Heels have basically one option offensively right now, leads me to believe that the Wahoos will control tempo, overwhelm UNC defensively and keep this game in the 50s.

Think about it like this. Ohio State-UNC finished at 123 total points. Virginia is the only defense in the country ranked higher on KenPom that Ohio State, and Virginia is a full 100 spots lower offensively.

PICKS: I like Virginia -5 and below, and I like the under for everything 115 and above.

No. 12 ARIZONA at No. 18 BAYLOR, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Baylor 75, Arizona 71

There are a couple of things to take into account here.

For starters, this game is being played in Waco, but there are some real questions about just how much of a home court advantage the Bears are going to have here. The football team is in the Big 12 title game, which will be played at the same time. I have a feeling that is going to take priority for the majority of the Baylor fanbase. Baylor has resorted to giving away free tickets to make sure the stands are filled.

That said, I think that Baylor has the matchup advantage here. The Bears haven’t been playing as much zone this year but it’s still something they can fall back into, which will be tricky for an Arizona team built around three freshmen. I also think the size Baylor has inside is less than ideal for a team that relies on Zeke Nnaji quite a bit. Then throw in the fact that this is Arizona’s first true road game and first game outside of the western time zone, and I like the spot for Baylor.

PICKS: I’m refraining from betting on this. I don’t have a great feel.

No. 9 GONZAGA at No. 22 WASHINGTON, Sun. 7:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Gonzaga 73, Washington 71

A rivalry game, one where I expect Gonzaga to be favored on the road. I think I like Washington here. I don’t fully trust Gonzaga’s guard play at this point in the season, and if anyone remembers the way that the Washington-Baylor game ended the first week of the season, Isaiah Stewart completely dominated Baylor’s frontline down the stretch. I can see that happening again, considering just how much Gonzaga relies on running offense through their posts.

PICKS: I think Washington will win, so getting the Huskies on the money line at +125 would be nice.

FLORDA at No. 24 BUTLER, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Butler 63, Florida 57

We’ve been betting Butler this season because the Bulldogs have been undervalued by the market all year. But now that they have that number next to their name and coming off of a really impressive win at Ole Miss, I think our chance to be all in on this team may have come to an end.

I also think that six points is a lot in this matchup, which I expect to be really low-scoring. The Gators can defend, are good at running teams off of the three-point line and can’t make threes themselves. They have a number of guards they can throw at Kamar Baldwin and have shown no desire to play fast at all this season. Butler is 348th in average possession length offensively.

PICKS: Let’s see where the total opens, but if it’s in the low-to-mid 120s, I think the under is the play in this game.

No. 20 COLORADO at No. 2 KANSAS, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Kansas 73, Colorado 65

I am definitely looking forward to this game because I feel like I haven’t had a chance to really watch Colorado yet this season. I saw a little bit of their game against Arizona State in the opener, but that’s it. So keep that in mind as I proceed to tout the Buffaloes. Here’s the logic: The Jayhawks want to run their offense through Udoka Azubuike in the post, and Colorado is top ten nationally in defensive two-point field goal percentage. They have big bodies, they have strong posts and they can make life tough for Azubuike inside.

PICKS: I think this line will open up higher than Colorado (+8). Getting the Buffaloes (+10.5) would make all of my wildest dreams come true.

No. 19 DAYTON vs. SAINT MARY’S, Sun. 4:00 p.m. (Phoenix)

  • KENPOM: Dayton 70, Saint Mary’s 68

I’ll be on Dayton here. What makes Saint Mary’s dangerous is their ability to spread teams out with their shooting and create mismatches all over the court. Dayton does the same thing, only they have Player of the Year candidate Obi Toppin creating mismatches, who should, in theory, be able to limit Malik Fitts’ advantage at the four. Playing this game at a neutral site is a bonus as well.

PICKS: I like Dayton up to (-4.5), and I would think about the under as well. Both of these teams are built on shooting, and neutral sites environments can be tough to shoot in. Saint Mary’s wanting to play at a slow pace will help as well.

CINCINNATI at XAVIER, Sat. 5:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Xavier 73, Cincinnati 67

My take on Cincinnati is that the Bearcats are overvalued right now. The biggest reason for that is that there seems to still be some tension between new head coach John Brannen and star guard Jarron Cumberland. I also think that Xavier is one of the teams that is being undervalued at this point. I know they struggle shooting the rock, but they are tough, they are athletic and they have a couple of game-changers in Naji Marshall, Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs. If Kyky Tandy can provide a bit of shooting and Quentin Goodin is truly out of his funk, the Musketeers are a top 20 team.

The only concern I have: This is a rivalry game. If Jarron Cumberland is ever going to play like a National Player of the Year candidate, this is the game he’ll do it.

PICKS: I will probably be staying away at Xavier (-6).

CBT Podcast: Georgetown’s problems, the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, a weekend preview

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Rob Dauster and Bobby Reagan from the Fundamentally Sound podcast go through everything that happened in a wild week of basketball, from the four – yes, four! – blowouts of in the marquee games of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge as well as the rise of DePaul and the enigma that is Indiana. Rob also discusses the situation at Georgetown at the top, and the podcast ends with a preview of what should be a lively weekend of college hoops.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot to be ‘out a while’

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North Carolina’s freshman center Armando Bacot suffered a left ankle injury in the first half of Wednesday night’s game against Ohio State and did not return.

Bacot, who came down on a defender’s foot and had to be helped off of the floor, immediately when back to the locker.

“It was swollen by the time he got to the locker room,” coach Roy Williams said. “My guess is he’ll be out a while.”

The 6-foot-10 Bacot was averaging 11.7 points and 9.6 boards and was coming off of his best game of the season, when he posted 23 points, 12 boards and six blocks while playing a season-high 30 minutes against Oregon.

Michigan, Kentucky schedule basketball game in London

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan and Kentucky have agreed to play a basketball game in London next season as part of a three-year deal that also includes a home-and-home series between the two programs.

Michigan announced the deal Thursday. The teams will play at O2 Arena in London in December 2020. The teams will meet at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor in 2021 and at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena in 2022.

“When the idea of playing Kentucky came up, we knew it would be an exciting opportunity, not only for ourselves, but for our fans as well,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “What a unique three-game series. First, we get to showcase collegiate basketball overseas in London before playing that traditional home-and-home series in front of two of the nation’s best basketball environments.”

The teams have met seven times previously, with Kentucky holding a 5-2 edge. The Wildcats beat Michigan in a 2014 Elite Eight game in their most recent contest. When Howard was a player at Michigan, his Wolverines beat Kentucky in a 1993 national semifinal.

Film Room: How Ohio State handed North Carolina their worst loss in nearly two decades

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At this point, no one should be surprised when Chris Holtmann does something smart as a head coach, and I certainly was not surprised to see him find a way to smother North Carolina on the defensive side of the ball on Wednesday night.

In a 74-49 win in the Dean Dome, the worst home loss the Tar Heels have taken since 2002, when Matt Doherty was in charge, the Buckeyes held North Carolina to just 27.8 percent shooting from the floor. They shot 25.6 percent on two-point field goal attempts, the lowest number of the Roy Williams era. And I think so much of it had to do with what Holtmann did defensively on Cole Anthony.

The game-plan was, frankly, pretty simple. When Anthony had the ball, Ohio State climbed up in him, they hedged hard on all ball-screens and they sent bodies at him whenever he put the ball on the floor to drive. They made a conscious decision to force Anthony into either playing 1-on-2 and 1-on-3 or giving the ball up to a teammate. As soon as he gave the ball up, they face-guarded him. Full denial, even if it meant playing 4-on-4 for the rest of that possession.

And it worked.

Starting point guard C.J. Walker did the heavy lifting on Anthony, but he was hardly the only one. Luther Muhammad started out on Anthony before getting into four trouble and playing just nine minutes. D.J. Carton, Andre Wesson and Duane Washington all took a shot at UNC’s freshman stud as well. That’s a lot of bodies, all of whom have some size, some length and some athleticism and happen to be good individual defenders. Anthony got tired before they did.

This method was effective mainly due to the fact that because is one of the nation’s elite defenses. Combining all those athletic wings with a center in Kaleb Wesson that dropped the baby fat this summer is a luxury for Holtmann.

But it wasn’t all Ohio State.

Because what became painfully obvious for those that had not yet recognized it is that North Carolina has a startling lack of offensive weaponry. It’s almost like losing five NBA players to the draft is tough to deal with.

No matter who is on the floor with him, defenses are going to dedicate the majority of their attention to Anthony. He’s a game-changing talent. We saw him blow the game wide open against Notre Dame in the opener. He’s going to be the most dangerous player on the floor in just about every game he plays this season. But with a limited supporting cast to rely on, this is the decision Ohio State forced Roy Williams into:

1. Allow Anthony to go full iso-ball and try to win this game on his own taking deep, contested threes off the dribble or driving into two or three defenders; or

2. Run offense for the other guys on the roster even if the shots they are getting are tough shots for them. To put this into context, watch the clip below:

North Carolina ran that first play for Cam Johnson, the No. 11 pick in the draft, last season. This year it’s Brandon Robinson. In past seasons, the guy getting the post touch in the second clip was Kennedy Meeks, or Luke Maye, or Brice Johnson. Last night, it was Brandon Huffman. When they’re running pick-and-pop action like the third clip, it’s Garrison Brooks, not Maye, that is taking those jumpers.

If you’re coaching against North Carolina, I think you’re just five with Brooks shooting 17-footers. That’s the shot you live with.

Now, to be clear, Robinson is not a bad player. In fact, he’s significantly better than I realized coming into the season. And the x-factor here is that Armando Bacot played just seven minutes before spraining his ankle. He may “be our for a while,” as Roy Williams put it after the game, and even then, he’s been much better was a guy that cleans up misses than as a go-to scorer in the post. According to Synergy, he’s scored just .769 points-per-possession on post-ups, which is in the 42nd percentile nationally. You just saw all four of the post-up buckets he’s scored against high-major foes this season.

Bacot is a monster on the offensive glass, and his return will help keep defenses honest because of that. Sell out on a Cole Anthony drive like this, and Bacot is putting that miss back with a tip-dunk.

But that only mitigates the issue North Carolina has this season.

They don’t have enough talent around Cole Anthony.