Tag: Utah

2018-2019 Pac-12 Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Jaylen Hands, UCLA

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Bennie Boatwright, USC

Noah Dickerson, Washington

Jaylen Hands, UCLA

Tres Tinkle, Oregon St

Kris Wilkes, UCLA

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Kevin Porter Jr., USC

Projected Order of Finish:

1. UCLA

Head coach Steve Alford has the unenviable task of trying to navigate the harsh and unrealistic UCLA fan base. His seat is as hot as it gets and he’ll probably need to make it to the second weekend to save his job. The backcourt trio of sophomores Jaylen Hands, Kris Wilkes and junior Prince Ali will be one of the best in the country. Freshman center Moses Brown will be tasked with being the defensive anchor. There’s plenty of talent here, but the Bruins will have to keep the noise away.

2. Washington

No one expected the Huskies to be as good as they were last season, but they managed to find themselves to the bubble. This season should see the Huskies become one of the best teams in the Pac-12. Senior forward Noah Dickerson is a true low-post scorer that will be tough for anyone to guard. Throw in the 2-3 zone and the combination of a true star plus style of play can lead Washington to a Pac-12 title.

3. Oregon

The Ducks missed the tournament last season after making a Final Four run the year before. The talent here this season is impressive. Junior guard Payton Pritchard and senior forward Paul White return along with a top 5 recruiting class featuring Bol Bol and Louis King. Texas A&M-CC Ehab Amin will also be able to produce right away as well for this Pac-12 title contender.

4. USC

Injuries never allowed the Trojans to meet their full potential last season, but there is enough talent here to get back to the tournament. The frontcourt is set with senior Bennie Boatwright and junior Nick Rakocevic. Junior guard Jonah Matthews will also be a key contributor. However, the Kevin Porter Jr. is the wild card here. The possible one-and-done prospect could be enough to make USC a truly dangerous team.

5. Arizona St

The Sun Devils started out the season as hot as any team in the country as they climbed all the way to a top-5 ranking. People will remember them for faltering down the stretch just as much. Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice are gone from that team. Sun Devil fans should not fret though as sophomores Romello White and Remy Martin return along with newcomers, transfer Rob Edwards and freshmen Lugentz Dort and Taeshon Cherry.

6. Oregon St

Head coach Wayne Tinkle did the impossible by getting this program to the NCAA tournament in 2016. The past two years have been less than stellar. There is talent with The Thompson brothers in the backcourt and the coaches son, Tres Tinkle, in the frontcourt. The Beavers will be a middle of the pack Pac-12 team and, with the right victories, can get into the bubble conversation.

7. Colorado

Head coach Tad Boyle is one of the most underrated coaches in the country so there is no concern whether this team will be competitive. The backcourt of sophomore McKinley Wright IV and senior Namon Wright will be among the best in the Pac-12. Sophomore Tyler Bey and junior Lucas Siewart will be important to just how good this team can be.

8. Arizona

Outside of Louisville, no team was tied up in the middle of the FBI investigation as much as Arizona. That cloud will remain over the program for the foreseeable future. That plus having to replace DeAndre Ayton, Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins and Dusan Ristic will prove to be tough for head coach Sean Miller. Transfers Chase Jeter and Ryan Luther will have to hit the ground running as will freshmen Brandon Williams and Devonaire Doutrive.

9. Utah

The Utes are in a transitional period as a program as head coach Larry Krystkowiak attempts to get his team back to the tournament. Senior guard Sedrick Barefield returns to try to help move the program forward. Freshmen Both Gak and Timmy Allen are the future of the program, but they’ll have to be prepared right away.

10. Stanford

Injuries took a huge toll on the Cardinal last season and then Reid Travis transferred to Kentucky. Now head coach Jerod Haase is back to square one. Sophomores K.Z. Okpala and Daejon Davis return with other young pieces like sophomores Kodye Pugh, Oscar da Silva and freshman Jaiden Delaire. Stanford is at least a year away.

11. Washington St

This is the single toughest job in a power 5 conference. Head coach Ernie Kent knows this now as his time is running out in Pullman. Making matters worse is Malachi Flynn’s transfer to San Diego St. If Kent is to get out of this hole, he’ll need his numerous about of juco transfers to mesh and be productive.

12. California

Head coach Wyking Jones is having difficulty keeping his best players from transferring. The roster this year is young and needs a few years for seasoning. It’s going to be tough this season for Jones as his team struggles with an improving Pac-12.

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Nothing Cavalier about the Cavaliers

Virginia guard Justin Anderson (Photo: Amber Searls, USA TODAY Sports)

In a conference boasting the likes of Duke, Louisville,North Carolina and Syracuse, there’s one team that’s standing out above all those. The Virginia Cavaliers are one of the best teams in the country and looks to be the class of the ACC.

With Virginia, it’s all about defense.  Virginia’s pack line defense has befuddled foes ever since head coach arrived on campus. This year has been no different as Virginia is fifth nationally in defensive efficiency, second in field-goal percentage and second in points per game.

That kind of defense keeps the Cavaliers competitive in every game and if they’re able to continue to do this all year, they might be on their way to the Final Four.

Stock Up: Kentucky. This is the only team with better defensive numbers than Virginia. Kentucky’s size, length, athleticism and skill makes it the heavy favorite to win the national championship.

Stock Down: Pac-12.  I thought the league was on the cusp of a basketball renaissance, but it looks like its going to take a step back this season.  If it weren’t for the surprisingly good season for Utah, the Pac-12 would really be in trouble.

Stock Up: Wichita St.  The Shockers clearly aren’t undefeated this year, but they’re still a real threat to go to the Final Four.  They have one of the best backcourts in the country and can play with anybody.

Stock Down: WAC. Quietly, the biggest loser in conference realignment.  The WAC went from having teams like Utah, New Mexico and BYU to Grand Canyon, Utah Valley and Cal State Bakersfield.  Even the MEAC has a better RPI as a conference.

On to the bracket

Last Four In: Mississippi, Kansas St, Tennessee, Washington

Last Four Out: Colorado St, Texas A&M, Ohio St, Alabama

It’s good for games through 1/19/2015.

MIDWEST

1.Kentucky16.Grand Canyon/North Florida Louisville

8.Old Dominion9.Oklahoma St

5.Texas12.Green Bay Jacksonville

4.Louisville13.Buffalo

6.Iowa11.Xavier Columbus, OH

3.Notre Dame14.Murray St

7.SMU10.NC State Pittsburgh

2.Maryland15.Coastal Carolina

SOUTH

1.Duke16.St. Francis(NY) Charlotte

8.Seton Hall9.Stanford

5.Oklahoma12.Western Kentucky Jacksonville

4.Wichita St13.Harvard

6.Indiana11.Tennessee/Kansas St Columbus, OH

3.Villanova14.Texas Southern

7.Arkansas10.George Washington

2.Wisconsin15.Louisiana-Monroe Omaha

WEST

1.Arizona16.Monmouth Portland

8.Northern Iowa9.Cincinnati

5.San Diego St12.Tulsa Seattle

4.Iowa St13.Northeastern

6.Georgetown11.Washington/Mississippi Louisville

3.North Carolina14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Dayton10.Miami(FL) Seattle

2.Gonzaga15.UC Davis

EAST

1.Virginia16.North Dakota St/Colgate Charlotte

8.Butler9.Georgia

5.West Virginia12.Wofford Pittsburgh

4.VCU13.Eastern Washington

6.Baylor11.Michigan St Portland

3.Utah14.North Carolina Central

7.Providence10.LSU Omaha

2.Kansas15.Albany

Flying High

Dayton F Chris Wright
Dayton F Chris Wright

There aren’t many teams in the country playing as well as the Dayton Flyers.  After last weeks win over Xavier, they can now stake claim to being the best team in a solid Atlantic 10. At 23-3 overall and 9-2 in conference, this could be the best team out of talented crop in the state of Ohio.

The Flyers are a deep and balanced team.  Led by Chris Wright in the frontcourt and Marcus Johnson in the backcourt, they could be a sleeper in this year’s tournament.  The flyers have a tough stretch of games coming up, but with the aforementioned win over Xavier in addition to a pre-conference victory over Marquette, I expect this team to be a threat this March.

Stock Up: Mountain West Conference.  This does my heart good.  Five teams have have their sights set on the tournament in this conference (Utah, UNLV, BYU, San Diego St, New Mexico).  I miss the old WAC and I’m glad that some of those traditional powers are back contending.  Utah looks to be the cream of the crop but BYU and UNLV are both capable of doing damage.

Stock Down: Minnesota.  The Gophers are probably still going to make the tournament but losing 5 of 8 isn’t good at all.  The Gophers have a “golden” opportunity to finish strong, but with the way they’re playing I don’t expect them to do much other than just get by.

Stock Up: UAB’s At-large chances.  The Blazers aren’t in my bracket nor are they among my last four in, however, I see the light for them.  The Blazers have six games left including one huge one against Memphis.  This team is fully capable of going undefeated.  If they do that, they’ll be dancing.

Duke G Greg Paulus
Duke G Greg Paulus

Stock Down: Duke.  This is starting to become a recurring theme for the Blue Devils.  World beaters November thru January and then the annual February/March swoon.  It’s looking as if the Blue Devils may not make out of first weekend of the Big Dance again.  Coach K better come up with a way to rally his troops soon because their schedule heading down the stretch is not for the faint of heart.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Virginia Tech, San Diego St, Penn St, USC

Last Four Out: Miami (FL), Providence, Kansas St, Creighton

This bracket is good for games played thru Sunday, February15, 2009.

SOUTH

1.Oklahoma16.Jacksonville Kansas City, MO

8.Butler9.Boston College

5.Marquette12.San Diego St Minneapolis, MN

4.Illinois13.Northern Iowa

6.Arizona St11.Tennessee Miami, FL

3.Louisville14.Cornell

7.Dayton10.UNLV Greensboro, NC

2.Duke15.Robert Morris

MIDWEST

1.North Carolina16.Cal St. Northridge Greensboro, NC

8.West Virginia9.Davidson

5.Xavier12.Penn St Portland, OR

4.Washington13.Buffalo

6.LSU11.USC Miami, FL

3.Villanova14.Binghampton

7.Utah St10.Minnesota Kansas City, MO

2.Memphis15.North Dakota St

WEST

1.Pittsburgh16. Alabama St/Radford Dayton, OH

8.Wisconsin9.South Carolina

5.Utah12.Siena Boise, ID

4.Clemson13.Arkansas-Little Rock

6.UCLA11.Florida Boise, ID

3.Kansas14.Weber St

7.Florida St10.Syracuse Dayton, OH

2.Michigan St15.Sam Houston St

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Morehead St Philadelphia, PA

8.Gonzaga9.Texas

5.Purdue12.Virginia Tech Portland, OR

4.California13.Northeastern

6.Ohio St11.BYU Philadelphia, PA

3.Wake Forest14.American

7.Arizona10.Kentucky Minneapolis, MN

2.Missouri15.Morgan St