Tag: VCU

2018-2019 Atlantic-10 Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Kellan Grady, Davidson

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Josh Cunningham, Dayton

Grant Golden, Richmond

Kellan Grady, Davidson

Mike Lewis, Duquesne

Otis Livingston II, George Mason

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Carte’Are Gordon, Saint Louis

Projected Order of Finish:

1. Davidson

Led by the best player in the league, sophomore guard Kellan Grady, Davidson will remain one of the toughest teams to prepare for in the league. The Wildcats certainly have a big hole to fill with Peyton Aldridge. However, Grady, junior guard Jon Axel Gudmunsson and coach Bob McKillop’s offense will be enough to win the regular season title.

2. George Mason

Led by senior guard Otis Livingston II, not many teams in the A-10 will have the returning talent that coach Dave Paulsen has at his disposal. The Patriots return four players that averaged double figures last season. That kind of experience, depth and talent in this league separates teams. Given that this is a bit of a transitional year for the league, George Mason can do some major damage.

3. Saint Louis

Travis Ford is doing what most other programs in this league can’t do and that’s recruit with the big boys. Freshman forward Carte’Are Gordon is an absolute steal and leads a recruiting class that’s better than many power conference teams. He’ll be balanced by a backcourt of sophomore Jordan Goodwin and senior Javon Bess. Expect Maryland grad transfer Dion Wiley to provide depth in the backcourt as well. The Billikens have NCAA potential.

4. Saint Josephs

Coach Phil Martelli is the dean of this league and he has another team that’ll be able to challenge for a NCAA berth. The return of sophomore forward Charlie Brown Jr. from a broken wrist gives hope to a squad that is one of the elite programs in this league. Throw in senior guard Chris Clover as well as fellow sophomore forwards Anthony Longpre and Taylor Funk and the Hawks will be a threat all year.

5. Dayton

Head coach Anthony Grant has had success at every stop and you can see it coming at Dayton. The Flyers return senior forward Josh Cunningham, who is a all-conference candidate. He’ll lead a team that also features junior guard Trey Landers, sophomore guard Jalen Crutcher, and sophomore guard Jordan Davis. The latter three will be dynamite next season, but it’s probably one year too early for NCAA tournament glory.

6. Rhode Island

The Rams lost head coach Danny Hurley to UConn and Jared Terrell, E.C. Mathews, Stanford Robinson to graduation. They have some stability as new coach David Cox was an assistant under Hurley. He was able to lock down the best recruiting class in Rhode Island history, which will be led by forwards Jermaine Harris and Dana Tate. Sophomore Fatts Russell and junior Jeff Dowtin are expected to do an adequate job in the backcourt in this transitional season.

7. Duquesne

What Keith Dambrot has cooking at Duquesne is special. The talent on the floor is improving while the cosmetic things around the program are as well. The Dukes home court is getting a major renovation that will allow them to compete with the rest of the league. While that’s great for the future, this team will, at the very least, be competitive in the present. The backcourt of junior Mike Lewis II and sophomore Eric Williams Jr. will tough to deal with.

8. UMass

UMass struggled a great deal last season, but has one of the best scorers in the conference in junior guard Luwane Pipkins returning. He will be surrounded by transfers Jonathan Laurent and Curtis Cobb – both of whom are expected to contribute immediately. Sophomore guard Carl Pierre and senior center Rashaan Holloway should also provide a lift.

9. La Salle

New La Salle head coach Ashley Howard comes over from Villanova where he’ll have some talent at his disposal. A deep backcourt of senior Pookie Powell, junior Isiah Deas as well as sophomores Jamir Moultie and David Beatty gives him something to work with. Moving forward, assistant coach Kenny Johnson’s involvement with the FBI probe could become a distraction for this team.

10. Richmond

The Spiders had a catastrophic start to last season, but were able to rebound to be respectable in league play. Then Khwan Fore and De’Monte Buckingham transferred. Head coach Chris Mooney was believed to be on the hot seat last season and if that was the case it’s engulfed in flames right now. Sophomores Grant Golden and Jacob Gilyard while junior Nick Sherod gives him something to work with.

11. St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies are coming off a great season that saw them upset UCLA in the First Four. It’s a good thing that they made the most of that season because it’s going to be tough sledding without Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley and Idris Taqqee. Senior forward Courtney Stockard and LaDarien Griffin are expected to provide a big lift while freshman Osun Osunniyi, a coup for the program, while be asked to produce right away.

12. VCU

Mike Rhoades rebuild at VCU is still ongoing as the Rams should struggle once again this season. Returning for the Rams will be juniors De’Riante Jenkins and Isaac Vann. Rice transfer Marcus Evans’ health is the x-factor for the Rams though. If he can return to his old form, it could propel them up the standings. If not, it’ll be another long winter in Richmond.

13. Fordham

Without question the toughest job in the league and it won’t be pretty this season. The difficulty in recruiting has coach Jeff Neubauer leaning on Europe to find players, which is why sophomore Ivan Raut from Montenegro and senior Prokop Slanina from the Czech Republic are the top returning players. Will be another season at the bottom of the standings for the Rams.

14. George Washington

Head coach Maurice Joseph is going to need some time to get this turned around. Four of the top five leading scorers in conference play are gone from this team while Chris Sodom, a player that was expected to add depth in the post, left before ever playing a game. Sophomore Terry Nolan is going to have a lot of responsibility and he may not be ready for it yet. Going to be a long year in Foggy Bottom.

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Ute Nation

Utah’s Delon Wright (AP Photo)

It was apparent last season that Larry Krystkowiak was on to something. However, no one knew he was on to this. The Utah Utes have staked their claim as one of the premier teams out west and it’s because of the talent they can roll out there.

The Utes are led by do everything guard Delon Wright, who is tracking to be a first-team all-American. The senior guard is averaging nearly 15 points, over four rebounds and a little under six assists per game. He leads an attack that also features Jakob Poeltl, the Austrian import that has NBA scouts watching, and three-point marksman Brandon Taylor.

They are efficient. They can defend. They’re big. They’re good. This is a team that appears to be a legitimate contender to get to the Final Four.

Stock Up: Albany. The Great Danes are undefeated in the America East and seem very interested in making a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

Stock Down: Texas. The Longhorns have lost 5 out of their last 7. I understand that the Big XII is competitive, but they should probably put a few wins together.

Stock Up: UCLA. The Bruins aren’t in the bracket below, but a 2-0 week would be huge after beating Colorado and Utah last week.

Stock Down: VCU. Unfortunately for the Rams; Briante Weber went down with a season-ending knee injury in their loss to Richmond. He was the heart and soul and the key to VCU’s havoc defense.  It’ll be interesting to see if VCU can bounce back.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: Michigan St, Miami(FL), NC State, Iowa

Last Four Out: Texas A&M, Colorado St, Temple, St. John’s

This bracket is good for games thru 2/1

MIDWEST

1.Kentucky16.St. Francis(NY)/North Florida Louisville

8.Xavier9.Dayton

5.Wichita St12.Stephen F. Austin Seattle

4.Baylor13.UC Davis

6.San Diego St11.Iowa/Miami(FL) Pittsburgh

3.Villanova14.North Carolina Central

7.SMU10.Tennessee Charlotte

2.Duke15.High Point

EAST

1.Virginia16.New Mexico St Charlotte

8.Cincinnati9.Oklahoma St

5.Georgetown12.NC State/Michigan St Columbus

4.Iowa St13.Yale

6.Northern Iowa11.Mississippi Louisville

3.North Carolina14.Iona

7.Providence10.Georgia Omaha

2.Wisconsin15.Texas Southern

SOUTH

1.Kansas16.North Dakota St/Colgate Omaha

8.Tulsa9.Stanford

5.Oklahoma12.Wofford Jacksonville

4.Maryland13.Valparaiso

6.Ohio St11.George Washington Pittsburgh

3.Louisville14.Akron

7.Indiana10.Old Dominion Portland

2.Utah15.Sacramento St

WEST

1.Arizona16.Georgia Southern Portland

8.LSU9.Texas

5.Butler12.Murray St Jacksonville

4.West Virginia13.Louisiana Tech

6.VCU11.Kansas St Columbus

3.Notre Dame14.William & Mary

7.Arkansas10.Seton Hall Seattle

2.Gonzaga15.Albany

SHOCKing Results

Fred VanVleet has led Wichita St to a 19-0 record

Threw almost three months of the season there is one team whose undefeated record is as surprising as its run to the Final Four last season.  Wichita St rolled through its non-conference schedule and with Creighton in the Big East, it looks like the Shockers will face little resistance in the Missouri Valley this season.

Led by one of the best point guards in the country in Fred VanVleet, the Shockers destroyed Indiana St, the only other team in the Valley with real at-large aspirations.  He runs the show and is surrounded by talent that plenty of high majors schools are probably envious of.  Throw in Gregg Marshall, a man who’s legitimately one of the best coaches in the country and this is a team that looks like a national title contender.

Stock Up: Tyler Ennis.  The Syracuse freshman has taken this team to another level.  Any thoughts of a drop off after Michael Carter-Williams have been erased as Ennis has made the Orange the favorite to win the ACC.

Stock Down: Big East favorites.  Both Georgetown and Marquette are sputtering to find themselves as injuries, suspensions and early departures have crushed their respective rosters.  Both squads thought they’d perform much better this season but neither have been close to upholding the standard the each program has set.

Stock Up: Kansas.  The Jayhawks are putting it together and its going to get scary for everyone else.  It appears that Joel Embiid has taken the reigns as the best player on this team and everyone else has followed.  Kansas already has four losses, but it could be a good while before it losses again…if it losses again.

Stock Down: VCU. The Rams have been figured out.  If you limit VCU’s transition opportunities they can’t score.  This team can get hot from deep, but it’s not consistent when the Rams are off, they’re extremely easy to defend.

On to the bracket:

First one of the year.

Last Four In: North Carolina, Stanford, Providence, SMU

Last Four Out: Saint Mary’s, Boise St, Purdue, Georgetown

 

WEST

1.Arizona16.Robert Morris/Chattanooga               San Diego

8.Baylor9.Florida St

5.Ohio St12.Providence/Stanford             Raleigh

4.Duke13.Mercer

6.Memphis11.Texas       San Antonio

3.Wichita St14.Georgia St

7.Kansas St10.George Washington           Milwaukee

2.Wisconsin15.Vermont

SOUTH

1.Florida16.Radford        Orlando

8.UCLA9.Xavier

5.Pittsburgh12.Toledo   San Diego

4.Cincinnati13.Stephen F. Austin

6.Gonzaga11.Clemson   Spokane

3.Oklahoma St14.Boston

7.Michigan10.Harvard    Buffalo

2.Villanova15.Utah Valley

MIDWEST

1.Michigan St16.Southern            Milwaukee

8.California9.Southern Miss

5.Iowa St12.Missouri      Raleigh

4.Louisville13.Manhattan

6.Oklahoma11.Green Bay            San Antonio

3.UMass14.Northern Colorado

7.Virginia10.Oregon        Spokane

2.San Diego St15.UC Irvine

EAST

1.Syracuse16.South Dakota/Morgan St  Buffalo

8.Minnesota9.Colorado

5.Saint Louis12.SMU/North Carolina        Orlando

4.Kentucky13.Belmont

6.Creighton11.VCU         St. Louis

3.Iowa14.Towson

7.UConn10.New Mexico               St. Louis

2.Kansas15.Old Dominion

Hurricane Larranaga

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga has his team rolling towards an ACC title

You didn’t see it coming.  I didn’t see it coming.  They didn’t see it coming.  One team is taking the college basketball world by storm this season and it’s the Miami Hurricanes.

After fighting through some early season injuries that left unfavorable results, the Hurricanes have run roughshod over the ACC.  They’ve beaten both North Carolina and Duke by more than 20 at home and went to Raleigh to steal a road victory over NC State.

In an era of all-world freshmen, the key to Miami’s success is its age.  Miami is one of the most experienced teams in the ACC and you can see it with the way its being physical with its foes.

Every once a while a team pops up out of nowhere to have a special season a la Saint Josephs in 2004 and Auburn in 1999.  This could be one of those seasons for the ‘Canes.

Stock Up: The Atlantic 10.  The additions of Butler and VCU to the conference are paying instant dividends as the quality of the A-10 rivals most power six conference.  The league could legitimately send 5 or 6 teams to the Big Dance and some of those teams would be real threats to make it to the second weekend.

Stock Down: Colonial Athletic Association. Yikes.  What a difference a year makes.  This was a league you could rely on to possibly send two teams to the NCAA tournament.  Not this year.  The conference champion would do well to get a No. 14 seed in the tournament.

Stock Up: Louisiana Tech.  The Bulldogs haven’t lost a game since December 12 and is coasting through the WAC right now.  At 21-3, they’ve already dispatched Denver, New Mexico St, and Utah St, their chief rivals once and have return meetings set up.  Those three games are the only thing keeping me from declaring that race completely over.

Stock Down: The NCAA.  Collegiate athletics is taking so many L’s these days it’s not even funny.  From the way the organization handled the Myck Kabongo situation to the way it handled the Shabazz Muhammad situation, there’s no consistency and what seems to be selective enforcement.  At a time where colleges are grabbing more power for themselves the NCAA needs to stop self inflicting wounds.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: North Carolina, Arizona St, Baylor, Temple

Last Four Out: Stanford, Alabama, St. John’s, California

This bracket is good for games played through 2/10

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Charleston Southern/Norfolk St Dayton, OH

8.San Diego St9.Colorado

5.Marquette12.Belmont Kansas City

4.Kansas13.Middle Tennessee

6.Kentucky11.Indiana St Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.Davidson

7.NC State10.Saint Louis Philadelphia

2.Syracuse15.Florida Gulf Coast

WEST

1.Michigan16.Northeastern Auburn Hills, MI

8.UCLA9.Wichita St

5.Oklahoma St12.Temple/North Carolina   Austin

4.Louisville13.Lehigh

6.Cincinnati11.La Salle  Salt Lake City

3.New Mexico14.Valparaiso

7.Minnesota10.Oklahoma San Jose

2.Gonzaga15.Montana

EAST

1.Duke16.Bryant Philadelphia

8.Missouri9.Creighton

5.Wisconsin12.Baylor/Arizona St  San Jose

4.Pittsburgh13.Stephen F. Austin

6.Oregon11.Mississippi Dayton, OH

3.Butler14.Vermont

7.Notre Dame10.Iowa St Auburn Hills, MI

2.Michigan St15.Long Beach St

SOUTH

1.Miami(FL)16.Niagara/Southern  Lexington, KY

8.Memphis9UNLV

5.Ohio St12.Louisiana Tech  Austin

4.Georgetown13.Akron

6.Colorado St11.Virginia Kansas City

3.Kansas St14.Harvard

7.VCU10.Illinois Lexington, KY

2.Florida15.Western Illinois

In graphical form

BRACKETOLOGY: Tuesday March 6, 2012 (Welcome Virginia Commonwealth, Loyola-MD, Saint Mary’s, Davidson)

Last Four In: Tennessee, Drexel, Texas, Colorado St

Last Four Out: South Florida, California, Oregon, NC State

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Savannah St/North Texas Louisville

8.Saint Louis9.Cincinnati

5.St. Mary’s(WCC)12.Texas Portland

4.UNLV13.Long Beach St

6.Wichita St11.Southern Mississippi Albuquerque

3.Baylor14.Montana

7.Florida St10.West Virginia Columbus

2.Michigan15.Valparaiso

WEST

1.North Carolina16.Stony Brook Greensboro

8.Memphis9.Purdue

5.Creighton(MVC)12.BYU Albuquerque

4.Georgetown13.Akron

6.Notre Dame11.Xavier Columbus

3.Wisconsin14.Davidson(SoCon)

7.New Mexico 10.Alabama Omaha

2.Missouri15.Bucknell

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.UNC-Asheville(BSsouth)/Mississippi Valley St Omaha

8.Louisville9.Mississippi St

5.Temple12.Miami(FL) Nashville

4.Indiana13.Colorado St/Drexel

6.Florida11.Washington Louisville

3.Marquette14.Belmont(ASun)

7.Gonzaga10.Harvard Pittsburgh

2.Ohio St15.UT-Arlington

EAST

1.Syracuse16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.Kansas St9.Virginia

5.Murray St(OVC)12.Northwestern/Tennessee Portland

4.San Diego St13.Nevada

6.Vanderbilt11.Virginia Commonwealth(CAA) Nashville

3.Michigan St14.South Dakota St

7.Iowa St10.Connecticut Greensboro

2.Duke15.Loyola(MD)(MAAC)

In Graphical Form

Conference Tournament Predictions Continued

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC: Iona has been on my radar since I watch it go blow-for-blow with Purdue in November.  This team can flatout score.  This is one of the most dangerous mid-majors in the country as it has three pros on the roster.  That being said, the Gaels don’t really care to much to play defense and that’s why a team like Loyola is a real threat.  Despite that, I don’t think Iona will be denied this year.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: Up until mid-February, people were talking about the down year in the CAA.  Then came Bracketbusters where the CAA once again flexed its mid-major muscle.  Drexel, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and Old Dominion all scored big wins leading many pundits to say this is a multi-bid league again.  I’m not so sure of that but I do know that Drexel and VCU will play a classic championship game.  That game will be won by Drexel.

SOUTHERN: Davidson served notice to the nation earlier this season when it beat Kansas.  It followed that impressive win up with a 16-2 league record.  The Wildcats have a solid RPI and is far and away the best team in this league, but I don’t have a good feeling about them winning the conference championship.  There’s one team though, which has been knocking on the door and that’s the College of Charleston.  The Cougars have won six of their last seven and they’ll carry that momentum into a SoCon championship.

SUN BELT: Middle Tennessee St put the nation on notice when it took UCLA apart in November.  With only five losses, the Blue Raiders have done that to most of their opponents this season.  This team is the class of the Sun Belt and, with the exception of Denver, has no peer.  The Blue Raiders are going dancing.

SUMMIT LEAGUE: You’re 17-1 in league play and one of the best mid-majors in the nation.  How are you rewarded – by playing the conference tournament on the homecourt of the second place team in the conference.  That’s what Oral Roberts’ dilemma is as it prepares for the conference tournament hosted by South Dakota St.  That South Dakota St team is responsible for Oral Roberts lone conference loss.  On March 6, it’ll be responsible for Oral Roberts’ second conference loss.

BIG SKY: Weber St and Montana went toe-to-toe all season long in a conference race that wasn’t decided until the last game of the regular season.  That game determined where the conference tournament would be played.  Unfortunately for Weber St, they’re going to have to go through the regular season champion Montana on its home court.  Not likely.  The Grizzlies are going to the NCAA tournament.

Dragon’s Lair

Image
Drexel hopes to celebrate in Richmond in early March

Will this be the year?  Will this be the year a team other than one from Virginia wins the Colonial Athletic Association.  If the Drexel Dragons have anything to say about it, it will.

It’s been six years since UNC-Wilmington won the regular season title in the CAA.  That’s six long years for the rest of the league as George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion have dominated the league.  In that span, Mason and VCU have gone to Final Fours and Old Dominion has gone to the NIT semifinals in addition to winning a first-round tournament game.

This year may be different though.  Drexel is currently in a three-way tie for first with Mason and VCU, but it has beaten both teams and has lost only one time in is last 18 games.

The Dragons are hot and only have one game remaining against a team with more than three conference wins remaining.  They’re in prime position to win the CAA title.

Stock Up: Travon Woodall.  He’s made such a difference for the Panthers since returning from injury.  This team looked completely lost without him and now look like one of the best teams in the Big East.  If the tournament began today I don’t think Pitt would be in it, but I’m willing to bet money we’ll see Pitt in the Big Dance and that’s all due to Woodall.

Stock Down: Connecticut.  I’ve never seen this before out of a UCONN team.  The Huskies have had some down years, but what’s going on right now is downright embarrassing.  As I write this, Louisville is currently beating them as if the Cardinals are the Dream Team and the Huskies are Angola.  I’m pretty shocked.

Stock Up: Southern Miss Golden Eagles.  The school that Brett Favre built is having quite a season.  The Eagles are sitting at 20-3 and are atop the Conference-USA standings.  They’ve achieved a season split with Memphis have beaten title contenders Marshall and UCF.  They have a favorable schedule down the stretch and can solidify an at-large bid.

Stock Down: Duke’s Homecourt Advantage. First reports surface that student demand for tickets at Cameron Indoor Stadium isn’t as high as it’s been in the past.  Then the Blue Devils go out and lose to Florida St and Miami.  Not the Heat, the “U.”  Obviously this says more about Duke than it does about Cameron, but it’s definitely surprising to see.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: California, Minnesota, Wyoming, UCF
Last Four Out: Colorado St, NC State, Arkansas, Northern Iowa

Good for games through of 2/5

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.UNC-Asheville/Norfolk St Louisville

8.Southern Miss9.Iowa St

5.Temple12.Minnesota/Wyoming Columbus

4.Marquette13.Long Beach St

6.Gonzaga11.New Mexico Nashville

3.Florida St14.Akron

7.Michigan10.Connecticut Omaha

2.Kansas15.Belmont

WEST

1.Missouri16.Stony Brook/Mississippi Valley St Omaha

8.Virginia9.Illinois

5.Louisville12.Saint Louis Albuquerque

4.UNLV13.Middle Tennessee St

6.Wisconsin11.BYU Louisville

3.Georgetown14.Oral Roberts

7.Harvard10.Alabama Greensboro

2.North Carolina15.Bucknell

EAST

1.Syracuse16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.Wichita St9.Washington

5.Mississippi St12.Purdue Portland

4.St. Mary’s13.Cleveland St

6.Vanderbilt11.Miami(FL) Columbus

3.Michigan St14.Davidson

7.West Virginia10.Memphis Albuquerque

2.Baylor15.Weber St

MIDWEST

1.Ohio St16.UT-Arlington Pittsburgh

8.Notre Dame9.Kansas St

5.San Diego St12.California/UCF Portland

4.Creighton13.Iona

6.Murray St11.Xavier Nashville

3.Florida14.Nevada

7.Indiana10.Cincinnati Greensboro

2.Duke15.Drexel

In Graphical Form