2018-19 SEC Preview

Last season, the SEC sent eight teams to the NCAA Tournament. Will the SEC prove they are a premier basketball conference this year?

pjw.
Go Big Blue Country

Let’s take a look at how the SEC will shake out in 2018-19.

1.)Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari brings another highly touted recruiting class to Lexington this season as EJ Montgomery, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickly, and Ashton Hagans make their way to campus. PJ Washington returns for his sophomore season and is in the conversation for SEC Player of the Year. The Wildcats landed the top graduate transfer in the country, Reid Travis from Stanford. The combination of youth and experience will make Kentucky the favorite to win the SEC and possibly the National Championship.

2.)Tennessee Volunteers

gw
247Sports

After a surprising 2017-18 campaign, reigning SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield return to challenge in the SEC and on a national level in the 2018-19 season. After being upset by Loyola-Chicago in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Volunteers will look to make a deeper run in March this season.

3.)Auburn Tigers

Another team that surprised the college basketball world a year ago was the Auburn Tigers. Bruce Pearl returns Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown will be joined by Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy who missed the entire season a year ago serving suspensions for violating NCAA rules. The Tigers will look to make it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since they lost to eventual National Champion, Syracuse, in 2003.

4.)Mississippi State Bulldogs

Ben Howland will look to get his fourth program to the “Big Dance” as he returns a core nucleus from a team that lost to Penn State in the semifinals of the NIT a year ago. If Mississippi State can get to the NCAA Tournament, it will likely be due to the performance of Quinndary Weatherspoon. The Bulldogs will need to shoot better from beyond the arc as well.

5.)Florida Gators

jh
OnlyGators.com

As one of the best programs in the SEC, Florida cannot be left out of the conversation when discussing the top teams in the league. The Gators return Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen to a team that lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The biggest questions for Florida are frontcourt production and freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard taking over for Chris Chiozza.

6.)LSU Tigers

Will Wade’s team underwent tragedy this offseason when junior Wayde Sims was fatally shot in September. You can never predict how a team will react to an incident like this, but the Tigers are talented enough to make a run to the top of the SEC and back to the NCAA Tournament this year. Sophomore Tremont Waters and freshman Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams will look to guide them there.

7.)Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt could be the most improved team in the SEC this year. Freshman Darius Garland and transfers Matt Ryan and Yanni Wetzell will look to make the Commodores relevant in the SEC once again.

8.)Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama will be without the services of 2018 NBA Draft lottery pick Collin Sexton this year, but Avery Johnson will rely on returners Donta Hall and John Petty, along with Texas transfer Tevin Mack to get them on the right side of the bubble and back in the NCAA Tournament for back-to-back years.

9.)Arkansas Razorbacks

Daniel Gafford decided to return to Fayetteville for his sophomore season. No other returner averaged more than four points per game a year ago. Gafford has a chance to elevate his NBA Draft stock. A lack of supporting cast could keep the Razorbacks on the wrong side of the bubble this year.

10.)Missouri Tigers

Missouri suffered a huge blow to its NCAA Tournament aspirations when sophomore forward Jontay Porter tore his right ACL and MCL in a scrimmage against Southern Illinois on Sunday. It will be difficult for the Tigers to make it back to the “Big Dance” in Porter’s absence. The Tigers will need to improve from deep to have any chance of surviving the SEC.

11.)Texas A&M

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247sports

After a tumultuous 2017-18 season that ended with a surprising trip to the Sweet Sixteen, Texas A&M has a new look this season. Robert Williams and Tyler Davis declared for the NBA Draft after last season. With their departure, the Aggies will not be as dominant in the frontcourt. Guards Admon Gilder and TJ Starks are the new faces of the program. Texas A&M may struggle to remain relevant in the SEC this year though.

12.)Georgia Bulldogs

It will be a rebuilding year for Tom Crean and company in Athens. The Bulldogs will try to replace Yante Maten, one of the best players in program history. The team lacks star power and will most likely be a bottom dweller in the SEC this season.

13.)South Carolina Gamecocks

Two years removed from an appearance in the Final Four, Frank Martin is in search of production on the perimeter to surround big man Chris Silva. If the Gamecocks are unable to generate backcourt production, they will miss out on the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

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ABC Columbia

14.)Ole Miss Rebels

Kermit Davis takes over for Andy Kennedy in Oxford. Ole Miss only won five conference games a year ago and the Rebels will use this year as a rebuilding year.

2018-19 SEC First Team

*Grant Williams, Tennessee

Tremont Waters, LSU

Daniel Gafford, Arkansas

Reid Travis, Kentucky

PJ Washington, Kentucky

Second Team

Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Jalen Hudson, Florida

Keldon Johnson, Kentucky

Chris Silva, South Carolina

Admiral Schofield, Tennessee

Third Team

Bryce Brown, Auburn

Jared Harper, Auburn

Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State

Tyler Herro, Kentucky

EJ Montgomery, Kentucky

*Preseason SEC Player of the Year

NCAA Tournament Recap

2018-19 NCAA Tournament in Review

villanova
beIN SPORTS

If you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a little empty not having any college basketball to look forward to this weekend. Let’s take a step back to remember the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

This year’s “Big Dance” featured an upset for the ages, a Cinderella run that made a nun an international sensation, buzzer beaters, the agony of defeat and, most importantly, the best team won it all.

The National Champs: Villanova

Michigan v Villanova
The Denver Post

Jay Wright did it. Two National Championships in three years. Villanova has become the program to beat in college basketball. The Wildcats dominated in March as they won all of their games in the NCAA Tournament by double-digits. Wright joined an exclusive club by cutting down the nets for the second time in his career as he joined Coach K and Roy Williams as the only active coaches to win multiple championships. National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges will likely forego their senior seasons and enter the NBA Draft, but Coach Wright will bring back three starters, Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and Omari Spellman, and Donte DiVincenzo, who came off the bench and scored 31 points in the title game on Monday. The Wildcats have been the most dominant program over the last five years and with Wright at the helm, there is a culture of winning in Philadelphia. Villanova will be back next year to defend their title and create a dynasty.

The Runners-Up: Michigan

michigan
ClickOnDetroit

Michigan was the hottest team in the country entering the NCAA Tournament and rode their streak all the way to Championship Monday where they ran into the buzz saw that was Villanova. Mo Wagner’s decision to return to Ann Arbor paid dividends as he led his squad back to the National Championship game for the first time since 2013. John Beilein had the best defensive squad of his career that gave opponents fits throughout the month of March. The run to San Antonio almost didn’t happen as the Wolverines needed a buzzer beater by freshman Jordan Poole to get past Houston in the second round and led to one of the best celebrations of the Tournament. Wagner and seniors Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson will depart, but Michigan will be back with a talented recruiting class next season.

The Surprises: UMBC, Kansas State, Buffalo, Loyola-Chicago, Nevada, Florida State, Texas A&M, Marshall, Syracuse

UMBC Shocks the World—Upsets Virginia

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WTOP.com

We witnessed history in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. For the first time in history, a 16-seed upset a 1-seed in the first round. Many had hinted at the fact that an Ivy League school, Penn, presented the best chance for a 16-seed to take down a 1-seed in their match-up with Kansas. When that didn’t happen on the first Thursday of the Tournament, many thought we would have to wait at a chance for history until next year. Enter Jairius Lyles and the UMBC Retrievers. In the final set of first round contests, UMBC took the world by storm—both on the court and on Twitter. The Retrievers stayed with Virginia and did not back down when the game was tied at 21 at halftime. UMBC outscored the #1 overall seeed 53-33 in the second half, busting pretty much every bracket filled out this year as the Cavaliers were a favorite to win it all. The three point shooting and defense by the Retrievers sent Kyle Guy and the rest of the Virginia team home crying as the first #1 to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history. Tony Bennett was without a key piece, De’Andre Hunter, that Friday night in Charlotte. Maybe this would not have happened with him in the lineup, but Bennett will have to wait another year for a chance at the Final Four.

K-State to the Elite Eight

k state
K-State Athletics

Kansas State got past Creighton in the first round and instead of having to face Virginia, they were up against Cinderella UMBC in the second round. The Wildcats dispatched the Retrievers and then took down Kentucky in Atlanta to make the Elite Eight for the first time since 2018. More impressively, Kansas State made their run without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade, who suffered a foot injury in the Big 12 Tournament. Although they were unable to get past Loyola-Chicago and make the Final Four, the Wildcats may have saved Bruce Weber’s job.

Buffalo Beats Zona

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Hartford Courant

Buffalo knocked out Arizona in the first round. The Wildcats were a favorite to make a run to the Final Four, but an impressive shooting performance and stout defense by the Bulls made for an early exit for Sean Miller’s team. With the outcome of the FBI investigation still unknown, the future of Arizona basketball is uncertain as they will lose Deandre Ayton, Allonzo Trier, and Rawle Alkins to the NBA and Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic to graduation.

Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago

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Uproxx.com

Loyola-Chicago became the fourth 11-seed to make the Final Four and in doing so, their Team Chaplain Sister Jean became an international sensation at 98 years young. Donte Ingram’s buzzer beater to beat Miami was one of the highlights of the first round, but the Ramblers proved they weren’t done yet. They took down the 3-seeed Tennessee on a jumper in the waning seconds by Clayton Custer. Marques Townes’ dagger was enough to beat Nevada and advance to the Elite Eight where they blew out Kansas State. Their run came to an end with a loss to Michigan in the Final Four, but the Missouri Valley Champs took the world by storm in the month of March.

Nevada’s Comeback

nevada
The Undefeated

Nevada led for only 1:56 of its first two games of the NCAA Tournament, but managed to make the Sweet Sixteen. The Wolfpack trailed Texas by 14 points in the second half, but came back to win in overtime to advance to the Round of 32. There, Nevada erased a 22 point Cincinnati lead and came back to eliminate the second seeded Bearcats from the “Big Dance.” The Wolfpack lost to Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet Sixteen, but they will return most of their core from this year’s team and could be a top ten team next season.

Florida State to the Elite Eight

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Zimbio

Many were saying that Florida State was the worst at-large team to receive an NCAA Tournament bid this year. The Seminoles proved the haters wrong and took down Missouri in the first round before they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Tournament, knocking off top-seeded Xavier in the second round to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Florida State’s run would not end there, as they took down a Gonzaga team without Killian Tillie. The Seminoles ended their season just short of the Final Four as they fell 58-54 to Michigan. If nothing else, they proved they belonged.

Texas A&M Takes Down the Tar Heels

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The Portland Press Herald

In a season filled with ups and downs, Texas A&M’s NCAA Tournament run proved to be just that. The Aggies battled through injuries and suspensions to earn a 7-seed in the “Big Dance,” but drew the 10-seed Providence, who was one of the hottest teams entering the Tournament. Texas A&M ended the Friars’ season and went on to the Round of 32 where they pummeled North Carolina. In a poetic end to their tumultuous season, the Aggies were crushed by Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen. With Tyler Davis and Robert Williams both declaring for the NBA Draft, it will be interesting to see what the future looks like in College Station.

Marshall Shocks Wichita State

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Uproxx

In a year where there were no 12-5 upsets, the 13-seeds stole the show. Buffalo beat Arizona and Marshall knocked off Wichita State. Jon Elmore’s sharp-shooting led the Thundering Herd past the Shockers and into the second round where they were ousted by in-state rival West Virginia, but an upset win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is definitely something that Marshall, who finished fourth in Conference USA, should be proud of.

The 2-3 Zone Did it Again

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SportSpyder

Syracuse snuck into the NCAA Tournament as the last team to make the field, but the Orange were not satisfied with only receiving a bid. Jim Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone puzzled opponents as Syracuse defeated Arizona State, TCU, and Michigan State, three teams averaging over 80 points a game to less than 60 on their way to the Sweet Sixteen. Their run was cut short as they fell 69-65 to Duke, but the NCAA Tournament run put a positive ending on a season where the Orange remained on the Bubble to the very end. If leading scorer Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett return, Syracuse could be poised to make another run in next year’s Tournament. Darius Bazley’s decision to decommit from the Orange and enter the G-League was unfortunate and leaves the team’s status for next season more uncertain, but Jalen Carey, Buddy Boeheim, and East Carolina-transfer Elijah Hughes will provide more depth at he guard position for next year’s team.

Game of the Tournament: Duke vs. Kansas—Elite Eight

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Kansas guard Malik Newman drew a block on Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. in overtime–a pivotal turning point in the game that the Jayhawks won to advance to the Final Four. The Japan Times.

The line in “One Shining Moment”—In the blinking of an eye that moment’s gone, couldn’t be more of a reality for the Duke Blue Devils as Grayson Allen’s potential game-winning rolled off the rim and out at the end of regulation. Kansas’ Malik Newman scored all 13 of the Jayhawks’ points in the overtime period to punch their ticket to San Antonio where they lost to eventual champion Villanova in the Final Four. Both Duke and Kansas will be title favorites heading into next season. Coach K and the Blue Devils have adopted the one-and-done strategy. The 2018-19 roster will look completely different for Duke. All five are their starters from this season’s team will be first round draft picks. Duke has the top recruiting class in the country next season as they welcome four of the top fifteen recruits in the country, including all of the top three recruits, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, to Durham next fall. Tre Jones, the 12th ranked recruit and younger brother of 2015 Final four Most Outstanding Player, Tyus Jones, who also played at Duke, will also join the squad. Kansas is the way-too-early preseason #1 with Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick returning. The Jayhawks have a pair of five-star guards coming to Lawrence in the fall: Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes. Bill Self will also add Memphis-transfers K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson and Cal-transfer Charlie Moore, all of which will be eligible to play next season.

Duke v Kansas
Grayson Allen’s career ended with an Elite Eight loss to Kansas where he missed a potential game-winner at the end of regulation. Dirtfork.

The Road Begins Now

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ncaa.com

The 2017-18 season has come and gone and it was surely a wild one. Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats who reign superior this year. The Road to the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis begins now.

2018 NCAA Tournament—West Region Preview

Upsets, Sleepers, Pick to Cut Down the Nets

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ncaa.com

The NCAA Tournament is upon us. Let’s take a look at the West Region. The one seed in the West, Xavier, will look to avoid an upset and make it to the Final Four in San Antonio via Los Angeles. However, there are 16 other teams looking to do the same thing. Here’s what to watch for.

Upset Pick: #10 Providence over #7 Texas A&M

Providence enters the “Big Dance” as one of the hottest teams in the country. The Friars have already enjoyed their fair share of March madness thus far, having played three overtime games at Madison Square Garden at the Big East Tournament. Providence is wildly under-seeded as a ten seed and has proven they can beat the nation’s top competition. The Friars were the only team in the Big East to beat both Xavier and Villanova and took down the Musketeers twice. Rodney Bullock, Alpha Diallo, and Kyron Cartwright are a three-headed monster that will be tough to stop. Led by Tyler Davis, the Texas A&M Aggies will look to avoid an early exit from the Tournament this March. Texas A&M has battled through an up-and-down year to earn a 7-seed, but it will be interesting to see how the Aggies respond to being on the wrong side of Collin Sexton’s (Alabama) buzzer beater in the SEC Tournament. Look for Providence to pull off the upset in Charlotte.

Sleeper: Ohio State Buckeyes

My sleeper pick in the West Region is the Ohio State Buckeyes. As a 5-seed, Ohio State may not seem like a sleeper, but with Gonzaga being the 4-seed in the West Region, some may forget just how good the Buckeyes are. First-year head coach Chris Holtmann has a team, led by Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop, that can upset the Zags on their way to the second weekend.

Pick to Win the West Region: North Carolina Tar Heels

theo pinson
newser.com

The North Carolina Tar Heels, led by seniors Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson, will look to defend their title. North Carolina has won nine of their last twelve games and are coming off three wins in the ACC Tournament before losing to the number one overall seed Virginia in the championship game in Brooklyn. The senior leadership and the play of All-ACC First-Team selection Luke Maye will be enough lead the Tar Heels past Lipscomb, Providence, Michigan, and Ohio State on their way to the Final Four in San Antonio.

SEC Tournament Preview

SEC Tournament: March 7-March 11, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO

SEC l
Pinterest

The SEC will host their 2018 men’s basketball conference tournament at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Tourney will feature seven teams destined for a run in the NCAA Tournament and three teams fighting to build their resume for an at-large bid or to secure an automatic bid.

NCAA Tournament Locks: Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas A&M

Auburn (25-6,13-5) will be hungry to take home both the SEC Regular Season and Tournament Championships after not having a single player in the SEC First Team. Bryce Brown and Jared Harper were both relegated to the All-SEC Second Team. Auburn will look to hang onto a three seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong showing in St. Louis. Auburn will begin its quest for an SEC postseason championship when the play the winner of the eight seed Texas A&M and the nine seed Alabama Friday at 1pm.

My pick to win the SEC Tournament is the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee (23-7, 13-5) has been the most consistent team in the SEC all year. Led by SEC Player of the Year, Grant Williams, and All-SEC Second Team performer Admiral Schofield, the Volunteers will look to hold onto a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament and the chance to play their first weekend games in Nashville. As the second seed in the SEC Tournament, Rick Barnes’ team will be hungry to claim a conference postseason title. Tennessee will begin its run in March with the winner of the game between 7-seeded Mississippi State and 10-seeded LSU on Friday at 7pm.

admiral
The Athletic

Florida (20-11, 11-7) looked to be a team destined for the Final Four early on this season, but found their way closer to the bubble in late February. After winning at home against Kentucky in the regular season finale, the Gators look to be headed to the NCAA Tournament thanks to the leadership of All-SEC First Teamer Chris Chiozza. Florida will open against the winner of the 6-seed Arkansas and the 11-seed South Carolina on Friday at 9pm.

Kentucky (21-10, 10-8) struggled at times during the regular season, but as Coach Calipari’s team’s usually do, the Wildcats are peaking at the right time headed into March Madness. Co-SEC Rookie of the Year Kevin Knox will look to lead the Wildcats to a deep run in the “Big Dance” and that starts with continuing their momentum in the conference tournament. Kentucky will face the winner of the 5-seed Missouri and the 12-seed Georgia on Friday at 3pm.

Missouri (20-11, 10-8) is the most intriguing story of the SEC Tournament. Michael Porter Jr., the top recruit in the Class of 2017, will return to action Thursday for the first time after injuring his back two minutes into his college career. It will be interesting to see how he fits in with his teammates, including All-SEC First Team selection, Canisius transfer Kassius Robertson, who earned the five seed in the SEC Tourney and are destined for a bid in the NCAA Tournament. The goal for Porter Jr. is to be productive and stay healthy as he is touted to be a top five pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Missouri will take on the 12-seed Georgia, who defeated Vanderbilt in a play-in game on Wednesday night, on Thursday at 3pm.

Michael Porter Jr
SI.com

Arkansas, led by All-SEC First Team member Jaylen Barford, will look to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding with a strong showing at the Scottrade Center. The Razorbacks are 21-10 overall, 10-8 in the SEC and will open against the 11-seed South Carolina, who defeated Ole Miss in a play-in game Wednesday night, on Thursday at 9pm.

Texas A&M battled through injuries and suspensions to key players to finish eighth in the league and in position to earn an at-large bid to the “Big Dance.” The Aggies, led by All-SEC First Team performer Tyler Davis, are talented enough to make noise in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. Texas A&M is 20-11 overall, 9-9 in league play and will open against Alabama on Thursday at 1pm.

On the Bubble: Alabama, Mississippi State, Georgia

Alabama, led by co-SEC Rookie of the Year Collin Sexton, is on the wrong side of the bubble as of the inception of the SEC Tournament. The Crimson Tide will likely need to make a run to the semifinals of the conference tournament and pick up wins over the eight seed Texas A&M (Thursday at 1pm.) and top seeded Auburn to earn an at-large bid. Any slip-ups before that and Alabama will be destined for the NIT.

Collin Sexton
Alabama Athletics

Mississippi State has the 212th ranked non-conference strength of schedule and did not do enough in conference play to be in the conversation for an at-large bid. The Bulldogs will likely need to win the SEC Tournament to play their way into the field of 68. The journey begins against LSU Thursday at 7pm.

The same is true for Georgia, who is led by All-SEC First Teamer Yante Maten. The Bulldogs will look to win five games in five days to make their way to the NCAA Tournament after struggling throughout the majority of the conference schedule. Georgia picked up a win over Vanderbilt in a play-in game Wednesday night.

Here’s a look at the 2018 SEC Tournament Bracket:

SEC

Prediction:

Semis: Tennessee def. Florida, Missouri def. Auburn

Final: Tennessee defeats Missouri in the title game.

All-Tournament Team:

Admiral Schofield, Tennessee (Tournament MVP)

Grant Williams, Tennessee

Michael Porter Jr., Missouri

Chris Chiozza, Florida

Bryce Brown, Auburn

Weekly Round-Up (2/3)

Winners, Losers, and What to Watch

Here’s a look at this week’s winners and losers and Saturday’s premier match-up.

Winner: Auburn Tigers

bryce brown
auburntigers.com

Unlike some of the other surprise teams in the nation (i.e. Arizona State), the Auburn Tigers (20-2, 8-1 SEC) have entered February on a four-game win streak and have climbed to #11 in the country and to the top of the SEC standings. The Tigers have proved to be an offensive juggernaut. Auburn averages 85.7 points per game (10th nationally) and have outscored opponents by an average of 12.5 points in their eight conference wins. With four players averaging double figures in scoring, the Tigers are led by Bryce Brown who is averaging 16.6 points per game. With their only loss in SEC play coming to their arch rival Alabama on the road, Auburn will look to defend home court when they host Vanderbilt on Saturday at 8:30pm. The Tigers are in position to capture their first SEC regular season title since 1999 as they hold a two-game lead over second place Kentucky in the standings.

Loser: North Carolina Tar Heels

After a four-game win streak, in which North Carolina climbed its way into the top 10, the Tar Heels have lost three straight games and have fallen to #19 in the rankings. Most recently, North Carolina lost to Clemson 82-78 on the road. The Tar Heels were without senior forward Theo Pinson for a majority of the game as he suffered a shoulder injury after getting fouled in the first half. Pinson is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday when North Carolina hosts Pittsburgh at 8pm. The Tar Heels need to improve defensively if they plan on defending their title in March. Coach Roy Williams has said this may be his worst defensive team ever. North Carolina has given up 79.8 points per game to its opponents in their five losses in ACC play. With that being said, I am very skeptical of the Tar Heels moving forward.

Premier Match-Up: #21 Kentucky at Missouri (2pm CBS)

kevin knox
courier-journal.com

With no games between ranked teams this weekend, let’s take a look at a game with bubble implications. Back when the schedule came out many circled this game as a chance to see future NBA prospects go at it, but with Michael Porter Jr. suffering a back injury in the season opener, the game lost some of its luster. Missouri (14-8, 4-5 SEC) could use this win if they hope to end up on the right side of the bubble on Selection Sunday. The Tigers are coming off a 69-60 win over fellow bubble team Alabama on the road Wednesday night and will hope to keep the momentum going. Missouri is led by Canisius-transfer, Kassius Robertson, who is averaging 16 points per game. Kentucky enters the game on a three-game win streak after coming back from 14 points down to beat Vanderbilt 83-81 in overtime Tuesday night. Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will look to lead the Wildcats over the Tigers on Saturday. The duo is averaging 41 points per game over Kentucky’s three-game win streak. Look for the Wildcats to continue their winning streak with a big win on the road.

Kentucky 77, Missouri 68

Preseason All-Americans

A Brief Outlook for the 2017-18 Preseason All-Americans

Now that everyone has played their first game of the season, let’s take a moment to discuss my Preseason All-Americans.

Grayson Allen-G, Duke

Grayson Allen, college basketball’s most hated villain, posted 22 points and 4 rebounds in #1 Duke’s first win of the season over Elon. He also added 18 points and 3 rebounds in Duke’s second win of the season over Utah Valley on Saturday night. Coach K will look to Allen to provide leadership on a team favored to win the ACC and possibly win it all as the Blue Devils will start four freshman. Grayson Allen will benefit greatly from the presence of having a true point guard in Trevon Duval. Last year, Allen was often responsible for getting the Blue Devils into their offense and getting the ball to Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum. Allen saw his scoring numbers drop from 21.6 PPG to 14.5 PPG from his sophomore to junior year. This year, the weight of the point guard duties are off his shoulder. Allen will be more comfortable, so look for him to post big numbers all year.

Allonzo Trier-G, Arizona

After being suspended for the first 19 games of the 2016-17 season for testing positive for PEDs that were unknowingly administered to him while he was recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident in the summer of 2016, Trier averaged 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game during his sophomore campaign. Due to the suspension, Trier decided to return for his junior season. Trier scored 32 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists in Arizona’s season opening win over Northern Arizona. A versatile guard that can score and rebound, Trier is a matchup nightmare for most defenses he faces, and one of the best players in college basketball this season.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State
btn.com

Miles Bridges-F, Michigan State

Most people around college basketball were shocked that Miles Bridges returned to Michigan State for his sophomore season. Bridges averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds as a freshman. Bridges will be back with a vengeance and will not be denied this season. He showed that as he posted a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds as Sparty topped North Florida in their season opener. Miles Bridges is my pick to win the Naismith Award this season.

Bonzie Colson-F, Notre Dame

Bonzie Colson is a classic Mike Brey, Notre Dame player. A blue-collar, chip-on-your-shoulder, middle-of-the-road recruit that steadily improved year-to-year into one of the nation’s top players. A versatile big man that can do anything asked of him on the court, Colson is a tough out and is one of my favorite players to watch. After averaging 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last year, Colson is back for his senior season and will play a key role if the Irish make it to Coach Brey’s first Final Four. Colson posted a double-double in his first official action this season at DePaul on Saturday. Colson finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Michael Porter Jr.-F, Missouri

Michael Porter Jr. has been anointed as the man who will put Missouri Basketball back on the map. Porter Jr. is one of the most prized recruits in his class and will be in contention for being the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Missouri fans hope that if he is the #1 pick that he will avoid doing what Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz did; be the #1 pick without making the NCAA Tournament. Porter Jr. suffered a slight setback Friday night as he tweaked a hip injury in the first ten minutes of action in Missouri’s win over Iowa State. Porter Jr. added 2 points and 2 rebounds in limited minutes. Although Missouri said that his absence from the remainder of the game was purely precautionary, the hip injury will be something to look out for as the season goes on. The sky is the limit for Michael Porter Jr. this season.