Finally, College Football is over and we can concentrate on College Basketball.
College Basketball is a great sport that gives every team the same opportunity to win the National Championship. This is something College Football cannot say.
While you were watching one game that really mattered in College Football (Oregon vs. Auburn) you may have picked up on a few teams that can make some noise in March. We are finally seeing the Brigham Young’s and San Diego State’s being noted on big time sports television programs.
BYU (18-1) is led by senior Jimmer Fredette and his nation leading 25.8 points per game. His range is outer space. He dominates the ball, but the average fan may not know about Jimmer’s teammates. Jackson Emery is also a senior and is an underrated player. He is a great compliment to Fredette. He averages 13 points a contest, shoots 41 percent from long distance and his 2.7 steals per game is top 10 in the country.
This team has what every team needs in March, great guard play. What they lack is size down low. Rebounding could, potentially, be the downfall when March comes around. This team is capable of making a run to the elite 8 if Fredette lights up the scoreboard, like Stephon Curry did for Davidson.
San Diego State (19-0) can score the basketball with great efficiency. Kawhi Leonard leads the team with 16 points per game. He is a double-double candidate every game. He leads the team with 10.3 rebounds a contest. Malcolm Thomas is a valuable option for the Aztecs down low. He averages 12.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. D.J. Gay is a senior guard that is able to light up the scoreboard on any given night. He shoots 40 percent from the three-point line. He recently dropped 30 on New Mexico. He has increased his scoring average every year with the Aztecs.
Those are the two teams that average College Basketball fans are being introduced to. There are a few more teams that deserve to be talked about.
University of Central Florida (14-2) is led by Marcus Jordan and his 16.5 points per game. Yes, I am sure you are aware that Marcus is Michael’s son. While their play is not much alike, Marcus still has the ability to make plays that remind you of Michael. He is the catalyst on the team, but others have chipped in nicely. Keith Clanton’s 8.7 rebounds a game lead the Knights. He is second, behind Jordan, in scoring with 15.6 points. A.J. Rompza leads the team in assists with 3.6 a game. He doesn’t get the respect that Jordan or Clanton get, but he is a do it all type of player.
Saint Mary’s (16-2) has experience with their Sweet 16 run last season. Although, they lost Omar Samhan, who was an absolute beast down low, they still have quality players. They have four players that average double-figures. Mickey McConnell leads the team with 14.9 points per game. He is shooting a staggering 48 percent from long distance. He is joined in the backcourt with Matthew Dellavedova, who scores 13 points per game. Dellavedova and McConnell combine for 12.4 assists per game. Dellavedova is a guy who will not back down from anything. What he lacks in size, he makes up for it with his heart. This backcourt is a gritty bunch that will give any team trouble.
Some teams that nobody is talking about, yet.
Southern Mississippi (14-3) has beaten UCF by 17 this season. Gary Flowers is a great inside outside threat for the Golden Eagles. He puts up over 21 points and grabs 8 rebounds a game. He gets help from R.L. Horton, who averages 12 points. Devonte Newbill also chips in with 9 points and 6 rebounds a game. I don’t think the Golden Eagles have what it takes to win Conference USA in the regular season, but I would not count them out of getting hot and winning their conference tournament.
Wichita State (15-3) had UCONN in their grasps before choking away the lead earlier this season. I like what David Kyles and J.T. Durley do for the Shockers. I think they have what it takes in the Missouri Valley to get them to the NCAA Tournament. The MVC has been known to make some noise in the tournament.
Missouri State (15-3) is a team that is not being talked about. They already defeated Wichita State 59-56. There are a team that has played Tennessee and Oklahoma State tough. Kyle Weems is a great scorer and rebounder for the Bears. He leads the team in both categories. He has scored in double-figures 17 out of 18 games. Will Creekmore provides more size for the Bears, and is a solid contributor to the club. He has scored in double-figures 14 out of 18 times on the season.
Harvard is led by Head Coach Tommy Amacker. He is doing a great job recruiting at Harvard. This team has gotten blown-out by UCONN, but we can let that slide because it was just one game. They played Michigan tough before losing by three. They defeated Boston College and Colorado which both look like great wins, especially Colorado. Four guys are double-digit scorers for the Crimson. Keith Wright is a good inside outside player with his scoring and rebounding. He leads the team in both statistical categories. Christian Webster and Laurent Rivard chip in with the points and rebounds. Oliver McNally can fill a stat sheet. He scores over 10 points, grabs 4 rebounds, dishes 3 assists and steals 1 per contest. Oh yeah, and by the way, he shoots 48 percent from long distance.
All these teams have the ability to make the NCAA tournament. There are many other teams that will have the opportunity to make some noise in March such as Utah State, Oakland, UNLV, Butler, Valparaiso and Cleveland State. This is why College Basketball is great.
About the Author
Written by Justin Welton
Born in Franklin, PA. Life-long Pittsburgh sports fan + Boston Celtics. Attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Working for WCUC - 91.7 and WCUB-TV. Clarion Call writer for two years.