32×32: 2018-19 Big Ten Preview

By Kevin Sweeney

2 years in a row, scheduling has been a major storyline in the Big Ten entering the season. Last year, discussion centered around the league’s one-week-early conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. This year, it’s a move to a 20-game conference schedule drawing buzz. The move, seen by critics as standing in the way of mid-majors’ ability to “schedule up” in the non-conference, will require the Big Ten to play 2 conference games in early December to fit in the games. As a hoops fan, conference battles in an otherwise-dry time of year is great news, though it does create some controversy nonetheless.

Regardless of scheduling discussions, the Big Ten has a chance to be the nation’s most exciting conference this season. There aren’t a ton of clear top 25 teams, but there’s also no team other than perhaps Rutgers that can’t realistically compete for an NCAA Tournament bid. Here’s my best crack at projecting a league that will likely see a lot of ties in the middle tier:

Standings Projection:

#1. Michigan

This definitely won’t be the popular pick at the top, but the defending national runner-ups are my pick to grab the league’s top spot. A significant part of this is me being lower on Michigan State than consensus, but I’m also probably a shade higher on John Beilein’s crew than others. I’m buying all the Jordan Poole stock still available as one of the nation’s breakout stars, creating one of the nation’s best backcourts with Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews. Add in highly-regarded freshman Ignas Bradzeikis, a versatile wing who can play 2-4, and Beilein has something brewing once again in Ann Arbor.

#2. Michigan State

A 30-win team with 3 returning double digit scorers not getting the nod for #1 in the Big Ten?

When put like that, it definitely seems odd that I don’t have the Spartans topping the conference, but this talented team has clear flaws. A defense that was among the nation’s best last season should swing in the other direction this season. Jaren Jackson’s shot-blocking prowess made MSU the nation’s best 2-point FG% defense, and Miles Bridges’ athleticism and versatility made him a strong perimeter defender. Both are gone, and now Sparty may sport one of the nation’s worst perimeter defenses without a high-level rim protector to turn shots away. Despite their offensive prowess, Cassius Winston, Matt McQuaid, and Josh Langford are all below-average perimeter defenders. The Nick Ward/Xavier Tillman platoon at center will be incredibly productive on the glass and efficient around the rim, which is why I’m not selling all my stock.

To me, this is a top 20 team but not a top 10-12 team.

#3. Indiana

Archie Miller’s months-long courtship of in-state sensation Romeo Langford, with the likely one-and-done prospect choosing to play his college ball in Bloomington after much consideration. Langford’s 3-level scoring ability on the wing paired with returning star Juwan Morgan gives the Hoosiers one of the nation’s most talented duos, enough to bring IU back to the NCAA Tournament after a two season absence. Point guard concerns linger– another in-state freshman, Robert Phinisee, is seen as the floor general of the future but Devonte Green seems likely to start at least early on. If that duo can provide league-average point guard play, the Hoosiers will be a top 25 team and can perhaps contend for a conference title.

#4. Purdue

Other than Carsen Edwards, this is a completely new-look Purdue club for Matt Painter. 4 starters that have meant so much to the program over the last 4 years graduate, and Painter will look to craft a rotation around their star scoring guard. The starting unit shakes out fairly clearly, with Nojel Eastern sharing ball-handling duties with Edwards, Ryan Cline claiming Dakota Mathias’ role as a spot shooter, Dartmouth grad transfer Evan Boudreaux slotting in at the 4, and towering center Matt Haarms anchoring the defense. There’s a severe lack of offensive creation ability beyond Edwards in that group, and Painter will hope that freshman Eric Hunter can provide some scoring punch off the bench. Edwards will keep them in a lot of games, but it will be the talent around him that will determine just how good this team will be.

#5. Ohio State

Perhaps I’m being overly bullish on Chris Holtmann’s coaching ability, but I was floored by what he did with last season’s club. Keita Bates-Diop is gone, as are Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams. Holtmann will look to replace that talented trio with a strong freshman class and the development of returners like Musa Jallow, Kyle Young, and Andre Wesson, along with Wake Forest grad transfer Keyshawn Woods. Woods’ shooting ability pairs nicely with point guard CJ Jackson, whose improvement under Holtmann was a huge reason for the Buckeyes’ success last season. The offense will run through the post and bruising big man Kaleb Wesson, a talented back-to-the-basket scorer. The biggest thing for OSU is finding enough offense to win behind a defense that should be excellent once again. I’ll bet on Holtmann to find a way.

#6. Wisconsin

Getting healthy is the biggest addition for the Badgers. A backcourt that already lacked talent lost starting point guard D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King, and saw Brad Davison limited with a shoulder injury for much of the season. While it was the worst season in Madison since the mid-90’s, the Badgers did get better as the season went on and were feisty in the Big Ten Tournament, giving us reason for optimism with the return of Trice and King. Ethan Happ is back for one final year of college basketball, and his unique game is still a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The talent level is still relatively low for Wisconsin standards, but the Badgers should have enough to be back in NCAA Tournament contention this year.

#7. Nebraska

Perhaps no team drummed up more debate last season than Nebraska, whose surprising 13-5 Big Ten mark thanks in no small part to an extremely fortuitous conference schedule gave them a polarizing resume in the lead-up to Selection Sunday. With the Huskers bringing back their top 4 scorers from last season, a lot of preseason hype has built up around Lincoln. I’m not sold. That top 4 is as good a quartet as any in the Big Ten, especially with Isaiah Roby still just scratching the surface of his potential. But beyond that group, I’m not sure there’s a Big Ten-caliber rotation player on the roster. The Huskers were at their best with the switchable Roby at the 5, but the transfer of Jordy Tshimanga leaves Nebraska without a true big man ready to bang in the post with the biggest bodies in the Big Ten. The reserves in the backcourt aren’t great options either, leaving Tim Miles without much margin for error in the event of injury or foul trouble. It’s huge for Miles’ future that he find a way to get this group to the NCAA Tournament, as there’s a good chance the entire core 4 departs after this season.

#8. Maryland

Another coach entering a critical year of his tenure, it may be NCAA Tournament or job hunting for Mark Turgeon. The Terps stumbled to an 8-10 mark in conference last season after Justin Jackson missed all of Big Ten play due to injury, and both Jackson and star guard Kevin Huerter depart early for the NBA. That leaves just Anthony Cowan of that vaunted 3-man class that came in with such fanfare in 2016. In to save the day is another strong freshman class, a 6-man 2018 group headlined by 5-star big man Jalen Smith. Smith will pair perfectly with high-upside sophomore Bruno Fernando in a frontcourt that will be among the Big Ten’s best. Floor spacing remains a major concern, with non-shooting wing Darryl Morsell likely to spend a majority of the time at the 3 next to 2 big men. Freshmen guards Serrell Smith, Eric Ayala, and Aaron Wiggins are more than capable of making an immediate impact, but they’ll need to consistently produce for the Terps to dance.

#9. Northwestern

Full disclosure: I’m a student at Northwestern. I obviously do everything I can to not let bias seep into my work, but I wanted to acknowledge it anyway (especially because I’m higher on them than most).

From 2-5, Northwestern’s roster is really good. NCAA Tournament good. Dererk Pardon is an incredibly consistent big man who can score with both hands and is an excellent passer. Vic Law has 3&D written all over him, and his ability to create offense will be important. The ‘Cats also add the best recruiting class in program history, an elite grad transfer in Ryan Taylor, and a versatile wing who can really shoot it in AJ Turner (Boston College). Despite the graduations of Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey, this is the most talented roster in Northwestern history.

The point guard situation? Well, that’s a bit hairy. Jordan Lathon was seen as the point guard of the future, but his admission was revoked in May with no time to find an adequate replacement. Reclassified 2019 prospect Ryan Greer may not be ready to go, and Jordan Ash is a career backup who I don’t see as a viable starter at the position. Anthony Gaines got some time at the point guard spot last year when McIntosh went down and performed well, and that might be the recipe that works for Northwestern with Law, Taylor, and Turner all splitting up some creation duties. If Chris Collins can crack his point guard conundrum, Northwestern is in great shape to surprise. If not, it will consistently hold back an otherwise-strong roster.

#10. Minnesota

Last season was disastrous in every regard for Minnesota. Entering the season with high expectations, injuries, suspensions, and overall poor play took down a Golden Gopher team that had a ton of potential. By Big Ten play, Minnesota was bad on offense and bad an on defense, hardly a good combination. But the future is bright, with dynamic wing Amir Coffey and talented big Eric Curry back healthy and Rich Pitino bringing in a talented in-state recruiting class headlined by rim protector Daniel Oturu. Point guard concerns are present after the departure of Nate Mason, with scoring point Isaiah Washington likely getting the keys. Double-double machine Jordan Murphy is still present though, and with a healthy core, Minnesota should be in the mix for a bid again.

#11. Illinois

Year one for Brad Underwood was bumpier than expected, with the Illini slumping to a 14-18 mark and transfers leaving the roster in a state of flux for 2018-19. However, Underwood has recruited well, with the jewel being Chicago 5-star Ayo Dosunmu. Ayo pairs with Trent Frazier to give Illinois an incredibly talented backcourt, and I’m huge on Kipper Nichols in that combo forward role. Underwood should have the depth in the backcourt to run his aggressive defensive system. However, the frontcourt is extremely flawed, with 3 non-elite freshmen and slow-footed grad transfer Adonis De La Rosa making up the center spot. Improvement should be expected, but this feels like an NIT team.

#12. Iowa

Big things were expected of the Hawkeyes in 2017-18, but the roster was incredibly flawed. Fran McCaffery’s teams always have gambled on defense, relying on aggressive point guard defense and long wings who can take the ball away and get easy buckets. This team had neither, and the Hawkeyes were largely a trainwreck defensively because of it. The health of Connor McCaffery and the addition of in-state scoring guard Joe Wieskamp should help with ball control, but is it enough to get over the hump? This feels like a boom-or-bust season for the Hawkeyes.

#13. Penn State

The Nittany Lions finally built some momentum under Pat Chambers in 2017-18, getting better as the season went on and winning the NIT. However, much of the positivity in Happy Valley was destroyed by Tony Carr leaving early for the NBA Draft, leaving the Nittany Lions without a point guard. The frontcourt will still be strong, and PSU was a different team with Josh Reaves on the floor last season. Someone will have to create offense though, and Pat Chambers isn’t a guy I’ll generally bet on “finding a way”.

#14. Rutgers

Sorry, Rutgers. I really like you. I really like Steve Pikiell. This program is improving. You just aren’t there yet.

Landing top-75 recruit Montez Mathis was a major win for Pikiell, and the addition of Quinnipiac transfer Peter Kiss to pair with Mathis and promising lead guard Geo Baker gives the Scarlet Knight enough in the backcourt to steal some games. RU will be scrappy, strong defensively, and win some games they shouldn’t. They just need to keep this group together into next season, land a couple more impact pieces, and then they’ll have a chance to move up the standings.

All-Conference First Team:

  • Cassius Winston– Michigan State (12.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 6.9 apg, .507/.497/.900)
  • Carsen Edwards– Purdue (18.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, .458/.406/.824)
  • Juwan Morgan– Indiana (16.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, .579/.302/.631)
  • Jordan Murphy– Minnesota (16.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.4 apg, .525/.314/.699)
  • Ethan Happ– Wisconsin (17.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, .528/.091/.550)

Player of the Year: Carsen Edwards (Purdue)

Edwards is going to score a lot of points, that’s for sure. The key for him is being consistent and efficient without the stability of the a veteran group with multiple established scorers around him. Edwards has unbelievable talent, and he should be in All-American consideration if he lives up to the lofty expectations surrounding him this season.

Breakout Player: Jordan Poole (Michigan)

As I wrote earlier, I’m all aboard the Poole hype train. He can really shoot the ball, and showed off an improved ability to create off the dribble during the Wolverines’ summer trip to Europe. We all know John Beilein can develop guards, and I can’t wait to see the finished product when the season gets underway.

Newcomer of the Year: Romeo Langford (Indiana)

The expectations heaped upon the New Albany native this season will be unreal. Yet somehow, Langford has always found a way to live up to the hype, and he can add to his folk hero status by returning the Hoosiers to glory this season. His polished game should fit seamlessly into college basketball, and I expect Langford to be one of the best pure scorers in the Big Ten from Day 1.

CBB Central Podcast: Big Ten Preview

Today on the show, Brad and Kevin continue their conference preview series with the Big Ten. It’s a league with no clear elite team, but top-to-bottom competitive clubs that should make this one of the more exciting races to watch in college basketball. We broke down every team and why (or why not) to believe in them going into the 2018-19 season.

32×32: 2018-19 Big South Preview

By Kevin Sweeney

The Big South gave us one of the best moments of conference tournament week, a buzzer-beater from freshman Carlik Jones in a jam-packed house to send Radford to their first NCAA Tournament since 2009.

Much has changed in the conference, with 2 additions and 1 subtraction in the realignment game giving the league a new look. Hampton and USC Upstate come over from the MEAC and A-Sun, respectively, while Liberty departs for the A-Sun as they wait for a permanent FBS home for their football program. The other big news came when High Point hired former national coach of the year Tubby Smith, an alum, as their new coach. Thanks to those moves, the Big South will be packed with storylines to watch throughout the season, and I can’t wait to see what transpires.

Standings Projection:

#1. Radford

The Highlanders took major strides from a mediocre 2016-17 campaign into a conference title in 2017-18 thanks to a much-improved defense and the presence of Carlik Jones. Radford played great defense and controlled the glass, then relied on Jones and Ed Polite to make enough big shots to win. That was a winning formula, and something that should be able to be replicated this season. Polite returns for his senior season as one of the conference’s best, a versatile combo forward with big-time athleticism and the ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. He’ll pair in the frontcourt with Kansas State grad transfer Mawdo Sallah, a good rebounder and solid rim protector who should provide the perfect final piece to the puzzle for the Highlanders to repeat as conference champs.

#2. Winthrop

After Radford, there are a lot of teams with solid but flawed rosters in the middle of the pack. I’ll take Winthrop as the “best of the rest”, thanks in no small part to having the conference’s best coach in Pat Kelsey. Kelsey loses mid-major unicorn Xavier Cooks, a point forward who could do a little bit of everything on the floor, but brings back a solid returning core that features talented forward Josh Ferguson and guards Bjorn Broman & Adam Pickett. Ferguson has star potential, a strong rebounder and post scorer who has begun to stretch his range out to the perimeter. Someone will have to step up to create offense for others in the absence of Cooks, but I’ll bet on a Kelsey-coached team to find a way.

#3. Hampton

Hampton brings back a lot of talent from that won 18 games last season. The step up in competition from the MEAC to the Big South is significant, but the Pirates have a high-powered offense that features guards that could play at any level. Headlining that backcourt is Jermaine Marrow, a junior who has already recorded well over 1,000 career points. Marrow needs to continue to improve his efficiency, but took steps forward in 2017-18 after being woefully poor from the field in 2016-17 and should be able to continue to make strides this season. He’ll be paired with another talented scorer in Kalin Fisher, a duo that should be tough to stop in the Big South.

#4. Campbell

The Camels have improved each of the past 2 seasons thanks to the unbelievable play of Chris Clemons. Do they have one more step forward in them? That will likely depend on a 5-man incoming group of freshmen and JUCO players and their ability to compliment Clemons. Kevin McGeehan seems to have emphasized landing versatile wing players that can play multiple positions, with the headliners a 3-star wing in Isaac Chatman whose recruitment cooled after early offers and interest from high-majors and a top-100 JUCO prospect in guard Trey Spencer. Losing efficient second scorer Marcus Burk is without a doubt a blow, but this roster has a ton of raw talent. If they can put it all together, they might have the best chance at pushing Radford for the top spot.

#5. High Point– DARK HORSE

It’s Tubby time at HPU, with Scott Cherry replaced with a legendary head coach entering the twilight of his career. I’m generally skeptical of coaches taking “retirement” jobs at mid-major programs, but this case feels different. Smith wants to go out on his own terms after not getting a fair shake at Memphis, and has a chance to bring his alma mater to their first-ever NCAA Tournament. He inherits a strong stable of guards from Cherry, including an all-conference talent in Jahaad Proctor. Tubby’s teams have always won more on coaching and development over recruiting prowess, and that M.O. should play well at the mid-major level.

#6. Gardner-Webb

A pair of double-digit scorers return for Tim Craft’s bunch in David Efianayi and DJ Laster, but losing point guard Liam O’Reilly from a team that already lost the turnover battle last season hurts. However, GWU has a solid replacement in tow in Jaheam Cornwall, who posted strong numbers in a 6th man role playing either guard spot last season. This feels like another .500 club, one or two pieces from getting over the hump in the Big South.

#7. Charleston Southern

Barclay Radebaugh has his star in wing scorer Christian Keeling. As Keeling enters his junior year, Radebaugh has 2 years to surround his star with as much talent as possible. As of now, the roster is very young, with 10 freshmen and sophomores filling out the roster next to Keeling, Travis McConico and JUCO transfer Nate Louis. 2nd-year jumps from Ty Jones, Deontaye Buskey, and Jamaal David seem necessary for the Buccaneers to climb the standings.

#8. UNC-Asheville

It’s weird putting this UNCA program so low, given how consistent the program has been in recent years under Nick McDevitt. But McDevitt departed his alma mater for Middle Tennessee State this offseason, leaving the program in flux. The team’s top 7 scorers from last season all departed, including early exits by MaCio Teague and Jonathan Baehre to high-major programs. New head man Mike Morrell comes in from Texas as a bright young name in the business, and he did as good a job as he could have landing some freshman talent late in the game. However, this team is going to be extremely young and should take some lumps this season.

#9. Presbyterian

Given what he inherited, going 11-21 in his first year was a big success for Dustin Kerns. He’ll get back 3 double-figure scorers in year 2 as he looks to continue to build some momentum at one of the nation’s toughest jobs. Chief atop the list of priorities for this season should be becoming more efficient offensively– the Blue Hose shot just 40% as a team in Big South play last season. If they can improve there, they can continue to take steps forward in the conference.

#10. Longwood

The Lancers went with an outside-the-box head coaching hire in Griff Aldrich, an assistant at UMBC who made the jump into college coaching fairly recently after being a successful lawyer and businessman. Aldrich gets the luxury of having talented guard Isaiah Walton during his first season in Farmville, but the roster around him lacks talent. I’ll be watching closely to see what Aldrich can do with this program, but this won’t be a quick fix.

#11. USC-Upstate

The final year in the A-Sun was an absolute disaster for USC Upstate, going 7-25 with just 3 D1 wins all season. As a result, the program parted ways with head coach Kyle Perry after just one season in a very unconventional move and hired former Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson to run the program. He inherits a pair of talented scorers in Deion Holmes and Malik Moore, but will have to find a way to improve a defense that conceded a whopping 89.6 points per game in conference play last season.

All-Conference First Team:

  • Chris Clemons– Campbell (24.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, .452/.371/.861)
  • David Efianayi– Gardner-Webb (17.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, .437/.362/.807)
  • Christian Keeling– Charleston Southern (17.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, .426/.315/.793)
  • Ed Polite– Radford (13.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, .474/.275/.727)
  • Josh Ferguson– Winthrop (10.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.9 apg, .609/.222/.756)

Player of the Year: Chris Clemons (Campbell)

No debate here: Clemons is the Big South’s best. The 5-9 dynamo is one of college basketball’s gems, an elite athlete who dunks with frequency and scores at all 3 levels. He has already racked up 2,232 career points, and simply replicating his last 2 seasons would be enough for Clemons to join the exclusive 3,000-point club in college basketball, becoming the first (or second, depending on how fast Mike Daum gets to the figure) since to achieve the honor since Doug McDermott.

Breakout Player: Jaheam Cornwall (Gardner-Webb)

Cornwall will get the keys to the point guard spot at GWU this season, and seems poised to thrive in the role. Cornwall was excellent as a freshman, providing some scoring punch, taking care of the ball, and draining a blistering 44% of his shots from downtown. I’m excited to see his development into one of the Big South’s best floor generals as his career progresses.

Newcomer of the Year: DeVon Baker (UNC-Asheville)

2 years ago when writing my Big South preview, I highlighted an incoming UNC-Asheville point guard from a top prep program as the league’s best newcomer. His name: MaCio Teague.

2 years later, another incoming Bulldogs point guard has caught my eye: DeVon Baker. Coming from SPIRE Academy in Ohio, Baker posted outstanding numbers for the prep powerhouse, averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals while shooting 49% from the field and 40% from 3. The former Siena commit has good size for the position and a game-ready body, and should impact Mike Morrell’s club right away given the massive hole they have to fill at the point guard spot.

32×32: 2018-19 Big Sky Preview

By Kevin Sweeney

The Big Sky drops from 12 teams to 11 this season, with North Dakota having officially departed for the Summit League following the 2017-18 season. Losing a program just 2 seasons removed from an NCAA Tournament bid isn’t ideal, especially to a conference the Big Sky would like to consistently compete with on the hardwood. Still, the league has some excellent coaches that consistently do an excellent job of finding under-the-radar talent, and its conference tournament is always one of March’s most exciting tournaments. With some talented teams at the top that could make some noise come the Big Dance, the Big Sky will be worth a watch all season long.

Standings Projection:

#1. Montana

The Grizzlies bring virtually everyone back from last season’s club, a team that won 26 games and gave national runner-up Michigan a run for its money in the NCAA Tournament. Headlining that returning group is backcourt duo Ahmaad Rorie and Michael Oguine, with Rorie providing 3-level scoring ability along with high-level distribution while Oguine’s quick-twitch defensive instincts and dynamic athleticism makes him a unique prospect at the next level. The x-factor that could make this team even better is Donaven Dorsey, a solid role player at Washington who has sat out the last 2 seasons at Montana due to transfer rules and injury. He could provide a versatile piece to put Montana over the top.

#2. Weber State

Randy Rahe remains one of the nation’s most underrated coaches, and he’ll have another strong squad in Ogden next season. Rahe’s team’s have always had stars at guard, with the latest stud a junior in Jerrick Harding who can score against anyone in the country. His efficiency at putting the ball in the basket (he slashed .530/.425/.882 last season) at high volume is impressive to say the least, and as he develops his ability to create offense for others, he could work his way onto NBA radars. Combine Harding’s scoring punch with a strong, veteran frontcourt unit in Zach Braxton and Brekkott Chapman, as well as a talented recruiting class, and you’ve got a WSU club that should be a legitimate challenger to Montana in the Big Sky.

#3. Idaho State

The Bengals came into last season with little fanfare, but had a surprisingly solid season in which they won 9 Big Sky games. The biggest reason for that was blistering shooting: ISU shot 40% from 3 as a team and an even-hotter 42% from downtown during Big Sky play. The core of that group returns, with highly efficient wing scorer Jared Stutzman leading the charge after shooting 52% from beyond the arc last season. Since it will be tough for the Bengals to get any better shooting the ball, they’ll have to improve on the glass, where they were terrible last season. A trio of JUCO players with D1 experience will be looked to in order to help in that area: Kelvin Jones (UTEP), Chier Maker (Portland), and Alonzo Walker (Kent State). If ISU can improve on the glass, they have a chance to surprise yet again.

#4. Northern Colorado

Jeff Linder’s club had a banner year in 2017-18, winning 26 games and a CIT title in just his second year at the program. Losing star scoring guard Andre Spight is a blow, but uber-athletic lead guard Jordan Davis returns as one of the conference’s best players in his senior season. Davis will lead a young but talented Bears team with a 6-man freshman class with a lot of long-term potential, but big improvements from Jalen Sanders and Jonah Radebaugh will be necessary if UNC wants to contend for a conference title.

#5. Eastern Washington

Year 2 for Shantay Legans at EWU presents a big challenge: replacing do-everything point forward Bogdan Bliznyuk. However, Legans has a strong returning young core in place, headlined by a talented sophomore guard in Jacob Davison who could be one of the biggest breakout stars in mid-major basketball this season. BYU transfer Steven Beo should also factor into the guard rotation, and could be an x-factor if he can return to his high-scoring high school ways.

#6. Montana State

Just about everything that could have went wrong did go wrong last season for the Bobcats. After 2 incredible seasons, Tyler Hall took a step back in both efficiency and production, with his NBA Draft buzz cooling off in the process. The MSU defense was also ugly, conceding well over 81 points per game in conference play. In a make-or-break year, Brian Fish has doubled down on his guard-oriented offensive system, hoping that the returning core that also includes talented scoring point guard Harald Frey can up their efficiency and move up the Big Sky standings. Otherwise, the program make look to move in a different direction at head coach.

#7. Portland State

Barret Peery did a great job in year one, winning 20 games and competing with blue-blood programs in the PK80 Tournament. Now, he gets a beautiful new arena, which should without a doubt help in recruiting.

This season is a bit of a transition year for the Vikings, with just 1 returning starter. PG Holland Woods is a nice piece to build around, but a large crop of JUCO players will likely decide whether PSU can creep into contention.

#8. Southern Utah

It’s been more than a decade since SUU finished over .500. Will this be the year? That remains to be seen, but Todd Simon is doing a solid job accumulating talent and has the program headed in the right direction Dwayne Morgan will carry the load, but a pair of talented transfers in Cameron Olutiyan (Boise State) and Andre Abrams (Arizona State) hold the keys to any potential improvement for this squad. Simon will also be tasked with retooling a defense that was one of the nation’s worst last season.

#9. Idaho

Despite having some of the league’s most talented rosters over the last few seasons, Idaho hasn’t been able to get over the hump. Now, with 6 of the team’s top 7 scorers graduating, it’s a full-on rebuilding campaign for Don Verlin’s club. 6 freshmen (3 of whom were with the program last season) will be relied upon heavily, but it feels like an uphill battle for the Vandals in 2018-19.

#10. Sacramento State

Star forward Justin Strings is gone, but much of a young core (including 7 players from last season’s playing rotation) returns. That’s good news for Brian Katz’s club, which can only improve from a terrible 2017-18 campaign. Bruising lead guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa remains my favorite player in the nation (for obvious reasons), but this team just doesn’t have a lot of talent to win much this season.

#11. Northern Arizona

The Lumberjacks were simply putrid offensively last season, and it’s hard to imagine them getting much better in that area with both Torry Johnson and JoJo Anderson transferring out of the program. I loved the add of Loyola-Chicago transfer Cameron Satterwhite, but he’ll have sit this season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

All-Conference First Team:

  • Ahmaad Rorie– Montana (17.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.7 apg, .422/.339/.850)
  • Jerrick Harding– Weber State (22.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.7 apg, .530/.425/.882)
  • Tyler Hall– Montana State (17.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.8 apg, .407/.372/.907)
  • Jordan Davis– Northern Colorado (16.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, .515/.239/.638)
  • Jared Stutzman– Idaho State (14 9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, .567/.520/.720)

Player of the Year: Jerrick Harding (Weber State)

Rorie will likely be the popular choice here, but it’s hard for me to ignore Harding’s production and efficiency. After taking absolutely massive strides from his freshman into his sophomore year, Harding is still getting better. That’s very bad news for the rest of the Big Sky.

Breakout Player: Jacob Davison (Eastern Washington)

Under Jim Hayford, Eastern Washington was among the nation’s best at developing talent. Shantay Legans certainly hopes to continue that into his time as head man, and Davison seems poised to be his first project. Davison finished the season strong, flashing all-conference potential down the stretch. With the aforementioned Bliznyuk gone, EWU needs scoring badly, and Davison is more than capable of providing that.

Newcomer of the Year: Michael Nuga (Portland State)

It’s always difficult to evaluate newcomers at the mid-major level with limited available tape or stats at times. Nuga seems to fit the bill of an impact newcomer though, coming from a top JUCO program in Eastern Florida State where he posted strong numbers and was named team MVP. Barret Peery’s system loves guards who can score and handle the ball, and Nuga should provide a strong presence in that regard.

32×32: 2018-19 Big East Preview

By Kevin Sweeney

On paper, this year feels like a bit of a transitional campaign for the Big East. Programs like Seton Hall, Xavier, and Creighton appear likely to take a step back this season thanks to massive roster turnover, and beyond Villanova there isn’t a clear top 25 team in the conference. While it may not have the top end talent it has had the last couple of seasons, the Big East will be deep and extremely competitive in the middle tier, which should make it incredibly exciting to watch. Overall, the league continues to recruit extremely well and make strong coaching hires. If it can continue to do that, the rest will fall into place.

Standings Projection:

#1. Villanova

When you can lose the reigning national player of the year and 3 additional first round picks and still be the clear favorite in your conference, you know you have to be doing something right. Jay Wright is doing just about everything right, and has the Wildcats positioned to contend for a 3rd national title in 4 years. Wright brings in an elite recruiting class and one of the nation’s most sought-after grad transfers to overcome those departures, and while the Wildcats will have a ton of fresh faces, they’ll still have a chance to be among the nation’s elite teams. Sophomore Collin Gillespie and McDonald’s All-American Jahvon Quinerly should be able to man the point guard spot, with Phil Booth and Albany transfer Joe Cremo providing plus shooting and playmaking on the wing. Meanwhile, Eric Paschall has drawn rave reviews this summer in his transition from super-utility player to star, while his athleticism and versatility will keep him one of the nation’s most valuable defenders. In a conference with far more preseason questions than answers, few will doubt Wright’s club as top dog.

#2. Marquette

Steve Wojciechowski enters this season squarely on the hot seat, with just one NCAA Tournament to show for in his 4 seasons in Milwaukee. Wojciechowski’s MU teams have been putrid defensively, mostly due to their reliance on 2 undersized combo guards to run their offense in Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard. Rowsey graduates, and he’ll be replaced with a much better defensive alternative in ball-hawking lead guard Joseph Chartouny (Fordham). Nebraska transfer Ed Morrow joins the fray as well, adding a toughness on the glass the Golden Eagles have lacked. While some of the defensive trouble is systematic, MU was much better defensively last year with Rowsey off the floor, and Morrow’s presence may allow the Golden Eagles to win the rebounding battle much more frequently than they did last season. Guarding Howard and Sam Hauser will remain as big a challenge as any the conference has to offer, and Sam’s brother Joey should assume a key role in his first season in Milwaukee. I’ve been hesitant to jump onto the Marquette bandwagon, but without a whole lot of other options for the second spot, I will role with the Golden Eagles.

#3. Saint John’s

Few teams have as much scoring talent in the backcourt as this SJU club.

Few teams have as little experience or depth up front as this SJU club.

That, along with Chris Mullin’s in-game coaching struggles throughout his 3-year tenure at the helm of the Red Storm, is what makes this team so hard to crack. In theory, the Johnnies have loaded up on multi-positional wings (Mustapha Heron, Justin Simon, and LJ Figueroa) who mesh physicality, ball-handling, and versatility to play with their star guard Shamorie Ponds. SJU will almost assuredly rely heavily on pick-and-roll looks, keeping the ball in the hands of Ponds and Simon as much as they can. However, with only South Carolina transfer Sedee Keita providing a true presence in the paint, the Red Storm may get crushed on the glass without some heroic work from those aforementioned “big wings”. Can anyone stop a “death lineup” with Ponds, Simon, Heron, Figueroa, and Marvin Clark? Probably not. But can that lineup defend (and rebound) enough to win games? That remains to be seen. Chris Mullin’s job may depend on finding the right lineup to play to the strengths of his talented group.

#4. Xavier

Travis Steele has done about as good a job as he could have taking over from an elite coach like Chris Mack. With the exception of Kaiser Gates’ early departure for pro basketball, the entire roster remained in tact, and Steele added a trio of grad transfers that will keep the team competitive without hindering the development of the current core. Those grad transfers (Kyle Castlin of Columbia, Ryan Welage of San Jose State, and Zach Hankins of Ferris State) should all factor in as significant rotation pieces, surrounding core pieces in Quentin Goodin, Naji Marshall, and Tyrique Jones with strong role players with specific skillsets. Welage may lead the team in scoring, a pure floor-spacer at the 4 spot, while Castlin provides defense and experience in the backcourt and Hankins is a steady rim protector and interior scorer to form a platoon with Jones. Marshall’s rise has been discussed at length, and I’ll buy any remaining stock still available in the talented sophomore, as I truly believe he has an all-conference first team future.

#5. Butler– DARK HORSE

LaVall Jordan took over late last summer for Chris Holtmann and kept things together well, coming up just short of a Sweet 16. Gone is 2,000-point scorer Kelan Martin, but Kamar Baldwin and much of the rest of the rotation returns. The Bulldogs also add a high-profile transfer midseason in former Duke forward Jordan Tucker, who should slot into Martin’s combo forward role once eligible. While it would be foolish to expect Martin-level production from Tucker, he should provide significant scoring punch and athleticism from the get-go in Indianapolis. With an efficient offense and a high-level playmaker in Baldwin leading the way, Butler has enough to outperform this ranking.

#6. Providence

I generally refer to my friend and podcast partner Brad Cavallaro for all things Providence, and as of now our projections for this Friar team are fairly similar. Ed Cooley brought in his backcourt of the future with a pair of major recruiting wins from Mass Rivals in David Duke and AJ Reeves, and both should see a fair bit of action in year 1. They’ll compete with returners Maliek White and Makai Ashton-Langford for minutes in the backcourt. Versatile wing Alpha Diallo should take the next step and become one of the Big East’s premier players, and the return of Emmitt Holt should allow Cooley to go big or small depending on matchups. A return to the NCAA Tournament for the 6th straight season should be the goal this season, with that 2019-20 campaign truly the time when the Friars should take the next step under Cooley.

#7. Georgetown

The Hoyas were better than perhaps most expected last season despite their modest 15-15 record, competing well in year 1 of the Patrick Ewing era while laying the groundwork for future success on the recruiting trail. The biggest issue they had was in the backcourt, where a Jonathan Mulmore/Trey Dickerson/Jagan Mosely/Jahvon Blair unit simply wasn’t enough to contend with the rest of the Big East. That unit replaces Mulmore and Dickerson with a pair of exciting recruits in lightning-fast point guard James Akinjo and uber-athletic combo Mac McClung. Giving a team with one of the nation’s best big men in Jessie Govan and a pair of high-upside combo forwards in Jamorko Pickett and Josh LeBlanc even just league-average guard play would be enough to put the Hoyas in NCAA Tournament contention.

#8. Creighton

This is probably one spot higher than the vast majority of Big East rankings will have the Bluejays. The lack of a go-to scorer is concerning in Greg McDermott’s shoot-happy system, and Martin Krampelj’s health may be a concern as well. If Krampelj is healthy, CU might be better than many expect. McDermott does a great job developing guards, and he has had all summer to work with a pair of talented ones in Mitch Ballock and Ty-Shon Alexander, both of whom I see poised for big years. Add in a solid grad transfer on the wing in Rice’s Connor Cashaw, and Creighton has enough backcourt talent to pair with Krampelj and Jacob Epperson up front.

#9. Seton Hall

A senior class that meant everything to the Pirate program departs, leaving a monstrous amount of production to be replaced. Personally, I’m not a big fan of what Kevin Willard has done to replace that group. A pair of well-regarded yet severely flawed transfers in Quincy McKnight (Sacred Heart) and Taurean Thompson (Syracuse) are the highest-profile newcomers, and since I’m down on both, it makes sense that I’m down on SHU as a whole. McKnight is a turnover-happy scoring point guard whose wild style hurt Sacred Heart at times, while Thompson is a glorified turnstile defensively who hasn’t shown the ability to consistently hit 3’s. As excited I am about Myles Powell, I just don’t get the appeal with the rest of this roster.

#10. DePaul

I will say this: DePaul was not as bad as people made them out to be last season. They finished in the top 100 of KenPom and played a lot of close games. They just played in a tough conference where they had a little less talent than the rest of the teams, and didn’t have a coach that could bridge that gap schematically. Unfortunately for the Blue Demons, the same things will likely be true this year. The Max Strus/Eli Cain/Jalen Coleman-Lands/Femi Olujobi core is good enough to compete, but probably not good enough to win games, and Dave Leitao is still not a very good coach. It’s just hard for me to see DePaul build any sort of sustained momentum under Leitao, and the sooner he can be replaced, the better.

All-Conference First Team:

  • G: Shamorie Ponds– St. John’s (21.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.7 apg, .420/.253/.857)
  • G: Markus Howard– Marquette (20.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, .464/.404/.938)
  • G: Kamar Baldwin– Butler (15.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.2 apg, .442/.331/.775)
  • F: Eric Paschall– Villanova (10.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, .533/.356/.813)
  • F: Jessie Govan– Georgetown (17.9 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, .508/.348/.761)

Player of the Year: Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s)

Ponds literally carried a severely flawed St. John’s through Big East play last season, doing everything he could to keep his team in games. Allowing him to operate in a well-spaced offensive system without the defense being able to collapse on him every time he took the ball towards the rim will make Ponds’ game that much bettter. However, he’ll have to make better decisions and take care of the ball as the team’s true point guard if the Red Storm is going to reach their lofty goals.

Breakout Player: Naji Marshall (Xavier)

A former top-75 recruit out of high school, Marshall looked the part in his freshman campaign. With Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura both gone, Marshall will likely be seen as the team’s primary scoring option. Xavier’s NCAA Tournament hopes depend on Marshall taking to that role well, and I believe he will.

Newcomer of the Year: Jahvon Quinerly (Villanova)

I’ll continue my theme of using the most important newcomer rather than the one likely to put up the biggest numbers. Mustapha Heron will likely put up the best numbers of the incoming group to the Big East, but Quinerly can make Villanova a top 5 team if he plays to his potential. Playing point guard in Jay Wright’s offense is a great job to have, and Quinerly’s outstanding passing ability and creative handle make him a great fit, albeit a much different player than the guy he’ll be replacing in Jalen Brunson.

32×32: 2018-19 Atlantic Ten Preview

By Kevin Sweeney

There might not be a conference with more uncertainty from top to bottom than the A10. Roster turnover throughout the league has left us with no clear favorite and differing opinions on most teams. The A10 is deeper than it was last year, but the top of the league doesn’t have a clear at-large contender like Rhode Island was last season. That doesn’t mean the A10 will be a one-bid league this season, but it seems quite possible that the league will beat itself up in conference play and perhaps take a few off its teams off the bubble itself.

Here’s my sure-to-be-wrong best shot at projecting a league that will have extremely tight margins up and down the standings:

Standings Projection:

#1. Saint Louis

I’m reluctantly hopping on the SLU train. Ever since Carte’Are Gordon committed to the program, year 3 of the Travis Ford era has always been targeted as the year the Billikens take the next step. There’s high-major talent all over this roster, from versatile wings Jordan Goodwin and Javon Bess to the loaded frontcourt that features Gordan, Hasahn French, and DJ Foreman. The biggest thing that held them back was shooting, and the additions of grad transfers Tramaine Isabell (Drexel) and Dion Wiley (Saint Louis) will help in that regard. The spacing will never be ideal when playing with 2 non-shooting bigs as SLU figures to do, but the overall scoring talent, positional size, and experience should be enough to put the Billikens at the top.

#2. Saint Joseph’s

Health hasn’t cooperated with the Hawks the last 2 seasons. 2 years ago, Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble both went down midseason, derailing a promising season. Last season, it was Charlie Brown and Kimble who virtually missed the entire season due to injuries. SJU has to hope they are finally over the injury bug, and if they are, they have perhaps the league’s best roster. Brown was one of the league’s best freshmen in 2016-17, an athletic wing with great size and shooting ability, and Kimble stuffs the stat sheet from either guard spot if healthy. Throw in a trio of key rotation players returning in Taylor Funk, Pierfrancesco Oliva, and Chris Clover and 2 incoming guys in 4-star PG Jared Bynum and USF grad transfer Troy Holston, and you have an rotation that is versatile, athletic, and experienced, albeit not all that deep.

#3. George Mason

The Patriots basically run it back from an up-and-down 2017-18 campaign with one big addition: Virginia transfer Jarred Reuter. Reuter fits perfectly with the returning core– he provides a low-post threat that the Patriots didn’t have before, is a very good passer, and will get lots of one-on-one post looks with the guards spacing the floor around him. Otis Livingston returns for his senior season as one of the league’s best floor generals, and I’m excited about a sophomore jump from athletic forward Goanar Mar after a strong freshman campaign. GMU must improve on the defensive end, and while depth and size should help in that regard, it’s enough of a concern for me to keep them 3rd rather than 1 or 2.

#4. UMass– Dark Horse

Matt McCall did about as good a job as a coach can do in a 20-loss season in his first year in Amherst. With as few as 4 scholarship players at his disposal at times, McCall’s group competed every night, established a new culture around the program, and developed Luwane Pipkins and Carl Pierre into the program’s new dynamic duo. Off the floor, he got off to a strong start in recruiting, landing a well-regarded freshman class featuring top-150 recruit Samba Diallo. Depth will no longer be a problem, with 4 transfers becoming eligible along with the freshmen joining the fray. Of those transfers, I’m most excited about Jonathan Laurent, a transfer from Rutgers who plays that combo forward spot and will provide a lot of versatility along with some much-needed rebounding. The Minutemen may struggle to find the rotation that works best early in the year, but by March, this team could be scary.

#5. Davidson

The defending conference tournament champs, Davidson brings back the star-studded backcourt duo of Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson. However, they do lose one of the best players in program history in Peyton Aldridge, whose inside-out scoring presence made life easier for everyone on the floor. However, the Wildcats will still be stingy defensively and are one of the best-coached teams in America under Bob McKillop. They should be right in the mix for an A10 title once again.

#6. Dayton

This feels like a critical year early in the Anthony Grant tenure at Dayton after a disappointing year 1. While winning the conference may be expecting too much of a young team, the Flyers do have to show improvement after the program’s worst season in more than 10 years. Grant has a known star in tow in Josh Cunningham, a double-double machine poised for a big senior campaign. Meanwhile, youngsters Jalen Crutcher, Trey Landers, and Jordan Davis all showed promise in the backcourt, with Crutcher the clear point guard of the future. In comes a highly-regarded group of freshmen and transfers– 3 sit-out transfers, 1 JUCO product, and a pair of freshmen in Dwayne Cohill and Frankie Policelli who had multiple high-major offers. The X-factor is Obadiah Toppin, an uber-athletic forward who went viral this offseason playing in offseason pickup games with NBA stars and more than holding his own. Grant has assembled a lot of talent. Now he has to prove he can coach them up to an A10-contending team.

#7. Rhode Island

Despite an all-out effort to keep him, Dan Hurley departed URI for UConn this spring. His replacement is David Cox, Hurley’s lead assistant who has deserved a shot to run his own program for awhile. Cox was key in the recruiting efforts that assembled the A10’s most talented roster last season, and his hiring helped keep much of an elite 2018 class that had signed in the fall. That class, headlined by #80 recruit Jermaine Harris, will compliment a returning core featuring floor general Jeff Dowtin and scoring guard Fatts Russell. A Dowtin/Russell/Dana Tate/Harris/ Cyril Langevine starting 5 has a chance to be pretty dangerous.

#8. VCU

This ranking will likely look low if Marcus Evans is fully healthy, but lingering concerns about his achilles leave major doubts about this VCU club. If healthy, the Rice transfer who followed Mike Rhoades to Richmond provides a dynamic scorer who can play either guard spot and would immediately be one of the A10’s elite players. Beyond Evans, the Rams have to take care of the ball better (or force a lot more turnovers) in year 2 of the Rhoades era. De’Riante Jenkins and Issac Vann are high-level talents on the wing, but someone will need to replicate Justin Tillman’s production up front.

#9. Duquesne

Despite a sluggish end to the season, year one of the Keith Dambrot era was a big success. However, with 8 freshmen and 5 transfers joining the fray, it’s an almost entirely new-look Dukes club. “I think, first and foremost, it’s like a “second” first year,” Dambrot said in an interview with Pittsburgh Sports Now. “Because when you really analyze it, we only have two guys that played, and then if you add Kellon [Taylor], who we don’t get right away [because of football], so we have three, really. So, we just have to treat it like another first year.” The incoming group is talented, with 5 newly-eligible players at 6-9 or taller allowing Dambrot play with the size he likes to have and some high-major talents incoming at guard. The Dukes may be a year away with no seniors on the roster, but it wouldn’t take much for them to move up the standings.

#10. Saint Bonaventure

Coming off an at-large bid, the Bonnies have a completely different look this season. Jaylen Adams departs after being one of the most important players in program history along with backcourt running mate Matt Mobley. Courtney Stockard is back and primed for a big senior year as the team’s first option offensively, but beyond him, scoring options are thin. UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser comes with big expectations, but his numbers with the Rebels weren’t impressive and came in the worst UNLV season of my lifetime. I love the incoming freshman class that Mark Schmidt has coming in– Dom Welch is a talented scorer, and Putnam Science Academy duo Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi both seem poised for excellent careers in Olean. That said, I expect some growing pains this year for SBU.

#11. La Salle 

The Explorers get a new coach in Jay Wright disciple Ash Howard, and he’ll hope to bring some discipline to a talented by sometimes wild club left behind by Dr. John Giannini. Marquette transfer Traci Carter is a pure passer who should help this offense be more efficient and allow Pookie Powell to move into a pure scoring role. I really like the hire here, but it will take some time for Howard to bring in the guys he needs to contend.

#12. Richmond

Embattled Spiders head coach Chris Mooney has to find a way to win some games this year. I’m less optimistic than many with the departures of key cogs De’Monte Buckingham and Khwan Fore. A Grant Golden/Nick Sherod/Jacob Gilyard core is strong, but Richmond won’t have much depth or talent beyond that group. A finish in the bottom 4 may seal Mooney’s fate, but the Spiders have come out of nowhere before and with all the uncertainty in this conference, it wouldn’t surprise me if they did it again.

#13. George Washington

A pair of transfers in DJ Williams (Illinois) and Armel Potter (Charleston Southern) probably decide the fate of this team. Terry Nolan is a nice foundational piece, while Arnaldo Toro is a solid piece up front. But this team just doesn’t have the overall talent to stay out of the bottom of the conference, unless the former elite recruit Williams can live up to his high school billing. If he doesn’t, I’m not real sure how the Colonials put the ball in the basket.

#14. Fordham

Roster turnover year after year has stopped Jeff Neubauer from being able to establish any sort of momentum at Fordham. They have a solid frontcourt in place with Prokop Slanina and Ivan Raut, but the early departure of Joseph Chartouny leaves the backcourt in shambles. Freshman Nick Honor has earned rave reviews and may wind up starting at point guard, but Neubauer has struggled to consistently recruit at an A10 level. This doesn’t feel like the year the Rams break through.

All-Conference First Team:

  • Luwane Pipkins– UMass (21.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.0 apg, .430/.426/.788)
  • Kellan Grady– Davidson (18.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, .501/.372/.804)
  • Otis Livingston– George Mason (17.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.4 apg, .436/.382/.857)
  • Eric Williams– Duquesne (14.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, .392/.364/.740)
  • Josh Cunningham– Dayton (15.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.7 apg, .646/.235/.691)

Player of the Year: Luwane Pipkins (UMass)

The popular choice here will be Grady, but I’ll roll with Pipkins. Perhaps no star did more with less around him than Pipkins did last year, scoring efficiently and creating shots for others despite the lack of talent around him. With UMass much improved, Pipkins should no longer fly under the radar as one of the nation’s elite guards, and his assist numbers should climb with more capable shot-makers around him.

Newcomer of the Year: Jarred Reuter (George Mason)

Other newcomers will almost assuredly average more points than Reuter, but no incoming player will have a bigger impact on his team. As I wrote above, Reuter’s presence changes the expectations for GMU, and he showed he was capable of playing the role I detailed during the program’s trip to Spain. Reuter was a productive role player at Virginia, but has a chance to be one of the conference’s best for Dave Paulsen and the Patriots.

Breakout Player: Fatts Russell (Rhode Island)

Fatts endeared himself to the casual hoops fan with his competitiveness and shot-making ability down the stretch last season. He performed admirably in his role as a bench scorer for much of the season, but battled inconsistency throughout. Now, he’ll be the first scoring option for the Rams. That’s a big adjustment. Russell has the talent to be that guy without a doubt, but he’ll have to be efficient and consistent for URI to finish in the top half of the A10.

CBB Central Podcast: SEC Preview

Today on the show, Brad and Kevin tackle their second conference of their preview series, the SEC. Thanks to some outstanding coaching hires, the league is now arguably the best conference in college basketball. They also give some thoughts on the ongoing trial in regards to the FBI scandal in college basketball.

All 14 SEC teams are previewed based on where they finished last year, then we run down our standings at the end and project Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference, and number of NCAA Tournament bids.