Archive for January, 2016

THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW

1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

The Big 12 conference race is the epitome of wide open. As of the writing of this article, six of the ten teams in the Big 12 are within one game of first place. Often times an occurrence like this can be misleading, as some teams have particularly soft schedules to start their conference slate (Ahem, Indiana). However, in this instance, having seen all six teams play, I would not be surprised to see any of them ending up on top of the Big 12 standings at season’s end. Sure, Texas is probably a long-shot and Oklahoma might be the distinct favorite, but the gap between these two teams and the others is not as large as some college basketball pundits might have you believe.

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3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Iowa @ Maryland (Thursday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
After Indiana’s overtime loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday night, Iowa remains the lone team without a blemish in conference in the Big 10. That could change tonight, as the Hawkeyes have to make the 900 mile trip to College Park to take on fellow AP top-10 member Maryland. I believe experience is one definitive reason for Iowa’s success, as their best five players are all upperclassmen. Jarrod Uthoff is one of these upperclassmen, and his innate ability to stretch defenses with his shooting on the offensive end, while also protecting the rim at the defensive end, is something that is very rare at any level of basketball.

ii. Iowa State @ Texas A&M (Saturday @ 2 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
While the final game listed in my three to watch is considered the marquee matchup in the Big 12/SEC challenge in terms of pedigree, this game is likely to be just as entertaining. Iowa State has one of the quickest, most efficient offenses in the country; their offensive efficiency (7th) and adjusted tempo (29th) both rank in KenPom’s top 30. This is a stark contrast to the Aggies, as they rely on their stingy defense to win games. Another fun and interesting thing about this game is it pits two former Murray State head coaches against each other. Billy Kennedy of Texas A&M was the head coach for the Racers from 2006 through 2011, at which point Steve Prohm, his primary assistant, took over the program for four seasons before leaving for Ames.

iii. Kentucky @ Kansas (Saturday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
These two basketball blue bloods face off for the second time in as many seasons. Last year, the Wildcats completely embarrassed Kansas in the Champions Classic, coasting to a 72-40 victory, while holding every Jayhawk to single digits in scoring. Bill Self’s squad should be primed for revenge and hungry for victory, as they need one to right the ship, having gone 2-3 in their last five games. Even with ESPN shoving it down my throat, I actually have not had the opportunity to watch Kentucky yet this season; not a better time to start than a marquee game against another perennial powerhouse.

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1 Bold Prediction for the Week

The Big 12 will win the Big 12/SEC challenge by a score of 7 to 3. Writing a blurb about each individual team for this topic would require another entire article on its own. Instead, I’ll take a crack at picking all 10 games (Wouldn’t that be a hell of a parlay?) that will be taking place throughout the day on Saturday:

Game 1: West Virginia – 72, Florida – 68
Game 2: Texas – 78, Vanderbilt – 72
Game 3: Iowa State – 77, Texas A&M – 72
Game 4: Tennessee – 81, TCU – 74
Game 5: Kansas State – 76, Ole Miss – 67
Game 6: Arkansas – 75, Texas Tech – 69
Game 7: Oklahoma – 82, LSU – 71
Game 8: Baylor – 85, Georgia – 73
Game 9: Kansas – 83, Kentucky – 75
Game 10: Auburn – 80, Oklahoma State – 77

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THE BRACKET
Bracket 012516
PROJECTED SEEDING

The 1 Seeds

Oklahoma, North Carolina, Villanova, Kansas

The 2 Seeds

Iowa, Xavier, Texas A&M, West Virginia

The 3 Seeds

Virginia, Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa State

The 4 Seeds

Miami (FL), Oregon, Providence, Arizona

The 5 Seeds

Purdue, Louisville, Kentucky, Dayton

The 6 Seeds

Duke, USC, Pittsburgh, Baylor

The 7 Seeds

South Carolina, Indiana, Utah, Michigan

The 8 Seeds

Florida, Texas, Notre Dame, Colorado

The 9 Seeds

California, Wichita State, St. Mary’s (CA), Texas Tech

The 10 Seeds

St. Joseph’s, George Washington, Connecticut, Butler

The 11 Seeds

Valparaiso, Gonzaga, UCLA, VCU, Cincinnati

The 12 Seeds

Seton Hall, Washington, Monmouth, Arkansas-Little Rock, San Diego State

The 13 Seeds

Chattanooga, Hawaii, South Dakota State, Stony Brook

The 14 Seeds

UAB, Northern Illinois, James Madison, Belmont

The 15 Seeds

Princeton, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, North Florida, NC-Asheville

The 16 Seeds

New Mexico State, Weber State, Navy, Hampton, Wagner, Texas Southern

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BUBBLE ACTION

Last Four In

VCU, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Washington

First Four Out

Boise State, Oregon State, Florida State, Syracuse

Next Four Out

Stanford, LSU, Clemson, Creighton

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CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

Pac-12 (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7),  Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (4), American (2), West Coast (2)

ACC – North Carolina, Virginia, Miami (FL), Louisville, Duke, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame

America East – Stony Brook

American – Connecticut, Cincinnati

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, St. Joseph’s, George Washington, VCU

Atlantic Sun – North Florida

Big 12 – Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Providence, Butler, Seton Hall

Big Sky – Weber State

Big South – NC-Asheville

Big Ten – Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan

Big West – Hawaii

Colonial – James Madison

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Princeton

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Northern Illinois

MEAC – Hampton

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – San Diego State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac-12 – Oregon, Arizona, USC, Utah, Colorado, California, UCLA, Washington

Patriot – Navy

SEC – Texas A&M, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Summit – South Dakota State

Sun Belt – Arkansas-Little Rock

SWAC – Texas Southern

WAC – New Mexico State

WCC – St. Mary’s (CA), Gonzaga

THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW

 

1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

Chaos is king in college basketball this season. Filling out your bracket in any given season is a crapshoot, and in that sense, this season will be no different. However, with the two big changes to the game this season, (the 30-second shot clock [LOVE] and the freedom of movement rules [MEH]), we’re seeing significantly more mayhem than in past years. As with any major change, it takes time to iron out the kinks and stabilize what we expect as the norm. Thus, I anticipate that this pandemonium will continue through tournament time. Last night alone provides an example of some of the shocking upsets we’ve seen so far this season. A hot and cold Texas team won on the road against a West Virginia team who handily took care of Kansas one week prior, while the Spartans of Michigan State suffered their second straight one-point defeat, this one coming at home at the hands of a borderline-NIT Nebraska team.

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3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Gonzaga @ St. Mary’s (Thursday @ 11 pm EST, TV – ESPNU)
I know, I know, this game doesn’t start until 11 PM EST and you have to work tomorrow… cry me a river; it really should be of the utmost quality. This game between the Zags and the Gaels is for the outright lead in the West Coast Conference. Here is my pretend shocked face:

taylor-swift-1432413

These two teams are always the class of this conference, and this year is no different. Gonzaga isn’t quite the same team without Przemek Karnowski to come off the bench and be extra, super tall and do extra, super tall guy things. That being said, they still have a POY candidate in Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer, and Lithuanian sensation and double-double machine Domantas Sabonis. The Gaels counter with Emmett Naar, another Australian pipeliner that has what the analysts love to call “in-the-gym” type shooting range.

ii. Oklahoma @ Baylor (Saturday @ 12:00 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
Based on a relatively favorable start to their conference schedule, the Baylor Bears sit alone atop the Big 12 conference. If they wish to remain there, they’ll have to protect their home court and knock off the temporarily top-ranked Sooners. I anticipate Oklahoma will come out pretty fired up for this game, coming off an embarrassing defensive effort in their loss to Iowa State on Monday night. Scott Drew’s Baylor squad is very well-rounded, with four players averaging double-figure scoring per game. Of these four, I look for the Bears to channel their success through Rico Gathers, who will easily be the most physically-imposing player on the court.

iii. Maryland @ Michigan State (Saturday @ 6:30 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
After starting the season 16-0, the Spartans have stumbled their way to a 3-4 start in conference play. Of the four losses, none was more frustrating for Spartan fans than the home loss to Nebraska last night. This loss marks the second time in three years Tim Miles has led the Cornhuskers to victory over Tom Izzo and his squad in East Lansing. Michigan State will have the perfect opportunity to gain a rebound victory, as College Gameday joins Maryland in coming to town for this heavyweight match-up. Maryland, led by the underachieving Melo Trimble and the constantly improving Diamond Stone, will look for a victory to keep pace with Indiana and Iowa in the Big 10 race.

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1 Bold Prediction for the Week

Ben Bentil will put up 20+ points and 8+ boards, but all will be for naught in the face of a Villanova victory. The Wildcats of Villanova play host to the Friars of Providence at the Wells Fargo Center at 1 PM on Sunday. Providence has had an intriguing last four games, going 2-2 in a stretch where every game has been decided by single digits. While Kris Dunn’s name is the one that grabs headlines because of his NBA potential, Ben Bentil has quietly developed into a Robin role on the team. With Jay Wright sure to key in on stopping Dunn, it seems that Bentil will have a ripe opportunity to put up some double-double type numbers against Nova. In the end, however, I do believe the Wildcats will add another solid victory to their resume and maintain a zero in the loss column in Big East conference play.

Final Score:
Villanova – 76
Providence – 70

THE BRACKET
Bracket 011816
PROJECTED SEEDING

 

The 1 Seeds

Oklahoma, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier

The 2 Seeds

North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan State, West Virginia

The 3 Seeds

Texas A&M, Maryland, USC, Arizona

The 4 Seeds

Miami (FL), Duke, Virginia, Oregon

The 5 Seeds

Purdue, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville

The 6 Seeds

Providence, Pittsburgh, Dayton, South Carolina

The 7 Seeds

Baylor, Utah, Colorado, Michigan

The 8 Seeds

Texas Tech, Butler, Florida, Indiana

The 9 Seeds

Texas, George Washington, Oregon State, Wichita State

The 10 Seeds

Valparaiso, St. Mary’s (CA), Notre Dame, Gonzaga

The 11 Seeds

California, St. Joseph’s, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Cincinnati

The 12 Seeds

UCLA, VCU, Monmouth, Arkansas-Little Rock, San Diego State

The 13 Seeds

Chattanooga, Hawaii, William & Mary, South Dakota State

The 14 Seeds

Stony Brook, UAB, Northern Illinois, Belmont

The 15 Seeds

Princeton, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, North Florida, CSU Bakersfield

The 16 Seeds

NC-Asheville, Weber State, Navy, Hampton, Wagner, Texas Southern

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BUBBLE ACTION

 

Last Four In

Seton Hall, Cincinnati, UCLA, VCU

First Four Out

Clemson, Washington, Stanford, St. Bonaventure

Next Four Out

Alabama, Florida State, Texas-Arlington, Vanderbilt

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CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

Pac-12 (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7),  Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (4), American (2), West Coast (2)

ACC – North Carolina, Miami (FL), Duke, Virginia, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame

America East – Stony Brook

American – Connecticut, Cincinnati

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, George Washington, St. Joseph’s, VCU

Atlantic Sun – North Florida

Big 12 – Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas

Big East – Villanova, Xavier,Providence, Butler, Seton Hall

Big Sky – Weber State

Big South – NC-Asheville

Big Ten – Iowa, Michigan State, Maryland, Purdue, Michigan, Indiana

Big West – Hawaii

Colonial – William & Mary

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Princeton

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Northern Illinois

MEAC – Hampton

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – San Diego State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac-12 – USC, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Oregon State, California, UCLA

Patriot – Navy

SEC – Texas A&M, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Summit – South Dakota State

Sun Belt – Arkansas-Little Rock

SWAC – Texas Southern

WAC – CSU Bakersfield

WCC – St. Mary’s (CA), Gonzaga

THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW

 

1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

South Carolina got exposed by the first RPI top-50 team that they played this season. The one red flag that was attached to South Carolina’s undefeated start to the season was their comical SOS. On Wednesday night, the Gamecocks took on their first remotely borderline tournament-quality opponent in Alabama, and the Tide rolled. Frank Martin’s squad struggled all over the place, including, but not limited to: turning the ball over 17 times, making 3 of 18 attempts from behind the three-point line, allowing 10 offensive rebounds, and going 9 for 17 from the charity stripe. The end result of this debacle was a 23-point defeat and the removal of their 0 in the loss column. Even in the mediocre SEC, I would not be shocked to see this team lose 3 or 4 of their next 8 games after their 15-0 start to the season.

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3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Iowa @ Michigan State (Thursday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
The only loss the Spartans have suffered thus far this season was their first conference game in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes (hardly redemption for what happened in football). One big difference in tonight’s game is that Denzel Valentine is healthy this go-round, and as I’ve constantly (and probably obviously) stated, Michigan State is a totally different team with their floor general and emotional leader on the court. Valentine joins Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff, Maryland’s Melo Trimble, and Michigan’s Caris Levert as Big Ten players on the Midseason Top 25 Watch List for the Wooden Award. These two teams figure to be in the top echelon of the Big 10 the entire season, and this game will go a long way towards shaking out seeding for the conference and NCAA tournament come March.

ii. George Washington @ Dayton (Friday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
Hooray for quality, mid-major, in-conference, televised basketball! The Colonials and the Flyers are both 3-1 in an Atlantic 10 conference that I believe is constantly underrated; I wouldn’t bet against the A10 receiving four bids on March 13th. At 6’9″, George Washington’s Tyler Cavanaugh is one of the rangiest bigs in the country this season, averaging 17.2 points per game while shooting 54% from the field, 42% from behind the arc, and 85% from the free throw line. He has scored in double-figures in every game he’s played this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what Archie Miller dials up on the defensive end to try and slow him down.

iii. West Virginia @ Oklahoma (Saturday @ 4 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
Huggy Bear’s Mountaineers defensively swarmed Kansas on Tuesday night, causing the Jayhawks to commit 22 turnovers on their way to taking sole possession of the Big 12 in the process. How fitting it is, then, that their next challenge is against the team that is sure to take over the number one spot that Kansas just effectively relinquished with a victory Saturday afternoon. West Virginia’s pressure and athleticism will be tested by the triumvirate of talented guards Oklahoma has in Hield, Woodard, and Cousins. My sports man-crush on Buddy Hield and his unique and gifted abilities is tempered only by his on-court Achilles Hield (a-thank you): turnovers. If West Virginia goes into Norman and wins this game, I would not be surprised to see them receive first place votes in Monday’s AP poll; it would be well-deserved.

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1 Bold Prediction for the Week

Iowa loses by double digits tonight in East Lansing, then wins by double digits against Michigan in Iowa City on Sunday. It’s a perfect storm: with revenge on their minds and their best player back on the court, I think Michigan State rolls over Iowa at home to cover the 9-point spread. This would be the Hawkeyes first in-conference loss of the season, and would send them on a long trip home to sit and rue the game they had just played. If tonight goes as predicted, come Sunday, the Hawkeyes will be at home and hungry to right the ship, while Michigan may come into town a little hungover from their massive victory over Maryland on Tuesday night. I expect these two contrasting emotions to result in an unfortunately ugly game for my alma mater.

– Game 1: Michigan State – 81, Iowa – 69
– Game 2: Iowa – 86, Michigan – 73

THE BRACKET
Bracket 011116
PROJECTED SEEDING

The 1 Seeds

Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Xavier

The 2 Seeds

Villanova, North Carolina, Duke, Miami (FL)

The 3 Seeds

Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, Iowa

The 4 Seeds

Texas A&M, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia

The 5 Seeds

South Carolina, Providence, Purdue, Arizona

The 6 Seeds

Oregon, USC, Louisville, Utah

The 7 Seeds

Dayton, Butler, Gonzaga, Texas Tech

The 8 Seeds

Indiana, George Washington, Baylor, Michigan

The 9 Seeds

St. Mary’s (CA), Oregon State, UCLA, Connecticut

The 10 Seeds

Florida, California, Colorado, Cincinnati

The 11 Seeds

Texas, St. Joseph’s, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Arkansas Little-Rock, Texas-Arlington

The 12 Seeds

Wichita State, Valparaiso, Monmouth, Boise State

The 13 Seeds

Akron, Chattanooga, South Dakota State, William & Mary

The 14 Seeds

Hawaii, UAB, Stony Brook, Princeton

The 15 Seeds

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Belmont, High Point, North Florida

The 16 Seeds

Weber State, CSU Bakersfield, Bucknell, Jackson State, Wagner, Hampton

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BUBBLE ACTION

Last Four In

St. Joseph’s, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Texas-Arlington

First Four Out

Ohio State, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, St. Bonaventure

Next Four Out

Mississippi, Stanford, Davidson, Washington

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CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

Pac-12 (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7),  Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (3), American (2), West Coast (2), Sun Belt (2)

ACC – North Carolina, Duke, Miami (FL), Virginia, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Notre Dame

America East – Stony Brook

American – Connecticut, Cincinnati

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, George Washington, St. Joseph’s

Atlantic Sun – North Florida

Big 12 – Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas

Big East – Xavier, Villanova, Providence, Butler, Seton Hall

Big Sky – Weber State

Big South – High Point

Big Ten – Michigan State, Maryland, Purdue, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan

Big West – Hawaii

Colonial – William & Mary

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Princeton

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Akron

MEAC – Hampton

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – Boise State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac-12 – Arizona, Oregon, USC, Utah, Oregon State, UCLA, California, Colorado

Patriot – Bucknell

SEC – Kentucky, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Florida

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Summit – South Dakota State

Sun Belt – Arkansas-Little Rock, Texas-Arlington

SWAC – Jackson State

WAC – CSU Bakersfield

WCC – Gonzaga, St. Mary’s (CA)

THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW

1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

The triple overtime thriller between Kansas and Oklahoma was the most intriguing non-tournament game I’ve watched since 2009. I remember it like it was yesterday – going back and forth between my friend’s dorm and my own during my freshman year of college, clamoring for overtime again and again, and getting my wish six times over. The game that took place Monday night at Phog Allen Fieldhouse forced flashbacks upon me, as both teams played great basketball, but neither team could seal the deal, with both given multiple opportunities. Buddy Hield’s performance, even in the face of defeat, was strong enough that he is my current front-runner for the Naismith POY award. After the game, Hield, who played 54 of the 55 minutes, said that all he wanted was a bed. Now he knows how Jonny Flynn felt on the fateful March night at MSG; he played 67 of 70 minutes!

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3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (Saturday @ 3 pm EST, TV – ESPNU)
I’m not sure a team can go undefeated in any more of a low-key fashion than what the Gamecocks have accomplished so far this year (though SMU is actually competitive in this regard due to their sanctions). The knock on Frank Martin’s team is that they’ve beaten exactly zero teams inside the RPI top-75 as of the writing of this article. Enter Vanderbilt, whose SOS is a stark contrast, and whose record isn’t quite as pretty. The Commodores haven’t beaten any tournament teams, but they’ve played plenty (including Kansas, Baylor, and Dayton) very tough; don’t think for a second that the committee ignores close, quality losses. If nothing else, this game is worth watching to see if South Carolina can keep a zero in the loss column… and to see how red Frank Martin’s face gets on a scale from tomato to fire engine.

ii. Arizona @ USC (Saturday @ 7 pm EST, TV – PACN)
If you work a regular 9 to 5 and you’re living East of the Mississippi, it’s difficult to catch a lot of West coast basketball during the week; this is why I picked a Saturday game for you to watch. Arizona, per usual, is widely considered the class of the teams out West. USC, on the other hand, appears to have finally (maybe) fielded a team that won’t finish dead last in the Pac-12 under former Dunk City legend Andy Enfield. USC has an opportunity to add their first signature win to a resume that currently barely has them on the right side of the bubble. The current over/under on number of times the TV cameras pan to Amanda Enfield: 2.5 – it’s only so low because this isn’t an ESPN broadcast.

iii. Villanova @ Butler (Sunday @ 7:30 pm EST, TV – FS1)
I mentioned a lot of Big East teams, players, and games in last week’s edition of the Midweek Review, but can you blame me? The conference has had a lot of great early season action to discuss, and this game is no different. The Wildcats sit alone atop the Big East standings at 3-0, while the Bulldogs have stumbled to a 1-2 start in conference play… who could’ve possibly saw that coming!? (For that answer and more, please see last week’s edition of the 1-3-1 Midweek Review.) Villanova has the metrics and the talent to join Xavier in the push for a one-seed come March, and a win on the road at Hinkle would be another notch in George Clooney’s Jay Wright’s surely well-manicured belt.

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1 Bold Prediction for the Week

Wichita State goes into Carbondale and shocks (see what I did there?) the Salukis to take control of the Missouri Valley. Fred VanVleet is finally rounding into form after a hamstring injury sidelined him for a couple weeks earlier this season. Since his return, the Shockers are 7-1, including last night’s huge victory over a greatly improved Evansville squad. The great equalizer for the Salukis is Anthony Beane, who’s currently averaging 21 points per game, including a blazing 46% from behind the arc, all while launching nearly 6 attempts per game. This year’s edition of Wichita State is not comparable to Gregg Marshall’s squads from the past few seasons, but I still believe they are the class of the MVC.