Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Colleges

Tom Jones’ Two Cents on college basketball season

Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the 2017-18 college basketball season.

The top five

My picks for the nationís top five teams:

1. Duke: As if the Blue Devils werenít loaded enough, they add four sensational freshmen in Trevon Duval, Gary Trent and Wendell Carter, plus top high-school recruit Marvin Bagley, a big man out of Phoenix who can shoot and might end up being Dukeís best player.

2. Michigan State: Lots of national championship buzz about Sparty with Miles Bridges, perhaps the best player in college basketball, and Jaren Jackson, a 6-foot-11 monster who can shoot and play killer D.

3. Wichita State: The Shockers went 31-5 last season and return their top eight scorers. Experienced and well-coached by the underappreciated Gregg Marshall.

4. Cincinnati: Iím a little more bullish on the Bearcats than most. They won 30 games last season and return three starters from that team. They also add Cane Broome, a transfer from Sacred Heart where he was the nationís eighth-leading scorer in 2015-16.

5. Kentucky: Is this a little too high for the Wildcats? Yeah, maybe. But never underestimate coach John Calipariís ability to collect kids right out of high school and turn them into national contenders.

Good teams that could have bad trouble

Arizona and Louisville: Arizona might have the best talent in the country, and Sean Miller is a heck of a coach, but both schools are caught up in the FBIís bribery and fraud corruption case.

What about Florida?

This looks like the Gatorsí best team since winning back-to-back national titles in 2006-07. Too bad that F Devin Robinson left for the NBA, but G Egor Koulechov (left), a transfer from Rice who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds over the past two seasons, is a suitable replacement. You got to love PG Chris Chiozza and G KeVaughn Allen, who play their best in the biggest moments. The key for Florida could be John Egbunu, the big man who tore his ACL last season and wasnít around for UFís run to the NCAA region final. He should return in January and give the Gators a boost, especially at protecting the rim.

Best team in the state (after the Gators)

Miami, which actually might be good enough to make a Final Four run. But, hey, watch out for UCF. Led by 7-6 (yes, thatís 7 feet, 6 inches) C Tacko Fall, the Knights could win the AAC and make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. Meantime, FSU lost way too much from last seasonís team that went 26-9.

Three interesting players to watch

Malik Newman, Kansas: He should be in the NBA right now. But he got hurt during a so-so freshman season at Mississippi State and transferred to Kansas. Heíll show why he is NBA worthy this season.

Kevin Knox, Kentucky: The Tampa Catholic grad is already considered a one-and-done. Most 2018 NBA mock drafts have the smooth 6-9 forward going somewhere around the 10th to 15th pick.

Grayson Allen, Duke: Not a more polarizing player in the country. He told ESPN, "I know thereís half the basketball world that thinks Iím this hothead, dirty player who canít get anything under control, and who probably thinks Iím extremely arrogant. A selfish guy." More than half think that. But the guy can ball, too.

Three coaches to watch

David Padgett, Louisville: Only 32, he has the unenviable task of cleaning up the mess left by Rick Pitino.

Patrick Ewing, Georgetown: The greatest player in the programís history finally gets his shot at being a head coach.

Archie Miller, Indiana: Maybe the Hoosiers have finally found a guy who can return this program back to where it belongs among college basketball royalty.

Three under-the-radar teams to watch

St. Bonaventure: Will battle Rhode Island for Atlantic 10 supremacy. The Bonnies are fun to watch because they flat out fill the bucket. And any team that has two senior guards (in this case, Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley) is always dangerous.

Bucknell: The team that won the Patriot League and lost by only six to fourth-seed West Virginia in last seasonís tournament returns all it starters, as well as the first two off the bench. Nana Foulland is a special player.

Yale: Best team in the Ivy League. Loaded in the backcourt with Alex Copeland and Makai Mason, a brilliant scorer who returns after missing last season with a broken foot.

What about the women?

As always, the conversation begins (and pretty much ends) with UConn. Still hard to believe the Huskies didnít win the title last season, but that was probably just a blip after winning four consecutive championships. They collected all 32 first-place votes in the Associated Press preseason poll. The usual suspects ó defending champ South Carolina, Texas, Baylor, Notre Dame ó will be treated as contenders, but UConn is looking for payback after being upset by Mississippi State in last seasonís national semifinals.

Top five women in the country

AíJa Wilson (South Carolina), Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State), Katie Lou Samuelson (UConn), Napheesa Collier (UConn), Gabby Williams (UConn).

Three things that popped into my head

1 Once again, no team will go undefeated but because of its schedule, Wichita State will make the best run at it.

2 Sleeper teams you shouldnít sleep on: Southern Cal, Miami, Oakland, Virginia.

3 Who win the national title? From the not-going-out-on-a-limb category, look for Coach K to win his sixth national title at Duke just a couple of months after his 71st birthday.

tom jonesí two cents

   
   
Comments
How Florida State responds after Hurricane Michael will decide its season

How Florida State responds after Hurricane Michael will decide its season

For the second year in a row, Florida State is having to deal with the football fallout from a devastating hurricane.The Seminoles' failure to respond properly from Hurricane Irma helped lead to their lost 2017 season. How they handle the aftermath o...
Published: 10/15/18
UConn linebacker hospitalized after suffering stroke

UConn linebacker hospitalized after suffering stroke

STORRS, Conn. ó UConn linebacker Eli Thomas has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. The school issued a statement Monday saying the 220-pound junior had the stroke Wednesday prior to a weightlifting session. The school says Thomas was immedia...
Published: 10/15/18
Matt Bakerís AP Top 25: Miami out, Florida Gators up and UCF in top 10

Matt Bakerís AP Top 25: Miami out, Florida Gators up and UCF in top 10

Four teams in the top eight of my AP Top 25 lost Saturday. So did four teams from 16-25. Just another college football weekend.Georgia's shocking 20-point loss at LSU sent the Bulldogs down from third to No. 9 on my ballot. UGA, for me, is in the 5-1...
Published: 10/14/18
Virginia uses defense to beat No. 16 Miami, 16-13

Virginia uses defense to beat No. 16 Miami, 16-13

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ó Jordan Ellis ran for a touchdown and Virginia kept No. 16 Miamiís high-powered offense from ever getting going in a 16-13 victory Saturday night. Ellis scored on a 7-yard run in the first half and Brian Delaney kicked three fie...
Published: 10/13/18

No. 10 UCF rallies for 31-30 comeback victory over Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ó With No. 10 UCF struggling and the nationís longest winning streak in jeopardy, first-year coach Josh Heupel decided to take a gamble. Facing fourth and 1 in Memphis territory late in the third quarter and down 13 points, Heupel sent...
Published: 10/13/18
Livefor24 Foundation hosts first 5K, fun run

Livefor24 Foundation hosts first 5K, fun run

The event rises from the death of former UT volleyball player Melissa Vanderhall.
Published: 10/13/18
No. 14 Florida rallies from 18 down to beat Vanderbilt 37-27

No. 14 Florida rallies from 18 down to beat Vanderbilt 37-27

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó Dan Mullen prefers not to talk about what prompted his 14th-ranked Florida Gators and the Vanderbilt Commodores to spill off the sidelines. Derek Mason says a Florida player said something to the Vanderbilt coach. In the end, the G...
Published: 10/13/18
Why the SEC East no longer looks like the SEC Least

Why the SEC East no longer looks like the SEC Least

When the Gators removed their list of SEC East championships from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium over the offseason, the official reason was that no other Florida team showed off its division titles.There might as well have been another factor, too: Winnin...
Published: 10/12/18
Florida Gatorsí defensive swarm, Miami cashing in on turnovers and more state nuggets

Florida Gatorsí defensive swarm, Miami cashing in on turnovers and more state nuggets

Florida's flying DThe Gators' swarming defense has been the biggest reason for its Year 1 turnaround under coach Dan Mullen. Four players — LB Vosean Joseph, DL Jachai Polite, DE Jabari Zuniga and DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson — have a...
Published: 10/12/18
College football Week 7 viewing guide

College football Week 7 viewing guide

Lamest time window: Noon. Go outside and enjoy the (slightly) cooler weather before the games get interesting in the afternoon.Noon: Vanderbilt usually plays the No. 14 Gators tough. Will that continue in Nashville?2:30: Pitt dashed Miami's playoff h...
Published: 10/12/18