Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/arkansas-little-rock-trojans-vs-iowa-state-cyclones-ncaa-tournament-second-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

Arkansas Little-Rock has provided the country with the most exciting game thus far in the NCAA Tournament, securing an 85-83 win over Purdue in double OT and moving on to the Round of 32 for the first time since the Trojans upset Notre Dame in 1986. First-year head coach Chris Beard may have already cemented his place in school history, and the Trojans are certainly not satisfied just yet.

 

No. 12 Arkansas Little-Rock Trojans (30-4) vs. No. 4 Iowa State Cyclones (22-11)

 

When: 6:10 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Where: Pepsi Center (Denver, Colorado)

TV: TNT

Line: Iowa State -7

 

Keys for Arkansas-Little Rock

The Trojans played an extra 10 minutes of basketball on Thursday and still didn’t score as many points as Iowa State did during regulation of its easy victory over Iona. UALR did get its 30th win of the season, something only the Kansas Jayhawks can boast along with the Trojans. Arkansas-Little Rock and Iowa State play nearly opposite styles of basketball, and it is crucial that the Trojans do not attempt to play the Cyclones’ game. The Sun Belt Tournament champions must slow this game down and let its No. 3-ranked defense frustrate Iowa State. Shutting down Georges Niang isn’t easy for anyone, as the 6-foot-8,. 230-pound senior forward is a walking mismatch. If the Trojans can limit Niang’s touches and his production, they have a chance to pull of another upset.

 

Keys for Iowa State

The Cyclones avoided another first-round collapse like the one they suffered at the hands of Georgia State in last year’s Tournament. However, they didn’t come into this year’s Big Dance just looking to get one win. Iowa State wants to make a prolonged run and send Niang, the team’s leader, out with fond memories. Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm also wants to prove he was the right man to replace Fred Hoiberg at the end of last season, and a deep run in his first year could establish trust with the fans in Ames for years to come.

 

Final Analysis

 

The battle of rookie head coaches in the second round is sure to be exciting, and this game could very well come down to which one makes the smarter decisions on the bench. Iowa State is one of the most gifted teams in the entire field, but its No. 257-ranked defense will need to step it up to prolong the Cyclones’ stay.  The loss from last year still stings and I believe this team is on a mission. Purdue would have been a very tough matchup, so the Cyclones must capitalize on getting a No. 12 seed in the second round. Although as Arkansas-Little Rock showed against the Boilermakers, sometimes a seed is just a number.

 

Prediction: Iowa State 74, Arkansas-Little Rock 64

Teaser:
Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans vs. Iowa State Cyclones: NCAA Tournament Second Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 16:35
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/yale-bulldogs-vs-duke-blue-devils-ncaa-tournament-second-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

Much will be made about this matchup between the Yale Bulldogs and the Duke Blue Devils. You have two brainy schools going head-to-head; with the Ivy League champion Bulldogs coming off of a huge upset of Baylor in the Round of 64. That victory marked Yale’s first NCAA Tournament win in the 315-year history of the school. This is where the similarities end between the two elite academic universities, however, as Duke is fresh off of its 106th Tournament win over UNC Wilmington.

 

There also is some familiarity as the two played each other back in November. Duke defeated Yale 80-61 at home in a game that saw the Blue Devils pull away in the second half. Matt Jones led the way for Duke with 17 points while Yale was paced by Justin Sears' 19. The Bulldogs held their own on the boards, as both teams tied with 37, but shot just 39.7 percent from the field and got to the free throw line half as much (12 attempts vs. 24 for Duke) .

 

No. 12 Yale Bulldogs (23-6) vs. No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (24-10)

 

When: 2:40 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center (Providence)

TV: CBS

Line: Duke -6.5

 

Keys for Yale

Yale has proven it can beat a team with superior athletes like the Baylor Bears. The final score of 79-75 on Thursday was truly a bad representation of the game. Yale essentially dominated for most of the 40 minutes. The Bulldogs have now experienced the excitement of the Big Dance and will be ready for the Blue Devils. In order for Yale to advance to its first-ever Sweet 16, the Bulldogs must stay out of foul trouble. Duke shot 43 free throws on Thursday. It is nearly impossible to beat the Blue Devils if they have that many attempts from the charity stripe. Lastly, sophomore guard Makai Mason will have to have the game of his life, again.

 

Keys for Duke

Duke must continue to score as many points as possible and beat teams with sheer firepower. This approach is often risky, but it does play to this team’s strengths, which has the prolific scorers capable of putting up big numbers every game. The Blue Devils may want to get a hand up in Mason’s face at some point though, otherwise he may get scorching hot and take over the basketball game for the second straight contest. Grayson Allen will need to continue to be aggressive with the ball and not settle for jump shots. He contributed 15 points from the free throw line alone in the win over UNC Wilmington.

 

Final Analysis

 

Duke’s defense is really bad, so if the team has a cold shooting night these Blue Devils have a chance to be exposed against any competition. Yale needs to chase Duke off of the 3-point arc and make this a game of two-point baskets. If the Bulldogs can score consistently they will be in this game down to the final whistle.

 

Prediction: Duke 88, Yale 84

 

(Makai Mason photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity, courtesy of )

Teaser:
Yale Bulldogs vs. Duke Blue Devils: NCAA Tournament Second Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 16:30
Path: /college-basketball/2016-ncaa-tournament-saturday-second-round-preview-predictions
Body:

Day one of the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament brought us a smattering of exciting upsets and fantastic finishes. From Arkansas-Little Rock's double overtime rally against Purdue to Yale's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, college basketball fans got to enjoy the type of moments that make March Madness so captivating. And that was just on Thursday.

 

What magical moments will unfold during the first day of second round action? Here's what we expect from Saturday's slate of games.

 

NCAA Tournament Saturday Second Round Games

Note: All times Eastern, some start times are approximate

 

No. 11 Wichita State vs. No. 3 Miami

TV: 12:10 p.m. ET, CBS

Site: Providence (South Region)

Preview: Wichita State made it six straight years that a First Four at-large winner has advanced to the Round of 32. Can the Shockers go even deeper into the Tournament?

 

That door is certainly open after Wichita State dominated Arizona in a 65-55 victory. The Shockers forced 19 turnovers and held the Wildcats to 19 first-half points. Wichita State suffocated the Wildcats with relentless defense and out-hustled them for loose balls and transition baskets. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker led the way, combining for 29 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six steals.

 

Miami barely survived an upset bid from No. 14 Buffalo. The Hurricanes prevailed 79-72 by attacking the rim and drawing fouls. Miami outscored Buffalo 36-24 in the paint and went 26-of-34 from the free throw line. Doing similar things against the nation's No. 1 scoring defense will be a much tougher task.

 

Prediction: Wichita State 70, Miami 64

 

No. 12 Yale vs. No. 4 Duke

TV: 2:40 p.m. ET, CBS

Site: Providence (West Region)

Preview: Once again, the Ivy League has produced a Cinderella team. Yale used an efficient offensive performance to upset No. 5 Baylor 79-75. Now the Bulldogs have their sights on taking down defending national champion Duke.

 

The Blue Devils have faced questions about their depth. Duke's short bench handled the quick pace of UNC Wilmington well, pulling away after halftime for a 93-85 victory. Marshall Plumlee, who finished with a career-high 23 points, imposed his will defensively in the second half. The playmaking of Brandon Ingram also proved too much for the Seahawks to handle.

 

Yale will need to duplicate what it did on offense against the Bears to pull off a second upset. The Bulldogs hit their first 13 2-pointers of the game and shot 53 percent from the field overall. Makai Mason led the way with a career-high 31 points.

 

Prediction: Duke 75, Yale 67

 

Related: 

 

No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 4 Kentucky

TV: 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS

Site: Des Moines (East Region)

Preview: Two longtime basketball rivals are meeting for the first time since 2012. Both Indiana and Kentucky come into this revival of their rivalry on the heels of impressive first-round performances.

 

Kentucky blocked an NCAA Tournament-record 15 shots en route to an 85-57 victory over Stony Brook. Indiana racked up its highest point total in a Tournament game since 1999 in a 99-74 win against Chattanooga.

 

Both teams draw their main strengths from their backcourt. Jamal Murray leads Kentucky with 20.1 points per game, while Tyler Ulis chips in 17 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest. Yogi Ferrell is a dominant scorer and playmaker for the Hoosiers, averaging 17.1 points and 4.1 assists per game.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 77, Indiana 72

 

No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock vs. No. 4 Iowa State

TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, TNT

Site: Denver (Midwest Region)

Preview: Arkansas-Little Rock outscored Purdue 21-7 over the final five minutes of regulation to force two overtimes and escape with an 85-83 victory. Now the Trojans will get to deal with an Iowa State team that loves to push the tempo.

 

The Cyclones blitzed Iona 94-81 behind 28 points from Georges Niang. It was a typical day on the court for Iowa State, which boasts an offense that can light up the scoreboard in a hurry and ranks third nationally in offensive efficiency.

 

Iowa State's ability to get up and down the floor will be tested by Little Rock. The Trojans prefer a methodical pace. Armed with the nation's no. 2 scoring defense, Little Rock could make it a tough 40 minutes for the Cyclones.

 

Prediction: Iowa State 71, Arkansas-Little Rock 68

 

Related: 

 

No. 9 Butler vs. No. 1 Virginia

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, TBS

Site: Raleigh (Midwest Region)

Preview: Butler built its March reputation as a giant killer. The Bulldogs have a chance to do it once again against Virginia.

 

Dealing with Virginia's suffocating defense will not be an easy task. The Cavaliers rank third nationally in scoring defense. They held Hampton to 32 percent shooting from the field in an 81-45 victory. Virginia, on the other hand, sunk the Pirates from the perimeter – hitting 12 3-pointers. Anthony Gill scored 19 points to lead a balanced offensive effort.

 

Butler will need its outside shooters to step up and keep Virginia off balance. That's what helped the Bulldogs rally past Texas Tech 71-61. Kellen Dunham finished with a team-high 23 points – including five 3-pointers – and led a 52 percent second-half shooting effort by Butler.

 

Prediction: Virginia 67, Butler 61

 

No. 9 Connecticut vs. No. 1 Kansas

TV: 7:45 p.m. ET, CBS

Site: Des Moines (South Region)

Preview: It doesn't seem to matter where UConn is seeded. The Huskies just win NCAA Tournament games. They improved to 7-0 in the Big Dance under Kevin Ollie with a 74-67 victory over Colorado.

 

Keeping it going against Kansas presents a much more difficult challenge. The Jayhawks are a balanced group offensively and defensively and have won 15 straight contests. Kansas ranks in the top 20 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Perry Ellis leads the way for the Jayhawks with 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

 

Defense can be an equalizer for UConn. The Huskies held Colorado to 17 points over the first 17 minutes of the second half. They rank 12th nationally in scoring defense and it helps offset an offense that can be inconsistent at times. UConn will definitely need big games from Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton. The duo combined for 36 points and 15 rebounds in the win over the Buffaloes.

 

Prediction: Kansas 72, Connecticut 63

 

Related: 

 

No. 11 Gonzaga vs. No. 3. Utah

TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT

Site: Denver (Midwest Region)

Preview: Utah was the only Pac-12 team to survive on the first day of the Tournament. The Utes overcame 19 turnovers to beat Fresno State 80-69. Gonzaga presents a whole different challenge.

 

The Bulldogs have a talented frontcourt that can attack Utah inside and outside. Domantas Sabonis is strong around the basket and Kyle Wiltjer is deadly on the perimeter. Sabonis tallied 20 points and 15 rebounds to lead Gonzaga to a 68-52 victory over Seton Hall.

 

Utah will counter with talented center Jakob Poeltl. The Pac-12 Player of the Year put up 16 points and 18 rebounds against Fresno State – out-rebounding the Bulldogs by himself. Poeltl shoots well from the field (Pac-12 best .649) and averages 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. It should make for a fun battle in the paint against Gonzaga.

 

Prediction: Utah 74, Gonzaga 70

 

Related: 

 

No. 9 Providence vs. No. 1 North Carolina

TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS

Site: Raleigh (East Region)

Preview: Providence needed a basket with 1.5 seconds left to squeak past USC 70-69. Now the Friars get another shot at North Carolina after coming up just short against the Tar Heels in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

 

North Carolina claimed the ACC regular season and tournament titles behind a balanced offense that can hurt opponents all over the court. Brice Johnson is a dominant big man, averaging 16.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Marcus Paige gives the Tar Heels a smart playmaker in the backcourt, averaging 12 points and 3.8 assists.

 

Providence will lean on Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn for its counter punch. Bentil averages 21.1 points per game and Dunn chips in 16 per contest. When the duo is on its game, few teams can hang with the Friars.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 80, Providence 73

 

Related: 

 

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter

Teaser:
2016 NCAA Tournament Saturday Second Round Preview and Predictions
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime
Path: /college-basketball/crying-little-flyer-college-basketballs-newest-star-dayton-syracuse
Body:

March Sadness. It's a part of March that comes unexpectedly. 

 

Someone has to lose of course, but you never know which fan will be next on that screen. This time it's "Sad Little Flyer", the next internet sensation. Down by quite a bit in the second half to Syracuse, this little guy couldn't help but to cry for the Dayton Flyers. Although it's sad, take joy in know that he's wearing the entire Flyer costume, which is kind of cool.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 14:55
All taxonomy terms: Jim Furyk, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2016-majors-no-15-jim-furyk
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2016 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s .

 

No. 15: Jim Furyk

Born: May 12, 1970, West Chester, Pa. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 17 | 2015 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2015 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,732,664 (16th) | World Ranking: 15

 

Gary Williams' Take: A wrist injury that required surgery has temporarily derailed Furyk, who will miss The Masters, but once he returns, look for him to make up for lost time in this Ryder Cup year. Destined for the World Golf Hall of Fame, Furyk is currently in the top 5 all time in PGA Tour earnings. The value of that is up to each fan to determine, but his insanely consistent production year in and year out is almost unmatched. He is the consummate professional in preparation, his will simply to compete is endearing, and few players are more well respected than Furyk. After his heartbreaking losses of 2012 — including a singles defeat in the Ryder Cup to Sergio Garcia at Medinah — it was reasonable to think he would never appear on another national team, but he has been on every team since. You can expect him to be at Hazeltine, and not simply as a vice captain.


Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 82
Wins: 1
2015 Performance:
    Masters – Cut
    U.S. Open – T42
    British Open – T30
    PGA Championship – T30
Best Career Finishes
    Masters - 4 (1998, 2003)
    U.S. Open - 1 (2003)
    British Open - 4/T4 (1997, ’98, 2006, ’14)
    PGA Championship - 2 (2013)
Top-10 Finishes: 22
Top-25 Finishes: 40
Missed Cuts: 16

 

Athlon's 2016 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Zach Johnson, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 10:44
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-spartans-2016-spring-football-preview
Body:

Michigan State has won at least 11 games in five out of the last six seasons, so the bar is set high for coach Mark Dantonio as the program looks to quickly restock a depth chart losing a handful of key players. The Spartans were easily handled by Alabama in the College Football Playoff last year, but there were plenty of highs and accolades for last year’s team. Michigan State claimed the Big Ten title in dramatic fashion with a win over Iowa, won at Michigan and Ohio State and finished as a top-10 team in the final Associated Press poll for the third consecutive year. As Dantonio turns the page to 2016, Michigan State has its share of concerns. Quarterback, offensive line, receiving corps, defensive line and secondary are just a few of the issues for Dantonio to address in spring practice. However, there’s a solid foundation in place, and the Spartans aren’t going to regress too far in the Big Ten.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Michigan State’s Spring Practice

 

1. Quarterback Battle

Connor Cook leaves big shoes to fill in East Lansing, and all eyes in spring practice will be on the quarterback battle. Just how big are those shoes to fill for coach Mark Dantonio? Cook finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdowns and compiled an impressive 34-5 overall record. Junior Damion Terry, senior Tyler O’Connor and redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke enter spring practice vying for the starting job, with O’Connor a slight favorite due to his experience. Terry and O’Connor shared snaps in Michigan State’s upset win over Ohio State in 2015, and both players bring something different to the table. O’Connor is more of a pro-style quarterback, while Terry is a better runner. Will one quarterback emerge as the clear starter by the end of spring? Or could Michigan State utilize both O’Connor and Terry in major roles this season?

 

Related:

 

2. Restocking the Weapons at Receiver

Finding the right answer at quarterback is the unquestioned No. 1 issue for Dantonio and his staff this spring, but the receiving corps is also under the spotlight. Aaron Burbridge and Macgarrett Kings Jr. combined for 125 of Michigan State’s 244 receptions last year and both expired their eligibility at the end of the 2015 season. The cupboard is hardly bare, as receiver R.J. Shelton (43 grabs in 2015) and tight end Josiah Price are a solid duo to build around. However, which players will step forward to round out the receiving corps? Felton Davis and Monty Madaris are due for a bigger role, and talented freshmen Cam Chambers and Donnie Corley enrolled in time to compete this spring.

 

3. Finding the Right Mix on the Offensive Line

The question marks on offense continue in the trenches. Michigan State must replace three starters, including standouts Jack Conklin (LT) and Jack Allen (C). Guards Brian Allen and Benny McGowan and tackle Kodi Kieler are back as returning starters. Will all three players stay at those spots in the spring? Or will the coaching staff shuffle the players to get the best five on the field? Brandon Clemons is expected to be awarded a sixth season of eligibility, and tackle Dennis Finley is aiming for a return to 100 percent by the fall after a leg injury in early October. This unit has talented pieces in the mix, but Conklin and Allen won’t be easy to replace. How long will it take this unit to mesh this offseason?

 

4. Reloading on the Defensive Line

The Spartans have produced plenty of standouts in the trenches under Dantonio’s watch, and it’s time for the next wave of stars to emerge. Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath and Lawrence Thomas expired their eligibility, which leaves Malik McDowell as the lone returning starter on the defensive line. McDowell is a rising star and should contend for All-America honors after recording 13 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks last season. Demetrius Cooper, Craig Evans, Montez Sweat and Raequan Williams are a few names to watch as potential breakout candidates in the fall. This unit is expected to receive a boost from tackle Damon Knox, who expects to get a sixth season of eligibility for 2016.

 

Related:

 

5. Concerns in the Secondary

Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone” wasn’t quite as intimidating to opponents in 2015. The Spartans ranked 72nd nationally in pass efficiency defense, gave up 20 passing scores (most since 2011) and allowed 22 passing plays of 30 yards or more. Injuries played a role in last year’s totals, and the return of cornerback Vayante Copeland should help to solidify one spot in the secondary. Darian Hicks is the frontrunner to grab the other cornerback spot, with Jermaine Edmondson and Tyson Smith vying for more snaps. At safety, Demetrious Cox and Montae Nicholson combined for six picks last season and form a solid tandem for 2016. Assuming Copeland returns to full strength, and both safeties continue to play at a high level, this unit is on track to take a significant step forward on the stat sheet.

 

Pre-Spring Michigan State Outlook in the Big Ten

 

It’s no secret most preseason predictions will have Michigan State picked third in the Big Ten East Division for 2016. The Spartans return only nine starters and enter the offseason with big question marks on both sides of the ball. However, there are plenty of reasons to believe this team will be a factor in the division and contend for one of college football’s top bowl games. Sophomore LJ Scott headlines a strong stable of running backs, while there’s some experience and a rising star at guard (Brian Allen) to build around in the trenches. The defense should show improvement in the secondary, but the line could take a small step back. Home dates against Michigan and Ohio State should allow Dantonio’s team to play spoiler. And with all preseason predictions likely to take the Buckeyes or Wolverines ahead of the Spartans, there's no shortage of fuel for Dantonio to use as motivation in 2016.

Teaser:
Michigan State Spartans 2016 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime
Path: /college-basketball/baylor-taurean-prince-answer-question-bears-yale-upset-post-game-interview
Body:

Let's just put this out there... reporters don't always ask the best questions.

 

After No. 5 Baylor was upset by No. 12 Yale, one reporter asked Taurean Prince how his team got out-rebounded. Seriously, how did the guy expect Prince to respond to that question? How else does a team get out-rebounded than to have less rebounds than the other team? Prince does his best to remain calm while giving an awesome answer.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 09:47
Path: /college-football/louisville-cardinals-2016-spring-football-preview
Body:

Louisville finished the 2015 season by winning six out of its last seven games, and there is plenty of optimism for coach Bobby Petrino’s team when spring ball begins on March 22. The Cardinals return 18 starters, including dynamic sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson and standout linebackers Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey. Jackson is still developing as a passer, but his athletic ability will create plenty of problems for defensive coordinators in the ACC next fall. Helping Jackson’s development is a strong supporting cast of weapons, along with an offensive line expected to improve with four returning starters. The ACC Atlantic features two of the nation’s top teams in Clemson and Florida State. Contending for the division title won’t be easy, but Louisville could challenge for double-digit wins in 2016.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Louisville’s Spring Practice

 

1. Lamar Jackson’s Progress

After shuffling through three different quarterbacks in the starting lineup last season, Louisville enters spring practice with a clear answer under center. Lamar Jackson closed his freshman campaign with solid back-to-back performances, which included an impressive all-around showcase (453 total yards, 4 TDs) in the bowl win over Texas A&M. In 12 appearances last season, Jackson threw for 1,840 yards and 12 scores and rushed for 960 yards and 11 touchdowns. With a full offseason to develop as the starter, Jackson should take another step forward in his development. This spring is all about Petrino building the offense around Jackson and continuing to work with the talented sophomore on his passing ability (54.7 percent in 2015).

 

Related:

 

2. Development of the Offensive Line

This unit is the biggest concern for Louisville entering spring ball. The offensive line surrendered 44 sacks in 13 games last season (most in the ACC), and rushers averaged only 3.5 yards per carry (ACC-only contests). Additionally, the Cardinals were held under 100 rushing yards in half of their ACC games last year. There are reasons to be optimistic here, especially with the return of Geron Christian at left tackle. He started all 13 games as a true freshman last season and is expected to anchor the line in 2016. Lukayus McNeil (left guard) and center Tobijah Hughley are back as returning starters, while guard Kiola Mahoni and tackle Kenny Thomas also gained valuable starting experience last season and will push for snaps. There’s promise here, but Louisville needs this unit to take a step forward. 

 

3. Filling the Voids in the Trenches

With eight starters back, Louisville’s defense will be among the best in the ACC. There are few concerns for coordinator Todd Grantham, but the Cardinals lose two key members from the defensive line. Sheldon Rankins – one of the ACC’s most underrated players – and Pio Vatuvei expired their eligibility. Tackle DeAngelo Brown is the lone returning starter in the trenches, and the Georgia native ranked seventh on the team with 6.5 tackles for a loss last season. Grantham will be looking for bigger contributions from Kyle Shortridge and Drew Bailey, while Johnny Richardson should be a factor after an injury limited him to just two games in 2015. Junior college recruit Chris Williams and redshirt freshman G.G. Robinson are two names to watch this spring.

 

4. Development of the Secondary

Louisville’s secondary finished 2015 ranked 45th nationally in pass efficiency defense. That’s not bad by any means, but there is certainly room to improve. The Cardinals surrendered 22 passing plays of 30 yards or more (10th in the ACC) and gave up 17 passing scores in league games. The good news? All four starters are back, including safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and cornerbacks Trumaine Washington and Shaq Wiggins. With a healthy pass rush in front, this unit won’t have to cover for too long. However, this unit is capable of taking their play up a notch, and the spring is the first chance for the secondary to work out some of the kinks for 2016.

 

Related:

 

5. Trevon Young’s Health and the Linebacking Corps

Trevon Young was a key cog in Louisville’s linebacker unit last year, but his status for 2016 is uncertain after a serious hip injury in the bowl game against Texas A&M. In 12 games last season, Young ranked second on the team with 8.5 sacks and also recorded 10 tackles for a loss. The Iowa native is on track in his recovery, but he also faces long odds to play in 2016. With Young’s status for next fall in doubt, this spring is the first opportunity to find replacements and build depth at linebacker. Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey are two of the top linebackers in the ACC and will be joined by other experienced options in Stacy Thomas, James Hearns and Isaac Stewart. Hearns is an intriguing edge rusher that should help to fill the void if Young doesn't return in 2016.

 

Pre-Spring Louisville Outlook in the ACC

 

Is Louisville ready to take the next step in the Atlantic Division? That’s the big question for 2016 as spring ball opens in coach Bobby Petrino’s third season back with the Cardinals. Of course, that’s easier said than done with Florida State and Clemson in the same division. While Louisville doesn’t need to finish ahead of the Seminoles or Tigers to have a good season, this team is certainly capable of pulling an upset against one of the league’s top teams. The schedule isn’t overwhelming. Outside of matchups against Florida State, Clemson and Houston, Louisville should be favored in its remaining games. With 18 starters back and a rising star at quarterback, nine wins in the regular season should be the expectation. 

Teaser:
Louisville Cardinals 2016 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Iowa Hawkeyes, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/iowa-hawkeyes-2016-spring-football-preview
Body:

The 2015 regular season was the stuff dreams are made of in Iowa City. A magical 12-0 campaign landed in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis, where it took a 22-play scoring drive by Michigan State to hand the Hawkeyes their first loss.

 

The season still could have ended on a high note with a decent showing in the Rose Bowl, but Stanford turned that dream into a nightmare for the Hawkeyes by halftime. It was a bitter end to what should have considered a pretty sweet season.

 

As spring football gets going in Iowa City, those closest to the program have high expectations. Many fans, on the other hand, remain cautiously optimistic. The Hawkeyes have a history of disappointing their followers when the expectations are high, and the Hawkeyes look like the favorites in the Big Ten West heading into the 2016 campaign.

 

5 Storyline to Watch in Iowa's Spring Practice

 

1. C.J. Beathard's health

The quarterback was undoubtedly the biggest difference-maker for the Hawkeyes last season. His aggressive style — both through the air and on the ground — gave Iowa a bit of an edge and some swagger that helped carry the team through some close contests. That style also gave Beathard plenty of wear and tear during the course of the season. Iowa fans will be watching closely to see if the couple of months since the Rose Bowl were enough for Beathard to rest up and get back to 100 percent. Any signs of lingering injuries could be cause for concern heading into the summer.

 

2. Drew Ott's pending medical redshirt

Ott's career seemed to culminate with a torn ACL midway through last season. The former All-Big Ten defensive end did not play until the eighth game of his freshman year, which left the door open for Iowa to petition the NCAA for a medical redshirt. It appears about Ott's chances of getting the extra year. If it is granted, the Hawkeyes would return the most formidable defensive line in the conference — if not the country.

 

3. Nathan Bazata's continuing development

Part of that aforementioned formidable defensive line is Bazata. The tackle came into his own as a sophomore in 2015 in his first full season as a starter and became one of the more disruptive forces in the Big Ten. Iowa fans will be interested to see positive changes in his size and technique. If he shows improvement in both, the Hawkeye D-line will be a force with or without Ott.

 

4. Developing depth on the offensive line

The starting five up front at Iowa, as always, will be a solid group. Building depth behind them will be key. That will start at the center position, with projected starter James Daniels missing spring practice as he recovers from knee surgery. Steve Ferentz will get starting reps at center as a result. Other than that, the best thing Iowa can hope for during the spring is for as many as eight different linemen to step up as significant and capable contributors heading into the 2016 campaign.

 

5. Finding a vertical threat

Iowa's bread and butter will still be the run, but the Hawkeyes need to be more effective and dangerous through the air to keep opponents honest. Leading receiver Matt Vandenberg is back, but he's not going to be a threat to take the top off of a defense. Jerminic Smith looks like the top candidate to be that guy. Hawkeye fans should be excited if they see him getting separation and hauling in plenty of deep balls in the spring. This offense has lacked a consistent big-play weapon for quite some time.

 

Pre-Spring Iowa Outlook in the Big Ten

As mentioned, the Hawkeyes will likely be the favorites in the Big Ten West by most publications. Like last season, they'll need to build momentum and confidence during their non-conference slate. They get in-state rival Iowa State at home as well as a visit from five-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. After that, Iowa has a manageable Big Ten slate with games against Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska at home. Their toughest road contest will be at Penn State in early November. It's not likely that Iowa will make it through conference play unblemished for a second consecutive season, but getting through the nine-game conference slate with three or fewer losses should have Kirk Ferentz's team in the running for another division title. These Hawkeyes have the talent and experience to get to that point.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the owner of KnowItAllFootball.com and host of "Raising the Bar" on RadiOmaha.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Iowa Hawkeyes 2016 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Friday, March 18, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/2016-ncaa-tournament-friday-first-round-preview-predictions
Body:

March Madness is in full swing as first round action of the 2016 NCAA Tournament has begun. Just like Thursday, Friday has a slate of 16 games awaiting basketball fans with several top seeds ready to hit the floor.

 

Among them is Oregon, the last of the No. 1 seeds to play. The Ducks are the top team in the West Region for the first time in program history. Awaiting them is First Four winner Holy Cross, the only team in the field with a losing record (15-19).

 

All four No. 2 seeds – Michigan State, Oklahoma, Xavier and Villanova – will take the court Friday, and as always attention will be paid on those lower-seeded teams that make some noise. Will that be Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Hawaii or perhaps Stephen F. Austin? And what about Michigan, can the Wolverines follow up their First Four win with another against Notre Dame?

 

NCAA Tournament Friday First Round Games

Note: All times Eastern, some start times are approximate

 

No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 7 Dayton

TV: 12:15 p.m., CBS

Site: St. Louis (Midwest Region)

Preview: First one to 60 in this one as both the Orange and the Flyers play solid defense. Syracuse will have a chip on its shoulder to prove they belong and to get revenge for its Round of 32 loss to Dayton in the 2014 Tournament. The Flyers have split their last eight games entering this one.

Prediction: Syracuse 63-61

 

No. 15 UNC Asheville vs. No. 2 Villanova

TV: 12:40 p.m., TruTV

Site: Brooklyn, NY (South Region)

Preview: Villanova has had its issues in the Tournament, although they haven't come until at least the second round. The

Wildcats have won their last two first round games by 41 and 20 points. UNC Asheville won at Georgetown back in December. They won't get their second Big East win.

Prediction: Villanova 82-57

 

No 10. VCU vs. No. 7 Oregon State

TV: 1:30 p.m., TNT

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: This was an oddly seeded matchup. The Beavers are the epitome of Home-Court Heroes and will most likely be

without Tres Tinkle. VCU is used to this spotlight and should let Mo Alie-Cox eat early and often.

Prediction: VCU 73-66

 

Related: 

 

No. 13 Hawaii vs. No. 4 California

TV: 2 p.m., TBS

Site: Spokane, WA (South Region)

Preview: Hawaii will be a popular pick for an upset with others picking Cal to make a deep run. The Golden Bears have a solid mix of freshmen and veterans that give them a shot to be dangerous, although the loss of leading scorer and point guard Tyrone Wallace doesn't help. Hawaii nearly beat Oklahoma at home back in December. Cal will put the defensive clamps down.

Prediction: California 69-63

 

Related: 

 

No. 15 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 2 Michigan State

TV: 2:45 p.m., CBS

Site: St. Louis (Midwest Region)

Preview: Sparty has won four straight first round games with most of them coming by double digits. MTSU features Giddy Potts at point guard, but not much else to put around him. The Blue Raiders play good defense, but all that means is that they'll allow less points in a loss.

Prediction: Michigan State 77-61

 

No. 10 Temple vs. No. 7 Iowa

TV: 3:10 p.m., TruTV

Site: Brooklyn, NY (South Region)

Preview: The Hawkeyes have lost six of their last eight games, while Temple has been one of the teams others say don’t belong. Iowa at one point was 16-3 and features Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok, who combine for more than 35 points per game. Temple will try to make this game ugly.

Prediction: Iowa 68-61

 

Related: 

 

No. 15 CSU Bakersfield vs. No. 2 Oklahoma

TV: 4 p.m., TNT

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: The Roadrunners are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance, but it won't be a long one. Buddy Hield is one of college basketball's best players. It may take some time for the Sooners to get used to CSU Bakersfield's style on defense, but in the end this one won't be close.

Prediction: Oklahoma 83-54

 

Related: 

 

No. 12 South Dakota State vs. No. 5 Maryland

TV: 4:30 p.m., TBS

Site: Spokane, WA (South Region)

Preview: Maryland's one of the most talented teams in the country. The problem is that the Terrapins don't always play like it. The Summit League has produced some solid teams in the past and the Jackrabbits are no different. George Marshall, who started his collegiate career at Wisconsin, is a solid senior guard who leads the way for South Dakota State. I came really close to picking the upset here.

Prediction: Maryland 68-64

 

Related: 

 

No. 10 Pittsburgh vs. No. 7 Wisconsin

TV: 6:50 p.m., TNT

Site: St. Louis (East Region)

Preview: Wisconsin has lost two straight entering this matchup of two very similar teams. The Panthers have lost two of their

last three as offense has been an issue. Michael Young vs. Nigel Hayes is a solid matchup to watch. This one will be low scoring and ugly.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 67-66

 

Related: 

 

No. 14 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 3 West Virginia

TV: 7:10 p.m., CBS

Site: Brooklyn, NY (East Region)

Preview: The Lumberjacks beat VCU as a No. 12 seed two years ago. Thomas Walkup shoots 59.8 percent from the field and puts up almost seven rebounds and five assists per game. West Virginia's got balance with six players averaging at least eight points per game. The Mountaineers’ defense is stellar with a suffocating press. I would have picked Stephen F. Austin against a lot of other opponents, but not here.

Prediction: West Virginia 77-69

 

No. 14 Green Bay vs. No. 3 Texas A&M

TV: 7:20 p.m., TBS

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: There's a lot to like about the Phoenix, which are led by Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse. Problem is that they are taking on one of the most veteran teams in this Tournament. The Aggies lost four in a row back in February, but won eight of their next nine. They are clicking when it matters.

Prediction: Texas A&M 82-71

 

Related:

 

No. 16 Holy Cross vs. No. 1 Oregon

TV: 7:27 p.m., TruTV

Site: Spokane, WA (West Region)

Preview: Holy Cross is the only team in the entire field with a losing record (15-19), although the Crusaders have won five straight games to get to this point. Kudos to Holy Cross for this improbable run, but it will come to an end in Spokane. Oregon is a No. 1 seed for the first time in program history and wants to show everyone why.
Prediction: Oregon 83-50

 

No. 15 Weber State vs. No. 2 Xavier

TV: 9:20 p.m., TNT

Site: St. Louis (East Region)

Preview: Harold Arceneaux isn't walking through those doors for Weber State. Instead it's Joel Bolomboy and Jeremy Senglin who will shoulder the load. The problem is that Xavier is one of the deepest teams in the country. Watch out for these Musketeers.

Prediction: Xavier 87-63

 

No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 6 Notre Dame

TV: 9:40 p.m., CBS

Site: Brooklyn, NY (East Region)

Preview: Notre Dame is vulnerable in this one. The Fighting Irish don't have a ton of depth and could struggle against if the Wolverines find their shooting touch early. Michigan didn't blow Tulsa out in its First Four game, but the Wolverines can now use that experience to their advantage. Notre Dame also doesn't have enough size to make Michigan pay, which could play a huge part in the outcome.

Prediction: Michigan 72-71

 

Related: 

 

No. 11 Northern Iowa vs. No. 6 Texas

TV: 9:50 p.m., TBS

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: Shaka  Smart is back in the Tournament and this time he's bringing Texas. The Longhorns surprised a lot of people with how quick they picked up his ways. Northern Iowa has wins over North Carolina, Iowa State and Wichita State, but the Panthers also have some head-scratching losses. However, I really like Ben Jacobson as a coach and I think Northern Iowa pulls off another upset here.

Prediction: Northern Iowa 62-59

 

Related: 

 

No. 9 Cincinnati vs. No. 8 St. Joseph's

TV: 9:57 p.m., TruTV

Site: Spokane, WA (West Region)

Preview: The Hawks have been really good especially in conference play. They made a nice run on their way to an Atlantic 10 Tournament title, but that concerns me a bit considering the shallow depth they've got. Cincinnati should win the battle on the boards, but can Troy Caupain keep up with either Isaiah Miles or DeAndre Bembry? If he does, then the Bearcats can get the win.

Prediction: St. Joseph's 69-65

Teaser:
2016 NCAA Tournament Friday First Round Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 16:20
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /virginia-cavalier-hampton-tony-bennett-collapse-leg-water-sideline
Body:

Virginia got quite a scare during its matchup with Hampton.

 

The Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett collapsed on the sideline during the first half of play. From there, he was taken to the locker room in order to get checked out. 

 

 

 

 

Bennett eventually returned to the sidelines.


Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 16:17
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/northern-iowa-panthers-vs-texas-longhorns-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

Shaka Smart is back in the NCAA Tournament, but for the first time it isn’t with VCU. Considering that Texas was without its best player, Cameron Ridley, for the entirety of Big 12 play, one could say that Shaka and the Longhorns overachieved this season — especially after beating Oklahoma, Iowa State, Vanderbilt and West Virginia, twice. Ridley is back and planning to play in the first round against the upset-hungry Northern Iowa Panthers.

 

No. 11 Northern Iowa Panthers (22-12) vs. No. 6 Texas Longhorns (20-12)

 

When: 9:50 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)

TV: TBS

Line: Texas -4.5

 

Keys for Texas

It’s great that Ridley has returned, but how effective he will be is the big question. The Longhorns may not need Ridley to get back to his scoring (11.8 ppg) ways, but his rebounding (9.2 rpg) will be huge as Northern Iowa is one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the nation. Another advantage for the ‘Horns is their depth, as 11 players average 10 minutes a game or more.

 

Keys for Northern Iowa

Sadly, Ali Farokhmanesh has long since graduated, but the Panthers are still primed for another upset and blast your bracket into shambles. With Ridley back, the Longhorns boast probably the best shot-blocking combo in college hoops with him and senior center Prince Ibeh in the middle, so outside shooting will be key for the Panthers to pull an upset. Northern Iowa is extremely well rounded and has great depth as four players average at least 10 points and eight players average at least eight minutes per game.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Panthers enter this matchup as one of the hottest teams in college hoops, on a six-game winning streak and winners of their last 12 of 13. Bur for as well as the Panthers have played the last month of the season, they still haven’t seen a front line like that of Texas’. With Ridley back, the Longhorns have to like their chances against the surging Panthers — but beware the bracket buster!

 

Prediction: Texas 68-67

Teaser:
Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Texas Longhorns: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 16:15
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/michigan-wolverines-vs-notre-dame-fighting-irish-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

Michigan and Notre Dame may have done their best to avoid one another on the football field, but the collision course has been set for the rivals to duke it out on the hardwood. It’s a tale of two very efficient, yet different offenses and two very middle-of-the-road defenses in this first round matchup.

 

No. 11 Michigan Wolverines (23-12) vs. No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-11)

 

When: 9:40 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

TV: CBS

Line: Notre Dame -2.5

 

Keys for Michigan

Michigan doesn't have much in the way of post presence, but with Duncan Robinson, Zak Irivin and Derrick Walton on the perimeter, the Wolverines could shoot their way past the Irish defense that ranks as one of the worst in the nation in defensive 3-point percentage. Look for Michigan to switch up defenses often to speed up the Irish, who love to use as much clock as they can.

 

Keys for Notre Dame

The Irish perimeter defense has to be more effective than it has been this season because Michigan can flat out shoot. Where Notre Dame has the edge is in a well-balanced offensive attack, as the Irish have five players that average double figures in scoring and rank 10th in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom. Look for head coach Mike Brey to force feed his senior big man Zach Auguste in the post.

 

Final Analysis

 

In short, the Wolverines are going to have to shoot much better than they did against Tulsa on Wednesday night. Shooting 24 percent from deep and 40 percent from the floor against a potent Irish offense just won’t cut it.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 76-68

Teaser:
Michigan Wolverines vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 16:10
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/green-bay-phoenix-vs-texas-am-aggies-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

Green Bay head coach Linc Darner won the national championship last season… in Division II. Now with the Green Bay Phoenix, Darner led his team to a Horizon League title in year one, defeating a very talented Valparaiso team along the way. The man just has a formula for success in the month of March.

 

On the other side we have the Texas A&M Aggies, who were the SEC regular season champions and have one of the more complete teams in the entire field of 64. Which team will survive and advance?

 

No. 14 Green Bay Phoenix (23-12) vs. No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies (26-8)

 

When: 7:20 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)
TV: TBS

Line: Texas A&M -12.5

 

Keys for Green Bay

The Phoenix must do all they can to avoid playing a half-court game with the Aggies. Green Bay likes to run the floor and score in bunches, finishing the year with the No. 6 scoring offense in the nation (84.2 ppg). Senior star guard Carrington Love must bring his complete arsenal into this game if Green Bay wants to pull off the upset. The Phoenix also must drive when the lanes are available to avoid living, and more likely dying, by the three.

 

Keys for Texas A&M

The Aggies must stick to their game plan and not get rattled if Green Bay comes out of the gates hot. They want to slow the game down and let their No. 31-ranked defense dictate the pace of this game. Freshman center Tyler Davis is the key in this game for Texas A&M as he has the ability to dominate down low. Senior leaders Jalen Jones, Danuel House and Alex Caruso will be fired up in the final postseason appearance of their college careers.

 

Final Analysis

 

Texas A&M has been playing great basketball of late, with its only loss in the last month coming in overtime of the SEC Tournament title game against Kentucky. The mix of youth and experience creates a great dynamic for the Aggies, and these players will not be satisfied with anything less than a Sweet 16 appearance. Green Bay could make things interesting if the Phoenix are hitting a lot of shots, but I think the Aggies will slow this game down and control the pace from start to finish.

 

Prediction: Texas A&M 86, Green Bay 73

Teaser:
Green Bay Phoenix vs. Texas A&M Aggies: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 16:05
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/pittsburgh-panthers-vs-wisconsin-badgers-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

On Friday, the Wisconsin Badgers will be making their 18th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. However like the last two seasons, this Badgers team isn't a Final Four contender.

 

The No. 7-seeded Badgers will face the No. 10-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers in the first round in St. Louis. Pittsburgh will be making its 13th Tournament appearance in 15 seasons.

 

No. 10 Pittsburgh Panthers (21-11) vs. No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (20-12)
 

When: 6:50 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Scottrade Center (St. Louis)

TV: TNT

Line: Wisconsin -2

 

Keys for Pittsburgh

For Pittsburgh to win this game, the Panthers will need to get the ball to junior forward Michael Young. This season Young is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Pittsburgh also will need to get Jamel Artis (14.4 ppg) and James Robinson (10.3 ppg) involved as well.

 

Keys for Wisconsin

If Wisconsin plays like how it did in its 70-58 loss to Nebraska in last week's Big Ten Tournament, the Badgers will have an early exit from the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska scored 30 points in the paint, so Wisconsin will need to rebound better and defend the paint better on Friday.

 

Final Analysis

 

Pittsburgh is a tough, gritty team and that is bad news for Wisconsin. The Panthers also are one of the most unselfish teams in the Tournament and that, along with their talent should be enough for a close victory over Wisconsin.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 66, Wisconsin 63

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Teaser:
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wisconsin Badgers: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/south-dakota-state-jackrabbits-vs-maryland-terrapins-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

The Maryland Terrapins came into this season with high expectations after being ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll. However, Mark Turgeon’s team comes into the NCAA Tournament slumping. The Terrapins have lost five out of their last eight games including a close 64-61 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Now Maryland is No. 5 seed in the South Region matched up against No. 12 South Dakota State, the Summit League Tournament champion.

 

No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-7) vs. No. 5 Maryland Terrapins (25-8)
 

When: 4:20 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Spokane Arena (Spokane, WA)

TV: TBS

Line: Maryland -8

 

Keys for South Dakota State

If the Jackrabbits are to pull off the upset, they will need a big game from redshirt freshman Mike Daum. In 33 games this season, Daum is averaging 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. South Dakota State also will need to continue to shoot well from distance. The Jackrabbits average a respectable 35.7 percent from behind the 3-point line.

 

Keys for Maryland

In Maryland's loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament, the Terrapins’ offense struggled. Maryland managed just one field goal in the final 10 minutes and 23 seconds of that game. The Terps need Melo Trimble to shoot better this time out, as he was just 2-of-15 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point land in the loss to the Spartans.

 

Final Analysis

 

Maryland has certainly underachieved this season, but the Tournament setting may fit its style a lot better. With a team as talented as the Terrapins, they could make a deep run this March. While South Dakota State could pull off the upset, Maryland should come out on top in this No. 5 vs. No.12 matchup.

 

Prediction: Maryland 73, South Dakota State 64

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

 

(Top photo courtesy of )

Teaser:
South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. Maryland Terrapins: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 15:55
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/csu-bakersfield-roadrunners-vs-oklahoma-sooners-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

Wooden Award favorite Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners kick off their 2016 NCAA Tournament with a matchup against the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners. Although we have seen a few No. 2 seeds get upset in the first round in recent years (Georgetown 2013, Duke & Missouri ‘12), that will not be the case here. CSU Bakersfield’s only game this season against a team in the field of 64 was a loss to Fresno State, and Oklahoma is one of the best in the whole bracket.

 

No. 15 CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (24-8) vs. No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (25-7)

 

When: 4 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)

TV: TNT

Line: Oklahoma -13.5

 

Keys for CSU Bakersfield

The Roadrunners’ defense ranks No. 14 in the nation in terms of points allowed (63.2 ppg). They will have to dial up the pressure and limit the high-flying Sooners as much as possible. There is no scenario where CSU wins in a shootout, so the sloppier the WAC Tournament champions can make this game the better. The Roadrunners will need a total team effort in order to keep this game close, and their five players who average double-digit scoring must work hard to get an open look each possession. The frontcourt tandem of Aly Ahmed and Kevin Mays will have to attack the glass harder than they have all season in order to give the Roadrunners an outside chance at a victory.

 

Keys for Oklahoma

Oklahoma should not waste this opportunity of playing a stingy defense in its first round matchup. Smothering defenses have proven to be the Sooners’ kryptonite this season, and although they should coast to victory in this matchup it should provide good practice for the later rounds. Buddy Hield is obviously the lifeblood of this Sooners squad; so getting him off to a hot start is just what Oklahoma needs to make a deep run in the West region.

 

Final Analysis

 

Any sliver of hope that the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners had was stripped away once the location of this game was announced. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s home court is going to be rocking with Sooners fans from start to finish. After a first round exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament the veteran Sooners are not going to take any game lightly. The Roadrunners are about to get devoured by Buddy Hield and company.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 84, CSU Bakersfield 68

 

(Top photo courtesy of )

Teaser:
CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners vs. Oklahoma Sooners: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 15:50
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/temple-owls-vs-iowa-hawkeyes-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

The Temple Owls were able to knock off the last undefeated team remaining in college basketball this season, the SMU Mustangs, en route to capturing the American Athletic Conference regular season title. After a scorching hot start to the Big Ten regular season that saw Iowa climb as high as No. 4 in the AP Top 25, the Hawkeyes have failed to win consecutive games since the first week of February. Can Iowa return to top form or was its success earlier in the year simply a fluke?

 

No. 10 Temple Owls (21-11) vs. No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-10)

 

When: 3:10 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)
TV: truTV

Line: Iowa -6.5

 

Keys for Temple

There is no question that Temple is coming into this game with more momentum than that of Iowa. However, the Owls would be foolish to look past this Hawkeyes team that is capable of competing with anyone in the country. Fran Dunphy’s squad competed against two Big Ten opponents this season and had very similar results to Iowa. The Owls had a tight win over Minnesota and a rather large defeat at the hands of Wisconsin. Temple must dominate the turnover battle and play impeccable defense if it wishes to be successful against an Iowa squad that averages nearly 10 more points per game than the Owls.

 

Keys for Iowa

Iowa needs to get out of this funk and get back to playing at its highest level. The shots just aren’t falling for the Hawkeyes of late. Senior forward Jarrod Uthoff, a potential NBA Draft pick, needs to be a beast inside to create open looks for Iowa’s perimeter scorers. Fran McCaffrey’s team has had plenty of time to work out the kinks and prepare for this showdown with Temple. Something that could benefit the Hawkeyes is getting more players involved in the offense. Iowa only has two players that average double-digit scoring (Uthoff, Peter Jok) and perhaps sharing the ball more could lift the Hawkeyes out of their shooting slump.

 

Final Analysis

 

Temple is a very common upset pick in this year’s brackets, and for good reason, as Iowa is coming into the Tournament ice cold. Nevertheless, Iowa was being considered for a No. 1 seed less than a month ago. Temple is the weakest No. 10 seed in the field, and Iowa should get back on track with this lucky draw and advance to the Round of 32.

 

Prediction: Iowa 70, Temple 61

Teaser:
Temple Owls vs. Iowa Hawkeyes: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 15:45
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/hawaii-rainbow-warriors-vs-california-golden-bears-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

Recent developments within the California program have added even more intrigue and uncertainty in regards to Golden Bears’ first round NCAA Tournament game on Friday against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. Earlier this week it was revealed that Cal assistant coach Yann Hufnagel was fired for alleged sexual harassment of a female media member. Now, reports have been trickling in that head coach Cuonzo Martin was contacted via email by the accuser, making Martin aware of the unwanted sexual advances by Hufnagel approximately six weeks before an official university investigation was set in motion last spring. Martin is now the subject of another university investigation into his role of reporting the allegations. Hufnagel is at-least the fourth UC-Berkley employee accused of sexual assault in the last calendar year.

 

In addition to the news of Hufnagel and possibly of Martin, Cal’s leading scorer and starting point guard Tyrone Wallace suffered a fractured right (non-shooting) hand in practice on Wednesday. The school announced on Friday that because of the injury, which initially occurred back in January and cost him five games, Wallace will miss the entire NCAA Tournament, further adding to the uncertainty swirling around the Golden Bears.

 

No. 13 Hawaii Warriors (27-5) vs. No. 4 Cal Bears (23-10)

 

When: 2 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Spokane Arena (Spokane)

TV: TBS

Line: Cal -5.5

 

Keys for Hawaii

The Warriors come into the Big Dance as one of the most overlooked teams in the Tournament. But the Warriors won the Big West regular season and tournament titles and could be a force to be reckoned with going forward, especially defensively. Hawaii is coached by former St. Mary’s assistant Eran Ganot, who at just 34 years old and in his first year in charge will be a popular name on the coaching hot stove for the next few years. Finding ways to score against a top-tier Bears defense is going to be of upmost importance, especially for a Warriors team that struggles to score from behind the arc.

 

Keys for Cal

With all that has happened to the Bears in the past few days, it would be easy to understand if players’ heads weren’t completely steady on the task at hand. With Wallace now out, it will be up to someone else to take care of the ball-handling and distribution duties against a feisty Hawaii defense. Even without Wallace’s scoring output, the Bears should be okay offensively with top freshmen Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown teaming with juniors Jordan Matthews and Jabari Bird — all of whom average double digits in points – to handle the load.

 

Final Analysis

 

Even with all the distractions off the court and the loss of Wallace, California will still have its hands full against a tough Hawaii defense. Someone else will have to handle the point guard duties and others will have to replace Wallace's scoring output. Also, the Bears will have to find a way to slow down the Warriors’ best player in the 6-foot-11 Stefan Jankovic. Put it all together and it looks like an upset could be in play.

 

Prediction: Hawaii 68-65

Teaser:
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. California Golden Bears: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 15:35
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/vcu-rams-vs-oregon-state-beavers-ncaa-tournament-first-round-preview-prediction-2016
Body:

While the VCU Rams are a No.10 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, it wouldn't be a surprise if they were to defeat their first round opponent, the Oregon State Beavers. The Rams are 4.5-point favorites in Friday afternoon's game in Oklahoma City.

 

Let's take a look at the tale of the tape between VCU and Oregon State.

 

No. 10 VCU Rams (24-10) vs. No. 7 Oregon State Beavers (19-12)

 

When: 1:30 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)

TV: TNT

Line: VCU -4.5

 

Keys for VCU

Shaka Smart might have taken his talents to Austin to coach the Texas Longhorns, but VCU is still a tough defensive team. First-year head coach Will Wade has carried on Smart's tradition, as VCU ranks ninth in the country in steals per game (8.8), eighth in turnover margin (+4.0) and No. 18 in forced turnovers (15.44). VCU is a deep team that loves to suffocate opponents and limit their opportunities, so expect them to do the same to Oregon State.

 

Keys for Oregon State

Gary Payton II, son of NBA legend Gary Payton, is the consensus leader for the Beavers. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior guard is averaging 15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Oregon State also will need to get contributions from Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr. if it is going to defeat a tough VCU team.

 

Final Analysis

 

While Oregon State played the 13th-toughest schedule in the country this season, VCU appears to be the better and more dynamic team. Outside of Payton, Tinkle and Thompson Jr., Oregon State doesn't have a lot of depth. VCU's defense will be too much to overcome.

 

Prediction: VCU 74, Oregon State 67

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

 

(Top photo courtesy of )

Teaser:
VCU Rams vs. Oregon State Beavers: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: Paul Casey, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2016-majors-no-16-paul-casey
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2016 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s .

 

No. 16: Paul Casey

Born: July 21, 1977, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England | Career PGA Tour Wins: 1 (13 on European Tour) | 2015 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2015 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,488,311 (21st) | World Ranking: 26

 

Gary Williams' Take: I’m convinced Paul Casey will have the best year of his career for a number of reasons. First thing, he’s a happy man with a wife and child to play for, and if he can have a completely healthy year, he will win again on the PGA Tour. Secondly, he made a hard choice to renounce his membership on the European Tour in 2015 and made an even harder choice not to renew his membership for 2016, in a Ryder Cup year. Casey was snubbed from the 2010 team by Colin Montgomerie when he was in the top 10 in the world. Despite some changes to the required starts on the European Tour to retain membership, Casey opted to stay committed to the PGA Tour and will be ineligible for the European Ryder Cup team. It would fascinating to see Casey have a career year and what the reaction would be from European fans and media come September when Casey was absent from Hazeltine. That scenario is very possible.

 

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 47
Wins: 0
2015 Performance:
    Masters – T6
    U.S. Open – T39
    British Open – T74
    PGA Championship – T30
Best Career Finishes: 
    Masters – T6 (2004, '15)
    U.S. Open – T10 (2007)
    British Open – T3 (2010)
    PGA Championship – T12 (2010)
Top-10 Finishes: 6
Top-25 Finishes: 12
Missed Cuts: 17

 

Athlon's 2016 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Zach Johnson, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 10:36
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime
Path: /overtime/arizona-state-students-fooled-sun-devils-ncaa-tournament-lie-college-basketball
Body:

Arizona State has some dedicated fans. Unfortunately, some are a bit unaware of how the team did this season.

 

If you didn't know, the Sun Devils finished 11th in the Pac-12 and obviously weren't invited to NCAA Tournament. In a segment reminiscent to Jimmy Kimmel's , some Arizona State students were put to the test... and they all failed.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 10:33
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/jimmy-kimmel-erin-andrews-lawsuit-million-dancing-stars-live
Body:

Erin Andrews is $55 million dollars richer because of her peephole lawsuit.

 

When the sports reporter went on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the first thing he did was ask her for a little something. 

 

"May I have a million dollars?" It's a totally reasonable request. 

 

 

Of course Andrews couldn't leave without talking about "Dancing with the Stars."

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 09:46
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Tech Hokies
Path: /college-football/virginia-tech-hokies-2016-spring-football-preview
Body:

There are changes aplenty in Blacksburg, Va. After 29 seasons as head coach of the Hokies, Frank Beamer will no longer be roaming the sidelines. With a new head coach comes a predominantly new staff and a different offensive style, something that also will be an adjustment for players and fans alike.

 

And the Hokies' depth chart won't look the same either. Key departures will impact both sides of the ball with the defense getting hit the hardest. So there will be a lot to focus on at this spring and here are five special things to keep an eye on.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Virginia Tech’s Spring Practice

 

1. The Justin Fuente Era Commences

Most everyone around the Virginia Tech program knew it was time for Beamer to step down. In luring Fuente away from Memphis, the Hokies have seemingly found a coach that will be able to perfectly blend the past history of the program with changes necessary to jumpstart the team going forward. Though he brought much of his Memphis staff with him and retained only three Beamer assistants, making sure defensive coordinator Bud Foster remained was important for the offensive-minded Fuente. Seeing how the team responds to the new voice may be the most important part of the spring workouts.

 

Related: 

 

2. The Quarterback Position

If there is one thing that Fuente really knows, it’s quarterbacks. As an assistant at TCU, he helped develop Andy Dalton and he has spent the last three years tutoring Paxton Lynch. Brenden Motley filled in for an injured Michael Brewer last season and had some nice moments. But Motley is not a lock to be the starter now that Brewer is gone. Far from it in fact. Jerod Evans is on campus and most experts expect the nation’s top-rated junior college dual-threat quarterback to win the job. Motley won’t give up without a fight and rising sophomore Dwayne Lawson will get some looks as well.


Related: 

 

3. Developing the Offensive Line

The offensive line had three returning starters in 2015 and with that came some optimism. But once again, there were problems. Tech quarterbacks were sacked 34 times and though some of those can be traced to Brewer and Motley holding the ball too long, the line has to shoulder their share of the blame. The Hokies also ranked 82nd in rushing offense and again the line is at least partially responsible. Four starters return up front for 2016 but new offensive line coach Vance Vice — the fourth line coach in five years — wants that experience to lead to production.

 

4. Revamping the Defensive Line

Foster and his line coach Charley Wiles have been together a long time and over the years have put together some disruptive fronts. This year’s challenge will be to replace three quarters of the starting defensive line. Tackles Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall along with end Dadi Nicolas have exhausted their eligibility leaving some large holes along the front. Though Ken Ekanem returns at end, that position is just as concerning. At tackle, players like Woody Baron and Nigel Williams have some experience. Mix in a little of highly touted redshirt freshman Tim Settle and they have options inside. After Ekanem, there is a lot of inexperience at end.

 

5. Secondary Progression

Injuries limited star Kendall Fuller to just three games in 2015 and now the Baltimore native has declared for the NFL Draft. Brandon Facyson,who played in all 13 games after missing all of 2014 with a leg injury, will miss this spring with a knee injury. As a result, the development of the younger players will be key. Mook Reynolds and Adonis Alexander both saw considerable action as true freshmen last fall and Terrell Edmunds found his way into the starting unit as a redshirt freshman. Fortunately, the youngsters have veteran Chuck Clark at safety to get everyone in the right spot.

 

Pre-Spring Virginia Tech Outlook in the ACC

 

The Hokies needed a shot in the arm and they will get it in the young, aggressive Fuente. Fuente teaming with Foster looks like an outstanding long-term combination at Tech. But there will be some bumps next fall. The offense has some good skill position parts in Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips, Bucky Hodges and Travon McMillan. Assuming that Fuente is again able to work his magic at quarterback, it once again comes down to the offensive line. Defensively, a team cannot lose as many key components as Virginia Tech has and stay the same, Bud Foster or no Bud Foster. Basically, from the front to the back the Virginia Tech defense will go through an adjustment period. We will begin to see this spring how both sides of the ball come together.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the  for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter .

Teaser:
Virginia Tech Hokies 2016 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/penn-state-nittany-lions-2016-spring-football-preview
Body:

Change is in the air in Happy Valley as moves one more year into the James Franklin era. Could this be the year the program begins to take a step forward as it comes closer to escaping the shadow of an abbreviated sanction era? This could prove to be an important season for Franklin, and it comes with plenty of changes in the makeup of the team's identity.

 

Penn State has a new offensive coordinator and has promoted from within to fill a vacancy at defensive coordinator after Bob Shoop left for Tennessee. Thanks to some early departures for the NFL Draft, Penn State has some key roster spots to fill as well, including quarterback and on the defensive line.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Penn State's Spring Practice

 

1. Improving the Offensive Line

There is no sugarcoating the need to improve the offensive line at Penn State. It has been the biggest area of concern for the Nittany Lions the past two seasons and has shown no signs of progress. In 2016, that could change as recruiting has helped address the lack of depth on the line. There is also a new face in charge of coaching the line. After Herb Hand left for Auburn, Penn State brought in Matt Limegrover, previously of Minnesota. Four starters are back this year and the depth is improving. And it can't get worse, right?

 

2. Who Follows Christian Hackenberg at Quarterback?

The jury may still be out on Hackenberg, but his offensive line did him no good the last two seasons. Once the line is figured out, the question will be who will they be protecting? With Hackenberg off to the NFL, the search begins for a new QB. Trace McSorely got some playing time in Penn State's Gator Bowl loss to Georgia and will compete for the starting nod starting this spring. Freshman Jake Zembiec enrolled early this spring and should benefit from getting to practice this spring as well. Expect those two to be the leading contenders at the end of spring.


Related: 

 

3. The Rise of Saquon Barkley

Penn State's best player is its running back. Coming off an impressive debut freshman season, Barkley is already turning heads this offseason by setting new program records for the 40-yard dash and . He will enter the fall as Penn State's top running back. Later this summer Penn State will add Miles Sanders to the mix as the top recruit in the Class of 2016, but for now it is all about Barkley.

 

4. Penn State Going Up-Tempo with New Offensive Coordinator?

Between the quarterback battle and a need to improve the offensive line, new Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead has a lot on his plate as he joins the program. The former head coach of Fordham looks to bring a new look to Penn State's offense, which could include making changes on the fly and going no-huddle more routinely. How this all comes together with a handful of concerns on the offense remains to be seen, but the hope is Penn State's offense will be able to make better adjustments both at the line of scrimmage and as a game evolves, scrapping what doesn't work and finding plays that do without getting too complicated.

 

5. Keeping the Pressure Coming From the Defensive Line

Penn State's defensive line loses some star power this spring with the departures of Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson, but that position group has typically been one of the more consistent in the program. Garrett Sickels will be the leader on the line, while others look to take on a larger role up front. Shareef Miller may be a name to watch emerge as the competition opens up to plug some holes on the line.

 

Pre-Spring Penn State Outlook in the Big Ten

 

Despite an offseason that was criticized from multiple angles considering the departure of two assistant coaches for lateral moves and some early departures to the NFL and a handful of transfers, there is a hint of optimism in the air at Penn State. The program is another year removed from the NCAA sanctions that slowed it down, there are some new coaches on the staff looking to rejuvenate the offense and there is competition for key positions on both sides of the football. That's the stuff James Franklin likes.

 

As for where Penn State stands in the Big Ten, they remain a wild card option at best in the East Division. Ohio State and Michigan State are going through some turnover as well this spring but figure to remain among the best the conference has to offer. Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh has Michigan thinking big. Penn State will have to improve the offense if the Nittany Lions are to contend with any of those three division foes. Last year Penn State went 0-3 against those three. Going 2-1 this season might be a stretch, but if the offense does improve, it may not be an unrealistic possibility. But there is a lot of work to do, starting now.

 

- Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for , and hosts the . Follow him on Twitter .

Teaser:
Penn State Nittany Lions 2016 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 09:00

Pages