Articles By David Fox

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Say this for an interesting SEC offseason: The league lost one of its two best coaches to the NBA and the coaching lineup as a whole improved.

 

Florida coach Billy Donovan is now coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving the Gators in a rebuilding situation under new coach Mike White. Facing White will not only be a Kentucky team ready to contend for a national title and resurgent teams at Vanderbilt and Texas A&M, but also two first-year coaches who have Final Fours on their résumés.

 

A handful of SEC schools have been tasked with improving their basketball product in recent years, and they’ve responded with key coaching hires. Mississippi State jettisoned Rick Ray and replaced him with former UCLA coach Ben Howland. Tennessee hired a new coach out of necessity stemming from NCAA issues but brought in longtime Texas coach Rick Barnes. Alabama hired a former NBA coach of the year in Avery Johnson. And two years ago, Bruce Pearl made his return to the league at Auburn.

 

Oh, and LSU adds the consensus No. 1 freshman to the mix.

 

In 2014 and 2013, the SEC produced only three NCAA Tournament teams in each field. After producing five NCAA teams and a team in the Final Four for the second consecutive season, the SEC promises to be a deeper league in the coming years.

 

All SEC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, and on newsstands everywhere.

 

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2015-16 SEC Predictions
1.

The Wildcats won’t be as deep in 2015-16, but there is still more than enough talent to win a national title. Postseason: National Champion

2.

Kevin Stallings has a roster built for success, with a dominant big man (Damian Jones) surrounded by a host of shooters. Postseason: Sweet 16

3.

The Aggies are poised for their first NCAA Tournament invite of the Billy Kennedy era. Postseason: Second round

4.

The Tigers have reloaded with a superb freshman class led by do-everything big man Ben Simmons. Postseason: Second round

5.Michael White’s first Florida team lacks elite talent but will still be a factor in the SEC. Postseason: First round
6.Veteran guards will have to lead the way while young big guys adjust to more prominent roles. Postseason: First First
7.The arrival of Ben Howland and top recruit Malik Newman will make the Bulldogs relevant in 2015-16. Postseason: NIT 
8.Stefan Moody is one of the premier players in the league. Others must step up to make this an NCAA Tournament team. Postseason: NIT 
9.

This will be Frank Martin’s best team at South Carolina. Is that good enough? Postseason: NIT

 
10.No SEC team outside of Kentucky lost more firepower than the Razorbacks. Postseason: NIT 
11.Bruce Pearl’s rebuild at Auburn is far more challenging than the one he faced at Tennessee. Postseason: NIT 
12.

Rick Barnes inherited a roster lacking talent. It could be a long winter in Knoxville.

 
13.There are some intriguing pieces for new coach Avery Johnson, but not enough to be much of a factor in Year 1. 
14.

Two of the top three scorers transferred from a team that went 3–15 in the SEC.

 

 

SEC Superlatives

 

Player of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU

Best Defensive Player: Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Most Underrated Player: Craig Sword, Mississippi State

Newcomer of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU

Top Coach: John Calipari, Kentucky ()

Teams in the : No. 1 Kentucky, No. 15 Vanderbilt, No. 25 Texas A&M

 

All-SEC First Team

G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky

G Stefan Moody, Ole Miss

F Ben Simmons, LSU

C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky

C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

 

All-SEC Second Team

G Malik Newman, Mississippi State

G Danuel House, Texas A&M

G Kenny Gaines, Georgia

F Alex Poythress, Kentucky

F Cinmeon Bowers, Auburn

 

All-SEC Third Team

G Riley LaChance, Vanderbilt

G Charles Mann, Georgia

G Tim Quarterman, LSU

F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida

F Alex Caruso, Texas A&M

 

Recruiting Roundup

 

1. Kentucky: The Wildcats are back in the top spot nationally with a five-man class that includes elite big man Skal Labissiere.

 

2. LSU: No. 1-ranked prospect Ben Simmons and fellow five-star Antonio Blakeney lead the nation’s No. 3-ranked class.

 

3. Texas A&M: A quartet of top-100 ranked prospects give the Aggies a top-10 class.

 

4. Auburn: Bruce Pearl landed a top-20 class led by athletic forwards Horace Spencer and Danjel Purifoy.

 

5. Mississippi State: New coach Ben Howland has a top-20 class, including top-10 prospect Malik Newman.

 

6. Florida: The Gators have a top-25 class that includes four four-star prospects.

 

7. South Carolina: Five-star guard Perry Dozier headlines Gamecocks’ class.

 

8. Alabama: New coach Avery Johnson has a five-man class that is led by four-star wing scorer Kobie Eubanks.

 

9. Missouri: Kim Anderson has six recruits in the fold. Four-star point guard K.J. Walton is the highest ranked of the bunch.

 

10. Vanderbilt: Athletic center Djery Baptiste leads a diverse four-man class.

 

11. Georgia: Mark Fox convinced William Jackson to stay in Athens as the top recruit in a four-man class.

 

12. Ole Miss: Guard Donte Fitzpatrick out of Memphis leads a four-man class.

 

13. Tennessee: New coach Rick Barnes has every position covered in the Volunteers’ five-man recruiting class.

 

14. Arkansas: Four-star combo guard Jimmy Whitt is the Hogs’ only recruit.

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The College Football Playoff picture is starting to get some clarity, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.

 

The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

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Vanderbilt at Houston

The Commodores are coming off the first SEC win of Derek Mason’s tenure with a 10–3 win over Missouri. A modest win streak, though, seems unlikely. Vanderbilt has a solid defense, allowing only five rushing touchdowns all season, but Houston has been a juggernaut in the American Athletic Conference. Under first-year coach Tom Herman, the Cougars are seventh in the country in rushing at 291.6 yards per game.

Fox’s prediction: Houston 28–10

 

Syracuse at Florida State

Florida State’s 28-game ACC win streak ended on a blocked field goal for a touchdown against Georgia Tech, but a new win streak should start anew. The Seminoles haven’t lost back-to-back games since a three-game losing streak early in 2011. Syracuse has been competitive against LSU and Pitt, but the Orange are riding a four-game losing streak that includes defeats to Virginia and USF.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 42–14

 

Oregon State at Utah

Utah is coming off its first loss, a humble 42–24 defeat at USC, but truthfully, the Utes perhaps were never as good as their No. 3 ranking indicated. That said, Utah was undone by four interceptions in a road game against more talented if streaky team. After 17–13 home loss to Colorado, Oregon State has clinched a spot as the worst team in the Pac-12.

Fox’s prediction: Utah 35–10

 

South Carolina at Texas A&M

Texas A&M is a team in turmoil after managing just a field goal in a loss to Ole Miss. Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen has thrown four interceptions and completed just 43.2 percent of his passes in the last two weeks. The benching of backup Kyler Murray, though, has been puzzling and has hinted at dysfunction in College Station. Facing South Carolina won’t cure everything, but the Aggies should be able to end their losing streak.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 31–13

 

Clemson at NC State

NC State’s four FBS wins are over Troy (2–5), Old Dominion (3–4), South Alabama (3–4) and Wake Forest (3–5). Clemson has shown no signs of a team aching for a let down, and the Wolfpack have shown no signs of being able to challenge an above-average team.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 41–14

 

Texas at Iowa State

The Longhorns have found the answer for their beleaguered offense, and that’s run, run and run some more. Texas has thrown only 28 passes the last two weeks while rushing for 587 yards against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Meanwhile, throw out Northern Iowa and Kansas, and Iowa State is 228 rushing yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.

Fox’s prediction: Texas 35–10

 

Notre Dame at Temple

This is the biggest game for Temple football … ever? The Owls are 7–0 and ranked facing a one-loss Notre Dame team that still fashions itself a playoff contender. Unlike the other American Athletic Conference undefeateds Memphis and Houston, Temple is doing it with defense, leading the AAC in rush defense and pass efficiency defense. This will be strength-on-strength against the Notre Dame offense. Receiver Will Fuller and running back C.J. Prosise may be the best Temple has faced this season at either position.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 28–14

 

Oklahoma at Kansas

The Sooners have scored 44, 55 and 63 points in its last three Big 12 wins. The only reason Oklahoma won’t hit 70 against Kansas is if the Sooners don’t want to.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 63–10

 

Colorado at UCLA

The Buffaloes have an above-average pass defense (10 interceptions) to go with the worst rush defense in the Pac-12. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was brilliant last week against Cal, but, as with all freshmen, his consistency is always in question.

Fox’s prediction: UCLA 31–17

 

Maryland at Iowa

An off week gave Iowa a chance to heal, but not completely. Defensive end Drew Ott is still out for the season, and running back Jordan Canzeri is not expected back. Maryland put up a spirited performance against Penn State, but the matchup of the Terrapins passing game (a national-high 20 interceptions) against Desmond King (second nationally with six interceptions) is a nightmare for Maryland.

Fox’s prediction: Iowa 35–10

 

Georgia Tech at Virginia

The Yellow Jackets should be thrilled to be facing an opponent with more than one loss. Georgia Tech’s last six opponents are a combined 37–5 this season, and only a wild finish against Florida State prevented the Jackets from a six-game losing streak. Virginia is 2–5 and may soon join team like Miami, USC, South Carolina and Maryland in the coaching carousel. The Yellow Jackets’ run game got back on track against Florida State and now face a team that’s giving up 4.6 yards per carry.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia Tech 38–17

 

Tennessee at Kentucky

Tennessee played well against Alabama, containing the Crimson Tide’s run game enough that the Vols had a chance to win. In a vacuum, a near-miss against Alabama on the road would be signs of progress for the Volunteers, but Tennessee fans are getting tired of near-misses. Kentucky can get big plays in the run game, but the Wildcats need more from the passing game if they hope to match up with a more talented Tennessee squad.

Fox’s prediction: Tennessee 27–21

 

Miami at Duke

David Cutcliffe rightfully has the reputation of an offensive guru, but Duke is winning with defense this season. The Blue Devils are one of three teams in the country holding opponents to fewer than four yards per play. Miami is wounded with an interim coach and a potential concussion for quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Fox’s prediction: Duke 31–21

 

USC at Cal

USC showed Utah what can happen when the Trojans are playing to their potential in a 42–24 rout. The defense had four interceptions and three sacks while the passing game was efficient once again. Plus, USC is two weeks removed from a 590-yard effort at Notre Dame. Cal’s hot start cooled in two matchups with Pac-12 South contenders on the road. Most concerning is the play of Jared Goff and the offense. Goff threw five interceptions against Utah, and the offense averaged a season-low 4.8 yards per play against UCLA.

Fox’s prediction: USC 38–28

 

Stanford at Washington State

Washington State has quietly become a contender in the Pac-12 North at 3–1. It’s not a surprise how: The Cougars are throwing the ball all over the place and playing limited defense. Stanford’s defense is shorthanded with injuries and not very deep, but the Cardinal’s physicality might be too much for a team that already has trouble stopping the run.

Fox’s prediction: Stanford 42–21

 

Arizona at Washington

Washington expects freshman quarterback Jake Browning to return from injury against Arizona. That should be as much of a lift to the Huskies’ offense as facing Arizona’s lackluster pass defense. Throw out a game against Oregon State, and Arizona is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 73 percent of their passes for 8.9 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Fox’s prediction: Washington 28–21

 

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

The Cowboys are getting it done with defense, holding opponents to 53.6 percent passing with six touchdowns and eight interceptions and a Big 12-best four sacks per game. Texas Tech can move the ball, as usual, and Patrick Mahomes mobility cuts down on sacks. With the Pokes facing Texas Tech’s defense, this game could be the Big 12 shootout of the week.

Fox’s prediction: Texas Tech 45–41

 

Ole Miss at Auburn

The Rebels defense had its best game of the season, holding Texas A&M to a field goal. Perhaps that’s as much a reflection of the Aggies dysfunction as anything else. Auburn’s Sean White continues to play safe football, but he’s not getting a ton of help from his receivers. The Tigers are still desperate for an SEC win while the Rebels’ SEC title hopes have been rejuvenated. Auburn’s defense is just as bad as it was a year ago.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 38–24

 

Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)

The Cocktail Party has a way giving us the unexpected, usually with Florida spoiling Georgia’s hopes for a championship of some kind. This time, Florida is the team with hopes winning the East. The Gators proved at LSU that they can still be competitive with the best despite the shocking suspension of quarterback Will Grier. Georgia is trying to find its way on offense without Nick Chubb.

Fox’s prediction: Florida 28–21

 

Michigan at Minnesota

The Gophers have the Little Brown Jug and the Floyd of Rosedale in their trophy case right now, but both might be finding new homes with the way Minnesota has played of late. Michigan has had an extra week to get over its loss to Michigan State. On paper, this could get ugly with the worst scoring offense in the Big Ten (Minnesota at 20.4 points per game) against the best scoring defense (Michigan at 9.3 points per game).

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 28–3

 

Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 119–41

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Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 14:56
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Charlie Whitehurst began his career at Clemson taking over for the immensely successful Woodrow Dantzler, who left school as the most productive quarterback in school history.

 

By the end of his college career in 2005, Whitehurst passed Dantzler by nearly 2,500 career passing yards. As Clemson continued to be an offensive powerhouse, Whitehurst watched his records fall to Tajh Boyd.

 

Whitehurst, who appeared on the Athlon Sports ACC preview cover in 2005 alongside the Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, led Clemson to two bowl games in three seasons, two bowl victories and two top-25 finishes. Now, Clemson is a College Football Playoff contender riding a streak of four consecutive 10-win seasons.

 

Whitehurst played for former coach Tommy Bowden but Whitehurst’s receivers were quickly becoming accustomed to their new receivers coach, Dabo Swinney. While Swinney built up the Clemson program, Whitehurst has spent a decade in the NFL, primarily as a backup.

 

In 2014 for the Tennessee Titans, Whitehurst started a career-high five games, but he’s become just as notable in Nashville for a style that looks like it belongs on a stage at a rock concert as much as on the football field. , confirming that, yes, the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town.

 

How closely do you stay involved in the Clemson program?

I was at the Notre Dame game a few weeks ago. We were on a bye week, so I went to go see them. I try to watch them when I can. I know they’re undefeated and they’ve got a solid quarterback. Dabo’s done a heckuva a job since he’s been there. It’s fun to say you went to Clemson. They’ve got a real shot at it this year.

 

Were you on the sideline for the Notre Dame game or did you get a seat? The weather was not good.

It was pouring down rain. I got wet pregame. I was down there and watched them warm up and run down the hill, but I found some shelter after that.

 

You were there when Dabo was receivers coach. Did you have any interaction with him or did teammates tell you about him?

He always seemed like he took his job real seriously. I remember one of the receivers, I asked him how’s Dabo as the new coach, and he told me, “He’s making us take notes in there. He’s really tough on us.” That’s what everybody does now, but back then we were running the spread and we didn’t have many plays. We didn’t have notebooks or big playbooks, but Dabo had his receivers taking notes. I didn’t know that every other college in America was doing that. But Dabo, he was demanding of those guys. He pushed them really hard. I think it made them better. …

 

He had a little cart that he wheeled in, like a substitute teacher, and he’d make a presentation and give them game plan to the receiver. It was weird, but my point is that he’s always doing the extra thing.

 

He’s always been a high-energy guy. We lucked into him, but my gosh, he could be there as long as he wants to.

 

He’s kind of character, a great motivator. Did you notice any of that or was he so early into his career that he didn’t really show that side?

You noticed it because he was out there pushing his position group really hard. I remember when I left he was a guy everyone really respected, and you knew he was a little different. It doesn’t surprise me. You say character, but that is who he is. He’s not trying to put on a persona. He’s a motivator. People really relate to him. He’s a leader. When he got hired, I said, my God, what a leader.

 

Swinney reacted strongly to a question about “Clemsoning” — meaning, a team that starts out hot, raises expectations, and loses a game in a major upset. That term aside, something has changed for Clemson in the last five years where that team is able to handle success in a way it didn’t before. What have you seen that’s changed?

We’ll see how the season goes. Clemson’s had some really good seasons and been in some good situations and then you don’t win the big game, but there’s, what, six or seven teams in the last six or seven years that haven’t done that and they won the national championship. There aren’t 20 teams a year that don’t do that. But I get it. It takes a while. The recruiting takes a little time. The facilities, the coaches. It takes time to get talent in there. It takes time, and it’s hard to win every game.

 

Clemson is one of the top 10 teams in terms of producing NFL players. Do you have a relationship with these guys even if you didn’t play with them in college?

You try to talk to them before the game. But I’m the oldest one. I don’t think there’s a player in the NFL that I played with. There’s not a lot of guys I personally played with. You usually say hello.

 

Speaking of being one of the older Clemson guys still in the NFL, you’ve had a 10-year NFL career. Do you ever think, wow, I’ve got it pretty good.

I’m proud of how a lot of it has gone. How many people get out of the game and wish they had done more. I have some regrets and some things that could have been better. But to last 10 years, I am pretty proud of that.

 

You’ve gained a bit of local celebrity status in Nashville. What do you think of that?

I don’t know if that’s true or not.

 

Well, you were on a most beautiful people list.

I think when you grow your hair long and play quarterback, little things like that, it’s like “Who is this guy?” It’s a great town, if we can get this going in the direction we think it’s going, we’ll get a lot of support and it will be a lot of fun. It’s a great a football town.

 

Do you get recognized moreso than other backup quarterbacks?

I’m not sure. Maybe. I don’t have an issue with it or anything. I can go anywhere I want. You see people out at dinner who are in the music business, and who am I compared to some of those people?

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If Iowa continues the current pattern of success under Fran McCaffery, a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 1999 awaits this season.

 

The Hawkeyes have improved in each of McCaffery’s first five seasons as head coach. A losing season in Year 1 was followed by a winning season that included a victory in the NIT in Year 2. The Hawkeyes advanced to the NIT title game in McCaffery’s third season and to the NCAA Tournament a year later, where it lost in the First Four.

 

Iowa continued its ascent last season by finishing in a tied for third place in the Big Ten and by winning an NCAA game for the first time since 2001.

 

“That was the whole goal,” says 7'1" senior center Adam Woodbury. “The year before I got here they made the NIT and won a game. And then we were able to go a little further and a little further, and we’re trying to improve on things.

 

“I think that’s what everybody does except for a team like Duke. They can’t really improve on what they did last season. It’s a key to get better as a program and to sustain our success.”

 

Four starters return from last season, but All-Big Ten power forward Aaron White isn’t among them after using up his eligibility. His absence will create more scoring opportunities for senior forward Jarrod Uthoff, who was a third-team All-Big Ten selection last season, and for Woodbury, who has started 104 games as a Hawkeye.

 

All Big Ten predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, and on newsstands everywhere.

 

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Frontcourt

 

It’ll take some getting used to not having White on the roster, but the team he left behind is loaded with size, experience and depth on the frontline. Uthoff is a star in the making, while Woodbury is an underrated and underappreciated presence in the post.

 

Uthoff can score facing the rim or with his back to the basket. His only shortcoming is that he’s too unselfish and passive at times.

 

Woodbury wasn’t asked to score much during his first three seasons, but that should change without White in the lineup. Woodbury runs the floor extremely well for somebody his size, and he worked hard during the offseason to improve his jump shot. He needs to attack the rim more often, but he passes well for a big man and brings toughness.

 

Sophomore Dom Uhl showed flashes last season while playing limited minutes. He is expected to get the first shot at replacing White in the starting lineup.

 

Junior college transfer Dale Jones also will be in the mix, along with 6'6" junior Peter Jok when McCaffery uses a smaller lineup. Jok started 21 games at shooting guard last season but is expected to play more at small forward this season.

 


Iowa Hawkeyes Facts & Figures

Last season: 22-12 (12-6 Big Ten)

Postseason: NCAA second round

Consecutive NCAAs: 2

Big Ten projection: 7

Postseason projection: NCAA first round

 


Backcourt

 

When it comes to experience, Iowa’s backcourt compares favorably with every team in the Big Ten, and the country for that matter. Seniors Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons, along with Jok, have combined to start 122 games for the Hawkeyes, including 97 by Gesell, who plays mostly point guard. Gesell is probably the best all-around player in terms of offense and defense among the three, while Clemmons is the best defender and Jok the best shooter.

 

Redshirt freshman Brady Ellingson was a prolific 3-point shooter in high school, and that outside production is just what Iowa needs to complement the returning players. Clemmons said in June that he expected Iowa to use a three-guard lineup on many occasions this season.

 


Key Losses: G Gabriel Olaseni, F Aaron White

Top Players: G Mike Gesell, G Anthony Clemmons, G/F Peter Jok, F Jarrod Uthoff, C Adam Woodbury

 


Newcomers

 

This class will improve Iowa’s athleticism but has nobody of elite status. Shooting guard Andrew Fleming should provide a much-needed perimeter shooting threat, while Illinois natives Brandon Hutton, Isaiah Moss and Christian Williams will add quickness on the wing. Dale Jones averaged 16.9 points last season at Tyler Junior College in Texas and is a threat from long range.

 

Final Analysis

 

McCaffery has brought stability, enthusiasm and expectations back to a program that was in shambles when he took over in 2010. Iowa will try to make the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season, which hasn’t happened since 1990-93. At this stage, and with four starters returning, anything less than another trip to the NCAAs would be considered a disappointment and a step backward. This could be McCaffery’s best shooting team at Iowa. With Uthoff, Jok, Gesell, Clemmons, Ellingson and newcomers Andrew Fleming and Jones, Iowa has a stable of capable shooters. That should create better floor spacing and more room for Uthoff and Woodbury to perform near the basket.

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Old-school ACC fans who remember the days of a Tobacco Road-focused lineup may find themselves pinching themselves at times this season.

 

Conference expansion in the ACC has been football focused, even if basketball powerhouses like Louisville and Syracuse have been added. This season, however, the three teams at the top are classic ACC basketball powers. Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are all poised to contend for the Final Four. All that’s missing is Maryland, a charter ACC team that will have a top-five team in the Big Ten.

 

The ACC will have plenty of intrigue beyond those top three. Louisville, now facing a lurid off-court scandal, needed two graduate transfers from mid-majors to stay afloat. Notre Dame expects to score in bunches again, even without Jerian Grant. Florida State and Miami have rebuilt after missing the NCAA Tournament, and NC State will be plenty talented.

 

All ACC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, and on newsstands everywhere.

 

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2015-16 ACC Predictions
1.Lost three one-and-dones, but Duke welcomes in another elite recruiting class that will be ready to contribute. Postseason: National Runner-Up
2.Depth and experience should carry the Heels on a deep NCAA run. Nine players from a 10-man rotation return. Postseason: Final Four
3.

Had Justin Anderson stayed, the Cavs would be the ACC favorite. Still, the bulk of a 30-win team is back, and so is coaching wiz Tony Bennett. Postseason: Elite Eight

4.Every key player from an Elite Eight run is gone, but Rick Pitino added two of the nation’s top transfers. Postseason: Second Round
5.Suffered some big losses after coming one basket away from Final Four, but Mike Brey still has plenty to build around. Postseason: Second Round
6.Adding a top-10 recruiting class — including three freshmen who can help right away — will get the Noles back in the NCAA Tournament. Postseason: Second Round
7.

Every key player returns after reaching 2015 NIT title game. Postseason: First Round

8.NCAA penalties didn’t stop Orange from landing a strong recruiting class, but Jim Boeheim will miss nine ACC games. Postseason: First Round
9.

Losing leading scorer Trevor Lacey (who went undrafted) from the Pack’s Sweet 16 team was a major blow. Postseason: First Four

10.Coming off a rare down year. The roster boasts experience, but big questions remain on defense. Postseason: NIT 
11.

Pressure is building on Brad Brownell after four straight years without an NCAA bid. Postseason: NIT

 
12.

Expect improvement in Year 2 of the Danny Manning era. 

 
13.Maryland transfer Seth Allen will help, and so will playing so many freshmen last year.  
14.

Brian Gregory was given one more year — just barely. In his four years, Tech is just 19–51 in ACC play.

 
15.

Firmly in rebuilding mode. Eagles will be one of the youngest teams in the conference.

 

ACC Superlatives

 

Player of the Year: Brandon Ingram, Duke

Best Defensive Player: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

Most Underrated: Sheldon McClellan, Miami

Newcomer of the Year: Brandon Ingram, Duke

Top Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke ()

Coach on the Hot Seat: Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech ()

Teams in the No. 2 Duke, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 5 Virginia, No. 23 Louisville

 

All-ACC First Team

G Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

G Marcus Paige, North Carolina

G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State

F Brandon Ingram, Duke

F Zach Auguste, Notre Dame

 

All-ACC Second Team

G Derryck Thornton, Duke

G Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame

G Sheldon McClellan, Miami

F Brice Johnson, North Carolina

F Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina

 

All-ACC Third Team

G Damion Lee, Louisville

G Grayson Allen, Duke

F Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

F Anthony Gill, Virginia

C Tonye Jekiri, Miami

 

Recruiting Roundup

 

1. Duke: The No. 2-ranked class nationally features four five-star prospects, including point guard Derryck Thornton.

 

2. Louisville: This diverse four-man class ranks No. 7 nationally, and there are big expectations for powerful guard Donovan Mitchell.

 

3. Florida State: Wing scorer Dwayne Bacon is the gem of Seminoles’ top-10 class.

 

4. Syracuse: The Orange just missed on the top 10 nationally but have four talented four-star prospects coming to campus.

 

5. Virginia Tech: Sitting just outside the top 25 nationally, the Hokies’ class includes four four-star prospects.

 

6. Wake Forest: Danny Manning landed two post players with potential and an athletic four-star guard in Bryant Crawford.

 

7. Notre Dame: Shooting, toughness on the perimeter and a physical inside presence are coming Mike Brey’s way.

 

8. NC State: Maverick Rowan is a sharpshooting scorer, and Shaun Kirk is a slashing athlete.

 

9. North Carolina: It is only a two-man class, but four-star prospect Kenny Williams is known for his shooting ability.

 

10. Clemson: Speedy point guard Ty Hudson is the top recruit in the Tigers’ class.

 

11. Boston College: The Eagles are loading up with a five-man class of three-star recruits.

 

12. Pittsburgh: Four-star guard Damon Wilson is known for his versatile play and scoring ability.

 

13. Miami: The Canes added a couple of high-potential forwards.

 

14. Virginia: Rugged and skilled big man Jarred Reuter is the Cavaliers’ lone recruit.

 

15. Georgia Tech: Brian Gregory is adding some size with Sylvester Ogbonda.

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The College Football Playoff picture is starting to get some clarity, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.

 

The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

Washington at Stanford

Stanford is averaging 48.5 points per game in Pac-12 play, including more than 50 points at home the last two weeks. The Cardinal’s 16-6 loss to Northwestern in the opener appears to be an aberration as Stanford has the look of a national title contender. Washington is getting better, particularly on defense where the Huskies are averaging 10 tackles for a loss per game in Pac-12 play. The Huskies, though, don’t have the offense to hang with Stanford.

Fox’s prediction: Stanford 42-20

 

Washington State at Arizona

Time to start taking Wazzu a little more seriously. The Cougars lost to Portland State in the opener, but they swept the Oregon schools the last two weeks and had a third-quarter lead against Cal on the road three weeks ago. Arizona is still without linebacker Scooby Wright, and running back Nick Wilson didn’t play in a close call with Colorado. With Washington State’s passing game behind Luke Falk and Arizona’s offense, this should be a wild one.

Fox’s prediction: Washington State 49-41

 

Utah at USC

Utah is undefeated, but we’re skeptical about the Utes. Utah ranks 70th in total offense and 50th in total defense. The Utes dodged Cal by six points and beat Arizona State in a 34-18 victory that was closer than the final score indicates. Despite the turmoil in Los Angeles, USC held its own for a time against Notre Dame, but ultimately the Trojans’ inability to stop the run caught up with them. Utah will use the same strategy with Devontae Booker.

Fox’s prediction: USC 31-28

 

Tennessee at Alabama

Tennessee saved its season two weeks ago with a win over Georgia, but Alabama is quickly rounding into form as the class of the SEC. The Volunteers have allowed more than five yards per carry in each of the last two games, which isn’t a great trend ahead of a matchup with Derrick Henry. The Tide have a stifling run defense this season, meaning Josh Dobbs may need to hit some plays downfield for Tennessee to stay competitive.

Fox’s prediction: Alabama 41-28

 

Kentucky at Mississippi State

Every Kentucky game has been decided by one score, and the margin of error for Mississippi State is pretty slim. In other words, expect another close one. The Bulldogs, though, have Dak Prescott. He’s arguably the SEC’s MVP as Mississippi State is likely going to make a bowl game despite not having anything in the way of offense beyond Prescott.

Fox’s prediction: Mississippi State 31-28

 

Clemson at Miami

A case could be made that Clemson is the top team in the country right now. The Tigers’ 34-17 win over Boston College shouldn’t be overlooked — Clemson averaged 6.8 yards per play against an Eagles team that hadn’t allowed more than 3.8 in a game all season. Meanwhile, only one team, Notre Dame, has topped 300 total yards against the Tigers.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 38-21

 

Iowa State at Baylor

Iowa State has faced Texas Tech and TCU the last two weeks, allowing 959 combined passing yards and 10 touchdowns. The Cyclones might not have much left for Baylor, which isn’t an ideal situation.

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 66-21

 

Missouri at Vanderbilt

It’s probably best to just avoid this game. Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary has thrown five interceptions the last two weeks, and Missouri has failed to score a touchdown each of the last two weeks. Both teams have good defenses … so take the under.

Fox’s prediction: Missouri 10-7

 

Pittsburgh at Syracuse

Pitt is quietly getting into the ACC race thanks to three straight one-score wins over underachieving Virginia Tech, Virginia and Georgia Tech. Pitt, which ranks seventh in the ACC in offensive and defensive yards per play, is doing just enough get by. That should be enough to beat a Syracuse team that’s lost three in a row.

Fox’s prediction: Pittsburgh 28-17

 

Kansas State at Texas

Who knows what we’re going to get out of either team. The same Texas team that lost 50-7 to TCU ran all over Oklahoma in a 24-17 win. And the same Kansas State team that put a scare into TCU lost 55-0 to Oklahoma. Kansas State has Texas’ number (6-1 vs. the Longhorns since 2006), but Charlie Strong is on the verge of turning the Longhorns around while Kansas State is still patching things together at quarterback.

Fox’s prediction: Texas 28-21

 

Indiana at Michigan State

Everyone has seen Michigan State’s unlikely win over Michigan, but few probably watched Indiana’s collapse against Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights scored the final 28 points in a 55-52 win. The Spartans already have a talent edge, and they’re the ones riding the momentum of a wild win. That said, Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld should be able to test a Michigan State secondary thinned by injuries.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 49-31

 

Western Kentucky at LSU

LSU’s run of good fortune in facing backup quarterbacks comes to an end in a big way. The Tigers haven’t faced a team’s No. 1 quarterback since Week 2 against Auburn, and even that comes with a caveat since Auburn soon benched then-starter Jeremy Johnson. That means LSU has truly faced just one No. 1 quarterback this season, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty is one of the nation’s most productive QBs, leading the Hilltoppers to at least 500 yards in all but one game this season. LSU has to be on guard.

Fox’s prediction: LSU 35-28

 

Texas A&M at Ole Miss

Both teams need a win, badly. Texas A&M hardly looked like a playoff contender in the loss to Alabama, and Ole Miss’ win over Alabama now seems like a distant memory. The Rebels will get a big leg up when offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil returns, just in time for a matchup with Myles Garrett. The focus, though, needs to be on the quarterbacks. Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly has thrown six interceptions in four games since the win over Bama while Kyle Allen threw three interceptions against the Tide. The difference is that Texas A&M has a plan B in Kyler Murray.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 42-35

 

Auburn at Arkansas

Auburn’s quarterback change from Jeremy Johnson to Sean White stopped the bleeding from a turnover standpoint, but Tigers still can’t stop the run. That’s not a good trend ahead of facing Arkansas. The Hogs managed just 44 rushing yards against Alabama, but that’s more a reflection of the Tide than Arkansas.

Fox’s prediction: Arkansas 35-24

 

Duke at Virginia Tech

This has been a season to forget for the Hokies, but things may be turning for Virginia Tech this week. Michael Brewer will return at quarterback after missing the last six games with a broken collarbone. Virginia Tech needs a spark in a big way, and that may be it.

Fox’s prediction: Virginia Tech 21-13

 

Northwestern at Nebraska

The Wildcats are close to closing the door on their dream season. Northwestern’s offense has been nothing short of inept the last two weeks, and even the Wildcats’ stout defense is starting to fail them. Michigan and Iowa rushed for a combined 495 yards and eight touchdowns against Northwestern. Nebraska has had its issues this season, but the Cornhuskers have a solid run game. As long as Tommy Armstrong avoids major mistakes, Nebraska should have the upper hand.

Fox’s prediction: Nebraska 35-10

 

Florida State at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech’s run game got back on track against Pittsburgh with 376 yards and 9.4 per carry, but the Yellow Jackets still lost. Florida State isn’t dominating, but the Seminoles are the most turnover-averse team in the country.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 31-21

 

Texas Tech at Oklahoma

Psst. Texas Tech is better than you think. The Red Raiders are plus-six in turnover margin and second in the Big 12 in takeaways. The Red Raiders still can’t stop the run, but Oklahoma — despite having Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon — prefers to air it out. This game has high shootout potential with former Red Raiders quarterback Baker Mayfield having the advantage for OU.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 49-35

 

Wisconsin at Illinois

Wisconsin is patching together a successful season despite below average production from its offensive line and run game. Credit the passing attack and a stingy defense.

Fox’s prediction: Wisconsin 28-14

 

Ohio State at Rutgers

The return of Leonte Carroo has jumpstarted the Rutgers offense, but the Scarlet Knights are still lacking in so many other areas. All signs point to J.T. Barrett taking the first snaps for Ohio State, and if the Buckeyes are approaching their potential, this won’t be a contest.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 49-21

 

Last week: 12-8

Season to date: 104-36

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More than most, Steve Taneyhill knows what South Carolina can be — both the good and the bad. As quarterback at South Carolina from 1992-95, he led the Gamecocks to their first bowl win in school history. From afar as a high school football coach in the state, Taneyhill has watched the highs of the Steve Spurrier era and the lows of the 1-21 stretch in 1998-99.

 

Taneyhill may be best known as one of the more colorful personalities in SEC history. Think of him as a pre-Johnny Manziel figure, just with a blond mullet.

 

Taneyhill appeared on the 1995 cover of Athlon Sports and since then has coached state title winners and first-round draft picks in South Carolina high schools. From his perspective as the coach of Union High, Taneyhill shared his thoughts of where the Gamecocks can go from here in the post-Spurrier era.

 

How much have you stayed involved with South Carolina?

 

When Spurrier got the job, he called me that first week and wanted me to come back around a little bit more. When (Lou) Holtz was there, he didn’t do that with former players. I think because I played when Coach Spurrier was at Florida and started four games against him and he heard maybe the rumblings that former players weren’t welcome, he invited me to come basically anytime I wanted. I started to go back when I could, but it’s hard during the season. I went for bowl practices and clinics and spoke to the team on numerous occasions. Pretty much anytime I’m around, Coach Spurrier welcomes me. We’re friends. I’ve gotten to know the staff because of that. There was a time when Brad Lawing (former South Carolina assistant, now defensive ends/outside linebackers coach at Florida State) was the only one I knew because he was there when I was there. But I’ve come to know G.A. (Mangus) and (Shawn) Elliott and (Steve Spurrier) Junior and those guys.

 

What was your relationship with Spurrier when you were a player, if any?

 

That was one of the weeks I always ventured down to the defensive rooms just to see the things they were doing because what he was doing at Florida was really and truly the first time that stuff in the passing game had started. My senior year, John Reaves, came to be our offensive coordinator. He had been at Florida, so we started running a lot of the same stuff. Even today, I call a couple of plays the same as they call them at Carolina because I got them from Coach Reaves who was with Spurrier.

 

What did you think when you heard the news that Spurrier had retired from South Carolina? Were you surprise that it happened or at least the way it happened?

 

I was surprised. I was down there last year during the bowl practice and talked to coach a little bit, and I thought after the bowl win he seemed excited. He had a little of that fire back. Coach Spurrier visited my school one day in January and we talked for a bit. I hadn’t saw him, and I figured everything was good. But as a fan, I hate to watch the game this Saturday and not see him on the sideline.

 

From your perspective as a high school coach in South Carolina or other coaches that you’ve talked to, is South Carolina at a crossroads? How do you view where South Carolina is going to go from here?

 

I have a player on my team who has been offered by South Carolina, a junior wide receiver (Shi Smith), he’s probably the top junior in the state. I have been witnessing his recruitinment. They offered my guy in the ninth grade. I don’t necessarily think it’s recruiting effort (that's missing). I think it’s recruiting (as in) who we sign. What we did in those 11-win seasons, we ought to be able to get on those national-level recruits. I don’t know where there at, but there not there. I just know how they recruit my guy, which is completely different because he’s an underclassman and the rules are different. I don’t think it’s effort in recruiting. It’s who we sign. Listening to Coach Spurrier and he said this is a recruiting business and he basically he said we need a younger guy. Recruiting is the lifeblood and if you don’t have it, it’s hard to compete in the SEC. We’ve got to sign some better guys. On offense, they ain’t got but one wideout that’s doing anything (Pharoh Cooper). On my team alone in high school, I’ve got five wideouts. I’m not saying they can play at South Carolina, but they can all play. I think wideout is one of the easier positions to recruit across the country just because everyone’s throwing the ball. I just look there and nothing against those other guys, but No. 11 is the only one making plays. I’m not down here, so I just don’t know. On offense, they don’t have many playmakers.

 

What is the recruiting landscape in South Carolina as far as where kids want to go?

 

I think the state of South Carolina every year has great defensive linemen and wideouts. You can find those kids in our state. Clemson’s not having any trouble getting wideouts. In our state, we have about 20 kids that go Division I and a lot of those kids play right away. As a kid here, when you get that letter, it’s not like in the state of Georgia, you’re looking for a letter from UGA. Here in South Carolina you’re waiting for both (South Carolina and Clemson) because the state is pretty much split. As a high school coach, I want a kid to go to Clemson or South Carolina. I want a kid to stay in the state. As a former Carolina player, I wish South Carolina would get the majority of the talent. It’s tough for me because I’ve lived two lives. I’m a high school coach, so I like everybody. I’ve never had a player play at South Carolina. I’ve had a player go to Clemson (the late Gaines Adams who played for Taneyhill at Cambridge Academy). I’m the coach who is this guy with everybody. And sometimes I’m the guy who played at South Carolina, so it’s a fine line.

 

How did you get into that double life and get into coaching?

 

It was definitely something I fell into. My dad was a basketball coach for 30 years, and my sister was a college basketball coach for 20 years. I never thought it would be me. I never thought I’d have enough patience to deal with it. Going back to when I played Arena Football, I got a call from a small private school in Greenwood, S.C., and they asked me if I’d be interested. I thought it would be better than playing Arena Football, so I gave it a shot. I kind of knew from the first day that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. It’s as close to playing as you can get. You’re still part of a team and have that competition every day and part of that routine that all athletes get into. I never thought I’d be a coach because of the patience that it takes to deal with players and parents and administrators. I’m happy that it happened.

 

When did you realize you had the patience to juggle all that?

 

I was in a great place at Cambridge Academy with great kids and great parents and a place that really wanted to win. We went 7-4 and everyone was excited and it just felt right. The next year we went 7-5 and made it one game further (in the playoffs) and the next year we won it all. You always want to get back to that. I’ve been fortunate to win it five times. That first year and seeing the kids and how excited they were, I had taken over a group that had never really won.

 

During your playing days you were known as a free spirit and trash talker, how do you feel when you watch a guy like Johnny Manziel when he was at Texas A&M or the reaction to Manziel?

 

I’ve been through it. That’s the first thing. You’re on a big stage as a young guy. He was having the time of his life having fun. Yeah, there was trash talk and celebrations and all that but it was just fun. A lot of people take a lot of things seriously — as long as you’re out there being successful and giving all that you’ve got. I was the same way. I’m going to battle and have fun at this thing. Now, there’s a lot more rules and you’ve got tone it down.

 

On a more serious note, Gaines Adams passed away five years ago. How has that changed your approach to the game? Adams was a defensive end at Cambridge Academy who signed at Clemson and was later selected No. 4 in the NFL Draft. Adams died Jan. 17, 2010 at age 26 due cardiac arrest caused by an enlarged heart.

 

I talked to my team just because of his story. Someone needs to tell that story. He was a guy no one looked at as a college football player or the fourth player in the draft, but he worked and didn’t take no for an answer and never backed down. That drove him. When it happened, it shook me pretty good because we were friends. I talked to him every Sunday when he was in college and every Monday when he was a pro player. What it did was, I always going to do my best to develop relationships with my players. It made me work a little harder to get to know all the kids because you never know when time’s up. In that situation, it was such a shock. After it was all said and done, I was in an OK place because we helped each other. I helped him and he helped me to become a better coach and understand the kids on a different level and get to know them better instead of being the guy on the field yelling at them all the time.

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The college football season is heading for its most important week, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.

 

The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

College Football Podcast: Week 6 Recap



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Saturday’s Games

 

Iowa at Northwestern

Iowa’s run game and defense carried the Hawkeyes in two Big Ten wins over Wisconsin and Illinois. Kirk Ferentz’s team likely will need more from quarterback C.J. Beathard, who has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the last two games, against Northwestern’s defense. The Wildcats offense has a long way to go after last week’s shutout against Michigan, but Northwestern will face a defense without its best player, Drew Ott, who is out for the season.

Fox’s prediction: Northwestern 21–13

 

Missouri at Georgia

After back-to-back losses to Alabama and Tennessee, Georgia needs this game not just to keep its head above water in the SEC East race but to maintain respectability. This will be the third time Missouri has faced Georgia not long after an injury to the Bulldogs’ starting running back. Nick Chubb broke out last season in a 34–0 rout of the Tigers. Sony Michel and Keith Marshall will look to replicate that with Chubb out this season. Missouri’s offense, meanwhile, ranks last in the SEC in yards per play (4.6).

Fox’s prediction: Georgia 24–14

 

Oregon at Washington

The Ducks are reeling after their third loss of the season, this one at home to arguably the lesser of the Washington schools. Meanwhile, Washington is celebrating after a 17–12 win over USC, which, as it turns out, has as much to do with the Trojans’ turmoil as the Huskies’ turnaround. This will be a matchup between Washington’s young and punchless offense (4.8 yards per play vs. FBS teams) and Oregon’s porous defense (5.8 yards per play). Oregon has won 11 in a row in the rivalry, but that may be about to change.

Fox’s prediction: Washington 35–28

 

Ole Miss at Memphis

Memphis has lost six in a row in the series, but the Tigers haven’t faced Ole Miss in the Liberty Bowl since 2009 and rarely with a top 25-caliber team. Both teams rank in the top 11 nationally in total offense and better than 525 yards per game. Memphis, though, doesn’t have a defense to match. Ole Miss has had its defensive lapses, but the Rebels still have the talent edge.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 41–31

 

Alabama at Texas A&M

Alabama is six weeks into the season, and we’re not totally sure if the Crimson Tide is the best team in the SEC or simply one of the pack of solid, if flawed, teams. The Alabama offense turned in another uneven performance for three quarters against Arkansas. The Crimson Tide run defense has held all but one opponent (Georgia) to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, but Texas A&M’s offense — like Ole Miss — is built to challenge Alabama in the secondary and in tempo. Don’t look now, but the Aggies may have the SEC’s best defensive player (Myles Garrett), quarterback (Kyle Allen) and freshman (Christian Kirk).

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 31–28

 

Boston College at Clemson

Expect Boston College’s defense to put up a fight against Deshaun Watson. The Eagles are allowing only 7.2 points per game. BC, though, is averaging just six points against FBS opponents, the worst average in the country. Clemson’s defense suffered little drop off despite losing a host of players from last year’s standout squad.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 31–7

 

Louisville at Florida State

The Cardinals are probably better than you think. Louisville’s three losses have come by a combined 13 points (Granted, it’s only FBS win is by seven over NC State). Florida State probably isn’t as good as you think, but the Seminoles still have Dalvin Cook, who is as adept at saving the day for FSU as he was in the Louisville game last year.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 35–28

 

Virginia Tech at Miami

The Hokies put together a competent game offensively against NC State just in time to face a Miami team that’s allowing 5.6 yards per play against FBS competition. Virginia Tech’s defense is holding its own with cornerback Kendall Fuller out, but Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya may be the best QB the Hokies have faced since the opener against Ohio State.

Fox’s prediction: Miami 31–24

 

Nebraska at Minnesota

Minnesota may not have the best defense in the Big Ten, but the Gophers aren’t too far off the pace of Michigan and Northwestern. When the Gophers get good field position (i.e., when they’re playing Purdue), the offense can be functional. Nebraska, though, remains an enigma. The Huskers are getting gashed on defense and are minus-five in turnover margin — and their late-game collapses have led to four losses this season.

Fox’s prediction: Minnesota 24–17

 

West Virginia at Baylor

West Virginia’s promising season has gone sour with back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and that’s before a visit to Baylor in a revenge game. The Mountaineers’ passing game has gone cold, contributing to a minus-4 turnover margin (WVU was plus-9 in non-conference play)

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 41–21

 

Florida at LSU

The Gators’ season has been turned upside down by the season-ending suspension for quarterback Will Grier, who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs this week. Backup Treon Harris has starting experience, but he hasn’t thrown a pass since Week 2 and has completed just 53 percent of his career passes. This should be a defensive struggle, but Florida’s margin of error has diminished. That’s not ideal against a team with Leonard Fournette on the other side.

Fox’s prediction: LSU 20–14

 

Oklahoma at Kansas State

After a mystifying loss to Texas, Oklahoma faces a team that has matched up well with the Sooners. Kansas State has won two of the last three meetings, but oddly enough, Oklahoma hasn’t lost in Manhattan since 1996. The Sooners’ run game has gone dormant for some reason, and Kansas State is allowing a Big 12-low 105 rushing yards per game, a stat skewed in part by the Wildcats’ clock-chomping ball-control offense.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 35–28

 

TCU at Iowa State

Pity the poor Iowa State defense, the Cyclones just lost 66–31 to Texas Tech and now get TCU and Baylor in back-to-back games. The Horned Frogs’ beleaguered defense should get a bit of a breather.

Fox’s prediction: TCU 63–21

 

Michigan State at Michigan

The rivalry has been lopsided in favor of Michigan State with the Spartans winning the last two matchups by 23 and 24 points and six of the last seven overall. Michigan is poised to change that trend. The Wolverines’ defense has been the most dominant unit in the country, albeit against offensively challenged teams like BYU, UNLV, Oregon State and Northwestern. Michigan State has the best offense the Wolverines have faced this year, but the Spartans are facing injuries all over the field, most critically on the offensive line.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 28–10

 

Vanderbilt at South Carolina

South Carolina’s injury list remains worth monitoring. Running back Brandon Wilds was cleared to play against LSU but did not against the Tigers. Quarterback Connor Mitch returned to practice. Lorenzo Nunez (shoulder) did not play against LSU. Vanderbilt’s defense remains one of the more underrated units in the league.

Fox’s prediction: Vanderbilt 17–13

 

Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech

This is a matchup with arguably the most surprising team in the ACC against the most disappointing. The Yellow Jackets offense has been ineffective in four losses this season, averaging 3.4 yards per carry in the last four games. Pittsburgh is missing running back James Conner, but has made the offense work with efficient play from Nathan Peterman at quarterback. The Panthers are allowing just 2.9 yards per carry this season.

Fox’s prediction: Pittsburgh 28–20

 

Arizona State at Utah

Mike Bercovici rebounded from his lackluster start against USC with solid performances against UCLA and Colorado. The Sun Devils’ run defense also has clamped down for just 2.1 yards per carry and 62 yards per game in Pac-12 play. Utah’s Devontae Booker will have trouble finding running room, so the pressure will be on quarterback Travis Wilson, who threw two picks against Cal.

Fox’s prediction: Utah 31–27

 

Oregon State at Washington State

Statistically speaking, the Beavers’ pass defense is not bad. Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in fewest yards allowed per game and is fourth in pass efficiency defense. Facing Washington State — rather than Stanford, Arizona and San Jose State — is a different animal.

Fox’s prediction: Washington State 54–28

 

USC at Notre Dame

Notre Dame faces a USC team in crisis. The Trojans are coming of a listless performance in a loss to Washington, and coach Steve Sarkisian has taken a leave of absence stemming from concerns over his use of alcohol. The Trojans regrouped under an interim coach last season, and this is still the most talented team in the Pac-12. Notre Dame has kept itself afloat despite injuries, but most teams are beat up after a matchup with Navy or another physical team. Notre Dame will be no exception. The Irish are on upset alert.

Fox’s Prediction: USC 28–21

 

Penn State at Ohio State

Ohio State’s quarterbacks had a solid performance last week against Maryland even as Urban Meyer went with the unconventional plan of using backup J.T. Barrett as a red zone specialist. Ohio State’s defense has to find a way to prevent the lapses that enabled big plays the last two weeks. Penn State’s defensive front is salty, but we’re not yet believers in the offense, especially as the Nittany Lions’ running back depth has been tested.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 35–14

 

Last week: 17–3

Season to date: 92–28

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Besides the NBA’s one-and-done rule, few trends in college basketball have changed the game quite like the explosion of transfers, graduate or otherwise.

 

Two of the biggest beneficiaries of transfers — Fred Hoiberg and to a lesser extent Billy Donovan — are off to NBA jobs. The transfer train, though, hasn’t stopped. A handful of teams may sink or swim with transfers.

 

Oregon, which may supplant Iowa State as transfer central, landed a veteran guard from Villanova. Wichita State has two transfers to complement veterans Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. Louisville dramatically altered the outlook for its season with transfers from mid-majors. Even Tom Izzo is getting in on the transfer market with Eron Harris.

 

The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .

 

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Impact Transfers for 2015-16

 

G Seth Allen, Virginia Tech (from Maryland)

After winning only 20 games combined in two seasons, Virginia Tech is desperate for ACC-caliber players. Allen checks that box. He would have lost his job at Maryland to Melo Trimble last season, but Allen averaged 13.4 points and shot better than 40 percent from the field in his final season with the Terrapins.

 

F Ryan Anderson, Arizona (from Boston College)

With Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson gone, Arizona needs an experienced forward and fast. Anderson fits that need after averaging 13.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in his three seasons at Boston College.

 

F Robert Carter Jr., Maryland (from Georgia Tech)

Maryland had a small lineup for most of last season, but that’s about to change for two reasons. One is the arrival of freshman center Diamond Stone. The other is Carter. The 6'9", 240-pound forward averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds for Georgia Tech in 2013-14.

 

G Dylan Ennis, Oregon (from Villanova)

Villanova signed freshman Jalen Brunson, so point guard minutes were going to be even tougher for Ennis to crack with the Wildcats. Instead, he transferred to Oregon, where he’ll play his natural position and lead a young Ducks backcourt. Ennis averaged 9.9 points and 3.7 rebounds for Nova, numbers that should get a boost at Oregon.

 

G Conner Frankamp, Wichita State (from Kansas)

Frankamp, who will be eligible in December, averaged only 2.5 points per game at Kansas, but he should flourish for Wichita State now that he’s not buried on the roster. He’ll give Gregg Marshall another outside shooter to team with Ron Baker and Evan Wessel.

 

G Sterling Gibbs, UConn (from Seton Hall)

Seton Hall’s locker room was fractured last season, contributing to nine losses in the last 10 games. Gibbs still averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists. Starting for Kevin Ollie at UConn — where point guards have long flourished — could be an ideal situation.

 

F Anton Grady, Wichita State (from Cleveland State)

While Frankamp adds another shooter to the Shockers’ attack, Grady gives Wichita State a standout defensive presence in the frontcourt. Grady averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds for Cleveland State in 2014-15.

 

G Eron Harris, Michigan State (from West Virginia)

Imagine if Harris had been eligible last season for Michigan State, a team that made the Final Four while the West Virginia transfer redshirted. Harris averaged 17.2 points and shot 42.2 percent from 3 on 211 attempts in his final season in Morgantown. He also converted 85.6 percent of free throws, a weakness for the Spartans for most of last season.

 

G Terry Henderson, NC State (from West Virginia)

Henderson is stepping in just in time for NC State. Departed seniors Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner accounted for 73 percent of NC State’s 3-point field goals and 69 percent of the Wolfpack’s 3-point attempts. Henderson was 89-of-230 from the arc (38.7 percent) in two seasons at West Virginia.

 

F Damion Lee, Louisville (from Drexel)

Lee was arguably the best transfer available for 2015-16 after averaging 21.4 points per game at Drexel. The 6'6", 200-pound wing made at least 60 3s in each of his three full seasons with the Dragons. Lee, a senior, will provide the Cardinals with some veteran leadership.

 

G Trey Lewis, Louisville (from Cleveland State)

Remember Louisville’s 3-point shooting woes from a year ago? That shouldn’t be the case this season thanks to the arrival of Lee from Drexel and Lewis from Cleveland State. Lewis made 96-of-227 (42.3 percent) of his 3-pointers last season while averaging 16.3 points per game. Louisville shot 30.7 percent from 3 as a team last season.

 

G Tyler Lewis, Butler (from NC State)

Lewis, a McDonald’s All-American in 2012, will be looking for a fresh start at Butler. He averaged only 3.9 points per game in two seasons with NC State, but he was an efficient distributor. Lewis averaged 3.6 assists per turnover in just under 20 minutes per game at NC State in 2013-14.

 

F Sean Obi, Duke (from Rice)

Even if Obi doesn’t get as much attention as Duke’s star-studded freshman class, he could be a critical addition. The 6'9", 270-pound Nigerian is a rebounding machine. He averaged 9.3 boards per game as a freshman at Rice in 2013-14 and ranked second in the nation in defensive rebound rate on KenPom.com.

 

G Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland (from Duke)

Sulaimon’s departure from Duke was not without controversy — he was Mike Krzyzewski’s first midseason dismissal. Sulaimon’s production slipped in each of his three seasons at Duke, so he’s looking for a fresh start. Maryland needs him to step into Dez Wells’ shoes on the defensive end.

 

G Mo Watson Jr., Creighton (from Boston University)

Creighton’s top two ball handlers, Austin Chatman and Devin Brooks, combined for 222 assists last season. Watson had 248 helpers alone at Boston University in 2013-14. The point guard led the Terriers to a Patriot League regular-season title, averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 assists.

Teaser:
College Basketball's Best Transfers for 2015-16
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-freshmen-2015-16
Body:

Months after three freshmen helped Duke to a national championship, the 2015-16 freshman class is littered with question.

 

Two of the top freshmen in the country — Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere and Kansas’ Chieck Diallo — have yet to be cleared to play this season by the NCAA. And if they are declared eligible, it’s unclear if it will be for the entire season.

 

Elsewhere, the consensus No. 1 player in the class, Ben Simmons, doesn’t play for a consensus top 25 team.

 

For our purposes, we’re considering Labissiere and Diallo part of the freshman class in our fourth and final installment of the “All-Class” series.

 

The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



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First-Team All-Freshman

 

G Derryck Thornton, Duke

The Blue Devils scored perhaps their most important recruiting victory when Thornton reclassified from the class of 2016 to 2015 and committed to Duke. The move gives the Devils a true pass-first point guard to replace Tyus Jones. Like Jones, Thornton is a five-star prospect.

 

G Malik Newman, Mississippi State

Arguably the most heralded recruit in Mississippi State history, Newman will be the top playmaker on a team full of veterans. He’s a 6'3", 175-pound guard who will play the point, but he’ll also be the go-to scorer for Ben Howland in his first season in Starkville.

 

F Ben Simmons, LSU

The 6'10", 225-pound Simmons will be a matchup nightmare. He can play all five positions, run the floor and pass. He’s a “point forward” by trade who is LSU’s most anticipated recruit since Shaquille O’Neal.

 

F Brandon Ingram, Duke

Mike Krzyzewski is doing just fine in the one-and-done world. Out goes Justise Winslow, and in comes Ingram. The 6'8", 200-pound North Carolina native will step in on the wing for Winslow, giving the Blue Devils length and some perimeter shooting.

 

C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky

His eligibility for at least part of the season is in doubt, but when he’s on the court, Labissiere — a center who arrived in Memphis after the tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010 — is a skilled big man with potential to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

 

Second-Team All-Freshman

 

G Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Villanova already has a standout point guard in Ryan Arcidiacono, but when was the last time Jay Wright had too many guards? Brunson is a left-handed point guard who should immediately step in to fill the void left by Darrun Hilliard in Villanova’s potent attack.

 

G Allonzo Trier, Arizona

Neither of Arizona’s last two big-time freshmen, Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson, needed to shoulder the load offensively. That may change for Trier, a five-star 2-guard who can score from just about anywhere on the court.

 

G/F Jaylen Brown, Cal

The addition of two top-10 prospects to Cal’s returning veterans has positioned the Bears among the favorites in the Pac-12. While forward Ivan Rabb is a local kid from Oakland, Brown comes all the way from Marietta, Ga. A top-five recruit, the 6’7”, 220-pound Brown can play four positions and should be a dynamic scorer.

 

F Cheick Diallo, Kansas

After the Cliff Alexander flameout, Kansas will welcome any production from its big-time forward signee. On that, Diallo should deliver. He was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. He’s a little raw skill-wise but makes up for it with competitiveness.

 

C Diamond Stone, Maryland

Stone will give Maryland — an undersized team a year ago — a true inside-out game with his offensive ability around the rim, complementing the Terrapins’ standout 3-point shooters.

 

Honorable Mention All-Freshman

 

G/F Dwayne Bacon, Florida State

With his ability to attack the rim, Bacon could be a big-time scorer for a team that averaged only 66.6 points per game (10th in the ACC) last season. He’s no ordinary freshman, either; he’ll be 20 when the season starts.

 

F Thomas Bryant, Indiana

Indiana’s biggest weakness last season was on the interior. The Hoosiers launched 3-pointers but couldn’t defend a lick around the basket. Now, Tom Crean’s team adds a 6'10", 220-pound McDonald’s All-American with a 7'6" wingspan. If Bryant is a force in the post as expected, Indiana will have a more complete team that could contend for the Big Ten title.

 

F Henry Ellenson, Marquette

The arrival of Ellenson, a five-star prospect from Rice Lake, Wis., is the first major recruiting victory for Steve Wojciechowski — and the biggest recruiting victory for Marquette in decades. He’s a skilled power forward who could be Marquette’s top offensive weapon.

 

G Jamal Murray, Kentucky

When Murray reclassified from 2016 to ’15, the combo guard changed the complexion of Kentucky’s recruiting class. The Wildcats struck out on some top names in April and May, but Murray gives UK a standout jump shooter at the 2 and backup to Tyler Ulis at the point.

 

F Ivan Rabb, Cal

Rabb was the first big-time prospect to sign at Cal this offseason — and the first in quite some time. It was his arrival that helped pave the way for Jaylen Brown later in the spring. Rabb, though, is no sidekick. He’s a top-10 prospect who should be an athletic power forward and rim protector.

 

F Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

Swanigan’s arrival at Purdue could represent a major shift in the Big Ten this season. Not only did Swanigan abandon his commitment to Michigan State in May, but his flip to Purdue also gives the Boilermakers one of the strongest frontcourts in the country. Swanigan is a skilled 6'9" forward who joins 7-footer A.J. Hammons and 6'7" Vince Edwards on a talented frontcourt.

 

Teaser:
LSU's Ben Simmons leads group of freshmen with questions
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-sophomores-2015-16
Body:

The NBA Draft, as usual, culled the freshman class of 2014.

 

The annual exodus of top prospects left only one of the top 10 and seven of the top 20 prospects from the 247Sports composite. The sophomore class, however, has its share of potential superstars.

 

Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis watched most of his teammates go to the draft, but he’ll still inherit the point guard position of a top team.

 

Maryland’s Melo Trimble didn’t arrive with the fanfare of other freshmen in 2014 — he ranked No. 31 in the class — but he may be the top candidate out of this class to be a National Player of the Year.

 

The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .

 

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First-Team All-Sophomore

 

G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky

Kentucky’s best playmaker last season may have been coming off the bench. The 5-foot-9 Ulis managed to finish in the top 10 in the SEC in assists per game (3.6) despite averaging only 23.8 minutes.

 

G Melo Trimble, Maryland

Trimble is a big reason Maryland has its best team in more than a decade. He enters this season on a tear, averaging 18.2 points over the final 12 games last season.

 

G/F Daniel Hamilton, UConn

The talented wing should help UConn to a bounce-back season after averaging 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds as a freshman.

 

F Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga

The son of Arvydas Sabonis will threaten to average a double-double after recording 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 21.7 minutes last season.

 

C Jakob Poeltl, Utah

The 7-footer may have only scratched the surface of his potential at the end of last season. His return to school was one of the more surprising NBA Draft decisions.

 

Second-Team All-Sophomore

 

G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State

G James Blackmon Jr., Indiana

G Grayson Allen, Duke

F Justin Jackson, North Carolina

F Angel Delgado, Seton Hall

Teaser:
College Basketball's Best Sophomores for 2015-16
Post date: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-juniors-2015-16
Body:

If Kansas is able to extend its streak of Big 12 championships to 12 titles, the key player may be one of the two point guards on the All-Junior team.

 

One is the Kansas point guard, Frank Mason. The other is the point guard of the team that won the last two Big 12 tournaments, Iowa State’s Monté Morris.

 

As the Athlon Sports “All-Class” teams look at the juniors, the Big 12 guards aren’t the only ones looking to make a little history. One forward is trying to get back to the Final Four for the third time. Another is trying to get there for the first team. The top junior center is just trying to get to the NCAA Tournament.

 

The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .

 

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First-Team All-Junior

 

G Kris Dunn, Providence

Dunn was arguably the most underrated player in the country last season, finishing first nationally in assist rate and fifth in steal rate on KenPom. Dunn averaged 15.6 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.

 

*Dunn, a redshirt junior, was erroneously listed on the All-Senior Team in an original version of this post. He has been moved from the All-Senior team to the All-Junior team.

 

G Frank Mason, Kansas

The speedy Mason solidified Kansas’ point guard position last season, averaging 12.6 points and 3.9 assists per game. Mason also improved his 3-point shooting by more than 10 percentage points to 42.9.

 

G Monté Morris, Iowa State

Morris is the leader of the up-tempo Iowa State attack, averaging 4.7 assists per turnover in his career. He took a leap as a scorer last season from 6.8 points to 11.9 points per game.

 

F Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

The breakout star of the NCAA Tournament — at least personality-wise — returns as the clear leader of the Badgers. The athletic forward is poised for a career year after averaging 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds last season.

 

F Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina

Meeks transformed his physique as a sophomore and became a force on the offensive glass, averaging 2.6 offensive boards per game. In all, the 6'9", 265-pound Tar Heel averaged 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

 

C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Jones could have made a run at SEC Player of the Year if Vanderbilt had been an NCAA Tournament team. He averaged 14.5 points per game and shot 56.2 percent from the floor in a breakout season.

 

Second-Team All-Junior

 

G Bryce Alford, UCLA

G Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame

G E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island

F Jamel Artis, Pittsburgh

F Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

 

Teaser:
College Basketball's Best Juniors for 2015-16
Post date: Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-6-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts
Body:

The college football season is just getting interesting, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.

 

The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

College Football Podcast: Week 5 Recap



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Saturday's Games

 

Maryland at Ohio State

The Buckeyes will go from playing the top-ranked total offense in the Big Ten on the road (Indiana) to playing No. 13 at home (Maryland). Ohio State has hardly looked the part of a No. 1 team, but the Terrapins are struggling mightily on offense with six points in the last two games.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 31–7

 

Illinois at Iowa

Who could have expected this to be a meaningful Big Ten West game? Iowa and Illinois knocked off preseason favorites Wisconsin and Nebraska last week. Illinois lost big in its only road trip of the season to North Carolina, and Iowa has a stout defense with six interceptions in the last three games.

Fox’s prediction: Iowa 28–17

 

Florida at Missouri

Both teams are strong in the defensive front seven — the Gators and Tigers are both in the top seven in tackles for a loss per game. Florida, though, is finding answers on offense while Missouri is playing it safe with freshman Drew Lock. Gators quarterback Will Grier will need to continue his hot streak on the road.

Fox’s prediction: Florida 24–14

 

Baylor at Kansas

This … this is going to be ugly. Baylor has defeated Kansas by 46 and 45 points in the last two meetings. The Bears might top that this time.

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 63–10

 

Georgia at Tennessee

Georgia has won five in a row over Tennessee, but the last two have come by a field goal each. Georgia is coming off its worst performance of the season on both sides of the ball, but Tennessee hasn’t put together a complete performance against an FBS team all season.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia 31–20

 

Wisconsin at Nebraska

What was supposed to be a showdown of the top two teams in the Big Ten West is a must-win game of sorts for both teams to bounce back from losses. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong is completing 47 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in the Huskers’ three losses to “name” teams this season. Wisconsin has allowed 3.7 yards per play in the last four games, albeit all at home.

Fox’s prediction: Wisconsin 24–20

 

TCU at Kansas State

This game will be closer than you expect because it’s Kansas State and the game is in Manhattan. The Wildcats have been stout against the run, but Trevone Boykin has been averaging better than nine yards per attempt in each of his last four games.

Fox’s prediction: TCU 38–28

 

Miami at Florida State

Florida State is still seeking its signature moment of the season after playing close games with Wake Forest, Boston College and USF. Everett Golson has been turnover-free, but he’s hardly been an explosive quarterback. The Seminoles will need more out of him if Dalvin Cook continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury. Miami has struggled, but the Hurricanes lead the ACC in turnover margin at plus-nine.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 41–21

 

Cal at Utah

Jared Goff, a 70-percent passer, runs into a defense that’s held its last two opponents to under 50-percent passing. Cal has quietly improved a defense that leads the Pac-12 in takeaways (18) and sacks (18).

Fox’s prediction: Cal 35–28

 

Arkansas at Alabama

Georgia was the first team to crack 100 rushing yards and three yards per carry against the Alabama defense — and Nick Chubb had to rush for an 83-yard touchdown to do it. Arkansas is getting better, but probably not good enough to upset the Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Fox’s prediction: Alabama 28–10

 

Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)

Texas is 1–4 and a mess on offense, defense and special teams. Oklahoma is 4–0 and as legitimate a playoff contender as any team in the Big 12. On paper, there’s no reason Texas should touch Oklahoma, but this rivalry does strange things.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 42–21

 

LSU at South Carolina

South Carolina’s run defense has improved in the last two games, which is more of a function of facing UCF and Missouri than anything else. LSU’s passing game is suspect, but Leonard Fournette has been able to bail out the Tigers in any situation.

Fox’s prediction: LSU 35–10

 

Oklahoma State at West Virginia

It’s strange times in the Big 12 when Oklahoma State and West Virginia rank Nos. 1-2 in total defense and middle of the pack in total offense. Oklahoma State can prove it belongs in the Big 12 title discussion. The Mountaineers have to prove their pass defense isn’t as vulnerable as it looked against Oklahoma.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma State 31–27

 

Colorado at Arizona State

Colorado’s rushing offense ranks third in the Pac-12, but that’s a bit of a mirage based on games against UMass and Nicholls State. Meanwhile, Arizona State’s attacking defense has held USC and UCLA to fewer than 100 yards rushing (USC, it’s worth noting, passed for 379 yards and five touchdowns against the Sun Devils).

Fox’s prediction: Arizona State 37–14

 

Georgia Tech at Clemson

The Yellow Jackets are averaging an uncharacteristic 3.9 yards per carry during their three-game losing streak. The run game has put more of the responsibility on Justin Thomas to win games with his arm, which is not a good place for a quarterback who should be running the option. Meanwhile, Clemson’s defense is doing just fine despite losing the bulk of its talent from last season.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 38–20

 

Virginia at Pittsburgh

Without James Conner and a stable quarterback situation, Pittsburgh’s offense is below average at best. Virginia’s defense is worse, allowing 6.9 yards per play against teams not named William & Mary.

Fox’s prediction: Pittsburgh 24–10

 

Navy at Notre Dame

The Midshipmen are undefeated and have one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks in Keenan Reynolds, who should set the career touchdowns record this season. Facing the Navy option probably isn’t ideal for a shorthanded Notre Dame team.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 27–14

 

Northwestern at Michigan

Which defense will give first in a matchup between the top two teams in the Big Ten in total D? Northwestern’s offense is getting better, but Michigan’s run game is bulldozing opponents right now.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 21–13

 

Boise State at Colorado State

Colorado State’s defense is sagging just as Boise State is starting to round into form. The Broncos have outgained their last three opponents by an average of 286 yards per game.

Fox’s prediction: Boise State 42–17

 

Michigan State at Rutgers

The Spartans are still seeking an easy win. Even Purdue made Michigan State sweat. The Spartans have had their share of injuries, but Rutgers has had its share of being Rutgers.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 37–20

 

Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 75–25

Teaser:
Week 6 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, October 5, 2015 - 14:49
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-seniors-2015-16
Body:

One of the recent clichés in college basketball is that the four-year senior is disappearing.

 

True, underclassmen led the way for Final Four squads for Duke and Kentucky, but the postseason award circuit has its share of seniors. Three of the last five national players of the year were seniors. After no seniors were on the 2013 consensus All-America team, five were on the teams in 2014 and 2015.

 

Seniors this season might lead the way for Naismith and Wooden Awards. This week, we’ll take a look at our “All-Class” teams for 2015-16, starting with the seniors. Each of our starting five on the All-Senior squad could be viable player of the year.

 

 

The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



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First-Team All-Senior

 

G Yogi Ferrell, Indiana

Ferrell ranked in the top 10 in scoring (16.3 ppg), assists (4.9), free throw shooting (86 percent), 3-point shooting (41.6 percent) and minutes played (34.9 per game). He's a versatile scorer who could lead one of the best offensive teams in the Big Ten.

 

*In the original post, Providence guard Kris Dunn was listed in error as a guard on the All-Senior team. He is a redshirt junior. Ferrell was moved to the first-time in his place. Michigan's Caris LeVert replaced Ferrell on the second team.

 

G Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

He’s a fast-talking Bahamian named Buddy who happens to be the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year. The Sooners will take aim at the Big 12 title behind Hield, who led the league at 17.4 points per game. 

 

G Marcus Paige, North Carolina

Paige battled a foot injury that cut his numbers for most of the season. He found his stroke in the final month of the season, averaging 17.1 points and 4.8 assists while shooting 45.8 percent in the final eight games.

 

F Georges Niang, Iowa State

Niang returns as Iowa State’s go-to player again. Though his scoring dipped by more than a point per game (15.3 ppg), he improved his 3-point shooting (40 percent) and free throw shooting (80 percent) dramatically in 2014-15.

 

F Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

Wiltjer could make a run at National Player of the Year honors after averaging 16.8 points per game and finishing ninth nationally in offensive rating. The question is how he fares without playmaking point guard Kevin Pangos.

 

Second-Team All-Senior

 

G Gary Payton II, Oregon State

G Fred VanVleet, Wichita State

G Caris LeVert, Michigan

F Perry Ellis, Kansas

C A.J. Hammons, Purdue

Teaser:
College Basketball's Best Seniors for 2015-16
Post date: Monday, October 5, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-cover-catch-mike-hart-talks-about-working-his-way-coaching
Body:

For the most part, Mike Hart’s football career has known nothing but the big time. He signed with a Michigan team coming off a Rose Bowl appearance. His freshman season ended in Pasadena as well.

 

As a junior, Michigan was in the national title race until the last day of the regular season when the No. 2 Wolverines lost to No. 1 Ohio State.

 

After setting Michigan’s career record in rushing yards (5,040) and rushing attempts (1,015), Hart spent three seasons in the NFL with one of those ending in the Super Bowl.

 

His first season in coaching, though, was a wake-up call. He was a quality control assistant for one of the worst programs in major college football at Eastern Michigan. Five years later, he’s coaching a 1,000-yard running back for one of the top teams in the MAC at Western Michigan.

 

Hart twice appeared on an Athlon Sports Big Ten cover in 2005 and 2007. We caught up with him during an off week at Western Michigan to talk about his start in coaching and facing rivals Michigan State and Ohio State in the same season again.

 

When did you figure out that coaching was something wanted to do?

Growing up, football was something I always loved and something I thought I would be able to do. I didn’t know what level I would be able to coach at. Once I got to college, I thought this is really what I want to do. I knew after my freshman or sophomore year that I wanted to be a coach. I knew I was going to be a coach. I just didn’t know how fast or how soon. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. As soon as I got done (in the NFL) I was set up with a job coaching.

 

Going to Eastern Michigan and starting as a quality control assistant, was that more or less a graduate assistant or a full-time job?

It was a little lower than that (as a full-time assistant). It was the bottom of the totem pole.

 

You had such a successful college career and I’m sure plenty of connections from Michigan. Eastern Michigan isn’t really a place that launches a ton of careers. What attracted you to starting at that kind of position?

Ron (English, former Michigan defensive coordinator) called and he had a position that was open. He knew what I was thinking about doing. It was during the lockout and I knew the Colts weren’t going to re-sign me. The lockout started in March, and I talked to him in April after spring ball finished up. I told him that if I don’t get picked up I want to get into coaching, and he said he’d hold a spot for me. He said it’s a quality control spot. It doesn’t pay much. It doesn’t pay much at all. I damn near worked for free. The good thing about his quality control job was that you can only have 10 full-time coaches and he had nine on his staff. You can be a quality control coach and actually coach on the field, which was awesome. I saved a lot of money in the NFL, so I wasn’t worried about the pay. First of all, it was the first job I was actually offered. I didn’t look for a bunch, but it was offered and he was going to hold it for me. No. 2, Ron English was a guy I respected. I knew I could learn from him. I knew what he was about it. Obviously, Lloyd (Carr) was a mentor of mine, and he learned under Lloyd. It was a bout building a program. I won a bunch of games in high school. I won a bunch of games at Michigan. I was in a great organization with the Colts. That’s not real life. Coaching is hard. Coaching is tough and you have to learn. I thought a great place to learn would be at Eastern Michigan with Ron English to watch him try to turn around a program. I watched him give everything he had.

 

What were your responsibilities as a quality control coach?

When you’re at those type of programs, you don’t have 10 people doing that job. You’ve got to do everything. I made coffee. Luckily, right at the end of the year, I got bumped up to full-time. But it was, Mike, you’re in charge of admissions, in charge of dorm rooms, in charge of APR, in charge of this and that, you’ve got to put the kids’ study table together. I had to do so much where if you’re at another program there’s 15 people doing each of those things. When you talk about working from the bottom up and learning at the ground level, I couldn’t have started at a lower position and had more responsibilities. I think you earn a greater respect for the coaching profession and for the people who work for you and with you.

 

Did any of that catch you by surprise, or did you know you were getting into a place that had so few resources?

When I became a position coach and he gave me those responsibilities, it was because he trusted me. That was a great sign of respect in my opinion and I’m so grateful for it. I have learned so much because it was my job. I had to set everything up myself and report back to him, and I wasn’t going to report to him with bad information. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.

 

How did you first get connected with P.J. Fleck and the Western Michigan program?

P.J. got there my last year at Eastern. I was still coaching at Eastern when he called me. Coach English got fired and they kept me on staff. We had recruited against each other when I was at Eastern. When P.J. first got the job and (Western Michigan defensive line) coach (Vinson) Reynolds was in Detroit, we bumped into each other at three schools. He saw that I would recruit, and he had good things to say about me, and he’s a guy I can say is a friend now. It was initially that. P.J. called me and offered me the job and I saw the way he was building Western Michigan and how he was recruiting. I saw it as a great opportunity to learn again. I was so engraved in the Michigan way. His style is a lot different from a practice standpoint, from playing music. It’s just different. There’s no right or wrong way to do things, but I think that the more you can learn, the better.

 

With the success Western Michigan has had the last few years, people are getting to know P.J. Fleck and the way he does things differently. What is it like to be an assistant for him?

He’s going to push you every day. He brings intensity to everything he does, and he expects you to bring intensity in everything you do. The way he runs his program is awesome. He’s a visionary. He gets things done. You see all the stuff he’s done at Western Michigan when everyone told him he couldn’t do it. It’s don’t take no for an answer. Find a way. It’s Xs and Os and teaching. What he teaches these kids about life and football… He forces you to look in the mirror and say, how am I going to teach this?

 

You’re not too far removed from your college playing career. Do guys you’re recruiting or coaching know or remember you as a Michigan player?

I’ve got a couple more years left. It’s a little less every year. When I started coaching four years ago, all the seniors knew who I was. I think I’ve got one or two more years before none of the kids know who I am. It’ll be all Denard Robinson and no Mike Hart.

 

That’s got to be humbling.

I tell people everything comes to an end at one point. I tell kids and my players, people are only going to ask for your autograph for so long. That’s life. You get old and people move on.

 

This season, Western Michigan’s non-conference schedule has been pretty interesting with Michigan State and Ohio State. Do those games still mean anything to you?

No matter who you are or what you do in life, I think that you’re alma mater is always going to be part of who you are. I don’t care who it is. Going against those teams, it’s Michigan State and Ohio State. You don’t like them. It’s how you’re born and bred when you go to Michigan. That’s just who you are and who you become. That doesn’t ever leave you. Michigan made me who I am at the end of the day. It’s different. They’re a lot nicer to you when you’re not wearing maize and blue. Going into the Horseshoe last week, the last time I was there was when we played No. 1 vs. No. 2. Bo (Schembechler) died the day before. That flashes back. It was one of the best games in college football history, and I was in it. Same thing when we played Michigan State. You remember those things. But I live in Michigan. I recruit in Michigan. Every high school I go to has Michigan State fans and Ohio State fans. They remind me. Trust me.

Teaser:
Athlon Cover Catch-Up: Mike Hart Talks About Working His Way Up in Coaching
Post date: Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 14:21
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-college-football-games-october-2015
Body:

Pro tip for college football fans: Clear the calendar for Oct. 17.

 

The Third Saturday in October is no longer home of the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry, but it doesn't need to be.

 

The Oct. 17 weekend — starting with the UCLA-Stanford tilt on Thursday night — is going to be a mammoth weekend in college football

 

USC-Notre Dame, Michigan State-Michigan, Alabama-Teaxs A&M and West Virginia-Baylor are all on that Saturday. Even Memphis is playing a meaningful college football game that day.

 

Finish chores early, cancel pee wee soccer games and, by all means, skip that ill-advised fall wedding and get on the couch.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 5 Preview with Andy Staples



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 GameDateLocation
1.Oct. 3Athens, Ga.

The most important SEC East vs. West matchup features Nick Chubb vs. Derrick Henry, unproven quarterbacks and the possibility of Nick Saban starting 0-2 in the league.

2.Oct. 15Palo Alto, Calif.

The ridiculously good Oct. 17 weekend gets started with a potential Pac-12 championship game preview on Thursday night. UCLA will try to redeem itself from last year’s embarrassment that knocked the Bruins out of the league title game, this time with freshman Josh Rosen at QB.

3.Oct. 17South Bend, Ind.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Bush Push and perhaps the most important game in the series for both teams since then.
4.Oct. 17Ann Arbor, Mich.

Everyone is pointing to the new Jim Harbaugh-Urban Meyer rivalry, Harbaugh-Mark Dantonio could be just as tense. The physicality on the field and intensity on the sidelines will be set to 11.

5.Oct. 24Oxford, Miss.

Will both teams be undefeated by the end of the month? Doesn’t matter. This could be the best offensive showcase in the SEC and a matchup of two of the best defensive players in the league in Myles Garrett and Robert Nkemdiche. 

6.Oct. 3Clemson, S.C.

Notre Dame has had a slew of injuries. Clemson looked pedestrian against its only game against an opponent with a mild pulse. The winner of this game will shed some skepticism.

7.Oct. 17College Station, Texas

Let’s hope this game is more like the 2012 and 2013 editions and less like the 2014 matchup.

8.Oct. 17Waco, Texas

In what might be a matchup of the best defense in the Big 12 and the best offense, Baylor’s Seth Russell tries to atone for the loss that kept Bryce Petty and the Bears out of the playoff.

9.Oct. 29Fort Worth, Texas

In what might be a matchup of the best defense in the Big 12 and the best offense, TCU will hope it is working on a playoff résumé and not chasing opposing receivers all over the field.

10.Oct. 10Knoxville, Tenn.
This rivalry game could decide the SEC East or it could decide the tenor of the offseason for Mark Richt and Butch Jones.    
11.Oct. 24Los Angeles
If Utah can beat both Oregon and USC on the road, the Utes have to be considered one of the favorites in the Pac-12 South — with a game in Salt Lake against UCLA looming in late November.
12.Oct. 10Dallas
This Red River Rivalry was unpredictable before Oklahoma’s furious comeback at Tennessee and Texas’ special teams foibles this season. The fourth quarter will be interesting.
13.Oct. 24Atlanta
A rematch of the wild ACC championship game could be between a Georgia Tech team grasping for its conference title chances and Florida State still trying to prove it belongs in the Playoff race.
14.Oct. 3College Station, Texas
The Bulldogs embarrassed Texas A&M last season, and Dak Prescott is heading to the rematch without much backup.
15.Oct. 24Norman, Okla.

Will this game be a meeting between top Big 12 teams? Not necessarily, but it’s also Baker Mayfield against the school that tried to block him from transferring to OU.

16.Oct. 10Lincoln, Neb.
At one point Wisconsin and Nebraska seemed like the only legitimate contenders in the Big Ten West. Not anymore. This might be a must-win game for first-year coaches Mike Riley and Paul Chryst.
17.Oct. 17Memphis
The Liberty Bowl might be the site of a game between two ranked, unbeaten regional rivals. We’re not sure how this game came to be scheduled in mid-October, but we like it.
18.Oct. 3Madison, Wis.

Are we ready to buy Iowa as a contender in the Big Ten? Get back to us after this game.

19.Oct. 31Berkeley, Calif.

Cal might not have the defense to win the North, but all signs point to this as being a vintage Pac-12 shootout between the two best (veteran) quarterbacks in the league.

20.Oct. 10Ann Arbor, Mich.

These two teams played in a 10–9 game last year that was scoreless at halftime. We can guarantee this year’s game will be any prettier, but it will be more meaningful.

Teaser:
Ranking the Best College Football Games in October 2015
Post date: Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-top-50-college-basketball-coaches-2015-16
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Not all decisions in these coach rankings are easy. If we wanted it to be easy, we’d simply put together a list of wins and go from there.

 

But not all wins are equal and not all coaching jobs are equal.

 

In determining our top 50 coaches, we attempted to look at a variety of factor: Past success, regular season records, conference records, NCAA Tournament results, head-to-head rankings, team trends and records relative to the history of the program.

 

Picking our No. 1 coach in this year’s rankings was easier than in most years. Our pick has the most wins of any major college basketball coach, the most NCAA championships of any living coach, and he shows no sign of slowing down.

 

 

The Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine is .

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



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Ranking the Top 50 College Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

 

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

Record at Duke: 945-251, 378-152 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 88-26, 12 Final Fours, five championships

Number to note: Duke has produced six one-and-done players in the NBA Draft since 2011, second only to Kentucky’s 12.

Why he’s ranked here: At 68 years and 63 days, Krzyzewski became the second-oldest coach to win a national championship, and there’s no signs he’ll slow down. His team brings in four five-star prospects in 2015 to replace the three he lost from his fifth national championship team.

 

2. John Calipari, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 190–38, 82–20 SEC

NCAA record: 47–15, six Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Calipari has reached the Final Four five times since 2008. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo (three times) is the only other coach to make it there more than twice in that span.

Why he’s ranked here: The newly inducted Naismith Hall of Fame coach is one of the most divisive figures in the sport, but he’s done arguably the best coaching job of his career in just the last year or so. Kentucky regrouped to reach the Final Four as a No. 8 seed in 2014. The following season, Calipari balanced NBA-bound egos for a balanced, defensive-minded team that started 38–0.

 

3. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Record at Michigan State: 495-199, 233-107 Big Ten

NCAA record: 46-17, seven Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Izzo’s first three Final Four teams were No. 1 seeds. His last four were seeded seventh (2015), fifth (2010, 2005) and second (2009).

Why he’s ranked here: Izzo is 15 years removed from his national championship, but he’s on one of the best runs of his career. Michigan State has won at least 27 games in seven of the last eight seasons.

 

4. Rick Pitino, Louisville

Record at Louisville: 368-126, 164-76 C-USA/Big East/AAC/ACC

NCAA Tournament: 53-18, seven Final Fours, two championships

Number to note: Pitino’s teams have ranked in the top five in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency in each of the last five seasons and seven of the last eight.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s team was not one of Pitino’s best, losing to most of the top squads in the ACC, save for narrow home wins over Carolina and Virginia. The Cards were still an OT loss to Michigan State away from reaching the Final Four.

 

5. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

Record at Wisconsin: 357-125, 172-68 Big Ten

NCAA record: 25-14, two Final Fours

Number to note: Ryan is 42-24 against Tom Izzo, John Beilein and Thad Matta. He’s also the only one of the four with a winning record against each of the other three.

Why he’s ranked here: Will he retire or won’t he? Either way, Ryan just capped the best two-year span of what’s likely a Hall of Fame career. If Wisconsin slips back to pre-Kaminsky/Dekker levels, that’s still a top-four finish in the Big Ten and an NCAA appearance.

 

6. Bill Self, Kansas

Record at Kansas: 352-78, 164-36 Big 12

NCAA record: 37-16, two Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Some perspective for Self’s 11 consecutive Big 12 championships: John Wooden holds the record of consecutive league titles with 13 from 1967-79.

Why he’s ranked here: Fred Hoiberg and Frank Martin have come and gone. Kevin Durant couldn’t do it. Neither could Blake Griffin. Missouri isn’t even in the conference anymore. Nearly every Big 12 program over the last decade has had a shot an unseating Kansas at the top and ultimately failed to unseat Self.

 

7. Sean Miller, Arizona

Record at Arizona: 163-52, 79-29 Pac-12

NCAA record: 17-8

Number to note: Not only has Miller been to either the Elite Eight or Sweet 16 in each of his last six trips to the NCAA Tournament, Miller has never been knocked out of the Tourney by a team seeded lower than third.

Why he’s ranked here: Miller is only 46 and on the short list of best coaches in the game. He’s seeking his first Final Four, but he’s already on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

 

8. Tony Bennett, Virginia

Record at Virginia: 136-64, 64-37 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 6-5

Number to note: Virginia’s record against the RPI top 50 has improved in each of the last five seasons from 0-6 to 2-6 to 4-3 to 5-4 to 8-3 in 2015.

Why he’s ranked here: The early NCAA Tournament exits in the last two seasons — both to Michigan State — will haunt Bennett, but the Cavaliers are coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons and ACC regular season titles despite lesser talent compared to teams like Duke, North Carolina and Louisville.

 

9. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Record at Wichita State: 204–76, 101–43 Missouri Valley

NCAA Tournament: 8–11, one Final Four

Number to note: Seven coaches have won 30 or more games twice in the last three seasons. Marshall is the only one to do it each of the last three seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: In the last three seasons, Marshall has delivered a Final Four, a 35–0 start and a win over Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. What’s next in his final season with Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker?

 

10. Roy Williams, North Carolina

Record at North Carolina: 332-101, 141-57 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 65-23, seven Final Fours, two championships

Number to note: North Carolina is 23-1 against Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Florida State the last three seasons and 13-17 against the rest of the ACC.

Why he’s ranked here: Legacy. Williams’ two titles at two schools and Hall of Fame status can’t be denied, but the last three years (75-33) have been trying. With a veteran team, the Heels are built for a Final Four run in 2015-16. It would be their first since 2009 and perhaps their last for a while.

 

11. Jim Boehiem, Syracuse

Record at Syracuse: 966-333, 446-203 Big East/ACC

NCAA Tournament: 53-30, four Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Boeheim’s 18 wins in 2014-15 — aided by a voluntary postseason ban — was his fewest since going 15-13 in 1981-82.

Why he’s ranked here: Boeheim will never get to 1,000 wins according to the NCAA record book (with vacated wins, he stands at 858). In the unofficial record book, Boeheim has two seasons to get 44 wins. Syracuse is 21-19 in its last 40 games after going 55-10 in the 65 prior.

 

12. John Beilein, Michigan

Record at Michigan: 166-110, 78-66 Big Ten

NCAA record: 16-9, one Final Four

Number to note: How about this for ball security: Nine of Beilein’s last 11 teams at Michigan and West Virginia have ranked in the top 25 in turnover rate.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s 16-16 debacle should be credited to injuries and bad luck. With Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton back, Michigan and Beilein should be back in the Big Ten title discussion.

 

13. Jay Wright, Villanova

Record at Villanova: 319-152, 140-81 Big East

NCAA record: 14-12, one Final Four

Number to note: Wright has had six of the top seven teams in Villanova history, according to sports-reference.com’s Simple Rating System. Last year’s 33-3 team was No. 1. Rollie Massimino’s national championship team in 1985 was ranked No. 20.

Why he’s ranked here: Wright’s recent tenure is worthy of some skepticism. The 29-win and 33-win seasons the last two years have coincided with a weaker Big East, and the Wildcats haven’t advanced to the Sweet 16 since the 2009 Final Four run.

 

14. Thad Matta, Ohio State

Record at Ohio State: 299-94, 132-60 Big Ten

NCAA record: 24-13, two Final Fours

Number to note: Ohio State is 5-12 against Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin the last two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: In general, Matta is as steady as they come. He’s only missed the NCAA Tournament twice as a head coach. Ohio State was under NCAA sanctions in one of those; the Buckeyes won the NIT in the other. That said, the Buckeyes have taken a dip the last two seasons, finishing fifth and sixth in the Big Ten and failing to reach the Sweet 16.

 

15. Mark Few, Gonzaga

Record at Gonzaga: 438–103, 212–25 West Coast Conference

NCAA record: 19-16

Number to note: Few’s 95 wins during the last three seasons are the most in the country and the most of any three-year period during his career.

Why he’s ranked here: Gonzaga is arguably better than it’s ever been in the last three seasons under Few, advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1999 and earning a No. 1 ranking in 2013.

 

16. Shaka Smart, Texas

Record at Texas: First season

NCAA record: 7-5, one Final Four

Number to note: VCU led the nation in defensive turnover rate on KenPom from 2012-14 and still finished 11th last season despite losing defensive stopper Briante Weber midway through the year.

Why he’s ranked here: The 2011 Final Four and the Havoc defense are the lead items in Smart’s career, but it’s worth noting VCU remained consistent despite moving from the Colonial to the more competitive Atlantic 10.

 

Related: 

 

17. Kevin Ollie, UConn

Record at UConn: 72–33, 32–22 Big East/American

NCAA record: 6–0, one Final Four, one championship

Number to note: Under Ollie, UConn is 6–12 against KenPom top 100 teams in American Athletic Conference teams (10–14 including the league tournament).

Why he’s ranked here: The unlikely national championship run in 2014 vaulted Ollie to stardom. Apart from those three weeks, UConn has been mediocre. This should be a more typical season for a Huskies team wholly assembled under Ollie.

 

18. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma

Record at Oklahoma: 82-49, 40-32 Big 12

NCAA record: 16-16, one Final Four

Number to note: Oklahoma’s 36 Big 12 wins in the last three seasons under Kruger are the most for the Sooners since 2001-03.

Why he’s ranked here: Kruger cleaned up the mess left by Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel, leading the Sooners to their first Sweet 16 since 2009. There should be more to come.

 

19. Bob Huggins, West Virginia

Record at West Virginia: 175-101, 80-64 Big East/Big 12

NCAA record: 26-21, two Final Fours

Number to note: Huggins is seven wins short of 700 in Division I (his official career record includes 71 wins at Walsh University).

Why he’s ranked here: Huggins led West Virginia to its best season in five years by radically changing his approach — in his 33rd year as a head coach. The Mountaineers became a full-court pressing team that was the best in the country at forcing turnovers and steals.

 

20. Steve Fisher, San Diego State

Record at San Diego State: 339–185, 143–103 Mountain West

NCAA record: 26–14, three Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Fisher is responsible for all of San Diego State’s six NCAA Tournament wins and all of the Aztecs’ 66 weeks ranked in the AP poll.

Why he’s ranked here: What Fisher has accomplished at San Diego State during the last six seasons is staggering — four Mountain West titles, two 30-win season and two Sweet 16 appearances. An regarding potential rules violations, however, casts a shadow over the program.

 

21. Larry Brown, SMU

Record at SMU: 69–34, 32–20 Conference USA/American

NCAA record: 19–10, three Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: SMU’s 54 wins the last two seasons are the most in back-to-back years in school history. The next highest is 48 wins from 1986-88. th in adjusted tempo on KenPom, but eight of his 10 teams in Westwood ranked outside of the top 100 in tempo, including five outside of the top 200.

Why he’s ranked here: Brown’s coaching ledger is tough to beat. He’s a Hall of Famer with championships in the NBA and in college. His revival of the SMU basketball program, ending a 22-year NCAA Tournament drought and turning the Mustangs into one of the top teams in the American, is another chapter of a storied career. That said, it has come as at a price as SMU was hit for major NCAA violations, resulting in a postseason ban and a nine-game suspension for Brown.

 

22. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Record at Utah: 68-64, 30-42 Pac-12

NCAA record: 3-3

Number to note: In Krystkowiak’s four seasons, Utah has improved in KenPom’s ratings from No. 297 to No. 108 to No. 42 to No. 8.

Why he’s ranked here: By taking Utah to its second Sweet 16 since Rick Majerus left, Krystkowiak has resurrected the Utah program in an improving Pac-12. With Delon Wright gone, this is could be a critical season for Utah’s staying power.

 

23. Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Record at Notre Dame: 332-165, 157-100 Big East/ACC

NCAA Tournament: 9-12

Number to note: Scoring down? Not for Notre Dame. Of Brey’s 15 teams in South Bend, 11 have averaged 70 points per game in conference play.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s trip to the Elite Eight was Notre Dame’s first time reaching the second weekend of the Tournament since 2003. Brey generally can be counted on for about 25 wins a year and pushing 30 wins every now and then.

 

24. Ben Howland, Mississippi State

Record at Mississippi State: First season

NCAA record: 19–10, three Final Fours

Number to note: What kind of team will Howland have at Mississippi State? His last team at UCLA ranked 30th in adjusted tempo on KenPom, but eight of his 10 teams in Westwood ranked outside of the top 100 in tempo, including five outside of the top 200.

Why he’s ranked here: Howland will have a fresh start at Mississippi State after his tenure grew stale at UCLA. He already proved he could continue to recruit at a high level, landing legacy Malik Newman.

 

25. Bruce Pearl, Auburn

Record at Auburn: 15–20, 4–14 SEC

NCAA record: 10–8

Number to note: Auburn’s three SEC Tournament wins to cap Pearl’s first season were as many as the Tigers had from 2001-14. In that run, Auburn defeated NCAA Tournament hopefuls Texas A&M and LSU.

Why he’s ranked here: Last season was Pearl’s first losing campaign as a college basketball coach, including his years at Division II Southern Indiana. With the way he’s recruited at Auburn, it might be his last losing season for a while.

 

26. Archie Miller, Dayton

Record at Dayton: 90–47, 39–27 Atlantic 10

NCAA record: 5–2

Number to note: Miller’s five NCAA Tournament wins the last two years is as many as the Flyers had in total from 1975-2013.

Why he’s ranked here: Dayton reached the Elite Eight in 2014, but last season may have been the most impressive coaching job for Miller. A shorthanded roster with no post players went 13–5 in the A-10 and won two NCAA Tournament games. Soon, Miller will be the top candidate for a top program.

 

27. Mark Turgeon, Maryland

Record at Maryland: 87-50, 37-33 ACC/Big Ten

NCAA record: 6-6

Number to note: In eight seasons at Maryland and Texas A&M, Turgeon’s teams have ranked in the top 40 in defensive efficiency on KenPom six times.

Why he’s ranked here: Turgeon led Maryland to its best season since the 2003 national championship last year and will have a preseason top 10 team for the first time in his career.

 

28. Jim Larranaga, Miami

Record at Miami: 91-49, 41-29 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 7-6, one Final Four

Number to note: Miami is 7-2, 6-6 and 10-3 in the last three seasons on the road. The Hurricanes’ previous winning season on the road was in 1999-2000.

Why he’s ranked here: Larranaga might not match his banner year with Miami — a 29-win season and an ACC championship in 2013 — but last year’s 25 wins was still the second-most in school history. The ‘Canes will be in NCAA contention again this season.

 

29. Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech

Record at Virginia Tech: 11-22, 2-16 ACC

NCAA Tournament record: 8-5

Number to note: Williams’ Marquette teams were ranked in the top 30 of KenPom in five consecutive seasons — each one except for his last.

Why he’s ranked here: Virginia Tech has been ill-equipped to compete in the ACC, both before Williams arrived and during his first season. After gutting the roster, Williams is ready to begin anew.

 

30. Dana Altman, Oregon

Record at Oregon: 123-57, 55-35 Pac-12

NCAA record: 6-11

Number to note: Altman has won at least 10 conference games in 18 of his last 19 seasons, the exception being his first season at Oregon in 2010-11.

Why he’s ranked here: Altman is the first coach to lead Oregon to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but scandal and faltering attendance have marred his program.

 

31. Chris Mack, Xavier

Record at Xavier: 134-71, 67-33 Atlantic 10/Big East

NCAA record: 6-5

Number to note: In the last two seasons, Mack is 0-6 against Villanova (including the conference tournament) and 22-13 against the rest of the Big East.

Why he’s ranked here: Although Mack may not be held in as high esteem as predecessor Sean Miller, Mack has reached the Sweet 16 three times in his six seasons at Xavier.

 

32. Bob McKillop, Davidson

Record at Davidson: 496–300, 304–108 Big South/Southern/Atlantic 10

NCAA record: 3–8

Number to note: Davidson has ranked in the top 40 in offensive efficiency in each of the last four seasons, topping out at eighth last year.

Why he’s ranked here: McKillop was a good coach before recruiting Stephen Curry and a good coach after Curry left. After moving up from the SoCon, the Wildcats won the A-10 in their first season in the league.

 

33. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh

Record at Pittsburgh: 307-111, 134-74 Big East/ACC

NCAA Tournament record: 12-10

Number to note: Pitt is 19-17 as an ACC member, including 0-10 against Duke, Louisville, NC State and Virginia.

Why he’s ranked here: The last four seasons have been an enigma for Dixon, who once led one of the most steady programs in the country in his first eight seasons at Pitt. The Panthers have missed two of the last four NCAA Tournaments and last year alone beat North Carolina and Notre Dame but lost to lowly Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

 

34. John Thompson III, Georgetown

Record at Georgetown: 317-157, 119-68 Big East

NCAA record: 9-10, one Final Four

Number to note: Ten of Thompson’s 11 teams at Georgetown have ranked in the top 100 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom. Four teams have been among the top 50 most efficient teams on both ends of the court.

Why he’s ranked here: Thompson went 6-2 in the NCAA Tournament in his first two trips with Georgetown and 3-6 since. The early NCAA Tournament exits to lower-seeded teams will haunt him, even if they came against Final-Four bound VCU in 2011 and Stephen Curry in 2008.

 

35. Ed Cooley, Providence

Record at Providence: 79-56, 34-38 Big East

NCAA record: 0-2

Number to note: Providence’s KenPom rating has improved from No. 112 to 70 to 51 to 30 during Cooley’s tenure. The conference record has improved each year to match. Cooley’s KenPom ranking improved each of his five seasons at Fairfield as well.

Why he’s ranked here: The ceiling at Providence is well-established and Cooley may break through it. Cooley is the first coach since Rick Barnes to take Providence to back-to-back NCAA Tourneys (1989-90) and first since Barnes to win 20 games in back-to-back seasons (1993-94).

 

36. Steve Alford, UCLA

Record at UCLA: 50-23, 23-13 Pac-12

NCAA record: 9-9

Number to note: All of Alford’s teams since 2006-07 at Iowa have been ranked in the top 100 of both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom.

Why he’s ranked here: UCLA has reached the Sweet 16 in each Alford’s first two seasons (with the assist of facing double-digit seeds UAB and Stephen F. Austin in the round of 32). With his deepest roster in Westwood, Alford will be expected to challenge for bigger prizes.

 

37. Scott Drew, Baylor

Record at Baylor: 230-160, 85-115 Big 12

NCAA record: 8-5

Number to note: Baylor has ranked in the top 20 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency in each of the last four seasons and seven of the last eight.

Why he’s ranked here: It’s not fashionable to talk about Drew as a great coach — especially after Baylor’s first-round loss to Georgia State last season — but Drew is responsible for seven of the 10 20-win seasons in Baylor history, including each of the last four.

 

38. Mark Gottfried, NC State

Record at NC State: 92-52, 39-31 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 10-11

Number to note: Gottfried’s five NCAA wins in four years (including two Sweet 16 appearances) is the most at NC State since the Jim Valvano heyday.

Why he’s ranked here: NC State is consistent (between 22-24 wins and 9-11 ACC wins every year) under Gottfried but also a bit of a roller coaster. This is a team good enough to reach the Sweet 16 and beat a top ACC team, but has never won more than three ACC games in a row during the regular season.

 

39. Fran McCaffery, Iowa

Record at Iowa: 96-75, 42-48 Big Ten

NCAA record: 3-7

Number to note: McCaffery’s 67 wins over the last three seasons in the most for Iowa in a three-year span since Tom Davis went 77-25 from 1986-89.

Why he’s ranked here: McCaffery has revived the Hawkeyes' program, but he still has work to do to get Iowa into the same stratosphere as Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State.

 

40. Rick Byrd, Belmont

Record at Belmont: 711–369, 192–64 Atlantic Sun/Ohio Valley

NCAA record: 0–7

Number to note: Belmont has had either the best or second-best conference record each year since 2006 in both the Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley

Why he’s ranked here: Byrd is tied with two others for the most NCAA Tournament appearances without a win. It’s a dubious record, but one that shouldn’t overshadow that Byrd is a campus institution who turned an NAIA also-ran into one of the flagship programs of the Ohio Valley Conference.

 

41. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati

Record at Cincinnati: 185–118, 85–75 Big East/American

NCAA record: 4–7

Number to note: Cincinnati has ranked in the top 25 in defensive efficiency in each of the last five seasons. .

Why he’s ranked here: The Bearcats might not be a consistent top-10 team again, but Cincinnati always will be respectable under Cronin. The Bearcats have made five consecutive NCAA Tournaments under Cronin.

 

42. Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin

Record at Stephen F. Austin: 61–8, 35–1 Southland

NCAA record: 1–2

Number to note: Stephen F. Austin has ranked fifth and seventh nationally in defensive turnover rate in two seasons under Underwood.

Why he’s ranked here: A decade ago, Underwood was a junior college coaches. By the end of his third season, he might find himself a candidate for major jobs.

 

43. Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt

Record at Vanderbilt: 313–206, 127–135 SEC

NCAA record: 6–8

Number to note: A sign things are about to turn at Vanderbilt: The Commodores ranked 19th in offensive efficiency on KenPom last season. Stallings’ best teams at Vanderbilt from 2010-12 all ranked in the top 30. Vanderbilt returns all but two notable players from last year’s team.

Why he’s ranked here: Stallings doesn’t always get his due, and that’s understandable. His teams have reached only six NCAA Tournaments at Vanderbilt, and only two advanced to the Sweet 16. But he’s also the fourth-longest tenured coach in a power conference after Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo.

 

44. Tom Crean, Indiana

Record at Indiana: 121-111, 49-77 Big Ten

NCAA record: 9-8, one Final Four

Number to note: Three of Crean’s last four teams have shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range.

Why he’s ranked here: Perpetually on the hot seat, Crean is entering a critical season. The Hoosiers have had a winning Big Ten record twice since he was hired in 2008.

 

45. Matt Painter, Purdue

Record at Purdue: 212-125, 101-75 Big Ten

NCAA record: 8-8

Number to note: Purdue has lost seven in a row to Michigan State, four in a row to Wisconsin, seven of eight to Ohio State and four of the last five against Michigan.

Why he’s ranked here: Painter has pulled Purdue out of its two-year funk since the Robbie Hummel class left. The Boilermakers have a huge season ahead of them.

 

46. Tim Miles, Nebraska

Record at Nebraska: 47-79, 21-33 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-2

Number to note: Nebraska hasn’t finished in the top 100 offensive efficiency since 2000-10 or the top 90 since 2003-04. Last year’s team was the worst offensive showing for Nebraska since 2002-03.

Why he’s ranked here: This time last year, Miles appeared to have Nebraska on the rise after the Cornhuskers’ first NCAA appearance since 1998. Last season showed how far his roster has to go.

 

47. Tommy Amaker, Harvard

Record at Harvard: 108–84, 78–34 Ivy

NCAA record: 4–5

Number to note: Amaker is 59–11 in the Ivy League in his last five seasons alone.

Why he's ranked here: Harvard had one NCAA Tournament appearance and no NCAA Tournament wins before Amaker was hired. The Crimson have had four consecutive trips to the tournament, including upsets of top-five seeds Cincinnati and New Mexico.

 

48. Rick Barnes, Tennessee

Record at Tennessee: First season

NCAA record: 21–22, one Final Four

Number to note: Barnes has missed the NCAA Tournament only once since 1996.

Why he’s ranked here: While it’s tough to go to the NCAA Tournament nearly every year for two decades, Texas didn’t reach its full potential under Barnes. In 17 seasons with all the resources at Texas, Barnes reached the Final Four once and never won the Big 12 tournament. The Longhorns failed to reach the Sweet 16 or even claim a share of the Big 12 title in his last seven years. Could a change of scenery do him good?

 

49. Mike Anderson, Arkansas

Record at Arkansas: 86–48, 39–31 SEC

NCAA record: 8–7

Number to note: Anderson’s teams at UAB, Missouri and Arkansas have ranked in the top 40 in defensive turnover rate in all but one year of his career and in the top 20 11 times.

Why he’s ranked here: Arkansas steadily improved in each of Anderson’s four seasons before the Razorbacks lost to North Carolina in the round of 32 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He’s more or less starting from scratch this season.

 

50. Cuonzo Martin, Cal

Record at Cal: 18-15, 7-11 Pac-12

NCAA record: 3-1

Number to note: In 2015, Martin signed Cal’s first McDonald’s All-Americans since 2003.

Why he’s ranked here: Cal is expecting big things with Martin adding freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb to a veteran team. Martin likely will coach a ranked team for the first time in his career.

Teaser:
Ranking the Top 50 College Basketball Coaches for 2015-16
Post date: Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 08:15
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-sec-basketball-coaches-2015-16
Body:

In 2015-16, the head man in Lexington will be the most accomplished coach in the league.

 

At least in that way, the SEC coach lineup is fairly standard.

 

Yet the 13 coaches around John Calipari represent a drastic shift in the SEC’s coaching roster. The moves in this season’s coaching carousel may be unprecedented in the league’s history.

 

A two-time national champion and potential Hall of Famer left the conference for the NBA, but in Billy Donovan’s place, SEC teams added two coaches who have been to a combined four Final Fours and another coach who has been to the NBA Finals. And that doesn’t count, Mike White, who won 83 games in the last three seasons before taking over for Donovan.

 

With the return of Bruce Pearl last season, few leagues have improved their coaching lineup more than the SEC in the last two years.

 

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Ranking the SEC Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

 

1. John Calipari, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 190–38, 82–20 SEC

NCAA record: 47–15, six Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Calipari has reached the Final Four five times since 2008. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo (three times) is the only other coach to make it there more than twice in that span.

Why he’s ranked here: The newly inducted Naismith Hall of Fame coach is one of the most divisive figures in the sport, but he’s done arguably the best coaching job of his career in just the last year or so. Kentucky regrouped to reach the Final Four as a No. 8 seed in 2014. The following season, Calipari balanced NBA-bound egos for a balanced, defensive-minded team that started 38–0.

 

2. Ben Howland, Mississippi State

Record at Mississippi State: First season

NCAA record: 19–10, three Final Fours

Number to note: What kind of team will Howland have at Mississippi State? His last team at UCLA ranked 30th in adjusted tempo on KenPom, but eight of his 10 teams in Westwood ranked outside of the top 100 in tempo, including five outside of the top 200.

Why he’s ranked here: Howland will have a fresh start at Mississippi State after his tenure grew stale at UCLA. He already proved he could continue to recruit at a high level, landing legacy Malik Newman.

 

3. Bruce Pearl, Auburn

Record at Auburn: 15–20, 4–14 SEC

NCAA record: 10–8

Number to note: Auburn’s three SEC Tournament wins to cap Pearl’s first season were as many as the Tigers had from 2001-14. In that run, Auburn defeated NCAA Tournament hopefuls Texas A&M and LSU.

Why he’s ranked here: Last season was Pearl’s first losing campaign as a college basketball coach, including his years at Division II Southern Indiana. With the way he’s recruited at Auburn, it might be his last losing season for a while.

 

4. Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt

Record at Vanderbilt: 313–206, 127–135 SEC

NCAA record: 6–8

Number to note: A sign things are about to turn at Vanderbilt: The Commodores ranked 19th in offensive efficiency on KenPom last season. Stallings’ best teams at Vanderbilt from 2010-12 all ranked in the top 30. Vanderbilt returns all but two notable players from last year’s team.

Why he’s ranked here: Stallings doesn’t always get his due, and that’s understandable. His teams have reached only six NCAA Tournaments at Vanderbilt, and only two advanced to the Sweet 16. But he’s also the fourth-longest tenured coach in a power conference after Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo.

 

5. Rick Barnes, Tennessee

Record at Tennessee: First season

NCAA record: 21–22, one Final Four

Number to note: Barnes has missed the NCAA Tournament only once since 1996.

Why he’s ranked here: While it’s tough to go to the NCAA Tournament nearly every year for two decades, Texas didn’t reach its full potential under Barnes. In 17 seasons with all the resources at Texas, Barnes reached the Final Four once and never won the Big 12 tournament. The Longhorns failed to reach the Sweet 16 or even claim a share of the Big 12 title in his last seven years. Could a change of scenery do him good?

 

6. Mike Anderson, Arkansas

Record at Arkansas: 86–48, 39–31 SEC

NCAA record: 8–7

Number to note: Anderson’s teams at UAB, Missouri and Arkansas have ranked in the top 40 in defensive turnover rate in all but one year of his career and in the top 20 11 times.

Why he’s ranked here: Arkansas steadily improved in each of Anderson’s four seasons before the Razorbacks lost to North Carolina in the round of 32 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He’s more or less starting from scratch this season.

 

7. Frank Martin, South Carolina

Record at South Carolina: 45–54, 15–39 SEC

NCAA record: 6–4

Number to note: South Carolina’s SEC record improved by a modest one win in 2014-15, but the advanced metrics gave the Gamecocks their best KenPom rating (No. 67) and SRS (10.55) since 2005-06 — by a wide margin.

Why he’s ranked here: South Carolina was one of the worst power conference teams during Martin’s first two seasons. The Gamecocks improved marginally in Year 3. Now in his fourth season at one of the toughest jobs in a major conference, Martin can call an NIT bid a success.

 

8. Mark Fox, Georgia

Record at Georgia: 106–89, 51–51 SEC

NCAA record: 2–5

Number to note: Fox is .500 in the league overall but 23–13 the last two seasons, tied for the third-best record in the league with Arkansas and behind only Kentucky and Florida.

Why he’s ranked here: Fox has had a solid, if unspectacular, tenure at Georgia. Will the Bulldogs win the SEC under Fox? Probably not, but they might not finish in the bottom half very often, either.

 

9. Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss

Record at Ole Miss: 192–114, 78–72 SEC

NCAA record: 2–2

Number to note: Kennedy became Ole Miss’ all-time wins leader two seasons ago, which says as much about Kennedy as it does the Rebels basketball program.

Why he’s ranked here: With two NCAA appearances in the last three seasons, Ole Miss is a relevant SEC program under Kennedy. That he did it before the Rebels built legitimate SEC facilities is to his credit.

 

10. Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M

Record at Texas A&M: 71–61, 30–42 Big 12/SEC

NCAA record: 1–2

Number to note: Three of Kennedy’s four teams at Texas A&M have ranked 250th or worse nationally in free throw shooting.

Why he’s ranked here: Texas A&M hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament under Kennedy. While this isn’t one of the top programs in college basketball, that kind of drought — particularly considering the record of his two predecessors — is enough to put Kennedy on the hot seat.

 

11. Mike White, Florida

Record at Florida: First season

NCAA record: 0–0

Number to note: Louisiana Tech won three Conference USA titles in White’s final three seasons. The Bulldogs won one league title from 1993-2012.

Why he’s ranked here: White has the unenviable task of following Billy Donovan at Florida and at a time when the roster isn’t stocked for quick success. White won at a tougher spot before, just at a place where no one was really watching.

 

12. Johnny Jones, LSU

Record at LSU: 61–37, 29–26 SEC

NCAA record: 0–3

Number to note: In the last three seasons, LSU has lost to eight teams ranked outside of the KenPom top 100. That includes three losses to teams ranked outside the top 200 and three losses to Auburn.

Why he’s ranked here: Jones’ teams have been inconsistent despite solid talent. Now, LSU has the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country in Ben Simmons.

 

13. Avery Johnson, Alabama

Record at Alabama: First season

NCAA record: 0–0

Number to note: No first-year Alabama coach has ever made the NCAA Tournament.

Why he’s ranked here: Johnson can match Bruce Pearl’s energy at Auburn, and he’s the only coach in the SEC has coached in the NBA, winning coach of the year honors in 2006. Pro coaches don’t always translate to the college game, so this will be interesting to watch.

 

14. Kim Anderson, Missouri

Record at Missouri: 9–23, 3–15 SEC

NCAA record: 0–0

Number to note: Missouri and Rutgers were the only two power conference teams ranked outside of the top 200 on KenPom last season.

Why he’s ranked here: The roster isn’t totally his fault, but Anderson, who spent 12 of the last 13 years in Division II, is in a borderline impossible situation.

 

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC Basketball Coaches for 2015-16
Post date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-5-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts
Body:

The college football season is just getting interesting, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.

 

The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

 

College Football Podcast: Week 4 Recap and Analysis



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Saturday's Games

 

Purdue at Michigan State

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook should feast on the Purdue defense. The Boilermakers are allowing FBS quarterbacks to complete 67.8 percent of their passes for 7.2 yards per attempt.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 42-14

 

South Carolina at Missouri

Missouri is averaging fewer than 300 yards per game against FBS competition. The Tigers’ defense, ranked seventh in fewest yards per game, is pulling its weight. South Carolina may have found answers on offense with dual-threat quarterback Lorenzo Nunez giving the Gamecocks an additional dimension with his legs.

Fox’s prediction: Missouri 17–14

 

Notre Dame at Clemson

The only time we’ve seen Clemson face a legitimate opponent, the Tigers needed to overcome two Deshaun Watson interceptions to beat 1–3 Louisville by three points. Despite all the injuries, Notre Dame still ranks 15th in total offense and 43rd in total defense, including three games against Power 5 competition.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 35–21

 

Mississippi State at Texas A&M

Myles Garrett was quiet until his late sack and strip of Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen to force overtime. With the Bulldogs’ struggles in the run game, Garrett and the top sack team in the SEC (4.5 per game) could tee off on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 35–20

 

Ole Miss at Florida

The big question for Florida: Can the Gators score 30 points against Ole Miss? The Rebels are averaging 54.8 points per game (35.0 per in two SEC games) Florida has won 24 consecutive SEC games in which it has scored 30 points, going back to the 2008 loss to Ole Miss. Only one of Florida’s last 17 30-point SEC games has come against an West team, a bad Arkansas team in 2013.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 35–17

 

Minnesota at Northwestern

Get ready for a defensive struggle between two teams averaging fewer than 20 points per game against FBS competition. Both teams have made it work this season with outstanding defense, but where Northwestern has been able to beat Stanford and Duke, Minnesota is eking by Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio.

Fox’s prediction: Northwestern 21–10

 

Iowa at Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s defense has been lights out since facing Alabama. The Badgers held Miami (Ohio), Troy and Hawaii to three points combined. Iowa’s offense is better this season — no, really. The big question will be if Wisconsin’s young offensive line can contain Hawkeyes defensive end Drew Ott.

Fox’s prediction: Iowa 28–21

 

Texas at TCU

Texas is ninth in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and has allowed a league-worst 10 touchdown passes. Bad news heading into a matchup with TCU’s Trevone Boykin.

Fox’s prediction: TCU 42–31

 

Boston College at Duke

Get ready for a defensive struggle. Boston College is holding opponents to 1.6 yards per carry this season — and that includes a game against Florida State. Duke is coming off a win over Georgia Tech in which the Yellow Jackets averaged only 2.9 yards per carry.

Fox’s prediction: Duke 24–14

 

Arizona at Stanford

Arizona’s outlook depends heavily on if quarterback Anu Solomon returns. Either way, Stanford is as physical a matchup in the Pac-12 — and the Wildcats are already beat up. Stanford is also coming off back-to-back 40-point games for the first time since early 2013.

Fox’s prediction: Stanford 42–21

 

Arizona State at UCLA

The Sun Devils don’t have much time to recover from the debacle against USC. More important, they have to prove that their lackluster offense is not going to be the trend for the season. Arizona State averaged 5.5 yards per pass attempt against Texas A&M and USC. UCLA is holding all opponents to 4.9 yards per pass.

Fox’s prediction: UCLA 35–21

 

West Virginia at Oklahoma

Time to find out if West Virginia is a legitimate Big 12 contender. The Mountaineers lead the nation in scoring defense at 7.7 points per game, but the competition has been against Georgia Southern, Liberty and Maryland. Oklahoma’s offense this season has been dominant in all but the first three quarters against Tennessee.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 28–21

 

Oregon at Colorado

The Ducks may find a cure for their ills against Colorado, but don’t be surprised if this turns into an up-and-down game. Colorado topped 90 plays twice this season, and Oregon’s defense may oblige a shootout.

Fox’s prediction: Oregon 42–28

 

Ohio State at Indiana

Bloomington will be hosting its biggest football game in quite some time as the Hoosiers try to reach 5–0 for the first time since 1967. Ohio State seems to have settled on Cardale Jones as the primary quarterback and its defense is plenty stout to contain Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard. Indiana hasn’t defeated Ohio State since 1988.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 41–27

 

Texas Tech at Baylor

Baylor finally gets a legitimate test and perhaps one few saw coming at the start of the season. Texas Tech defeated Arkansas and took TCU to the wire. New Baylor QB Seth Russell has settled into his role with more touchdown passes (six) than incomplete passes (four) in his last start.

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 52–41

 

North Carolina at Georgia Tech

Believe it or not, North Carolina’s defense has improved under Gene Chizik. The Tar Heels have held their FBS opponents to 5.1 yards per play, compared to 6.7 a year ago. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech’s offense has stalled the Yellow Jackets have been held to fewer than five yards per carry in back-to-back games for the first time since losses to Georgia and Ole Miss to end 2013.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia Tech 35–27

 

Arkansas at Tennessee

Both teams are in desperation mode. Perhaps the best news for Tennessee: Brandon Allen is a far better quarterback in the first half (79.7 completion percentage, 7 TDs, 2 INTs) than he is in the second (58.6 percent, 0 TDs, 1 INT).

Fox’s prediction: Tennessee 38–28

 

Florida State at Wake Forest

Wake Forest is much better team than it was a year ago. Florida State isn’t quite as good as it was a year ago. That still might not be enough to make up the 40-point margin from last year’s meeting.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 31–10

 

Alabama at Georgia

Can Alabama really start 0–2 in the SEC? The Crimson Tide will rely on its run defense, which is one of three nationally allowing fewer than two yards per carry (1.97). Greyson Lambert is on a hot streak with only two incomplete passes in his last two games, but can he win a game for Georgia with his arm?

Fox’s prediction: Alabama 28–24

 

Michigan at Maryland

Maryland’s run defense is getting progressively worse, giving up 301 rushing yards and 5.2 yards per carry in its most recent game against West Virginia. Michigan is averaging 244.3 yards per game and 5.3 per carry since its loss at Utah. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have allowed all of two touchdowns in the last three games.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 35–10

 

Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 60-20

Teaser:
Week 5 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, September 28, 2015 - 13:45
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-big-ten-basketball-coaches-2015-16
Body:

These are interesting times for coaches on top of the Big Ten.

 

Tom Izzo is coming off a frustrating regular season and a triumphant trip to the Final Four. Bo Ryan is coming off the best two-year stretch of his career and a (perhaps premature) retirement announcement.

 

John Beilein and Thad Matta both had disappointing seasons. Tom Crean overachieved, but he still enters this season on the hot seat.

 

And perhaps none of them will have a better team in 2015-16 than Mark Turgeon.

 

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Ranking the Big Ten Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

 

 

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Record at Michigan State: 495-199, 233-107 Big Ten

NCAA record: 46-17, seven Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Izzo’s first three Final Four teams were No. 1 seeds. His last four were seeded seventh (2015), fifth (2010, 2005) and second (2009).

Why he’s ranked here: Izzo is 15 years removed from his national championship, but he’s on one of the best runs of his career. Michigan State has won at least 27 games in seven of the last eight seasons.

 

2. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

Record at Wisconsin: 357-125, 172-68 Big Ten

NCAA record: 25-14, two Final Fours

Number to note: Ryan is 42-24 against Tom Izzo, John Beilein and Thad Matta. He’s also the only one of the four with a winning record against each of the other three.

Why he’s ranked here: Will he retire or won’t he? Either way, Ryan just capped the best two-year span of what’s likely a Hall of Fame career. If Wisconsin slips back to pre-Kaminsky/Dekker levels, that’s still a top-four finish in the Big Ten and an NCAA appearance.

 

3. John Beilein, Michigan

Record at Michigan: 166-110, 78-66 Big Ten

NCAA record: 16-9, one Final Four

Number to note: How about this for ball security: Nine of Beilein’s last 11 teams at Michigan and West Virginia have ranked in the top 25 in turnover rate.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s 16-16 debacle should be credited to injuries and bad luck. With Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton back, Michigan and Beilein should be back in the Big Ten title discussion.

 

4. Thad Matta, Ohio State

Record at Ohio State: 299-94, 132-60 Big Ten

NCAA record: 24-13, two Final Fours

Number to note: Ohio State is 5-12 against Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin the last two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: In general, Matta is as steady as they come. He’s only missed the NCAA Tournament twice as a head coach. Ohio State was under NCAA sanctions in one of those; the Buckeyes won the NIT in the other. That said, the Buckeyes have taken a dip the last two seasons, finishing fifth and sixth in the Big Ten and failing to reach the Sweet 16.

 

5. Mark Turgeon, Maryland

Record at Maryland: 87-50, 37-33 ACC/Big Ten

NCAA record: 6-6

Number to note: In eight seasons at Maryland and Texas A&M, Turgeon’s teams have ranked in the top 40 in defensive efficiency on KenPom six times.

Why he’s ranked here: Turgeon led Maryland to its best season since the 2003 national championship last year and will have a preseason top 10 team for the first time in his career.

 

6. Fran McCaffery, Iowa

Record at Iowa: 96-75, 42-48 Big Ten

NCAA record: 3-7

Number to note: McCaffery’s 67 wins over the last three seasons in the most for Iowa in a three-year span since Tom Davis went 77-25 from 1986-89.

Why he’s ranked here: McCaffery has revived the Hawkeyes' program, but he still has work to do to get Iowa into the same stratosphere as Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State.

 

7. Tom Crean, Indiana

Record at Indiana: 121-111, 49-77 Big Ten

NCAA record: 9-8, one Final Four

Number to note: Three of Crean’s last four teams have shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range.

Why he’s ranked here: Perpetually on the hot seat, Crean is entering a critical season. The Hoosiers have had a winning Big Ten record twice since he was hired in 2008.

 

8. Matt Painter, Purdue

Record at Purdue: 212-125, 101-75 Big Ten

NCAA record: 8-8

Number to note: Purdue has lost seven in a row to Michigan State, four in a row to Wisconsin, seven of eight to Ohio State and four of the last five against Michigan.

Why he’s ranked here: Painter has pulled Purdue out of its two-year funk since the Robbie Hummel class left. The Boilermakers have a huge season ahead of them.

 

9. Tim Miles, Nebraska

Record at Nebraska: 47-79, 21-33 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-2

Number to note: Nebraska hasn’t finished in the top 100 offensive efficiency since 2000-10 or the top 90 since 2003-04. Last year’s team was the worst offensive showing for Nebraska since 2002-03.

Why he’s ranked here: This time last year, Miles appeared to have Nebraska on the rise after the Cornhuskers’ first NCAA appearance since 1998. Last season showed how far his roster has to go.

 

10. John Groce, Illinois

Record at Illinois: 62-42, 24-30 Big Ten

NCAA record: 4-3

Number to note: Groce has had a winning conference record just twice in seven seasons as a head coach — both of his last two years at Ohio.

Why he’s ranked here: Groce has faced some bad luck in terms of recruiting misses and injuries (the latter will continue this season), but the fact remains that Illinois was shut out of the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years for the first time since 1991-92.

 

11. Richard Pitino, Minnesota

Record at Minnesota: 43-28, 14-22 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Of Minnesota’s 13 Big Ten losses last season (including the tournament), nine were by six points or fewer.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s 18-15 campaign has dimmed some of the optimism around Pitino. His name has come up around other jobs, but he has yet to prove he can win with the one he has.

 

12. Chris Collins, Northwestern

Record at Northwestern: 29-36, 12-24 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Collins’ 29 wins in his first two seasons is the best start for a coach in Northwestern history.

Why he’s ranked here: After two seasons of rebuilding the roster, Collins is expecting a substantial leap forward in his third season.

 

13. Patrick Chambers, Penn State

Record at Penn State: 56-75, 16-56 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-1

Number to note: Penn State has had four Big Ten losing streaks of 16 games or more in the last three seasons, including an 0-14 start in 2012-13.

Why he’s ranked here: Penn State has been to three NCAA Tournaments and three NITs in the last 20 years. Chambers’ lone postseason appearance is in the CBI. A strong recruiting class in 2016 could be the turning point for his program.

 

14. Eddie Jordan, Rutgers

Record at Rutgers: 22-43, 7-29 American/Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Rutgers has had many bad teams, but the Scarlet Knights’ No. 215 KenPom ranking last year was their worst since 2002.

Why he’s ranked here: Jordan and Mike Krzyzewski have one thing in common: Their most recent win came against Wisconsin. Jordan’s was on Jan. 11.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten Basketball Coaches for 2015-16
Post date: Monday, September 28, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-pac-12-basketball-coaches-2015-16
Body:

Compared to the lineups in other power conferences, the Pac-12 coaching lineup has a few key items missing on its collective résumés.

 

Namely, a coach who has been to the Final Four.

 

The Pac-12 is the only one of the top nine conferences — the Power 5 plus the American, Big East, Mountain West and Missouri Valley — without a coach who has been to the Final Four. Of the top nine conferences, six have multiple Final Four coaches.

 

That’s not to say the Pac-12 is bereft of quality coaches. Miller is widely considered the peer of the nation’s elite coaches, and his first Final Four appearance seems to be a matter of when rather than if.

 

The Pac-12 has two coaches who could claim to be the top guys on the bench in the modern era for their respective programs (Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, Colorado’s Tad Boyle). One Pac-12 school (Washington State) has the all-time wins leader from another conference school (Ernie Kent, at Oregon).

 

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak led one of the best rebuilding jobs of the last four seasons, and Oregon’s Dana Altman has done something in the last three years that’s never been done in program history.

 

While the Pac-12 lineup isn’t perfect, several schools — even not named Arizona — have reason to feel confident.

 

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Ranking the Pac-12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

 

 

1. Sean Miller, Arizona

Record at Arizona: 163-52, 79-29 Pac-12

NCAA record: 17-8

Number to note: Not only has Miller been to either the Elite Eight or Sweet 16 in each of his last six trips to the NCAA Tournament, Miller has never been knocked out of the Tourney by a team seeded lower than third.

Why he’s ranked here: Miller is only 46 and on the short list of best coaches in the game. He’s seeking his first Final Four, but he’s already on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

 

2. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Record at Utah: 68-64, 30-42 Pac-12

NCAA record: 3-3

Number to note: In Krystkowiak’s four seasons, Utah has improved in KenPom’s ratings from No. 297 to No. 108 to No. 42 to No. 8.

Why he’s ranked here: By taking Utah to its second Sweet 16 since Rick Majerus left, Krystkowiak has resurrected the Utah program in an improving Pac-12. With Delon Wright gone, this is could be a critical season for Utah’s staying power.

 

3. Dana Altman, Oregon

Record at Oregon: 123-57, 55-35 Pac-12

NCAA record: 6-11

Number to note: Altman has won at least 10 conference games in 18 of his last 19 seasons, the exception being his first season at Oregon in 2010-11.

Why he’s ranked here: Altman is the first coach to lead Oregon to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but scandal and faltering attendance have marred his program.

 

4. Steve Alford, UCLA

Record at UCLA: 50-23, 23-13 Pac-12

NCAA record: 9-9

Number to note: All of Alford’s teams since 2006-07 at Iowa have been ranked in the top 100 of both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom.

Why he’s ranked here: UCLA has reached the Sweet 16 in each Alford’s first two seasons (with the assist of facing double-digit seeds UAB and Stephen F. Austin in the round of 32). With his deepest roster in Westwood, Alford will be expected to challenge for bigger prizes.

 

5. Cuonzo Martin, Cal

Record at Cal: 18-15, 7-11 Pac-12

NCAA record: 3-1

Number to note: In 2015, Martin signed Cal’s first McDonald’s All-Americans since 2003.

Why he’s ranked here: Cal is expecting big things with Martin adding freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb to a veteran team. Martin likely will coach a ranked team for the first time in his career.

 

6. Tad Boyle, Colorado

Record at Colorado: 108-68, 46-42 Big 12/Pac-12

NCAA record: 1-3

Number to note: The Buffaloes went 7-11 in the Pac-12 last season, the first losing conference season for Boyle since 2007-08 at Northern Colorado.

Why he’s ranked here: An injury-plagued year for Colorado was a major disappointment after three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. Can Boyle get back on track?

 

7. Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State

Record at Oregon State: 17-14, 8-10 Pac-12

NCAA record: 0-3

Number to note: The Beavers ranked 16th in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom last season.

Why he’s ranked here: Tinkle’s first team at Oregon State overachieved to beat Arizona and UCLA and stay competitive in conference. His second team will have the sons of the best player in school history (Gary Payton II), the head coach (Tres Tinkle) and an assistant (Stephen Thompson Jr.).

 

8. Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Record at Washington: 270-159, 132-102 Pac-12

NCAA record: 8-7

Number to note: Washington’s 5-13 Pac-12 record was Romar’s first losing conference season since 2007-08 and worst league mark since his first season with the Huskies.

Why he’s ranked here: Washington has had its ups and downs under Romar, but the Huskies are currently in their most sustained funk of the last 12 years, missing the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons. Romar is either on the hot seat or headed for another turnaround.

 

9. Johnny Dawkins, Stanford

Record at Stanford: 141-100, 58-68 Pac-12

NCAA record: 2-1

Number to note: Dawkins is a combined 4-23 against Arizona and UCLA since arriving at Stanford.

Why he’s ranked here: The Sweet 16 run in 2014 may have saved Dawkins job, allowing him to win his second NIT championship at Stanford last season.

 

10. Bobby Hurley, Arizona State

Record at Arizona State: First season

NCAA record: 0-1

Number to note: In two seasons at Buffalo, Hurley was responsible for two of the top seven win totals in program history.

Why he’s ranked here: Arizona State believes it has a rising star in Hurley, who has only two seasons of head coaching experience. The family name — and the turnaround at Buffalo — carries significant weight.

 

11. Ernie Kent, Washington State

Record at Washington State: 13-18, 7-11 Pac-12

NCAA record: 6-6

Number to note: Washington State’s seven Pac-12 wins (including two in OT) came by an average of 4 points per game. The Cougars’ 11 Pac-12 losses were by an average of 15.2 points per game.

Why he’s ranked here: Kent, who last coached at Oregon in 2010, coaxed seven league wins out of last year’s group. That was a rather impressive feat for what we thought was a ho-hum hire.

 

12. Andy Enfield, USC

Record at USC: 23-41, 5-31 Pac-12

NCAA record: 2-1

Number to note: The Trojans have ranked 25th and 26th in tempo in his two seasons at USC.

Why he’s ranked here: Enfield started building from the ground up at USC, building his program around local high school prospects. Those players are now sophomores and juniors. Progress must be made this season.

 
Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/athlon-cover-catch-lsus-gabe-northern-talks-yoga-conflict-resolution
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Younger college football fans probably wouldn’t recognize the LSU football program for which Gabe Northern played.

 

From 1992-95, Northern was a bright spot on LSU teams that struggled just to make a bowl. Northern played before Nick Saban and Les Miles turned LSU into a national power. Northern was a dominant defensive end for coaches Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo, twice earning first-team All-SEC honors. His time at LSU featured one winning season — a 7–4–1 appearance in the Independence Bowl during his senior season.

 

Northern left LSU as a second-round draft pick and played four seasons for the Buffalo Bills before injuries hampered his career. He tried his hand at coaching at Grambling and Prairie View A&M and a business venture with a former teammate, but both vocations ended in disappointment.

 

Northern’s resolve was tested, but through yoga and lessons learned at LSU, he’s found a new start in Buffalo.

 

You played at LSU during some lean years. How closely have you watched LSU’s rise during the last 10-15 years?

 

I’ve paid a little bit of attention to it, not as much as you may think. Once I got out of LSU, there were a lot of changes made, a lot of administrational changes made. A lot of regime changes from DiNardo to Saban to Les Miles. It’s good to see them where they are right now to have two national championships because I thought we had championship-level talent when I played. A lot of the personalities conflicted from the coaches, coach-to-coach, player-to-player, player-to-coach. With that type of lack of cohesion, it’s hard for a team to win no matter what talent you have. In order to win a championship, you have to have just about everything go your way. You never get those breaks if you’re not on the same page from the get-go. Sometimes we weren’t in the same book or in the same library, so it was tough to be victorious against teams like Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M back then.

 

What are you doing right now?

 

I’m spending most of my time in Buffalo right now. They look out for me pretty good in Buffalo. That’s where I call my home. I’ve tried to go back to Baton Rouge a few times, but it seem like Baton Rouge is a little bit limited with opportunities. I hooked up with a good group of people up where in Canada and Western New York.

 

I do a whole lot of yoga, and I teach fitness in Buffalo and Canada as well. What I do is what I feel is the perfect mixture of football and yoga in my business . It got started out of necessity because I didn’t want to go to the gym and I didn’t want to pay to go to the gym. I had just come off some rough times and I couldn’t afford to go to the gym, so I got a medicine ball and from that one medicine ball, I’d start to throw it around and try to find different ways to throw this medicine ball around. After that I started training people with that medicine ball and a few footballs. As I trained people, I bought more medicine balls, footballs, ropes. I just built my business based different ways to move those things around, and I blended it with yoga.

 

What they’ve presented to (at yoga) me has led me on a spiritual and almost religious journey as to looking within myself and the energy I can spread throughout this world. It’s crazy to have a polarizing couple of loves in my life being football and yoga. In football, you crash into each other, you knock people down, you hurt people and in yoga it’s all about peace, good vibrations, positive energy, helping the world, clean living. Somehow through a little trial and error I think I’ve come up with what I think is a perfect blend of both. And I’m sharing that with anybody who will listen.

 

Did you do a lot of yoga during your playing days?

 

No. I feel like if I had done yoga when I was playing, I would have played five more years. My career was heading toward its end after I blew out both of my hamstrings right before I was heading to training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I signed with Pittsburgh after my last year in Buffalo. I ended up getting hurt and then I could stay healthy after that.

 

For your training, do you have a facility?

 

I had a facility. I owned a gym for a while with a good friend of mine in Tallahassee, a guy I played ball with, a guy I took on his recruiting trip. But that’s a lesson — you need to be careful of who you partner with or go into business with because I ended up having a lot of issues with my “best friend.” I ended up losing my ass in the deal, but I learned a whole lot. I still look at it as a positive experience because I always look at it like as long as I have breath in my lungs, I could always make something happen and that God always had my back.

 

(Editor’s Note: Northern and former LSU teammate Kevin Franklin opened an Anytime Fitness franchise in 2007 in Tallahassee, Fla. According to a , Franklin and Northern lost the franchise during the recession. Franklin worked several jobs before he was hired as a building manager with the YMCA.)

 

You alluded to some rough times. Is this business deal what you’re referring to?

 

It was rough, but I was able to fall back on the foundation of my family, my mother and father, my sister and brother. I don’t know where I would have ended up today because I was going through all that depression and thinking about what if I had that gun in my hand or what if I had that cliff to jump off of. I was at that stage in my life, and something just pulled me out of it. And I think what pulled me out of it was the love of my family.

 

What’s the timetable of all this? When did things start going wrong and how did you pull yourself out of it?

 

It’s hard to say because in the midst of all of it, there were some beautiful moments, and I came across a lot of beautiful people every step of the way. It’s just life. I refuse to complain about it because of all the people who showed me love. I prefer to not dwell on it.

 

And during all of this you were coaching?

 

I was coaching at Prairie View. I coached at Grambling for a few years, but I ended up getting fired. Coach said he wanted to go into a new direction. That’s one of the things that happens when you don’t control your own destiny. Now I’m my own boss, and it’s probably going to be a while before I fire myself.

 

Man, the way I look at it, there are so many coaches out there who know so much more than what I learned when I played for four years under Wade Phillips’ tutelage. I only learned for four years under one of the best defensive coordinators in history of the game. For that not to be good enough for certain institutions and certain people, hey man, you’re right. It takes four years to graduate, a little less to get a Master’s degree and something else to get a doctorate. I figure I’ve got some kind of degree in great defense after leaning from Wade Phillips. If other people couldn’t understand that, that’s on them. I promise you they lost more games by not being confident in what I learned and doing things the other way. I stand firm in my belief in that.

 

One thing that’s come up when searching your name is Men Against Violence. Can you tell me about that?

 

It’s something I started with a group of guys at LSU. There were a lot of negative aspects at LSU when it came to guys fighting guys, guys fighting girls, domestic violence, fratboy fights, football fights with fratboys. There was a whole lot of that going on back when I was in school. Between me and a few other guys, it was something we created. It’s something that was dear to my heart. If not for the training I got with that program, I would have been dead, I might have killed somebody or I would have been in jail. I would have been in a really bad circumstance had it not been for what I learned in that group. We went from place to place and trained people in conflict resolution. Just like what we learn in yoga, daily life is a practice. You have to practice love, you have to practice peace, you have to practice diligence. Those were things we learned back then with Men Against Violence. That’s a lot of what I teach today. Some people don’t know how to be people. All they know is chaos or mayhem, fighting, war. If you don’t know how to deal with conflict and resolving conflict, you will not be able to function in today’s society.

 

Just the other day, I was hosting my first Zoo-ology camp in Buffalo. I was doing some grocery shopping. I was in a hurry. I go to swipe my card to buy my items and my business credit card didn’t work. So I had to walk out to my truck, get my personal credit card, come back in and swipe it and my personal credit card didn’t work. I grab my checkbook and everything is all good until the damn check won’t clear. I’m about to blow a gasket up in this place if I don’t get some service. I go to the ATM, the card works I end up getting my money. I got my items. But I’m telling you, I had to consciously warn myself to breathe. To take some time, close my mouth and breathe. After that, everything worked out. I had a wonderful camp. I helped some kids. I had a wonderful group out there helping me. If it hadn’t been some training I had received from Men Against Violence or the yoga, I would have been in trouble that day. I would have kicked somebody’s ass, threw something around. Any of the options that I would have chosen would have been poor choices and it would have led to some self-destruction.

 

So when you’re working with kids or athletes in your training, do you share these lessons of daily struggles or internal battles?

 

All the time. People look at me, with what people see of my physical stature, they would think that I always had it going on, that I’ve always been sitting on top of the world, never been kicked in the ass financially. People wouldn’t have guessed that I’ve had certain battles, certain struggles, certain demons that I had to exorcise.

 

Teaser:
Athlon Cover Catch-Up: LSU's Gabe Northern Talks Yoga, Conflict Resolution
Post date: Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 13:36
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-big-east-basketball-coaches-2015-16
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When the Big East reconfigured three years ago, the league had its share of questions. Among them, did the league have the powerhouse coaches to be a powerhouse conference?

 

Brad Stevens had left for the NBA. Jay Wright’s program was in a state of transition. Chris Mack was still in the shadow of his predecessors. John Thompson III couldn’t shake early NCAA Tournament exits.

 

Three seasons later, no one would confuse the Big East coaching lineup with that of the Big Ten or ACC, but it has made strides. Wright has a top-10 team, Mack is coming off a trip to the Sweet 16, and Chris Holtmann has Butler overachieving again. JTIII even dodged a loss to a No. 13 seed in the last NCAA Tournament.

 

The Big East also has cultivated new coaches with bright futures — Ed Cooley and Providence and Steve Wojciechowski and — maybe — Chris Mullin.

 

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Ranking the Big East Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

 

1. Jay Wright, Villanova

Record at Villanova: 319-152, 140-81 Big East

NCAA record: 14-12, one Final Four

Number to note: Wright has had six of the top seven teams in Villanova history, according to sports-reference.com’s Simple Rating System. Last year’s 33-3 team was No. 1. Rollie Massimino’s national championship team in 1985 was ranked No. 20.

Why he’s ranked here: Wright’s recent tenure is worthy of some skepticism. The 29-win and 33-win seasons the last two years have coincided with a weaker Big East, and the Wildcats haven’t advanced to the Sweet 16 since the 2009 Final Four run.

 

2. Chris Mack, Xavier

Record at Xavier: 134-71, 67-33 Atlantic 10/Big East

NCAA record: 6-5

Number to note: In the last two seasons, Mack is 0-6 against Villanova (including the conference tournament) and 22-13 against the rest of the Big East.

Why he’s ranked here: Although Mack may not be held in as high esteem as predecessor Sean Miller, Mack has reached the Sweet 16 three times in his six seasons at Xavier.

 

Related: 

 

3. John Thompson III, Georgetown

Record at Georgetown: 317-157, 119-68 Big East

NCAA record: 9-10, one Final Four

Number to note: Ten of Thompson’s 11 teams at Georgetown have ranked in the top 100 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom. Four teams have been among the top 50 most efficient teams on both ends of the court.

Why he’s ranked here: Thompson went 6-2 in the NCAA Tournament in his first two trips with Georgetown and 3-6 since. The early NCAA Tournament exits to lower-seeded teams will haunt him, even if they came against Final-Four bound VCU in 2011 and Stephen Curry in 2008.

 

4. Ed Cooley, Providence

Record at Providence: 79-56, 34-38 Big East

NCAA record: 0-2

Number to note: Providence’s KenPom rating has improved from No. 112 to 70 to 51 to 30 during Cooley’s tenure. The conference record has improved each year to match. Cooley’s KenPom ranking improved each of his five seasons at Fairfield as well.

Why he’s ranked here: The ceiling at Providence is well-established and Cooley may break through it. Cooley is the first coach since Rick Barnes to take Providence to back-to-back NCAA Tourneys (1989-90) and first since Barnes to win 20 games in back-to-back seasons (1993-94).

 

5. Chris Holtmann, Butler

Record at Butler: 23-11, 12-6 Big East

NCAA record: 1-1

Number to note: Holtmann’s first season gave Butler its best conference record since 2010-11 — when the Brad Stevens-coached Bulldogs were in the Horizon League.

Why he’s ranked here: Holtmann took over Butler under less-than-ideal circumstances and, by the end of the season, the Bulldogs took Notre Dame to the wire in the NCAA Tournament. He has the personnel to top that this season.

 

6. Greg McDermott, Creighton

Record at Creighton: 121-57, 55-35 Missouri Valley/Big East

NCAA record: 3-6

Number to note: McDermott went 107-38 (.734) with Doug McDermott on his roster at Creighton. He’s 163-150 (.521) without Doug McDermott at Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Creighton.

Why he’s ranked here: Beyond losing Doug, the elder McDermott had a massive rebuild at Creighton last season. The latter part of Greg’s tenure at Northern Iowa (65 wins, three NCAA appearances in three seasons) should be the baseline expectation for McDermott.

 

7. Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette

Record at Marquette: 13-19, 4-14 Big East

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Wojo’s first team led the Big East in defensive turnover rate and finished second in 2-point defensive field goal percentage.

Why he’s ranked here: Marquette was young and undermanned last season but was competitive for most of the season. The 14 losses included two in overtime to Tournament teams Georgetown and Butler.

 

8. Chris Mullin, St. John’s

Record at St. John’s: First season

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Mullin’s first team will return 3.8 percent of the scoring from last season.

Why he’s ranked here: After more than 20 years and five coaches is Lou Carneseca left, St. John’s is throwing up a Hail Mary with the best player in program history. Mullin has never coached at any level, but if he can’t sell St. John’s, perhaps no one can.

 

9. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall

Record at Seton Hall: 82-81, 30-60 Big East

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Willard has one winning conference record (2009-10 at Iona) in eight seasons as a head coach.

Why he’s ranked here: Willard once seemed to be a coach on the rise with Seton Hall, but his program has fallen apart with locker room friction and minimal results. The Pirates are 15-39 in the Big East in the last three seasons.

 

10. Dave Leitao, DePaul

Record at DePaul: 58-34, 30-18 Conference USA (from 2002-05)

NCAA record: 2-2

Number to note: Leitao has coached one top 50 KenPom team in his career — 2006-07 Virginia, ranked 50th.

Why he’s ranked here: DePaul brought back the last coach to take the program to the NCAA Tournament in 2004. He hasn’t been a head coach since 2009, and his name never showed up in the rumor mill for a major job since.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big East Basketball Coaches for 2015-16
Post date: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-4-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts
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The college football season is just getting interesting, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.

 

The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Recap and Analysis



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Saturday’s Games

 

Georgia Tech at Duke

The ACC opener finds both teams needing to reboot themselves on offense after tough losses last week. The two teams went a combined 6-of-32 on third downs. The Yellow Jackets know their offensive identity while the Blue Devils are still trying to find their way with Thomas Sirk at quarterback. Tech has won 10 of the last 11.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia Tech 35–21

 

UCF at South Carolina

One team here will get a win it sorely needs after both programs have fallen apart in the early going. UCF is 0–3 with home losses to Furman and FIU. South Carolina is 1–2 with losses to Kentucky and Georgia. UCF’s putrid offense (2.5 yards per carry, 4.9 yards per pass attempt) should be a welcome sight for South Carolina’s tepid defense.

Fox’s prediction: South Carolina 31–14

 

LSU at Syracuse

Syracuse has allowed 140 rushing yards all season … because the Orange have faced Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Central Michigan. Leonard Fournette might double that figure.

Fox’s prediction: LSU 42–10

 

Texas A&M at Arkansas

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury already picked this game as a butt-kicking for his former employer Texas A&M. We’re inclined to agree after Texas Tech completed 27-of-31 passes for 315 yards against the Hogs. The Aggies' passing game is just as dangerous.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 41–21

 

UCLA at Arizona

UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen (three interceptions vs. BYU) is dealing with adversity for the first time as college player. Good thing he has a stout run game to bail him out. We don’t have a great read on Arizona after the Wildcats have made easy work of three overmatched opponents. Their chances will improve if Scooby Wright returns healthy, but UCLA’s defense dominated this matchup last year for a 17–7 win.

Fox’s prediction: UCLA 35–27

 

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss

Sandwiched between the 43–37 win over Alabama and a road trip to Florida, a game against Vanderbilt should have the Rebels on let-down alert. That, and the Commodores’ improved defense, will make this game closer than it should be, but the Rebs will pull away.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 31–13

 

USC at Arizona State

Cody Kessler and Mike Bercovici have a combined touchdown-to-interception ratio of 17-to-1. Both defenses gave up chunks of yards in the passing game in their only notable games this season, both losses (USC to Stanford, Arizona State to Texas A&M). Because of those losses, this is approaching must-win territory for both teams.

Fox’s prediction: USC 41–38

 

Mississippi State at Auburn

Just what Auburn’s ailing defense didn’t want to see: The top quarterback in the SEC. Perhaps Mississippi State’s inconsistent run game gives Auburn an advantageous matchup, but the Tigers have been tested by just one above-average passer this season. Dak Prescott rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns against Auburn last year but also threw two interceptions in the win.

Fox’s prediction: Mississippi State 34–27

 

Tennessee at Florida

The Volunteers have every reason to believe this is the year to end the losing streak to Florida, which reached 10 games with a 10–9 defeat in Knoxville last season. Tennessee has the talent advantage, and Florida under Jim McElwain doesn’t look too different from Florida under Will Muschamp so far this season.

Fox’s prediction: Tennessee 28–20

 

Utah at Oregon

Oregon’s main task will be to slow down Utah running back Devontae Booker. The Ducks gave up 5.3 yards per carry in their only game against a legitimate run game (Michigan State), but they also held Booker to 65 yards on 18 carries in last year’s matchup with the Utes. The Ducks expect Vernon Adams and his finger to be healthy, but backup Jeff Lockie proved he could hold down the fort.

Prediction: Oregon 34–20

 

Oklahoma State at Texas

At long last, Texas has found its quarterback and playcaller. The Longhorns’ 650 total yards were the most against a Power 5 opponent since September 2012. Oklahoma State hasn’t needed to show much this season as the Cowboys cruised through a non-conference schedule of Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and UTSA.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 33–24

 

BYU at Michigan

UCLA’s run game gashed BYU last week — a development perhaps more surprising than the Cougars not winning the game on their final snap. Michigan still is struggling at quarterback, but the tandem of Ty Isaac and De’Veon Smith is giving Jim Harbaugh the ground game he needs.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 28–21

 

Virginia Tech at East Carolina

Maybe the Hokies aren’t doomed with Brenden Motley playing quarterback. The sophomore has completed 31-of-47 passes for 453 yards with four touchdowns and no turnovers in his starts against Furman and Purdue. East Carolina isn’t an ACC-level test this season, but the Pirates won last year’s meeting 28–21.

Fox’s prediction: Virginia Tech 28–14

 

Central Michigan at Michigan State

Injuries are mounting for the Michigan State defense, but the Spartans should have too much trouble with the 1–2 Chippewas.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 41–14

 

Western Michigan at Ohio State

The Buckeyes need to figure out why their quarterbacks are underachieving, but their defense is dominating right now. Western Michigan might be the most talented team in the MAC, but Ohio State might be the most talented team in the country.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 44–20

 

Missouri at Kentucky

Missouri scored nine points Saturday and won. Kentucky scored nine points Saturday and lost. Oddly enough, Kentucky might have more potential to turn its offense around this week.

Fox’s prediction: Kentucky 21–14

 

Cal at Washington

Texas’ missed extra point allowed Cal to escape Austin despite giving up 650 yards of offense. Washington freshman quarterback Jake Browning is getting better, but he’s faced Sacramento State and Utah State the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Jared Goff will face a defense that hasn’t allowed a passing TD this season.

Fox’s prediction: Cal 44–31

 

TCU at Texas Tech

TCU’s status as a playoff contender may be in question. The Horned Frogs are undefeated in the standings but the injury list is taking its toll. Texas Tech should be playing with confidence after defeating Arkansas — and should be playing with an edge after losing 82–27 to TCU last year.

Fox’s prediction: Texas Tech 44–40

 

Rice at Baylor

Baylor hasn’t been as sharp as we’ve come to expect, even against it paper-thin schedule. Did the Bears regroup during the off week?

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 49–24

 

UMass at Notre Dame

With a big win over Georgia Tech last week and a road trip to Clemson next week, Notre Dame might be worth watching for a let-down. UMass, though, probably isn’t good enough to finish the job.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 28–10

 

Last week: 14–6

Season to date: 45-15

Teaser:
Week 4 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, September 21, 2015 - 13:19
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-big-12-basketball-coaches-2015-16
Body:

In Big 12 basketball, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

 

Missouri and Texas A&M left the league long ago (relatively speaking). Coaches Rich Barnes and Fred Hoiberg have gone to new places.

 

For more than a decade, a number of teams have taken their best shot at Kansas, but the Jayhawks have stayed on top every season since 2004-05.

 

The same goes for their coach, Bill Self. The Kansas coach is an easy vote for No. 1, and that is not necessarily an indictment of the rest of the coaches in the league.

 

Shaka Smart has been a hot candidate for many programs over the years, but Texas turned out to be his suitor. Bob Huggins is closing on 800 wins. Lon Kruger is a turnaround master. Tubby Smith has won a national championship.

 

Even in that group, Self is on top — until someone knocks him and his program from his perch.

 

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Ranking the Big 12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

 

 

1. Bill Self, Kansas

Record at Kansas: 352-78, 164-36 Big 12

NCAA record: 37-16, two Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Some perspective for Self’s 11 consecutive Big 12 championships: John Wooden holds the record of consecutive league titles with 13 from 1967-79.

Why he’s ranked here: Fred Hoiberg and Frank Martin have come and gone. Kevin Durant couldn’t do it. Neither could Blake Griffin. Missouri isn’t even in the conference anymore. Nearly every Big 12 program over the last decade has had a shot an unseating Kansas at the top and ultimately failed to unseat Self.

 

2. Shaka Smart, Texas

Record at Texas: First season

NCAA record: 7-5, one Final Four

Number to note: VCU led the nation in defensive turnover rate on KenPom from 2012-14 and still finished 11th last season despite losing defensive stopper Briante Weber midway through the year.

Why he’s ranked here: The 2011 Final Four and the Havoc defense are the lead items in Smart’s career, but it’s worth noting VCU remained consistent despite moving from the Colonial to the more competitive Atlantic 10.

 

Related: 

 

3. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma

Record at Oklahoma: 82-49, 40-32 Big 12

NCAA record: 16-16, one Final Four

Number to note: Oklahoma’s 36 Big 12 wins in the last three seasons under Kruger are the most for the Sooners since 2001-03.

Why he’s ranked here: Kruger cleaned up the mess left by Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel, leading the Sooners to their first Sweet 16 since 2009. There should be more to come.

 

4. Bob Huggins, West Virginia

Record at West Virginia: 175-101, 80-64 Big East/Big 12

NCAA record: 26-21, two Final Fours

Number to note: Huggins is seven wins short of 700 in Division I (his official career record includes 71 wins at Walsh University).

Why he’s ranked here: Huggins led West Virginia to its best season in five years by radically changing his approach — in his 33rd year as a head coach. The Mountaineers became a full-court pressing team that was the best in the country at forcing turnovers and steals.

 

5. Scott Drew, Baylor

Record at Baylor: 230-160, 85-115 Big 12

NCAA record: 8-5

Number to note: Baylor has ranked in the top 20 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency in each of the last four seasons and seven of the last eight.

Why he’s ranked here: It’s not fashionable to talk about Drew as a great coach — especially after Baylor’s first-round loss to Georgia State last season — but Drew is responsible for seven of the 10 20-win seasons in Baylor history, including each of the last four.

 

6. Steve Prohm, Iowa State

Record at Iowa State: First season

NCAA record: 1-1

Number to note: In four seasons as a head coach, Prohm has two winning streaks of 23 games or more.

Why he’s ranked here: Prohm inherits a loaded roster in his first season at Iowa State. His four seasons with the Racers suggests he’ll know what to do with it.

 

7. Tubby Smith, Texas Tech

Record at Texas Tech: 27-37, 9-17 Big 12

NCAA record: 30-16, one Final Four, one championship

Number to note: Smith’s 3-15 league record last season and 6-12 record the year before are the worst conference seasons of Smith’s 23-year career.

Why he’s ranked here: Smith’s teams have played hard, and he might not be as bad as his recent record indicates. That said, he hasn’t posted a winning conference record since 2007 at Kentucky, and it doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

 

8. Trent Johnson, TCU

Record at TCU: 38-58, 3-39 Big 12

NCAA record: 5-5

Number to note: TCU ranked No. 65 on KenPom.com last season, the Horned Frogs’ highest ranking since the service began. TCU’s only other top 100 finish was No. 94 in 2004-05.

Why he’s ranked here: TCU has a long way to go before contending in the Big 12, but wins over teams like Oklahoma State and Kansas State (twice) in an 18-15 campaign shows the Frogs going in the right direction.

 

9. Bruce Weber, Kansas State

Record at Kansas State: 62-38, 32-22 Big 12

NCAA record: 11-10, one Final Four

Number to note: Kansas State’s Big 12 record has declined from 14-4 to 10-8 to 8-10.

Why he’s ranked here: After last season’s debacle, Weber needs to reverse a trend that Illinois fans came to know all to well — the inevitable decline after a standout first season under Weber.

 

10. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State

Record at Oklahoma State: 143-91, 60-65 Big 12

NCAA record: 1-6

Number to note: Oklahoma State is 8-16 in February and March the last two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: Oklahoma State is more or less stuck with Ford due to an onerous contract. His team perhaps overachieved last season, but the Pokes are still riding a 10-year Sweet 16 drought that predates Ford.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 08:00

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