Articles By David Fox

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After last week, we know the Big 12 has one team chasing the national championship. Oklahoma likely played itself out of contention with a 30-13 loss at home to Notre Dame, leaving undefeated Kansas State as the only Big 12 team in the BCS top 10.

The road to the BCS title game is not guaranteed, no matter the resume or record, as Kansas State’s opponent this week can confirm.

Other Week 10 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 10:

Will the Kansas State defense start to get its due?
Collin Klein may have a historic season, delivering Kansas State its first Heisman trophy. And the columns applauding the career achievements of Bill Snyder made their rounds several weeks ago. What shouldn’t be lost in the play of the K-State defense. That until will be tested this week by an Oklahoma State team that leads the nation in total offense despite injuries to quarterbacks Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh this season. In Big 12 games, Kansas State: 1.) Is one of two teams holding opponents to fewer than five yards per play at 4.9 (Oklahoma leads at 4.7), 2.) Is tied with Iowa State for the most takeaways (14), 3.) Is tied with Texas for the most sacks (2.4 per game).

Oklahoma State’s defense has been solid lately. Can the momentum continue against Kansas State?
Oklahoma State’s defense has enjoyed a rebound since the loss to Texas. The Cowboys will find out in the coming weeks if the October defense has been a fluke or a product of facing Kansas, Iowa State and TCU, starting this week against Kansas State. The Cowboys allowed only 38 total points in three games in October -- not bad for a defense that allowed 59 to Arizona and 41 to Texas. The reasons for the turnaround are pretty clear: Oklahoma State can defend in clutch situations. The last three opponents converted only a quarter of third downs (12 of 47) and a third of red zone attempts (2 of 6). Oklahoma State State has allowed the last three opponents to complete only 50 percent of their passes and rush for one rushing touchdown total. Those are impressive numbers, but chances are they look less so against Collin Klein.

Will West Virginia return to form after a disastrous two losses and an off week?
It seems like ages ago Geno Smith was the Heisman frontrunner and the West Virginia offense was unstoppable. That was before Texas Tech, Kansas State and an off week. It’s been out of sight, out of mind for West Virginia. Smith has completed 51 of 88 passes for 421 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his last two games, but more shocking has been the play of the defense, which has given up 1,155 total yards and 13 offensive touchdowns in the two-game losing streak. Coach Dana Holgorsen said he’d like to see his team return to the tempo of earlier in the season. That seems possible, but the defense is a bigger question. The Mountaineers have transitioned from former coordinator Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 to a more traditional 4-3/3-4 defense. The transition has been less than smooth. Perhaps an off week and playing at home against TCU instead of Kansas State or Texas Tech will put the defense back on a better path.

Could injuries and depth issues cost TCU a bowl game?
The list of key players who have missed time this season for TCU has been staggering: Quarterback Casey Pachall (last four games), defensive end Stansly Maponga (last two games), running back Waymon James (six games). And that doesn’t count possible starters Tanner Brock, Devin Johnson and D.J Yendrey, dismissed after a campus drug bust. Pachall’s replacement, Trevone Boykin, is expected to start against West Virginia, but he left last week’s loss to Oklahoma State early with an injury. What started as a promising 5-1 season with a 2-1 start in the Big 12 has suddenly become questionable one for the Horned Frogs after back-to-back losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. TCU will finish the season with four teams ranked in the BCS top 25: No. 21 West Virginia, No. 2 Kansas State, No. 23 Texas and No. 12 Oklahoma. A bowl bid is not guaranteed.

Mack Brown is spending more time with his defense. What’s that supposed to mean?
Embattled Texas coach Mack Brown is spending more time in defensive meetings in Austin. This might not be a big deal if this were, say, Bob Stoops, but Brown’s background is on offense. And past Texas defensive coordinators -- Will Muschamp, Gene Chizik and Greg Robinson -- have used the position to build names for themselves. Current Longhorns coordinator Manny Diaz was in that category just a year ago. But Diaz probably hasn’t forgotten how to coach. After all, he got the Texas job after a successful stint at Mississippi State. However, Brown’s involvement in the defense is another sign of the dire situation down in Austin, especially as the Longhorns face Texas Tech’s Seth Doege in Lubbock this week.

Will the Oklahoma run game return to form?
The Sooners rushed for a mere 15 yards against Notre Dame. Part of that was the Irish defense, but coach Bob Stoops said, in hindsight, he would have put more focus on the run game. Oklahoma faces Iowa State this week, which ranks sixth in the Big 12 in run defense. Damien Williams has run for only 63 yards on 21 carries the last two games. Some of the focus will be on Williams, but also on Dominique Whaley. Last year’s breakout runner hasn’t appeared in the last two games, but Stoops says he is ready to go.

Can Kansas finish the job against Baylor?
Kansas put a scare into Texas last week before losing 21-17 in the final 12 seconds. That may have said more about the state of the Texas program than Kansas, but it wasn’t the first close call the Jayhawks have caused. Kansas lost 20-14 to Oklahoma State in a rainy game in Lawrence and gave Kansas State trouble for a half. Kansas isn’t a good team, but the Jayhawks may have a Big 12 win in them. This week against Baylor might be a good opportunity. James Sims has topped 100 rushing yards in four consecutive games, including 176 yards against Texas. Meanwhile, the Baylor defense hasn’t been able to stop anyone. If Kansas can play defense like it did a week ago, the Jayhawks might be able to pull an upset in Waco.

Week 10 Big 12 Predictions

Week 10 Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Oklahoma at Iowa State Oklahoma 38-21 Oklahoma 35-21 Oklahoma 34-17 Oklahoma 30-20
TCU at West Virginia West Virginia 35-28 West Virginia 34-24 West Virginia 38-31 West Virginia 37-33
Kansas at Baylor Kansas 24-21 Baylor 42-24 Baylor 41-31 Baylor 44-16
Texas at Texas Tech Texas Tech 38-28 Texas Tech 30-24 Texas Tech 38-24 Texas Tech 30-27
Oklahoma St. at Kansas St. Kansas St. 35-21 Kansas St. 55-24 Kansas St. 34-30 Kansas St. 34-30
Last week 3-2 4-1 3-2 4-1
Overall 43-11 41-12 40-13 43-10

by David Fox

@davidfox615

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<p> Big 12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:04
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Momentum for previously undefeated Cincinnati and Rutgers has been sapped the last two weeks, but the Big East has other teams starting to get hot in recent weeks.

Syracuse has won back-to-back games for the first time this season, but a game at Cincinnati will give the Orange a chance to win three consecutive Big East games for the first time since 2001. And Pittsburgh has scored a rare win streak against FBS opponents. Extending it to three will be a tough task against undefeated Notre Dame.

Other Week 10 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big East’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 10:

Should Louisville be concerned about its run defense against Temple?

Not counting the rain-drenched game against Southern Miss, Louisville has had its two worst games against the run the last two weeks, giving up 197 rushing yards to USF and 196 yards to Pittsburgh. That adds a little intrigue for this matchup with Temple, which is a run-first team with Boston College transfer Montel Harris and running-threat Chris Coyer at quarterback. However, Louisville likely can gang up on the run moreso against Temple than USF and Cincinnati. Both the Bulls and Bearcats have dual-threat quarterbacks and quality receivers capable of testing the Cardinals’ secondary. Temple is still lacking in that regard.

Can Cincinnati stop the big play against Ryan Nassib?
Cincinnati has been without defensive end Walter Stewart for two games and two losses. Now, the Bearcats must find a way to play without their best defensive player and one of their emotional leaders for the remainder of the season. Cincinnati sacked Teddy Bridgewater three times last week, but struggled to get consistent pressure without Stewart. And along the way, the Cincinnati defense was burned by three pass plays for at least 50 yards. Syracuse is among the Big East leaders in pass plays longer than 20 and 30 yards, and quarterback Ryan Nassib’s track record in the fourth quarter (eight career fourth-quarter comebacks for wins) means Cincinnati can’t let up.

Will the vote of confidence from Butch Jones impact Munchie Legaux?
The Cincinnati quarterback continues to have the support of coach Butch Jones despite his struggled the last two weeks. In the losses to Toledo and Louisville, Legaux is 28 of 64 for 384 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Perhaps being at home will be a boost to Legaux. The sophomore is completing 60.8 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and two interceptions at Nippert Stadium -- granted, two of those games were against FCS opponents.

Tino Sunseri has quietly become of the nation’s most improved players. Can it continue against Notre Dame?
Who leads the Big East in passing efficiency? Tino Sunseri. Who leads the Big East in yards per pass attempt? Tino Suneri. Which starting quarterback has thrown the fewest interceptions in the Big East? Tino Sunseri. Pittsburgh has built some nice momentum the last two weeks but Buffalo and Temple aren’t Notre Dame. Pitt will try to use its running combo of Ray Graham and Rushel Shell to crack the Notre Dame defense, but odds are, the best chance of upsetting Notre Dame will be through the air. Has Sunseri improved enough to even threaten Notre Dame with the pass?

Which awful unit looks better in Tampa: UConn’s run game or USF’s run defense?
Thanks to a struggling offensive line, Connecticut’s run game is pitiful. The Huskies are averaging 1.7 yards per carry in Big East games. They’re the only team in the Big East without a rushing touchdown. And if UConn doubled its rushing output in conference games from 45 yards to 90 per game, it would still rank last by 26 yards per game. OK, so we’ve established the futility of UConn’s run game, but USF’s not quite there on run defense, either. The Bulls rank last in the Big East in that category. FBS teams are averaging 187.4 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry against the Bulls, who have allowed a rushing touchdown in each game this season. Something has to give in this game, right?

Will this be the magic week USF gets an interception?
It really is quite remarkable: USF is the only team in the country with out an interception. It has been since Oct. 6 when Wisconsin became the second-to-last team to record an interception. The Bulls are one of only two teams in NCAA -- that’s FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III -- without a pick. The other is Division III Denison in Granville, Ohio. Can the streak end against UConn? Huskies quarterback Chandler Whitmer has more interceptions (11) than any QB in the Big East.

Week 10 Big East Predictions:

Week 10 Big East Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Syracuse at Cincinnati Syracuse 28-14 Cincinnati 30-24 Cincinnati 27-20 Cincinnati 37-27
Temple at Louisville Louisville 28-17 Louisville 38-17 Louisville 38-17 Louisville 34-17
Pittsburgh at Notre Dame Notre Dame 35-14 Notre Dame 20-14 Notre Dame 31-14 Notre Dame 27-10
Connecticut at USF UConn 14-10 USF 20-17 USF 34-20 USF 27-14
Last week 2-2 2-2 3-1 2-2
Overall 34-14 33-15 32-16 32-16

by David Fox

@DavidFox615

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<p> Big East Week 10 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:02
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Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

For the last three seasons, the best basketball conference out West was not the Pac-12, but the Mountain West. The MWC produced 11 NCAA Tournament teams compared to the Pac-10/12’s eight in the same span.

But that trend might begin to change. First, an influx of talent at Arizona and UCLA may return those two powers to the college basketball elite. And second, the Mountain West’s best incarnation will fall apart after next season. BYU has already gone to the Mountain West, and San Diego State will head to the Big West thereafter.

For now, though, UNLV and San Diego State will continue to compete for Mountain West and perhaps Western supremacy. On paper, UNLV’s season was similar to the previous five, but Dave Rice has injected the program with with energy -- and the talent level -- from the Jerry Tarkanian era. San Diego State, however, is keeping pace with wins and recruiting success.

Those two programs will slug it out one more time before going their separate ways.

2012-13 ALL-MWC TEAM MWC FACTS AND FIGURES
G Deonte Burton, Nevada 2011-12 regular season champion: New Mexico, San Diego State
G Wes Eikmeier, Colorado State 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: New Mexico#, San Diego State,
G Kendall Williams, New Mexico UNLV
G Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State New coach: Larry Eustachy (Colorado State)
F Mike Moser, UNLV* Realignment: Lost TCU (Big 12). Add Fresno State, Nevada (WAC)
*preseason conference player of the year #conference tournament champion

2012-13 MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE PREVIEW
1. UNLV (26-9, 9-5)

The Rebels are ranked No. 13 in our preseason rankings: Full preview
There is little doubt that big things are on the horizon for the Runnin’ Rebels under coach Dave Rice, who guided UNLV to the NCAA Tournament in his first year and followed that up with one of the nation’s top recruiting classes. The big question will be how long it takes for all the new faces to jell. The rebuilt Rebels figure to battle a veteran and talented San Diego State squad for the Mountain West title.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

2. San Diego State (26-8, 10-4)

The Aztecs are ranked No. 15 in our preseason rankings: Full preview
San Diego State has all the necessary ingredients to make a lengthy postseason run. The Aztecs are Tournament tested with three straight appearances and have one of the most talented teams in program history. Mountain West foes UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State will ensure that the Aztecs are battle-tested during the conference slate, and the nonconference schedule includes a rare game against UCLA (in the Wooden Classic) as well as the opener vs. Syracuse. Just reaching the NCAA Tournament is no longer good enough at San Diego State, which is a true testament to the job Coach Steve Fisher has done in building the program to an elite level.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

3. Colorado State (20-12, 8-6)
With four starters back from a 20–12 team and a pair of talented transfers ready to contribute, there’s already talk of conference titles and Sweet 16 appearances in the first season under Larry Eustachy. If the Rams are to compete for their first regular-season Mountain West title and hope to get back to the NCAAs, they will have to learn to win on the road. While they knocked off three top-25 teams at Moby Arena last year, they were a head-scratching 3–9 on the road, including 1–6 in league play. The Rams should be able to address their biggest weakness: lack of size. Last year their tallest starter was 6-6, but Colton Iverson, a 6-10 transfer from Minnesota, brings inside scoring and rugged defense. He averaged 5.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in his final season with the Gophers. The holdovers are led by a trio of senior guards. Wes Eikmeier, an All-MWC pick, had nine 20-plus scoring nights last year and will be one of the top players in the league. Dorian Green, a fourth-year starter, is a tough defender and heady distributor, while Jesse Carr is solid on both ends of the floor.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

4. New Mexico (28-7, 10-4)
With starters Hugh Greenwood, Kendall Williams and Tony Snell back, the Lobos’ backcourt is solidified, but the post will take a hit without forwards Drew Gordon and A.J. Hardeman. Gordon, a first-team All-MWC forward, averaged 13.7 points and 11.1 rebounds while garnering the league’s tournament MVP honors. Hardeman started 35 games and was a glue guy who brought stability. Pegging a replacement for Gordon is the biggest quandary. Alex Kirk, a 7-0 redshirt sophomore, figures a prime candidate, having set a freshman scoring record with 31 points against Cal State Bakersfield two years ago. There’s questions about his durability, however. He underwent back surgery to correct a herniated disc and sat out last year. Look for Williams, a versatile 6-3 guard, to develop into a go-to guy after he averaged 12.1 points in a complementary role last season.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

5. Boise State (13–17, 3–11)
The young Broncos took their lumps in their first season of Mountain West play, and they’ll try to fare better in their final season in the conference. Boise State, which is heading to the Big East in football, must place its basketball programs in another conference, likely the Big West or WAC next season. Coach Leon Rice still has a young team — center Kenny Buckner (8.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is the only senior — and there are four sophomores and five freshmen on scholarship. But those sophomores gained a ton of experience last season, something that should help the Broncos as they attempt to climb out of the conference cellar. They played most everyone tough and came within seconds of beating UNLV and San Diego State. Australian forward Anthony Drmic (12.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg) had a strong freshman campaign, as did point guard Derrick Marks (9.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.1 apg). That duo, along with Buckner, figures to be the focal points on offense. But they’ll have plenty of help. Juniors Thomas Bropleh, Jeff Elorriaga and Ryan Watkins all have starting experience and have had big games in their careers. Guard Igor Hadziomerovic, who missed much of last season with a broken foot, also should make an impact. If the Broncos learned from a year ago and get contributions from any of the incoming freshmen, don’t be surprised if Boise State cracks the top half of the Mountain West.

6. Air Force (13–16, 3–11)
A midseason coaching change last season gave Dave Pilipovich the chance to make basketball fun again at the Academy. Though the Falcons went only 2–6 under the interim coach, a win over nationally ranked San Diego State and a competitive finish was enough to land Pilipovich the full-time gig. The good news for him is he’ll have five players who started at least 14 games back from last season, including top scorer Michael Lyons (15.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg), who missed a handful of games last season with a high-ankle sprain and wasn’t full strength for much of the first half of Mountain West play. And opponents won’t be able to solely key on Lyons. Mike Fitzgerald (10.4 ppg) Taylor Broekhuis (9.0 ppg) also are options for Air Force, which runs a deliberate offense that relies on execution. Point guard Todd Fletcher is the man who makes the Falcons’ offense work. If Pilipovich can develop some depth and build confidence early in the season, Air Force has a chance to finish in the middle of the pack.

7. Nevada (28–7, 13–1 WAC)
After a few down years, the Wolf Pack returned to their winning ways and put together a 28-win season that culminated with a trip to the NIT quarterfinals. Had the Wolf Pack not played in a one-bid WAC last season, a trip to the NCAA Tournament was within reach as an at-large candidate. Coach David Carter returns three starters from last season, including dynamic point guard Deonte Burton, who averaged 14.8 points and 4.2 assists per game. The lefthander is difficult to guard, and his versatile offensive game makes him one of the top guards in the Mountain West. Joining Burton in the backcourt is senior Malik Story, a streaky shooter who averaged 14.1 points per game. The former Indiana transfer can score in bunches but also has a tendency to take bad shots. When Story makes good decisions, he’s difficult to contain. Swingman Jerry Evans (6.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) should see his production increase as the Wolf Pack did lose its frontcourt starters in Dario Hunt and Olek Czyz. There are seven other letterwinners who are back, but none of them did much to distinguish themselves a year ago. They combined to average fewer than 12 points and nine rebounds a game, production that must increase if Nevada is going to be a factor in its first season in the Mountain West.

8. Wyoming (21–12, 6–8)
Larry Shyatt changed the culture in the program last season, helping the Cowboys to a 21–12 mark that landed them in the College Basketball Invitational. Wyoming did it with a suffocating defense and a deliberate offense that kept grinding and grinding on the opposition. It wasn’t always pretty, but most of the time it was effective. Wyoming has two starters back from a year ago and both are coming off stellar seasons. Senior forward Leonard Washington averaged 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds, while shooting guard Luke Martinez made 81 3-pointers en route to averaging 11.8 points per game. Martinez has made a trey in 29 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the conference. The key for the Cowboys to match last season’s success will be how the rest of the team adjusts to new roles. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. had his moments last season, but now he’ll be expected to be an important factor. Backup point guard Derrious Gilmore must replace starter JayDee Luster, who meant so much for the Cowboys on both ends of the floor. Returning guard Riley Grabau also could see a greater role.

9. Fresno State (13–20, 3–11 WAC)
Coach Rodney Terry started rebuilding the Bulldogs last season, but life just got tougher as the move to the Mountain West will make it more dificult for the second-year coach to see results. With that being said, the Bulldogs have potential to be a surprise team. Guard Kevin Olekaibe is a proven scorer (17.8 ppg), and his presence opens things up for teammates. Guard Tyler Johnson (9.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and forward Jerry Brown (8.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) also are returning starters, giving Terry a nice foundation to build around. Former George Mason transfer Kevin Foster and guard Garrett Johnson also have experience. Pacific transfer Allen Huddleston should contribute in the backcourt after sitting out last season, and 6-9 Canadian Braeden Anderson had interest from some higher-profile schools before landing in Fresno. The key to Fresno State’s season might be just how quickly true freshman Robert Upshaw adapts to the Division I game. The 7-foot center is expected to be a difference-maker, and if he lives up to that the billing, don’t expect the Bulldogs to finish in the cellar.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
8. Atlantic 10
9. West Coast

10. Missouri Valley
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> Mountain West Conference 2012-13 College Basketball Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 05:54
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Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

The Atlantic 10 begins a two-year state of flux, and that’s not just because of the comings and goings of teams in the league.

Sure, the A-10 adds recent Final Four teams VCU and Butler to the lineup this season. And the league is set to lose Temple (Big East) and Charlotte (Conference USA) a year from now, but there are questions all over the conference, which may be one of the most competitive in the country, at least at the top.

With a handful of young players returning to VCU, the Rams may be the favorite in the league in their first season here. Part of the reason is personnel turnover at Xavier and Temple, the two teams that have set pace for the conference the last few years.

Saint Louis has the personnel, but one major question on the bench as Jim Crews coaches the team while Rick Majerus takes a leave of absence to tend to health concerns.

Elsewhere, UMass and St. Joseph’s appear to be ready to reclaim their spot as NCAA Tournament teams after several years of the NIT or worse.

From ACC to WAC: Complete conference realignment tracker

ATHLON ALL-ATLANTIC 10 TEAM ATLANTIC 10 FACTS AND FIGURES
G Chaz Williams, UMass* 2011-12 regular season champion: Temple
G Khalif Wyatt, Temple 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure#, Temple,
G Kevin Dillard, Temple VCU (as member of CAA), Xavier
F Juvonte Reddic, VCU New coaches: Jim Crews (Saint Louis), Jim Ferry (Duquesne),
F Chris Braswell, Charlotte Dan Hurley (Rhode Island)
  Realignment: Added Butler (Horizon), VCU (CAA)
*preseason player of the year #won conference tournament



 

 

 

 

2012-13 ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE PREVIEW
1. VCU (29-7, 15-3 CAA)
Coach Shaka Smart has the luxury of taking a veteran roster from the Colonial to the Atlantic 10. Five of his best players are upperclassmen and two sophomores — Briante Weber and Treveon Graham — played extensively in their first collegiate season during the Rams’ NCAA Tournament run. Defense begets offense in the VCU system, and the Rams are prodigious thieves. They led the country in total steals (381) and steals per game (10.6) last year. What’s important in that statistic is that frequently steals don’t turn into layups — they turn into backbreaking threes. Prior to last season, only two Rams had ever made at least 80 3-pointers in a season, but Troy Daniels (school-record 94) and Bradford Burgess (81) both joined that club in ’11-12. Graham has all-conference written all over him. He averaged 7.0 points in 16.8 minutes off the bench as a freshman and was adept at getting to the foul line (3.3 attempts per game). Smart has no qualms playing a four-guard lineup. Considering VCU has gone 15–5 over the past 10 seasons against current A-10 teams, an A-10 championship and another deep NCAA Tournament run is a possibility.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Two and Out

2. Saint Louis (26-8, 12-4)
Saint Louis advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a dozen years, and despite losing its leading scorer, this group could be more formidable than the won that won 26 games. There is, however, one caveat -- the Billikens must forge ahead without coach Rick Majerus, who is taking a leave of absence for health reasons. Jim Crews, who joined the staff prior to last season, will be the interim coach. Beyond losing top scorer Brian Conklin, Saint Louis brings back everyone else of note and also adds a talented freshman to a team that beat Memphis in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament before losing to top-seeded Michigan State. Kwamain Mitchell is one of the best guards in the league and could challenge for conference Player of the Year honors. Mitchell, who missed the 2010-11 campaign due to off-court issues, was sensational down the stretch last season. He was second on the team in scoring and led the team in assists. Senior forward Cody Ellis averaged double-figures while coming off the bench last season and gives Crews a skilled forward who can step out and make shots from the perimeter. Majerus is extremely high on freshman Keith Carter. The speedy Proviso (Ill.) East standout has already been labeled by Majerus as the second-best point guard he’s coached, behind former Utah Utes star and NBA veteran Andre Miller. The Billikens suffered a blow when Majerus stepped down, but the roster that nearly reached the Sweet 16 returns mostly intact.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

3. Temple (24-8, 13-3)
The Owls’ last the Atlantic 10 will be a very different Temple squad without Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore. New leaders need to emerge and the good news is there are several candidates. Senior Khalif Wyatt (17.1 ppg) was the team’s second leading scorer and is as dangerous as any guard in the conference. Coach Fran Dunphy also sees forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson capable of making a big jump and returning big man Anthony Lee and guard T.J. DiLeo have valuable minutes under their belts. What will be the difference maker, however, is the impact several new faces can bring. Scootie Randall is no newcomer. The senior was the A-10’s Most Improved Player in 2011, but a foot injury led to a redshirt season a year ago. He averaged 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds two years ago and will be a major impact player.

Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

4. UMass (25-12, 9-7)
It’s taken longer than expected, but UMass basketball is finally healthy again. The first three years of the Derek Kellogg Era in Amherst were mediocre at best, but now, after a 25-win campaign and an NIT semifinal berth, the Minutemen appear primed to challenge for the A-10 title and could make a run at their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998. The difference: A revamped system and a legitimate point guard. For the first three years, Kellogg didn’t have a guy he could count on to run the team, but diminutive Hofstra transfer Chaz Williams was the difference-maker for the program last season, leading the team in scoring, assists and steals. Williams also fits perfectly into Kellogg’s new up-tempo, full-court pressure system— which replaces the dribble drive he implemented upon taking over four years ago. The only starter UMass will have to replace is steady big man Sean Carter (8.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg).
Postseason prediction: NIT

5. Butler (22-15, 11-7 Horizon)
The standards have become so outrageous when it comes to Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs that a 22-victory campaign, one that resulted in a postseason appearance in the CBI, was considered a major disappointment last season.  Butler’s biggest issue last season was knocking down the outside shot — the Bulldogs made 28 percent from the arc — but that’s certain to change with the addition of Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke and freshman wing Kellen Dunham. Clarke made 274 3-pointers in three seasons with Arkansas and established himself as arguably the top perimeter shooter in the country before transferring to Butler for his final campaign. The 6-5 Dunham gives Stevens another lights-out shooter, one who can help space the court in an effort to help guys like senior big man Andrew Smith. Butler will fill the perimeter shooting void, but it’s most glaring issue will be replacing the leadership, defense and intangibles of point guard Ronald Nored. Butler was dealt a further blow when it dismissed budding star guard Chrishawn Hopkins.
Postseason prediction: NIT

6. Saint Joseph’s (20-14, 9-7)
Saint Joseph’s suffered through an uncharacteristic dip a few years ago, winning only 11 games in 2009-10 and ’10-11. But last season the Hawks took a significant step towards getting back to the norm, winning 20 games overall and finishing 9–7 in A-10 play with a team that is set to remain intact for this coming season. Veteran coach Phil Martelli boasts a big-time scoring guard in Carl Jones, who is the veteran on the team and comes off a second consecutive campaign in which he averaged 17.0 points per game. Junior Langston Galloway, Jones’ running mate in the backcourt, is one of the elite shooters in the country from beyond the arc. The Baton Rouge, La., native hit 46.6 percent from 3-point range in ’11-12. It’ll be difficult to find a more potent guard duo in the league than Jones and Galloway. The X-factor for the Hawks up front is C.J. Aiken, the long and thin 6-9 Pennsylvania native who is one of the most adept shot-blockers in the nation. There’s truly no one else in the league who can match Aiken, who has swatted 237 shots in his two seasons on campus and altered plenty more.
Postseason prediction: NIT

7. St. Bonaventure (20–12, 10–6)
The Bonnies’ season changed dramatically during an Atlantic 10 Tournament run that included wins over Saint Joseph’s, UMass and Xavier and delivered the program’s first-ever conference title and first NCAA berth since 2000. Although he loses NBA draft pick Andrew Nicholson, coach Mark Schmidt has three returning starters and two veterans who sat out last year with injuries. The returning starters include dangerous scorer Demitrius Conger and guards Charlon Kloof and Matthew Wright. Conger is an athletic and heady wing while both Kloof and Wright made major gains as sophomores. That group will be bolstered by the return of senior Michael Davenport, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury after starting all 31 games as a junior (11.1 ppg). Davenport should be ready for a major impact year.

8. Xavier (23-13, 10-6)
Chris Mack lost a ton of talent. Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease both graduated, and guard Mark Lyons transferred to Arizona for his final season of eligibility. Those three represented Xavier’s top three scorers who accounted for nearly 43 points per game. And during the offseason Dez Wells, the top returning scorer, was dismissed and later landed at Maryland. Mack’s focus, instead, will go to rookies Freshman guard Semaj Christon has the potential to be a future star and will likely step in and replace Holloway at the point. Fellow freshmen Myles Davis, Jalen Reynolds and James Farr all have a chance to get significant playing time. In the frontcourt, Former Monmouth star Travis Taylor struggled last season, his first at Xavier, after a stellar preseason. He’ll get a chance to step in and earn a starting spot. So will Towson transfer Isaiah Philmore, a junior who averaged 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in the Colonial two years ago. Either Taylor or Philmore will need to have a strong season for the Musketeers to be a legitimate factor in the A-10 race.


9. La Salle (21–13, 9–7)
The Explorers entered the A-10 Tournament with 21 wins and lofty postseason hopes but a quick loss to Saint Louis and a one-and-done NIT appearance with a loss at Minnesota left a sour taste on a good season. The good news is the Explorers return four starters. The keys are dynamic point guard Tyreek Duren (13.2 ppg) and senior scoring wing Ramon Galloway (14.1 ppg). Sam Mills (10.6 ppg) also scored in double figures and completes one of the better trios of wings in the conference. That backcourt will be supplemented by the mid-December addition of Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland, a Philly product with plenty of game.

10. Dayton (20–13, 9–7)
The Flyers won their customary 20-plus games in Archie Miller’s first season as head coach, but no one in Dayton is happy with an NIT finish. A few key returnees, plus some impressive newcomers, make the Flyers a potentially dangerous team in the A-10. The leader will be senior Kevin Dillard, a second team all-league pick who led the Flyers in scoring (13.3 ppg) a year ago. He spent part of his summer competing against the best guards in the country at the LeBron James Nike camp and drew strong reviews. Wing Devin Oliver has started at times as well, but he’ll be pushed hard by Georgetown transfer Vee Sanford, LSU transfer Matt Derenbecker and freshman Dyshawn Pierre.

11. Richmond (16–16, 7–9)
Returning to the top of the A-10 standings will be tough for the Richmond, but the Spiders clearly reloaded last year with an eye on 2013. The key will be the return of a three-guard lineup that boasts plenty of experience, as well as talent. Point guard Cedric Lindsay racked up nearly twice as many assists as turnovers as a sophomore and helped trigger the scoring of both Darien Brothers (14.6 ppg) and 5-8 whippet Kendall Anthony (13.0 ppg). Both guards nailed 68 threes. The trick will be upgrading a frontcourt that has some intriguing prospects. Powerful junior Derrick Williams (5.6 rpg) is the leading returning rebounder, but no other returnee averaged more than four boards. The answers will come from a group of three redshirt freshmen and two true freshmen, all frontcourt players.

12. Charlotte (13–17, 5–11)
The 49ers are off to Conference USA in ’13-14 in a quest for relevance as a football school, but Alan Major’s team has one more spin around the Atlantic 10. Major has yet to establish a winning environment in his two years in Charlotte but is certainly remaking the roster. He added six players two years ago and six more newcomers are on board for his third season. The talent base is clearly moving in the right direction. The leader is a holdover from the Bobby Lutz Era, senior center Chris Braswell. Despite losing a ton of games in his three seasons, Braswell is a known NBA commodity who led his team in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg) and shot 51 percent from the field.

13. Fordham (10–19, 3–13)
There aren’t many programs in the country that would award a contract extension to a coach who’s won four conference games in two years. Welcome to Fordham. The Rams have clearly made gains under Tom Pecora. Fordham did post a 7–6 non-league record a year ago and was not routinely blown out of A-10 games for the first time in ages. A good goal for this coming season will be making the league tournament for the first time since 2008, and with four starters back, including all-league candidate Chris Gaston, the move is possible. Now a senior, Gaston (17.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg) continues to be one of the best players no one knows about.

14. George Washington (10–21, 5–11)
Mike Lonergan has clearly made his mark on the GW program, and he’s done so in the most important department — recruiting. The Colonials are adding six new players to a mix of holdovers thirsting to make a move in the A-10. Leading the returnees is Lasan Kromah, an athletic wing who averaged 11.1 points last season. Forward David Pellom also scored in double figures (10.4 ppg) and led the team in rebounding (6.1 rpg).

15. Rhode Island (7–24, 4–12)
After winning 20 or more games in the previous four seasons, the Rams were due for a rebuilding season. and that unfolded in spades in 2012. Things got so bad that the school decided to move on after 11 years under Jim Baron that included lots of wins but zero NCAA Tournament berths. The Rams tabbed Wagner coach Dan Hurley, plus his assistant coaching brother Bobby, to lead the program. The Hurleys have a major rebuilding job on their hands and entering mid-summer there were 11 players on scholarship but only eight eligible for 2012-13. Transfers Gilvydas Biruta (Rutgers), Jarelle Reischel (Rice) and DeShon Minnis (Texas Tech) will wait for 2013-14 to make their mark while this year’s Rams replace four key players. The veterans are led by senior forward Nikola Malesevic. His 3-point shot mysteriously sank from 45 percent to 30 last year in a glimpse of the Rams’ woes.

16. Duquesne (16–15, 7–9)
After regaining solid footing in the Atlantic 10 under Ron Everhart, the Dukes felt he wasn’t the coach to lead the program to the next level and somewhat surprisingly fired him last March. Enter Jim Ferry, an impressive veteran coach who made LIU Brooklyn a leader in the Northeast Conference. Ferry has a major rebuilding job on his hands. Duquesne lost four of its top five scorers, including a painful transfer of local guard and fan favorite T.J. McConnell to Arizona. Senior guard Sean Johnson (13.5 ppg), senior forward Andre Marhold (5.1 ppg) and junior guard Jerry Jones (6.4 ppg) are the veterans Ferry can lean on, but major improvement from returnees like Kadeem Pantophlet, Mamadou Datt and Derrick Martin is vital.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
9. West Coast
10. Missouri Valley
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> Atlantic 10 Conference 2012-13 College Basketball Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:07
All taxonomy terms: college basketball, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-conference-realignment-tracking-all-changes
Body:

Conference realignment has been one of the major storylines in college football and basketball the last few years. Some moves have been major, such as ACC expansion and another realignment within the Big East, but other conference lineups across the country have changed since the end of last season.

In college basketball, realignment will be a two-year storyline (at least). The SEC will have two new members as will the Atlantic 10, for starters. But the major dominoes start to fall in 2013-14 when the Pittsburgh and Syracuse move to the ACC, and the Big East reorganizes as a result. From there the dominoes fall.

Need to catch up? Want to look ahead? Here’s our guide to college basketball realignment for the next two seasons.

The following conferences do not expect any change in membership: Ivy League, MAC, MEAC, Pac-12, and SWAC.

These charts refer only to changes in basketball conference lineups. We also tracked realignment in college football.

Teams in italics are leaving the conference listed. Teams in bold are joining the conference listed.

POWER CONFERENCES

ACC

2011-12/2012-132013-142014-15
Boston CollegeBoston CollegeBoston College
ClemsonClemsonClemson
DukeDukeDuke
Florida StateFlorida StateFlorida State
Georgia TechGeorgia TechGeorgia Tech
MarylandMaryland#Louisville
MiamiMiamiMiami
NC StateNC StateNC State
North CarolinaNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina
VirginiaNotre DameNotre Dame
Virginia TechPittsburghPittsburgh
Wake ForestSyracuseSyracuse
 VirginiaVirginia
 Virginia TechVirginia Tech
 Wake ForestWake Forest

AMERICAN

2013-142014-15
CincinnatiCincinnati
ConnecticutConnecticut
HoustonEast Carolina
LouisvilleHouston
MemphisMemphis
RutgersSMU
SMUTemple
TempleTulane
UCFTulsa
USFUCF
 USF
  

BIG 12

2011-122012-13
BaylorBaylor
Iowa StateIowa State
KansasKansas
Kansas StateKansas State
MissouriOklahoma
OklahomaOklahoma State
Oklahoma StateTCU
TexasTexas
Texas A&MTexas Tech
Texas TechWest Virginia

BIG EAST

2011-122012-132013-14
CincinnatiCincinnatiButler
ConnecticutConnecticutCreighton
DePaulDePaulDePaul
GeorgetownGeorgetownGeorgetown
LouisvilleLouisvilleMarquette
MarquetteMarquetteProvidence
Notre DameNotre DameSeton Hall
PittsburghPittsburghSt. John's
ProvidenceProvidenceVillanova
RutgersRutgersXavier
Seton HallSeton Hall 
St. John'sSt. John's 
SyracuseSyracuse 
USFUSF 
VillanovaVillanova 
West Virginia  

BIG TEN

2012-132014-15
IllinoisIllinois
IndianaIndiana
IowaIowa
MichiganMaryland
Michigan StateMichigan
MinnesotaMichigan State
NebraskaMinnesota
NorthwesternNebraska
Ohio StateNorthwestern
Penn StateOhio State
PurduePenn State
WisconsinPurdue
 Rutgers
 Wisconsin

SEC

2011-122012-13 and beyond
AlabamaAlabama
ArkansasArkansas
AuburnAuburn
FloridaFlorida
GeorgiaGeorgia
KentuckyKentucky
LSULSU
Ole MissOle Miss
Mississippi StateMississippi State
South CarolinaMissouri
TennesseeSouth Carolina
VanderbiltTennessee
 Texas A&M
 Vanderbilt

MULTI-BID CONFERENCES AND TOP MID-MAJORS

Atlantic 10

2011-122012-132013-142014-15
CharlotteButlerDaytonDavidson
DaytonCharlotteDuquesneDayton
DuquesneDaytonFordhamDuquesne
FordhamDuquesneGeorge MasonFordham
George WashingtonFordhamGeorge WashingtonGeorge Mason
La SalleGeorge WashingtonLa SalleGeorge Washington
MassachusettsLa SalleMassachusettsLa Salle
Rhode IslandMassachusettsRhode IslandMassachusetts
RichmondRhode IslandRichmondRhode Island
Saint LouisRichmondSaint LouisRichmond
St. BonaventureSaint LouisSt. BonaventureSaint Louis
St. Joseph'sSt. BonaventureSt. Joseph'sSt. Bonaventure
TempleSt. Joseph'sVCUSt. Joseph's
XavierTemple VCU
 VCU  
 Xavier  

Colonial Athletic Association

2011-122012-132013-142014-15
DelawareDelawareCharlestonCharleston
DrexelDrexelDelawareDelaware
George MasonGeorge MasonDrexelDrexel
Georgia StateGeorgia StateHofstraElon
HofstraHofstraJames MadisonHofstra
James MadisonJames MadisonNortheasternJames Madison
NortheasternNortheasternTowsonNortheastern
Old DominionOld DominionUNC WilmingtonTowson
TowsonTowsonWilliam & MaryUNC Wilmington
UNC WilmingtonUNC Wilmington William & Mary
VCUWilliam & Mary  
William & Mary   

Conference USA

2012-132013-142014-15
East CarolinaCharlotteCharlotte
HoustonEast CarolinaFAU
MarshallFAUFIU
MemphisFIULouisiana Tech
RiceLouisiana TechMarshall
SMUMarshallMiddle Tenn.
Southern MissMiddle Tenn.North Texas
TulaneNorth TexasOld Dominion
TulsaOld DominionRice
UABRiceSouthern Miss
UCFSouthern MissUAB
UTEPTulaneUTEP
 TulsaUTSA
 UABWestern Ky.
 UTEP 
 UTSA 

Missouri Valley

2012-132013-14
BradleyBradley
CreightonDrake
DrakeEvansville
EvansvilleIllinois State
Illinois StateIndiana State
Indiana StateLoyola Chicago
Missouri StateMissouri State
Northern IowaNorthern Iowa
Southern IllinoisSouthern Illinois
Wichita StateWichita State

Mountain West

2011-122012-132013-14
Air ForceAir ForceAir Force
Boise StateBoise StateBoise State
Colorado StateColorado StateColorado State
New MexicoFresno StateFrenso State
San Diego StateNevadaNevada
TCUNew MexicoNew Mexico
UNLVSan Diego StateSan Diego State
WyomingUNLVSan Jose State
 WyomingUNLV
  Utah State
  Wyoming

Sun Belt

2011-122012-132013-142014-15
UALRUALRUALRAppalachian St.
Arkansas St.Arkansas St.Arkansas St.UALR
DenverFAUGeorgia St.Arkansas St.
FAUFIUUL-LafayetteGa. Southern
FIUUL-LafayetteSouth Ala.Georgia St.
UL-LafayetteMiddle Tenn.Texas St.UL-Lafayette
Middle Tenn.North TexasTroySouth Ala.
North TexasSouth Ala.ULMTexas State
South Ala.TroyUT ArlingtonTroy
TroyULMWestern Ky.ULM
ULMWestern Ky. UT Arlington
Western Ky.   

WAC

2011-122012-132013-14
Fresno StateDenverCal State Bakersfield
HawaiiIdahoChicago State
IdahoLouisiana TechGrand Canyon#
Louisiana TechNew Mexico StateIdaho*
NevadaSan Jose StateNew Mexico State
New Mexico StateSeattleSeattle
San Jose StateTexas StateUMKC
Utah StateUtah StateUT Pan American
 UT-ArlingtonUtah Valley
 UTSA 

*Idaho will leave the WAC to join the Big Sky as a non-football member in 2014-15.
#Transitional member, ineligible for postseason

West Coast Conference

2012-132013-14
BYUBYU
GonzagaGonzaga
Loyola MarymountLoyola Marymount
PepperdinePacific
PortlandPepperdine
San DiegoPortland
San FranciscoSan Diego
Santa ClaraSan Francisco
St. Mary'sSanta Clara
 St. Mary's

TRADITIONAL ONE-BID CONFERENCES

America East

2012-132013-14
AlbanyAlbany
BinghamtonBinghamton
Boston UniversityHartford
HartfordMaine
MaineNew Hampshire
New HampshireStony Brook
Stony BrookUMass-Lowell*
UMBCUMBC
VermontVermont

*not eligible for conference championship until 2017.

Atlantic Sun

2011-122012-13
BelmontEast Tennessee State
East Tennessee StateFlorida Gulf Coast
Florida Gulf CoastJacksonville
JacksonvilleKennesaw State
Kennesaw StateLipscomb
LipscombMercer
MercerNorth Florida
North FloridaNorthern Kentucky
USC UpstateUSC Upstate
StetsonStetson

Big Sky

2011-122012-13/2013-142014-15
Eastern WashingtonEastern WashingtonEastern Washington
Idaho StateIdaho StateIdaho
MontanaMontanaIdaho State
Montana StateMontana StateMontana
Northern ArizonaNorth DakotaMontana State
Northern ColoradoNorthern ArizonaNorth Dakota
Portland StateNorthern ColoradoNorthern Arizona
Sacramento StatePortland StateNorthern Colorado
Weber StateSacramento StatePortland State
 Southern UtahSacramento State
 Weber StateSouthern Utah
  Weber State

Big South

2012-132013-14
CampbellCampbell
Charleston SouthernCharleston Southern
Coastal CarolinaCoastal Carolina
Gardner-WebbGardner-Webb
High PointHigh Point
LibertyLiberty
PresbyterianLongwood
RadfordPresbyterian
UNC AshevilleRadford
VMIUNC Asheville
WinthropVMI
 Winthrop

Big West

2011-122012-132013-14
Cal PolyCal PolyCal Poly
Cal State FullertonCal State FullertonCal State Fullerton
Cal State NorthwoodCal State NorthwoodCal State Northwood
Long Beach StateHawaiiHawaii
PacificLong Beach StateLong Beach State
UC DavisPacificUC Davis
UC IrvineUC DavisUC Irvine
UC RiversideUC IrvineUC Riverside
UC Santa BarbaraUC RiversideUC Santa Barbara
 UC Santa Barbara 

Horizon League

2011-122012-132013-14
ButlerCleveland StateCleveland State
Cleveland StateDetroitDetroit
DetroitGreen BayGreen Bay
Green BayLoyola ChicagoMilwaukee
Loyola ChicagoMilwaukeeOakland
MilwaukeeUICUIC
UICValparaisoValparaiso
ValparaisoWright StateWright State
Wright StateYoungstown StateYoungstown State
Youngstown State  

MAAC

2012-132013-14
CanisiusCanisius
FairfieldFairfield
IonaIona
Loyola (Md.)Manhattan
ManhattanMarist
MaristMonmouth
NiagaraNiagara
RiderQuinnipiac
Saint Peter'sRider
SienaSaint Peter's
 Siena

Northeast

2012-132013-14
BryantBryant
Central ConnecticutCentral Connecticut
Fairleigh DickinsonFairleigh Dickinson
LIU BrooklynLIU Brooklyn
MonmouthMount St. Mary's
Mount St. Mary'sRobert Morris
QuinnipiacSacred Heart
Robert MorrisSt. Francis (NY)
Sacred HeartSt. Francis (Pa.)
St. Francis (NY)Wagner
St. Francis (Pa.) 
Wagner 

Ohio Valley

2011-122012-13
Austin PeayEAST
Eastern IllinoisBelmont
Eastern KentuckyEastern Kentucky
Jacksonville StateJacksonville State
Morehead StateMorehead State
Murray StateTennessee State
SIU-EdwardsvileTennesee Tech
Southeaste Missouri StateWEST
Tennessee StateAustin Peay
Tennessee TechEastern Illinois
UT MartinMurray State
 SIU-Edwardsville
 Southeast Missouri State
 UT Martin

Patriot League

2012-132013-14
AmericanAmerican
ArmyArmy
BucknellBoston University
ColgateColgate
Holy CrossHoly Cross
LafayetteLafayette
LehighLehigh
NavyLoyola (Md.)
 Lehigh
 Navy

Southern

2012-132013-142014-15
Appalachian StateAppalachian StateChattanooga
CharlestonChattanoogaThe Citadel
ChattanoogaThe CitadelFurman
The CitadelDavidsonSamford
DavidsonElonUNC Greensboro
ElonFurmanWestern Carolina
FurmanGeorgia SouthernWofford
Georgia SouthernSamford 
SamfordUNC Greensboro 
UNC GreensboroWestern Carolina 
Western CarolinaWofford 
Wofford  

Southland

2011-122012-132013-14
Central ArkansasCentral ArkansasAbilene Christian
LamarLamarCentral Arkansas
McNeese StateMcNeese StateHouston Baptist
Nicholls StateNicholls StateIncarnate Word
Northwestern StateNorthwestern StateLamar
Sam Houston StateOral RobertsMcNeese State
SE LouisianaSam Houston StateNew Orleans
Stephen F. AustinSE LouisianaNicholls State
TAMU-Corpus ChristiStephen F. AustinNorthwestern State
Texas StateTAMU-Corpus ChristiOral Roberts
UT Arlington Sam Houston State
UTSA SE Louisiana
  Stephen F. Austin
  TAMU-Corpus Christi

Summit League*

2011-122012-132013-14
Fort WayneFort WayneDenver
IUPUIIUPUIFort Wayne
Kansas CityKansas CityIUPUI
North DakotaNorth Dakota StateNorth Dakota State
North Dakota StateOaklandOmaha
OaklandOmahaSouth Dakota
Oral RobertsSouth DakotaSouth Dakota State
South DakotaSouth Dakota StateWestern Illinois
South Dakota StateWestern Illinois 
Southern Utah  
Western Illinois  

*A number of Summit League teams have shifted their school names to reflect cities, rather than acronyms. Among the changes in use this season: IPFW is now Fort Wayne, UMKC is now Kansas City, Nebraska-Omaha is now Omaha.

Teaser:
<p> From the top conferences to the one-bid leagues, conference realignment has changed college basketball. Here's a look at every move for every conference.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 05:12
Path: /college-basketball/west-coast-conference-2012-13-college-basketball-preview
Body:

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

The West Coast Conference had one of the most unorthodox seasons it’s seen in the last two decades, and not just because the league added BYU to the mix.

Certainly, adding BYU played a role in the WCC’s success last season, enabling the league to send three teams to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in conference history.

But what was really strange in the WCC was not seeing Gonzaga at the top of the league. For the first time since 1996-97, Gonzaga capture neither a share of the regular season title nor the conference tournament title. Instead, Saint Mary’s became the first WCC team to win both an outright regular season title and the league tournament title since Pepperdine in 1991-92.

The addition of BYU’s consistency makes the WCC a deeper league, but Gonzaga may be poised to return to its familiar spot as the West Coast king.

ATHLON ALL-WEST COAST TEAM WEST COAST FACTS AND FIGURES
G Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's* 2011-12 regular season champion: Saint Mary's
G Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga 2011-12 NCAA Tournament teams: BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's#
G Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount New coaches: None
F Elias Harris, Gonzaga Realignment: None
F Brandon Davies, BYU  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion



2012-13 WEST COAST CONFERENCE PREVIEW
1. Gonzaga (26-7, 13-3)

Mark Few and the Zags made it 13-for-13 last season, but the road to another NCAA Tournament berth wasn’t quite the same as it had been in the past. It was the first time in a dozen years that Gonzaga didn’t claim at least a share of the WCC regular-season crown. Despite the loss of Robert Sacre, the Bulldogs will have a potent and skilled frontline that will be an upgrade over last season. Elias Harris is back for his senior campaign. The skilled German worked on his body and conditioning over the offseason, and Few intends to play the 6-7, 240-pounder at small forward in an effort to get him on the floor as much as possible. The all-freshman backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. didn’t disappoint a year ago. Pangos wound up leading the team in scoring, but it may have been Bell who was the most consistent player. Bell didn’t score as much — he averaged 10.4 points in 28.9 minutes of action — but he was terrific on the defensive end. His offensive production should increase as a sophomore as he becomes more assertive. There’s not much missing in Spokane this year. Gonzaga has talent, balance and experience. After a one-year hiatus, the Bulldogs should return to supremacy in the increasingly competitive WCC.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Two and Out

2. BYU (26-9, 12-4)
In their first season together, BYU and the other West Coast Conference schools coexisted nicely. Having lost the WCC’s leading scorer, forward Noah Hartsock, the Cougars will rely even more on all-conference center Brandon Davies while hoping that young guards keep developing in the Cougars’ second season in the league. BYU classifies its big men simply as “post” players, but it is fair to say that Davies functions as a traditional center. He thrived against some undersized opponents in the WCC, ranking fourth in the league in scoring and rebounding. Coach Dave Rose essentially uses a three-guard lineup. UCLA transfer Matt Carlino immediately took over as the starting point guard in mid-December after becoming eligible. He proved to be a dynamic, if inconsistent, scorer as a freshman. BYU is well stocked at the two wing positions. Tyler Haws returns from a church mission after averaging 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds as a freshman in 2009-10. Brock Zylstra is an overachiever who emerged as a scoring threat in ’11-12. The Cougars’ biggest deficiencies in the post-Jimmer Fredette era were 3-point shooting and free throw shooting. Their 34.3 percent showing from beyond the arc was the worst in Rose’s seven seasons. The hope is that junior college transfer Raul Delgado will improve that figure.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

3. Saint Mary’s (27–6, 14–2)
The Gaels are coming of an historic season, capturing both the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles for the first time. Saint Mary’s has won the WCC Tournament in two of the last three seasons and has made three of the last five NCAA Tournaments while in the process eliminating the intimidation factor of league bully Gonzaga. With WCC Player of the Year Matthew Dellavedova and three other starters returning, the Gaels have a good chance to earn yet another bid and battle the Zags and BYU for the WCC crown. Dellavedova was one of two returning college players to participate in the Olympics, starting alongside Patty Mills for the Australian team in London. He averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game last season and is a preseason All-America candidate. Dellavedova will be joined in the backcourt by Stephen Holt, a defensive wizard who will be expected to up his 10.1 points per game this season. Brad Waldow had strong efficiency stats en route to earning WCC All-Freshman honors in 2011-12. Up front, Southern Utah transfer Matt Hodgson will be counted on to make up for some of the production lost by the graduation of double-double machine Rob Jones.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

4. San Diego (13–18, 7–9)
After three straight sub-.500 seasons, Bill Grier seems poised to get the Toreros back on the plus side and further away from the point-shaving scandal that rocked the program. All five starters return, led by emerging star Johnny Dee. The 6-0 guard made the WCC All-Freshman team and exploded for 30 points in a win over Pepperdine in the WCC Tournament. Dee averaged 13.7 points for the season and will again be leaned on to pace the offense. Diminutive point guard Christopher Anderson also enjoyed a strong freshman year with 9.0 points and 5.0 assists, which was double the next closest freshman in the category. Up front, Dennis Kramer and Simi Fajemisin give San Diego very good size, though their rebounding must improve after USD was last in the WCC in rebound margin. A pair of seniors — Chris Manresa and Cameron Miles — give USD solid production off the bench.
Postseason prediction: NIT

5. Loyola Marymount (21–13, 11–5)
Max Good was rewarded with WCC Coach of the Year honors last season after winning 21 games. Good has his best player returning in guard Anthony Ireland, a dynamic point guard who averaged 16.1 points and 4.9 assists. Two other veteran starters are back in Ashley Hamilton (11.0 ppg) and Godwin Okonji (4.6 rpg). The Lions did lose All-WCC first-teamer Drew Viney as well as Jarred DuBois, who transferred to Utah after averaging 10.1 points off the bench. Incoming freshman Nick Stover has gotten some good press and will be able to find minutes if he is ready. The Lions knocked on the door of the Big Three in the league last year, but they will be in a dogfight with San Diego this year for fourth place behind Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU.

6. Santa Clara (8–22, 0–16)
Santa Clara struggled through a puzzling 0–16 league record last season one year after winning 24 games and the CollegeInsider.com postseason title. Kevin Foster, a first-team All-WCC guard in ’10-11, returned for Kerry Keating, but the team did suffer the loss of forward Marc Trasolini to a torn ACL in the preseason, which contributed to the Broncos’ downturn. Trasolini, who averaged 12.8 points as a junior and 13.7 as a sophomore, should return to the starting lineup as a fifth-year senior. In addition to Foster, Santa Clara returns the other four starters from last season, plus the top three bench players. Evan Roquemore averaged 13.8 points per game led the team in assists (5.3 apg) and will team with Foster to give the Broncos a solid backcourt. If Santa Clara wants to improve, it must up its defensive pressure after finishing 302nd nationally in steals and 303rd in field goal defense.

7. Pepperdine (10–19, 4–12)
Coach Marty Wilson enters his second season at his alma mater no closer to breaking into the top echelon of the league than when he took over last year. The Waves struggled offensively in 2011-12, finishing last in the WCC in points (59.3 ppg), field goal percentage (.396) and 3-pointers made per game (5.0). With the top two scorers departing plus another starter who averaged 8.7 points per game, Pepperdine figures to struggle once again putting points on the board. If there is a reason for optimism, it comes in the form of senior Lorne Jackson, a 6-2 guard who missed last season with a knee injury. Jackson averaged 13.2 points as a junior in 2010-11 and, along with returning starters Jordan Baker (9.0 ppg) and Caleb Willis (sixth in WCC in assists), will head a solid three-guard starting lineup. Up front, without Corbin Moore at center, it could be a challenge. UCLA transfer Brendan Lane and sophomore Jan Maehlen will see minutes, but neither has a track record of production.

8. San Francisco (20–14, 8–8)
Rex Walters appears headed for a tough rebuilding job after six players — including starters Perris Blackwell and Mikey Williams — transferred during the offseason. With two other starters graduating, Walters has little experience to lean on. Point guard Cody Doolin started all 34 games and averaged 9.3 points and 3.8 assists. Walters’ top two players off the bench are back in Dominique O’Connor and Cole Dickerson, plus transfer De’End Parker (UCLA) should find time right away. After winning 11, 12, 19 and 20 games in his first four years, Walters can expect to see a significant decline this season.

9. Portland (7–24, 3–13)
Portland took a big step backward in 2011-12, a step that would have been even bigger without Santa Clara, who the Pilots beat three times. Three starters return, including top player Ryan Nicholas. The 6-7 junior averaged 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and will be counted on to carry an even larger load this season. Kevin Bailey, the team’s second-leading scorer (9.5 ppg) is also back, as is 6-11 sophomore Thomas van der Mars (7.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg). The point guard will be senior Derrick Rodgers, who is in his second year with Portland after transferring from junior college. Rodgers split starts last year with Tim Douglas, who transferred to Portland State. Douglas was the more productive of the two, averaging 8.5 points and 3.0 assists, so his loss will be felt. Rodgers made just one 3-pointer all season while averaging over 17 minutes per game.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
10. Missouri Valley
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> West Coast Conference 2012-13 College Basketball Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 05:46
Path: /college-football/big-east-post-week-9-power-rankings
Body:

Just two weeks ago, the Big East was basking in the glow of three teams undefeated in October.

That number is down to one. Barely.

Louisville edged Cincinnati 34-31 in overtime Friday to keep its record unblemished. Rutgers wasn’t so lucky against the Big East’s 2012 nemesis, the MAC. The Big East is 4-4 against the MAC this season, but two of the losses handed Rutgers and Cincinnati their first defeats of the season in a two-week span.

Ryan Nassib

Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville --
If the debate needed to be settled, Bridgewater sealed his spot as the Big East’s top quarterback over Cincinnati’s Munchie Legaux. Bridgewater was 24 of 41 for 416 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against the Bearcats on Friday. Bridgewater is completing 67.4 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and a pick in three conference wins this season.

2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse -- Nassib completed the eighth fourth-quarter comeback of his career thanks to four second-half touchdown passes against USF. In the second half and overtime this season, Nassib is completing 70.7 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.

3. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers -- The game was all but taken out of Jamison’s capable hands when the Scarlet Knights turned to the pass to catch up against Kent State. Jamison rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown and caught eight passes for a career-high 88 yards.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers --
The collapse against Kent State notwithstanding, Greene remains the top defensive player in the Big East. He finished seven tackles and a forced fumble against the Golden Flashes.

2. Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh -- Pitt’s opponent last week, Temple, isn’t built to test many secondaries, but Hendricks finished with six tackles against the Owls.

3. Calvin Pryor, Louisville -- This spot was held last week by Pryor’s teammate, defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin, who left the Cincinnati win with an injury. While the Cardinals await word on their newfound pass rusher, let’s take a look at Pryor, who has four forced fumbles and two interceptions this season, including one in the win over the Bearcats.

Coach of the Year Standings
1. Charlie Strong, Louisville --
Louisville doesn’t always make it look easy, but the Cardinals remain the class of the Big East. Five of Louisville’s last six wins were by a touchdown or less. Despite the close calls, Louisville is finding ways to close out games, which is something Strong couldn’t say a year ago.

2. Kyle Flood, Rutgers -- Rutgers surprise story came crashing down as the Scarlet Knights lost 35-23 to Kent State (7-1). Rutgers still has a chance to win the Big East, but they’ll have to find more consistency on offense before resume conference play on Nov. 17 against Cincinnati.

3. Butch Jones, Cincinnati -- Sure, it’s odd to have the coach of a team that lost back-to-back games on this list, but who else should be considered? The Bearcats bounced back from the loss to Toledo to take Louisville to overtime on the road. A major test will be this week against a Syracuse team that suddenly has momentum.

Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

1. Louisville (8-0, 3-0)
Last week’s rank:
1
Week 9 result: Beat Cincinnati 34-31 in overtime
Cincinnati tested Louisville on both sides of the ball, but the Cardinals eventually adjusted, even if it took overtime to do so. Louisville caught the final break of the game when John Wallace got a second chance at a game-winning a field goal after the first attempt -- and a bad snap -- was erased on a Cincinnati time out. Teddy Bridgewater struggled early in the game but bounced back to to lead the Cardinals to their fourth fourth-quarter comeback of the season. If there’s any concern, it’s the Louisville defense giving up 197 rushing yards to USF and 196 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Cincinnati in the last two weeks. That trend will be worth watching as the Cardinals face run-heavy Temple this week.
This week: Temple

2. Rutgers (7-1, 4-0)
Last week’s rank:
2
Week 9 result: Lost to Kent State 35-25
Rutgers’ slow starts and good fortune caught up to them in a spectacular way against Kent State. Trailing 21-10 to Kent State, the Scarlet Knights struggled in the first half against the Golden Flashes the same as they had against Syracuse and Temple. Unlike the other two games, turnovers sabotaged the comeback bid against Kent State as quarterback Gary Nova threw six interceptions when the Scarlet Knights had to put the game on his shoulders to pull out of a two-score deficit. Nova will remain the starting quarterback as Rutgers has two weeks (an off week and a non-conference game against Army) to find out what went wrong before returning to Big East play.
This week: Off

3. Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1)
Last week’s rank:
3
Week 9 result: Lost to Louisville 34-31 in overtime
Cincinnati emerged from its two-game road swing with two losses by a combined nine points and may have trouble getting back into the Big East race, barring a collapse by Louisville. Even without defensive end Walter Stewart, the Bearcats were able to get pressure on Teddy Bridgewater at times (three sacks), but they were burned for three pass plays of 50 yards or more, including a 64-yard touchdown catch by DeVante Parker. Munchie Legaux threw three interceptions, giving him five interceptions in the last two games. He also failed to complete half of his passes for the second consecutive week.
This week: Syracuse

4. Syracuse (4-4, 3-1)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 9 result: Beat USF 37-36
Syracuse won consecutive Big East games for the first time since Oct. 23-30, 2010 with a back-and-forth game against USF. Syracuse spotted the Bulls a 20-point halftime lead before crawling back in the second half, culminating with a 1-yard touchdown pass to win the game in the final six seconds. With back-to-back games coming up against Cincinnati and Louisville, Syracuse has a chance to stay in the Big East title hunt. Although the Orange completed the comeback, coach Doug Marrone has to be concerned with a run defense that allowed 369 yards to USF, the highest total of the season by 111 yards. Syracuse had been holding Big East opponents to 1.2 yards per carry. USF averaged 8.2 yards.
This week: at Cincinnati

5. Pittsburgh (4-4, 1-3)
Last week’s rank:
5
Week 9 result: Beat Temple 47-17
The good version of Pittsburgh showed up for the second consecutive week, something that’s been a rarity for the Panthers over the last few years. Wins over Buffalo and Temple marked the first time Pitt had defeated consecutive FBS teams since defeating Cincinnati and Kentucky to end the 2010 season. The Panthers’ running back tandem of Ray Graham and Rushel Shell was once again productive (259 yards from scrimmage, four touchdowns), but the play of quarterback Tino Sunseri has been excellent. Sunseri has completed 70 percent of his passes in four of the last five games and hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 3 against Virginia Tech. More of this will be needed in South Bend this week.
This week: at Notre Dame

6. Temple (3-4, 2-2)
Last week’s rank:
6
Week 9 result: Lost 47-17 to Pittsburgh
After starting 2-0 in the Big East, Temple has fallen back to Earth over the last six quarters of conference play. Since leading Rutgers 10-0 at halftime two weeks ago, Temple has been outscored 82-17 in the last game and half. Along the way, Pittsburgh gashed Temple for 528 yards. The lack of a passing game (ranked 118th nationally) has cut into the production of the run game as the Owls averaged 2.8 yards per carry against Rutgers and 3.2 yards per carry against Pitt, two of their three lowest averages of the season.
This week: at Louisville

7. USF (2-6, 0-4)
Last week’s rank:
7
Week 9 result: Lost to Syracuse 37-36
USF looked as good as it has all season when it took a 23-3 lead on Syracuse. Alas, there was still the second half to play. Syracuse answered with three consecutive scoring drives to open the third quarter, but USF answered, too. Still, the final seconds of the fourth quarter brought the same ending as Ryan Nassib completed the game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass with six seconds remaining. Since October last season, the Bulls have lost eight games in which they led in the fourth quarter, plus two others when they started the fourth quarter tied. USF’s best chance to pick up its second Big East win since the start of 2011 will be this week against Connecticut in Tampa.
This week: Connecticut

8. Connecticut (3-5, 0-3)
Last week’s rank:
8
Week 9 result: Off
Connecticut will hope the off week helped the Huskies fix their ailing run game, which has become the worst in the Big East by a wide margin. UConn is averaging a conference-low 1.55 yards per carry in league games. The next worst (Pitt, 3.11 yards per carry) is averaging twice that. The Huskies have not rushed for a touchdown in three Big East games, the next worst is Rutgers (two). If there’s a cure to the UConn run game, it might be USF, which is last in the league in run defense.
This week: at USF

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 9 Recap

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:02
Path: /college-basketball/missouri-valley-conference-2012-13-college-basketball-preview
Body:

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

The return of All-American Doug McDermott to Creighton will be the biggest story in the Missouri Valley in 2012-13. The other nine teams hope the Bluejays forward isn’t the only story.

McDermott became the league’s first All-America selection since Wichita State’s Xavier McDaniel in 1985, and he’s the first to return to make a run at national player of the year since Indiana State’s Larry Bird in 1979.

With nine of the top 10 scorers returning to Creighton, McDermott will have plenty of help in trying to get the Bluejays over the hump from a solid postseason team to a true NCAA Tournament threat.

Beyond the McDermott storyline, the question is if Creighton won’t be alone playing in March. With regular season champion Wichita State and MVC tournament champion Creighton both reaching the Tournament field last season, it marked the first time since 2007 multiple teams from the MVC made the field.

Wichita State lost five seniors from last year’s team but returns the league’s top newcomer from 2011-12 plus a key transfer. Illinois State has a solid nucleus, but a first-time head coach. Northern Iowa has been quiet since its Sweet 16 trip two years ago, but the Panthers have quietly rebuilt themselves into a postseason contender. And Evansville and Indiana State, with veterans Colt Ryan and Jake Odum, respectively, will be tough for any team to face.

ATHLON ALL-MISSOURI VALLEY TEAM MISSOURI VALLEY FACTS AND FIGURES
G Jake Odum, Indiana State 2011-12 regular season champion: Wichita State
G/F Colt Ryan, Evansville 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Creighton#, Wichita State
F Doug McDermott, Creighton* New coaches: Barry Hinson (Southern Illinois), Dan Muller (Illinois State)
F Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State Realignment: None
F Ben Simons, Drake  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion

 

 

 

 

2012-13 MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE

1. Creighton (28-5, 14-4)
Doug McDermott is a fabulously efficient scorer. As a sophomore, he averaged 22.9 points and made 60.1 percent from the field overall and 48.6 percent from 3. He also rebounds — he averaged 8.2 per game — and should win his second MVC Player of the Year award. He spent the offseason trying to round out his offensive game, specifically working on his ball-handling. The roster around McDermott returns mostly intact, but Creighton’s lone major loss is significant. Antoine Young ran the team for three seasons, played tough defense and rarely turned the ball over. He could create his own shot, a trait the Bluejays will miss. With nine of its top 10 players back, however, the Bluejays are worthy of national attention. They defeated Alabama in the NCAA Tournament game last season before falling to North Carolina. This season won’t be a success without playing into the second weekend. Creighton should navigate the MVC’s 18-game schedule with its depth and experience overwhelming most rivals. Their offense should set a pace that is tough to match. If defense grows into more of a priority, the Bluejays are capable of their best march through March.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Two and Out

Related: Q and A with Creighton’s Doug McDermott

2. Wichita State (27-5, 16-2)
Wichita State is back where its passionate fans believe it belongs. The Shockers are the defending MVC champions and played in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 after winning the NIT in 2011. Gregg Marshall needed a few years to get going, but he has now won 20 or more games three straight seasons. The Shockers lost five seniors from the MVC champions, most notably All-MVC picks Garrett Stutz and Joe Ragland and All-Defensive team selection Touré Murry. Carl Hall, the ’11-12 MVC Newcomer of the Year after averaging 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds, leads a frontcourt that should matchup favorably with most teams in the league. The backcourt should be in good hands with senior Demetric Williams, a combo guard who is WSU’s best one-on-one defender. Senior Malcolm Armstead, a transfer with one season of eligibility, started 52 games at Oregon in two seasons and averaged 8.6 points as a junior.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

3. Illinois State (20-13, 9-9)
It will be interesting to see which party profits the most — in a basketball sense — from this summer’s upheaval. Coach Tim Jankovich walked out on a loaded team to become Larry Brown’s assistant (and coach-in-waiting) at SMU. He took point guard Nic Moore, one of the MVC’s top freshmen, with him to Dallas and a future in the Big East. The school recovered nicely by hiring former Redbirds star Dan Muller, a long-time assistant at Vanderbilt, although the transition could knock Illinois State down a spot or two in the standings. This is a good year to test the Redbirds, even without Moore. Senior forward Jackie Carmichael (13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg) is one of the Valley’s best big men. Senior guard Tyler Brown (13.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg) earned a spot on the MVC’s All-Newcomer team.
Postseason prediction: NIT

4. Northern Iowa (19-13, 9-9)
After two seasons atop the MVC, Northern Iowa slipped toward the middle of the pack in 2011 and 2012. The Panthers aren’t interested in quick fixes. They build patiently, with four- and five-year players who are developed in their system. This season, UNI’s patience might pay off. The Panthers return six of their top seven scorers. With four seniors (three in their fifth year at UNI), it’s time for the Panthers to contend for a league title. To make that kind of a run, the Panthers need to diversify their offense. They are one of the Valley’s best 3-point shooting teams. Last season, they made 38.6 percent of their 3s and attempted 691, second-most in the conference. Too often, however, the offense didn’t do damage inside the arc. UNI lacks a low-post scorer, unless sophomore center Seth Tuttle, the 2011-12 MVC Freshman of the Year, grows into that role.
Postseason prediction: NIT

5. Evansville (16-15, 9-9)
Senior swingman Colt Ryan has never had enough help to make the Aces a true title contender in the MVC. Ryan, who averaged 20.5 points and 4.2 rebounds as a junior, is a talented scorer who adds something to his game each season. He passes effectively and is skilled at drawing fouls and making free throws (84.4 percent). He makes the Aces competitive, but he can’t make them an upper-level team without scoring and rebounding help. Evansville will play hard. Coach Marty Simmons excels at getting the most out of his players, and MVC teams hate to face the Aces’ physical defense and motion offense. It is never an easy night when Evansville is on the schedule, and Simmons deserves credit for building that reputation.

6. Drake (18–16, 9–9)
This was supposed to be the big season for the Bulldogs. Then sophomore guard Rayvonte Rice (16.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) transferred to Illinois. Drake will miss his power and speed, and there is no replacement in sight. Almost everybody else is back, starting with senior forward Ben Simons (16.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg), who turned into one of the MVC’s stars. Center Seth VanDeest is back after missing last season with a shoulder injury, and he is a legit MVC big man who averaged 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 2010-11. Sophomore Karl Madison started 29 games at point guard. Forward Jordan Clarke is a tough interior defender. Sophomore guard Jeremy Jeffers made 43.2 percent (32-of-74) of his 3-point shots. Eight newcomers are on hand, including guard Chris Hines, a senior transfer from Utah who averaged 9.6 points per game as a junior. He is eligible immediately. With Rice, Drake likely would have contended for a top-three spot in the Valley. Without him, the Bulldogs are a middle-of-the-pack team. Fifth-year coach Mark Phelps is making progress and raising the level of talent. If Hines can improve his shooting, Rice’s absence might not be so problematic and the Bulldogs could make a move.

7. Indiana State (18–15, 8–10)
If point guard Jake Odum (10.8 ppg, 4.8 apg) is healthy, it might not matter who surrounds him. Odum led the Sycamores to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman, leading an unlikely group with his passing and swagger. As a sophomore, injuries slowed him down, and the Sycamores couldn’t recreate the 2011 magic. Odum, now a junior, is back, and coach Greg Lansing says his star guard is feeling good. “He looks like the old Jake,” Lansing says. Three of the top four scorers are gone, and Odum is the only returner who started more than six games. Lansing is counting on Gonzaga transfer Manny Arop to add athletic ability at forward. He started eight games as a sophomore at Gonzaga, scoring a high of 16 points at Notre Dame. He averaged 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 2010-11. Guard Dawon Cummings averaged 13.8 points at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. The Sycamores need more contributions from junior forward R.J. Mahurin  and sophomore bigs Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell and to make up for the departure of center Myles Walker and forward Carl Richard. Transfer Mike Samuels didn’t put up big numbers in junior college, but the 6-11, 265 pound big man gives the Sycamores some needed size around the basket.
Freshman guard Khristian Smith committed to Cincinnati before attending prep school and eventually signing with the Sycamores.
 
8. Bradley (7–25, 2–16)
Last season will live on as the worst in Bradley’s proud history. The Braves finished alone in last place in the MVC for the first time, and the 25 losses were a school record. Improvement will be slow. Coach Geno Ford isn’t tearing up his roster. Guard Walt Lemon Jr. (12.6 ppg) needs to move off the ball to really shine. Senior guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards (11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg) stagnated as a junior but has the talent to do more. Junior forward Tyshon Pickett, the lone transfer eligible this season, could join returners Jordan Prosser (7.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Shayok Shayok (3.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Will Egolf, back after a knee injury, to form an adequate frontcourt. If redshirt freshman Nate Wells, a 7-footer, contributes, it’s a bonus. Ford is counting on Pickett, from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, to rebound and add much-needed toughness. “I don’t know if we were the softest team in the league, but we weren’t the toughest,” Ford says. “We’re doing a lot of competitive stuff and trying to get our guys used to winning again. We need to hate losing a little bit more than we maybe have.”

9. Missouri State (16–16, 9–9)
Second-year coach Paul Lusk’s real work begins now, after the graduation of 2011 MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems and two other seniors. The Bears may take a step back from a .500 season. The summer brought disaster when senior forward Jarmar Gullley (10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) suffered a season-ending knee injury. Senior guard Anthony Downing (11.5 ppg) is solid, but needs help. The Bears need a point guard and lack size, factors which should move them toward the bottom of the MVC. Tevin Bracey, who averaged 7.8 assists for Westchester (N.Y.) Community College last season,may be the answer at point guard. Guard Keith Pickens is a defensive stopper plagued by injuries. Forward Christian Kirk is athletic and should improve after starting 14 games as a freshman. Guard Nathan Scheer failed to grab a bigger role after a solid freshman season on an experienced team. An exhibition trip to Costa Rica was a needed step for this program.
 
10. Southern Illinois (8–23, 5–13)
The Salukis hired the right coach to get them through a bad time. Barry Hinson will stay upbeat and crack jokes all season, in part to deflect pressure from his team. “It’s been an eye-opening experience for about 11 guys,” Hinson said during the summer. “It was for 12 guys, one guy’s eyes were wide-open so much that he decided to quit.” SIU lost its best player (Mamadou Seck) and doesn’t return a player who averaged double-figures. It will take Hinson at least two seasons to restock. He knows how, after spending the past four seasons as the director of basketball operations at Kansas and nine as the head coach at Missouri State. Sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) decided to stay after announcing his departure. Junior guard Desmar Jackson, a transfer, should start. He averaged 14.6 points and 4.2 rebounds for Wyoming as a sophomore. Expect Hinson to play fast and try to get the Salukis to play a style similar to the one coached by Bill Self at Kansas. SIU will need to run up and down because it lacks size. Kendal Brown-Surles (8.0 ppg, 2.4 apg), T.J. Lindsay (7.1 ppg) and Jeff Early (8.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg) are senior guards who can smooth Hinson’s transition.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> Missouri Valley Conference 2012-13 College Basketball Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-preview-1-1-creightons-doug-mcdermott
Body:

Greg McDermott wasn’t certain that his son, Doug, could handle it in the Big 12 back when he was handing out scholarships as the head coach at Iowa State. However, after jumping to Creighton and the Missouri Valley, the elder McDermott decided to take his kid — and it’s paid off. Doug McDermott quickly turned into a star, a 6-8 skilled forward who can score from just about everywhere on the court and is a legitimate candidate for National Player of the Year honors this season.

McDermott averaged 22.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and shot nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc last season. Here, he talks about a range of subjects, including his quick rise, whether he thought about leaving early and about playing for his dad.

McDermott's Creighton team is the preseason favorite in our MVC preview.

What is the toughest place you have played in your career?
Wichita State. It’s crazy. Everyone is on top of you. I was talking to UNLV’s Mike Moser about it, and he agreed. It gets so loud and it’s always sold out and the student section is on top of you. I love it, but it’s nuts.

Who is the guy you have had the most trouble scoring on?
John Henson and James Michael McAdoo. We played North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, and Henson is just so long and athletic. McAdoo is real strong and also athletic, but Henson’s length just makes it so difficult to score.

Which coach, other than your dad of course, would you want to play for?
Bill Self. I’ve always respected what he’s done at Kansas. His teams always play well, no matter who they have. I watched him closely when my dad was coaching in the league at Iowa State, and he seems like a pretty good guy, also.

Your dad didn’t offer you a scholarship when he was coaching in the Big 12 at Iowa State and you were in high school. How often do you remind him of that?
I don’t really think about it anymore, and we really don’t talk about it much. A lot of old boosters joke with him about it, though. He always says that he thought I was good enough, but that he just didn’t want to waste a scholarship on me. We are where we are now, though, so why go back about it? I’ll probably have more fun with him about it after I’m done playing for him.

Is it crazy to think you may start this season as a first-team preseason All-American?
Crazy. I didn’t even start on my high school team in Iowa as a junior. My confidence was a little shaky, then all of the sudden I got a chance to play with Harrison (Barnes), I got to watch how hard he worked and it inspired me to where I am now. It’s nuts, though. I still can’t believe it.

When did the light really go on for you?
Probably my freshman year at Creighton. There were a couple injuries that happened on the team that put me in the mix, but the plan was for me to redshirt. I played fairly well and then my confidence really skyrocketed. Then after the season, I was on the U.S. team, and that helped me out as well. It showed me that I could play with just about anyone in the country.

You had a terrific freshman season at Creighton, but you didn’t always see eye-to-eye with your coach/dad. What was the deal?
We argued a lot that year. When I came in, I felt like I knew everything. We’d argue about what type of defense we were running. He’d say that I knew nothing about defense and that I was always guarding the other team’s worst offensive player. It was tough at times, but we’ve come a long way and we rarely argue now.

Were you surprised that Harrison Barnes fell all the way to Golden State at No. 7 in the NBA Draft?
Actually, I really wasn’t. I thought there was a chance he would go to Cleveland, but I thought Golden State was a great fit for him. I think he’ll be a better pro than a college player. He’s long, has range and will have more space to work with in the pros.

Admittedly, you deferred at times early last season. Leadership has been a difficult area for you, somewhat due to the fact that you were an underclassman and also because you play for your father. Where do you feel you are in the leadership department entering this season?
I think I came a long way from my freshman season to my sophomore season. It’s hard to be vocal sometimes, especially when your dad is the coach. Last season I became more comfortable. Sometimes it’s hard when he’s yelling at the team because he’s my dad and they are my teammates. Watching Grant Gibbs has been great for me. He’s a great leader and isn’t afraid to yell at guys. I know I have to continue to improve in this area next year.

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

A summer ago, you never stopped. You played for the U.S. team in Lithuania, then came back and went with the team to the Bahamas. Did your body wear down towards the end of the season because you never really had a rest in the offseason?
I felt a little tired but tried not to let it get to me mentally. I’m only 20 years old, so it’s not all that bad. But I felt a lot better this summer and was able to work on my game more. Last year I didn’t get a chance to do as much skill development because I was playing so much. This summer’s been more low-key. I went to Indianapolis and worked out with Ed Schilling and some pros — guys like Robbie Hummel and Marquis Teague — and also played with the Butler team.

What happened last year when you guys went through that rough stretch? Creighton was clicking on all cylinders and then the wheels appeared to fall off for a while.
We just got too comfortable. We weren’t doing the same things we were doing earlier in the year. We lost three or four straight, and I honestly believe it was good for us. It humbled us. We hadn’t really hit any adversity before that, and I think our entire team was tested. I know I was. I think that’s where I grew as a leader — with the help of Grant. We finished strong, winning the Missouri Valley Tournament.

You had such a strong season. Was there any thought of trying to leave early for the NBA?
Not really. There were no conversations between me and my family. I felt as though I wasn’t ready. I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get there. We have a really good team this season, and for me, it’s so much fun to be in college. I’m playing for my dad and having the best time of my life, so there’s no rush for me to try and leave.

What do you like to do when you aren’t in the gym?
Hang out with friends. I don’t love the class part of things too much, but I just hang out with my friends and do normal college kids stuff. We’ve got a small campus, and the city of Omaha really embraces us. It’s kind of being a pro team in town. We play ping-pong. We play a lot of NBA 2K. I golf. I feel like I’m pretty good at golf. I shoot in the mid or low 80s.

Your dad was a pretty good player back in the day at Northern Iowa and played overseas for a year. When’s the last time you played him one-on-one?
I think it was way back as a freshman or sophomore in high school. I think he’s too scared. I think he got me back then — in the driveway — but I was probably 6-5. He backed me down and I had no answer. But now?  I think I could get him on the wrong. We never talk about it, but our team jokes around whether he can still dunk. He does it once a year and last year he barely got it. He’s definitely getting older.

Your game doesn’t compare to guys that preceded you, because let’s face it, it’s unorthodox. What’s your reaction to that?
I hear it all the time and I take pride in having a different game than anyone else. Some people compare my game to Wally Szczerbiak, but I don’t really remember him and he’s more of a 2-guard and small forward. I can’t really think of anyone else I’ve heard. I can’t come up with anyone, either.

Who do you get excited to watch?
I love watching Dirk (Nowitzki). He’s a 7-footer, but I still try and take some things from his game — leaners and floaters off one foot. I love watching Paul Pierce. He’s not the most athletic guy, but he’s so effective.

What are your goals for this upcoming season?
To get further than we did and to advance further than any Creighton team has in its history. Last year we got to the second round and that’s how far they got in Kyle Korver’s last year. We want to get to the Sweet 16 — at least — and also win the Missouri Valley regular-season title. Wichita State got us last year. We had a good chance, but then we went on that three-game skid and it ruined our chances. We feel like we have the pieces to do it this year.

What area(s) of your game did you concentrate on this summer?
I’m definitely working on moving my feet better and also offensively on my face-up game.

You and your dad like to eat. That’s no secret. What’s your ideal meal?
I’m a huge meatloaf guy. I get it all the time. I’m not afraid to order it for lunch. My mom makes the best meatloaf hands-down.

OK, we need to talk about your vertical. You aren’t exactly a high-flyer, but have you ever had your vertical tested?
We did it right after the season and it wasn’t too good. Off two feet, I think it was a 31. Not horrible.

You changed your Twitter handle a few months back. Any particular reason?
My old handle was @DFresh03 and I just felt like I needed to mature a little so I changed it to @dougmcd3. All my teammates now give me crap and try and act like I’ve changed. They’re all saying that we miss the old "DFresh", but I just felt like it was a little immature sounding so I changed it.

You’ve had your moments with your dad, but overall what’s the experience been playing for him?
It’s as good as it gets. Sure, there are times when we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but it’s been so much fun, especially since we’ve had so much success in the two seasons I’ve played for him. It’s been great to do well, but it’s been even better to watch him and see how happy he is now after struggling at Iowa State.

@AthlonSports

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
10. Missouri Valley
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Preview: 1 on 1 with Creighton's Doug McDermott</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-analysis-post-week-9
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Even as four BCS top-10 teams lost Saturday, the national championship rankings became no less clear. Except, perhaps, Alabama’s status at No. 1.

With former No. 2 Florida losing to No. 10 Georgia on Saturday, the coveted second spot for the national title was up for grabs. Even if Notre Dame had the more impressive win last week by defeating then-No. 8 Oklahoma 30-13 in Norman, Kansas State moved up one spot to No. 2 after defeating No. 14 Texas Tech 55-24 at home.

Oregon remains stuck at No. 4 despite placing second in both the coaches’ and the Harris polls. With a weaker schedule compared to Kansas State and Notre Dame, Oregon is ranked fifth in the computer average. The Wildcats and Irish, meanwhile, are tied at No. 1 in the average ranking of the six computers used in the BCS rankings.

It’s a mess at the top of the rankings, but if there’s any consolation, the teams ranked Nos. 2-4 have a handful of common opponents: Both Kansas State and Notre Dame have defeated Oklahoma and Miami. Both Notre Dame and Oregon will face USC later in the season. Assuming all remain undefeated, those comparisons may make make a difference.

Here are a few more observations from the latest release of the BCS standings:

MOVING UP

BCS Standings
Oct. 28

Coaches' Poll Harris Poll Comp. Avg. Last Wk.
1. Alabama 1 1 3 1
2. Kansas St. 3 3 T-1 3
3. Notre Dame 4 4 T-1 5
4. Oregon 2 2 5 4
5. LSU 5 5 6 6
6. Georgia 6 6 7 10
7. Florida 8 8 4 2
8. S. Carolina 11 11 9 13
9. Florida St. 7 7 T-21 12
10. Louisville 10 10 13 16
11. Oregon St. 13 13 8 7
12. Oklahoma 12 12 10 8
13. Clemson 9 9 T-12 18
14. Stanford 15 14 11 17
15. Miss. St. 18 15 16 11
16. Texas A&M 16 18 18 20

No. 2 Kansas State. The Wildcats were the big winner in the “if the season ended today” scenario by moving up to No. 2 in the BCS standings. Despite Notre Dame’s signature win over Oklahoma, Kansas State continued to have the edge in the human polls, one spot ahead of Notre Dame in both. Although the Wildcats and Irish are tied in the average computer rankings, Kansas State has more opportunities to build a resume against BCS No. 25 Oklahoma State, No. 23 Texas plus TCU and Baylor. Notre Dame has the best remaining opponent in No. 17 USC. If both remain undefeated, the schedule comparisons and the shared wins over Oklahoma will be under the microscope.

MOVING DOWN
No. 7 Florida. The Gators moving from No. 2 to No. 7 is no surprise after the 17-9 loss to Georgia. To reach the BCS title game would take a handful of fortunate events for the Gators: A Georgia loss to Ole Miss or Auburn to give Florida a chance to play in the SEC title game, plus losses from Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon. And that doesn’t take into consideration Alabama-LSU this week. The Gators, however, have a BCS at-large spot in play. Regardless of what happens in the SEC race, a trip to Florida State to end the season will be critical for that goal.

KEY GAMES THIS WEEK
No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU. Alabama has a substantial hold of the No. 1 spot in the BCS rankings. A win in Baton Rouge would further solidify that. A loss may mean chaos for a BCS championship spot.

No. 4 Oregon at No. 17 USC. Oregon's schedule has been paper thin this season. This week against USC, however, may give Oregon a boost to crack the top three. Worth keeping in mind, though: Oregon defeated Arizona 49-0. USC just lost 39-36 to the Wildcats.

No. 24 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Kansas State. Kansas State faces its third consecutive ranked team after defeating West Virginia and Texas Tech by a combined score of 110-38. Style points are starting to enter the discussion this week against Okie State.

OTHER NOTES
USC may be the most important team in the BCS. The margin between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Oregon in the BCS average is 0.001, so the comparisons start with USC. Both face the Trojans in November, starting with the Ducks visiting Los Angeles this week. For Oregon, it’s the biggest statement game of the regular season. For Notre Dame, it will be the last. Oregon, however, may have the upper hand with matchups against No. 14 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State looming, in addition to a potential Pac-12 championship game.

The ACC could get two BCS bids By moving from No. 18 to No. 13 Clemson crossed the threshold allowing the Tigers to be a BCS at-large team if the Tigers do not win the ACC. Clemson, whose only loss is to Florida State 49-37, is ranked ninth by both human polls, but remains tied with Florida State at No. 21 in the computer average. If both remain in BCS at-large contention on the final day of the regular season, the game against No. 8 South Carolina could be very interesting.

One BCS bowl could have a SEC conundrum. The top eight of the BCS standings include five SEC teams, which could be an interesting problem for BCS games selecting an at-large team. Under most circumstances, only two teams per conference can play in BCS games. Assuming No. 1 Alabama plays for a BCS title, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Florida and No. 8 South Carolina would all be eligible for an at-large bid if the season ended today. And just outside the top-14 threshold for at-large considerationare No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 16 Texas A&M.

Boise State has a chance at a BCS bid. But it’s close. As a team from a non-automatic qualifying league, Boise State either needs to reach the top 14 for automatic inclusion or the top 16 if it’s ahead of an AQ champion. Boise State sits at No. 19 with the highest-ranked Big Ten team, Nebraska, one spot behind. The Broncos haven’t clinched the Mountain West, but they don’t have a marquee game remaining. The strategy for Boise State: Win out and hope for a lackluster Big Ten champion.

Notes on BCS selection:
Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The Big East’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.

Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.

A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, WAC and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.

To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.

Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Fiesta Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Orange.

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content
Week 9 Recap: Notre Dame solidfies BCS case
Who votes in the Harris Poll?

Teaser:
<p> College Football: BCS Analysis Post-Week 9</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 21:08
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With the exception of Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and teams not playing Colorado, it was a rough week to be undefeated.

Saturday began with 11 remaining undefeated teams and ended with six as Florida, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Rutgers and Ohio all lost. Only the Bulldogs loss to dominant Alabama did not come as an upset.

For now, the race for the national title is unclear with Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame in contention for the BCS championship game. Having four or more undefeated teams at this stage of the season isn’t uncommon, and although this title race tends to shake itself out, that won’t stop the speculation of who would play who if the status quo remains.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 9 RECAP: THREE AND OUT

MOVING THE CHAINS
Notre Dame’s bold play call.
Moments after Oklahoma tied Notre Dame at 13 in the fourth quarter with the first rushing touchdown all season against the Irish, Brian Kelly wasn’t willing to play it safe, even with his untested quarterback. On second and 2 from his own 35, Kelly called for a play-action deep pass, which Everett Golson completed for a 50-yard gain into the Oklahoma red zone. The play sapped OU momentum, quieted the crowd in Norman and set up up the go-ahead touchdown. In other words, it’s the kind of play that further cemented Notre Dame’s title-contending status. Golson, meanwhile, looks like the quarterback who can deliver in such spots. He finished 13 of 25 for 177 yards and rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown in the 30-13 win.

Georgia’s SEC hopes. Losing 35-7 to South Carolina, struggling with Kentucky and getting into a shootout with Tennessee isn’t exactly the best way to the SEC championship game, but that’s the route Georgia is taking. If the Bulldogs defeat Ole Miss and Auburn the next two weeks, they’ll seal a trip to the SEC title game. A potential trip to the SEC championship game was put in motion thanks to an unorthodox 17-9 win over Florida in which the Bulldogs committed 14 penalties for 135 yards and got three interceptions out of veteran quarterback Aaron Murray. The reason Georgia is in the driver’s seat? Jarvis Jones.

Kansas State’s dominance. The dream season isn’t ending in Manhattan, Kan. Even after a slow start this week, Kansas State found the cracks in the Texas Tech defense and still found time to play its backups in a 55-24 win. Collin Klein started 4 of 7 for 20 yards and lost five yards on three rushing attempts, but finished as he always does -- passing for 233 yards, running for 83 and accounting for four touchdowns.

FALSE STARTS
Florida’s “violators.”
In the 44-11 win over South Carolina, Florida’s defenders kept their eyes out for “violators” -- offensive players who didn’t hold the ball high and tight, players who left themselves susceptible to turnovers. Florida had its own laundry list of violators against Georgia. The Gators turned the ball over six times from three players: Jeff Driskel (two interceptions, two fumbles) and Trey Burton and Jordan Reed (one fumble each). The last fumble by Reed was the most costly. As the Gators’ tight end was driving into the Georgia five-yard line, Jarvis Jones took advantage of Reed’s “violator” status to end the Gators’ bid for a potential game-tying touchdown and two point conversion.

Gary Nova. Rutgers’ formula to remain undefeated wasn’t groundbreaking: Play great defense and avoid turnovers. That came crashing down against Kent State, the second MAC team in two weeks to hand a Big East team its first loss of the season. Rutgers entered the game with a plus-14 turnover margin, but finished minus-5 against the Golden Flashes as quarterback Gary Nova threw six interceptions. Meanwhile, the same team that hadn’t allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards for the first six games surrendered 224 rushing yards to Kent State. Rutgers’ chances to win the Big East haven’t been harmed, but the luster is gone on a standout season.

Ohio’s BCS bid. The undefeated Bobcats have been flirting with disaster since their season-opening win over Penn State. Where Florida and Rutgers saw their undefeated seasons evaporate due to turnovers, Ohio had a different kind of gaffe against Miami (Ohio). Trailing by a field goal, Frank Solich elected to go for the win when the Bobcats took over on first and goal at the 7. Only one problem: Quarterback Tyler Tettleton lost track of timeouts. Believing he still had one timeout remaining, Tettleton took a sack on the game’s final play as time expired as Ohio’s undefeated season and longshot BCS bid ended in a 23-20 loss.

HEISMAN MOVERS
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame.
A case of being at the right place at the right time in the fourth quarter may have sealed Te’o’s trip to New York. With fellow Notre Dame linebacker Dan Fox draped over Oklahoma receiver Jalen Saunders, Landry Jones’ pass deflected into the air into the hands of a diving Te’o for the Sooners’ only turnover of the day. Te’o added 11 tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss. If it’s a foregone conclusion Te’o will be a Heisman finalist, the next question is if he can beat out Ndamukong Suh’s fourth place finish in 2009, the best finish for a defensive player since Charles Woodson won the award in 1997.

A.J. McCarron, Alabama. Eventually, McCarron is going to escape the game manager tag. In the 38-7 win over Mississippi State, McCarron was 16 of 23 for 208 yards with two touchdowns. In a matchup with ballhawking cornerback Johnthan Banks, McCarron still avoided throwing his first interception of the season. Game manager? The perfect 57-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Bell said otherwise.

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina. Bernard rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns and caught eight passes for 95 yards against NC State, yet it wasn’t the most impressive part of his day. Bernard ran back a punt for a 73-yard touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to give the Tar Heels a 43-35 win. The TD capped an 18-point fourth quarter and gave North Carolina its first win over NC State since 2006. Bernard has rushed for at least 130 yards in four consecutive games and has accounted for 15 touchdowns in seven games this season.

STAT WATCH
345.
USC’s Marqise Lee caught 16 passes for 345 yards for a Pac-12 record, but the Trojans still lost 39-36 to Arizona. Lee, who also had two touchdown catches, became the fourth receiver to have 300 yards in a game this season. The others were Arkansas’s Cobi Hamilton, Baylor’s Terrance Williams and West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey.

617. Yes, Auburn can reach new lows this season. The 1-7 Tigers surrendered more yards than in any game in school history with 671 yards allowed to Texas A&M. In the 63-21 loss, the Tigers fell five points short of the most allowed in program history, in a 68-7 loss to Georgia Tech in 1917.

20-3. A sneaky good first season for Rich Rodriguez earned a signature win with the 39-36 upset of USC. The Wildcats are 5-3, but their losses have come against teams with a combined 20-3 record: Oregon (8-0), Oregon State (6-1) and Stanford (6-2). Against USC, Arizona produced two 100-yard rushers (Ka’Deem Carey and Matt Scott), a 300-yard passer (Scott) and a 250-yard receiver (Austin Hill).

SCORES THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘HUH?’
Texas 21, Kansas 17
Utah 49, Cal 27
BYU 41, Georgia Tech 17
DIFFERENT WEEK, SAME SCRIPT
Alabama’s methodical dominance
Tennessee’s bad luck
USF’s fourth-quarter flops
RIDICULOUS FIRST-HALF SCORES
Oregon 56, Colorado 0
Texas A&M 42, Auburn 7
USF 23, Syracuse 3

BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART
Sean Mannion’s ill-fated return. Granted, the No. 7 team on upset alert shouldn’t be overlooked, but a late-night game on Pac-12 Networks with all the other developments of the day seemed to obscure Oregon State’s first loss of the season. Nevertheless, the Beavers followed fellow undefeateds Florida and Rutgers in losing their perfect record on turnovers. Quarterback Sean Mannion returned to face Washington after missing two games with a knee injury, but the return may have been rushed. Mannion threw four interceptions before he was replaced by backup Cody Vaz in the 20-17 loss.

The MAC’s banner year Even in a week in which its last undefeated team and only BCS threat (Ohio) lost, this week signaled a banner season for the MAC. With a win over Rutgers, Kent State was the second MAC team to hand a Big East team its first loss of the season in two weeks, joining Toledo’s upset of Cincinnati. The league has four one-loss teams -- Kent State, Toledo, Northern Illinois and Ohio -- each with a wins over Big Six conference teams. The MAC is 4-4 against the Big East and 3-9 against the Big Ten.

Air Force. The Falcons rushed for 461 yards Friday in a 48-31 win over Nevada, putting Air Force at 4-1 in the Mountain West. Despite returning only six returning starters, Troy Calhoun’s team is right in the thick of the Mountain West race with Boise State (4-0), San Diego State and Fresno State (4-1 each). Air Force does not play Boise State this season, but faces the Aztecs and Bulldogs on the road. A MWC title will be tough, but a bowl game -- which looks probable at this point -- would mark a great coaching job by Calhoun.

THREE REASONS LATTIMORE’S INJURY MADE A NATIONAL IMPACT
The second major injury may be the worst.
Lattimore’s reaction -- his look of panic on the filed and his sobbing into a towel as he was carting off the field -- told the story. The details of the damage to his right knee/leg weren’t released Saturday night, but the gruesome nature of it seems to season-ending at best, career-ending at worst. After his freshman season of 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns, a run at the Heisman and a likely NFL first-round draft pick seemed to be his future before a torn ACL as a sophomore. His second major injury in two years puts a promising career in question.

Tennessee’s response. After the injury, South Carolina’s players circled in support, as usually happens in a serious injury situation. Tennessee’s players joined South Carolina on the field around Lattimore -- a clear demonstration of sportsmanship in a divisive SEC.

Lattimore carries nationwide admiration. Beyond Tennessee on the field, coaches and Lattimore’s peers chimed in for support at a level rare, even when an elite player suffers a major injury. LSU coach Les Miles and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III chimed in on Twitter. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told ESPN after the game: “He’s such a wonderful man. Good things will happen for Marcus Lattimore. I don’t know what field of life, but he’s a wonderful guy.” ESPN’s Travis Haney explained why, in part, Lattimore’s injury struck a chord:

THREE ELITE PLAYMAKERS TO WELCOME BACK
Jarvis Jones, Georgia.
Injuries cost Jones two games this season. otherwise, he might be a Heisman contender. Jones turned in one of the best performances in the history of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party with 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 17-9 win over Florida. The biggest play may have been a strip and fumble recovery against Florida tight end Jordan Reed as the Gators were poised for a fourth quarter touchdown. Elsewhere for Georgia, safety Bacarri Rambo, who had been suspended earlier in the season, had an interception and a sack.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson. Remember when the freshman Watkins was one of the stories of the season during an 8-0 start? That seemed like ages ago as Watkins has been out of sorts to start the season, missing three games with a suspension and later an illness. Watkins returned to his 2011 form with eight catches for 202 yards with three plays longer than 50 yards against Wake Forest on Thursday. He doubled his season receiving output in just one game.

De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon. Thomas has had a quiet season, but facing Colorado cured that in in a hurry. His 22 yards per touch was his best against an FBS team all season. With a game against USC coming up next week, this is a good time for Thomas to heat up. Thomas rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, but the highlight was this acrobatic 73-yard punt return for a touchdown.

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED IN THE BIG TEN
Ohio State can win with defense.
No postseason implications were at stake when Ohio State defeated Penn State 35-23, but there were key developments nonetheless. Penn State’s Matt McGloin passed for 327 yards against a vulnerable Ohio State secondary, but the Buckeyes succeeded in making the game one-dimensional by holding the Nittany Lions to 32 rushing yards.

Wisconsin can’t win without Joel Stave. The Badgers quarterback was an afterthought to start the season with the arrival of Danny O’Brien, but he may be the key to the Badgers offense. Wisconsin struggled to move the ball in the second half after Stave suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter as Wisconsin lost 16-13 in overtime to Michigan State. O’Brien was 5 of 11 for 44 yards in relief of Stave.

Denard Robinson’s even more important than you think. He’s a dazzling playmaker, but inconsistent and not a great fit for what Brady Hoke wants to do. But without Robinson, Michigan’s just bad right now. Robinson left with an elbow injury in the second quarter, and redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy didn’t distinguish himself. Bellomy started 0 for 11 and threw three interceptions in the 23-9 loss to Nebraska.

THREE BIG 12 REDEMPTION STORIES
Case McCoy, Texas
What did McCoy’s comeback mean for Texas? Did he save Mack Brown’s job? Did he regain the starting quarterback job? Or did he just save Texas from embarrassment? The latter he certainly did when he relieved starting quarterback David Ash in the fourth quarter with Texas struggling to beat Kansas. McCoy was 5 of 7 for 68 yards with a critical fourth-down pass and a touchdown on the game-winning drive. McCoy and Ash traded the starting job last season, but McCoy hadn’t played in a contested game until he entered the 21-17 win over Kansas. Unless Texas has someone on the bench who can play a little defense, the Longhorns may continue to struggle.

Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State. The freshman was named starting quarterback in spring practice, but his coronation was short-lived as he was injured in the third game of the season. J.W. Walsh played admirably with Lunt out, but Walsh was lost to a season-ending injury last week to force Lunt back into duty. After Oklahoma State spotted TCU at two-touchdown lead, Lunt finished 18 of 33 for 324 yards with a touchdown for eight unanswered scoring drives (including five Quinn Sharp field goals) in the 36-14 win.

Steele Jantz, Iowa State Benched for the last three games, Jantz returned against Baylor with new life. Perhaps aided by the porous Baylor defense, Jantz was 36 for 52 for 381 yards with five touchdowns and two turnovers in a 35-21 win. Iowa State needs only one more win for bowl eligibility, which makes the final part of the schedule (Oklahoma, at Texas, at Kansas, West Virginia) much more manageable.

DANG, THEY’RE GOOD
Alabama
Kansas State
Notre Dame
DANG THEY’RE BAD
Auburn
Colorado
Illinois
BEST GAMES NEXT WEEK
Alabama at LSU
Oregon at USC
Oklahoma State at Kansas State

THREE STREAKS ENDED
Indiana’s Big Ten losing streak.
The Hoosiers gave Ohio State and Michigan State fits earlier this season, but they finally found a willing participant to help end their 11-game losing streak. With backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld playing the final three quarters, Indiana defeated Illinois 31-17 for the program’s first Big Ten win since defeating Purdue 34-31 to end the 2010 season. Indiana may have a chance to win consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since 2007 when it faces struggling Iowa in Bloomington next week.

Pittsburgh wins two in a row vs. FBS teams. With a 47-17 win over Temple, Pittsburgh picked up its first back-to-back wins over FBS teams since the final two games of 2010. That was six coaches ago, including Dave Wannstedt, Todd Graham and current coach Paul Chryst, plus two interim coaches (Phil Bennett and Keith Patterson), the short-lived tenure of Mike Haywood. The last Pitt coach to win back-to-back Big East games was Wannstedt in October 2010. Fellow Big East-to-ACC team Syracuse also won its first consecutive Big East games since October 2010 with consecutive wins over Connecticut as USF.

Ole Miss wins an SEC game ... again. A week after ending a 16-game SEC losing streak, Ole Miss defeated Arkansas 30-27 on a 31-yard field goal as time expired for its first back-to-back conference wins since defeating Tennessee on Nov. 17, 2009 and LSU on Nov. 21, 2009. By winning in Little Rock, Ole Miss picked up an SEC road win for the first time since defeating Vanderbilt 23-7 on Oct. 3, 2009. First-year coach Hugh Freeze has Ole Miss one win a way from bowl eligibility.

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 9 Recap: Notre Dame solidifies BCS title case</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 11:09
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The Heisman Trophy isn’t the only award worth watching on a weekly basis. The Lombardi, Outland, Davey O’Brien and Biletnikoff races are all worth watching and debating as the season goes along.

Throughout the season, we’ll keep an eye on all the prominent position trophies through college football in addition to the Heisman.

If you’re looking for our thoughts on that other trophy, check our weekly Heisman poll.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Collin Klein, Kansas State
In a head-to-head meeting against West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Klein finished as the top quarterback in the country, at least for this week. Klein accounted for all seven touchdowns against the Mountaineers (four rushing, three passing). The senior is second in the nation in pass efficiency behind Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and fifth in rushing touchdowns (14).
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, West Virginia’s Geno Smith

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Hard to believe with the way Ball started the season, but he now ranks fourth in the nation with 979 rushing yards. In four Big Ten games, Ball has 10 rushing touchdowns and 154.8 yards per game.
Others: Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, Kansas State’s John Hubert, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, Northwestern’s Venric Mark, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
West Virginia’s passing game is in a funk. USC’s passing game is starting to recover its early season form (facing Colorado helps). Last week, Patton had one of his least productive games of the season with four catches for 41 yards in a rout against Idaho, but he did catch his 10th touchdown pass of the season. Patton is a week removed from a 21-catch effort against Texas A&M.
Others: Cal’s Keenan Allen, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Baylor’s Terrance Williams

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Zach Ertz, Stanford
After catching six passes for 134 yards and a touchdown, Ertz leads the nation’s tight ends with 505 receiving yards. He’s a big play threat, too, averaging at least 20 yards per catch in games against Duke, USC and Cal this season.
Others: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Washington’s Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Stanford’s Levine Toilolo

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones is the de facto favorite to win the Outland again, but the gap is closing -- even on his own team. Guard Chance Warmack is having a standout season, as is tackle D.J. Fluker. And that’s just offense in Tuscaloosa. Two of the last five Outland winners have been defensive tackles (LSU’s Glenn Dorsey in 2007, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009). Star Lotulelei and Stephon Tuitt should make a push here.
Others: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Our leader: Alabama’s Jones
Others: Kansas State’s B.J. Finney, Clemson’s Dalton Freeman, USC’s Khaled Holmes

 

 


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Te’o continues to lead the Notre Dame defense heading into a huge matchup with Oklahoma this week. Te’o intercepted his fourth pass of the season with a pick against BYU last week, but the senior has only four solo tackles (17 assisted tackles) in the last two weeks.
Others: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah's Star Lotulelei, Penn State's Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Clowney was unstoppable against Florida, and it wasn’t his fault hte Gamecocks gave up 44 points as South Carolina special teams and the offense handed Florida the ball around the goal line. Clowney will face one of the top lines in the SEC this week against South Carolina.
Others: Oregon State’s Scott Chricton, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others:Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Iowa State’s Jake Knott, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosely

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks had eight tackles and an interception returned for 46 yards last week against Middle Tennessee, giving him four picks this season and 16 in his career. This week brings a compelling matchup between Banks and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, who has not thrown an interception this season.
Others: Florida’s Matt Elam, Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo
Toledo’s offense isn’t all wild passing numbers. Detmer was 5 of 5 on field goals last week in a win over Cincinnati, including kicks of 43, 42 and 47 yards. He’s made the most field goals in the country with 18 converted on 23 attempts.
Others: Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer, Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, Iowa’s Mike Meyer

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Florida’s Kyle Christy
Christy is the weapon LSU’s Brad Wing was a season ago. Christy helps the Gators with the field position battle by averaging 47.9 yards per kick. Half of his 36 punts have been longer than 50 yards.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Kenjon Barner or Marcus Mariota -- who is the most valuable player on the Oregon offense? A compelling case could be made for Mariota, who leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage (68.3 percent). He had his best rushing day of the season last week by running for 135 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Bill Snyder, Kansas State
The Wildcats are a legitimate national title contender partly on talent, but they’re also one of the most sound teams in the country. Kansas State has committed the third-fewest penalties in the country after Navy and Air Force and ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin.
Others: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Rutgers’ Kyle Flood, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Oregon State’s Mike Riley

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Our leader: Art Kaufman, Texas Tech
Texas Tech allowed 53 points in a triple overtime win over TCU, but the Red Raiders have gone from giving up 485.6 yards per game to allowing 282 in the first season under defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. Collin Klein and Kansas State are up next.
Others: Oregon State’s Mark Banker, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Alabama’s Kirby Smart

by David Fox

@davidfox615

Teaser:
<p> College Football Award Watch: Post-Week 8</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-countdown-conference-usa-preview
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Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

A year before Conference USA undergoes another major recalibration, at least one school hopes the status quo remains.

Memphis returned to the top of Conference USA last season, winning both the regular season and tournament titles for the first time since 2009, but the Tigers have yet to win an NCAA Tournament game since John Calipari left for Kentucky.

Along with Houston, SMU and UCF, Memphis is in its final season in C-USA before joining the Big East. Marshall, which has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1987, has all the tools to spoil Memphis’ final season in a league it dominated from 2005-09.

ATHLON ALL-CONFERENCE USA TEAM CONFERENCE USA FACTS AND FIGURES
G Joe Jackson, Memphis 2011-12 regular season champion: Memphis
G DeAndre Kane, Marshall 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Memphis#, Southern Miss
G/F Adonis Thomas, Memphis* New coaches: Larry Brown (SMU), Jerod Haase (UAB),
F Keith Clanton, UCF Danny Manning (Tulsa), Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss)
F Tarik Black, Memphis Realignment: None
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion

 

 

 

 

2012-13 CONFERENCE USA PREVIEW

1. Memphis (26-9, 13-3)
Josh Pastner has done a tremendous job keeping Memphis relevant post-John Calipari, but he’s still looking for his first NCAA Tournament win. And though that might not be a problem nationally, it’s an issue locally and why Memphis needs to not only win C-USA but also advance in March. Otherwise, the program will be facing lots of questions as it transitions into the Big East next year. “But our focus is this year, not the Big East,” Pastner says. “We’re not thinking about the Big East. We just want to have the best year we can have this year because teams are not gonna want us to leave on a good note, which is why we’ll have to be extra sharp and extra good.”
Postseason prediction: NCAA two and out


Complete preview of No. 18 Memphis

2. Marshall (21-14, 9-7)
The return of DeAndre Kane — a 6-4 guard who averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season — means Marshall will be really good in at least two spots. Joining him will be 6-8 forward Dennis Tinnon. In Tinnon, the Thundering Herd have a sixth-year senior who averaged 10.2 points and 10.0 rebounds as a junior to anchor their frontcourt in what could and probably should be a breakthrough campaign in Huntington. Put another way, the Thundering Herd can match C-USA favorite Memphis in at least two spots, and it’s possible they’ll also be improved at point guard thanks to the arrival of highly regarded freshman Kareen Canty. Canty is from Brooklyn and comes with the expected toughness people typically associate with such prospects. He probably won’t match the 14.7 points per game that the now-departed Damier Pitts averaged last season. But Canty should be better at creating scoring opportunities for Tinnon and Kane and thus could be better for this team in general.
Postseason prediction: NCAA First Four

3. UCF (22-11, 10-6)
UCF was undefeated, ranked nationally and widely recognized — back in December 2010 — as one of the nation’s emerging basketball programs led by an up-and-coming coach from the tree of Billy Donovan. Folks were excited about the future of the Knights, and for good reason. Things were headed in the right direction. But then a New York Times article uncovered recruiting improprieties, and the NCAA followed up. The result was a one-year postseason ban announced in July that ensures the Knights will not play in this season’s Conference USA Tournament or NCAA Tournament. Senior Keith Clanton (14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg) resisted the urge to transfer without penalty, and he provides high-quality centerpiece. Isaiah Sykes (12.3 ppg) and Tristan Spurlock (7.2 ppg) are also back. But it still seems unlikely that the Knights will be capable of challenging Memphis at the top of C-USA, and, even if they do, they won’t play in the league tournament or NCAA Tournament, meaning coach Donnie Jones is guaranteed to enter his fourth year at UCF with zero NCAA appearances.

4. UTEP (15–17, 7–9) 
Tim Floyd has spent 18 seasons as a college head coach and produced winning records in 16 of them. So he’s been consistently good — first at Idaho, then at New Orleans, Iowa State, USC and UTEP. But last season was not one of the good seasons. The Miners finished 15–17 after several key players from the Tony Barbee era departed. But four of the top six scorers from last season’s team are back, and the thought throughout the league is that the Miners could be the surprise of C-USA. For what it’s worth, Floyd seems to think so, too. He scheduled aggressively and thus provided his Miners with plenty of opportunities to earn quality victories that might be needed to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The star of the team figures to be John Bohannon, a 6'10" center who led UTEP with 11.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. Bohannon shot 58.5 percent from the field and scored 10 points or more in all but four league games. Assist leader Jacques Streeter also returns to a team that defeated Auburn, Clemson and New Mexico State in the nonconference schedule. They’re two of four returning Miners who averaged at least 20 minutes in 2011-12 and the main reason — but far from the only reason — Floyd should record a winning record for the 17th time in 19 seasons as a college head coach.

5. Southern Miss (25–9, 11–5)
Larry Eustachy’s eighth season with the Golden Eagles doubled as his finest, and he predictably used the trip to the NCAA Tournament as a launching pad out of Southern Miss, where basketball just isn’t a priority. So now Eustachy is at Colorado State. His replacement in Hattiesburg is Donnie Tyndall, a man who averaged 22 wins per season over the past four years at Morehead State but will probably have a tough time hitting that number for a fifth straight year at this new job. Why? Because three of USM’s top five scorers from last season — namely Darnell Dodson, Maurice Bolden and Angelo Johnson — were seniors, and the team’s second-leading scorer (South Carolina native LaShay Page) transferred to South Carolina this offseason reportedly to be closer to his 5-year-old daughter. That leaves junior guard Neil Watson (12.3 ppg) and senior forward Jonathan Mills (9.5 ppg) as the lone returning Golden Eagles who averaged at least three points per game last season. Watson also led the team in assists (4.4 apg) and shot 37.5 percent from 3-point range. Mills, a 6'6" native of Chicago, led the Golden Eagles in rebounding with 6.1 per game. Help may be on the way in 2013-14 when four key transfers, including new faces from Temple and Minnesota, will be eligible. That injection of talent will be stuck on the practice squad, so don’t expect Southern Miss to challenge Memphis or even Marshall at the top of Conference USA. However, the Golden Eagles should still be solid enough to finish in the top half of the league.

6. Houston (15–15, 7–9)

It’s been a while since Houston was able to take advantage of the terrific talent in the area and field a reasonably interesting college basketball team, which is why what happened last September was such a big deal. That’s when Danrad “Chicken” Knowles and Danuel House committed to Houston and created a reason to be optimistic. Both Knowles, a power forward, and House, a small forward, are consensus top-75 national recruits who would be welcome additions almost anywhere. But their arrival at Houston is especially noteworthy because they project as a duo capable of helping the Cougars transition to the Big East next year. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s still one more season in C-USA to be played, and Houston will play it without its top two scorers (Jonathon Simmons and Alandise Harris) from last season. But Joseph Young (11.3 ppg) and TaShawn Thomas (10.7 ppg) are back in school. J.J. Thompson didn’t score much, but the point guard tied for the team lead in assists (75) in 19 starts as a freshman. He’ll need to trim his turnovers (64). Still, that’s two double-digit scorers and two heralded recruits on the roster, which isn’t a bad combination for this league. Bottom line, the Cougars are a smart sleeper pick in Conference USA.

7. East Carolina (15–16, 5–11)

The good news is that the Pirates return six of their top seven scorers — including Miguel Paul, a former Missouri guard who averaged 15.2 points and 5.9 assists per game last season. And Maurice Kemp (10.5 ppg), Shamarr Bowden (8.3 ppg), Erin Straughn (5.7 ppg), Robert Sampson (5.6 ppg) and Paris Roberts-Campbell (5.2 ppg) provide depth and a total of six players on the roster who have averaged at least 19 minutes per game at the Division I level. But what does it all mean? On one hand, it’s encouraging if you focus on the fact that East Carolina won three of its final four games last season — including an overtime victory over Marshall. But on the other hand, this is merely a returning core that lost twice as many C-USA games as it won last season, and, truth be told, it’s pretty difficult to lose twice as many games as you win in a league as devoid of talent as C-USA typically is. East Carolina’s veterans must improve across the board, but especially in rebounding margin. The Pirates were one of three teams in the league on the negative end of that statistic. Something like a mostly forgettable .500 record in the league seems like the safest bet for veteran coach Jeff Lebo in his third season at East Carolina.

8. UAB (15–16, 9–7)
Nobody was shocked when Mike Davis was fired from Indiana after missing the NCAA Tournament in two of his final three seasons in Bloomington, but his dismissal at UAB was somewhat surprising. Davis led the Blazers to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and averaged 21.4 wins over his final five seasons while finishing in the top three of the league four out of those five years. And that got him fired? Answer: Yes. The school hired North Carolina assistant Jerod Haase, who will probably need at least a couple of years to get UAB back to respectability (though the process should be expedited by the departures of Memphis, UCF, SMU and Houston to the Big East after this season), but he does have two of UAB’s top three scorers — Jordan Swing and Preston Purifoy — back from last year. Swing averaged 11.2 points per game last season, while Purifoy averaged 8.6. The Blazers also add guard Terence Jones, who started 73 games and averaged 9.4 points per game in three seasons at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. If either has a big junior season, the Blazers will crack the top half of C-USA but probably won’t be much better than that, regardless.

9. Rice (19–16, 8–8)

Arsalan Kazemi spent three years at Rice establishing himself as one of the best players in school history while averaging a double-double of 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in 95 career games. But after Rice had gone 14-34 in C-USA games in his career with the Owls, he transferred to Oregon. The defection of Kazemi was the biggest blow for a program that experienced an exodus of players this offseason, despite a rare winning season. Point guard Dylan Ennis transferred to Villanova, center Omar Oraby to USC, forward Jarelle Reischel to Rhode Island and forward David Chadwick to Valparaiso. Senior guard Tamir Jackson (10.5 ppg) will need to break out to give Rice a chance to remain competitive in Ben Braun’s fourth season.

10. Tulane (15–16, 3–13)

The Green Wave lost 13 of the 16 league games they played last season despite a nice freshman campaign from Ricky Tarrant. The guard from Alabama averaged 14.9 points per game, highlighted by a 33-point effort in a victory over SMU. He’s small but effective and the reason Tulane could make a move in the league after consecutive last-place finishes in Ed Conroy’s first two years in New Orleans. Tarrant headlines a group of five returnees who averaged at least 21 minutes per game last season and combined to average 58.7 points per game. The other double-digit scorers are Kendall Timmons (13.6 ppg and 5.2 rpg) and Jordan Callahan (11.8 ppg). Both are seniors. So don’t be surprised if the Green Wave use their experience to take advantage of the fact that 25 percent of the league has a new coach. The experience will come in handy in helping Tulane win on the road after going 0–8 in league road games last season.

11. SMU (13–19, 4–12)
The six-year run of Matt Doherty at SMU featured nothing better than a seventh-place finish in Conference USA (and four finishes of 11th or 12th). So regardless of how difficult the job might historically be, a change clearly needed to be made, and SMU made that change in the middle of last March to the surprise of absolutely no one. What came next was a coaching search of swings and misses at, among others, Marquette’s Buzz Williams and Memphis’ Josh Pastner before the school ultimately settled on Larry Brown — a 72-year-old icon with a history of changing jobs more regularly than TCU changes leagues. On the surface, the hire made little sense. Why settle on a man in his 70s one year before the program transitions from C-USA to the Big East? But then Brown hired a staff of associate head coach Tim Jankovich and assistants Jerrance Howard and Ulric Maligi, both of whom are established recruiters. So while there’s little reason to be excited about this season — the roster is mostly dismal with London Giles as the lone returning double-digit scorer — it’s now reasonable to be optimistic about the future of SMU basketball, provided, of course, that Brown sticks around for more than his usual couple of years.

Related: Larry Brown is back to school

12. Tulsa (17–14, 10–6)

A steady and troubling decline in attendance combined with a program headed nowhere prompted Tulsa officials to remove Doug Wojcik after seven seasons featuring zero NCAA Tournament appearances. His replacement is Danny Manning, a true legend of college basketball thanks to his march to the 1988 NCAA title — you remember Danny and the Miracles, right? — while playing for Larry Brown at Kansas. And though there’s reason to be optimistic about the hire — Manning is respected in coaching circles, for what it’s worth — the truth is that Tulsa is dealing with what most programs that endure coaching changes have to deal with, i.e., an exodus of talent that makes it difficult to compete immediately. In this case, the bad news was the departures of the Golden Hurricane’s starting backcourt — namely Jordan Clarkson and Eric McClellan. Clarkson averaged 16.5 points per game last season; McClellan averaged 8.5. Now Clarkson is with Frank Haith at Missouri and McClellan is with Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt. Consequently, Scottie Haralson (11.1 ppg) is one of only four scholarship upperclassmen on the roster, and that kind of inexperience is simply tough for almost any coach not named John Calipari to overcome. Manning should be fine in time. But this year will be trying for the first-time head coach.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Countdown: Conference USA Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 05:44
Path: /college-basketball/larry-brown-back-school-return-college-basketball
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Larry Brown returns to the college game for the first time in 25 years. His task: Lead SMU back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993.

By Michael Bradley

The sound was something like a cross between electronic Dubstep music and an alarm clock gone haywire.

“Uh, Larry, is that your phone?”

“Yes. Is it bothering you?”

“Not at all. It just doesn’t sound like a ringtone you might have.”

“I don’t like any of this mechanical stuff. My boy (L.J.) made me get it, and I don’t know how to change the ringer. I just learned how to text.”

If there is any better metaphor for 72-year old Larry Brown’s return to college coaching at SMU, that small episode is it. While submitting to questions over a speakerphone in his office, Brown endured three calls on the cell, each one triggering the aural explosion that was about as appropriate for him as Jimmy Durante’s “Inka Dinka Doo” would be for one of his players.

Brown is a basketball teacher. He would rather hold a three-hour practice than coach a game any day of the week. His love of the sport’s many intricacies has been well documented, and any point guard who has ever played for him knows how demanding he can be regarding the minutiae. That’s why he has come back to coaching. To teach. To motivate. To build character. Everything else is just, well, noise.

“Before I got too old, I wanted to share these ideas I have with other people,” Brown says in his trademark, drawn-out Brooklyn drone.

The trouble is, there are a lot of people out there who believe Brown is too old. That’s why his inability to remedy the space-age cell tone is so amusing. Inserting Brown’s be-bop personality into a hip-hop game isn’t easy. Take this year’s new NCAA ruling that coaches are now able to fire texts at will toward coveted recruits. The judgment comes too late for Kelvin Sampson and way too late for Brown. At a time when some coaches text more frequently than even the most ardent high school BFFs, and others have Twitter followings that rival those of movie stars (Kentucky’s John Calipari has 1.2 million Twitter followers), Brown isn’t just old school, he’s the basketball equivalent of a one-room schoolhouse.

“This texting and calling on the phone to kids, I don’t know how they enjoy talking to us,” Brown says. “Every time I’m on the phone, I feel like I’m an imposition to the family and the kid.

“But my staff keeps telling me I have to do it to show we care.”

So, Brown texts — slowly, deliberately, infrequently. He calls prospects and shows them love, er, interest. But most of all, he coaches basketball in an attempt to lift SMU from the Conference USA doldrums in time for the Mustangs’ 2013-14 move to the Big East. It’s a big task, and one that some don’t believe he can accomplish, even if he is the only coach in history with NCAA and NBA titles on his resume.

“He is old, old school,” says SMU assistant Tim Jankovich, who gave up a head-coaching gig at Illinois State to become coach-in-waiting under Brown. “You know what is never old, old school? Basketball. He has a passion to teach, and that allows him to connect with players. There is no disconnect there, although I wouldn’t ask him to merge e-mails for me.”

The soap opera surrounding Brown’s hire is quite interesting. It began with SMU’s decision to fire Matt Doherty, who compiled a 80–109 record in six seasons on The Hilltop, and never finished higher than seventh in league play. Not much drama there. But the subsequent search led the school to candidates like Marquette’s Buzz Williams, Saint Louis’ Rick Majerus, Harvard’s Tommy Amaker and Long Beach State’s Dan Monson — reportedly — none of whom wanted the gig. When SMU athletic director Steve Orsini turned to Brown, at the urging of school president R. Gerald Turner, he did so as a last resort. Less than a month later, Orsini was gone, fired by Turner who said in his statement that “a unified effort is required for future progress.” Those who read between the lines speculated Orsini was released because of an unwillingness to hire Brown.

Related: 2012-13 Conference USA Preview

Brown came to town and quickly informed four members of last year’s team that they should look for other places to play in 2012-13. That’s fairly standard stuff at big-time programs, but since the Ponies aren’t exactly big time, it caused a stir. SMU has had three 20-win seasons since 1988 and constantly has missed out on top prospects from the Dallas area. It prepares to enter the Big East with a team that has just 11 players — two of whom are walk-ons — on the roster. Although two transfers – from Illinois (Crandall Head) and Illinois State (Nic Moore) – will be eligible next year, SMU is a long way from competitiveness, even in C-USA.

Larry Brown NCAA Record
Year Team Record NCAA Tournament
1979-80 UCLA 22-10, 12-6 Pac-10 National runner-up
1980-81 UCLA 20-7, 13-5 Pac-10 Second round
1983-84 Kansas 22-10, 9-5 Big 8 Second round
1984-85 Kansas 26-8, 11-3 Big 8 Second round
1985-86 Kansas 35-4, 13-1 Big 8 Final Four
1986-87 Kansas 25-11, 9-5 Big 8 Sweet 16
1987-88 Kansas 27-11, 9-5 Big 8 National champion

 

“The challenge is huge,” Brown says. “We have nine [scholarship] kids in the program, and we’re moving into the Big East. A lot of these kids weren’t recruited to play in the Big East. But there is a lot of potential here. We have to get Texas kids to think we’re relevant and get them to believe we can get better.”

* * *

For the three years or so Larry Brown observed Villanova practice (in between coaching gigs) he was always on time and never left early. “And we had some long practices,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright says. There was that one day, when Brown had to go just as the workout ended. Usually, he stayed around to evaluate the players and talk basketball. But this day was different.

“He said it was his anniversary and that his wife (Shelly) was going to kill him,” Wright says. “He has a unique love for the game.”

It is somewhat comical to poke fun at Brown for returning to coaching -- he’ll be 72 when the season begins -- because the man has what Wright terms “energy” for basketball and an “amazing craving to share his knowledge.” That craving and his energy manifest themselves in a way that Wright terms “relentless.” Brown doesn’t tolerate malingerers. He doesn’t do shortcuts. One day after a practice, Wright watched Brown speak with Villanova big man Mo Sutton. After listening to Brown, Sutton said, “I got you, coach.” Brown replied, “No, Mo. You don’t got me. When I see you at practice tomorrow doing what I taught you, then you got me.”

During his time in the NBA, Brown was notorious for his rough treatment of players, particularly point guards. The fear some have is that his perfectionist tendencies won’t reach today’s players, particularly those on SMU’s current roster, who are not as talented as those Brown encountered on previous collegiate stops at UCLA and Kansas. Further, none of the Mustangs was alive when Brown led Danny Manning and the Jayhawks to the NCAA title in 1988 or lifted the Bruins to the national championship game eight years earlier.

Related: Manning takes over at Tulsa

The announcement that SMU had hired Brown sent players scurrying to the Internet to learn more about him. Forward Shawn Williams says any previous knowledge came from the infamous Allen Iverson “Practice?” press conference. Brown was coaching the Philadelphia 76ers at the time of the outburst. And Williams remembered that Brown coached the Pistons to the NBA title in 2004. But unlike the critics who believe SMU made a mistake hiring someone Brown’s age with his itinerant history, the players are thrilled to have him on campus.

“As soon as he took the job, the atmosphere on campus and in the athletic department changed,” senior guard London Giles says. “To be successful, a program has to have a lot of energy, and that’s what he has brought.”

A new NCAA rule allows coaches to work with players during the summer, and Brown has introduced himself by sharing his knowledge and cultivating an enthusiasm for playing the game, as he puts it, “the right way.”

“The guy is amazing,” Williams says. “For me, it’s been a blessing in disguise. I knew about him as a great coach, but until I met him, I didn’t really know his greatness. They say he’s (72), but he looks like he’s in his 40s. He’s a lot different from what I expected.

“I thought he’d come in as an old, grumpy man. He brings energy to practice every day. He’s the greatest coach I’ve ever been around, and I’ve only been with him four weeks.”

There is a concern Brown’s tenure at SMU will be brief, either due to his inherent restless nature — his longest stint at any of his previous 13 collegiate and professional stops has been six seasons, and most are shorter — or his age. That’s why he enticed Jankovich, who directed Illinois State for five seasons, to join his staff. The term “coach-in-waiting” doesn’t sit well with Brown, but he does acknowledge Jankovich carrying that designation will promote continuity with recruits and help the program remain stable as it grows.

“When you’re my age, people say, ‘The guy’s older, and he’s not going to be there long,’” Brown says. “And if you look at my track record, you want somebody on the staff like Tim.

“Tim’s given up a lot. He wanted to be here. He doesn’t want to see me step down, though. I’m fortunate he’s here.”

Brown is fortunate to be in Dallas, too. It gives him a chance to get back in the game after a nearly two-year hiatus following his devastating firing by Bobcats owner (and fellow North Carolina alum) Michael Jordan. It’s not an easy job, and Brown’s not an easy guy to play for, a big reason why he doesn’t stick around too long in one place. But when it comes to basketball knowledge and passion for the game, Brown is unparalleled. He’ll hope that’s enough for SMU to start its move forward.

And all that stuff about his not knowing anything about texting and cell-phone ring tones? Don’t consider it an indication that Brown is out of touch. He may be older, but he has plenty of fire still burning.

SMU is about to learn that.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> Larry Brown is back to school in return to college basketball</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-basketball/kansas-star-danny-manning-starting-tulsa
Body:

One would imagine a 15-year NBA veteran and former No. 1 overall pick might have some trouble relating to the various personality types that populate a college basketball team. In many cases, that would be correct. Star players don’t have much in common with deep reserves or walk-ons. They might also struggle to connect with a player who has a gaping hole in his game.

Not Danny Manning. During his time in the NBA, he filled just about every job a player could. He was the star. The regular. The sub. The cheerleader. The veteran counselor. At the end of his career, he had to compensate for dwindling skills. Further, when he started college coaching, he began at the bottom, serving the full-time coaches by doing what he characterizes as “the grunt work” and never once complaining.

So, when a member of Manning’s Tulsa squad has a problem, he should know the coach likely has some experience he can draw on to help out.

“I understand the starter, the reserve and the bench player,” Manning says. “I’ve scored points, been a facilitator, been on the active list and not played at all. I’ve been the Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA [1998] and the ninth and 10th man on teams. My experience runs to just about every role on the basketball court.”


Related: Larry Brown is back to school at SMU

Manning spent nine seasons assisting Bill Self at Kansas — the school he lifted to the national title in 1988 as part of “Danny and the Miracles” with then-coach Larry Brown — beginning as director of player development and team manager before moving on to become a full-time aide. In a way, he was joining the family business, since his father, Ed, coached at Kansas under Brown and in the NBA for many years. But he was never in charge of a program, like Manning is. It was Ed’s death, in 2011, that convinced Manning he needed to work harder to become a head coach. When the Tulsa job became open, Manning was definitely interested.

“The biggest thing that opened my eyes in terms of putting a timeline on getting a head coaching job was when my father died,” Manning says. “I started to re-evaluate things.”

Many were surprised Manning got the job because few even knew he was a collegiate assistant. Even Manning admits “there was no idea I thought I’d get a job at this level.” Tulsa may not have strong name recognition, but the Golden Hurricane has employed three eventual national championship coaches (Self, Tubby Smith and Nolan Richardson). Manning’s challenge now is to take his vast playing experience, blend it with what he learned at Kansas and make Tulsa a Conference USA contender. His first impressions have been good.

“He’s a laid back guy, but on the court, he’s a different person,” Tulsa senior Scottie Haralson says. “He’s going to get after you and maximize your potential. He knows the game. There’s no question about that.”

Now, it’s time for Manning to transfer that knowledge to his players and show them how to work together and sacrifice for the good of the team.

Related: 2012-13 Conference USA preview

“The way I was taught the game was to do whatever I could to make the game easier for my teammates,” Manning says. “Whenever that compliment was bestowed on me, I felt it was the greatest compliment I could get from a teammate.”

If he wants compliments now, Manning will have to win games. Given his experience, he should know how to do that.

-By Michael Bradley
 

Teaser:
<p> Kansas star Danny Manning starting up at Tulsa</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 05:28
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-9-preview-and-predictions
Body:

After a slow start to the season with only a handful of marquee games in September, the Big 12 has been the conference of October. The final Saturday of the month should continue to deliver.

The major game of the weekend is in Norman, where undefeated Notre Dame will face Oklahoma for the first time since 1999. The Sooners are 1-8 against the Irish with Oklahoma’s only win in 1956.

That’s a game of national significance, but conference frontrunner and BCS title contender Kansas State will have another major test when it faces surprising Texas Tech.

Other Week 9 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 9:

Is this Landry Jones’ time to shine?
Landry Jones is starting to look more and more like the quarterback we thought he’d be this season. In his last three games, Jones has completed 65 of 105 passes for 871 yards with seven touchdowns and an interception. Notre Dame’s forte is against the run, but the Irish have intercepted four passes the last two weeks. Granted, however, Stanford’s Josh Nunes and BYU’s Riley Nelson are not nearly as established as Jones. As Oklahoma starts to creep back into the BCS picture, a win over Notre Dame will be necessary, and Jones is the Sooners’ best hope to hand Notre Dame its first loss.

Belldozer v. Notre Dame, who wins?
Notre Dame last week allowed its first offensive touchdowns since Sept. 8 against Purdue, but both were in the passing game. The Irish have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, thanks to a fourth-down stop against Stanford on the goal line two weeks ago. If Oklahoma gets into a goal-line situation, the Sooners almost certainly will turn to backup quarterback Blake Bell, who has 21 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons. It will be strength v. strength if Bell lines up against Heisman-contending linebacker Manti Te’o.

How does Kansas State handle frontrunner status?
In less than a year, Kansas State has gone from a plucky underdog to a national title contender. At the same time, Collin Klein has become a Heisman contender. The Wildcats no longer have to fight for respect or headlines -- they’ve become one of the top stories of the season. That’s not a position Bill Snyder or Kansas State has faced in more than a decade. In an odd turn of events, the sudden Big 12 favorite and BCS contender will host another underdog story featuring a productive quarterback and stifling defense in Texas Tech, perhaps the best opponent K-State will face the remainder of the regular season. By reaching the No. 3 spot in this week’s BCS standings, the Wildcats are no longer in the business of proving themselves. They’re in the business of building style points.

Can Seth Doege navigate the ballhawking Kansas State defense?
Since throwing three interceptions against Oklahoma, Seth Doege has throw 13 touchdown passes and one interception against West Virginia and TCU. Meanwhile, the Kansas State defense has made offenses at Oklahoma and West Virginia look pedestrian. Can Doege do what Landry Jones and Geno Smith couldn’t? Kansas State, meanwhile, has intercepted seven passes the last two weeks.

Are we starting to see the cracks in Texas Tech’s defense?
Texas Tech continues to lead the Big 12 in defense, but the Red Raiders are coming off a game in which they allowed 516 yards and 53 points against TCU, albeit in triple overtime. Beyond that, Tech allowed 5.8 yards per play, its highest average of the season. Was that a one-week lapse or a sign of things to come? The numbers may point to the latter. Texas Tech’s three highest yards allowed per play have come in the last three weeks, including 5.5 against Oklahoma and 4.9 against West Virginia in addition to TCU. Kansas State and Klein will bring a new test, with the most run-oriented team the Red Raiders have seen since the third week of the season against New Mexico, who like Kansas State, utilizes the option.

Will the Oklahoma State offense keep rolling behind another hobbled quarterback?
Oklahoma State remains among the national top 10 in the four major offensive categories, including No. 1 in total offense. The Cowboys’ offense, though, is scrambling for the second time this season due to an injury to the starting quarterback. Redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh sustained the knee injury that would eventually end his season in the first quarter against Iowa State, but he remained in the game to pass for 415 yards. When the severity of the injury was discovered after the game, Walsh was shut down for the remainder of the season. That likely returns the job to Wes Lunt, who began the season as the starter before a series of knee and ankle problems. If Lunt’s return is further delayed, the job will go to junior Clint Chelf. The questions at quarterback come at a critical part of the schedule as Oklahoma State faces TCU this week followed by Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

How will Nick Florence fare against an above average defense?
When Baylor has the ball, this should be one of the most interesting matchups in the Big 12. Baylor quarterback Nick Florence has flourished in road games against porous defenses from West Virginia and Texas, though both games resulted in losses. Against TCU, however, Florence threw four interceptions. His chance at redemption comes in a key game for Baylor’s postseason hopes. Winless in the Big 12, Baylor needs three more wins to get to bowl eligibility, something that’s going to be tough with Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State remaining on the schedule. Iowa State (4-3, 1-3 Big 12) is in a similar situation, but if the Cyclones can’t move the ball against the Baylor defense do they really deserve to go to a bowl game?

How bad can the Texas defense get?
A matchup against Kansas should be a confidence builder for the Texas defense. In theory. The Jayhawks handed the quarterback job to redshirt freshman Michael Cummings. We could mention the 600-plus yards Texas has allowed the last two weeks, but it may say more about the Texas defense that Kansas coach Charlie Weis doesn’t mind benching his veteran starter for a redshirt freshman against the Longhorns. The situation is bad in Austin on defense, but it could get worse if the Jayhawks rookie starts putting up numbers.

Week 9 Big 12 Predictions

Week 9 Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Texas at Kansas Texas 38-21 Texas 31-17 Texas 45-10 Texas 40-10
TCU at Oklahoma State TCU 28-21 Oklahoma St. 33-27 Oklahoma St. 31-27 Oklahoma St. 34-27
Texas Tech at Kansas State Kansas State 35-21 Kansas State 35-24 Kansas State 34-31 Kansas State 35-27
Baylor at Iowa State Baylor 34-31 Iowa State 27-24 Baylor 34-30 Iowa State 38-34
Notre Dame at Oklahoma Notre Dame 21-14 Oklahoma 21-20 Oklahoma 27-20 Oklahoma 20-17
Last week 3-2 3-2 3-2 4-1
Overall 39-9 37-11 37-11 39-9

by David Fox

@davidfox615

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 8

Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 05:56
Path: /college-football/big-east-week-9-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The three-game round robin between Cincinnati, Louisville and Rutgers may still determine the Big East championship, but some of the luster is gone after the MAC bit the Big East again this season as Toledo upset previously undefeated Cincinnati last week.

The Bearcats will try to rebound this week with they face undefeated Louisville for the Keg of Nails, but the prospect of a Friday night marquee matchup between undefeated teams is long gone. Louisville and Rutgers remain unbeaten, but while the Cardinals face the Bearcats, the Scarlet Knights -- like Cincinnati a week ago -- catch another MAC team with only one loss.

Other Week 9 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big East’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 9:

Where does the Cincinnati defense go without Walter Stewart?

Last week, Cincinnati missed defensive end Walter Stewart, a contender for Big East defensive player of the year, in the loss to Toledo, although the Bearcats’ offensive inconsistency may have been more to blame for the 29-23 loss. Either way, Cincinnati will have to put the pressure on Teddy Bridgewater this week without their star pass rusher. Stewart will miss this week’s game against Louisville as he gets a second opinion on what’s been described as an “upper body injury.” Dan Giordano, the starter on the other side of the line, is a veteran, but he has only 2.5 sacks this season, tied for the team lead. Fellow end Elijah Shuler, Stewart’s replacement, is a junior college transfer.

Will Louisville’s newfound pass rush continue against he mobile Munchie Legaux?
Led by end Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville had five sacks two weeks ago against Pittsburgh and four last week against USF. Against Pitt and sack-prone Tino Sunseri, that wasn’t a huge surprise, even though Louisville managed only five sacks in the first five games. However, last week, the Cardinals limited USF quarterback B.J. Daniels to zero rushing yards (he gained 34 and lost the same on sacks). Cincinnati’s Munchie Legaux can move a little bit, but he’s also liable to make a mistake while on the run.

Where did Louisville’s run game go?
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led Louisville in rushing last week with 74 yards on 10 carries, the best day of his career in the ground game. That’s great, but it’s probably not what the Cardinals want their star quarterback to be doing on a regular basis. Senorise Perry (11 carries, 27 yards) and Jeremy Wright (11 carries, 29 yards) had trouble breaking the big play against USF, though each contributed a rushing touchdown. Perry, especially, had been a key player for the Cardinals with back-to-back 100-yard games with six touchdowns against Southern Miss and Pittsburgh. Charlie Strong may want to get back to that balance and take some of the pressure off Bridgewater.

Why should Rutgers be on upset alert against the Big East’s new nemesis, the MAC?
The Big East has gone 4-3 against the MAC this season with Cincinnati losing to Toledo, Connecticut losing to Western Michigan and USF losing to Ball State. All of those losses occurred on the road, but this is not a trend the Big East can afford to continue as it tries to rebuild its image. Rutgers faces Kent State at home, but this is not the typical Golden Flashes team. Under former Scarlet Knights and Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell, Kent State is 6-1 and 4-0 in the MAC. Rutgers will need to be alert in all phases of the game. Dri Archer leads the nation in all-purpose yards (687 rushing, 278 receiving, 11 touchdowns from scrimmage, one touchdown pass and three kickoff returns for TDs). His game isn’t all that different from FIU’s T.Y. Hilton, who torched Rutgers in 2009 and Louisville a year ago. On defense, Kent State has an undersized but disruptive defensive tackle in Roosevelt Nix (18 career sacks, nine forced fumbles). Kent State lost 47-14 to Kentucky in the second week of the season, so the record might not be as good as it looks, but there’s plenty here to concern even an undefeated Rutgers.

Which run defense will show up for Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is getting healthier in some spots (linebackers Todd Thomas and Dan Mason) and getting banged up in others (linebacker Manny Williams). That means plenty of questions against Temple’s run-oriented offense led by Montel Harris and quarterback Chris Coyer. As up-and-down as Pitt has been on offense, it’s been the same against the run. Pitt allowed Louisville to rush for five touchdowns two weeks ago but held Virginia Tech to 59 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Pitt’s run defense has been something of a barometer for the Panthers season -- Pitt is 0-3 when allowing a rushing touchdown and 3-0 when keeping runners out of the end zone. That’s going to be tough against Temple.

Has Syracuse turned a corner or is Connecticut just that bad?
Syracuse hasn’t won consecutive games in a year and hasn’t won consecutive Big East games in two. There’s a chance to change that this week when the Orange face struggling USF. Syracuse was dominant against Connecticut at home last week, putting up 500 yards for the third time this season. It was the most complete game of a season that’s included a 42-41 shootout with Northwestern, a sloppy 17-10 loss to Minnesota and a 14-13 defensive struggle with Pitt. Did a 30-point win at home help Syracuse build some confidence? The numbers should point to quarterback Ryan Nassib, the Big East leader in total offense, feasting on the worst defense in the conference, but these two teams have not been predictable through the first two months this season.

Week 9 Big East Predictions:

Week 9 Big East Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Cincinnati at Louisville Louisville 31-24 Louisville 31-17 Louisville 31-24 Louisville 30-20
Temple at Pittsburgh Temple 21-20 Pitt 27-20 Pitt 27-17 Pitt 21-17
Kent State at Rutgers Rutgers 35-13 Rutgers 31-20 Rutgers 31-13 Rutgers 21-10
Syracuse at USF Syracuse 35-14 USF 27-24 Syracuse 30-27 USF 24-20
Last week 4-1 4-1 4-1 4-1
Overall 32-12 31-13 29-15 30-14

by David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 8

Teaser:
<p> Big East Week 9 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-countdown-colonial-athletic-association-preview
Body:

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

With the Colonial Athletic Association in flux, new blood could represent the league in the NCAA Tournament.

This year, with VCU having departed for the Atlantic 10 and Old Dominion ineligible for the CAA title as it prepares to leave for Conference USA, the door is open for some redemption for Drexel.

Drexel set a school record for wins last season, hit the 20-victory plateau for the second straight year and won the CAA’s regular-season title. But the Dragons didn’t win the conference tournament and missed the NCAA Tournament for the 16th consecutive season.

The path is as clear as its been for Drexel, which has contended for a Tournament slot for several seasons, but it’s not automatic. Delaware has its own Tourney drought (since 1999) it hopes to end thanks to one of the highest-scoring duos in the conference.

Traditional CAA contenders George Mason and Old Dominion, which is still eligible for an NCAA at-large spot, are rebuilding to various degrees, but they can’t be counted out.

ATHLON ALL-COLONIAL TEAM COLONIAL FACTS AND FIGURES
G Frantz Massenat, Drexel* 2011-12 regular season champion: Drexel
G Devon Saddler, Delaware 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: VCU#
F Keith Rendleman, UNC Wilmington New coaches: None
F Jamelle Hagins, Delaware Realignment: Lost VCU to the Atlantic 10
C DeShawn Painter, Old Dominion  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion


 

 

 

 

2012-13 COLONIAL PREVIEW
1. Drexel (29-8, 16-2)
Drexel enters the 2012-13 basketball season as the overwhelming favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dragons lost only Sammie Givens from last year’s 29–7 squad and return four starters including point guard Frantz Massenat and ’11-12 CAA Rookie of the Year Damion Lee. The Dragons, as usual, got it done on the defensive end last year, leading the CAA in allowing just 56.1 points per game. Offensively, Drexel averaged a modest 65.3 points per game, eighth best total in the league. That’s the most a Flint-coached team has scored in six years, since the 2006-07 version averaged 66.5 points per outing. The jump in offense came, largely, from the continued development of Massenat, who shot well from outside. Forwards Daryl McCoy and Dartaye Ruffin return to give Drexel the size and muscle in the paint. The Dragons can rely on Chris Fouch, one of four players who averaged double-digits in scoring last season, coming off the bench again.

Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One & Done

2. Delaware (18-14, 12-6)
Coach Monte Ross posted his best record since taking over Delaware’s basketball program before the 2006-07 season. It was also the best mark for any Blue Hens team since winning 20 games in 2000-01, the year before they joined the CAA. Delaware should take the next step by challenging for a league title. The Hens’ talented backcourt of Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt is a big part of the reason why. Saddler, a second-team All-CAA pick last year, was second in the league in scoring, putting up 18.8 points per game. Threatt came on strong as his freshman year went on, added 10.7 points per game. Add to that, Jamelle Hagins, also a second-team all-conference pick, has steadily become more and more of an offensive threat for the Hens. In addition to leading the CAA in rebounding (11.1 rpg) and finishing second in blocked shots (3.0 bpg), Hagins has become a primary scoring option for Delaware in the post.
Postseason prediction: NIT

3. George Mason (24–9, 14–4)
The coaching change from Jim Larranaga to Paul Hewitt didn’t throw the Patriots off track. George Mason won 20 games for the fourth time in the last five years. Now the Patriots are dealing with the loss of three key players — Andre Cornelius, Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson. That group helped Mason lead the CAA in offense, averaging 70.4 points per game. The return of the athletic and talented Johnny Williams and the addition of Seton Hall transfer Anali Okoloji should help. Williams could be an all-conference player a year after missing the season due to shoulder surgery.
 
4. Old Dominion (22–14, 13–5)
The Monarchs lose their top three scorers from last season in Kent Bazemore, Chris Cooper and Trian Illiadis. That trio combined for 34.4 points per game. But if there is one thing that has been a trademark of Blaine Taylor’s program, it’s been consistency. ODU reached 20 wins for the seventh time in the last nine seasons. Expect Nick Wright to help continue that trend. Last year, as always, the Monarchs were one of the CAA’s top teams in the paint. They led the league with 40.2 rebounds per game, beating opponents on the glass by 6.1 boards per night. The addition of DeShawn Painter, a transfer from NC State, should keep ODU near the top of the charts when it comes to rebounding. The Monarchs, however, will not be eligible for the CAA title due to their impending move to Conference USA (’13-14).
 
5. Northeastern (14–7, 9–9)
The Huskies’ lineup boasts a trio of players with all-league talent in Jonathan Lee, Joel Smith and Quincy Ford. That group combined to average nearly 40 points per game. They did lose Kauri Black, Alwayne Bigby and Ryan Pierson, all players who started multiple games last year but transferred in the offseason. Still, with their top four scorers back from last season, Bill Coen’s team should improve on its offensive production. Last season, the Huskies were 10th in the CAA averaging just 62.6 points per game. If Coen can integrate his five newcomers with the returning core, Northeastern could be a contender.
 
6. Hofstra (10–22, 3–15)
No CAA team is harder to get a handle on this offseason than Hofstra. The Pride lost its top players in Mike Moore and Nathaniel Lester and solid contributors in Dwan McMillan and Shamiye McLendon. Moore led the league in scoring, putting up 19.9 points per game. Lester was eighth in the CAA at 14.6 points per game. But Hofstra adds a ton of transfer talent, including UConn’s Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Penn State’s Taran Buie and Fresno State’s Daquan Brown, all of whom sat out last year. If Hawaii’s Shaquille Stokes is ruled eligible for this season, Mo Cassara’s team might have the pieces to challenge the CAA’s upper-echelon squads.
 
7.  James Madison (12–20, 5–13)
This could be Matt Brady’s last chance to turnaround the Dukes’ basketball program. He’ll make a run at it with his most veteran, experienced lineup during his time at JMU, a group led by point guard Devon Moore and athletic wing A.J. Davis. Forward Rayshawn Goins is back from injury and in the best shape of his college career, checking in at under 270 pounds for the first time in his JMU tenure. The Dukes need Enoch Hood to develop into a presence in the post. Brady has high hopes for freshman Ron Curry to contribute this year. Of course, the Dukes will need to avoid the injuries that have plagued the program since Brady took over.
 
8. Georgia State (22–12, 11–7)
The Panthers lose four starters and two of their top bench players. And they get to rebuild with an early-season trip to Duke. Devonta White, who averaged 12.9 points per game, returns. And Georgia State has loaded up on transfers, including Virginia Tech’s Manny Atkins and USC’s Curtis Washington. In all, the Panthers are adding four transfers and five incoming freshmen to rebuild. Georgia State had the second-best scoring defense in the CAA last year, giving up 58.9 points per game. It led the league in blocked shots, ranked second in steals and was stout on the perimeter. Opponents shot just 31.5 percent from 3-point range, third lowest mark in the league.

9. William & Mary (6–26, 4–14)
Guard Marcus Thornton had a strong rookie year. The Tribe will need him to avoid a sophomore slump this season as they try to replace the production of Quinn McDowell. Getting Kyle Gaillard back should help. Gaillard missed all of last season redshirting with an injury. Those two combined with Tim Rusthoven, Brandon Britt and Matt Rum give the Tribe an experienced core that knows how to play in coach Tony Shaver’s system.

10. Towson (1–31, 1–17)
Pat Skerry’s revival effort continues. He’s got a way to go. This season, the Tigers are not eligible for the postseason because of their lack of performance in the APR. And they lost three starters. Leading scorer Robert Nwankwo graduated, Deon Jones transferred, and Erique Gumbs won’t play due to a medical condition. So Skerry and Towson will turn to a trio of Big East transfers (Georgetown’s Jerrelle Benimon, South Florida’s Mike Burwell and Providence’s Bilal Dixon) to try to be competitive while the young coach reshapes his program. Marcus Damas returns after matching Nwankwo’s production of 12.5 points per game last year. Kris Walden will need to take a step forward.
 
11. UNC Wilmington (10–21, 5–13)
The Seahawks are again in a state of flux. They lost three players who transferred out, three of their top four scorers from last season. The defections included promising young scorer Adam Smith (Virginia Tech), who scored 13.7 points per game as a rookie, second on the team. They add a Big East transfer in Rutgers’ Tyree Graham. The biggest news might be that top player Keith Rendleman will play this season. With UNC-W not eligible for the CAA Tournament because of a poor showing under the NCAA’s APR metric, Rendleman had considered redshirting this year. But the all-conference forward told coach Buzz Peterson in June he would play.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Countdown: Colonial Athletic Association Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 05:35
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-countdown-sun-belt-preview
Body:

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

Western Kentucky emerged last season from the rubble to go on an unlikely NCAA Tournament run. This season, the margin may be more slim.

The Hilltoppers started 5-11 and fired coach Ken McDonald midseason. Interim coach Ray Harper went on an 11-8 run that included a Sun Belt tournament title and a win over Mississippi Valley State in the NCAA First Four. Naturally, it earned Harper the full time job in Bowling Green as well.

Western Kentucky, the Sun Belt’s most successful basketball program, will try to continue that momentum into 2012-13, but the conference may be tougher at the top than it was a year ago.

North Texas has one of the nation’s most underrated stars in Tony Mitchell, a potential NBA Draft lottery pick who landed in Denton after he failed to qualify at Missouri. Middle Tennessee, which had the league’s best record at 14-2, returns most of its firepower from a year ago as well.

This will also be the last year for the Sun Belt in its current incarnation. The departure of Denver to the WAC leaves the league with just 11 teams this season before Georgia State, Texas State and UT Arlington replace FIU and North Texas in 2013-14.

ATHLON ALL-SUN BELT TEAM SUN BELT FACTS AND FIGURES
G Marcos Knight, Middle Tennessee 2011-12 regular season champion: Middle Tennessee (East), UALR (West)
G Trey Finn, Arkansas State 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Western Kentucky#
F George Fant, Western Kentucky New coaches: Tony Benford (North Texas), Richard Pitino (FIU)
F Augustine Rubit, South Alabama Realignment: Lost Denver to the WAC
F Tony Mitchell, North Texas*  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion



2012-13 SUN BELT PREVIEW
EAST

1. Middle Tennessee (27–7, 14–2)
Kermit Davis, MTSU’s all-time winningest coach, must replace 2012 Sun Belt Player of the Year LaRon Dendy, but he returns 10 of the top 12 players from last season’s squad, which broke the program’s single-season wins record. Playmaking guard Marcos Knight and steady forward J.T. Sulton are all-league players. Point guard Bruce Massey is a lockdown defender and team leader. Raymond Cintron is a sharpshooting guard (43.2 percent from 3 last year) who plays with toughness, and juniors Shawn Jones and Kerry Hammonds are rising standouts. The roster is loaded, and expectations are soaring.
NCAA Tournament prediction: One and done

2. Western Kentucky (16–19, 7–9)
Coach Ray Harper revitalized the slumping Hilltoppers with a second-half surge, Sun Belt Tournament title and First Four victory in the NCAA Tournament last season following Ken McDonald’s midseason firing. Harper must stretch that momentum to an entire season and do it without leading scorer Derrick Gordon, who transferred to UMass. George Fant, a 6-6 forward, is a rising star after a breakout freshman season, and fellow sophomore T.J. Price also carries a big upside. Point guard Jamal Crook is a steady veteran. Freshman forward Eddie Alcantara could be inserted into the lineup early.

3. South Alabama (17–12, 8–8)
Veteran coach Ronnie Arrow returns nearly his entire roster, highlighted by 6-6 forward Augustine Rubit, one of the Sun Belt’s elite players. Freddie Goldstein is a streaky shooter, and Mychal Ammons showed shades of standout play as a 6-5 freshman swingman. Add shot-blocking post player Javier Carter and returning point guard Trey Anderson, and USA has a core that is ready challenge for a league title. Size and proven depth are still needed. The addition of 6-10 Slovakian center Viktor Juricek could help in both areas.

4. Troy (10–18, 5–11)
Starting point guard and leading scorer Will Weathers left a year early to play professionally, but Troy is accustomed to retooling its lineup every year. Don Maestri, Troy’s coach for 31 years, puts together an up-tempo, streak-shooting squad every season. Justin Wright, Emil Jones and R.J. Scott are each threats from 3-point range, and Maestri is a master at adding junior college transfers who fit his system. Also, former FIU commitment Antoine Myers, a true freshman, will join the Trojans, perhaps as an eventual replacement for Weathers at point guard.

5. Florida International (8–21, 5–11)
Richard Pitino, Louisville associate head coach and son of Rick Pitino, takes over after the failed three-year experiment of Isiah Thomas as head coach (26–65 record). Pitino must rebuild the roster, as no starters return and five signees are added to the mix. Jerome Frink, a 6-6 freshman forward, and junior college guards Malik Smith and Tymell Murphy should find roles immediately. FIU always seems to have the talent to play with any team in the Sun Belt, but the Golden Panthers have lacked the consistency to contend for a full season.

6. Florida Atlantic (11–19, 7–9)
Last season’s squad greatly underachieved, as the Sun Belt East preseason favorite started slowly, lost its final five games and never made a push in the league race. And the offseason has been tumultuous, with the early departures of standout point guard Raymond Taylor (pro ball) and post player Kore White (South Florida) among others. The honeymoon of coach Mike Jarvis is over, and now he must rebuild earlier than planned.

WEST
1. North Texas (18–14, 9–7)
New coach Tony Benford, a former Marquette assistant, inherits a team led by 6-8 sophomore forward Tony Mitchell, who is projected to be an NBA Lottery pick next year. Mitchell was the only freshman in the nation to average a double-double last season (14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg), and he returns as the league’s undisputed star. Plus, the top seven players are back, including guards Chris Jones (14.1 ppg), Jordan Williams (10.9 ppg) and Alzee Williams (10.5 ppg). The Mean Green narrowly lost in the Sun Belt Tournament title game last season, and they will be a prime contenders to return this season.

2. Arkansas State (14–20, 6–10)
Coach John Brady’s squad took its lumps last season, but the Red Wolves could be the sleeper in this year’s Sun Belt race. Four starters return, paced by seniors Marcus Hooten, Trey Finn and Brandon Peterson. Despite a knee injury, Finn averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and shot 46 percent from 3-point range last season. Now at full strength, Finn will help lead a veteran lineup. Houston transfer Kendrick Washington, a 6-7 forward, will add another weapon.

3. Arkansas-Little Rock (15–16, 12–4)
UALR won the West Division title last season, but only two starters return for a team with no scholarship seniors. Will Neighbour, a 6-10 smooth shooting forward, is a key returnee after an all-conference season, but the Trojans need another dynamic scorer. Coach Steve Shields always puts together a scrappy team that is tough on defense, but a rebuilding year looks to be ahead.

4. Louisiana-Lafayette (16–16, 10–6)
An offseason of mass exodus puts the Ragin’ Cajuns in an uncertain position. The departures included four graduating seniors (top scorer Josh Brown among them) and five notable players transferring. That leaves coach Bob Marlin, who has only three of his top 12 scorers back, searching for role players to step forward and newcomers to make an instant impact. Sophomore point guard Elfrid Payton has upside, while Mississippi State transfer Sean Long and Tulane transfer Kevin Brown could provide a boost. This team, however, has a lot of issues.

5. Louisiana-Monroe (3–26, 2–14)
The Warhawks were winless at home and ineligible for the Sun Belt Tournament due to NCAA sanctions last season. It will again be an uphill climb for Keith Richard’s team, which has no seniors. Charles Winborne, a 6-1 junior guard, will be the centerpiece after averaging 11.2 points last season. He is the lone full-time returning starter.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Countdown: Sun Belt Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:14
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-countdown-mac-preview
Body:

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

By reaching the Sweet 16, Ohio gave the MAC its most high-profile basketball moment perhaps since Kent State reached the Elite Eight in 2002. The Bobcats wins over Michigan and USF, followed by a hard-fought 73-65 loss in overtime to North Carolina in the regional semifinals, were reasons for the MAC to brag.

Unfortunately, it also all but rendered the regular season moot. Ohio was third in its division before winning the MAC tournament, but at least the Bobcats had a winning record (11-5 in conference) before defeating Akron (with a MAC-best 13-3 conference record) in the league tournament final. Two years ago, Ohio went 7-9 in the MAC before it won the conference tournament and upset Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament.

Despite a coaching change with former TCU coach Jim Christian replacing John Groce, who took the job at Illinois, Ohio has high expectations for a follow up and perhaps an elusive division title. Point guard D.J. Cooper, the architect of Ohio’s NCAA upsets the last three seasons, returns for a senior year.

Ironically, the last MAC division champion to reach the NCAA Tournament was Kent State in 2008 -- a team coached by Christian.

ATHLON ALL-MAC TEAM MAC FACTS AND FIGURES
G D.J. Cooper, Ohio* 2011-12 regular season champion: Akron (East), Eastern Michigan (West)
G Rian Peterson, Toledo 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Ohio#
F Javon McCrea, Buffalo New coaches: Jim Christian (Ohio), John Cooper (Miami)
F A'uston Calhoun, Bowling Green Realignment: None
C Zeke Marshall, Akron  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion



 

 

 

2012-13 MAC PREVIEW
EAST

1. Ohio (29-8, 11-5)
The Bobcats’ two runs to the NCAA Tournament — and three wins once they’ve gotten there — over the last three years have come without distinguished regular seasons. In fact, Ohio has finished above third place in its own division only once — a tie for second place in 2000-01 — since the Mid-American Conference split into East and West 15 years ago, let alone since point guard D.J. Cooper arrived in Athens. In many ways, Ohio is an example of what’s become an irrelevant regular season in a league that hasn’t had a second NCAA Tournament bid since 1999. The key is to play well for one weekend in Cleveland in March. The Bobcats replaced coach John Groce (who left for Illinois) with MAC coaching icon Jim Christian. Christian guided Kent State to the postseason five times, including a pair of NCAA Tournament bids, before leaving for TCU in 2008. The Golden Flashes under Christian were different than the MAC’s developing dynasty at Ohio; they finished first or second in the East Division in each of Christian’s six seasons. Now, Christian is at a place that has an invested administration and one of the more dynamic (albeit diminutive) point guards in the country in Cooper. The Bobcats have plenty of talent beyond Cooper (14.7 ppg, 5.7 apg), as well. All nine regular members of the playing rotation return from a team that took North Carolina to overtime in the Sweet 16 — most notably starters Walter Offutt (12.4 ppg), Nick Kellogg (85 3-pointers), Ivo Baltic and Jon Smith.
NCAA Tournament Prediction: One and Done.

2. Akron (22–12, 13–3)
If there’s a team capable of challenging Ohio in terms of talent, pedigree and MAC Tournament grit, it’s the Zips. Coach Keith Dambrot (with a freshly signed 10-year contract extension) has taken Akron to six straight MAC Tournament championship games. They lost in the ’11 title game to Ohio by a point. Dambrot should have one of his better squads this winter. Seven players from the Zips’ nine-man rotation are back, led by 7-foot senior Zeke Marshall (10.4 ppg, 95 blocks) and entertaining junior point guard Alex Abreu (9.6 ppg, 4.8 apg). But the player to watch might be 6-foot-7 junior forward Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell (7.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg), who’s beefed up to 245 pounds. Treadwell, once on the verge of becoming a high school drop out, came on late in his sophomore season after sitting out 2010-11 as a non-qualifier. He and Marshall could give the Zips the top frontcourt in the league.

3. Kent State (21–12, 10–6)
The Golden Flashes are more difficult to read entering this season than perhaps any team in the MAC. So much talent is gone from last season, players such as former league MVP Justin Greene and guard Michael Porrini, one of the most valuable players in the MAC. In all, Kent State must replace 42.2 points per game. The departures of Greene, Porrini and classmate Carton Guyton were expected. It’s the unexpected offseason happenings that may push the Flashes toward their first sub-.500 season in 15 years. Would-be junior defensive force Eric Gaines didn’t have his scholarship renewed and, in late June, senior guard Randal Holt (12.7 ppg) underwent surgery for a torn meniscus, his fourth knee surgery dating back to high school. Kent State is hoping Holt, the Flashes’ only four-year player, will be back in time for the start of the season. If Holt is healthy, Kent State should still have two of the MAC’s better players, with former junior college All-American Chris Evans, a 6’7" forward who averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in his first season, perhaps pushing for all-league status. This year’s big junior college addition is another reason the Flashes might survive a large exodus — as they have in other years over the last decade. Melvin Tabb, a 6-9, 240-pound forward out of Midland (Texas) College (by way of Wake Forest), chose Kent State over Temple, Wichita State and Seton Hall.

4. Bowling Green (16–16, 9–7)
The Falcons’ stunning home loss to Central Michigan in the first round of the MAC Tournament last March ruined a solid conference season and, again, left Bowling Green a bit off the radar heading into 2012-13. Seniors A’uston Calhoun (13.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Jordon Crawford (11.3 ppg, 4.8 apg) give the Falcons a terrific tandem, both in playmaking ability and with the sweat equity that comes with years battling for separation in this league. Calhoun, a versatile and strong 6’7" 4-man is a MAC Player of the Year candidate. The issue for BG might be outside shooting, minus Scott Thomas and Dee Brown, who combined to make 93 of the Falcons’ 156 3-pointers last season.

5. Buffalo (20–11, 12–4)
The Bulls lost more than half of their minutes played from last year, with MAC Player of the Year Mitchell Watt (16.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Zach Filzen (12.1 ppg, 97 3-pointers) the most notable departures. Buffalo, however, does have two more seasons with power forward Javon McCrea. The 6’7", 245-pound All-MAC first-teamer averaged 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in 25 minutes per game. He’ll likely need to play 30 this season, while guards Jarod Oldham (4.7 ppg, 5.9 apg) and Tony Watson (6.1 ppg) take a considerable step. Coach Reggie Witherspoon has appeared to win with less during his 13-year tenure, including two years ago, when the Bulls won 20 games after losing their top five scorers. At least this group has McCrea to anchor it.

6. Miami (9–21, 5–11)
MAC basketball without Miami’s Charlie Coles is a strange world. It’ll seem even more weird when the RedHawks take the floor with new coach John Cooper’s more up-tempo style of basketball. It’s hard to question the job Cooper did in three seasons at Tennessee State, which came within a smidge of knocking off Murray State — a second time — for an NCAA Tournament berth last March. The question is, can Cooper’s RedHawks overcome the loss of big man Julian Mavunga (16.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and sharpshooting All-MAC freshman Brian Sullivan (10.3 ppg, 79 3-pointers), who transferred to Davdison? This year, in this division, it’s unlikely. Junior point guard Quinten Rollins (7.7 ppg, 3.2 apg) and 6-8 junior forward Jon Harris (8.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) are critical to make Cooper’s first season competitive, as is guard Allen Roberts, who returns after missing last season with a knee injury.

WEST
1. Toledo (19–17, 7–9)

Lost in the hubbub over Connecticut’s Academic Progress Rate-induced postseason ban was the story of Toledo. The Rockets, already hit with scholarship reductions a year earlier, were one of 10 programs penalized by the NCAA for poor classroom performance, mostly brought on by issues with player retention prior to coach Tod Kowalczyk’s hiring in 2010. The shame for Toledo is that it had a legitimate shot at an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 1980. Now it can’t even play in the MAC Tournament. Junior wing Rian Pearson (16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) might be the MAC Player of the Year, leading a rotation that returns five of its six high scorers. Julius Brown, the MAC’s top freshman last year, is back to run the point. Toledo will try to find solace in winning a weak West Division and competing for the regular-season MAC title. The good news for the Rockets: They should be among the league favorites again in 2014, and the university extended Kowalczyk’s contract this offseason through 2017, a reward for the former Wisconsin-Green Bay coach, who’s quickly brought Toledo back to relevancy after inheriting a mess.

2. Eastern Michigan (14–18, 9–7)
The Eagles were the most compelling story of the West Division last winter. They perhaps are again. In his first season, Rob Murphy coached Eastern Michigan to a division title, and did so amazingly with a roster worthy of its last-place preseason billing. The former Syracuse assistant will have better talent this time around, as his 2011-12 scout team of transfers Da’Shonte Riley (Syracuse), Daylen Harrison (Wyoming) and Glenn Bryant (Arkansas) become eligible. Murphy also lured touted junior college big man James Still and heralded prep point guard Ray Lee. Riley, a 7-foot sophomore, and Still, a 6’10" junior, immediately give the Eagles considerable size and athleticism inside, more so than they’ll see anywhere else in the West.

3. Western Michigan (14–20, 6–10)
This was always going to be a rebuilding year to some extent, with around a half-dozen new faces. But it wasn’t supposed to come on the heels of such a flop. The Broncos followed a surprisingly strong 2010-11 season with a dud in ’11-12 — the result of over-scheduling, a bevy of injuries and a senior class that appeared to lose its hunger. While the roster turnover is somewhat welcomed, the Broncos are replacing their top four scorers. That includes would-be junior center Matt Stainbrook (11.4 ppg. 6.8 rpg), who transferred to Xavier after his scholarship wasn’t renewed. Among the replacements are seven freshmen — an intriguing class headlined by big man Darius Paul, the brother of Illinois’ Brandon Paul, and Connor Tava, a 6’5" forward who might be the most physically ready to contribute. WMU isn’t entirely reliant on newcomers. Senior Nate Hutcheson (9.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) has developed into one of the MAC’s premier perimeter defenders, but the 6’7" forward will be asked to do more offensively. Sophomore Austin Richie (5.6 ppg) is likely to occupy one of the guard spots, while talented, but enigmatic 6-10 junior Shayne Whittington (4.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg) takes Stainbrook’s place full-time at center.

4. Ball State (15–15, 6–10)
Like Western Michigan, big things were expected from the Cardinals’ senior-laden roster last season. And even more so than the Broncos, Ball State collapsed epically, losing nine straight league games. Coach Billy Taylor received a shaky vote of confidence and returns for a sixth year, but three of the team’s top scorers depart, including all-conference big man Jarrod Jones and, unexpectedly, would-be junior point guard Tyrae Robinson. That leaves the lead guard duties to true freshmen Marcus Posley and Chase Brogna, with Posley the more likely starter. The strength of this Cardinals’ squad should be at the other guard position and on the wing, with senior Jauwan Scaife and juniors Chris Bond (7.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Jesse Berry (9.7 ppg) all returning. Bond, the team’s best perimeter defender, broke two bones in his left (non-shooting) forearm in July, though he is expected back before the start of the season. Scaife (5.9 ppg) was at the heart of the underachievement last season, but he averaged double figures as a freshman and sophomore.

5. Northern Illinois (5–26, 3–13)
The Huskies fell to their first 13 Division I opponents last season, suffered eight losses by 23 or more points and defeats to the likes of Utah Valley, Nebraska-Omaha and SIU-Edwardsville. If it sounds breathtakingly grim, consider this: Northern Illinois’ basketball program left its first season under coach Mark Montgomery with reason for hope. Much of that has to do with the makeup of the roster and how the Huskies finished — winning two of their final three regular-season games, even with six freshmen playing at least 14 minutes per game. The most promising of last year’s newcomers is leading scorer Abdel Nader (10.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg), a touted 6-7 Chicagoan. The Huskies return their next top five scorers, as well, meaning the six freshmen joining the program this season shouldn’t face a similar baptism.

6. Central Michigan (11–21, 5–11)
This much is known: By the time basketball season starts, the Chippewas plan to field a team. As for who’s on the roster for first-year coach Keno Davis, well, it’s more clear who isn’t. Trey Zeigler (15.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg) transferred to Pittsburgh after his father, coach Ernie Zeigler, was fired. And last year’s next two leading scorers are gone, as well — point guard Austin McBroom (10.9 ppg, 3.7 apg) transferred to Saint Louis and Derek Jackson (11.5 ppg) was booted for academic reasons. In all, only four players appear likely to return, with 6’7" senior forward Olivier Mbaigoto (7.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg) the only one to average better than 14 minutes and three points an outing last season. Senior Finis Craddock, junior Luke Wiest and sophomore Austin Keel are the other Ernie Zeigler players remaining, meaning 22 of Zeigler’s recruits left the program during or immediately after his six seasons. And Craddock is on thin ice, having been suspended indefinitely after an April DWI arrest. Freshman forward John Simons and junior college transfer DeAndray Buckley, a shooting guard, headline a fairly unheralded group of newcomers.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings:
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Countdown: MAC Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 05:53
Path: /college-football/big-east-post-week-8-power-rankings
Body:

The Big East race may still be between three teams, but the race lost its luster less than a week before one of the marquee games of the season for the league.

Thank Cincinnati for that.

The Big East is down to two undefeated teams as Cincinnati lost 29-23 to Toledo on Saturday night. Cincinnati’s record in the Big East remains unblemished, but the hopes of a three-team round robin among ranked teams -- similar to Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia in 2006 -- are gone.

Teddy Bridgewater

Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville --
In his first game in front of the home crowd since Sept. 15, Bridgewater turned in his signature performance of the year. The sophomore was 21 of 25 for 256 yards with two touchdowns, and as the run game stalled, Bridgewater led the team in rushing with 74 yards.

2. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers -- Jamison had his best game of the season against Temple, spearheading the second-half comeback. Jamison rushed for 114 yards and caught five passes for 81 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown on a 32-yard screen pass.

3. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse -- After throwing five interceptions in three games, Nassib returned to form against a stout Connecticut defense by completing 14 of 29 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns against the Huskies.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers --
Greene had a hand in a turnover for the third consecutive game, returning a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown against Temple.

2. Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh -- With 11 stops against Buffalo, the Pittsburgh safety had double-digit tackles for the third consecutive game to go with his fourth interception of the season.

3. Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville -- Mauldin has led the resurgent Cardinals pass rush the last two weeks with 1.5 sacks against Pittsburgh and two against USF (worth noting the Bulls lost guard Mark Popek in the second quarter). The moment of truth will come in containing Munchie Legaux on Friday.

Coach of the Year Standings
1. Kyle Flood, Rutgers --
Trailing at halftime? No problem for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are outscoring Big East opponents 84-15 in the second half this season. Rutgers may rank seventh in the Big East in passing and rushing, but the Scarlet Knights make the most of their opportunities. Thank a Big East-best plus-14 in turnover margin.

2. Charlie Strong, Louisville -- The Cardinals have been far from perfect this season, letting every team since the third week of the season hang around. Yet Louisville keeps gutting out wins, the latest on its final possession of the game.

3. Steve Addazio, Temple -- The loss to Rutgers notwithstanding, Temple exceeded all expectations in its first season back in the Big East.

Big East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

1. Louisville (6-0, 2-0)
Last week’s rank:
1
Week 8 result: Beat USF 27-25
Louisville is a statistical anomaly in the Big East. Although the Cardinals are one of two undefeated teams left in the conference, they rank in the top two in the Big East in only two major categories - scoring offense and pass efficiency. Louisville ranks in the bottom half of the Big East in run defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks, but that’s showing signs of turning around. The Cardinals have nine sacks in the last two games against Pittsburgh and USF after recording only five in the first five games of the season.
This week: Cincinnati (Friday)

2. Rutgers (6-0, 4-0)
Last week’s rank:
2
Week 8 result: Beat Temple 35-10
For the third week in a row, Rutgers’ undefeated start appeared to be in jeopardy at halftime. Up 10-0, Temple had more control than Syracuse and Connecticut -- or so the Owls thought. Rutgers scored touchdowns on its first four offensive possessions of the second half and then tacked on a fumble recovery for a TD for good measure. After two turnovers in the first half, Gary Nova rebounded with four touchdown passes in the second.
This week: Kent State

3. Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0)
Last week’s rank:
3
Week 8 result: Lost to Toledo 29-23
Cincinnati missed injured defensive end Walter Stewart against Toledo, but the Bearcats inconsistency finally caught up with them in a road loss to the Rockets. Cincinnati briefly took a lead in the third quarter, but Toledo returned then ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown. And late in the fourth quarter, the defense couldn’t get a stop on a 15-play, 6-minute, 53-second drive for Toledo. On offense, quarterback Munchie Legaux was 15 of 36 for 227 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
This week: at Louisville (Friday)

4. Syracuse (3-4, 2-1)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 8 result: Beat Connecticut 40-10
For the first time this season, Syracuse stopped playing to the level of its opponent and played a complete game on all sides of the ball. The Orange scored on five consecutive possessions in the second and third quarter, excluding one-play kneel-down to end the first half. The defense held Connecticut to minus-6 yards thanks to eight tackles for a loss. And Ross Krautman was 4 of 4 on field goals. Quietly, Syracuse has held opponents to a Big East-best 1.2 yards per carry in conference games. Next up, Syracuse will seek its first back-to-back wins in more than a year.
This week: at USF

5. Pittsburgh (3-4, 0-3)
Last week’s rank:
6
Week 8 result: Beat Buffalo 20-6
Pitt is undefeated against the MAC. That should be expected, but it is more than three Big East teams can say. The win wasn’t pretty as Pitt was outgained 334-254 in sloppy weather. After the way this season has gone, Pitt will take the win, which will be critical if the Panthers are going to reach the postseason.
This week: Temple

6. Temple (3-3, 2-1)
Last week’s rank:
4
Week 8 result: Lost to 35-10 to Rutgers
Temple had few answers in the second half against Rutgers, giving up five unanswered touchdowns, but the Owls were the first team this season to rush for at least 100 yards against the Scarlet Knights. Quarterback Chris Coyer struggled mightily, completing only 7 of 14 passes for 65 yards with three turnovers, including a fumble returned for a touchdown. If Temple is going to reach a bowl game, the Owls will have to win a road game with three of hte last five games coming away from Philadelphia.
This week: at Pittsburgh

7. USF (2-5, 0-3)
Last week’s rank:
8
Week 8 result: Lost to Louisville 27-25
Another week meant another heartbreaking loss for USF, this one with historical significance. The Bulls’ fifth consecutive loss sealed the longest losing streak in program history. The defeat, though, came in the same manner as so many others over the last two seasons -- by losing a fourth quarter lead. Despite trailing 14-3 at halftime, USF took a 25-21 lead in the final 3:09 before Teddy Bridgewater led the game-winning drive. The difference this week was USF advancing all the way to the 2-yard line before the Bulls were stuffed on three consecutive plays near the end of the third quarter.
This week: Syracuse

8. Connecticut (2-5, 0-3)
Last week’s rank:
7
Week 8 result: Lost to Syracuse 40-10
The Huskies finally got a standout game out of the passing attack with Chandler Whitmer going 23 of 41 for 296 yards with a touchdown. Nearly everything else flopped. Syracuse, which hadn’t rushed for more than 133 yards against an FBS opponent, ran for 251 yards against Connecticut. Suddenly, the UConn defense has allowed 453 rushing yards the last two weeks after holding its first four opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground. On offense, the story is getting worse as UConn’s best and most versatile lineman, Adam Masters, was lost for the season with an ankle injury. UConn’s minus-6 rushing yards against Syracuse was its worst since moving up to the FBS.
This week: Off

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content

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ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> Big East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:01
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-countdown-horizon-league-preview
Body:

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

The Horizon League opens the 2012-13 without its marquee program, Butler, which departed during the offseason for the Atlantic 10.

Try telling the remaining teams Butler’s absence cuts into the intrigue around the Horizon League. Butler finished last season in a three-way tie for third place at 11-7. The Bulldogs weren’t even the Horizon’s best team in Indiana. That title belonged to Vaparaiso, which won the regular season title in Bryce Drew’s first season as head coach. Drew is ready for another run at a title and perhaps Valpo’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004.

That said, the league’s best player resides in Detroit, where Ray McCallum Jr. averaged 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4 assists.

ATHLON ALL-HORIZON TEAM HORIZON FACTS AND FIGURES
G Ray McCallum, Detroit* 2011-12 regular season champion: Valparaiso
G Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Detroit#
F Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso New coaches: None
F Kevin Van Wijk, Valparaiso Realignment: Lost Butler to Atlantic 10
C Alec Brown, Green Bay  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion




 

 

 

2012-13 HORIZON LEAGUE PREVIEW
1. Valparaiso (22–12, 14–4)

Valpo legend Bryce Drew was a year ahead of schedule in winning the regular-season Horizon title in his first year as coach, and he'll enter 2012-13 as the heavy favorite with five senior starters returning. First among those starters is reigning Horizon League Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff, who averaged 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in his first season as the team’s primary scorer after Brandon Wood departed for Michigan State. The 6-7 forward was one of the last cuts from Australia's Olympic team. Kevin Van Wijk accompanied Broekhoff in the frontcourt and on the All-Horizon first team as Valpo’s second-leading scorer with 14.1 points per game while shooting a league-best 61.7 percent. The first man off the bench after the five returning starters should be former Indiana transfer Bobby Capobianco, a 6-9 junior who sat out last season after averaging almost nine minutes per game over two seasons with IU.
NCAA Tournament prediction: One and done

2. Detroit (22–14, 11–7)
The Titans took half a season to gel last year before rolling to a 13–3 finish that included the Horizon Tournament title and a 65–50 loss to Final Four participant Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. Ray McCallum Jr., the catalyst of last season’s team and son of coach Ray McCallum Sr., is back for a junior season that could propel him into the NBA Draft. The former McDonald’s All-American averaged 15.4 points, 4.0 assists and 1.6 steals, which were all in the top four in the league last year. Two other starters — seniors Doug Anderson (9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Jason Calliste (10.2 ppg) — give McCallum plenty of support, and forward Nick Minnerath is back after starting the first five games and then tearing his ACL. Three junior college transfers are expected to rotate at center unless one seizes the position, and Western Michigan transfer Juwan Howard Jr. becomes eligible and is expected to be in the rotation for a team that should challenge for the league title.

3. Green Bay (15–15, 10–8)
Green Bay looks to carry forward its momentum from a strong second half of 2011-12 with four starters returning to a team that went a league-best 12–2 at home. The Phoenix boast one of the league’s top frontcourts in Alec Brown and Brennan Cougill. Brown, a 7-1 junior, averaged 13.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks en route to first-team All-Horizon honors, while Cougill averaged 9.2 points and 7.0 rebounds. Big things are expected from point guard Keifer Sykes, an All-Newcomer selection who averaged 13.8 points and 4.5 assists in conference games as a freshman.

4. Cleveland State (22–11, 12–6)
Cleveland State is in a bit of a rebuilding mode after an impressive two-year run that featured 49 wins and a 25-11 Horizon record. Big man Tim Kamczyc, a fifth-year senior, returns for his third season in the starting lineup, but the other four Vikings starters from last season are gone. Sophomore Anton Grady was a member of the Horizon All-Newcomer team after averaging 8.5 points and 6.4 rebounds off the bench and gives CSU a solid frontcourt to build around. In the backcourt, the Vikings had three freshmen who averaged double-digit minutes, and all three are back for 2012-13. Charles Lee is expected to take over at point, while Marlin Mason and Sebastian Douglas return as the only wings with significant experience. Incoming 6-4 freshman Junior Lomomba from Montreal is expected to be a big part of the rotation.

5. Milwaukee (20–14, 11–7)
The big story coming from Milwaukee is not necessarily on the court, but the court itself. The Panthers are moving into the renovated, on-campus 3,400-seat Klotsche Center after years of playing at the 12,700-seat U.S. Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee. The team received a waiver from the Horizon League to play in an arena with less than 5,000 seats, and the cramped quarters should prove difficult for visitors. Milwaukee returns three starters, including James Haarsma (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg), who thrived in his first season of eligibility after transferring from Evansville. The Panthers must improve on its 61.2 percent free throw shooting, which ranked 324th in the nation.

6. Youngstown State (16–15, 10–8)
The Penguins made a nice jump last season, earning 10 Horizon League wins after winning just two the season before. Youngstown State returns three starters from a team that basically had a five-man rotation last season (the Penguins’ sixth-leading scorer averaged 2.1 ppg). Center Damian Eargle is the nation’s leading returning shot-blocker (3.7 bpg), and he averaged 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds as a junior. Leading scorer Kendrick Perry, a first-team All-Horizon selection, is also back after pumping in 16.8 points per game. Blake Allen hopes to increase his league-best 91 3-pointers in his senior season.

7. Wright State (13–19, 7–11)
Coach Billy Donlon prefers a long bench, and he will return seven of the 11 players that averaged double-digit minutes for the Raiders. Unfortunately, the team’s best player — Julius Mays — is not among them after Mays transferred to Kentucky. Still, a trio of juniors in Cole Darling, A.J. Pacher and Matt Vest, along with point guard Reggie Arceneaux, give Wright State reason to think it is a chance to exceed last season’s win total even with the loss of Mays.

8. UIC (8–22, 3–15)
Things should be better in coach Howard Moore’s third season in Chicago. Four starters are back, including emerging forward Hayden Humes (11.8 ppg in his final nine games) and ’11-12 Horizon All-Newcomer Gary Talton, a junior college transfer who averaged 11.6 points from his guard slot. Two other starting guards return — Daniel Barnes and Marc Brown — and Eastern Illinois transfer Joey Miller becomes eligible and will join the backcourt rotation for a team that must raise its 39.5 percent field goal shooting (320th in the nation) to move up in the league.

9. Loyola (7–23, 1–17)
Coach Porter Moser will try to bounce back from a disappointing debut season at Loyola, and he will lean on three returning starters and eight newcomers to do so. Ben Averkamp averaged 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds as a second-team All-Horizon selection and he has a shot to be a first-teamer this year if the Ramblers can improve in the win-loss department. Guard Joe Crisman (8.5 ppg) and forward Jordan Hicks (8.4 ppg) also return. Point guard Cully Payne, an Iowa transfer who sat out last year after starting five games before getting hurt as a sophomore in ’10-11 for the Hawkeyes, is expected to start.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky

4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame
20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

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Shades of 2008 and 2009 continue to play out in the BCS standings as Alabama and Florida remain on top in the second release of the rankings.

The two teams met in the SEC championship game in those two seasons for a winner-take-all trip to the national championship game and may again if both teams remain undefeated.

However, the action in the second week of the BCS rankings was outside of the top two where Kansas State and Oregon are jockeying for position. Oregon, ranked second in the coaches’ and Harris polls, pass the eye test, but Kansas State, with two major road wins, has the more impressive resume thus far.

Beyond Alabama and Florida, the rankings remain SEC-heavy. Six teams from the conference -- Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina -- are among the top 14 teams, the threshold for a BCS at-large bid.

The Big 12 (three) and the Pac-12 (two) are the only other leagues with more than two teams in the BCS top 14.

Here are a few observations from the latest release of the BCS standings.

MOVING UP

BCS Standings
Oct. 21

Coaches' Poll Harris Poll Comp. Avg. Last Wk.
1. Alabama 1 1 4 1
2. Florida 3 3 1 2
3. Kansas St. 4 4 2 3
4. Oregon 2 2 6 4
5. Notre Dame 5 5 3 5
6. LSU 6 6 7 6
7. Oregon St. 9 8 5 8
8. Oklahoma 7 7 8 9
9. USC 8 9 16 10
10. Georgia 11 11 T-13 11
11. Miss. St. 12 12 T-13 12
12. Florida St. 10 10 21 14
13. S. Carolina 16 16 10 7
14. Texas Tech 17 17 9 17
15. Rutgers 15 15 11 15
16. Louisville 14 14 18 16

No. 3 Kansas State. The Wildcats’ 55-14 win over West Virginia in Morgantown flip-flopped Kansas State with Oregon to the third spot in the standings. Oddly enough, Kansas State dropped a spot in the coaches’ poll, switching spots with Florida, who defeated South Carolina 44-11. The computer rankings, however, favor Kansas State, thanks to road victories over the Mountaineers and Oklahoma. Kansas State is second to Florida in the computer rankings, moving up from fourth last week. Kansas State is ranked first in two of the six individual computer rankings.

MOVING DOWN
No. 4 Oregon. With Kansas State moving up a spot, Oregon moved down to fourth, despite placing second in the coaches’ and Harris polls. Despite a 43-21 win over Arizona State on the road, Oregon remains sixth in the average computer rankings. Reasons not to worry for the Ducks: The margin between the two teams (0.0145 in the BCS average) is closer than any team within the top 10, and Oregon still has No. 7 Oregon State, No. 9 USC and No. 17 Stanford on the schedule. Kansas State has No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 23 Texas, both at home. In other words, Oregon, facing lowly Colorado on Saturday, will have to wait at least two weeks to leapfrog Kansas State, assuming both remain undefeated.

KEY GAMES THIS WEEK
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma. The Sooners are still rooting for a Kansas State loss for their Big 12 title hopes, but facing Notre Dame is a critical game for OU’s hopes to get back into the national title race. A loss would all but eliminate the Sooners and hamper their chances of being an at-large BCS bid. For Notre Dame, defeating Oklahoma in Norman would close a gap between the Irish and the top four in the standings.

No. 14 Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas State. The computer rankings love both teams, but the Red Raiders, with a 21-point loss to Oklahoma on the resume, are simply trying to climb up the rankings. For both teams, this week’s opponent may be the highest ranked team they face for the season.

No. 11 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama. The Bulldogs are undefeated, but they’re outside of the power structure of Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina. That changes with a good showing at Tuscaloosa. An upset would disrupt the BCS standings and make Mississippi State an SEC West favorite, and thus, a national title contender.

OTHER NOTES
The gap is closing for Alabama. Again, the SEC champion may control its own destiny as far as the national title race is concerned, so the field catching up to the Tide may be irrelevant. Alabama’s BCS average dropped from 0.9761 to 0.9625 while the BCS average for Florida, Kansas State and Oregon all went up. To save you the math: The gap between Alabama and Nos. 2-4 is smaller than it was last week between the No. 1 Tide and No. 2 Florida.

Notre Dame is on the outside, for now. Notre Dame’s BCS average dropped despite a 17-14 win over BYU, creating a sizable gap between the Irish and the top four. Of course, this could change in a hurry with a road game against Oklahoma this week.

Welcome back, Big Ten. After the Big Ten was shut out in the first BCS standings two teams -- No. 22 Michigan and No. 25 Wisconsin -- entered the rankings. This means little for the national title race, but it is important for the postseason. Michigan is one spot behind No. 21 Boise State and two ahead of No. 24 Ohio, damaging those two teams’ chances of reaching a BCS game. Those teams either need to be among the top 14 or the top 16 if Boise State or Ohio is ranked ahead of an automatic qualifying conference champion.

Notes on BCS selection:
Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The Big East’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.

Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.

A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, WAC and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.

To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.

Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Fiesta Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Orange.

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content
Week 8 Recap: Kansas State, Florida solidify BCS contender status
Who votes in the Harris Poll?

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The skeptics are nowhere to be found in Manhattan, Kan., and Gainesville, Fla. Of course, Alabama and Oregon keep rolling in the national title hunt, but two potential usurpers continue to state their resounding cases week after week.

A month after defeating Oklahoma 24-19, Kansas State erased any misgivings about the Wildcats’ clout as a national contender by pounding West Virginia 55-14 in Morgantown. In the process, Collin Klein likely flip-flopped his spot with Geno Smith for the nation’s Heisman frontrunner of the week.

Meanwhile, Florida continues to defy the numbers by defeating South Carolina by 33 points, an astounding feat considering the Gators were outgained 191 yards to 183 and its quarterback passes for fewer than 100 yards in the third consecutive game.

Those weren’t the only statements in Week 8, but they were the loudest.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 8 RECAP: THREE AND OUT

THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM KANSAS STATE 55, WEST VIRGINIA 14

Collin Klein

Kansas State is leaving no doubt. The book on Kansas State last season was an opportunistic team at best, lucky at worst. Indeed, the Wildcats were outgained in every Big 12 game other than Kansas despite a 7-2 conference record. This year’s team is downright dominant, a point reinforced by the win over West Virginia. Kansas State opened up a 24-0 lead before Tavon Austin’s kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter. The Wildcats scored 52 points before West Virginia’s first offensive touchdown. Kansas State also held West Virginia to 243 yards, its lowest total since a loss to LSU on Sept. 25, 2010.

Collin Klein is the Heisman frontrunner. Klein likely wrestled the Heisman lead away from West Virginia’s Geno Smith when the unofficial power rankings come out early this week. Klein played a part on all seven of Kansas State’s touchdowns with four rushing TDs and three passing. Klein easily out-dueled Smith in the passing game with 323 yards (on 19 of 21 attempts) to Smith’s 143 yards with two picks.

Memo to hot quarterbacks: Avoid Arthur Brown. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith threw his first interception since the regular season finale against USF last year, a streak of 327 consecutive passes without a pick. The first interception of the season went to Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, who recorded the first interception of the season against Baylor’s Robert Griffin III a year ago.

THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM FLORIDA 44, SOUTH CAROLINA 11

Will Muschamp

Florida is unstoppable in the second half. Whatever Florida’s coaching staff is doing in the second half, it’s working. The Gators are outscoring SEC opponents 108-18 after halftime, including 23-5 against LSU. Florida has allowed one third-quarter touchdown (to Tennessee on Sept. 15) in conference games, but the offense under coordinator Brent Pease may be even better. The Gators have scored on their first possession of the second half in five of six SEC games, the exception being LSU. Florida scored on its second possession of the third quarter against the Tigers.

Florida has elite special teams. The Gators turned last week’s win over Vanderbilt thanks to a blocked field goal and a fake punt. The trend continued against South Carolina when the offense couldn’t move the ball. Punter Kyle Christy (54.3 yards per kick) won the field position battle, and the do-it-all Trey Burton stripped the ball and recovered a fumble from South Carolina punt returner Ace Sanders -- a player who knows a thing or two about turning games on special teams. Florida also blocked a field goal for the second consecutive week.

Spurrier’s frustrated. Florida found a way to neutralize Jadeveon Clowney’s impact on the game: One- and two-yard touchdown drives. Even though Clowney caused problems for the Gators offensive line in the entire first half, turnovers doomed the Gamecocks from the get-go. Two special teams fumbles and Connor Shaw’s fumble on the first snap of the game set up short fields for Florida. By the second half, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was frustrated enough to yank quarterback Connor Shaw, but it made little difference in the 44-11 rout. “The only thing you can hope is that your guys give it their best shot and not just lay the ball down and basically say, ‘Here, Florida, we don’t want to win. You guys take this fumble and this fumble and this fumble,’” Spurrier said after the game.

MOVING THE CHAINS
LSU winning the LSU way.
Until LSU finds consistent quarterback play, the Tigers are going to have to win games like they have the last two weeks. Texas A&M dominated most of the first half, but LSU capitalized on two turnovers in the final two minutes to take a 14-13 lead at halftime. The Tigers kept the pressure on Manziel in the second half, who threw three total interceptions in the 24-19 loss. As long as Zach Mettenberger continues to struggle (11 of 29 passing, 97 yards), LSU will need to have capitalize on every defensive opportunity and gash opponents with the run game (219 yards, two touchdowns).

Notre Dame’s will to win. A goal line stand against Stanford followed by a grinding ground game against BYU, Notre Dame is pushing the right buttons in its 7-0 start. BYU scored the first offensive touchdowns on the Notre Dame defense since Sept. 8 (both passing, Notre Dame still hasn’t allowed a rushing TD), but the Irish responded with 143 yards from Theo Riddick and 114 yards from Cierre Wood. The run game eased the absence of starting quarterback Everett Golson, who missed the game following a concussion last week. Brian Kelly erased any question marks after the game by noting Golson would start next week against Oklahoma.

Taylor Martinez in the clutch. The Nebraska quarterback saved the Cornhuskers from another upset loss to Northwestern by leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Northwestern led by 12 in the fourth quarter, but Martinez capped scoring drives of 80 and 76 yards with touchdown passes. Martinez, who also led a second-half comeback against Wisconsin earlier this season, completed 27 of 39 passes for 342 yards and accounted for four total touchdowns. The game, though, wasn’t sealed until Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien missed his first field goal attempt of the year.

FALSE STARTS
Heartbreakers.
This wasn’t a great week for teams to complete upset bids. Without an injured Braxton Miller, Ohio State backup quarterback Kenny Guiton led a fourth-quarter touchdown drive and and overtime possession to hold off Purdue 29-22. Michigan couldn’t score a touchdown on Michigan State, but won the game 12-10 on a Brendan Gibbons’ field goal with five seconds remaining. Northwestern squandered a 12-point fourth quarter lead to lose 29-28 to Nebraska. TCU scored 10 points in the final 2:25 to force overtime against Texas Tech, but lost 56-53 in the third OT. Despite rallying behind a backup quarterback, Maryland was denied a bid to start 3-0 in the ACC when the Terrapins missed a 33-yard field goal with two seconds left to lose 20-18 to NC State. And poor USF: The Bulls took a brief lead in the fourth quarter at Louisville, but lost their seventh Big East game in the last two seasons in which they’ve held a fourth quarter lead.

Auburn. Another week and another new low at Auburn. The Tigers lost 17-13 to Vanderbilt, despite the Commodores’ fourth-quarter fumble among other miscues daring Auburn to take advantage. At 1-6 overall and 0-5 in the SEC, Auburn is off to its worst start since starting 1-6 in 1952. The Tigers are the first team to start with this poor a record within two years of winning a national title. Auburn has also lost to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State in the same season for the first time in school history.

Cincinnati. Three undefeated teams at this stage of the season was a source for pride for the Big East. That number is down to two after Cincinnati lost 29-23 at Toledo. The Bearcats led for only 13 seconds in the third quarter thanks to a kickoff return for a touchdown by Toledo’s Bernard Reedy erasing a brief Cincinnati lead. The loss takes the shine off a Friday matchup with undefeated Louisville next week.

HEISMAN MOVERS
Kenjon Barner, Oregon.
The Ducks’ all-purpose dynamo De’Anthony Thomas has been pedestrian so far in Pac-12 play. Instead, Kenjon Barner has been Oregon’s offensive MVP. Barner rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns, including a 71-yard score in Thursday’s 43-21 win over Arizona State.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. The possibility of a freshman reaching New York as a Heisman finalist may have to wait. The Aggies quarterback was 29 of 56 for 276 yards and three interceptions against LSU. Meanwhile, the Tigers kept Manziel from breaking off any long runs as he rushed for 27 total yards. The last freshman to be a Heisman finalist was Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, runner up to Matt Leinart in 2004.

Braxton Miller, Ohio State.Before the sophomore left the game with a head injury, Miller was 9 of 20 for 113 yards and an interception, 47 yards and a touchdown and a Purdue lead. Miller was taken from the stadium to the hospital, but the injury was reported to be not as serious as it seemed when Miller was carted off the field.

SCORES THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘HUH?’
Georgia 29, Kentucky 24
Penn State 31, Iowa 0
SMU 72, Houston 42
THREE BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAMS
Kent State (last bowl: 1972)
Duke (last bowl: 1994)
Utah State (last consecutive bowls: 1960-61)
THREE GREAT QB STAT LINES
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. 21-25, 256 yards, 2 TDs vs. USF
Seth Doege, Texas Tech. 30-42, 318 yards, 7 TDs vs. TCU
A.J. McCarron, Alabama. 17-22, 306 yards, 4 TDs vs. Tennessee

STAT WATCH
900. Michigan’s 900th win, the most for any FBS team, occurred in odd fashion as the Wolverines failed to score a touchdown in a 12-10 win over Michigan State. All of Michigan’s scoring came from warmer climates -- kicker Brendan Gibbons from West Palm Beach, Fla., and kicker Matt Wile from San Diego -- as does quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla.).

6-0. With a 21-7 win over Utah, Oregon State improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1907. The teams Oregon State defeated that season: Astoria AC, Whitman, Pacific, Oregon, Willamette and Saint Vincent College. After missing bowl games the last two seasons, the Beavers will head to the postseason.


7.Southern Miss fell to 0-7 with a 59-24 loss to Marshall. Not only did Southern Miss end its streak of 18 consecutive seasons with a winning record, the Eagles also claimed the nation’s longest active losing streak at seven games. In defeating Army 48-38, Eastern Michigan ended the active longest streak at eight games. If there’s any silver lining, the five longest active losing streaks have all ended in the last three weeks. Southern Miss faces Rice next week.

BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART
Jordan Lynch hits the 1,000-yard mark.
He’s a QB. The best season no one’s talking about may belong to the first-year starting quarterback at Northern Illinois. Jordan Lynch passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 131 yards and two scores, his fifth game of the season with 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards. His 1,049 rushing yards ranks second in the nation.

Still a charmed season in Monroe. ULM’s signature win over Arkansas and close calls with Auburn and Baylor are a month in the past, but the Warhawks’ good fortune continued into the Sun Belt season. ULM trailed Western Kentucky 28-7 in the second quarter, but tied the game early in the fourth quarter. ULM pass over the extra point in overtime, allowing Kolton Browning to go for the win with a two-point conversion in the 43-42 win. ULM took the Sun Belt lead by defeating the 5-2 Hilltoppers.

Kasey Carrier’s 300-yard game. The New Mexico running back rushed for 338 yards, the highest total since Navy’s Shun White rushed for 348 yards against Towson on Aug. 30, 2008. Alas, New Mexico lost 28-23 to Air Force.

THREE TEAMS/PLAYERS BACK TO FORM
Matt Barkley, USC.
Nothing like a game against Colorado to cure the passing game. A week after one of his least productive games of his career, Matt Barkley was 19 of 20 for 298 yards with six touchdown passes in a 50-6 rout of Colorado. Four of those touchdown passes went to Robert Woods as Barkley set a Pac-12 record with 100 TD passes. Barkley’s 95 percent completion rate also set a Pac-12 record for completion percentage for a quarterback with at least 20 passes.

Wisconsin’s run game. Nothing like a couple of struggling Big Ten teams to help a run game look good. The Badgers have rushed for 804 yards and nine touchdowns the last two weeks against Purdue and Minnesota. Against the Gophers, James White rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns and Montee Ball rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Wisconsin (3-1) is the only postseason-eligible team in the Big Ten Leaders division with a conference win.

Aaron Murray, Georgia. Nothing like a game against Kentucky to set up a career day. Two weeks after he struggled in the loss to South Carolina, Murray rebounded to complete 30 of 38 passes for 427 yards and four touchdown passes against the Wildcats. His play was one of the few parts of Georgia’s game operating at a high level in a too-close-for-comfort 29-24 win.

THREE TEAMS STARTING TO PUT IT TOGETHER
Arizona.
After back-to-back hard-fought losses to Oregon State and Stanford, Arizona broke out against Washington for a 52-17 win. The Wildcats rolled up 500 yards for the third consecutive game, all against solid defenses. Leading the Pac-12 in total offense and passing, Arizona is not nearly as bad as its 1-3 conference record indicates. The Wildcats face USC at home Saturday.

Clemson. Virginia Tech can make an opposing defense look good, especially in the secondary, but let’s give credit to a Clemson team that has showed marked improvement each week since the 49-37 loss to Florida State in September. Jonathan Meeks had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown to bail out an offense that stumbled to only 295 yards in the 38-17 win over the Hokies.

Kenny Guiton, Ohio State. Quarterback J.W. Walsh wasn’t at 100 percent, and two of his top receivers didn’t even play against Iowa State. Yet the Cowboys eventually got out of their own way to defeat upset-hungry Iowa State 31-10. The Cowboys face TCU before a gauntlet -- at Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, at Oklahoma.

 

DANG, THEY’RE GOOD
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Oregon
DANG THEY’RE BAD
Auburn
Cal
Iowa
BEST GAMES NEXT WEEK
Florida vs. Georgia
Notre Dame at Oklahoma
Mississippi State at Alabama

THREE PRIMETIME BACKUPS
Adam Dingwell, San Diego State.
Dingwell stepped in for injured starter Ryan Katz to complete 14 of 23 passes for 177 yards for three touchdowns in a 39-38 win at Nevada in overtime. Dingwell led three fourth-quarter scoring drives, culminating with the game-tying field goal as time inspired. Coach Rocky Long capitalized on the momentum by going for the game-winning two-point conversion to finish overtime.

Devonta Freeman, Florida State. With starter Chris Thompson out with a knee injury, Freeman delivered the knockout punch to Miami in a 33-20 win. Freeman rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and 70 total yards on 10 carries.

Kenny Guiton, Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ undefeated season was in as much peril as it had been all season when quarterback Braxton Miller was whisked away to the hospital as Ohio State trailed Purdue by 8 in the second half. Guiton, though, found a wide-open Devin Smith to set up a touchdown and then took advantage of perfect protection to complete the two-point conversion to tight end Jeff Heuerman. Ohio State won 29-22 in overtime.

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

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The Heisman Trophy isn’t the only award worth watching on a weekly basis. The Lombardi, Outland, Davey O’Brien and Biletnikoff races are all worth watching and debating as the season goes along.

Throughout the season, we’ll keep an eye on all the prominent position trophies through college football in addition to the Heisman.

If you’re looking for our thoughts on that other trophy, check our weekly Heisman poll.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Geno Smith, West Virginia
Smith had his worst game of the season against Texas Tech, going 29 of 55 for 275 yards and a touchdown in a 49-14 loss. His overall resume, though, remains the best of any quarterback in the country. Smith has thrown 314 consecutive passes and 31 touchdowns since his last interception, including 259 attempts and 25 TDs this season.
Others: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
Bell rebounded from a lackluster performance against Ohio State to rush for 261 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games against Indiana and Iowa. Bell also has two 200-yard games under his belt this season.
Others: Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin, Florida’s Mike Gillislee, Kansas State’s John Hubert, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, Northwestern’s Venric Mark

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Odds are, one or both of the West Virginia receivers is going to be a finalist for the award. This week, we should recognize of the best games by a receiver this season when Patton had 21 catches for 233 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M. Patton has 765 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 55 receptions this year.
Others: Cal’s Keenan Allen, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Baylor’s Terrance Williams

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Seferian-Jenkins caught five passes for a season-high 83 yards with a touchdown against USC last week, giving him 29 receptions for 337 yards with two touchdowns this season.
Others: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, Stanford’s Zach Ertz, Stanford’s Levine Toilolo

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Alabama dominated the ground game in a rainy 42-10 win over Missouri last week. Jones helped pave the way for 362 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in the rout of the Tigers.
Others: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Our leader: Alabama’s Jones
Others: Kansas State’s B.J. Finney, Clemson’s Dalton Freeman

 

 


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Te’o had 11 tackles in the 20-13 win over Stanford last week and continues to be the face of a defense that has allowed three offensive touchdowns (all passing) this season. Opponents have scored touchdowns on only 2 of 16 trips into the red zone against Notre Dame this season. Generally, the team leading the nation in that stat allows opponents to score touchdowns on approximately 35 to 40 percent of red zone chances.
Others: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah's Star Lotulelei, Penn State's Michael Mauti

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
In a 23-21 loss to LSU, Clowney failed to record a sack for the first time since the second game of the season, but he did finish with six tackles and two pass breakups. Coming up this week: A critical matchup against the Florida offensive line and the slippery Jeff Driskel.
Others: Oregon State’s Scott Chricton, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Florida State’s Bjeorn Werner

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others: USC’s Dion Bailey, Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Iowa State’s Jake Knott, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosely

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Poyer’s pick six against BYU last week gave the Beavers cornerback his fifth interception in his last three games. Oregon State is third in the Pac-12 and 24th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Others: Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, Florida’s Matt Elam, Alabama’s Dee Milliner


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Mike Meyer, Iowa
Meyer was 4 for 4 on field goal attempts against Michigan State, including a 42-yard game-winner in the second overtime. Meyer is 14 of 15 on field goals this season, converting 13 in a row since the opener.
Others: Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer, Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, Florida’s Caleb Sturgis

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Florida’s Kyle Christy
Florida is a field position and defensive team this season, making Christy’s role critical. He’s delivered by averaging 46.4 yards on 29 kicks for a team that ranks fourth nationally in net punting.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Texas A&M’s Ryan Epperson, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
“Johnny Football” now holds the top two SEC single-game records for total offense with 576 total yards against Louisiana Tech and 557 against against Arkansas. That broke the record of 540 yards held by Ole Miss’ Archie Manning and LSU’s Rohan Davey.
Others: Georgia’s Todd Gurley, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Miami’s Duke Johnson, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Bill O’Brien, Penn State
No team faced more adversity this season than Penn State, which watched a handful of key players bolt via transfers after the NCAA announced crippling sanctions. Despite no postseason in the future and a dwindling of numbers, Penn State is much improved on offense. The Nittany Lions have scored at least 24 points in four consecutive games, a benchmark they reached only three times all of last season.
Others: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Rutgers’ Kyle Flood, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Our leader: Art Kaufman, Texas Tech
The idea of holding a team like West Virginia to two touchdowns would have been foreign to the Texas Tech defense a year ago when the Red Raiders ranked 113th in pass efficiency defense and 120th in run defense. Under the first-year defensive coordinator, Texas Tech ranks seventh in pass efficiency defense and 12th in run defense.
Others: Oregon State’s Mark Banker, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Alabama’s Kirby Smart, Washington’s Justin Wilcox

by David Fox

@davidfox615

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