Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Badgers Might Make NCAA Tournament in 2016

Badgers basketball 2016

Four weeks ago the Wisconsin Badgers were 1-4 in Big Ten Conference play, 9-9 overall, nowhere near the NCAA Tournament, and pretty much left for dead. That was four weeks ago. Since then the Badgers have rattled off five solid wins in row.  Is this the "turn around" for Wisconsin? We think so.

The first one was the big eye opener, when they stunned Michigan State in the final seconds to upset the highly ranked Spartans 77-76. Junior guard Bronson Koenig had 27 points and four assists. Junior forward Nigel Hayes had 25 points and seven rebounds. Four days later the Badgers traveled to Penn State and defeated a very improved Nittany Lions team 66-60. This time the star was freshman forward Ethan Happ, who finished the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The following Tuesday the Badgers once again stunned the nation when they defeated 19th ranked Indiana 82-79 in overtime despite 30 points and 7 rebounds from Indiana's superstar guard Yogi Ferrell. Nigel Hayes answered Ferrell's 30 with 31 points of his own. Ethan Happ had another strong performance, this time with 25 points and 8 rebounds. The following Sunday, the Badgers traveled to Illinois and had another solid defensive performance, holding the Illini to just 55 points. For the Badgers, Hayes had 17 points and Koenig had 11 in a 63-55 victory. Last Thursday, the Badgers put together another strong performance, this time at home against Ohio State, winning 79-68. Four starters reached double figures in scoring, led by Nigel Hayes with 21 points.

Despite the five game winning streak, the Badgers haven't done nearly enough. They need to do more. Fortunately for them, they will have a chance to do more. Following their home game on Wednesday against Nebraska, in which the tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the  Big Ten Network has the broadcast, the Badgers have crucial back to back games on the road against fourth ranked Maryland and 10th ranked Michigan State. The Saturday game against Maryland is set for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off and ESPN has the broadcast. The game the following Thursday against Michigan State is set for an 8 p.m. tip-off and once again, ESPN has the broadcast. Following that Thursday match-up against the Spartans, the Badgers come home to take on Illinois. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Three days later the Badgers travel to Iowa to take on the 5th ranked Hawkeyes and Wooden Award candidate Jarrod Uthoff. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Following the game against Iowa, the Badgers have a home game on February 28th against Michigan. The Badgers then finish the regular season on Sunday, March 2nd, at home against Minnesota. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

As I put my analyzing cap on now, in my opinion, the Badgers need to, not it would help, need to, as MUST win one of those three road games against ranked opponents if they want to make the NCAA Tournament as an at large without needing to run the table in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. They also can't afford to slip against the other three opponents either. Their best shot would be against Iowa.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Badgers Will Not Make the 2016 NCAA Tournament | Which Big Ten Teams Will?

NCAA tournament
In this post, let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each Big Ten team that has, at the very least, a reasonable chance of making the NCAA Tournament. I have six teams listed, and that means that I don't think that the Badgers will make the tournament this year. 

Indiana- The 17th ranked Indiana Hoosiers are a mild surprise, sitting atop of the Big Ten at the moment tied for first place. This team's strength is guard play, especially from Big Ten player of the year candidate Yogi Ferrell. What concerns me the most is their interior size. The Hoosiers only have one play who is 6'10” or taller. The next biggest are several players tied at 6'8”. I know, I know, George Mason ran all the way to the Final Four without a player over 6'8” years ago. However, they took advantage of some major upsets in their very weak bracket and avoided playing anyone with serious size until they met Florida in the Final Four, and ran up against all those trees on the Gators roster.

Iowa- The Iowa Hawkeyes, currently ranked 3rd in the AP poll, are tied with Indiana on top of the Big Ten standings. Their strength is the fact that they have an All-American candidate in senior forward Jarrod Utoff who can take over a game. The weakness is the fact that other than Utoff and his sidekick, junior guard Peter Jok, they don't have much else.

Maryland- The 8th ranked Maryland Terrapins are a dangerous team lurking right below Iowa and Indiana in the standings. The Terrapins are one of the most balanced teams in the nation as they have five players averaging double figures in scoring. They also have really good size which, at the collegiate level at least, usually equates to good interior defense, and in this case, is. The problem I see with Maryland is the fact that they don't have that one player who can take over a game.

Michigan- The Wolverines are tied with the Terrapins right below Iowa and Indiana in the Big Ten standings. Michigan is a guard-oriented team, and have that player, in senior guard Caris LeVert, who can take over a game. The Wolverines also shoot 74% from the free throw line as a team, which is very good. What is going to be their downfall is their complete lack of size on the interior.

Purdue- The 21st ranked Boilermakers, much like Maryland, are very balanced, with four players averaging double figures in scoring. Also like Michigan, Purdue shoots 74% from the free throw line as a team. They also have one of the most coveted aspects at the collegiate level, a pair of seven footers that are skilled and dominate the paint. So what is the problem with these Boilermakers? The concern is whether or not their guards can do enough as unit to change the outcome of a game.

Michigan State- The 12th ranked Spartans have fallen on some tough times, having lost three in a row. Their biggest strength is they have one of the best players in the country in senior do-it-all guard Denzel Valentine, who can just take over a game with the best of them. The problem with this team is after Valentine, not much else, which could explain the three losses in a row.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Who Will Win the Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, and National Championship Games?

NCAA Football 2016
We are just days away from the college football playoffs semi-finals, and it looks like the powers that be in the NCAA are pretty happy with what's on tap. Will a dominant winner emerge in the upcoming football games? Let's see what's coming up for the new year.

Game #1, Peach Bowl, #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Clemson

This will be a super fast paced game. Baker Mayfield, the former Texas Tech Red Raider, who transferred to Oklahoma, is having himself a monster season. Through 12 games, Mayfield has 3,389 yards passing, 35 touchdowns, and just five interceptions to go along with a quarterback rating of 178.9. His ace receiver is senior Sterling Shepard. So far this season, Shepard has 79 catches for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns. He will need to have a big game if Oklahoma is going to pull off a win. On the other side you have the best team in the country, and the lone unbeaten, the Clemson Tigers. Their quarterback, Deshaun Watson, has 4,399 yards from scrimmage and 41 touchdowns so far this season. He has turned the ball over 11 times, but he is only a sophomore, and this is his first season as a starter. Protecting the football will be vital in a game like this. I expect this to be an up and down contest with Clemson winning 45-38.

Game #2, Orange Bowl, #3 Michigan State vs. #2 Alabama

The first game will be a shootout. This game will be a war. The first game will be a track meet up and down the field. In this game, these two teams are going to beat the crap out of each other for 60 minutes and whoever is still standing wins. For Michigan State, it is all about senior quarterback Connor Cook, who could potentially be a top ten draft choice next year. He will need to find a way to make enough plays against this vaunted defense to make a difference. On the other side, you have Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry for the Crimson Tide. Henry will have to find enough holes against this tough Spartan defense to make a difference. Bottom line, stats don't matter in this one, and this is going to be a flat out war. Final score, Michigan State wins 19-16 on a walk-off field goal.

National Championship Game, Clemson vs. Michigan State

The unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. With both teams locked down on stopping the other one's quarterback, it will be up to the running backs to decide this one. You would think this would favor Clemson, right? Wrong. I am going to go out on a limb here, and say that L.J. Scott has the game of his life, running for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns as Michigan State stuns the world, beating Clemson 31-27 and winning the national championship.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 NCAA Bowl Game Predictions | Badgers Head to Holiday Bowl

2015 Bowl Game List
Yes, that's right, the NCAA Bowl Game season is upon us. That mean's it's time for 37 million pointless college football games before the two that matter on New Years Eve. Let's look at some of the notable ones.

Foster Farms Bowl, UCLA vs. Nebraska- Nebraska had a tough grind this season to get to a bowl game. UCLA features the best freshman in the country in QB Josh Rosen. This one is a win for the Bruins 34-20.

Military Bowl, Pittsburgh vs. Navy- The Panthers were once in the outside mix for the college football playoffs. Navy has one of it's best teams ever. This is going to be a cakewalk for the Midshipmen, 41-17.

Armed Forces Bowl, California vs. Air Force- This will be your last chance to see Jared Goff play a college football game. Goff is a potential first overall draft choice. The Golden Bears win this one 45-24.

Russell Athletic Bowl, North Carolina vs. Baylor- If you didn't know what was going on with Baylor this season, you would think this was the matchup of the bowl season. However, the Bears are down to their 27th or whatever it is string quarterback and are facing a red hot Tar Heel team that almost stunned Clemson in the ACC championship Tar Heels win this game 52-24.

Holiday Bowl, USC vs. Wisconsin- In the past, the Holiday Bowl has been one of the highest scoring contests of the bowl season. That isn't happening this time around though. The Badgers are beyond lousy on offense and most Badgers fans can't wait to get Joel Stave out of town. USC wins this one easily 31-6.

Peach Bowl, Florida State vs. Houston- Cougars QB Greg Ward is one of the most dynamic players in the nation, and leads Houston to a semi-upset in this game 38-30.

Citrus Bowl, Michigan vs. Florida- In his first season in Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines in the Citrus Bowl, a pretty solid feat. This one is going to be a defensive war, with the Wolverines winning 17-10.

Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame vs. Ohio State- This is my personal least favorite of the New Years Six but I will take the Buckeyes in this game 24-13.

Rose Bowl, Stanford vs. Iowa- “Ohhhh Yeaaaaa” this is going to be as pro-style of a game as you will see at the collegiate level. These two teams are going to beat the crap out of each other for 60 minutes with Stanford willing 23-16.

Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi- The Cowboys are hot, and win this one 48-31.