THE WEEK’S BEST COLLEGE B-BALL MATCHUPS ON TAP – WE TAKE YOU RIGHT THRU SUNDAY’S ACTION …
OUR EARLY-BIRD NFL MOCK DRAFT – IT’S NOW TIME FOR PICKS #21-THRU-#32
There’s an avalanche of great College Basketball matchups between now — that’s Thursday, Feb. 13 — thru Sunday, Feb. 16 and so let’s zoom through what we consider to be the “best game of the day” while the NBA folks are busy gearing up for its annual All-Star Game on Sunday Night (8 p.m. Eastern time, TNT):
Thursday, Feb. 13 …
#16 COLORADO (19-5, 8-3) at #17 OREGON (18-6, 7-4) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The CU Buffaloes and the OU Ducks are running one-two in this year’s Pac-12 race — and now Colorado’s looking for the regular-season sweep following a 74-65 win / cover back in early January when G McKinley Wright IV scored 11 of his 21 points in the game’s final five minutes to clinch the conference tilt. If Oregon’s gonna “hold serve” here then the Ducks better shoot it well from three-point land – they didn’t can a single trifecta till the second half in that first meeting.
Friday, Feb. 14 …
YALE (17-5, 5-1) at PRINCETON (10-9, 5-1) – 7 p.m.ET, ESPW
The Ivy League co-leaders clash for the first of two times between now and “Leap Year Day” on February 29th – if Yalies’ F Paul Atkinson (16.7 ppg) and G Azar Swain (16.4 ppg) can get in a rhythm here than James Jones’ squad will be back on top by themselves in the better-than-you-think Ivies. P.S., Yale is a delicious 15-5 ATS (against the spread) this year; Princeton’s covered eight of its last 10 tilts.
Saturday, Feb. 15 …
#14 WEST VIRGINIA (18-5, 6-4) at #1 BAYLOR (22-1, 11-0) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The nation’s numero uno team — the Baylor Bears – have been cashin’ plenty this year with a 15-8 spread log that includes a solid 8-3 pointspread in all Big 12 games: Now, Scott Drew’s squad puts its snazzy defense (ranked 4th in Division 1 play while allowing just 58.3 ppg) against a WVU Mountaineers team that surrenders just 61.7 ppg (18th-best in D-1 hoops). First team to 60 points wins here? Hey, Bob Huggins’ club is 8-4 ATS since late December.
Sunday, Feb. 16 …
#4 SAN DIEGO STATE (25-0, 14-0) at BOISE STATE (17-9, 9-5) – 4 p.m.ET, CBS Sports Network
The country’s lone unbeaten team – yes, these San Diego State Aztecs – look to stay perfect here in Boise: Hey, the ‘Tecs rank 5th nationally in scoring defense and you cannot sleep on G Malachi Flynn who is averaging 16.4 ppg and co-leads Brian Dutcher’s club with 54 made trifectas (same as G Jordan Schakel). Note that San Diego State is a snazzy 16-6-1 spreadwise following Tuesday’s 82-59 triumph over 15.5-point pup New Mexico.
NFL DRAFT TALK 2020
Okay, so we’re just a little bit more than a full week removed from the conclusion of the NFL season but already there’s plenty of bubbling talk about the upcoming NFL Draft. Here’s some of what may happen as we head towards April 23rd as we deliver our projected picks #21 thru #32, but first we repeat our top 20 selections:
1. CINCINNATI – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. WASHINGTON — Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
3. DETROIT – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
4. NY GIANTS – Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia
5. MIAMI – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
6. LA CHARGERS -Jedrick Willis, OL, Alabama
7. CAROLINA – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
8. ARIZONA – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
9. JACKSONVILLE, Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
10. CLEVELAND – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
11. NY JETS – Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville
12. LAS VEGAS — Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
13. INDIANAPOLIS – Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
14. TAMPA BAY – A.J. Epenesa, Edge Rusher, Iowa
15. DENVER – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
16. ATLANTA – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
17. DALLAS – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
18. MIAMI – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
19. LAS VEGAS – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
20. JACKSONVILLE – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Now, here’s the remainder of our early-bird NFL Mock Draft …
21. PHILADELPHIA (9-7) – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson: No question the Eagles need some playmakers for QB Carson Wentz (and it would help if they stayed healthy, too!) and so NFC East guys snatch up this 6-foot-4ish target.
22. BUFFALO (10-6) – Grant Delpit, S, LSU: The Bills love their current “D” but they need depth and another playmaker (not enough turnovers last year). Delpit’s maturity a big key in why the Bills go here instead of O-line support.
23. NEW ENGLAND (12-4) – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington: Okay, so whether six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady bids farewell or not this spring, the fact is the Patriots need a “quarterback of the future”, right?
24. NEW ORLEANS (13-3) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: As long as we’re talking about a “quarterback of the future” then let’s lock in Love here even though we believe QB Drew Brees will be back for one mo’ year.
25. MINNESOTA (10-6) – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge Rusher, LSU: The fact that we have this cat-quick Bayou Bengals star dropping into the latter portion of Round I will force the Vikings to act even though they could use some offensive line help.
26. MIAMI (5-11) – Josh Jones, OL, Houston: This marks the third pick in Round I for the Fish (see QB Tagovailoa and CB Diggs – both from ‘Bama) and they just have to address the blocking wall that caved in at times in the 2019 season.
27. SEATTLE (11-5) – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge Rusher, Penn State: Truth is the Seahawks could turn their first-round attention anywhere but “best available pass rusher” is highest priority especially since Jadeveon Clowney could be waving bye-bye.
28. BALTIMORE (14-2) – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma: The Ravens roared to the NFL’s best regular-season record a year ago but there’s still some areas of need and either a ‘backer or DB is on the team’s first-round shopping list.
29. TENNESSEE (9-7) – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia: Getting all the way to the AFC Championship Game following road playoff wins in New England and Baltimore was a real blast for the Titans but the secondary was “exposed” a bit in that 35-24 loss at Kansas City.
30. GREEN BAY (13-3) – Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU: The Packers would love to bone up both their O-line and D-line and go “D” here with this 6-foot-4,310-pounder who really can clog the middle.
31. SAN FRANCISCO (13-3) – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida: Time for the Super Bowl-losing 49ers to get a lock-down corner opposite veteran Richard Sherman or a guy who can eventually take over for Mr. Sherman.
32. KANSAS CITY (12-4) – Curtis Weaver, Edge Rusher, Boise State: Hail to the Chiefs for winning SB 54 but no time to rest on their collective laurels and more pass rush heat is on the way here.
NOTE: Catch our annual NBA Report Card Grades this weekend – we get you the Eastern Conference in tomorrow’s column.