Off The Boards By Jack Scheuer – December 23, 2015 Edition

Off The Boards
By Jack Scheuer
December 23, 2105 Edition
With the season about one quarter over, it’s time to predict which teams will make it to the Final Four, knowing that I’ll be pleased if even one of the picks turns out to be correct.
Right now, I think North Carolina is the best team in the country, with also has the best point guard in Marcus Paige.  Performers like Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson lead a talented and deep front court.  The Tar Heels can score and play good defense.
Michigan State has Denzel Valentine, arguably the top all-around player in the nation who is presently out up to 4 weeks with a knee injury, a fast-improving freshman in 6-10 Deyonta Davis, and a terrific coach in Tom Izzo.  It’s never a bad idea to pick the Spartans to reach the finals.
Virginia has another outstanding coach in Tony Bennett plus Malcolm Brogdan, a definite  All-America candidate. London Perrantes is an elite point guard, and 6-8 Anthony Gill scores and rebounds.  The Cavaliers get criticized for slowing the pace at times, but they make you play their game.
Speaking of scoring, that’s what Oklahoma does, and does well. Led by guard Buddy Hield  who gets you 20 every game, and a very solid big man in Ryan Spangler, the Sooners are a scary team.  Right now they are averaging 87.8 points a game, a pace that figures not to continue , but probably won’t have a big drop.
Why no Kentucky? I think losing seven one-and-doners all at once is too much to overcome in just one season.
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Saint Joe’s impressive win over Va.Tech gives the Hawks (9-2) their most wins this early since the magical 2003-04 season.  An expected victory over Md. Eastern Shore next Tuesday will mean a six game winning streak when they begin A-10 play at Richmond on January 2.  In addition to their scoring, Deandre’ Bembry and Isaiah Miles have been. hitting the boards with authority…. The Crash Brothers?
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Tough week for St. John’s rookie coach Chris Mullin.  The best player in the school’s history saw his team drop games to NJIT and Incarnate Word, neither of whom would hardly  be associated among the nation’s best.  And you get points if you know where Incarnate Word is located…. (San Antonio).
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Trivia Time:Who is the last National Player of the Year who averaged less than 15 points a game.? Hint: It happened within the last 30 years.  Answer at the end of the column.
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Sports Illustrated, which seems to be losing some of its prestige, for some odd reason recently named Duke’s Grayson Allen as last season’s College Player of the Year.  I really like Allen and he played great in the NCAA’s, but during the regular season averaged only four points a game.  Two of his teammates, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, or players like  Frank Kaminsky and Karl-Anthony Towns would certainly seem to be much more qualified for the honor.
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This and That: The Temple Owls are leading the country in fewest turnovers, 8.5 per game…. After 11 games, former Drexel star Damion Lee is averaging 17.9 for  10 – 1 Louisville…. Going into last nights game Archbishop Carroll’s Derrick Jones is getting 10.2 points per game at UNLV.  The 6-7 freshman is shooting 59% from the field….How about those Monmouth Hawks, who so far this season have defeated UCLA, Georgetown, Notre Dame, USC and Rutgers.  The coach is former Carolina point guard King Rice…..Games next week: Penn at Villanova, Drexel at Iona on Monday; Temple at Cincinnati on Tuesday, and reeling La Salle is off until December 31 at Florida Gulf Coast.
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Answer to Trivia Time: In 1984-85 , National Player of the Year Patrick Ewing averaged 14.6 points per game.
And a Merry Christmas to all!

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