Five role players that will make or break their teams.

Stars in college basketball will get the headlines. In college basketball the game is more about a team concept.  Rarely do you have a team that is star drive go win the whole thing. Virginia was loaded with key players that were all assets to their eventual championship.  I want to highlight the players people don’t talk about enough that could be the reason their team makes it deep into March Madness.  

*These players will be from power conference teams.

Quincy McKnight, Seton Hall

Most common college basketball fans know that Seton Hall is Myles Powells team.  When Powell is not on his game it is the senior point gaurd Qunicy McKnight that picks up the slack. McKnight is veteran that isn’t afaid of prime time competetion.  His ability to run the offense and create off the dribble will open up the floor for Myles Powell and Sandro (Not trying to spell last name). 

In the NCAA tournament McKnight will have to force the defense to pay attention to him, his 84% free throw shooting will also be a huge advantage for the Pirates.  He will be the guy forced to take the ball against top defensive teams that will not allow the ball into Powell’s hands.  

Marcus Garrett, Kansas

Who doesn’t know Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike.  The unsung hero of KU is Junior Guard Marcus Garrett.  Garrett is a solid two way player that has shown up in the big moments of the season. Garrett showed his potential this weekend taking over the game agaisnt Oklahoma after Kansas got off to a slow start.  Garrett’s defense has alwasy been his trademark but it was his ability to shoot the three that shocked most fans, knocking down nine of them.  

If Garrett can provide the outside shot to go along with his defense he will be the difference maker for Kansas in the tourney.

Chris Clarke, Texas Tech

The popular sleeper team in college basketball is Texas Tech.  They have flashy scorers in Jahmi’us Ramsey, Davide Moretti and Kyler Edwards steal the headlines. It’s the Virgnia Tech transfer Chris Clarke that provides the grit work for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech has the skilled players to compete with anyone.  What they lack is the power on the inside to compete with the big boys of college basketball. Clarke’s toughness is a necessity for last year’s runner up to the national title. His perfromances against K-State, Louisville and Kentucky all carried the team to victories or near victories (Kentucky).  

Toughness and experience are what seems to be lacking from Texas Tech.  His ability to help run the offense and help thems stay up tempo will be important downt he stretch. 

Daryl Morsell, Maryland Terrapins

Maryland has issues. Their ridiculous talent can overshadow their ineffeciencies. Daryl Morsell is a player that has become a key player in their big matchups.  Wins over Illinois and Rutgers showed off the potential stat stuffing ability of Morsell. Morsell is currently shooting 36% from three, which is a huge improvement over last season 28%.  The Terrapins have issues shooting the ball, if Morsell can provide the threat from distance it will make their ridiulously athletic point guard Anthony Cowan even tougher to defend.  

Morsell is the third leading scorer on Maryland behind the aforementioned Cowan and NBA prospect Jalen Smith.   Morsell will be the player that gets the open looks and if he hits this team has final four written all over them.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was a highly rated recruit, the freshman forward has lived up to the rating.  Averaging 10 points and nearly 9 boards a game is nice but his ability to play the five in an uptempo Villanova offense has allowed them to play at a faster rate.  

Robinson-Earl is matchup nightmare for traditional bigs and has the ability to post up opposing players that match his size.  Colin Gillespie and Saddiq Bey are the guys that catch the headlines but Robinson Earl is the guy that allows them to before by cleaning up the glass.  If you question the freshman at all check his game logs against higher level competition. His play will determine where this team goes.

CBB Picks ATS 2.23.19

Tennessee Volunteers at LSU Tigers

Tennessee was primed to make a statement last week in Lexington. They had control of the SEC and could bury the “mighty” Kentucky Wildcats.  Instead they saw an end to their 20-game winning streak and found themselves just one game up the aforementioned Wildcats and their opponents on Saturday the LSU Tigers.

This is a matchup of offensive teams both ranking in the top ten in scoring in all of college basketball.  The difference on Saturday will be the ability of either team to establish themselves on the defensive end.  In LSU’s loss to Florida on Wednesday night the Tigers were unable to adjust to a Florida that tried to slow down the pace. If Tennessee is able to establish a slower pace and dominate the ball control LSU will not be able to adjust.

We have seen the Volunteers win scrappy games when they have to.   I like Jordan Bone holding Tremont Waters in check and the Volunteers to prevail on the road.  I’m not going to worry about last week or the Rick Barnes curse.  Give me the Volunteers in a huge SEC game.

Pick: Tennessee -1

Ohio State Buckeyes at Maryland Terrapins

Every week I look at Maryland and see a potential second weekend team.  It could be my love for the traditional big that you really only see in college basketball.  Bruno Fernando is a throwback to the basketball I watched as a kid.  Throw it to the big man and impose your will.  The sophomore center enjoyed his matchup in Columbus putting up 13 point and 15 rebounds.  He will be on the attack early against Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson whom was no match in the first meeting.  If Wesson gets into foul trouble the deficiencies of Ohio State’s depth will show.

Neither team will bring a potent offensive attack, but if Maryland is able to avoid a sluggish start that they are known for they should be able to coast to an easy victory at home.  They also have to find a way to cut down on their turnovers.  If they play smart and feed Fernando early it will open up looks for the slick shooting freshman guard Aaron Wiggins whom has hit 9 of 18 from behind the arc over the teams last 3 games. 

Maryland is 3-0 ATS in their last three home games.  Give me Maryland to cover. Take care of the ball!

Pick: Maryland -6.5

Duke Blue Devils at Syracuse Orange

We all know Duke without Zion Williamson is going to cause some problems.  What is being ignored is that a healthy Tre Jones is back in the lineup for the Blue Devils.  In the first matchup his injury forced the Blue Devils to run the point with RJ Barrett and company.  With Jones as the helm Barrett will be free to work inside the Syracuse zone.  His ability to create at the top of the key will be a huge factor.  I assume Coach K will utilize one of his big’s in Zion’s spot, while that may be the game plan to start don’t be surprised to see a lot of sharp shooting sophomore Alex O’Connell. 

Syracuse shot lights out in the first matchup, Frank Howard will have the defense of Tre Jones hounding him all night which will lead to more turnovers not allowing the Orange to set their press.  Duke has the superior athletes even without Zion.  If utilized correctly they should cover the spread.

Pick: Duke -4.5

Other games I like:

Illinois/Penn State Under 145.5

MO State/ Indiana State Under 131.5

Purdue -5

Marquette -3

Texas +3.5

Kansas State -10.5

SLU +6.5