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  1. #1
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    Default The Bum's 2016 NCAA Basketball News-Trends-Picks !

    Duke runaway No. 1 in AP Top 25
    October 31, 2016


    Duke is in a familiar place to open the college basketball season.

    The Blue Devils are the runaway choice for No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 on Monday. It is the eighth time Duke has held the preseason No. 1 ranking. North Carolina has the most preseason No. 1s with nine and UCLA also has eight.

    The Blue Devils, who return three starters from last season's team and have what is considered one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, received 58 of the 65 first-place votes from the national media panel.

    Kentucky, which had two No. 1 votes, is second, while Kansas is third. Defending national champion Villanova had four first-place votes and was fourth while Oregon, which had the other No. 1 vote, is fifth.

    North Carolina, Xavier, Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona round out the top 10.

    Indiana is 11th followed by Michigan State, Louisville, Gonzaga, Purdue, UCLA, Saint Mary's, Connecticut, Syracuse and West Virginia.

    The last five ranked teams are Texas, Creighton, Rhode Island, Iowa State and Maryland.

    The first time Duke was a preseason No. 1 was 1978-79 and the most recent was 2010-11.

    "It is always an honor to be ranked No. 1," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We understand that no teams have played a regular season game at this point, so many things can and often do change throughout the course of a college basketball season. Certainly, we're excited that people think highly of our team, and the ACC as a whole."

    The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten are tied with five ranked teams each while the Big 12 has four. Nine conferences have at least one team ranked in the preseason poll.

    Duke, which was 19th in last season's final poll, lost to Oregon in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 1 ranking is Duke's 128th, six behind all-time leader UCLA.

    North Carolina was No. 1 in last season's preseason Top 25 and the Tar Heels reached the national championship game, losing to Villanova on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

    Kansas extended the nation's longest consecutive poll streak with its 143rd straight Top 25, a run that started on Feb. 3, 2009. Arizona is next with 79 followed by Iowa State with 57 and Villanova with 55.

    The first regular-season poll will be Monday, Nov. 14. The first of the top early season matchups will be the following day when Duke faces Kansas and Michigan State plays Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Here's a look at a very early bracket
    November 4, 2016


    It's pretty safe to say that as soon as Kris Jenkins' 3-pointer made Villanova a national champion, somebody predicted what the 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket would look like.

    Waiting until the start of the season doesn't seem to be too smart of an idea either, but what the heck? Here's one man's early predictions for March Madness, which is four months and approximately 10,500 games away.

    This won't be a line-by-line breakdown, but rather a cut-and-run look at what might happen.

    EARLY ROUNDS: The first question always is, will a 16 seed beat a No. 1 for the first time? Not this season. There just doesn't seem to be any champions from the low Division I conferences that can pull the monumental upset. Watch Texas Southern of the Southwestern Athletic Conference be the one that scares a tournament favorite.

    There has to be a No. 12 beating a 5 (it's not in the rule book, but close) and this year's dandy dozen will be Princeton. The Tigers are a veteran team that should emerge from the Ivy League and then ruin the tournament for a possible 5 seed like Rhode Island. The other could be No. 12 Belmont of the Ohio Valley Conference against a Big 12 team like Texas.

    For those fans of close seedings, the 8-9 games are always entertaining and usually close. Four 8-9 winners could be Notre Dame, Iowa State, San Diego State and Colorado.

    Of those four winners, watch for Notre Dame and Iowa State to knock off No. 1 seeds Kansas and Villanova, meaning no repeat champion.

    REGIONAL ROUNDS:
    Having sent two No. 1s home early, it will be Duke and North Carolina carrying on the mantle for the favorites.

    The No. 2 seeds in Kansas and Villanova's brackets are Oregon and Kentucky and they move on to the regional finals where they both lose, the Ducks to West Virginia and the Wildcats to Louisville in the most-hyped game of the tournament and one that is the epitome of an intrastate rivalry.

    Duke and North Carolina knock off No. 4 seeds UCLA and Michigan State to reach the Final Four as No. 1 seeds.

    It's Wisconsin and Virginia moving on to the Final Four with the wins over Oregon and Kentucky.

    FINAL FOUR: Despite the pleas of many, the Final Four will be held in Glendale, Arizona, rather than moving it to Tobacco Road for the Blue Devils against the Tar Heels. Virginia, which gives the Atlantic Coast Conference three teams in the national semifinals, beats Wisconsin in a defensive battle. Duke finds a way to beat the Tar Heels, with the freshmen playing a huge role for Mike Krzyzewski.

    An all-ACC matchup between Duke and Virginia goes to the Blue Devils, title No. 7 for Coach K.

    DISCLAIMER: Everything listed above is just a guess unless it really happens; then it was a well-thought out selection based on extensive knowledge.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    New-look WCC features NBA pedigrees
    November 4, 2016


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Herb Sendek walks across Santa Clara's campus from his Leavey Center office to the iconic Mission church and stops for a moment at his favorite landmark. It's a special spot for a brief respite from the fundamentals-focused basketball preparation with his Broncos.

    While Sendek is busy rebuilding men's basketball at Santa Clara, Damon Stoudamire and Terry Porter have brought some serious NBA pedigree to coaching in the mid-major West Coast Conference trying to get their programs on track. Add to the list of new faces first-year San Francisco coach Kyle Smith, fresh off an impressive six-year run at Columbia.

    The league, still largely unheralded despite its decades-long run of postseason success, is suddenly boasting some high-profile coaching names to go along with the old staples of No. 14 Gonzaga's Mark Few and Randy Bennett at 17th-ranked Saint Mary's, which might have one of its best teams yet after a 29-win season . The Zags and Gaels shared the WCC regular-season crown last season and are picked by the coaches to go 1-2.

    ''I have a very healthy respect for the West Coast Conference and I really believe it's on the verge of exploding,'' said Sendek, back on the bench following a year away after his dismissal at Arizona State . ''Clearly you have the top tier that has been dominant for the last many years but you also sense a renewed commitment from the other schools to be even more competitive. It's a terrific basketball league.''

    In Portland, Porter sometimes points to examples of NBA players emerging from the WCC to make big impacts at the next level.

    Smith, who went 101-82 at Columbia with a Collegeinsider.com Tournament title and 25-10 record last season, is hardly new to the WCC yet now takes on a storied program determined to be a regular contender again. A former top assistant under Bennett at Saint Mary's who also worked at San Diego, he has connections to several programs and most of the other coaches.

    ''I coached in the league for 17 years and I've always thought it's really the one league I know, so I think it's a great time,'' Smith said. ''Over the last five years you've had three programs that have emerged and they've been good, they've kind of gotten to the top, and it looks like some other programs are really trying to regain some of their past glory and make it interesting. I think they will, and I think it will be healthy for the league with these new coaches. It's a big investment trying to make the league better.''

    Porter rarely speaks of his own playing experiences while chuckling and noting, ''they're so young'' and won't remember him anyway. Rick Adelman has stopped by Pilots practice to provide ''another set of eyes on things,'' and Porter speaks to his former coach with the Spurs, Gregg Popovich, on occasion for any tips on starting something new and building a system - and family atmosphere.

    ''It's personal core values and me being on championship-caliber teams sharing what do we hold true and what helped us be successful,'' Porter said.

    Smith's ties to Bennett are just a start in the close-knit conference.

    Porter's son, Franklin, played for Bennett in the suburban East Bay hills of Moraga.

    Bennett is thrilled to see the WCC generate more attention with all the change.

    ''I knew Terry because of Franklin. He's just a class act,'' Bennett said. ''I've known Damon Stoudamire since he was about 15 and always considered him a really good guy, and a guy that's a friend. I've known Herb and have a lot of respect for him as a coach. We've gotten to know each other because he's been out West. Obviously Kyle, I have a long history with and a really good friend.

    ''All four of them I know, it's pretty cool that way ... good, talented people. It's going to help the league. The league's going to get stronger.''

    Sendek's own coaching tree is strong: He has watched 12 of his former assistants or other staff members become Division I head coaches. He has found a good fit.

    ''I do feel refreshed,'' he said.

    All of the new coaches are realizing challenges with starting fresh.

    Porter accepted the job right before his players took finals, then they went their separate ways for the summer. So he has spent much of the preseason finding a groove.

    ''Being around them and talking about some of our team identities and trying to build some of those things, it was something we've had to get into a little bit later,'' he said. ''The guys have really embraced it.''

    New Golden State Warriors top assistant Mike Brown played at San Diego for Bennett and also knows Smith, Few, Porter and Stoudamire. Brown's allegiances will stay in Southern California with the Toreros and coach Lamont Smith, an ex-USD player and another former Saint Mary's assistant.

    Brown is eager to watch Bennett - who has been turning up at Golden State practices this fall - face off with good friend-turned rival Kyle Smith.

    ''This is a big-time conference,'' Brown said. ''This conference is not an easy conference. It will be interesting to see how both those guys do. I'm sure they'll do great. I'm glad I'm so close to be able to pop in and catch a game. It's going to be a fun year for the West Coast Conference.''

    The WCC sent three of its then-eight teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 for the first time then again in 2012 once BYU joined the 10-team league.

    ''The coaching and the turnover this year has changed dramatically but you still have the two major staples in Mark and Randy,'' Porter said. ''It's going to be fun to see the conference get after it.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    New Mexico pushing to contend again
    November 3, 2016


    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Even though four starters are back, this will be a new-look New Mexico team since the coach's son has left the program to finish his career at Ole Miss.

    An often tumultuous relationship between point guard Cullen Neal and the fans in the town where he grew up led to his departure and leaves the Lobos minus one returning starter.

    ''Cullen doesn't play for me,'' coach Craig Neal said in responding to a question about his son. ''You have to go to Ole Miss press conferences.''

    Still, his absence will have an impact.

    ''Any time you lose somebody who was going to be your fifth starter, it's different. It affects you,'' coach Neal said.

    But with a solid nucleus of returning players, the Lobos seek to return to the postseason after a disappointing two-year absence.

    Leading the way for New Mexico will be a pair of first-team all-Mountain West players in guard Elijah Brown, who led the conference in scoring at 21.7, and power forward Tim Williams, who averaged 16.8.

    It's led to optimism that the Lobos will be back to challenge for the conference crown again.

    ''We had some really high moments and we had some really low moments,'' Neal said. ''Now we're looking for more consistency. I'm really excited because these guys are a year older. I think we're on an uptick. The program is on an uptick from where we thought it was going to be.''

    Here are some things to consider as the Lobos chase San Diego State for Mountain West supremacy:

    WHAT'S THE POINT: Cullen Neal's departure - he can play right away and will have two seasons of eligibility as a graduate transfer - leaves a gaping hole at point guard. But coach Neal is convinced returning sophomore Jordan Hunter and incoming freshman Jalen Harris will be effective.

    ''Hopefully, we'll figure it out real soon,'' Neal said. ''It won't take very long to figure out who's going to be that fifth guy. I think Jordan and Jalen Harris will be able to do a good job.''

    EXPERIENCED HANDS: Guard Sam Logwood and rail-thin 7-footer Obij Aget are the other returning starters, while six other Lobos also saw minutes last season, led by versatile Xavier Adams, who saw time at forward, off guard and shooting guard.

    ''We're excited about where we are as a team,'' Neal said. ''We're excited about our depth athletically. I like out athletic ability. I think we have some frontcourt depth this year that we didn't have. I think we can play Xavier Adams at a couple of different positions with his energy and glue and making different little plays.''

    NEWCOMER NUANCES:
    Of the players new to the Lobos, Arizona State transfer Connor MacDougall is gathering the most attention. A 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore, MacDougall played in six games for the Sun Devils before deciding to move on.

    ''I wish we had him last year,'' Neal said. ''He does a lot of good things. He can rebound it. He's active. He's big, he's strong. He can score the ball. He's got great hands. He gives us another guy we can go to on the block.''

    WHERE'S THE D:
    The Lobos under Neal and former coach Steve Alford were always defense-oriented. Last year, New Mexico's defense suffered, allowing more than 73 points a game, and it got even worse as the Lobos played out the string.

    ''We have to get better on the defensive end,'' Neal said. ''The last six games last year, we gave up 77 points a game and we can't turn the ball over like we did last year.''

    BROWN HAMSTRUNG:
    For the Lobos to have any real chance of getting back into the Mountain West upper echelon, Brown has to be at the top of his game. But he has been sitting out of practice as he recuperates from a hamstring problem that arose at the end of last season. On the pre-season Jerry West Award watch list, Brown is a capable outside shooter who can also drive the lane. But not when he's hindered.

    ''It's concerning because it's still bothering him,'' Neal said. ''We're trying to get him as well as we can and get him 100 percent. I'm not going to put him out there at 80 or 85 with a chance of him getting hurt again. It's a lingering situation.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Xavier looks for sequel to season
    November 3, 2016


    CINCINNATI (AP) The highest preseason ranking in Xavier's history was met with a shrug in the locker room. These Musketeers have gotten accustomed to the breakthroughs.

    No. 7 Xavier put together one of the finest seasons in its history, one that ended with one of its biggest disappointments. A second-round loss to Wisconsin during the NCAA Tournament ended the run prematurely. And now, the Musketeers are back for an encore.

    ''We talked about it as a team,'' guard J.P. Macura said. ''We figured we're going to come back stronger this year and kind of put it past us.''

    Xavier returns the nucleus of a team that went 28-6, was ranked No. 5 for five weeks - the highest ranking in school history - and finished second behind Villanova in the Big East. The Musketeers went 6-1 against Top 25 teams and 3-0 against Top 10 teams, and got the first NCAA No. 2 seed in school history.

    Their burst into national prominence prepared them for more of the same.

    ''We've already had that experience, going through it for a year,'' junior guard Trevon Bluiett said. ''It's kind of like we know what to expect rather than just running around like chickens. I think last year definitely prepared us for this year.''

    The Musketeers return four of their top six scorers in Bluiett (15.1 points per game), Myles Davis (10.8), point guard Edmond Sumner (11) and Macura (9.4). Davis, a senior guard, is suspended indefinitely while facing misdemeanor charges alleging he damaged his former girlfriend's property.

    Their biggest loss is on the front line. Forwards James Farr and Jalen Reynolds combined for more than 14 rebounds per game last season. It'll be more of a group effort this time around.

    ''We're going to look different,'' coach Chris Mack said. ''That's what college basketball is all about. We may not have one or two guys like a year ago who average close to double figures.''

    Some things to watch:

    QUICKER BLUIETT:
    The 6-foot-6 guard dropped his weight from 217 pounds to 194 in the offseason, trying to add quickness and strength. His teammates and coaches have noticed a difference in practice.

    ''What's changed is his ability to sustain his level of play,'' Mack said. ''It does make him quicker, so I'd like to see him add an ability to get to the rim more than he has in years past. If anything, it should give Trevon the ability to sustain the level of play.''

    SUMNER GROWS UP:
    Sumner averaged 3.6 assists as a redshirt freshman last season. He showed an ability to dash past defenders for acrobatic moves to the hoop but too often took a difficult shot instead of passing. His charging call set up Wisconsin's winning shot in the tournament. He's more of a vocal leader in practice and showing a more rounded game.

    ''When he gets to the rim, he makes better decisions,'' Mack said. ''He doesn't force shots. He's finding those (open) guys really, really well.''

    GATES REHAB: The Musketeers are looking for 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Kaiser Gates to grow into a big role after averaging 10 minutes, 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds last season. He tore cartilage in his left knee and had surgery on Oct. 21. He's expected back on the court in about two weeks.

    NEWCOMERS:
    Senior forward RaShid Gaston sat out last season after transferring from Norfolk State. Forward Malcolm Bernard, a graduate student from Florida A&M, also will help. Freshman guards Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin will ease into playing time.

    ''I would say Tyrique Jones has kind of stood out because he's a freshman but he's not playing like a freshman,'' Bluiett said. ''We need him to play a big role for us. One other guy that stands out to me is Malcolm. He's completely transformed his game.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Villanova has sights set on repeat
    November 3, 2016


    VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Villanova slipped on the national championship rings, raised the national championship banner and hit the road on a victory circuit that had almost as many stops as a Wiz Khalifa summer tour.

    Khalifa even made a cameo appearance at Villanova as part of a championship celebration. The Wildcats shared laughs with President Barack Obama. Rollie Massimino danced at the title party.

    The Wildcats were feted with parades and presentations, first pitches and first pucks, and ordinary Big East players morphed into overnight college basketball sensations.

    Villanova has basked in the spotlight for seven months after beating North Carolina in one of the NCAA Tournament's all-time greatest games. It's now time for the Wildcats to try to defend - defend? - the championship.

    ''Nobody can take the ring off our fingers,'' 6-foot-5 swingman Josh Hart said. ''We're not defending nothing. We're a team that can make a deep run in March.''

    Again the Big East favorites and ranked fourth in the AP preseason Top 25 , the Wildcats should be on the short list of teams to beat for a championship. They went 31 years between winning it all. They'd like to shorten the next gap to one year.

    Led by Hart and title game star Kris Jenkins, the Wildcats are in prime position to become the first team to go back to back since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

    ''Just cutting down that net again would be great,'' Hart said.

    The Wildcats wouldn't have to search far to find a ladder. They kept the one they used in Houston to snip the nets after they beat the Tar Heels on Jenkins' buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

    Hart, the Big East's preseason player of the year, will begin his senior season on The Associated Press' preseason All-America team . Hart averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last season for the Wildcats and considered turning pro.

    He wants two-time national champ stamped on his bio for next year's NBA draft.

    ''A couple of people told me that when they were going through the draft process, they were like, `It was a storybook ending, and you can basically ride off into the sunset,''' Hart said. ''Riding off into the sunset in that way this year would be crazy.''

    Coach Jay Wright, who is 354-157 with two Final Fours in 15 seasons at Villanova, said a national title has only boosted the Wildcats' confidence.

    ''That's not something they lose. That confidence is inside them,'' he said. ''That experience is inside them. You're never going to take that away. Usually it's harder to control your ego than it is to pump somebody up. The challenge is really our ego and staying humble and hungry and getting better.''

    Get better?

    That could be scary for the rest of the Big East. The three-time defending conference champs have improved their record in the league (16-2 each of the last three years) and a top-three seed in the NCAA Tournament is usually a mere formality.

    Here are some of the challenges ahead for the reigning national champs:

    FREE OMARI


    Omari Spellman, a 6-foot-8 highly recruited forward, was expected to become Villanova's big man in the frontcourt this season. The NCAA declared the freshman academically ineligible for this season because Spellman did not complete his initial eligibility requirements in time.

    That leaves more minutes for Darryl Reynolds and freshmen Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter.

    But Spellman would have carried a load left by Daniel Ochefu's absence and made the Wildcats more potent inside. The Villanova fans chanted ''Free Omari!'' at their national championship celebration. He'll be free - just not until next season.

    WON'T YOU STAY

    Spellman was an expected stud and sophomore guard Jalen Brunson had one-and-done potential until he eased into his team-first role in the starting lineup.

    Wright has never had a one-and-done player leave for the NBA and the Wildcats have made tournament runs on the strength of four-year players like Ochefu, now with the Washington Wizards, and point guard Ryan Arcidiacono.

    Wright said that approach won't change as champs.

    ''We're trying to find kids that appreciate what Villanova is all about,'' he said. ''People say it must have helped you in recruiting. We're recruiting the same guys. We're trying to find the best guys for Villanova that can make it to the NBA, not the best guys for the NBA.''

    WRIGHT WAY

    Wright said he had nothing more than ''simple, casual'' conversations with NBA team executives about jobs open at the next level. Wright, who has dealt with job offer rumors for a decade, said he does not have NBA aspirations.

    ''I don't,'' he said. ''Would I like to coach in the NBA? Would I like the challenge? Yeah. But I don't want to give this up. You've got to give this up to do it. I don't want to give it up. If I ended my career and I never got to coach in the NBA, I'd be far more happier saying I got to coach at Villanova for a long time.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Gonzaga reloads, favored to win WCC
    November 3, 2016


    SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Gonzaga lost two players from last year's team to the NBA but the No. 14 Bulldogs have reloaded and are favored to win another West Coast Conference title.

    Domantas Sabonis left school early to become a lottery pick for Oklahoma City, and leading scorer Kyle Wiltjer graduated and is playing for the Houston Rockets. The All-America selections take 37 points and 18 rebounds per game out of the lineup.

    Only two starters, Przemek Karnowski and Josh Perkins, are back from a team that finished 28-8 last year and lost in the Sweet 16.

    Karnowski, who missed most of last season with a back injury, is a 7-foot-1 center who averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds two years ago. Perkins, a guard, averaged 10 points and 4 assists per game.

    ''We have depth at pretty much every spot,'' coach Mark Few said. ''We're really balanced; the guys are kind of equal ability across the board. I don't know if any one guy is going to play 35 minutes every night and we can't live without him. That hasn't been the case in many of the years prior.''

    Gonzaga has made 17 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament but never advanced beyond the Elite Eight. This team is a good bet to make it 18 straight trips.

    Much of the optimism centers on a trio of transfer students.

    Guard Nigel Williams-Goss becomes eligible after transferring from Washington, where he averaged 15 points and 5 assists per game.

    Guard Jordan Mathews is a graduate transfer from California, where he averaged 13.5 points. Forward Johnathan Williams is a transfer from Missouri, where he averaged 11.9 points and 7 rebounds.

    Also back from last year are Silas Melson and Ryan Edwards. Four freshmen are on the roster, as is transfer Jeremy Jones from Rice.

    Few said his challenge ''is getting the transfers dialed into the Zag way and getting the new guys (to do the same), and figuring out what we can do with the old guys.''

    Karnowski is pleased to be back on the court after playing only a handful of games last season.

    ''I think (last season) was a huge life lesson for me, for the appreciation of things that you have every day,'' said Karnowski, who had back surgery on Dec. 31. ''It was hard to do any daily activities when I was injured.''

    ''To get to where we are right now it's just a great story and a testament to him,'' Few said of Karnowski. ''You just wish for nothing but the best. You want a happy ending.''

    Things to watch:

    FEW'S RECORD:
    Few has a record of 466-111 in his 17 years at the helm and has never failed to get to the NCAA Tournament. His winning percentage of .808 is the highest of any active Division I coach.

    NON-CONFERENCE: Gonzaga's non-conference slate is not as brutal as in some years. The Bulldogs play San Diego State, No. 10 Arizona, Washington, Tennessee and either Florida or Seton Hall in the early going.

    AWARDS WATCH: Jordan Mathews is one of 20 candidates for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award. Nigel Williams-Goss is one of 20 candidates for the 2017 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. Both honors are presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

    PRESEASON POLL: Gonzaga once again topped the West Coast Conference preseason poll. For the 16th straight year, WCC coaches picked the Zags to win the regular-season title. No. 17 Saint Mary's, which returns every key player from last season's co-championship squad, was picked second. Gonzaga has won or shared 15 of the last 16 WCC regular-season titles.

    THE GREAT KARNOWSKI: Known as ''Shimmick,'' Karnowski is the 39th player in program history to top 1,000 career points and is nine rebounds shy of becoming the 14th player with at least 600 career rebounds. Only eight Gonzaga players have done both.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Creighton boasts deep, experienced team
    November 3, 2016


    No. 22 Creighton boasts deep, experienced team

    Creighton

    Last season:
    20-15, lost in quarterfinals of NIT.

    Nickname: Bluejays.

    Coach: Greg McDermott.

    Conference: Big East.

    Who's gone: C Geoffrey Groselle, G James Milliken.

    Who's back: G Maurice Watson is preseason All-Big East first team and one of the best scoring playmakers in the country. G Isaiah Zierden is a 38-percent career 3-point shooter. F Cole Huff scored 10 or more points in nine of last 12 games despite playing on a bad knee. C Zach Hanson should be an effective inside presence once he's fully recovered from summer knee surgery.

    Who's new:
    G Marcus Foster, who sat out after transferring from Kansas State, should thrive in the up-tempo offense and probably will defend opponent's best player. C Justin Patton is a 7-footer who added muscle during his redshirt year. G Davion Mintz is in line to back up Watson at the point.

    The Skinny: With four seniors and four juniors, McDermott has the deepest and most experienced team since he arrived in 2010. The No. 22 Bluejays, ranked for the first time in two years, are poised to continue climbing in the Big East after finishing sixth in 2016 and ninth in 2015.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Duke's Allen leads AP All-America team
    November 2, 2016


    Josh Hart is off to a stellar start as a member of the defending national champions.

    The 6-foot-5 swingman from Villanova will begin his senior season on The Associated Press' preseason All-America team.

    Hart, the Big East's preseason player of the year, received 53 votes from the same 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.

    Grayson Allen of Duke was the top vote-getter with 61, four more than Ivan Rabb of California.

    Dillon Brooks of Oregon had 30 votes and Monte Morris of Iowa State had 24.

    Sophomore Thomas Bryant of Indiana and freshmen Markelle Fultz of Washington and Josh Jackson of Kansas all received 18 votes.

    Hart averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last season for the Wildcats, who beat North Carolina in the title game on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kris Jenkins.

    The last Wildcat to be a preseason All-America was Kerry Kittles in 1995-96, the first season the AP had a preseason team.

    The 6-5 Allen, a junior and one of four veterans on the Blue Devils' roster which is loaded with freshmen stars, averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season, shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range and 88.7 from the free throw line.

    It hasn't been long since a Blue Devil made the team as freshman Jahlil Okafor was on it in 2015-16.

    Morris is the second Cyclone in two years to make the team. He joins Georges Niang who was on it last season. The 6-3 Morris averaged 13.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists as a junior and Iowa State reached as high as No. 4 in the poll last season.

    Neither Cal nor Oregon has had a member of the preseason team. That changes with Rabb and Brooks, the second straight season there was two players from the same conference as Niang and Buddy Hield of Oklahoma were from the Big 12.

    Rabb, a 6-11 sophomore, averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field for the Golden Bears.

    Brooks, a 6-7 junior, averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Ducks, who finished fifth in the final poll.

    Hield was the only player last season to make both the preseason and postseason All-America teams. Joining the senior guard on last season's preseason team were seniors Kyle Wiltjer of Gonzaga and Niang, junior Kris Dunn of Providence and freshman Ben Simmons of LSU.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Interim coach Joseph brings energy to GW
    November 1, 2016


    WASHINGTON (AP) Maurice Joseph's first head coaching job comes with an interim tag and after an awkward summer for George Washington's basketball program.

    The 31-year-old understands his best attributes and is leaning on them as the Colonials' Nov. 11 season opener against Maryland-Eastern Shore approaches.

    ''In the grand scheme of things, the major focus has been to bring energy and enthusiasm on a daily basis, which we always have done, and to focus on getting better on a daily basis, which we always have done,'' Joseph said Tuesday at the team's media day.

    Former coach Mike Lonergan, who led George Washington to its first NIT title in March and went 97-70 in five seasons, was fired Sept. 17 after the university investigated him and concluded he ''had engaged in conduct inconsistent with the university's values.''

    Joseph was named interim coach 10 days later.

    Joseph, who played at Michigan State as well as under Lonergan at Vermont, spent the last five years on the Colonials' staff. That continuity has helped George Washington make the unusually timed transition, as has Joseph's own positivity.

    ''That's his biggest strength,'' forward Tyler Cavanaugh said. ''He's young. He has positive energy and he's just had a rhythm and an upbeat sense to him throughout our practices. If you come in, you'll see him running through drills with us. The way he's been able to work with the other assistants has been phenomenal. Everyone's still engaged.''

    That's important after a wild summer. A Washington Post report in July included accusations of player mistreatment by Lonergan, though he remained as head coach during an August tour of Japan. Then came his ouster less than two months before the start of the season.

    ''A swirl is definitely a good way to put it,'' Cavanaugh said. ''It was crazy. There was just a lot up in the air and going from one thing to the next. But I think playing games and preparing really helps. The Japan trip, we got to focus on those practices and build toward the season. The four games there was a step. When we came back, it was out of our control, so we just had to move forward.''

    That's the attitude Joseph is taking with the Colonials, who were picked to finish eighth in the 14-team Atlantic 10's preseason poll.

    ''There's really no time to dwell on emotions or what happened in the past,'' Joseph said. ''Like Tyler said, some of these teams in our league that were picked ahead of us or below us don't really care about the coaching change. When the ball goes up, they're going to try to beat us.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Fisher's Aztecs look to return to NCAAs after sliding to NIT
    November 7, 2016


    SAN DIEGO (AP) With Steve Fisher's coaching career winding down, the San Diego State Aztecs are focused on getting back to the NCAA Tournament after taking an unexpected detour to the NIT last season.

    Heading into his 18th season at SDSU, Fisher has built the program to the point that fans expect nothing less than an NCAA appearance. The Aztecs made the NCAA field six straight seasons, including their first two Sweet 16 appearances, before the streak ended last season.

    Although they won the Mountain West Conference regular-season title, they missed out on an automatic NCAA berth when they lost to Fresno State in the conference tournament championship game. Relegated to the NIT, they made it all the way to Madison Square Garden before losing to George Washington in the semifinals to finish 28-10.

    There was a time when it would be a big accomplishment for the Aztecs to make the NIT.

    No more. If it's not the NCAAs, no one's happy.

    ''There are expectations. They're ours, also. We expect to be there,'' said Fisher, whose Aztecs open at Viejas Arena on Friday night against San Diego. ''Talking about it and doing it, we've gone six straight years. So we're like the fans. We expect to be there and we're disappointed when we've not there. We're talented enough to get there and yet you've got to prove it on the court. Hopefully we will do that also.''

    Fisher, 71, is under contract through next season while his long-time assistant, Brian Dutcher, remains the associate head coach/head coach in waiting. As always, Fisher said he and his wife, Angie, will decide at the end of this season if he'll return next year.

    The Aztecs players appreciate how Fisher has built up the program.

    ''It just shows the progress the program has made,'' sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley said. ''Before Coach Fish got here, this wasn't really a school people considered a school to be in the tournament. That just shows the progress we've made and all the work that the coaches and players have put into the program.

    ''I can say that we will be back in the tournament this year,'' Hemsley said. ''The NIT isn't something that we will see in our near future. We're a different team. This is a different journey and the NIT isn't really an option or anything that we've even thought about.''

    The Aztecs were picked to win the MWC in the annual preseason poll, and received votes in The Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll.

    Hemsley, junior guard Trey Kell and sophomore forward Zylan Cheatham are the returning starters. Also back are junior forward Malik Pope, senior forward Matt Shrigley and senior guard Dakarai Allen. Kell is the leading returning scorer, having averaged 12.6 points while earning all-MWC first-team honors.

    The Aztecs lost some height when Skylar Spencer, Angelo Chol and Winston Shepard graduated.

    They do welcome 6-10, 240-pound senior center Valentine Izundu, who is eligible after transferring from Washington State after earning his degree.

    The Aztecs will also look for contributions from 6-9 forward Jalen McDaniels, picked as the Mountain West Co-Freshman of the Year along with Utah State's Koby McEwen, and Montaque Gill-Caesar, a 6-6 transfer from Missouri who was named the league's preseason newcomer of the year.

    The Aztecs were too inconsistent last year, hurting themselves with losses to crosstown rival San Diego, Little Rock and Grand Canyon.

    What's going to be different this year, Hemsley said, is ''our intensity and the fun we have with each other. I think that's all it is. I think we'll prove ourselves very early and I think we'll be very consistent. I don't think inconsistency is going to be something that we're going to have to worry about this year.

    ''Inconsistency was something that we did deal with last year,'' he added. ''With this team, that's where we grew up. That's not really something that the fans or anyone watching us will see this year.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Transfer epidemic in college hoops has coaches concerned
    November 5, 2016


    LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Andrew White III began his career at Kansas, then transferred to Nebraska and redshirted a year before playing another, only to wind up at Syracuse to finish off his unique college basketball odyssey.

    All that moving around hardly makes him unique, though.

    It's more like the new norm.

    More than 700 players on Division I rosters swapped schools last season, many taking advantage of fifth-year transfer rules that allow them to play immediately. The number could swell to more than 800 by the time this season begins next week. And that has coaches and administrators at every level concerned about the long-term effect on the health and popularity of the sport.

    ''I do think it's a big-time problem in college basketball. It's a problem in college athletics,'' said Kansas coach Bill Self, who has three transfers from four-year schools on his current roster. ''But I also think it's a societal problem because how many kids now, if you don't play on your high school team, what's the first thing you do? You switch schools. It happens in football and other sports, too.

    ''I mean, we'd like for it to be tightened up,'' Self added, ''where there's less transfers and hopefully that will be the case. But I don't know what the answer is for that.''

    That's the biggest problem: Nobody seems to know.

    In interviews with more nearly two dozen coaches and officials, including four conference commissioners, the only consensus was that the transfer epidemic is a problem striking college basketball to its core.

    ''The numbers concern me. But within those numbers, you have to understand there are sometimes very good reasons to transfer that are beyond just playing time,'' ACC commissioner John Swofford said. ''Some of it is societal in nature, in which it's instant-gratification syndrome of, `If I'm not playing immediately and not playing a big role, I'm going somewhere else. That's indicative of a larger issue beyond basketball.''

    Swofford said the days of kids ''waiting their turn'' are a quaint construct of yesteryear. Now, everybody wants to get on the floor right away, and they're willing to uproot if that's what it takes.

    ''My concern is more about the academic part of it as much as anything, and how much can you bounce around and truly receive the kind of education that you'd want,'' Swofford said. ''But again, it's hard to lump that all into one bag. There is a lot going on.''

    Transfers are more pervasive in college basketball for a number of reasons.

    First, the game is largely the same regardless of where you go. Teams run different offenses, coaches utilize different systems and defenses vary from school to school. But it's not like football, where a player who transfers has to learn hundreds of complicated plays in a condensed time period.

    That makes it easy for a player to get up to speed quickly.

    Another reason is numbers: There are only five guys on the floor at a time, and only 200 minutes to go around per game. Compare that to football, where an offense will run about 80 plays and there are 11 guys on the field at a time, not to mention opportunities to play on special teams.

    ''We need coaches to be frank on the front end, what their program is about,'' Belmont coach Rick Byrd said, ''and then we need kids when they make their decision to stay there and not hop around looking for the next best thing because they didn't play 38 minutes a game as a freshman.''

    The NCAA is continually examining the issue through its committee on academics, but has so far stood pat. And that is particularly troubling for mid-major coaches like Byrd when it comes to the fifth-year transfer rule, which allows athletes who have graduated to play immediately somewhere else.

    That rule has turned some mid-major programs into de-factor minor leagues.

    Most coaches are in favor of eliminating the rule, which would mean those players would have to redshirt a year just like any other transfer. Other ideas to curb the number of transfers include a cap on the number of schools where an athlete can play, and rules that limit where an athlete transferring can go.

    ''I'm heartened by the fact that the NCAA continues to look at transfer issues,'' Ohio Valley commissioner Beth DeBauche said, ''because they're very complex.''

    Now, there are cases where transfers are best for everybody involved: coaching changes, players deciding they want to play closer to home, academics and a myriad other issues that can pop up over the years.

    Then there are the benefits to playing in different places.

    ''Making two moves, it's kind of kept me on my toes,'' White said. ''I've seen different staffs, different leagues. I've experienced a lot of basketball up to this point and it's helped me with my overall confidence.

    ''As far as my Kansas experience, got to see a blue-blood, elite-level program. Got to win a couple of rings. Then Nebraska, obviously a sports town, Big Ten is a great basketball league. I got to play a big role and do some big things and learned a lot from that staff. And then you come here and you learn from one of the greatest coaches (at Syracuse),'' White said. ''It's been good for my well-being as a man and as a player.''

    Indeed, the Orange may best encapsulate the trend. Jim Boeheim had a handful of transfers in his first 40 years as their coach. He'll have three in the lineup this year.

    ''Transfers that we've taken have been very impactful to our program,'' Boeheim said. ''We haven't taken that many, but the guys that we have taken are very impactful.''

    As for the transfer outlook for college basketball?

    ''It's here to stay now,'' Boeheim said. ''So if you need a guy you can't get a freshman to help you, if you can get a guy that has started for two or three years, that would bring something to enhance recruiting.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Fifth-year transfers threaten low- and mid-majors
    November 5, 2016


    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Tennessee Tech is picked to finish second in its division of the Ohio Valley Conference, and coach Steve Payne is hopeful that a fifth-year transfer from Tulane will help put the Golden Eagles over the top.

    He still hates the fifth-year transfer rule.

    ''As a coach, it puts you in a tough situation,'' he said. ''We want to promote academic progress or promote guys to be successful in school and when you do that, sometimes people are recruiting them behind your back.''

    There are roughly 800 players in Division I basketball who will have transferred when the season begins next week. Many of them took advantage of NCAA rules that allow them to play immediately at another school if they have graduated from their previous institution, rather than redshirting under normal transfer rules.

    The rule is designed to reward athletes who have earned their degree and desire to pursue a graduate degree elsewhere. But it has instead become a loophole that allows athletes to go somewhere else for a number of different reasons, from playing time to the chance to play for a more prestigious school.

    That has become a source of consternation for coaches at all levels, but particularly those at low- and mid-majors, who rely on developing players over time - only to see them leave as seniors.

    ''It's somewhere worse than a bad thing,'' Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. ''It's creating a situation where you've got schools recruiting from other schools. You've got majors recruiting from mid-majors, literally. You've got kids thinking about whether they're going to stay with your program or go somewhere else when their senior year is over. It's like they're a senior in high school again.''

    The results can be crippling. Schools with NCAA Tournament aspirations can be reduced to league bottom-dwellers and their coaches from being hot commodities to being on the hot seat.

    ''It's a double-edged sword,'' Tennessee State coach Dana Ford said. ''We almost lost our best player (Tahjere McCall) this year to the rule, but fortunately he decided to stay. But then again, last year's best player (Keron DeShields) was a fifth-year senior. Pick and choose, right?

    ''No one ever reached out for an official communication or contact (with McCall), but I'm sure someone was calling somebody,'' Ford said. ''If not, they were not doing their job at their level, right?''

    In interviews with numerous coaches and administrators, that appeared to be the biggest flaw in the rule: Schools are reduced to surreptitiously recruiting players off other campuses.

    There is too much money at stake. Wins are too valuable.

    If plucking away someone who can put a team over the top, then it makes sense to do it.

    ''One hundred percent of all coaches would say that's a very, very bad rule,'' said Kansas coach Bill Self, who has benefited from it in the past. ''Recruiting off somebody else's campus, that per se is not legal, but through third parties or whatnot, obviously there can be contact.''

    It's hard to fault the player, either. Why would they want to play for a nondescript school in front of a thousand fans without any chance of success when they could be playing for a powerhouse on national TV, perhaps even win a national title and gain the exposure necessary to play in the NBA?

    The easy solution would be to repeal the rule, forcing fifth-year transfers to sit out like any other transfer. But the NCAA has so far refused to act, leaving coaches and administrators in a difficult situation.

    ''I don't really blame those guys if the rule is in effect,'' Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said. ''Even the people who are against the rule in the Power Five conferences will tell you, `Hey, if it's a rule, I'm going to take advantage of it.'''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Depth, star power for incoming freshman hoops class
    November 8, 2016


    Get ready to learn some new names as the college basketball season tips off this week.

    The 2015-16 season was billed as ''the year of the senior,'' but newcomers figure to take center stage this season with the arrival of a talented and deep freshman class.

    Jerry Meyer, the national director of scouting for 247Sports, calls the incoming freshman class the best since the 2007-08 season, which featured eventual NBA all-stars Derrick Rose, James Harden, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love.

    ''I would be surprised if this class doesn't eventually produce multiple NBA all-stars when it's all said and done,'' said Eric Bossi, the director of basketball recruiting at Rivals.

    That represents a major change from last season, when experience was emphasized. Four of the five first-team selections on the AP All-America team last year were seniors: Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon, Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, North Carolina's Brice Johnson and Michigan State's Denzel Valentine.

    The starting lineups in last season's NCAA championship game between Villanova and North Carolina included four seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and only one freshman. The nation's most celebrated freshman was LSU's Ben Simmons, who became the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft but failed to reach the NCAA Tournament.

    This year's freshman class features much more depth.

    ''I wouldn't put anyone on that Ben Simmons level - I really think Ben Simmons is an exceptional talent - but I think there's a bunch of guys just a step below,'' Meyer said.

    As usual, freshmen could make the biggest impact at No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kentucky.

    Duke's six-man freshman class has four of the nation's top 15 prospects, according to composite rankings of recruiting websites compiled by 247Sports . That group includes forwards Harry Giles (No. 2) and Jayson Tatum (No. 4), guard Frank Jackson (No. 13) and center Marques Bolden (No. 15).

    ''As everyone can see, these guys are already talented,'' Duke senior forward Amile Jefferson said. ''They already have the tools and the gifts that God gave them to be really good basketball players.''

    Tatum has a sprained foot and Giles underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last month that kept both players out of Duke's preseason exhibitions. Bolden is expected to miss Duke's first two regular-season games because of a leg injury.

    Kentucky's John Calipari landed five of the nation's top 24 prospects, according to the 247Sports Composite. The new Wildcats include guards De'Aaron Fox (No. 6) and Malik Monk (No. 11) and forwards Edrice ''Bam'' Adebayo (No. 9), Wenyen Gabriel (No. 14) and Sacha Killeya-Jones (No. 24). They combined for 78 points Sunday in a 156-63 exhibition blowout of NAIA Division II school Asbury.

    ''His fan base hears every year about that crop of young guys, and about every other year they've been as good as advertised,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. ''This is another special group. This could be another Karl Towns-type group.''

    Meyer noted Adebayo ''is going to bring something to the table that Kentucky was woefully missing last year as far as physical play inside and explosiveness.''

    Meyer added it's ''arguably the best'' class John Calipari has brought to Kentucky, though Calipari himself is reluctant to compare.

    ''It's hard to think back,'' Calipari said. ''All I can tell you is it's a very smart group - a very driven, wired group, a competitive group.''

    But the freshman talent is spread around.

    No. 3 Kansas has guard Josh Jackson, rated as the nation's No. 1 prospect in his class by the 247Sports Composite. No. 16 UCLA, attempting to bounce back from a rare losing season, has added guard Lonzo Ball (No. 3) and forward T.J. Leaf (No. 18). Florida State has forward Jonathan Isaac (No. 8) and No. 12 Michigan State adds forward Miles Bridges (No. 12).

    Bridges averaged 26.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in Michigan State's two exhibition games.

    ''I think he can be one of the more versatile players that we've had since Jason Richardson,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''He shoots it pretty good. He's stronger than most freshmen. He's a man-child in that respect. He's a power jumper. But he's been an incredible kid. Sometimes your top-10 or 15 players are full of themselves. He's been as humble and hard-working and coachable a kid as I've had.''

    Ball leads a bumper crop of point guards that also includes Fox, Washington's Markelle Fultz (No. 5) and North Carolina State's Dennis Smith Jr. (No. 7).

    Ball and Leaf posted double-doubles in UCLA's exhibition victory over NAIA school The Master's University. Smith averaged 23 points and 5.0 assists in North Carolina State's two exhibition games. Isaac averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in Florida State's two exhibitions.

    Those early performances lend some credence to the notion this freshman class could live up to its considerable billing.

    ''In terms of guys who are going to make significant impacts as freshmen, it's definitely going to be one of the top three or four classes of the last 16-17 years,'' Bossi said.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    ODDS TO WIN 2016-17 NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENT (4/3/17)

    School Odds


    Duke 7/2
    Kansas 12/1
    Kentucky 12/1
    Oregon 12/1
    Wisconsin 14/1
    Villanova 15/1
    North Carolina 18/1
    Syracuse 20/1
    Michigan State 25/1
    Louisville 30/1
    Virginia 30/1
    Arizona 32/1
    Indiana 32/1
    Xavier 35/1
    Purdue 40/1
    Texas 40/1
    Gonzaga 55/1
    NC State 60/1
    UCLA 60/1
    Connecticut 65/1
    Maryland 75/1
    West Virginia 85/1
    California 90/1
    Creighton 100/1
    Florida 100/1
    Miami, Fl. 100/1
    Iowa State 125/1
    Michigan 125/1
    Utah 125/1
    Butler 150/1
    Cincinnati 150/1
    Florida State 150/1
    Georgetown 150/1
    Iowa 150/1
    Oklahoma 150/1
    Rhode Island 150/1
    Texas A&M 150/1
    USC 150/1
    Arizona State 200/1
    Baylor 200/1
    Notre Dame 200/1
    Ohio State 200/1
    San Diego State 200/1
    Seton Hall 200/1
    South Carolina 200/1
    VCU 200/1
    Vanderbilt 200/1
    Washington 200/1
    Wichita State 200/1
    St. Mary's 225/1
    Tennessee 225/1
    Arkansas 250/1
    Harvard 250/1
    Illinois 250/1
    Kansas State 250/1
    Marquette 250/1
    Mississippi State 250/1
    Pittsburgh 250/1
    Alabama 300/1
    Auburn 300/1
    Fresno State 300/1
    Houston 300/1
    Minnesota 300/1
    Oklahoma State 300/1
    Ole Miss 300/1
    Princeton 300/1
    Providence 300/1
    SMU 300/1
    UNLV 300/1
    Wake Forest 300/1
    Davidson 350/1
    Georgia 350/1
    Memphis 350/1
    Nebraska 350/1
    Northwestern 350/1
    Texas Tech 350/1
    Colorado 400/1
    Colorado State 400/1
    Dayton 400/1
    Georgia Tech 400/1
    St. Bonaventure 400/1
    St. John's 400/1
    Temple 400/1
    Virginia Tech 400/1
    BYU 500/1
    Boise State 500/1
    Clemson 500/1
    DePaul 500/1
    LSU 500/1
    Missouri 500/1
    New Mexico 500/1
    Oregon State 500/1
    Penn State 500/1
    Stanford 500/1
    Tulsa 500/1
    Akron 1000/1
    Buffalo 1000/1
    Central Michigan 1000/1
    Iona 1000/1
    Louisiana Tech 1000/1
    Monmouth 1000/1
    Ohio 1000/1
    Old Dominion 1000/1
    Rutgers 1000/1
    St. Joseph's 1000/1
    TCU 1000/1
    Utah State 1000/1
    Valparaiso 1000/1
    Arkansas-Little Rock 2000/1
    Boston College 2000/1
    Florida Gulf Coast 2000/1
    Nevada 2000/1
    New Mexico State 2000/1
    UAB 2000/1
    UC Santa Barbara 2000/1
    Washington State 2000/1
    Western Kentucky 2000/1
    Wyoming 2000/1
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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