I originally intended for my Skal piece from yesterday to lead the Quickies, but it turned out to be far too long (surprise, surprise). Check that out here if you haven't already.
In its place, I offer a short ode to the strength of NCAAB's 2015-2016 senior class. In an atypical year on the "one-and-done" era, only one freshman (LSU's Ben Simmons) has consistently held the national spotlight this season, and not always for his play (by the way, I think that episode was overblown, but that's a rant for another day).
Instead, seniors Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Kris Dunn (Providence), Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), and Brice Johnson (UNC) have lingered in the NPOY discussion for the vast majority of the season and the first two are vying for National Player of the Year (see below).
*Top 25 Roundup
#18 Arizona scored a big win at home over #25 Cal, which had been surging. The loss snapped a 7-game streak of wins for the Golden Bears.
#14 Maryland destroyed Illinois at home.
#24 SMU easily handled UConn, 80-54.
*Did you know there was another 5'9'' PG phenom fearlessly leading a college squad out there? I finally had a chance to watch Oakland's Kay Felder the other night, in a replay of the Golden Grizzlies' 108-97 win over Detroit.
Felder, a junior who is slightly heavier than Tyler Ulis, had 26 points, 16 assists, 9 rebounds, and a steal. He's unbelievable and was recently named the Horizon League Player of the Year. We might get to see Felder in the NCAAT this season if he can get his squad past league-leading Valpo in the conference tournament, which starts tomorrow.
Also, did you know Oakland University is in Michigan?
*Kevin O'Connor ponders Jamal Murray as a NBA prospect. This is astute work with lots of great video analysis. O'Connor arrives at:
"Murray is one of college basketball's most exciting scorers, but his outlook in the NBA will largely depend on his team's situation. If he's drafted by a team that can maximize his floor-spacing sharpshooting and cover him on defense, they'll have a true weapon."
Check out the comments, as well.
*UPDATED: More Murray analysis, this time from Marc Whittington at Liberty Ballers.
*READ THIS: FiveThirtyEight's Neil Payne examines how far teams with elite prospects go in the NCAAT, with Ben Simmons and his disappointing LSU Tigers as context. It's a really fascinating research project.
And it does include an (unfortunate) UK reference:
"And, sure enough, in the 15 years before Simmons only one No. 1 prospect was on a team that missed the NCAA Tournament: Nerlens Noel, in 2012-13. The other 92 percent of No. 1s at least got to the round of 64, and even Noel's case comes with a huge asterisk. Before Noel was lost for the season with a knee injury, his Kentucky team was on the bubble at 17-6, but improving; afterward, the Wildcats closed out the season 4-5 and stamped a nonrefundable ticket to the NIT."
Hey, at least he told the whole story. Non-UK fans usually seem to forget how Noel's injury turned the trajectory of that team towards the center of the earth.
*ESPN's Seth Greenberg says that if LSU can beat UK in Rupp tomorrow, they'll secure a NCAAT berth.
*Seth Davis' Mailbag from SI includes questions regarding possible NCAAT sleepers, SU's NCAAT prospects, and two interesting "top 5" coaches lists.
*High-profile seniors offer advice to their freshmen selves. Alex Poythress and former 'Cat Kyle Wiltjer contributed.
*More opinions from some of this year's star seniors on a variety of topics. The only thing bad about this is its brevity. Hat tip to Nick W. on this one.
*CBS Sports' Sam Vecenie presents 3 reasons a 16 seed can beat a 1 seed in the NCAAT. It feels like this could be the year, if it's ever going to happen, but I would still be shocked if it does transpire.
*NPOY Roundup...it's now apparently a two-player race.
Rob Dauster (CBT): Valentine has overtaken Hield.
Jeff Eisenberg (Yahoo): It's a toss-up between Hield and Valentine.
*Scooby the sports dog melted my heart at a Marquette game.
*#13 UK Hoops bested LSU in Memorial yesterday afternoon, 79-71.
*Mark Story covers Thomas More, a Division III hoops program in Crestview Hills, that is defending its D-III Title and in the midst of a 60-game winning streak.
*KAT has been named the NBA's Western Conference Rookie of the Month. Well-deserved.
*Devin Booker may have run up against the rookie wall, but its not affecting his stock, according to Charley Rosen.
*Former Kansas State super-frosh Michael Beasley -- he was selected before Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan, etc. in the 2008 NBA Draft -- has returned to the NBA, via Houston, to help the Rockets make a playoff push. The Rockets have been hovering around the eighth spot in the Western Conference recently.
*Former UNC standout Ty Lawson is working on a deal with Indiana after being bought out by Houston.
*Notes and video from new UK secondary coach Steve Clinkscale's introductory press conference, provided by Jon Hale.
*2017 4* QB Jake Fromm has flipped from Alabama to Georgia. Kirby Smart, you dirty bird!
*UL-L is vacating 20+ wins and the 2013 Sun Belt Conference title. An assistant coach aided players in falsifying ACT scores. How does that happen?!?
*Former head coach Steve Sarkisian and USC are headed to arbitration to address his wrongful termination suit against the school.
*The average NFL career is shorter than ever. Much shorter -- it's decreased by over 50% since 2008.
*Can you guess how many NFL team owners are billionaires? Here is the answer.
*The top 100 NFL Draft prospects from SI's Chris Burke can be found here...with no 'Cats among them.
*This legal analysis, from ESPN's Lester Munson, transcends the NFL and examines the widespread implications of the Deflategate appeal as it relates to other major sports leagues.
I know you're still tired of the topic, and I am too, but the appeal is especially important. Consider Munson's words:
"The appellate court ruling is important and has implications beyond sports because the ruling at its base gets at the heart of all arbitration arrangements between an employer and its employees' union."
Have a great weekend, everyone.