Black Friday certainly sounds ominous. Is Rebecca Black looking forward to it as well? Or perhaps she is just eating her bowl of cereal? Whatever the case, the college basketball slate gives us a rainbow of fruit flavors on this day after Thanksgiving.
In my highlighted games, I delve into Tier 2 a bit more than usual, although I’ll start with the Miami (FL) vs. Ole Miss match up. Across the salary chart, there are four players that are fetching $225,000 and two of them face off: Royce White (Iowa State) and Bryce Cotton (Providence). OK, let’s look at some highlighted games.
Miami (FL) at Mississippi
The Hurricanes take their 4-0 record on the road to Oxford, Mississippi where they will face the sizable Rebels. Coming into the season, Miami figured to have a nice frontline as well, but injuries have sapped their depth. Reggie Johnson ($40,000) and Julian Gamble ($40,000) are both out of action, which should leave plenty of opportunities for Florida transfer Kenny Kadji ($74,000). At 6-foot-11, 255 pounds, Kadji has the size of a decent center, but his production leaves quite a bit to be desired. He is averaging 7.0 points. Miami should have the advantage in the backcourt with Malcolm Grant ($159,000) and Durand Scott ($149,000). Grant is continuing the success from his excellent junior season and is averaging a team-leading 16.8 points. He had 21 of his team’s 60 points on Tuesday in a win over Florida Gulf Coast. Scott was held to a season-low five points in that game, but he is still averaging 12.5 points and is adept at getting to the free throw line (6.0 freebies per game). If you want to take a flyer on a Hurricane, you can try freshman Shane Larkin ($52,000) who has scored eight points off the bench in the last two games. He is the son of baseball player Barry Larkin.
The home team is returning from the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands where they finished third. The Rebels got smoked by Marquette, but beat TCU in the consolation game. The frontcourt of Terrance Henry ($103,000) and Murphy Holloway ($93,000) may be able to take advantage of the Hurricane deficiencies inside. Henry is a 6-foot-10 senior whose scoring average has improved in each of his four seasons with the Rebels. Through five games, he is averaging 12.2 points and has scored a combined 30 points in his last two games. Holloway, who sat out last year after transferring both to and from South Carolina, opened the season with 27 rebounds in the first two games. He has cooled off on the glass since then, but is coming off a 20-point game against the Horned Frogs. Holloway doesn’t have much offensive finesse, but the 6-foot-7 junior might power through the Hurricanes. The best bet in the Rebel backcourt is Dundrecous Nelson ($115,000). He came off the bench against TCU to score 11 points and he led the second unit with six assists. He has topped double digits three times in five games.
Ohio at Louisville
The Bobcats put their undefeated 3-0 record on the line at the KFC Yum! Center on Friday evening. Louisville should be heavily favored, but one should not discount Ohio who has had some postseason success. They knocked off Georgetown two years ago in the NCAA tournament and D.J. Cooper ($153,000) is still on the team. The 5-foot-10 guard dominates the ball and is a volume shooter, which makes him a great fantasy asset. He has attempted at least six three-pointers in all three games and has not been held below 12 points. He only makes 33.3% of his field goal attempts, but that fact that he is always hoisting makes him a good play, even against the Cardinals. Guard Walter Offutt ($153,000), a transfer from Ohio State, has looked like a nice scorer for the Bobcats through the early going. Like Cooper, he has not been held below 12 points and has hit his last ten free throws. Despite being just 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Offutt is willing to bang on the boards and has a pair of nine-rebound games. Reggie Keely ($120,000) brings some muscle off the bench. He is averaging 12.3 points and is converting 53.3% of his field goals.
The Cardinals have been decimated by injuries in the early going. Injuries equal a short bench, which means there is fantasy opportunity for big minutes. Thus far, Louisville has won with defense (allowing just 44.0 points per game), which is not great for fantasy players. Swingman Kyle Kuric ($137,000) has played a lot of minutes and is the team’s leading scorer at 12.2 points. Peyton Siva ($119,000) is still out of action with a sprained ankle, so Russ Smith ($58,000) continues to start. He has scored nine points in each of his two starts and has made 60% of his three-pointers (6-for-10). Smith splits time with Elisha Justice ($40,000) who has averaged five points over his last three games. Justice, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, has only made one of his six attempted three-pointers, but played 28 minutes against Arkansas State. Freshman Chane Behanan ($87,000) has been hanging around the perimeter for the last two games. He has missed all five of his three-point attempts and watched his rebounding totals fall precipitously. The 250 pounder should have a clear advantage in the paint against he Bobcats and will hopefully get back into double digit scoring. Speaking of size advantages, Gorgui Deing ($71,000) is coming off his first double digit scoring performance (ten points in a win over Arkansas State) and can possibly continue the upward trend.
USC at UNLV (Las Vegas Invitational)
It may be time to once again start the conversation of whether the Mountain West has passed the Pac 12 in terms of the West Coast’s premier conference. Even with BYU in the WCC, the Mountain West may win by default. Would UNLV be the best team in the Pac 12? My guess is that they show they are certainly much better than USC in the Las Vegas Invitational. The Trojans recently broke a three-game losing streak (losses to Nebraksa, San Diego State, and Cal Poly) by coming back against Morgan State. Mini mite Maurice Jones ($150,000) is both the starting and backup point guard because of the injury to Fordham transfer Jio Fontan ($40,000), who is out for the season. Jones has played all but three of the available minutes through five games and has scored at least 15 points four times. He is converting just 31.9% of his field goals, but the Trojans really don’t have anyone else to score from the perimeter. Iowa transfer Aaron Fuller ($150,000) has scored at least 12 points in all five games and was 7-for-8 from the field in the win over the Golden Bears (of Morgan State). Center Dewayne Dedmon ($98,000) has a pro body, but has only scored a combined five points in the last two games.
The Runnin’ Rebels are led by a player who escaped the Pac 12: forward Mike Moser ($140,000). The UCLA transfer has gobbled up rebounds at an unprecedented rate. Many of the boards are on the offense end, which leads to easy baskets for the 6-foot-8 sophomore. Moser has scored at least 14 points in four of the five games this season, but has missed all nine of his three-point attempts. Swingman Chace Stanback ($114,000) also transferred away from UCLA and has scored in double digits in all three of his seasons with UNLV. He has not been held below double digits this season and had a season-high 20 points, including five three-pointers in a win over Morgan State. Guard Oscar Bellefield ($132,000) has also scored in double digits in all five wins and has been quite efficient. He has converted 48.9% of his shots from the field and 45.2% of his threes, while averaged 5.0 assists. Defensive ace Justin Hawkins ($173,000) opened the season with a 25-point game against Division II Grand Canyon, bu the is now coming off the bench. Hawkins has only scored a combined 12 points in his last two games and is not worth his high price tag. Anthony Marshall ($75,000) is the point guard and has scored 13 points in his last two games. He’s a great value.
UAB at Wichita State
The Blazers have already tested one Missouri Valley team (Creighton) and came away a loser. Now they will take a shot at the Shockers who also have two losses in the early season. Western Kentucky transfer Jordan Swing ($153,000) is the most expensive Blazer, but the 6-foot-6 sophomore has only scored a combined ten points in his last two games. No need to sign him. The Blazer that represents a significant value is big man Cameron Moore ($111,000). He had 22 points in the Blazers’ lone win, a Nov. 22 sacking of Troy. The senior is a defensive presence, but also has the size to score on the low blocks. Moore was held to seven points in the opener by the Bluejays, but has improved his average to 14.7 points in the last two games. Forward Ovie Soko ($111,000) teams with Moore to clean the glass. Soko, who was born in London, has at least ten points in each game. Shooting guard Jekore Tyler ($136,000) is a junior college transfer that comes off the bench. He has at least nine points in each game, but won’t hold up to his salary given his limited minutes.
The Shockers have one of the stars of the Valley in senior Toure’ Murry ($133,000). He is another good value pick because he has scored a combined 45 points in his last two games. Murry came off the bench in the first three games and was held to four points in 12 minutes in the opening win against Charleston Southern. In the overtime loss to Temple last Sunday, Murry took 20 shots and made nine. Forward Ben Smith ($150,000) is an inside-outside forward who has banged home ten three-pointers thus far. He takes more than half of his shots from beyond the arc and has not been held below nine points. Despite scoring a combined 33 points against Colorado and Alabama, I would pass on the 6-foot-5 senior. Guard David Kyles ($103,000) also lives outside the perimeter and has three double digit scoring performances. He missed all six of his shots against the Crimson Tide, but has hit 50% of his threes in the other three games. Center Garrett Stutz ($77,000) is a 7-foot center whose salary is limited by his four-point performance in the opener. He only played nine minutes, but has scored in double figures twice. If he can figure out Moore and stay away from foul trouble, Stutz is a nice value play.