2016 NFL Draft Prospects: Linebackers

By Aaron Hyden
PSDC College Football Contributor

As the game of football continues to evolve, the linebacker position continues changing with it. With different defensive fronts, hybrid schemes and better athletes comes a different direction for the position. You have LBs that are strictly on the field to provide a pass rush, and are basically players who were defensive ends, but are too light to play DE anymore. You have the “traditional” LBs, who stay in their spots and rack up the tackle stats, playing sideline-to-sideline. It seems like every team has a different fit, and therefore, a different set of ‘Backers to play with. This is another loaded position in the Draft, with plenty of names fighting it out for first-round spots.

1. Scooby Wright, ILB/OLB, Arizona – Wright isn’t someone that you would refer to as an elite level athlete. He runs a 4.65 40, which isn’t bad at all, but compared to the 4.4’s and 4.5’s that some LBs run, his number doesn’t jump out at you. What he doesn’t have in elite athleticism, he makes up for it with world class instincts and a motor that simply doesn’t stop. When you watch an Arizona game, you’d swear that Wright ends each of them with 20+ tackles. He’s around the football like he was playing on offense, whether it’s making tackles, stuffing the run, pressuring the quarterback, forcing fumbles, and so on. His 2014 numbers (163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, six forced fumbles) are what your LBs would get if you fired up a season in NCAA Football on your PS3.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

If there’s anything people can point to and say Wright needs to improve at it, it would be his pass coverage. Some would tell you it doesn’t matter much, though, because that isn’t what his game is. He can sometimes fall into a one-dimensional spell when it comes to his pass rush moves, but that is something that he can easily improve on, making him an even better prospect for 2016. [Read more…]

March Madness Preview: The Elite Six

By Corbett Smith
PSDC March Madness Contributor

As March Madness nears, everyone prepares for the tournament, constantly refreshing the mock brackets in hopes of knowing if their team will make the cut or who they will likely face. The tension that is felt as this season nears is unrivaled. The tournament is a special being in itself. One game to decide your fate. Winner take all. It’s a magical time that gives everyone a fighting chance.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

The tournament typically falls down to a point where you can predict a top grouping of teams and be close in knowing who the winner will be. Then there are the years like last season. Conecticut was a stunner last year, the No. 7 seed who eeked through their first round matchup. Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels put the team on their back and carried them to the highest peak attainable in NCAA basketball. That’s the magic of the NCAA tournament. A No. 7 seed who slips through their first round can find themselves still alive, fighting in the end and come away with the much sought after trophy. [Read more…]

Michigan and Arizona Feel the NBA Draft Sting

By Tommy Guastaferro
PSDC Writer

Both Arizona and Michigan appeared in the 2014 Elite Eight, losing to Wisconsin and Kentucky respectively in two of the most memorable games of the tournament. On Tuesday, however, repeat appearance opportunities to the Elite Eight for both programs have taken a major step back.

Aaron Gordon, the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, has drawn comparisons to the Clippers’ Blake Griffin due to his thunderous drunks and explosive athleticism. Gordon is projected as a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft.

Strengths: Athleticism, rebounding, basketball IQ, motor and an excellent transition game.

Weaknesses: Undersized, perimeter shooting and free throw shooting. [Read more…]

The Official 2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdown

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

South

Dissecting the No. 1 seed…

Winners of the SEC regular season title and the postseason tournament, the Florida Gators enter the tournament as the nation’s top seed. The Gators boast a 26-game win streak, their last loss coming on Dec. 2 against a veteran UConn squad. This year’s Florida team is battle-tested and experienced, though. Out of the seven players that average 20 minutes played or more per game, four are seniors while only one is a freshman. Although none of the players will catch your eye on the stat sheet, Florida is a well-balanced machine on both ends of the court. Four players average between 11.1 and 14.2 points per game and as a team, the Gators give up only 57.9 points per contest, the third least in the nation.

Florida should breeze through the first two rounds of the tournament, however potential matchups against UCLA, Kansas, Syracuse, VCU and New Mexico would give the No. 1 stiff competition. The Gators’ 66.1 percent from the free throw line ranks 268th nationally, and could prove detrimental to the nation’s top team should the game be close in the waning seconds. [Read more…]

Adams, Anderson Propel UCLA to Pac-12 Title

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

The stage was set for one of college basketball’s most compelling rematches of the season: UCLA’s high powered offense (82 points per game, 10th most nationally) against Arizona’s stalwart defense which allows the fewest points per possession of any team in the nation. In the first game between the conference foes, the then-No. 1 Wildcats were able to fend off a late game push to secure a 79-75 road victory at Pauley Pavilion.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

Coming into Saturday’s contest, both teams had breezed through their first two matchups of the Pac-12 conference tournament. [Read more…]

Florida, Wichita State Remain Atop AP Poll

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

For the third straight week, the top two teams in The Associated Press Top 25 poll remain unchanged.

Florida, which closed out its undefeated season in the Southeastern Conference with an 84-65 victory over Kentucky on Saturday, received 50 first-place votes from the 65-member national panel. The Gators will play their first game in the SEC tournament on Friday against the winner of the Texas A&M-Missouri contest.

Wichita State, which defeated Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship game, earned the 15 remaining first-place votes. The victory cemented an undefeated regular season for the Shockers as they become the first unbeaten team to enter the NCAA tournament since UNLV in 1991.

Villanova jumped up to No. 3 in the latest polls after victories against Xavier and Georgetown this past week. The Wildcats secured their first outright Big East title for the first time since 1981-82. [Read more…]

Florida Remains No. 1, Virginia Cracks Top 5

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

After a 75-56 drubbing over No. 4 Syracuse on Saturday, Virginia claimed the outright ACC title for the first time since 1981. On Monday, the Cavaliers landed a spot in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2001-02.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

For the third straight week, Florida, Wichita State and Arizona remained the top three teams in the rankings. The Gators received 46 of the 65 first-place votes. Wichita State, despite securing the nation’s first undefeated regular season since Saint Joseph’s in 2004, hauled in just 14 of the votes. Arizona got the other five votes. [Read more…]

Florida Emerges as Nation’s Top Team, Wichita State No. 2

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

For the first time since their national championship season in 2007, the Florida Gators have nabbed the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Photo Credit: sportsinvasion.net

Photo Credit: sportsinvasion.net

Despite earning the top spot in this week’s rankings, Florida head coach Billy Donovan remains unsatisfied. [Read more…]

Predicting College Basketball’s No. 1 Seeds

By Michael Diaz DeLeon
PSDC Writer

Syracuse- You kind of expected the Orange to lose, because of the conference that they are in, but who picked them to lose to Boston College? The Orange still have games at Duke and Virginia and a loss to one of those teams would have made more sense. Though, they can still lose those games. This loss can be a blessing in disguise for Syracuse. It lifts that pressure of their shoulders of talking about an undefeated season and now they can go out and just play basketball. Plus, a loss always teaches a young team a good lesson. Syracuse will rebound and they are still a great team that will make a run to the championship. [Read more…]

Syracuse Remains Atop AP Poll, Florida Rises After Arizona Loss

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

For the third straight week, Syracuse continues its streak as the top ranked team in The Associated Press Top 25. However, the Orange no longer finds itself as the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation. After defeating Pittsburgh and NC State in final second fashion last week, Syracuse received 64 first-place votes from the 65-member media panel.

Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press was the lone member of the panel to switch No. 1 vote from Syracuse to Florida.

“Simply put, I watched both teams play both games last week and I think Florida is the best team in the country,” Rexrode said. “That’s pretty much it.”

Photo Credit: gatorzone.com

Photo Credit: gatorzone.com

Florida, which picked up a crucial 69-59 road victory at Kentucky on Saturday, moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 after Arizona’s loss at Arizona State. [Read more…]

A New Arizona and Weekly Impressions

By Nate Muzika
PSDC Writer

You might have noticed that we missed a week here at Weekly Impressions. On behalf of myself and Project Shanks, I apologize for the lost week. The real crime is that a full roster of my best Grammy jokes has gone out the window because that event is no longer topical and relevant. That leaves us with little to discuss from the realm of pop culture this week because I refuse to discuss the Biebs and I had to throw out all of my Philip Seymour Hoffman jokes because they made me seem like an even bigger jerk than I actually am.

We also missed a chance to discuss Arizona’s first loss in a timely fashion, but fear not loyal readers, the Wildcats are still involved in this week’s edition. Arizona won’t get sympathy from the rest of the nation. Look around and plenty of teams are banged up or missing key pieces, but the challenge is to see if Arizona can maintain without forward Brandon Ashley.

1. Biggest Takeaway: Bye Bye Brandon. As you all know, Arizona is without the services of Brandon Ashley for the rest of the year. Brandon is a 6’8 forward from Arizona who was averaging 11.5 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. He was also a vital cog in the Arizona offense and his length really made the Cats a supremely long, athletic and deep team as a whole. He is not to be confused with Ashley Brandon, who sounds like a really hot sorority girl or a new diva in the WWE.

Brandon-Ashley-Arizona-Wildcats-1

Anyway, Arizona lost to Cal and had to bounce back with a hard fought victory over Oregon on Thursday. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson filled in admirably with 14 points and 10 boards, but the Arizona offense was out of sorts all night and Arizona struggled to get a win. Aaron Gordon was 2-of-11 from the free throw line, Nick Johnson shot threes like he was aiming for the 25-point hoop in Rock-N-Jock basketball, and T.J. McConnell was just 2-of-9 from the field. With all of those issues, the Cats still found a way. [Read more…]

College Hoops: Welcome Back and Weekly Impressions

By Nate Muzika
PSDC Writer

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but college basketball has changed immensely since the advent of the one and done rule. There is no one way to build a basketball team. Duke has largely tried to field a team of veterans and upperclassmen with the obvious exceptions of building their teams around Jabari Parker this year and Kyrie Irving a few years ago. Kansas has had obvious success this year with a crop of youngsters led by Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, and other teams like Connecticut have largely either stayed away from building teams around impact newcomers, or have been unable to land them.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

This has brought about a variety of outcomes in March. For instance, we’ve seen a talented group of Florida players return for their junior seasons to repeat. We’ve seen Butler make two title game appearances very ugly and uncomfortable. We’ve seen a veteran Kansas squad beat Derrick Rose, and we’ve seen stars like Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Blake Griffin fail to lead their teams to anything of significance. We’ve also team a team of one and done guys get it done and win a national title under John Calipari with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Throughout it all, many coaches, like Bill Self have self-evaluated their teams each offseason and decided the best route to go. Play it with veterans, rely on highly touted freshmen or hope for the perfect combination of both? John Calipari has completely bucked that trend and decided to turn Kentucky into a new team each season and rely on the young guys while turning over a large portion of the roster. Regardless of how you feel about Cal’s experiment (I love it, but understand the shouts from those that disagree with his approach) you have to at least admit that it is interesting to see how his program will evolve each season. [Read more…]