2021 NCAA Tournament Preview: Friday, Early Afternoon Games

After a year without the Tournament, this is awesome!  So, let’s get right to the games…

#7 Florida (-1) vs. #10 Virginia Tech
12:15 pm, CBS
I love the first game of the Tournament.  It’s always interesting to think of what two teams are gonna tip us off.  And, this year, it’s a pretty good one.  Or, at least a competitive one.

Florida
The Gators come stumbling into this Tournament and, I think, are one of the few major seeding mistakes that the Committee made in what was a rather well-seeded tournament, in general.  This team is not a 7-seed especially after losing 3 of their last 4 with that only win a close one over a bad Vandy team in the SEC Tournament that they easily could have lost.  The big story of the UF season is the loss of Keyontae Johnson after he had a TERRIFYING collapse in a game at FSU in November.  Johnson, the preseason SEC POY, was the best and most important player on this team, and their ceiling is definitely lowered without him.  But, most importantly, it looks like he’s going to be okay.  Before the recent swoon, the Gators had been pretty good considering they lost their best player.  They are top-40 in both offense and defense, and have one of the most unsung stars of the SEC in the 6’5” SO Tre Mann (15.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 45/39/84%), who is a stud on both ends.  He is probably the best player that no one ever talks about.  They also have former McDonald’s All-American in 6’5″ SO Scottie Lewis (7.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 spg), but he has been surprisingly slow to emerge in now his sophomore year in Gainesville.  They have a couple of decent wings in Reisterstown’s own 6’3” JR sharpshooter Noah Locke (10.5 ppg, 41% from three) and 6’1” JR transfer from Cleve State Tyree Appleby (11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.6 spg),.  And, losing Johnson has forced Mike White to go big and allowed for 6’11” JR transfer from Michigan Colin Castleton (12.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 59% FG) to emerge as a really good SEC big.  The Gators are 8-0 this year when Castleton scores 14 or more.

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The Forgotten 40: The Country’s Best College Basketball Teams that No One is Talking About

One of the regular features that we plan to run on BSB throughout this year’s college hoops season is a ranking of the best teams that no one is talking about.  We want to highlight some of the “other” teams in college basketball’s wide landscape.  So, we are going to try and rank the best teams in the country that have yet to receive a single vote in the AP Top 25 (aka…”not being talked about”).  We are going to start the season with a list of 40 teams, though as the season goes on and more polls come out, obviously fewer and fewer teams will be “eligible,” so we will probably cut it down as we move along, but, for now, we are debuting our list as a “Forgotten Forty.”

  1. Arkansas – The Razorbacks probably aren’t long for this list because I expect them to start getting noticed rather quickly.  Coach Anderson’s “40 Minutes of Hell, Jr.” style will be bolstered by the return of possible 1st-team All-SEC forward Marshon Powell, who missed all last year with an ACL tear.
  2. Alabama – Another overlooked SEC team is led by the outstanding coaching of Anthony Grant.  But, Grant’s got some players, too, as they return 4 starters and add 5-star recruit Devonta Pollard, who could be a standout freshman even in a conference that includes a team of Calipari recruits.
  3. BYU – With their level of program and coach, the Cougars will always be good. Noah Hartsock is gone, but do-it-all forward (get it?) Brandon Davies is back, as is UCLA transfer Matt Carlino.  They also add Tyler Haws, who averaged 11 ppg as a freshman starter in 2009-10, and is now back from his two-year Mormon mission for his sophomore season.
  4. Rutgers – Most of the Big East is ineligible for this list because, well, they get a decent amount of exposure.  But, this Rutgers team could be an actual sleeper in Big East.  I really like Mike Rice’s coaching style, and he returns 4 starters from a team that started to play pretty well down the stretch last year.
  5. Iowa State – I suspect that this team will be off this list rather soon, but it could go either way as to why.  Either it all comes together – like it did last year – and they are very, very good.  Or, it all fizzles, and they are lurking near the basement of the Big XII.  They lost 3 of their 5 starters, including first-round NBA pick, Royce White, but they added a couple potentially crucial pieces in Michigan State transfer Corey Lucious and Will Clyburn, a guard who averaged 17 points and 8 boards at Utah two years ago. Continue reading “The Forgotten 40: The Country’s Best College Basketball Teams that No One is Talking About”