Monday, March 18, 2019 5:57 PM | CBN
NCAA March Madness has arrived and I’m here to educate you on my favorite sleepers for this year’s upcoming tournament.
First team I love… Northeastern. A 13 seed in the Midwest region that is taking on 4 seeded Kansas in the opening round. This Northeastern team has a very efficient offense and a good mix of juniors and seniors. I also love the experience that this team has. The offense ranks top 25 in 3 pointers attempted and 3 point shooting %. Simply put, they take em and they make em. Northeastern ranks 5th in effective FG%, they score 1.028 points per possession which is just fantastic. Vasa Pusica leads the way for the Huskies as he’s scoring 17.8 Points per game and adds approx. 4 rebounds and assists per game as well. Jordan Roland also scored a respectable 14.7 a game. My key player for this team is Shawn Occeus, the junior from Boynton Beach, Florida. He's a really important piece for the Huskies who was hurt at the beginning of the season and missed out on crucial games like Virginia Tech, Alabama, and Syracuse. Shawn is a 3 and D guy coming off the bench and making an impact every single time he’s on the floor. He shoots 33% from 3 and collects 1.4 steals per game. I’d look for Occeus to wreak havoc and be a huge part of momentum shifts as Northeastern takes down Kansas. I also expect Pusica to score 20+. I’m very surprised that Northeastern isn’t a trendy upset pick thus far. That’s ok though, I’m very glad to fade the public here.
Prediction vs Kansas - 77-72 Northeastern Wins
Next up, Cincinnati. The Bearcats are currently playing the best basketball they have played all season and boy did they get an interesting draw in the tournament. They’ll be an under seeded 7 in the South region taking on Iowa. Where is the game you ask? Columbus, Ohio. A very easy trip for the rabid Cincy fans to make. I fully expect Cincy to feed off the crowd energy and throttle Iowa. I then think they’ll beat Tennessee. Why stop at the Sweet 16? They’ll beat whoever they see whether it’s Purdue, Villanova, Old Dominion, or St Mary’s. Jarron Cumberland is the star of this Cincy team. He is averaging 18.8 Points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 3.6 assists per game. Impressive. He shoots about 40% from the field and from beyond the arc. Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome will both be huge pieces to the puzzle for Cincy as they both average 8 points a game and the Bearcats are going to need Broome to chip in 10 or so points and then have Jenifer drain his 3’s. Jenifer shoots 44.5% from 3, so get him the looks he is hungry for and let him shoot. This team enjoys eating on the glass too, ranking 11th in offensive rebounds. Play nasty, gritty, Cincy basketball and the results will show.
Prediction vs Iowa - 68-60 Cincy WinsPrediction vs Tennessee - 69-67 Cincy WinsPrediction vs Purdue - 61-56 Cincy Wins
My final team to watch is Nevada. This team had such high hopes going into the season and I honestly don’t think those Final Four hopes have diminished in Reno. My worry with this team was that they didn’t give max effort or focus for 40 minutes in every game. They relied on talent to win games and they just didn’t look like the Wolfpack team we all loved last season. I expect that to change. Nevada has such an experienced and older team. They are a 7 seed in the West region and will take on Florida in Des Moines. I truly expect the Martin Twins to be determined, motivated, and focused. I expect Jordan Caroline to play angry and with a vengeance. This team is out for blood and you don’t want to be a team getting in their way of a trip to Minnesota for the Final Four. The Nevada defense hasn’t been very good this season due to their lack of energy and focus. If my theory is in fact true that Nevada has a ton of energy stored for this deep run, I truly think we’ll see the Nevada of last season. A pack of wolves that is hungry for blood and seeking out the opportunity to ruin their opponents seasons. I have Nevada beating Florida, Michigan, and Texas Tech, but falling to Gonzaga in the Elite Eight but I would not be shocked in the slightest if Nevada took Gonzaga to the brink and beat them. Most of us believed that these were the two best teams in the West at the beginning of the season and we could very well be watching them fight it out in the Elite Eight in Anaheim with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The Pack could very well be back.
Prediction vs Florida - 78-70 Nevada WinsPrediction vs Michigan - 73-67 Nevada WinsPrediction vs Texas Tech - 75-72 Nevada Wins