After the majority of the first three days of the week off, the college basketball engine revs itself up for the march toward March. There will be no little breaks on the way and conference play will start across the nation in the next week or so. This Saturday is the non-conference slate’s last big gasp and there are some nice match ups.
The biggest of the games is Kentucky at Louisville. Here is my lineup for this Saturday’s FanDuel contest and I had $5,700 left over. I have picked a sleeper or two that may help you fill out your lineup for this weekend. Let’s take a spin through my choices.
Russ Smith, guard, Louisville Cardinals vs. Kentucky (Draft for $7,300 on FanDuel): I consider Smith Louisville’s “designated scorer.” While Peyton Siva handles the ball, Smith is the only member of the Cardinal team that can consistently create his own shot. It helps in fantasy terms that he is not shy about hoisting shots as well. Through 12 games, he has taken 14.8 field goals per game and gone to the line six times per game. In his last six games, Smith has attempted 55 free throws and made 45 (81.8%). In the regular season meeting, Smith had 30 points, five rebounds, and three steals against the Wildcats. He was held to nine points in the Final Four loss.
Alex Poythress, forward, Kentucky Wildcats at Louisville (Draft for $7,000 on FanDuel): Since scoring 20 points in four straight games in November, the 6-7 freshman has struggled. He was held to three points against Notre Dame on Nov. 29 and scored just nine points before fouling out against Marshall on Dec. 22 in Kentucky’s last game. As long as he can stay out of foul trouble (which is a concern on the road), Poythress should get plenty of opportunities to put up fantasy numbers. He is still averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, and I think he’ll break out of his slump against Louisville.
Okaro White, forward, Florida State Seminoles vs. Tulsa (Draft for $6,300 on FanDuel): The Seminoles are team that is so geared toward defense that their offensive game can simply disappear. That apparently happened in a three-game losing streak four weeks ago against Minnesota, Mercer, and Florida in which the team averaged 57.0 points. Through it all White has been able to put up numbers and the 6-8 junior is averaging 13.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. He should have his way against Coach Danny Manning’s Golden Hurricane on the interior.
Julian DeBose, guard, Rice Owls at Texas (Draft for $5,900 on FanDuel): Last week, I gave a nod to Rice guard Tamir Jackson who is the only proven scorer on the squad. Rice is back for another FanDuel game against the Longhorns, so I’ll go with the less proven scorer in the Owl backcourt. DuBose is a 6-4 sophomore who is moderately boom or bust. He has four games of seven or fewer points, but has scored at least 11 points in all of the other seven games. DuBose tends to get in foul trouble, which limits his playing time, but he should match up well against the Longhorn guards and be able to outperform his contract.
Chris Denson, guard, Auburn Tigers at Illinois (Draft for $5,900 on FanDuel): Playing against the guard-strong Illini on the road might not seem favorable for Denson. The 6-2 guard is playing in just his fifth game of the season after being suspended for the fall semester because of poor academics. Since returning Denson has averaged 17.0 points and provided a combined 16 rebounds in his last three games. Denson has always been a good scorer, but has had limited opportunities to play in his first two seasons with the Tigers. His time is now and he appears to be aware of that fact.
Jonathan Holmes, forward, Texas Longhorns vs. Rice (Draft for $5,800 on FanDuel): I liked Holmes 10 days ago when the Longhorns beat North Carolina and I think he is a player on the rise. The 6-7 sophomore only had eight points in the loss to Michigan State last Saturday, but he fouled out after playing just 19 minutes. That likely won’t happen at home. The Owls are undermanned in the frontcourt and Holmes is averaging 7.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. He only had five points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes against the Owls last year, but I think his role is expanding on this year’s Longhorn squad.
Desmond Simmons, forward, Washington Huskies at Connecticut (Draft for $5,400 on FanDuel): It’s a battle for Husky supremacy in Connecticut. While both teams have nice perimeter options (I particular like C.J. Wilcox and Shabazz Napier), the teams both have nice value players in the frontcourt. Simmons is a good rebounder for Washington. He has not taken more than seven shots in a game (and in the game in which he did take seven against Nevada, he missed all of his shots), but he makes up for low point totals with rebounding and shot blocking. Simmons is averaging 8.2 rebounds and has six blocks in his last five games.
DeAndre Daniels, forward, Connecticut Huskies vs. Washington (Draft for $5,400 on FanDuel): Connecticut is extremely thin in the frontcourt, so Daniels is getting a big chance as a sophomore to play. The 6-8 forward has scored 15.3 points in his last three games, including a career-high 23 in the Dec. 7 win over Harvard. He is not a good 3-point shooter (24% from long range), but he is active on the offensive end and is a good finisher. Washington will likely play at a good pace, so Daniels may get some easy points in transition.
Ryan Harrow, guard, Kentucky Wildcats at Louisville (Draft for $5,300 on FanDuel): Even with a tough match up against Louisville, Harrow is an extreme bargain for Saturday. The North Carolina State transfer showed that he could put the ball in the hoop against the Thundering Herd on Dec. 22. He had 23 points on 10-of-17 from the field. If he can continue to hit shots from the perimeter, it will open up Kentucky’s inside game. The Cardinals are defensively ferocious, but Harrow is so cheap and will get playing time that he should be a nice bargain.
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