Ah, this is what I have been waiting for: conference play. The patsies will no longer be of the Div. 2 variety. Even the worst Tier 1 teams have some in depth knowledge of their opponent’s roster and how best to attack the other team’s system. In terms of players, there is a great deal of turnover from year to year, but coaches like to keep their systems. With that knowledge, let’s look at my nine-player lineup for the early games on Saturday on FanDuel. I had just $800 leftover on my $6000 salary cap, which means I went for some big name players.
Jack Cooley, forward, Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Seton Hall (Draft for $7,800 on FanDuel): The Fighting Irish have a lot of intriguing players, but their sun rises and sets with the fortunes of Cooley. The 6-9 senior is a double-double machine. He has provided at least eight points and eight rebounds in every game and has nine double-doubles in 13 games. Last year at Seton Hall, Cooley put up 13 points, 11 rebounds, and a pair of blocks. He is coming off his best game with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks in the Dec. 21 win over Niagara, so he should be rested and ready for the Pirates.
Pierre Jackson, guard, Baylor Bears vs. Texas (Draft for $7,800 on FanDuel): Jackson is one of my favorite players in college basketball. He is a deadly scoring point guard who is not afraid to take big shots. Usually, I don’t like high-usage point guards, but Jackson is the exception and he should have his way with the young Longhorn backcourt. Thus far, the 5-10 senior is averaging 19.6 points, 6.3 assists, and 2.2 steals. Last year in the home game against Texas, Jackson had one of his worst games of the season with seven points, seven assists, and five turnovers, but he should be able to school Javan Felix and put up some pretty sweet numbers.
Le’Bryan Nash, guard, Oklahoma State Cowboys at Kansas State (Draft for $7,300 on FanDuel): There were many people, myself included, that thought Nash was a candidate for the Big 12 Player of the Year as a sophomore. While his numbers are up slightly from a good freshman year, he isn’t even the MVP on his own team (that would be freshman Marcus Smart, despite the missed free throws against Gonzaga). Nash came off the bench against the Zags, but that might spur him to better play against conference foes. Despite scoring 10 points or fewer in five of his last six games, Nash showed his potential in the early going for six straight games of 16 or more points with rebounds, assists, and steals. Like Jackson, Nash can atone for a lousy game against the Wildcats last year (four points, five rebounds, two assists, in 21 minutes).
Kenny Kadji, forward, Miami Hurricanes at Georgia Tech (Draft for $6,800 on FanDuel): With Reggie Johnson out with a broken thumb, the Hurricanes are going to lean on Kadji to score more. The 6-11 3-point bomber emerged on the scene last year when Johnson was out with injury and he should be a great player to pick for Duelers on Saturday. In the four games since Johnson has been out, Kadji has averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. Meanwhile, he has only hit 2-of-10 on 3-pointers. If he can find his long range stroke, he should be able big numbers against the Yellow Jackets. Last year in Atlanta, he had 21 points and eight rebounds.
Brandon Mobley, forward, Seton Hall Pirates at Notre Dame (Draft for $6,100 on FanDuel): Mobley started the season slowly and had a two-game stint off the bench, but he has started to put things together in the last three weeks. The 6-9 sophomore has four double-doubles in his last six games and opened Big East play on Wednesday with a 16-point, 10-rebounds, two-block performance in the one-point win over DePaul. Playing at the Joyce Center can be trying and Mobley did little against the Irish as a freshman (15 scoreless minutes off the bench with seven rebounds and two assists). However, the price is right and the sophomore is on the upswing.
Kyle Anderson, guard, UCLA Bruins vs. Stanford (Draft for $6,100 on FanDuel): I love big guards. They can rebound along with the usual scoring and passing you hope to get from a backcourt player. Anderson is starting to put things together. The 6-9 freshman has put up three double-doubles in his last five games and opened Pac 12 play with a line of 19 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks in the win over Cal. He is not much of a 3-pointer shooter, but has limited his damage by not taking many long range shots. In his past three games, Anderson has gone to the free throw line 23 times and made 19 (82.6%). Like most opponents, Stanford probably doesn’t have anyone to check Anderson who should have another big game.
Will Spradling, guard, Kansas State Wildcats vs. Oklahoma State (Draft for $5,800 on FanDuel): On a team with Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez, the 6-2 Spradling can be overlooked. The combo guard does a little of whatever the team needs. Against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats will need perimeter defense, so Spradling should see heavy minutes per his usual. He is averaging just 9.5 points, but has not scored fewer than eight points in his last seven games. Last year, Spradling averaged 7.5 points and 3.5 assists against the Cowboys, but had seven points and seven assists in the win in Manhattan. He is a low-priced play who could come through with a big game in the Big 12 opener.
Robert Carter, forward, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Miami (Draft for $5,800 on FanDuel): When I look at freshmen for my lineup, I want to see a general uptick in production and minutes. Carter, a 6-8, 245 lb freshman for Georgia Tech, has been putting up increasing numbers. He has two double-doubles in his last four games and has averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds over his last five games. Unlike most young big men, fouls have not been an issue for Carter and his increase in production started when he stopped taking more than one 3-pointer per game. He may leave some points on the table because of poor free throw shooting (62.5%), but he should be a nice bargain for his price.
Nate Lubick, forward, Georgetown Hoyas at Marquette (Draft for $5,800 on FanDuel): If you are rounding out your lineup and need a low-priced player, you could look at the 6-8 Lubick. He is not flashy and his ceiling is not as high as his fellow Hoyas, Otto Porter and Greg Whittington. However, Lubick can be a force on the offensive glass. He has scored in double digits four times this season, including 11 points against UCLA and 13 points against Texas. Because of Georgetown’s use of the Princeton offense, Lubick will get more than his share of assists. He had seven assists against Longwood on Dec. 10 and has dropped at least two dimes in every game. In addition, Lubick has blocked two shots in three of his last four games.
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