College and NBA Basketball Update and NFL Projected Draft
Maybe Duke received a bad batch of "kicks" from the folks at Nike ... hey, star freshman Zion Williamson's knee injury in the opening minute of last night's never-in-doubt 88-72 loss against 9.5-point underdog North Carolina (a 25 unit Upset Winner!) surely is no laughing matter although early reports claim he suffered only a "mild knee sprain" but when's the last time you saw a kid blow out his footwear like that?
The proverbial bottom line is the Blue Devils never did emotionally recover from that slide-and-fall play as Carolina scored 62 in-the-paint points and rollicked to an easy win in Durham as F Luke Maye scored 30 points, snagged 15 rebounds and - like many of his teammates - made some of the sweetest in-close passes you've ever seen. The Tar Heels didn't play an "A+" game - too sloppy with the ball at times - but this one should go a long way in keeping UNC on the #2 seed line for next month's NCAA Tournament and Roy Williams' crew could wind up on the #1 seed line with an ACC Tourney title.
Now, it's time for the Dookies to keep fingers crossed in regards to Mr. Williamson 'cause Mike Krzyzewski's club might be no better than a Sweet 16-type team without the man that wears No. 1.
Let's take a few moments to check out some post-All-Star Game break "teams to watch" as the league's back in action tonight ...
PHILADELPHIA (37-21) - No doubt the 76ers are heading back to the NBA Playoffs this spring (in back-to-back years for the first time in forever!) but will Philly be money-makers in its final 24 regular-season games? The Sixers enter tonight's home game against 6-point underdog Miami with a mediocre 28-30 ATS (against the spread) mark and take note that Philadelphia's sported only one three-game ATS winning streak this year, so we've yet to see the 76ers generate any real drive to cash on a sustained basis. If All Stars Joel Embiid (out for a couple of games with a sore knee), Ben Simmons and mates don't step it up on "D" then this club will stay sub-.500 versus the vig.
SACRAMENTO (30-27) - The Kings come out of the second-half break having covered six of their last seven games while notching a dandy 34-23 ATS mark and did you know Sacramento's a hearty 14-6 SU /ATS when playing Eastern Conference foes? Okay, so maybe the key is the Kings might be worth our financial attention here in their final 25 regular-season outings if they're getting points or just tiny betting favorites against Eastern Conference squads. Remember this is a really young team that could "hit a wall" in the last month-plus of the season, so don't merely expect that .596 winning rate against the odds to continue here 'cause there could be some major challenges ahead.
TORONTO (43-16) - The North-of-the-Border gang enters the post-break tilts just one game back of Milwaukee in the chase for the top seed in the Eastern Conference but note the Raptors are a disappointing 26-31-2 against the odds ... what gives? Note that Toronto is a rotten 4-10-1 spreadwise in its last 15 road games and so maybe it's a really good thing that Kawhi Leonard and mates play five of their first six post-break games in Canada. Okay, so we would expect Toronto to upgrade that overall pointspread mark - and that recent road spread record, too - but let's keep track of how the new pieces (see Marc Gasol, Jeremy Lin) fit in here.
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT
Sure, there's a lot of time between now and the start of the National Football League Draft on April 25th but it's not too early to examine how we see Round I going ... for now:
1. ARIZONA - Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
2. OAKLAND (projected trade with San Francisco) - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
3. NEW YORK GIANTS (projected trade with New York Jets) - Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
4. SAN FRANCISCO (projected trade with Oakland) - Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
5. TAMPA BAY - Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
6. NEW YORK JETS (projected trade with New York Giants) - Jeffery Simmons, DT, Miss State
7. JACKSONVILLE - Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
8. DETROIT - Montez Sweat, DE, Miss State
9. BUFFALO - Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
10. DENVER - Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
11. CINCINNATI - Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
12. LOS ANGELES RAMS (projected trade with Green Bay) - Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
13. MIAMI - Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
14. ATLANTA - Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
15. WASHINGTON - Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
16. CAROLINA - Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
17. NEW YORK JETS (projected trade with Cleveland) - Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
18. MINNESOTA - Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
19. TENNESSEE - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
20. BUFFALO (projected trade with Pittsburgh) - Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Here's our projected picks #21-thru-32:
21. SEATTLE - Devin White, ILB, LSU: The Seahawks are building back up their defense and this athletic sideline-to-sideline pursuer drops right in their laps.
22. BALTIMORE - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: There's larceny in this guy's heart as he intercepted four passes in the Huskies' final five games last year. Solid addition to a Ravens' secondary that needs a jolt.
23. HOUSTON - Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma: No doubt the Texans need to protect QB Deshaun Watson better than they did last year.
24. OAKLAND (earlier trade with Chicago): D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss: The Raiders could use more O-line / D-line help here but this pass-catcher basically will take the throws that used to go to Amari Cooper.
25. PHILADELPHIA - Nasir Adderley, FS, Delaware: The Birds stay local with this Blue Hens defender who really packs a wallop.
26. INDIANAPOLIS - Jachai Polite, DE, Florida: Most draft experts claim this cat-quick 245-pounder is top 15 material so the Colts say "thanks" when he drops to them here.
27. SAN FRANCISCO (projected trade with Oakland) - A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss: Remember we have the Raiders adding in this draft pick so they could move up to #2 here in Round One action and so the Niners add a needed downfield target for QB Jimmy Garappolo.
28. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS - Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame: This dude's massive at 6-feet-7, 310 pounds and better believe the Bolts need to power up this D-line on the inside.
29. KANSAS CITY - Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson: Okay, so this will make it three Clemson Tigers defensive linemen scooped up in Round I ... no wonder they won two national titles in the past three years!
30. GREEN BAY (earlier trade with New Orleans) - T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: This 6-foot-5 target is top-rated tight end on the board and keep in mind the Packers get the next pick too following our "suggested" trade with the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams.
31. GREEN BAY (projected trade with LA Rams) - Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss: Let's get some better protection for QB Aaron Rodgers, say the Pack brass.
32. NEW ENGLAND - Oshane Ximines, DE/OLB, Old Dominion: Rated as the seventh-best edge rusher in this man's draft, the Pats snatch 'em up after the top six are already long gone.