BOZICH | Monday Muse: Over/Under U of L, UK, IU football win totals; Fox to the Lakers?
Las Vegas has released its projected college football win totals for U of L, UK and IU. What would be the best landing spots for De'Aaron Fox and Brendan McKay?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – No Triple Crown to fuss debate. Plenty of time to get worked up about the NBA Draft. I’ll give the Cleveland Cavaliers a pass for playing like the Washington Generals Sunday night. Stanley Cup hockey, anyone?
What is the Go-To Move for the Monday Muse?
Can never go wrong with college football or college basketball. I can work those items into the discussion 52 Mondays a year. Including today.
1. Projected U of L, UK, IU Football Win Totals
The 2017 college football magazines are due on the newsstands any minute. Las Vegas does not have time to wait. I found Covers.com, a website that has posted the regular-season victory totals for schools in the Power Five conferences. (Link.)
I’ll begin with Louisville, the local team Las Vegas believes will deliver the best season.
Louisville – 9 wins
My take: Under.
The defensive personnel losses at Louisville have been considerable for three seasons. The Cards have changed defensive coordinators, too. The defense was shaky down the stretch, allowing 106 points in the three-game losing streak to finish the season.
Louisville will not be favored at Florida State. The Cards are 0-3 against Clemson. Road games with North Carolina, Wake Forest and Kentucky will be difficult.
Nine wins would be a terrific season for Louisville. Eight is a more reasonable forecast.
Kentucky – 6 wins
My take: Over.
The Wildcats won seven (not six, thanks Guy Spalding) during the regular season last year – and could have won two more. Just as they could have won one or two more in 2015. And …
This team has more experience, more talent and more confidence. Kentucky plays seven home games. If the Wildcats can win their opener at Southern Miss, they figure to jump to 3-0 by handling Eastern Kentucky and South Carolina.
Eastern Michigan, Missouri and sagging Ole Miss get UK to six.
With Florida and Louisville at home as well as Mississippi State and Vanderbilt on the road, Mark Stoops should be able to squeeze seven victories from his team.
Indiana – 5 ½ wins.
My take: under
In case you have not heard, Indiana opens its season Aug. 31 by hosting Ohio State. Then the Hoosiers are on the road against the Virginia team that nearly upset Louisville last season. Two of the Hoosiers’ next four games are against Top 25 opponents – Penn State and Michigan.
For a team with a hole at running back and a new coaching staff, that’s a lot to overcome. Five is the wise projection in Bloomington.
2. Brendan McKay: Better Fit For the Reds
This is the stretch drive for Louisville junior Brendan McKay, who has been the best two-way player in college baseball for three seasons.
He hits. He pitches. He dominates. He produces. He represents Dan McDonnell’s program like a champion.
But mostly he makes it hard for major league scouts to make the call: Does McKay project as a first baseman or pitcher as a professional?
Some argue first base because position players perform every day. Look at the career John Olerud had with the Blue Jays.
No, no, no. Quality left-handed pitchers can play forever. Teams cannot get enough lefties. It’s his quickest path to The Show. Even if McKay falters, it’s easier to transition from pitcher to every day player than from first baseman to the mound.
Baseball America magazine has spoken on the matter. Sort of. In this piece, BA’s writes that McKay is a better draft fit for the Reds, who pick second, than the Twins, who pick first, because even if the Reds employ him as a pitcher they’ll still get the benefit of letting him hit every fifth day in the National League.
I’ve changed my mind on this topic dozens of times and settled on this view: The kid can’t lose, although it will be a challenge getting to the big leagues and staying there at either spot. Ask A.J. Reed of Kentucky.
3. De’Aaron Fox: Better Fit For the Lakers
Former Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox shocked the world last week when he told a questioner that he would be fine playing for the Sacramento Kings, who have the fifth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Good for Fox. Several mock drafts have him headed to Sacramento. Better to get a nervous fan base on his side. Kings’ fans are looking for somebody to love. Fox can be that guy.
But more people are suggesting there is a better way for Fox. Why not push your way into the second draft spot and play for the Lakers?
Lavar Ball is trying to manipulate public opinion to pressure the Lakers into drafting his son, former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball.
Not everybody loves that idea. Sports Illustrated voted Fox over Ball last week, a concept that earned a second from former Chicago Tribune sports columnist David Israel. The movement to get Fox to the Staples Center is growing.
Count me in.
4. Hamidou Diallo: Better Fit For the Bulls
The Chicago Bulls have had mixed results with former John Calipari guards. Derrick Rose enjoyed a solid run at the United Center until injuries stopped his development and led him to the Knicks. The Bulls also drafted former UK point guard Marquis Teague in 2012, but Teague failed to establish himself in the league.
Should the Bulls pursue another Calipari guard?
Mark Strotman of CSNChicago.com believes they should. He is not talking about Fox or Malik Monk, players who will be gone before the Bulls draft at 16.
DraftExpress.com projects that the Bulls will take a guard, but not the guard that Strotman identified. DraftExpress nominated Luke Kennard of Duke. Strotman wrote that the Bulls should be bold and take a chance on Hamidou Diallo, who practiced but did not play for UK last season.
The Bulls’ management team of John Paxson, Gar Forman and coach Fred Hoiberg will start the 2017-18 dealing with more criticism from Chicago’s recent run of mediocrity.
Diallo is too risky to take at 16.
5. Lamar Jackson Still the One
Most of the early hype for the 2017 Heisman Trophy has surrounded USC quarterback Sam Darnold.
He looked great in the Rose Bowl. He throws the ball the way an NFL quarterback is supposed to throw it. USC is projected to contend for the national title.
There is one other reason for all the love: Darnold did not win the Heisman last season. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson did.
As good as Jackson was last season, he’ll have to be even better to repeat because folks are always looking for The Next Great Thing.
Credit Larry Brown, of LarryBrownSports.com, with a more reasonable approach. He made his list of the 10 Best Quarterbacks in College Football.
Darnold was third. Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma was second.
And Jackson was first. (The link.)
6. When Michaels Speaks, Romo, Cutler Should Listen
I’m puzzled why so many sports big shots stop and talk for ambush interviews by TMZ. But they do.
Even Al Michaels, the guy generally considered the best announcer in sports, the voice of Sunday Night Football, is kind and gentle.
TMZ approached Michaels outside The Palm restaurant in Los Angeles and asked him how former NFL quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jay Cutler will perform as rookie analysts during the 2017 season.
Michaels did not wave the camera away. In fact, he shared advice for the two QBs and identified the best analyst he’s ever worked with.
I won’t spoil the surprise, even though it’s not difficult to predict the guy Michaels has enjoyed working with more than even his former pal, O.J. Simpson.
7, The ACC Money Trail
Even without a TV network times are good in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and I’m not talking about the league having the reigning champions in football and men’s college basketball.
David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press snagged a copy of the ACC’s tax return for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The league earned more than $373 in total revenue, resulting in a distribution of more than $23 to ACC members.
More dollars to come.
8. Enes Kanter Speaks
Enes Kanter practiced with John Calipari’s UK basketball team during the 2010-11 season but the NCAA declared him ineligible to compete in games. Kanter did not agree with the ruling – and spoke against it. (The link.)
He’s still speaking his mind – with more substantial consequences.
Kanter was detained in an airport in Romania last week after the Turkish government canceled his passport. Kanter is a native of Turkey. Why was his passport canceled?
Simple. Kanter, who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Apparently Erdogan follows what the country’s NBA products say. Kanter has supported Fethullah Gulen, a preacher based in Pennsylvania who has been critical of Erdogan.
Wonder if he likes the Warriors or Cavaliers?
9. Todd Frazier: On The Move Again?
Todd Frazier reigned as a popular performer for the Louisville Bats. The love affair grew when Frazier settled in with Cincinnati, giving Reds’ fans reason to go gaga by winning the 2015 Home Run Derby at Great American Ball Park. He played like the Reds’ best third baseman since Scott Rolen.
Then Frazier was gone – sent to the Chicago White Sox in a three-way deal with the Dodgers than netted the Reds three prospects.
Frazier was supposed to be the missing piece in the White Sox lineup last season. Nope. In 192 games on the South Side, Frazier has hit .220 with 192 strikeouts in 713 at bats.
No wonder the baseball trade boards have Frazier on the move again – this time to the Red Sox, who are desperate for a third baseman.
Frazier will be a free agent after this season. His bargaining power needs a big finish.
10. Poll Results
Do you agree with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's take that basketball's one-and-done rule is "a travesty?"
Yes – 91.4 percent
No – 8.6 percent.
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