Article by: Harrison Weaver
Welcome back, readers. For those of you that keep up with my articles, you know that I cover a lot of basketball and college football. Today, I feel the need to cover a little bit of both. So why not? First, let me get into a little bit of college football. Basketball fans, if you don’t have any interest, then feel free to scroll to the bottom. Down there, I’ll be going into what happened to Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, and what it means for US Basketball; now, I move on to NCAA football.
Last week, I gave you all a look into my college football crystal ball, predicting that Clemson, Texas, and Penn State would all win, including Penn State winning 179-3. Unfortunately, my crystal ball was a little blurry this past weekend, and I apologize for that. While Clemson took care of business and while Penn State didn’t win 179-3, they did manage to cover the -31.5 spread after an incredible second-half performance. However, I let you all down with my Texas versus LSU prediction. Texas had a few opportunities to jump out early, but Joe Burrows and the LSU offense were humming along all game and kept Texas playing catch-up the entire time. This week, I’m going to try to do a little better. So, let’s get into it.
Week 3 Pick’em
Penn State versus Pitt (12PM ET on ABC)
Scroll through Penn State Barstool or Pitt Barstool for a couple of minutes and you’ll see the animosity these two schools have for each other. After a rough start against Buffalo, Penn State was able to turn on the burners and take down the Bulls in style, winning 45-13. Pitt lacks the necessary pieces to consistently move the ball against Penn State’s strong defense and I think the defensive line with give QB Kenny Pickett problems all game long. I also like the rhythm Penn State’s offense has been able to find, outside of the first half against Buffalo. I see it as something they can build upon and develop, and I see nothing changing in this game.
My pick: Penn State, 38-17
Iowa versus Iowa State (4PM ET on FS1)
Two teams that a lot of people were high on to start the season, the in-state rivals find themselves matched up this week to fight for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Iowa barely survived what ended up being a thrilling 3OT game against FCS Northern Iowa. Iowa has taken care of business on their end, outscoring their opponents 68-14 thus far. These Iowa vs. Iowa State games are always close though, so don’t be fooled. This game will be a slow-and-steady grind, don’t get your hopes up for a lot of offense. My pick, Iowa wins a close game behind the arm of Nate Stanley and their rock-solid defense.
My pick: Iowa, 21-17
#25 Virginia versus Florida State (7:30 ET on ACC Network)
Hey social media fans, did any of you see the picture of FSU wide receiver Tre McKitty line up backward last weekend against UL Monroe? If not, here you go, enjoy. Florida State’s offense is looking vastly improved this season, which could be a sign of hope in the future. Their defense though still is very subpar and they almost lost last weekend to UL Monroe...meanwhile Virginia has looked like an ACC Coastal contender. The grass keeps getting greener for Virginia.
My pick: Virginia, 38-24
Stanford @ UCF (3:30 PM on ESPN)
Washington State @ Houston (Friday @ 9:15 PM on ESPN)
Washington State, 45-38
#18 Michigan State vs. Arizona State (4PM ET on FOX)
Michigan State, 34-17
Team USA Woes
I’m going to start this off by being very straightforward. Who cares? This is not a big deal. A lot of these international players are experienced, savvy, have developed chemistry with fellow players, and can definitely ball. While Team USA is easily the most talented, they were not the biggest, most experienced, most fluid team in this tournament. This team was very far from the Dream Teams of 1992 and 2008. This year’s FIBA World Cup team was led by the likes of Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, and Jayson Tatum. That’s absolutely zero disrespect to any of those guys or anyone else on the roster. As I said, they are still the most talented team in the world, and that’s with only one top 20 player according to SI’s list of Top 100 Players for 2020. If anything, everyone on this roster got to compete against pro-level talent and got experience being leaders or learning new roles.
The downfall of this Team USA was the lack of chemistry, lack of size, and a heavy reliance on hero-ball when they got behind. It was very different than the look you would normally get from a Popovich-coached team. Remember, the two losses came against France and Serbia. Guess who played center for those teams? Rudy Gobert for France and Nikola Jokic for Serbia. Team USA was getting dominated in the paint and didn’t adjust well enough on offense when the shots stopped falling on offense. While it’s a bummer that the US international win streak with NBA players is snapped at 58 games, which featured 5 titles and spanned over five years.
The takeaway: Team USA wins the FIBA World Cup if the top guys play. I’d bet my college tuition money on that, plain and simple. International basketball can’t compete with a team made up of LeBron, Harden, Anthony Davis, KD, Paul George, Embiid, Steph Curry, etc. However, in an era of ‘load management’ and looking out for player health, a lot of top NBA players sat out to preserve their bodies, avoid injuries, and a few for other reasons. The result, Team USA’s talent was much more even with the international teams. That statement goes both ways. While this year’s Team USA was definitely B-list compared to teams of the past, international basketball is improving vastly year by year. We’ve seen excellent prospects come from across the seas for the past few drafts and there are more and more on the rise. They play very disciplined basketball and are well-coached. France and Serbia deserve a ton of credit for winning.
At the end of the day, losing does not mean too much. This just wasn’t our best team and we faced some tough matchups. I would advise basketball fans not to look too much into it. The NBA season begins next month, and that’s something to get very excited about with the new landscape and balance of power. While Team USA didn’t win the World Cup, we’ll have all of our favorite superstars and players back in action soon enough.
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