Note: This column originally appeared at ProFantasySports.com.
If you like college basketball, you would have loved this past week. After an extremely dull week of final exams, this week brought college hoops back with a bang. There were great games every night of week, including several battles between undefeated teams (Memphis-Georgetown, Pitt-Duke, and Clemson-Mississippi) and other quality top-25 match-ups. Although it was probably very difficult to get your last-minute holiday shopping done, you made the right move by staying in and tuning into all week to great college basketball.
Luckily, with the increase in top-notch games, there were more intriguing individual performances to sift through. Furthermore, as the year comes to an end and the calendar turns to 2008 in a week, we all know what that means: conference play. For fantasy teams, it means those four-game weeks aren’t going to happen anymore, and neither will huge performances from an average player because he is playing a far inferior opponent. It’s more important than ever to know which players are going to be consistent contributors and which are going to ride virtual – and possibly real – benches in the coming months.
Jason Rich, G, Florida State Seminoles: After the Seminoles lost Al Thornton after last season, everyone knew the focus for FSU would shift to the perimeter. As a result, it seems every week another one of Leonard Hamilton’s guards steps up and puts up a solid streak – it was Rich’s turn this week. The 6-3 senior had been inconsistent all season, but has since put together a very good four-game stretch in which he averaged 18 points, six rebounds and more than two assists per game. This includes a 27-point, eight-rebound, four-assist performance in a loss to Providence over the weekend. Expect his numbers to hover around 12-14 points, four-to-six rebounds, and two-three assists per game.
Eric Hayes, G, Maryland Terrapins: Although Greivis Vasquez gets all the attention in the Terrapins’ backcourt, classmate Eric Hayes has also been stuffing the stat-sheet recently. In the past four games, Hayes is averaging over 14 points, three rebounds and six assists per contest. He has become more aggressive offensively and is taking on more of a scoring and playmaking role in the Terps’ offense. If he continues to shoot double-digit attempts, expect solid numbers from Hayes.
Stanley Robinson, F, Connecticut Huskies: Well, look who might be finally reaching the much-discussed potential he had coming out of high school. Robinson has always shown flashes of his ability and talent, but he has never been consistent enough to become a star. That could change soon. After not hitting 50 percent of his field-goal attempts in any of his first five contests, he has reached that plateau in four of his last five games, averaging 17 points and six rebounds in that stretch. UConn needs him to become a scorer, and so do you.
Randall Hanke, C, Providence Friars: For all those owners that took a flyer on Hanke (or ranked him in his top-25 centers) in the preseason, you have been rewarded for waiting. After sporadic playing time and production in the first games of the season, in which he totaled 31 minutes, eight points and six rebounds, Hanke has become a go-to-guy out of nowhere. In his past three games, Hanke is averaging 16 points and four rebounds per contest. He is also hitting 79% of his field-goal attempts in that span. Expect a return to something resembling his 2005-2006 numbers: 13 points and five rebounds per game.
Marcus Hall, G, Colorado Buffaloes: Yes, I know Colorado is one of the worst major-conference teams in the country and CU guard Richard Roby is owned in most fantasy leagues – but I am advocating owning two Buffaloes. Hall provides decent scoring, rebounding and assists, and will also pick up some steals along the way. He had a rough opening to the season, but has reached double-figures in seven straight games, playing at least 36 minutes in each contest. He is averaging 15.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals in the aforementioned seven-game stretch.
Kevin Rogers, F, Baylor Bears: Although basketball players in Waco don’t receive much national accolades, this group deserves attention. The Bears are 9-1 with the lone loss a three-point defeat at the hands of Washington State. As a result, despite how tough it might be to start a player from Baylor, feel free to get Rogers in the lineup ASAP. He struggled mightily to start the season, but is heating up in the past couple of weeks. Rogers is averaging 19 points per game in his last four contests and has reached double-figure rebounds in four of his last five. Expect the outstanding numbers to continue.
Ty Abbott, G, Arizona State Sun Devils: Arizona State is one of the rising programs in the country and the addition of coach Herb Sendek prior to last year is a major reason why. He is an underrated coach and a solid recruiter who has brought several quality newcomers to Tempe. Abbott is one of them. He had an up-and-down first month or so, but has come into his own lately. In his past four games, Abbott is averaging 14 points, 5.3 rebounds and one assist per contest. He is not going to have outstanding numbers by any stretch, but you can do worse than him if you’re in need of a solid freshman.
J.P. Prince, G, Tennessee Volunteers: I usually don’t advocate players after only a couple of games on the court, but Prince needs to be mentioned after the weekend he had. He became eligible three games ago after transferring from Arizona, and is already the second-leading scorer on the team. He had a solid opening two games, combining for 21 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, but really stepped up against Xavier this weekend with 23 points. Remember, though, that Prince is not a starter and should not be counted on for consistent production just yet.
Darian Townes, F, Arkansas Razorbacks: The past few years, Arkansas has had a large stable of big men that it rotated in and out, making it difficult for one of them to really separate himself from the pack. However, Townes has done his best this year. He is averaging only 21.5 minutes per game, but has managed to hit double-figures in points and grab at least five rebounds nine times each. Townes is averaging almost 15 points and five rebounds in his last three games. It might be a sign of things to come.
David Huertas/Eniel Polynice, Mississippi Rebels: The Rebels have been one of the biggest surprises in the country this season, and with that comes surprising individual performances as well. We’ve discussed freshman point guard Chris Warren in previous weeks so I’ll leave him out. Yes, we did mention Polynice once, but he and Huertas both deserve additional consideration. Polynice cooled off considerably in early December, putting up only 10 points in three games, but he bounced back to average 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists and more than two steals per game in the last two contests. Huertas had been extremely inconsistent all year long, but has averaged almost 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in his last three games. Keep an eye on both.
Jeff Borzello, founder, editor and lone writer of March Madness All Season, also writes a weekly column for Pro Fantasy Sports.
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