Welcome back to the MVP Draft. Big 12 play is finally here, and we couldn’t tip-off against a more exciting opponent; Bob Huggins and West Virginia!
First off, for those who haven’t seen the MVP Draft before, here’s the rules: Each participant will pick ONE PLAYER from EACH TEAM they think will perform the best. They will then pick a third player from either team as their wild card pick. Each correct pick is worth one point. We will tally the points throughout the season.
Before we get to the Mountaineers, let’s rack up the points from last week’s draft for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi:
Tyler: 1 point(s)
Lindy Waters | TAMUCC: Rashawn Thomas | Wild Card: Jawun Evans (OSU)
Sam: 1 point(s)
Jawun Evans | TAMUCC: Rashawn Thomas | Wild Card: Jeffrey Carroll (OSU)
Sumer: 1 point(s)
OSU: Brandon Averette | TAMUCC:
Ehab Amin | Wild Card: Rashawn Thomas (TAMUCC)
Opponent (Jonathan Chavez): 1 point(s)
Jawun Evans | TAMUCC: Cole Martinez | Wild Card: Thomas Dziagwa (OSU)
Oklahoma State: First, let me just say that if anyone had picked Solomon, I would have given him the point here. He deserved it after playing his best game of the season with 8 points, 14 rebounds, and NOT fouling out! However, no one picked him. So.... I wanted to give the point to Lindy Waters for his 12 point performance as a starter. However, Averette filled in admirably when Jawun Evans got into foul trouble (again). His 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals earn him the point this week.
Texas A&M-CC: What’s bigger; leading your team in scoring with 23 points or getting a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds? A double-double is always impressive, especially when you’re the inferior team. Point goes to Thomas.
Wild Card: I think this is the game where everyone finally took notice of just how good of a shooter Dziagwa is. To me, he’s the guy to fill in the Paige/Forte roll of the sharp shooter who can come into the game and hit big shots. He came in and started the game going 3-3 from beyond the arc. He gets the wild card pick this week.
Opponent - 6
Sumer - 4
Sam - 3
Tyler - 2
Now, pour yourself a strong one... it’s time for Big 12 play!
The Cowboys open league play by welcoming West Virginia and Bob Huggins to Stillwater. Oklahoma State is touting this as a big game and the sell-out crowd should be awesome. Underwood takes on his former boss and a Mountaineers team he upset in the NCAA tournament last year.
OSU: Jawun Evans | WVU: Nathan Adrian | Wild Card: Thomas Dziagwa (OSU)
Oklahoma State: ”Press Virginia” is only allowing 58.3 points per game. That’s fourth best in the entire nation. WVU also forces the most turnovers in NCAA Division I with 26.3 per game. That’s six more per game than OSU, who sits in third with 20.1 per game. So the Pokes need to take care of the ball, and that starts with the point guard. Evans has also shown his best stuff against elite teams (North Carolina, Georgetown, Wichita State), and I think this game will be no different. Look for the best point guard in college basketball to take over in this game.
West Virginia: In the offseason, the Mountaineers lost a lot - especially their big men Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams. Cue Nathan Adrian. The senior forward is second in ppg and leads the team with 6.3 rpg. Big men have been a problem for the Pokes this year, and I don’t expect this game to be any different.
Wild Card: Against the press, there should be plenty of room for Dziagwa, Waters, and Forte to shoot the treys. I’m picking Dziagwa for a couple reasons. First off, the kid seems to have found his stroke. In the last four games, he is shooting 14-23 (51.9%) from beyond the arc. Also, in the Wichita State game, Dziagwa gave WSU player a pat on the butt after hitting a 3 on his way back on defense. That tells me Dziagwa is calm, cool, confident, and just a bit cocky. I like that in my players. I’m watching for Dziagwa to find his stroke early and often against the Mountaineers.
OSU: Phil Forte | WVU: Nathan Adrian | Wild Card: Jeffrey Carroll (OSU)
Oklahoma State: With “Press Virginia” coming to GIA, this matchup is likely to be fast and physical. Phil Forte seems to be getting back to his normal self, after racking up back-to-back double digit scoring nights against Wichita State and TAMU-CC, and hit 5-3 pointers against the Islanders. The Mountaineers play a very similar style as OSU on both sides of the basketball, and Forte should get plenty of looks if the Cowboys can beat the press. Brad Underwood is extremely familiar with this defense, as his Stephen F. Austin team shocked WVU 70-56 in the NCAA Tournament last season. West Virginia is notorious for fouling at a high rate, ranking 149 out of 346 in Division 1, which is definitely up from last year when they finished 345 out of 346 in fouls. Forte could have a huge advantage in this game if he can get to the free throw line, where he is shooting 97.8%.
West Virginia: West Virginia looks very balanced on paper, they have 6 guys that average between 8-12 PPG, but they are the real deal offensively, averaging 91.8 PPG while holding their opponents to only 58.2 PPG. I’m going with Esa Ahmad for WVU, a 6’8-225 pound forward who could really have a big night if the OSU bigs get in foul trouble (which is very likely). Ahmad has scored in double figures in 9 out of 12 games for WVU, and is shooting an impressive 52% from the field.
Wild Card: The Cowboys 6th man may not only be one of the best players in the BIG 12, but one of the best players in the entire country. His stats have proved that statement, as he’s scored over 20 points in 4 games OFF THE BENCH. Carroll has shown the ability to rebound at a high level, and that will be key against a team with the physicality of West Virginia. Carroll will need to play well on both ends of the floor, and more importantly stay out of foul trouble. An interesting note, Carroll has only fouled out in 1 game as a Cowboy, last season against Kansas State. He has proved the ability to stay disciplined on the defensive side of the basketball, which should be important in this game.
OSU: Jawun Evans | WVU: Jevon Carter | Wild Card: Lindy Waters (OSU)
Oklahoma State: With his scoring ability and and assists average, there is no reason why we won't be able to put up big numbers against an aggressive WVU. His 2.5 steals a should be an asset to our high pressure defense.
West Virginia: Everyone I've hated over the last few seasons has left, so I'll go with Carter. Has the skills to create shots and force turnovers. Look for him to be a huge part of Press Virginia's arsenal across the board.
Wild Card: He is continuing prove himself to be a crucial part of this line up. The more minutes he sees, the more he fits Brad's system. Look for him to be a bigger help defensively, but hopefully he'll be better from 3 point range this game.
Opponent: Bart Keeler
OSU: Jawun Evans | WVU: Esa Ahmad | Wild Card: Jevon Carter (WVU)
Oklahoma State: The key to beating WVU isn't necessarily beating the press, it's being able to score once your team does. Jawun is the guy who can score for OSU against WVU. Honestly, a really good scorer scares me more against this team than anything else because WVU doesn't have a go-to scorer.
West Virginia: Speaking of go-to scorers, Esa Ahmad was brought here to do that. He needs to step into this role during conference play, so what better game to start that than the first one. If he can do work in the paint and mid range, WVU will have a good day.
Wild Card: Press Virginia relies on guards who can defend the ball the whole court. Jevon was that most of the time last season and needs to regain that ball-hawk mentality this season. His key stat will be steals-to-turnover ratio, especially against an OK State team who could give him troubles handling the ball.