I will admit that I haven't watched as much of LSU as I have wanted to. I saw them play the entire game against North Carolina, a half of the West Virginia game, a half of the Tennessee game and a half of the Florida game. However, I have not really been that impressed by their defense.
Sure, they do rank 3rd in the country in total defense, but they also haven't really played many teams with an offense. Their schedule thus far, with total offense rank in parentheses:
North Carolina (63)
Mississippi State (55)
West Virginia (64)
McNeese State (78 in FCS)
The best offense they have played thus far is a mediocre Mississippi State one.
We all know that Auburn's offense is one of the best in the country, and LSU will be the best defense they have played, without a doubt, but how good is LSU's defense, really? Someone who has seen them play more please inform me.
Florida Marlins over 80.5 (-105) (6u)
This is a team that won 87 games last season and I think they should be even better this year. They did lose Nick Johnson from the starting lineup, but the rest of the lineup is in tact.
I would imagine that the lineup probably looks something like this for the season opener:
1. LF Coghlan
2. CF Maybin
3. SS Ramirez
4. 3B Cantu
5. 2B Uggla
6. 1B Sanchez
7. RF Ross
8. C Baker
It's not great, but it's not a bad lineup either. I think they'll find ways to put up big runs. They always seem to do so.
The rotation is headlined by Josh Johnson, who could be a legitimate Cy Young contender this year after going 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA last year. Ricky Nolasco had a terrible ERA last year (5.05), but was extremely unlucky. He ranked 9th in the NL in K/9 (9.49), 5th to K:BB ratio (4.43:1) and 32nd in WHIP (1.25). However, his ERA ranked 75th. Expect to see things come back to normal a bit this year with Nolasco. I think he's in line for a 15 win, 3.60 ERA season. Anibal Sanchez, Sean West, Chris Volstad, Rick VandenHurk and Andrew Miller are all fighting for the last three spots. The bullpen posted a respectable 3.89 ERA last year, putting them 7th in the NL. From that bullpen they lost Luis Ayala (5.63), Matt Lindstrom (5.89), Kiko Calero (1.95) and Scott Proctor (6.05). I see no reason to believe that the bullpen will be any worse this season.
Bottom line is that this team won 87 games last year, had one of the most unlucky pitchers in baseball, didn't get any worse (maybe even got better by adding another year of experience to the lineup) and should win close to 87 games again this year.
There might be more as we keep going.
How in the world is the Cleveland season win total set at 83.5?
This is a team that won 65 games last year, and now they are supposed to improve by 19 wins? With a roster that is probably worse than it was last year?
I understand that Sizemore had a terrible year last season (.248, played in 102 games), but does 60 games of healthy Sizemore equate to 19 wins? I think not.
Here's a look at their projected starting rotation and bullpen:
1. Fausto Carmona
2. Justin Masterson
3. David Huff
4. Jake Westbrook
5. Aaron Laffey
That pitching is going to win 84 games?
With a starting lineup of:
C: Carlos Santana
1B: Matt LaPorta
2B: Luis Valbuena
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
3B: Jhonny Peralta
LF: Michael Brantley
CF: Grady Sizemore
RF: Shin-Soo Choo
DH: Travis Hafner
That lineup is going to put up enough runs to win 84 games?
Please, someone tell me what I'm missing here. I'm about to dump everything I have on this as soon as the line is actually released.
Another one that jumps out is the Mets under 89.5. No way in hell they are winning the division, which is what that number puts them at. Also really like San Francisco and Seattle both over 79.5 and St. Louis over 83.5. The Cardinals are the best team in the NL, no? At worst 2nd best?
In order of how hard I want to hit these:
1. Cleveland under 83.5
2. Mets under 89.5
3. St. Louis over 83.5
4. Seattle/San Francisco over 79.5
Everything is either to win or betting 1 unit unless noted. I don't see much point in tying a whole bunch of money up for the whole season.
Arizona State under 6.5 (-110)
Georgia Tech over 8.5 (-110)
Miami FL under 8 (-215)
North Carolina over 8.5 (+130)
Tennessee over 7 (+125) - 2.5u
In an effort to get at least a little bit of conversation going in this forum, I'll be throwing together a way too early top 25. Hopefully we can get some sort of spark generated. I'll do them in five team segments.
The Jayhawks return just about everyone, most importantly Aldrich and Collins. They also add Xavier Henry, one of the best recruits in the nation. They also bring in a 5-star PG (Elijah Johnson) who adds depth at the PG position, and Thomas Robinson (4-star PF) gives them another body in the paint. Don't forget that Jeff Withey, a 7-footer who originally signed with Arizona, is eligible to play following the fall semester (December). This is the team to beat this season, ala North Carolina this season.
The Horns lose Abrams and Atchley to eligibility, and possibly Damion James to the NBA. However, the rest of the squad is in tact, headlined by Dexter Pittman, Gary Johnson and Justin Mason. Pittman will be the real key to the Horns success this season. He was in much better shape last year, and hopefully for the Horn faithful, he'll be in even better shape this year. They appear to have found a pair of PG that they are at least comfortable with in Dogus Balbay and Varez Ward. They add my #3 player in this year's class to the 2-guard spot in Avery Bradley, who is an absolute stud. He'll be an immediate starter for the Horns at SG, and will have a huge impact. At the 3, they make up for the potential loss of James with my #8 player (Jordan Hamilton) and 4-star Shawn Williams. Both SF will make big impacts on the wing. If James returns to school, like I think he will, the starting 5 will be very good - Balbay/Ward, Bradley, Johnson/Hamilton, James, Pittman. And, the bench will be a big-time strength if James comes back.
3. Michigan State
State brings back a solid core of players in Lucas, Allen, Roe, Summers, Morgan, Green and Lucious. The big thing with this team, however, is that Delvon Roe and Raymar Morgan should now be fully healthy. The loss of Ibok, Walton, Suton and Gray certainly will hurt, but there is enough depth here to stay at the top of the college basketball world. A healthy Roe and a healthy Morgan will provide huge things for this team. Incoming recruits Derrick Nix (6'9", 275) and Garrick Sherman (6'10", 220), both 4-stars, provide added depth on the interior. They need to find a go-to scorer at the 2 (Allen or Summers), if they want to achieve their full potential.
4. North Carolina
Of course, the Heels expectedly lost Lawson and Ellington to the draft, along with Green and Hansbrough to eligiblity. However, they'll likely have the best frontcourt in the nation, led by the guy who I think will be the best post player in the nation, in Ed Davis. They'll be able to put a stud in Davis next to a very solid Deon Thompson in the paint, and will also be able to bring in a promising 7-footer off the bench in Tyler Zeller. They bring in five players in this year's recruiting class, headlined by my #5 player in John Henson, a 6'10" twig from Tampa. He adds even more depth to the frontcourt, and actually has the offensive versatility to be able to play the 3 if necessary. I personally think that the Wear twins (both 6'9" out of California) are overrated and won't do much in their college careers, but they add even more interior depth. The question mark on this team lies at the guard spots. Larry Drew II steps in as the probable starting PG, and although he played fairly well last season in very limited minutes, he's still very inexperienced. A pair of two-guards, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland, will probably be asked to bring the ball up the floor as well. If the Heels can somehow land John Wall, the #1 player in this year's class, by far, they will be the #1 team in the country, and a favorite to repeat. However, I personally think Wall winds up at Kentucky. Guard play is an issue here, but the frontcourt is so good that they have to be ranked in the top 5. (If Wall commits to UNC, they are the #1 team in the preseason).
This team might end up being overrated by me and the "experts", but they don't lose anyone of real importance from this year's squad (unless you count Nemanja Calasan as important). Their brand of basketball isn't the sexiest, but they've got a rapidly improving big on the interior in JaJuan Johnson, along with an extremely versatile wing man in Robbie Hummel. Hummel battled injuries all season but still put up 12.5 points and 7 rebounds a night. Chris Kramer is as solid as they come at the PG spot. He's not flashy, but he doesn't turn the ball over, and plays great defense. Lewis Jackson gives them a nice spark off the bench at the PG spot. The Boilers don't really bring anyone in who I would expect to make a big impact other than D.J. Byrd, a 4-star SG out of Crawfordsville, Indiana. He'll give the Boilers a nice shooter off the bench. Like I said, they might end up being overrated by everyone, but this team returns the core of players that we saw play very well two years ago, with added experience. They'll play defense, and they'll grind games out.