CJBL Tournament - East Bracket Preview

  • By Michael Miller, Day 159, 2021

Connecticut (#1) vs. Northwestern State (#16)
Minnesota (#8) vs. Penn State(#9)
UCLA (#4) vs. Green Bay (#13)
Rutgers (#5) vs. Denver (#12)
Duke (#2) vs. UC-Davis (#15)
Mississippi (#6) vs. Clemson (#10)
Arkansas (#3) vs. Furman (#14)
Middle Tennessee (#7) vs. Alabama A&M (#10)

Draft Prospects to Watch

SG Tyrese Porter - Connecticut
PF Alexi Davydov - Connecticut
PG Calvin Astroth - Duke
SF/SG Tywan Liggins - Duke
PG Isaiah Leonard - Arkansas
C/PF Antoine Willis - Arkansas
SG/SF Javon Noble - Arkansas
SF Brandon Kelly - UCLA
SG Derrick Poole - UCLA
PG Jaleen Rifkind - Rutgers
SG Brevin Jones - Denver

Opening Round Preview - Tyrese Porter, who never met a 3 point shot he did not like, is ready for his close-up. Porter led all CJBL players in taking 9.1 three-point shots per game, and he connected at a solid 41.9% clip. UConn is not the favorite just because of him, however, two former Connecticut prospects who stayed at home - PF Alexi Davydov and SG/SF David Gaston - are strong players in their own right. Frankly, it would be a shock to see Connecticut fall before the Elite 8. After losing Odell Bracey and Detrez Owens to the JBL, UCLA attempted to replace their production with freshman Derrick Poole and Brandon Kelly. While Kelly appears to have elite talent, his inexperience showed in an inconsistent regular season performance. Nevertheless, they are susceptible to an early upset, and our most shocking prediction is that #12 seed Denver will emerge and make it to the Sweet 16. SG Brevin Jones is the scorer you have not heard about, and his defense has been elite. Denver dominated the Summit Conference with a 22-10 record, and likely would have received a higher seed had they played in a better conference. We also predict that #10 seed Alabama A&M, who scored more points than any other team in the country, will storm past Middle Tennessee and make it into the second round. There, however, they stand little chance against a loaded Arkansas team. In 2019, the Razorbacks made the Elite Eight but had a down year last year. Led by Javon Noble, and a team that takes many 3 pointers, the Razorbacks and Alabama A&M should put up a lot of points, but we suspect Arkansas will win by doing better on the boards. Lest we forget about Duke, perhaps the best all-around team in the country. With an elite defense and strong offense, Duke is poised to make a deep run in the tournament. While Connecticut should make it through most of the bracket relatively easily, Duke/Arkansas will likely be one of the best games in the tournament. In the end, we believe balance will win out.

Predicted Sweet 16 Matchups - Connecticut (#1) vs. Denver (#12), Duke (#2) vs. Arkansas (#3)

Most Likely Cinderella - Denver

Predicted Regional Winner - Duke, the balanced team knocks out Connecticut in a game for the ages.