SDS Mailbag: SEC baseball predictions, Georgia loading up, Coach K and SEC NBA Draft predictions
The NCAA Baseball Tournament starts today! The NBA Playoffs are going on in full force. Ditto the Women’s College World Series. The MLB and WNBA seasons are happening. And, Euro 2020 starts a week from today.
The sports schedule is loaded, for now at least. Soon, the college baseball and softball seasons will be over and so will the NBA playoffs. Euro only lasts a month. Then, it’ll be a long slog through July and August until college football starts again.
Let’s make the most of this busy time on the sports schedule, shall we?
Here are your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
Which SEC baseball team do you have going the farthest in the NCAA Tournament?
Let me just say that Arkansas, Tennessee and Vanderbilt are top-5 teams in the country for a reason. All 3 of those teams are elite and all 3 should breeze through their regionals.
That said, it’s tough to pick against Arkansas. I love what Dave Van Horn has done with relief pitcher Kevin Kopps this year. He was 10-0 with an unbelievable 0.81 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 66.1 innings. He also had 10 saves.
Kopps was named the National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper this week, and it’s easy to see why. Having him coming out of the bullpen for as many as 4 innings in tight games is a real asset to the Hogs.
I have a feeling there are going to be multiple Arkansas games that are tight late, and Kopps is going to be called on to close all of them out. I think he’ll be more than up for the challenge. This is a title-caliber Arkansas team.
Is it now-or-never for Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs for winning a title?
The pressure will certainly be on the Dawgs this fall, especially after landing Arik Gilbert and Derion Kendrick this week. But, no, it’s not now-or-never in Athens. Smart will (and should) be feeling lots of pressure, but if the Bulldogs don’t win it all, it’s not the end of the world.
Yes, fans will be upset and rivals will continue to troll the program, but Smart has turned this squad into a perennial contender. He recruits at an elite level and consistently wins important games (and SEC East titles).
He’s certainly not going to be fired if the Dawgs don’t win a title. No one Georgia would get to replace him would come anywhere close to being a better coach than he is.
Plus, with the prominence of the transfer portal these days, there’s no reason Smart can’t continue to add key pieces each year like he’s been doing with JT Daniels, Gilbert, Kendrick, Tykee Smith, etc.
It might feel like the end of the world if the Bulldogs look bad in Week 1 against Clemson and ultimately miss the College Football Playoff this year, but Smart and the Dawgs aren’t going anywhere.
The SEC figures to have a handful of first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, many of them guards. Who do you think will have the best NBA career of all the first-round worthy guards?
Let’s start by breaking down exactly which guards are Round 1 candidates. I think the list includes Moses Moody of Arkansas, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson of Tennessee, Sharife Cooper of Auburn, Cam Thomas of LSU and Tre Mann of Florida.
That’s 6 guys. I would be surprised if either Moody or Johnson weren’t the first SEC player off the board on Thursday, July 29. They seem to be getting the most lottery buzz out of all of those guards.
In my opinion, the guy with the most potential is Cooper. The way he sees the floor and passes the ball is otherworldly. If he can develop a decent 3-point shot, he’s going to be a superstar. Thomas has the highest floor. I don’t think he’ll develop into a superstar, but I do think he has the potential to win a couple of “Sixth Man of the Year” awards.
I’m going to go with either Moody or Cooper as the guy with the best NBA career. Cooper can be a high-assist point guard. Moody can be an all-around talent if he continues to stay calm in clutch situations. Whoever gets those 2 guards (and Thomas) won’t regret it.
John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski or Dean Smith? Who do you have as the best men’s college basketball coach ever?
Let’s go ahead and eliminate Smith. While he did make 11 Final Fours (second only to Coach K and Wooden, who both made it to 12), he only won 2 titles. Meanwhile, Wooden went 10-for-12 when it comes to winning titles. Coach K won 5 championships in 12 tries — no easy feat in today’s era.
Coach K also has the most wins in NCAA men’s basketball history, but that’s due as much to his longevity as it is to his dominance. Coach K has been at Duke for 41 years. Wooden’s entire coaching career was only 29 years. Who knows what else he could have accomplished?
It’s impossible for me to choose between Wooden and Coach K. Both have been incredible. Coach K hasn’t won 10 titles, but this era of college basketball has more parity. It’s truly a tossup.
Maybe, just maybe, if Coach K wins a farewell championship this year, I’ll bump him up to the clear No. 1. We’ll see!
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.