NCAA

Playoff projection: Punching their tickets

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Playoff projection: Punching their tickets

With apologies to the Army-Navy game, we've reached the final week of the college football season and the playoff picture has suddenly gained some clarity. There are five teams with a definite path to the playoff.

Oklahoma looks like they are already in. With their win over Oklahoma State, the Sooners won the Big 12 and capped off a one-loss season. They are not going to somehow fall out of the top four.

If Clemson and Alabama win their respective conference championship games, they will both be in. The winner of the Big Ten Championship game between undefeated Iowa and a one-loss Michigan State will also be in regardless of who comes out on top.

VIEW THIS WEEK'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTIONS HERE

Boom, there are your four teams. Simple right?

For anyone at all familiar with the sport of college football, however, you know that things are rarely ever simple. Upsets are always possible and that's where things could get interesting.

What happens if Clemson loses to North Carolina? Will the SEC bet shutout of the playoff if Alabama loses to Florida? What happens if both Clemson and Alabama lose?

Last season things looked pretty cut and dry heading into the final week. TCU was No. 4 and they blew out Iowa State in the final week of the season, yet Ohio State was still able to leapfrog them in the rankings. What surprise team has a chance to play their way into the top four this year?

Find out here in this week's College Football Playoff projections.

Terrapins get huge commitment from 7-foot-2 internet phenom Chol Marial

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Screenshot: Courtside YouTube

Terrapins get huge commitment from 7-foot-2 internet phenom Chol Marial

The Maryland Terrapins just added a huge piece to their 2019 recruiting class. Literally. 

The Terps officially signed 7-foot-1 center Chol Marial (AZ Compass Prep, Chandler, Arizona), the team announced Monday. 

Depending on who you ask, Marial is either a three-star, 210-pound or a four-star, 220-pound recruit (247Sports, ESPN), but he's unquestionably taller than seven feet. He also has a 7-foot-11 wingspan that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon expects will make him "an excellent rim protector."

"I've watched Chol the last three years and I can't say enough about him as both a person and a basketball player," Turgeon said in a release from Maryland, which lists Marial at 7-foot-2 and 230 pounds. 

"One of the top players in his class when healthy, Chol's tremendous size and length make him an excellent rim protector. Chol possesses a humble demeanor and a strong work ethic that will fit well with our family. We can't wait to have him in College Park and look forward to helping him reach his dreams."

Originally from Rumbek, South Sudan, Marial moved to the U.S. as a middle-schooler in 2014. He also previously attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

ESPN ranks Marial as the No. 2 center in Arizona and the No. 14 center nationally, while 247Sports says he's No. 6 and No. 26 in those two respective categories.

He visited Maryland on April 26, according to 247Sports, and also received offers from Georgetown, Florida State, Arizona State, Iowa, UConn and West Virginia.

"I want to thank Coach Turgeon for giving me this opportunity," Marial said in a release from the school. "Coach Turgeon and I have gotten along really well and I really enjoyed spending time with the rest of the coaching staff and players. Bruno Fernando and I have similar backgrounds and I saw how much he improved as a player at Maryland. I'm looking forward to getting better every day and playing for Terp Nation."

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2019 NBA Draft Big Board 4.0: North Carolina's Coby White, Indiana's Romeo Langford heading in opposite directions

2019 NBA Draft Big Board 4.0: North Carolina's Coby White, Indiana's Romeo Langford heading in opposite directions

Ideally, the Washington Wizards get lottery lucky.

There is the basketball and business dream only Zion Williamson's supernatural gifts could fill.

Murray State’ Ja Morant would provide an electric charge with the injured John Wall idling.

Those fantastical visions, while tangible, do not reflect reality.

Targeting North Carolina scoring dynamo Coby White with their projected slot does.

The 6-foot-5’s rise up draft boards began during the college basketball season. It continues even weeks after the Tar Heels’ campaign concluded.

“I like White a lot,” is what an NBA scout told NBC Sports Washington this week. The sentiment reflects an overwhelmingly positive view on the freshman from league-wide sources.

The Wizards, who enter the May 14 NBA Draft lottery with the sixth-best overall odds of landing the first selection, need to jump up for those Williamson and Morant. There is a 37.2 percent chance of landing a top-four selection. Simply having stronger asset capital would help the yet-to-be-determined general manager.

Landing White seems more and more like a viable fallback.

The all-time leading scorer among boy’s high school players in the state of North Carolina, White averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 35 games for the Tar Heels while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc.

With his lead guard skills and size to play on the wing, there is a positional case that White is a better fit for the Wizards long-term than Morant. White could play alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall whenever the five-time All-Star returns from his Achilles injury.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Morant is strictly a point guard, but also the higher-projected talent. Passing on him, even with Wall’s presence, would be the wrong approach.

Duke guard R.J. Barrett joins Williamson and Morant as the consensus top three selections more than a month out from the June 20 NBA Draft. There is little agreement with prospects 4-8, though the draft lottery will certainly help shape the order. Based on the new draft lottery rules, the Wizards could pick 1-4 or 6-10 depending on how the ping-pong balls bounce.

Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, Duke’s Cam Reddish, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and White typically make up the pool of players immediately outside the top three. White’s insurgent freshman campaign thrust him into the tier.

Maybe there becomes a point where White’s rising rank leads to some brush back. We’re not there yet.

Check out more discussion on White, Zion Williamson and the 2019 NBA Draft on the latest episode of the "Wizards Talk" podcast.

 *Texas’ Jaxson Hayes, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Oregon’s Bol Bol, and international prospect Sekou Doumbouya are the current best bets to enter the 4-8 discussion. Bol’s truncated freshman season factored into a diminished evaluation, but there’s a turnaround in play, a Western Conference scout told NBC Sports Washington even after out previous love-hate relationship article on the 7-foot-2 forward.

*Indiana shooting guard Romeo Langford entered the NBA Draft pool following his freshman season. The sense from scouts is he’s exiting lottery selection talk. One scout told NBA Sports Washington Langford is "dropping." Another said he would be flabbergasted if his organization considered the 6-foot-6 guard with a wonky jump shot in the top 10-14 selections. Langford averaged 16.5 points per game, but shot 28 percent on 3-pointers. Individual workouts and the upcoming NBA Combine offer chances to turn heads and momentum.

*Maryland sophomore Bruno Fernando officially kept his name in the NBA Draft pool this week. According to a source, the 6-foot-10 center signed with Priority Sports and Entertainment, the same agency that represents Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Jabari Parker. Fernando finished his Maryland career ranked second in program history in field goal percentage (.595) and 10th in rebounds per game (8.7).

1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. RJ Barrett, SG, Duke

4. De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

5.  Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

6. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

7. Coby White, SG, UNC

8. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

 9. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

10. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon

11. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, International

12. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

13. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

14. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

15. Nassir Little, SF, UNC

16. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky

17. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

18. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

19. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

20. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech

21. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC

22. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

23.  Goga Bitadze, C, International

24. KZ Okpala, SG. Stanford

25. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia

26. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

27. Carsen Edwards, SG/PG, Purdue

28. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova

29. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

30. Louis King, F, Oregon

Next up: Matisse Thybuille, SF, Washington; Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State; Admiral Schofield, SF, Tennessee; Daniel Gafford, C; Arkansas; Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s

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