ATB: Wed/Thurs Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.28-29.07

ACC 8 – Big Ten 3. Wed. night was the second marquee night of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, and the ACC carried a commanding 5-1 lead into the night’s games. After UNC (v. Ohio St.) and BC (v. Michigan) picked up road wins to go with Maryland’s home victory v. Illinois, the ACC had once again dominated this event (Penn St. and Michigan St. home wins made the final tally 8-3). What accounts for this annual decimation? One reason is that the ACC protects home court much better than the Big 10, going 28-1 in friendly venues during the last six years of this event (B10: 18-13 over the same period). Another reason is that the strength of the bottom of the ACC is consistently better than its Big 10 equivalent – ACC bottom-feeders throughout the series such as Clemson, Florida St. and Virginia have comprised an 18-8 record, while Big 10 equivalents Minnesota, Penn St. and Northwestern were 7-18 over the same timeframe. How thorough is the annual beatdown? Michigan St. is the only B10 school with a winning record in this event (5-3), while only four ACC schools have more losses than wins.

ACC/Big 10 Challenge. #13 Michigan St. 81, NC State 58. This was just a good old-fashioned whipping. Goran Suton scored all sixteen of his points in the first half en route to a dub-dub (16/12), as the Spartans rolled out to an early twenty-point margin and coasted home the rest of the way. MSU”s patented bruising defense held the Wolfpack to 35% shooting, which is showing signs of rising to the level of some of Izzo’s better defensive teams from the early 2000s. Through six games, the Spartans are holding teams to 38% from the field and 31% from three. #3 UNC 66, Ohio St. 55. In a brickfest game (UNC: 38%; OSU: 27%), Ohio St. ran into a looooong drought (missing 17 straight shots) in the second half that gave Carolina the boost they needed (w/o Ty Lawson) to avoid the upset bid. We watched this game in its entirety, and while we’d love to say great defense carried the day here, it just looked like sloppy basketball to us. Wayne Ellington looked great (23/8) for the Heels, but Psycho T struggled against the more athletic Othello Hunter inside (memo to NBA scouts: hustling 6’8 post men with limited range only gets you so far). There was one jawdropping sequence where Hansbrough simply could not get his shot up over Hunter (6 blks), who repeatedly threw it back into his face. By the same token, Kosta Koufos was a veritable no-show (4/3) for the Buckeyes. The other surprise of the night was the inspired play of OSU freshman Jon Diebler, whose four first half threes kept OSU in the game. Boston College 77, Michigan 64. This is a game that the Big 10 really needed to win, and UM couldn’t get it done at home against BC. A tight game opened up with about 8 mins remaining when BC went on a 12-2 run to essentially salt the game away. RTC whipping boy Tyrese Rice blew up for 28/8/5 assts (eff: 30), as Michigan simply had no answer for him. Maryland 69, Illinois 61. In a battle of two teams that will likely be up-and-down and hard-to-figure all year, the Terps were led by Eric Hayes’ career-high 18 pts in the win over the Illini. Penn St. 66, Virginia Tech 61. In a battle of conference bottom-feeders, Penn St. was led by Mike Walker’s 17 off the bench.

Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. #16 Oregon 80, Kansas St. 77. Notwithstanding the Bill Walker watersports moment, this was a really entertaining game. Both teams went back-and-forth throughout the second half, but K-State’s fate ultimately rode on their inability to make a foul shot in the OT. The Wildcats missed three straight front ends as Oregon pulled away in the overtime. The end-of-game sequence was a wild finish, as Oregon’s Maarty Leunen shot three times (and was fouled but not called on at least two of them) from point-blank range, rebounded his own misses, and finally received the foul call on the fourth attempt (6 seconds remaining). After hitting one of two FTs, KSU’s Jacob Pullen dribbled length of the court in four seconds, only to charge into an Oregon player as his made layin was waved off. Oregon then threw it length of the court, but the ball was intercepted by K-State at the opposite foul line. An immediate timeout led to the Bill Walker fiasco and a pretty good look that missed from Michael Beastley (24/12). Oregon’s big four combined for 53 pts, but we were most impressed last night by Joevan Catron (15/8), who took the key charge with two seconds left and showed a lot of heart and hustle for the Ducks last night. #25 USC 66, Oklahoma 55. The other B12/Pac-10 game of the night was at USC, and the Trojans are continuing to show improvement with their young freshmen leading the way. Davon Jefferson had 23/9 and OJ Mayo had 18/5 (but zero assts), but Mayo was the key player (scoring 11 in a row) during a second-half stretch that increased the USC lead from 2 to 12 and effectively put the game away. Where has Taj Gibson (2/3 in only 9 foul-plagued mins) gone?

More Overtime Goodness. #18 Gonzaga 70, St. Joseph’s 65. We wish we could have seen this one, but again, this one was on the U and Comcast hates us. Supposedly St. Joe’s came storming back from a 17-pt first half deficit and led for most of the second half until a late Matt Bouldin three gave Gonzaga the lead again. In the overtime, both teams mostly traded FTs until Gonzaga secured the win late. This was a very good road win in a hostile environment for the Zags. St. Joe’s was led by Pat Calathes with 24/7 in the losing effort. Vanderbilt 91, South Alabama 88. This double-OT jewel of a game wasn’t on tv anywhere we could find, but it appears that Memorial was rocking last night when the Commodores stayed unbeaten at home. Vandy came back from an 8-pt deficit in the mid-second half to take the lead, but a Ronald Douglas tip-in with 0.8 left sent the game to OT. Vandy had a shot to win in the first OT, but good foul shooting in the second OT ultimately put the game away for the Dores. Andrew Ogilvy led VU with 19/8 while Shan Foster contributed 26/4.

Upset Special. Massachusetts 107, Syracuse 100. In a tremendous boost to the credibility of Travis Ford’s rising UMass program, the Minutemen went into the Carrier Dome on Wed. night and beat the Orange in a high-scoring affair that saw the opponent score more points than any other team in the Dome’s history. Gary Forber (23/6/7 assts) hit a key three with just over a minute remaining to give UMass a six-point lead and the Orange were finished. Big numbers from many players on both sides – for UMass, Ricky Harris had 25; for Syracuse, all five starters had double figures, led by Eric Devendorf with 23 and three other players with 20 each (Greene, Flynn, Onuaku).

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #2 UCLA 83, George Washington 60. Collison comes off the bench to give the Bruins 14/5. Love with another dub-dub (12/12).
  • #4 Kansas 87, Florida Atlantic 49. Another KU rout as B-Rush goes for 17 pts off the bench in 19 mins of action.
  • #5 Georgetown 66, Old Dominion 48. Georgetown returns favor from last year, holding ODU to 31% shooting. Gerald Lee (24/12) was the only bright spot for Old Dominion.
  • #8 Texas 98, Texas Southern 61. Texas continues to impress – DJ Augustin led with 20 pts.
  • #9 Texas A&M 76, Alabama 63. Another balanced, efficient performance from the Aggies. Bama is just so limited beyond Hendrix (19/12) and Gee (19/3).
  • #21 Xavier 93, Oakland 68. All five starters hit double figures for the Muskies.

Other Notable Scores.

  • California 74, Nevada 68. Great road win for Cal, as Ryan Anderson went for a career-high 36/13 to counteract Marcellus Kemp’s 26/5/4.
  • Seton Hall 65, Princeton 55. The Hall is off to its best start since The Beard was roaming the sidelines (19 yrs).
  • Kent St. 81, St. Louis 40. Wow – has Majerus ever lost by this much before? Statistical oddity – KSU was 100% from three (3-3), while SLU was 0% (0-11).
  • Wichita St. 62, Appalachian St. 53. App St. continues to struggle with another home loss.
  • Hampton 64, VCU 55. VCU has been extremely disappointing so far as well (Maynor – 22 pts).
  • Charlotte 63, Wake Forest 59. Solid CUSA win over an ACC team.
  • Colorado 60, Air Force 50. Jeff Bzedlik’s return to AFA as an opponent went much better than the game at CU (lost 84-46).
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A River Runs Through It

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2007

We had a great time watching the second half of the Oregon-Kansas St. game last night.  There was March Madness-level intensity, high-flying dunks, bone-crunching fouls, Tajuan Porter stop-and-pops, and K-State guard Bill Walker pissing himself.  Wha…  come again? 

 

Yes, the same Wildcat who so famously was seen munching popcorn on the bench last season during a game simply decided that the 1.8 seconds remaining in the game was too long to wait for a potty break, and went ahead and relieved himself into some towels in front of 15,000 people.  We only wish we were making this up. 

Here’s an eyewitness account from a KSU fan at the game:

I saw it last night.  With the game tied, 1.8 seconds left in regulation, KSU stole the inbound pass and called timeout.  After the timeout, when the officials were trying to figure out how much time was on the clock, and my friend turns to me and says, “Bill Walker has to piss!”

I looked, and he was grabbing his junk and jumping up and down.  Sure enough, he had to piss.  I thought, “that sucks, he’ll have to miss the last play”.  Nope.  He goes over to the bench, someone throws him a towel, he stuffs it down his pants, and he just lets it fly.  EVERYONE in the sold out arena knew what he was doing.  He got done with the first towel, then grabbed another and kept going.  As he finished up with the second towel, the refs were coming over to talk to the coaches about the clock.  The guy that was going to sub for him casually walks back to the bench, and Walker stays in the game.  Then, the student manager puts on the gloves and puts the towels in the red trash bag.

And he didn’t wash his hands afterwards.  Eww.  No wonder KSU threw the ball to Beasley for the final shot.

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Blogpoll – Week 3

Posted by rtmsf on November 29th, 2007

What a week. So we’re a little late on this week’s blogpoll, among several other things, but we’re slowly getting caught up and feel that this week’s poll is the first one that accurately captures how teams are playing several weeks into the season. We’ve had a chance to watch most of the teams in the poll ourselves, and our illustrious blogging brethren have ostensibly done likewise. So here’s Week 3 (blogger ballots located here)…

Blogpoll - Week 3

Note: blogpoll does not include 11/27-28 games.

Justifying Our Ballot. We still rank UCLA #1 and UNC #2 ahead of overall #1 Memphis simply based on the fact that we believe UCLA and UNC have beaten better teams than Memphis thus far. Memphis looked solid in CvC wins versus Oklahoma and UConn, but those teams are probably mid-conference finishers this year. UCLA has a marquee win (w/o Darren Collison) against #13 Michigan St., a team that is better than we thought; and UNC has solid wins over likely NCAA teams Davidson, Old Dominion and #20 BYU (w/o Ty Lawson). Memphis will have an opportunity this weekend to improve its standing in our eyes with a win vs. #25 USC. Like everyone else, we raised #9 Texas A&M and #6 Duke on the strength of their wins in the PNIT and Maui, respectively, and #8 Texas got a nod into the top ten by virtue of its destruction of #12 Tennessee. In the lower reaches of the top 25, we still refuse to vote for #18 Clemson despite their win at Mississippi St. We’ve been down this road before with them, and if the Tigers are 14-0 going into the game vs. UNC on January 6, then we’ll consider it. We also left BYU, Miami (FL), and USC off of our ballot, figuring that Stanford, Ohio St., Wisconsin and Baylor had put together better resumes to this point. After the ACC/Big 10 meetings the last two nights, we’re really questioning our sanity on those two midwestern teams above.

Uncertainty. We’re still seeing blogger indecisiveness when it comes to Indiana and Michigan St., but some new additions at the low range of the top 25 populate our list this week. Here are the top five most uncertain teams (remember, a high std dev means greater variation in blogger rankings of that team):

  • Indiana (std dev = 6.43; range = 10 to nr)
  • Pittsburgh (6.39; 8 to nr)
  • Clemson (5.74; 11 to nr)
  • BYU (5.44; 13 to nr)
  • Michigan St. (4.83; 8 to 21)

The top seven teams in the blogpoll are also the top seven lowest standard deviation this week.

Conference Call.

  • Big East – 5
  • ACC & Pac-10 - 4
  • Big 12 - 3
  • Big 10 – 2
  • Atlantic 10 , CUSA, Horizon, MVC, Mtn West, SEC, WCC – 1

Wow, the SEC is really struggling right now, with only one team ranked (Tennessee) and that squad getting its doors blown off by Texas last week. The ACC only has four ranked teams, but leads all conferences with 6 of the 31 remaining unbeaten teams in D1. Impressive that half of that league is still flawless. Other BCS unbeatens: (Big East & Big 12 – 4 each; Pac-10 – 3; SEC – 1; Big 10 – 0).

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ATB: Mon/Tues Night Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.26.07

Detroit Sucks. Monday was an extremely light night, with no ranked teams playing (not that we could see it anyway amidst our hand-to-hand mouth combat with feral dogs and a thermostat that randomly alternated between blistering and frostbite conditions) . There were a couple of interesting games on the board, however, and the one that caught our attention the most was the early SoCon showdown between Davidson and Appalachian St. Why they’re playing in November, we have no idea, but if Davidson were to lose any conference games this year, we figured that away at App St and at UNCG are the most likely candidates. Well, Stephen Curry made sure that wasn’t going to happen, as he blistered the Mountaineers for a 26-pt first half en route to a final tally of 38/6/4 stls with nine (!) threes in an eleven-pt victory. From our perch, this was a clear statement by Curry and the Davidson program that they aren’t to be trifled with at the mid-major level – they have their eyes set on regularly competing with the UNCs and Dukes of the world. #21 Davidson 71, Appalachian St. 60. The only other notable game of the night was the “play-in game” of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge between Iowa and Wake Forest. Wake got 15/8 from a BWS named Chas McFarland (seriously, he’s named Chas) and gutted out a road win in an ugly, ugly game (eFG% combined = 37%, incl. 3-30 from three). We’re not convinced Wake is any good this year, though, as the Deacs always seem to win this game (7-1 in the Challenge) no matter how the rest of the season goes. Wake Forest 56, Iowa 47.

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11.27.07

There were too many games to cover here, so let’s hit the broad highlights:

ACC/Big 10 Challenge. #9 Indiana 83, Georgia Tech 79. IU got the only win of the night for the Big 10 at home in a tightly contested game versus the Yellowjackets. We caught a little bit of this one and all we could think is that this is yet another example of never knowing what to expect from Georgia Tech. Times like tonight they look like they can compete with anyone in the country; then they’ll turn around and lose to Georgia St. next week. E-Giddy went for 29 (8 TOs, though), but the key player for IU was DJ White (18/14/3 blks). #10 Duke 82, Wisconsin 58. We feel like we’ve all watched this game a million times. Duke hits a three, takes a charge, hits another three, Crazies going wild, pressure D causes opponent time-out. That was this Wisconsin game in a nutshell. The Badgers were on their way out of it by the second tv timeout. Meanwhile, Coach K is clearly on a mission to re-invent how basketball is played at the collegiate level. The closest analog we can remember in recent history to this Duke team was the Villanova teams of recent vintage of Kyle Lowry, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi and Randy Foye, but even they played with a post man in Curtis Sumpter. Duke isn’t even bothering with the Sumpter role, and don’t give us Kyle Singler either. We still say this smallball strategy will ultimately catch up with the Devils when they play a team with athletic bigs and defensive guards, but that day hasn’t come yet. Duke put five players (led by Paulus’ 18) in double figures, but where did Taylor King come from (5 threes)? #24 Clemson 61, Purdue 58. We didn’t see much of this one, but what we saw exhibited a Purdue team filled with hustling guards who wouldn’t let Clemson pull away. Had the Boilers shot it a little better from three (2-12), they could have taken this one. Take nothing away from Clemson, though – they’re well on their way to another 17-0 start. Virginia 94, Northwestern 52. This is why the Big 10 never wins these competitions – the ACC almost always defends its home courts. Sean Singletary had 18/10 assts in the win. Florida St. 75, Minnesota 61. To wit, same as above. Tubby takes his first loss as the Minny coach.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #1 Memphis 104, Rider 82. Derrick Rose with a great game (19/12 assts) as Memphis rolls again.
  • #7 Tennessee 93, NC A&T 59. UT was up thirty at halftime; Lofton with 24 and Tyler Smith with 17/12.
  • #20 Pittsburgh 80, Boston Univ. 53. Another balanced attack from Pitt (all five starters betw. 9 and 15 pts).

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To Hell and Back…

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2007

Detroit

Welcome to Detroit

Apologies to the three of you who were anxiously awaiting our thoughts on the last two nights of the annual Big Ten emasculation at the hands of the ACC, but suffice it to say, we weren’t just being lazy. No, rather, our post-holiday travel enjoyment was mitigated by a 24-hr organizational clusterfark situated on the premises of the Detroit Intl. Airport and perpetrated by Lucifer’s personal air carrier, Northwest Airlines, and his innkeeper, Best Western.

Detroit Lodging

Our Hotel in the Motor City

We can now safely say that we’ve seen the seventh circle of Hell and it without question resides in the Motor City. Although populated by the Devil’s henchmen intent on making your life miserable while you wait on something anything good to happen, the airport is overall a clean and otherwise redeeming place. But as for the city itself… well, the word dump when used to describe Detroit quite frankly insults the word. Actually, it doesn’t insult the word as much as bend over it and drop a 15-inch steaming log right onto its new shoes.

Of course, everything steams in D-town because it’s always about twenty degrees and snowing out.

Now that we’ve sufficiently deloused and fumigated ourselves and our luggage, we’re ready to get back to the games. As for Detroit, consider yourselves forewarned…

Update:  Detroit just unveiled its logo for the 2009 F4, which it is hosting.  There’s probably no press pass coming our way for that one! 

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ATB: Brandon Rush’s Triumphant Return

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.25.07

Game of the Day. #4 Kansas 76, Arizona 72. The four-days-early game between Kansas and Arizona in the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series was everything a college hoops fan could have hoped for in such a meeting between two powerhouse programs. It had stars making plays (Budinger and Rush), tightness throughout (no team had a greater than 4-pt lead in the second half), a tantalizingly close halfcourt buzzer-beater, and an overtime just to fuel the early season intensity. Our thoughts: 1) Brandon Rush (17/8) looks great for a guy who blew out his ACL a mere six months ago. He hit his first shot off the bench, took care of the ball, made both of his threes, and even threw down a couple of dunks in the OT to seal things. 2) Arizona showed a toughness we haven’t seen in a while. After getting down ten early (22-12), we expected the Wildcats to pack it in and take their 20+ pt beating while the Phog was rocking – but that didn’t happen. Instead, Arizona clawed back to tie the game at halftime, and led the game deep into the second half. We’re not sure that happens last year. 3) Chase Budinger’s (27/6) potential is mesmerizing – he always seems to be playing better than he actually is playing. For example, he hit six threes tonight, but only shot 10-23 from the field. 4) Arizona may be playing tougher, but they’re still playing dumb with the ball. 25 turnovers (14 by their starting guards) at Allen FH won’t cut it – given that stat, it’s amazing they had a chance to win the game in regulation. 5) Kansas is just scary when it comes to the talent they can put on the court. No surprise there, but this is a 30+ win team that could win the national title if things break right for them.

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Other Games We Saw. NC State 69, #25 Villanova 68. The finals of the Old Spice Classic championship was another close game with a particularly insane ending. After battling toe-to-toe for most of the game (the biggest lead by either team was 7 pts), it appeared that Villanova was going to take the prize when Dante Cunningham tipped in a missed shot with 2.2 seconds remaining to give Nova a 1-pt lead. NC State then passed the ball length-of-the-court to Gavin Grant, who stepped behind the three-point line and was fouled in a ticky-tack call on the shot attempt by Cunningham with 0.4 seconds on the clock. Grant made two of three to put NCSU up by one, so it was then Villanova’s turn to throw the ball to the other end in hopes of a miracle. And they damn near got it – knowing they only had time for a tip, Villanova made two tips at the basket (the second attempt was very close and got off before the red light illuminated, according to our Tivo slo-mo) and neither dropped. Still, it was an exciting ending to a competitive game. Courtney Fells led the way for NCSU with 21, but it was a balanced attack from the Wolfpack (Grant & Hickson – 15 each; McCauley – 10) that led to the win. Villanova was paced by freshman Corey Fisher’s 21 pts, but special notoriety should go to Casiem Drummond, who with 17 rebounds singlehandedly kept numerous possessions alive for the Wildcats.

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USC 70, #18 S. Illinois 45. This game completely shocked us – not just the result but the margin of victory (SIU’s worst loss in seven years). The usually disciplined Salukis couldn’t get anything to drop (eFG% = 38%), while the Men of Troy, led by Davon Jefferson (20/5), simply could not miss (eFG% = 65%). We’d watched two or three USC games already this year, and each time they looked uninterested, umotivated and overall underwhelming. Not tonight. Perhaps it had something to do with OJ Mayo’s benching (for what reason, Tim Floyd?), but the takeaway is that USC outclassed a reliably good team in every possible way tonight. Randal Falker is the only player who showed up for SIU, producing 17/12 for his efforts.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #8 Washington St. 71, Air Force 62. Wazzu guards combine for 46/15/13 assts.
  • #10 Duke 78, Eastern Kentucky 43. Where did Taylor King (27 pts) come from?
  • #19 Kansas St. 82, Rider 69. Jason Thompson of Rider (24/7/3 assts/4 blks) outplayed Michael Beastley (13/10) in this one.

Other Scores of Note.

  • UCF 70, Penn St. 59. Another horrid loss for the Big 10, thanks to our friends in State College.
  • Missouri St. 73, Winthrop 69. Hard to believe that Winthrop would blow a 16-pt halftime lead at home (24 game winning streak), but they did.
  • George Mason 69, South Carolina 68. Mason picks up more major conference pelts as Will Thomas dominated SC inside (22/11).
  • Miami (OH) 67, Mississippi St. 60. Does MSU have any other players besides Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes?

On Tap Tonight (all times EST). Big 10/ACC gets started in Iowa City, but not much else on the slate for Monday.

  • Wake Forest (-2) v. Iowa (ESPN2) 7pm – hard to believe Wake could be favored on the road just about anywhere.
  • Davidson (-3.5) v. Appalachian St. 7pm. this is a key SoCon game – why so early?
  • Connecticut (NL) v. Florida A&M (ESPN FC) 7pm - already tired of UConn.
  • Washington (-22.5) v. Long Beach State 10:30pm – which UW will show up?
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ATB: Black Friday for Louisville

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.23.07

Game of the Day. BYU 78, #6 Louisville 76. Due to familial obligations, we didn’t get to see this game tonight, so chime in if you did, but the result here didn’t shock us. On Wed. night we caught a good portion of the Cards’ game with UNLV, and even though they ended up winning by 20, it was an ugly performance. BYU is significantly better than UNLV, and the tournament site of Las Vegas, while culturally a million miles away from Provo, is still familiar Mtn West country for the Cougars. So what happened? Well, BYU forward Jonathan Tavernari (29/7 with 5 threes) and center Trent Plaisted (21/12) essentially took over the game for the Cougs in the second half, accounting for all but six of BYU’s points. Louisville got twin dub-dubs from Derrick Caracter (24/11) and Terrence Williams, but the missing men tonight for the Cards were guards Andre McGee and Edgar Sosa (3 pts combined in 39 mins). UL just isn’t going to be the same team without some kind of inside presence besides Caracter. They need Palacios to come back healthy (at a minimum) if they expect to compete for a F4 berth this year. BYU, on the other hand, appears to be completely back from the nadir (9-21) it reached in 2005 – all credit to coach Bob Rose for their reconstruction to a legitimate MWC contender and national presence again. Oh, and this loss also ruined our most anticipated early-season matchup between Louisville and UNC – thanks for that, Brigham Youngsters.

Other Games We Saw. Texas A&M 70, Ohio St. 47. The most impressive win of the night was in the PNIT finals. TAMU put a defensive clinic on in the second half of this game to blow open a close halftime score (31-25) to a thirty-point evisceration with ten minutes remaining – the Aggies held OSU to only one FG in the first 11.5 mins of the second half! We haven’t seen a defensive shutdown against a quality opponent like that since Georgetown was willing itself into the F4 last year. If this is any indication of how A&M is going to play defense the rest of this year, then everyone (including us) has severly underrated Mark Turgeon’s team. Kosta Koufos, who on Wed. night looked fantastic against Syracuse, was held in check (10/5 on 4-16 FGs) and the whole Buckeye team shot a miserable 24% for the game. A&M was led by Derrick Roland (15 pts) off the bench, but the player who really caught our eye tonight was freshman center DeAndre Jordan (11/8). That beefy front line of Jordan, Josh Carter and Joseph Jones is going to present a lot of problems for people this year. Syracuse 91, Washington 85. In what was a pretty exciting game at times, the Syracuse freshmen showed up tonight to lead the Orange past Washington. Donte Greene had 25/10/4 assts/3 blks in an all-around showcase of skills, and Jonny Flynn got off the schneid with 16 pts in 21 minutes of play. For Washington, Quincy Pondexter had an array of nasty moves to get his 20/13, but poor D in the form of incessant fouling led to the Cuse taking 52 foul shots (v. UW’s 19 attempts). Washington had four players foul out of the game, but their rebounding advantage (+25) kept them in the game – UW nearly had as many offensive rebounds (24) as Syracuse had total rebounds (27). Guess this is how it’s going to go for Syracuse this season – when the freshmen play well, they win; when not, they don’t. As for Washington, we still can’t figure them out. We just have this sneaky feeling that they should always be a little better than they are.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #2 UCLA 81, Yale 47. Bruins shoot 55% in easy win.
  • #3 UNC 99, Old Dominion 82. Roy’s technicolor tie distracted us, but we found it interesting that ODU missed two layups at the end that would have covered the spread (in Vegas). Lawson’s speed was sick this game.
  • #7 Tennessee 74, West Virginia 72. Didn’t get to see this one, and sorry we missed it. It appears that Huggins’ guys took it right at UT’s softies, though.
  • #8 Washington St. 66, Montana 55. Taylor Rochestie led Wazzu with 17.
  • #9 Indiana 70, Illinois St. 57. E-Giddy with 31 in a nice win for the Hoosiers. DJ White only 4, though?
  • #13 Texas 102, New Mexico St. 87. Abrams and Augustin combine for 56.
  • Texas Tech 73, #15 Gonzaga 63. Didn’t see that one coming…
  • #17 Butler 84, Virginia Tech 78. If Butler wants respect, it needs to do better than barely beating an ACC bottom-feeder.
  • #18 S.Illinois 63, Mississippi St. 49. Paging SEC:TGTBTD, didn’t you guys predict 26-4 for MSU? You’ve got two left.
  • #19 Kansas St. 73, UCF 71. Ho-hum, Beastley with another 30/13.
  • #20 Pittsburgh 92, Buffalo 45. Pitt continues to roll early.
  • #25 Villanova 84, George Mason 76. Great game – GMU will be dealt with in the CAA this year, but the Nova guards were too much today.

Other Scores of Note.

  • Rider 82, Penn St. 73. Ugly loss for the Big 10 (Jason Thompson 21/10/3 blks).
  • NC State 63, South Carolina 61. NC State is not a good team, people.
  • Bradley 67, Iowa 56. Great MVC win v. a B10 team.
  • Florida St. 65, Florida 51. This was in Gainesville – looks like Billy D’s team got a wakeup call with their worst loss in 3 yrs.
  • Virginia 100, Penn 85. Another nice road win for UVa.
  • Vanderbilt 77, Utah St. 56. Vandy might be the second best team in the SEC
  • USC 57, Miami (OH) 53. USC looks bad again – Gibson with a mere 6 pts (Mayo w/ 21).

On Tap Today (all times EST). Mostly pigskin on the tube, but as always, there are a few jewels in the lineup.

  • Air Force (-1) v. Montana 4:30pm – solid mid-major matchup.
  • Tennessee (-5.5) v. Texas. this is a game worth watching – should be very uptempo.
  • California (-6) v. San Diego St. 6pm - necessary win for SDSU if it’s thinking at-large (eh, M2M?)
  • Wisconsin (-9) v. Georgia 6:30pm – odd non-tourney game between B10/SEC – could get ugly for Dennis Felton.
  • Pacific v. St. Louis (-6.5) 8pm – another solid mid-major contest.
  • Louisville (-9.5) v. Old Dominion 7:30pm. Based on what we saw tonight, ODU will beat Louisville unless the Cards play better than their previous two LV games.
  • Indiana (-2.5) v. Xavier 8:30pm. IU’s first real test of the year.
  • Vanderbilt (-4.5) v. Bradley 8:30pm. can Vandy keep it going so easily?
  • Oregon (-18.5) v. San Francisco (ESPN FC) 10pm – Oregon gets a chance to take out its St. Mary’s loss on another WCC team.
  • Nevada v. UNLV (-3) (ESPN FC) 10pm – intrastate rivalry!
  • UNC (-8) v. BYU 10:30pm – not the preferred matchup, but still a very good one.
  • Texas Tech v. Butler (-5) 12:30am. Butler could use this one in Alaska.
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ATB: Turkey Day Coma

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2007

ATB v.4

11.22.07

Stuffed. We may try to update this tomorrow, but suffice it to say for now that we’re in a veritable somnambulant state right now, and although we saw the games tonight, we’re in no state for biting commentary.

Some Very Quick Hits. USC is not a very good team right now. Neither is Kansas St (although Beasley is otherworldly). Gonzaga showed some heart to gut out a win in Alaska against a very good WKU team, and we still heart Rider’s Jason Thompson (24/15/5 assts in a loss).

Happy Black Friday Everyone. Think of us when you’re wrestling with some blue-haired hag for that pastel green nano your kid wants.

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ATB: Can Raftery Wear Hawaiian Shirts Every Game?

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2007

ATB v.4

11.21.07

Game of the Day. #10 Duke 77 #12 Marquette 73. There were several games we were looking forward to watching today, but truthfully this was the only game that stepped up to the plate and delivered an interesting result as Duke won its fourth Maui Invitational. We continue to be impressed by what Duke is accomplishing without any semblance of an inside presence. Literally, none. Everything they get is off the drive or off the jumper. Luckily for them, the Devils have the right mix of slashers and shooters to make that work. The long-term problem that Duke will ultimately face is what happens when they have to stare down a team with talented bigs as well as guards. In the Maui, Illinois had nice bigs but weak guard play. Marquette was the polar opposite – fantastic guards, but nothing inside. Duke can ride this strategy to a really nice season (as usual), but we don’t really see them making noise deep into March because of that fundamental weakness. Are we wrong about this? As for tonight’s game, it was fun to watch a close one but we never really believed Marquette would/could clutch this game away from Duke. Too many poor decisions with the ball, missed layups and fouls (some of which, of course, were dubious). Kyle Singler (25/7) led Duke with another great game, and Demarcus Nelson (16/7) had a nice game as well, but our takeaway tonight comes from the Marquette side. Why is it every time we watch MU we end up feeling like Jerel McNeal (11/2 on 4-7 shooting) and Wes Matthews (12/4 on 4-7 shooting) are better than the much-publicized Dominic James (12/6 on 4-16 shooting)? Just a thought. Final take – Duke and Marquette are good teams, but both have such a major fundamental flaw in the lack of any respectable inside game that their long-term prospects seem no better than the Sweet 16 this year.

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Other Games We Saw. Ohio St. 79, #22 Syracuse 65. This game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. We have to hand it again to Thad Matta – he gets his personnel to play hard and under control. Which is more than we can say for Jim Boeheim’s team tonight. While both teams are using several freshmen, it was OSU that looked far more poised. OSU’s Kosta Koufos (24/9) seemed unstoppable at times, showing three-point range on his jumper and a variety of bank shots and short Js in the paint. We may have severely underestimated this guy – if Duke had him, they would probably be F4-bound this year. Jamar Butler also hit several threes at opportune moments to keep Syracuse from ever getting a serious run mounted in the second half. The sole bright spot for the Cuse was from jumping jack rookie Donte Greene (21/10), but his classmate Jonny Flynn was simply horrid, putting up an 0-6 zero-pt night. What has happened to Flynn since his initial 28-pt explosion against Siena? After starting the year 10-13, he’s gone 4-19 since. #6 Louisville 68, UNLV 48. We had high hopes for this game as well, but it turned out to be a very ugly contest. Still, breaking a team’s 19-game winning streak at home is no joke, and the Cards (using only 8 scholarship players) should be commended for the convincing win. UNLV (eFG% = 30%) couldn’t find the basket with both hands tonight, and Louisville spent much of the game in the same Vegas Strip-induced fog. Earl Clark stepped up for the Cards with a dub-dub (16/13) and Terrence Williams did his usual thing (9/5/6 assts), and that was pretty much all they needed. We’re hopeful that the UL games coming up this weekend in Vegas will be a little more exciting. #16 Texas A&M 77, Washington 63. This was another game we had circled that didn’t really come through. UW looked lethargic and uninterested while Texas A&M methodically went about its business in winning the game. What is it about Pac-10 teams playing away from home so far this year – with the exception of UCLA, they all look terrible. Jon Brockman (21/15) was solid for Washington in the loss, but the props should go to the Texas A&M guards Dominique Kirk and Donald Sloan who combined for 33/6/6 assts while harassing the UW guards into a poor shooting night. Mark Turgeon is a great coach, so it should be no surprise that TAMU’s program remains strong after Billy Gillispie’s departure. Ohio St. and Texas A&M will meet in the PNIT finals.

Upset of the Night. Western Michigan 83, #21 Davidson 76. When is an upset not really an upset – how about this game? Davidson is ranked, but was favored by a mere 4 pts with good reason. W. Michigan is one of the leading contenders for the MAC title this year. In this game, WMU basically just shot the lights out, with an eFG% of 73% (v. 52% for Davidson). They hit 63% from two-point range and 55% (12-22) from three, as all five starters had double figures. For Davidson, Stephen Curry did his best to keep the Wildcats in the game as he had 25 pts (incl. 5 threes), but his only help came from backcourt mate Jason Richards (23/3/8 assts). While this loss may cause pollster consternation because WMU is a no-name opponent, we’re not ready to buy into that just yet. WMU is a good team and they were playing at home, but we still believe that Davidson can compete with (and beat) one or two of the remaining three biggies on its schedule (NC State or Duke, but not UCLA).

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #4 Kansas 87, N. Arizona 46. Darrell Arthur led the way with 17/6 in the blowout.
  • #5 Georgetown 57, Ball St. 48. Very surprised JT3 didn’t pour it on in this game.
  • #17 Butler 79, Michigan 65. Started to watch, but got sleepy…
  • #24 Clemson 74, Presbyterian 57. Clemson off to its usual unbeaten Nov/Dec.

Other Scores of Note.

  • Arizona St. 87, LSU 84. It’s so hard to sit back and watch good talent wasted (ahem, LSU).
  • Illinois 65, Oklahoma St. 49. The Illini are going to be their typical difficult selves this year.
  • Chaminade 74, Princeton 70. You go, Silverswords!
  • #24 Clemson 74, Presbyterian 57. Clemson off to its usual unbeaten Nov/Dec.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Thanksgiving holiday isn’t a hoops day, so there are only ten games on tap, but wow, we get Beastley and Mayo late-night as we’re coming out of our food coma…

  • South Carolina (-2.5) v. Penn St. (ESPN2) 12pm – two hapless teams searching for a respectable win in the Old Spice Classic.
  • Mississippi St. (-10.5) v. UC Irvine (ESPNU) 2pm - MSU cannot afford to lose this game in UCI’s back yard (Anaheim).
  • NC State (-13.5) v. Rider (ESPN2) 2pm – NC State gets a chance to recover from the UNO loss.
  • S. Illinois (-16) v. Chattanooga (ESPNU) 4pm – our first television look at SIU this year.
  • Villanova (-6.5) v. Central Florida (ESPN2) 7pm – the game is in Orlando; will anyone be there?
  • Kansas St. (-2) v. George Mason (ESPN2) 9pm – not only is it our first look at Beastley, it’s also a great matchup!
  • Miami (OH) (-3) v. South Alabama (ESPNU) 9:30pm – won’t be watching this one much.
  • Gonzaga (-6) v. W. Kentucky (ESPNU) 11:30pm - a tremendous matchup in the Great Alaska.
  • USC (-13) v. San Diego (ESPN2) 11:30pm – conveniently timed post-Beastley and with our second turkey sandwich.

Happy Thanksgiving Day everyone!

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Blogpoll – Week 2

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2007

The blogpoll blogpool continues to grow, as we’re now up to 13 contributors, with two more expected to begin next week. Memphis remains #1, but UCLA is rising..

Blogpoll - Week 2 - 11.21.07

Note: blogpoll does not include Tues. 11/20 games.

Justifying Our Ballot. This week we didn’t have much movement in our top ten. We switched UNC and Memphis based on UNC’s struggle with Davidson. We also jumped Louisville (#9 to #6) and Duke (#13 to #11) up a few spots based on the way they’re both playing right now. We dropped Stanford down from #12 to #24 based on their loss at Siena, and VCU was knocked completely out due to its two losses in Puerto Rico. Arizona and Arkansas were also left out, while Pitt, K-State and Villanova were added to our ballot this week.

Two Left Out. The two teams we voted for that were left out of the blogpoll this week were Florida (#23) and Stanford (#24). The Gators are 5-0 and have been mowing down opponents lately, but they lack a marquee win and they haven’t left their home court yet, so we understand that omission. Stanford’s loss at Siena was a bad loss, but they had several solid wins (vs. UCSB, @ Northwestern) prior to that, so we weren’t completely ready to drop them altogether. There was a bit of a clamor amongst the bloggers to include Miami (FL) this week, as the Hurricanes performed well in defeating VCU and Providence in the Puerto Rico Tipoff. We also considered Baylor after its impressive wins over Wichita St., Notre Dame and Winthrop in the Paradise Jam last week. We’re definitely going to be keeping an eye on the Bears.

Tightening Up. The bloggers are still unsure where to rank the two Big Ten teams, Indiana and Michigan St. Amazingly, there is still one blogger who refuses to rank the Hoosiers at all, but we won’t name names. Here are the top five most uncertain teams (remember, a high std dev means greater variation in blogger rankings of that team):

  • Indiana (std dev = 5.41; range = 4 to nr)
  • Michigan St. (5.09; 9 to nr)
  • Kansas St. (4.37; 11 to nr)
  • Syracuse (4.27; 16 to nr)
  • Villanova (4.12; 12 to nr)

Conversely, the top seven teams in the blogpoll are extremely well-supported by the bloggers. Only two other ballots than ours (with Indiana at #4) supported a team other than the Memphis/UCLA/UNC/Kansas/GTown/UL/Tenn septoika. One ballot had Wazzu at #7 and another ballot had Indiana at #6. Now that’s conformity!

Conference Call.

  • Big East – 6
  • ACC & Big 12 – 4
  • Pac-10 – 3
  • Big 10 – 2
  • CUSA, Horizon, MVC, SEC, SoCon, WCC – 1
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ATB: HowlandBall > IzzoBall (for now)

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2007

ATB v.4

11.20.07

Game of the Day. #3 UCLA 68, Michigan St. 63. Whew. One night after declaring UCLA the best team in the country, we turned our tv on tonight and watched the Bruins go scoreless for the first 5+ minutes against Michigan St. and put in a lackluster first half before righting the Shipp in the second half (sorry, that was terrible). Down 11 at the break and shooting only 24% from the field, Howland must have implored his guys to execute better in the halfcourt in the second half. They did, and after keeping within contact of MSU through most of the second half, Love’s three-point play with 1:58 remaining initiated a 10-0 Bruin run to finish the game (from down 63-58 to up 68-63). It seemed that every time down the stretch that UCLA needed a play, whether defensively or offensively, they made it. From the Mbah a Moute follow-dunk to tie the game to the sick perimeter D they draped on Drew Neitzel’s three-point tying attempt (airball), UCLA did what was necessary to win. This is why we think this version of HowlandBall is the team to beat come March. They withstood an inspired performance by Michigan St. (54% FG, 93% FT), and still came out with the W. When they get Darren Collison and friends back at full strength, they should be even better. Final comment on Love (21/11): obviously, the guy is extremely skilled. Great court awareness, deft touch around the basket, and a nose for the ball (8 off rebs). Our only complaint with him is the same one we mentioned a week ago – we wish he had some explosion around the rim, as there were a couple of times he just couldn’t get the ball up against MSU’s athletes despite having inside position. But his numbers are still sensational for a freshman, and we recognize that’s a nitpick that will become a problem at the next level more than this one. Final comment on MSU: they’re better than we thought they would be this year, but the question is how will Big 10 teams (who are used to their style of basketbrawl) play them this year?

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WCC Pride. St. Mary’s 99, #9 Oregon 87. The upset of the night (was it really? yeah, we guess so…) took place in tony tiny Moraga, CA, on the campus of WCC annual also-ran-to-Gonzaga St. Mary’s College. We noted this as an upset alert last night, and sure enough, SMC really stuck it to the Ducks tonight. Despite winning its first four games by an average of 19.8 pts (all at home), and just like Pac-10 colleague Stanford (@ Siena) last weekend, the Ducks wilted when faced with an inspired opponent defending their home court. From what we saw, Oregon routinely played matador defense as one of the St. Mary’s guards glided down the lane for another score (most notably freshman Patrick Mills, who set a school record for a frosh with 37/5 assts for a blistering 36 efficiency rating). It also appeared to us that SMC just wanted it more, regularly beating the Ducks to loose balls and errant caroms. For Oregon, Hairston, Leunen, Porter and Kamyron Brown (Bryce Taylor was out with a shoulder injury) combined for 62 pts, but it was on 22-51 shooting. We take nothing away from St. Mary’s here, as they are a very good team that can potentially ride this win to an NCAA at-large berth next March (presuming a solid WCC campaign), but the takeaway here is just how different Oregon looked in a road environment. With a core group of seniors such as Leunen and Hairston, we just expected more poise. Enjoy RTC #2 of the year (both at the expense of Pac-10 teams, btw).

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Maui Wrapup. #11 Duke 79, Illinois 66. The third marquee game of the day was in Maui, where Duke rode great shooting (eFG% = 63%) to a dominating performance over Illinois. This game went pretty much as expected. Duke’s guards scored 62 of their 79 total pts, Illinois couldn’t throw it into the Pacific (eFG% = 35%), and the Illini kept themselves from being humiliated by murdering Duke on the boards (19 off rebs to 4). This is why Marquette, with its trio of talented guards, may have a chance to beat the Devils (again) tomorrow night in the Maui finals. The wildcard is what Duke gets from Singler, as tonight he was in foul trouble and relatively quiet (8/1). They’ll need his production tomorrow night. #12 Marquette 91, Oklahoma St. 61. Marquette got 51 pts from its starting guards, as this game was never close (MU was up 18 at halftime). At the risk of annoying one of our prominent critics, all we’ll say about OSU in this game is that Sean Sutton has perfected his father’s trademark scowl.

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Ridiculous Score of the Night. #6 Tennessee 109, Middle Tennessee St. 40. UT is starting to scare us a little bit. Beating a D1 team – any D1 team – by 69 pts is something not seen very often. The Vols started this game on a 31-4 run and clearly never looked back, leading by 40 at halftime and as much as 71 in the second stanza. Some absurd stats – UT scored 1.47 ppp, had an eFG% of 79%, and scored on almost two-thirds of its possessions in this game. JaJuan Smith led the way for the Vols with 32 pts (on 7 threes), and Chris Lofton broke out of his slump with 17 pts on 6-9 (5-8 from three) shooting. 69 pts… Bruce Pearl better watch himself in Murfreesboro.

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #1 Memphis 84, Arkansas St. 63. Kemp 22, Mack 19, CDR 16.
  • #2 UNC 110, South Carolina St. 64. Only 46 pts, Roy? Bruce Pearl says “pfshaw…”
  • #10 Indiana 95, UNC-Wilmington 71. E-Giddy with 30/6/3 assts.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui Finals are in action and the NIT semis kick back up.

  • Texas A&M (-4) v. Washington (ESPN) 7pm – NIT semis - we think this will be a fun game to watch.
  • Georgetown (-20) v. Ball St. 7pm - JTIII may take his bro Ronny’s frustrations out on BSU.
  • Davidson (-4) v. W. Michigan 7pm – an excellent mid-major road test for Davidson – avoid the letdown!
  • Oklahoma (-25) v. Morehead St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – snooze…
  • Kansas (-26.5) v. N. Arizona (ESPN FC) 8pm – we like KU, really we do, but we’d like to see them outside of Allen Field House.
  • Syracuse (-1.5) v. Ohio St. (ESPN2) 9pm – NIT semis – anticipating our first look at Flynn and Green.
  • Louisville (-3) v. UNLV (Vs.) 9pm – a no-joke road test for the Cards.
  • Duke (NL) v. Marquette (ESPN) 10pm - let’s hope this game is half as exciting as last year’s version.
  • Butler (-6) v. Michigan (ESPN2) 11:30pm – Great Alaska tips off with a solid mid-major/BCS matchup where Butler is expected to win.
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Mid Major H2H (thru 11.19.07)

Posted by rtmsf on November 20th, 2007

After yesterday’s analysis of the BCS conferences to date, we thought it would be worth a quick look to see how the eight mid-major leagues are doing so far.

Mid Major H2H

Data Source: www.basketballstate.com

Thoughts:

  • The Mountain West has gotten off to the best start, going 9-2 against the BCS and mid-major leagues (and 25-4 overall). The only other league with a winning record against the BCS/MM is the Missouri Valley at 6-5.
  • The CAA, WCC and WAC need to get their acts together and win a game against a BCS team (combined 0-15). The WCC and WAC in particular are really struggling, both having losing records against the other mids and barely above .500 against the lows.
  • CUSA has the most BCS wins, but two of the three belong to Memphis (Tulane beating Auburn is the other).
  • Realizing that fortuitous scheduling accounts for any distinctions this early, we’d rank the mids as such at this point: 1) MWC, 2) MVC, 3) CUSA, 4) A10, 5) Horizon, 6) CAA, 7) WAC, 8 ) WCC.

Update: while compiling this list, the WCC had a huge upset with St. Mary’s knocking off #9 Oregon tonight. Obviously, that will change their status from eighth place among the mid-majors next time.

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