ATB: UCLA is #1

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.19.07

Story of the Day. The marquee games of the day were held in KC in the semis of the CBE Classic at the spanking new Sprint Center tonight. We’re still wondering why Kansas City built this thing (we hear the Sonics are available), but it looked like a nice joint for some collegiate hoops. #3 UCLA 71, Maryland 59. In this game, UCLA only had eight players dress out (Darren Collison in particular is still injured), but the Bruins under Ben Howland do what they always do – they uglified the game and ultimately imposed their will on the Terps. The first half looked like someone had greased the basketball, as both teams combined for 30 turnovers and only 46 pts. Advantage: UCLA, as they took a ten-pt lead into the half. The second half wasn’t as painful to watch, but Maryland never truly threatened to get back into the game – every Terp push seemed to be met with a UCLA player hanging off the rim on the other end. Kevin Love had a nice dub-dub (18/16), but we’re with Vitale in agreement that this kid is shy of 6’9 – maybe we’ll see him again next year after all. The only player that impressed on Maryland was Bambale Osby, who had several ridiculous blocks including one stuff of a stuff on Aboya that had us coming out of our seat. The bottom line is this – when UCLA gets Collison back running the show, they are without a doubt the most difficult matchup in the nation because of their defense, size and athleticism. They’re the only team around that can win games going away while shooting poorly (like tonight – 38%).

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Michigan St. 86, Missouri 83. This was a much better game from a viewing standpoint. MSU looked very impressive in the first half, building as much as a 16-pt lead over the quasi-home team, but Mizzou looked equally as impressive in the second half as they charged back into the game, using the 40MoH pressure defense to fluster the Spartans on numerous possessions. MSU’s Raymar Morgan had a perfect night (19 pts on 6-6 FG and 6-6 FT), but it was Drew Neitzel (21 pts) and Goran Suton (17/8) who made the big plays late to secure the win for Tom Izzo’s team. We still think Indiana is the team to beat in the Big 10, but MSU can prove us wrong tomorrow night against UCLA. As for Missouri, we really like what Mike Anderson has already accomplished there – at any moment, we expect to see those twins he had at UAB throwing over-the-head passes 90 feet. The rebuild is over – Missouri could be an NCAA team this year.

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Maui Invitational. Four games, four ho-hummers. Oklahoma St. 83, LSU 77. We thought this would be a close game, and we were wrong, as OSU ran out to an 18-pt halftime lead before nearly blowing the whole thing down the stretch (LSU got within three at the 1:46 mark). OSU was led by James Anderson (25 pts) and Terrel Harris (24 pts), but neither team really impresses us. Where has Anthony Randolph (5/5/5 turnovers) gone? Marquette 74, Chaminade 63. Visions of Virginia ’83 were dancing in the heads of local fans as Chaminade hung with Marquette for much of this game, but Jerel McNeal and his 22 pts held off the upstarts in the last five minutes for the win. Duke 83, Princeton 61. A completely outclassed Princeton team was overwhelmed from the opening tip against Duke, falling behind 24-4 in the first seven minutes of the game. Kyle Singler continued his impressive November, tallying 21/12 in the blowout. Illinois 77, Arizona St. 54. The nightcap game started much the same way, as Illinois ran out to a 20-0 lead on Arizona St. before coasting the rest of the way. Illinois might be better than we thought, but frankly, we expected a better performance in the first game from Herb’s boys tonight. Oklahoma St. will play Marquette and Duke will play Illinois tomorrow. Our picks – Duke and Marquette.

Paradise Jammy. Baylor 62, Winthrop 54. Is Baylor a team on the rise in the Big 12? It would appear to be so after defeating Wichita St., Notre Dame and Winthrop in successive nights to win the Paradise Jam. We would have picked against Baylor in all three games. Georgia Tech 70, Notre Dame 69. The consolation game featured a three with two seconds remaining from Tech’s Matt Causey that gave the schizo Yellow Jackets the win. ND’s Luke Harangody had 22/11 in the loss.

The Atlantic Sun Strikes Again. Belmont 85, Alabama 83. Is Belmont winning on the road against a BCS team an upset anymore? No, especially against an SEC team these days, as the suckeastern conference has been taking it on the chin lately. Right now, who besides Tennessee (and maybe a very young Florida) looks worth a damn? As for this game, a review of the stats shows that both teams played pretty well – it was just that Belmont converted more plays down the stretch. Specifically, Justin Hare dropped a pullup J from the foul line with 2.2 seconds remaining to put the Bruins up two points. What’s amazing about this is that Hare has achieved Jordanesque end-of-game status at Belmont, as this was the thirteenth time he had hit a shot to win or send a game into OT in his career. Bama’s Richard Hendrix went for 25/10 in the losing effort.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui continues, and the Game of the Year (so far) takes place in KC at the CBE.

  • Indiana (-21.5) v. UNC-Wilmington 7pm – the only reason we wish we had the Big Ten channel is E-Giddy.
  • Marquette (-3) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN) 7pm - we have no idea what will happen in this game, sorry.
  • Connecticut (NL) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – didn’t we just do this?
  • Tennessee (-22.5) v. Middle Tennessee St. (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – will Lofton wake up this season?
  • Maryland v. Missouri (-5.5) (ESPN2) 7:45pm – this should be an exciting, uptempo game.
  • Florida (NL) v. North Florida (ESPN FC) 8pm – when does Florida play a road game again – January?
  • Vanderbilt (-14) v. Valparaiso 8pm – the way SEC teams have been falling…
  • Duke (-7) v. Illinois (ESPN) 9:30pm - Illinois has the inside play to exploit Duke, but whither their guards?
  • UCLA (-3.5) v. Michigan St. (ESPN2) 10pm – blood, guts, and glory. This will be a slugfest.
  • Oregon (-5) v. St. Mary’s (ESPNU) 10pm – upset alert! SMC is legit, but Oregon has looked fantastic thus far. How will the Ducks fare in their first road test?
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BCS Conference H2H (thru 11.18.07)

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

Today marks two weeks from the start of the season, so we thought it would be an appropriate time to take a look at how the BCS conferences have done thus far against each other as well as the mids and lows. There’s not a lot of data available yet, but already we’re starting to see a little separation amongst the top conferences. It’ll be interesting to track this throughout the preconference schedule to see if it holds up. With the Maui, NIT and various conference challenges kicking off soon, this could change in a hurry.

BCS Conference H2H 11.08.07

 

Data Source: www.basketballstate.com

Thoughts:

  • So far, and we realize this is super early, the ACC and Pac-10 have led the way, going 10-2 (ACC) and 9-2 (Pac-10) against BCS and mid-major opponents. The other four are roughly .500 (Big East – 9-7; Big 10 – 3-3; Big 12 – 5-4; SEC – 4-4).
  • The Big 10 has the best early record at 20-3 (.870), but is only 1-3 against other BCS schools.
  • The SEC needs to protect home court better – two of its three losses against other BCS opponents (and three of the overall five) were at home.

Marquee Wins (best overall win in bold) –

  • ACC – Virginia 75, Arizona 72; Clemson 84, Mississippi St. 82 (both on the road)
  • Big East – Providence 67, Arkansas 51
  • Big 10 -none
  • Big 12 – none
  • Pac-10 – none
  • SEC – Arkansas 70, VCU 60

Ugly Losses (worst overall loss in bold) –

  • ACC – UNC-Greensboro 83, Ga Tech 74; Cleveland St. 69, Florida St. 66
  • Big East – Buffalo 76, S. Florida 69; Bowling Green 69, Cincinnati 67
  • Big 10 – Georgetown 74, Michigan 52 (the margin, not the result)
  • Big 12 – Sam Houston St. 56, Texas Tech 54; N. Texas 82, Oklahoma St. 73
  • Pac-10 – Mercer 96, USC 81; Siena 79, Stanford 67
  • SEC – Gardner-Webb 84, Kentucky 68; Tulane 77, Auburn 62
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Maui Invitational Bracket

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

Let’s kick off Thanksgiving Week with a little Maui Invitational to go with your turkey and stuffing.

The Maui is easily our favorite pre-conference tourney every year.  There’s something about the endless beach and sunset shots they show us during timeouts, or maybe it’s just Bill Raftery in a Hawaiian print shirt.   Whatever the case, we love it and we can’t take the season seriously until the luau music hits our ears.  Not to mention that most years there’s some excellent basketball to watch.  Our favorite two tourneys right off the top of our head were the year (2001) that Ball St. beat #3 Kansas and #4 UCLA in consecutive nights before finally succumbing to #1 Duke; and the year (2005) that Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison and Michigan St.’s Maurice Ager bombed threes all over the place in a triple-OT thriller.

Our picks for this year are below the bracket.

Maui Invitational Bracket

Day One Picks.   Marquette easily over ChaminadeLSU in a low-scoring slugfest over Oklahoma StDuke runs all over PrincetonArizona St. surprises Illinois.

Semis.  Herb Sendek gives Duke a tough game, but K prevails (9-0 in this event).  Marquette’s guards confound LSU.

Finals.  Duke gets revenge for last year’s loss to Marquette in the finals of the CBE Classic.

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ATB: Only 3 More Ls for Gavin Grant

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.18.07

Story of the Day. New Orleans 65, NC State 63. When a bank-three from 25 feet wins a game (note: we looked all over for video evidence of this three but couldn’t find it online yet – if anyone has it, link us…) for a mid-major over a ranked team, that’s gotta be the story of the day. We’ve been vocal in our critique of whether NC State should be a ranked team this year, but we take nothing away from UNO tonight as they defeated their first ranked team in fourteen years. The Privateers scored eight straight points to take a 62-61 lead with 15 seconds remaining; after NC State’s Gavin Grant made a layup with eight seconds remaining to give the Wolfpack the lead again, a broken play ensued which ultimately led to UNO’s TJ Worley throwing up the prayer that was answered. Despite NC State converting at a higher rate (eFG% of 50% v. 38%), the Privateers took advantage of 14 NCSU turnovers and poor foul shooting (10-19) to stay in the game. Bo McCalebb, one of the best one-bid conference players in the nation, had a poor shooting night (5-19), but he still managed to hit 20 pts. NC State’s JJ Hickson (another stud frosh) went for a dub-dub (22/13) in a losing effort. The pollsters in the MSM and the blogworld all think NCSU is going to finish in the top three in the ACC this year – maybe they should start listening to us! (oh, and memo to Gavin Grant, you only get three more…)

Other Games Today. Villanova 70, Bucknell 64. We had our eyes on this one along the bottom line this afternoon, and for a while, we thought Bucknell was going to get its first win at Nova since WW2. The Bison were simply on fire from three, hitting 15 of 31 shots, which means that only 19 of their points came from elsewhere on the court. Despite leading by eight at halftime and for nearly 75% of the game, Villanova took the lead for good with 3:25 remaining on a Scottie Reynolds three. Bucknell should be a good team again this year – Villanova, we’re still unsure about. #17 Arkansas 70, VCU 60. We watched this game and we couldn’t be more disappointed in VCU so far this season. We ranked them as the top mid-major to watch this season, and they’re just not playing with the same zeal we saw from them (and Eric Maynor in particular) last season. Arkansas struggled with VCU’s pressure (17 TOs, but nowhere near the 32 v. Providence the night before), but VCU could never get a run going to really threaten the balanced Hawgs. We like John Pelphrey and his athletes, but Arkansas will be limited by its sloppiness with the ball and lack of an inside game this season.

Tough Day for the ACC. Last night we talked up the ACC for having lost only two non-conference games thus far – today the ACC lost three more. Winthrop 79, Georgia Tech 73. This was one of our upset alerts last night, and it went as predicted. Georgia Tech went ice-cold in the second half (35%) after being hot in the first (58%), and the steady Tigers took advantage to give Tech its second loss to a low major conference in the first two weeks of the season (SoCon and Big South). Winthrop will meet Baylor (who defeated Notre Dame 68-64) in the finals of the Paradise Jam tomorrow. South Florida 68, Florida St. 67. Florida St. is doing its part to qualify as the crappiest team in the ACC by losing for the second consecutive night to a questionable opponent. Jason Rich takes home our award for worst game of the night with his 2 pt performance on 1-12 shooting. USF stud Kentrell Gransberry put up 21/8. Miami (FL) 64, Providence 58. Ok, so it wasn’t all bad for the ACC tonight. In an ugly game (both teams had ppp’s under 1.0) for the title of the PR Shootout, Miami persevered and outlasted the Friars thanks to James Dews, who led the Hurricanes with 17 pts. We have trouble believing that Miami is legit this year, but this is a nice win for their resume come March.

Ranked Teams.

#2 UNC 107, Iona 72. Psycho-T with 27/9 as UNC destroyed Iona. Should 21 TOs worry Roy?
#7 Louisville 84, Jackson St. 53.
We’re starting to wonder if this is Pitino’s best team at UL.

#10 Indiana 100, Longwood 49.
E-Giddy relaxes for only 21 tonight as IU rolls.

#14 Texas 100, Ark-Monticello 52.
Ark-Monticello had 11 pts at halftime
.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui gets under way along with the finals of the Paradise Jam.

  • Marquette (NL) v. Chaminade (ESPN2) 2:30pm – our first look at the Marquette guards.
  • LSU (-1.5) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN2) 5pm - two teams that might be in the College BB Invtl. in spring 08.
  • Georgia Tech (NL) v. Notre Dame 6pm – the ‘supposed-to-be’ finals of the Paradise Jam.
  • UCLA (-10) v. Maryland (ESPN2) 7pm – more Maui – have a bad feeling for the Terps here.
  • Alabama (NL) v. Belmont (CSS) 7pm – Belmont with another shot at distinguishing itself.
  • Baylor (NL) v. Winthrop (FCSP) 8:30pm – how cool would it be if Winthrop wins this tourney?
  • Duke (-22) v. Princeton (ESPN2) 9pm – this is not Pete Carril’s Princeton.
  • Michigan St. (-4) v. Missouri (ESPNU) 9:30pm - another good Maui matchup.
  • Illinois (-2.5) v. Arizona St. (ESPN2) 11:30pm – how will Sendek’s guys look in Y2?
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ATB: Pac-10 It In Saturday

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.17.07

Story of the Day. Siena 79, Stanford 67. We should have known better. Really, we should have. As soon as we started thinking that Stanford was a legit power again, given the way they mowed through their first four opponents with ease (without Brook Lopez, remember), they go and drop a game at Siena. For chrissakes, we even put the Cardinal #12 in our latest blogpoll ballot. This continues a disturbing trend of Trent Johnson teams to inexplicably drop ugly pre-conference games to a mid-major or worse (last year: Air force by 34; Santa Clara by 16; two years ago: Montana by 19, UC Davis by 6). Ugh. So what happened today? The 1pm EST start time probably didn’t help the Cardinal, but the time-change excuse only goes so far (they played and won in Chicago on Thurs. night). It appears from the stats that poor shooting (37%), especially from lead guard Anthony Goods (2-12) contributed, but an insane 32 to 3 FT attempt disparity suggests a little home cookin’ and/or aggressiveness in favor of the home team. In any case, it’s yet another reason to wonder whether the Cardinal under TJ will ever have the toughness to gut out games like this outside of Pac-10 arenas (in Johnson’s tenure, Stanford typically does fine in the Pac-10 schedule then flames out badly in March). The positive takeaway from this game is that we believe this is the first RTC of the new season. Enjoy.

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Other Games Today. Louisville 104, Hartford 69. Terrence Williams was astonishing tonight in Louisville’s opening game. He put up a trip-dub (14/12/13 assts, barely missing the quad-dub with 8 turnovers) as the Cardinals tallied seven players in double figures and made a school-record 22 threes (with just 13 misses). It’s just the first game, we realize, but Louisville appears to have all the pieces in place to make a phenomenal run this year, so long as they can avoid their annual bugaboo of injuries. We can’t wait for that matchup with Carolina later this month in the LV Invitational (assuming the Heels can handle ODU). Virginia 75, Arizona 72. In another tough loss today for the Pac-10, Virginia went into Tucson and delivered another blow to the aura of invincibility of the McKale Center, handing Arizona its fifth loss in the last seven games there. Sean Singletary led the way for the Wahoos (24/8 assts) while battling flu-like symptoms, and it was his jumper with 39 seconds left that was the clincher. This and the Stanford upset really hurt the Pac-10’s early-season cred as the best conference. George Mason 67, Dayton 56. This is the kind of win the committee will want to see on GMU’s resume next March. Will Thomas had a nasty game (18/17) and the team as a whole went 21-21 from the line. Florida 88, Rutgers 63. The Gators continue to look impressive at home, but then again, so did Stanford until today. Mareese Speights had 18/12 in the blowout win over a bottom-feeder Big East team. USC 85, South Carolina 75. Speaking of bottom-feeders, South Carolina got Hackett-ed by USC, as the non-OJ Mayo guard for the Trojans had a trip-dub as well (22/10/10 assts). No word on whether OJ wanted to deck him again (he had 29/4/4 assts, btw). The Dave Odom death knell watch continues…

Other Upsets. Cleveland St. 69, Florida St. 66. Well, it wasn’t all peachy for the ACC today. FSU resurrected its bad habit of losing to bad teams. Amazingly, that’s only the second nonconference loss for the ACC so far this year (23-2). Monmouth 59, Wichita St. 50. Gregg Marshall’s start at Wichita hasn’t been very promising thus far (1-2 with the other loss to Baylor). Alaska-Fairbanks 62, Oregon St. 60. And we save the best upset of the day for last – another Pac-10 team losing, but this is worse because the Beavers were beaten by a D2 team – the host of the Top of the World Classic. How utterly embarrassing.

Ranked Teams.
#9 Oregon 86, Portland 61. Hairston (24), Leunen (17) & Porter (15) roll.
#15 Gonzaga 84, UC Riverside 48. Zags continue to dominate w/o Heytvelt.
#24 S. Illinois 88, N. Illinois 68. Only 7 for Falker and still no problem.

Line of the Night. Michael Beasley (Kansas St.). Let’s just start penciling him in here every time he plays. 28/22 in a 13-pt win over W. Illinois.

On Tap Today (all times EST). A light Sunday schedule, but we really have our eyes on that 5pm game.

  • Louisville (NL) v. Jackson St. (ESPN FC) 1:30pm – can UL be as impressive as today?
  • Charleston (NL) v. Houston (ESPNU) 1:30pm - interesting early afternoon game.
  • Clemson (-12.5) v. Old Dominion 2pm – upset alert! Clemson could be looking past ODU here after its win v. Miss St.
  • Villanova (NL) v. Bucknell 5pm – Jay Wright goes up against his old team.
  • Arkansas (-7.5) v. VCU (ESPNU) 5pm – best game of the day – Maynor v. Beverly.
  • Georgia Tech (-3) v. Winthrop 6pm – upset alert! Ga Tech is so hit-and-miss these days.
  • UNC (-34) v. Iona (ESPNU) 6pm – this game could get extremely ugly.
  • Miami (FL) (-1) v. Providence (ESPN2) 7:30pm - championship of PR Shootout.
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What’s the Holdup?

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2007

We’re hearing out of Lexington today that Billy Gillispie, seven months after his hiring at Kentucky, still hasn’t signed a formal contract.  He’s operating as head coach under his offer letter from AD Mitch Barnhart, which essentially described the terms and conditions of his compensation, but didn’t touch on the many legal ambiguities that arise from reliance on such things.   (memo to MB: next time you send an offer letter out for a contract worth eight figures, you might want to edit it so the word “contact” isn’t used in place of “contract” at least twice that we noticed.  Just sayin’.)

Gillispie MOU p.1

Our first thought other than realizing we’re in the wrong business ($2.3M base) was what’s the holdup?  The Lexington Herald-Leader points out that the offer letter doesn’t have a provision explaining what “termination for cause” means, which could theoretically include prohibitions on anything from shagging coeds Larry Eustachy-style to deweys (of which Billy G. already knows a little something).  Or the problem could have to do with the size of the buyout clause should Gillispie decide to walk away at any point in any of the first four years.   

Gillispie MOU p.2

Taking a cue from John Beilein, who ended up settling his dispute over a buyout with West Virginia for $1.5M when he skedaddled for Michigan, perhaps Gillispie would be best served to not sign that contract after all.  Especially in light of UK’s worst loss in nearly twenty seasons against Gardner-Webb last week.   

Update:  UK nation thinks this is a non-story, and they’re probably right.  ASoB and KSR riff on the situation.   

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ATB: Friday Quickie

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.15.07

Story of the Night. We’re travelling so we saw next-to-nothing last night. From perusing the scores, though, it appears that we might have to consider dropping VCU on our next ballot despite a win (VCU 73, Houston 72), Mississippi St. not Clemson is the fraud (Clemson 84, MSU 82), the Gardner-Webb ride terminated (UConn 78, GW 66), Georgetown shook off the rust after W&M (Georgetown 74, Michigan 52), Stanford continued to impress with a road win (Stanford 71, Northwestern 60), Memphis and Oklahoma played uglyball in MSG (Memphis 63, Oklahoma 53), and Maryland (oh Gary!) escaped by the skin of its teeth (OT) at home again Northeastern (Maryland 74, Northeastern 72).

On Tap Tonight (all times EST). Pretty night light outside of MSG and Puerto Rico.

  • Arkansas (-6.5) v. Providence (ESPNU) 5:30pm – great SEC/Big East matchup in Puerto Rico.
  • Oklahoma (-13) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPN2) 6:30pm - we fear the bruises GW will have after this one.
  • Temple (-5.5) v. Charleston (ESPNU) 8pm – where are John Chaney and John Kresse?
  • UAB v. Florida St. (-3.5) 8:15pm – are any other CUSA teams worth a damn this year?
  • Memphis (-8.5) v. Connecticut (ESPN) 8:30pm – GOTN – can UConn get its act together to give Memphis a game?
  • Illinois (-3) at Hawaii 1am – upset alert! The Illini need to be ready for this game if they expect to win.
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Is This Really Necessary?

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2007

So you’ve probably heard by now that there will be a third national postseason (after the NCAA and NIT) tournament called the College Basketball Invitational starting in March 2008 (um, great name, guys).  The Gazelle Group, the people who are bringing us all these lively preseason tourneys such as the Coaches v. Cancer and the CBE Classic have somehow paid off convinced the NCAA that giving another sixteen crappy overlooked teams more games to play is a good idea

Selection Process:
The 16 team field will consist of teams that are not selected for the 65 team NCAA Tournament. Teams will be invited based upon their performance during their conference and non-conference schedule, as well as how well the team is playing at the end of the regular season.

Format:
The College Basketball Invitational will be a single-elimination tournament, up until the Championship Series, with all games being played at campus sites. The Championship Series will be a best of three series, home-away-home, in which the higher seed will get the first and last (if necessary) home games.    

Ohhhh, so that’s how it will work, huh?  So considering 2007, what kinds of teams would have been invited to this thing?  25-8 Appalachian St.?  22-9 Bucknell?  Teams that had really good seasons from smaller conferences?  Or the same tired ninth and tenth place teams from the major conferences?  Well, we can actually answer that question.  Here’s a sample bracket based on last year’s season results provided by the Gazelle Group.

CBI Projected 2007 

Oh.  16-15 Oklahoma.  17-15 LSU.  17-14 UConn.  17-14 Nebraska.  These teams were simply not very good last year – didn’t we see enough of them already?

Sounds thrilling.  Can’t wait.           

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ATB: David… so… close.

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.14.07

Story of the Night. Gotta be #20 Davidson giving #2 UNC all it could handle in a “neutral” (if neutral means a light blue haze falling over the proceedings) environment in Charlotte. When we did our SoCon preview, we mentioned that Davidson could position itself for an at-large NCAA bid with solid performances against the ACC troika of UNC, Duke and NC State + UCLA in its non-conference schedule. Consider tonight’s game Exh. A to the selection committee. It’s much easier said than done, but Davidson fans should try to keep their minds on the long-term benefits of playing well in a nationally-televised game v. UNC instead of bemoaning the loss of the game down the stretch. Now, about the game itself. Clearly Davidson had no answer for Psycho-T, that is, whenever Carolina decided to get him the ball (14/14 on only 3-6 shooting), but we find it downright criminal that the beef of UNC’s frontcourt (Hansbrough and Deon Thompson) only had eleven shots combined the entire game. We know Roy wants to run as much as possible, but he’s got to get his guards to understand where their strength really is – and it’s not with Danny Green chucking seven threes while the big guys set screens for him. As for Davidson, they played hard and put themselves in good position to win the game. Stephen Curry was really off on his outside game (2-12 from three), but what was really noticeable was just how easily he got to the rim on several occasions. The crossover in the open court on Quentin Thomas was particularly disgusting. Honestly, we didn’t know he had that, and color us impressed. So what does this game say about both teams? For Carolina, it showed a couple of things: 1) Wayne Ellington is ready for prime time this year (20 pts); and 2) at least right now, they miss the length and defense of Brandan Wright and Reyshawn Terry. For Davidson, they shot 39% and 18% from three, and yet they were within reach with a minute to go – that should be an encouraging sign for their other big games coming up. At least one DU blogger seems to have the proper perspective (UNC 72, Davidson 68).

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Things We Saw. We also caught quite a bit of a pretty good Pac-10/Mtn. West matchup between Utah and Washington. The problem was that we spent most of the first half trying to figure out how every Utah player could coincidentally also have the last name “Utah.” We know Utahns have a tendency toward big families, but it still seemed a little much. We finally realized that some Nobel laureate adidas has decided to put the name of the team on both the front and the back of the jerseys. We’re not even sure how to respond to this other than to say this could be the most disturbing uniform trend since the late 80s NC State unitards. We were so confused by the uniform issue that we lost track of the game for a while, but when we got our head straight, we noticed that Utah appears to be on its way back to respectability. Center Luke Nevill provided 14/10/3 blks and two ridiculous fouls after a made basket that ended up fouling him out, but he could not match up with UW’s beast Jon Brockman (several inches shorter), who blew up for 31/18 and used his quick feet to do as he pleased inside. Still, new Utah head man Jim Boylen should be pleased that his Utes fought hard and showed promise, shooting 55% on the road in an arena where the home team simply does not lose non-conference games (29 in a row now) (Washington 83, Utah 77).

Big 12 Woes. Called it. Sam Houston St. at home defeated Knight and Texas Tech tonight by keeping Martin Zeno in check and killing TTU on the boards (42-29). We’re sure that Knight ripped some waitress/intern/ballboy staffer a new one after the game for some indiscretion or another – why won’t this guy just go away? His act was tired ten years ago, and he’s just not a very good coach anymore (Sam Houston St. 56, Texas Tech 54). Another Big 12 team went on the road in Texas and also came out of the evening with an L – Oklahoma St. Sean Sutton’s team allowed big nights from North Texas’ Keith Wooden and Josh White (combined for 50/14) while getting good production from only one of its own players, Marcus Dove (23/7). Could another .500 year be in store for the Pokes (North Texas 82, Oklahoma St. 73).

Ranked Teams.
#7 Tennessee 101, Ark-Monticello 44. We know it’s a D2 team, but whatsup with Lofton? 3-15 in two games.
#13 Michigan St. 83, UL-Monroe 65. Raymar Morgan is averaging 19/15 in two games this year.

#18 Texas A&M 81, UTEP 76. TAMU will meet Washington in the NIT semis.

On Tap Tonight (all times EST). Only 32 games, but a couple of good ones on the tube.

  • Houston (pick) v. VCU (ESPNU) 9am – PR Shootout features Eric Maynor.
  • Marist v. Miami (FL) (-7) (ESPNU) 11:30am – more PR shootout.
  • Temple v. Providence (-6) (ESPNU) 2pm – and still more (why do we feel like Borat in the cheese aisle?).
  • Arkansas (-15) v. Charleston (ESPNU) 5pm – we’d like to see how John Pelphrey handles this team.
  • Connecticut (-13.5) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPN2) 7pm – the GW story ends here.
  • Hampton (NL) v. Kent St. 7pm – fantastic mid-major matchup – give us Kent at home.
  • Georgetown (-15) v. Michigan (ESPN 360) 7:30pm - how is Beilein’s offense coming along?
  • Kansas (NL) v. Washburn (ESPN FC) 8pm – it’s on tv, so we put it on the list.
  • Mississippi St. (-4.5) v. Clemson (ESPN FC) 8pm – best game of the night potentially – we think one of these two is a fraud, but we’re not sure who yet.
  • Northwestern v. Stanford (-9.5) (ESPN FC) 9pm – the last 2 yrs, Stanford laid an egg in an early road game – this year?
  • Memphis (-8.5) v. Oklahoma (ESPN2) 9pm – early test for Calipari’s Tigers.

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Blogpoll – Week 1

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2007

After 12 seconds of hand-wringing and almost twice as much debate, the first regular season Blogpoll is out. Make sure to tip your local bloggers for this public service. The complete ballots (we’re up to 11 bloggers now!) are located here.

Blogpoll Week 1 v.2

Justifying Our Ballot. We moved UCLA into the #1 spot and dropped Kansas from there simply because we watched both teams play several times this week and just feel like something is off with the Jayhawks. Maybe it’s Brandon Rush not back yet, maybe we’re just seeing things. But for now, we think UCLA is the better team. Memphis and Indiana also impressed us more than KU, so we moved them ahead also (and we expect UNC to do so tonight). Similarly, we watched parts of all three Oregon games over the weekend and felt they were underrated at #10. Same goes for Duke (up to #13 from #20) and Stanford (#15 to #12). The only other teams we dropped were simply a spot or two in order to make room for teams we watched play and thought deserved the higher rankings. The first few weeks will be like this, as we work to adjust based on expectations v. performance.

Two Left Out. The two teams we voted for on our ballot who were left out were #20 Syracuse and #25 Gardner-Webb. What can we say, we’re a sucker for those kickass Orange unis. And we made a vigorous pitch for the inclusion of GW as a symbolic #25 (similar to what App St. got in the AP poll for football after beating Michigan), but nobody was listening.

Early Season Creep. Obviously, this early in the season there isn’t going to be a lot of movement unless someone loses, but we’re seeing a little bit of creep in either direction with a few teams. The top seven teams are the same, but clearly the bloggers took Michigan St.‘s exhibition loss to Grand Valley St. into account by dropping the Spartans from #8 to #13 (interestingly, we only dropped MSU one spot on our ballot). Oregon, Indiana, Duke, Stanford, Davidson and VCU were rewarded with slight bumps up the list, while Marquette and Mississippi St. were downgraded for, um, what exactly (it wasn’t us!)? NC State (grrrr…) and Southern Illinois entered the blogpoll in place of A-Sun upset victims Kentucky (who still shockingly had two blogpoll votes) and USC.

Where’s the Argument? We added the Standard Deviation column (Std Dev) this week to show where bloggers were having significantly disparate opinions on teams. A high number (> 5.0) represents substantial variance between how the bloggers ranked a team. A low number (< 3.0) represents consistency in the strength of the ranking. So here are the teams that bloggers are having the most trouble getting a handle on.

  • Michigan St. (stdev = 7.39; range = 6 to NR)
  • Stanford (6.04; 10 to NR)
  • Indiana (5.53; 4 to NR)
  • Gonzaga (5.52; 10 to NR)
  • NC State (5.36; 12 to NR)

The top 4 are tight, though. Kansas has the lowest collective ranking among Memphis, UNC, UCLA and itself at #7 in one ballot.

  • Memphis (stdev = 0.81; range = 1 to 3)
  • Kansas (1.19; 2 to 7)
  • UNC (1.21; 1 to 5)
  • UCLA (1.60; 1 to 6)

It’ll still be a few more weeks before we get a good sense of who the favorites will actually be this season.

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ATB: Please Never Make Us Watch Columbia Again

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.12.07

Story of the Night. Boring. There was really only one good game tonight – Syracuse 72, St. Joseph’s 69. We had this one on our upset alert radar last night, and it took a three from Jonny Flynn at the top of the key to put the Hawks away at the Carrier Dome tonight (see vid below). Amazingly, that was Flynn’s only hoop of the game, coming after his record 28 pts last night. His backcourt mate Paul Harris picked up the slack tonight, going for 18/14/6 assts/2 stls in the win. How a 6’5 guard tallies 29 rebounds in two games confounds us. Syracuse has shown that it has the guards to play with anyone, but will the Orange have anything on the interior this year? We shall see, but until then, Cuse blog Axeman Cometh tells us to get the popcorn ready.

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Things We Saw. Not much else tonight. Ohio St.-Columbia was the other ESPN game tonight, and although the Ivy League Lions gave a good effort, there was never a realistic chance for the upset. Once again, OSU didn’t really impress us, but we thought back to last year, and when did they ever impress us then either? They won 35 freakin’ games last year and we can only remember a handful where we thought ‘this is a pretty good team’ – the Big 10 championship game v. Wisconsin, the Tennessee second half comeback, and the Georgetown F4 game. So that’s how they do. We’re not going to count them out this year based on first impressions. Koufos (19/7/3 blks), Butler (18/7/3 assts) and Lighty (13/4/4 assts) led the way (Ohio St. 68, Columbia 54).

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SEC Goes on the Road. Two interesting games for SEC teams involved Vanderbilt going on the road to Toledo and Alabama going to upstart Mercer tonight. These were games that neither could afford to lose if they expect to be seriously considered for at-large bids next March. Vandy burst out to an 18-0 lead before Toledo bothered to score a single point, and although the game got close, Vandy continues to show with a balanced attack from Shan Foster and AJ Ogilvy why it will be heard from in the SEC East this year (Vanderbilt 77, Toledo 70). Bama went into a sold-out arena at Mercer and survived A-Sun Mayhem thanks to Richard Hendrix’s 28/14, but we’re patiently waiting the bottom to fall out on this team without a true point guard (Alabama 90, Mercer 83). Ole Miss also got a solid mid-major win at home over South Alabama tonight (Ole Miss 81, South Alabama 78).

Big Halftime Leads. #8 Michigan St. up 19 on Chicago St., Missouri up 30 on Fordham, #2 UCLA up 35-11 on Cal St.-San Bernardino, Washington up 21 on NJIT… (all blowout wins).

Ranked Teams.
#9 Washington St. 86, Boise St. 74. Wazzu struggled before blowing it open with a 60-pt second half.
#16 Gonzaga 80, Idaho 43. Another huge second half (44-13) led by Austin Daye (18/4/3 assts/6 blks).
#19 Texas A&M 67, Oral Roberts 53. This surprised us that it wasn’t very close.
#20 Arizona 76, N. Arizona 69. Lute is due back soon. Budinger with 25/6/4.

Upset Alert. Like we said, it was a boring night.

On Tap Tonight (all times EST). 50 more games tonight, including numerous ho-hums on FC .

  • Florida (NL) v. NC Central (ESPN FC) 7pm – yes, this is the same team Duke beat by 1000 pts.
  • UNC (-11) v. Davidson (ESPN) 7pm - Stephen Curry, neutral court??? Naaaah…..
  • St. John’s (NL) v. St. Francis (NY) (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – these are the games we wish we could give back to ESPN FC.
  • LSU (NL) v. McNeese St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – tune in just 5 mins to see Anthony Randolph.
  • North Texas (NL) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – see above re: St. John’s.
  • Sam Houston St. (NL) v. Texas Tech (ESPN FC) 8pm – upset alert! SHSU is legit, and Knight isn’t what he used to be.
  • Bradley (NL) v. Iowa St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – Bradley should win this game for the Valley.
  • Texas A&M (NL) v. UTEP 9pm - Turgeon’s crew impressed tonight.
  • California (-8) v. Southern Mississippi 10:30pm – if Ben Braun weren’t still coaching there, Cal could surprise this year.
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ATB: The Debut of E-Giddy

Posted by rtmsf on November 13th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.12.07

Story of the Night. For the life of me I cannot remember, what made us think that we were wise and we’d never compromise, for the life of me I cannot believe, we’d ever die for these sins, we were merely freshmen… (h/t Verve Pipe ca. 1997) Ok, we’re already sick of talking about this year’s freshman class, but GOOD GOD are these youngsters talented or what? The idea that college hoops was somehow “better off” when kids were going preps-to-pros looks a little ridiculous now, doesn’t it? We’re not necessarily fans of one-and-done either, but we have a sneaky feeling that during the next CBA between the NBA Players Assn. and the owners, the rule will change to two years post-HS as to when a player can declare for the draft. We can’t wait to get these guys in college for more than a year.

Things We Saw. So given the SOTN, we’ll start with a game we didn’t actually see, #11 Indiana v. Chattanooga (see below vid). Out of all the frosh, the player we’ve been most excited to see has been E-Giddy – no disrespect to Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley or anyone else, but Eric Gordon has been the guy who seems most likely to make our jaws drop. We still haven’t actually seen him, of course, but look at this debut line – 33/6/4 on 9-15 shooting (7-11 from three). Plus, some of those threes on the highlights were about 6 feet behind the line – kid has mad range. What’s more is that Kelvin Sanctions’ team needed it, because the Hoosiers were down 4 at the half to a game Chattanooga team. DJ White added 17/4/2 blks in the winning effort, and yeah, IU showed some areas for improvement (rebounding), but make no mistake about it, this is probably the best inside/outside tandem in the country and a huge reason why we have Indiana going to the F4 next April (Indiana 99, Chattanooga 79). Moving to games we actually viewed, #14 Duke was impressive tonight – better than we’ve given them credit for. The thing about the Devils (esp. at home) is that they’re absolutely going to terrorize people defensively with their m2m defense and their traps. Traps lead to turnovers, turnovers lead to dunks and threes, dunks and threes lead to an avalanche of points and a rocking CIS, and before New Mexico St. anyone knows it, you’re already down twenty and your players are completely befuddled and rattled. That’s how Duke plays, and therefore, the only way to beat the Devils at home is to treasure possession of the ball and avoid those demoralizing runs. NMSU had 26 turnovers and allowed Duke to hit 13 threes tonight – how do you think that’s going to end for them? We do still wonder about Duke’s lack of interior size, though (Duke 86, New Mexico St. 61). Tonight’s #11 Oregon-W. Michigan game exhibits why we’re so high on the Ducks this year. Four of their five starters (Taylor, Porter, Hairston and Leunen) can lead the scoring column on any given night. Tonight it was Hairston’s turn, as he went for 29 on 9-11 shooting (3-3 from three). Not many teams have that kind of skilled and experienced offensive balance that they can throw at you every night. Now… defense might be their achilles heel. The Ducks did give up 58 pts in the second half tonight, and it’s hard for us to believe a team that gives up that many pts to anyone is a legitimate contender, but maybe Ernie Kent can shore that up as the season progresses (Oregon 97, Western Michigan 88).

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Other games we caught briefly. LSU once again brings out some lineup of five jumping jacks ranging in height from 6’4 to 6’10, and not one of them has the first clue how to play basketball (thanks John Brady!). Another rook who is getting no hype but is in the Stromile Swift/Tyrus Thomas mold is Anthony Randolph. He very nearly put up a trip-dub in his first game as a Tiger (19/13/6 blks) (LSU 72, SE Louisiana 62). We tried to watch some of #13 Texas’ debut w/o Kevin Durant, but the pace put us to sleep. We heard that DJ Augustin led the way with 19/2/4 assts (Texas 58, UT-San Antonio 37). We also watched a little bit of Ohio St.’s first game since the Findlay disaster, and it appeared that the Buckeyes were getting Matta’s message. Even though four players scored in double figures led by David Lighty (17/8/4), we really wonder if OSU has any depth to speak of this year (Ohio St. 91, Wisc-GB 68). #2 UCLA was the nightcap, and even though Kevin Love had good numbers (21/9), there was one second-half series of shot/block/putback/block/putback where K-Love just didn’t look very explosive around the rim. Thick, yes. Strong, yes. Skilled, yes. But explosive? We were hoping he’d power through and dunk on someone like that when he held position to the rim. Didn’t happen (UCLA 83, Youngstown St. 52).

Interesting Scores. Boston College 68, Florida Atlantic 62. BC might be in for a really rough year. Syracuse 97, Siena 89. What is UP with those horrid Cuse unis (see below vid)? Oh, and rook Jonny Flynn (28/5/9 assts) looks like he’ll be a fun one for Boeheim. Maryland 70, Hampton 64. This one didn’t surprise us that it was close – we’re not sure what to expect from the Terps this year, but we know that Hampton is a good team.

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Upset Alert. Another D2 team over a D1 team, albeit a low major (Cal St. San Bernardino 71, Weber St. 59).

On Tap Today (all times EST). 53 games, but not very many interesting ones. The best ones are either not televised (Toledo-Vandy) or on the freakin’ U (TAMU-ORU).

  • Michigan St. (NL) v. Chicago St. (ESPNU) 7pm – ho-hum.
  • Toledo v. Vanderbilt (-5) 7pm - this is a really interesting game for both teams’ at-large profiles.
  • Syracuse (NL) v. St. Joseph’s (ESPN) 7pm - upset alert – Cuse goes down at home.
  • Mercer (NL) v. Alabama 7:30pm – Mercer has a chance for another big win at home this time.
  • Miami (OH) (NL) v. Xavier 8pm – should be a good southern Ohio battle.
  • Gonzaga (-28) v. Idaho (FCSP) 8pm - we want to see if Daye can keep it up.
  • Ohio St. (NL) v. Columbia (ESPN) 9pm – an Ivy school not named Penn or Princeton on ESPN?
  • Texas A&M (-15.5) v. Oral Roberts (ESPNU) 9pm – upset alert – TAMU could lose this game.
  • UC Irvine (NL) v. Nevada 10:30pm – Nevada needs to regroup and win this game.
  • UCLA (NL) v. Cal St. San Bernardino (ESPN2) 10:30pm – there won’t be many other D2 teams on ESPN2 this year.
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