The End of the (Non-Conference) Road. The WAC may have started off slowly in the non-conference schedule but has picked up the pace over the past two weeks. Over a three day span the league went 9-4 against their opponents including victories over two West Coast Conference schools (San Francisco and San Diego) and a pair of Mountain West Conference schools (Utah and TCU). The four losses were to two Pac-10 schools (Cal and Washington State), the Missouri Valley’s Creighton and Conference USA’s UTEP. This upcoming week will see the WAC enter its home stretch of non-conference games before the league begins conference play.
Boise State (8-3). The Broncos rebounded from back to back losses to improve to 8-3 on the season thanks to a pair of victories on the west coast. Boise State defeated Cal State-Bakersfield 66-62 on Saturday, December 20, and then picked up a solid road victory over the West Coast Conference’s San Diego 75-72 just two nights later. Boise State is off until after Christmas when they’ll close out their non-conference portion of their schedule when they host Eastern Washington on Monday, December 29.
Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.
With conference play starting next week, four teams have emerged as the favorites to win the league – UConn, Georgetown, Pitt and Syracuse. After that, it is a mess of talented but enigmatic teams. Notre Dame, Marquette, West Virginia, Louisville and Villanova have all shown flashes of dominance, but have also had their flaws exposed on national TV. By far the biggest disappointment has been Louisville. The Cardinals were a top 5 preseason team on pretty much everyone’s list, but unless Santa leaves a jumpshot under the tree for their each of the perimeter players, it could be a long year for the ‘Ville.
I’m at a cross roads right now. Is the Big East really not as good as they were made out to be, or were expectations for this conference so high that they could not have possibly lived up to them? Clearly, Louisville is not who anyone expected them to be. Notre Dame has struggled, but they are still a top 15 team. Marquette, Villanova, and West Virginia were all borderline top 25 teams in the preseason, and not much has changed six weeks into the season. I guess what I’m saying is that while the conference has hit a few bumps in the road, it is still as good as any conference I can remember. One thing is for sure – any Big East team that reaches the dance is going to be battle-tested.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: AJ Price, UConn
AJ Price was the reason that UConn rose from a middle of the pack Big East team to a conference title contender and a top 15 team last season. But coming off of off-season ACL surgery, Price has not been himself. Going into the Gonzaga game, he had no confidence in the strength of his knee, which is why he was not penetrating like he did last year. He was playing so poorly that Jim Calhoun was actually considering benching him (the same guy that was a top 5 point guard in the country in the last three months of the ’07-’08 season) for freshman Kemba Walker. Against Gonzaga, he returned to the Price of old. He finished with 24 points and 10 assists, getting to the line eight times (three less than he had the rest of the season combined) and hitting big shot after big shot. He hit six threes, including four in the last 11 minutes of the game. UConn’s biggest knock is their lack of perimeter shooting, which combined with their quick guards and finishers inside means that a lot of teams are going to go zone against the Huskies. Having an AJ Price that can penetrate and create against a zone makes them a much more balanced team.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Syracuse
The Orange proved a lot to me with their win over Memphis on Saturday. I’ve been up and down on the ‘Cuse team this season, mainly because of their inability to start a game strong. It happened again versus Memphis, as Syracuse found themselves down 19-9 early on before coming back to win. What was most impressive about the come back is how they did it. Eric Devendorf missed the game (but had his season long suspension reduced, maybe to as short as two games) which meant that Jonny Flynn was their only ball handler against a tough Memphis defense. Flynn, despite finishing with 24 and 6 dimes, had an up and down game where he took some ill-advised shots and made some bad passes. Neither Arinze Onuaku or Andy Rautins played all that well. Kristoff Ongenaet played just a few seconds in the first half after being benched for Rick Jackson. Outside of Jackson, no one (except maybe Paul Harris) played their best game. And Syracuse still beat a pretty good Memphis team. One more note, if Rick Jackson can emerge as another scoring threat in the post, it makes Syracuse so much tougher. Onuaku is one of the best big men in the Big East, but he has a tendency to fade during games. It almost seems as if he is pouting because of a lack of touches on the inside. Jackson has averaged 12.7 ppg and 7 rpg in the last three.
CO-PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:
Kevin Anderson (So.), Richmond. Anderson set the pace for the Spiders once again last week, keeping Richmond within striking distance of No. 10 Wake Forest before he and his teammates fell just short by a score of 86-79. Anderson’s 21 points came on an impressive 8-of-11 shooting. It marked the second 20-point game of the season for the sophomore point-man and the fifth of his career. It also marked the 19th straight game in which Anderson registered in double digits. In addition to his scoring, Anderson added four rebounds and a season-high four steals to his stat line. On the year, Anderson is averaging 17.1 points per game on 48% shooting from the field.
Tommie Liddell III (Sr.), Saint Louis. The Billikens registered two wins this week, thanks in large part to the play of Liddell. Against USC-Upstate, Liddell contributed a double-double, with 12 points and 11 boards. He also added three steals and five assists to help the cause. Versus Liberty, Liddell once again recorded a double-double, this time with 15 points and 11 rebounds. In addition, his blocked shot at the buzzer helped prevent Liberty from tying the game with a three. One month into his senior campaign, Liddell boasts averages of 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ray Blackburn (Jr.), St. Bonaventure; Kimmani Barrett (Jr.), La Salle
(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10′ each Monday morning.) Read the rest of this entry »
Bad Santas.Portland St. 77, Gonzaga 70. Santa Claus made an early visit to the environs of Cincinnati, OH, and Spokane, WA, tonight, but instead of leaving toys and treats for the tots of Xavier and Gonzaga Universities, respectively, he left a couple of lumps of coal and another undisclosed brownish substance in their stockings. AP #7 Gonzaga and AP # 14 Xavier, both coming off of devastating Saturday losses (in different ways), were unable to shake off their hangovers from losses to UConn and Duke and instead dropped home games tonight that sent shocks throughout mid-major America. The more surprising upset of the two took place out west, where Gonzaga was thoroughly outplayed by the scrappier, guttier Portland St. Vikings. PSU was led by 5’6 Jeremiah Dominguez, who hit seven threes for a sick line of 25/6/5 assts. Yes, a guy shorter than you outrebounded all but Gonzaga’s 6’11 Austin Daye (9 boards) and 6’10 Josh Heytvelt (8) in this game. Portland St., who has losses to Hampton and Cal Poly on its resume, never wavered in the face of the superior athleticism and size of Gonzaga. GU, should have come out ready to eat glass in this one, but instead they allowed their heartbreaking loss to UConn over the weekend to mentally affect their play tonight. Would that have happened to UNC? Pitt? Duke? UCLA? Gonzaga needs to get tougher mentally. Butler 74, Xavier 65. Wasn’t Butler supposed to be rebuilding this year? Amazingly, eight of Brad Stevens’ top nine Bulldogs are freshmen and sophomores, whereas XU starts two juniors and one senior. So how is it that Butler was able to come into the Cintas Center and earn a victory in a location where Xavier had won its last fifteen games? Standard Butler-issue hardnosed defense and poise. Butler was able to keep Xavier under control from three (7-24) while also winning the battle of ball control (-7 turnovers) in a tough game that Xavier will regret losing come March. Matt Howard (19/14) and Gordon Hayward (19/10) both provided double-doubles, but the key stat of the game may have been Xavier’s 12-22 from the line. The 198th best FT-shooting team in America didn’t help their cause tonight, several times failing to convert both FT opportunities down the stretch. If Gonzaga and Xavier want to be taken seriously as “high mids” vying for the Final Four, they cannot afford to lose home games like these.
John Stevens is a featured columnist for RTC. His columns appear on Tuesdays throughout the season.
I can’t believe how I soaked my parents when I was a kid. Right after Thanksgiving they’d start asking me to make a Christmas list so they could just go ahead and start buying me everything on it and I’d have yet another memorable holiday. My sisters did the same thing. True, we were good kids; we racked up enough academic and athletic achievements during the rest of the year to keep them stocked in stories to bore the crap out of their friends and the rest of the extended family with, but looking back on it, we were really lucky. Still are.
These days, when Christmas rolls around, my wants are not of games for my Atari 2600, or life-size Shogun Warriors, or the like. Today, I only ask for one thing for the holidays, and that is Time. I want to sit in the recliner at our home in the country with a drink in one hand and a remote control in the other, my brain awash in college basketball images, Christmastime tournaments and match-ups lighting up my television screen until I can hardly remember my own name. There will be family time, present-opening time, time for playing with the nieces and nephews of the family. All of that is fantastic and it can’t be beaten. But this year I’m especially looking forward to having the time to just devour Mom’s cooking, forget what my next obligation is, stay warm from the marrow-cracking cold outside, and enjoy some college hoops as we close the book on non-conference play for this season.
Santa is Checking John's Holiday Wish List
But make no mistake. I’m a giver, as well. I don’t just want those things above for myself, I want them for everyone. And as I got a headstart on things this past Saturday by watching some freaking amazing games, I couldn’t help but wonder – what would be my college basketball wish list for this year? Hey, sounds like a column idea! So, here goes. Six things I want inside the world of college basketball for this season. Why six? Because I say so. I even ranked them for you. You’re welcome.
John Stevens’ Holiday Wish List
#6. Davidson to find other options. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE watching Stephen Curry and his lightning-quick release go nuts for 42/8/10, and I don’t want to minimize the work by Andrew Lovedale (13.5 and 10.1), for whom I actually feel a little sorry. Its not easy being Salieri, is it? Those are solid numbers and yet almost nobody knows this guy’s name. But after him there’s just not a lot going on. I think this is something we all suspected but didn’t want to admit because we’ve been mesmerized by Curry’s game, and we wanted to think this Stephen could lead this team to heights even loftier than last season. That is yet to be disproved, but the Purdue game this past Saturday was damning. Davidson’s tournament chances hinge on other options emerging when Curry is smothered by excellent defense like he was this past weekend, or when he’s just plain having a tough shooting night. ESPN’s Pat Forde had a great article about this topic yesterday, incidentally. We’ve seen what Curry can do as a virtual one-man show. Now I’d like to see other fellows step up and for the team to go even farther even if it means that Curry might take a hit on his scoring average.
(Will settle for: more amazing feats by Curry; no matter how deep Davidson’s tournament run, Curry is that enjoyable to watch.)
#5. A nice airplane companion for my Vegas trip in March. I haven’t taken that many flights in my life, but the ones I have taken have been pretty lengthy and there’s only been one case where I had an enjoyable neighbor in the seat next to me. I was flying to California this past Summer to attend a friend’s wedding and the fellow to my right just happened to play Division I college hoops about 40 years ago. He told me stories of games he played against Wooden’s UCLA and Rupp’s Kentucky; the secret, behind-the-scenes stuff was amazing, some of the best sports stories I’ve ever heard. I sat there motionless and listened until he got tired and actually had to take a nap. But that was my only pleasant experience so far, as far as who I’ve had next to me on a plane.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You’re sitting there in your seat as the plane loads, watching who’s coming down the aisle, and every attractive girl who approaches you’re thinking, “Come on, come oooooon…” but then you end up getting some foul-breathed 400-pound pet store employee who didn’t have time for a shower that morning and wants to talk to you about how his life totally changed after he saw The Blair Witch Project. I don’t care if you’re single, married, or whatever, if you’re a male and you’re flying alone on a long trip, it’s the same. We all want the Padma Lakshmi or Robin Meade look-alike, or maybe the stray USC Song Girl, to slide into the neighboring empty seat, look at us with puppy-dog eyes and whisper to us about how she’s “the bad girl of the team” but, alas, doesn’t have a place to stay in your destination city. Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe someday.
Gals Like Her Don't Sit in Coach...
(Will settle for: the plane to land in one piece, both coming and going.)
#4. A Final Four for Gonzaga. I’m not affiliated with the place in any way – didn’t go to school there, never have even been to the state of Washington, though I’d love to visit – so here’s my thinking on this. I’m hearing more and more alleged college hoop pundits using the terms “high mid-major” and “low mid-major” to denote a certain cadre of teams that…well, I probably don’t have to explain it. A few years ago there were just mid-majors. A few years before that there were just the big time programs and the rest of the world. I kind of miss those days. Now we have teams that actually feel insulted when you call them a low mid-major when they think they’re a high mid-major, and so forth. That’s pure crap. Gonzaga was the first team to really relish the “mid-major” moniker since I’ve been into this sport and they’ve certainly put in their time. Mark Few has always come off as a perfectly nice guy and quite honestly his teams, without exception, play a brand of basketball that’s always been fun to watch for me, even though I can’t point to one particular thing that makes it so. We’re long past the honeymoon phase with Gonzaga, meaning that it was one thing when they did well in the tournament while nobody was looking, but for over a decade now we’ve come to expect more from the Zags. It’s important that they get to a Final Four when people actually expect something from them – like maybe this season. I specifically admire Josh Heytvelt’s comeback and Austin Daye’s a pleasure to watch. A Final Four would also move Coach Few more toward that elite level of coaches, which is due for a new member.
Another reason: go back a few years to another Vegas trip. Some of the boys and I are in the front row of a standing-only section of one of the sportsbooks watching the end of a game; the start of Gonzaga’s first game of that tournament was a couple of minutes away. The Gonzaga supporters – and there were well over a hundred of them – gathered behind us and were definitely a polite crowd, meaning no pushing or jockeying to steal a spot in front of us, or anything. And they certainly came prepared to support their team. They were a fun lot, and definitely social. Many of them started conversations with us and we shared a few beers and so on. Pretty cool, eh? Well, I noticed that from where I was standing, just behind and to the right of me was a pretty dark-haired girl in a big Gonzaga sweatshirt and an almost-empty beer in her hand. I figured I’d maybe talk to her before the game started, so I turned to say hello, when, at that very millisecond, she takes a deep breath and, at a deafening volume, belts out: “GOOOOOON-ZAG-UH BAAAAAAS-KET-BAAAAAALLLLL!!!!” The crowd behind her echoed this offering. I thought, “OK, she’s cool, probably knows the game, definitely loves her team. Here we go…” and I turned around again. What does she do? She lets fly another, “GOOOOOOOOOON-ZAG-UH BAAAAAAS-KET-BAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!” at twice the original volume. The crowd behind her really began frothing. I was impressed on one hand but hoped she would be able to at least carry a conversation or scream another cheer. I never really found out, because for the next two hours, at random times she would scream this same cheer, in the manner of the Detroit Pistons’ announcer Mason. I never heard her say anything except that as she kept pounding those beers. So, maybe if Gonzaga finally gets to a Final Four, this girl, wherever she is, will feel that her yelling has done its job and she can now preserve her voice, or learn another cheer. In all seriousness, they were good fans, and they deserve a Final Four.
This Was Not Her
(Will settle for: an iTunes gift card.)
#3. Eric Devendorf to get this nonsense settled and rejoin his team. According to the ESPN.com article, Devendorf’s suspension for introducing his hand to a female student’s face earlier this year is that he has to complete 40 hours of community service before he can ask to be reinstated as a student by Syracuse University and resume his place on the basketball team. The spring semester on the Syracuse campus starts January 12th and the Orange(men) have a game two days later at Georgetown.
Devendorf has said all the right things in the press since this incident, and he seems genuinely contrite. He probably knows that to sock a female student in the jaw with the heel of your hand for any reason is the move of a black-belt douchebag and I’d speculate he understands the need for punishment. Fine. 40 hours. I say get it done as fast as you can, Eric. Do a Monday-through-Friday, eight hours a day. Better still, do four ten-hour days. By getting it done quickly, you get it over with, and you send a message to your teammates that you really can’t wait to get back on that squad, if they’ll have you. You’re showing them that you want to miss as little game and practice time as possible. That ruling, in point of fact, came down on December 19th, which means that by the end of today you could been DONE with this if you’d have chosen the ten-hour-day option. Whatever schedule you can set – the point is, get it done as fast as you can. You’ll impress your teammates, you’ll fulfill your obligation, you’ll send a message to your coaches, and I bet you’ll return to the Carrier Dome to more cheers than anything. Your team is good, but they’re better with you there. Despite their curious history in the NCAA Tournament, they are a dangerous team this year and I wouldn’t want to be the guy responsible for Syracuse fans wondering how good they could have been.
(Will settle for: Nothing. This one’s not negotiable.)
#2. An end to the objectification of Miss Erin Andrews. That’s right. I’m going to be the champion for Miss Andrews’ cause. I think it’s high time that we recognize the hard work this woman puts into actually being a journalist, interviewing coaches at halftime when they’re more annoyed than anything and don’t want to convey any real information to the viewers. It’s thankless, and I for one want to say a big Thank You to Miss Andrews. And on top of all that, she has to do it while most of the viewers are wondering how snug her shirt is or how high her heels are, probably not even hearing what she’s saying. I can’t even fathom the catcalls she must endure from horny college kids while she’s just trying to do her job. I even hear that some sports blogs actually use any possible reason to post pictures of her on their sites, hoping to generate cheap pageviews. I am appalled! Who, I ask you, WHO would do such a thing?!? Anyway, I think we need to do a better job of showing her how much we love her reporting as well as her…*sigh*…looks. And, I dunno, if Miss Andrews feels like talking about this subject with me, she can use the e-mail link for this site located at right, and perhaps we can discuss it over dinner. Not that I said all that stuff above for that reason, or anything.
I Have No Objectification to this Photo of Ms. Andrews
(Will settle for: Not taking a beating. You see what I’m doing there, right? Remember that kid back in, like, the 8th or 9th grade who was friends with all the girls because he sucked up to them like crazy? You know the guy, he always thought he could parlay that ill-gotten friendship into something else if he wanted (even though the girls knew it would never happen) once he got to high school, and he liked to rub your nose in it a little. I ALWAYS wanted to administer a beating for the ages to that guy. If you see what I’m doing with my above paragraph about Erin, you’ll exempt me from a similar throttling.)
(Will also settle for: ESPN to make some airtime for another Andrews, namely Thea, who I always dug in a major way even though Cold Pizza was an abomination.)
And finally, the number one item on the John Stevens Holiday List for 2008 is:
#1. A Duke fan to admit that…it’s getting to be a little much. Well, this should be good. It all started with those American Express commercials a couple of years ago where Coach K talked about how he doesn’t just prepare you for basketball, he also prepares you for life, etc. Then I’m sitting watching the amazing United States victory over the Europeans in the 2008 Ryder Cup on TV earlier this summer and what do I see? A smiling Krzyzewski on my TV screen doing a lead-in to the coverage about every hour; I mean, it’s a GOLF tournament. And it happened in Louisville, which means that among college basketball coaches, Rick Pitino would have been a more appropriate choice. It’s an event that Coach K’s mug should have been nowhere near. In my opinion, the most mind-blowing example of the Coach K free pass is his weekly hour-long talk show on Sirius XM, called “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K,” now entering its fourth season. It’s basically an hour of Coach K hanging out with special guests, talking about basketball, talking about life in general, talking about whatever he wants.
Many people have argued that these appearances by Krzyzewski constitute a recruiting advantage, and it’s a tough argument to refute. He seems to be the only coach out there doing it, though it should be said that he’s probably the most desirable spokesman out there, as far as coaches go. But honestly, in addition to everywhere else he shows up, the guy’s got an hour of satellite radio time every week where he kicks it with famous friends and espouses his opinions on just about everything – including subjects that might even come up during, oh, I don’t know…in-home and/or campus recruiting visits?
To be sure, I don’t know if these things provide much of a recruiting advantage; let’s be honest, even without Coach K’s extra appearances there’s a lot about Duke that sells itself. We all know the place’s academic reputation, and the basketball program had reached elite status long before Krzyzewski started with the commercials/promos/radio shows/etc. But the problem is that other coaches certainly don’t get to do these things. Yes, Krzyzewski has created these opportunities through his achievements as a college basketball coach. But let’s say Coach K retires tomorrow and Sirius XM decides to give a show to only one coach – say, Ben Howland, or Roy Williams, or Billy Gillispie, or Jamie Dixon. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the NCAA stepped in and nixed it, saying it provided an unfair advantage. As chronicled by this very website, the NCAA chooses to apply its disciplinary bitch-slap in such strange and uneven ways at times – but THIS, a weekly hour-long pulpit for a coach – ANY coach – to freestyle about any subject he wants to millions of people – is allowed? The NCAA claims to try to keep things fair, to keep the playing field even. Is that what we’ve had for the past few years with Coach K preening himself as the official brand face and name of college basketball?
So that’s my number one wish for this holiday season. One single Duke fan to admit that their coach, despite his successes, might just be getting away with something. In the meantime, enjoy this clever YouTube spoof of Coach K’s AMEX ads.
(Will settle for: a winning Powerball ticket. I’m more likely to actually get that.)
Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.
Current Records and my standings (Last Week):
Oklahoma (11-0) (1)
Baylor (9-1) (3)
Texas A&M (10-1) (5)
Texas (8-2) (2)
Missouri (9-1) (4)
Kansas (8-2) (6)
Texas Tech (8-3) (7)
Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
Oklahoma St. (8-3) (11)
Nebraska (7-2) (9)
Iowa St. (7-3) (10)
Colorado (5-3) (12)
Most teams only played one game this week. The holidays are a little slow for the Big 12 teams. However what is starting to show is that this conference is wide open and it will be a battle once conference play starts. Oklahoma looks a little above the rest, but not much.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Texas A&M (3-0 this week)—Texas A&M is starting to make me a believer, winning 3 more games this week to move to 10-1. With some solid wins now over Arizona, Alabama, and an undefeated LSU team, this team is building itself quite a resume. Things are definitely going their way as they almost got themselves in a position to lose the LSU game, but a controversial call late in the game led to an LSU technical and A&M sealed the win. They should get a win over Sam Houston St. this week.
Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist. He’ll be regularly out-scooping, out-thinking and out-shining Lunardi over the next three months.
Happy Holidays, everyone. My name is Zach Hayes and you might know me as a college hoops writer for the blog Northwestern Wins. Due to the unfortunate folding of that site, the head honchos here at Rush the Court graciously invited me on board as their Senior Bracketologist from now until Selection Sunday. Just think of me as Joe Lunardi but seven inches taller and without a hairpiece. Every Monday morning for the next six weeks or so a new bracket will be revealed until February heats up and multiple brackets per week will be released. I hope you guys enjoy this new RTC feature. For me, it’s just a ton of fun.
Quick disclaimers: The obvious one- it’s probably too early for bracketology (blasphemy! It’s never too early for this, how dare you! You know what I mean). RPI is still rounding into form at this point, and many key numbers I use from ESPN (Wins vs. Top 50, etc.) have yet to be released. I didn’t use much for this first bracket: record, conference strength, SOS, perused the individual schedules for quality wins/bad losses, and took RPI with a grain of salt. On the bracket you’ll notice I also made predictions for the entire tournament based on my matchups. Syracuse as the monumental upset should surprise no one that follows college basketball.
These seedings are based purely on performance thus far. If I was projecting future performance, I’d probably have Louisville in the tournament because they have to improve, right? Other than some of the mid-major/small conference auto-bids (i.e., I’m predicting Creighton takes the Missouri Valley even though you’d go with Illinois State by default), these are all based on the small amount of games played thus far. As you know, this entire operation will improve once teams complete more of their resumes.
RTC Bracket 12.22.08
Some explanations about the first edition (click brackets or right-click/view image to see a larger version):
The 1 seeds were pretty clear to me even before I began gathering info: North Carolina, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh. In fact, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma are 1-2 in RPI, respectively. Butler is #4 and Northwestern is #9, so take it for what it’s worth.
#2 seed Tennessee and #3 seed Michigan State are probably over-seeded for their performance this season. But I had to take into account that I have both teams pegged to win their conference tournaments, meaning three extra wins before Selection Sunday that will certainly boost their seed.
My bracket came down to 12 teams for 8 positions: California, Maryland, Florida State, Stanford, Miami, Boston College, Louisville, Kentucky, Dayton, Cincinnati, Illinois State and Arizona. As much as I wanted to deny Illinois State and Stanford because of their lack of any semblance of a quality win, they’re undefeated and I had to slip them in the field. Maryland has the wins over Michigan and Michigan State and Arizona has the win over Gonzaga, with two of their three losses by the narrowest of margins. Dayton is 10-1 and has the Marquette win, with their only loss at Creighton. Florida State has nice computer numbers and beat California, Cincinnati and Florida, meaning if they’re in, Cal has to be. Painfully, the final seed came down to Louisville (only average win: depleted Mississippi) and Boston College (only average wins: UAB, Providence, @Massachusetts). I went with BC.
Conference Winners: Vermont, Xavier, North Carolina, Stetson, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Portland State, VMI, Michigan State, Cal State Fullerton, VCU, Memphis, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Miami (OH), Hampton, Creighton, BYU, Quinnipiac, Murray State, UCLA, Navy, Tennessee, Davidson, Lamar, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State
Multiple bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (7), Big 10 (7), Big 12 (6), Pac 10 (5), SEC (3), MVC (2), WCC (2), Atlantic 10 (2), MWC (2).
Last Four In: Boston College, Stanford, Florida State, California Last Four Out: Louisville, Cincinnati, Miami (FL), Kentucky
Any questions please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond.
Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences. He attended the Aeropostale Holiday Festival on Sunday this past weekend.
NEW YORK CITY – The games on the ‘big stage’ are an event. The crowds, the media crush, the atmosphere which hints of March. Example as are the Jimmy V, Coaches vs.Cancer, Xavier-Duke at Izod Center. Granted the latter was a blowout but the stage was set.
Sunday gave a different scenario but a special one just the same. Noon, a snowy day in New York, two mid majors tipping it off at Madison Square Garden. Columbia and Marist met in the Aeropostale Holiday Festival consolation game. The crowd was sparse but enthusiastic. The play, not always the greatest but competitive and entertainingly enjoyable. “These games are always special,” said veteran AP college basketball writer Jim O’Connell. “Especially when two teams like this get a chance to play at a venue as this.”
The Garden, even a sparsely attended one, is still a big thing. Marist brought, count them, 23 cheerleaders. And a band as good as there is around. Columbia brought their entire cheer and dance squad.
We’ll Be Nice and Make No Further Comment
The game saw Columbia battle back from a 10 point second half deficit largely on the play of K.J. Matsui. The 6-2 senior drained two treys and took a charge, “he didn’t take charges prior to senior year,” joked coach Joe Jones, to ignite the run. The contest went down to the final seconds with the Lions prevailing 63-58.
A consolation game on a Sunday morning following a loss on Saturday, no problem per Columbia senior forward Jason Miller. “In our (Ivy) league we play a lot of conference games back to back,” Miller said. “I’m a senior, to get to play in the best arena ever is great. To play in Madison Square Garden is exciting. To win here even better.”
Marist coach Chucky Martin echoed the sentiment. “I’m a Bronx guy,” Martin said. “It’s great to coach and compete here. The only unfortunate part is not leaving the building with a win.”
The second game saw Virginia Tech defeat St. John’s 81-67 for the championship. Tech coach Seth Greenburg spoke about growing upon Long Island and coming to the city to watch Joe Lapchick coached St. John’s teams compete in the Garden. “When you play here,” Greenburg said, “you play in a way you respect the game.”
Greenburg knows. He’s in the ACC now but his roots are mid-major, as a player at Fairleigh Dickinson University and later a head coach at Long Beach State. And he knows and appreciates how special is to get the privilege to play in Madison Square Garden.
Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the MVC and Big 12 Conferences.
Current Records and my standings (Last Week Rank):
Illinois St. (10-0) (1)
Creighton (8-2) (2)
Drake (9-3) (4)
Evansville (8-2) (3)
Missouri St. (7-3) (5)
Northern Iowa (6-5) (7)
Bradley (5-5) (6)
Wichita St. (5-5) (9)
Southern Illinois (4-6) (8)
Indiana St. (2-8) (10)
The non-conference season for the Missouri Valley Conference basically ended this past week with conference play starting next Sunday. The non-conference games left for the Valley this coming week are most teams playing lower level competition that should result in wins for the Valley. Since Conference play will have started by the time I report for RTC, here is a little recap of what I expected versus what we got from the Valley in the Non-Conference.
It was quite an eventful week for Conference USA basketball, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
The issues off the court practically overshadowed the actual games this week as the season has picked up after final exams.
UAB loses four players: It has become a pattern that each year under coach Mike Davis the UAB basketball program loses players to academic, attitude and other off-the-court issues. This past week the Birmingham News reported that Ed Berrios, Armon Bassett, Jeremy Mayfield and Terrence Roderick all were booted off the team due to a failure to comply with team academic and conduct standards. Bassett was a transfer from the troubled Indiana program and was sitting out this season and Mayfield had not been eligible for the fall semester. Roderick had averaged 5.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game, while Berrios averaged 1.1 points and 1.3 rebounds. While the Blazers do not lose any starters, they now have only 6 scholarship players available for the rest of the year.