Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2009

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

First, let me apologize for the delay in this week’s ACC update. I got a concussion Christmas Eve and Mike Leach locked me in a closet because I wouldn’t go back to practice. Oh well, these things happen.

ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Monday, Dec. 28)

1A. Duke (9-1, 0-0)

PAST:  No games last week. (And yes, I took the easy way out and did the 1A/1B thing.)

FUTURE: The Blue Devils face Long Beach State tonight and Penn on New Year’s Eve (double-yawn) before hosting Clemson in the first real anticipated league game of the year (more on that later).

1B. North Carolina (10-3, 0-0)

PAST:  Most people expected sophomore Ed Davis to lead the young Tar Heels this year, but he has possibly exceeded expectations so far, including this week, as UNC rolled over Marshall and Rutgers. He’s shooting an absurd 66% from the field, and ranks second in the ACC with 6.7 rebounds per game.

FUTURE:  UNC wraps up its pre-conference slate with two games – home against Albany on Wednesday, and a tricky road game at the College of Charleston next Monday.

3. Wake Forest (9-2, 1-0)

PAST:  Easy win over UNC-Greensboro Monday night.

FUTURE:  The Deacons better be ready for their New Year’s Eve date with Richmond. The Spiders already scalped Florida this year, and as is often the case in these regional big fish/small fish games, Richmond will be up for this game more than any other this season. It doesn’t get easier for Wake Forest on Sunday, when Xavier comes to town. A 2-0 week will be a big victory for the Deacons heading into ACC play.

4. Georgia Tech (9-2, 0-1)

PAST:  Tech rolled over Kennesaw State.

FUTURE:  The Jackets host Winston-Salem State today and then travels to Charlotte on Saturday.

5. Florida State (11-2, 1-0)

PAST:  With an easy win over Tennessee-Martin, the Seminoles stay at No. 5 – for now.

FUTURE:  Upcoming dates with Alabama A&M and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi won’t say anything about FSU. A Jan. 10 trip to Maryland will.

6. Clemson (11-2, 0-0)

PAST:  The Tigers took care of Western Carolina last Tuesday.

FUTURE:  Clemson hosts in-state rival (tongue in cheek) South Carolina State tonight before heading to Duke on Sunday.

7. Miami (12-1, 0-1)

PAST:  Miami rolled over North Carolina A&T.

FUTURE:  After they take care of Bethune Cookman Wednesday, the Hurricanes travel to Pepperdine. Winter in Malibu. Tough life.

8. Virginia Tech (10-1)

PAST:  The Hokies flat-out embarrassed the Retrievers of UMBC last week in a 71-34 victory.

FUTURE:  Tech plays Longwood Wednesday, then travels to Cancun for an interesting game against Seton Hall Saturday.

9. Maryland (8-3, 0-0)

PAST:  The Terps recorded two cupcake wins this week, but had a relatively close call in a 13-point win over Florida Atlantic. Greivis Vasquez continues to lead Maryland, and was named ACC Player of the Week, but he was without second-leading scorer Sean Mosely, who sat out with a sprained ankle.

FUTURE:  Maryland hosts William & Mary Wednesday and travels to UNC-Greensboro on Sunday.

10. N.C. State (8-3, 0-1)

PAST:  The Wolfpack dropped a heartbreaker at Arizona on Wednesday, as the Wildcats pulled off their second-straight buzzer-beating win.

FUTURE:  N.C. State hosts Winthrop tonight then plays at UNC-Greensboro on New Year’s Eve. I swear, UNC-Greensboro should just join the ACC already.

11. Boston College (8-4, 1-0)

PAST:  Someone please explain this team to me. Home losses to Harvard and Rhode Island. Road wins at Providence and Michigan. And a convincing home win over UMass this week. You figure it out.

FUTURE:  Interesting home game with South Carolina Wednesday night.

12. Virginia (6-4, 0-0)

PAST:  Virginia routed NJIT and Hampton by a combined score of 148-91. Wake me when it’s over.

FUTURE:  The Cavs host a very good UAB team Wednesday night. A win here would definitely help Virginia get out of the ranking cellar.


  • DESERT DRAMA: There was only one game worth talking about this week, and that was N.C. State’s 76-74 loss to Arizona. The Wolfpack made a furious comeback from eight points down with 37 seconds left, but played some pretty porous defense in the final seconds as Arizona’s Nic Wise pulled a Tyus Edney for a coast-to-coast game-winning layup. Javier Gonzalez was impressive for the Wolfpack, who deserve credit for a tough trip out west while the rest of the ACC was fattening up on garbage games.
  • RAMBLING RANT OF THE WEEK:  What’s the deal with UNC-Greensboro? I understand that the poor Spartans have a short trip to almost every ACC school, and can fatten their athletic wallet with games in ACC gyms. But they’ve gotta grow tired of this, right? Greensboro plays 13 non-league games this season, and six of them come against ACC foes. The Spartans have already lost to Duke, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Wake Forest by a combined score of 319-235, and still have to face N.C. State and Maryland this week. To add to their misery, the Spartans have also been thumped by Richmond (26 points), Akron (24 points) and East Carolina (21 points). I’d love to hear that recruiting pitch…


  • REAL LEAGUE GAME ALERT!:  With Clemson heading to Duke on Sunday (7:45 pm), we can FINALLY see what these teams are made of. A Clemson win would be enormous for the Tigers, but just seeing an exciting game would be a moral victory for Clemson (and a win for hoops fans still sleeping off Duke’s snoozefest with Gonzaga). How will Trevor Booker and the Clemson frontcourt deal with Brian Zoubek, Miles Plumlee and the Duke big men? It’ll be nice to have real games to watch – finally.
  • DAUNTING FOR DEACONS: Wake Forest has a tough twinbill this week with surprising Richmond and a very good and physical Xavier squad. Two wins will be huge, especially with three of their next four league games coming on the road at Miami, Duke and North Carolina. Ouch.
  • WORTH WATCHING: Three teams from the mid- to lower-half of the league face interesting nonleague tests – Virginia Tech vs. Seton Hall (Saturday); B.C. vs. South Carolina (Wednesday); Virginia vs. UAB (Wednesday).

Happy New Year!

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Checking in on… the Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2009

Jason Prziborowski is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

Two things from the past week:

  • Luckily for Michigan State, it is still December, because they have still yet to prove that they can beat a top 10 team, losing to Texas in the biggest game they have played so far this year.
  • I don’t know if you looked at the new AP top 25 poll, but if you have, you may have done a double take when you saw Northwestern at number 25. It’s for real, for the team that has never made the NCAA Tournament, they are well on their way.  Now five Big Ten teams are in the top 25: #4 Purdue, #11 Michigan State, #13 Ohio State, #23 Wisconsin and #25 Northwestern.


  1. Purdue 11-0
  2. Michigan State 9-3
  3. Ohio State 10-2
  4. Wisconsin 10-2
  5. Northwestern 10-1
  6. Illinois 8-4
  7. Minnesota 9-3
  8. Penn State 8-4
  9. Michigan 6-5
  10. Indiana 5-6
  11. Iowa 5-7

Top Storyline

This past week was relatively calm with the holiday season, but I believe that was just the calm before the storm. This week there are some amazing matchups that will really show who’s who in the Big Ten, both in conference and on the national stage. Be sure to check out RTC throughout the week to make sure you don’t miss any of the action. If you want to see all of these games, you might need to get a little creative.

Coming Up

  • December 30th – Northwestern @ Illinois, 9:00 ET – I think this game, if Northwestern wins, adds legitimacy to their ranking and actually makes the January 2nd game against Michigan State even more important. If Northwestern wins, the MSU game doesn’t matter that much.
  • December 31st – Ohio State @ Wisconsin, 2:00 ET, ESPN2 – This is the matchup of the week in the Big Ten as far as conference standings shake up. Of course, it will also lead to repercussions on the national stage as well. Wisconsin is super tough at the Kohl Center, but Ohio State is a team with something to prove without Evan Turner.
  • January 1st – West Virginia @ Purdue, 2:30 ET, ESPN – This is the marquee matchup nationally, and a chance for Purdue to either show up or fall. It could go either way, as West Virginia is coming off of two solid wins this past week, especially the overtime victory against Seton Hall.
  • January 2nd – Michigan State @ Northwestern, 6:30 ET – Like I said earlier, if Northwestern loses against Illinois, this game could be a moot point if Michigan State plays like they can. If not, this could get very interesting, as Northwestern needs to prove they can play against top teams, and see what kind of home court advantage they can have in the Big Ten. A lot is at stake for the Spartans too.
  • January 2nd – Gonzaga @ Illinois, 1:00 ET, CBS – Since I have already started to play the scenario game, I am going to keep at it. Let’s say Illinois pulls off the upset against Northwestern at home, and the victory gets them back on track. This is exactly the type of game Illinois needs, and Gonzaga doesn’t want to let slip away. If we want to comparison shop the Big Ten, Wisconsin lost by 13 earlier in the season to Gonzaga, and Michigan State won by four.

Breaking It Down

  • West Virginia @ Purdue – It’s on. I have mentioned this game for weeks now, but now it is finally here. This is by most measures, the biggest test for Purdue this year, and since Purdue is carrying the banner for the Big Ten, a great game to showcase the Big Ten against the Big East. Stats of the game: free throws and offensive boards. Purdue has an almost 10% lead from the charity stripe, but West Virginia sends a lot of big men to the offensive glass. If Purdue can hold WVU to their season averages without giving up the boards they will win this game.
  • The Spartans were corralled, but must slay a cat. Okay, enough about MSU losing to Texas. They played a solid first half, and couldn’t stop the Longhorns from coming back to win the game. If you want to read more about the game though, check it out here on RTC: ATB: Texas the New Florida? Ok, last week is last week, and this week is well… this week. Michigan State, if they are good team, should beat teams they are expected to beat. Cinderella status notwithstanding, MSU should beat Northwestern, so they need to get it done.
  • Ohio State needs to pack a winter coat this week. Ohio State, or should I say, David Lighty and Ohio State put on a show and took down Cleveland State. David Lighty lit it up for a career best 30 against the Vikings (pun intended), so nobody is wondering if he is serious about filling a void. Cleveland might be a past tournament Cinderella, but the Buckeyes might need a more balanced effort to slay the mighty Badgers at the Kohl Center. The Kohl Center holds one of the most sizable home court advantages of anywhere in the nation. OSU can hope that Wisconsin students are still on break, and won’t come back from vacation early for this game. The key word there is hope.
  • Northwestern made the rankings, now can they stay? Somebody either has a great sense of humor or has been schooled in irony. Northwestern has been getting votes all year to be in the top 25 while not really playing anybody, but now that they made it, they have to be play Illinois followed by Michigan State. It is completely plausible that the Wildcats could be 0-2 in the Big Ten and definitely be out of the top 25 by the end of the week. Winning on the road at Assembly Hall in Champaign is tough, so if they can do that, their confidence should be sky high to take on the Spartans. That game, given the talent level of the two teams, should go to MSU, but don’t count the Wildcats out yet.
  • Wisconsin extinguishes the Flames to get ready for the Bucks. What else can I title the only game Wisconsin played since last week, other than that? Ok, I could think of a few more, but I will leave it at that. Illinois-Chicago was a good filler game to remind the Badgers that they are now concluding the preconference slate, and a 36-point drubbing got the point across. The first week of conference for Wisconsin is what I call The Week of the States: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State. The Buckeyes game should be very interesting, as Wisconsin would love to slow it down, and OSU would love to hit the century mark. May the team that best plays its game and doesn’t allow the other team to do the same will win.
  • Illinois likes a consistent win-loss pattern this year. Lucky for Illinois, so far each time they have won four games, only to follow it up with two losses. Why lucky you ask? In case you weren’t following the embarrassing loss to Mizzou, but that made it two losses in a row. Surely Illinois will follow it up with four wins a row. To pull it off though, they need to take down one Cat and then one Dog. They need to bring in Northwestern and Gonzaga, and beat them both. If they can do that, their four-game win streak gets easier with Iowa at home, and then Indiana on the road.
  • Minnesota will be looking for wins 6 and 7 before Purdue. Not much to report on Minnesota since they haven’t played in a week, but I am hoping the break did them well because the easy schedule will be coming to an end very soon, and they will have to prove where they stack up in the Big Ten. I expect them to take down Penn State and Iowa, but it isn’t preposterous that they could lose the next three in Purdue, Ohio State, and Michigan State.
  • It’s make or break time for the Michigan Wolverines. Such high hopes for Michigan this year, but as of yet, very little has materialized. Two unpredictable teams will meet up this New Year’s Eve in Michigan and Indiana. If IU brings the team that lost to Loyola, it’s an easy Michigan win. If they bring the team that knocked off Pittsburgh, the Wolverines will be clawing their way through a tough one (yes, another pun for those keeping track). After Indiana, maybe the basketball team can make up for the frustration of the football team when they bring Ohio State to town.
  • Penn State takes a break from basketball. Penn State cruised against American, but they will be in trouble against Minnesota on the road, especially having not played in eight days, and then the tough road doesn’t stop. They will have Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. They could be 0-4 before battling it out for the bottom of the Big Ten against Iowa. Hopefully it won’t be the case, but stranger things have happened.
  • Indiana without Maurice Creek, what team will emerge? Indiana has had a rollercoaster year thus far, some exciting, some frustrating, all unexpected. The one steady positive variable for the Hoosiers this season has been the superstar freshman Creek, but now Indiana will be without him for the rest of the year, as he fractured his knee against Bryant during a rout, and will have season ending knee surgery about the time you read this. What will happen to Indiana without Creek’s 17 PPG and emerging leadership presence?
  • Iowa is in for a long month. Iowa decided to take an 8-game break in between their game against South Carolina State and Purdue, mainly as a way for it to really soak in that they would be kicking off conference play against Purdue. I don’t see a winnable game in much of January until they play Indiana, so they did an ingenious scheduling move to build confidence mid-conference: they scheduled a game against Tennessee State on the 12th of January. The only problem is that move could backfire, as TSU only lost to Northwestern by 7 and Vanderbilt by 13. I wish I had better news for the Hawkeyes.
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RTC Top 25: Week 8

Posted by zhayes9 on December 29th, 2009

Here’s this week’s Top 25, and you might be surprised as a new #1 takes over even though the top six all won last week.  Analysis after the jump…

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Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 29th, 2009

Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.



  1. Kentucky 13-0
  2. Tennessee 9-2
  3. Florida 9-3
  4. South Carolina 8-3
  5. Vanderbilt 8-3
  6. Georgia 6-4


  1. Mississippi State 11-2
  2. Mississippi 10-2
  3. LSU 8-3
  4. Alabama 8-4
  5. Arkansas 7-5
  6. Auburn 6-6

Kentucky remains the highest rated SEC team as they held on to the 3rd spot in both the AP Top 25 poll and the ESPN/USA Today poll.  Tennessee has locked down the #14 spot in both polls while Mississippi comes in at the 16th spot in the AP Top 25, and the ESPN/USA Today voters have the Rebels at 21st.   Florida has fallen out of the Top 25 in both polls but has votes in both polls still.  Mississippi State is getting votes in the AP.

Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins was named SEC Freshman of the Week.  This was the first week he’s won the honor and he averaged 16.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in UK wins over Drexel and Long Beach State.  Alabama’s JaMychal Green was named the SEC Player of the Week.  He had 27 pts, 13 rebs, 3 block and 1 steal in a victory over Mercer last week.


Finally!   College basketball is back in the SEC after a couple of weeks of finals (and the holidays) and it is back with a vengeance with two bitter in-state rivalries for both Kentucky and Tennessee.  Aside from that, Baylor does a curious double dip in the SEC and most of the good action is actually televised this week:

  • 12/29 – LSU (8-3) @ Xavier (7-4) – 7 PM – ESPN-U
  • 12/30 – Baylor (9-1) @ Arkansas (7-5) – 9PM – ESPN2
  • 12/30 – South Carolina (8-3) @ Boston College (8-4) -9PM – ESPN-U
  • 12/31 – Tennessee (9-2) @ Memphis (8-2) – 4:00 PM – ESPN2
  • 1/2 – UAB (11-1) @ Arkansas (7-5) – 12:00 PM
  • 1/2 – Baylor (9-1) @ South Carolina (8-3) – 12:00 PM – ESPN 360
  • 1/2 – Southern Mississippi (8-3) @ Vanderbilt (8-3) – 3:00 PM- ESPN 360
  • 1/2 – Louisville (9-3) @ Kentucky (13-0) – 3:30PM – CBS
  • 1/2 – Georgia (6-4) @ Missouri (9-3) – 4:00 PM – ESPN 360
  • 1/3 – Florida (9-3) @ NC State (8-3) – 3:00 PM – FSN
  • 1/4 – Mississippi State (10-2) @ Western Kentucky (6-4) – 8 PM

TEAM UPDATES (ratings are AP, ESPN/USA Today)


Kentucky (#3, #3) – Not even a 1PM start time on the Wednesday before Christmas vacation could slow UK from a 13-0 start.  After a sluggish first half, UK pulled away from the Long Beach State 49ers for a 86-73 win at Rupp Arena on Wednesday.  John Wall led the Cats with 19 points and DeMarcus Cousins played just 13 minutes but had 15 points and 10 boards.

Tennessee (#14, #14) – On the 23rd, the Volunteers jumped out to a 22-0 lead over North Carolina A&T and never relented, winning 99-78.  Tyler Smith and Kenny Hall had 16 points to lead the Vols while freshman walk-on guard Skylar McBee scored 12 points in 17 minutes.

Florida – The Gators continued their freefall after an 8-0 start.  This time, it was the South Alabama Jaguars putting in a tipped shot with 1.8 seconds left to nip the Gators, 67-66.  The Gators hit just 3-22 three-point attempts and were led by Alex Tyus, who poured in 16 points.  Kenny Boynton added 14 as the Gators lost at home in the month of December for the first time in five years.  Tyus had 20 points and nine rebounds, Boynton added 19 points and Florida snapped a three-game losing streak in a 76-60 victory over American University back on Monday night.  Vernon Macklin added a career high 18 points in that one.

South Carolina – No game last week.

Vanderbilt – No game last week.

GeorgiaTrey Thompkins scored a career-high 35 points and claimed 15 rebounds, leading Georgia to a 77-60 victory over Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night.  Dustin Ware was the only other Bulldog in double digits with 12 points.


Mississippi StateRavern Johnson scored 20 points and Barry Stewart added 14 and Mississippi State beat Centenary 88-51 on Tuesday night.  The Bulldogs went 14-27 from beyond the three-point line and won their seventh straight game.  Johnson continued his torrid play with 22 points, including 5 3-pointers, as the Bulldogs crushed the Mississippi Valley State Delta Demons 73-45 last night.  Phil Turner added 12 for the Bulldogs.

Mississippi (#16, #21) – Ole Miss hung with the #6 West Virginia Mountaineers for a half, but then WVU got hot from 3-point range and dumped the Rebels, 76-66.  Zach Graham had 14 points off the bench in just 19 minutes to lead the Rebels and Murphy Holloway and Eniel Polynice each had 13.

Alabama – Sophomore forward JaMychal Green scored a career-high 27 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead the Alabama to a 90-71 win over Mercer on Wednesday night.  The Crimson Tide opened the game with a 22-2 run, holding the Bears (4-7) scoreless for the first 6:50.  Mikhail Torrance and Senario Hillman each had 14.

LSUBo Spencer missed a contested 3-pointer in the closing seconds, and Washington State held on to defeat LSU 72-70 in overtime in the Cougar Hardwood Classic.  Spencer scored 23 to lead LSU and Tasmin Mitchell added 18 points and 14 boards.

Auburn – The Tigers evened their record at 6-6 with a 94-78 victory over the Alabama State Hornets.   Brendon Knox scored 18 points on 7-9 shooting in just 25 minutes off the bench to lead the Tigers while DeWayne Reed had 15 points.

ArkansasRotnei Clarke drained a three-pointer with 18 seconds left in overtime and then hit two free throws to seal Arkansas’ 66-62 victory over previously undefeated Missouri State on Tuesday night.  The win was the Hogs’ fifth straight victory.  Clarke finished with 19 points and Marshawn Powell added 17.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on December 29th, 2009

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every Tuesday as the season progresses.

1. The most competitive conference in the land this season should spark the most competitive Player of the Year race come March. Top-seeded Kansas boasts three potential candidates once center Cole Aldrich starts to play with a more aggressive mentality on the offensive end. Senior point guard Sherron Collins has the skill set to explode come conference play and should provide the Jayhawks with more than one clutch play the season wears on. Freshman Xavier Henry has surpassed everyone’s expectations early in Lawrence as the Jayhawks early scoring leader. Nipping at the heels of #1 Kansas is #2 Texas and their all-time rebounder Damion James. James has exploded onto the scene the last week-plus with two masterful performances against North Carolina (25/15/4 stl on 8-22 FG) and Michigan State (23/13 on 10-18 FG). You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that argues James isn’t the current frontrunner for Big 12 POY and deserves definite consideration for first team All-America honors. Kansas State has been one of the bigger surprises in college basketball through the first month and a half behind sharp-shooting guard Jacob Pullen. The junior went on a tear recently scoring 28 in a big road win at UNLV then topping himself with 30 points at Alabama. In his last three games, Pullen has nailed an incredible 16 of his last 25 threes. Lurking in the shadows is Oklahoma State’s James Anderson (21.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG) and Iowa State forward Craig Brackins (17.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG) with Baylor’s Ekpe Ugoh and Oklahoma’s Willie Warren also making large impacts on their respective squads.

2. It’s fairly clear the top two teams in a weaker Pac-10 conference will be Washington behind Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter and California behind their big three of Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson and Patrick Christopher. While both teams have encountered their early season struggles, Washington knocking off an emotionally scarred Texas A&M squad at home Tuesday and California hanging in with Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse should convince most critics that those two will compete for the Pac-10 title. Prior to the season, many believed UCLA would be that third team in the Pac-10 to cause some damage and sneak into the NCAA field. But with a week that included wins over Tennessee, St. Mary’s and UNLV, it’s becoming quite evident that USC might very well be that team. Even with early season home defeats at the hands of Loyola Marymount and Nebraska and blowout losses at Texas and Georgia Tech, the Trojans are coming together behind newly-entrenched point guard Mike Gerrity and coach Kevin O’Neill. The two-time transfer Gerrity is already the Trojans leading scorer and far and away their best assist man. He won’t blow anyone away with flash and speed, but he knows how to run an offense and play the position with efficiency. A starting five of Gerrity, Nikola Vucevic, Alex Stepheson, Dwight Lewis and Marcus Johnson all of a sudden doesn’t look too shabby, does it?

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Morning Five: 12.29.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2009

  1. Horrible news for Tom Crean’s young Indiana Hoosier team, as leading scorer Maurice Creek broke his kneecap during last night’s game with Bryant and will miss the rest of the season.  Creek is one of the top freshman scorers in America at 17.6 PPG, ahead of other notables such as Kansas’ Xavier Henry (17.2) and Derrick Favors (12.9).  Huge blow to Indiana as it heads into the conference season.
  2. Northwestern landed at #25 in the AP poll for the first time in forty seasons this week.  How awesome is that, especially after all of their injury problems this season?  Nine of their next ten games are very tough matchups for the Wildcats, but we’ll be rooting for them.  This could be the best little-guy story we’ve had in some time in this game if they can stay in the hunt for an NCAA bid this year.
  3. Seth Davis’ annual Jigsaw Man article, and it has nothing to do with Saw VI either.
  4. Jeff Goodman explains why and when the six remaining unbeatens will lose rather soon.  No argument on that point, but specifically, we do think Syracuse and Texas will last longer than what he suggests.  Texas losing at Arkansas is a pretty big reach with as bad as the Hawgs have been this year.
  5. Yeah, conference play begins in earnest this week in the Pac-10, Big East and Big Ten, but it feels a little weird to have meaningful conference games before the New Year holiday.  We’ll be there watching, though.
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ATB: Nothing Could Be Finer Than to Drop a 49er…

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2009

Jimmer Fredette Eviscerates ArizonaBYU 99, Arizona 69.  It was a Jimmer Fredette kind of night in the desert tonight, as he torched the home team Arizona Wildcats for 49 points from everywhere on the court, setting a new BYU player and McKale Center record in the process.  Fredette said afterward that he “had a good stroke,” and that’s the understatement of the decade, as he hit 16-23 shots (along with seven boards and nine assists), including 9-13 from three and 8-9 from the line to end up with the record in 36 minutes of play.  More importantly, BYU served notice to the national media (ahem…) that the Cougars deserve consideration for the top 25 as they now sit at 13-1 with the sole loss at rival Utah State nearly a month ago.  Arizona had been skating by with recent home wins thanks to Nic Wise’s heroics last week, but BYU left no doubt tonight as to who the superior team in this game was.  A fifteen-point lead only continued to grow after the half as Fredette’s jumpers rained from everywhere on the court.  What’s even more interesting is that BYU continues to play well and win games while getting almost nothing from their other “star” Jonathan Tavernari, who had two points and five rebounds tonight in 22 minutes of action.  His numbers this season (9/5) are way down versus last year (16/7), which might explain why Fredette is feeling the need to pick up the slack (82 pts the last two games).  If Dave Rose can get his other star player’s confidence back, BYU will absolutely be a team to watch coming out of the Mountain West this season.

32? Try 49!! (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

RTC LiveNorth Carolina 81, Rutgers 67. Would you believe that with 2:11 to go in this game in Chapel Hill tonight that the score was 71-67 with the home team barely hanging on?  Luckily for UNC fans, Dexter Strickland’s three from the corner with 2:01 remaining gave the Heels just enough breathing room to salt the game away, and Carolina hit FTs for the last ten points of the game and the final margin.  Still, Roy Williams was hopping mad afterward, unhappy with just about everything about this game, not least of which was what he felt was poor decision-making throughout… including the decision to shoot the game-clinching three by Strickland mentioned above: “I hated the shot, but it went in and talent took over above coaching and intelligence,” Williams said.  Sixteen turnovers (including seven by the PG duo of Strickland and Larry Drew II) undoubtedly contributed to Williams’ ire, as many times those TOs could have extended a lead in the first half but instead led to a fast-break bucket by Rutgers.  Mike Rosario led the Scarlet Knights with 22/3 assts on 10-21 shooting, but it was his 1-9 from deep that really hurt their comeback attempts (the whole team was miserable from outside, going 3-23 from three).  Despite Strickland’s career-high night in points and assists (18/4), our third on-site viewing of Carolina this year revealed many of the same problems that we saw a month ago.  Point guard play isn’t consistent and as such, the fortunes of this year’s Carolina team will largely depend on just how dominant the big men can be inside and on the boards.  Against most teams, they’re good enough to rely on that aspect of their team; but the ACC is a different animal, and early games against Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest will test their mettle.

Other Games of National Interest.

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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 28th, 2009

Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.

Current records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Wichita State (11-1) (2)
  2. Missouri State (10-1) (1)
  3. Northern Iowa (9-1) (3)
  4. Southern Illinois (7-2) (4)
  5. Illinois State (9-2) (5)
  6. Indiana State (8-3) (6)
  7. Evansville (6-4) (7)
  8. Bradley (5-5) (8)
  9. Creighton (5-6) (10)
  10. Drake (5-7) (9)


Valley wins the first MVC-MWC Challenge — Northern Iowa defeated Wyoming to take the Valley to win 5-4 the first ever MVC-MWC Challenge.   UNI, Illinois State, Missouri State, Indiana State, and Wichita State were the winners while Creighton, Southern Illinois, Bradley, and Drake lost.  But you look at who they lost to (New Mexico, BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV) and it still provides some questions on which conference is actually better.   But for this season, the Valley can claim they are better than the Mountain West Conference.

Surprises at the top — A year ago, you would not have seen Missouri State and Wichita State at the top of the conference with Creighton and Bradley towards the bottom.  But this is how the crazy Valley non-conference season has gone so far.  The Valley is an impressive 80-32 (.714) in non-conference play with some nice wins against top level conferences that have been missing over the past few seasons.

Conference Play starts this week — Missouri Valley Conference play starts with each team playing three games over the next week.  It will start out fast and furious and there will be some teams that will jump out of the pack early, but will be down to the wire this season as most teams feel that they can win the conference.


  • Missouri State – 10-1 is a lot better than the 6-5 record I predicted before the season started.  The Bears have been the surprise of the Valley so far this season.  It has been behind the solid play of Kyle Weems and Eastern Kentucky transfer Adam Leonard.  They have wins over Auburn, Tulsa and Air Force with their only blemish being an overtime loss to close out the non-conference at Arkansas last week.  The conference slate starts fast for them with Evansville, Illinois State and Northern Iowa this week.
  • Wichita State — The Shockers are not much of a surprise to me because they have done exactly how I expected them to this season.  Fans in Wichita are excited about seeing what they were expecting when Gregg Marshall came in to run the program after Mark Turgeon left. Wins over Iowa, Texas Tech, and TCU are their big wins with a loss to Pitt in the CBE Classic their only faltering.  A trip to Illinois State awaits and then they host Drake and Bradley this week to open Valley play.
  • Northern Iowa — After losing against Depaul in the opening round of the Paradise Jam, many were skeptical that the Panthers could be as good or better as they turned out to be last season.  However, they turned things around rather quickly and have garnered wins over Boston College and Siena and swept the State of Iowa series against Iowa St. and Iowa.   They are on an eight game winning streak as they visit Creighton to open conference play before hosting Evansville and Missouri State.
  • Southern Illinois – At times, Southern Illinois look like they are back on track this season.   They haven’t gotten key wins against UNLV and St. Louis to make me feel like they are the Salukis of old.   They will be tested early as Indiana State comes to town, then they hit the road to Bradley and Illinois State.
  • Evansville — With all the rebuilding Evansville has had to do this season, they are actually playing like I expected with their 6-4 record.   They took Butler and Western Kentucky to the limit, but came up a little short in those upset bids.  The Purple Aces, however, could start off 0-3 in the conference with Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Creighton on the slate.
  • Indiana State — The Sycamores are an interesting team sitting at 8-3.  They won against Colorado State, Western Kentucky and Oral Roberts, but then lost winnable games against Coastal Carolina and Ball State.  With the on-again/off-again suspension of point guard Harry Marshall, the rollercoaster season could continue.  Three of the first four games are on the road in MVC play with Southern Illinois, Creighton and Drake on the slate this week.
  • Bradley — Expectations were high in Peoria to start the season, but while a season-opening road loss at BYU and another to Oklahoma State in Las Vegas were somewhat expected, their three game losing streak to close out the non-conference season was not.  Injuries have plagued the Braves but there are enough veterans on the team to pick up the slack.  A win against Illinois will look nice down the line and will help the Valley as a whole, but their non-conference record will hurt them in the long run.  Bradley will try to get back on track with a game at Drake, but then next up on the slate is Southern Illinois and Wichita State.  I still question whether a Bradley team can finish in the top four in the Valley.
  • Creighton — Creighton has probably been the most disappointing team in the Valley so far this season with the highest expectations.  Creighton scheduled up this season by playing in a solid Old Spice Classic field and going on the road against Dayton, George Mason and New Mexico.  Unfortunately all of those road games turned into losses.  What made it even worse is that all of those games were winable and Creighton had leads late in the game that they couldn’t close out.  Their five wins at home have been against patsies like Houston Baptist, Savannah St. and Florida A&M.  So unless Creighton end up winning the Valley decidedly, there is a chance they will not fulfill the annual expectation of a 20-win season.  They open up with Northern Iowa at home and then hit the New Year’s road trip to Evansville and Illinois St.
  • Illinois State — Many were skeptical about the Redbirds’ non-conference slate again this season to really know how tough this team might be.  Well, the gravy train stopped with a loss against the Bracketbuster return game with Niagara and then the next game at Ohio.  Illinois State learned from those losses with a nice road win at Utah as part of the MVC/MWC Challenge.  The Redbirds host Wichita State and Southern Illinois and then head over to Missouri State this week.  Will they start 3-0, 0-3 or somewhere in between?
  • Drake — Drake shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone how they have been this season.  Other than their dream season a couple of years ago, Drake has performed at its normal bottom-of-the-conference ways.  Losing to SIU-Edwardsville in Drake’s own tournament was the low point so far, and losing to Iowa who has struggled heavily this season really doesn’t make the Bulldogs look very good.  Bradley, Wichita State and Indiana State start the conference season for them.


Conference season goes into full swing this week and there are some intriguing matchups to kick things off.

  • 12/29, Northern Iowa @ Creighton (Local TV)—This is the first time the top two conference teams from the previous season have met to kick off the following conference season in about 20 years. Creighton needs to get off on an early start against the conference favorites and needs the win at this point in the season more than the Panthers.
  • 12/29, Wichita State @ Illinois State—This will be a key early matchup between two teams who want to be in the conversation at the end of the season. The Shockers have had problems on the road in conference play. They will need to turn that around to be in the race.
  • 1/1, Southern Illinois @ Bradley—Both teams are going in opposite directions and it will be interesting to see if Bradley can rebound from a disappointing non-conference season.
  • 1/1, Illinois St. @ Missouri State—The Bears are undefeated at home this season so far and the surprise team of the Valley gets its first big conference test.
  • 1/3, Missouri State @ Northern Iowa—Both teams are in the running for the MVC crown at this point. The Panthers want to prove that they are the cream of the Valley.
  • 1/3, Southern Illinois @ Illinois State—Already after one week, one of these teams could be in a lot of trouble after this game is over as both teams have a challenging first week of conference play.

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RTC Live: Rutgers @ North Carolina

Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2009

Hello everyone, we’re back from the holiday break and heading into New Years week with a pretty good match-up in Chapel Hill, NC, tonight between Rutgers and UNC.  This game will be simulcast on ESPN2 tonight, but we hope that you’ll join us for an interactive experience like no other while you’re watching the game on television.  The Heels come into tonight’s game sitting at 9-3, a record that makes UNC seem worse than they are considering that the three losses were to #2 Texas, #3 Kentucky and #5 Syracuse (two of which were road games).  Roy Williams is working through a number of new faces in his lineup but there’s clearly a bevy of talent at his disposal and we fully expect his team to be at or near the top of the ACC standings by March.  As for the visiting Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Fred Hill’s team comes in at 9-2 but even he will admit that their schedule has been less than impressive thus far (#346 according to KenPom).   Things aren’t looking up with the recent news that sophomore forward Gregory Echinique (13/8) will miss the remainder of the season with an eye problem, but the one player Hill has at his disposal who is capable of dropping thirty on any defense in America is Mike Rosario.  The 6’3 sophomore guard had a great summer overseas, and he comes into this game averaging 18/5 while shooting 38% from deep.  Given UNC’s lackluster three-point defense this season (34%), Rosario is definitely someone to watch tonight.  We hope you join us for another exciting edition of RTC Live, this time from one of the great venues in all of college sports, the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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From the Student Section: Seton Hall Pirates

Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2009

Contributing writer Kevin Chupka will periodically interview a rabid student fan about all things basketball on the court and in the stands… a view from the student section.

Pirate Fans Eric SoHayda and His Friend Marie

The Seton Hall Pirates turned a few heads this week in their Big East opener. While the final score had many Pirates hanging their heads in defeat at the hands of a frighteningly good West Virginia team, the team fought back valiantly in the last minute from ten points down to send the conference kick-off into overtime. It was there that West Virginia remembered they were the #6 team in the country and sent the Pirates packing.  But in the fight Seton Hall did not fail to impress. While the praise from the media generally stopped at “improved” at the start of the season, the student section at the Prudential Center knew better and could see then what many see now.

Among those basketball seers was Pirate faithful fan and Seton Hall senior Eric SoHayda. “Most students expect to go dancing this year and as it always does, depending on who we face, we can turn some heads and win some games. Just getting to the dance is good, but we want to be great and that starts with getting to the second weekend,” says Eric.

It’s been on the minds of students in South Orange, NJ since coach Bobby Gonzalez arrived in 2006. He was tasked with turning the team into a contender in a talent-heavy Big East; recruiting on the same turf as UConn, Syracuse, Villanova St. John’s and in-state rival Rutgers is no small task.  While Gonzalez and the Pirates have had their fair share of bumps in the road, a talented bevy of transfers, all ready to play from here on out may be something of a new beginning.

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