Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

JERSEY CITY , NJ – Siena took their unblemished MAAC record into Yanitelli Center on Thursday evening and edged St. Peter’s 66-58 . The Peacocks had been riding a five-game win streak and Siena was without the services of injured senior forward and offensive threat, Edwin Ubiles. In addition, a crowd of 1,609, one of St. Peter’s biggest this season,  was animated and provided an intense and exciting atmosphere.  Junior forward Ryan Rossiter was huge with a 21 point, 9 rebound night for the Saints. In the final minute Alex Franklin, nine points on the night, muscled his way in the paint for a crucial field goal for the Saints. Siena closed out the final seconds from the charity stripe.  “We never gave up the lead (in the stretch) and we got stops when we needed to,” said Siena coach Fran McCaffery.  “We came in and prepared for a close game. St.Peter’s is too good a team. You are not going to blow them out.”

Player of the Week.   Alex Franklin (F), Siena – Franklin averaged 24.5 PPG, 9 RPG and 2 BPG during the week. He scored a season high for Siena with a 27-point outing in the win over Manhattan.

Rookie of the WeekRashard McGill (G), Iona – Hit for 9 PPG while averaging 5.5 RPG as the Gaels went 2-0 for the week. McGill scored a career-best 13 points and added 7 rebounds in the Iona win at Manhattan.

Milestones:

  • Jeron Belin became the 29th player in St.Peter’s history to hit the 1000 point mark.
  • Ronald Moore of Siena inched closer to the all time and season record for assists. Moore is also targeting the all time MAAC assist total.
  • With 15 wins, Iona coach Ralph Willard’s Iona club already eclipsed the win total of the past two seasons.

Standings and tempo free breakdowns (courtesy of Basketball State). Only MAAC games are computed. Efficiency margin is the difference between offensive and defensive efficiency. Like a checking account, positive is good, negative not so good.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Split with New Jersey based schools, defeating Rider before dropping a decision to St. Peter’s. Progress!  The Griff win over Rider was number ten of the season and fifth in the MAAC. Last season Canisius put the uniforms away with ten wins  overall and just four in conference. The Canisius win over Rider saw the Griffs commit only seven turnovers and shoot 88 % from the charity stripe. Senior guard Frank Turner continued his torrid play averaging 19.5 PPG for the week.
  • Fairfield - Split the last two games, defeating Marist and losing at Iona. Anthony Johnson had a double-double week with 16.3  PPG and 11 RPG . The Stag center has eight double-doubles on the season.  Derek Needham continues his outstanding play at the point. A freshman, Needham is set to crack the school’s top ten single-season list in assists. Fairfield held Marist to 50 points, the eighth time they have held an opponent under 60 points this season.
  • Iona – Extended the win streak to six with victories at Manhattan and at home against Fairfield. Jermel Jenkins preserved the win at Manhattan with a late steal then matched his career high with 14 points and 7 assists against the Stags. Gael reserves outscored Fairfield’s bench 50-5 in the 68-58 decision. Iona’s 15 wins and .715 winning percentage is the highest among the fourteen Division I programs within a 30-mile radius of Madison Square Garden.
  • Loyola (MD) – Finished a stretch of three road games in seven days with a win at Marist. That was just after taking Siena to the wire in a six-point decision. Loyola had a seven-point lead before the Saints closed out with a 17-4 run. Loyola did not score a field goal the last eight minutes in that contest. Senior Garrett Kelly was a surprise against the Saints . He entered the game with eight career points and no treys. Kelly scored 11 points and canned three beyond the arc. Against Marist the Greyhounds shot 58.6 % the first half and never looked back.
  • Manhattan – The Jaspers close out January on the road. Manhattan has lost six of seven conference games in January but the first four by a combined total of 12 points. Guard Rico Pickett averaged 22 PPG for the week. Pickett hit 50% (8 of 16) from three and pulled down 4.7 rebounds per game. The rebounding leader is a guard — Darryl Crawford with 6.1 RPG. Crawford is also scoring 14.7 points per game. The Jaspers are the MAAC leaders, committing only 11 turnovers per game (a conference best 14.5 TO Rate).
  • Marist – Dropped games to Fairfield and Loyola. Junior forward Corey Bauer set the pace with a 16 PPG and 7.5 RPG week. Bauer hit for 21 against Loyola which tied the high scoring game for a Marist player this season. Sam Prescott, Marist’s freshman guard, also had 21. Ironically Prescott’s performance was against Loyola on January 15th in Baltimore.
  • Niagara – Dropped home games to St. Peter’s and Rider. Tyrone Lewis was out both games with an injury. Sophomore Austin Conley got the starting nod in Lewis’ absence. Conley had a career-high 13 points against Rider. Demetrius Williamson paced the Purple Eagles with a 20 PPG scoring mark over the two games. The loss to Rider left Niagara at 11-11. The last time they were 11-11 in late January was 2007 when they went on a 12-game winning streak that included a MAAC title and a first round NCAA Tournament victory.
  • Rider – Lost at Canisius where they had won six of the last eight and won at Niagara where they hadn’t in eight years. At Niagara, the Broncs erased an 11-point deficit and won on Novar Gadson’s tip-in. Gadson finished with 11 points and 11 boards. Rider has played 15 of its first 22 away from home. They return to Alumni Gym to play six of their final nine regular season games. Junior Justin Robinson canned five three-pointers at Canisius. Robinson has hit 15 consecutive free throws. Earlier this year he hit 26 straight from the charity stripe.
  • St. Peter’s - Swept Canisius and Niagara on the road to improve to 13-7, their best record after twenty games in eight years. Balance is a key. Nick Leon and Wesley Jenkins are factors outside while Ryan Bacon mans the paint. Against Canisius however, the leading scorer was junior forward Jeron Belin with 16 points. Bacon tied a career high with 16 rebounds against Niagara. Leon had 19 in the game, 18 of which came in the second half.
  • Siena – Entered the week on an eleven-game win streak, the second longest in program history and third longest current win streak in the country. Siena has a 32-game home winning streak and dominates virtually every statistical category in the MAAC. The only negative point to date is the medical report. Kyle Downey broke his foot on January 19th in practice and is out indefinitely. Edwin Ubiles missed several games with soreness in his back and shoulder and freshman guard Jonathan Breeden missed several contests with a migraine headache. Point guard Ronald Moore continues to excel with a gaudy 8.1 APG mark, the nation’s best.

Upcoming games :

January 30 – Rider at Fairfield

January 31

  • Niagara at Loyola
  • Manhattan at St.Peter’s

February 1 – Canisius at Iona

February 5

  • Iona at Siena
  • St.Peter’s at Fairfield

February 7

  • Iona at Marist
  • Loyola at Manhattan

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Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Rob Dauster of Ballin’ is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

With Georgetown, Pitt, West Virginia, and UConn all coming down to earth in the last few weeks, Syracuse and Villanova have established themselves unequivocally as the favorites in the Big East.

But who is better?

It depends on how you look at them.  Going strictly by the numbers, its Syracuse. They are first in the country in the RPI, and third according to KenPom. They’ve done so playing the fourth-most difficult schedule in the country. They won at West Virginia and handily beat Georgetown at home despite digging a 14-0 hole. They are 4-0 on the road, beat Cal and UNC in MSG early in the season, and also beat Florida in Tampa. Their sole loss on the season was to Pitt.

Their length has made their zone almost impenetrable. They deflect passes and force turnovers, and are able to convert those turnovers into points as well as anyone in the country. Offensively, they play an incredibly smart brand of basketball, rarely taking a bad or forced shot. Want proof?  They shoot, as a team, 53.4% from the floor, and have an effective field goal percentage of 59.3, second best in the country.  It makes sense that Syracuse’s name is being thrown around when talking about the Final Four and the national title. They’ve had a fantastic season.

But Villanova has been great this year as well.  In fact, they have a better record than Syracuse, as they are 8-0 in the league. They have five wins against the RPI top 50, and nine against the top 100. Their only loss is to Temple, which doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did when they were beaten. They’ve played more games (11) away from home than they have at home (10), and are 10-1 in those games. While their efficiency numbers are lower than you would expect from a team in the top five (KenPom has them at 13th), a big reason for that is their poor defensive efficiency, which is 71st in the country. But that number has been steadily climbing (they were 95th a month ago), and is made up for by a potent offensive attack.

Those numbers will only get better as Villanova continues to play at full strength. Reggie Redding, the Wildcats’ best perimeter defender, wasn’t eligible until after the Temple loss. Mouph Yarou is back from a bout of hepatitis, giving Villanova some depth in the paint.  Head-to-head, this game would be a toss-up. Villanova has shooters and penetrators in their backcourt that thrive against a zone. Syracuse has the size inside and the discipline offensively to pick apart the Wildcat defense. I don’t think I’m the only one that would say the winner of this game would be a toss-up, depending on who got hot and where the game was played.

Having said that, if I had to bet on one of these two teams to win the Big East, I would put everything I own on the Orange.  In a heartbeat.  You see, Villanova has yet to really play the meat of the Big East. In February, not only will Villanova have to play Georgetown, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, and Cincinnati, they will have to play all five of them on the road.  Going 3-2 in that stretch would be quite an accomplishment.  And that’s not it. The Wildcats also have to UConn and West Virginia again at home. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a tougher schedule down the stretch than Villanova.

Syracuse doesn’t exactly play cupcakes the rest of the season. They get Louisville twice, UConn and Villanova at home, and travel to Georgetown and Cincinnati. But that is a far cry from what the Wildcats finish the season with. Its not crazy to predict the Orange to go 9-1 over their last 10 games, putting them at 16-2 in the conference.  Can Villanova match that?  The most intriguing part in all of this is that Villanova and Syracuse only play once this season, on Feb. 27th. Seeing as the winner will hold the tie-breaker if the two teams should finish the season with identical records, in all probability that game will be the de facto Big East championship game.

Think the Carrier Dome will be packed for that one?

Other News and Notes

  • UConn has had a weird couple of weeks. They lost at Michigan before finding out that Jim Calhoun was going to be taking an indefinite leave of absence. They then beat St. John’s and #1 Texas at home, before looking lost in a 15-point defeat at the hands of Providence. The problem for UConn at Providence was the lack of a leader. When the Friars put a late run on the Huskies, they folded. Their offense stopped moving, they settled for contested jumpers and headlong drive into the lane, and lost all aggressiveness on the defensive end and on the glass. Could that have been different if Calhoun was on the sidelines? Who knows, but unless someone on that Husky roster becomes a leader a la AJ Price, UConn now looks headed for the NIT, while the win over Texas looks like a fluke.
  • Another interesting tidbit from UConn’s last two weeks: in their loss to Michigan, the students rushed the Crisler Arena floor. When UConn beat Texas, their fans stormed the Gampel Pavilion court. But after losing to Providence, Frair fans RTC’d the Dunk. Has that ever happened before?
  • In Georgetown’s 15 wins, Chris Wright is averaging 16.8 ppg as opposed to 6.5 ppg in their four losses. Pretty standard, considering Wright is one of Georgetown’s top scorers. But where it gets interesting is that Wright is averaging 6.5 apg and just 1.3 turnovers in the Hoyas’ four losses, a 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In their 15 wins, he is averaging 3.5 apg and 2.9 t/o’s. Not exactly ideal point guard numbers. But Chris Wright isn’t exactly your prototypical point guard, and Georgetown doesn’t exactly run your prototypical offense. The Hoyas’ playmaker is Greg Monroe. The offense runs through him at the high post, which means that Wright isn’t needed to be a great distributor or facilitator as much as he’s needed to be a guy that can score. And if he’s proved anything this season, its that he certainly has that ability.
  • The top five in the Big East are all, barring a collapse down the stretch, a lock to make the Dance. But after that, the question marks begin to mount.
  • UConn has a win over Texas to give their resume some credibility, but after that their best “win” is probably close losses to Kentucky and Georgetown. The only reason they are in the conversation right now is the fact they’ve played the toughest schedule in the country, bolstering what is a top 30 RPI. The Huskies have a lot of work to do if they want to ensure a bid.
  • Louisville is just 1-5 against the RPI top50, with that one coming against Cincinnati, who is 49th. Their best win out of conference? East Tennessee State, who is 128th. Louisville will have plenty of chances the rest of the season – they play six of their 11 games against teams in the RPI top 30.
  • Cincinnati is in a little better shape than Louisville. They are 3-5 against the top 50, including a win over Vanderbilt that gets more and more impressive. They don’t really have any terrible losses, either, as their worst is a loss at St. John’s (a game they absolutely pissed away). If the Bearcats can take care of business in games they should win, their season will be decided in the final week, as they go to West Virginia, get Villanova at home, and go to Georgetown.
  • Notre Dame has a lot of work to do. They lost their only top 100 nonconference matchup to Northwestern, while also losing to Loyola Marymount. Notre Dame’s biggest issue is that they don’t have the opportunities that other teams do – only two of their ten games are against the top five in the league.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK and TEAM OF THE WEEK: Dominique Jones and South Florida Bulls

For the first time in their Big East tenure, South Florida has won back-to-back games, beating Providence in overtime on Saturday before knocking off Seton Hall on Thursday night in another overtime game. I’ve been touting Dominique Jones all season long in this space, and this week he backed me up. Against Providence, Jones had the best all-around performance of the Big East season (sorry, Scottie Reynolds, but its true), as he scored 46 points (on 15-23 shooting), grabbed 10 boards, and dished out 8 assists as the Bulls overcame a 12 point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force the OT. Against Seton Hall, Jones scored six of his 28 points (on just 9-16 shooting) in overtime, also adding 4 boards and 3 assists. On the week, he averaged 37.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 5.5 apg while shooting over 60% from the floor.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Syracuse: 20-1, 7-1

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Marquette 76-71, 1/25 vs. Georgetown 73-56

Next Week: 1/30 @ DePaul, 2/2 vs. Providence

2. Villanova: 19-1, 8-0

Last Week: 1/23 @ St. John’s 81-71, 1/27 vs. Notre Dame 90-72

Next Week: 2/2 vs. Seton Hall

3. West Virginia: 16-3, 5-2

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Ohio State 71-65, 1/26 @ DePaul 62-46

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Louisville, 2/3 vs. Pitt

4. Georgetown: 16-4, 6-3

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Rutgers 94-68, 1/25 @ Syracuse 56-73

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Duke, 2/3 vs. USF

5. Pitt: 16-4, 6-2

Last Week: 1/24 @ Seton Hall 61-64, 1/28 vs. St. John’s

Next Week: 1/31 @ USF, 2/3 @ West Virginia

6. Louisville: 13-7, 4-3

Last Week: 1/24 vs. Cincinnati 68-60

Next Week: 1/30 @ West Virginia, 2/1 vs. UConn

7. Cincinnati: 13-7, 4-4

Last Week: 1/24 @ Louisville 60-68

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Providence, 2/4 @ Notre Dame

8. Notre Dame: 15-6, 4-4

Last Week: 1/23 vs. DePaul 87-77, 1/27 @ Villanova 72-90

Next Week: 1/30 @ Rutgers, 2/4 vs. Cincinnati

9. UConn: 13-7, 3-4

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Texas 88-74, 1/27 @ Providence 66-81

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Marquette, 2/1 @ Louisville

10. Marquette: 12-8, 3-5

Last Week: 1/23 @ Syracuse 76-71, 1/26 vs. Rutgers 82-59

Next Week: 1/30 @ UConn, 2/3 vs. DePaul

11. South Florida: 13-7, 3-5

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Providence 109-105 OT, 1/28 vs. Seton Hall 76-74 OT

Next Week: 1/31 vs. Pitt, 2/3 vs. Georgetown

12. Seton Hall: 12-7, 3-5

Last Week: 1/24 vs. Pitt 64-61, 1/28 @ South Florida 74-76 OT

Next Week: 2/2 @ Villanova

13. Providence: 12-8, 4-4

Last Week: 1/23 vs. South Florida 105-109 OT, 1/27 vs. UConn 81-66

Next Week: 1/30 @ Cincinnati, 2/2 @ Syracuse

14. St. John’s: 12-8, 2-6

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Villanova 71-81, 1/28 @ Pitt 53-63

Next Week: 2/2 @ Rutgers

15. DePaul: 8-12, 1-7

Last Week: 1/23 @ Notre Dame 77-87, 1/26 vs. West Virginia 46-62

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Syracuse, 2/3 @ Marquette

16. Rutgers: 9-11, 0-8

Last Week: 1/23 @ Georgetown 63-88, 1/26 @ Marquette 59-82

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Notre Dame, 2/2 vs. St. John’s

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Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

The Summit League    (Conf. W-L  — Overall W-L)

  1. IUPUI                9-1                          16-7
  2. Oakland                9-1                          15-8
  3. Oral Roberts              7-3                          12-10
  4. South Dakota State          7-3                          11-10
  5. IPFW                 5-5                          10-10
  6. North Dakota State          4-6                          7-13
  7. UMKC               3-6                          9-11
  8. Western Illinois        2-8                          8-12
  9. Centenary         2-8                          7-14
  10. Southern Utah            1-8                          5-15

Top Storylines

  • Last Saturday, Oakland was able to tie the record for consecutive conference wins with 16, but they couldn’t beat the record, getting hammered by IUPUI 78-54. The Jags capture the top spot in the conference, and all of the sudden, it’s a four horse race for first.
  • Oakland center Keith Benson earned another Summit League Player of the Week award with his 22.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in two games against North Dakota and South Dakota. Pro scouts are starting to attend Benson’s games on a regular basis now, and he has a good shot at landing a seat on an NBA sideline.

Last Week

IUPUI crushed Oakland on Thursday, making them the front-runner in the conference. I have said all year long, Oakland does not impress me, and they are beatable on any night. The Jags are picking up momentum, and they are the best team in the Summit as of today. Oral Roberts dropped a close game to their crosstown rival, the Tulsa Hurricanes. The loss was a big punch to the gut of the Golden Eagles (usually blowing a 15-point second-half lead does that), but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Since that loss, ORU has rallied to win back-to-back conference games in blowouts, and they still have their eyes on first place.

  • Alpha-squads: Oakland, IUPUI, Oral Roberts
  • Contenders: South Dakota State
  • Long-Shots: IPFW, North Dakota State
  • Bottom-feeders:  UMKC, Western Illinois, Centenary, Southern Utah

Team Breakdowns

In my standings I have three alpha squads and one contender, but in reality, only three teams can win the conference.  Oakland, IUPUI, and Oral Roberts have a combined conference record of 25-5. The bottom seven teams? 24-44.

  • IUPUI—very impressed with the Jags. Not a single team has been able to stop Alex Young (18.1 points) and Robert Glenn (18.2 points), and having two guys that can carry the team is a really nice asset. They are my pick to win the whole thing.
  • Oakland–don’t get me wrong, I still like these guys, as they have the most talent in the conference and it should be their turn to make the Big Dance. But they just haven’t been able to close the deal as a favorite… ever. So I will believe it when I see it.
  • Oral Roberts—seven of their ten losses came by a combined 30 points. That’s 4.3 points per loss. A couple more buckets, a few more free-throws, fewer injuries, and this team could be 19-3, and might be a darkhorse favorite when the conference tournament rolls around. Don’t forget, #12 New Mexico, Missouri, and Stanford fell to this injury-depleted team. Oakland and IUPUI could as well.
  • South Dakota State—lost to Oakland by three on Saturday, and their only bad game in the conference came early in the season against IUPUI. I still think lightning could strike and they end up in the conference semifinals or heck, even the final, but there is no chance they win the conference.
  • IPFW—4-1 in their last five conference games (dropped a close one to SDSU 65-64), but their next two games are against IUPUI and ORU, so that run could come to a screeching halt.
  • North Dakota State—they can be dangerous if they are shooting well, but they just don’t have the guard power that is needed to contend in the Summit. Whenever they face an upper-level team, they get exposed by the better point guards.
  • UMKC– they haven’t showed me enough to even be considered a long shot. They don’t have the ability to score more than 60 or 65 points a game, and like most of the teams at the bottom of the conference, they lack depth on their bench. 3-6 so far in the conference, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone expected much more this year.
  • Western Illinois—they are 8-12, but their wins have come from Truman State, Central Arkansas, Greenville, Culver-Stockton, Savannah State, Centenary, and Southern Utah. I don’t think those wins will boost your RPI.
  • Centenary—the hot start had all the Centenary fans believing (4-2), but since that time they have gone 4-12. David Perez has cooled off considerably, with his scoring average dropping to 16.9 points. On defense they are giving up 81 points per game.
  • Southern Utah—the Thunderbirds still have eight games to turn this season around and make it respectable, but they have only won one game since Christmas, so those prospects are grim.

Games to Watch

  • February 6 – Oral Roberts @ Oakland – Oral Roberts’ last chance to close the gap on Oakland before the tournament.
  • February 13 - IUPUI @ Oral Roberts – IUPUI will be looking to put away ORU, and perhaps clinch the number one spot.
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Checking in on… the Mountain West

Posted by jstevrtc on January 29th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West Conference.

Standings (as of 1/28):

  1. BYU                                        20-2                       5-1
  2. New Mexico                      19-3                       5-2
  3. UNLV                                     17-4                       5-2
  4. San Diego State                14-6                       3-3
  5. Colorado State                  12-8                       3-3
  6. Utah                                      10-10                     3-3
  7. TCU                                        10-11                     2-4
  8. Wyoming                            9-11                       2-4
  9. Air Force                              8-11                       0-6

Superlatives:

Team of the Week. New Mexico. For the second week in a row, it’s the Lobos who win this prize, with this week’s biggest scalp that of the number 12 team in the country, BYU. The Lobos have now won five games in a row and put themselves back in the thick of things in the MWC race, just a game back in the loss column, despite their recent shooting woes.

Player of the Week. Adam Waddell, Soph, Wyoming. There was plenty of competition here this week: Dairese Gary averaged 21 points and 4.5 assists in leading the team of the week to a win over previously-unbeaten-in-conference BYU, Tre’Von Willis went for 30 in a tough road win for UNLV, and Jimmer Fredette continued to be outstanding, averaging 30 PPG this week. But Waddell gets the nod, thanks to his big numbers on Wednesday night: 22 rebounds (a MWC record) while putting in 12 points, all despite leaving midway through the second half with a badly sprained ankle which may keep him out of the Cowboys’ next game.

Newcomer of the Week. Desmar Jackson, Fr, Wyoming. Jackson stepped up in the absence of Wyoming’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Afam Muojeke, who underwent season-ending surgery for a torn patellar tendon in his left knee this week. The freshman from Warren, Ohio scored 21 points in just 20 minutes, continuing what is becoming a bit of a trend for Jackson, stepping up when Muojeke can’t go, as Jackson had 22 points in Muojeke’s first game out after bruising the same knee in late November.

Game of the Week. New Mexico 76, BYU 72. It’s likely that the BYU/San Diego State game from Saturday was the better game. It featured long runs by both teams, and really came down to the last possession, but this game had a little something extra throughout which that one didn’t: atmosphere. While the Aztecs played with fire throughout their loss to the Cougars and proved themselves quite capable of being mentioned along with the other elites at the top of the conference, the Lobos were able to finish out in front of a wild and raucous Pit crowd. After the Lobos led for 20 straight minutes, the Cougs came back to tie the game at 46 early in the second half, but they weren’t able to grab the lead back until around the three-minute mark on a deep (26-feet or so) three by Fredette. Then, sophomore guard Philip McDonald hit a tough runner with the shot-clock running out, got fouled, and knocked down the free throw. Sophomore forward A.J. Hardeman followed that up with an offensive stick-back. Gary added a 45-foot drive in the halfcourt that led to a finger roll, then proceeded to knock down multiple clutch free throws down the stretch as the Lobos handed BYU their first conference loss.

Games of the Upcoming Week. Utah @ BYU, Saturday January 30th, The MTN. The MWC quiets down slightly this week, as both New Mexico and UNLV only play once, but the Marriott Center will be jumping on Saturday night for the Holy War. While the Utes probably don’t have the firepower or the consistency to be able to take down the Cougars, especially coming off their first loss, you can bet there will be plenty of intensity on display as they attempt it.

League Notes:

Next week at this time, the first half of the conference season will be in the books and the teams will turn the corner and start looking towards the conference tournament and postseason play. While BYU and New Mexico appear to be locks to get into the NCAA tournament (RPIs of 19 and 12, respectively and KenPom ratings of 4 and 41), and UNLV has positioned themselves well to get a third MWC bid (RPI 35, KenPom 53), San Diego State (RPI 43, KenPom 65) will need to make a run in the second half of their year, and likely add another quality win or two (over either BYU, New Mexico or UNLV) to be strongly considered.  Even if they achieve that, it could be at the expense of UNLV. The Aztecs’ best non-conference win was over Arizona, and although they added a win over New Mexico in the MWC opener, their tight loss to BYU at the Viejas Center on Saturday night may come back to haunt them on Selection Sunday.

Team Roundups:

BYU

Looking back: The Cougars went on the road this week for a couple of tough conference games, and while they came away with their first conference loss, they probably feel okay about the week’s outcomes. The roadtrip started with a visit to San Diego State on Saturday, and the Cougars came out hot, building up a 22-10 lead early before the Aztecs came storming back. BYU responded with a 15-0 run midway through the second half to seemingly put the game away before the Aztecs came back again. But in the end, Fredette hit a great swooping scoop shot in the lane near the end of the shotclock with under 30 seconds to play, and sophomore swing Charles Abouo got a big block on the defensive end to seal the game for the Cougars. While things didn’t turn out that way in Albuquerque on Wednesday (detailed in the Game of the Week section above), the Cougars fought hard in likely the toughest environment they will encounter this season and were right there within three in the last minute. The youngest Cougs didn’t play very well against New Mexico (freshman Tyler Haws, for instance, was just three of eight from the field), and junior guard Jackson Emery remains mired in a slump (4-19 from the field and just 1-13 from behind the arc this week), but while a trip to Vegas looms on the not-too-distant horizon, the back-half of the conference schedule is a bit easier than the front.

Looking ahead: BYU hosts Utah and TCU this week before heading to UNLV on February 6th.

New Mexico

Looking back: The win against BYU was the big story of the week, but it wouldn’t have meant much had the Lobos slipped up against Colorado State last Saturday. Coach Steve Alford made sure his team didn’t look past the Rams, and the Lobos dominated on the glass (48-30), then went on a big 16-1 run before the end of the first half to get the Lobos most of the way to their 82-64 victory. The Lobos have had several players step up from week to week to take the reigns for this squad this year.  It was McDonald in the first couple games, then junior swing Darington Hobson made his presence known; senior forward Roman Martinez led the team in scoring four straight games in early December, and Hardeman turned it on at the start of conference play.  But this week was all Gary, not only leading the team in scoring and assists, but knocking down clutch free throws all over the place, hitting 22 of his whopping 27 free throw attempts this week, and harassing BYU’s Fredette and Haws into just 11-29 shooting.

Looking ahead: The Lobos wrap up their MWC front nine (er, um… eight?) with a visit to TCU on Saturday, then get a week to prepare for San Diego State on February 6th.

UNLV

Looking back: The Rebels’ duo of Willis and Chace Stanback continue to lead the way, Willis contributing 21.5 PPG and Stanback averaging 15.5 PPG this week in wins at TCU and at home against Air Force. But the big news of the week was junior swing Derrick Jasper spraining his left MCL in the Air Force win, an injury likely to sideline Jasper all of February, pushing his return right up against the start of the MWC tournament. The Rebels responded well to the Jasper injury, outscoring the Falcons 39-26 in the second half on their way to a 10-point come-from-behind victory, sparked by junior guard Kendall Wallace hitting his first four threes of the second half. With the BYU loss on Wednesday, the Rebels move within a game (in the loss column) of first place.

Looking ahead: Short week for the Rebs, but a long trip to Wyoming awaits. Then they return home to host BYU in what figures to be a fight for first place.

San Diego State

Looking back: It was only a one-game week, but it was a tough one for the Aztecs. In an up-again, down-again battle against BYU on Saturday, the buzzer went off with the Aztecs on the down-again side. While the Aztecs dominated BYU inside (40-18 margin in points-in-the-paint), they were unable to get to the line — in fact, both teams combined for only 18 free throws, a stat that made for a very fun game to watch — and were unable to control Fredette, who went for 33 points on 11-19 shooting and 5-8 from behind the arc. While SDSU has gotten tons of production out of its front line, their backcourt play has been inconsistent. They haven’t had a guard notch more than five assists this month, junior point D.J. Gay is shooting just 37% from the field this season, and has only a 1.6-to-1 assist to turnover ratio thus far. While it seems certain that head coach Steve Fisher will stick with Gay at the point, freshman Chase Tapley may be the better option. Tapley shoots 48% from the field, has a 2.1 A/TO ratio, defends better, rebounds better, and has significantly better offensive efficiency numbers than Gay. If the Aztecs hope to make a serious run at the NCAA tournament, moving to Tapley as their primary point guard seems to be a necessary move. But don’t hold your breath waiting on that move.

Looking ahead: SDSU travels to Colorado State on Saturday before returning to the Mesa to host Air Force on Tuesday.

Colorado State

Looking back: This was the type of week that the Rams can expect most of the rest of the way. Face a team like New Mexico, expect a loss; face a team like TCU, gut out a win. Coach Tim Miles has done an excellent job of getting the most out of his group of players, a somewhat limited bunch. So, this week, after the Rams were shut down offensively and destroyed on the glass by a more talented and athletic New Mexico team, they rededicated themselves to working on the glass and getting some easy hoops against TCU. The results? Junior forward Andy Ogide grabbed ten boards to go with 14 points, junior forward Travis Franklin added nine boards and freshman forward Greg Smith got six more to go with a career-high 15 points as CSU controlled the game inside, outscoring TCU in the paint 32-14 and scoring 16 points off TCU turnovers.

Looking ahead: The Rams host San Diego State on Saturday, then travel to Salt Lake City to face the Utes on Wednesday.

Utah

Looking back: Yup. We said it here last week, just like we said it here a month or so back. Utah is as capable of beating a top-notch team (as they did when they beat UNLV on the road on January 16th) as they were of losing to a bottom-feeder. Well, they lost to their bottom feeder, losing to Wyoming on Wednesday, even though it was in Laramie. What’s more, they lost to Wyoming while the Cowboys’ best player watched with a knee injury. More and more, it looks like the Utes’ main problem (and clearly their problems are plural) is at the point. While they are not a great shooting team, they have players that can score (witness junior Carlon Brown’s 31 – including a strong 22 in the second half – against Wyoming, and freshman Marshall Henderson’s 22 earlier in the week in a win over Air Force), but they just don’t have a guy who is a born distributor. Brown and senior Luka Drca have made the effort, but they just aren’t capable of running the point at this level. Unfortunately for coach Jim Boylen, there isn’t a ready point who is going to walk through the door this season, so the Utes will have to make do with what they have.

Looking ahead: The Utes travel down the road to Provo for the basketball version of the Holy War on Saturday night, then return home to host Colorado State on Wednesday.

TCU

Looking back: The Horned Frogs opened their week by hosting UNLV on Saturday, and they gave the favored Rebels a bit of a scare. With just over a minute to play, senior forward Zvonko Buljan converted a three-point play to bring TCU within a bucket at 72-70. Unfortunately for the Frogs, UNLV scored the last seven points of the game (all on free throws) to seal the win. While TCU stayed in the game on the strength of their three-point shooting (11-27 from three), they were unable to stop the Rebels inside of the arc, allowing UNLV to shoot an amazing 74% on two-point field goals. Jim Christian’s squad then traveled from Fort Worth to Fort Collins to face CSU on Wednesday, but Buljan failed to make the trip due to “personal reasons.” TCU could have used him as they fell by six to the Rams and shot just 35% from the field along the way. Sophomore point guard Ronnie Moss had 21 in a losing cause, but only two of those 21 came in the second half.

Looking ahead: TCU hosts New Mexico on Saturday, and Buljan remains questionable to play in that game, although coach Christian reports that he is healthy. The Frogs will then wrap up a rough week with a road trip to BYU on Wednesday.

Wyoming

Looking back: Last week at this time, the extent of the injury was not known. Now, however, with Muojeke out for the season, it is time for the Cowboys to see who is going to step up and carry the team down the stretch as coach Heath Schroyer tries to find some players to build around for the future. Waddell and Jackson were the first to throw their hats in the ring, but junior forward Djibril Thiam (16 points), sophomore guard A.J. Davis (10 points) and sophomore guard JayDee Luster (five assists) all contributed strong games in Wyoming’s win over Utah on Wednesday. With only one senior on the team (forward Ryan Dermody), the Cowboys will have a chance to get some much needed experience for players up and down the roster in the second half of the conference season.

Looking ahead: Wyoming faces Air Force on Saturday before traveling to UNLV on Wednesday.

Air Force

Looking back: After six long weeks watching, senior forward and leading scorer and rebounder Grant Parker finally returned from injury for the Falcons this week, and his impact was immediately felt. While Parker only played 15 minutes in a loss to Utah on Saturday, he returned to play 31 minutes at UNLV on Tuesday. Parker has not yet returned to form he showed early in the season, but he did contribute 11 points and seven rebounds in the what was the Falcons’ best performance of the conference season, a ten-point loss to UNLV. No one expects Parker’s presence to spark the Falcons to a wild second-half run to the .500 mark, but it will be interesting to see what this Falcon team looks like when healthy. The combination of Parker and junior guard Evan Washington was solid early in the season, and the addition of some now more seasoned younger players who got some run in Parker’s stead (such as freshman Mike Fitzgerald, junior Derek Brooks and junior Tom Fow) could give Air Force a chance to trip up some of the middle-of-the-pack teams.

Looking ahead: The Falcons get to test out that theory right-quick, as they host Wyoming on Saturday, before traveling to San Diego State on Tuedsay.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by jstevrtc on January 29th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings:
NORTH    (CONF/OVER)

  1. Western Carolina     6-3    16-5
  2. Appalachian State   6-3    12-8
  3. Chattanooga              4-5    12-10
  4. UNC Greensboro      4-6    5-16
  5. Samford                       3-6    9-12
  6. Elon                               2-7    4-16

SOUTH    (CONF/ OVER)

  1. Charleston                  8-2    13-8
  2. Wofford                        6-3    14-8
  3. Davidson                     5-4    10-11
  4. Furman                        4-5    10-10
  5. Citadel                          4-5    10-11
  6. Georgia Southern     3-6    6-16

Quick Hits — Only half of the conference season has been played in the Southern Conference and we are starting to see which teams will contend for the championship come March. Four teams have clearly put themselves above the rest of the conference as WCU, Wofford, Charleston, and Appalachian State have emerged as the favorites to make the NCAA tournament. One of those teams should come away with the automatic bid. In the next couple of weeks the schedule puts most of the top teams against each other, providing for some very interesting scenarios.

Other Notes — It would take either Western Carolina or College of Charleston to both win out and make it to the SoCon finals for the league to earn two bids into the NCAA tournament. It doesn’t look like this is the year for the conference to have two teams for the first time.

Most Disappointing teams — Elon has only won two games in conference, but Samford has really been disappointing this season with its 3-6 record. The Bulldogs haven’t figured out how to win on the road.

Sizzling players — It’s all about the junior class. Seven juniors sit atop the statistics in PPG. Donald Sims from Appalachian State leads the SoCon with 19.4 PPG. Andrew Goudelock (CofC), Cameron Wells (Citadel), Noah Dahlman (Wofford), Amu Saaka (Furman), Willie Powers (Georgia Southern), and Jordan Miller (Furman) all averaging more than 14 PPG.

Upcoming Schedule/Important Match-ups:

  • Sat. Jan 30 — Furman @ Wofford.  Spartanburg, S.C. 3 p.m. – Tough road contest for Furman.
  • Thurs. Feb 4 — Chattanooga @ Charleston.  Charleston, S.C. 7 p.m. – Chattanooga looks to pull off another upset on the road.
  • Sat. Feb 6 — Appalachian State @ WCU.  Cullowhee, N.C. 7 p.m. – The Catamounts look for revenge at home.
  • Mon. Feb 8 — Citadel @ Charleston.  Charleston, S.C. 7 p.m. – In-state rivalry between the two schools.

Team Breakdowns:

  • Appalachian State (12-8): On January 28th Appalachian State won its second straight game after defeating Samford 68-55 on the road. With that victory, the Mountaineers are now tied atop the North Division standings at 6-3. Just four days earlier, Appalachian State defeated Western Carolina 87-74 at home thanks to 28 points from Donald Sims. The upcoming game against the Catamounts could determine the North Division winner, with both tied at 6-3 at the moment.
  • Chattanooga (12-10): The Mocs were on a four-game losing streak before defeating Western Carolina 80-67 on January 28th.  Ty Patterson led the way with 19 points in the victory and leads the team in scoring with 15.3 PPG. Recent road losses against Wofford (78-63) and Elon (83-80) have hurt Chattanooga in the standings. The Mocs still need to figure out how to get it done more often on the road.
  • College of Charleston (13-8): The Cougars were riding high with a seven game winning streak until Monday the 25th when Western Carolina ended the streak with a 100-90 victory at home. College of Charleston couldn’t bounce back on January 28th, losing again on the road against Davidson, 86-71. It will be interesting to see how the Cougars respond to this recent two game losing streak, which dropped them to 8-2 in conference.
  • Davidson (10-11): Two straight wins for the Wildcats puts their conference record at 5-4 heading into a key conference stretch. On January 23rd Davidson defeated Georgia Southern 91-87 on the road with J.P. Kuhlman scoring 18 points to pace the Wildcats.  Just five days later, Davidson overcame South Division leader Charleston, 86-61.  Will Archambault scored 24 points in the victory and grabbed five rebounds.
  • Elon (4-16): Elon recently ended a nine-game losing streak after defeating Chattanooga 83-80 at home on January 23rd. Drew Spradlin scored a season-high 30 points in the victory to end the losing streak for the Phoenix.  On January 28th Elon lost on the road against UNC-Greensboro 62-55 with Spradlin scoring 18 points in the loss.  The Phoenix haven’t won two straight games all season and came up just short against the Spartans.
  • Furman (10-10): The Paladins continue to impress at home with its 6-3 record but playing on the road has really hurt them. Furman’s record on the road is just 3-6; this will have to be rectified if they’re going to compete for the SoCon championship. On January 25th Furman defeated Samford 63-58 with Darryl Evans scoring 18 points in the victory.
  • Georgia Southern (6-16): The Eagles have been playing better recently, winning two of its last three conference games. Both of those wins came at home where Georgia Southern is 6-4 overall. The Eagles defeated the Citadel 61-58 on January 28th to run its SoCon record to 3-6.
  • Samford (9-12): The Bulldogs have lost two-straight games after losing to Appalachian State on January 28th, 68-55. Just three days earlier, Samford lost to Furman on the road, 63-58. Josh Davis leads the team in scoring at 11.7 PPG. The Bulldogs are just 3-6 on the road.
  • The Citadel (10-11): The Citadel has one of the top players in the Southern Conference in Cameron Wells. Wells is averaging 18 PPG but doesn’t get a whole lot of  help around him; if he did, you’d wonder if Citadel would have better than a 4-5 conference record. The Citadel defeated Furman at home 70-60 on January 23rd, but lost on the road against Georgia Southern 61-58 on Thursday night. The Bulldogs have yet to win two-straight conference games this season and are trying to stay competitive in the South Division.
  • UNC-Greensboro (5-16):  The Spartans have won two of their last three conference games to improve their record to 4-6 in conference. During UNC-Greensboro’s recent home stand, they defeated Chattanooga 62-49, and beat Elon 62-55 on Thursday night.
  • Western Carolina (16-5): The Catamounts have been perfect at home (11-0) including a huge victory against the College of Charleston, 100-90, on January 25th. Western Carolina’s losses have all been away from the Ramsey Center. This is a cause of concern for WCU, having recently fallen into a tie for first place in the North Division with Appalachian State. Western cannot expect to lose all of its road games and still claim the SoCon championship.
  • Wofford (14-8): The Terriers have been playing their best basketball of the season, led by junior Noah Dahlman. Dahlman has led the team in scoring in six straight games, and the team is 5-1 in those contests. Wofford’s only loss came against the College of Charleston 70-68 on the road. On January 25th the Terriers won 78-63 against Chattanooga; Dahlman led the way with 20 points, earning Wofford its sixth conference win.
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Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Seeds of Doubt?

Last time we suggested that a single digit tournament seed was a possibility for Cornell. While we feel that it would be deserved, the reality is that it may be a pipe dream. So, you may ask, with a perfect Ivy season looming, why not a #8 or a #9 seed come March? The numbers tell the story. As of Thursday, the Big Red has an RPI of 37 and a strength of schedule ranking of 129. And with 12 games remaining within a conference with an RPI rank of 19 out of 32, those numbers won’t improve, even if they go undefeated. So expect #11 or #12 seed and a first round match-up against maybe a Wake Forest or a Pittsburgh.

Green With Envy

With two mid-season coaching changes in the Ivy League, most of the attention has been on Jerome Allen at Penn. Given his stellar playing career and the high profile nature of the Quaker program, the focus is understandable. But playing second fiddle up in Hanover is Mark Graupe (pronounced GRAW-pee for those keeping score) at Dartmouth. This is his first Div.1 head coaching position after 21 years in the business that has included high school and JUCO stops in North Dakota and most recently as an assistant at Colorado State. While we at RTC wish Mark much success, we would also like to remind him that there are coaching positions throughout the U.S. where the temperatures rise above single digits during hoop season.

Ivy Futures – Buy or Sell

Thought it might be interesting to take a look at some budding stars in the conference, so we present the gems (so far) of the Class of 2013:

Taken as a projection the class of the Class may well be Errick Peck of Cornell (the rich get richer). Though limited in playing time given the quality and experience ahead of him, the 6’6 forward came to Ithaca with impressive credentials. The Indianapolis native not only played in the Indiana/Kentucky HS All-Star Games, but was named MVP of the first game with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

As a class, give kudos to Tommy Amaker at Harvard with four prize recruits that include starting guard Christian Webster, possible 6th man of the year Kyle Casey (nine points, five rebounds off the bench), Brandon Curry and Dee Giger. This may be the best recruiting class at Cambridge since the Class of 1975 — G.W. Bush and Bill Gates, who left early for some computer gig but was known for his (micro)soft hands.

Here is a closer look at Arne Duncan’s favorite conference as it enters its first full weekend of play:

  1. Cornell (2-0, 16-3): Coming off two thrashings of travel partner Columbia by 21 and 26 points, the deep Big Red has eight players averaging at least 13 minutes. They’ll tune up at home vs. Dartmouth before entertaining likely conference runner-up Harvard in an early showdown.
  2. Harvard (2-0, 13-3): Two wins came at the expense of hapless travel partner Dartmouth, though most recent win was too close for comfort (62-58). Kyle Casey (see above) led the way with 19 pts off the bench, while conference player of the year candidate Jeremy Lin continues to impress.
  3. Princeton (0-0, 9-5): Because of late exam schedule, the Tigers and travel partner Penn are the only Ivy teams who have not played a conference game. They begin play with a four-game road trip and need to win at least three if they want to contend for a runner-up spot.
  4. Columbia (0-2, 6-10): The bad news: 0-2. The good news: the Lions are done with Cornell and thus have 12 winnable games left. They need a healthy return of point guard Patrick Foley to team with sharpshooter Noruwa Agho to have a chance, however.
  5. Brown (1-1, 7-12): The Bears split with travel partner Yale, each winning as the visiting team. They badly need the return of hobbled starters and leading scorers Peter Sullivan and Matt Mullery; the two forwards and only two double-figure scorers combine for more than 27 points and 9 rebounds per game.
  6. Yale (1-1, 7-12): It’s difficult to separate the Bulldogs and Bears, but the bottom of the league should begin to sort itself out this weekend when Penn heads to Yale and Brown. The Bulldogs continue to be led by All-Ivy lock and Player of the Year candidate Alex Zampier whose 18.6 ppg average is tops in the league.
  7. Penn (0-0), 1-13): Only tradition keeps the Quakers out of the bottom spot this week after a non-competitive, non-conference showing which concluded with a 85-64 drubbing at the hands of St. Joe’s — a Big 5 rival that had already lost to Cornell and Princeton. It will be interesting to see if conference play proves to be the panacea for Penn and emerging star Zack Rosen.
  8. Dartmouth (0-2, 4-12): The last two games — a win vs. St. Francis (N.Y.) and a near-miss (62-58) vs. conference heavyweight Harvard — may auger well for the Graupe era (see above) in Hanover. At least the Big Green appears to playing hard, which may be enough for them to escape the cellar this season.
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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 01.30.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Welcome back, everyone!  Boom Goes the Dynamite returns for the fourth weekend of the year with a blockbuster Saturday of games that are so good that we’re getting them up today as a reminder to join us tomorrow afternoon.  With noon-to-night coverage and the fact that most of the country is completely frozen over again, we expect that you’ll be right there with us on the couch, eating a bunch of bad food and breaking down zone offenses.  We hope to see you then!

Here are the games we plan on keeping an eye on…

12 PM: La Salle at #15 Temple on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
12 PM: Marquette at #19 Connecticut on Big East Network HD and ESPN Full Court
12 PM: Louisville at #9 West Virginia on ESPN and ESPN360.com
1 PM: #7 Duke at #11 Georgetown on CBS – RTC Live
2 PM: #4 Syracuse at DePaul on Big East Network and ESPN Full Court
2 PM: Indiana at Illinois on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
3 PM: FSU at Boston College on Raycom and ESPN Full Court
3 PM: #25 Northern Iowa at Missouri State
4 PM: Baylor at #6 Texas on Big 12 Network and ESPN Full Court
4 PM: #23 Vanderbilt at #1 Kentucky on ESPN and ESPN360.com A
4 PM: Arkansas at #20 Mississippi on SEC Network and ESPN Full Court
6 PM: Notre Dame at Rutgers on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
6 PM: New Mexico at TCU on CBS College Sports
7 PM: #2 Kansas at #13 Kansas State on ESPN and ESPN360.com
7 PM: Georgia at South Carolina on Fox Sports (regional) and ESPN Full Court
7 PM: Northwestern at #5 Michigan State on Big Ten Network
8 PM: Providence at Cincinnati on ESPN U
9 PM: Utah at #10 BYU on Mountain Network
9:30 PM: #8 Gonzaga at San Francisco on Fox Sports (regional)- RTC Live

We will be dividing the day into three shifts with nvr1983 starting things off then rtmsf will handle the afternoon games before John Stevens takes you into the night with late night coverage of all the day’s big games.

10:50 AM: Apparently ESPN forgot to pay the electricity bill as the lights just went out on Jason Williams. (As a college basketball fan, I refuse to call him Jay. Jason Williams was a great player. Jay Williams crashed his motorcycle.)

11:00 AM: Dear College Students of America, This is how you show up for a College GameDay. I don’t want to call anybody out, but the Kansas State fans are crushing what I saw when I went to GameDay at UNC last year. To be fair, a game against in-state rival Kansas is much, much more important than a disappointing Miami team. This seems more like a College Football GameDay and that’s what we need for the basketball version too. Right now the pressure is on Illinois, Kentucky, Washington, Syracuse, and Duke to match this atmosphere when GameDay comes to town later this year.

11:10 AM: Does anybody have a link to where we can buy one of those Frank Martin t-shirts?

11:15 AM: According to the Kansas State website, the previous record for College Basketball GameDay attendance was 6,700 at Clemson last year before they played Duke. I haven’t heard an official number for today. Bramlage Coliseum holds 12,528 and I would think they are well over half full.

11:20 AM: Is Coach K advocating for abolishing the requirement for players to spend one year in college or wanting them to stay in school for more than one semester, which is all they really have to do to be eligible to play in their freshman year? It sounds more like the former. Jay Bilas is right that this issue is more a NBA/business issue.

11:22 AM: If you’re wondering who Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps are going to pick to win the Kansas-Kansas State game, their clothes might be a pretty good clue. Hubert is wearing a purple shirt and a purple tie. Digger is wearing a purple shirt and a purple tie and he he has a purple highlighter. . .

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Morning Five: 01.29.10

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

  1. Today’s completely unsubstantiated rumor is that Kansas will be busing students the 85 miles over to Manhattan, Kansas, for ESPN Gameday on Saturday morning (as K-State tries to set a new record for Gameday attendance).  If there’s any truth whatsoever to this, we fear a little for the lives of those young Jayhawks.
  2. Did Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins “cold-cock” a South Carolina student as they were RTCing after the Gamecocks’ big win over Kentucky the other night?  Video evidence is inconclusive, but at least one radio broadcaster and a student say they witnessed it.  For whatever that’s worth.
  3. Gary Parrish reminds us that in the volatile world of college basketball polling, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the polls around this time of year because they offer a window into the teams that will be left standing in early April.  This is an accurate point to a certain extent, but it’s more fun to take the reverse view and think about which teams in the Top Ten will flame out early in March (best guesses: WVU, Duke, Michigan State).
  4. You may have heard a little about this upcoming Harvard-Cornell game on Saturday night, but did you think an Ivy League battle would ever escalate to a Twitter cage match between the New York Times’ Pete Thamel and SI.com’s Pablo Torres?  Apparently Thamel tweeted Torres out for his soft handling of Harvard’s program in his recent piece on Wooden Award candidate Jeremy Lin, and Torres responded by accusing Thamel of similar kid-glove treatment on one of his pieces about Syracuse’s Wes Johnson.  Must be the full moon….
  5. Finally, UNC-Wilmington fired their head coach last night Benny Moss, with a record of 41-74 in four years at the school, was coming off a 39-point pasting at the hands of Hofstra on Wednesday night, and his teams were making a habit of regularly getting run out of the gym.  Moss is the fifth head coach to lose his job during the season this year, further validating a troubling trend (even at the mid-major level) of ADs impatiently cutting their losses in the middle of the season.
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ATB: Purdue Gets More From Moore

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Will the Least Ugly Team Please Stand Up#12 Purdue 60, #16 Wisconsin 57. This was your typically ugly conference season Big Ten game; you know, the kind that makes you wonder why you started watching the game in the first place.  But in a battle for standing as to who will be the team to challenge Michigan State if/when they falter, it was Matt Painter’s Boilermakers who protected their home court tonight against Wisconsin (36-2 at Mackey against the Badgers) and pulled a victory out of the slugfest.  Purdue got 20/4 from E’Twaun Moore (including the game-winner with 25 seconds left), 12/13 from Robbie Hummel and was happy to see injured point guard Lewis Jackson back on the court even though he only played twelve minutes and contributed two points.  He’s the true PG that Moore and Chris Kramer are not, and it stands to reason that the Boilermakers will be a better team in the long run with Jackson back in action.  On the Wisconsin side, Keaton Nankivil blew up for 25/8 on 7-8 shooting from three, almost singlehandedly keeping the Badgers in the game at certain points.  Therefore, it was interesting that Trevon Hughes (9/4 on 3-11 FGs) got the ball with Wisconsin down one point and he missed a short runner that would have won the game.  Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson was benched for being late, yet he came off the pine to contribute 14/3.  As we’ve discussed before, Purdue is a much better team when Johnson is scoring and boarding, so it’s a testament to the quality of the Boilermaker defense that he was kept relatively in check tonight.   Both of these teams, along with Ohio State and Illinois, now have three losses in the Big Ten, and while none may catch Michigan State, they’re all vying for position in the #2 through #5 spots.  With Purdue and Wisconsin splitting their season series, it may come down to who has the easier schedule over the next four weeks, and from our viewpoint that team is Purdue (Indiana and Penn State twice, as well as Iowa once).

Moore Hits the Game Winner (AP/Michael Conroy)

The Courtney Fortson ShowArkansas 67, Mississippi State 62. In an otherwise ugly game with about seventeen people in the stands due to inclement weather in NW Arkansas, Courtney Fortson and his braids pulled off their best Devan Downey impression tonight with a 33-point second half that matched the visiting Bulldogs point-for-point.  He ended with a career-high 35/7/4 assts and even found time to have a mini-altercation with his coach during the outburst, and this will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of a disappointing season in Fayetteville.  Mississippi State couldn’t buy a bucket for much of this one (31% FGs, 19% 3FGs), but they still could have won the game deep into the second half had they merely been able to get a handle on Fortson.  They never did, and recently ranked MSU has now lost two in a row and really hasn’t played a strong game in three weeks.  You have to wonder if all the hubbub over Renardo Sidney (is he in?  is he out?) might be weighing upon them a little bit.  Their defense has remained consistently good, but the offense is just not producing enough good shots for talents like Jarvis Varnado and Dee Bost.  With the loss by MSU, Vanderbilt and Kentucky remain as the only two teams in the SEC with one loss or fewer in conference play.

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RTC Interview: Seth Davis On College Basketball, His New Show, & Fannovation

Posted by nvr1983 on January 29th, 2010

Last week, RTC spoke with Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS to talk about a variety of topics on college basketball and a new promotion for Coke Zero. This is not the first time we have spoken with Seth as we interviewed him last March for the launch of his book “When March Went Mad” about the 1979 championship game between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Before the interview officially began, Seth expressed his displeasure about not getting linked every day in the Morning Five. We would give you the transcript of that discussion, but Chinese government regulations prohibit us from doing so.

Ed. Note: This interview took place last week, but due to some transcribing issues we are just putting it up now.

Seth Davis: Man of Intrigue

RTC: I guess we will start with your alma mater. Duke is looking strong again this year, but is different than they usually look as they are not relying on the outside shooting as much as a complete game. A lot of people have been talking up Duke. Do you think this is the year they can make it back to the Final Four?

SD: I do. I think they are legit. It’s kind of funny. Here they are ranked 5th or 6th in the country, putting together a great record, and there is not a lot of buzz about Duke right now. It’s funny to say that because they are so ubiquitous on television, but I think that we have all seen them get off to these great starts the past few years before they fall in the tournament. This team does things that those teams did not primarily defend and rebound. Those things are very important assets to carry into the tournament because at some point you are going to have an “off” shooting night and I think back for example to when they lost in the 2nd round to West Virginia. I think West Virginia was like +16 on the boards. At some point the shots aren’t going to fall. This team has the ability to overcome that so I don’t know from strictly a talent standpoint if I would put them on the Texas, Kentucky, and Kansas level, but do I think of them on a short list of contenders to get to the Final Four? Absolutely. I think by the way they will have a great chance of getting a #1 seed if they win the ACC regular season and then win the [ACC] tournament. I would be surprised if they aren’t a #1 seed.


RTC: Sticking with a US News & World Report College Rankings theme. Another team that has really made a lot of news this year is Cornell with a lot of close losses to very good teams, but that doesn’t impact their RPI and NCAA seeding as much as some people would think. How good is this team? How high do you think they could be seeded and how far could they go in the NCAA tournament?
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Boom Goes The Dynamite: 01.28.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 28th, 2010

Did you think we’d forgotten?  Oh, no, my friends.  This is the biggest weeknight of hoops this week, so here we are again with another mid-week edition of BGTD.  Last night brought us a LOT of upsets, and we’re sure some more are in store this evening.  We’ll start off by filling our screens with the likes of St. John’s vs Pittsburgh, and of course that huge Big Ten matchup in Wisconsin vs Purdue.  and there’s a darn good chance we’ll be enjoying a little Wake Forest vs Georgia Tech to begin, as well.  Let’s hear what you’re watching, or what you’re thinking in general in the comments section.  We know that refresh-button finger is nice and warmed up, so let’s get this thing going.  See you in a few minutes…

7:02 PM ET: Evening everyone…JStev with you for the first part of this, then I’ll hand it off to rtmsf in a bit.  But who cares about that right now…the guys on ESPN say that Jajuan Johnson showed up late and won’t start tonight.  We all know he’ll be in after a couple of minutes, so I doubt this deserves the emphasis they’re putting on it early.  God, look at this…there is NO team whose players move without the ball like Wisconsin.  Purdue’s defense is exemplary over the first couple of possessions, but no way they can sustain it for the whole game, or even the whole half.  Nobody ever does.

7:12: At the first TVTO at Purdue we can say that we’ve already seen a couple of perfect Wisconsin possessions, despite the tough Purdue defense, especially that three at the last moment before the shot clock expired by Jarred Berggren.  Early checks elsewhere:  Pitt/SJU tied at seven, Wake up 13-7 early, and we even have Seton Hall vs South Florida (SHU up by a few very early).  Lots of good stuff tonight.

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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by jstevrtc on January 28th, 2010

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

America East Standings (conf/over):

  1. Maine                                                 5-1       13-6
  2. Stony Brook                                   6-2       14-7
  3. Boston University                     6-2       11-9
  4. Vermont                                          5-2       14-7
  5. Binghamton                                  3-3       8-13
  6. Hartford                                           3-4       5-15
  7. New Hampshire                          2-4       7-10
  8. Albany                                               1-6       6-16
  9. UMBC                                                 0-7       1-19

Hottest Team — Maine

Maine has won five straight since the loss at Vermont. The Black Bears now have sole possession of first place.

Stud Player- Gerald McLemore, soph. G – 24 PPG in two wins away from home.  McLemore is really coming into his own including a 7-11 night from downtown against Hartford. He is helping Maine get off to a great start.

Thoughts on the AE

Two teams received votes in the most recent mid-major top 25 poll, while another is off to their best start since joining the league in 2001-02. There is still one team looking for their first victory.

Team Notes

Maine is playing their best ball in years. They have won five straight, eight out of their last nine, and ten out of their last 12. Sophomore Gerald McLemore shined in the most recent game out finishing with a career high 27. McLemore shot 7-11 from downtown in helping the Black Bears beat Hartford. Terrance Mitchell played great off the bench, scoring 17 points. As a team the Black Bears shot 12-18 from three-point range. McLemore is starting to heat up — in the previous game at Albany he scored 21 points. Mitchell has also developed a scoring touch, hitting double-digits in points in his last six games.

Stony Brook is sitting in second place in the league at 6-2. They are the only team to knock off both Boston University and Vermont, and did so on the road in both games. At UVM last week Bryan Dougher scored 20 points to help the Seawolves win. Stony Brook followed that up with a win over Albany. Freshman Marcus Rouse led the way with 17 points while Tommy Brenton added 14.  Their combined 31 points came on a combined 13-for-15 shooting.

Boston University has won seven of eight, with the only blemish at Vermont. They fell behind early by a lot against the Catamounts and were never able to cut into the lead very much at all, losing 78-58. The Terriers have followed that up with two big wins. They beat Albany by 21, then followed it up with an 18 point win over UMBC. John Holland scored 25 points and had 12 rebounds while sophomore Jake O’Brien added 18 points. It was the first team BU had swept this year. Holland and O’Brien had big games in that one, too, with 21 and 19 points, respectively. Carlos Strong also added six three-pointers for 18 points. The team as a whole hit 16 long balls setting a school record. The offense is clicking and averaging over 70 PPG, good for first in the league.

Vermont started off the conference schedule with five straight wins, all with margins of eight or more. The Catamounts were beating their America East foes by an average of 14+ points a game. They have since hit a wall in losses to Stony Brook and Binghamton. In the loss to Binghamton, Vermont was led by guard Maurice Joseph, who scored 29 points. Marqus Blakely had his second straight double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Binghamton is the ultimate surprise so far halfway through the year. They lost at Hartford by one, 64-63, then bounced  back well with a win over Vermont. Eight of the Bearcats’ 22 games have had differentials of five points or less this year.  Vermont had no answer for Binghamton’s Greer Wright in the game. Wright scored 30 points and pulled down ten rebounds for the Bearcats. The Bearcats should also be proud of hitting 10-for-12 from the foul line.

Hartford is only 3-4 in league play this year including, most recently, a 77-69 loss at home against Maine last week. Charles White and Joe Zeglinski led the way with 18 points and Morgan Sabia added 16 points.

New Hampshire played four of their first six league games on the road and were only victorious in one of them. The last game was against winless UMBC and the Wildcats managed to come out on top by a slim margin, 62-58. Alvin Abreu played especially well, scoring 22 points for New Hampshire.

Albany is lucky that UMBC is in the league or else they would be sitting at the bottom. The Great Danes’ lone victory came at the hands of UMBC. They have lost their last three to Boston University, Maine, and Stony Brook, admittedly the top three teams in the league. Luckily they are playing Hartford at home on Wednesday. Hartford and UMBC are the only teams who are worse on the road than Albany (Hartford is 1-10 currently on the road). Tim Ambrose and Will Harris are still the only players who can score for the Great Danes. Both players are averaging over 14 PPG, while not a single other player is averaging even six points a game.

UMBC still is looking for their second victory on the season and their first in conference. They are currently in the midst of a ten-game losing streak. It seems their best shot will be when they host Albany in the second weekend of February. They did come within four points in that loss against UNH last week.

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