Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2010

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

LYNDHURST, NJ – The regular schedule winds up this weekend with the postseason tournament beginning on Friday in Albany. Siena is in the driver’s seat as regular season champion, top tournament seed and host of the get together in New York’s capitol city.  The Saints’ BracketBuster setback at Butler all but insures Siena will have to cut down the nets at the Times Union Center to get to the Big Dance. Something they are in very favorable position to do.

Player of the Week: Ryan Thompson (G/F), Rider - Averaged 29.5 PPG, 4.5 rebounds and assists in two games. Scored 21 in a win at St.Peter’s and followed up with a carrer-high 38 in an OT loss at Hofstra.

Rookie of the Week: Colin Nickerson (G), Fairfield – Averaged 16.5 PPG and shot 65% from the field in two games for the Stags. Set a career high of 13 against Manhattan than surpassed it with 20 points at Vermont.

Milestones and Notes

  • Iona’s nine conference wins is the fifth highest total since the Gaels started MAAC play in 1981-82.
  • Derek Needham set the freshman scoring record at Fairfield. Needham broke the mark of 427 set by Fordham assistant Joe DeSantis in 1976.
  • Frank Turner of Canisius enters the final weekend with 593 career assists leaving him just shy of being the seventh MAAC player to hand out 700 assists. Turner tied the school record with 121 games played, a mark he is set to eclipse this weekend.
  • Ryan Thompson, with 1,809 career points, is fourth on Rider’s all time scoring list. Older brother Jason (‘08) is in third at 2.040 points.
  • Speaking of Rider, juniors Mike Ringgold, Justin Robinson and Jharmar Youngblood all joined the school’s 900-point club recently.
  • St. Peter’s’ fifteen victories is the most in four years. Ten MAAC wins is the best showing since the 2004-05 campaign.
  • On Senior Day at Siena this Sunday, the school will honor the most successful senior class in program history.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Improved to 4-1 all time in BracketBusters with a win over James Madison. The victory gave Canisius its 13th win, the most in Tom Parrotta’s four year tenure. Win also gave the Golden Griffins their first winning season at home in five years. Frank Turner had an excellent 16 point, 13 assist game in his final Koessler Athletic Center appearance.  Junior forward Greg Logins added 15 points, 8 rebounds against JMU. Another junior, Tomas Vazquez-Simmons, had 4 blocks against the Dukes , giving him 199 rejections for his career.
  • Fairfield – Ended the regular season with an 8-7 road record including 6-3 in MAAC play. Derek Needham and Anthony Johnson continued their fine play for the Stags. Fairfield did get an additional lift from freshman Colin Nickerson, with a good scoring week including a 20-point outing at Vermont. Stags wind up the regular season at home against Iona and Niagara.
  • Iona – The 69-53 BracketBuster win over William & Mary was the Gaels’ 20th of the season. It was the first 20-win season in four years and 14th in program history. Gaels finished heir non-conference slate 9-3. Scott Machado scored 17 in the William & Mary game. Junior Alejo Rodriquez added 12 points and 8 boards. Iona finishes up in control their seeding destiny . The Gaels visit Fairfield (tied for second) and St.Peter’s (a game behind Fairfield and Iona).
  • Loyola – Dropped a heartbreaker on Senior Day as New Hampshire hit a shot with 0.7 seconds remaining for a 61-60 decision. Senior forward Jawan Wright continued his fine play of late with his third straight double figure outing with 10 points. Junior guard Jamal Barney returned after a six game absence and scored 16 points. Greyhounds entertain Canisius and Manhattan and already know they have drawn the Jaspers in next week’s MAAC tournament in Albany.
  • Manhattan – Split the week losing to Fairfield and defeating Towson in the BracketBuster. Junior guard Rico Pickett averaged 17.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG over the two game stretch. Manhattan opened the Towson game with a 20-0 run in arguably their best performance of the season. Senior forward Brandon Adams had a career high 18 points. Jaspers dished out 22 assists and shot 53% from the field in that  win over Towson.
  • Marist - Lone game was a 66-65 to UC Irvine in the BracketBusters. Marist is 2-3 in those BracketBuster games. Trip to California was a homecoming for freshman guard Devin Price and sophomore guard Mike Taylor. Price enjoyed the trip with a career high 18 points which included four three pointers. Freshman guard Candon Rusin scored 10 points and has double digits in five straight games.
  • Niagara – Won their third straight and five of the last six, defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee 85-79. Niagara has now won four straight BracketBuster games.  Anthony Nelson scored 10 straight down the stretch to pull out the win at UMW. Nelson finished with 14 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds while Tyrone Lewis buried six first half treys on the way to a 23 point performance.
  • Rider – Dropped an overtime BracketBuster game at Hofstra. The game featured Charles Jenkins of Hofstra, last years’ MET Player of the Year, who scored 31 points. Rider countered with MAAC POY candidate Ryan Thompson with a career high 38 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Thompson has come on strong down the stretch averaging 25.4 PPG the last seven games. Broncs have won five of those last seven and finish up at home hosting Siena and Canisius their last two regular season contests.
  • St. Peter’s – Went 1-2 for the week but are still in a good position. Peacocks can finish as high as third and no lower than fifth depending on what happens the last two games. The lone victory was on the road where the Peacocks used a 19-4 second half run to stop the Greyhounds 69-61. In between were home losses to a surging Rider club and a BracketBuster against Buffalo. Wesley Jenkins and Nick Leon (outside) and Ryan Bacon (inside) continued their fine play for John Dunne’s club.
  • Siena – Dropped a BracketBuster game of note at Butler 70-53. The 53 points were Siena’s lowest in a single game in over two years. Saints have lost have lost all four of their games to top 50 opponents. The contest with nationally ranked Butler was Siena’s last opportunity to put themselves into at large consideration for the NCAA tournament, should they fail to win the MAAC tournament. Clarence Jackson paced Siena, who led Butler 31-28 at the half, with 24 points.  Ryan Rossiter has been the most consistent Saint the last two months averaging double figures in scoring (14.3) and rebounding (10.7).
Share this story

Set Your Tivo: 02.28.10

Posted by THager on February 28th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#24 Richmond @ Xavier – 1 pm on ESPN2 (****)

Jordan Crawford and Xavier Look to Take the A10 Title

If there are still fans who don’t realize the importance of this game, they need to look no further than the recent comments by Xavier head coach Chris Mack on the message boards at Xavierhoops.com:

“Our team needs you loud. If you’re just going to come to the game to watch, give your tickets up. Heck, you can WATCH from home. I want our arena rocking!! Calling all PARTICIPANTS. This isn’t a marketing ploy. This is your head coach, sitting at his home computer asking for the best fans in the country to come alive for 40 game minutes on Sunday LIKE NEVER BEFORE.”

There is a good reason why Mack is so excited for this early game.  With eight consecutive wins, Richmond has not only cracked the top 25, they have actually taken the lead in the A-10 standings.  If the Spiders win their last three games against Xavier, Dayton, and Charlotte, their tournament stock could make a huge jump.  The Musketeers have won four games in a row and are tied with the Spiders for the Atlantic Ten lead.  Richmond comes in ranking only 90th in offensive efficiency, and they are going to have to hit their open shots, as they won’t get many second chance opportunities against the best rebounding team in the conference.  Xavier has a dynamic offense that ranks 10th in efficiency and features future NBA pick Jordan Crawford.  Xavier has won 22 consecutive games at home, and if they are able to hold Kevin Anderson in check, it looks like Richmond may lose its place atop the A-10.

Louisville @ Connecticut – 2 pm on CBS (****)

Both of these teams were in trouble of missing the tournament a few weeks ago when they met up.  Louisville survived that game, but with losses against St. John’s and Georgetown since then, their at-large status is still in doubt.  UConn, due to two improbable wins over Villanova and West Virginia, is playing their way back in the tournament.  RTC said before UL’s last game that they were going to have to get production from somebody other than Samardo Samuels and Edgar Sosa.  The Cardinals only had four points from their bench in that game, so Louisville is still going to need some more balance if they are going to beat a hot team like Connecticut.  The Huskies’ offense features four double figure scorers, but rank just 61st in offensive efficiency, largely due to a poor assists to turnover ratio.  Louisville’s defense ranks just 68th in the country, and they have allowed their last five opponents to shoot over 40% from the field, which will not cut it at the XL Center.  The Cardinals started the year just 1-6 on the road, but have won their last two road trips (including a win over Syracuse) so perhaps they have figured out what was plaguing them earlier in the season.  With Connecticut ranked 40th in the RPI and Louisville at #41, this game could be the difference in who is among the last four in and who is among the first four out.  Given UConn’s recent upsets, look for them to continue their surprising run toward a potential NCAA berth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Current Standings as of Feb. 26, 2010

EAST

  1. Stephen F. Austin 19-7 (9-4)
  2. SE Louisiana 15-11 (7-6)
  3. Northwestern State 10-16 (5-8)
  4. Nicholls State 9-17 (5-8)
  5. McNeese State 9-18 (4-9)
  6. Central Arkansas 8-19 (2-11)

WEST

  1. Sam Houston State 20-6 (12-1)
  2. Texas-Arlington 16-10 (8-5)
  3. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 14-13 (8-5)
  4. UT-San Antonio 17-9 (7-6)
  5. Texas State 12-15 (6-7)
  6. Lamar 14-15 (5-8)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

UTSA guard Devin Gibson was named Southland Conference Player of the Week. The junior from Cy-Falls in Houston averaged 20 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals as he hit 64.3 percent from the field.

ALMOST TOURNEY TIME

With its victory over McNeese State on Feb. 24, the Sam Houston State Bearkats clinched the top spot in the 2010 State Farm Southland Conference Basketball Tournament in Katy, Texas. SHSU (20-6, 12-1) also earned at least a share of the regular season championship, the school’s third since 2003.

Stephen F. Austin (19-9, 9-4) also punched its ticket to the conference tournament. The Lumberjacks won the regular season championship last year.

If the SLC tournament started today, the seeding would be:

  1. Sam Houston State (12-1)
  2. Stephen F. Austin (9-4)
  3. UT-Arlington (8-5)
  4. A&M-Corpus Christi (8-5)
  5. UTSA (7-6)
  6. Southeastern Louisiana (7-6)
  7. Texas State (6-7)
  8. Northwestern State, Nicholls State or Lamar (5-8)

TEAM UPDATES

EAST

  • SFA – Still battling with a couple of teams to earn the second-place seed for the Southland Tournament. The Lumberjacks have three games remaining – A&M-CC, Central Arkansas and UTSA. The prediction here is that SFA goes 2-1 down the stretch and retains the No. 2 spot for the tourney.
  • SELA – Took a big step toward trying to overtake SFA in the SLC East as they defeated the Lumberjacks on Feb. 20. The Lions have a very manageable schedule with Central Arkansas, McNeese State and Northwestern State left. Look for the Lions to go 3-0 in their last three games to jump past a couple of teams for the fourth seed in the tourney.
  • NORTHWESTERN STATE – Picked up a big win over Lamar on Feb. 20, but the Demons have a tough road ahead of them. NW State faces Texas State, Sam Houston State and SELA, so the prediction here is 1-2 with the Demons on the outside looking in come tournament time.
  • NICHOLLS STATE – Picked up two very important victories last week (Texas State, UCA) which thrust the Colonels into the mix. NSU has two road games this week (McNeese, UTA) then closes with Lamar at home. The prediction is a 2-1 finish and a berth in the tournament.
  • MCNEESE STATE – Has a very slim chance of getting into the tournament, but helped itself with a big win over A&M-CC on Feb. 20. The remaining schedule has Nicholls State, SELA and UCA. The Cowboys will likely go 1-2 which will not be enough to slip into the conference tournament.
  • UCA – Just trying to play out the last three games since its still in an NCAA-mandated transition period and is not eligible for this year’s postseason. But the Bears can play a seeding spoiler with SELA, SFA and McNeese still on tap.

WEST

  • SHSU – With its 20th victory of the year, Sam Houston joins some select company in terms of national statistical categories. SHSU stands as only 1 of 38 teams in the NCAA to have produced 20 wins in four of the last five years. The Bearkats close out the regular season UTA, Northwestern State and Texas State.
  • UTA – The Mavericks are trying to move past SFA into the second seed for the SLC Tournament. UTA has won three straight and gets SHSU, Nicholls and A&M-CC. They could finish 1-2 which would drop them into the fourth or five spot.
  • A&M-CC – Broke a three-game losing streak which dropped them into third in the West. The Islanders have SFA, Lamar and UTA in their last three games. The prediction here is a 1-2 finish and a No. 6 seed for the tournament.
  • UTSA – Put together a four-game winning streak which brought the Roadrunners out of the cellar. UTSA is the only team to defeat SHSU and has Lamar, Texas and Stephen F. Austin for its last three games. It looks like a 2-1 finish, and that would be good enough for a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the tournament.
  • TEXAS STATE – The tide could swing either way for the Bobcats as they have tough three-game stretch to end the season. TSU is on the road against Northwestern State and UTSA, then host Sam Houston. A 1-2 mark could be enough for a berth in the postseason, but 0-3 could spell doom.
  • LAMAR – A four-game losing streak puts the Cardinals in a must-win situation down the stretch, but Lamar must beat two teams ahead of them (UTSA, A&M-CC) and one tied with them (Nicholls State). If the Cardinals don’t finish 2-1 or better then their dreams of a postseason berth are likely down the drain.
Share this story

Checking in on… the Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

Laura Hathaway of the Clarion is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference.

Current Standings

East Division (conf/overall/streak)

  1. Troy                                    (12-5/17-11/W4)
  2. Middle Tennessee               (12-5/18-12/W2)
  3. Western Kentucky             (11-6/18-12/W5)
  4. Florida Atlantic                  (10-7/14-14/L2)
  5. South Alabama                     (8-10/16-14/W1)
  6. Florida International          (4-13/7-23/L7)

West Division (conf/overall/streak)

  1. North Texas                          (12-5/20-8/W7)
  2. Arkansas State                     (11-6/16-12/W1)
  3. Louisiana-Lafayette              (10-7/13-15/L1)
  4. Denver                                   (9-8/16-12/L1)
  5. Louisiana-Monroe                  (6-11/11-17/L3)
  6. New Orleans                          (3-14/8-20/L2)
  7. Arkansas-Little Rock             (3-14/7-21/L6)

News and notes

Western Kentucky’s A.J. Slaughter was named conference player of the week. He has now received this honor three times this season and also was picked as the preseason player of the year. In his senior year, Slaughter has shown why he was picked as such,as he had four straight 20-plus point performances in the last few weeks. Western Kentucky will be a force in the conference tournament as always. Despite their third-place conference record in the SBC East, their overall record is the second best in the SBC and they play much harder teams during non-conference play.

The Sun Belt Conference tournament is fast approaching at with one more night of conference play and several games that shouldn’t make too much of a difference. The standings probably won’t change at all either except for Troy and Middle Tennessee. If Middle Tennessee beats Florida Atlantic and Troy loses to Arkansas State, then the seed positions for the conference tournament might change a bit. The Troy versus Arkansas State game will be a good matchup and an important final regular season game.

Some easy wins will be for Western Kentucky against Florida International and Denver, on their home court, versus Louisiana-Lafayette. Denver has struggled on the road this season, losing nearly every game away from home so it will be a positive note for them to end regular season play at home with a win. Unfortunately, the Pioneers will have to take the road again for the conference tournament in Arkansas. This will be a huge factor in their performance. It is a shame for senior and star Nate Rohnert that the team plays so poorly on the road, because in reality they are better than many of the SBC teams. It’s a mystery as to why they can’t perform on the road. One that will have to be answered next season perhaps.

You can pretty much forget about New Orleans, Arkansas-Little Rock, Florida International and Louisiana-Monroe now. If any of these teams survive the first round of the conference tournament, I would be surprised. A good matchup though for a season closer will be the New Orleans versus UALR game, since the teams have almost exact records.

For the conference championship I’d like to see a match-up between West Division leader North Texas and East Division Western Kentucky. These two teams have the best overall records and a game against each other would be fun to see in the tournament. The Mean Green did it. They pulled off leading the West Division again. Early in the season, they had the lead, lost it and now have it back. Something changed in the last half of the season and North Texas pulled it together and took the top spot just in time. For awhile, I wasn’t sure if Denver or Arkansas State who would clinch that spot instead.

It will be interesting to see which team (if any) can beat Western Kentucky and prevent them from going to the NCAA Tournament again as the SBC representative.

Upcoming games

All games are on Saturday, Feb. 27

  • North Texas v. Louisiana-Monroe              1 p.m.
  • Middle Tennessee v. Florida Atlantic          6 p.m.
  • Louisiana Lafayette v. Denver                     6 p.m.
  • New Orleans v. Arkansas-Little Rock           7 p.m.
  • Western Kentucky v. FIU     7 p.m.
  • Troy v. Arkansas State                                  7:05 p.m.

Wednesday, March 6 through Friday, March 9

  • Sun Belt Conference Championships in Hot Springs, Ark.
Share this story

Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings

NORTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Appalachian State 12-5 19-11
Western Carolina 10-7 20-10
Chattanooga 6-11 14-16
Samford 5-12 11-18
UNC Greensboro 5-12 6-22
Elon 5-12 8-21
SOUTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Wofford 14-3 22-8
Charleston 13-4 19-10
Davidson 10-7 15-14
Citadel 9-8 15-14
Furman 7-10 13-15
Georgia Southern 6-11 9-21

Quick Hits – With the Southern Conference season ending on Saturday it looks like the conference champions of their respective divisions are clinched. Congratulations to Appalachian State (12-5) for winning the North division thanks to a season sweep against Western Carolina this season. Also the Wofford Terriers for winning the South division with a solid 14-3 conference record. The Terriers clinched the division title on Thursday night with a 74-68 win at home. The conference tournament starts on March 4-8, being played in Charlotte, N.C., at the Time Warner Cable arena. In my opinion four teams still have a chance to be dancing in March with Wofford (14-3), Appalachian State (12-5), Western Carolina (10-7), and College of Charleston (13-4).

Conference Tournament Champion prediction: College of Charleston – I believe they will avenge their losses to Wofford and Western Carolina by defeating the Catamounts in the SoCon championship to head to the NCAA tournament. With the way the Cougars can move the ball around the perimeter I believe they will cut down the nets in Charlotte.

Predicting Post-season Awards:

Player of the Year: Donald Sims (Appalachian State) 20.1 points per game, leads the conference in 3 pointers made (90), free throw percentage (.948) 146-154 missed eight free throws all year.

Coach of the Year: Buzz Peterson (Appalachian State) 19-11 overall, 12-5 SoCon

Freshman of the Year: Jake Cohen (Davidson) 13.1 points per game

1st Team all-SoCon

  • Donald Sims- Appalachian State 20.1 ppg
  • Andrew Goudelock- College of Charleston 19.2 ppg
  • Cameron Wells- Citadel 17.4 ppg
  • Noah Dahlman- Wofford 17.4 ppg
  • Amu Saaka – Furman 16.1 ppg 7.1 rpg

2nd Team all-SoCon

  • Ben Stywall- UNC Greensboro
  • Jordan Miller- Furman
  • Brandon Giles- Western Carolina
  • Willie Powers- Georgia Southern
  • Drew Spradlin- Elon

Final Games remaining:

  • February 27th – Samford @ Appalachian St. 3 p.m.
  • February 27th – Citadel @ Wofford 7 p.m.
  • February 27th – College of Charleston @ Furman 4 p.m.
  • February 27th – Davidson @ Elon 7 p.m.
  • February 27th – Chattanooga @ Western Carolina 3 p.m.
  • March 1st – Georgia Southern @ UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.
Share this story

Set Your Tivo: 02.27.10

Posted by THager on February 27th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#2 Kentucky @ #17 Tennessee -12:00 pm on CBS (****)

With a win today, the Wildcats will win the SEC regular season title (John Calipari apparently doesn’t care), and it will also keep them in contention for the overall #1 seed in the tournament.  It will be anything but an easy victory as the Volunteers gave the Wildcats a scare when they meet a few weeks ago in Lexington.  The Volunteers were leading midway through the second half, but scored just 10 points in the final 10 minutes, four of which came in garbage time.  This time, the game will be in Knoxville, where Tennessee is 13-1 on the year including a victory over #1 Kansas (their only loss to date).  UT’s drought against Kentucky should have come as no surprise, considering the Vols have the 88th best offense according to Ken Pomeroy.  However, they will need to improve upon their last performance (they shot below 40 % against Florida on Tuesday) if they want have any chance in this game.  Statistically Kentucky is not as imposing as people may think, as the Wildcats don’t rank in the top 10 in either offensive or defensive efficiency, but they manage to get it done in the win column–the most important statistic. Given Wayne Chism’s recent struggles and their ugly loss against the Gators, look for Kentucky to push their winning streak to nine games.

The man who could be Governor of Kentucky

#12 New Mexico @ #11 BYU – 4:00 on Versus (*****)

Versus will finally be making their debut on RTC’s Set Your Tivo feature, and they picked a great game to do so.  Brigham Young has won four straight games, and New Mexico hasn’t lost since January 9th.  New Mexico has been under-appreciated this year, as they rank lower than BYU despite more wins in the conference, a victory in a head-to-head match-up, and a higher SOS.  The RPI, which ranks UNM at #11, also has their stock dropping despite 12 straight wins.  If they are going to prove they belong in the top 10, they are going to have to beat a BYU team that is nearly impossible to beat in Provo.  They have won 21 straight games at the Marriot Center, which holds over 22,000 seats.  In the last matchup in Albuquerque, the Lobos led virtually the entire game, but were never able to push the lead to double digits.  The Cougars scored eight points in the final two minutes to push the game to the brink, but thanks to an equally raucous crowd at The Pit, New Mexico survived.  BYU’s Jimmer Fredette scored 27 points in that contest, and since that loss, he has been on a tear.  With the exception of a 43-point win against Air Force, he has scored at least 20 points in every game, and has two different games in which he scored 36 points.  New Mexico, which ranks just 78th in defensive efficiency, will have their hands full against a BYU team that ranks third in the nation in three-point field goal percentage.  Given Brigham Young’s home record and their #5 Pomeroy ranking, I think BYU will wrapping up the MWC title today with a win.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Boom Goes The Dynamite: 02.27.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on February 27th, 2010

Now it’s getting serious.  College basketball teams across the country now fall into one of four camps: bored, because they know their NCAA bid is secure; resigned, because they’ve known for a long time that they’re out; relieved, because they think they’ve played their way in; and downright antsy, because they’ve still got work to do.  That last group are the most interesting ones at this time of year, and there are plenty of them out there.  We’ll be keeping an eye on all of those games and, of course, commenting on any game we can find on the tube in today’s three-man weave version of BGTD.  We hope to hear from you while we’re at it.  Here are the games on which we’ll definitely be keeping tabs, though we’ll probably find more throughout the day:

  • 12 PM – Notre Dame @ #13 Georgetown on CBS (regional) – RTC Live
  • 12 PM – #2 Kentucky @ #17 Tennessee on CBS (regional)
  • 12 PM – Michigan @ #9 Ohio State on ESPN
  • 12 PM – Northeastern @ George Mason on ESPN2
  • 2 PM – North Carolina @ Wake Forest on CBS
  • 2 PM – #21 Texas @ #23 Texas A&M on ESPN
  • 2 PM – Mississippi @ Arkansas on ESPN2
  • 4 PM – #1 Kansas @ Oklahoma State on CBS
  • 4 PM – Florida @ Georgia on SEC Network
  • 6 PM – Mississippi State @ South Carolina on ESPN
  • 8 PM – Illinois State @ #22 Northern Iowa on ESPN2
  • 8 PM – Missouri @ #6 Kansas State on ESPN-U
  • 8 PM – Southern Miss @ Memphis on CBS College Sports
  • 9 PM – #8 Villanova @ #4 Syracuse on ESPN

We will start with our coverage at 11 AM. Feel free to drop by throughout the day and ask questions/comment on anything that is happening in the world of college basketball.

11:05: Well it certainly is very orange in Syracuse. And Bob Knight with the first shot of the day mocking fans who would pay $750 to watch this game. Nice. Evan Turner just signed a “Evan Turner” home-made trophy being held by some kid wearing a home-made “Villain” t-shirt.

11:06: Knight just admitted he is rooting for Steve Alford and New Mexico tonight. Not a surprise, but still amusing. I’m sure the BYU players will have something to say to the media after the game.

11:10: We would love to interview the fan who sits in that seat or the row of seats that Erin Andrews just featured. The almost looks like Final Four type seating or what we saw earlier this year for the game at the new Cowboys stadium.

11:17: Hubert Davis calling out the Mountain West and BYU. Can we get Shawn Bradley on the phone to mock UNC? Jay Bilas comes to BYU’s defense by comparing them to and crushing Virginia Tech. He’s not going to be a popular guy the next time he visits Blacksburg. Digger makes the best point of the entire discussion by saying that the reason we are talking up the mid-majors is because the PAC-10 is awful this year.

11:20: “This is the weakest at-large field ever. The weakest at-large field ever.” – Jay Bilas. He should be fun on Selection Sunday.

11:21: Does Digger have a yellow highlighter today? Is this the first time he has went with the traditional yellow for his highlighter?

11:35: Nice feature about Hank Gathers. I still remember hearing about it the day it happened on SportsCenter the night it happened. Still jarring to see the video. Nice shout-out to RTC fan Jeff Fryer. It’s too bad they ran into the buzzsaw that was the 1990 UNLV team. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that “30 for 30″ documentary.

11:45: I love seeing the replay of the Scottie Reynolds shot. Not because I root for Villanova, but because it is the craziest basketball moment I have ever seen in person. Just the ecstasy of the Villanova fans that followed their utter despair after they had almost blown the game moments before.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Daily Bracketbusters: Saturday & Sunday

Posted by nvr1983 on February 27th, 2010

Even though ESPN likes to hype up its Bracketbuster day the fact is that the last few weeks of the season act like an elimination tournament with teams moving in and out of the NCAA Tournament while other teams move up and down on a daily basis. While each and every game could theoretically have an impact on the Bubble and NCAA seeding there are a few games that matter more than the others which we will feature over the next two weeks leading up to the conference tournaments. We will feature these in two posts per week. The first will be a post released on Sunday night for games from Monday through Thursday and the second will be a post released on Thursday/Friday night for games from Friday through Sunday.

Fifth
#21 Texas at #23 Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN on Saturday – These two teams are on edge of being anywhere from a #4 to a #8 seed so this is obviously a big game for both teams because when the Selection Committee is placing teams in the bracket they will look at how they did head-to-head. Texas has been disappointing this year, but they have a chance to salvage their season with a late rally. The big question is how they respond to the loss of Dogus Balbay.  Texas A&M is in essentially the same situation that the Longhorns are just with much less fanfare and volatility. The winner here has a shot at a 4 seed while the loser is going to be looking at a #7 seed at best barring a run in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, but perhaps the biggest prize for the winner will be moving up to try and avoid Kansas in the Conference Tournament for as long as possible.

Fourth
Illinois State at #22 Northern Iowa at 8:05 PM on ESPN2 on Saturday – I know after the media’s lovefest for the Panthers this year it might be shocking to hear that they might need to win this game to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but after their shocking loss at Evansville they might need this one for an at-large bid if they slip up in Arch Madness. Jordan Eglseder is scheduled to return from his suspension today and the Panthers will need him against Illinois State. The Redbirds have no illusions of an at-large bid, but this game is significant for their automatic bid chances as it would give them a shot at the #2 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and help them avoid the Panthers until the finals, which is particularly important since there are only 3 solid teams in the MVC.

Will Eglseder’s return spark the Panthers?

Third
#8 Villanova at #4 Syracuse at 9 PM on ESPN on Saturday - Yes. The biggest game ever (!) slides in as the #3 game of the weekend in our rankings. Obviously this is the marquee game of the weekend in terms of big names, but it holds a little less significance for the NCAA Tournament then some would think. A win here for Syracuse would give them clinch the Big East regular season title for the Orange, but they already have the coveted double-bye (an absolute joke) in the Big East Tournament. The bigger issue for Jim Boeheim‘s squad is their quest for a #1 seed. With Purdue basically being eliminated in the talk about the final two #1 seeds (see below), a Syracuse win would give them the inside track for one of those seeds. As for Villanova, they have an outside shot at a #1 seed, but they will need a lot of help thanks to their #50 SOS (yes, I double checked and yes I was shocked too). Their main concern should be trying to avoid slipping for a #3 or possibly even #4 seed with a difficult three-game stretch to end the season (at Syracuse, at Cincinnati, and home versus West Virginia).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: Notre Dame @ Georgetown

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

Welcome back to RTC Live as we are here courtside at the Verizon Center as Notre Dame takes on Georgetown. The Irish have been playing arguably their best basketball of the season the last two games despite Luke Harangody still being out with a knee injury. No word yet on ‘Gody’s status (last I heard, Mike Brey had said he was doubtful). Without the big fella in the lineup, Notre Dame has relied on Tim Abromaitis, Ben Hansbrough, and Tory Jackson to shoulder a much bigger load of the scoring. If these three get hot (which they have a tendency to do), Notre Dame can compete with anyone in the country. Georgetown picked up a nice win against Louisville on the road last time out, and it was once a gain a result of Austin Freeman showing up. The junior guard scored the first eight second half points, had 18 in a 24-3 run to open the second half, and scored 24 of his 29 points in the second stanza as the Hoyas cameback from 11 down early in the game. Georgetown has three guys with the ability to carry the team. When they are all playing well at the same time, look out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: Pittsburgh @ St. John’s

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

RTC Live returns to Madison Square Garden for a late season Big East match between two teams who started the conference season with very different ambitions and expectations. Pittsburgh, picked by the conference coaches to finish ninth, ran up a 5-0 record to start the Big East season, but they have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, including a sobering 68-51 beating in South Bend earlier this week. Early season talk of not missing a beat has given way to speculation on whether they can hold onto a bye seed in the Big East Tournament. The Panthers are slotted  #13 on Joe Lunardi’s S-Curve, which makes them a #4 seed in the East Region, as of Lunardi’s February 22 bracket. Playing their Sweet Sixteen game (assuming they make it out of the first weekend) game in Syracuse is about as good as it gets for Pitt, and a second, consecutive loss would jeopardize their standing. The Johnnies were projected to finish #11 in the Big East, and more than a few St. John’s fans complained about lack of respect from the conference coaches. Going into this weekend the Red Storm languishes at #13 in the conference, seemingly unable, even with a squad well stocked with upper classmen, unable to escape the dreaded “last four” in the Big East. A win this late is the season is valuable to both teams.  This is a head-to-head matchup between two teams who attack and defend the low post very well. Join us as two teams who will not be afraid to go body-to-body in the low post go blow for blow and possession for possession in the Garden. This is good old fashioned Big East basketball.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… the Mountain West

Posted by jstevrtc on February 26th, 2010

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

Standings (as of 2/18):

  1. New Mexico                      26-3                       12-2
  2. BYU                                        26-3                       11-2
  3. San Diego State                20-8                       9-5
  4. UNLV                                     21-7                       9-5
  5. Colorado State                  15-12                     6-7
  6. Utah                                      13-14                     6-7
  7. TCU                                        12-16                     4-9
  8. Wyoming                            9-18                       2-11
  9. Air Force                              9-17                       1-12

Superlatives:

Team of the Week. UNLV. The Rebels get the nod here (although it could just have easily been BYU) on the basis of two absolute blowout wins over lesser MWC teams. The Rebels never trailed in drilling Colorado State by 31 on Saturday, and then led TCU by as much as 31 in the 2nd half on Wednesday before calling off the hounds and prevailing by just 16. Vegas is back on track and while the regular season conference title went away a long time ago, they still get to play the conference tournament in their own gym.

Player of the Week. Jimmer Fredette, Jr, BYU. Fredette averaged 24.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.5 APG in leading his Cougars to a couple wins this week on the way to setting up the MWC game of the year with New Mexico on Saturday. Fredette has averaged over 28 PPG over the last three games and 21.7 PPG over the season and has positioned himself as the likely leader in the MWC Player of the Year race (although New Mexico’s Darington Hobson may still have something to say about that) and even deserving of mention in the national POTY discussion.

Newcomer of the Week. Marshall Henderson, Fr, Utah. Henderson has been on a tear of late, having hit double figures in his last 11 games and averaging 15.9 PPG over that stretch. This week Henderson averaged 14 PPG, had four threes in a tight loss to San Diego State and led his Utes with 16 in a win over Air Force on Wednesday.

Game of the Week. New Mexico 59 Air Force 56. On the Lobos’ way to the game of the season, they seemed to have a tidy little week ahead of them, but the Falcons disabused them of that notion right quick. Air Force shot 51% from the field (including 58% in the second half) and took a 56-55 lead on a layup by senior forward Grant Parker with 27 seconds left in the game. But, the Lobos kept their poise and were able to escape by the slimmest of margins when Hobson got a putback 10 seconds later to regain the lead, and after a strong defensive possession, junior guard Dairese Gary sealed the deal with a couple free throws to reach the final margin.

Game of the Upcoming Week. New Mexico @ BYU, Versus TV, February 27th. I suppose this one just edges out Air Force at Wyoming next Tuesday, but this might be a pretty decent game itself, as the Lobos head into Provo for the game that in all likelihood will determine the regular season champion. The first matchup in Albuquerque in late January was a fiery battle, with BYU taking their first lead of the game under three minutes on a deep Fredette three before the Lobos rallied at the finish to salvage a four-point victory.  But the Lobos will be missing a key component that was present in that victory: their home crowd. It’s quite possible that will be the difference here, because although both teams will take different approaches (BYU’s strengths lie in shooting and taking care of the ball and being very efficient on both ends of the court, while New Mexico tries to make its hay with its athleticism allowing it to pound the glass and get to the line), they do seem to be very evenly matched. My pick: BYU 76, New Mexico 70, with Fredette and Hobson leading the charge for each team.

League Notes:

By this point in the season, just about everything is squared away. The BYU/New Mexico game on Saturday will decide the regular season champion (so long as both teams can take care of business on the hind end of their schedule).  San Diego State and UNLV seem poised to take third and fourth place, respectively, and each has a legitimate claim on an at-large NCAA berth (although admittedly SDSU’s claim is much more tenuous).  Utah and Colorado State have claimed the middle ground as their own and both teams are capable of springing an upset in the MWC tournament, with TCU, Wyoming and Air Force playing out the schedule with varying degrees of effort — Air Force is still plugging along, Wyoming is more or less already a month into the offseason, and TCU is still managing to show up once in a while.

Now the MWC Tournament looms, and it will be very interesting, especially if all four favorites advance to the semifinal round. The Aztecs will be the team that needs the conference’s automatic bid the most to solidify their tournament hopes, but the competition will be fierce with the two top seeds and veritable home team, the Rebels.

Team Roundups:

New Mexico

Looking back: What looked like a bit of a quiet week for New Mexico produced a couple of down-to-the-wire nailbiters for the conference leader. First, they needed an offensive rebound from Hobson with less than 20 seconds left to put away last-place Air Force. Then, they got all they could handle at Moby Arena against Colorado State, but were able to dodge junior guard Adam Nigon’s six threes and sneak away with a six-point win. Once again, it was New Mexico’s ability to control the glass (the Lobos outrebounded CSU 44-32 – senior forward Roman Martinez had 12 boards and Hobson added 10 more) and to get to the free throw line (UNM was 18/23 from the FT line in the second half alone) that was the difference in giving Steve Alford’s squad their twelfth straight conference victory, tying a MWC record.

Looking ahead: This is it for the Lobo regular season. After the big game in Provo on Saturday, the Lobos return to the Pit to host TCU and to say goodbye to Martinez, their lone scholarship senior.

BYU

Looking back: BYU did their part to set up the battle for the title this week by visiting Laramie and controlling the reeling Cowboys from start to finish. The Cougars never trailed, forced 12 turnovers and outrebounded Wyoming by 12 as they coasted to a 22-point win. The next game was a bit tougher as they returned home to host San Diego State, but behind a 9-0 run near the end of the first half and a 14-2 run in the middle of the second half, they were able to take control of the game and pull away. Perhaps the key to the game for BYU was their ability to hit the glass, and they outrebounded the conference’s best rebounding team (albeit with freshman forward Kawhi Leonard – the MWC’s leading rebounder – diminished by illness). The Cougars were also able to force 16 Aztec turnovers, and those turnovers coupled with BYU’s 7/15 shooting from three contributed greatly to both big BYU runs.

Looking ahead: After the Lobo game this weekend, BYU has a tough bounce-back game on Wednesday at Utah, a team that has gelled into a solid team in recent weeks.

San Diego State

Looking back: The Aztecs had a lot riding on their game Wednesday night at BYU. While they have a strong RPI and a solid record, they really only have a pair of home wins over New Mexico and UNLV to show for it. A win at Provo probably would have been the big win to put them over the top. They still have an outside chance at an at-large at this point, and could add a neutral-site win over BYU or New Mexico in the MWC Semifinals which would be an excellent win, but to be on the safe side, the Aztecs are now in a position where winning the MWC tourney would be their best bet. The Leonard illness came at a most inopportune time for the Aztecs, as he was severely limited on Wednesday night. Before even the first TV timeout, he was having trouble breathing and just wasn’t his normal explosive self, and was held to just three points and five rebounds, one of the major reasons SDSU was outrebounded.

The Aztecs did add another victory earlier this week when junior forward Malcolm Thomas’ career-high 28 points and Leonard’s 14 points and 15 boards helped them pull out a tough one at home against Utah.

Looking ahead: The Aztecs host Colorado State on Wednesday, then wrap up the season with a trip to Air Force next Saturday.

UNLV

Looking back: The Rebels got back in the swing of things in a big way this week, breaking a three-game losing streak with back-to-back home routs. At this point, you have to figure the Rebels are safe for an at-large on the strengths of wins over Louisville, BYU, San Diego State and at New Mexico, but its probably not as sure of a thing as some are claiming. While Utah is coming around, those two losses don’t look especially great.

But the Rebels have started to get some production out of players not named Tre’Von Willis. Junior forward Chace Stanback averaged 14 PPG this week, sophomore center Brice Massamba had five blocks against CSU and nine rebounds against TCU, and freshman guard Anthony Marshall had 12 points and ten rebounds against the Rams. The Rebels also still hope to get junior wing Derrick Jasper back from a sprained MCL suffered at the end of January, but he may not even be ready until the MWC tournament.

Looking ahead: Just a trip to Air Force for the Rebels on Saturday, then a week off before they host Wyoming the following Saturday, both games the Rebels are more than capable of winning.

Colorado State

Looking back: After a 31-point loss at UNLV on Saturday seemed to again prove that the Rams weren’t capable of staying on the court with the top teams in the MWC, they turned around and gave New Mexico a good run on Tuesday. Nigon poured in his career high 23 points, but he also got help from junior forward Andy Ogide (12 points and six rebounds) and freshman guard Dorian Green (11 points and six assists). The Rams have now lost three straight, and will need to finish their remaining schedule with a couple of wins in order to improve their chances of an NIT bid.

Looking ahead: The Rams still have one very tough remaining game, when they travel to San Diego State next Wednesday, but have very winnable games sandwiched around that: at TCU on Saturday and home against Utah (in what will likely be the battle for 5th place in the conference) on the final Saturday of the season.

Utah

Looking back: The Utes gave San Diego State a good run on Saturday, outrebounding the conference’s best rebounding team (seven Utes had at least four rebounds) and keeping things tight up to the end, although a lot of the credit for that can be given to the Aztecs and their inability to hit free throws down the stretch.  In the end, they were done in by another night of poor shooting (39% from field) and ballhandling (15 turnovers), giving Utah their fifth loss in seven games. Utah got things back on track on Wednesday, however, when they held Air Force to a season-low 43 points and just 2/17 shooting from three. Utah again controlled the glass, 30-18, and this time shot well from the field — 50% both from the field and from behind the arc.

Looking ahead: The Utes host Wyoming and then BYU this week, and are lucky enough to catch the Cougars after the New Mexico game, a trap-game of which Jim Boylen hopes his club can take advantage.

TCU

Looking back: Take a quick glance at the box score for the Horned Frogs this week and you see some things you expected to see all season, like a 21 and an 11 next to senior forward Zvonko Buljan’s name and a 25 next to sophomore guard Ronnie Moss’ name. But then you get to the turnover column and see twos, threes, and fours next to everybody’s name on the entire roster, and you get why TCU was down by as many as 31 in the second half at UNLV. In the end, the Frogs wound up with 21 turnovers, and despite those gaudy numbers in Moss and Buljan’s scoring columns, they were never really in this game.

Looking ahead: The Frogs host Colorado State on Saturday, then travel to New Mexico on Wednesday.

Wyoming

Looking back: You gotta give the Cowboys this much credit: when you saw BYU looming on the schedule a week or so ago, you probably figured the final margin would have been higher than 22. But freshman guard Desmar Jackson is still fighting and he poured in a career-high 26 points highlighted by four threes in his attempt to keep his team in the game. Jackson has been one of the very few bright spots in Laramie this season. He has averaged 12.2 PPG in conference play thus far and led the Cowboys in scoring in four out of the nine games since sophomore forward Afam Muojeke went down for the season with a knee injury.

Looking ahead: Wyoming travels to Utah on Saturday, then hosts Air Force in a battle for eighth place on Tuesday.

Air Force

Looking back: As we said in this space last week, while other teams at the back of the pack are now phoning it in, the Falcons are going down fighting. While their deliberate style and pack-it-in defense certainly allows them to keep games close, they almost stole a game they had no business being in against New Mexico on Saturday. They followed that up by fighting it out against Utah, but their inability to hit shots (just 2/17 from three) killed them.

Looking ahead: The Falcons could get out of the cellar (or at least get some company in the cellar) with a win at Wyoming on Wednesday, but they’ll also have a another chance at one of the big boys when they host UNLV on Saturday.

Share this story

Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by jstevrtc on February 26th, 2010

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

Barring an improbable collapse or an unforeseen run through Madison Square Garden, there are just six Big East teams that are still sitting somewhere on the bubble.

Syracuse, Villanova, Pitt, Georgetown, and West Virginia are all playing for seeding and a double-bye in the Big East Tournament. South Florida, Providence, Rutgers, DePaul, and St. John’s are all playing for pride and, well, pride.

That leaves the six teams sitting in the middle of the league — Marquette, Louisville, UConn, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Seton Hall — with a shot at dancing. Commencing Big East Bubble Breakdown.

Marquette:
  • 18-9, 9-6; RPI: 54, SOS: 65
  • vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 2-6, 3-7, 6-7
  • Best Wins: Xavier, Georgetown
  • Worst Losses: DePaul
As has been the case all season long for Marquette, their inability to win close games early in the season has been a killer. The Golden Eagles’ RPI does not properly represent how well this team has played this season. None of their nine losses have come by more than nine points, and seven have come by less than five points. It seems like Marquette’s luck is starting to turn a corner, as they have now won their last four close games, including Wednesday’s buzzer-beating W at St. John’s. Marquette gets Seton Hall on the road and Louisville and Notre Dame at home before heading to the Big East tournament, where it looks as if they will get a first round bye. Win three more games, and Marquette will lock up a bid.

Louisville:
  • 18-10, 9-6; RPI: 42, SOS: 9
  • vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-5, 2-6, 6-9
  • Best Wins: UConn, Syracuse
  • Worst Losses: Western Carolina, St. John’s
Louisville is in a tough spot. They have a solid RPI bolstered by very good strength of schedule, but they have not really beaten anyone this season. The win at Syracuse is as good as it gets, but after that, their best W is against a UConn team that could lose their last four games by 20 points and no one would be surprised. If the eye test matters to anyone, Louisville will pass with flying colors. They have a very good front line, anchored by Samardo Samuels and the suddenly-dangerous Jared Swopshire. Their backcourt, which has been inconsistent this season (although there have been some injuries), is as talented on paper as any in the conference save Villanova. Louisville has a tough schedule down the stretch, but that means that they will have three chances to really improve their resume — at UConn and Marquette (who are both fighting for a bubble spot as well), and at home for Syracuse (who will likely be playing for the Big East title and will be looking for revenge). Lose all three, and Louisville is in trouble. But if they win all three and make some noise in the Big East Tournament, and this is a team that could be a top six or seven seed.

Connecticut:

  • 17-11, 7-8; RPI: 40, SOS: 2
  • vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 3-5, 3-6, 9-9
  • Best Wins: Texas, Villanova, West Virginia
  • Worst Losses: Providence, Michigan
The Huskies are coming along at the right time. Since Jim Calhoun returned from his illness, UConn is 3-1 with wins over Villanova and West Virginia. Overall, UConn is in a similar boat to Louisville, as their lofty RPI is, in large part, a result of the tough schedule they have played. UConn brings up an interesting question – how will the committee handle the seven games Jim Calhoun missed? With him, the Huskies are 14-7. Without him, they are 3-4 with a loss to Providence. But UConn also beat Texas without him and lost to Cincinnati in terrible fashion without Calhoun. The Huskies get Louisville at home and South Florida and Notre Dame on the road. Win their last three and their first game in the Big East, and this team wins.

Cincinnati:

  • 16-11, 7-8; RPI: 59, SOS: 29
  • vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-3, 4-6, 6-11
  • Best Wins: Maryland, Vanderbilt, UConn X 2
  • Worst Losses: St. John’s
Cincinnati is in a really tough spot. Before beating DePaul, the Bearcats had lost four of their last five games and seven of their last eleven. And now they are sitting at 59th in the RPI without a good conference win under their belts. They will get three chances at getting one in their last three games, as they go on the road to face Villanova, get Georgetown at home, and play West Virginia on the road as well. As I said, the Bearcats are in trouble.

Seton Hall:

  • 16-10, 7-8; RPI: 52, SOS: 18
  • vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-7, 3-9, 6-10
  • Best Wins: Cornell, Pitt
  • Worst Losses: South Florida
You know, Seton Hall’s resume is not as bad as many people think it is. They have a couple of nice wins, beating Cornell on the road and knocking off Pitt and Louisville at home. They do have 10 losses, but of those ten, the only one that can be considered a “bad” loss came in overtime at South Florida during that two week stretch when South Florida was pretending they were good. The Pirates play three more regular season games – Marquette at home and Rutgers and Providence on the road. If they can win all three of those, a task which is far from improbable, the Pirates will head into the Big East Tournament at 10-8 in the league with a very real chance of being able to play their way into the tournament.

Notre Dame:

  • 18-10, 7-8; RPI: 72, SOS: 63
  • vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-7, 3-9, 6-10
  • Best Wins: West Virginia, Pitt
  • Worst Losses: Loyola Marymount, Northwestern, Rutgers

Call me crazy, but is Notre Dame playing better basketball without Luke Harangody? Since the all-american went out with a knee injury against Seton Hall, ND has looked downright scary at times. They lost to Louisville on the road in double overtime most recently they just put a whooping on Pitt at home. Without ‘Gody on the floor, ND seems to play better defense and move the ball better. The rest of the team also seems to be a bit more aggressive, knowing that they don’t have to get the big fella touches. In the three games ‘Gody has been out, Tim Abromaitis has up his average to 23.3 PPG in the last three. Ben Hansbrough is averaging 16.3 PPG. Tory Jackson is averaging 13.7 PPG, and scored 25 the night ‘Gody was hurt. Clearly, Notre Dame is a better basketball team with Luke on the floor, and they are going to need him if the Irish are to navigate a difficult stretch run — at Georgetown, UConn, at Marquette. With the losses ND has this season, they probably needed to sweep those three games and pick up at least one win in the Big East tournament for a shot at an at-large.

PLAYER AND TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kemba Walker and the Connecticut Huskies

Since we last checked in with you guys, UConn has gone on a tear. The Huskies have been left for dead a number of times this season, but I think that even the most diehard UConn fans at given up hope after an embarrassing loss to Cincinnati at home. Its one thing to lose at home, its another thing to get upset at home. But to lose the way UConn did was a downright disgrace. They didn’t play with any heart or emotion and showed no energy on either end of the floor. Should I even mention that it was Calhoun’s first game back from an illness? The performance was bad enough that just about everyone at the game questioned whether or not Calhoun had lost this team.

With Villanova looming on the horizon, most had written off the season. But at Villanova, the Huskies — and specifically Kemba Walker — woke up. Walker went for 29 points and a team-high nine boards to lead UConn to an upset win. Five days later, UConn went to Piscataway and knocked off Rutgers. And just this past Monday, the Huskies held off a tough West Virginia team down the stretch, running their winning streak to three games and giving UConn fans a real reason to hope for the postseason this year.

In the three wins, Walker averaged 22.0 PPG, shot 7-15 from three, and got to the line an incredible 36 times. He’s turning into a leader for the Huskies, something they have been waiting for all season long.

POWER RANKINGS

The Final Four Contenders

1. Syracuse (26-2, 13-2)
2. Villanova (23-4, 12-3)

The Sweet 16 Contenders

3. West Virginia (21-6, 10-5)
4. Pitt (21-7, 10-5)
5. Georgetown (19-7, 9-6)

The We-Passed-The-Eye-Test-ers

6. Marquette (18-9, 9-6)
7. Louisville (18-10, 9-6)

The You-Don’t-Want-To-Play-Us-ers

8. Connecticut (17-11, 7-8)
9. Seton Hall (16-10, 7-8)

The Sleepers

10. Cincinnati (16-11, 7-8)
11. Notre Dame (18-10, 7-8)

The Deep Sleepers

12. South Florida (16-11, 6-9)
13. St. John’s (15-12, 5-10)

The Rest

14. Providence (12-15, 4-11)
15. Rutgers (14-14, 4-11)
16. DePaul (8-19, 1-14)

Share this story