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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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)

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Checking in on… The Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

The Not Ready For Prime Time Players

It probably started with the nationally acclaimed recruiting class. It picked up momentum in early December when Jeremy Lin and his 30 points nearly singlehandedly upset then-Big East powerhouse UConn.

It gathered steam with a victory against Boston College, followed soon by a seven-game winning streak. And it came to a boiling point with stories in Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal prior to a showdown with Cornell.

We are talking about expectations…specifically those for the Harvard Crimson. The trouble with expectations is that they rarely turn out as you would hopefully…expect. And in this case, they exploded on Jan. 30 when Cornell administered an 86-50 dose of reality. In retrospect, perhaps we were all guilty of anointing Harvard as a serious Ivy threat too soon. After all, its roster is composed of — amazingly — seven sophomores and seven freshmen. And its schedule, aside from a brutal three-game stretch against UConn, B.C. and Georgetown in December, was ultra-soft. The combined records of the schools Harvard has beaten (not counting Division III neighbor MIT and considering vanquished Ivy foes only once) stands at 152-224, and that figure is somewhat softened by William & Mary at 19-8.

In fact, Harvard has beaten only THREE teams with a winning record — the aforementioned Tribe (thrashed in their BracketBuster game by Iona), BU, and GW. None of those inspire fear. Harvard has lost to the other five teams on their schedule with winning records — Army, UConn, Georgetown, Cornell (twice), and Princeton. The latter three games represent the defining moments of Harvard’s season. Given his coaching history, Tommy Amaker is an easy target. But with a youthful roster, a resurgent and rebuilt Princeton team, and a powerhouse up in Ithaca, it is clear that all those expectations were, indeed, unrealistic.

The true measure of this team will come in succeeding seasons. Will all those recruits stay happy and keep coming — knowing that, while they will receive a superb education, they will play in relative obscurity? Cornell loses much of its strength via graduation but Princeton is back to where Princeton expects (there’s that word again) to be and Penn may be on that road as well. Harvard may likely be the sexy Ivy pick for the 2010-11 season and with it will come more … expectations.

A Non-Ivy Footnote (or, Six Degrees of Separation from Craig Robinson)

It has been a month since President Barack Obama sat down with Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg at halftime of the Georgetown-Duke game. And it got me thinking. Now, nothing against Special K, who we remember as a dominant forward for THE Ohio State University and who we regard as one of the finest nuts-and-bolts analysts of the college game. But we lament the fact that CBS decided to break up the Lundquist/Bill Raftery team. Their rapport and repartee was delightful, sometimes irreverent, and always spontaneous and unrehearsed. It was definitely good for a few laughs, especially during the most one-sided games. Imagine if they were still together for Barack Banter at halftime. We would have found out if he had suggested to his campaign contributors to “send it in”; if he addressed Congress as a group or “mantaman”; or if he tucked his daughters in at night with a “kiiisss” and if he left Michelle with some of her “lingerie on the deck”; and most importantly, could he deal with some of the problems in the Middle East with “onions!”

And now on to the power rankings. With two weekends of Ivy play remaining, the top spots, while technically still up for grabs, are sorting themselves out. The middle is a muddle. And at the bottom, even Dartmouth broke into the win column. Here’s how we see it:

  1. Cornell (9-1, 23-4): The Big Red recovered from the Score Heard ‘Round the World (a 79-64 loss to Penn for those of you more interested in triple salchows) with three straight workmanlike victories. They took over undisputed possession of first place by beating Princeton at their own game — holding them to 45 points and 36% shooting. Then they shot the lights out versus Harvard (50% FG, 52% from three) and Dartmouth (57% FG, 60% from three) to finish their four-game road trip. A third straight trip to the Dance should be coming soon.
  2. Princeton (7-2, 16-7): The loss to Cornell at home was understandable. The loss to Brown at home was inexcusable — especially for a team that was still in contention for Ivy crown. They allowed the Bears to shoot 58% and score 57 points, five more than their NCAA-leading defensive scoring average. An opportunity for atonement arrives tonight when the Tigers travel to Ithaca — a game which represents the last chance for some down-to-the-wire Ivy excitement.
  3. Harvard (7-3, 18-6): Only a possible shot at second place (and perhaps some post-season-play in a tourney not named NCAA) likely awaits the Crimson thanks to that Feb. 19 loss to Cornell. That shot at the runner-up spot will come on March 6 when they close the season at Princeton. It is hard to imagine a likely 20-win season being disappointing (see above) for any Ivy team, but the goals were higher in Cambridge. The good news is that while Harvard will lose Jeremy Lin, they will return 15 out of the 18 players on their roster.
  4. Brown (4-6,10-17): OK, so, why the Bears to round out the top half of the conference and not Penn? Here’s the logic:  they have split games so head-to-head doesn’t apply. Brown has a better overall record, albeit against a weaker schedule. And while they both have games vs. Harvard and Cornell still remaining, Penn visits Princeton to end the season. So this ranking is a projection. Besides we applaud Brown’s rare (for any Ivy team over the past 30 years) southern double weekend-road wins vs. Penn and Princeton.
  5. Penn (4-5, 5-18): This could have been a resurgence, redemption, replacement (as in coaching) and an all-is right-with-the-world paragraph. Instead, the postgame euphoria that was evident after the Doug Gottllieb hyperbole win versus Cornell was followed by three straight home losses. With road contests against Cornell and Princeton sandwiched around a home date with Harvard, the hopes for a .500 conference record look bleak — but with almost everyone returning next season, more Palestra magic will be back again soon.
  6. Yale (4-6, 10-17): The Elis have exactly the same record as Brown and a better overall record than Penn. But they are kind of like 2009 football Giants — they get their wins against the teams they are supposed to beat. Their only wins in their last seven games have come at the expense of bottom-feeders Columbia and Dartmouth. And their lost loss to Penn definitively relegated them the sixth spot in the power rankings.
  7. Columbia (3-7, 9-15): The disappointing Lions appear to have a firm grasp of seventh place. A road win at the Palestra (thanks to Niko Scott’s 29 points and an amazing seven 3-pointers) is the only thing that has kept Columbia from a five-game losing streak. They would need to win their last four games (unlikely) to keep Coach Joe Jones’ string of .500 conference seasons intact.
  8. Dartmouth (1-9, 5-19): A victory on Feb. 19 vs. Columbia averted a winless conference season for the Big Green. The good news is that they have actually had at least two players in double figures in their last three games — led by junior guard Ronnie Dixon with 46 points during that span. The glass half full approach in Hanover (for a team that ranks 326 out of 347 in RPI) has to be that five out of the top six scorers return. Come to think of it, that may be the glass half empty approach as well.
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RTC Friday Seed Update: 02.26.10

Posted by zhayes9 on February 26th, 2010

As the season winds closer to a conclusion and Selection Sunday approaches, a bracket snapshot each Monday just doesn’t quite seem adequate. From now until the end of the year, we’ll be providing a Friday seed update that outlines where each team inside and just outside the field of 65 currently stands along with reasoning why certain teams changed seed number since the previous Monday.

(Note: each of the four teams in one seed grouping is listed in pecking order in terms of who is closer to moving up a seed line. This is used to determine game location and matchups similar to Joe Lunardi’s S-Curve listing. Auto bids marked in italics).

#1 Seeds: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Purdue

#2 Seeds: Duke, Kansas State, Villanova, West Virginia

#3 Seeds: Georgetown, New Mexico, Ohio State, Pittsburgh

#4 Seeds: Vanderbilt, BYU, Temple, Wisconsin

#5 Seeds: Michigan State, Gonzaga, Butler, Baylor

#6 Seeds: Texas, Xavier, Texas A&M, Tennessee

#7 Seeds: Wake Forest, Richmond, Maryland, Northern Iowa

#8 Seeds: Missouri, UNLV, Florida State, Illinois

#9 Seeds: Oklahoma State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, UTEP

#10 Seeds: Florida, Virginia Tech, Marquette, California

#11 Seeds: Louisville, Old Dominion, Rhode Island, UAB

#12 Seeds: Connecticut, Utah State, Saint Mary’s, Siena

#13 Seeds: Cornell, Charlotte, Kent State, Oakland

#14 Seeds: Murray State, Wofford, Weber State, Sam Houston State

#15 Seeds: Morgan State, Coastal Carolina, North Texas, UC-Santa Barbara

#16 Seeds: Jacksonville, Stony Brook, Robert Morris, Lehigh, Jackson State

Last Four In: Charlotte, Saint Mary’s, Connecticut, UAB

Last Four Out: Mississippi State, Dayton, San Diego State, Arizona State

Next Four Out: Mississippi, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Notre Dame

Bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7), Atlantic 10 (5), Big 10 (5), SEC (4), MWC (3), Conference USA (2).

Analysis after the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 02.26.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

  1. Robbie Hummel aftermath.  Obviously, Purdue losing Hummel to a season-ending ACL injury will get a lot of attention.  Here’s what some of the big names are writing about it – Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman, Mike DeCourcy, Andy Glockner.  Everyone agrees that this is a situation that Purdue will not be able to overcome.  One thing’s for sure, though — America may have found its team to root for in the postseason this year.
  2. You gotta give it up for ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards going on John Calipari’s show and getting into a friendly banter about last year’s odd situation with former UK coach Billy Gillispie, well-chronicled on this very site.
  3. Expect this to enable a lot of snarky dialogue today in the blogosphere: FIU head coach Isiah Thomas was ejected from his team’s game against Middle Tennessee State last night (a loss, 74-71).   Thomas ran onto the court to protest a call and was thrown out for his behavior.  FIU is now 7-23 on the season and 4-13 in the Sun Belt Conference, in case you were wondering (and we know you were).
  4. Missouri’s Justin Safford joined Robbie Hummel with torn ACL injuries this week, but oddly, MU officials are leaving open the possibility of Safford returning to the team this season.  The junior starting forward tore the ligament in the Tigers’ blowout win over Colorado on Wednesday night, and he was averaging 9/4 in twenty minutes per game this year.
  5. Syracuse is expecting to set a new on-campus record for attendance at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night for their battle with Villanova.  34,616 tickets have been sold, nearly a thousand more than the previous record crowd in 2006 for Gerry McNamara’s last home game.
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ATB: Magic in Rupp

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

A Little Magic in Rupp Tonight

The RematchKentucky 82, South Carolina 61. In the locker room before the game, John Calipari told his team, “Guys, before we start, here, I got a recruit here we want to talk to, so make sure you introduce yourself to the recruit.”  A moment later, into the locker room walked…Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  And honestly, that was about the only unexpected thing that happened this evening at Rupp Arena.  To be sure, this looked pretty similar to the South Carolina squad that has ownership of the only bruise on Kentucky’s record; not much has changed.  Devan Downey went nuts (26 points on 9-25), and that’s about the whole story for the Gamecocks.  This was a different Kentucky team, though, especially when it came to defense and glasswork, and the biggest change was seen in Patrick Patterson.  Ticked off after his five point performance in the first game against South Carolina, Patterson blew up for a season-high 23 points on 10-12 shooting, swatted four shots, and yanked down eight boards on this night.  South Carolina won the rebounding war in the teams’ first meeting 40-38, and even beat Kentucky on the offensive glass a month ago, 16-13.  Tonight, Patterson — whom sophomore Darius Miller called the “unquestioned leader of this team,” in case there was any doubt — along with Miller (7/8) and DeMarcus Cousins (19/11, his 17th double-double), were having none of that.  Kentucky owned the glass on both ends, outworking the Gamecocks 44-26 overall and 14-8 on the offensive side.  South Carolina had a short 7-0 run in the middle of the second half to cut the Wildcat lead to six, but didn’t really test the Wildcats after that.  It’ll be interesting to watch Kentucky in their next one.  The postgame interviews tonight didn’t end until around midnight, and Kentucky now travels to Knoxville on Saturday to take on Tennessee in a game that starts at noon — that’s right, a mere 36 hours.  Calipari noted how this is “the doldrums, the dog days of the season.  We and a lot of other teams are all wanting to get on with it…let’s get on with that other tournament, and I’m not talking about the one in Nashville (the SEC),” and, because of that, revealed some trepidation about the Tennessee game, adding, “They played Tuesday.  I think they’re there, just waiting on us.”  Magic’s message to the UK team, by the way, was simply to tell them (according to Calipari), “You’re a defensive team.  I love it, the way you guys guard, and I love watching you play.  Keep rebounding and defending the way that you are now, and stick together.”  Looks like the Wildcats got the message.

#20 Vanderbilt 96, Georgia 94 (OT). Vandy survived the post-Kentucky hangover by coming back against the very pesky Georgia Bulldogs tonight in a game they probably should have lost.  With 33 seconds left, the Commodores were down five points when Andre Walker nailed a big three to bring his team back within two.  After two missed FTs by Georgia’s Dustin Ware, AJ Ogilvy got a key tip-in to send the game to overtime and give Vandy new life.  In overtime, the Dores were able to build a small margin, but Georgia still had a chance to tie waved off when a missed FT led to a heave/tip-in that came after the buzzer.  Regardless, Vandy stayed one game up on Florida for the second seed in the SEC East and the all-important first round bye in the SEC Tournament.  Jermaine Beal was awesome with 28/7 assts and Ogilvy added 16/11 in the winning effort.  Vanderbilt is a team that is still slightly under the national radar but they can cause serious trouble for teams in the NCAA Tournament with the right matchups.

Other Games of National Interest.

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When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go…

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2010

You may have missed it with all the news about Robbie Hummel‘s torn ACL, but Corey Stokes of Villanova was cited earlier this morning for public urination. The 21 year-old junior who averages 9.1 PPG and 4 RPG for the Wildcats was cited (not arrested or fined) after he was found by police urinating between 2 parked cars outside a bar near the Villanova campus at 3 AM following the Wildcats win over USF. I’ll let you guess why he was in that situation and I doubt it was BPH or Lasix.

At this point we still are not sure if Stokes will play at Syracuse on Saturday (we are guessing he will get a 2-minute “suspension” at the beginning of the game) because the only response we have out of Villanova regarding the incident is Jay Wright‘s generic PR response: ““This was a simple mistake by a college student. Corey regrets it and has apologized for it. We will now deal with it within our basketball family.” We are guessing that more than a few of the NCAA on-campus record 34,616 fans that will attend Saturday night’s game between Syracuse and Villanova at the Carrier Dome will be happy to remind Stokes, Wright, and the entire Wildcat squad about that “simple mistake” during the game.

Corey wants to know how Calvin gets away with it

For our money, Stokes still has a long way to go to catch Bill Walker for sheer brazenness while urinating in public.

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RTC Live: Arizona @ California

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2010

We’re back in Haas Pavilion tonight for another edition of Pac-10 hoops at RTC Live.  It’s no secret that the conference is having a major down year, but Cal has been the one team with a solid enough out-of-conference schedule to warrant  possible inclusion in the NCAA Tournament should they do well enough in the league.  Right now, our bracketologist Zach Hayes has the Bears as #10 seed, which isn’t exactly living dangerously with respect to the bubble but it’s definitely not comfortable either.  Whatever the case, Cal has been solid at home this season, going 13-1 (6-1 in the Pac-10) with the only loss a bizarre overtime L to UCLA in January.  The Pac-10 regular season title and the top seed in the Pac-10 Tournament are there for the taking this weekend, with Arizona State currently one game behind the Bears in the standings.  But to get to that all-important game on Saturday, Mike Montgomery’s team needs to take care of business tonight, and considering that they lost in Tucson by four points a month ago, that won’t be an easy task.  Join us tonight as Cal takes on the Wildcats on RTC Live…

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RTC Live: South Carolina @ Kentucky

Posted by jstevrtc on February 25th, 2010

Is this a revenge game for Kentucky?  You recall that it was South Carolina that beat Kentucky on ESPN near the end of January, giving UK their only blemish on the season and removing them from the #1 ranking to which they had ascended merely days beforehand.  The UK players and coaches downplay the revenge factor a bit, but you can’t help but think that the Wildcats would LOVE to get the Gamecocks back…especially after the USC Student Senate sent a rather boastful message to Kentucky after that game. USC is here to prove that first one wasn’t a fluke, and Devan Downey relishes these spoiler roles.  He has his critics (is USC really 6-0 when he takes less than 14 shots?), but he’s certainly exciting, and God only knows what the Rupp Arena crowd has in store for him tonight.  Should be fun.  ESPN2’s got this one at 9pm, and we’ll be there as well.  Join us, and join the discussion this evening.

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Knee Injuries And The Home Viewer

Posted by jstevrtc on February 25th, 2010

Whether or not you’ve had a knee injury of any kind in the past, there aren’t many things that make people cringe more readily than watching a game on TV and seeing that slow-motion replay of a gruesome injury, especially when it involves an athlete’s knee(s).  The only thing stranger than seeing that joint go out of place and do that strange contortion for a split-second (I shudder every time) is watching it from multiple angles in super-slo-mo in high definition while an announcer narrates it — “Oh yeah, THERE it is!”

We saw this during Robbie Hummel’s injury last night.  When he drove into the lane and planted that right leg — you saw it.  Something happened, and it was unnatural.  Then the slow-motion replays gave you a better look at it.  It’s the usual story — a player plants their (usually in-turned) leg, but the top part of the knee keeps moving while the bottom stays still.  Pop.  The first thing people think when a player goes down and grabs a knee is “Uh oh, ACL.”  They’re often right, and unfortunately, though the MRI is pending, that looks like the case for Hummel.

You may ask how can they make that diagnosis without the MRI pictures.  Good question.  Doctors know that the physical exam is more important than any pictures you get.  The next time you’re watching television and a player (in any sport) goes down with a knee injury, watch what the doctor or trainer does.  There’s one specific thing that they almost always do first in evaluating the knee right there on the floor or field, or when they get the player back to the bench — there’s a test that checks the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) almost immediately.

It’s called the “Anterior Drawer” test.  Here’s what you’ll see.  The doctor/trainer will lay the player on their back and bend the knee they’re checking to about a 90 degree angle.  They’ll grab the leg at the calf with both hands, with their thumbs up to stabilize against the knee.  Then they’ll pull forward on the bottom part of the leg as if they were opening a drawer.  At this point, the player will usually yell loudly.  This alone doesn’t tell you anything, since if I’d just hurt my knee and some putz started messing with it, the foot on my good leg would immediately rise up and head for the doctor/trainer’s face or testicles.  What they’re feeling for is how much that bottom part of the leg slides forward at the knee when they do the drawer-opening motion.  If it’s a lot, your suspicion for an ACL tear goes way up.  If it’s not much or it feels normal, an ACL tear is still on the list, but not as likely.  But quite often, you can literally see the result there on television.  You can see the bottom part of the knee slide unnaturally forward (anteriorly) when the ACL is torn.  MRIs are best for looking at ligaments (you can’t see them on a normal x-ray), and that almost always gets done, but this is how doctors make a “preliminary” diagnosis even without the pictures.  There are other tests besides the Anterior Drawer to check the ACL, but that’s the one doctors and trainers most often use first, and the one you see them use most often right there on TV.

By the way, there’s also a Posterior Drawer test that checks the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) in the back of the knee, where you push backward instead of forward.  Same principle applies.  One last thing — don’t go doing these things on your friends.  The next time you see a knee injury on TV, though, watch the doctor/trainer do their exam.  Or more specifically, check out their Drawers.

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