RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.16.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

South Region Notes (Patrick Sellars)

  • The first “upset” of the tournament occurred in the South Region when SWAC champion Arkansas Pine-Bluff took down the Big South tournament champion Winthrop, 61-44. The Golden Lions earned the right to play top seeded Duke on Friday night.
  • When #9 Louisville takes on #8 California on Friday night, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino says he’ll be ready for the Bears’ “organized chaos.”  There is also an interesting quote in the article from Cardinals’ guard Edgar Sosa that says he has heard Cal referred to as “poor man’s Marquette”.
  • Utah State’s leading scorer, junior guard Tai Wesley, broke his nose in the WAC tournament final on Saturday when the Aggies got pounded by New Mexico State.  He will play in the Aggies’ upcoming game versus Texas A&M, but you have to wonder what kind of effect it will have on USU’s star. On TAMU’s side, they will have Dash Harris back in the lineup after he missed the Big 12 Tournament with a bone bruise in his right wrist. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that if his team wants any chance to win this weekend, they will need Harris healthy.
  • Fran McCaffery is not letting his Siena team think they can beat Purdue by just showing up in Spokane on Friday. He says Purdue is by far the best team Siena will face all season even without Robbie Hummel. You’d have to think a Butler Bulldogs fan would think otherwise.
  • Here is an interesting article from The Times-Picayune which highlights the #3 Baylor vs. #14 Sam Houston State game. Not only are the two teams from Texas, but they have two New Orleans natives returning to their home town for the first round. Star senior guards Tweety Carter (Baylor) and Ashton Mitchell (Sam Houston State) both played their high school ball in The Big Easy.
  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer about his team’s lackluster play in first round games the past two seasons. Wright said “we’ve survived first-round games, but we really haven’t played well in first-round games.”

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

  • The biggest upset of this region might be that #1 Kentucky has a chance to keep John Wall, as John Calipari said Monday on the Dan Patrick Show. Then Calipari came to his senses and said Wall is leaving.  Meanwhile, #16 East Tennessee State overcame a real tragedy to get to where they are.
  • A columnist from the Charlotte Observer lashed out at #8 Texas, calling them “fragile” but acknowledged that #9 Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio has yet to win a postseason game in three years with the Demon Deacons.
  • Many more stories about the two coaches, #5 Temple’s Fran Dunphy and #12 Cornell Steve Donahue’s relationship over the years in what will probably be the most mentioned storyline of the game. Meanwhile the AP profiles Jon Jaques‘ rise to a star for the Big Red.
  • #4 Wisconsin and #13 Wofford have something in common: they both like to go to Minnesota to get recruits. The Wofford Terriers might be motivated by one of their fallen alums, Eric Marshall, who died two years after leaving Wofford due to an enlarged heart.
  • #11 Washington’s Quincy Pondexter and #6 Marquette’s Lazar Hayward have a brief history: they both played together on the USA Team in the World University Games. It appears the Huskies will have to go after Marquette inside to have a chance to win this game.
  • #3 New Mexico arrived in San Jose today. Coach Steve Alford was raving about JUCO transfer Darington Hobson. “Just his maturity as a basketball player has been amazing,” Alford said. Will #14 Montana pull off the upset? It’s not impossible.
  • The Big 12 and ACC play each other in three first-round games this year. #7 Clemson’s Trevor Booker worked with #10 Missouri coach Mike Anderson last year at the World University Games. “He didn’t back down from anybody,” Anderson said. “He just utilizes his body in a great way, his game speaks for itself.” Meanwhile Lawrence Bowers, who was recruited by Oliver Purnell, has postponed his wrist surgery for after the season.
  • Before you pick #2 West Virginia to go all the way, understand they are vulnerable. One columnist calls for the Mountaineers to find more consistent scoring.
  • #15 Morgan State guard Troy Smith said he thinks his team is better than teams seeded higher than them.  Always enjoy the confidence from the lower-seeded teams.

West Region Notes (Andrew Murawa)

  • Vermont’s Nick Vier found an interesting way in which to use the net that the Catamounts cut down after their America East title last weekend.
  • The NABC today announced their Division I All-District teams which includes the players who will be eligible for the State Farm D-I All-America teams, and 12 of the 16 teams in this region placed players on one of these teams, highlighted by Syracuse junior forward Wesley Johnson, UTEP junior forward Derrick Caracter, Xavier sophomore guard Jordan Crawford and BYU junior guard Jimmer Fredette.  Gonzaga (senior guard Matt Bouldin and freshman forward Elias Harris), Butler (sophomore forward Gordon Hayward and sophomore guard Shelvin Mack) and Oakland (senior guard Jonathan Jones and junior forward Keith Benson) put two players each on their district’s first team, while Murray State had sophomore forward Ivan Aska and junior guard Isacc Miles make the District 19 first team and junior guard B.J. Jenkins make the second team.
  • Speaking of Hayward, while he is definitely a hot NBA prospect, if that whole basketball thing doesn’t work out for him, he may have another career on hold. Or not.
  • While players and coaches get plenty of press all season long, there are other more behind-the-scenes people who help contribute to a team’s success over the season, especially down the stretch here where bodies get banged up and aren’t quite ready to go on quick turnarounds. And when Oakland senior forward Derick Nelson was experiencing severe back pain prior to the Grizzlies’ Summit League Championship game last week, “biomedical expert” Shawn Sherman was able to get him back into game shape with treatment. Nelson went on to score 36 points on the way to tourney MVP honors as Oakland advanced to the NCAA tournament.
  • For North Texas to have a chance to stick around in their opening round game against Kansas State for longer than a half, the Mean Green will have to focus on Jacob Pullen. Or maybe they need to stop his backcourt mate Denis Clemente instead. Either way, they’re going to have their hands full with this talented backcourt.
  • In our effort to take a look at the lower seeds in the tourney before they disappear, let’s get a quick primer on Vermont.
  • This is Jordan Crawford’s first season of eligibility with Xavier, but he’s already got some NCAA tournament experience under his belt. Although he is hoping his second go-round will be more memorable than his first.

Midwest Region Notes (Tom Hager)

  • The Wall Street Journal analyzed the last 40 upsets of #11 over #6 or greater, and found that turnover margins, not three point shooting, was the main factor in the upsets.  According to the WSJ, this means that Murray State has a great chance of beating Vanderbilt, while pointing out that fan favorite San Diego State is careless with the ball.
  • According to Seth Davis, San Diego State will upset Tennessee based on their ability to rebound and control the pace.  In Ken Pomeroy’s pace adjusted rankings, the Aztecs rank #43 on offense and #42 on defense.  Not only does Andy Katz agree with Davis’ SDSU pick, he also says they are the most likely double-digit seed in the region to reach the Sweet Sixteen.  San Diego State’s head coach Steve Fisher should know the importance of pace more than anybody.  He was Michigan’s coach when they gave up 149 points to Loyola Marymount in the 1989-90 NCAA Tournament.
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tim Sullivan said that the Volunteers were a second tier team in a first tier conference.  In that same article, Fisher analyzes the pace SDSU needs to play at to win.  “We can’t win walking the ball up the floor,” Fisher said. “And we can’t win playing racehorse basketball every single possession and shoot it as fast as we can. We have to blend the two: know when to run, how to run, and know why we’re running. That will be the challenge for us.”
  • Ken Pomeroy has given his odds for each team making each round of the tournament.  According to Pomeroy, Michigan State, which has been to five of the last eleven Final Fours, has just a 3.7% chance of making it again this year.
  • The Detroit Free Press gives a good look at New Mexico State’s early season problems: For the first three months of the season, the Aggies were without their third leading scorer, Troy Gillenwater, due to academic ineligiblity.  Their fourth leading scorer, Wendell McKines, missed their first 10 games of the year due to academic inelgibility.  In that time span, the Aggies went just 4-6.
  • According to Houston coach Tom Penders, Maryland’s offense is run around Greivis Vasquez the same way the offense was run around Juan Dixon.  High praise, indeed.

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