The RTC Big Four State Tournament: First Round (day 2)

Posted by rtmsf on September 2nd, 2010

Yesterday we introduced our 2010 RTC Big Four State Tournament, and it was great to see some of the responses and feedback on it.  We’re convinced this is going to be a fun series.  Today we’re back for the second day of First Round games (the right side of the below bracket), including our analysis and projected winner, but we encourage you guys to make your picks for each game in the accompanying polls.

In case you missed yesterday’s post explaining what we’re talking about, here’s our selection criteria:

  1. Similar to the Fanhouse post, we picked the top four programs in each of the 33 states (including DC) with at least that many D1 universities.
  2. We then chose the top sixteen states based on the current status and power of those four programs within each state.
  3. Next, we chose a starting lineup ”dream team” of players from those programs in each state, thinking about how to best integrate them by position (three guards & two bigs; or vice versa).
  4. We also chose two subs — one guard and one big man — as well as a head coach.
  5. We limited each school to two starters and one bench player for a maximum of three per team (sorry, Duke).  We also made sure to include at least one player from each of the four chosen programs (hi, Seattle).
  6. Finally, we seeded the sixteen teams into our bracket and analyzed the matchups.  We encourage you to use the polls below to do likewise.

#2 North Carolina vs. #15 California

The first thought we had when analyzing this matchup is… that’s all you got, Cali?  Good grief — the nation’s most populous state by far can only muster a lineup of players that includes Jorge Gutierrez as a starter?   No offense to the ponytailed energizer bunny from Cal, but this game is a mismatch from start to finish.  Sadly, even if we had included every single one of California’s 24 D1 schools and added some studs like Stanford’s Jeremy Green, LMU’s Drew Viney and Vernon Teel, Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster, San Jose State’s Adrian Oliver and the St. Mary’s backcourt of Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavadova, the Tar Heel Staters still wipe the floor with this team.  Maybe California could draft Kobe Bryant, Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry to their squad?  There’s simply too much talent on Coach K’s team from top to bottom (sound familiar?) for his team to sweat this one too terribly much.  The only area that North Carolina has a problem with California is in the post, where SDSU’s Kawhi Leonard can take advantage of the slighter frames of the NC bigs to put in some work.  But the speed, athleticism and scoring punch of the #2 seed is far too powerful here.  North Carolina rolls in a blowout.

RTC Choice: North Carolina 82, California 59.

#7 Washington vs. #10 Tennessee


The matchups at the two guard spots and the wing are tantalizing in this game. The fatal flaw with the boys from the Volunteer State is their lack of a true point guard. Adding Melvin Goins or Brad Tinsley to the roster would have meant sacrificing one of Wesley Witherspoon, Scotty Hopson, Jeffery Taylor or bench ace John Jenkins, and it’s hard to blame coach Pearl for not making that move. Luckily for him, his team is loaded with intriguing first round talent, albeit at times inconsistent and frustrating talent. It also helps that Washington’s point man, Isaiah Thomas, isn’t much of a distributor either. Although Elias Harris may be limited by the length of Taylor, it’s his Zag teammate Robert Sacre that’s primed for a monster performance being guarded by Brian Williams at 2-3 inches shorter and the inexperienced Tobias Harris. Plus, we haven’t even mentioned Klay Thompson, a popular choice for Pac-10 Player of the Year.  It’ll be a well-played back-and-forth game, but we have the Washingtonians moving on.

RTC Choice: Washington 81, Tennessee 77.

#3 Pennsylvania vs. #14 Wisconsin

Due to two factors — one being Wisconsin recognizing they’re inferior to Pennsylvania in terms of on-court talent and two being the Wisconsin Badgers and Marquette Golden Eagles both playing at sub-300 adjusted tempo last season — we’d deduce the Sconnies will try to slow the pace dramatically in typical Bo Ryan fashion. Wisconsin will keep the possessions to a minimum, hope Jordan Taylor limits Talor Battle and bank on one of their 2s or 3s containing Corey Fisher. The problem for Ryan’s team is guard depth, especially matched up against Pennsylvania. He will need both of their mid-major guards — Rahmon Fletcher and Tone Boyle –– to defend elite high-level guards Ashton Gibbs and Juan Fernandez. That’s where the game will be won for PA. Gibbs and/or Fernandez will sink a flurry of clutch jumpers to squeeze out a victory in a high-intensity, low-scoring duel that makes Jay Wright sweat more than once.

RTC Choice: Pennyslvania 62, Wisconsin 57.

#6 Florida vs. #11 Kentucky

In a matchup of states known for the SEC powers located in Lexington and Gainesville, there will be considerable attention focused on this one.  Florida has more experienced talent across the board, but Kentucky’s young bucks Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter are the two best overall talents in this game.  Billy Donovan has seen this before, though, and will be able to use Gus Gilchrist in an Al Horford-style role to keep the middle honest for kickouts to the multitude of shooters that he has at his disposal.  Pitino has the athletes available to execute his patented full-court pressure defense, but the inexperience of his team continually makes mistakes on traps and rotations, allowing for Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton to shred it for layups.  Once Kentucky starts to figure out how Florida is attacking the press and begins  to force some turnovers, the game turns on a dime, allowing for a classic Pitino comeback opportunity in the last ten minutes.  The 15-point lead disappears as Knight does his best John Wall impression, repeatedly using  isolations to get into the lane to score; before long, with a single possession left, Kentucky has a two-point lead on a Knight layup over Walker and Scott.  That’s when Boynton takes the ball coast to coast, and with a mere second on the clock, reverses to Chandler Parsons standing all alone on the wing (Steffphon Pettigrew was watching paint dry) for — you guessed it — yet another long-range bomb to win the game at the buzzer.  It was the best game of the first round, but Florida escapes and moves on.

RTC Choice: Florida 84, Kentucky 83. 

We’ll leave the voting up on all of the First Round matchups through the long weekend, so make sure to get over there and select your choices

rtmsf (3998 Posts)

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6 responses to “The RTC Big Four State Tournament: First Round (day 2)”

  1. Brian says:

    Pitino over Cal in Kentucky?

  2. garik16 says:

    Zeller over Henson? Henson’s gotten bigger, got better as the season went on last year, and won’t get injured mid season. Seriously, Henson had to beat out Zeller.

  3. rtmsf says:

    Brian – I figured this would get comments. But Pitino is more accomplished, even if not lately. Cal has 2 F4s, but Pitino has 3 and a title (incl. one H2H over Cal, b/c the UMass-UK game was the championship game in 96). Plus, the general perception is that he’s a better x/o coach, for whatever that’s worth.

  4. Brian says:

    I knew you’d say that but this day in age, Cal is a better coach. Pitino is just about over the hill.

  5. G. Floyd says:

    Have to agree with garik16; Henson is much, much better than Zeller.

  6. rtmsf says:

    Not sure I agree with that… I think I’d still rather have Pitino on the bench over Calipari. Now, if we’re talking about recruiting…

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