Rushed Reactions: Miami 69, Boston College 58

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the ACC quarterfinal match-up between Miami (FL) and Boston College this afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

  1. Zone Read: Around the under-eight media timeout in the first half, Steve Donahue switched to a loose zone. To that point, Miami had been clicking offensively, but the zone bothered the Hurricanes. It helped tremendously that Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Tonye Jekiri all had two fouls, which partially neutralized the Hurricanes’ interior advantage. But Miami settled for jumpers and heavily contested shots, missing nine of its next 10 shots. The Hurricanes also turned it over three times. That allowed Boston College to finish on a 19-4 run and take a lead into halftime.
  2. Going Small: With five minutes left in the game, Jim Larranaga took Julian Gamble out, leaving Rion Brown, Trey McKinney-Jones, Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji on the floor. Essentially that’s Kadji with four guards and wings (all under 6’6″). After the game Jim Larranaga talked about the switch extensively:

    “Thank goodness we were able to go small in the last five minutes. We don’t have a lot of perimeter subs so we couldn’t have done it earlier, even though we know that’s probably the best way to guard them. We were able to do that in the last five minutes and pull away and get a nice win and move on to the semifinals. […] The whole key in guarding Boston College, they do such a great job with ball screens and hitting the role man and hitting or finding another open man. When you’re bigger you’re slower in your rotation so the last five minutes we went to the small lineup and we switched most of them so there is no open man and we trapped with our big guy to be the aggressor at the end of the floor, both ends of the floor and both of those things worked at that time in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Frank Kaminsky Steps Up in Wisconsin’s Quarterfinal Win Over Michigan

Posted by WCarey on March 15th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center following Friday’s matchup between Wisconsin and Michigan. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

There was no shortage of heroes in Wisconsin’s 68-59 victory over Michigan in Friday’s Big Ten quarterfinal. No hero was probably as unlikely as Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky. After playing just four minutes and recording no other statistics in the first half, Kaminsky found himself with an increased role in the second half. In 12 minutes of playing time in the second half, the sophomore scored eight important points, grabbed two rebounds, and made a key block.

The Badgers Continue to Not Surprise Anyone While Surprising Everyone (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Badgers Continue to Not Surprise Anyone While Surprising Everyone (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

While it may not seem like Kaminsky’s game was that impressive, all three of his field goals came at opportune times for the Badgers. Kaminsky’s first converted field goal was a three-pointer at the 15:09 mark of the second half that gave Wisconsin a 29-24 lead. This three-pointer was significant because it helped the Badgers increase a lead that it would never relinquish and it forced Michigan to respect Kaminsky’s ability to step outside and hit an open jumper. Kaminsky’s second score did not come until the 2:26 mark when the Wolverines had trimmed Wisconsin’s lead to just two. With the shot clock about to expire, Kaminsky rose up from mid-range and knocked back a jumper that would increased the Badgers’ lead to four. Kaminsky’s final field goal could have been considered Michigan’s “dagger.” With his team clinging to a five-point lead with 56 seconds to play, Kaminsky converted a scooping floater from in-close to increase Wisconsin’s lead to seven and make it a three possession game.

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Rushed Reactions: Wisconsin 68, Michigan 59

Posted by Chris Johnson on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Chris Johnson is a Big Ten Correspondent and an RTC Columnist. He filed this report Friday from the United Center. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

For the first 20 minutes, the best prospective quarterfinal match-up of the Big Ten Tournament was a complete eyesore. Then the game opened up. Wisconsin’s efficient offense churned, Michigan never went away and the Badgers held on for a nine-point win.

Composed offense and disciplined defense from Wisconsin was too much for Michigan to handle (Getty).

Composed offense and disciplined defense from Wisconsin was too much for Michigan to handle (Getty).

  1. The First Half Was Bad. Really Bad. Call it good defense, bad shooting or an ugly mixture of the two. Whatever it was, Michigan and Wisconsin came out and laid a cringe-worthy offensive dud in the first half, 37 points of discordant offense, unsightly play actions and wasted possessions. Neither team broke the 0.60 points-per-possession barrier and the Badgers and Wolverines together made just seven three-point shots. This wasn’t totally unexpected; Wisconsin’s fourth-ranked efficiency defense has forced more than a few of the nation’s top offenses into utter dysfunction this season (see a mid-January road win at Indiana), but the miscues were not relegated to one end of the court. Michigan denied easy post feeds to Ryan Evans and Jared Bergrren and locked down the Badgers’ perimeter threats – Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust chief among them. The Wolverines went into the locker room with a three-point lead, and untold amounts of offensive frustration. By its own lights, Wisconsin couldn’t have felt much better. The second half presented the prospect of another soporific offensive slog.
  2. Wisconsin’s Shooting Really Picked up. Somewhere between that 5-of-29 first half and the opening possession of the second half, Wisconsin had a long-range epiphany. That’s the only way to explain how the Badgers knocked down six threes in a second half just minutes after one of the worst shooting halves of its season to date. Brust knocked down three bombs from distance, all of them coming at seemingly opportune moments – whenever Michigan clawed back, whenever Trey Burke or Mitch McGary would energize the pro-Wolverines crowd with a nifty layup or a strong post move, Brust closed the door. But Wisconsin’s second-half offensive uptick can’t be spun in such simple terms. The Badgers poked and prodded on the inside, with Bergrren, Evans and Mike Bruesewitz physically manhandling Michigan’s big men on the offensive end. Traevon Jackson directed a precise and efficient offensive attack, and Michigan’s defense, so strong for much of the first half, couldn’t hold firm for the second 20 minutes. Once Wisconsin found itself on the offensive end, and kept up its almost mechanically predictable stingy defense, Michigan couldn’t keep up. Read the rest of this entry »
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Florida Clearly Ready for this SEC Tournament

Posted by David Changas on March 15th, 2013

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Friday afternoon’s game between Florida and LSU at the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

In the past, the Florida Gators have been accused of not emphasizing the importance of the SEC Tournament.  The Gators have largely sleep-walked through it since a run of three straight championships from 2005 to 2007 – the last two of those teams, of course, went on two win the national championship as well.  Since that time, they have advanced past the quarterfinals only twice, even when they’ve been a superior team versus their early-round opponents.  If Friday’s dismantling of LSU is any indication, this year will be different.  Coach Billy Donovan’s team, which appeared to be a contender for a #1- or #2-seed just a few weeks ago, limped down the stretch in losing four of its last five on the road, including a meltdown in the final eight minutes in the regular season finale at Kentucky.  It is clear Donovan wants this team to right the ship heading into the NCAA Tournament, and the team’s focus in the win over LSU was evident.  The Gators were on from the perimeter – usually a sign that things are going well for them – hitting 11-of-20 from three-point range.  Senior forward Erik Murphy was particularly hot, making 5-of-7 from three point range on his way to a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds.

The Gators Had Their Explosive Game Going Friday Afternoon (AP)

The Gators Had Their Explosive Game Going Friday Afternoon (AP)

Part of the reason Florida struggled down the stretch of the regular season was the absence of junior forward Will Yeguete, who missed six games because of a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery.  He returned in a limited role in the Gators’ third-to-last game against Alabama, but continues to work himself into game shape.  Friday’s 21 minutes were the most he has played since January, and the energy he brings to his team is evident.  At 6’7″, he is the Gators’ most efficient rebounder and best defender. Yeguete is able to guard in the post and the perimeter, and there is no question that he is a key to Florida’s success from here.

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Rushed Reactions: #3 Indiana 80, Illinois 64

Posted by WCarey on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center following Friday’s matchup between Indiana and Illinois. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Cody Zeller was dominant. The All-American big man picked up where he left off after a sensational performance in Sunday’s victory over Michigan. Once again, Zeller was the go-to guy for the Indiana offense against Illinois, as he finished the afternoon with 24 points and nine rebounds. With the ball in his hands on the low block, the talented sophomore was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted against the Illini interior for the duration of the game. Zeller’s presence on the defensive end of the court was also quite notable as he anchored a Hoosiers’defense that did not let anything come easy for the Illinois offensive attack. There have been instances this season where Zeller’s production has not matched his level of talent, but if he can continue to put forth performances like he has in his last two games, there will be no ceiling on Indiana’s postseason hopes.
  2. Indiana’s defensive effort in the first half was phenomenal. ESPN analyst Dan Dakich tweeted at halftime that he and legendary Indiana radio announcer Don Fischer believed that the first half against Illinois was the best defensive half that the Hoosiers had played all year. The two men had a point as the Hoosiers were just suffocating on that end of the court for the first 20 minutes. The Illini were held to just 25.9% shooting in the first half and had to settle for many difficult looks due to the intense defensive pressure. The Hoosiers also forced Illinois into eight first half turnovers – many of which resulted in great transition opportunities. Illinois guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson were a combined 3-of-13 from the field and by containing the Illini’s two best scorers, Indiana was able to open up a 14-point halftime lead. Victor Oladipo rightfully gets most of the credit for Indiana’s strong defensive performances, but the Hoosiers have really made strides as a team in-terms of their defensive effort.
    Cody Zeller was all over the court Friday afternoon. (AP)

    Cody Zeller was all over the court Friday afternoon. (AP)

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Pac-12 M5: 03.15.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 15th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. With Wednesday’s season-ending, 64-58 loss to Colorado, Oregon State dropped 15 of its final 19 games in the 2012-13 season. For a coach in his fifth season that hasn’t taken his team to a postseason tournament better than the CBI, that’s enough for some serious hot seat discussion. Grady Garrett hits it right on the head in this column, stating that while Craig Robinson may not deserve a sixth year, blowing up the team with so much potential is not worth it. So Robinson has one more chance. Roberto Nelson returns. So do Devon Collier, Angus Brandt, and Ahmad Starks. The pieces are there, and it’s up to Robinson to put them together.
  2. Ken Goe has an interesting piece up on the move from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament, and more specifically, the move to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. All 12 teams are staying at the MGM Grand, and with the hotel operating a sports book accepting bets on Pac-12 Tournament games, one wonders what kind of trouble a player could get into with a little downtime and close proximity to sports book, boosters, and gamblers. The league office said that it’s not something they have even talked about, especially in light that the players aren’t allowed in in the sports book. Still, an interesting situation that only the Pac-12 and WCC (playing at Orleans Arena) find themselves in.
  3. With California‘s overtime loss against Utah on Thursday night, it’s time to panic for Golden Bears fans. The general consensus is that the bad loss dropped Cal squarely back onto the bubble, and while that may be true, I still like their résumé over most of the other bubble teams. The only worrisome item at play is the loss of their final two games. Teams like Tennessee (winners of its last three) and Mississippi (won its last two) are hot and can make a reasonable case over Cal because of the way they completed the regular season.
  4. After one of his worst first halves of basketball ever, Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi wondered if he’d get a chance to redeem himself in the final 20 minutes against Washington on Thursday night. Kazemi only had one point at halftime, but once he got on the court again, the energy was at a level rarely seen. Feeding off fellow big man Tony Woods, the pair answered everything Washington threw at them and eventually pulled out a three-point win in overtime. Woods and Kazemi ended up combining for 17 rebounds and 33 points on the night.
  5. We close with an update from our Pac-12 Tournament Pick’Em, where our regular season champion is taking it to the rest of us again. Parker leads everyone with nine points, with the next closest competitors being Adam and I at seven. Drew is currently in last place, struggling to get past the five-point mark. The two projected champions by the four of us are still alive (UCLA and Arizona), but of course, one of those teams will be eliminated when they face off tonight.
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ACC Tournament: Previewing the Quarterfinals

Posted by KCarpenter on March 15th, 2013

If you love everything going totally to plan, then you loved the first day of the ACC Tournament. Will chalk continue to reign as the conference’s top teams join the fray? Well, it’s at least possible. Let’s go over the match-ups:

Miami vs. Boston College at 12:00 PM

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

What Does Hanlan Have in Store For Today? (Photo via Boston Globe)

Remember that time that an early season Miami team came within one point to losing to Boston College? I’m sure the Hurricanes have tried to forget it too, but it did happen. When the Eagles went to Coral Gables, Miami totally destroyed its overmatched foe, dominating nearly every aspect of the game. That’s what happened to nearly everyone who went down to Coral Gables this season, though. Yet, Boston College comes into this game hotter than a two-dollar pistol, having swept its last three regular season games (including a win over Virginia) and then dominating Georgia Tech in the first round on the wings of a  legendary and record-setting 41-point performance by Freshmen of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. This game may very well come down to the match-up at shooting guard with scoring sensation Hanlan trying to best the savvy veteran and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year, Durand Scott.

Virgina vs. North Carolina State at 2:00 PM

In their first game of the tournament, North Carolina State showed something new — an ability to shut down a big time scorer. Though the Wolfpack has struggled on defense all year, the team held Virginia Tech’s Erick Green to 15 points on 19 shots and also forced him into four turnovers. NC State will need to maintain that concentration if this team is going to have any chance at stopping the equally deadly Joe Harris. The Wolfpack has the right personnel to stop the Cavaliers on the defensive end, but it will take some serious focus. Virginia won the team’s only match-up in Charlottesville by a mere 3 points, but in Greensboro, NC State will effectively hold the home court advantage. This figures to be the closest game of the day, but even so, counting on the Wolfpack to give consistent effort on the defensive end is an easy way to be disappointed.

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Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinals: All Chalk, Baylor’s Bubble Popped

Posted by KoryCarpenter on March 15th, 2013

It hasn’t been the easiest couple of weeks for Big 12 fans. Kansas may have fallen off the #1 seed line and Iowa State and Oklahoma are firmly on the bubble after the first full day of the conference tournament. What once looked like possibly six Big 12 teams in the Dance headlined with a #1 seed could now be four teams and no representation on the top line. Baylor’s hopes for an at-large bid were dashed after a phantom call on Phil Forte in the waning seconds of tonight’s game against Oklahoma State gave the Cowboys a 74-72 win. Unfortunately for the Bears, they still needed at least another win over Kansas State to make a serious case, so there won’t be any favors from the selection committee. Here’s where the potential NCAA Tournament teams stand and how they can improve their position heading into Friday’s action:

Bill Self and Kansas Have Ruled The Big 12 Tournament The Last Decade.

Bill Self and Kansas Have Ruled The Big 12 Tournament The Last Decade.

1. Kansas (27-5)

  • What They Are Looking At: #2 seed
  • Best Likely Scenario and Who The Need Help From: If the Jayhawks can win the Big 12 Tournament and beat Kansas State (#20 RPI) in the championship game, they could still land a #1 seed. The problem is, Kansas looks to be sandwiched between Louisville and Georgetown right now. If either of those teams wins the Big East Tournament, they would  get a #1 seed over the Jayhawks. If Kansas wins the Big 12 Tournament and neither of those teams wins the Big East Tournament, the Jayhawks will earn a top seed.
  • Worst Case Scenario: #2 seed

2. Kansas State (26-6)

  • What They Are Looking At: #4 seed
  • Best Likely Scenario And Who They Need Help From: Kansas State has a great record but its resume doesn’t quite match. They’re currently the second-best #4 seed over at Bracket Matrix, but have fewer RPI top 50 wins (five) than teams directly above them in Ohio State (six), Marquette (seven) and New Mexico (eight). Even if the Wildcats beat Oklahoma State and Kansas to win the conference tournament, they’d still have as many top 50 wins as Marquette, which lost tonight to Notre Dame. If Ohio State and New Mexico lose in their first games of their conference tournaments, the Wildcats could sneak into a #3 seed with three wins in Kansas City.
  • Worst Case Scenario: The record is nice, but with 10 wins coming against teams outside the RPI top 200 and a bad strength of schedule (#63), a loss tomorrow could earn them a #5 seed. Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC Bubble Watch: March 15 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 15th, 2013

bubble

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top several bracketologists among those who have produced brackets for more than three years, including two seasons with perfect bracket projections. He updates the field daily on his site, Bracketology Expert, and will be producing a weekly bracket update here at RTC on Fridays. RTC Bubble Watch will publish on Sunday nights and Thursday afternoons for the rest of the season.

F0r the last few days of the regular season, here is a whole new look bubble watch:

Bracket Math: Below there are 37 locks along the right column. Basically, that number means that if none of my “locks” clinches an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, there are zero at-large spots available. In most years, an average of around six “locks” win automatic bids, meaning there are six un-clinched spots for the NCAA Tournament. Right now, there aren’t any teams in the “should be in” category, or teams that I give a 70% chance or greater of making the Tournament. That means that of the teams below listed in the Bubble Watch, only five can get bids. Remember that bid stealers will potentially shrink that number.

LOCKS: 38
“SHOULD BE INS”: 0
TOTAL: 38 (minus six for projected auto bid winners = 32)
PROJECTED AT-LARGE SPOTS AVAILABLE: 5

BID STEALERS REMAINING:

  • ACC (quarterfinals): Boston College (vs. Miami), Maryland (vs. Duke), Florida State (vs. North Carolina)
  • Atlantic 10 (quarterfinals): Charlotte (vs. Saint Louis), Saint Joseph’s (vs. VCU), Massachusetts (vs. Temple)
  • Big Ten (quarterfinals): Nebraska (vs. Ohio State), Iowa (vs. Michigan State )
  • Conference USA (semifinals): Southern Miss/UTEP winner, Tulsa (vs. Memphis)
  • Pac-12 (semifinals): Utah (vs. Oregon)
  • SEC (quarterfinals): LSU (vs. Florida), Vanderbilt (vs. Kentucky)

THIS UPDATE:  I moved Minnesota to lock status, even with the Gophers’ last second loss to Illinois Thursday. At this point, it is almost impossible to see a team with the Gophers’ victories not getting into the field.

There are currently 20 teams fighting for 5 spots. If you believe (as I do) that Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Akron, and Charlotte are long shots at best (very small chance, if any, to make the field) you can bring the numbers down to 16 teams fighting for 5 spots.

———————————————————————-

ACC

LOCKS:
duke50x50miami50x50UNC50X50ncstate50x50

  • Virginia (21-10, 11-7; RPI: 67): The Cavaliers have been a strange bubble case all season. They have some of the worst losses a bubble team can have, but they also have six impressive wins. One of those wins is against Duke, who might be the nation’s best team now that Ryan Kelly is back. A win over Sunday against Maryland left the Cavs in position to play their way into the field in the ACC Tournament. They get dangerous North Carolina State on Friday in the ACC quarterfinals. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Maryland (21-11, 8-10; RPI: 85): Maryland has two great wins (Duke, NC State) and absolutely nothing behind them. Thursday’s win against Wake Forest keeps the Terps alive, but they’ll have to replicate their February win against Duke to get serious at-large love.. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%

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Circle of March, Vol. X

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2013

Huge day on the Circle of March Thursday, as a whole slew of teams were knocked out of contention for the 2013 national championship. What we’re left with are 112 remaining schools on our way to the selection of a final 68 a little over two days from now. As always, we’d like to thank those who are no longer playing for their participation in college basketball this season.

circleofmarch_Friday15

Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.14.13)

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Big 12 M5: 03.15.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 15th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The last game of Thursday’s session was perhaps the best. Oklahoma State survived a massive collapse to outlast the desperate Baylor Bears, 74-72. The Cowboys led by as many as 20 points late in the first half yet the Bears chipped away at the lead until they got it to a four-point deficit with 25 seconds left in regulation. BU’s Gary Franklin then tied it seconds later on a four-point play from the corner. After the Cowboys nailed two subsequent free throws, Pierre Jackson, who was all types of awesome in scoring 24 of his 31 points in the second half, missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer. Now what? The good in this is that we’ll get a look at Oklahoma State-Kansas State Version 3.0 as both teams split the regular season series. The bad news is of course that Baylor’s chances at an at-large bid is all but shot at this point. It looks like it’ll be the third time in the Scott Drew era that Baylor will miss the NCAA Tournament a year after making it. 
  2. We had a comeback attempt to close out the night but there was an actual one much earlier in the day. Iowa State found themselves down 14 early, and even 11 points halfway through the second half, only to take down the Sooners, 73-66. A storyline that won’t get much attention is the exchange senior guard Korie Lucious had with his coach Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg benched Lucious in the second half mainly due to his poor shooting (0-of-8). After the move, the Cyclones began to make their comeback and during a subsequent timeout, Lucious told Hoiberg to “keep going with these guys” because they had “a great flow going.” It turned out to be the right thing to do and now ISU gets its third shot at nailing down a win vs. Kansas.
  3. Jordan Tolbert’s layup with 3:11 left in the first half cut the Kansas lead to two over Texas Tech and signaled to the Jayhawks that they weren’t running away with the game any time soon. And then KU ran away with it. Ben McLemore was doing plenty of Ben McLemore things, scoring 24 points and hitting 8-of-12 from the field, four of those on three-pointers. Bill Self emptied out his bench later in the game and gave us a chance to see some Jayhawks who will make bigger impacts on future teams. Freshmen Anrio Adams went for 11 points in just five minutes and Perry Ellis had his second good game in a row, totaling eight points and seven rebounds. It’s only a matter of time before these guys win a Big 12 title of their own.
  4. Kansas State shot only 40% as a team, grabbed the same number of rebounds as Texas, missed eight free throws, and still beat the Horns by 17. Wait, what? It’s just another win in a long line of uninteresting and non-flashy wins for the Wildcats, who now improve to 26-6 on the season. Rodney McGruder poured in an efficient 24 points (10-of-20), eight of those coming on a K-State 10-0 run to give the Wildcats a double digit lead for good. He also pulled down seven rebounds. They’re still under the radar, aren’t they? Give it a week.
  5. Why does Marcus Smart wear #33? There is an answer and it further amplifies the kind of person this young man is. The number three has special meaning in his family. His three older brothers all wore three when they played in high school and that includes Smart’s half-brother Todd Westbrook, who was the first to don the number. Westbrook lost his long battle with cancer in 2004 at the age of 33. This surprises no one. You might think I’m going overboard with this but we don’t just need more Marcus Smart like prospects in college basketball, we need more Marcus Smart like people on this planet. I bet John Wooden would’ve loved to coach this kid.
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Big East M5: 03.15.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on March 15th, 2013

bigeast_morning5(2)

  1. Louisville beat Villanova 74-55 in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals last night with an uncharacteristic offensive distribution, scoring almost as many threes (10) as two-point field goals (13). But the Cardinals continued to weather inconsistency on that end of the floor by featuring the most efficient defense in the country. Rick Pitino remarked after the game that the 58 deflections the Cardinals caused against the Wildcats were the most he’d ever recorded since he started tracking the statistic with his teams. Pitino’s team was rewarded with a surprise locker room cameo from college basketball scholar Bill Clinton, who has paid the Cardinals a couple visits in the past, as well.
  2. Russ Smith finished with 28 points and hit four of six attempts from beyond the arc last night, but admitted he was distracted and upset all day after learning of the death of his high school coach, Jack Curran. Curran, 82, was a legend in New York City high school basketball, who coached future NBA point guards Kenny Anderson and Kenny Smith during his 55-year tenure at Archbishop Molloy. Smith learned of his mentor’s death yesterday morning, when he performed his ritual visit of his alma mater while back in New York for a game, and said it was “hard to take it all in” on the spot. “He was everything to me, and to my mom, my family. He treated everyone with respect,” Smith continued; “Today was definitely Coach Curran day for me, and it will be the rest of my life.”
  3. Notre Dame will appear in its fourth consecutive Big East Tournament semifinals after defeating Marquette 73-65 last night. The Irish came out flat against the Golden Eagles but responded with resurgent play for the latter 30 minutes after Mike Brey asked his team in the huddle if they were scared. Jerian Grant and his teammates responded in a big way for the rest of the game, with Pat Connaughton hitting another six three-pointers to score a team-high 18 points. The comeback led Jack Cooley to make some bold postgame predictions: “I think we’re going to come out strong and handle [Louisville’s] pressure phenomenally. I think we can get to Saturday night and that would mean a lot for me.”
  4. Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins laments the demise of the Big East Tournament in a scathing essay on the misaligned priorities of college administrators. “This isn’t collegiate competition we’re watching any more,” Jenkins contends, “It’s thinly veiled money laundering, and it’s ruining the NCAA’s chief commodity, which is our affection.” She places blame on the university presidents, athletic directors and conference officials who she says have colluded to engineer more lucrative arrangements at the expense of the athlete and the fan. Jenkins recalls a press conference in which she posed a question to former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese about the ethics of vastly uneven revenue among power conference schools, to which he responded, “This isn’t communism.” In the columnist’s words “you live by the sword, you die by the sword.”
  5. Georgetown showed off its composure and balance in a 62-43 quarterfinal win over Cincinnati that was at times much closer than the score would indicate. “For the most part, this group doesn’t get rattled,” said John Thompson III, whose team weathered a three-point shooting barrage from the Bearcats that eroded a 15-point lead into a deficit early in the second half. Markel Starks said after the win that his team takes pride in its defensive adjustments, and that players’ enthusiasm for shutting down their assignments is not a new phenomenon: “It’s no formula. Everyone’s talking about our defense now, but we’ve been playing defense all year.” They’ll face a rematch from last weekend with Syracuse in the semifinals today, and will probably be making plenty of adjustments on defense as they try to beat the Orange for the third time this year.
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