Michigan Can Still Make a Deep March Run Because of Trey Burke

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 16th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

In four out of the seven Wolverines’ losses this season, Trey Burke has taken more than 20 shot attempts from the field, which limited his ability to involve his teammates. Wisconsin and Indiana in particular did a great job of keeping Burke away from the paint, forcing him to take tough shots from beyond the arc. Even though this recipe could be used by other teams in the NCAA Tournament during the next couple of weeks, it may not be successful because there are only a few guys in the nation that can keep Burke in front of them. Not only do the Hoosiers have Victor Oladipo – arguably the best on-ball defender in the country (along with Aaron Craft) – but they also have athletic big guys such as Cody Zeller and Christian Watford who defend the pick-and-roll very well. The Badgers on the other hand have Ben Brust who has been an underrated defender this season and he did an excellent job of pushing Burke into tough positions on the floor. Once you step out of the Big Ten, there are very few guards in the country who can contain Burke; which is the main reason why the Wolverines can still make it well past the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament.

There aren't many guards in the nation who can lock up Trey Burke. (annarbor.com)

There aren’t many guards in the nation who can lock down Trey Burke. (annarbor.com)

The potential top seeds outside of the Big Ten include Duke, Louisville, Georgetown, Kansas and Gonzaga. Assuming that Michigan won’t be in the same region as Indiana, it is likely that the Wolverines will square off against one of those teams during the second weekend. The Blue Devils’ backcourt of Seth Curry and Quinn Cook are not known for their defense and asking freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon to guard the best player in the country is simply asking too much. Although the Hoyas play great team defense, none of their guards can defend Burke one-on-one at the top of the key. Brandon Paul torched Gonzaga’s backcourt for 35 points on the road which shows that a talented player like Burke could have his way against them. The Jayhawks on the other hand are a tough defensive team and Travis Releford will probably take the defensive assignment of the sophomore guard. Releford can use his size to push Burke out of the lane but it can be argued that he is not quick enough to hang with Burke on his crossovers. Rick Pitino’s Cardinals will throw a funky zone at them and force the Wolverines to beat them from beyond the arc, but John Beilein has the sharpshooters – Tim Hardaway Jr. (38% 3FG) and Nik Stauskas (45% 3FG) – who could catch on fire on any given night.

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Rushed Reactions: Florida 61, Alabama 51

Posted by David Changas on March 16th, 2013


David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the SEC Tournament semifinal game between Florida and Alabama in Nashville.

Three Key Takeaways:

fla alabama sec tourney 13

The Gators Survived Alabama’s Upset Bid on Saturday

  1. Florida Run.  The Gators trailed by 10 early in the second half before going on a 13-0 run to completely change the momentum of the game. Florida looked lethargic at that point, and it appeared they may be heading home a day earlier than most expected. However, led by senior point guard Kenny Boynton, the Gators made their run in less than three minutes, and Alabama never got closer than three the rest of the way. Florida outscored the Crimson Tide 34-14 after trailing by 10. “Boynton stepped up to the plate.  He gave them that spark and they kept building on that,” Alabama guard Trevor Releford said after the game. The run the Gators made was similar to the one they made two weeks ago in Gainesville, where they also trailed by 10 to the Tide in the second half. And that was certainly on Alabama players’ minds. Guard Trevor Lacey admitted that he discussed it with his teammates. “We knew we needed to keep attacking them,” he said.  The Gators clearly were not deterred when they fell behind, and showed again why they won the league’s regular season title.
  2. Good Kenny Boynton.  There is no shortage of enigmatic point guards in the SEC, and Boynton may be the leader of that club. The senior often takes shots out of the offensive flow, and has hit only 32.5% of his three-point attempts on the year. As the Gators practiced this week, coach Billy Donovan advised Boynton and fellow senior Mike Rosario to let the game come to them and to take shots only within the flow of the offense. While Donovan has expressed concern with the way Rosario has responded to that admonition, Boynton appears to have taken his coach’s advice. Even though he struggled shooting the ball in Friday’s blowout win over LSU, Donovan was pleased that Boynton dished out seven assists, and didn’t force anything on the offensive end. In this game, Boynton’s play sparked the Gators’ run, as Boynton scored seven of their 15 points. On the day, he led Florida with 16 points, and Donovan has made it clear that he has no problem with Boynton continuing to shoot the ball when he gets good looks, and if he continues to do that, the Gators chances to make a deep March run in a wide-open field are pretty good.
  3. Did Alabama’s Bubble Burst?  With Kentucky falling outside the RPI top 50 after last night’s loss to Vanderbilt, Alabama owns no wins over top-50 teams.  When compared to other bubble teams, that may do in the Crimson Tide. In most years, their resume wouldn’t even merit contention for a spot. But this year, given that the committee is considering so many unimpressive resumes, there’s always a chance. Alabama coach Anthony Grant was quick to point out when asked about the Tide’s chances after the game that whether his team has done enough to make the Big Dance is not his concern. “I don’t deal in that.  [The committee has] a tough enough job,” he said. Instead, he’ll sit back and wait to see what happens, but it’s much more likely that his team will be hosting a first-round NIT game than playing in the Big Dance.

Star of the Game.  Kenny Boynton.   Gators center Patric Young was too much for Alabama to handle, but Boynton keyed their turnaround, and sent Donovan’s team to the championship game for only the second time in six years.

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Four Thoughts on the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 16th, 2013

Day three of the Pac-12 Tournament is complete, and teams have made their may through the 12 team field to tonight’s championship game. The first team through was top-seeded UCLA, who used an 18-7 run late in the second half to erase an 11-point deficit and pull out a two point win over Arizona. In the second game of the night, Oregon took advantage of a tired Utah team and led the Utes by 14 at halftime before cruising to a 64-45 win.

Here are four things that stood out on day three of the Pac-12 Tournament:

UCLA Freshman Shabazz Muhammad Scored 11 Points and Grabbed Six Rebounds As The Bruins Advanced To The Pac-12 Championship (credit: USA Today)

UCLA Freshman Shabazz Muhammad Scored 11 Points and Grabbed Six Rebounds As The Bruins Advanced To The Pac-12 Championship (USA Today)

  1. Adams’ Last Game? – UCLA freshman Jordan Adams may have played his last game as a Bruin last night after breaking his fifth metatarsal in his right foot on the final play of the game. Adams led all scorers with 24 points before breaking the foot trying to defend Solomon Hill’s last shot. A few weeks back Adams said he did not want to discuss his future and just wanted to focus on finishing the rest of the season. With his season complete, look for an announcement in the coming days on whether the star guard will go to the NBA this summer.
  2. Pac-12 Refs – With 4:35 remaining in the game and Arizona leading 56-54, point guard Mark Lyons drove into the lane, had the ball slightly dislodged by a Bruin defender, caught the ball, and resumed his dribble. This was inexplicably called a double-dribble by the officiating crew, and then the officials compounded their mistake by T’ing up head coach Sean Miller. The calls resulted in two made free throws to knot up the score, the first time the score was not an Arizona lead since the 14:30 mark in the first half. Pac-12 refs gonna Pac-12 ref – nuff’ said.  Read the rest of this entry »
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Four Thoughts From the Atlantic 10 Tournament Evening Quarterfinals Session

Posted by CNguon on March 16th, 2013

Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10. He’s covering the Atlantic 10 tournament in Brooklyn this week. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.

Virginia Commonwealth eliminated a gutty Saint Joseph’s squad, 82-79. After holding double-digit leads for much of the second half, the Rams withstood an uncharacteristically furious press and scoring blitz from the Hawks. Meanwhile, Chaz Williams led Massachusetts to a 79-74 upset of Temple to close out the quarterfinal round. The two teams, playing within a six-point margin for the entire 40 minutes, evoked memories of the John Calipari vs. John Chaney matches of a decade ago. Without the vitriol.

Four Thoughts After Session Two:

  1. Quarterfinal results may have an impact on the NCAA field: La Salle’s loss appears by consensus to put the Explorers in the dreaded Last Four In category, a disappointment for coach John Giannini who promised to “go nuts” watching all of the bubble team games this weekend. Turns out he did not have to leave the Barclays Center to catch one of those bubble games, as Massachusetts eliminated Temple, 79-74, for the second consecutive time in the quarterfinal nightcap. The upset put the Minutemen in Jerry Palm’s play-in list with a #12 seed, slated to play opposite Villanova on Tuesday. If Palm’s scenario holds, the conference will pull an unprecedented six dance cards, as many as the Big 12 and more than the ACC, the Pac-12 and the SEC.

    Spike Lee (with phone) made his way south from Madison Square Garden to catch some A-10 action Friday evening. (Staff photo)

    Spike Lee (with phone) made his way south from Madison Square Garden to catch some A-10 action Friday evening. (Staff photo)

  2. Spike Lee loves him some Shaka Smart: The five boroughs’ second most famous film director (and most famous basketball fan) abandoned his courtside digs in Manhattan (Madison Square Garden) to catch the Virginia Commonwealth-Saint Joseph’s quarterfinal (see photo – in the green windbreaker) in Jay-Z’s digs in Brooklyn. Unable to get a courtside seat, the filmmaker had first rows just behind the scorer’s table. Maybe he will be back for the semifinals this afternoon. Maybe Jay can score him something courtside for that one. Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC Bracketology: March 16 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 16th, 2013


Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top 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.

New in This Update:

  • A lot of things happened on Friday. First, let’s recap the bubble: Alabama knocked off Tennessee. La Salle fell at Butler. Kentucky was blown out by Vanderbilt. Iowa blew a big lead to Michigan State. Ole Miss won a tight game with Missouri. Maryland upset Duke. I realize that Tennessee is now 2-4 against the other SEC bubble teams (ALA, KY, MISS) but the Vols also have the best overall profile out of those four teams. For now, I’m leaving the Vols in my field. Kentucky is still in, as the last team in. Why? Most people do not realize that the Wildcats’ best two wins of the season came without Nerlens Noel in the lineup, against Missouri and Florida. La Salle also stays in. The later in the day it got, the more the Explorers’ chance to dance increased due to the afternoon/night upsets. Alabama has a huge opportunity on Saturday. With a win on a neutral floor against Florida, Alabama would move into my field. Mississippi needs to make the SEC final and hope Alabama falls to Florida, because the Rebels will not gain anything by playing Vanderbilt. Maryland now owns two wins against Duke, but the Terrapins’ fourth-best win this year is Stony Brook. That’s not to hate on the Seawolves. It’s meant to show that the Terrapins probably need to win the ACC Tournament to get an at-large bid because their overall profile is probably just not good enough to get an at-large bid.
  • At the top of the bracket, Georgetown’s loss to Syracuse moved the Hoyas down to a No. 2 seed. Louisville is now my fourth No. 1, with a chance to improve upon that in the Big East Tournament Championship Saturday. Duke is my third No. 1 after losing to Maryland. For the time being, Gonzaga is my No. 1 overall seed, but that will change if Louisville or Indiana wins their conference tournaments

LAST FOUR IN: Saint Mary’s, La Salle, Tennessee, Kentucky (last team in)
FIRST FOUR OUT: Mississippi (first team out), Alabama, Massachusetts, Middle Tennessee
Southern Miss, Virginia, Maryland, Baylor

NOTE: Projected conference champions (or auto bid winners) are in capital letters.

(full bracket after the jump)

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RTC Bubble Watch: March 16 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 16th, 2013


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.

TOTAL: 38 (minus eight for projected auto bid winners = 30)


  • ACC: Maryland
  • Atlantic 10: Massachusetts
  • Conference USA: Southern Miss
  • SEC: Vanderbilt

THIS UPDATE:  Charlotte is out after losing in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. Iowa is now a long shot after losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

There are currently 19 teams fighting for 5 spots. If you believe (as I do) that Baylor, Louisiana Tech and Akron 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.




  • Virginia (21-11, 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.  On Friday, a loss in the ACC quarterfinals to N. C. State might have left Virginia one win short of what they needed to get into the field.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Maryland (22-11, 8-10; RPI: 85): A second upset of Duke this season keeps Maryland’s faint at-large hopes alive. The Terps now can say they are the only team with a win over Ryan Kelly this year, but that may not be enough. This team’s fourth best RPI win is against Stony Brook.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%

Atlantic 10


  • Temple (23-9, 11-5; RPI: 37): Friday night’s loss to Massachusetts ended the Owls’ seven game winning streak, but in the end I think the Owls have done enough to snare an at-large bid.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 70%
  • La Salle (21-8, 11-5; RPI: 38): La Salle has five wins over the RPI top 100 including victories against Butler and VCU, two of the Atlantic 10’s best teams. The Explorers only have one bad loss, which came in mid-November against Central Connecticut State. On Friday, a second loss to Butler in a week pushed the Explorers closer to the at-large cut-line.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Massachusetts (20-10, 9-7; RPI: 57): The Minutemen upset Temple in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals Friday to pick up an eighth victory against the RPI top 100. This team has a shot to get in, but must make it to the Atlantic 10 finals. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%



BIG 12

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Circle of March, Vol. XI

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2013

A little more than a day away from Selection Sunday, and there are now only 88 teams left on the Circle of March. With 13 championship games today, there will probably only be around eight more teams removed by Sunday morning, with most of the remaining decision-making belonging to the committee currently sequestered away in Indianapolis.


Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.15.13)

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Rushed Reactions: UNLV 75, Colorado State 65

Posted by AMurawa on March 16th, 2013


Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West Conference. He filed this report after Friday night’s MW Tournament semifinal between UNLV and Colorado State.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Anthony Bennett Is Good When He Wants To Be. Bennett made a big splash in the first half with a three-minute run that included a pair of free throws, back-to-back-to-back threes, and a play where he grabbed a rebound and led a fast break that ended in a Katin Reinhardt three — a stretch that turned a 23-21 game into a 37-24 advantage. But, in the other 11 minutes he played in the first half, he attempted just two field goals and grabbed one board. And, just after those three threes, he got the ball on the baseline and backed up to the three-point line for a heat check, which can perhaps be forgiven. There was more of the same for much of the second half, as over the first 13 minutes he took no shots from the field and grabbed just one rebound in eight minutes of action. But he came alive down the stretch to help his team close the game out. Certainly part of the reason for Bennett’s slow stretches can go to Pierce Hornung’s tough defense, but for a guy who is going to be an NBA lottery pick, is getting limited by a 6’5″ (maybe) Hornung a viable excuse? More to the point, Bennett just has problems with consistent effort, something that isn’t unusual for a freshman. But for the Rebels to max out in March, they need Bennett to max out.

    Anthony Bennett's Stat Line At The End Of The Game Looks Great, But He Was Absent For Large Stretches

    Anthony Bennett’s Stat Line At The End Of The Game Looks Great, But He Was Absent For Large Stretches

  1. Colton Iverson and the Rams. The senior big man was on the very short list of players seriously considered for Mountain West Player of the Year (I said Jamaal Franklin, the MW said Kendall Williams). Iverson restated his case tonight, carrying his team with 24 points and 16 boards on 9-of-16 shooting (most of which came in the first half), and almost single-handedly got the entire UNLV frontcourt in foul trouble. But he didn’t get a whole lot of help; the rest of the Rams contributed a 39.1% eFG.
  2. Larry Eustachy – Not an Oddsmaker. On Wednesday night following the Rams quarterfinal win over Fresno State, Larry Eustachy commented that it was 99.9% sure that senior point guard Dorian Green would not play in tonight’s semifinal. Well, that 0.01% chance came through as Green started and played 18 minutes before landing awkwardly midway through the second half and never returning. And really, it didn’t look like Green should have been out there at any point anyway. He was hobbling around from the moment he came out in pregame warm-ups until the moment he left. Hopefully the little tweak that removed him from the game was just that – a little tweak – and he’ll be ready to go when the Rams open NCAA Tournament play on either Thursday or Friday.

Star of the GameAnthony Bennett. Yeah, I just got done railing about how he went for huge swaths of the game without making much of an impact on the game, but when he did turn on the juice, my goodness, was he ever something special. As his college career winds down with his last handful or so of games, we might as well appreciate just how spectacular he’s been in his time at UNLV.

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Kansas State Advances, Sets Up Epic KC Showdown With KU

Posted by dnspewak on March 16th, 2013

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 Microsite writer. He’s in Kansas City covering the Big 12 Tournament this weekend.

Kansas and Kansas State tied for the Big 12 regular season championship. Technically. “We’re conference co‑champs,” coach Bruce Weber said. Fair enough. Both teams finished 14-4 in league play. Identical record means co-champs. Awards all around, everybody gets a trophy, let’s all go get some pizza after the game. Still, co-champ label or not, any person with even the slightest bit of logical reasoning can figure out who really won this league. Kansas won the regular season title. It played Kansas State at home and won. It played Kansas State on the road and won. That’s two games, both at two different sites, and two victories for the Jayhawks. If ever there were a tiebreaker to crown a true champion, that’d be it. Of course, it allowed Kansas to seize the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament, so it’s not as though those two victories were meaningless.

It's Part Three of Jayhawks and Wildcats in KC Tomorrow Night

It’s Part Three of Jayhawks and Wildcats in KC Tomorrow Night

So it’s settled. The Kansas Jayhawks are the Big 12 champions. For now, at least. That could change on Saturday afternoon, when the two teams face each other in the Big 12 Tournament title game at the Sprint Center on national television. This is an unprecedented event for Kansas City. If you’re not from the area or not familiar with the makeup of the sports culture here, allow us to break it down for you. There’s Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State, all within two hours of driving distance from Kansas City. They all bitterly compete for media coverage, and it’s a rite of passage as a fan to complain about the lack of attention from the newspapers. Kansas fans call the Kansas City Star the “MU Star”. Missouri fans call it the “KU Star.” Those two teams don’t play each other anymore, but there’s been talk among fans that the programs should set up a series at the Sprint Center on an annual basis. Good luck with that, folks.

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