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RTC Live: Preseason NIT Consolation Game & Finals

The Preseason NIT finishes up its sixteen-team field at Madison Square Garden in NYC tonight, with the consolation game followed by the championship. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds out at the stores today, join us for some holiday hoops with Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State in the first game, followed by Syracuse vs. Stanford this evening. Join us for the conversation, after the jump.

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RTC Live: Preseason NIT Semifinals

The Grand-daddy of all preseason tournaments tips off with its semifinal round tonight at Madison Square Garden  in NYC. Enjoy some pre-Thanksgiving hoops with Stanford vs. Oklahoma State, followed by Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech this evening.  Join us for the conversation, after the jump.

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RTC Live: Preseason NIT Finals

Games #37-#38.  Back at MSG for the Preseason NIT consolation game and finals.

VCU really needs this win against UCLA. The Rams don’t have much else on their schedule that can be considered a quality victory outside of conference play. They do get Richmond, but will the Spiders be good enough to be a marquee win for this team? It will be interesting to see if Joey Rodriguez, who reinjured his ankled on Wednesday, will be available. He could really have a day against a backcourt that is not as athletic as Tennessee’s. For the Bruins, this is a chance to avoid embarrassment. This program has fallen a long way from the one that made three straight Final Fours. Beating VCU would be a good win, which is not a good sign for the Bruin program.
Villanova and Tennessee, which tips of at the awkward time of 5 pm, is the marquee matchup. The Wildcats actually match up well with the Vols. They have a backcourt that is just as athletic as Tennessee’s (although the Vols are a bit bigger), they can play with size on the perimeter, and they have a couple of big bodies in the paint. As I see it, the key to the game will be in the paint. Which frontcourt will assert themselves? Who wins an intriguing matchup between Brian Williams and Mouph Yarou? I am also interested to see who rises to the occasion. Will Corey Fisher find his shooting touch? Will Scotty Hopson attack the basket or settle for jumpers? This will be a fun one to watch.

RTC Live: Preseason NIT Semifinals

Games #33-#34.  It’s back to the World’s Most Famous Arena for the semifinal round of the Preseason NIT.

Villanova comes into this one at 4-0, although their path has not been as easy as their margins of victory would indicate. Bucknell and Boston U. both gave the Wildcats a fight, all while they are dealing with a suspension to star freshman JayVaughn Pinkston. Villanova’s attack is centered around their backcourt, and while Corey Fisher has yet to really catch fire this season, Maalik Wayns looks like a potential superstar. UCLA will be the first real test for this Villanova team. The Bruins come into this one at 3-0 and a bit under the radar. The front line of Reeves Nelson (19.3 ppg), Tyler Honeycutt, and Joshua Smith is underrated and Lazeric Jones is an upgrade over Jerime Anderson at the point. The question mark is going to be Malcolm Lee. He rolled an ankle against Pepperdine, and his status (as of this writing) is still uncertain.

The nightcap is between Tennessee and VCU. Tennessee is a bit of a question mark this season. They have some talented and versatile players in Tobias Harris, Scotty Hopson, and Cam Tatum. All three are capable scorers with length and athleticism. But Brian Williams still is not in shape at center and the combination of Melvin Goins and Trae Golden has not exactly yielded terrific point guard play. VCU may play in the CAA, but don’t be fooled — this is a very good basketball team. Joey Rodriguez is the best point guard you’ve never seen play (18.3 ppg, 10.3 apg, 2.0 TO’s in three games), Jamie Skeen is a power forward transfer from Wake Forest, Ed Nixon is as good a defender as you will find on the perimeter, and Bradford Burgess and Brandon Rozzell are terrific complementary scorers. I’ll go as far as to say that I think VCU will win tonight.

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RTC Live: Preseason NIT Consolation & Finals (Ariz St vs. LSU; UConn vs. Duke)

RTCLive

Welcome back to MSG as we take in the third place game and the finals of the Preseason NIT. In the first game, tipping right at 2:30  pm today, LSU takes on Arizona State. The Tigers were run off the court against UConn, as their backcourt was unable to handle the pressure from the Huskies. The Sun Devils come out strong against Duke, but looked lost on the offensive end over the final 30 minutes of the game. A big issue for the Tigers is going to be how they match up with Arizona State defensively. The Tigers are pretty big — Storm Warren and Tasmin Mitchell are the two forwards, but neither is what you would call a “pure” small forward. ASU plays four guards (including Rihards Kuksiks), meaning that Trent Johnson is going to have to decide between dealing with the mismatch or playing zone. At the other end, ASU is going to have their hands full with Warren inside. He had 15 and 6 in limited minutes against a good Husky front line. Eric Boateng (4 points, 4 boards, 9 turnovers) will need to play much better for ASU.

The final is the game everyone will be waiting to see. There are a few certainties in life — gravity exists, turkey puts you to sleep, Dickie V loves Duke — and one of those certainties is that Duke-UConn is going to be a classic. Think back to 1990 and Christian Laettner‘s heroics; or the 1999 title game and Trajan Langdan’s travels; or the 2004 national semifinal and the UConn comeback. Whenever these two teams tango, it is an event, and tonight will be no different. Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith have been playing fantastic basketball, but they have yet to face a team that has the athletes that UConn has in the backcourt. Jerome “Slicin'” Dyson (ESPN really needs to stop using that nickname, it is terrible. What’s wrong with Romey?) and Kemba Walker are as good defending on the ball as anyone in the nation, and the ability of the Duke guards to handle the 2-2-1 press (with Romey and Kemba up top) will be a huge determinant in the outcome of this game. That said, the difference between UConn last night and UConn of the first three games was their aggressiveness going to the glass. But for the first time all season, they will play a team that can match up with them size-wise. Will the Huskies still be able to rebound the basketball?

Two things to keep an eye on: 1) Who controls the tempo of this game. UConn is going to want to get this thing going up and down, as Duke does not have the athletes to run with them. But Duke is going to want slow this down, sit back in a packed-in zone, and let the Huskies try to shoot their way to the title. 2) Stanley Robinson vs. Kyle Singler. Singler is the best player on this Duke team, and is the guy they look to for big shots. But Sticks is a phenomenal athlete, and will be counted on to slow down Singler.

Is it 5 pm yet? In the immortal words of Fergie, “Let’s get it started in here.”

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RTC Live: Preseason NIT Semifinals (UConn vs. LSU; Duke vs. Arizona State)

RTCLive

RTC Live is taking over the Garden… again. Just last week, we were there to watch Syracuse run roughshod over the rest of the Cal and UNC en route to the CvC tournament title. This time around, we will be there to provide instant analysis of the semifinals and finals of the Preseason NIT. The semis kick off with LSU taking on the UConn Huskies. Not much was expected out of the Tigers this season as they lost Chris Johnson and Marcus Thornton, but Trent Johnson’s group has played well. They are 3-0, including a win over Western Kentucky in the NIT regional final. Bo Spencer (20.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.0 apg) and Storm Warren (16.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg) are putting up the best numbers, but senior Tasmin Mitchell is the best player on this team. UConn, on the other hand, has been playing below expectations. With underwhelming wins over William & Mary, Colgate, and Hofstra (a game they were down nine with nine minutes left), the Huskies look like they are a long way from being a top three team in the Big East. That said, Jerome Dyson has played like an all-american (20.0 ppg, 6.0 apg), and Stanley Robinson (16.7 ppg) is forever a threat for a big dunk or three.

The second game of the night pits the Duke Blue Devils and the Arizona State Sun Devils. ASU, and the Pac-10 as a whole, could really use a strong showing in NYC. Herb Sendek’s teams are usually expected to low-scoring, but ASU has hit 80 points three times already this season, including breaking the century mark in their last outing against San Francisco. Sharpshooting Rihard Kuksiks leads five players averaging double figures at 13.8 ppg. The Dukies are shorthanded in their backcourt this season, as Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer and Andre Dawkins are the only scholarship guards Coach K has. Smith and Scheyer are playing like stars, however. Smith is averaging 22/6 apg through his first two games back from suspension, while Scheyer is posting 16.5 ppg and 5.3 apg through four games. His most impressive stat? 0. As in the number of turnovers he has this year. With Kyle Singler playing like Kyle Singler, this Duke team looks a lot better than the pundits gave them credit for during the preseason.  Join us for an exciting night of RTC Live hoops again from the mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden. Read the rest of this entry »

RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship


It’s an old familiar name versus a new one in the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game, as Xavier will match up against surging St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon with a guaranteed bid on the line.

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RTC Live: UCLA @ Oregon


UCLA and Oregon battle on Saturday to angle itself for a top half finish in the Pac-12 race. The league is so wide open this year that there’s no telling who will actually walk away with this year’s conference title.

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RTC Live: Albany @ Syracuse

RTC Live is back with a few more games this evening. Syracuse romped all over Manhattan College last night in the first round of the Preseason NIT, so they’ll face another Empire State team in the Dome this evening against Albany — join the fun from the Dome, after the jump.

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RTC Live: SEC Quarterfinals

Games #201-202.  It’s SEC Friday in Atlanta and we’re going to focus on two of the more important bubble games of the day here.

1 pm.  Georgia vs. Alabama. “Everybody says, ‘Well, the SEC is down,’Well, the top sure isn’t down. I have no idea where either of us sits in the eyes of the committee, and we can’t control that. All we’re going to worry about is trying to advance in this tournament.”  Those of the words of Georgia Coach Mark Fox and this game is huge in determining if the SEC has any chance at getting six tournament bids.  The bottom half of the SEC is terrible.   If the Bulldogs win this game, they’re all but guaranteed to make the tournament.  The Dawgs’ Trey Thompkins says he is as healthy as he has ever been and played great yesterday in a 69-51 win over Auburn where he scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.  That’s a point for Georgia.  Alabama closed out the season with a win over Georgia in Tuscaloosa 65-57 last Saturday, so definitely a point for Alabama, but the Tide lost two straight to Mississippi and Florida; and with three losses to sub-100 RPI teams and a terrible preseason record, the Tide has to feel like this is a must-win game despite the 12-4 conference record.  I’m taking Georgia 63-60.

7 pm. Tennessee vs. Florida.  Tennessee’s RPI is due to a SOS ranking that is number 2 in the country.  The Volunteers are also 7-6 against the RPI top 50.  Most of the “experts”  say Tennessee is in, but with a poor home record where the Vols lost eight games at home, a 4-6 record in their last 10 games and a sub 200 RPI loss to Charlotte, why not just win the game and put doubt to rest?  It wouldn’t be the first time the selection committee left out a top 40 RPI team.  Florida is playing for seeding right now.  The Gators are probably sitting on a number three seed and not likely to move up, but they could certainly still drop with a poor showing in the SEC Tournament.  Lots to play for here.  Florida wins it 70-64.

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RTC Live: Rider @ Pittsburgh

Game #57. RTC Live is back in Three Rivers City for another game at Pittsburgh taking on a team that has proven it can win against major conference teams on the road.

Welcome to a chilly day in Pittsburgh at the Petersen Events Center, one of the toughest places to play in college basketball. Today visiting Rider takes on Pitt in a non-conference matchup that could prove more exciting than it would seem at first glance. Pitt comes into the game with a perfect 7-0 record,  #3 national ranking according to the AP and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, and #3 nationally in rebounds per game and #5 in assists per game. Rider, on the other hand, has a #31 ranking in field goal percentage, but languishes in the other categories of note. Rider took down USC by 20 earlier in the season, but it remains to be seen what the rest of the season will hold for them as they have had a seesaw conference season so far. This will be a huge opportunity for Rider to prove itself against one of the best and deepest teams in the country, and an opportunity for Pitt to continue what has been a relatively smooth preseason as it gears up for the Big East conference season.

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RTC Live: Princeton @ #1 Duke

Game #10RTC Live is pleased to make our first trip into the hallowed halls of Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University this afternoon.

The Duke home opener is always a special day in Durham, but today’s game commands even more attention than usual. An extra banner hangs from the ceiling of Cameron Indoor Stadium, and this team enters with pressure its predecessor didn’t have: expectations of another national title. Questions do exist for Mike Krzyzewski’s team, though. Can Kyle Singler improve, or was last year his ceiling? How do Duke’s young guards fill in for Jon Scheyer? Will Seth Curry live up to the hype? How much playing time will Coach K give freshman Kyrie Irving? And was Brian Zoubek one of the most underrated players in college basketball in 2009-10? The preseason #1 Duke Blue Devils will have their first opportunity to answer those questions against the unranked Princeton Tigers. Princeton enters today’s game after an overtime win against Rutgers to open the season on Friday. The Tigers’ first win against a major conference opponent since 2004 was largely the work of senior Dan Mavraides, who had 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in 41 minutes of play. Princeton’s 6’11 center, Brendan Connolly, added 7 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, and needs to replicate that performance if the Tigers hope to keep Duke’s big men in check. If you can’t be in Cameron for the game, join up here and let RTC Live be there for you.

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