SEC Morning Five: 03.22.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 22nd, 2012

  1. After Shaka Smart turned down the Illinois job, another coach with VCU ties, current Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, emerged as a candidate for the position. According to The Chicago Tribune, “Athletic director Mike Thomas now will turn to his second-choice options, which include Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, according to sources. Both are considered to have strong interest in the job…Thomas is believed to be pursuing high-profile candidates and African-American head coaches.”
  2. As Florida prepares for its Sweet 16 contest with Marquette, the desired pace of both schools should produce a high-scoring affair. “I think the game will certainly be a fast game,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan. “With the way we play and I think the way that they play, conditioning probably in both of our practices is a premium.” Florida and Marquette both average close to 76 points a game and rank among the nation’s top 30 scoring teams and among the top 30 most efficient offenses, according to KenPom.com.
  3. Kentucky head coach John Calipari will identify the people who have given $2.5 million to help renovate the locker room complex at Rupp Arena, a university spokesman said Wednesday. “Coach plans to publicly recognize the donors in an appropriate fashion to thank them for their contributions in the near future,” spokesman Jay Blanton said in a statement. The plan shows a new circular locker room, a players’ lounge, a theater-style meeting room, and a new kitchen and dining area, among other upgrades. Funding for the $2.9 million project — $400,000 will be provided by Lexington Center — will be funneled through the Blue Grass Community Foundation, Owen said. Because the Lexington Center Corp. is a not-for-profit organization rather than a charitable entity, it can’t accept direct donations, and donors couldn’t take tax deductions.
  4. Auburn senior forward Kenny Gabriel will participate in the slam dunk portion of the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships on March 29 in Tulane’s Fogelman Arena at 8 p.m. on ESPN prior to the Final Four in New Orleans. “It is an honor because I never thought that I would be able to be in a dunk contest for college,” said Gabriel. “I am glad that I got the opportunity to do it. I hope to go down there and win it. I’m starting to work on my repertoire now.”
  5. As South Carolina continues its search for replacing Darrin Horn, one columnist, Ron Morris, from The State, writes that the Gamecocks need to pursue and hire a black coach. He writes, “Perhaps never in college basketball history has the opportunity been better and the number of qualified candidates greater for athletics departments to hire black men’s basketball coaches…USC is a little slow getting to this party. It remains one of four SEC programs — Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are the others — that have not employed a black men’s basketball coach.” By name, Morris mentioned Ohio State assistant Dave Dickerson (an Olar, South Carolina native) and Tennessee State’s John Cooper (assistant on Eddie Fogler’s staff from 1995 to 2001).
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SEC Morning Five: 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 21st, 2012

  1. On Tuesday night, the name of Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin emerged as a candidate for the vacant Illinois job. From Gail Fischer on CSNChicago.com: “On the surface, Martin seems like an intriguing candidate. He’s from East St. Louis, Illinois, where he won two IHSA state championships and played at Purdue under Gene Keady and alongside Matt Painter where they made it to the Elite Eight in 1995. He knows the Big Ten well. Imagine Martin battling Painter year in and year out.  Illinois/Purdue would be a nice little rivalry. Martin’s entire coaching staff at Tennessee is from Illinois.”
  2. Mississippi State had made contact with Murray State head coach Steve Prohm about its head coaching vacancy. The Racers’ Athletic Director Allen Ward voiced concerns over some of the tactics used by Bulldog brass. “A search firm, on behalf of Mississippi State, reached out to Prohm last week to gauge his interest in the Mississippi State job — while the Racers were still in the middle of their season. Ward says no one from Mississippi State has contacted him for permission to speak with Prohm, although that is just a professional courtesy rather than a mandate considering Prohm still has three years left on his contract. ‘I think there’s a right way to do things,’ Ward said Tuesday. ‘Considering we were still playing — it is what it is.’”
  3. One of South Carolina’s top head coaching targets, Gregg Marshall of Wichita State, said through sources that he had yet to hear from the Gamecocks. Other candidates have emerged including Kansas State’s Frank Martin and Harvard’s Tommy Amaker. On the Martin front, he “has been confirmed as a candidate with “heavy” interest in USC,” according to a source close to the situation. Regarding Amaker, “the possibility of Amaker returning to the South was substantiated by college basketball expert Seth Davis, who tweeted: ‘I’m hearing that South Carolina has potential interest in hiring Harvard coach Tommy Amaker to fill its coaching vacancy’.”
  4. Kentucky head coach John Calipari said he’s not planning on using revenge as motivation when the Wildcats face Indiana. “I don’t ever teach anger, because the physiology of that is really close to fear,” he said. “So if you try to make your team angry, and things don’t go right, it turns to fear within their bodies. So I don’t do it. That was like a season ago. Literally four months (ago). That’s so long ago, I had to watch the tape again to remember anything.”
  5. As Florida prepares for Marquette, the Golden Eagles’ star Jae Crowder complimented the Gator offense, but pointed out where his team might find success. “They are a great offensive team,” Crowder said of Florida. “They lack a few things defensively. Of course, they bring great pressure in the frontcourt and try to get you rattled a little bit. I think if we handle that, we’ll get a lot of things we want offensively.”
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SEC Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 16th, 2012

  1. Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury announced his retirement after 14 years in Starkville. Stansbury will continue to work at MSU in a yet-to-be-determined position, said athletic director Scott Stricklin. Accoring to the Clarion-Ledger report, Stricklin “didn’t rule out interviewing current MSU assistants for the job. ‘We’ll see; we’re wide open. I wouldn’t dismiss that idea.’” In that same piece, Dee Bost, the Bulldogs’ departing senior point guard, tweeted out an endorsement for long-time assistant coach Phil Cunningham. “Coach Stans retired,” tweeted Bost. “I think all alumni and fans should try to get Coach Cunningham as coach.”
  2. Vanderbilt won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2007. In a Tennesseean article by Michael Cass, he writes of a “banner year” for the Commodores and of some of the possible ramifications this year’s SEC title could bring. One Nashville native said, “For high school players, I don’t see how you can watch that (SEC championship game) and see the collection of talent Coach Stallings has put together and not want to be a part of it.” Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said, “On such a big national stage, to have Vanderbilt, obviously one of the greatest academic institutions in the world, beat the No. 1 team, win a championship in the greatest athletic conference in the country, it brings a lot of benefit to the university.”
  3. Alabama‘s Friday opponent, Creighton, utilized a popular practice technique to help prepare for the Crimson’s Tides press defense.  “There’s times when we’ve had seven defenders out there guarding five,” said Doug McDermott, the Bluejays’ All-America sophomore forward. “Our scout team guys probably aren’t as athletic and don’t have as much length as their guys do.”
  4. Like Dwight Howard announced today, another big man from the Sunshine State announced he would be staying for additional year when Florida sophomore center Patric Young said in the locker room Thursday that he intends to come back for his junior season. “That’s the first that I heard of that,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “So that’s always great news. I think Patric has learned a lot this year. I don’t think this year was as easy for him as he thought it was going to be.”
  5. Western Kentucky head coach Ray Harper pointed out a facet of the game where the Kentucky Wildcats will have to improve if it hopes to win an eighth national title. “If they want to advance and win a national championship, they’re going to have to shoot the ball better from the perimeter,” Harper said. “They’re going to have to find somebody else that can make a shot from the perimeter.” The Wildcats have shot just 23.8% from the three-point arc going back to the start of the SEC Tournament and have not shot better than 30% in any of those four games. Doron Lamb is 4-for-15 in that stretch; Darius Miller is 2-for-12; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are a combined 0-6.
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SEC NCAA Tournament Primer: Thursday/Saturday Games

Posted by EMoyer on March 15th, 2012

On Thursday, Kentucky and Vanderbilt open their NCAA Tournament runs facing Western Kentucky and Harvard, respectively. Here we preview the Thursday/Saturday possibilities for the Wildcats and Commodores.

SEC NCAA Tournament Thursday/Saturday Capsules

SOUTH Region 

  • #1 Kentucky: Championship Appearances: 53; Record 107-47; Best Finish: Champion – 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998; How Qualified: At-Large, SEC; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, National Semifinal
  • #16 Western Kentucky: Championship Appearances: 22; Record 19-22; Best Finish: Third Place – 1971; How Qualified: Automatic Bid, Sun Belt Conference; Last Appearance: 2009 – L, Second Round
  • #8 Iowa State: Championship Appearances: 14; Record 12-13; Best Finish: Final Four  – 1944; How Qualified: At Large, Big 12; Last Appearance: 2005 – L, Second Round
  • #9 Connecticut: Championship Appearances: 47; Record 35-43; Best Finish: Champion – 1999, 2004, 2011; How Qualified: At Large, Big East; Last Appearance: 2011 – Champion
All-Time Meetings
  • Kentucky vs Western Kentucky: Kentucky leads 3-2; Last Meeting: Nov. 15, 2001 (Western Kentucky 64, Kentucky 52)
  • Kentucky vs Iowa State: Kentucky leads 2-0; Last Meeting: Mar. 22, 1992 (Kentucky 106, Iowa State 98)
  • Kentucky vs Connecticut: Connecticut leads 3-1; Last Meeting: April 2, 2011 (Connecticut 56, Kentucky 55)
A Starting 5 of the Top Players Kentucky Could Face
  • Derrick Gordon, Western Kentucky, Fr., G: Gordon has amassed 400 points in his first year as a Hilltopper. Only two freshmen have scored more points in Western Kentucky history (Courtney Lee, 467;  Ralph Crosthwaite, 437). He is on pace to become the first Hilltopper freshman to pace the team in scoring and he will be the first in five years to lead in rebounding.
  • Chris Allen, Iowa State, Sr., G: Allen leads the team with 72 3-point field goals and he has played in the most NCAA Tournament games (14) in this year’s 68-team field. Allen played in two Final Fours for Michigan State (2009, 2010.
  • Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, So., G: Lamb earned First-Team All-Big East honors and the NABC District I Player of the Year after leading the Huskies in scoring at 17.1 points per game.
  • Royce White, Iowa State, So., F: White is the only player in the nation to lead his team in scoring (13.1), rebounding (9.2), assists (5.1), steals (1.2) and blocks (0.9). He is on the verge of posting top-10 single seasons in assists and rebounds in Cyclone history. He is one of 12 players in the county to post a triple-double this season.
  • Andre Drummond, Connecticut, Fr., C: Drummond has tallied 10 double-doubles this season, a UConn freshman record under Coach Jim Calhoun. He won four Big East Rookie of the Week honors, and leads the team in rebounding (7.7) and blocks (2.7).
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SEC Morning Five: 03.14.12

Posted by EMoyer on March 14th, 2012

  1. South Carolina’s Darrin Horn became the third head coach from a BCS school (joining Bruce Weber of Illinois and Doc Sadler of Nebraska) to lose his job this month. South Carolina fired Horn after four seasons in Columbia. He could not build on his 21-10 first season and interest in the team sagged. Quoting the AP account of the story “average paid attendance this season was 8,900 people in the 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena – down about 1,500 fans – with most games seeing less than half of the announced number actually in the stands.”
  2. David Cloninger from GamecockCentral.com speculated on possible replacements, writing, “The hot name on several lips to replace Horn is Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, a South Carolina native who assisted at College of Charleston and then led tiny Winthrop to seven NCAA tournaments in nine years. Marshall is leading the Shockers into the NCAA tournament as a five-seed, and has publicly said, although it was years ago, that he would love to take the USC job someday. Another candidate that could emerge is Jeff Capel, the former Oklahoma coach who was contacted when Horn was hired, but turned down the offer, was later fired and currently serves as an assistant coach at Duke. Shaka Smart, the Virginia Commonwealth coach who shocked the world last season by taking a team from a play-in game to the Final Four, would be a hot name, but he has been publicly mentioned as the top choice to replace Bruce Weber, who was recently fired at Illinois.”
  3. John Clay wrote of the comparisons between Kentucky’s 1996 team than went undefeated in SEC play only to lose in the Tournament final in New Orleans before winning the national title to the 2012 version of the Wildcats that followed the same first two chapters of the script by speaking with a key member of the ’96 team, Tony Delk. Delk, now an assistant for New Mexico State said “It was a game where I thought that was the best loss we could have had. Because going into the tournament, you didn’t want to be too high. If we had won that game, it could have been, ‘OK, we’re going to cruise through this and we’re going to win easily.’ We could have gotten knocked off early. We re-focused ourselves.”
  4. In advance to Ole Miss opening play in the NIT, the Rebels secured a commitment from Marshall Henderson, a 6-2 guard from South Plains Junior College. Hen started his career at Utah but transferred to Texas Tech. After sitting out the NCAA-mandated transfer year, he moved again following the dismissal of coach Pat Knight. Henderson is averaging 19.4 points a game and is shooting 46 percent from the floor, 43 percent from the 3-point line, and 88 percent at the free-throw line.
  5. Florida’s all-SEC freshman guard Bradley Beal offered some insight as to his plans for next season. Some NBA Draft projections have placed Beal inside the top 10. “Either way it goes, if I leave, I still played a great year of college, I enjoyed it,” Beal said. “If I stay, it’s only going to make me get better. Either way it goes, I’m gaining something positive out of it. I have no clue. I haven’t even really thought about it at all,” said Beal. “Right now, I don’t know. I haven’t put too much thought into it. When that time comes I’m going to talk to coach (Billy) Donovan and my family and we’re going to have to sit down and talk about it. When that time comes, it comes.”
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SEC Morning Five: 03.12.12

Posted by EMoyer on March 12th, 2012

  1. Vanderbilt ended a 61-year SEC Tournament Championship drought by toppling #1 Kentucky, 71-64, on Sunday. As a reward for their effort, the Commodores earned a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the committee did them few other favors. For starters, they will open their tournament on Thursday and secondly, they must travel to Albuquerque, N.M. Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings voiced some displeasure with his team’s fate, saying “I thought with the win today, maybe we had a chance to crack the top 16 (and be a 4 seed). But we didn’t and that’s OK. It’s kind of difficult. I was really wanting, more than anything else, I was really hoping for a close site and a Friday game. And we got a far-away site and a Thursday game. So I guess that is what it is and we have to go get ready to do it.”
  2. As some experts began to say that Kentucky needed to experience a loss before NCAA Tournament, the Commodores obliged by handing the Wildcats their first loss in more than three months. John Clay wrote if the loss will follow the adage or if it held greater meaning. “Did a young Kentucky team, without a deep bench, succumb to the fatigue of playing three games in three days? Did the law of averages catch up with the Cats?”
  3. After falling to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament semifinals, Florida head coach Billy Donovan questioned the free throw disparity between his Gators and the favored Wildcats. “We got to the free-throw line two times in by far the most physical game we have played this year,” Donovan said. “How we only got there two times is beyond me. I thought it got to a point in the second half where it was kind of like just everybody was taking each other down because no one wanted to give up anything easy…When you see from our bench in the second half, Patric Young getting pushed in the back constantly, constantly, constantly, and there’s no whistle. I mean, to me it’s really hard to overcome 20 free throws to two.”
  4. Mississippi State’s late-season fade culminated in the the Bulldogs missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. On Sunday, Greg Shaheen, interim executive vice president for NCAA championships, acknowledged that the Bulldogs were among the final teams under consideration, “They were in discussions as recently as [Sunday] morning,” he said during a teleconference. “The committee woke up [Sunday] morning with an interest in kind of making sure that the last selections were exactly where they wanted to be, and Mississippi State was still in that discussion…Mississippi State was there for the taking when the final field was set. Certainly their résumé put them right there.”
  5. Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy offered up some thoughts on the Rebels earning a #2 seed in the NIT and on the suspension of Jelan Kendrick, who did not play at all during the SEC Tournament. On the NIT, he told Hugh Kellenberger, “My hope is that once we get through the disappointment of not getting it done against Vandy in the semifnials, they’ll be excited to play basketball and the competitive spirit and nature will kick in and they will want to keep playing,” Regarding Kendrick, Kennedy said, “We’ll revisit the situation this week.”
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RTC’s 2012 SEC Tournament Preview

Posted by EMoyer on March 8th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

Tournament Preview

Tournament Tidbits

  • Kentucky is the top seed in the modified SEC Tournament. After 20 years of seeding based on divisional finishes, the 12 teams were seeded #1 through #12. This change allowed for four former “Eastern Division” schools (Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida) to claim the first-round byes. In previous years, the Commodores and Gators would have had to play first round games and the 9-7 Alabama and 8-8 Mississippi State squads would have had byes.
  • Anthony Davis swept the SEC year-end awards, claiming Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year. There exists some history of SEC Players of the Year leading his team to a tournament title and claiming Tournament MVP honors in the process. In 25 years of the Coaches SEC Player of the Year, five have doubled up with Tournament MVP honors. Four of those players came from Kentucky (Ron Mercer, 1997; Tayshaun Prince, 2001; Keith Bogans, 2003; John Wall, 2010). Only one Defensive Player of the Year, Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnadoin 2009, went on to earn Tournament MVP honors (the award began in 2004). No SEC Freshman of the Year has won Tournament MVP honors in the same season (that award began in 2001).

    Anthony Davis Swept The SEC's Three Major Postseason Awards. Will The Dynamic Davis Add A Tournament MVP To His Growing List Of Accolades? (AP)

  • The Wildcats will go for its fourth “three-peat.” Kentucky won SEC Tournament titles from 1944-50, 1992-95 and from 1997-99. The only other programs to win three straight SEC titles are Alabama (1989-91) and Florida (2005-07).
  • Kentucky enters the SEC Tournament off a perfect 16-0 record in league games. In nine previous seasons, the Wildcats also posted perfect conference records leading up the conference tournament. Kentucky has gone on to win seven of those tournament titles, losing to Vanderbilt in 1951 and Mississippi State in 1996. The loss to the Bulldogs also came in New Orleans

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SEC Season Wrap-Up

Posted by EMoyer on March 8th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

The Year that Was

  • Kentucky pulled off its 12th undefeated SEC season in history (and 16th overall by any school) with an incredible scoring margin of 16.4 points per game against SEC foes – the widest margin since at least 1996-97. 
  • For the first time in the three years that John Calipari has coached the Wildcats, one of his many talented freshmen did not lead EC freshmen in scoring. That honor went to Arkansas’ B.J. Young. The first-year Razorback averaged 15.3 points per game.
  • While no Wildcat freshman led the league’s rookies in scoring, no  one would argue that his freshest class of Blue Chippers lacked impact. Anthony Davis shattered Kentucky, SEC, and NCAA records in the paint and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist produced some of his best efforts against the nation’s best.

    John Calipari Has Had A Lot Of Reasons To Smile So Far This Season (AP)

  • The league’s two new coaches, Mike Anderson (Arkansas) and Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee) each came from the “Show Me State” and both showed glimpses of excellence during the course of the season. Anderson and the Razorbacks started 17-1 at home before some late faltering has them starring at the NIT. Martin’s tenure opened with a 3-6 start that included losses to Oakland, Austin Peay, and College of Charleston. The season turnaround began with a home upset of Florida on January 7 and the team received an influx of talent when Jarnell Stokes (9.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 54.7% FG ) joined the team one week later. The Volunteers closed with eight wins in their last nine games and into “bubble talk” conversation.
  • A year ago, Alabama was left out of the NCAA Tournament despite winning in the old SEC Western Division. This season, Anthony Grant scheduled up, playing and most importantly, beating Wichita State, Purdue, and VCU. The Crimson Tide improved their strength of schedule from 114 last season to 19 this year entering the SEC Tournament. The Tide should easily return to the Big Dance for the first time since 2006.
  • Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins led the league in scoring at an even 20.0 points per game. He became the first repeat scoring champ in the SEC since LSU’s Ronnie Henderson in 1995 and 1996. He firmly established himself as one of the nation’s top shooters, connecting on an NCAA-leading 118 3-point field goals. That total ranks second in Commodore history, and him tied for the second-best single season total in SEC history with Tennessee’s Chris Lofton.
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SEC Morning Five: 03.08.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 8th, 2012

  1. In a Wednesday teleconference to preview Sunday’s release of the NCAA Tournament pairings, committee chairman Jeff Hathaway all but handed two of the four top seeds to Kentucky and Syracuse, each of whom entered their conference tournaments with a record of 30-1. “I think we all agree that if the season ended today, we know who the two best teams are,” he said. “If you’re looking at 3 and 4 on the first line and the entire second line, we have the same handful of teams in mind but where they would be laced will be a tremendous debate.”
  2. Georgia head coach Mark Fox took his team on a brief detour upon the Bulldogs’ arrival in New Orleans on Wednesday. He had the bus travel through the city’s Ninth Ward. “It’s one thing to see it on TV or hear about it from somebody else,” sophomore forward Marcus Thornton said. “But to actually see some of the damage yourself and see some of the places — there used to be a lot of homes that just aren’t there anymore. It kind of makes you stop for a second and be thankful for everything that’s fortunate in your life. I think it was a good experience for us all to see that.” Fox, who has a had a brother that used to live in New Orleans, did the same thing with his Nevada team in 2007 when they were in town for the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Mississippi State’s Rodney Hood declared himself “100 percent” healthy in advance of the Bulldogs’ SEC Tournament opener against Georgia. Hood, who suffered a deep bone bruise in his left knee late in the first half of a 73-64 loss to No. 1 Kentucky on Feb. 21, participated in a practice and shootaround yesterday without a brace protecting his knee. He played a total of 34 minutes in the Bulldogs’ two contests last week.
  4. LSU forward Malcolm White spent part of Wednesday answering questions about his takedown of Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in their January 28 meeting. “It was out of character,” White said. “I just made a bad play. I should have made a play on the ball.” White grabbed Davis from behind, and “flung him down to the ground” late the Wildcats’ 74-50 victory. The story goes on to say “As Davis sprawled in the lane, White walked away… and kept walking to the locker room. The referees called a flagrant foul and ejected White.”
  5. More and more of the holiday tournaments for next season have announced their fields. On Wednesday, the Gazelle Group announced the four participants of the “Champions Round” of the Legends Classic. Joining Indiana, UCLA and Georgetown will be Georgia. The four will meet at Brooklyn’s brand new Barclays Center, on November 19-20. Georgia participated in the CBE Classic this past November, losing to California and beating Notre Dame in Kansas City. Two seasons ago, the Bulldogs went 1-2 at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
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SEC Set Your TiVo: 03.03 – 03.04.12

Posted by EMoyer on March 3rd, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

#1 Kentucky @ # Florida- Noon EST Sunday on CBS (****)

  • Kentucky will look to complete its first perfect SEC regular season since 2003. The Wildcats have posted 11 of the 15 undefeated league records in SEC history.
  • At 15-0, Kentucky is one of three schools (Long Beach State – Big West; Texas-Arlington – Southland) in NCAA D-I with an unblemished record in conference play.
  • Florida holds a 2-8 record all-time vs. the No. 1 team in the country, including 0-8 vs. Kentucky. The Gators’ two wins over the No. 1 team came in the NCAA Tournament, defeating Duke in 2000 and Ohio State in 2007.
  • In those eight games, Kentucky has beaten Florida by an average of 29.1 points per game.
  • The Gators have already sealed a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament and can reach the No. 2 seed with a win. If Vanderbilt defeats Tennessee on Saturday, Florida would be guaranteed at least the No. 3 seed,

Vanderbilt @ Tennessee  - 4:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

  • Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins leads the SEC in scoring at 20.1 points per game. If he finishes atop the league, he will be the first player to lead the SEC in scoring in consecutive seasons since LSU’s Ronnie Henderson in 1995 and 1996. His 115 made three-point field goals leads the nation.
  • Vanderbilt is the only team in the SEC that sports three 1,000-point scorers in Jenkins (1,837), Jeffery Taylor (1,547), and Brad Tinsley (1,192).
  • Tennessee’s 110 wins over the Commodores are the most by the Vols over any opponent,
  • The Volunteers can score the final first-round bye in next week’s SEC Tournament with a win and an Alabama loss.

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Southern Conference Tournament Preview

Posted by EMoyer on March 2nd, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

Tournament Preview

Tournament Tidbits

  • Davidson earned its 11th Division title since the SoCon went to the division format in 1995 (the most among SoCon schools – Chattanooga is 2nd with eight).
  • De’Mon Brooks won the fourth SoCon Player of the Year for Davidson in the last eight years (Brandan Winters, 2005; Stephen Curry, 2008, 2009).
  • UNC Greensboro’s Wes Millerearned the Coach of the Year by the SoCon Sports Media Association becoming the the first conference coach of the year in the Spartans’ 21-year history.

    De'Mon Brooks and Davidson Are One Of The Heavy Favorites To win The SoCon Tourney (AP)

  • UNC Greensboro won its first outright division title and earned its first bye to the quarterfinals since 2008.
  • The Spartans’ Trevis Simpson averaged 23.7 points per game in February, tops in the SoCon. Simpson had averaged 16.7 points per game for the season prior to February 1.
  • Wofford will attempt to join current SoCon members Davidson (1968-70 and 2006-08), Chattanooga (1981-83 and 1993-95) and Furman (1973-75) as the only schools to win three straight SoCon Tournament titles. (Former members North Carolina 1924-26, NC State 1947-52, West Virginia 1955-60, and ETSU 1989-92 each won at least three straight titles).
  • Elon’s nine conference wins are their most since 2007-08.
  • Since moving into the Phoenix starting lineup 13 games ago, Jack Isenbarger has averaged 19.5 points per game and shot 46.1% on three-point tries.
  • Georgia Southern’s Ben Drayton III needs 26 points to reach the 1,500-point milestone for his career.
  • Georgia Southern has not won a SoCon Tournament game since 2007.
  • Western Carolina’s Keaton Cole needs one 3-point field goal to move onto the SoCon’s top-10 single season list. He has hit 102 3-pointers this season, good for fourth in the country.
  • College of Charleston closed the season by winning six of its last seven games, matching the Cougars’ best seven-game stretch this season.
  • The Cougars earned a #4 seed in the tournament, their first time not earning a top-three seed since joining the league in 1998-99.
  • For the third time in four years, Furman will open SoCon Tournament play against Samford. In 2009, Samford claimed a 57-52 victory; Furman returned the favor last season by beating the Bulldogs 61-48 in first-round action.
  • The Citadel has won two games in a single SoCon Tournament once in 60 tournament appearances (1959).
  • The Bulldogs’ Mike Groselle has 22 career double-doubles, tied with Regan Truesdale for the most in program history.
  • Chattanooga lost the first game of 2011 SoCon Tournament … the Mocs have not lost their first conference tournament game in consecutive years since 1978-1979-1980.

Reader’s Take

 

Team Tournament Capsules

  • #1S Davidson: Championship Appearances: 57; Record 57-46; Best Finish: Champion – 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008; Last Season: L, First Round.
  • #1N UNC Greensboro: Championship Appearances: 15; Record 12-13; Best Finish: Champion – 2001; Last Season: L, Quarterfinal.

    UNC Greensboro Lost In The Quarterfinals Last Year. Will This Season Be Different For Wes Miller and Company? (AP)

  • #2S Wofford: Championship Appearances: 14; Record 11-11; Best Finish: Champion – 2010, 2011; Last Season: Champion.
  • #2N Elon: Championship Appearances: 9; Record 9-8; Best Finish: Runner-up – 2008; Last Season: L, Quarterfinal.
  • #3S Georgia Southern: Championship Appearances: 19; Record 12-18; Best Finish: Semifinals – 1993, 1994, 2001, 2004, 2005; Last Season: L, First Round.
  • #3N Western Carolina: Championship Appearances: 33; Record 16-31; Best Finish: Champion – 1996; Last Season: L, Semifinal
  • #4S College of Charleston: Championship Appearances: 14; Record 17-12; Best Finish: Champion – 1999; Last Season: L, Final.
  • #4N Samford: Championship Appearances: 4; Record 2-3; Best Finish: Semfinals – 2009; Last Season: L, First Round
  • #5S Furman: Championship Appearances: 59; Record 44-52; Best Finish: Champion – 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1980; Last Season: L, Semifinal
  • #5N Appalachian State: Championship Appearances: 41; Record 40-38; Best Finish: Champion – 1979, 2000; Last Season: L, Quarterfinal
  • #6S The Citadel: Championship Appearances: 60; Record 11-59; Best Finish: Runner-up – 1959; Last Season: L, First Round
  • #6N Chattanooga: Championship Appearances: 35; Record 52-24; Best Finish: Champion – 1981, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2009; Last Season: L, Quarterfinal

Tournament Schedule (All games played at U.S. Cellular Center, Asheville, NC)

  • Friday, March 2, 11:30 am ET: #4S College of Charleston vs #5N Appalachian State (SoConTV); Season Results: Feb 4 (College of Charleston 74, at Appalachian State 62); Series Record: Appalachian State leads 17-11; Tournament Series: College of Charleston leads 4-3.
  • Friday, March 2, 2:00 ET: #3N Western Carolina vs #6S The Citadel (SoConTV); Season Results: Feb. 16 (at Western Carolina 70, The Citadel 53); Series Record: The Citadel leads 34-27; Tournament Series: Tied 1-1.
  • Friday, March 2, 6:00 ET: #4N Samford vs #5S Furman (SoConTV); Season Results: Feb. 18 (at Samford 55, Furman 49); Series Record: Furman leads 8-3; Tournament Series: Tied 1-1.
  • Friday, March 2, 8:30 ET: #3S Georgia Southern vs #6N Chattanooga (SoConTV); Season Results: Dec. 1 (at Georgia Southern 84, Chattanooga 76), Jan. 28 (Georgia Southern 75, at Chattanooga 72); Series Record: Chattanooga leads 31-17; Tournament Series: Chattanooga leads 3-0.
  • Saturday, March 3, Noon ET: #1N UNC Greensboro vs #4S/#5N Winner (ESPN3); UNC Greensboro vs College of Charleston: College of Charleston leads 20-9; UNC Greensboro def. College of Charleston 73-66 on Jan. 12 and 78-63 on Feb. 15. UNC Greensboro vs Appalachian State: Appalachian State leads 20-17; Appalachian State def. UNC Greensboro 78-64 on Dec. 1 and UNC Greensboro def. Appalachian State 77-73 (OT) on Jan. 26.
  • Saturday, March 3, 2:30 ET: #2S Wofford vs #3N/#6S Winner (ESPN3); Wofford vs Western Carolina: Western Carolina leads 23-19; Western Carolina def. Wofford 67-57 on Jan. 7 and Wofford def. Western Carolina 82-56 on Jan. 30. Wofford vs The Citadel: Wofford leads 48-45; Wofford def. Western Carolina 82-63 on Dec. 3 and 62-55 on Jan. 26.
  • Saturday, March 3, 6:00 ET: #1S Davidson vs #4N/#5S Winner (ESPN3); Davidson vs Samford: Davidson leads 7-1; Samford def. Davidson 77-74 on Jan. 28, Davidson def. Samford 81-54 on Feb. 15. Davidson vs Furman: Davidson leads 96-61; Davidson def. Furman 86-65 on Dec. 3 and 71-53 on Feb. 1.
  • Saturday, March 3, 8:30 ET: #2N Elon vs #3S/#6N Winner (ESPN3); Elon vs Georgia Southern: Georgia Southern leads 9-8; Georgia Southern def. Elon 69-63 on Jan. 5. Elon vs Chattanooga: Chattanooga leads 11-9; Elon def. Chattanooga 88-87 on Jan. 21 and Chattanooga def. Elon 83-75 on Feb. 9
  • Sunday March 4, 6:00 ET: Semifinal #1 (ESPN3)
  • Sunday March 4, 8:30 ET: Semifinal #1 (ESPN3)
  • Monday March 5, 7:00 ET: Semifinal Winners (ESPN2)
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Atlantic Sun Tournament Preview

Posted by EMoyer on February 29th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

Tournament Preview

Tournament Tidbits

  • Belmont returns as the top seed for the third time in five years. As the top seed, the Bruins won the title in both 2008 and 2011.
  • Belmont’s two wins as the top seed account for the only two times in the last 10 A-Sun Tournaments that the top seed has emerged as the victor.

    Belmont Can Break A Tie With UCF For The Most A-Sun Tournament Titles (AP)

  • Belmont can break a tie with UCF for the most A-Sun Tournament titles. The Bruins and Golden Knights each own four titles. The Golden Knights won their fourth title in 2005, their last year in the A-Sun. This year is Belmont’s last in the conference.
  • Belmont can join Louisiana-Monroe (1982), Georgia Southern (1992), College of Charleston (1998) and UCF (2005) as schools to win the A-Sun title in their last year in the league.
  • For the third year in a row, Mercer and the University Center will serve as the tournament host. The Bears will look to end an 11-year drought for the host winning on its home floor. Georgia State (2001) was the last host to win the title. From 1979 to 2001, 11 of the 22 A-Sun Championships went to the host school.
  • Mercer will hope the trend of #2 seeds winning the A-Sun Championship continues. Five of the last eight A-Sun Championships have been won by the #2 seed.
  • Mercer’s Langston Hall paces the Bears in scoring at 11.3 points per game. No A-Sun champion since 1997 has featured a leading scorer averaging fewer than 12.2 points per game.
  • In Belmont (24 wins), Mercer (21 wins) and USC Upstate (20 wins), this year’s A-Sun Championship is the first to feature three 20-win teams since 2003-04.

    Langston Hall and Mercer Will Hope The Trend Of #2 Seeds Winning The A-Sun Championship Continues (Mercer Athletics)

  • USC Upstate’s breakthrough season resulted in Torrey Craig earning the league’s Player of the Year award. He will have to buck the trend of  Players of the Year leading his team to the title. Only one A-Sun Player of the Year has led his team to A-Sun Tournament title since 2000 – Georgia State’s Shernard Long (2001).
  • Both USC Upstate and FGCU will be making their first appearance in the A-Sun Tournament. None of the current A-Sun school won the tournament in its first appearance and only three (Kennesaw State, Mercer and Stetson) even won a game in its first appearance.
  • ETSU owns the longest active streak of semifinal appearances (five). The Buccaneers last failed to make the A-Sun’s final four in 2006. Mercer (2010-2011) is the only other school with a streak greater than one.
  • Buoyed by his 46-point effort on Feb. 20, North Florida’s Parker Smith finished the conference’s top scorer in February. He averaged 21.3 points and 4.9 3′s in seven games.
  • Since the dismissal of Jordan Burgason in early February, new players have emerged for Lipscomb. Junior Deonte Alexander upped his scoring from 7.6 per game to 12.5 per game. Freshman Malcolm Smith increased his scoring from 9.3 points per game to 12.2 in his final six games.
  • After five straight years as a top-3 seed, Jacksonville was able to secure its sixth-straight appearance only after Stetson lost on the final day of the regular season. The Dolphins have never beaten a higher seed in 12 prior appearances.

Reader’s Take

 

Team Tournament Capsules

  • #1 Belmont: Championship Appearances: 11; Record 15-6; Best Finish: Champion – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011; Last Season: Champion
  • #2 Mercer: Championship Appearances: 28; Record 23-25; Best Finish: Champion – 1981, 1985; Last Season: L, Semifinals
  • #3 USC Upstate: First Appearance
  • #4 ETSU: Championship Appearances: 7; Record 10-4; Best Finish: Champion – 2009, 2010; Last Season: L, Semifinals
  • #5 North Florida: Championship Appearances: 3; Record 2-2; Best Finish: Runner-up – 2011; Last Season: L, Final
  • #6 FGCU: First Appearance
  • #7 Lipscomb: Championship Appearances: 8; Record 4-7; Best Finish: Runner-up – 2006; Last Season: L, Quarterfinals
  • #8 Jacksonville: Championship Appearances: 13; Record 5-12; Best Finish: Runner-up – 2008, 2009; Last Season: L, Quarterfinals

What Is The Best Matchup Of The Opening Round? It Could Very Well Be Torrey Craig and USC Upstate Against FGCU

Tournament Schedule (All games played at University Center, Macon, GA)

  • Wednesday, February 29, 2:30 ET: #1 Belmont vs #8 Jacksonville (ESPN3); Season Results: Jan. 4 (Belmont 75, at Jacksonville 63), Jan. 28 (at Belmont 85, Jacksonville 71); Series Record: Belmont, 15-6; Tournament Series Belmont, 1-0; #1 vs #8: 20-5
  • Wednesday, February 29, 8:30 ET: #2 Mercer vs #7 Lipscomb (ESPN3); Season Results: Dec. 1 (Mercer 79, at Lipscomb 72), Feb. 23 (at Mercer 63, Lipscomb 54); Series Record: Lipscomb, 12-8; Tournament Series Lipscomb, 2-1; #2 vs #7: 24-4
  • Thursday, March 1, 2:30 ET: #4 ETSU vs #5 North Florida (ESPN3); Season Results: Jan. 16 (ETSU 64, at North Florida 63), Feb. 11(at ETSU 65, North Florida 50); Series Record: Lipscomb, 12-8; Tournament Series Lipscomb, 2-1; #5 vs #4: 16-14
  • Thursday, March 1, 8:30 ET: #3 USC Upstate vs #6 FGCU (ESPN3); Season Results: Dec. 19 (USC Upstate 80, at FGCU 75), Feb. 23 (at USC Upstate 87, FGCU 74); Series Record: ETSU, 13-1; Tournament Series: North Florida 1-0; #3 vs #6: 19-11
  • Friday, March 2, 6:00 ET: #1/#8 Winner vs #4/#5 Winner (ESPN3)
  • Friday, March 2, 8:30 ET: #2/#7 Winner vs #3/#6 Winner (ESPN3)
  • Saturday, March 3, 7:00 ET: Semifinal Winners (ESPN2)
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