RTC Live: Mountain West Championship – UNLV vs. San Diego State

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

Friday night in Vegas was as good as could have been expected. Or at least it was for the roughly 18,000 of us who were lucky enough to see as four teams battled it out to the bitter end, watching great players make great plays in March. With the MWC’s automatic NCAA bid up for grabs, Saturday afternoon could be an encore performance. These teams have split the season series thus far, each winning by ten on their home court, and while the Aztec fans will be greatly outnumbered, they’ve got plenty of reasons to be excited about their Aztecs who are playing the best basketball of their season. Both teams are a little beat up at this point (San Diego State’s point guard D.J. Gay came up a little gimpy at the tail end of their game and UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis turned an ankle just under three minutes before coming back to score six of the Rebels’ last seven) and they won’t have a lot of time to patch their bones, but the energy from the electric Thomas & Mack crowd should get everyone’s adrenaline pumping early and often. We hope you’ll join us on RTC Live for what should be a hard-fought and entertaining game between two teams that seem destined for NCAA Tournament berths.

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RTC Live: ACC Semifinals – Duke vs. Miami & Georgia Tech vs. NC State

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

What a wild ride the 2010 version of the ACC Tournament has been. 12th seeded Miami has sent home the 4th and 5th seeds. 7th seeded Georgia Tech has sent home fan-favorite North Carolina and 2nd seeded Maryland. 11th seed NC State took out 6th seeded Clemson and 3rd seeded FSU. The only two first-team all-ACC players left heading into semifinal Saturday are those from top seeded Duke, Kyle Singler and John Scheyer. The basketball hasn’t always been pretty, but the ACC is what it is this year, a group of mediocre teams without any great teams. That’s why I’m expecting more of the same today. Duke will certainly have an advantage over a Miami team that has played two consecutive days, but twice before (NC State both times, in 1997 and 2007) a team has won three straight games to make it to the championship game. Can Miami become the third to do it? Georgia Tech will meet NC State in the second game of the day with a spot in the championship game on the line. The Yellow Jackets became only the 4th #7 seed to win a pair of games in ACC Tournament history while NC State became the first 11th seeded team ever to win two games in a row. All this should make for a very interesting semifinal Saturday. Buckle up fans and join us for another exciting day of RTC Live from Greensboro.

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Semifinals – Temple vs. Rhode Island & Richmond vs. Xavier

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

The Atlantic 10 Conference has scheduled their conference tournament in Atlantic City, NJ, the East Coast’s mecca for gambling and entertainment. The quarterfinals are over, and the last four standing are the top-seeded Temple Owls, who will face the Running Rams from Rhode Island, and the second-seeded Xavier Musketeers, who will face the third-seeded Spiders of Richmond. Eight of the fifteen players named to the three All Conference and one of the All-Freshmen Team players will see action on Saturday, giving these matchups a heavy “all star” flavor.  The Temple Owls will be led by First Team All-A10 forward Lavoy Allen, Second Team All-A10 guard Ryan Brooks, All-A10 Sixth Man Ramone Moore and All-A10 Honorable Mention point guard Juan Fernandez, while Rhode Island will counter with Third Team All-A10 guard Keith Cothran and power forward Delroy James, and All-Rookie Team guard Akeem Richmond. Xavier will be led by First Team All-A10 guard Jordan Crawford and Third Team All-A10 forward Jason Love. Richmond will counter with A10 Player of Year Kevin Anderson and Second Team All-A10 David Gonzalvez. This has been Temple’s tournament for the past three postseasons, but today the Owls face a Rhode Island hungry for an NCAA bid. Xavier and Richmond, virtually assured of an NCAA bid, are playing for seed and the home-team whites should Temple stumble. Join RTC Live as we blog live from the A10 Tournament at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

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RTC Live: CUSA Championship – UTEP vs. Houston

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

The UTEP Miners are rolling into the CUSA championship game with a 15-1 Conference USA record and a 17 game winning streak, so it’s only fitting that that they will have to face the last team to beat them.  Houston comes in as the #7 seed and the feel good story of the tournament, fresh off a one-point upset of #2 Memphis in the semifinals.  Aubrey Coleman, the nations leading scorer, has manhandled the Cougars’ opponents this tournament, averaging 25 points a game.  At #21 in the nation, UTEP has the best overall team, but Houston is the last team UTEP wants to deal with. They only won seven conference games, but the Cougars have beaten three of the top four teams in CUSA, including Memphis twice. If they manage to pull off this upset and punch their ticket to the dance, it will be one of the more remarkable underdog stories of the year. So join us here at RTC Live and make sure you don’t miss this great championship matchup!

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Big East Tourney Daily Diary: Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is spending the week as the RTC correspondent at the Big East Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the semifinal games.

Georgetown 80, Marquette 57

  • Georgetown whooped Duke. They smacked Villanova. Just yesterday they knocked off Syracuse. That said, would you believe me if I told you that this may be the Hoyas’ most impressive win of the season? Marquette doesn’t get blown out. Prior to this, their ten losses were by an average of 3.5 ppg; just 3.0 in seven Big East losses. They hadn’t lost by more than nine on the season (at Wisconsin) and seven in Big East play (Pitt). 14 of their 21 Big East games were decided by five points or less. With 13 minutes left in this game, Marquette was down one. From that point on, the Hoyas blitzed Marquette, something that simply does not happen.
  • Greg Monroe had a two minute stretch where he showed why people are saying he is a lottery pick. From deep in the left corner, he drove baseline and finished with a dunk. The next possession, he knocked down a three. The following possession, he took a rebound and went coast-to-coast, finishing it with a gorgeous bounce pass to Austin Freeman for an and-1 layup. And for good measure, he blocked a Jimmy Butler shot 20 seconds later.
  • Marquette is going to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. At least one. This is a team that is scrappy, tough, and runs a difficult offense to defend.
  • Jimmy Butler is one of the key players for Marquette. Along with Lazar Hayward, his ability to defend inside and play on the perimeter is a huge reason Marquette is able to play – and is successful doing so – the style they play. Hell, two weeks ago he hit a buzzer-beater in overtime to beat St. John’s. He’s a pretty important part of this Marquette team. You wonder, then, why the Marquette fan sitting next to me asked, after Butler’s tip dunk in the first half, “Jimmy Butler? Who’s Jimmy Butler?” Fan fail.
  • Over the course of the night, as with any big time event, the MSG people like to run promotions that give away money. All week, they have been using this game with an oversized die where three of the same roll in a row wins you $10,000. They’ve done it in each of the 12 previous games, and not once did anyone win, only a few times did they even get to the third roll. Well, in both games tonight, the contestant won the $10,000.
  • There’s more. At halftime of the first game, three people came to center court to try and win $10,000 in a Dickie V impersonation contest. The first two were heartily booed by the NYC crowd. The third contestant, however, had shaved his head bald, was wearing a half of a gray wig, had on a fake unibrow, screamed “Are you serious?!?!?” a good five times, and received a standing ovation and $10,000. I had to pay $8 just to take part in the MSG dinner buffet. I think I need to find a new profession.

West Virginia 53, Notre Dame 51

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ACC Tourney Daily Diary: Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the ACC Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the quarterfinal games.

Duke 57, Virginia 46

  • Virginia was again playing without second team all-ACC Sylven Landesberg, who was suspended by head coach Tony Bennett for the remainder of the season due to academic issues, and senior guard Calvin Baker, who left the team for personal reasons.
  • Sammy Zeglinski did not score in today’s game after leading the team yesterday with 21 points. Duke did a good job of limiting his open looks and keeping him out of the lane. He shot 0-9 from the floor, 0-4 from three point range.
  • Duke got its usual production from the big three of Singler, Scheyer, and Smith, accounting for 48 of the team’s 57 points. No other player had more than three points. This is going to bite Duke hard at some point, because one of those players is going to have an off night, and that will spell doom for their NCAA run. This looks like no better than an Elite Eight team, but I could easily see them losing in the Sweet 16.
  • Give Virginia credit, they scared Duke for about 33 of the 40 minutes. They fought hard on both ends and did not back down. Tony Bennett’s team may not always be the prettiest thing to watch, but they do compete. This could be a very solid program in a few years after Bennett has a couple of recruiting classes under his belt.

Miami 70, Virginia Tech 65

  • Miami starting PF Dwayne Collins was again not available for today’s game due to a “stress condition” of his left leg. Reggie Johnson, who scored a career high 22 points yesterday versus Wake, replaced him in the starting lineup. This game was not nearly as successful for him, scoring only five points.
  • Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer at 20.5 ppg, was held to seven points on 3-15 shooting today, one of his worst performances all season. He was short on just about every shot, including an airball from three on Tech’s last possession.
  • Miami pulled off their second consecutive upset in as many days, having defeated the 4th and 5th seeds. No one was happier than coach Frank Haith, except for maybe the Duke fans who were cheering the loudest. They will now see a worn-down Hurricane team for a chance to advance to the championship game. As usual, the lucky ones get luckier.
  • Who needs Dwayne Collins? Apparently not Miami. They’re playing better now than at any point since the conference season began. No Collins clogging up the middle allows the lightning quick guards to penetrate for either a lay up or a dish for three. The threes didn’t fall today (4-16) as much as yesterday, but continued penetration put Miami on the line, where they were 83% yesterday and 76% today.

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Pac-10 Tourney Daily Diary: Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the Pac-10 Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the semifinal games.

Washington 79, Stanford 64

  • It’s not difficult to see why Washington (along with Cal) was picked at the top of the Pac-10 this season.  There’s a lot of bounce in those legs.  Basketball is such an athletic sport, it’s easy to be enticed when you see a team like UW sailing around the arena like they are on pogo sticks.  But it’s a game that also requires strategic use of your resources, and wanton jumping around won’t get you very far against teams that understand the game better than you do.
  • I referred to this above, but the athleticism that Washington has is among the top fifteen or twenty we’ve seen this year.  Lorenzo Romar definitely tries to recruit a certain type of player for his system, which makes their defensive shortcomings all the more frustrating.  They’ll turn you over, but they just don’t guard people in the halfcourt like they could or should given the athletes at their disposal.  Supposing they committed to defense, they’d be a top ten team and the bubble would be left to other teams to worry about.
  • Lorenzo Romar was asked about the bubble situation after the game and he said that he doesn’t worry about it much but that he definitely wants to take the decision out of the NCAA Selection Committee’s hands.  Personally, I think they’ve done enough at this point, and both Zach Hayes and Lunardi agree.
  • I know the Stanford band is supposed to be quirky and weird and that’s the point of it all — total irreverence as opposed to what Cal does.  But man, it’s almost like they had to have tryouts to find the weirdest-looking bunch they could find over there.  The tree, however, is, and remains awesome.  Love the tree.

Love the Tree

  • Highlight of the night was UW forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning tomahawking a dunk in the second half over Drew Shiller.  Check it out…

  • Talk about deja vu.  That dunk was remarkably similar to one that MBA threw on Shiller earlier this year.  Hey Shiller, stop trying to take charges under the rim, fella!  This isn’t Duke.

California 85, UCLA 72

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RTC Live: WAC Semis – Utah St vs. La Tech & Nevada vs. NMSU

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

Day 1 of the WAC tournament eliminated all the pretenders and now we are left with just the top four teams in the league battling it out.  The first matchup will feature the number one seed Utah State Aggies taking on the number four seed Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.  The Aggies have played the part of the steamroller lately, and after dispatching Boise State yesterday 84-60 have now run their winning streak up to 16 straight games.  Despite the blowout score, Boise State tested the Aggies, forcing an uncharacteristically high 15 turnovers with a full court pressure defense.  Louisiana Tech will likely try to exploit this by pressuring the Aggies as well, probably using the same 1-3-1 zone we saw in a previous RTC Live that features 6’11 Magnum Rolle at the top of the key trapping Utah State’s much smaller guard line.  The key for the Bulldogs will be generating offense.  Kyle Gibson still does not look like his old self, scoring just seven points yesterday, but backcourt mate Jamel Guyton scored 31 to lead the Bulldogs over Fresno State 74-66.  If the Bulldogs can get that kind of offensive explosion again it should be a great game to decide who moves onto the championship game tomorrow.

In the night cap in the WAC tournament the homestanding Nevada Wolfpack will take on the New Mexico State Aggies.  Neither team had any trouble in the opening round here in Reno as Nevada blasted Idaho 87-71 and New Mexico State had no problems with San Jose State winning 90-69.  These two teams met just a week ago here in Reno and the Wolfpack won in a shootout 100-92, led by Brandon Fields ‘career high 32 points.  If Nevada is getting scoring in bunches from players besides Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson then it’s going to be a long night for New Mexico State.  The Aggies need to get some big numbers out of guards Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson, and find someone to slow down Luke Babbitt.  Expect another high scoring, and fast-paced matchup between these two, with the winner moving on to face Louisiana Tech/Utah State for the championship tomorrow night. The game is on ESPN2 so tune and follow along with us on RTC Live.

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RTC Live: Pac-10 Semis – Cal vs. UCLA; Washington vs. Stanford

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

We’re back at the Pac-10 Tournament for semifinal Friday night at the Staples Center.  Unlike most of the major conference tourneys that get to the semifinal stage, only one team — the Cal Bears — is safely into the NCAA Tournament.  The other three — UCLA, Washington and Stanford — are looking to steal an automatic bid from another team somewhere out there sweating in bubble-land.  For UCLA and Stanford in particular, it’s win or go home, as both teams come into tonight with losing records and will end their season with the next loss.  In the first semifinal, Cal will face UCLA in an interesting battle in that even though the Bears are the top seed, UCLA will undoubtedly have the home crowd advantage.  Ben Howland teams rarely miss the postseason and the two teams split the season series, so we should expect the Bruins to come hard at the Bears in this one tonight.  In the second game, Washington is one of Zach Hayes’ last four teams in at this point, but the Huskies don’t want to put the committee in a tough position with a cinderella like Stanford continuing on to the Pac-10 championship game.  For what it’s worth, Lorenzo Romar’s team found the matchups with Stanford very beneficial, beating the Cardinal by 17 in Palo Alto and 33 in Seattle.  Join us tonight for a couple of key games with respect to the bubble picture on RTC Live!

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RTC Live: Mountain West Semis – New Mexico vs. SDSU & BYU vs. UNLV

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

No offense to the teams that got sent packing on Thursday, but these are the semis we really wanted anyway, clearly the four best teams in the conference advancing to square off with a date in the championship game awaiting. In the first session, top-seeded New Mexico got a huge performance by conference player of the year Darington Hobson but still had to hold off a pesky Air Force team, and they’ll advance to face a San Diego State team that had to get two late free throws by junior point D.J. Gay to keep their at-large NCAA tournament hopes alive. In the late session, BYU’s junior guard Jimmer Fredette scored a MWC Tournament record 45 points, including 30 in the second half to pull away from a game TCU squad and they’ll square off with a UNLV team that pulled away from Utah late playing in front of what is ostensibly a home crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center. Both of these matchups were a wash in the regular season, with the home team winning each game, but three of those four games were down-to-the-wire contests, with both Aztec/Lobo matchups very even games. We hope you’ll join us for what could be two classic, intense examples of the best March has to offer.

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RTC Live: Big East Semis – Georgetown vs. Marquette & WVU vs. Notre Dame

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

For the fourth straight day, RTC Live will once again be present at MSG as we whittle down this behemoth of a conference to try and crown a champion. Four teams are left, as Georgetown takes on Marquette and West Virginia does battle with Notre Dame.

The Hoyas lost to Marquette earlier this year in one of the few nailbiters that Marquette won early in the season. Marquette is a much different team now; more confident, more prepared to play a close game. Believe it or not, both of these teams run similar offenses. They are both perimeter-oriented and thrive in a spread floor situation. But where Marquette creates open looks when their guards attack gaps and either get to the rim or find an open teammate, Georgetown is more likely to try to find a cutter after getting the ball to Greg Monroe in the post. Both teams seems to be playing some of their best basketball right now, but I think that the Hoyas win this. Georgetown, unlike Villanova, has good defenders on the perimeter.  Believe it or not, Notre Dame beat West Virginia in their first matchup this season, and it came before the Irish became Slo-tre Dame. ND jumped out to a huge lead on the Mountaineers before hanging on to win by two. I like the Irish again in this one. If there is anything that West Virginia really struggles at, it is scoring in the halfcourt. the Irish force you to play nothing but halfcourt basketball. So long as Notre Dame can compete on the glass, I think they win this and advance to the finals.

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RTC Live: ACC Qtrs – Maryland vs. Georgia Tech

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

Maryland versus Georgia Tech. Didn’t we just see Maryland reserve guard Cliff Tucker hit a buzzer beating three in College Park to knock off the Jackets just a few short weeks ago? We did, and here we go again. This time, however, it’s on a neutral court and Georgia Tech just played a hard-fought game yesterday to earn the right to face the Terps and Greivis Vasquez tonight. So what should we expect this time? Well, don’t expect Tech to roll over. They feel as if they had the last meeting between these teams stolen from them, and they will have something to prove. The question remains whether playing the day before will give the Jackets an advantage or if fatigue will cause their downfall late in the second half of what should be a tight, competitive game. Only time, and Georgia Tech’s legs, will tell.  Join us this evening for another edition of RTC Live from Greensboro.

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