Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Sunday

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten & SEC.

ACC Tournament - by Kellen Carpenter

  • Early in the game, during a media timeout, one of the North Carolina cheerleaders lost her balance and fell down on the male cheerleader who was trying to hold her up. She ended up busting either his nose or lip and proceeded to bleed all over himself, the fallen cheerleader and the court. It took some extended minutes for the glove-wearing bio-hazard team to find and clean up all the blood. It was that kind of day for the North Carolina team and fans.
  • There was buzz more than an hour before tip-off and it grew steadily from there. The crowd was full of North Carolina partisans, but Duke has had the second most fans here all week. The stands were filled and the crowd cheered frequently and often. While the crowd was excitable and loud, the game lacked the rancor of the two previous Duke games. My favorite part about the crowd, however, were the proud representatives of the teams who had already fallen. Clemson sweatshirts and Virginia Tech hats abounded amongst the faction of spectators who often refused to cheer for either team.
  • Nolan Smith may not have had the gaudy offensive performances of Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette this week, but his performance on the offensive end has been spectacular and his performance on the defensive end has won the Blue Devils games. Just as Smith disrupted Virginia Tech’s offense by neutralizing Malcolm Delaney, Smith made the Tar Heel offense grind to a halt with his aggressive defense on Kendall Marshall.
  • In the past two games, Marshall was slowed down and rendered ineffective as teams have discovered the key to stopping him. Marshall is slow and needs space to make passes or drives. Aggressive, close defense on Marshall prevented him from scoring and making plays. Smith came out on Marshall as soon as he got across the half court line and challenged Marshall to try to get past him or pass with heavy pressure. It worked. Marshall had five turnovers to only five assists. He went 3 of 10 from the field. Marshall’s ability to make plays has been the driving force behind this Tar Heel team. Stopping Marshall is the key to stopping North Carolina, and unfortunately for the Heels, it’s now painfully clear how this can be accomplished.
  • The Comeback Kids couldn’t find one more miracle. After the game, Roy Williams said he didn’t understand why UNC had continually fell behind early in their tournament games. I’m not sure either, but I have some guesses. Roy’s insistence on getting early touches for the big men makes UNC’s offense incredibly predictable at the beginning of games. By refusing to shoot threes early in the game, Roy has made it easy to clog the paint and focus in on UNC’s focus.
  • Ryan Kelly, despite looking like a very tall version of Neville Longbottom, has actually settled into a nice impersonation of Manu Ginobili as a big man, or maybe Andrei Kirilenko when he came off the bench. In the sixth man role, Kelly played the fourth most minutes for Duke tonight and had a very impressive all-around game. In addition to nine points and three rebounds, he contributed three blocks and three steals on defense and served as a more reliable scoring threat than either of the Plumlees. This new role suits Kelly, and Coach K said he believes that Kelly has played the best basketball of his life in these past three days. In any case, it’s one more nasty surprise Duke has in store for it’s opponents in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Watching Duke play it was almost inconceivable to me that a Duke team that so effortlessly ran the table in the conference tournament and only had four losses, none of them bad over the course of the season, might not be a number one seed. They are playing some of the best basketball in the nation this past week, as they have all season.  I understand that many teams have a better collection of “best wins,” but Duke is a seriously dangerous team that has gotten better over the course of the season.
  • The last thing that really stood out throughout the course of the tournament was how much Greensboro, as a city, seemed genuinely excited to host. The way that every single business I saw had some sign or deal for ACC fans, the fact that the ACC Hall of Champions stands right next to the Greensboro Coliseum, and just the general excitement about town paints a picture of a place that really, really cares about hosting conference tournaments. It seemed like these were most important days of the year for Greensboro, and that’s a real credit to an otherwise small and sleepy city in North Carolina.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Saturday

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 13th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East (pending), Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West,  Pac-10 & SEC.

ACC Tournamentby Kellen Carpenter

  • Despite a collective freak-out Nolan Smith is obviously fine. He torched Virginia Tech en route to a 27-point performance. He played 39 minutes and didn’t limp. After the game he said that he had woken up and felt pretty good, was given a shot for the pain and that was that. Smith also basically admitted that there was no injury that was going to stop him from playing the last, precious few games of his college career. Bold words.
  • There were other bold words that came from a raucous Coliseum crowd. An insistent six year-old Duke fan had one message and one message alone for Virginia Tech’s star whenever he went to the free throw line: “Delaney! Give me your money! Give me your money!” A Hokies fan, noting that an inordinate amount of time seemed to be taken up wiping the floor, was adamant in his commands to the Plumlee frontcourt: “Stop peeing on the floor, Plumlee!” This apparently applied to both. The winner of the impromptu ACC semifinals heckling contest, however, was an older Clemson fan. For some reason that I do not know, this fan spent the entire game heckling. He didn’t heckle the Tar Heels and he didn’t heckle the referees as a group, but rather singled out referee Les Jones. For forty solid minutes, he yelled at “Leslie” about every single thing. It was weird and oddly masterful. Kudos to you, demented stranger.
  • The Tar Heels sent out a mixed message. Dexter Strickland joked on Twitter this afternoon that they were calling his team “The Comeback Kids,” after UNC turned yet another double digit deficit into an overtime win. Kendall Marshall, who played forty minutes, simplyannounced, “I’m tired.” Harrison Barnes didn’t tweet anything, because he is too cool for Twitter.
  • Harrison Barnes, in the best individual performance of the tournament, hung 40 points on the Tigers. That’s impressive enough, but the really impressive part is how he did it. He scored his 40 on a mere 17 shots. He made 6 of 8 three-pointers and 10 of 11 free throws. He had 8 rebounds, four of which were offensive boards. When you play like that, you are, factually, too cool for Twitter. Carolina fans will lift a drink to play that speaks for itself.
  • After both games were finished, the buzz around the Coliseum was palpable. It’s been ten years since Duke and North Carolina have met in the ACC finals, and the town, as a whole, seems legitimately excited about it. A rubber match to the split series is something that everyone involved with both teams’ desires. With a number one seed potentially at stake, and a not insignificant amount of pride, both seem poised to deliver a memorable showdown. Given North Carolina’s apparent propensity for dramatic tournament finishes, the chances of a great game happening seem awfully high.
  • While the rivals exult, Virginia Tech and Clemson fret. Both improved their NCAA stock, but neither was able to seal their destiny with a signature win. There is a degree of optimism for both teams and Seth Greenberg joked that he wasn’t going to sleep because he was so excited about the Hokies chances. A solemn Malcolm Delaney just shook his head and firmly disagreed: After all that had happened over his four years at Virginia Tech, he going to expect the worst and wasn’t going to believe it until he heard it himself. While I’m hopeful for Virginia Tech’s chances, I’m with tough and wise Delaney on this one. That said, I wish him the best. That kid is too tough and too good to never make it to the Big Dance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Friday

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 12th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West,  Pac-10 & SEC.

ACC Tournament - by Kellen Carpenter

  • While it looks like John Henson has found his stroke from the free throw line, the rest of the ACC could take lessons. Jordan Williams spoiled a 16 point and 16 rebound effort against Duke by going 2 for 10 from the free line in the loss. Virginia Tech shot 57.1% against a Florida State team that shot 20% from the line.
  • Yeah, speaking of which, that was a game with bad shooting. A clearly exhausted Malcolm Delaney-led Virginia Tech team only made five field goals in the first half. The Hokies shot 17.9% from the field in the first half. Erick Green had shot 1 of 12 for the Hokies before he nailed what turned out to be the game winner. Miami making up 10 points in 40 seconds was impressive. North Carolina’s buzzer beater was impressive. But an undermanned, overworked, and gritty as hell Virginia Tech team owns the most impressive win of the ACC Tournament so far.
  • After Florida State’s Derwin Kitchen buzzer beater was overturned after the Seminoles had already started celebrating, the tables turned quickly. At least one Hokie fans, embittered after years of bad luck, dashed expectations and hard work turned sour, yelled at the Seminole fans, “SUCKS DON’T IT?” That was a little cruel, but it’s nice to see this tough and unlucky Virginia Tech team catch a break.
  • Twice today, the crowd played favorites in dramatic fashion. The Coliseum was roaring during the impressive North Carolina comeback with the cheers of Miami fans completely and utterly muted. Then in the evening, a Duke crowd tried to drown out the angry jeers of the sizable and furious Maryland crowd.
  • The reason that the Maryland crowd was so angry was because Kyle Singler hates Maryland. Kyle Singler hung 25 points on Maryland in January, 22 in February, and 29 in March. It was enough to break Singler’s late-season slump and enough to carry his team when all was not right with Nolan Smith. Even before disaster struck, it wasn’t Nolan Smith’s night. He went 2 for 11 and had five turnovers. Then the worst kind of deja vu struck Duke fans and their point guard hurt his toe. Though Smith looked okay when he walked out of the locker room where he went for treatment, he was limping after the game, and Coach K declined to say anything about the prognosis until Saturday morning.
  • How often do you see the walk-ons play a pivotal role in a conference tournament game? About eight turnover-filled minutes into the game against Miami, a furious Roy Williams benched his team in favor of Blue Steel, this year’s fan-beloved (and frequently goofy) team of walk-ons. Blue Steel didn’t score and they didn’t lock down Miami, but they played hard and bought Roy time to settle his team. It was fitting that Wes Miller, a patron saint to UNC walk-ons who cracked the rotation and didn’t miss a shot during the 2006 ACC tournament, was in attendance.
  • Is it the shoes? Kendall Marshall is an avowed sneakerhead and he cameout wearing classic Air Jordan II’s in University blue, a pretty sharp look that he had tried a couple of times earlier in the season. When Roy benched the starters, Kendall ended up switching to the more basic Team Jordan home shoe. I’m not going to say that was a turning point in the game, but it certainly didn’t hurt the Tar Heels. On the other hand, Leslie McDonald continued to wear his Jordan II’s the whole game and experienced a similar turnaround. On a related note, the Florida State dance team changed their tops at half time. Clearly, that was a huge mistake.
  • One more thing about Reggie Johnson. He is big.  No, seriously, you may know that he’s 6’10 and over 300 pounds, but somehow he plays even bigger than that. UNC has one of the biggest, if not bulkiest, front courts in the nation and Johnson just bullied them around all game on offense and defense. You know who else is big? Seemingly everyone on the Florida State team. They just have waves and waves of big men who all play tough defense. While Reggie Johnson won’t be able to bully hapless mid-majors in the NCAA, an angry Florida State team that’s soon to reintroduce Chris Singleton to the line-up is a tough draw for any team in the tournament. Speaking of Chris Singleton, though he seemed fine and participated in warm-ups, he didn’t play. After the game, Leonard Hamilton admitted that Chris probably could have played, but that he wanted to make sure that they made the right decision for Chris, which seems pretty hard to argue with.
  • Meanwhile, where Reggie Johnson and Florida State are big, the Clemson backcourt is so small. In the seemingly effortless domination of Boston College, Clemson played three players who are tiny by ACC basketball standards. 5’9 starter Andre Young often played with similarly sized Zavier Anderson, with 5’10 Cory Stanton playing spot minutes. They played well and their size never seemed an obstacle against a relatively small BC team, but you wonder how they will fare against Carolina’s long arms.
  • Of course, when you are playing with the swag of this Clemson team, there is little cause for concern.  Demontez Stitt, in particular, was playing with a decidedly nasty streak. He had at least one vicious stare down after a put-back dunk as well as a very pointed step over a BC player who had fallen down trying to stop another drive. The decidedly pro-Tigers crowd was into the game, with one presumably student corner (of the otherwise sparsely populated upper bowl) standing through the entire game. By contrast, there wasn’t a single Boston College fan in sight.
  • I saw a few fans wearing other team’s colors clap politely for theEagles, but no yelling students and not even a BC t-shirt to be seen. I understand that Boston is a long way away, but I honestly believe it hurt BC’s chances. The Eagles weren’t down further than UNC was against Miami, but while the Tar Heel players seemed to feed off the excitement and energy of the crowd, Boston College just didn’t have that option. The crowd’s indifference mirrored the team’s indifference and many of the athletes played with their heads down and a general air of apathy. It’s a shame because a win would have gone along way towards keeping NCAA tournament hopes alive.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: Big Ten Semifinals

Posted by jstevrtc on March 12th, 2011

Games #212-213: The state of Michiganis well-represented here in Indianapolis, which, as we’ve said, may be the most basketball-crazy town we’ve invaded. It’s just silly here. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Today starts off with no less than Ohio State up against Michigan, and you know how those institutions feel about each other. If you think this is only a football rivalry, try telling that to the maize and blue and the scarlet and gray amoeba-like crowds that have taken their positions outside of Conseco Fieldhouse like angry Libyans swarming around Qaddafi’s house. A tad more civilized, this gathering. But Buckeyes vs Wolverines has an intensity all its own, no matter the playing surface. Ohio State is probably still the overall #1 seed in the upcoming, but they’ll have to knock off UM for the third time this season, and that’s never easy. After that, Penn State is playing for sheer Tournament survival while Michigan State attempts to improve upon a week that just may have put them into the Dance. Let us not worry about that, now, though. It’s Big Ten semifinal day, and every player on each of these teams has cast a keen eye on that gigantic trophy sitting over there beside Jim Jackson as they run in and out of the locker room. Michigan vs Ohio State. Penn State vs Michigan State. A basketball-crazy city. Let’s go.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Ivy League Playoff: A Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 12th, 2011


Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

This day seemed inevitable. From the first practice in October, these two schools were on a collision course; a date with destiny for the two most talented teams in the Ivy League. One with a storied tradition; one hoping to begin one. One looking to return to prominence; one looking to go where they had not before. One will be cutting down the nets; one will experience paradise lost. Princeton and Harvard–today at 4 PM at Lee Amphitheater on the campus of Yale and ESPN3.com on your computer screen. Round three, the playoff. The chance to dance.

How They Got Here

They both entered their first meeting on February 4 at Princeton on hot streaks. Princeton had won 12 of 13 and Harvard had won eight in a row. The game did not disappoint. Though both struggled from the field, it was close most of the way. Ian Hummer sealed the deal for the Tigers late with two free throws en route to a 65-61 Princeton victory. The loss continued a streak of Crimson frustration at Jadwin–now winless in their last 22 trips.

The prevailing thought was that neither team was likely to stumble before their rematch a month later in Cambridge and it would be that game that would decide the title. Wrong… and right. First to fall was Princeton, shooting 38% from the field, 19% from three, and watching Brown make 25 of 27 free throws, a recipe that resulted in a ten-point defeat. Harvard, not being able to stand prosperity, followed suit a week later, blowing a late lead, and suffering an excruciating one point loss at Yale (an omen perhaps?). It set up a must-win for the Crimson on March 5 at home. They thrilled their home crowd as they began the second half with a 21-12 run that turned a one point half time lead into a 58-48 advantage. Princeton would never get close. The weekend ended with Harvard clinging to a half game lead, pending the outcome of Princeton/Penn at the Palestra.

That game was played as if the Quakers couldn’t wait for the season to end and, despite protestations to the contrary, that the Tigers were looking ahead. Penn quickly scored the first two baskets of the second half and Princeton found themselves in an eight point hole. Time out. An agitated Sydney Johnson reminded his team what was at stake. An 11-0 run opened up a lead they would never relinquish. When the horn sounded, Harvard and Princeton were deadlocked at 12-2 atop the Ivy League.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: Stony Brook @ Boston U. (America East Championship)

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2011

Game #204.  There will only be one NCAA Tournament team from the America East, so the intensity from this one will be enormous.

When Vermont’s star forward Evan Fjeld went down with an injury in the middle of the Catamounts’ final regular season game at home against Boston University, the ensuing America East Tournament became wide open for the rest of the league. Vermont was the clear favorite to win, but Fjeld’s injury not only hindered himself but his team the rest of the way. Subsequently, Stony Brook played one of their most complete games of the season as they knocked off Vermont in the semifinals to move on to the championship game with Boston University. The sixth seeded Seawolves upset both of their opponents en route to the championship game, while Boston University had an easier road taking down #7 New Hampshire and #6 Hartford. The Terriers’ boast arguably the league’s best player in John Holland who has averaged in double figures in scoring for his entire career at BU, but Steve Pikiell is the architect behind one of the stingier defenses in the America East that does a great job of taking away the opposition’s main threat. Both coaches and teams will unquestionably be gunning for the coveted America East title. Boston University has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2002 and their head coach Patrick Chambers has never reached the Tournament as a head coach. Similarly, Pikiell—Stony Brook’s head man—has never been to the Tournament and Stony Brook has never won the America East. This will be an old-fashioned rock fight in Boston as Boston University and Stony Brook butt heads for the right to advance onto the most prestigious Dance in our nation. Join RTC live for an early 12:00 start to kick off your day full of college hoops.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: Big Ten Quarterfinals

Posted by jstevrtc on March 11th, 2011

Games #203-204: We’ve managed to leave Broad Ripple and get back down to Conseco Fieldhouse where the real action is.

As if the battles on the Conseco hardwood weren’t compelling enough, it will also be fun to see and hear the war in the stands today, as Purdue, Michigan, and Illinois see their first action of the Big Ten Tournament; each of those teams was well-represented yesterday even though their squads didn’t even have a game. The Wolverines and Illini face off in the first one (between 2:00-2:30 PM ET), and then we’re keen to see if Tom Izzo echoes Draymond Green’s strategy for Purdue that the former proposed yesterday after his fine game against Iowa: “E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson are going to do what they do. That’s going to happen. What you have to do against Purdue is keep their other players from rising up and putting up 14 and ten on you.” Will it work? Stop by and join us for it, beginning 30 minutes after the UM vs U of I game. Or better yet, join us for both games from Indianapolis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Tournament Daily Diary: Thursday

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 11th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Today’s coverage:  ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West & Pac-10.

ACC Tournament – by Kellen Carpenter

  • Miami-Virginia.  This was a truly bizarre game that I’m still not sure makes any sense.  Greensboro Coliseum was surprisingly packed for a 12 pm game between the 8 and 9 seed. Both teams boasted sizable and vocal fanbases who were each treated to a game of runs. Miami jumped out ahead, leading by six at the half, and then one of the weirdest second halves I have ever seen happened. Miami only scored eight points over the first 18 minutes of the second half. Virginia, rallying strongly, jumped out to a 50-39 lead with 2:15 left on the clock. Then Miami went nuts.  No, really. I’m still not sure what happened. The crowd was whipped into a frenzy by a series of weird, truly improbably events. Miami cut the eleven point deficit and forced an overtime which the Hurricanes suddenly dominated and walked away with a truly unexpected win. For a the first game of the ACC Tournament, it was not just a dinger, but a hum-dinger. Whenever you can get a crowd of Floridians and Virginians to scream their heads off in the early afternoon in North Carolina, you’ve put on quite a show. Beyond that, nothing about this game mattered.
  • Wake-BC.  After the drama of the Miami and Virginia game, any game with a team that had only managed to win one ACC game over the course of the season was bound to be a letdown. What was surprising to me, was the letdown in crowd energy. Winston-Salem, home of Wake’s campus, is a mere 20 minutes away, yet it seemed like the Demon Deacons had fewer fans present than Miami. Boston College had a very small and quiet contingent who seemed happy to quietly watch as the Eagles just took apart Wake. It really wasn’t much of a game, with the hyper-efficient Boston College offense firing on all cylinders (well, excepting the Raji cylinder). Reggie Jackson scored 27 points on 13 shots. Joe Trapani scored 22 points on 12 shots.  Nicholas Biko scored 21 points on 12 shots. Wake Forest’s porous defense could do little to stop them, and their impotence on the offensive end doomed them. Freshman Travis McKie was a bright spot, going 6-8 in the first half while the rest of his team struggled. But, for some stupefying reason, McKie only got two shots in the second half, one of these being a put-back dunk of his own manufacture. If there is a silver lining to that second half, it’s the fact that Wake actually managed to outscore BC, 36-34. Sadly, this was clearly not enough to make up for the 16 point deficit incurred in the first half. My favorite part of this game, was clearly the few, loud Wake Forest fans sitting directly behind me. One woman seemed particularly keen on trying to coach Travis McKie’s admittedly poor free throw shooting (2-5). Every time he got to the line she would yell “Bend your knees! Follow through!” If only he had listened? The season is mercifully over for Wake, and BC will get it’s chance at tougher competition tomorrow when they take on Clemson.
  • NC State-Maryland.  There were, as you might expect, an alarming number of loud, red-wearing people at this game. Maryland jumped out to an early lead which energized/enraged these loud, red-wearing fans. In response, the N.C. State band played Cee-Lo’s “Eff You,” which, when you think about it, is a perfect pep band song: catchy and insulting to the other team, while the lack of singing effectively makes it family friendly. Well-played, Wolf Pack band. That said, the pep band arrangement of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song was pretty excellent as well. And if the bands played with flair, the teams did too. There was more speed, athleticism, and acrobatic drives on display in this game than in the first two games combined. Cross-overs, spin moves, and behind the back dribbles on the fast break had the crowd frequently on its collective feet. Does Tracy Smith have the MVB (Most Valuable Beard) of this tournament? It’s hard to see anyone overtaking him. Maryland looked in command the whole game, but since Miami’s Miracle, there was a palpable nervousness in the crowd until the buzzer finally went off.
  • Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech controlled this game from the start and once it became clear that Georgia Tech could never catch up, the crowd that had gathered for the previous game started to vanish. Virginia Tech’s fans were consistently loud and even when the Hokies’ lead exceeded twenty, the fans took every call against them as if the game depended on it. Meanwhile, the Georgia Tech fans seemed resigned to his fate. Georgia Tech never managed to score more than a point per minute in the first half. It was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in a tournament setting, and remember, I watched the Wake Forest game earlier today. Virginia Tech played well enough, but I couldn’t help but be concerned about the minutes that the starters were playing. Malcolm Delaney played 39 minutes despite the massive lead VT held throughout. He only sat for the final minute of the game and that was after he had taken a needless hard foul. You have to wonder how such long minutes on consecutive days are going to affect the Hokies hopes of going deep into this tournament. Well, you don’t have to worry, but I would.

Big East Tournament – by Rob Dauster

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

O26 Primers: Big West Tourney

Posted by KDoyle on March 10th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

We have finally reached the last Other 26 conference to begin their tournament. It has been an incredibly entertaining journey beginning with the Big South and the Horizon League getting started back on March 1st, and concluding with the Big West today. As fun as it has been to track each of the 25 tournaments—remember, there are not 26 of them due to the Ivy League—it will certainly be even more enjoyable to watch how each of the conference victors match up in the NCAA Tournament against the big boys.

Big West


The Favorite: After experiencing a rough stretch to end their non-conference schedule that saw the 49ers lose four straight games to the likes of Utah State, North Carolina, St. Mary’s, and Arizona State—their five point loss to UNC and eight point loss to SMC are noteworthy—Long Beach State sprinted through the Big West with a 14-2 record. Barring an upset, this is LBSU’s tournament to lose.

Dark HorseUC Santa Barbara is limping into the tournament having lost three of four, but this is a confident team with NCAA Tournament experience. The Gauchos defeated UNLV earlier this season and boast probably the best one-two punch in the league with Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally.

Who’s HotLong Beach State enters the tournament riding a nine game winning streak. Their margin of victory during this stretch is 13.1 points.

Player to Watch: Speaking of Johnson, he is arguably the most exciting player in the Big West and someone to keep a close eye on. He fills up the stat sheet as he is the only Big West player to average more than 20 points, while also corralling 6.6 rebounds and distributing a shade over three assists a game.

First-Round UpsetCal State Fullerton over Cal State Northridge. In a battle between both of the Cal State schools, I like Fullerton to get past Northridge. The Titans have had a disappointing season, but they won their last two games of the regular season—road games, mind you—by slim margins. A two point victory at Pacific and five point victory at UC Davis will give Fullerton some much needed confidence heading into their game with Northridge.

How’d They Fare? As a #15 seed, UC Santa Barbara was able to keep it competitive against Ohio State for much of the game, but never truly threatened as the Buckeyes cruised to a 68-51 victory.

Interesting Fact: The last time a team from the Big West advanced to the second weekend of the Tournament was back in 1992 when New Mexico State—now a member of the WAC—defeated DePaul and Louisiana-Lafayette as a #12 seed.

Up next for many of the best Other 26 teams? Congregating in a tension-filled and exhilarating room on Selection Sunday as their fate is determined and then for those fortunate enough, onto the NCAA Tournament. Let the Madness begin!

Share this story

RTC Live: Pac-10 Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2011

Games #181-182.  It’s Pac-10 fever at the Staples Center as two quarterfinals give several teams a shot to keep hope alive in an otherwise disappointing season.

3 pm. California vs. USC. Southern Cal has emerged this week as everyone’s sexy pick to win the tournament and steal an at-large bid away from a team like VCU or Colorado. Four of ESPN’s 10 experts picked the Trojans to win the whole thing, while UCLA got the second-most votes at three, and No. 1 seed Arizona only got one (nice objectivity, Miles Simon). But before USC can think about cutting down any nets, it has to get past Cal, which surprised many with its fourth place finish this year in the Pac-10. USC and Cal split their season series, and each game was decided by three points or less. The crowd will undoubtedly be partial to the Trojans’ cause, but don’t be surprised if this one goes down to the wire.

11:30 pm. Washington State vs. Washington. Nothing would make the Cougars happier than knocking off hated Washington for the third time this season, possibly kicking the Huskies off the bubble and into the NIT. This game could very well serve as a de facto play-in game for the NCAAs. It’s suspect whether the Huskies’ resume can withstand another late loss (after all, there can only be so many Villanovas in the Dance), and a loss to Wazzu would drop UW to 4-7 in its last 11 games against teams not named Seattle University. Now the Cougars probably have to win two games this weekend to stake their claim for an at-large bid, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. At least Wazzu will have Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore back on the court, while Washington will be without Venoy Overton.

Share this story

RTC Live: Big Ten First Round

Posted by jstevrtc on March 10th, 2011

Games #183-184. The Big Ten Tournament gets underway in Indy and RTC Live will be there courtside for all of the best action.

RTC rolls into Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament and the bracket wastes no time in diving into the realm of bubble ramifications. 9-seed Minnesota needs to win a couple of games at the very least, and they’ll kick this event off against 8th-seeded Northwestern, with the winner getting the privilege of facing #1 Ohio State tomorrow at noon. Half an hour after the 8 vs 9 game concludes, we’ll have #7 Michigan State vs #10 Iowa as the Spartans try to pad that win total enough to impress the Selection Committee. Will that Tom Izzo post-season magic suddenly appear? Marquette likely played its way into the field of 68 last night by beating West Virginia, and that makes every single game vital; MSU and Minnesota can’t expect to drop first-round games and still bet let into the Dance, a fact of which we’re sure they’re well aware. It all starts at 2:30 PM ET. Two games, one RTC Live window! That’s a good deal at any time of year, so we hope to see you there.

Share this story

Big Ten Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 10th, 2011

John Templon is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten. With action set to tip from Indianapolis on Thursday, get set for the postseason with RTC’s regular season wrap-up and postseason outlook.

Postseason Preview

The Big Ten Tournament should prove to be quite the entertaining tournament. With so many teams on the bubble, every game is going to have a do-or-die atmosphere to it. Three of the four quarterfinal games, excluding the one in which Ohio State is playing, could propel teams to NCAA Tournament at-large bids. Another important matchup to watch is Northwestern vs. Minnesota in Round 1 – where they’ll probably be playing for an NIT berth.

  • Cold Teams: Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana
  • Is Battle Ready For last Stand?: The Nittany Lions’ Talor Battle will try to finally make the NCAA Tournament. Can he shoot Penn State off the bubble and into the field?
  • Is Nolen Healthy?: Al Nolen hasn’t played January 22 against Michigan, but he could return this week. Would it be enough to get the Gophers rolling?
  • Can Anyone Stop Ohio State?: The Buckeyes look like a juggernaut, and this isn’t the time to be putting big decisions in the hands of the selection committee. In order to feel comfortable about its #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, OSU probably needs to win the Big Ten’s first. Northwestern played them close at Welsh-Ryan Arena – is a big upset in the making?
  • Will Izzo’s Tournament Touch Get Going?: Of the teams playing in the first round, Michigan State seems like the most likely candidate to reach the tournament finals. It seems like Tom Izzo just has a knack for this kind of thing by now.
  • Is The Next Generation Ready?: There are nine seniors on the three All-Big Ten teams selected by the coaches, and just one freshman. Are players like Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, Northwestern’s JerShon Cobb and Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. ready to play significant crunch time roles? Or will they wilt under the bright lights in Indianapolis?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story