Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #3 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. The entire series from #30 to this point can be viewed hereEnjoy!

#3 – Where Hoosier Hysteria Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Mountain West Conference

Posted by AMurawa on November 6th, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and a Pac-12 microsite writer. You can occasionally find him on Twitter at @Amurawa.

Top Storylines

  • Major Mountain? No one is going to confuse the Mountain West with the ACC or the Big East, but fans of this conference are getting used to the fact that its best teams are regularly relevant on the national scene. In the past three years, while a conference like the Pac-12 has been fortunate to get a mere eight NCAA Tournament bids, the MW has earned 11, more than any other non-BCS league. Two seasons ago there were a pair of Sweet Sixteen performances and a national sensation in Jimmer Fredette, while this year suggests the chance at success approaching that magical year, with two teams – UNLV and San Diego State – ranked in the top 20 of the recently released USA Today preseason poll and a couple more teams in the “others receiving votes” category.
  • New, new, new. One of the reasons for the MW’s continued success has been the ability of the conference, and its member institutions, to roll with the rapid changes in the basketball landscape. That’s reflected this season in a pair of new teams in the league – Fresno State and Nevada climb aboard while TCU drops out – as well as a host of new impact players. Aside from four ESPN top 100 freshmen this season (including the #7 prospect, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett), the conference welcomes in a handful of Division I transfers, like Khem Birch (UNLV, via Pitt), James Johnson (SDSU, via Virginia), J.J. O’Brien (SDSU, via Utah), Dwayne Polee (SDSU, via St. John’s) and Colton Iverson (Colorado State, via Minnesota), who are expected to make big impacts this season.
  • More television exposure? Last year’s MW television schedule featured seven regular season games on the ESPN family of networks, and one game on CBS. Of course, 91 other regular season games were televised on other national cable networks of one kind or another. But, with the shuttering of The Mtn., the conference’s cable network, this year’s television schedule is quite different. As far as national exposure on the big boy channels, things aren’t going to change much, with six conference appearances on ESPN networks. To make matters worse, instead of having every regular season conference game televised, channels like CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network on the Time Warner Cable Sportsnet will pick and choose MW games. All told, just 53 games features MW conference teams are scheduled for television on a national cable network, with 21 of those headed to the TWC channel which currently sports limited distribution.

Reader’s Take I

 

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. San Diego State (12-4)
  2. UNLV (11-5)
  3. New Mexico (11-5)
  4. Colorado State (9-7)
  5. Nevada (8-8)
  6. Air Force (6-10)
  7. Wyoming (6-10)
  8. Fresno State (5-11)
  9. Boise State (4-12)
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Five Mid-Majors You’re Likely to Hear From Next March

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 6th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

There exists in college basketball a certain romanticism that distinguishes it from every other sport. It shines through in March, when the sport’s preeminent end-of-season tournament provides a glimmer of hope for Division one teams, no matter how small, unknown or minimally-funded, to break through on a national stage. For the mid-majors, this is prime time. Unlike their high-major counterparts, the little guys’ path to the field of 68 is restricted. Most smaller leagues only receive one Tournament bid, which is normally decided through conference tournaments. It’s what makes championship weekend – when one-bid leagues fight tooth and nail for that coveted Tournament bid – such a compelling series of high-stakes contests. It’s also why predicting each smaller league’s participant(s) is inherently difficult. In a do-or-die knockout setting, anything can happen. So when I look back on my five mid-major Tournament breakout picks (the subject of the following list) five months from now, I’ll probably be kicking myself over a lack of informed judgment and insight. The hope is that at least one of my designated team breaks the field and makes some noise once there. If not, well, that’s why the NCAA Tournament is such a spectacle – because you just never know.

A word of caution: you’ll notice the list fails to include teams from the A-10, Missouri Valley, C-USA, West Coast Conference or Mountain West. I chose to exclude those leagues not because I don’t think any of their teams are capable of making NCAA Tournament runs; it’s quite the opposite actually. All three will likely send multiple teams to the Big Dance, so I’ve decided to leave them out for the sake of novelty. With that out of the way, we March on (pun totally intended).

North Texas 

A future lottery pick, Mitchell leads a strong North Texas squad (Photo credit: US Presswire).

If this is the first time you’re hearing the name Tony Mitchell, it will not be the last. Mitchell (6’ 8’’, 235 pounds) almost certainly would have been a first round pick in last summer’s NBA Draft. Instead, he’s back for his sophomore season after missing out on an NCAA bid last season when North Texas fell to Sun Belt upstart Western Kentucky in the conference tournament final. It’s a shame, too – no offense to Western Kentucky, but there is not a single person who wouldn’t have enjoyed watching Mitchell in a potential #1-#16 matchup with Anthony Davis and Kentucky. We aren’t always that lucky. Anyway, with Mitchell back in the fold, the Mean Green are more than capable of broaching the field this season, and the talented forward isn’t the only reason why. Point guard Chris Jones and swingman Jordan Williams, both double-digit scorers who were declared ineligible in January due to academic issues, are cleared to take the court again this fall. Oklahoma State transfer Roger Franklin returns for another season. Off-guard Alzee Williams, who averaged 15.8 points per game over his final 10 games, will stabilize the backcourt. The deep guard rotation will prevent teams from keying in on Mitchell, who should only improve in his second collegiate season. We will get an early taste of North Texas’s Tournament bona fides on November 9, when the Mean Green take on Creighton in Omaha. Mitchell vs Doug McDermott to kick off the 2012-13 college basketball calendar? Yes, please.

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Circle Your Calendar: The 68 Must-See Games of 2012-13, Part Two

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 6th, 2012

Brian Otskey is a contributor for Rush the Court. Let him know what you think at @botskey on Twitter.

Our countdown rolls along with Part Two today. Check out the previous editions of 68 Must-See Games here: #68-52(h/t to Zach Hayes for his assistance in building this list.)

51. December 1: Baylor at Kentucky (12:30 PM, CBS) – Kentucky has never lost a game at Rupp Arena under John Calipari. Could this be the one? Maybe, but it’s a tall order even for the highly talented Baylor Bears. Scott Drew’s non-conference schedule is lackluster for a team expected to contend in the Big 12, so making the trek to Lexington and coming out with a win would render all talk about a weak schedule meaningless. Two top freshmen big men will go head to head in this one with UK’s Nerlens Noel battling Baylor’s Isaiah Austin in the paint.

Is This the Game Where Cal’s Home Record Gets a Blemish?

50. December 1: San Diego State vs. UCLA at Honda Center in Anaheim, CA (10:00 PM, ESPNU) – The John R. Wooden Classic pits two of the best in the state of California (and the entire west for that matter) against each other in an early season Saturday night showdown. While UCLA has all the hype and uncertainty surrounding its freshmen class, don’t take San Diego State for granted. The Aztecs return four starters from a team that was supposed to be “rebuilding” but wound up winning 26 games in 2011-12.

49. March 3: Florida State at North Carolina (2:00 PM, CBS) – Considering the date it will be played, this game could have a significant impact on the ACC title race. The conference is up for grabs this season and both of these teams should be in the mix. North Carolina went 0-2 against Florida State last season, including the 90-57 blowout in Tallahassee that forced many observers to take notice of the Tar Heels’ flaws. Don’t expect that kind of effort from UNC this time around.

They also meet: January 12 in Tallahassee.

48. February 19: VCU at Saint Louis (9:00 PM, CBS Sports Network) – Two of the better point guards most casual fans don’t know about go head to head in this late-season Atlantic 10 battle. Senior floor general Kwamain Mitchell returns for Saint Louis while VCU’s Darius Theus will look to lead the Rams to a solid finish in their first Atlantic 10 season. This would have been a good BracketBusters game last year but now that these teams are in the same league, everybody wins.

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #4 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 6th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. The entire series from #30 to this point can be viewed hereEnjoy!

#4 – Where Miracle in Chapel Hill Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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From McAdoo to Siva: Six Players Not Ready to Meet the Preseason Hype

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 5th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Managing expectations is more difficult for some players than others. While some rise to the occasion and meet their preseason billing, others flop under the pressure. For the latter group, often times the hype was never justified in the first place. Fans and media have a way of drumming up baseless buzz and hype. Strong performances in small sample sizes, particularly in NCAA Tournament settings, are pointed to as signs of future stardom, affixed with a level of permanence that ignores the player’s mostly average career before his moment in the spotlight. Each and every year, players are expected to meet and sustain prescribed performance levels, and each and every year, they just don’t get there. It is one of the sadder aspects of college sports, because these kids often don’t deserve the immense pressure they’re dealt. However expectations surface around a certain player, there’s no questioning their existence, and my job is to predict one player from each power league who is susceptible to falling short of his predicted performance marks this season. As usual, freshmen will be excluded from this list, which is probably for the best anyway – if we gauged every top-end recruit by their scouting report descriptions, only a select few would actually arrive as advertised. With that qualifier out of the way, let’s give this a shot.

James Michael McAdoo – North Carolina

The frontcourt losses presents a huge challenge for McAdoo(photo credit: Getty Images).

At North Carolina, even lottery-bound talents like McAdoo aren’t guaranteed playing time early in their careers. Thanks largely to a frontcourt featuring three first-round picks (Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Harrison Barnes), playing time was especially difficult to come by in the Tar Heels’ big man rotation last season. And McAdoo, the No. 2-ranked power forward and No. 6-ranked player overall in the class of 2011, according to ESPN Recruiting Nation, was shelved to a marginal reserve role. Now that the frontcourt logjam has moved on to the professional ranks, it’s up to McAdoo to control the low block. But he’s not just replacing three NBA talents; no, McAdoo’s job is tougher than that. He will need to shoulder the Tar Heels’ scoring load, and do so without master creationist Kendall Marshall running the show at point guard. Unlike the Tar Heels’ talented low-block trio of last season, who had the benefit of siphoning away defensive attention from one another, McAdoo will command opponents’ full range of resistance. And without Marshall, the McDonald’s All American will have to earn every clean look he gets. Such a massive jump in responsibility will require a huge transformation. From a talent perspective, McAdoo is ready to make that leap. But the pieces around him (or lack thereof) make his job an inherently difficult one.

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Circle Your Calendar: The 68 Must-See Games of 2012-13, Part One

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 5th, 2012

Brian Otskey is a contributor for Rush the Court. Let him know what you think at @botskey on Twitter.

Can you believe it? Real, live college basketball begins this coming Friday and continues through early April. From San Diego to Miami to Ann Arbor and all places in between, here is your guide to the top 68 games of the 2012-13 college basketball season. NCAA Tournament and conference title implications ride on each and every one of these games so settle in and mark your calendars. Games later in the season, when teams are gelling and making a postseason push, are valued more than match-ups earlier in the season when teams are still trying to find their identities. We begin our countdown with games #68 to #52, listed below in order. The countdown will continue as we move through the week prior to opening night on November 9. Check back all week for the rest of the list. (h/t to Zach Hayes for his assistance in building this list).

68. November 30: Syracuse at Arkansas (8:30 PM, ESPN) – The marquee non-conference home game for Arkansas (as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge) is also a quality early season road test for Syracuse, a team that rarely leaves New York before conference play begins. The Razorbacks haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2008, having gone 22-42 in SEC play over the last four seasons. With Michigan being the only other top shelf team on their non-conference schedule, this game is a huge opportunity for this potential bubble team to notch a win that will make the committee take notice.

The Hoosiers and Bulldogs Will Bring Its Local Rivalry to the Crossroads Classic

67. December 15: Indiana vs. Butler (2:00 PM, CBS) – It will be interesting to see how Butler performs against their conference schedule in the Atlantic 10 versus the Horizon League but before they get a chance to do that, they’ll take on intrastate rival Indiana in Indianapolis. The Crossroads Classic, as it’s called, is a mid-December boon for a state with basketball entrenched in its culture. Now eligible, sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke (transfer from Arkansas) could keep the Bulldogs competitive against Indiana’s porous perimeter defense but Cody Zeller and company may be too much for Brad Stevens’ team to handle.

66. March 5: Arkansas at Missouri (7:00 PM, ESPN) – Razorbacks head coach and former Missouri headman Mike Anderson makes his return to Columbia for a late season tilt that should have postseason implications. Anderson’s teams love to play in the style of Nolan Richardson’s “40 minutes of hell” but you can bet Missouri will be well equipped to handle it with some holdovers from the Anderson regime still on the roster. With the combination of the return of Anderson and senior night, you can bet the crowd at Mizzou Arena will be fired up and ready to go for this one.

They also meet: February 16 in Fayetteville.

65. February 25: Syracuse at Marquette (7:00 PM, ESPN) – Despite being criminally underrated seemingly every season, Buzz Williams and Marquette will likely be in the Big East mix ahead of this late February matchup. The Golden Eagles will have a different look without Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom but an infusion of newcomers, headlined by Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett and a talented core of returning players ready to take the next step. Syracuse will start a new lineup this season after losing many key players but make no mistake, the Orange are among the favorites to take home the Big East crown in their final season in the conference.

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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 5th, 2012

Ryan Peters is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can find him on Twitter @pioneer_pride and read his musings online at Big Apple Buckets and Pioneer Pride.

Top Storylines

  • A Conference in Considerable Flux – Before MemphisHoustonUCF, and SMU defect to the Big East – which officially makes a geographic mockery of the Big East’s name – C-USA will have one final season together as a full-fledged “upper-level” Division I conference. With only six NCAA Tournament teams and zero NCAA tournament victories in the past three seasons, however, can C-USA muster together a respectable showing for the 2012-13 campaign that doesn’t rival most mid-major conferences? Memphis is the only virtual lock to go dancing, yet several other programs (see MarshallUTEP, and Tulane) are on the rise and could conceivably end up on the right side of the tournament bubble come March. Still, it may be overly optimistic to think C-USA will break the two-team NCAA bid barrier that has eluded the conference since 2005.
  • A Run Towards Perfection – In his fourth season as Memphis’ head coach, Josh Pastner has an opportunity to do something his predecessor, John Calipari, did with apparent ease for three straight seasons prior – have his Tigers run the table in C-USA. With the conference slightly weaker heading into this season (according to Ken Pomeroy), Memphis has a real opportunity to put up a perfect 16-0 regular season mark against their conference foes. It will still prove to be difficult, especially when facing UCF and Marshall twice as part of their unbalanced schedule, yet Memphis returns four starters and is sitting on a potential NBA lottery pick in Adonis Thomas if the 6’7” small forward can stay healthy for much of the season.

Josh Pastner leads a talented home-grown roster in Memphis’ final season in C-USA.

  • Welcoming Back a Legend – Anytime you can hire a head coach with a resume such as the 71-year old Larry Brown, I guess you have to do it, given SMU’s desperation to hire a big name. After all, you’re talking about a guy with an NCAA championship and an NBA championship on his resume. The problem is – aside from his age and inability to coach through the initial contract at his last three destinations – Brown has been away from the college game for nearly 25 years, when he won the 1988 NCAA championship coaching Danny Manning (who, interestingly, is a new C-USA coach himself) and the Kansas Jayhawks. How much can the Mustangs reasonably expect from Brown under these conditions? The cupboard is bare with the graduation of leading scorer and most efficient player, Robert Nyakundi, and the removal of four players including starting point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas, so you have to wonder if Brown will have the patience to stick around long enough to fully rebuild a SMU program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1993. One benefit from Brown’s hiring is that he has assembled an impressive coaching staff, which includes the Mustangs possible head-coach-in-waiting in Tim Jankovich.
  • New Coaching Blood – Including Brown, there are four C-USA programs that hired new coaches this offseason, which makes up a whopping one third of the entire league. The most notable new hires are Brown and the aforementioned Danny Manning, who left his assistant post at Kansas in an attempt to push Tulsa out of complacency. Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss) and Jerod Haase (UAB) complete the list of coaches. It will be an uphill battle in season one; research has shown head coaches typically struggle in their first season at their newest destination. Perhaps these men can buck the trend and adapt quickly, although the more likely scenario has some of the league taking advantage and pushing ahead of these rebuilding programs for the time being. Well, maybe except for Rice (more on that later)…

Reader’s Take I


Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Memphis (14-2)
  2. Marshall (12-4)
  3. UTEP (11-5)
  4. UCF (10-6)
  5. UAB (9-7)
  6. Southern Mississippi (8-8)
  7. Tulane (7-9)
  8. East Carolina (7-9)
  9. Houston (6-10)
  10. Tulsa (5-11)
  11. SMU (5-11)
  12. Rice (2-14)
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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #5 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. The entire series from #30 to this point can be viewed hereEnjoy!

#5 – Where Messed Around and Got a Triple Double Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #6 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. The entire series from #30 to this point can be viewed hereEnjoy!

#6 – Where Prelude to Next Year? Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Colonial Athletic Association

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 2nd, 2012

Mark Selig of the Daily News-Record and http://jamesmadison.rivals.com is the RTC correspondent for the CAA. You can follow him on Twitter at @markrselig.

Top Storylines

  • Strange League Makeup: Perennial contender VCU left for the Atlantic 10, leaving 11 teams in the CAA, but only seven of those squads will participate in this year’s league tournament held in Richmond. Outgoing Old Dominion and Georgia State are ineligible under CAA bylaws, while UNC-Wilmington and Towson are ineligible for any postseason play because of low APR scores. College of Charleston recently approved a move from the Southern Conference and will likely join next season.
  • Can Bruiser Take The Dragons Dancing? Drexel’s 12th-year coach has won 199 games with the Dragons, but Bruiser Flint has never brought the team to the NCAA Tournament (his last Tourney appearance was in 1998 with UMass). The Dragons, champions of the regular season last year, are the favorites to repeat and this time also win the conference tourney now that VCU isn’t around to boast what was essentially home-court advantage at the Richmond Coliseum. Flint has had his share of headaches in the Virginia state capital, but a lot of them would go away if he could just snip that Coliseum net.

Frantz Massenat Leads The Dragons As Preseason Favorites. (AP)

  • Multiple Bids? That seems to be the question every year in the CAA, a conference that sent multiple teams to the tournament in 2011, 2007 and 2006. Without VCU – a fringe Top 25 team – that appears unlikely. But a team like Drexel could theoretically build itself a strong enough at-large résumé and then get upset in the CAA Tournament. It would take a big season from a George Mason or Delaware to have the Colonial flag waved at multiple NCAA sites, though. Old Dominion, ineligible for the league title, created a rugged enough non-conference schedule for itself to be an at-large consideration, but the Monarchs probably aren’t talented enough this year to breeze through that slate.

Reader’s Take I


Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Drexel (15-3)
  2. Delaware (13-5)
  3. George Mason (13-5)
  4. Northeastern (10-8)
  5. Old Dominion (9-9)
  6. James Madison (9-9)
  7. Georgia State (7-11)
  8. Hofstra (7-11)
  9. William & Mary (6-12)
  10. Towson (6-12)
  11. UNC-Wilmington (4-14)

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #7 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#7 – Where An Aerial Assault of Seat Cushions Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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