20 Questions: Who is This Year’s Indiana?

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on November 7th, 2013

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Who is this year’s Indiana? Whoa, that is a loaded question that certainly won’t endear me to one particular fan base. This exercise is essentially an educated guess based on unknowns, so remember to take this with a big grain of salt. Before we begin, here is a little refresher for those who may have forgotten some things about last season. The 2012-13 Indiana Hoosiers were the nation’s preseason No. 1 team, an ultra-talented group that went 26-5 in the regular season and won the Big Ten with a 14-4 league record. Despite bowing out to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Hoosiers locked up the top seed in the East Region, eventually falling to fourth-seeded Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen as Tom Crean and his club simply had no answer for Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone. In a year where IU fans had dreams of at least another Final Four and possibly a national championship, the Hoosiers’ season ended with a resounding thud – a full two rounds short of the ultimate goal, Atlanta.

Jabari Parker has arrived in Durham but will it be enough to vault Duke past the Sweet Sixteen? (credit: RNO)

Jabari Parker has arrived in Durham but will it be enough to vault Duke past the Sweet Sixteen? (credit: RNO)

So, who fills that unlucky role this season (if anyone)? This question is inherently difficult because of the simple fact that I have to choose a highly-ranked team, all of them capable of making the Final Four, winning a national championship and making this article look incredibly foolish. But I’m going to go with Duke. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils enter the season ranked No. 4 in the nation in both the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls. However, this is a considerably different Duke team from last year’s 30-6 outfit that advanced to the Elite Eight. Gone are Coach K’s top three scorers: Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly. Coming in is Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood along with the nation’s seventh-ranked recruiting class, headlined by the player some folks feel is the best incoming freshman in the nation, Jabari Parker. Sharpshooter Andre Dawkins also returns after a year off. Without Plumlee and his terrific inside presence, this Duke team will have a different look in 2013-14. Krzyzewski has admitted as much in many preseason interviews, but adjusting his playing style to fit the talents and skills of his team is not going to be a problem for the Hall of Famer and winningest coach in men’s Division I history.

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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #4 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2013

seasonpreview-1

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#4 – Where Hinkle Magic Happens.


We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #5 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 6th, 2013

seasonpreview-1

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#5 – Where A Fallen Hero Inspires Us All Happens.


We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

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The RTC Interview Series: Pac-12 Preview with Don MacLean and Miles Simon

Posted by Walker Carey on November 6th, 2013


Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. To read through the entire 2013-14 preseason interview series, click here. As part of our national preview with the Pac-12, RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking with two Pac-12 experts in Pac-12 Network analyst and former UCLA star, Don MacLean, and ESPN analyst and former Arizona star, Miles Simon. (Ed. note – we spoke to each individual separately, but for the sake of expediency, combining their answers into a round table format made the most sense.)

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Rush the Court: Arizona is the overwhelming preseason favorite in the league. What is it about Sean Miller’s team that has expectations so high in Tucson?

Don MacLean: The talent level there is very high. Sean Miller has brought in some very high-level recruits. Aaron Gordon brings another dimension for the team with his great athleticism and versatility to play inside and on the perimeter. T.J. McConnell is going to be great for the team. I worked the exhibition game last week and I was really impressed by McConnell. I think he is really good. He is the first true point guard that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. When you have all that talent, you need a pass-first guy to spread the ball around. From what I have seen, McConnell seems to be that guy. Sean Miller is also a great coach. With this roster, the depth that the team has, and Miller’s coaching, I think it is warranted to put Arizona as the best team in the league right now.

Miles Simon: Sean Miller obviously brought in a tremendous recruiting class. Getting Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts to come in is a good place to start with this team. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell is going to be an excellent addition for the team at point guard. When you look at this team, it is just so long and athletic. I think defensively, this might be the best group that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. There are just so many positives with this team going into the season.

RTC: Oregon made a surprise trip to the Sweet Sixteen last March after pulling off upsets over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. Gone from last season’s team are Arsalan Kazemi and E.J. Singler, but the Ducks did secure the services of UNLV transfer Mike Moser. With Moser joining a team that has the talented backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson returning, should Dana Altman’s squad take a step forward in the Pac-12 this season and should another NCAA Tournament run be expected?

MacLean: You can never expect an NCAA Tournament run, but I think the team should be just as good. Do not forget that Oregon also added Joseph Young, the transfer from Houston. Adding Mike Moser as a fifth-year guy is an important piece and Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson will be better as second-year players. With what Dana Altman does with his style of play and the way he changes up defenses, I think the Ducks will be as good as they were last season.

Simon: I think Oregon will get back to the NCAA Tournament. It really has some nice pieces, but when you lose guys like Arsalan Kazemi, E.J. Singler, Tony Woods and Carlos Emory, you are losing what was the heart and soul of your team. A lot of leadership and toughness left with those guys. If Mike Moser is able to return to where he was with UNLV two years ago, he will be excellent. The backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson should be explosive and one of the best in the league. Johnathan Loyd is the third guard and he has some experience because he had to play a lot when Artis was injured last season. When you consider these pieces, this is a team that should get back to the NCAA Tournament and finish in the top half of the Pac-12.

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RTC Preseason Awards: National Player and Freshman of the Year

Posted by Chris Johnson (@chrisdjohnsonn) on November 6th, 2013

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Among the horde of talented players entering and returning to college basketball this season, arguably none of them will be more entertaining to watch than Marcus Smart and Andrew Wiggins. There are plenty of names worth tracking, to be sure. Julius Randle at Kentucky, Doug McDermott at Creighton, Russ Smith at Louisville and myriad others deserve recognition. But if forced to single out two players, two guys to follow intently from November to March, you should pick Smart and Wiggins. Rush the Court’s preseason awards panel did exactly that when it elected Smart as college basketball’s preseason National Player of the Year and Wiggins as its Freshman of the Year. But not even those awards – which, in case you weren’t aware, are the two most prestigious individual honors college basketball players can receive in the preseason – capture what will make watching Smart and Wiggins so interesting this season. They tell us that Smart and Wiggins are projected to light up college hoops with their transcendent talent, but they don’t account for the dynamic that exists between the two players. RTC panelists might not have factored this into their thinking when casting their votes, either, but I’ll attempt to lay out precisely why this interplay, this wavelength that exists between two preseason All-Americans, is going to be so fun to watch this season.

natplayer

The NBA

Though Wiggins will enter college basketball one season after Smart did, both will be selected in the first round of the 2014 draft. Why am I able to make that statement with such certainty? For one, Smart already admitted he will jump to the pros after this season, telling Yahoo! Sports Mark Spears in July, “It’s safe to say that if, by the grace of God I’m healthy and everything, this will be my last year at Oklahoma State.” Wiggins made nearly the same admission last month when he told ESPN The Magazine’s Elena Bergeron that two of his goals this season were to “win another championship, a national championship,” and “follow in Anthony Bennett’s footsteps of going No.1.” Wiggins also, in responding to a question about what he’s enjoyed most since arriving at Kansas, said, “I would say just being able to enjoy my last year of school.” So that just about settles it, right? Wiggins and Smart will be selected in next June’s NBA Draft, both of whom likely going in the top-half of the first round. There are a score of NBA teams that believe this draft class is so good – that believe players like Wiggins and Smart, among others, can be so transformative and uplifting at the next level – that they are actively trying to lose games to better their chances of landing one of the first few picks in the lottery. Don’t believe tanking is real? Can’t quite comprehend what all this “Riggin’ for Wiggins” nonsense is about? One acclaimed NBA Draft analyst has devoted an entire feature to categorizing the statuses of various teams’ tanking strategies. Throwing away seasons – and, in the process, willfully disregarding the interests of most fans, people who would rather not be shown an inferior product 41 nights a year and couldn’t care less about cap space and shedding payroll and smart, long-view personnel blueprints – might sound crazy, and when you really think about it, the fact the system is constructed in a way that not only does not deter, but actually encourages intentional losing, is sickening.

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2013-14 RTC Conference Preview: the Ivy League

Posted by Michael James (@ivybball) on November 6th, 2013

Michael James is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League. You can also find his musings on Twitter at @mrjames2006 and @ivybball.

 

Top Storylines

  • Best Ivy Team Ever? Every league preview from this summer and fall seemed to start with the assumption that Harvard would not only cruise to the Ivy title, but that it could very well end up as the best team the league has ever seen. Putting aside the great Penn teams of the 1970s – one of which reached the Final Four and two others which finished third in the final AP poll – it’s extremely tenuous to predict that the Crimson will even end up as the best Ivy team of the 64-team era. The 1998 edition of the Princeton Tigers set that bar, finishing the regular season with just one loss and nabbing a #5 seed before falling to Michigan State in the round of 32. While that’s the best known example, five other Ivy teams spent some time in the national polls, including Princeton’s 1991 squad, which lost by two to Villanova as a #8 seed in the first round. Two Penn teams from the mid-90s cracked the Top 25 and one scored an NCAA win as a #11 seed, while Harvard and Cornell recently rode appearances in the Top 25 to #12 seeds with the latter advancing all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. Given that most pundits have the 2013-14 Crimson as a fringe Top 25 team, it would seem that the hype about Harvard possibly being the best Ivy ever is mostly indicative of how soon most have forgotten the very good Ivy teams of the recent past.

    There will be plenty of teams gunning for Harvard this season. (AP)

    There will be plenty of teams gunning for Harvard this season. (AP)

  • Going DigitalJust two years ago, the Ivy League office took a ton of flak as it struggled to farm out its premier basketball properties to television or even specialty streaming channels like ESPN3. Only six Ivy League contests were picked up that season, despite a dramatic race which ended where Princeton defeated the rival Quakers to send Harvard to its first NCAA Tournament in over 65 years. Last season, that number crept to nine broadcasts with the new league television deal with NBC Sports Network, but still the only way to watch Brown defeat Princeton to send Harvard back to the Big Dance was via a grainy web feed. Shortly after the season ended, however, the league announced a massive new infrastructure project to merge all of the web feeds into one Ivy Digital channel and provide professional, multi-camera, high-definition broadcasts of all events for the league’s revenue sports. Now, simply by paying one flat fee (roughly $100 for all sports), fans can watch any Ivy home contest and all league games without having to buy each individual school’s package and could access every game in one place. Add in features like quad view, which can allow viewers to watch four games at once, and the Ivy basketball fan has everything he or she needs to keep live tabs on the league race as it unfolds on Friday and Saturday nights in February and March.
  • Stability in an Unstable World While the Ivy League and its core eight institutions weathered the conference realignment storm without even a joking rumor about possible new arrivals or departures, pardon the players and coaches if they stumble over the new affiliations of some of their non-conference foes this season. The four conferences that the Ivies have played the most over the past two seasons (America East, Patriot, NEC and the Atlantic 10) all underwent varying levels of changes, and that’s before considering the six games the league will play against the American Athletic Conference, which didn’t even exist last season. The result of all the chaos is a composite schedule with a diverse set of non-conference opponents, as Ivy teams will play members of 23 different leagues this season.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Harvard (13-1)
  2. Penn (9-5)
  3. Yale (9-5)
  4. Princeton (9-5)
  5. Brown (5-9)
  6. Columbia (4-10)
  7. Cornell (4-10)
  8. Dartmouth (4-10)

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The RTC Podblast: ACC Preseason Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 6th, 2013

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We’re just a few more days from the start of games across this fair nation, and that means it’s time to preview each of the major seven basketball conferences on the RTC Podcast. Last week we dropped previews for the Big East (Tuesday), Big Ten (Wednesday), SEC (Thursday) and Pac-12 (Friday); this week we’ll have the Big 12 (Monday), AAC (Tuesday) and ACC (Wednesday). As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our talented and engaging host, leading the group through a series of topics and questions related to the upcoming season. For this podblast, we invited RTC ACC microsite correspondent Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) to the program, as he walks us through what this 15-team behemoth of a basketball league will look like this season.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And don’t forget to check out our 2013-14 Preseason Podcast, the National Edition, and feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around.

  • 0:00-8:46 – Duke: New Look, Same High Expectations
  • 8:46-13:46 – Just Who is in the Second Tier in the ACC?
  • 13:46-20:19 – Pitt, BC, Maryland and the ACC Middle Class
  • 20:19-24:42 – Hope in the Bottom of the League
  • 24:42-26:52 – Randy’s New Favorite Team – ACC Edition
  • 26:52-31:27 – ACC Player of the Year and First Team Discussion
  • 31:27-32:26 – Bold Predictions/Wrap
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20 Questions: Does Michigan’s Mitch McGary Deserve to be a Preseason All-American?

Posted by Chris Johnson (@chrisdjohnsonn) on November 6th, 2013

seasonpreview-1There is nothing objectively wrong with the five names selected for the Associated Press Preseason All-American team. You can argue the merits of every selection, I suppose, but that’s probably not the best use of anyone’s time. The poll is an inherently subjective entity. A group of writers see teams and players they believe deserve special recognition and vote accordingly. Preference – not a secret formula or wins and loss records or point averages – explains selections. And in the preseason, speculation about which players and teams will perform well is the single biggest factor involved in poll selection. So when lists like these are revealed, disagreeing with a player or team here and there is totally reasonable. That’s why so many media outlets publish “power rankings.” But saying one team’s placement on a poll is flat-out wrong doesn’t really make much sense. Selections can be questionable – baffling, even. But can they be wrong? Like, 2 + 2=5 wrong? No. No, they can’t.

Arguing for or against McGary’s spot on the preseason All-American team inevitably leads to a dead end. (Getty)

Which brings us, in a roundabout way, to Michigan forward Mitch McGary, the most controversial selection on the AP’s team released Monday, which also includes Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart, Creighton senior Doug McDermott and Louisville senior Russ Smith. (And no, Wiggins’ spot on the preseason team is not more controversial than McGary’s. If this guy made it without playing a single minute of college basketball beforehand, then Wiggins – perhaps the most highly touted player to ever enter the modern college game, one all but guaranteed to be a top-three pick in the 2014 NBA Draft – deserves a spot. End of discussion. Welcome to the recruiting news-infused college hoops news cycle of 2013).

There are plenty of folks that think McGary, who received the lowest number of votes (34) of the five players chosen, doesn’t belong on the team. They see McGary as a flash in the pan, someone who got hot in March but doesn’t have the regular season numbers to back up the media love he’s getting. Someone America saw on the big stage and, with scant evidence to dispute the legitimacy of the 14.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG numbers he averaged in six NCAA Tournament games (thanks in large part to the casual sports fan’s general apathy toward every college hoops game before March), fell in love with. McGary can’t hold a candle to Wiggins, McDermott, Smith and Smart, the argument goes, because McGary barely existed before the NCAA Tournament started, and because there are so many other players more qualified than him.

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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #6 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 6th, 2013

seasonpreview-1

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#6 – Where First Time Ever Happens.


We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #7 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2013

seasonpreview-1

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#7 – Where Five Overtimes Happens.


We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

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The RTC Interview Series: Big East Preview with Jon Rothstein

Posted by Walker Carey on November 5th, 2013

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. To read through the entire 2013-14 preseason interview series, click here. As part of our national preview with the Big East, RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking with a Big East expert in CBS Sports Network College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein.

Jon Rothstein Shares His Big East Preseason Thoughts With Us

Jon Rothstein Shares His Big East Preseason Thoughts With Us

Rush the Court: The new Big East has formed with its roots based almost exclusively on basketball. What will that do for the conference’s reputation from a national standpoint?

Jon Rothstein: I think we are going to have to wait and see how these schools that are left in the conference perform on a national level. From the periphery, I think everyone is looking at the Big East as a conference that can send either five or six teams to the NCAA Tournament. That would put the Big East probably on the same par as the American Athletic Conference. A lot of its reputation is going to be formed by how many teams the Big East will send to the Tournament on a consistent basis.

RTC: Marquette has been the popular preseason pick to win the league. The Golden Eagles lost Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue and Trent Lockett from last season’s Elite Eight team, so what is it about this season’s squad that makes it so formidable?

Rothstein: This is the deepest and most talented frontcourt that Buzz Williams has had since he has been the head coach at Marquette. On the other hand, this is also going to be the least experienced backcourt that he has had. I initially picked Marquette to win the Big East at the start of the offseason, but going back on it now, I wish I had picked Georgetown to win the league.

RTC: What makes you believe Georgetown has the talent to win the league?

Rothstein: To me, Georgetown replenishes talent as well as any team in the country. The thing about the Hoyas that is interesting to me is that they are able to win with different styles. You saw them feature a perimeter attack when they had Chris Wright, Jason Clark and Austin Freeman. You saw them use an inside attack with Henry Sims leading the way. Last season, we saw Otto Porter really blossom and do a bit of everything. Georgetown always finds a way to win consistently, but it does it in different ways.

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The RTC Podblast: AAC Preseason Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2013

seasonpreview-11

We’re just a few more days from the start of games across this fair nation, and that means it’s time to preview each of the major seven basketball conferences on the RTC Podcast. Last week we dropped previews for the Big East (Tuesday), Big Ten (Wednesday), SEC (Thursday) and Pac-12 (Friday); this week we’ll have the Big 12 (Monday), AAC (Tuesday) and ACC (Wednesday). As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our talented and engaging host, leading the group through a series of topics and questions related to the upcoming season. For this podblast, we invited RTC AAC microsite correspondent Mike Lemaire (@mike_lemaire) to the program, as he walked us through what to expect in the new (and confusing) league this season.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And don’t forget to check out our 2013-14 Preseason Podcast, the National Edition, and feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around.

  • 0:00-10:11 – Louisville’s Chances Of Repeating
  • 10:11-14:24 – UConn vs. Memphis For Second Best
  • 14:24-17:20 – Best Backcourt in The American (and maybe America)
  • 17:20-22:11 – Best of the Rest
  • 22:11-26:35 – Randy’s New Favorite Team – AAC Style
  • 26:35-29:39 – AAC First Teamer Set To Disappoint
  • 29:39-32:02 – Under The Radar AAC Star
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