Is Baylor Overrated? Of Course!

Posted by Bennet Hayes on January 16th, 2014

The Baylor Bears are currently the 12th best team in the land (says the Associated Press), and are considered by many to be both a Big 12 title contender and Final Four threat. The Bears are deep and talented (as usual), and Kenny Chery has been remarkable enough to make Bears fan already forget their preseason fears of a life without Pierre Jackson. But after Wednesday night’s discouraging no-show of an 82-72 loss to Texas Tech – a game in which Baylor trailed by 21 at halftime – I think it’s high time we reassess Scott Drew’s team. They are a talented bunch, no doubt; but are the Bears as good as we first thought?

Cory Jefferson And The Defensively Challenged Bears Would Be Well-Suited To Replicate Their Offensive Efficiency On The Other End Of The Floor

Cory Jefferson And The Defensively Challenged Bears Would Be Well-Suited To Replicate Their Offensive Efficiency On The Other End Of The Floor

Baylor had already risen all the way to seventh in the polls this season, but another decisive Big 12 road loss (at Iowa State) knocked them down to their current spot. The Bears followed the standard prescription for reaching the upper realms of the poll: Enter the season ranked, possess a solid reputation of recent success, and then it doesn’t really matter who you beat — just win a bunch of games. Twelve of 13 did the trick for Scott Drew’s team, and that one loss was commendable – a seven-point defeat to second ranked Syracuse in Maui. But if we reevaluate Baylor’s current list of victories, the rise in profile that accompanied its jaunt up the polls may feel a bit hasty. Wins over Kentucky and Colorado are nice, but Arkansas and Washington can also claim that. Furthermore, make sure to note that those two games – both played in Dallas/Fort Worth — should be considered far friendlier for Baylor than the attached “neutral site” title would suggest – especially as the Bears struggle on the road here early in conference play.

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Georgetown is Replacing Otto Porter by Committee

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on November 14th, 2013

Alex Moscoso is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Georgetown-Wright State game on Wednesday evening.

The Georgetown Hoyas are dealing with some changes this season. For starters, they are in a ”new” Big East conference. While they still play many of the same opponents, the Hoyas will have new teams and a round-robin format to adjust to. Secondly and more significantly, they are trying to replace superstar Otto Porter, who left early to become the third overall pick in last summer’s NBA Draft. Porter led the team in points (16.2 PPG) and rebounds (7.5 RPG) last season, and helped them win a share of the Big East Championship. Now, with Porter gone, they are in search of a new identity. It was thought that Greg Whittington would be the next player in line to take the reins. But Whittington tore his ACL over the summer and will most likely not play this season. After two games, Joshua Smith, D’Vauntes Rivera-Smith and Markel Starks have emerged as the candidates most likely to fill Porter’s shoes, even if by committee. In order to do so, they will need to foster enough chemistry between them to become a consistently effective offense.

D'Vauntes Rivera-Smith will be part of a triumvirate leading the Hoyas offense this season.

D’Vauntes Rivera-Smith will be part of a triumvirate leading the Hoyas offense this season.

In his first game for the Hoyas, a loss to Oregon in South Korea, Smith made his presence known on the block by erupting for 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting. But in last night’s game against Wright State, Smith looked more like his old UCLA self — slow and uninterested. He ended his night with only six points. What may be more worrisome is that in both contests he only managed to grab four rebounds per game and was a liability on defense. Rivera-Smith, on the other hand, had the inverse problem. Against Oregon, his shooting was ice-cold as he went 2-of-10 from the field and 0-of-5 from deep. Last night, he was simply unconscious. Smith-Rivera scored 25 points by shooting 8-of-12 from the field including three bombs from deep. However, it has been the senior point guard Starks who has been the Hoyas’ steady hand. Starks has scored 16 and 23 points and dished out four and six assists in both games, respectively.

The loss of Whittington and Smith’s weaknesses on the defensive end means this team will have to rely on their offense to win games. This should not be a problem as the trio complements each other well. Smith’s soft touch and great hands not only make him effective on the block, but they also make him a superb passer for a big man. When he is double-teamed, he is easily able to kick the ball out to Smith-Rivera in the perimeter or hit Starks running the baseline from the weak side. If these three can find their timing and rhythm with one another to the point where they’re all consistently producing in the scoring column, they have enough pieces around them to get John Thompson III his fourth Big East title this season.

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Morning Five: 09.18.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 18th, 2013

morning5

  1. New Jersey’s effort to legalize sports gambling within the state took a hit yesterday as a federal appeals court upheld a prior ruling that New Jersey’s proposed legalization of sports gambling conflicted with current federal law. As we have mentioned before in this space the heart of the issue is the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that only allows gambling on sports in any form in just four states–Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. New Jersey has questioned the constitutionality of this law on several levels and although they lost the appeal 2-1 they appear to be encouraged (at least publicly) by the lone dissenting vote, which they claim is the first public vote against the law. We still are not sure what the overall outcome will be and what the NCAA’s response will be (it has threatened to stop allowing NCAA postseason competition in the state), but with the huge amount of money on the line we have no doubt that this case will drag on for years as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has already stated that the state will appeal the case to the US Supreme Court.
  2. The report that opposing coaches were using Billy Kennedy‘s battle with Parkinson’s Disease against him on the recruiting trail has generated plenty of criticism for the unidentified coach(es). While we understand that the approach will make almost everybody uncomfortable and would be classified as distasteful by nearly everybody we have a hard time finding it quite as offensive as many others have. Although few media members are willing to publicly acknowledge it, the health of a coach, who is theoretically going to be one of the guiding forces in your life the next four years, is something that should be under consideration for any recruit in the same way that the likelihood that the coach is going to leave the school for another job–NCAA or NBA–should be a consideration. Kennedy’s health issues, which are a private matter on some level, are made into a public one because of his job whether the fans and media like it or not.
  3. We have no idea why the Jalen Steele‘s departure from Mississippi State had to be so messy, but given the recent history of the program it should not come as a surprise. Early yesterday, the school put out a release stating that Steele would forego his senior year at Mississippi State to focus on graduating. On the surface this appeared to be nothing more than an unfortunate end to Steele’s injury-plagued college career. That is before Steele went off on the program on Twitter. Mississippi State later attempted to clarify the issue by saying it was an issue of open roster spaces for the 2014-15 season as Steele was wanted to redshirt this season and come back next season. Unfortunately, Mississippi State supposedly had already filled all of its roster spots for next season meaning that Steele was left on his own to try to move on to another school (Hello, transfer waiver!), which is a situation that clearly did not sit too well with Steele.
  4. Terry Lanier’s commitment to VCU on Monday may not have made major headlines, but it is another sign of how far VCU has come as a program since making it to the Final Four in 2011. This might seem like a fairly straightforward association that players want to play for successful teams, but as Borzello notes it has not necessarily been the case for other teams that have made surprise runs to the Final Four recently. There are multiple potential explanations for this–the most obvious one and also the most politically touchy–is that Shaka Smart, an a young, well-educated African-American, appeals more to recruits, who are predominantly African-American than his two Caucasian counterparts (Jim Larranaga and Brad Stevens), who also happened to both leave the schools they led to the Final Four. Whatever the reasons for his recruiting success are, Shaka Smart’s ability to continue to build on that Final Four run is another reason why he is among the most coveted coaches in college basketball.
  5. The NIT may have fallen off in terms of prestige for early season tournaments, but we have to give them credit for being one of the few that still requires you to win to advance to the showcase rounds. This year’s NIT field will be headlined by Arizona and Duke with the two schools hosting the opening round games along with Rutgers and Alabama. Looking through the fields Arizona, Duke, and Alabama should advance fairly easily, but the road for Rutgers appears to be much more challenging. One other interesting aspect of NIT Season Tip-Off is the fact that it includes two schools–Metro State and Stillman–that are not even Division I schools. Although we doubt that this tournament will be interesting until the championship game, we have to give them credit for making it a real tournament unlike most of the other ones out there.
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Morning Five: 08.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. Like many other college basketball sites we have talked quite a bit about Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to commit to Southern Methodist and how it could affect their recruiting forward. One thing that most writers glossed over, but Mike DeCourcy goes in-depth about is Emmanuel’s brother, John Michael, and how he could have a huge impact on the program even if he does not fill up the box score. While we remain surprised that Emmanuel turned down Kentucky and many other top-tier programs to come to SMU, the fact that he would enroll at a school to play with his brother (and a Hall of Fame coach) should not be that shocking. Having said that we will wait until Emmanuel actually matriculates before we are ready to officially put him in SMU’s column.
  2. In the wake of the NCAA laying down the hammer on Johnny Manziel, several media members and a few anonymous coaches/administrators have taken shots at the NCAA, but few individuals have as much reason to criticize the NCAA as former Miami guard Dequan Jones. You may remember Jones as the Miami player who was forced to sit out 11 games of his senior year after the NCAA took Ponzi scheme mastermind Nevin Shapiro’s word that a Miami assistant had asked for $10,000 to get Jones to commit to Miami before the NCAA finally backed down when they could not find any evidence against him (other than the word of Shapiro). As you can imagine Jones was less than thrilled with how the NCAA handled their investigation of Manziel in comparison to how his was handled. We suspect that Jones is not alone among athletes who have previously been targeted by the NCAA and walked away with much larger penalties that what Manziel incurred.
  3. We are a little over a month away from the new Midnight Madness, but there is still some movement within the coaching ranks. Normally the hiring of an assistant coach at a mid (or low)-major would not merit a mention here, but the announcement that former Boston College coach Al Skinner had been added as an assistant on the Bryant staff intrigued us. Gary Williams might remain the most well-known (and successful coach) to grace the Chestnut Hill sidelines, but it is Skinner who remains the all-time winningest coach in school history. Obviously Skinner left under circumstances that can best be described as less than ideal, but if this current stint at Bryant works out for him he could soon be in the running for some fairly prominent coaching vacancies.
  4. It has been a precipitous fall for Anrio Adams. After enrolling at Kansas (arguably the most successful program in the country in recent years) Adams found himself stuck behind Ben McLemore before a series of unfortunate tweets led to Adams’ departure/dismissal from the team. From there Adams wound up at Ohio (a solid, but not elite program). Now after his decision to leave Ohio after just two months to pursue options at the junior college level we have to wonder where he is headed next. Although Adams was probably never headed for the NBA this is not the ideal trajectory for a player who was once a 4-star recruit. We do not know Adams’ motivation for leaving Ohio, but at this rate we do not expect to see Adams playing a meaningful role at the Division I level any time soon.
  5. After a hot streak picking up transfers it appears that at least one of USC‘s transfers–Ari Stewart–will not be playing for the Trojans this season as the former Wake Forest transfer reportedly failed to qualify academically. Stewart, who sat out the 2011-12 as a transfer redshirt, averaged 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last season for the Trojans and would have helped the Trojans on the inside this season. Unfortunately for Stewart he already used his redshirt year when he transferred meaning that his college career is over. Thankfully for Andy Enfield he will have VCU transfer D.J. Haley available this season to take some of the minutes that Stewart likely would have had.
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Morning Five: 06.28.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 28th, 2013

morning5

  1. One of the worries that NBA teams have when one of their players participates in an international tournament is that the player will get injured. As a result many NBA teams have insurance policies taken out (often financed by the national team’s federation). While NCAA teams are unable to take out similar policies since their players are not paid (not getting into that debate here), many schools have similar worries. It has been a while since we have seen a significant injury to a college player in international play, but we may have that as Rodney Hood reportedly suffered an unspecified Achilles injury during Wednesday night’s practice. Without further information (we aren’t even sure if Hood knows the extent of the damage) it is hard to say how long Hood will be out as recovery could range from a few days to the entire season. If Hood is out for a prolonged period it would be a big blow for a Duke team looking for him to provide an additional scoring punch to pair with Jabari Parker.
  2. Conference realignment has had more than its fair share of entries in the Morning Five, but one area of realignment that we have not talked about as much is the ongoing sports network battle between ESPN (the old guard) and Fox Sports 1 (the new kid on the block). Most of the moves have not registered with us mainly because they have been for day-time TV talent and we are never home during the middle of the day to watch any of these personalities. However, Fox Sports 1 stealing Bill Raftery away from ESPN certainly caught our attention. Many college basketball fans will miss the three-man booth of Raftery, Sean McDonough, and Jay Bilas we figure they will get over it with the new team of Raftery and Gus Johnson although we have our reservations about a booth with that much energy. We will always maintain that there is not a single announcer that can get us to turn on or turn off a game that we otherwise would not or would be watching, but at the very least Fox Sports 1 is making the competition with ESPN more compelling.
  3. With Andy Enfield’s arrival at USC you would expect many players who were interested in transferring become more excited about the possibility of playing for Dunk City West. It appears that all was enough (or maybe it was a move to LA) to get Darion Clark to transfer from Charleston to USC. Clark, who averaged 18 games and averaging 6.2 points on 54.2% from the field and 4.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game, as a freshman will have to sit out next year and will have three more years of eligibility left. Given his production and efficiency as a freshman we would expect that Trojan fans can get used to seeing him on the court quite a bit.
  4. It appears that Billy Donovan is building quite a collection of point guards at Florida. While he may have issues getting them to play in the short term given Scottie Wilbekin’s ongoing behavioral issues and Kasey Hill’s academic issues, he should have a surplus for the 2014-15 season as he added Brandone Francis, a top-25 or -35 player in the class of 2014 depending on which service you follow, to a class that already includes Chris Chiozza, another top-100 player. Francis projects as more of a shooting guard especially with Chiozza in the same class, but he can play both positions so the Gators should have a dynamic backcourt for years to come.
  5. Over the years many of Rick Pitino‘s books have become the subject of numerous jokes including “Success is a Choice” that became the subject of countless jokes by Bill Simmons. On the heels of winning a national title at Louisville Pitino is ready to venture back into the book business with his latest book titled “The One-Day Contract: How to Add Value to Every Minute of Your Life.” The book will reportedly focus on Louisville’s championship experiences and Pitino’s life experience. As the Kentucky fans out there would note every minute of your life could include four 15 second events.
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Big 12 M5: 03.20.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on March 20th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. If you’re still tinkering with your bracket and unsure of which upsets to pick or which #2 or #3 seed to beat a #1, take a look at Nate Silver‘s article here. He gives each team’s probability of advancing to each round. For the most part, higher seeds are given better odds to advance, but not in every case. The #3 seed in the South Region, Florida, has the best odds in that region to make the Final Four at 37.1%. #4 seed Michigan (12.8%) has a better shot to reach Atlanta than #2 seed Georgetown (6.9%). Not surprisingly, Indiana and Louisville are the Tournament’s biggest favorites. Both teams have better than 50% chances to reach the Final Four.
  2. Seth Davis thinks the Kansas Jayhawks have the easiest path to the Final Four of any of the #1 seeds. It’s also nice to see Davis agree with me that while #5 seed VCU is the sexy pick to beat Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen, they won’t be able to knock off #4 seed Michigan in the Round of 32. The Rams thrive on turning teams over and getting easy buckets. Kansas turns the ball over on 19% of its possessions, a prime candidate for a VCU upset; but Michigan leads the nation with just a little over a 14% turnover rate. VCU won’t be able to turn Michigan over enough times to maintain a lead, and Wolverines guard Trey Burke will lead his team to the Sweet Sixteen.
  3. Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com talks about teams and players facing pressure in the NCAA Tournament, and he thinks Oklahoma State freshman guard Marcus Smart has plenty of pressure on him (4 out of 5) this weekend and possibly beyond. Smart is the reason the Cowboys earned a #5 seed and will be the driver if they advance to the second weekend. But as Medcalf points out, a bad or even average game from Smart against #12 seed Oregon could have Oklahoma State heading home after one game. Medcalf says Kansas’ Ben McLemore (3 out of 5 on his scale) also faces considerable pressure in this Tournament, and rightly so. Not as much as Smart, he thinks, but it’s hard to see the Jayhawks reaching the Final Four if McLemore doesn’t play up to his high-lottery pick potential.
  4. The NCAA Tournament is so unpredictable that I’m beginning to think all four #1 seeds will advance to the Final Four this year just because people keep saying that this the year that all hell breaks loose on everyone’s brackets, or as Reid Forgrave argues here, that a #16 seed finally beats a #1 seed. He’s right that there have been numerous head-scratching losses this year, like Kansas losing to TCU and Michigan losing to Penn State. A #1 seed could lose this year, but not because there have been a lot of upsets already. He’s right because the odds are that it’s going to happen sooner or later. Teams that are #16 seeds are 0-112 all-time against #1 seeds, and typically, each #1 seed has between a 98% and 99.5% chance of winning its first game. With those odds, a #16 seed should have already won a game. So keep preaching, Mr. Forgrave. It’s bound to happen eventually and you’ll look like a genius. But it won’t be because people think a season is upside down and parity is filling the land. It will happen because the math tells us it’s bound to happen one of these years.
  5. Roy Williams was “stunned” when he realized that his Tar Heels were an #8 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year and potentially paired with Kansas in the Round of 32. Asked if he believes the Selection Committee when they say they don’t go out of their way to set up prospective match-ups (this year could be the third time Williams faces Kansas since leaving Lawrence in 2003), he said: “I am not much of a buyer right now, guys.” He said he knew the committee didn’t put North Carolina in Kansas’ pod to fill the Sprint Center in Kansas City, but added, “It was a confusing (selection) show and I’m still confused and I’m a fairly intelligent person.” Williams is right that North Carolina probably should have been a better seed and potentially facing Kansas again is a little strange, but the committee has the better argument should they need it. If they were in the business of setting up future games, Kansas and Missouri would be matched up in Kansas City, not Kansas and North Carolina.
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Big 12 NCAA Resumes: Oklahoma Sooners

Posted by KoryCarpenter on March 1st, 2013

Over the next few weeks, we’ll break down where each Big 12 bubble team stands in terms of its current NCAA Tournament resume. This time: the Oklahoma Sooners, who are trying to get back to the Dance for the first time since Blake Griffin was around campus. 

Oklahoma has seen the kind of improvement fans probably hoped for when Lon Kruger was hired prior to last season. The Sooners were 15-16 (5-13 Big 12) and finished eighth in the conference. A year later, they are a win away from the school’s first 20-win season since 2008-09 and are in a good spot heading into Selection Sunday. The Sooners are led by senior forward Romero Osby, who leads the team with 15 PPG on an efficient 52.1%. They pass nearly every test for a team to make the Tournament, so they should be fine as long as they avoid any bad losses the next two weeks.

  • Current Record: 18-9, 9-6 in the Big 12
  • RPI: 27
  • Record vs RPI top 50: 2-5
  • Record vs RPI top 100: 7-8
  • SOS: 9
Lon Kruger Has The Sooners I a Good Spot As Selection Sunday Draws Near.

Lon Kruger Has The Sooners In A Good Spot With Selection Sunday Around The Corner.

Case For An At-Large Bid: They have a top 30 RPI and and a top 10 Strength of Schedule. Their seven wins against the RPI top 100 are more than bubble teams like Iowa State, Baylor, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and North Carolina. They are 3-1 in neutral site games and have beaten both Kansas and Oklahoma State. They were also bailed out after losing to Stephen F. Austin early in the season. The Lumberjacks are #77 in the RPI, keeping Oklahoma’s record against RPI teams 100+ at 11-1 instead of 10-2, which could be a big deal with the selection committee. Bad losses could hurt a team just as much as good wins help, so a thank you card might be in order for the Lumberjacks. But with an impressive strength of schedule and barring a loss to West Virginia or TCU to end the season, the Sooners should have nothing to worry about.

Case Against An At-Large Bid: Their 2-5 record against the top 50 isn’t great, and 11 of their 18 wins came against teams outside the RPI top 100. The loss on Wednesday to Texas (RPI #125) won’t help their cause, either. And if they lose at home on Saturday to fellow bubble team Iowa State, it would drop their top 100 record to 7-9 with no chances to improve it in the regular season.

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Close Not Good Enough Anymore For Oklahoma State

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 5th, 2013

The race for the presumable number two spot behind Kansas in the Big 12 got a little more interesting on Saturday. In an intriguing league opener between two ranked teams, Kansas State took care of business at home with a 73-67 win over Oklahoma State in Manhattan. It helps establishes the Wildcats as a Big 12 frontrunner, but more importantly, it leaves Travis Ford with a few more questions than he may have originally anticipated. At this point, he knows he has a dangerous squad. Watch these Cowboys for a only a few minutes, and you’ll see it’s a completely different team than a year ago. Freshman Marcus Smart has a presence to him at the point guard spot, Le’Bryan Nash has matured, and, oh, Markel Brown can still dunk. He threw down a couple of nasty party-starters in the first half on Saturday. It seems as though everybody on the floor has those kinds of hops. As impressive and athletic as Oklahoma State looks at times, however, the results haven’t been there lately. The Cowboys’ win over then-No. 6 North Carolina State in November looks more like two years ago than two months now. First, there was the discouraging loss to Virginia Tech. Then, they failed to capitalize when they had Gonzaga on the ropes at Gallagher-Iba Arena on New Year’s Eve.

Rodney McGruder Moves Into a Starring Role at K-State This Season

Rodney McGruder’s Big Game Help Improve Kansas State to 9-2

And now this. When it won the Puerto Rico Tip-off, Oklahoma State looked like it could potentially grow into Kansas’ fiercest competitor at season’s end. Losing a game at Bramlage, one of the more difficult places to play in the league, doesn’t kill those chances. It’s just that Ford must now figure out how to take his team to the next level– from “better-than-last-year” to “immediate contender.” Oklahoma State’s lack of frontcourt size became evident right away in this physical battle, and it didn’t help that freshman forward Kamari Murphy found himself in early foul trouble. The Cowboys also had no answer for Kansas State star Rodney McGruder, who finished with 28 points and five rebounds. He was the best player on the floor on Saturday, and that’s no surprise. When the Wildcats needed to make a play in the final minutes, they did. That was the difference between Oklahoma State and Kansas State on this particular afternoon. Again, the loss doesn’t leave the Cowboys in a precarious position, but the excitement of that Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship has worn off. After all, NC State nearly lost to Boston College on Saturday afternoon.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament Finals, Daily Diary

Posted by nvr1983 on March 11th, 2012

Three Bids? Four Bids?
If the nearly unanimous opinion leaving the Boardwalk Hall Saturday night was that Xavier was definitely “in”, the feeling was less certain as the Championship game wound toward a conclusion. Xavier looked like the January 24 edition rather than the March 10 edition. Saint Bonaventure had seized the automatic bid, had Xavier’s lackluster performance knocked them out of tournament? The Selection Committee must have liked their body of work, because Xavier drew a #10 seed in the South Region and will face fellow Midwesterner Notre Dame in the second round, while Saint Bonaventure drew the #14 seed (fitting for a team not even in the bubble discussion a week ago) in the East Region and will play Florida State in Nashville on Friday. Saint Louis and Temple were “in” to start the week, so elimination before the Championship game hurt at most a seed. Saint Louis was seeded #9 in the West Region and will face Memphis on Friday in Columbus and lastly Temple was seeded #5 in the Midwest Region and will face either California or South Florida (the winner of the #12 seed playoff in Dayton on Tuesday) on Friday, also in Nashville. The conference did draw 4 bids, the third time in conference history that four teams have made the field of 64 (or 68…). The conference has earned five bids twice, in 1996-97 and in 1997-98. This marks the 13th time in the last 17 post seasons that the conference has earned more than two bids.

Nicholson Helped Guide Saint Bonaventure To An Automatic Bid

The Gate, Again
The announced attendance for the Championship game was 6,101, as Saint Bonaventure fans from all over the Northeast drove in overnight to cheer their Bonnies on. The absence of the three Philadelphia teams did not appear to depress the attendance numbers as many feared, while the crowd, loud and enthusiastic from the introductions to the final buzzer gave the barrel-ceiling auditorium the intimate feel of a college campus arena.

Temple is Out, Who’s Got Next?
Though the Owls are due to play another season of basketball in the Atlantic-10, speculation has begun about who will replace Temple as the 14th member of the conference. Concern about presence in media markets have some looking at another New York metro area school while those concerned about quality of the basketball (what else?) program look elsewhere. New York metro area teams mentioned include Iona (too small perhaps) of the MAAC and Quinnipiac (located in Connecticut) of the NEC. Given the conference’s extremely large footprint, George Mason, a Virginia state school with excellent facilities and reputation, was also mentioned. The Patriots would make a good “traveling companion” for Charlotte, Richmond and George Washington. George Mason’s affiliation with the CAA, combined with their run to the Final Four in 2005-06, make it an attractive acquisition target for the A-10. Given Commissioner McGlade’s southern orientation (she spearheaded the move of the conference’s headquarters from Philadelphia to Virginia Beach when she became commissioner) gives credence to George Mason rumors. Another intriguing candidate, mentioned frequently, is Butler, the Horizon Conference power whose runs to the Final Four in 2010 and 2011 along with their historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, speak to a long and successful tradition in basketball.

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2012


It’s an old familiar name versus a new one in the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game, as Xavier will match up against surging St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon with a guaranteed bid on the line.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament Semifinals, Daily Diary

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2012

Joe Dzuback filed this report from the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Coach Rick Majerus is a Gentleman. The Saint Louis coach was as effusive in his praise of Xavier, winners over his Saint Louis team earlier today, as he was of La Salle, the Billikens quarterfinal victim on Friday. The coach began each of his postgame press conferences this weekend with complementary remarks about the play and dedication of their opponents. The referee crew assessed Saint Louis player Brian Conklin with a “Flagrant 1” foul early in the second half, effectively benching Saint Louis’ man in the middle for another precious five minutes during a crucial part of the second half. The call put Tu Holloway on the line and gave the ball back to Xavier. Given how miserly Saint Louis is with possessions, giving the ball back to Xavier must have hurt at least as much as the free throws. When asked about that call and some of the other no-calls at the end of regulation, Majerus, in a sharp contrast to NC State Coach Mark Gottfried’s postgame comments, blamed himself for not being more demanding on his players.

Does the NCAA Tournament Have Room For a Fourth A-10 Team?

Two, Three or Four? Speculation over the number of bids the conference could get took a dramatic turn this afternoon when Xavier eliminated Saint Louis in its semifinal game. Both Temple and Saint Louis will get at-large bids, leaving the third bid to go to the conference tournament winner tomorrow. If, as suggested by RTC’s Zach Hayes and CBSSports’ Jerry Palm, Xavier is in, then a Saint Bonaventure win tomorrow should bring a fourth bid to the conference. Will the Selection Committee see it that way? The conference final is played on Sunday and for the last two postseasons, the Selection Committee appears to have set the conference’s seeds on Saturday night rather than working out alternative scenarios that might account for multiple outcomes. By seeding the 2009-10 tournament champion Temple #5 and runner-up Xavier #6, and the 2010-11 tournament champion Richmond on the #12 seed line, the committee appears to settle on a compromise seeding  that would account for either outcome (a Temple or Xavier win in the 2009-10 conference tournament and Richmond or Dayton win in the 2010-11 conference tournament) in the conference tournament championship game. Will the committee develop a “compromise seed line” this time around? According to virtually every bracketologist near a microphone tonight, Xavier’s win over Saint Louis seals a bid for the Muskies irrespective of tomorrow’s outcome. Of course having Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski on the Selection Committee should also help motivate the committee to do its homework.

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Mountain West Tournament Diary: Championship Saturday

Posted by AMurawa on March 10th, 2012

Saturday night’s Mountain West Championship game between San Diego State and New Mexico provided plenty of great storylines: the two regular season co-champions meeting in a rubber match; the two-time defending tournament champion Aztecs against a Lobo team that hadn’t won this tournament since 2005, when Ritchie McKay was still the head coach; and the battle between the top two candidates for the conference Player of the Year, the winner, Jamaal Franklin and the jilted, Drew Gordon.

Gordon had made no bones about the fact all week that he felt he deserved the individual honor and that other awards, such as Defensive Player of the Year and Sixth-Man of the Year, should have wound up in Lobo hands, and he played with a chip on his shoulder all weekend, averaging 15.3 points and 10.7 boards in the tournament on his way to the Most Outstanding Player award. But the win on Saturday night was a total team affair. Tony Snell got things off on the right track, scoring the first five points of the game and turning in his third straight double-digit scoring game after slumping through February. Freshman point guard Hugh Greenwood continued his do-whatever-it-takes style and contributed ten boards and a couple threes. And bench players Phillip McDonald, Demetrius Walker, and Cameron Bairstow all made major contributions. McDonald, who has lost minutes this season as Snell and Walker have stepped up, came off the pine and had a three, an assist, a rebound and drew a charge, all in his first couple minutes of action. Bairstow battled on the boards and at one point scored six straight points for the Lobos. And Walker, despite not making a field goal, provided energy and hit clutch free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.

Drew Gordon, New Mexico

Drew Gordon, The Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, Is Mobbed By New Mexico Fans

But more than anything else, this win was about the New Mexico defense. They held San Diego State to 0.86 points per possession (the number was quite a bit lower than that until Chase Tapley went nuts late) and at times in the second half just completely froze the Aztecs out in the paint. Kendall Williams took San Diego State point Xavier Thames completely out of rhythm and Snell helped frustrate James Rahon into an 0-for-8 shooting night. Franklin, meanwhile, was hounded into six-of-14 shooting and six turnovers. And, despite wrapping up their semifinal game late in the evening on Friday night, the Lobos never showed fatigue and kept competing (and hard) right to the final whistle. They were consistently first to loose balls and always scrapping and making multiple attempts at rebounds.

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