BGTD: Early Afternoon Games Analysis

Posted by jstevrtc on February 19th, 2011

BracketBusters will get a whole post to itself a little later, but there’s enough good stuff happening today elsewhere in college basketball to keep us busy. We’ve already had some important results today in terms of bubble-ology (you gotta finish strong, Virginia Tech), and there’s even been a slew of Twitter chatter about who would be the best Commissioner of College Basketball — we prefer “Czar of Hoops” — if such a position existed. Peter Gabriel once said that all art is based on theft, so we took that idea and created a Twitter poll about it, for which we’ll be taking votes up through this evening.

  • Hardy Shows Guts, MSG Goes Nuts. Some time around the middle of the second half of what turned out to be a 60-59 St. John’s win over Pittsburgh, thanks to a closing-moments layin by Dwight Hardy, we tweeted out a quick poll to see how many of our faithful followers thought St. John’s would get into the Dance. We figured everyone would vote them in…and that’s exactly what happened after about a hundred votes. NOBODY voted them out, which really didn’t surprise us. Then the game ended, and we canceled the poll. It was all but a foregone conclusion before that game, given their collection of signature wins, but it’s final, now. The only question is what seed they’ll get. With a deep run in the Big East Tournament, could the Johnnies play themselves up to a four seed? A three? What say you, friends?
  • No Higgins Jokes, Please. Another question from that game: Hardy looked like a tightrope walker as he tried to stay in-bounds along the baseline while making his move that led to the game-winning layup. Did he step out? When we rewound the DVR, it looked like his toes stayed in, but his heels were definitely over the line. The way his foot moves, though, it appears that he pivoted on his toes and his heels were hovering above the line (so to speak), but we admit that it’s not the best angle. The referee, you’ll notice, is looking right at Hardy’s feet. Nobody in America had a better view. We’ll go with his (non-)call until we see a better angle. A couple of people mentioned that Hardy hooked his defender to get free for the shot, but you can’t expect to get that call that late and on the road.
  • Get On Your (Combat) Boots. The Big East Tournament is going to be a total war to the point that all we need to make it better is Dale Dye coordinating student section cheers in his dress blues. Or maybe ESPN could have him do the pre-game teasers. We say this because West Virginia got hot in the second half and just cooked likely-two-seed and possible-one-seed Notre Dame, 72-58. It obviously improves WVU’s Tournament resume’, not that there was much doubt about their chances. Truck Bryant and his previously broken fifth metatarsal hit four threes and 10 of his 12 free throws en route to a 24-point day.
  • We Told You So. For anyone complaining that Texas should have been the #1 team in the polls back on Monday, Nebraska says “Hi.” Two of our guys voted for the Longhorns for the RTC Top 25 (which Ohio State sat atop when our mainframe finished tabulating all the data) and there’s no question an excellent case could have been made, but the Huskers took care of that moments ago. Nebraska tried to give it away by missing free throws and fouling three-point shooters — twice — in the last three minutes of the game, losing their double-digit lead over a span of about ninety seconds. But, they held on, 70-67, to deal Texas their first Big 12 loss. So far today, we’ve seen losses by #4 Pitt, #7 Notre Dame, and now #2 Texas. Nobody is safe this year, people. There’s no single team that even approaches what everyone thought of Kansas last year, and we know how it all worked out for them. What a post-season we have in store.
  • We Want To Hear From You. That especially applies today, because we’re not kidding about that Twitter poll. Who would get your vote for the position of Commissioner of College Basketball? Hit us up on Twitter, and let us know. We’ll announce the results later today on the feed. As of right now, your leaders are Jay Bilas, and…Bob Knight.
Share this story

BGTD: Late Night Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on February 5th, 2011

The evening and night games provided us with plenty of memorable moments and two of the best games so far this season.

  • A Classic That Nobody Saw. If two teams play an epic conference game and the nation can’t see it (except via RTC Live), did it really happen? Tonight Arizona and California played a ridiculous triple overtime game that most of the nation couldn’t see. If you’re wondering why most of the nation doesn’t respect the Pac-10, it’s because most of the nation can’t watch them play. Starting your games three hours late for East Coast fans doesn’t help, but if you didn’t have to go online trying to find an illegal stream of the game most college basketball fans would find a way to watch you. As for the actual game, it was a huge win for the Wildcats. Sure they were the better team, but if the past month has taught us anything it is about how hard it is to win on the road against a decent team especially when the Wildcats were missing their star player (Derrick Williams) for most of the game. All season everybody has been pointing to Washington as the team to beat in the Pac-10, but it may end up being the Wildcats who run away with the regular season title.
  • Big win for the Gators. I killed the Gators earlier this year for how they folded when Ohio State visited. It turns out that Ohio State might have been a bit better than I thought they were. Kentucky may not be the team that some people thought they could be, as they rely on too few players to do too much, but they were a worthy adversary as demonstrated by their ability to nearly comeback from a big deficit to win in Gainesville. Still, the Gators found a way to fight off the momentum that the Wildcats had late and won a big one at home. The Gators aren’t a top 10 team like some polls predicted they would be in the preseason, but they should be a threat to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, which is something that Billy Donovan has not done since the back-to-back championship team in 2007.
  • UConn Shows Its Mettle. We’re not sure how much to put this on Seton Hall for blowing a lead at home, but any time you can come back from 14 points down in the second half against a decent conference opponent you have to congratulate the winning team. UConn still has issues (we will discuss a major one next), but for a young team they are starting to come together nicely. There are a lot of ways to praise the Huskies, but the most deserving is Jim Calhoun who has battled a lot of criticism (some of it may be deserved depending on your point of view), yet he may be turning in one of his finest coaching performances to date by turning a team that started the year as Kemba and a bunch of intramural players into a team that would be a tough out in March.
  • What’s wrong with Kemba? Speaking of the Huskies, we can’t be the only ones to notice the precipitous drop-off in Kemba Walker‘s play recently. After a scintillating performance in Maui where some were discussing Walker as a potential top 5-10 pick in the NBA Draft (ridiculous even at the time), Walker’s play has fallen dramatically. While he still hits his share of big shots in big moments, we can’t help but wonder if Kemba has hit some sort of mental wall. In his past six games, he is 34/107 from the field (31.8%) and 10/37 (27%) from beyond the arc. UConn is a team with a lot of potential (particularly next year if Kemba returns to Storrs for his senior season), but if they are to make a run deep into March Jim Calhoun will need the old Kemba Walker back to buoy the Huskies when they are in tight situations.
Share this story

BGTD: Late Afternoon Games Analysis

Posted by jstevrtc on February 5th, 2011

The afternoon games gave us a couple of squads needing and getting redemption wins, despite still having a lot of work to do on their resumes. We also saw The Jimmer get creative and show you other aspects of his game besides the leaning scissor-kick threes from the hash marks (though those are really fun to watch), and we’re preplexed by Washington’s road-o-phobia.

  • Wildcats Win a Wild One. We’ve written so much negative stuff about Kansas State this year, let’s say something good for once. Jacob Pullen used a tasty little crossover to wrong-foot his defender and get to the hoop for an easy lay-in with about two seconds left to give the Wildcats their first Big 12 road win this season, an 86-85 squeaker over Iowa State. Congrats on the nice win, but let’s keep a big-picture perspective. KSU’s next two are at Colorado (tough) and at home against Kansas. If they can win those two, then they’ll have our attention. That’d put them at 18-8 (6-5) with a late-season win over a title contender. Ironically, that KSU vs KU game is a Valentine’s Day tilt.
  • Speaking of Wildcats Needing Wins… Northwestern has a pulse, at least, having pulled out a close road win at Illinois, 71-70. We’re still scratching our collective head regarding the change over the last month in Demetri McCamey (14/4 asst). In the Illini’s first 16 games, McCamey had only one game in which he had less than five assists (three in a win vs Oakland on 12/8). At that point, they were 13-3. In their last seven games, McCamey has had only one game with more than five assists (11 in a win vs Michigan State on 1/18). The Illini have lost five of those seven games.
  • Along Came (the other) Jones.  Another team that earned a little redemption (and needed it) with a road win: the Baylor Bears. Perry Jones (27/7) deserves every bit of the hype he gets, but today it was Anthony Jones (10/8) who saved the Bears with a lay-in with 3.1 seconds remaining, giving Baylor a good solid win (76-74) over a 16th-ranked Texas A&M squad. Checking the schedule, Baylor has seven Big 12 games remaining, and we see a minimum of three wins out of those (Nebraska, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M, all at home). That would make Baylor 8-8 in the Big 12…which isn’t even as encouraging as it sounds. In the past 18 years, a .500-or-worse team has only been to the NCAA Tournament four times. The Bears still have two games against Texas ahead of them. They might need to steal one of those.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

BGTD: Early Games Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2011

It’s college basketball Saturday, and we’re back in action with this week’s Boom Goes the Dynamite.  We’ll be periodically briefing you throughout the day on the goings-on with various games, players and happenings throughout the nation.  The schedule doesn’t appear to be all that great on paper, but we’ve found through a number of years of watching this sport that it will always surprise you just when you think you’ve got it all figured out.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy…

  • Marshon Brooks Nearly Beats Georgetown By Himself.  Only in the Big East would you find a player averaging nearly 24 PPG that nobody talks about, but that’s generally been the case with Providence’s Marshon Brooks this season.  He’s having a spectacular individual year but PC has been brutalized by the ridiculous conference schedule, and even though he’s very likely a first-team all-conference guy, he gets no press.  Well, maybe he’ll get something after today’s 43-point performance where he nearly beat Georgetown all by his lonesome.  Using a variety of drives, jumpers and aggressive plays resulting in trips to the line, Brooks took over the game with about eleven minutes to go, scoring 19 points down the stretch and putting a big-time scare in the Hoyas who had been comfortably ahead.  On the last play of the game, Brooks was stripped by Chris Wright as he came upcourt, but it doesn’t take away from the scintillating day he had that represents just another weekend afternoon in the rugged Big East.
  • Who Decided a 10 AM Local Start is a Good Idea? We’re not idiots and we certainly understand that television drives scheduling, but who decided that playing a west coast game at 10 AM local time was a stellar idea?  The St. John’s-UCLA game tipped off in the mid-morning hours in Westwood and we’re trying to remember a non-gimmick game that started so early locally.  The question is why?  The players are used to practicing early, but the fans in Pauley Pavilion were clearly still shaking off the effects of Friday night, and it took until the last five minutes of action for them to wake up.  CBS could have easily shown Illinois-Northwestern in the 1 PM slot, and UCLA-St. John’s in the 3 PM slot instead of putting them opposite each other — why didn’t they?
  • CBS Needs to Make Other Options Available.  Which brings us to our other complaint…  if you’re going to split national coverage between two games, how about providing the rest of the country in non-blackout areas an alternative channel through which to watch the other game?  It’s not like this is the NFL and the only way to see the AFC or the NFC is through a single channel.  College basketball games are on fifteen different networks, and outside of say, NYC and LA, the interest in those two schools is relatively low.  CBS recognizes this viewing problem and provides an alternative during March Madness; we think it would make sense for them to do so for regular season games as well.
  • Lavin Bowl: UCLA and St. John’s are Both Dangerous March Teams.  All of that said about the television coverage, and we certainly don’t want to overstate this, but if we’re a #5-#7 seed and we see either UCLA or St. John’s opposite us in our first round matchup, we’re not very happy about that slotting.  Both teams are capable of causing significant problems to a favorite in a single-game matchup.  UCLA, with its bruising front line, and St. John’s, with its long athletes and pressure defense, are not easy teams to prepare for (ask Kansas and Duke).  Neither team is a threat to make the Sweet Sixteen, but to win a single game over a “better” team is entirely possible.
  • The Middle of the ACC Is a Steaming Pile of Doo Doo.  With Clemson’s road win over Georgia Tech, Maryland’s home win over Wake Forest, and BC’s win over Virginia Tech this early afternoon, there are now four teams tied at 5-4 in the conference race.  And we’re not sure any of the Tigers, Terps, Hokies or Eagles are worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid.  We’re sure that the tiresome ACC defenders will tell us that all seven deserve to be invited, but other than beating each other, can you find a quality win on any of these four team’s resumes?  A single one?  Can one of them at least beat North Carolina or Duke once?
  • Rashad McCants’ Dad Lashes Out.  A lot of folks have had differing opinions as to how demoted point guard Larry Drew II handled his exit from the UNC program last week.  James McCants, former Carolina star Rashad McCants’ father, wasted no breath in voicing his opinion of the matter on a Facebook post recently.  This is particularly interesting because, of course, it’s not like McCants the Younger had a bad career in Chapel Hill — he was one of three stars who led the Heels to the 2005 national championship, and arguably it was the arrival of Roy Williams that allowed that team to flourish.  Interesting stuff from within the Carolina family.

Share this story

BGTD: Afternoon Games Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2011

The great games don’t let up just because we’ve headed into the latter part of the afternoon.  Even though it’s January, quite a few late afternoon games have NCAA Tournament implications.  Let’s see what’s going on out there…

  • K-State in Serious Trouble.  No team in America has been more disappointing this season than Frank Martin’s Wildcats.  Not Michigan State, not North Carolina, not Gonzaga, not even Memphis.  In what seems like an eternity ago, K-State was ranked in everyone’s top five coming into the season and the Big 12 media even picked them to win the conference for the first time ever.  After this afternoon’s loss to Texas A&M (who is quickly moving into Bo Ryan/Wisconsin territory with their annual ascent up the rankings no matter the personnel), KSU sits at 1-4 in the Big 12 with two games remaining against Kansas and a pair against Missouri and Texas still to come.  It’s clear that the loss of Denis Clemente has impacted the Wildcats far more than anyone expected, but the NCAA Tournament is starting to appear like a mirage unless they can figure out things in a hurry.
  • Maybe Pearl Should Stay Suspended.  It made for a great storyline that Bruce Pearl returned to the sidelines today for a one-game respite from his SEC-mandated eight-game suspension.  But the truth is that Tennessee hasn’t looked all that much different with Tony Jones running the team than it did with Pearl over there on the sidelines.  Despite Kemba Walker’s lowest point output of the season (16 points), Tennessee wasn’t able to capitalize, all too often depending on Scotty Hopson’s wild forays to the rim (and turnovers) to produce points.  UT is without question the most enigmatic team in the country this season, and it wouldn’t surprise any of us if the Vols ripped off its next four before losing six in a row.  You just never know with this team.
  • Muskies Doing What They Do.  The Xavier-Temple game in Cincinnati was a pretty important Atlantic 10 matchup because the Musketeers once again are unbeaten in league play and Temple came in with a single loss.  We’re not sure how XU keeps doing this year after year, but they are doing it again.  Just a couple of weeks ago it appeared that Temple was by far the class of the A10 and could quite possibly run away with this thing.  The Muskies did it today with its highly efficient offense, putting four players in double figures and hitting 53% of its shots and 8-13 from deep.  Temple seemed generally flustered on its end of the court in showing that the only way they could score was to bang out threes (11 today).  As a result of today’s game, XU already has a two-game lead over its biggest rival for the crown on its way to its fifth-straight regular season Atlantic 10 title.  Wow.
  • Texas Breaks KU’s Homecourt Winning Streak.  Texas exorcised a whole host of demons today by going into Allen Fieldhouse and defeating Kansas, 33-33.  The streaks broken — KU’s 69-game homecourt winning streak; KU’s unbeaten season; Texas’ 0-9 record in Lawrence.  We’ve been saying for a while that among teams populating the top 35 in the country, it’s Rick Barnes’ Longhorns who might have the biggest upside of any team in America.  They are absolutely loaded with athletic talent, and with Jordan Hamilton on the wing as a playmaker, they have one of the very best players in the country at getting points when they need them.  After falling behind 18-3 in the early going and looking on the verge of another Allen Fieldhouse nightmare, Rick Barnes’ team kept its composure and continued playing defense.  The rest of the game:  71-45.  Teams not named Kansas don’t make those kinds of runs in Allen Fieldhouse.  We feel that this game says more about UT than it does about KU, but Kansas isn’t going anywhere in March if Josh Selby continues to struggle (2-9 FG, 4 points, 1 assist).
Share this story

BGTD: Early Games Analysis

Posted by jstevrtc on January 22nd, 2011

The noon-to-3pm stretch today was one of those that helps make the case in favor of an electronics upgrade here at the RTC Southern Compound, specifically for a multi-screen video wall. Having two games like Ohio State @ Illinois and Villanova @ Syracuse happening at the same time was both fantastic and painful. Then Tennessee @ Connecticut after that, as well as Temple @ Xavier and the small matter of Texas @ Kansas? Oh, yeah. we’re hittin’ the electronics store at some point this weekend. But not until the games are done.

  • Wayns’ World. One of the basic strategies against any zone defense is to use quick perimeter passing  and penetration to create openings for shots and passing lanes. Of course, it’s never a bad strategy to just get hot from outside and shoot over the zone, and that’s what ‘Nova did early on against the Orange. When the defense extended, that opened up gaps for those quick, fearless Wildcat guards and even some nice interior passing between Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton. We’d say Jim Boeheim didn’t game-plan for Maalik Wayns, a 20% three-point shooter on the year (40% overall), to drill a trio of threes and go 6-11 from the field.
  • Blue Horseshoe Loves ‘Nova Basketball. We know a lot can happen between now and March, but if I’m playing the college hoops market, I’m pulling a Gordon Gekko on Villanova. I’m getting in there at a 45-degree angle and gobbling up all the Wildcat stock that I can. Top-flight coach, quick guards who can shoot as well as break down defenders anywhere on the floor, long big men who play even longer on both ends of the floor, and not to mention that they have guys who were in the Final Four two seasons ago? Time to accumulate.
  • A Buckeye Beauty. No, we’re not talking about a girl on the Columbus campus. We’re talking about one of the great performances of the season, this one by Jared Sullinger. Certainly, the 27 points and 16 rebounds are impressive, to say the least. We’re just as impressed by the 40 minutes played, though — ten minutes above his average — and the mere two personal fouls. You don’t get 27/16 if you’re not on the floor, or don’t know how to stay on the floor. And you’ve seen Sullinger. Not exactly a little guy who shies away from contact. We all knew Sullinger could play basketball, but he showed us today that he’s got guts as well as game.
  • The Arts of Craft. Another note from OSU’s win: Deshaun Thomas (a pair of threes, 8 pts in 12 minutes) sparked that second half run when the Illini had the lead, and Jon Diebler (15 pts, 3-5 from three) was his usual steady self. When your team takes a fair number of treys and shoots better from three-point range (46.7%) than your opponent does from the field (43.1%), you’re going to be fine most of the time. But we need to give some props to OSU freshman point guard Aaron Craft. He only had five points, but that’s not something they necessarily need from him. In his 31 minutes (more than two of the starters), he dished four assists, only turned the ball over once — he leads the team with a 2.3-to-1 assist/turnover ratio — and, most importantly, he found himself on Demetri McCamey for most of the game and covered the Illinois star like red ants on a Snickers bar.
  • We’re Cold, But Kemba and Melvin Aren’t. For the first half, Tennessee-Connecticut has been more evenly matched than we anticipated, and Kemba Walker needed that buzzer-beating three to give the Huskies the halftime lead. As we’ve mentioned often around here, you never know which of Tennessee’s multiple personalities you’re going to get on a given night, and for the first half the “good UT” has shown up. The Vols have done a good job bodying up to Walker and have held him to just eight points so far, including that three before the half. Melvin Goins has been UT’s best player, surpassing his 8.0 PPG average with ten points and he’s perfect from the field. By the way, it’s about 14 degrees outside and there’s a whole lot of action yet to come today. We ain’t goin’ anywhere…
Share this story

BGTD: Evening Game Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on January 15th, 2011

  • Our Game Ball Goes To. . .The obvious choice here is Jeremy Hazell. Many out there may have qualms with his style of play, but I don’t think there wasn’t anybody out there who wasn’t happy to see the Seton Hall star return to the court less than a month after being shot multiple times on Christmas. After the shooting there was quite a bit of talk that Hazell might miss the rest of the season and, all things considered, it would have been far from the worst potential outcome stemming from such a horrendous action, but we are glad to see him back on the court.
  • These Panthers Still Play Pitt Basketball. A lot of people have been talking recently about how this Pittsburgh team is different from ones in the past in the sense that they aren’t as defensive-oriented and have become much more offensively gifted, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to attack the glass, as Seton Hall can tell you after the Panthers out-rebounded the Pirates by a margin of 45-26. To be honest it would have been even uglier if not for a solid effort out of Herb Pope who had 10 rebounds and six blocks for the Pirates in a losing cause.
  • Freshmen Save The Day In Columbus. The Buckeyes barely survived today against Penn State, but should be the #1 team in the country on Monday thanks to outstanding efforts from a pair of freshmen — Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft — who came up big for Thad Matta. Sullinger was his usual brilliant self and, although he didn’t put up huge numbers, he was remarkably efficient, contributing 19 points (on 6-9 FG and 7-9 FT), six rebounds, and five assists with only one turnover. The real story was Craft who was huge on both ends of the court for the Buckeyes as he scored 19 points and also played a key role in stymieing Talor Battle who had a horrendous game shooting 5-17 from the field including 1-10 from beyond the arc. If Battle even plays a mediocre game, the Nittany Lions leave Columbus with a victory.
  • San Diego State’s Unknown Star. Most college basketball fans are aware of Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas, but they may not be as familiar with D.J. Gay who had a career-high 30 points thanks to some ridiculous 3-point shooting. After the game, Steve Fisher stated that Gay was not only the team’s most important player (an idea we could buy if he was referring to their need to have a reliable third scorer), but was also getting close to being the team’s best player (an idea we would never buy). Still, we think this game was notable for Gay’s emergence as a potential scoring threat. New Mexico got great efforts at home out of Drew Gordon and Dairese Gary, but the presence of a third scoring option would be huge for the Aztecs as the season progresses even if we can’t expect 30 out of Gay that often.
Share this story

BGTD: Afternoon Games Analysis

Posted by jstevrtc on January 15th, 2011

Upsetus Interruptus. There have been some exciting games this afternoon, but if you were hoping for an upset Saturday like last weekend, except for Temple losing at Duquesne and South Carolina winning at Florida, you’ve been left wanting. A few of the big boys took a while to wake up but they all pulled through. Duke waited until around the 11-minute mark of the second half to begin asserting its will on Virginia, but ended up having no trouble with the Cavaliers (76-60). Kansas struggled in putting Nebraksa away — the Huskers actually had a three in the air to tie it in the last seconds — but what really struck us in this game was, despite looking just moderately interested for the first 30 to 35 minutes, how confident the Kansas players suddenly looked late in the game, even while tied or up by only 1-2. After taking on this confident air, the Jayhawks then scored on six straight possessions consisting of four dunks, a layup, and a put-back — in other words, six scores within 10 inches of the basket. Bill Self would probably disagree, but as we watched, we never felt like Kansas would lose that game.

Wish You Were There. Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament? Put it out of your mind. After that 8-0 start, the Wildcats have gone into a flat spin and dropped five of their last eight. The two games they dropped to Michigan State within a 12-day span were not just games they needed but games they should have won, including today’s overtime loss in East Lansing. The difference between 11-5 (2-4) and 13-3 (4-2) feels bigger than two games, especially considering that NU has five road games left and the biggest names they’ll travel to are Minnesota and Wisconsin. We want Northwestern to make it to The Dance as much as anyone. This isn’t the year. You’ll more likely see Roger Waters take a job sitting next to Steven Tyler as a judge on American Idol.

But We Like You Both. The game that was the most pleasing to the eye so far today was Missouri at Texas A&M. The more we watch these two teams, the more we expect from them in March.  Both teams knew they had a great shot for a resume’ win today and they stepped up and played a beauty: great passing, low turnovers, high intensity and hustle from both squads, and an exciting finish. Missouri’s highly-caffeinated, almost viral defense didn’t achieve its usual level of annoyance today, grabbing only three steals and forcing just nine turnovers out of the Aggies. What Mizzou fans should be worried about are the unforced errors the Tigers showed us late in the game when things were still in doubt. TA&M’s 13th straight win should put them into the top ten of the polls on Monday, including our own. At this point in the season, Texas A&M wins the award for the best team generating the least talk. Get ready to hear more about the Aggies, especially a certain Khris Middleton (28/7 on 9-16).

Getting Buff. Oh, we see you, Colorado. That’s a good Oklahoma State team you just beat and that’s a very cozy 14-4 (3-0) you’ve built for yourselves. The best part about watching the Buffaloes is that they’re driven by that stupendous guard tandem of Cory Higgins (23 pts) and Alec Burks (20/11), but yet those two gentlemen don’t settle for threes and love getting to the line — and they’re darn good at it (combined 21-22 today). Colorado played nine players against the Cowboys, seven of them guards, and still owned the offensive (14-5) and overall glass against OSU (34-22). Consider us impressed.

Two final notes: To Rick Majerus: good to have you back, Coach. And as far aswe’re concerned, this day of games is all about San Diego State going to the Pit to face Dairese Gary and a nice 13-4 New Mexico team (in progress, CBS College Sports). We’re going to learn a lot about the Aztecs tonight.

Share this story

BGTD: Early Games Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2011

It might be a football weekend if you listen to the mainstream media, but we here at RTC know better.  The slate is absolutely stuffed with good games today, quite a few of which were played during the early session.  Here’s some of our thoughts from those games…

  • Tennessee Escapes.  We’re not sure that they should have escaped in their rivalry game with Vanderbilt today, but escape they did after an ugly and odd finish in Thompson-Boling Arena to get its first win with Bruce Pearl watching from home.  One of the surest calls in basketball is when an offensive player is tripped on the drive.  Jeffery Taylor did just that with Vandy down only one late in the game, but there was shockingly no call from the zebras (how all three could miss that we have no clue).  Even more amazing than that, Taylor slid across the floor for at least 6-8 feet with the ball in his arms after he fell, and again no whistle (another near-certain call they missed).  It was a disconcerting sort of play that has everyone on the floor confused, and it resulted in Vandy stepping on the sideline to turn the ball back over to UT.  The Vols then worked clock before throwing up a couple of wild, contested shots which Vandy failed rebound; then, after a Vandy foul, UT’s Tobias Harris nailed a couple of FTs and closed out the game.  Neither team played well offensively, but Tennessee at 0-2 in the SEC (and sans Pearl) was very nearly in a must-win situation and played like it.  Many people will think that Pearl’s presence would have made a difference in Tennessee’s shaky performances so far this SEC season, but we’re not sure about that.  UT is a flawed team, and they were pretty clearly flawed with the Big Orange on the sidelines before his suspension too (Ls to Charleston, Charlotte, Oakland).
  • Marquette & Maryland Kicking Themselves.  Both of these teams let huge opportunities for road wins against ranked opponents slip away late today with what can only be described as complete meltdowns.  For Marquette, it was a 24-5 Louisville run to finish off the game, allowing the faltering Cardinals to make a miraculous comeback over the last six minutes that will be remembered in those parts for a very long time.  At Villanova, it was a 19-0 run over seven minutes that allowed the Wildcats to come from twelve down and take a commanding lead into the final two minutes.  What was striking about both of these comebacks was just how quickly things changed.  Through most of the two games, the home team Wildcats and Cardinals couldn’t get much of anything going offensively, but when the two underdogs saw their own blood today, they collapsed while the home teams feasted on their shakiness.  Marquette already has some quality wins under its belt, but eventually if they’re going to be taken seriously as a contender, they’re going to have win one of these (close Ls to Duke, BC, Temple, Pitt, Illinois and zero – NONE – quality wins).
  • Freddy Asprilla Leaves K-State.  Jeff Goodman reported earlier today that Kansas State big man Freddy Asprilla has left the program.  Despite dominating Texas Tech today, the bad news just keeps coming for this program lately.  Asprilla was averaging 5/5 in limited backup action, but he’s shown ability and theoretically could have had a bright future there.  He’ll be returning home to his native Colombia to play professionally because his mother is ill, certainly a noble pursuit.  We wish him well with both his personal and hoops journeys.
  • Duke & Kansas Struggling. At the time of this writing, both #1 Duke and #3 Kansas are struggling with much weaker opponents — Duke with Virginia, and KU with Nebraska.  Both took deficits into the half.  Duke’s problem has been ice-cold three-point shooting, and as has been discussed at length the last couple of days, the Blue Devils cannot simply revert to being a jump-shooting team and expect to get back to the Final Four.  For a good number of years in the 2000s, that’s what they were, and those teams were often out of the NCAA Tournament by the Sweet Sixteen.  As for Kansas, the Morris twins who went off on Wednesday night have been MIA this afternoon.  At the half, they hadn’t even combined for double figures yet and Markief was already in foul trouble.  Obviously if one or both of these two drop a game today, that would be an enormous upset so stay tuned for more on those.
Share this story

BGTD: Evening Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2011

Things calmed down in the evening session, but that doesn’t stop us from giving you our observations…

  • Was It Really Upset Saturday? There’s a longstanding sentiment in our minds that conference losses on the road are rarely, by definition, upsets.  Yet today’s string of Ls by Top 25 teams — from #7 Missouri to #24 Central Florida — suggests that this is going to be a wild and wacky conference season this year.  None of the “upsets” were earth-shattering; teams like Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma State have talent and the biggest Vegas spread was eight points (UCF favored over Houston).  But today’s results illustrate that outside of a select few teams  in the top five,  the margins between teams ranked in the top 10 versus the top 50 is exceptionally thin.  Does this portend week after week of craziness in college basketball?  One can always hope, and if today’s results are any indication, then some of this season’s conference races could be ridiculously competitive.
  • Arizona-Stanford Game Postponed.  This game was postponed tonight as a result of the horrific shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and several others in her entourage, and it is absolutely the right call.  We get pissed as much as the next person from time to time, but to have the kind of mental imbalance to harbor such unbelievable hatred for someone whom you’ve likely never even met is incomprehensible to us.  Tucson needs time to mourn and heal, and although the game is only delayed by 24 hours, tonight was not the night for a community to come together and cheer for its team.
  • Notre Dame Continues to Impress at Home.  The Irish did what so far nobody else in the Big East has been able to do tonight — beat St. John’s.  And they did so rather convincingly behind a big 26-point night by Ben Hansbrough.  The Irish have beaten three good teams in the Joyce Center — Georgetown, UConn and now the Johnnies.  They’ll go on the road next week at Marquette and back against the Johnnies next Sunday.  If we were to rank the Big East into tiers as of what we’ve seen through two weeks of action, it would go something like this.  1) Syracuse and Pitt at the top; 2) Villanova, St. John’s and Notre Dame on the next tier; 3) Georgetown, WVU, Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette and UConn on the next tier; and 4) everybody else.  The fact that both ND and SJU are on that second tier at this point in the season is surprising, isn’t it?
  • Gonzaga Will Not Win the WCC This Year.  You heard it here first.  We caught part of both of these WCC games tonight, and St. Mary’s again looked more impressive in going to Pepperdine and thoroughly thumping the Waves by 25 points than Gonzaga did at home in beating Portland (by 13).  Of course, it helps when you have a senior like Mickey McConnell dropping fifteen dimes (three more than the entire PU team) and one of the nation’s best three-point attacks (41%).  The Zags are playing better than they were, but as we saw tonight, they have a bit of a tendency to struggle offensively, going through long scoring droughts when Elias Harris (7 points) isn’t able to get it going.
  • Thank You, Mark Fox! We heard the “overrated” chant from Georgia students near the end of the Kentucky game, but didn’t know about Mark Fox’s retort until Jeff Goodman reported it later.  Apparently Fox chastised the students to cut it out, stating that UK is a “damn good team” and that maybe Georgia was in fact “underrated.”  This chant has been going on at schools forever, but it’s a major pet peeve of ours because it essentially minimizes the accomplishment that the winning team just achieved (i.e., if the team you beat is in fact overrated, then your win isn’t as impressive).  So thank you, Mark Fox, and hopefully his admonishment is just one small step to a point where we can eventually stamp out  a truly annoying student chant.
  • Auburn Reaches an Even New Level of Futility.  Really, Auburn?  Six points in the first half of your home loss to LSU tonight?  We’re not sure whether to be more impressed by the fact that the War Eagles put up a six-point stinker or if it’s that they worked back into it  and actually had a chance to win the game.  How’d they do it?  Try a one (Kenny Gabriel), a two (Scott Chubb) and a three (Gabriel, again), as Auburn bricked its way to an 8% shooting half to cause Auburn fans to boo them heading into the locker room.  With the football team playing for the national championship on Monday night, and Tony Barbee’s team finding new ways to look terrible, is there a greater disparity between football and basketball at any other major-conference school in America?  We don’t think so.
  • Down to Six Unbeatens.  It was bound to end sooner or later, but Central Florida’s perfect record went kaput this evening in Houston.  We can’t say we’re completely surprised.  It’s much easier to get jacked up for games against intrastate big-time schools like Florida and Miami than it is to play an 8-6 Houston team in front of a light crowd.  But that’s the problem with putting a target on your back, especially if you’re not used to being in that position.  This leaves us with six unbeatens.  Syracuse and San Diego State both had tough battles on the road but survived today, while Duke, Ohio State, Kansas and Cincinnati all play Sunday.
Share this story