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Checking in on the… Big Sky

Jordan Freemyer is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Big Sky Conferences.

The non-conference season is winding down in the Big Sky, and teams throughout the league have had a varying degree of success in their tune-ups for the all-important conference season. Four teams in the Big Sky still hold winning records.

Conference Standings:

  1. Portland State (7-1)
  2. Eastern Washington (6-2)
  3. Montana State (4-3)
  4. Montana (5-4)
  5. Weber State (3-4)
  6. Northern Colorado (2-4)
  7. Northern Arizona (2-5)
  8. Idaho State (2-7)
  9. Sacramento State (1-8)

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Checking in on the… Big Sky

Jordan Freemyer is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Big Sky Conferences.

(ed. note: this post was originally scheduled for publication on Friday 11/28, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to delay publication until today.  Please accept our apologies.)

In the early going this season in the Big Sky, there are only four teams with less than three losses. Two of them are preseason favorites proving themselves and the others are teams picked near the bottom of the conference but have surprised.

Portland State was the preseason favorite in the Big Sky, and they are showing everyone why that is. The Vikings are 4-0 on the season, with wins over quality opponents including a 76-75 win over Cal State Fullerton.  Senior guard Jeremiah Dominguez is scoring 14 points per game, an average helped by a 24 point effort in PSU’s opener at Rice.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

Pac-10 Tidbits.

  • Freshman extraordinaire Isaiah Thomas is averaging 16.5 points a game for Washington. His 413 points so far on the season are the second-highest point total for a freshman in Washington history.
  • Jon Brockman is putting together another solid season for the Huskies.  Against Oregon he registered his 54th double-double of his career. That is the most of any active player.
    • Jon Brockman, Washington      54
    • John Bryant, Santa Clara           45
    • Jeff Adrien, Connecticut           44
    • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame   43
    • Tyler Hansbrough, UNC           41
  • Brockman also holds the Washinton career record for rebounds with 1,159 and is the only Husky in history to total 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.  Check out this video the University of Washington made to market its All-American  candidate.
  • Arizona State’s season sweep of UCLA was their first since 2002-03 and first by any team over UCLA since Washington did it in 2005-06.
  • Arizona’s six-game conference winning streak is the longest by any Pac-10 team this year.
  • When you hear “Big Three” Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen shouldn’t come to mind, but rather Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise.  They have combined to account for 69 percent (1,303 of 1,877 points) of the Wildcats scoring.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Remember all that talk about the Big East getting nine, maybe ten, teams into the dance? It seems like a long time ago now, as it is a legitimate possibility the league only gets seven teams in. The three teams in danger of missing out are Georgetown, Notre Dame and Providence.

The Irish are in the worst position right now. They are currently sitting at 12-8 and 3-6 in the Big East, but they are just 2-7 against the RPI’s top 50. Their RPI is 77 and their SOS is 49, which aren’t great. But the Irish still play four teams in the RPI top 20, and three more in the top 70, which means the Irish have plenty of chances to up their RPI rating.

Providence could also be in trouble. Their RPI is 63 and their SOS is 42. Their record is a little better than the Irish (14-7, 6-3), but they have struggled against the best teams (1-5 vs. RPI top 50, but 3-2 against 51-100). They, too, will get plenty of chances to improve their resume as they have five more games against the top 20.

Georgetown looks to be the safest right now. They have an RPI of 20, have played the toughest schedule in the country (and second toughest in Big East play to West Virginia). They are just 3-5 against the RPI top 50, but they do own wins against Memphis and at UConn. All Georgetown needs to keep in mind is Arizona last year. The Wildcats finished 16-14, 8-10 in the Pac-10 (good for 7th), but got into the dance as a 10 seed based on their tough scheduling (#2 in SOS).

The bottom line is that it is tough to rule out anyone near the bubble in the Big East. With so many quality teams in the league, all it would take for a Cincinnati or a St. John’s is a great finish to the season, and a run to the quarters or the semis of the Big East Tourney.

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Checking in on the… OVC

Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the MAC and OVC Conferences.

Ohio Valley Conference Standings

  1. Austin Peay     5-1      9-7
  2. Morehead St.     5-1      8-9
  3. Eastern Illinois     3-2      6-9
  4. Tenn-Martin     3-3      10-6
  5. Eastern Kentucky     3-3      9-7
  6. Tennessee St.     3-3      5-11
  7. Jacksonville St.     2-3      8-6
  8. Tennessee Tech     2-3      8-7
  9. Murray St.     2-3      7-8
  10. SE Missouri St.     0-6      3-14

OVC league play is in full-swing and things couldn’t be more muddled.

At this point, here is what we know:

SEMO is the league’s worst team.  There’s no question about it.  EIU went to SEMO and won by 20 over the weekend.  Now let’s not come down too hard on the Redhawks.  They do only have seven scholarship players and went through an absolute mess with the whole Scott Edgar situation.  Zach Roman is doing a marvelous job just keeping this program’s head above water.  After understanding SEMO, this league is as up in the air as any league in the country.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

We are just a week into Big East play, and it is already obvious how much fun this conference is going to be. UConn was supposed to be the best team in the country outside of UNC, but the Huskies lost their Big East opener to Georgetown. At home. And loss isn’t quite the right word. Embarrassed is better. Once everyone was firmly entrenched on the Hoyas jock, they went out and lost back-to-back games to Pitt and Notre Dame. Pitt is the new #1 team in the country, but the Irish were coming off a loss to … St. John’s?

No one is going to make it through this league unscathed. I’d be surprised if anyone finished the season with less than five Ls in league play. If you are one of the nine ranked teams (yes, nine Big East teams are currently ranked), then there are three things you will need to do if your plan on reaching the NCAA tourney:

1) Win your home games. With so many quality teams in the league, defending your home court will guarantee you at least a .500 record in the league. Regardless of your opponent, the top nine teams will almost universally be the favorite when playing at home which leads me to my second point.

2) Beat the teams you are supposed to beat. The top nine (and maybe ten if you include Cincy) are going to beat up on each other all season. I doubt the committee is going to want more than a quarter (8 of 31) of the at-large bids to go to one conference. So if all nine (or ten) want in, they need to take care of business against the South Floridas and DePauls and Rutgers.

3) Pray! Like I said, I doubt that the NCAA wants to have one conference send so many teams to the tourney. If nine Big East teams are going to make it, they will need to catch some breaks during the season. The top four in the ACC need to run through the league (UNC didn’t help on Sunday losing to BC – did anyone else notice that win sent BC from unranked to #17?). The top three in the Big XII need to roll. Likewise for the Pac Ten, Big Ten, and SEC (well, only Tennessee in the SEC). Teams like Davidson, Gonzaga/St. Mary’s, Butler, Xavier, and Memphis need to win their conference tournaments. Essentially, they need to hope that there are as few teams on the bubble as possible.

When it comes down to it, every Big East team is going to have an opportunity to knock off numerous top ten and top twenty teams during the conference play. If any of them finish league play below .500 and without a marquee win in conference, then frankly, they probably are not good enough to deserve a bid.

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Checking in on the… Horizon League

Damon Lewis, a reporter and play-by-play announcer for the Horizon League Network, is RTC’s Horizon League correspondent.

  1. Milwaukee  (3-0,  7-5)
  2. Butler  (2-0, 11-1)
  3. Green Bay  (2-0, 9-4)
  4. UIC  ( 1-1,  8-4)
  5. Valparaiso  (1-1,  4-9)
  6. Cleveland State  (1-2, 10-5)
  7. Wright State (1-2, 7-7)
  8. Youngstown State  (1-2, 4-8)
  9. Loyola  (0-1, 8-5)
  10. Detroit  (0-3, 4-8)

I’m feeling a little prophetic since the last time we checked in on the Horizon League.  All I’ll say is that the developments don’t bode well for the Horizon League’s two-bid aspirations.  But, it does speak to the level of competition that teams face night in and night out in the Horizon League.  Before we get into some team-by-team breakdowns, lets take a quick look at the league as a whole, which has enjoyed a successful non-conference season.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Big East play has officially begun! For each and every team in this conference, you can essentially throw out their non-conference games because they are guaranteed at least seven games against top 25 teams (or eight, can someone please explain to me how West Virginia is not one of the top 25 teams in the country?). Get hot at the right time, reel off five or six straight wins during the right part of your schedule, and you can thrust yourself directly onto the bubble.

Granted, that is MUCH more easily said than done. As you will see, every team in this conference has a run where they will play four or five top 25 teams in the span of two weeks. Because it was a slow week (thanks Santa, but you did get me Fifa ’09 so you’re not all bad) and more than a few teams didn’t play, I am going to be giving you what I like to call “Running the Gauntlet” (patent pending), which is the string of three or four or five (or sometimes even nine) games which you will only see in happening in the Big East.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Darryl “Truck” Bryant, West Virginia

Statistically speaking, Truck had far from the best week in the conference, even on his own team. In the Mountaineers’ only game (a blowout of Ohio State) Truck finished with 11 points and 2 dimes. But it is more than his performance, it is the importance of his play to this West Virginia team. It looks like there is a real possibility that Joe Mazzulla will be out for the season, meaning that Truck is basically the only PG Bob Huggins has on his roster right now. West Virginia does not need Truck to carry this team. In fact, they are probably better when he is blending in more than standing out, so to speak. What they need from him is tough defense, ball control, and the ability to make a big shot or big play when WVU needs it. He did that perfectly against Ohio State. The Mountaineers did not play all that well against the Buckeyes, but in the second half when they were pulling away, Truck was in the middle of everything. He had a couple tough finishes on drives to the basket, he scored a few times on a fast break, and on a team that struggles to move the ball at times, he orchestrated a beautifully run offense (especially in the second half) against a pretty good OSU zone. You want a good comparison for this kid? Think Levance Fields as a freshman.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Georgetown

The Hoyas played just one game this week. It just so happened that game was a win over UConn, the #2 team in the country. The Hoyas thoroughly dominated the Huskies throughout. If there was a word that defined the Hoyas performance, it was execution. JT3 had the perfect game plan against UConn. His Hoyas controlled the pace of the game by running through their offensive sets, then exploiting any UConn break down defensively. And when they attacked, they scored just about every time, especially down the stretch. UConn just couldn’t get any stops. If it wasn’t a back door cut, it was an open jump shot or a drive to the rim, which resulted in either a lay-up or a trip to the foul line (the Hoyas hit their last 18 free throws in the second half). Last week I told you I was finally coming to terms with the fact that Greg Monroe was not going to be a star just yet. Well, against UConn, Monroe proved why he had so much hype coming out of high school. He knocked down two threes, but was able to put the ball on the floor and go by Hasheem Thabeet when the big fella came out to guard him. He made three gorgeous back door passes, two of which came off the dribble. He blocked shots, and even ripped AJ Price at half court, which led to an and-1 lay-up. The most impressive part about Monroe right now is that he does all of this within the Georgetown system. The Hoyas still have some depth problems (the only starter that didn’t play 35 minutes against the Huskies was Monroe, and he was in foul trouble during the second half), but if guys like Jason Clark, Omar Wattad (side note: I think the best sign I have seen this year came at the Georgetown-Memphis game when some fan held up “Let’s Get Wattaded”), Julian Vaughn, and Henry Sims can provide anywhere between 8-15 minutes a game each, the Hoyas should be ok because of the pace they play at.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Oklahoma (11-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (9-1) (3)
  3. Texas A&M (10-1) (5)
  4. Texas (8-2) (2)
  5. Missouri (9-1)  (4)
  6. Kansas (8-2) (6)
  7. Texas Tech (8-3) (7)
  8. Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
  9. Oklahoma St. (8-3) (11)
  10. Nebraska (7-2) (9)
  11. Iowa St. (7-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (5-3) (12)

Most teams only played one game this week.  The holidays are a little slow for the Big 12 teams.  However what is starting to show is that this conference is wide open and it will be a  battle once conference play starts.  Oklahoma looks a little above the rest, but not much.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Texas A&M (3-0 this week)—Texas A&M is starting to make me a believer, winning 3 more games this week to move to 10-1.  With some solid wins now over Arizona, Alabama, and an undefeated LSU team, this team is building itself quite a resume.    Things are definitely going their way as they almost got themselves in a position to lose the LSU game, but a controversial call late in the game led to an LSU technical and A&M sealed the win.  They should get a win over Sam Houston St. this week.

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Checking in on the… Mountain West

Jordan Freemyer is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Big Sky Conferences.

It has been a relatively quiet week in the Mountain West, with most teams having a light schedule due to finals. Three teams did manage to go 2-0 on the week, and they get the spotlight this week.

Current Standings:

  1. BYU (10-0)
  2. Wyoming (8-1)
  3. UNLV (9-2)
  4. Air Force (7-2)
  5. San Diego State (7-3)
  6. New Mexico (7-4)
  7. TCU (7-4)
  8. Utah (5-4)
  9. Colorado State (3-7)

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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This Week in the A-10

By CCT Staff | December 15, 2008

CO-PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:

Dionte Christmas (Sr.), Temple. Although he played just one game this week, Christmas made the most of his opportunity.  In Temple’s 88-72 win over No. 8 Tennessee, Christmas scored 35 points on 12-of-22 shooting, including 7-of-14 from behind the three point arc.  What helped him earn this distinguishment though, was an impressive 90 second spurt in the second half, where he scored 13 points – including three three-pointers which turned a heated contest into a blowout almost instantly.  Christmas also chipped in with two rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Aaron Jackson (Sr.) Duquesne. Jackson was on absolute fire this week, shooting an unreal 80% (20-of-25) from the field in two games.  Against Radford, Jackson had his best game as a collegiate player, scoring a career-high 36 points on 15-of-17 shooting from the field.  Against West Virginia, Jackson poured in 19 more points, bringing his two game average to 27.5 per contest.  He also averaged 3.5 boards, and 4.5 assists over the week.

HONORABLE MENTION: Derrick Brown (Jr.) Xavier; Kaheim Seawright (Sr.) Rhode Island.

(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10′ each Monday morning.)

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Checking in on the… Big 12

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (10-0) (1)
  2. Texas (8-1) (3)
  3. Baylor (8-1) (2)
  4. Missouri (8-1)  (5)
  5. Texas A&M (7-1) (7)
  6. Kansas (7-2) (4)
  7. Texas Tech (7-2) (6)
  8. Kansas St. (7-3) (9)
  9. Nebraska (6-2) (8)
  10. Iowa St. (6-3) (10)
  11. Oklahoma St. (6-3) (11)
  12. Colorado (4-3) (12)

This has been a slow week for the Big 12.  Finals are upon us, so just a few games and updates this week.

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