Tracking The Four: Let’s Play 21 Questions

Posted by EJacoby on January 20th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor & correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.

For this week’s wildcard edition of TT4, we’re going to tackle some burning questions regarding each team. All four teams have pressing issues as they try to hit their strides in conference play, and there’s one team on our list that specifically needs to find some answers, quickly, if they want to stay relevant as a contender. Find out the answers to each question, or at least our quick takes, below each question. If you want to play along, comment with any of your answers!!!

Is Mike Moser the Best Player of our Four Teams? (Getty Images/E. Miller)

1. Which game on Syracuse and Murray State’s schedules should be circled as their toughest challenge to an undefeated regular season?

Monday night’s game in Cincinnati is Syracuse’s first shot at going down, while Murray State’s game on February 15 at Southeast Missouri State will be their toughest test.

2. Can Indiana recover from this losing streak to regain their status as a top three team in the Big Ten?

They’ll be able to recover, but Indiana is not a top three Big Ten team (OSU, UM, & Michigan State are better).

3. Will UNLV be able to win big games outside of Las Vegas, like SDSU did in The Pit this week?

They’ve already played seven true road games, so yes this will help UNLV win conference road games.

4. The Hoosiers have lost three straight games while the Racers have won 19 straight, but who would win on a neutral court if they played today?

We’d love to see this in the NCAA Tournament and today we’re going with Indiana, but if Ivan Aska comes back strong for MSU, ask again in two weeks.

5. When they inevitably need a bucket in crunch time, whom will Syracuse and Jim Boeheim draw the play for?

He doesn’t specialize in taking over games, but Kris Joseph is still the most talented offensive player and toughest mismatch on the team, so he should get his number called.

6. Will UNLV’s 69.1% free throw percentage come back to haunt them at some point this season?

Although it’s the worst of these four teams, no a 69% rate should not be a huge concern for the Rebels.

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30 Days of Madness: Princeton Terrifies #1 Georgetown

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so all of this week we re-visited some of the timeless moments from the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  Enjoy.

NCAA First and Second Rounds

Dateline:  1989 NCAA Tournament First Round – #1 Georgetown vs. #16 Princeton

Context: Whenever someone tells you that it can’t be done… that it’s impossible for a #16 seed to beat a #1, show that person this clip.  In an era when all-american players such as Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo and Charles Smith stayed for three or four years, a plucky little Ivy League team led by a cantankerous old coach took his Princeton Tigers to within a shot of pulling off the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.  Some might argue that Georgetown was never really in danger of losing that game, given that they were the superior team and that when it counted they were able to make the winning plays.  Keep telling yourself that.  Given the relative inexperience of some of the elite teams in college basketball these days, it’s simply going to be a matter of time.  Remember that Albany had UConn down double-digits in 2006 with less than ten minutes to play, and that we’ve seen #1 seeds Pitt (vs. ETSU in 2009) and Illinois (vs. FDU in 2005) struggle to put away first round underdogs in recent years.  The recipe for this upset will be an overrated #1 (such as Purdue in 1996) taking on a #16 that plays a style of basketball that frustrates the top seed.  It will happen, and the below clip shows how it will go down.

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Bilas and Digger Not Bleeping Idiots After All

Posted by rtmsf on March 30th, 2008

Two Sundays ago we were first in line to dismiss, excoriate and otherwise belittle Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas when, during ESPN’s selection show, both of them went out on an extremely short limb by picking all #1 seeds to make the Final Four. See the evidence here (first two brackets unveiled).

We felt a little bit like we jumped the gun on Digger/Bilas when we noted that our own bracket ended up with three #1 seeds and a #2 seed, but we still felt that the likelihood of four #1 seeds making the 4 was almost nil, considering that it has never happened before.

We are now prepared to eat crow.

Crow

Moving on… is this the best Final Four ever, at least in terms of the quality of teams? Clearly we’ve never had four #1 seeds before, so that’s a great starting point, but how about the fact that the four teams have combined for a ridiculous record of 143-9 (.941) this season? Of those nine losses, only three of the Ls came to teams that were not in the NCAA Tournament this year (Washington, Oklahoma St., Maryland). We need to do some further research on this, but we have to believe this is the first time ever that the top four preseason teams in the AP and Coaches’ polls made the F4. All we can say is that whoever wins this year’s F4 will have definitely earned it.

Now on to the games today…

We have to give major love to John Calipari for somehow convincing his 37-1 team that they were an underdog at the South Regional. The way they were corralling loose balls and attempting to de-Shaqproof rims (mostly Joey Dorsey), it was clear that this team felt slighted. As Vegaswatch pointed out before the Sweet 16, Memphis became publicly undervalued in the last couple weeks of the season, which manifested itself in the Tigers getting unfavorable odds despite the fact that they spent much of the season at #1 in the country. We’re not sure how much life Calipari will get out of playing this card considering the two immolations of Michigan St. and Texas this weekend, but if Derrick Rose and others keep playing like this, it may not matter. Still, UCLA represents an old nemesis of John Calipari (UCLA won 50-45 in the E8 in 2006) and Memphis as a program (UCLA won the title 87-66 in 1973 over what was then called Memphis St.).

As for Kansas-Davidson, we were anxiously awaiting the Kansas collapse along with everyone else (you could have gotten 1:10 odds against Stephen Curry missing that transition 3 with 1:15 remaining), but it looked to us that Davidson finally reached a tipping point where NBA-level talent finally trumped a hardy group of very skilled players who have reached their full potential. Still, with that said, Davidson ended up willing itself into a last-second attempt to win the game. Far be it from us to question the strategy of a #10 seed that damn near made the F4, but we would have loved to have seen Davidson run a penetrate-and-kick/reversal play to get Curry the final shot rather than letting him try to create something himself (not his strength). What a tremendous run for this Davidson team, though – they represented the essence of the Tourney Cinderella better than anyone since the George Mason run a couple of years ago.

 

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