Texas Goes Down! Kentucky the Sole Unbeaten…

Posted by jstevrtc on January 18th, 2010

K-State Leaves One Unbeaten Left

Kansas State has beaten #1-ranked Texas tonight, which leaves Kentucky as the sole unbeaten survivor.  K-State was actually favored in this game since they’re #10 and the game was played on their home floor.  Combine that with the fact that Texas played a tough one at home against Texas A&M a mere 48 hours ago, and this becomes a little less surprising.  All credit to the Kansas State Wildcats, though, for hitting the boards in force and taking down their conference-mates off that big, target-laden pedestal.

Kentucky’s next game is Saturday at home against Arkansas.  Assuming they get past it, they’re number one at this time next week.  Despite the above fan’s allegiances, it was actually Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly who did most of the damage for the Wildcats.

More on this later tonight in the ATB, which will actually cover the weekend’s games as well.

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#1 Kansas Goes Down!

Posted by rtmsf on January 10th, 2010

Much more on this weekend’s ATB wrapup later, but how about Bruce Pearl’s Tennessee Volunteers, staring adversity in the face and having it slink away with its tail tucked?  The #1 Kansas Jayhawks ran into an emotionally-charged, feisty and gutty UT team this afternoon that showed pluck and heart despite losing four players to dismissal/suspension.  Credit to Bruce Pearl for doing what he does best – getting his six scholarship players and walk-ons to internalize their difficult situation and play the underdog role to a T.  Congrats to his team are in order.  College basketball at its finest!

Pearl Uses the Underdog Role Exceptionally Well

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ATB: #1 Goes Down as BC Flies Like an Eagle Over UNC

Posted by rtmsf on January 4th, 2009


We felt tonight’s ATB of #1 UNC losing to Boston College deserves its own post.

Robert Willett/Raleigh News-Observer)

#1 No More (photo credit: Robert Willett/Raleigh News-Observer)

Boston College 85, UNC 78. It’s conference season, isn’t it?  In just the last seven days, we’ve now had the consensus way-better-than-everyone-else teams (UNC and UConn for those of you just tuning in) lose to conference foes.  At home.  In games where neither appeared to be the better team.  There was considerable talk in the last couple of weeks of the likelihood of Carolina going undefeated this season, and we always sorta rolled our eyes when we heard such talk.  There are several reasons for this:

  • First, it just doesn’t happen.  A hunted team like Carolina simply will not bring its A+ game every single night, no matter how good they are or how faux-slighted they feel (and how slighted can you feel when you’re being told how great you are at every turn?).  There are always a couple of games where that team will come out flat or fail to properly motivate because their press clippings have gone to their head.
  • Second, while this UNC team is stacked relative to the rest of college basketball this season and remains the prohibitive favorite to win the national title in April, the level of talent of their individual players simply isn’t so otherworldly ridiculous that other teams can’t play and compete with them.  As evidence here, we saw what Kansas with its two lottery picks (one actual and one shoulda-been) did to them in the first half of last year’s F4 game (40-12), and much of the reason behind this year’s hype is because all of UNC’s players returned to school, and the reason for THAT is that none/zilch/zero/nada would have been lottery picks had they entered  the NBA Draft last spring.  Put simply, nobody in college basketball is so talented that they can play half-assed  or have a bad game collectively and still win every game.
  • Third, Carolina plays in a conference like the ACC, and leagues like that are simply too good on a yearly basis to allow teams like UNC to run roughshod over them.  There are exceptions – we know Duke in 1999 went 16-0 in that league, and more recently, Kentucky went 16-0 in the SEC in 2003, but those teams had already lost a pre-conference game(s) so there wasn’t nearly the same pressure that an unbeaten #1 will face throughout the conference slate.  The only possibility for an unbeaten team in today’s early-entry NCAA basketball environment is something akin to what Memphis was able to do last year or UNLV in 1991 – roll through its vastly inferior conference unbeaten and (for the most part) untested.  The problem is that scenario tends to catch up with those teams during March Madness, as both of those teams in that example learned.

So what happened tonight?  It’s simple and it’s the same problem that Carolina had last year.  Their offense is unmatched by anybody in the country, but their defense sometimes takes nights off.  Against the 68th toughest schedule to date, the UNC offense is the second-most efficient offense in America, but only the 18th most efficient defense.  Most of that ranking is attributable to Carolina’s ability to force turnovers (4th in the nation), but the Heels simply don’t get enough stops  from their halfcourt defense – it ranks 60th at defending twos and 81st at defending threes – not exactly national-title defensive numbers there.  (To be fair, last year’s Heels were even worse defensively, but UNC’s schedule will only get tougher from here on out, which should negatively impact those numbers.)

Robert Willett/Raleigh News-Observer)

Let's Hope For His Sake He Didn't Get a Ticket After All (photo credit: Robert Willett/Raleigh News-Observer)

Tonight BC never flinched, shooting 45% from the field and hitting nine threes in the Dean Dome, led by Tyrese Rice’s 25/5/8 assts (who continues his torching of Carolina with 91 pts in his last three games against UNC) and Rakim Sanders’ 22/6/7 stls.  BC not only got the lead in the first half (no big deal), but they held on to as UNC repeatedly got it down to two and even in the last few minutes as BC predictably went cold and UNC made its last-ditch efforts.  Carolina didn’t help itself, though as the Heels were ice cold, especially in the second half (29%) and even more especially Ty Lawson (3-13), and the typically excellent Tar Heel free throwers (#13 nationally at 75%) only managed 5-12 in the last 8 minutes and 15-27 for the game.   Perhaps most importantly, the Heels only forced BC into 10 turnovers, and it was clear that this was something head coach Al Skinner had drilled into his players’ heads, realizing that TOs are the kindling that fuels the UNC attack.

But BC was not to be denied tonight, and #1 goes down, only slightly spoiling the juicy UNC @ Wake matchup scheduled for next weekend.  Whether BC uses this win as a springboard to a surprising season remains to be seen, as its only truly bad loss thus far was at St. Louis, but for tonight they are the giant-killers and the Eagles should be commended for taking it to the vaunted Heels in their house.  Come Monday morning, we’d expect to see BC ranked for the first time in a couple of years, and that gasp you hear from western Pennsylvania has nothing to do with the Steelers – rather, it’s Jamie Dixon’s team prepping itself for it’s school-first #1 ranking in the AP Poll.   College hoops, you gotta love it.

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Tyler Hansbrough Out Indefinitely

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2008

Big breaking news out of Chapel Hill tonight…  The nation’s top returning player on the unanimous #1 team will be out indefinitely with something called a ‘stress reaction‘ of his right shin.  Although the injury isn’t serious as of now, without appropriate rest it could continue to inflame and deteriorate into a much more serious stress fracture of the bone.  From ESPN:

The reigning Associated Press player of the year did not practice Thursday. Instead, he underwent an MRI that revealed the stress reaction, which if not properly treated could lead to a stress fracture, team spokesman Steve Kirschner said.  “He’ll be ok,” Hansbrough’s father, Gene, told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz. “His leg’s been bothering him for a couple of weeks. It’s a stress reaction and he needs to rest a bit. He just needs time to let it heal. There is no reason for him to limp through it.”  According to ESPN medical analysist Dr. Michael Kaplan, the MRI likely showed increased uptake in tibia (leg bone) suggesting a stress reaction. An overload or overuse type phenomenon occurs with inflammation and, ultimately, fatigue failure with stress fracture. This is a precursor condition to stress fracture. A period of rest is mandatory for tissues to quiet down or worsening injury will result.

Psycho T Can’t Wear a Mask For His Shin (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The timetable for Hansbrough to return to action is officially “indefinitely” but the realistic timeframe sounds like a month or so, which means the Heels will be without two starters (including Marcus Ginyard, out with – what else – a stress fracture) for their game vs. Kentucky, an away game at UCSB, the Maui Invitatonal games (Notre Dame, Texas, Alabama) as well as the ACC/Big 10 Challenge game against Michigan State at Ford Field.  These weren’t going to be easy games for UNC anyway; assuming Hansbrough is out for all of them, they might just lose several. 

More importantly, UNC fans can’t feel comfortable with this news even if Hansbrough appears to be at full strength by January.  Call us a pessimist, but these are the kinds of nagging injuries that warriors like Hansbrough invariably try to come back from too soon, which end up recurring or at minimum never completely healing throughout the rest of the season.  Stay tuned on this story, because if Psycho-T is out or even at half-speed, the 2008-09 season is wide open…

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Chalk City

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2008

It looks like Clark Kellogg will have bragging rights over the CBS Sports studio for the next week as for the first time in the 64+ team era the Final 4 will be composed of all #1s. In the end all four of these #1 seeds definitely seemed to be the best teams in their region.

All Chalk

East: UNC absolutely dominated every game they played. Louisville made it close for a little bit in the 2nd half, but Rick Pitino had no answer for Tyler Hansbrough, who apparently developed a great outside game sometime this year as he started to hit fall-away jumpers against good defense to put the Cardinals away.

West: So we got this game wrong. Out of all the #1 seeds, UCLA appeared to be the most vulnerable during their march to San Antonio. The Bruins looked very beatable between their drubbing of Mississippi Valley State in the 1st round and their beatdown of Xavier in the Elite 8. The one constant for the Bruins during the entire tournament has been Kevin Love, who has made himself several million dollars during this tournament if he decides to leave after this season. While everybody else on the team had at least one horrible game, Love showed up every night and is the reason that UCLA is in the Final 4. This didn’t hurt either.

South: After a shaky game in the 2nd round, Memphis looked like the #1 team in the country. After cruising in during the 2nd half of their win against Michigan State, Memphis dominated Texas in Houston. It seems like almost every analyst had Texas advancing out of this region. I certainly did although I was smart/fickle enough to change my mind and prediction before the Elite 8. Everybody picked on their inability to shoot free throws, but like Shaq they make them when it matters. In the Elite 8, Derrick Rose controlled the game winning the head-to-head match-up against D.J. Augustin ensuring he will be a top 2 pick in the draft if and when he declares (Beasley will be #1 unless a team really needs a PG). They will be a tough match-up for pre-tournament favorite UCLA.

Midwest: After rolling through the first 3 rounds, Kansas finally ran into a challenge in the Elite 8. Davidson put up a great fight, but in the end Kansas just had too much as they dominated the Wildcats on the inside the entire game. Stephen Curry and Brian Barr had great games for the Wildcats, who did a phenomenal job of getting back on defense to prevent Kansas from running the way they like. The Jayhawks took the lead for good on a 3 by Sherron Collins with 6:35 left. Davidson had a chance to win on the last possession, but Stephen Curry made a rare mistake for him in this tournament by taking too much time leaving Jason Richards to attempt a desperation 3 at the buzzer. Tip of the hat to Davidson and Curry who had a great game and tournament. It seemed to me that Curry ran out of gas at the end as he had a great first half, but did not have his usual second half explosion or one of his best shooting days today (4/15 from 3). Congrats to Bill Self for finally getting to the Final 4.

We’ll be back later with a preview of the Final 4 along with some shots at Roy Williams going against his old school Kansas in the late game on Saturday. Check back throughout the week as we’ll be making more posts.

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Memorial Magic, Again!

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2008

Well, if you didn’t see last night’s Vandy win 72-69 over newly-minted #1 Tennessee coming, then you probably didn’t know that #1 teams simply don’t make it out of the strange and unusual venue known as Memorial Gymnasium alive.  Vandy is now 6-3 all-time against #1 teams in the gym, and have won the last four, including an equally impressive 83-70 win last year over then #1 and defending national champion Florida. 

 Final Scoreboard - Vandy v. UT

Another #1 Goes Down at Vandy

But for some reason, last night’s win just seemed more impressive.  Maybe it was because Vandy fans clutch a particular ire for their neighbors in puke orange.  Maybe it was because we had just witnessed the Vols do likewise to #1 Memphis three nights earlier.  Or maybe it was simply that we got wrapped up in the Memorial Magic like so many teams before, as the arena rocked and rolled for most of the night (no country for old men in Nashville last night).  In any case, it was yet another impressive victory for Vandy at home, and one sure to propel them into the national top ten.  Shan Foster made his case for SEC POY over rival Chris Lofton (25 pts on 7-18 shooting) by dropping 32 huge points on 9-13 shooting.   

Vandy Student Section

Why RTC When You Always Beat #1?

As for Tennessee, to come out of these two close road tests 1-1 is probably considered a victory for Bruce Pearl.  The Vols have been more impressive than its teams of recent vintage in the sense that they are less perimeter-happy than they once were, thanks to Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism inside.  Still, their toughness with the bullseye directly on their backs leaves questions for national prospects in March.  As an underdog, Pearl’s teams excel – it’s only when great things are expected (see: Sweet 16 second half game against Ohio St. last year) do the Vols tend to become gunshy.   This is worth keeping an eye on during the next few weeks, as Pearl will likely use this as motivation for the Vols to keep their underdog status. 

Thing is, Florida used to be the same way, and we saw what happened with the Gators the last two seasons. 

Final thought.  Tennessee essentially held its first #1 ranking ever for about 28 hrs before losing it, which is one of the quickest reigns you’ll ever see.  We remember a newly-minted #1 Florida getting run out of the gym at Kentucky in 2003 after a similar amount of time; and first-time #1 Wake Forest likewise getting destroyed at Illinois in 2004 after a day at the helm.  Maybe there’s something to the idea of uneasy is the head that carries the crown, eh?  ‘

Photo Credits:  Sammy8146 at Flickr.com

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