NCAA Preview: LSU Tigers

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

LSU (#8 seed, South region, Greensboro pod)

vs. Butler (#9 seed)
12:20 p.m. ET – 3/19/09

Vegas Line: LSU -2.5

lsu-ncaa-graph1

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Conference:
Southeastern, at-large
Coach:
Trent Johnson, 26-7 for 78.8%
08-09 Record:
26-7, 13-3
Last 12 Games:
9-3
Best Win:
79-73, @ Tennessee, 1-28-09
Worst Loss:
59-65, @ Alabama, 1-11-09
Off. Efficiency Rating
: 110.3; #53
Def. Efficiency Rating:
94.1; #53)

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Marcus Thornton – junior guard – 20.7ppg…2nd in SEC – 5.5rpg…23rd in SEC – 46.7% FG…9th in SEC and 2nd amongst guards – 74.0% FT…10th in SEC – 1.55spg…7th in SEC – SEC Player of the Year
Unsung Hero:
Tasmin Mitchell – junior forward – 16.3ppg…8th in SEC – 7.2rpg…11th in SEC – 52.1% FG…7th in SEC – 73.2% FT…11th in SEC – 1.58spg…6th in SEC – First-Team All-SEC
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s):
Marcus Thornton – projected #45, Chris Johnson – projected #58
Key Injuries:
none
Depth:
24.9%, #299
Achilles Heel:
The Tigers are not a very deep team, but are immensely athletic and talented. Their depth does not serve them especially well for a long run in the tournament.Will Make a Deep Run if…: Thornton comes out with confidence and the team wakes up after losing 3 of their last 4
Will Make an Early Exit if…:
Thornton isn’t draining shots

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2005-06, Final Four
Streak:
1
Best NCAA Finish:
Final Fours in 1981, 1986, 2006
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present):
+0.18

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: None
Distance to First Round Site:
856 miles
School’s Claim to Fame:
Shaq.
School Wishes It Could Forget:
Nick Saban.
Prediction:
LSU is a very talented team, and can beat anyone in the country on the right night. With UNC struggling with Lawson’s injury, the Tigers could be a dark-horse Sweet Sixteen team

Major RTC stories: None

Preview written by… Kurt Wirth/SEC Hoops: The Good. The Bad. The Dirty

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NCAA Preview: Tennessee Volunteers

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Tennessee (#9 seed, East region, Dayton pod)

vs. Oklahoma State (#8 seed)
12:25 p.m. ET – 3/20/09

Vegas Line:  Tennessee -2

General Profile

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Conference:
Southeastern, at-large
Coach:
Bruce Pearl, 98-36 for 73.1%
08-09 Record
: 21-12, 10-6
Last 12 Games:
7-5
Best Win:
78-64, @ Siena, 11-27-09
Worst Loss:
67-70, vs. Alabama, 3-8-09
Off. Efficiency Rating:
114.9; #17
Def. Efficiency Rating:
95.7; #70

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Tyler Smith – junior forward – 17.2ppg…6th in SEC – 5.9rpg…17th in SEC – 3.36apg…leads team and 8th in SEC – 75.5% FT…8th in SEC – 1.63 a/to…5th in SEC…First-Team All-SEC
Unsung Hero:
Wayne Chism – junior forward – 13.8ppg…15th in SEC – 8.1rpg…5th in SEC – 71.6% FT…13th in SEC – 1.00bpg…13th in SEC
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s):
Tyler Smith, projected #24
Key Injuries:
none
Depth:
34.0%, #99
Achilles Heel:
The Vols simply rely too much on Tyler Smith and their paint play as a whole. Tennessee is a very poor three-point shooting team, easily the worst in the SEC at 31.4%.
Will Make a Deep Run if…:
Freshman Scotty Hopson plays up to his potential and sees touches from behind the arc.
Will Make an Early Exit if…:
The Vols become too uni-dimensional underneath the basket, or if Tyler Smith doesn’t show up.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2007-08 2nd round
Streak:
4
Best NCAA Finish:
NCAA Sweet 16, 2007
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present):
n/a

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: None
Distance to First Round Site:
303 miles
School’s Claim to Fame:
Rocky Top
School Wishes It Could Forget:
Phil Fulmer’s last few seasons in Knoxville.
Prediction:
Unfortunately, I think the Vols are too reliant on post play to succeed in the postseason. The Vols also don’t seem to be playing inspired basketball right now, and I would think a second-round ousting by Pittsburgh is in order.

Major RTC stories: None

Preview written by… Kurt Wirth/SEC Hoops: The Good. The Bad. The Dirty

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NCAA Preview: Utah State Aggies

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Utah State (#11, West, Boise pod)

vs. Marquette (#6)

Fri. 3/20 @ 12:10 pm

Vegas Line:  Utah St. +4.5
General Profile

Location: Logan, Utah

Conference: Western Athletic Conference, Tournament Champion

Coach: Stew Morrill

08-09 Record: 30-4, 14-2

Last 12 Games: 9-3

Best Win: vs. Utah, 66-64, 12/22

Worst Loss: @ St. Mary’s, 64-75, 02/21

Off. Efficiency Rating: 116.8, 13th

Def. Efficiency Rating: 101.3, 169th
Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Gary Wilkinson (17/7/4 assts); DeShawn Sims (16/7)

Unsung Hero: The freshmen corps of Laval Lucas-Perry, Zach Novak and Stu Perry

Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None

Key Injuries: None

Depth: 23.9% (#313)

Achilles Heel: Turnovers, In two of their four losses this season they committed 17 or more turnovers. Holding onto the ball is the key to their efficiency

Will Make a Deep Run if…: They can get Cornell to upset Mizzou.

Will Make an Early Exit if…: Gary Wilkinson has an off night.
NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2006, lost 1st round to 5th seed Washington 75-61

Streak: 1

Best NCAA Finish: 2001, 2nd round

Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.38 Ws per appearance


Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: None.

Distance to First Round Site: 291 miles to Boise.

School’s Claim to (Dis)Fame: Currently… mascot Big Blue accepting a $100 bribe from a Nevada fan to steal New Mexico State mascot Pistol Pete’s fake mustache.

School Wishes It Could Forget: The 2003 season when they finished 25-3, tied for the regular season title but did not get an at-large bid after losing in the semifinals of the Big West tournament.

Prediction: Utah State is a dangerous 11 seed playing close to home in a familiar arena and facing a team that has lost five of its last six since losing a key player to injury.

Major RTC stories: n/a

Preview written by… Sam Wasson, bleedCrimson.net

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NCAA Preview: Portland State Vikings

Posted by jstevrtc on March 18th, 2009

Portland State University (#13, East, Boise pod)

vs Xavier (#4)
Fri., 3/20 at 7:25 pm
Vegas Line:  +10.5

General Profile
Location: Portland, Oregon
Conference: Big Sky, automatic
Coach: Ken Bone, hired 2005.  Record at PSU = 77-48
08-09 Record: 23-9 (11-5)
Last 12 Games: 8-4 (won 6)
Best Win: At Gonzaga, 77-70, on 12/23/08.
Worst Loss: vs Cal Poly, 62-65, on 12/17/08 (six days before winning at Gonzaga).
Off. Efficiency Rating: 107.4 (79th)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 103.0 (201st)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Jeremiah Dominguez (12.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 spg)
Unsung Hero: Jamie Jones (8.9 ppg, leads team in rebounding at 5.9 rpg)
Potential NBA Draft Pick: None.
Key Injuries: No significant injuries.
Depth: 34.5% (87th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Defense.  Opponents shoot 45.5% from the field which ranks 271st nationally.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They can forget about the TV cameras; if they can hit their 3s (they shoot 38%, 33rd nationally); and if they maybe catch Xavier napping.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The rest of the roster doesn’t contribute a little more.  PSU will throw a lot of guys at you but they have four guys averaging double-figures, and that barely.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2008; lost to Kansas in the 1st round
Streak: Two years.
Best NCAA Finish: 2008, as above.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): n/a

Other
Distance to First Round Site: 428 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Considered one of the nation’s “greener” colleges; called a “college with a conscience” by the Princeton Review; Holly Madison (“The Girls Next Door”) went there.
School Wishes It Could Forget: The fate of MLB pitcher and alum Steve Olin, killed in a boating accident during spring training of 1993.
Prediction: It’s possible to catch Xavier a little complacent to start games sometimes, but even though PSU will be a popular pick for a R1 upset due to lack of national focus on Xavier during the season, in the end the Musketeers will probably be too much for the Vikings to handle.
Major RTC stories: Checking in on the Big Sky

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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NCAA Preview: Michigan State Spartans

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Michigan State (#2, Midwest, Minneapolis pod)
Vs. Robert Morris (#15)
Fri., 3/20 at 9:50 PM
Vegas Line:
Michigan State, -17

michigan-state-vegas

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: East Lansing, MI
Conference: Big 10, At-large
Coach: Tom Izzo, 14th season, 331-135
08-09 Record: 26-6 overall, 15-3 in the Big 10
Last 12 Games: 9-3
Best Win: At Illinois on March 1st (74-66)
Worst Loss: Playing what was essentially a home game in Detroit on December 3rd against #1 UNC, the Spartans lost by 35 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 112.7; 34th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 88.4; 10th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s):
Kalin Lucas (14.8 PPG and 4.4 APG); Raymar Morgan (10.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG)
Unsung Hero: Goran Suton (9.5 PPG and 7.6 RPG)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Morgan (42nd in 2010). Delvon Roe has the potential to be a late first or early second round pick. Lucas and Durrell Summers will probably be 2nd round picks as well whenever they comes out.
Key Injuries: None
Depth:
36.6% (48th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Inexperience. Despite having 2 seniors and a junior in the starting line-up many of the Spartans are quite young. Will they be able to hold up under the March pressure?
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Raymar Morgan returns to the form he showed before he had atypical pneumonia, which sidelined him for more than 2 weeks and it took him a while to play well after he returned.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Their inexperience leads to too many turnovers.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited:
2008; lost to Memphis in the Sweet 16
Streak: 12th straight year
Best NCAA Finish: National champions (1979 and 2000)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present):+0.23. The Spartans win 0.23 more games per year than they would be expected to based on the historical performance of teams with the same seed.

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit:
Besides the fact that it’s a 91.2 mile drive from the Breslin Center to Ford Field where the Final 4 is this year? The Spartans roster features 9 players from the state of Michigan. Durrell Summers takes home the prize as being the closest to Detroit having gone to high school at Redford Covenant.
Distance to First Round Site: 628 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: A former Spartan point guard holds the record for most assists in a NBA game (Scott Skiles) while another Spartan point guard holds the unofficial record for being the most supportive teammate in NBA history (Mateen Cleaves). They also had a point guard named Magic Johnson who wasn’t too bad at either of those two things himself.
School Wishes It Could Forget: The John L. Smith era, which can be summed up in this amazing meltdown by a local sports radio host.
Prediction: The Spartans have all the pieces in place to make a storybook run to play in the Final 4 in what would be essentially home games, but I get the funny feeling that USC is going to make a run and take them out in the 2nd round because I think that it’s a bad match-up for the Spartans.
Major RTC stories: N/A.

Preview written by Rush the Court

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West Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (Pt. 1)

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

West Region – by Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports

#1 UConn vs. #16 Chattanooga
We all know what UCONN is capable of, which is nothing short of a National Championship.  So get to know the Mocs and their leading scorer Stephen McDowell, who paced Chattanooga with 18.6ppg, shot 43.4% from three, and scored 30 or more in three games this year.  The Mocs have two other double-figure scorers besides the 5’11” guard, and pulled off quite the upset just to make it here after finishing fifth in the Southern Conference.  UConn looks in supreme control, although that Georgetown loss still worries me. What was up with that anyway, Husky fans?

#8 BYU vs. #9 Texas A&M
The Cougars put together a fine 25-7 season and tied two other teams for a share of the Mountain West title, but lost to San Diego State in the tournament final.  BYU certainly has the tools and talent to move on from the first round, but just didn’t have to play the rigorous schedule that A&M did this season.  Finishing fourth in the Big XII means more to me than winning a three-way share of the Mountain West.  This could turn out to be a hidden gem, as BYU can certainly put up the points with three players averaging over 16.0 per.

#5 Purdue vs. #12 Northern Iowa
The hot thing to do right now is pretend you know anything about Northern Iowa.  What you should know is that the Panthers can run with the big guns, beating both Auburn and San Diego State before finishing behind only Creighton in the Missouri Valley.  They were also crushed mightily by Marquette, so its somewhat of a stretch to think they can open strong against the Big Ten Tourney champion Boilermakers.  A healthy Robbie Hummel and a streaking Purdue squad means trouble for the fashionable upset pick.

#4 Washington vs. #13 Mississippi State

This is my upset special, maybe because I think the SEC was underrated this year and maybe because I was extremely disappointed in the Pac-10 this year. Probably both. Regardless, Mississippi State is riding a six-game winning streak and the high of stealing the SEC Tourney championship.  Now, Georgia shocked their way into the Tourney last season only to get blown out, and Arkansas did the same thing the year prior.  But those teams didn’t have Jarvis Varnardo or freshman point Dee Bost.  Washington was a very good team all year long but MSU has the defense to slow down their phenom Isaiah Thomas, and therefore, the Huskies.

#7 California vs. #10 Maryland
This game is being billed as a battle of the minds between Mike Montgomery and Gary Williams, but it’s really more a battle of two talented teams who weren’t able to put things together like they’re capable of doing.  Yet.  The Golden Bears do not rebound or defend particularly well, which is worrisome.  But they’ve got very capable scorers in Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher.  Cal had a pretty cake non-conference schedule, excluding two games (which they lost) against Mizzou and Florida State.  Look for the Bears to resume the form they showed in big wins over Arizona State and Washington.  I know I said earlier that I was down on the Pac-10 this year, but I’m even more down on teams that lose big games by 41 points and post a losing conference record.  I don’t care if it’s the ACC, good teams just don’t let that happen.

#2 Memphis vs. #15 Cal St. Northridge
Both teams won their respective conferences by running the floor, relying on their guards for a bulk of the scoring, and getting solid rebounding from their bigs.  Memphis, however, does all of these things much, much better than Northridge does.  The Matadors have dealt with a lot after the arrest of three players (including their top scorer) in January and a car accident that nearly killed their point guard.  None of those players have played since their incidents, and Northridge got by on outbursts from bench players.  But they’re playing a Memphis team that could not be hotter, and last year we learned that playing in CUSA doesn’t mean you can’t make the title game.

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NCAA Preview: Boston College Eagles

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Boston College (#7, Midwest, Minneapolis pod)
vs. USC (#10)
Fri., 3/20 at 7:20 PM
Vegas Line: Boston College, +2

bc-vegas

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
Conference: ACC, At-large
Coach: Al Skinner, 232-148
08-09 Record: 22-11 (9-7 in the ACC)
Last 12 Games: 7-5
Best Win: At UNC (when they were undefeated and “unbeatable”), 85-78 on January 4th. A close second is their victory at home against Duke, 80-74 on February 15th.
Worst Loss: Following their win at UNC, they lost to Harvard 82-70 at home on January 7th.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 113.9, 27th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 99.3, 132nd

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Tyrese Rice (17.1 PPG and 5.4 APG); Joe Trapani (13.5 PPG and 6.6 RPG)
Unsung Hero: Rakim Sanders (13.0 PPG and 4.5 RPG)
Potential NBA Draft Pick: Rice, projected at #43 (in 2009). Trapani and Sanders are potential late 2nd round picks when they decide to leave.
Key Injuries: N/A
Depth: 29.7% (200th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Inconsistency. See their January 4th/7th Jekyll and Hyde where they knocked off #1 UNC on the road and then lost the next game to Harvard at home.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Rice can play consistently and within himself. He tries to get too fancy sometimes with the alley-oops when a simple bounce pass will do.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The supporting cast (outside of Rice, Trapani, and Sanders) doesn’t step up.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited:
2007; lost to Georgetown in the 2nd round
Streak: N/A
Best NCAA Finish: Elite 8 (1967 and 1982)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.28. On average, the Eagles win 0.28 more games than they would be expected to based on their seed compared to historical norms.

Other
Distance to First Round Site:
1,389 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: The Eagles boast three famous QBs (Heisman trophy winner Doug Flutie, one-time All-Pro Matt Hasselbeck and the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan)
School Wishes It Could Forget: The 1978-79 basketball point shaving scandal, but Bill Simmons won’t let them.
Prediction: The Eagles have played well at the end of the regular season, but they drew a hot USC team. They should be competitive against the Trojans, but in the end Taj Gibson, DeMar Derozan, and Daniel Hackett will be too much.
Major RTC stories: RTC Live: Wake Forest @ Boston College and RTC Live: Clemson at Boston College

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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East Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (pt. 1)

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

EAST REGION PREVIEW (By Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

Since there seem to be more than a few obvious picks in the East Region, RTC gives you the bonus coverage you’ve come to expect. Not only do we pick the first-round game – but we also pit a non-basketball alum from each school against each other in a no-holds-barred blog battle. Enjoy.

Thursday Games – Philadelphia, PA

(3) Villanova vs. (14) American (7:20 ET)

SM: Picking a 14 over a 3 is the cool bracket thing to do. Not here. The ‘Nova players could roll out of their dormitory beds, take the train into town and still dismantle the best the Patriot League has to offer. Outside of the 1-16 games, this may be the biggest lock of the first round.

DZ: Yes, an American win would definitely be one of the biggest shockers of the tournament, considering ‘Nova will virtually be playing at home and hasn’t lost to a team with a Pomeroy ranking less than 28 all season. That said, I don’t think the game will be a blowout. Standout Garrison Carr (17.8) leads a senior-laden American team that is on a 13-game winning streak and is returning to the Dance for a second straight year. ‘Nova by 12.

Alumni ThrowdownMaria Bello (Villanova) vs. Goldie Hawn (American): SM: No contest. The Cooler is a highly underrated film. Although, William H. Macy? Really?  DZ: What the hell is a Maria Bello? Maybe I need to see The Cooler. Also, Goldie Hawn scares me here. I think I’ll pass on this one.

(6) UCLA vs. (11) VCU (9:50 ET)

SM: Ever since Seth Davis said he’d “put on a VCU sweatshirt” while falling all over the Rams during Sunday’s selection show, VCU has been a trendy upset pick. Well, count me in. Larry Sanders not only has a great TV show under his belt, but his arms are long enough to give Rick Majerus a real hug. UCLA doesn’t want to be in Philly, and Eric Maynor makes sure the Bruins head home early.

DZ: Maynor might be the most well-known little-known player in this year’s Dance after his shot sent home Duke in ’07, but can we expect him to do it again with a different supporting cast? That’s a lot to ask, especially when the opponent is a UCLA team that will guard his shorts off. Darren Collison and the Bruins may not make their fourth straight trip to the final four, but they won’t be bounced in the first round. UCLA by 7.

Alumni ThrowdownJack Black (UCLA) vs. The Real Patch Adams (VCU): SM: Dr. Adams helps people on a daily basis, while Black is the brains behind one of the finest albums ever, Tenacious D’s self-titled effort. But because Dr. Adams’s story contributed to the downfall of Robin Williams, the nod goes to Mr. Black. DZ: I hope you realize you just picked a comedian who once said “Dude, if you get the nachos stuck together, that’s one nacho” over someone who brings limitless hope and joy to orphans around the world. That pretty much makes you a bad person … but yeah, I agree. The movie Patch Adams did not leave a lasting impression on me, but I consider Saving Silverman one of the most underrated comedies. Sorry, sick children – Black gets the nod.

Thursday Games – Greensboro, N.C

(7) Texas vs. (10) Minnesota (7:10 ET)

SM: I’m already on record as saying that Texas is overrated and overseeded, so I have to go with the Gophers in this battle of two tourney-tested coaches, Tubby Smith and Rick Barnes. Minnesota posted a long-forgotten win over Louisville back in the fall, and has endured plenty of battles in the underrated Big Ten. Plus, I enjoyed two sub-zero days on campus in Minneapolis back in 2004, and could not have met nicer people. The Mall of America was pretty cool, too.

DZ: While it’s hard to pick Barnes over Tubby, I think Texas will avoid the upset here. The Gophers have really cooled off after a great start, winning only four of their last 11 games. And the Longhorns, while also inconsistent, have two go-to players in guard A.J. Abrams (16.3 ppg) and forward Damion James (15.4 ppg). Eleven straight tourney appearances won’t hurt either. Texas by a bucket.

Alumni ThrowdownMatthew McConaughey (Texas) vs. Tony Dungy (Minnesota): SM: Both have stood on the sidelines at big football games, but only Dungy really belonged there. The all-around good guy Dungy wins this in a landslide. DZ: What a weird matchup. You can’t say anything bad about Dungy, but I don’t dislike McConaughey nearly as much as Stewie from Family Guy. And I respect the fact that he’s essentially played himself in all of his movies, even if it did seem a little odd in We Are Marshall. Either way, I’m going with McConaughey in a major upset.

(2) Duke vs. (15) Binghamton (9:40 ET)

SM: As much as I would like to pick my America East brethren here, I have to believe that Jon Scheyer will get away with enough traveling violations to help his Blue Devils edge the Bearcats. Seriously though, D.J. Rivera is a great player (even if not a great student), but he can’t beat the McDonald’s All-Americans Coach K brings deep off the bench. Blue Devils run away late for a 15-point win.

DZ: I would love, love, love to see Binghamton keep it close – if only for my oldest friend who’s making the trip to Greensboro to see his alma mater. But I don’t see it happening. Duke is bound for a deep run after a couple of early exits, and Coach K will pick apart an athletic but undisciplined Binghamton team making its first trip to the Dance. This one could get ugly … Duke by a bunch.

Alumni ThrowdownRichard Nixon (Duke) vs. Billy Baldwin (Binghamton): SM: Be honest, you expected BU’s most famous alum, Tony Kornheiser. But we throw curveballs here at RTC. Baldwin has had a less-than stellar film career, but I mean, even a Baldwin can beat Richard Nixon in this bracket. DZ: What is this? Neither of us were alive for the Nixon presidency and I can’t remember ever thinking about Billy Baldwin once. Umm … I’ll shake things up and go with Nixon, only because I liked Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon and because Baldwin is a Yankees fan. Wait, weren’t we supposed to be talking about basketball?

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South Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

North Carolina v. Radford (#1 v. #16)

This is probably the most interesting 1 v. 16 in the tournament. North Carolina will be heavily favored, and will probably win the game, but the Radford Highlanders are no slouch. They have four players that score in double digits, led by 7-foot-0 Artsiom Parakhouski, who is leading the team in scoring (16.3), rebounding (11.2). Matching Parakhouski with Tyler Hansbrough will be fun to watch. One analyst said the Tar Heels don’t even need to start Ty Lawson, but this is the NCAA Tournament, if he is ready to go, he will play.

The Tar Heels are more talented and deeper than Radford, so this wouldn’t be the game to hope for a monumental upset. Radford’s best win is against VMI in the Big South Conference Final, and they have been blown out by every team they have played in a major conference. I will still tune in, just to see Hansborough post up Parakhouski.

LSU v. Butler (#8 v. #9)

This game pits two teams that were under-seeded by the NCAA and as a result, will give the viewers a competitive, fast-paced game to watch. Both teams are in the middle of the tournament pack in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency but they both have great athletes and fun players to watch.

The key match-up will be on the wing where Butler’s Gordon Hayward and LSU’s Marcus Thornton will see a lot of each other. Both players can light it up offensively in a number of ways. Matt Howard and Chris Johnson should be a good one down low. Johnson has a significant height advantage, but Howard scores  a lot of points of hustle, and can be a crafty scorer in the post.

Illinois v. Western Kentucky (#5 v. #12)

Everyone’s trendy upset pick is looking even better with the news that the Illini senior point guard, and best defender, Chester Frazier, is a “long shot” to play according to coach Bruce Weber. But, the Hilltoppers are not the same team they were last year when they made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to UCLA; however, they are good.

Illinois has not played well away from home (4-6), and Portland is quite a trip from Champaign. The Illini have not shot well from the field, and they will need to get Mike Davis (11.6 pts/game, 53.2 FG%) involved early if they want to keep up. The Hilltoppers have four players between 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-5 who average double digits and they will run away with this one if the Illini aren’t careful.

Gonzaga v. Akron (#4 v. #13)

I don’t think this game will be as close as many people think. The ‘Zags are one of the hottest teams in the country having won 18 out of their last 20 games, and dismantled Saint Mary’s 83-58 in the WCC Final.

The ‘Zags are in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and Akron just does not have the firepower or the athleticism to keep up with Gonzaga for 40 minutes. Akron has the advantage in depth though. The Zips can go ten deep, and defend well. If they can wear down Jeremy Pargo, they have a chance.

Arizona State v. Temple (#6 v. #11)

Anyone who thinks these teams are both one-man shows is sadly mistaken. There is absolutely no doubt the Sun Devils’ James Harden and the Owls’ Dionte Christmas can take over a game offensively, the there will be another battle to keep an eye on down low.

ASU’s Jeff Pendergraph (14.5/8.4/66.5%) and Temple’s Lavoy Allen (10.9/8.9/57.9%) will be banging on the low blocks, and crashing the glass will be extremely important for both teams. The role players will be the deciding factor in this game, and if ASU point guard Derek Glasser minimizes mistakes, and finds Harden often, ASU has the advantage over the surprising Owls.

Syracuse v. Stephen F. Austin (#3 v. #14)

The Orange enter the tournament playing some of their best basketball of the season, and despite their fatiguing run through the Big East Tournament are a heavy favorite over the Lumberjacks. Jonny Flynn and Andy Rautins have been absolutely on fire, and there is no one on the Lumberjacks roster to match up with them.

The Lumberjacks are an interesting case. They are in the top 20 in defensive efficiency, but are 242nd in offensive efficiency. They beat Drake in December, but they also lost by 16 to Arkansas and 14 to Texas Tech, and neither one of those teams are as good as the ‘Cuse. The Lumberjacks will rotate in a lot of guys, and they only stand a chance if Syracuse isn’t fresh and comes out slow.

Clemson v. Michigan (#7 v. #10)

Both teams and their coaches come into the game with something to prove. The Tigers have to prove they are for real this year, and that they can make noise in the tournament, and the Wolverines need to prove their system works outside of the plodding Big Ten.

The game will feature two of the more athletic combo forwards in Clemson’s Trevor Booker and Michigan’s DeShawn Sims. It will be interesting to see if the two guard one another. But, the Wolverine offense goes as Manny Harris goes, but he is inconsistent as he has nine games with single-digit point totals. If Clemson’s KC Rivers can frustrate Harris, the Wolverines will have a tough time offensively.

Oklahoma v. Morgan State (#2 v. #15)

On paper, the Sooners have a clear advantage in every facet of the game, but the Bears have beaten both DePaul and Maryland, and played close games with Mississippi and St. Mary’s. The problem is, they don’t have anyone who can guard Blake Griffin, or Willie Warren.

Oklahoma has been struggling late and if ever there was a time to strike for Todd Bozeman’s club, now is the time. But they might not have enough weapons to keep up with the Sooners, and Griffin will get to have his way on the low blocks.

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NCAA Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Oklahoma (#2, South, Kansas City pod)

Morgan State (#15)
Mar. 19 @ 9:40pm

Vegas Line:  Oklahoma -16.5

oklahoma-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Norman, OK
Conference: Big 12, at-large
Coach: Jeff Capel, 66-32
08-09 Record: 27-5, 13-3
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: 87-82, Purdue, November 28th at Preseason NIT
Worst Loss: 96-88, at Arkansas, December 30th
Off. Efficiency Rating: 117.8; 7th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 93.5; 46th

Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Blake Griffin 21.9 ppg, 14.3 rpg; Willie Warren 14.7 ppg, 3 apg, 1.2 spg
Unsung Hero: Taylor Griffin 9.6 ppg, 6rpg
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Blake Griffin, 1st overall; Willie Warren 15th
Key Injuries: none
Depth: 20.7% (332nd nationally); percentage of total minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Poor point guard play
Will Make a Deep Run if…: the guards play like they did in January and early February
Will Make an Early Exit if…: the guards play like they have the past 3 weeks

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, 2nd round
Streak: 2
Best NCAA Finish: 1988, runner up
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.47; on average they win 0.47 less games per year than you would expect from a team with a similar seed based on historical performance

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: Coach Jeff Capel played for Duke; Duke’s former football coach is Steve Spurrier; Steve Spurrier coached Heisman trophy winner Danny Wueffel; Billy Sims who won a Heisman was drafted number 1 by the Detroit Lions in 1980; which leads us to the Final Four site of Detroit
Distance to First Round Site: 368 miles (Kansas City, MO)
School’s Claim to Fame: Being that Oklahoma is a football school mainly; our claim to fame is 7 football National Championships and 5 Heisman winners. This year however we will be able to say we are the only school to have both the Heisman winner and The Naismith College Player of the Year for the same school calendar year.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Any ties to Kelvin Sampson and recent BCS bowl games
Prediction: If you had asked me for a prediction two weeks ago, I would have said Final Four or bust for this team. However the way this team has played over the last few games has me wondering if they will make it out of the first weekend.

Major RTC stories: Former Oklahoma Great Wayman Tisdale Loses a Leg
Preview written by… Nick Juby of Crimson and Cream Machine

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NCAA Preview: Syracuse Orange

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Syracuse (#3 seed, South, Miami pod)

Stephen F. Austin (#14)
Mar. 20 @ 12:15pm

Vegas Line:  Syracuse -12

syracuse-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Syracuse, NY
Conference: Big East, at-large
Coach: Jim Boeheim, 797-287
08-09 Record: 26-9 (11-7 in the Big East)
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: vs. UConn, 127-117 in 6 OT on 3/12 (You may have heard about this one.)
Worst Loss: At Providence, 100-94 on 1/28
Off. Efficiency Rating: 117.7; 10th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 92.7; 42nd

Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Jonny Flynn, 17.5 PPG, 6.7 APG, 37.2 MPG)
Unsung Hero: Kristof Ongenaet, his stats couldn’t possibly measure his importance as SU’s intangibles guy
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Jonny Flynn, N/A. Has said he plans to stay but left the door open based on NCAA Tourney
Key Injuries: None.
Depth: 30.9% (314th nationally); percentage of total minutes played by players coming off the bench
Achilles Heel: Arinze Onuaku’s free-throw shooting – 30%
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Jonny Flynn controls the tempo, Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf’s three-pointers fall, and the zone defense confuses teams)
Will Make an Early Exit if…: they are completely burnt out from the Big East Tournament

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2006, L-1st Round
Streak: N/A
Best NCAA Finish: 2003, National Champion
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.25. On average, the Orangemen win 0.25 more games per year than would be expected for a team with a similar seed based on historical data.

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: Legendary Syracuse player Dave Bing is currently running for mayor of Detroit.
Distance to First Round Site: 1,417 miles (Miami, FL)
School’s Claim to Fame: Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, who has played for or coached Syracuse since 1963
School Wishes It Could Forget: The 1987 National Championship game and Keith Smart’s shot to win it for Indiana.
Prediction: Syracuse is hitting it’s groove at the right time and I fully expect the team to make it at least to the Sweet Sixteen. An assumed match-up with Oklahoma awaits there and I’m hopeful, but realistic.

Major RTC stories: ATB: Syracuse Gets “Jacked” From 60 Feet, Paul Harris Will Eat Your Food, Six OTs in New York, Revisited, ATB: Epic Night in MSG, and Sweetest NCAA Memories #7: Two Shades of Orange(men)
Preview written by… Sean Keeley of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician

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NCAA Preview: UCLA Bruins

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

UCLA (#6, East, Philadelphia pod)

vs. Virginia Commonwealth (#11)
Mar. 19 @ 9:50pm

Vegas Line: UCLA -7

ucla-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Conference: Pac 10
Coach: Ben Howland, 149-53
08-09 Record: 25-8 (13-5 in the Pac 10)
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: 85-76 vs. Washington, February 19
Worst Loss: 82-81 vs. Washington St., February 21
Off. Efficiency Rating: 121.2, 3rd
Def. Efficiency Rating: 92.5, 40th

Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Darren Collison, PG, senior- 14.8 points, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 54% FG, 92% FT; Josh Shipp, SF, senior- 14.4 points, 1.3 steals, 51% FG, 44% 3PT
Unsung Hero: Alfred Aboya, C, senior- 10.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 58% FG
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Darren Collison, 1st round, 24th overall
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 31% (165th nationally); percentage of minutes played by payers coming off the bench
Achilles Heel: 250th out of 330 in field goal percentage defense
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Jrue Holiday steps up his game on both ends of the court and the perimeter defense improves, while the Bruins continue to shoot at the 50.6% that leads the nation.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The perimeter defense allows easy penetration so opponents shoot at a high percentage and Alfred Aboya gets in foul trouble early.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, Final Four (Lost to Memphis)
Streak: 4 consecutive years
Best NCAA Finish: National champions 11 times, 1995 most recent
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.31. UCLA wins 0.31 more games on average each year than would be expected based on this historical performance of teams with a similar seed.

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: UCLA has played a team from the state of Michigan in every year since 2002.
Distance to First Round Site: 2,709 (Philadelphia, PA)
School’s Claim to Fame: UCLA has more applicants than any other school in the country and counts Jack Black, Francis Ford Coppola, James Dean, Will Forte, James Franco, Heather Locklear, Rob Reiner and Ben Stiller among its enterainment alumni.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Their loss to Princeton in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament as defending champions.
Prediction: Can the Bruins make it to a fourth consecutive Final Four if a couple higher seeds in their bracket are upset? Sure, but a Sweet 16 appearance sounds like a better guess, which isn’t too bad for a down year. Is it?

Major RTC stories: Yeah, You Might Be Better than a UCLA Player
Preview written by… Ryan Rosenblatt of Bruinsnation.com

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