Morning Five: Thanksgiving Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2010

  1. We’d like to start off today’s Morning Five with a trite but true statement about some of the many things that we’re thankful for here within the RTC family.  The growth of the site to become one of the leading voices in the college basketball community is (trust us) well beyond what we ever imagined possible here.  We’d like to thank you, the faithful readers, who continue to push us with ideas for improvement, challenge us if we print half-baked thoughts or incomplete analyses, and generally keep us on our toes to the point where sleep schedules for the editing team from October to April are pretty much nonexistent.  We might complain about it if we didn’t love this stuff so much.  We’d also like to throw a special thank-you to our many contributors, who have similarly grown from a few to several to a bunch, and in our efforts to corral the absolute best minds thinking about and discussing this sport on a national level, we feel that we are well on our way to reaching a sort-of hoops nirvana.  Finally, a shout-out absolutely must go to our families and friends — the wives, parents, pets, colleagues and buddies who we’ve had to continually bail on so that RTC can live to see another day.  The sacrifices these people make to remain close to us are not something that we’ll overstate — after all, it’s not like we’re fighting wars here — but it does have a day-to-day impact on those relationships to the point where mere choices between an extra half-hour behind the computer screen or a walk with a loved one is a quandary fraught with potential pitfalls.  We’re thankful for all of these things, and we want to wish everyone out there in College Hoops Nation the very best of Thanksgiving days wherever you are in your lives, and hopefully you too can find the happiness that we all get from making this thing happen.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
  2. Iowa State received the bad news on Wednesday that Minnesota transfer Royce White’s appeal to become eligible to play this season was denied by the NCAA.  The troubled player never played a game as a freshman for Minnesota in 2009-10 due to a Mall of America incident that left him in trouble with the legal system, so his eligibility request was based on that lag.  The NCAA didn’t buy the argument, however, choosing instead to impose the standard one-year transfer redshirt rule with White as it typically does any other transfer player.
  3. Mike DeCourcy answers some reader (?) questions, and the lead query asks which coach among the heavy-lifters (K, Izzo, Calipari, Donovan) would he choose to win a one-game scenario.  His answer won’t surprise you (K), but it reminded us of a solid question we received last week in a similar vein.  If we had to choose one coach and player to currently build a program with — who would it be?  We assumed a four-year window, but our choice was Butler’s Brad Stevens and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.  Who would you guys start with?
  4. Luke Winn’s weekly in-season power rankings just might be the best read you’ll get on a regular basis during the season.  If RTC ever gets that creative on something, we’ll know that we’ve arrived.
  5. Thanksgiving was once all about that sport with the oblong ball and a 100-yard field of grass.  And yeah, we suppose that there are NFL games that actually matter, but the only college football game on today involves a 5-6 Texas team taking on an 8-3 Texas A&M team as the battle for seeding in the national tournament in an exercise of utter meaninglessness.  Good luck with that.  Or, you could watch the 76 Classic and Old Spice Classic, both of which begin today and even though March Madness is still over three months away, these games today actually have meaning.  The meaning might be marginal in scope, but it’s more than zero; and zero is what you get by watching late November games involving Texas schools going nowhere fast in that other sport.
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In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level (part five)

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

To read the entire In Their Words series, click here.

Part Five: SCHEDULING

Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

  • Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State – Brown enters his fifth year as an assistant on head coach Dan Monson’s staff, after previously having spent time on coaching staffs at Cal-State Northridge, USC and Iowa State.
  • Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty – Layer enters his second season at Liberty after having spent a season as an assistant at the university in 2007-08. In between, he spent a year at Marquette and previously he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Colorado State. He has compiled a 118-122 record in his eight seasons as a Division I head coach.
  • George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Ivory enters his third season in Pine Bluff, where he has turned the Golden Lions into winners. UAPB turned around an 0-11 start last season by finishing 18-5 over their last 23 games, winning UAPB’s first SWAC tournament title in 43 years and advancing to the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national-champion Duke.
  • Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: Williams has been the AD at Portland for six years now following a five year stint as the head of licensing and product marketing at his alma mater Notre Dame. Williams was a two-time All-American offensive lineman with the Irish before starting 44 games in the NFL.
  • Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State – Bartow is entering his eighth season as the Buccaneers head coach, after having previously succeeded his father Gene Bartow as the head coach at UAB. Bartow has posted a 118-72 record in his years at ETSU and has racked up 241 total wins and four NCAA appearances in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
  • Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider – Dempsey enters his fifth season as the head man at Rider, following two seasons as an assistant. He has compiled an 83-75 record over that time and coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson during his time there.
  • Gregg Bach, Assistant Athletics Director for Communications, Akron – Bach was named to his current position this past summer after having spent the previous eight years on the media relations staff in the Akron athletic department. His new job makes him the spokesperson of the athletic department.
  • Eric Reveno, Head Coach, Portland – Reveno heads into his fifth season at Portland having turned around a program from a team that was 18-45 in his first two seasons to a team on the rise with a 40-24 record over the last two seasons. Reveno spent his previous nine seasons as an assistant at Stanford, his alma mater where he was a Pac-10 Conference All-Academic Team selection as a senior.
  • Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason – Caputo is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Patriots after spending the previous three seasons as an administrative assistant and video coordinator under head coach Jim Larranaga.
  • Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin – James enters his second season as the head coach at UT-Martin following eight seasons as an assistant coach there. His first season was rough, to the tune of 4-25, after he was appointed head coach in the wake of scandal with the previous head coach. But James, the recruiter who brought Lester Hudson to UT-Martin, has plans to begin to turn things around this season.

For the most part, our first two articles on scheduling at the mid-major level have talked about the difficulties associated with lining up game. We mentioned that some schools see benefits to playing big-time programs with talented rosters, both in recruiting and in preparing their teams for conference and postseason play. Another benefit to playing these types of games is the money. Very few of the programs at this level have huge athletic budgets, so the money from taking a guarantee game and going on the road to face a bigger school is important not only to the basketball program, but also to the entire athletic department and the university. So while getting a chance for publicity from playing these games is a great incentive, the money associated with them is also a strong enticement.

Guarantee Games Are Not Always Guaranteed

Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State: The Big 12, the ACC, they’re all paying out big guarantees. It all depends on that particular school’s budget – some big schools will pay $55,000 or $60,000 guarantees. You can even get up to $80,000 or $90,000. And the later you wait, if there is a BCS school still looking for games, they may have to raise up the ante, they’ll pay a larger amount than they would have three months earlier.

Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty: It’s an important part for most mid-majors. Here at Liberty, the athletic department typically tries to reinvest a lot of that money back into the program, so we’re able to use it in a way that enhances Liberty basketball and the athletic department in ways that everybody can appreciate.

George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: We think the money is very important, and the main thing when we play those games, you want to do everything you can to help out within the athletic department and the university. So we don’t have a problem playing guarantees. It’s a great thing for the guys to play that kind of schedule, you’re playing some of the top players in the country, some of the top coaches in the country, so I think it is a great experience for all of us.

Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: We will play guarantee games. At some places there are mandates where you’ve gotta play these many guarantees and earn this much money, but we don’t do that. We’re trying to be very conscious of the growth of our program. And if an appropriate guarantee presents itself, we’re not afraid to play it, because quite frankly, we can win those games too. So, we’ve gotta be conscious of the opportunity to get a win and a paycheck.

Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State: I wouldn’t say we have a mandate. My AD and I have a very good relationship, and I, based on conversations with him, know what he is hoping to get, in terms of number of guarantee games, and know what he is hoping for based on the current budget and the current situation. So he and I sit down and visit and based on those conversations I know what I need to do. The bottom line is, I don’t mind playing those games.

Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider: You can ask ten different schools about guarantee games and get like five different answers. I don’t have a lot of pressure on me, on our basketball program, to play guarantee games. We do play them, but we don’t play too many of them. Last year for instance, we played one against Mississippi State, this year we play one at Pitt. It does help us with revenues within our athletic department at a school like ours, but fortunately our administration isn’t saying to me, you have to go out and play four guarantee games so that we can fund a different program. You know, I don’t have that pressure on me, I don’t have a certain number of dollars that we have to generate through guarantee games. If I choose to, if I want to maybe buck our RPI up in a year when we think we have a chance to be pretty good, maybe help us with getting into a postseason tournament, I have the opportunity to schedule them if I’d like. But I don’t have pressure from my administration to schedule them to bring in a lot of money, and I think that’s a very good situation to be in, where your program is funded enough that there’s not pressure to go take four losses, just to help out with the budget. And I’m very appreciative that I don’t have to do that.

While road guarantee games are the usual case for mid-major match-ups with BCS conference teams, there are other ways to get matchups with BCS schools in other environments, the most common and a greatly preferred way, is in the early-season tournaments like the NIT Season Tip-Off or the Maui Invitational. These tournaments often (although not always) give mid-major programs a chance to face high-majors on a neutral court.

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Morning Five: 08.06.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 6th, 2010

  1. Good grief, could yesterday have been any busier in the college basketball world on a random August Thursday?  Between the Karen Sypher verdict, the release of several holiday season tournament brackets, coaching APRs and eligibility issues flying around, it felt like January around here.  Let’s talk Pitino
  2. The Chicago Sun-Times in response to its writer Michael O’Brien’s allegation (later removed) that Kentucky had paid Anthony Davis‘ family $200,000 in return for his commitment?  _________________________________________(crickets chirping)___________________________________________.  A slightly revised article on the S-T website, “Davis No Longer a Hidden Talent,” makes no mention of any payment nor offers a retraction or correction of any sort.
  3. On a normal summer day, we might have a blast with this story from Kansas that they’re enlisting the help of students to redo their fight song now that Colorado and Nebraska are no longer members of the Big 12.  The winner will be announced on Oct. 23 this fall at Homecoming, but we can already say that the winner in our hearts and minds will be the clever student who comes up with a ditty trashing Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma for holding the rest of their conference brethren over the proverbial barrel and bringing it Deliverance-style in June.  C’mon, KU fans.  Send us something smart.
  4. We dove into the Maui Invitational tournament brackets yesterday, in part because it has the best field and also because of the potential juicy Kentucky-Washington semifinal matchup, but several more tournament brackets were released as well.  Ready for some .pdf brackets?  The CBE Classic (Duke-Marquette and Gonzaga-Kansas State in the semis); the 2kSports CvC (Pitt-Maryland and Illinois-Texas); the Old Spice Classic (Ladies, look at your man…); and the 76 Classic were all bracketed yesterday.  Andy Katz has a tremendous breakdown of all the best pieces of the various tournaments here. 
  5. The gray line between advisor and agent is holding up the NCAA’s confirming the amateur status of Kansas’ Josh Selby, according to CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish.  The question of Selby’s amateurism stems from an association with fellow Baltimore native Robert Frazier, who acts as Carmelo Anthony’s “business manager” and has admitted he acted as an “advisor” to Selby and his mother during his recruitment.  Parrish’s article also contains quotes from Bill Self and Selby’s mom, neither of whom sound terribly worried.
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Checking In On… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on December 1st, 2009

checkinginon

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (5-0) — After five games freshman Xavier Henry is leading the Jayhawks in scoring.
  2. Texas (5-0) — Won the CBE Classic in dominating fashion with wins over Iowa and Pitt.
  3. Kansas State (5-1) — The Wildcats are getting solid production from guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente.
  4. Texas A&M (5-1) — The Aggies went 2-1 at the 76 Classic, and the only loss was to #8 West Virginia.
  5. Oklahoma State (6-0)James Anderson is still playing great and helped lead the Cowboys to a win over Utah.
  6. Missouri (4-1) — The Tigers could not find any offense against Richmond in the final of the South Padre Invitational.
  7. Iowa State (6-1) — Losing to Northwestern will hurt this team’s resume in March, but I still believe Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap could lead the Cyclones to a good finish in the Big 12.
  8. Texas Tech (7-0) — We will learn a lot about the Red Raiders on Thursday night when they play host to the Washington Huskies.
  9. Oklahoma (3-3) — The Sooners finally stopped their losing streak with a win over Nicholls State, but so far OU has done nothing impressive this season.
  10. Baylor (6-1) — Finishing 5th in the Old Spice Classic is a good sign for Bears fans.
  11. Colorado (4-2) — The Buffaloes played Gonzaga and Arizona to the wire, but still only came away from Maui with a win over D2 opponent Chaminade.
  12. Nebraska (4-1) — Defeated USC in the first game of the Pac 10/ Big 12 Hardwood Series.

Team of the Week:  Texas A&M Aggies — TAMU defeated two ranked opponents en route to a third place finish in the 76 Classic, and they did it without much production from leading scorer Donald Sloan.

Player of the Week:  Cory Higgins (G), Colorado — Higgins only scored 6 points in a dominating win over Chaminade, but in big games against Gonzaga and Arizona, the guard scored 19 and 28, respectively.

Top Stories:

  • Pac 10/ Big 12 Hardwood Series Tips Off.  With Nebraska defeating USC in the first game, the Big 12 has taken an early 1-0 lead.  The series is in its third year and in the previous two seasons the conferences split the series 6-6.
  • Four Teams Suffer First Loss.  In this past week, previously undefeated teams lost their first game:  Baylor lost to Alabama, Iowa State lost to Northwestern, Missouri lost to Richmond, and Texas A&M fell to West Virginia.

Games to Watch This Week:

  • Missouri (4-1) at Vanderbilt (4-1), 12/2 — Mizzou tries to bounce back on the road against one of the SEC’s best teams.
  • Oklahoma State (6-0) at Tulsa (5-1), 12/2 — Upset Alert:  Tulsa has one of the best players that you’ve never heard of in center Jerome Jordan.  OSU is going to have trouble trying to contain him.
  • Pac 10/ Big 12 Hardwood Series -- The best games this week:  Baylor at Arizona State and Washington at Texas Tech on 12/3, Iowa State at California on 12/5, Arizona at Oklahoma on 12/6
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Morning Five: Black Friday Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 27th, 2009

morning5

  1. So instead of fighting the mobs of penny-pinchers today angling for that last 1080p LCD on the shelves, we recommend a relaxing day watching more live hoops than you can possibly handle.  During the commercials, fire up the Youtubes for each and every one of the games listed here (and yes, we’re extremely bitter we didn’t think of this…).  With respect to the #1 game, we’d recommend throwing in two other games from the best E8 weekend of all time: 2005 Michigan State vs. Kentucky and West Virginia vs. Louisville.  Each game was seemingly better than the last that weekend (UNC-Wisconsin was the only stinker).
  2. In case you were busy filling your face with non-avian bird flesh yesterday, you might have missed that West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks suited up but did not play for Bob Huggins’ team in their blowout win over Long Beach State.  Gary Parrish came right out and said what this actually is — not a problem of “personal issues,” but a suspension for some undisclosed reason.  So depending on how close today’s game against Texas A&M is, we may or may not see the preseason all-american in the lineup.
  3. How bad was the ballroom setup at the Cancun Challenge?  According to John Calipari, pretty terrible.  Gaps in the floor big enough to lodge a foot in, warped areas of the hardwood, chandeliers hanging a mere 29 feet above the floor…  just wait until the year some star player blows out an ankle or a knee because this venue can’t or won’t upgrade its facilities.
  4. Misleading Headline Theater.  This article by Scout.com explains that Memphis head coach Josh Pastner has done something that not even John Calipari could do, which is ink the #1 class in their recruiting rankings at Memphis.  Well, sure.  Technically.  But if Calipari had stayed at Memphis, he would have had John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Xavier Henry — assuredly the #1 class in America.  The only reason he didn’t get one at Memphis was because he left there; not that he couldn’t do it.  The other thing that bothered us about this article was a quote by Josh Pastner: “You look at the last four years, and it’s the greatest run in the history of college basketball and may never be done again.” Josh, Coach Wooden and his seven national titles in a row is on line three for you…  Greatest run in the history of CUSA?  Yes.  College basketball?  UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, and many, many others say hello.  Spare us with the hyperbole already.
  5. Finally, since we were all giving thanks yesterday, Jeff Goodman gave us the ten things that he’s thankful for this year.  Right there with ya on #1, Jeff.  Right there with ya…
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RTC Live: 76 Classic (Minnesota vs. Butler & UCLA vs. Portland)

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2009

RTCLive

The best preseason tournament begins today in Anaheim, CA, which is a bit of a shame because The OC isn’t exactly a hotbed of college hoops fans.  Nevertheless, the good news is that on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, ESPN and its family of networks will be carrying all of the games from the 76 Classic, and we’ll all be treated to a tournament that hosts four currently-ranked teams and anywhere from 6-8 likely NCAA teams next spring.  Our on-site correspondent, Ryan ZumMallen, will be performing RTC Live for us on Thursday and Sunday, but even we won’t ask him to live-blog every game.  So, for Thursday night, he will be covering the evening session games, starting with #22 Minnesota vs. #12 Butler and ending with Portland vs. UCLA.  The first game features a Minnesota team that has yet to be tested in three games against, well, nobody, and a Butler squad who shares an identical 3-0 record but has been in three relatively close games so far.  With the coaching going on between Tubby Smith and Brad Stevens on the sidelines, this should be a really good battle.  The late game features local favorite UCLA who is clearly trying to find its identity this season after losing so many stars the last two years (Nikola Dragovic will be back in action, however) vs. a Portland team that returns all five starters and has designs on overtaking Gonzaga for the WCC title this season.  The Bruins cannot afford another loss to a mid-major (Fullerton got them last week) and Portland could really use another RPI boost by defeating a Pac-10 team (they beat Oregon in their last outing).  All in all, it should be a great evening of hoops in the heart of Disneyland, and we invite you to join us instead of watching some terrible or lopsided football game.

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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

checkinginon

Steve Moore is a regular contributor and the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

As of about 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, I was all set to make most of today’s ACC Update about Boston University’s shocking upset of Georgia Tech in Puerto Rico. After all, this is my tiny little segment of the Interwebs, so I can do with it as I please, right? But then, my beloved alma mater forgot how to shoot, and Derrick Favors stomped all over the poor Terriers. Oh well…I guess we’ll just have to beat UConn on Dec. 2.  Anyway, on to the real business at hand. The ACC update is slated to appear each Monday during the season, and will include a revolving collection of mini-features that may appear one week and not the next. That will be up to any readers/commenters. If you like something, speak up, and you’ll see it again!  Since there’s no real conference play yet, I’m just going with subjective rankings based on the games I’ve seen, and results so far.

ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Sunday, Nov. 22)

1. Duke (4-0)

  • PAST: With wins over all the schools in the Carolinas you’ve never heard of, the Dookies haven’t been tested. But they have won by an average of 34.5 points. And if you’re worried about a lack of guard play, the Devils hit 18 threes in a romp over Radford.
  • FUTURE: Arizona State (Wed.), then likely UConn (Fri.) at the Devils’ home away from home — Madison Square Garden. Two big wins, and Duke will likely stay atop this list.

2. North Carolina (4-1)

  • PAST: Yes, the only game many people saw was a flat 16-point loss to Syracuse at MSG. But that’s the Orange’s quasi-home court, and it’s still early. There’s too much talent here to judge the Heels on one game.
  • FUTURE: With five games already under their belt, the Heels take it easy this week with home games against Gardner-Webb and Nevada. But that Dec. 1 showdown with Michigan State is looming…

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RTC Live: Week 3

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

RTCLive

It’s Feast week and RTC Live will once again be covering games from coast to coast.  This week is tournament-heavy, as we’ll have correspondents in Kansas City for the CBE Classic, Anaheim for the 76 Classic, New York for the Preseason NIT, Atlantic City for the Legends Classic, and Orlando for the Old Spice Classic.   We’re not crazy enough to cover every game at these venues, but we will try to get ourselves to the best games for your live-blogging enjoyment.  We may add a couple more games during the week, so check back periodically.

Monday November 23 (click here for post)

  • Wichita State vs. Pittsburgh (in Kansas City, MO) – 7:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2)the undercard in terms of the evening, but probably the much better game.  Pitt is trying to figure out how to move past the DeJuan Blair/Sam Young era without taking too many losses, and this will be a quasi-home game for the Shockers.
  • #3 Texas vs. Iowa (in Kansas City, MO) – 9:45 pm ET (also on ESPN2)Iowa has already taken losses at the hands of Texas-San Antonio and Duquesne, so this could get extremely ugly for Todd Lickliter’s team in dealing with Texas’ hordes of young talent.

Tuesday November 24

  • CBE Classic Finals (in Kansas City, MO) - 10 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – we’d expect this one to match up Texas and Pitt, but it wouldn’t shock (heh) us if Wichita State ended up there instead of the Panthers.  Either way it’s an opportunity to get another look at Rick Barnes’ outstanding freshmen corps of Jordan Hamilton, J’Covan Brown and Avery Bradley.

Wednesday November 25

  • #13 Connecticut vs. LSU (in New York, NY) – 7 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – the Huskies will have a home crowd as they return to NYC to take on a depleted LSU team that was the SEC champion last year.  This doesn’t mean that UConn should sleep on the Tigers — Tasmin Mitchell and Bo Spencer are a formidable duo, and Trent Johnson knows how to coach. 
  • #8 Duke vs. Arizona State (in New York, NY) – 9:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – Herb Sendek gets another look at Coach K in the nightcap, which would have been a spectacular game last season.  Former Dookie Eric Boateng is averaging 12/8 for the Sun Devils, who come into this game scorching hot. 

Thursday November 26

  • #24 Minnesota vs. #11 Butler (in Anaheim, CA) – 8:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – Butler continues its difficult nonconference schedule with an opportunity to play three ranked teams in three days at the 76 Classic, starting with Tubby Smith’s Gophers.
  • Portland vs. UCLA (in Anaheim, CA) - 10:45 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – UCLA bounced back from its loss to Fullerton with a win over Bakersfield, but Portland will be in a class above those teams.  Howland’s team better be able to improve upon it’s 21.4% from three percentage if they hope to come out of the 76 Classic with a winning record.

Friday November 27

  • Preseason NIT Consolation & Finals (in New York, NY) – 2:30 pm & 5 pm (also on ESPN2/ESPN) – if everything goes according to plan here, we’ll have an undercard game of Arizona State vs. LSU followed by a blockbuster of #9 Duke vs. #12 Connecticut.  You could spend your “Black Friday” afternoon fighting crowds in the stores, or you could watch some great early-season basketball with us — your choice.
  • 76 Classic Semifinals (in Anaheim, CA) – 2:30 pm & 9:30 pm (also on ESPN/ESPNU) – we would expect to see two phenomenal games involving #8 West Virginia vs. #22 Clemson and UCLA vs. #11 Butler, but other teams such as Long Beach State, Texas A&M, Portland and Minnesota may have other ideas.

Saturday November 28

  • Legends Classic Consolation & Finals (in Atlantic City, NJ) –  5:30 pm & 8 pm (also on HDNet) – we’d expect to see an undercard of Florida vs. UMass in a run-n-gun showdown, followed by the finals featuring loaded #2 Michigan State vs. Rutgers in an upset bid in its home state.

Sunday November 29

  • Old Spice Classic Consolation & Finals (in Orlando, FL) – 5 pm & 7:30 pm (also on ESPNU/ESPN2) – there’s no telling who these teams will be at this point, but our best guess results in Creighton vs. Baylor as the consolation game and Florida State vs. #15 Michigan in the title tilt.
  • 76 Classic Consolation & Finals (in Anaheim, CA) – 5pm & 10 pm (also on ESPN2) – again, this is a very difficult tournament to project, but if things go according to favorites, then we’ll see #24 Minnesota vs. #22 Clemson for third place and #8 West Virginia vs. #11 Butler in a slugfest for the 76 Classic title.
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ATB: Turkey Weekend Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2008

afterbuzzer1

And we’re back… We hope that our fair readers had a luckier Thanksgiving weekend than we did.  Due to substantial computer issues, we were unable to keep the site updated over the weekend.  But we managed to watch a fair number of the multitude of games this weekend, so rather than recapping what has effectively become stale news, we’ll instead offer our observations.

What We Learned.

Old Spice Classic.

  • Maryland is equally as likely to pull a major upset as to lay a gigantic egg (beating Michigan St. by 18, then losing by 22 to Gonzaga and 27 to Georgetown).
  • Michigan St. isn’t going anywhere without a healthy Delvon Roe/Goran Suton and learn to make its FTs (49-84, .583 for the tourney).
  • A Gonzaga team that actually defends (with a healthy Josh Heytvelt) is a dangerous one.  Oklahoma St., Maryland and Tennessee shot 36.7%/29% against the Zags.
  • Georgetown is going to be dealt with.  With tremendous balance between their inside/outside players, the Hoyas should only get better as the year (and Greg Monroe) progresses.
  • Tennessee is far and away the best team in the SEC, and the Bobby Maze experiment at PG appears to be working (so far).

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Weekend Tourneylicious…

Posted by rtmsf on November 27th, 2008

So the Maui Invitational ends tonight in an early-season blockbuster game – Notre Dame vs. North Carolina – and the CBE Classic and Paradise Jam are already finished, but fear not, hoopheads, there’s plenty more on the way this week..

Continuing tonight in MSG, we have the semifinals of the Preseason NIT.  The finals will be on Friday night.  Although the marquee teams aren’t as illustrious as some of the other names we’ll see over the next few days, the PNIT still holds a certain aura in terms of its prestige and respect among college fans.  We like Purdue to wear down a spirited BC squad in the first game tonight, and Oklahoma to outlast Robert Vaden’s UAB team in the second game (Blake Griffin will have another monster game against UAB’s soft interior), setting up a top 10 showdown on Friday night between teams that you may not get to see much of this year (definitely  must-see tv on Black Friday night). Read the rest of this entry »

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Feasting on Feast Week

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2008

John Stevens is a featured columnist for RTC.  His columns will appear on Tuesdays throughout the season.

Ah, Thanksgiving week.  As if ESPN’s 24-hour binge of college basketball last week wasn’t enough, here comes the oh-so-appropriately-named Feast Week, another avalanche of hoops awesomeness spread out over seven days that not only launches college basketball right back into the middle of the sports radar where it belongs, but also goes great with Thanksgiving leftovers, paid days off of work, as well as pizza and garlic bread (in case you’re sick of all that turkey by Saturday’s games).  Aside from the month of March, it doesn’t get much better than this for college hoops fans.  The daytime games, the intriguing match-ups…good God, who would want to brave the lines on Black Friday?  THIS is the way to kick off the holiday season.

Maui Turkey

Maui Turkey

The holiday tournaments are a great time to familiarize oneself with the big boys of the game – see UNC in Maui, Georgetown in the Old Spice Classic (why are these tournaments called ‘classics’ when they’re 2-3 years old?), and so forth – since some of them might be making their first appearances on national television.  I’ve always thought one of the best things about the holiday onslaught of games was the opportunity to find a team that wasn’t getting much hype and, if they give one of the highly-ranked teams a game or even pull off an upset, follow them throughout the season and maybe use them in March when I’m doing way too much bracket-filling analysis, if there is such a thing.  I mean, we all know about Carolina and Oklahoma and Michigan State.  Who will we see that bears watching in these Thanksgiving tournaments that we haven’t been hearing a lot about?  Here, in my opinion, are a couple of squads to keep an eye on not just over this holiday weekend but also to see how they mature over the course of the season: Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking in on the… ACC

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2008

check_in41

Zach Smith of Old Gold & Blog and DeaconsIllustrated is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Power Rankings (Record):

  1. North Carolina (3-0)
  2. Duke (6-0)
  3. Wake Forest (2-0)
  4. Florida State (4-0)
  5. Clemson (5-0)
  6. Miami (2-1)
  7. Maryland (3-0)
  8. Virginia (3-0)
  9. Georgia Tech (2-0)
  10. NC State (2-0)
  11. Boston College (3-1)
  12. Virginia Tech (3-2)

Impressive Wins

Duke – I’m not convinced this year’s Duke team is going to be all that impressive, but it’s difficult to argue with their early performance. Other than a surprisingly close game with Rhode Island (82-79), Duke cruised through the 2K Sports Classic on their way to this early 6-0 record. Forward Kyle Singler is averaging 17 points and 7 boards a game, guards Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith are both averaging 13, and forward Gerald Henderson is averaging 12. The Blue Devils made the decision early on to bring Greg Paulus off the bench, which seemed to be working well so far. However, he suffered a “right forearm contusion” and did not play Sunday against Montana. His status is currently unknown.

North Carolina – The Tar Heels have looked pretty good to start the season, which is no surprise. Tyler Hansbrough returned to action for the first time on Friday against UCSB and contributed 13 points. It looks like he has recovered fully and is unlikely to be bothered by the injury going forward. Despite that good news, North Carolina received some very bad news in an impressive 77-58 rout of Kentucky. Highly touted freshman Tyler Zeller came down awkwardly on his wrist after going up for a layup in the second half. The wrist is broken and Zeller is likely out for the season.

Wake Forest – Despite the fact that the Demon Deacons have only played two games, they’ve looked very good in both. Through those two games Wake has won by an average of 39 points, and scored 120 against UNC Wilmington. Guard Jeff Teague is averaging 22.5 points, forward James Johnson is averaging 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds, and freshman Al-Farouq Aminu is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds. It is clear the Deacs are going to make their presence felt this season.

Early Disappointments

Virginia Tech – After starting the season with three straight wins, the Hokies have dropped back to back games, first on an overtime buzzer-beater against Xavier (62-63) and then against Seton Hall (73-77) in the third place game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off. Both of those losses came against pretty good teams, but the Hokies will need to be able to win those kinds of games to compete in the ACC this season. Forwards Jeff Allen and A.D. Vassalo, as well as guard Malcolm Delaney have looked good early for Virginia Tech, however they are not getting much production from anyone else.

Boston College – Despite a good win against St. John’s, the Eagles looked very poor against St. Louis on Saturday. They managed only 50 points in the 53-50 loss, shooting only 33% from the field. It’s going to take more than that for Boston College to make any noise this season.

Looking Ahead – Thanksgiving Tournaments

Despite the loss to St. Louis, the BC Eagles have a chance to redeem themselves in the Preseason NIT. They face Purdue in the semifinals on Wednesday, and could advance to face Oklahoma in the Championship with a win. A couple of good games could quickly right the ship for Boston College.

North Carolina begins the EA Sports Maui Invitational today against Chaminade, and will have to face some pretty good teams in one of the premier pre-season tournaments. They’re likely to face Alabama in the second round (unless Oregon beats them) and then Texas or Notre Dame in the Championship. It should be a good early barometer for the Tar Heels.

Maryland will also face some solid opponents in the Old Spice Classic at Disney World in Florida. They play Michigan State in their first game, Oklahoma State or Gonzaga in their second, and could potentially play Tennessee or Georgetown in the future. The Terrapins have a chance to make an early statement with a good showing.

Wake Forest gets to face off against some other up-and-coming teams in the 76 Classic, played in Anaheim, CA. They first face Cal State Fullerton before a likely game with St. Mary’s. A good performance in those two games puts them in the championship, likely against Baylor, although other potential opponents include Arizona State, Providence, and Charlotte. Either way these games are sure to provide some much-needed experience for a young Wake Forest team.

Other Matchups This Week

  • Florida State @ Cincinnati – Friday 11/28 – Florida State has already won two games on the road this season, and a matchup with undefeated Big East team Cincinnati is a good early test for the Seminoles.
  • Virginia @ Syracuse – Friday 11/28 – Virginia is not expected to have a good season, but this game against Syracuse could prove otherwise, or indicate that the Cavaliers will indeed be bottom-dwellers this season.
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