ATB: DeMarcus Cousins Unimpressed With UNC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2009


Gauntlet, Thrown#4 Kentucky 94, UNC-Asheville 57.  DeMarcus Cousins was the star of the game for the Wildcats tonight, as his 6’10, 250-lb frame was simply too large for the much smaller Ashevilleans to handle.  Cousins dropped 24/10 in seventeen minutes of action on the hapless Bulldogs, who you may recall lost to Tennesee by about 1000 points two weeks ago.  But it was a post-game comment to the media that has people buzzing, as it exhibited a little bit of the youthful naivete/candor that you rarely see in players who have had a little more time in from of media microphones.  When asked what he thought of the next team Kentucky will play, the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels, Cousins said with a shoulder shrug, “I’m not impressed.”  Copy machines immediately went into overdrive in Chapel Hill to place said quote into the lockers of UNC bigs Ed Davis, Deon Thompson, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and the Wear twins.  Roy Williams is a master motivator and you know that he’s going to use that quote to get his players, especially his ridiculously large frontline, to come out spitting fire when they enter Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon.  It’s better for all of us as fans when players and coaches on the elite teams don’t particularly care for each other, so maybe we’ll get something fired back from the other side — perhaps even a tweet or two!  Regardless of any future social networking smack, John Wall did not get involved in that, but he did find time to dish out fourteen assists (4 more than UNCA) to go with his twelve points and six steals.

ACC/Big Ten ChallengePenn State 69, Virginia 66.  We wrote up our predictions here earlier today on how we thought this year’s Challenge would go, and so far, so good.  We said that there were three either/or games that would probably decide which league won this thing, and the only Monday night game in Charlottesville was one of those.  Now if the Big Ten can win one of the remaining two, and have everything else go as reasonably expected, then we’re predicting they will win this Challenge for the first time since its inception eleven years ago.  As for this game, it was the Talor Battle show, as the mercurial and clutch guard from PSU scored 28 of his 32 points in the second half to lead his team from a 6-pt halftime deficit to build a commanding 12-pt lead with under four minutes to go.  Virginia made a furious rally to cut the lead to one point with 5.7 seconds remaining, but Battle (who else?) stepped to the line and drained both to give Penn State the insurance they needed to win.  Tomorrow night there are five games on the Challenge agenda, and the Big Ten already has a huge early advantage by virtue of this win tonight.

Other Games of National Interest. Really light night tonight, which makes sense given almost everyone played (sometimes multiple times) over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

  • #7 Syracuse 92, Colgate 58.  Syracuse ran out to a very quick dominating lead over Colgate, ultimately taking a 31-pt lead into the halftime break.  The Orange got 19/9/5 assts from Wesley Johnson and put five players into double figures as they shot a blistering 57% for the game.
  • #14 Georgetown 83, Mt. St. Mary’s 62.  Do these teams think it’s Big Monday or something?  The Hoyas enjoyed a balanced scoring effort tonight behind Greg Monroe’s 19/11, but it was once again the play of Julian Vaughn (14/8/3 assts/3 blks) that turned heads, putting together his second consecutive outstanding game.
  • Seton Hall 93, NJIT 53. Did you guys realize that NJIT already has two wins this season?  We didn’t either.  Granted, one of those Ws was against a St. Joe’s in Brooklyn (not Philly), but they did defeat Wagner.  Tonight was no such equivalent night, as Herb Pope dominated NJIT for 22/11/5 blks.
  • Memphis 77, Oakland 46. Memphis completely dominated a team that many were picking to make some noise in the Summit League this year behind Elliot Williams 20/3 stls.
  • St. Mary’s 78, San Jose State 71.  SMC roared back from a 15-pt halftime deficit in their first road game this season by getting 19/8 from guard Mickey McConnell and 12/13/3 from center Omar Samhan.
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How the Big Ten Will Win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge…

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2009

We’re a little short on time for this post, but we wanted to make sure that it’s up ahead of tonight’s Penn State @ Virginia game (7 pm ET, ESPN2) that tips off the 2009 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  If you’re reading this post, you’re undoubtedly well aware that the ACC holds a commanding 62-35 record in the ten-year history of this event, and that the ACC has won all ten challenges.  The Big Ten has had four years where it lost by only one game (6-5 or 5-4), but the schools from the midwest have never been able to put it all together in a single season to overtake the mighty ACC. 

Until this year. 

accbigten challenge logo

We here at RTC believe that 2009 is when the tide will finally shift in favor of the Big Ten.  The talent and coaching are there, the matchups are favorable, and nothing lasts forever (except Clemson losing in Chapel Hill, apparently).  Here’s our quick analysis of how this year’s Challenge will go down…

Monday November 30

  • Penn State @ Virginia (ESPN2) – 7 pm.  This might appear to be one of the least important games of the Challenge, but given the other matchups, this could be the rubber game that the Big Ten needs to bring the whole ACC house of cards down.  Both teams are 4-2 so far this year, but on paper, Virginia’s losses (South Florida and Stanford) are a little more impressive than Penn State’s (UNC-Wilmington and Tulane).  This will be a meat-grinder of a game, and the team whose star guard plays better — Sylven Landesberg (UVa) or Talor Battle (PSU) — will win.  Our money is on Mr. Clutch, Talor Battle, and PSU will give the Big Ten a key road win to start it off. 

Tuesday December 1

  • Wake Forest @ #4 Purdue (ESPN) – 7 pm.  This might be a chic upset pick for the ACC, but don’t bother going there.  Wake has yet to play anyone of consequence and lost to William & Mary on Saturday night anyway because they have no outside shooting to speak of.  Purdue will triple-up on Al-Farouq Aminu and dare the Deacon guards to fire away.  They will, and they’ll miss, and Purdue’s easy victory will put the Big Ten into an early 2-0 lead. 
  • Northwestern @ NC State (ESPNU) – 7pm.  After Kevin Coble injured his knee, we would have chosen NC State here.  But Northwestern dispatched of Notre Dame and Iowa State over the weekend after testing Butler the week before, and we’re becoming convinced that the Wildcats are still going to be heard from this season.  NC State is 5-0 with its best win over Auburn, but NW isn’t going to shoot 45% from the line tonight (as NCSU’s opponents have this season), and it says here that the Big Ten steals another road win to go up 3-0. 
  • Maryland @ Indiana (ESPN2) – 7:30 pm.  Indiana continues to play tough games they end up losing (0-3 in the islands last week) and Maryland looked less than impressive in Maui, but we dare you to count out Gary Williams.  Because as soon as you do, he makes you look silly.  This has the makings of a Greivis Vasquez explosion game…  national tv, people doubting Maryland, all the red in the building.  Maryland draws the first Big Ten blood with a commanding road win to make the tally 3-1. 
  • #9 Michigan State @ #10 North Carolina (ESPN) – 9 pm.  The marquee game of the entire Challenge, just like last year.  Even though MSU has the majority of its team returning, and UNC does not, we don’t like that this game is taking place in Chapel Hill.  The preponderance of Carolina blue in the building is going to glaze over the eyes of Kalin Lucas, Delvon Roe, Raymar Morgan and company as they remember the two shellackings from 2008-09, and MSU turns in a stinker of a game as the youthful Heels strut their stuff in front of the home crowd.  The tally moves to 3-2 Big Ten. 
  • Virginia Tech @ Iowa (ESPN2) – 9:30 pm.  Iowa is without question one of the worst BCS teams in existence this year, and as bad as Virginia Tech is profiling right now, they’re still significantly better than the Hawkeyes.  We’d expect this game to be incredibly ugly and close, but Malcolm Delaney as the best player on the court will take over in the last few minutes to give Va Tech the win.  This result will even things up 3-3 going into Wednesday’s games. 

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07.20.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 20th, 2009

Is there a worse time of year for roundball fans than July/August?  Well, is there?  Let’s see what’s been cooking over the last week or so…

  • Economics, NCAA Style.  Have you guys heard that we’re in a recession – that the economy may not exactly be whirring along at a blistering pace?  Inevitably, college athletic departments are starting to feel the crunch nearly as much as your local Citibastard – some are cutting expenses such as chartered flights and media guides, while even the venerable and uber-rich Stanford athletic department is cutting employees.  Meanwhile, schools such as UCLA, Cal, and others are instituting high-dollar seat licensing fees (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) to finance their stadium renovations and attend their games for the next quarter-century.  Crisis is another word for opportunity, and we’re wondering if the current economic climate will only provide leverage for the NCAA haves (Florida, Texas, Ohio St., UCLA, etc.) to exploit and exacerbate the widening gap between themselves and the have-nots by using private equity as the hammer.  The NCAA ADs have given lip service to construct a more equitable model of competition for its member institutions, but like the Yankees/Red Sox freight train in MLB, the arms race inertia is already accelerating downhill and moving too quickly to be stopped.  The final solution may ultimately have to be a separation of BCS schools from the remainder of D1, and to get there, you have to pay to play.   
  • 2009 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Last year we had very high hopes that the Big Ten would finally get off the mat and win one of these challenges.  Alas, MSU took its first of two emasculations at the hands of UNC last year in Ford Field, and the Midwesterners lost 6-5.  This year’s schedule is out, and unfortunately for the Big Ten, our first glance reveals that the odds are significantly in the ACC’s favor to win this event again.  The Monday and Tuesday night games (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) favor home teams Virginia, NC State, UNC, Purdue and Iowa, but we’d expect the ACC to break serve by Maryland winning in Bloomington for an early 4-2 lead.  Even with a Dec. 2 slate that favors the Big Ten, with Michigan and OSU holding serve at home to match Clemson, we’d expect Minnesota to get a road win at Miami (FL) only for the league to fall on its face again when Duke does what it does and rips Wisconsin a new one in the Kohl Center.  The ACC wins again, 6-5.  We have it coming down to three road winners, with the ACC taking two of them (Maryland and Duke).  How do you see it?
  • UConn Savior?  This was quiet over the weekend but we find it to be a significant piece of news out of the UConn program, which is that the oft-confounding Ater Majok has committed that he will indeed play for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies next season.  Majok’s eligibility has been a wild ride for UConn faithful, beginning a year-plus ago with his verbal commitment and two semesters of classwork in Storrs, only to be followed by a flirtation with the NBA Draft (withdrawing) and lucrative professional options overseas.  The versatile 6’10 forward will help Calhoun shore up a somewhat inexperienced frontcourt led by returnees Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards, and if the reports of his potential are true, could provide an offensive force on the blocks to relieve some of the pressure from the very talented perimeter tandem of Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson.  Major good news for the UConn program, which has taken its share of hits the past few months.   
  • Quick Hits.  Noel Johnson: the former USC recruit will end up at ClemsonDave Bliss: resurfaces in Texas (not coaching, thank God).  Karen Sypher: no merit to her complaint against PitinoTark the Shark: his spinal surgery delayedKeno Davisextended through 2016Al-Farouq Aminu: looking to dominate in 2009-10Larry Sanders: thinking first round next season.  Renardo Sidney: Part 1 of the NCAA inquiryLance Stephenson: much ado about disorderly conductJared Sullinger: another in a run of Buckeye bigsHarrison Barnes: get used to that nameMichael Gilchrist: another World Wide Wes guy with no chance at a childhoodSeth Davis: analyzes the top players on the summer recruiting circuitSouth Carolina: in violation of impermissible snackage.
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Will 2009 be the Year the Big 10 Finally Challenges the ACC?

Posted by nvr1983 on April 23rd, 2009

Yesterday the pairings for the 2009 ACC/Big 10 Challenge were announced, and cries of rejoice went up from Iowa City through Evanston over to State College as the Big 10 schools realized that they have a fighting chance at actually winning their first Challenge in the eleven years of its existence.   Let’s take a look at the matchups and show you the games where the land-grant institutions (+NW) from the midwest can actually make this happen.

Penn St. @ Virginia
– PSU is coming off of an NIT Championship and will return its best player, Talor Battle, along with a strong corps of juniors.  UVa will still be learning new coach Tony Bennett’s system.  This is a winnable road game for the Big Ten, and PSU will win it.

Maryland @ Indiana – Assuming Greivis Vasquez returns to school (he should), Maryland should be able to pull away from Indiana relatively easily.  Even moreso if they nab Lance Stephenson.  Tom Crean has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s heavy on volume, not stars, and Maryland should get this one.

Michigan St. @ UNC – Goodness, haven’t we seen enough of this already?  We don’t care who UNC loses or Michigan St. keeps.  It’s in Chapel Hill, and even that doesn’t matter.  UNC wins.

Northwestern @ NC State – NW wasn’t terribly far from being an NCAA team this year, and they return most everyone; NC State was pretty far from it and they may lose Brandon Costner.  The gut says this is a winnable game for the Wildcats, but you never know with those guys.  If the Big Ten expects to win this year’s challenge, though, they’ll need this one, so we’re giving it to them.

Virginia Tech @ Iowa – Todd Lickliter’s extremely young team should make a leap of progress next season, but we’re still not sure they’re ready for Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen.  ACC gets the road win.

Wake Forest @ Purdue – Best game of the Challenge, with two black/gold teams taking each other on.  While Wake has proven it can look dominant in November/December before crumbling in February/March, Purdue will be super-jacked for this one.  Look for Hummell and Moore to outplay Teague and Aminu as the home team wins.

BC @ Michigan – In Y2 of John Beilein’s rebuild in Ann Arbor, he worked miracles.  Next year his best two players (Harris and Sims) return, and Crisler Arena will become a place nobody wants to play.  Big 10 win.

Duke @ Wisconsin – these are the games where the home team camps out for weeks in anticipation of beating the Devils, only to watch as Duke eviscerates said home team by 18 pts in the first half on their way to a laugher.  Wisconsin will think it can win this game; Duke knows better.

Florida St. @ Ohio St. – For the first time in four years, OSU won’t be bringing in some 7-foot top recruit, but they won’t need it because they’re bringing back everyone else, including star Evan Turner.  FSU will lose their star Toney Douglas and Uche Echefu, and while they’ll be very good next year, they’ll still be adjusting to life without those players at that time.  OSU at home gets the W.

Illinois @ Clemson – This game is a tossup because both teams bring back a substantial amount of talent as well as bring in strong recruiting classes.  We have a feeling that Illinois is about to become relevant nationally again, but we’re not sure Clemson is ready to cede their spotlight.  Especially in December, when Clemson excels.  We’re going with the home team here.

Minnesota @ Miami (FL) – Tubby welcomes back every player of consequence from an NCAA squad while bringing in a top 12 recruitng class.   Miami isn’t that tough to play at anyway, but especially when Frank Haith loses three of his top five players (incl. Jack McClinton).  Minnesota wins.

There you have it.  Final results (projected):

Big Ten: 6
ACC: 5

The key tossup games in our eyes are Northwestern @ NC State and Illinois @ Clemson.  The Big Ten will need to win one of those two to supplant the ACC for the title of this challenge for the first time in, um, ever.

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ATB: Can Anyone Stop Carolina?

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2008


ACC Wins Again. Well, it was closer this year than it has been since 2005, but the ACC won the event for the tenth year in a row, 6-5.  The league of atlantic coast schools are now 62-35 (.639) against its midwestern counterparts in this challenge – can we go back to the ACC/Big East version now?  Oh, and we really couldn’t have made worse picks today if we had tried – we went 1-4, and Wake was our only winner – picking that game correctly was akin to picking the sun to come up tomorrow.  Maybe we’ll stay out of this prediction business for a while.  What we found really interesting was that home court in the two leagues with the most advantageous home environments didn’t seem to matter much – home teams were 5-6 in the Challenge (see below).


Carolina Looks Unstoppable. UNC 98, Michigan St. 63. We hesitate to move into the realm of hyperbole in early December, preferring to leave that to the likes of Vitale with his offerings of UNC “competing with” the Clippers, T-Wolves and Grizzlies (which is patently absurd, btw).  But at least at this point in the 2007-08 season, UNC is well ahead of everyone else in college basketball.  What the Heels did to Michigan St. tonight in its home state could appropriately be described as an absolute dismantling.  Frankly, we’re not sure how the Spartans show their faces in E. Lansing tomorrow, considering the Heels only defeated UCSB by 15 in Santa Barbara and Kentucky by 19 in Chapel Hill.  As good as Carolina was, MSU was utterly moribund.  UNC held the Spartans to 35% shooting from the field, 24% from three, and forced 21 turnovers, many of which directly led to Carolina layups or threes.  Speaking of which, if Ty Lawson is going to play as well as he did tonight – ripping balls out of passing lanes (7 steals) and dropping 25-footers with consistency (twice), then we really can go ahead and pass the championship trophy over to Roy Williams.  And the question of whether Tyler Hansbrough is healthy was put to rest with another workmanlike 25/11 where he was pretty much able to do whatever he wanted inside the lane.  Danny Green was his typical stat-stuffer self (6/5/5 assts), and Ed Davis continues to impress off the bench (10/7 in 17 mins).  As for MSU, the only player that seemed ready to play was Chris Allen, who singlehandedly kept MSU in the game with his long-range shooting in the first half.  The others – Kalin Lucas, Delvon Roe, Marquise Gray – all horrible.  Looking at the schedule, the next  even remote possibility of a team staying within 15 pts of Carolina will be at Wake on January 11th.  As for MSU, this supposed top ten team hasn’t looked anywhere near it thus far this season – can Izzo get it together?

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ACC – Big 10 Challenge Preview Pt. 2

Posted by rtmsf on December 3rd, 2008

So we went 3-2 in our picks last night, which is actually downright terrible when you’re just picking teams straight up.  Duke, Minnesota and BC went pretty much as expected, but we didn’t see the Jack McClinton slap coming, and we’re still having trouble fathoming Illinois blowing a solid lead at home.  Nevertheless, let’s see if we can do better with tonight’s games.  With a 3-3 tie going into tonight, can the Big 10 win at least one road game and hold serve at home to get to the magical six victories?


Wednesday Games (12.03.08)

  • Indiana (4-2) @ Wake Forest (6-0) – 7:15pm (ESPN).  In a normal year, this would have been one of the top three games of the Challenge; but as we’re all aware, Indiana is not having a normal year.  Still, the Hoosiers should take pride in the four wins they’ve gotten, especially their most recent victory over a possible NCAA team in Cornell at home.  Unfortunately for IU, Wake is no Cornell – they’re easily the most athletic team Indiana has faced so far, and their size is astonishing (five regulars are 6’9 or taller).  They have offensive firepower (averaging 86.7 ppg on 51.7% FG) and are playing improved defense this year, holding teams to 64.8 ppg on 34.4% shooting (although we haven’t figure out if that’s a function of length and size or consistent defensive principles).  And did we mention that the Deacs are at home, and are 7-1 in this event?  Put simply, this will get ugly for Indiana tonight, possibly even worse than the Notre Dame debacle two weeks ago (-38 in that one).  The Pick: Wake Forest. 

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ATB: ACC & Big 10 Deadlocked 3-3

Posted by rtmsf on December 3rd, 2008


Story of the Night. Is this the year, after nine straight emasculations at the hands of the ACC, that the Big 10 finally breaks through and wins the ACC/Big 10 Challenge?  Well, considering that going into the last day of the Challenge in 2007-08, the ACC led 5-1, the previous year 4-2, and in fact, the Big 10 has NEVER gone into the final day deadlocked, we consider this a moral victory.  Maybe they don’t, but we do.  Looking at tomorrow night, the ACC still has the upper hand (Wake is a mortal lock at home vs. Indiana, and Georgia Tech will be heavily favored at home vs. Penn St.), but if Michigan St. and Northwestern can protect their home court/field, (big ifs) then Michigan @ Maryland could be the tipping point game.  Maryland will be favored, but Michigan has proven that it can play with anyone this year, and you never know which Terp team will show up.  If only the Illini had held on at home tonight, Big 10 fans!!


This Is What Duke DoesDuke 76, Purdue 60. The most hyped game of tonight’s Challenge, if not the actual best game, reminded us all of what Duke consistently does every year in November and December – beat all comers.  Those of us who were fooled by Duke’s completely shameful avoidance of true nonconference road contests forgot what Duke typically does when they play those ACC-mandated games away from home – win them.  Duke looked focused and ready to play from the tip, while Purdue was clearly over-focused, to the point of blowing wide open layups and showing an inability to make simple defensive switches.  The Purdue jitters excuse quickly morphed into one involving Duke’s superior defense, though, as Purdue stars Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore were held to a pedestrian 25 pts (six below their average), but 20 of those points were in the last eleven minutes of regulation, when the game was largely out of reach.  The Devils held the Boilers to 37% from the field and a mere 2-13 from three.  Equally impressive, Duke dominated the boards 44-26, including eight extra possessions from offensive rebounds.  Kyle Singler led the way for Duke with a double-double (20/12), but Jon Scheyer (20 pts) and Nolan Smith (12 pts) contributed with timely threes, as Duke improved to 10-0 in the Challenge. Purdue Fan = not happy.

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Checking in on the… ACC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

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

Power Rankings (Record):

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

Thanksgiving Tournament Wrap-up

Not surprisingly, the North Carolina Tar Heels took care of business in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Their impressive 102-87 victory over Notre Dame in the championship game was a good indication of just how impressive this North Carolina team can be. Tyler Hansbrough impressed with 34 points while Ty Lawson contributed 22 points and 11 assists. The Tar Heels are proving early that they are practically unbeatable when at their best.

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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’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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ATB: Wed/Thurs Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2007

ATB v.4


ACC 8 – Big Ten 3. Wed. night was the second marquee night of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, and the ACC carried a commanding 5-1 lead into the night’s games. After UNC (v. Ohio St.) and BC (v. Michigan) picked up road wins to go with Maryland’s home victory v. Illinois, the ACC had once again dominated this event (Penn St. and Michigan St. home wins made the final tally 8-3). What accounts for this annual decimation? One reason is that the ACC protects home court much better than the Big 10, going 28-1 in friendly venues during the last six years of this event (B10: 18-13 over the same period). Another reason is that the strength of the bottom of the ACC is consistently better than its Big 10 equivalent – ACC bottom-feeders throughout the series such as Clemson, Florida St. and Virginia have comprised an 18-8 record, while Big 10 equivalents Minnesota, Penn St. and Northwestern were 7-18 over the same timeframe. How thorough is the annual beatdown? Michigan St. is the only B10 school with a winning record in this event (5-3), while only four ACC schools have more losses than wins.

ACC/Big 10 Challenge. #13 Michigan St. 81, NC State 58. This was just a good old-fashioned whipping. Goran Suton scored all sixteen of his points in the first half en route to a dub-dub (16/12), as the Spartans rolled out to an early twenty-point margin and coasted home the rest of the way. MSU”s patented bruising defense held the Wolfpack to 35% shooting, which is showing signs of rising to the level of some of Izzo’s better defensive teams from the early 2000s. Through six games, the Spartans are holding teams to 38% from the field and 31% from three. #3 UNC 66, Ohio St. 55. In a brickfest game (UNC: 38%; OSU: 27%), Ohio St. ran into a looooong drought (missing 17 straight shots) in the second half that gave Carolina the boost they needed (w/o Ty Lawson) to avoid the upset bid. We watched this game in its entirety, and while we’d love to say great defense carried the day here, it just looked like sloppy basketball to us. Wayne Ellington looked great (23/8) for the Heels, but Psycho T struggled against the more athletic Othello Hunter inside (memo to NBA scouts: hustling 6’8 post men with limited range only gets you so far). There was one jawdropping sequence where Hansbrough simply could not get his shot up over Hunter (6 blks), who repeatedly threw it back into his face. By the same token, Kosta Koufos was a veritable no-show (4/3) for the Buckeyes. The other surprise of the night was the inspired play of OSU freshman Jon Diebler, whose four first half threes kept OSU in the game. Boston College 77, Michigan 64. This is a game that the Big 10 really needed to win, and UM couldn’t get it done at home against BC. A tight game opened up with about 8 mins remaining when BC went on a 12-2 run to essentially salt the game away. RTC whipping boy Tyrese Rice blew up for 28/8/5 assts (eff: 30), as Michigan simply had no answer for him. Maryland 69, Illinois 61. In a battle of two teams that will likely be up-and-down and hard-to-figure all year, the Terps were led by Eric Hayes’ career-high 18 pts in the win over the Illini. Penn St. 66, Virginia Tech 61. In a battle of conference bottom-feeders, Penn St. was led by Mike Walker’s 17 off the bench.

Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. #16 Oregon 80, Kansas St. 77. Notwithstanding the Bill Walker watersports moment, this was a really entertaining game. Both teams went back-and-forth throughout the second half, but K-State’s fate ultimately rode on their inability to make a foul shot in the OT. The Wildcats missed three straight front ends as Oregon pulled away in the overtime. The end-of-game sequence was a wild finish, as Oregon’s Maarty Leunen shot three times (and was fouled but not called on at least two of them) from point-blank range, rebounded his own misses, and finally received the foul call on the fourth attempt (6 seconds remaining). After hitting one of two FTs, KSU’s Jacob Pullen dribbled length of the court in four seconds, only to charge into an Oregon player as his made layin was waved off. Oregon then threw it length of the court, but the ball was intercepted by K-State at the opposite foul line. An immediate timeout led to the Bill Walker fiasco and a pretty good look that missed from Michael Beastley (24/12). Oregon’s big four combined for 53 pts, but we were most impressed last night by Joevan Catron (15/8), who took the key charge with two seconds left and showed a lot of heart and hustle for the Ducks last night. #25 USC 66, Oklahoma 55. The other B12/Pac-10 game of the night was at USC, and the Trojans are continuing to show improvement with their young freshmen leading the way. Davon Jefferson had 23/9 and OJ Mayo had 18/5 (but zero assts), but Mayo was the key player (scoring 11 in a row) during a second-half stretch that increased the USC lead from 2 to 12 and effectively put the game away. Where has Taj Gibson (2/3 in only 9 foul-plagued mins) gone?

More Overtime Goodness. #18 Gonzaga 70, St. Joseph’s 65. We wish we could have seen this one, but again, this one was on the U and Comcast hates us. Supposedly St. Joe’s came storming back from a 17-pt first half deficit and led for most of the second half until a late Matt Bouldin three gave Gonzaga the lead again. In the overtime, both teams mostly traded FTs until Gonzaga secured the win late. This was a very good road win in a hostile environment for the Zags. St. Joe’s was led by Pat Calathes with 24/7 in the losing effort. Vanderbilt 91, South Alabama 88. This double-OT jewel of a game wasn’t on tv anywhere we could find, but it appears that Memorial was rocking last night when the Commodores stayed unbeaten at home. Vandy came back from an 8-pt deficit in the mid-second half to take the lead, but a Ronald Douglas tip-in with 0.8 left sent the game to OT. Vandy had a shot to win in the first OT, but good foul shooting in the second OT ultimately put the game away for the Dores. Andrew Ogilvy led VU with 19/8 while Shan Foster contributed 26/4.

Upset Special. Massachusetts 107, Syracuse 100. In a tremendous boost to the credibility of Travis Ford’s rising UMass program, the Minutemen went into the Carrier Dome on Wed. night and beat the Orange in a high-scoring affair that saw the opponent score more points than any other team in the Dome’s history. Gary Forber (23/6/7 assts) hit a key three with just over a minute remaining to give UMass a six-point lead and the Orange were finished. Big numbers from many players on both sides – for UMass, Ricky Harris had 25; for Syracuse, all five starters had double figures, led by Eric Devendorf with 23 and three other players with 20 each (Greene, Flynn, Onuaku).

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #2 UCLA 83, George Washington 60. Collison comes off the bench to give the Bruins 14/5. Love with another dub-dub (12/12).
  • #4 Kansas 87, Florida Atlantic 49. Another KU rout as B-Rush goes for 17 pts off the bench in 19 mins of action.
  • #5 Georgetown 66, Old Dominion 48. Georgetown returns favor from last year, holding ODU to 31% shooting. Gerald Lee (24/12) was the only bright spot for Old Dominion.
  • #8 Texas 98, Texas Southern 61. Texas continues to impress – DJ Augustin led with 20 pts.
  • #9 Texas A&M 76, Alabama 63. Another balanced, efficient performance from the Aggies. Bama is just so limited beyond Hendrix (19/12) and Gee (19/3).
  • #21 Xavier 93, Oakland 68. All five starters hit double figures for the Muskies.

Other Notable Scores.

  • California 74, Nevada 68. Great road win for Cal, as Ryan Anderson went for a career-high 36/13 to counteract Marcellus Kemp’s 26/5/4.
  • Seton Hall 65, Princeton 55. The Hall is off to its best start since The Beard was roaming the sidelines (19 yrs).
  • Kent St. 81, St. Louis 40. Wow – has Majerus ever lost by this much before? Statistical oddity – KSU was 100% from three (3-3), while SLU was 0% (0-11).
  • Wichita St. 62, Appalachian St. 53. App St. continues to struggle with another home loss.
  • Hampton 64, VCU 55. VCU has been extremely disappointing so far as well (Maynor – 22 pts).
  • Charlotte 63, Wake Forest 59. Solid CUSA win over an ACC team.
  • Colorado 60, Air Force 50. Jeff Bzedlik’s return to AFA as an opponent went much better than the game at CU (lost 84-46).
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