Who Won the Week: Duke, UC Irvine and Texas (sorta) …

Posted by Kenny Ocker on December 21st, 2012

wonweek

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: Duke

Mason Plumlee has led Duke in rebounding 10 times in 11 games as the Blue Devils are 11-0 while ranked third in strength of schedule. (AP Photo)

Mason Plumlee has led Duke in rebounding 10 times in 11 games as the Blue Devils are 11-0 while ranked third in strength of schedule. (AP Photo)

The week couldn’t have gone much more perfectly for the Blue Devils than it did. Achieve top ranking? Check. Land a top recruit? Check. Win both games handily? Check and check. Yes, Duke should probably send some flowers to Butler for knocking off preseason favorite Indiana, but who would have looked at the two teams before Saturday and thought the Hoosiers were better? Outside of the state of Indiana, I’m guessing few would. The Blue Devils (11-0) have the nation’s best body of work, and have dominated it in such a fashion that they look to be the nation’s top team convincingly, and this is before prized prospect Jabari Parker picked Mike Krzyzewski’s squad over Michigan State and BYU. On the court, Mason Plumlee, who has led Duke in rebounding 10 times so far, carried his team to an 88-47 win over Cornell with 18 points and nine rebounds Wednesday and followed that up the next night with 21 points and 15 boards in a 76-54 win over Elon. And as an added bonus, the youngest Plumlee, freshman Marshall, already made a brief return to the court against Cornell coming back from a foot injury.

(Related winners: Mason Plumlee, Butler. Related losers: Indiana, Michigan State, BYU, Cornell, Elon, and especially North Carolina – more to come.)

LOSER: Eastern Kentucky

The Ohio Valley’s Colonels started their season off hot, winning nine straight games before a weekend matchup at also-undefeated Illinois. The major-conference team expectedly pulled Eastern Kentucky apart, winning 66-53, but it was what happened next that wrapped up a bad week in Richmond, Ky. On a rare road trip to a MEAC school, the Colonels were tripped up by North Carolina A&T, who pounded the ball inside while shooting 55 percent from the field and stifling Eastern Kentucky’s guard-oriented offense by holding it to 40 percent shooting. The Bulldogs also nearly doubled up the Colonels on the glass, sealing the game. So much for a hot start.

(Related winners: North Carolina A&T, the 457 Bulldogs fans who watched the game in person. Related losers: Murray State and the Ohio Valley Conference, which both need every break they can get come March.)

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ACC Game On: 12.19.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 19th, 2011

After a week that featured only a single game, this weekend worked out pretty well for the ACC. Of the nine games played over the course of the weekend, all but one of them was a victory. The exception? North Carolina State‘s loss against top-ranked Syracuse. While Syracuse pulled away at the end of the game, the Wolfpack still managed to hang for most of the game, showing some real moxie in their biggest game to date.  Now, however, most teams enter into one of the odder stages of the college basketball schedule: the soft end of the non-conference schedule. While some teams still have a few tough tune-ups leading up to conference play, this stretch of games features some of the most lopsided games these teams will see all season. Still, there’s something to be said for blowouts: most folks who make predictive basketball models find big wins against inferior opponents to be more informative in terms of a team’s future performance than a close win against a roughly equal foe. Seeing who takes care of business and who stumbles could provide some critical insight into the  future fortunes of these teams.

Gottfried's Team Played #1 Syracuse Tough, But Couldn't Hang for 40 Minutes

If I Had To Pick One

  • North Florida at Virginia Tech at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com

Let me be frank, none of these matchups tonight should be very competitive, but if I had to pick one of these games to watch for an upset, it would be this one. North Florida is one of the most battle-tested teams in the country, having already played Alabama, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, and Kansas State. All of these games were losses, but North Florida managed to take Kansas State to overtime, and they are not going to be fazed or starstruck playing the Hokies. They will come in prepared and ready to challenge. Virginia Tech is dominant in every possible comparison or matchup between the two teams, but UNF’s ability to play capable defense and their experience against big-time competition gives them an outside shot at upsetting the potentially rusty Hokies, who haven’t played against a tough opponent since December 4.

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RTC Conference Primers: #30 – SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2011

For our complete list of 2011-12 conference primers working backward from #31 to #1, click here.   

Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Southern & Grambling APR Victims.  When the NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate report in May, the SWAC contained two of the five basketball programs facing a postseason ban in 2011-12 as a result of consistently poor scores over several years.  While this news shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed the APR since it was implemented several years ago, the teeth of the rule is finally taking hold on individual institutions.  Southern and Grambling probably were not going to be in a competitive position to make the NCAA Tournament this season anyway, but this is something that each school must take seriously in order to secure their D-I existence.  The two institutions submitted APR improvement plans to the NCAA over the summer, and with good reason — without a considerable short-term jump in scores,  the next penalty is restricted membership in Division I.
  • Will the APR Eliminate HBCUs in Division I?  Southern and Grambling’s APR predicament highlights a harrowing situation among the two Division I basketball leagues comprising historically black colleges and universities.  With the APR cut line increasing from 925 to 930 as of next year, and a corresponding postseason penalty for programs failing to make that cut in the future, the SWAC  and MEAC could face an untenable situation where every one of its members is ineligible for postseason play, and ultimately on restricted status.  If the 930 threshold had been in effect last year, for example, only one school — the SWAC’s Alcorn State, with its 4-24 overall record and 944 APR score — would have been eligible for the NCAA Tournament.  The APR has been shown to correlate strongly with African-American enrollment, and at the low-budget HBCUs that comprise the SWAC and the MEAC, this development presents tremendous cause for concern.  Whether this is purposeful or not, we’ll leave for you to decide.
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RTC Conference Primers: #31 – SWAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 4th, 2010

David Ely is an occasional contributor.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Jackson State (15-3)
  2. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (13-5)
  3. Alabama State (12-6)
  4. Texas Southern (11-7)
  5. Alabama A&M (9-9)
  6. Prairie View A&M (9-9)
  7. Mississippi Valley State (9-9)
  8. Grambling State (7-11)
  9. Southern (3-15)
  10. Alcorn State (2-16)

All-Conference Team

  • Junior Treasure (G) — Texas Southern
  • Tyrone Hansen (G) — Jackson State
  • Savalance Townsend (G) — Arkansas-Pine Bluff
  • De’Suan Dixon (F) — Jackson State
  • Shannon Behling (F) — Mississippi Valley State

6th Man:

  • Cornelius Hester (G) — Alabama A&M

Junior Treasure (with ball) is the best among the bevy of guards featured in the SWAC. (AP/Val Horvath)

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #27 – SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 9th, 2009

seasonpreviewJC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the MEAC and SWAC conferences. Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Alabama State (20-9)
  2. Jackson State (16-13)
  3. Alabama A&M (15-11)
  4. Prairie View (13-16)
  5. Mississippi Valley State (13-18)
  6. Alcorn State (10-19)
  7. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (10-19)
  8. Texas Southern (9-20)
  9. Grambling State (5-21)
  10. Southern (5-26)

All-Conference Team:

  • Christopher Jones (G) – Prairie View – Purest point guard in the SWAC, but will have to reduce his turnovers for the Panthers to be successful this season.
  • Troy Jackson (G) – Alcorn State – Ruthless scorer who also shot better than 40 percent from the field in 08-09.
  • Grant Maxey (F) – Jackson State – Versatile forward will likely emerge as the 09-10 SWAC Player of the Year
  • Douglas Scott (F) – Southern – Tenacious rebounder, came on late last season with three double-doubles in his last five games.
  • Darnell Hugee (C) – Prairie View – If he stays out of foul trouble, could be one of the best post players in Division I basketball.

6th Man. Deandre Hall (G) – Texas Southern – Turnover prone, but can do damage from interior and perimeter.

swac logo

What You Need to Know.  The SWAC is among the worst conferences in all of Division I basketball. There’s no sugarcoating the lack of talent and the brutal out-of-conference schedules that the SWAC member schools play just to keep their athletic budgets afloat. But what they are lacking in appeal and talent, their upper-echelon teams make up for in competitive drive and great coaching. Alabama State took SEC opponents Auburn and Mississippi to the wire on the road last season before dropping both games by fewer than five points.

Predicted ChampionJackson State (NCAA Seed: #16). Jackson State has played second fiddle to Alabama State in the regular season for two years in a row. But while the Tigers return key seniors Grant Maxey and Garrison Johnson, the Hornets of ASU lost a lot in the departure of PG Brandon Brooks and forward Andrew Hayles. The JSU Tigers will prevail in the conference championship, but not without serious tests from the likes of Prairie View and Alabama State.

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Checking in on the… SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2009

JC of HBCU Sports Blog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC Conferences.

In all of the hubbub surrounding the MEAC big win last week via Morgan State University, somewhere lost in the Bible Belt was the beginning of conference play for the SWAC. Conference play signals the end of merciless beatings on the road at the hands of power conference teams, and a chance for southwestern trash talkers to get their pipes warmed up for March.

Let’s take a look at some of the action from the week that was in the SWAC.

THIS WEEK – With conference play in full swing, three teams – Alabama State, Jackson State and Prairie View A&M are beginning to distance themselves from the rest of the SWAC competition. The Hornets and the Panthers are 3-0 so far, and the Tigers are 2-1. Both the Hornets (Alabama State) and the Panthers (Prairie View) have won at least five of their last ten.

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Checking in on the… SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 20th, 2008

JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC Conferences.

In case you thought differently, the SWAC is still pulling up the rear in Division I basketball. Just once, you want to associate these hard working teams with other descriptors than “lopsided defeat” or “demoralizing road trip.” But, the SWAC has to make money, and we should all credit them for their hard work in trying to build solid programs.

So let’s take a look at the hardest working conference in America.

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After the Buzzer: Zone Offense

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.06.07

Well, we already covered the Ohio St. debacle. More CvC tonight…

Kentucky 67, Central Arkansas 40. Billy Gillispie debuted at Kentucky with the third highest victory total (27) for a coach’s first game in UK history (Rupp; Smith), while holding C. Arkansas to 20% shooting for the game, the lowest total against a UK team in 12 yrs. The Cats were paced by sometime-malcontent Joe Crawford, who was benched for the first 13 mins of the game before coming in to score 20 pts. Who is Mark Coury? The UK walk-on soph had a double-double (13/10), while Patrick Patterson, who looked great in the two exhibition games, got himself into early foul trouble and finished with four pts. Unless Patterson dominates and Carter gets healthy, inside play could be a season-long bugaboo for the Cats. For the definitive take on tonight’s action, check A Sea of Blue.

 

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Memphis 80, Richmond 63. After a performance last night against Maine last night that may have set the game’s evolution back a generation or so, Richmond decided to bring its game tonight. Or at least its zone defense, which seriously confounded the Tigers until a 14-2 run with 13 mins to go in the game finally put the Spiders away. Seriously, UM was only up one point at halftime, and by all accounts, looked confused. Once again, Derrick Rose was the story, with a line of 21/5 but only one assist. CDR also contributed 19/9 (on 5-14 shooting, though). Could zone be an achilles heel of the Calipari’s AASAA offense? Also, for the second consecutive night, someone went off on the Tigers, as David Gonzalvez blew up for 25 in a losing effort.

 

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Other Games: Gardner-Webb 69, Alabama A&M 55. So our SWAC predicted champion got beat, but how about our A&M boy Mickell Gladness? Nearly a trip-dub tonight, with 8/10/7 blks. G-W advances to play Kentucky tomorrow night.

 

On Tap Tonight. The Lexington Regional continues and the Storrs Regional gets started (aka the Regional that Holy Cross Can’t Play In).

  • #15 Kentucky (-25.5) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPNU) - We heart Mark Coury.
  • Connecticut (-26) v. Morgan St. (ESPNU) - Calhoun and Bozeman in a game of who is shadiest.
  • Ohio Valley (NL) v. Buffalo – Could you have handpicked two crappier teams, Calhoun?
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After the Buzzer: Memphis Rose in Bloom

Posted by rtmsf on November 6th, 2007

Welcome to After the Buzzer. We’re sorta envisioning this to be a one-stop recap of notable information from each night’s games. Think Daily Dime meets Doug Gottlieb (w/o the credit card fraud conviction). Or something like that. Now, we’re not promising we can do this every single night of the season – a weekly Friday’s Ivies would put everyone to sleep, including especially us. But we’ll do our best to get you some college hoops insights for your morning bourbon coffee. Except for this morning, because it’s already the afternoon. Details, details. If there’s anything you guys want to see as a regular feature, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com and we’ll unabashedly claim the idea as our own think about adding it.

ATB v.4

11.05.07

The 07-08 season got underway at the Memphis Regional last night for the CvC first round games.

· Richmond 44, Maine 42. Remember when the Richmond Spiders were good with Dick Tarrant on the sidelines beating the likes of Syracuse and Indiana? No longer. 100 Memphins (?) showed up early to watch a high school game break out.

· Memphis 102, UT-Martin 71. The nightcap that nobody outside of the Pyramid saw (thanks ESPNU) showed just how explosive the #1 blogpoll Tigers can be. Joey Dorsey didn’t play, but no matter. Chris Douglas-Roberts led the way with 28/8, but reviews were sparkling for the debut of superfrosh Derrick Rose (17/6/5), fueling message board chatter about the number of trip-dubs Rose will have this year. Possible Memphis concerns – 1) they let UTM’s Lester Hudson drop 35 on them (do they play D?); and, 2) 58.6% from the line (17-29).

 

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On Tap Tonight. The Memphis Regional continues and the Lexington Regional of the CvC gets started.

  • #1 Memphis (-29) v. Richmond (ESPNU)maybe the Fedex will open up the concessions?
  • # 15 Kentucky (-27.5) v. Central Arkansas (ESPNU) - Gillispie’s debut at Rupp
  • Gardner-Webb (-3.5) v. Alabama A&Mkeep an eye on A&M’s Mickell Gladness
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ESPNUSUCK.

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2007

The official start of the 2007-08 regular season isn’t until Friday, but the NCAA exempted the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, which is starting tonight in Memphis and will run throughout the week at several other sites (Storrs, Lexington, Norman) before holding the championship rounds at MSG next week. ESPN and Comcast have ensured that we won’t be able to see any of this week’s games in our local viewing area – thanks, guys! But jeez, this seems really early – we just changed our clocks for chrissakes. Mike DeCourcy has the best take on the matter:

Once again, instead of the triumphant introduction to the season we have in such sports as NFL football and Major League Baseball, college basketball just sort of stumbles in and grabs a seat in the corner.

With college football and the NFL in full swing, it’ll take until Thanksgiving for anyone to notice that we’re already playing games, but that’s ok. It gives us a chance to bone up on early hits and misses (ahem, Michigan St.) while nobody’s watching.

Here’s the CvC bracket:

Coaches v. Cancer Bracket 07 v.1

A few comments:

  • Quick Rant. Why the hell aren’t ESPNU games part of the Full Court Package? That makes completely no sense to us as it seems a natural fit. And yes we’re extremely annoyed that Comcast will not offer ESPNU in our area.
  • Predictions. Memphis will roll through its regional, keeping the nation’s longest homecourt winning streak (32) alive. Kentucky will bomb Central Arkansas but struggle with Alabama A&M and shotblocker extraordinaire Mickell Gladness in the second round. UConn will get a game from Todd Bozeman’s Morgan St. squad before faltering, then destroy Buffalo in round two. Our possible upset alert is USF over Oklahoma. The Dons probably don’t have enough to pull it off, but we expect a close game there. Still, we expect Jeff Capel’s OU team to represent the Norman region at MSG next week.
  • Quick Fact. Kentucky is 0-2 in this event, with both losses coming in 2000 (UCLA, St. John’s) when it was a four-team tourney. Grab the ball, Tayshaun! That record will change this time around.
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Conference Primers: #31 – SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 2nd, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Predicted Order of Finish.

  1. Alabama A&M (18-9) (13-5)
  2. Mississippi Valley St. (13-13) (12-6)
  3. Grambling St. (14-9) (12-6)
  4. Alabama St. (15-14) (10-8)
  5. Southern (13-15) (9-9)
  6. Jackson St. (12-17) (8-10)
  7. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (8-19) (8-10)
  8. Prairie View A&M (9-20) (8-10)
  9. Alcorn St. (5-20) (7-11)
  10. Texas Southern (5-23) (3-15)

SWAC Logo

What You Need to Know (WYN2K). Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the worst basketball conference in America! For three years running, the Southwestern Athletic Conference has found itself at the absolute bottom of every major computer ranking system (RPI, Sagarin & Pomeroy) as its ten schools have gone a collective 32-229 (.123) in OOC games during the last three seasons (easily the worst). Its sacrificial lamb league champion has received eight straight #16 seeds in the NCAAs and four of those teams were relegated to the dreaded play-in game. Just how bad is it? Consider that tournament champion Jackson St. and regular-season champion Mississippi Valley St. were the only two schools with overall winning records last year – no other conference member won more than eleven games. There are no encouraging signs of change for this season.

Predicted Champion. Alabama A&M (#16 Seed NCAA). Yes, we’re predicting a worst-to-first here, but the Bulldogs are the only SWAC school returning all five starters from last season, including dynamic sophomore guards Trant Sampson and Cornelius Hester as well as 6’11 defensive freak Mickell Gladness (6.3 bpg), who blocked an astonishing 20.5% of shots while he was on the court last season.

Others Considered. Grambling is an interesting team because they return four starters including the SWAC’s best all-around player Andre Ratliff, but they also open a brand-new 7500-seat arena and we shouldn’t discount the “new barn” effect. Mississippi Valley St. is another team to watch because they won the regular-season crown last season and return former Southern Miss coach James Green, who has inspired his teams to play maddening D, which will keep them in the hunt.

Games to Watch. There’s only one game you’ll find on tv from the SWAC, and it’s the only game that matters for this conference all season.

  • SWAC Championship Game (03.15.08).

RPI Booster Games. The SWAC plays 28 games against BCS conference opponents, and 26 of those are on the road. In a weird scheduling coincidence, only Auburn deigns to venture into a SWAC gym, and it does so twice – it could lose either of these if Lebo’s team isn’t careful.

  • Auburn @ Alabama St. (11.17.07)
  • Auburn @ Southern (12.16.07)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. Nil. It’s never happened before, and the reality of the non-conference “guarantee games” in the SWAC will ensure it doesn’t happen again this year.

All-Name Team. Alabama St.’s Grlenntys “Chief” Kickingstallionsims is a cinch for national honors, but Texas Southern’s St. Paul Latham is another worthy candidate.

Neat-o Stat. The SWAC likes to run, as half of its teams were among the top 62 fastest tempos in the nation in 06-07. By the same token, though, none can shoot the ball, as 9 of its 10 teams were among the bottom 35 teams last year in effective FG%.

65-Team Era. The SWAC is 1-21 in the era. Southern University (#13) defeated Georgia Tech (#4) 93-78 in the first round of the 1993 NCAA Tourney.

Final Thought. The SWAC isn’t worth much in basketball, so we’ll give it some love for something it’s actually good at.

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