Midwest Region Game-By-Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by zhayes9 on March 18th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

#1 Louisville vs. #16 Morehead State

For Louisville to win: It’s pretty simple for Louisville in this 1-16 matchup: do exactly what has gotten you to the point of receiving the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They shouldn’t have much problem playing their usual lockdown defense, employing their frantic press and letting the pure athletic ability of guys like Earl Clark and Terrence Williams completely overwhelm the star-struck Eagles.

For Morehead State to win: The triumphant winners of the inaugural Play-In game, Morehead State will need a God-delivered miracle to prevail over Louisville. They hope their stud big man Kenneth Faried (13.9 PPG, 13.1 RPG) can push around Clark, Williams and Samardo Samuels enough inside where it becomes a guard-oriented shooting contest. Hope that Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles, Andre McGee and Co. reverts back to their November shooting woes and pull off the monumental upset.

#8 Ohio State vs. #9 Siena

For Ohio State to win: The Buckeyes will need to play steady, Big Ten-like team defense on Siena’s trio of scorers and run a bunch of isolation plays down the stretch for their superstar Evan Turner (17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG). At times Turner can penetrate and score at will; Siena simply does not have that type of talent on their roster. They also need to utilize B.J. Mullens inside due to Siena’s lack of height.

For Siena to win: The Saints have been led all season by their own Big Three- Kenny Hansbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin. Receive balanced scoring out of those three like they’ve perfected all season (all average between 14.8 and 13.6 PPG) and they could surely take down the Buckeyes. The Saints will also be shorthanded inside trying to box out bodies like Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens. They’ll need Ryan Rossiter and Franklin to pound the boards constantly.

#5 Utah vs. #12 Arizona

For Utah to win: Luke Nevill outplaying Jordan Hill would be nice. Seriously, this is one of the best first-round matchups in the entire tournament. If Nevill can get Hill into foul trouble, the entire complexity of this game changes. Nic Wise and Chase Budinger love shooting it from the outside and the Utes wouldn’t mind getting into a three-point contest with Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha both over 40% from downtown.

For Arizona to win: Even though Arizona is the 12-seed, not many would refute that the Wildcats have the superior talent in this game. They can escape all of the regular season’s distractions now and out-talent the Utes. Nic Wise needs to have a quality outing for Arizona to win; when he’s hitting threes and running the offense with ease, Budinger gets open shots, Hill gets touches inside and Arizona can beat anyone.

#4 Wake Forest vs. #13 Cleveland State

For Wake Forest to win: The Demon Deacons need to avoid underestimating a clearly inferior opponent. As with losses to Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia Tech, the young Deacons have played down to their competition. The Vikings went into the Carrier Dome and won this season when Syracuse did the same thing. Hopefully Jeff Teague and James Johnson come out right away with a fire in their collective bellies.

For Cleveland State to win: One thing Wake Forest does not do well at all is make threes. Their entire offensive game is generated by penetration and mid-range jump shooting. Coach Gary Waters should pop in the game film from Wake’s latest loss to Maryland and examine how the Terps chopped up the inconsistent Deacon defense. Cedric Jackson is the perfect point guard to lead the way.

#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Dayton

For West Virginia to win: The Mountaineers simply need to play like they did last weekend in the Big East tournament. Set screens to free deadeye shooter Alex Ruoff, let DaSean Butler work his multi-faceted offensive game, continue to witness Devin Ebanks mature into an elite scorer and rebounder and hope Darryl Bryant keeps distributing like a senior.

For Dayton to win: It’s going to be awfully difficult as West Virginia seems to be picking up steam lately and you know Bob Huggins will have them prepared and intense. Not only will stars Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson need to play outstanding games, but their deep bench must contribute offensively. It’s all about keeping West Virginia off the boards and hoping Ruoff has a bad day from the outside. If that happens, the Mountaineers can look very confused offensively.

#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State

For Kansas to win: Ben Woodside is not only the Bison’ top scorer, he’s the engine behind their incredibly efficient and unselfish offensive game plan. He’s quite a task for Sherron Collins in the first game of the tournament. If Collins can shut down Woodside on the defensive end, North Dakota State should have trouble scoring with the Morris twins, Cole Aldrich and others blocking shots inside. This young Jayhawk team will live and die with the play of their junior leader Collins.

For North Dakota State to win: They need to play some semblance of tough defense. We all know the Bison can score points in bunches and have some prolific offensive options, but the only way the Bison will be fitted for Cinderella’s slipper is if they can contain slashers Collins and Tyshawn Taylor and bang bodies with the Morris twins and Aldrich. If they fall behind early, it is imperative they stick with their offense that’s gotten them this far instead of panicking.

#7 Boston College vs. #10 Southern California

For Boston College to win: The Eagles can sometimes look really crappy on defense. The Trojans have so many weapons, BC needs to play inspired defense to win this game. The most arduous task will be to contain Taj Gibson inside with Joe Trapani and Josh Southern. Gibson has an NBA-body and tremendous scoring potential. Trapani and Southern must play defense inside similar to their effort in Chapel Hill when they knocked off the Tar Heels.

For Southern California to win: Stud freshman DeMar DeRozan played like a possessed man during the Pac-10 tournament and USC finally came together to play up to their potential. If DeRozan outplays Rakim Sanders and explodes to the rim with ease, the entire USC offense improves drastically. Defending Tyrese Rice will also clearly be imperative. Should Daniel Hackett hold Rice, the Trojans will win.

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Robert Morris

For Michigan State to win: The Spartans clearly have enough talent to win this 2-15 game easily. If only a couple of their many weapons are flowing offensively, they should be fine. Izzo’s boys are also in the top ten in defense and rebounding. Overwhelm the Colonials with the talent of Lucas, Morgan, Suton, Summers and they’ll prevail by 20+.

For Robert Morris to win: For the Colonials to pull another Duke-Belmont 2-15 scare, they’ll need to play their usually efficient offensive game. Their entire team shoots 48% from the floor and Jeremy Chappell is especially remarkable- 16.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 47% FG, 85% FT, 41% 3PT, 2.5 SPG as one of the most unheralded all-around players in the nation. If Chappell has a monster performance and Michigan State can’t get into any flow offensively, the Colonials have a shot.

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NCAA Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

West Virginia (#6, Midwest, Minneapolis Pod)
vs. Dayton (#11)
Fri. 3/20 @ 3:00 PM
Vegas Line: West Virginia, -8.5

wvu-vegas

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

General Profile
Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
Conference: Big East, at large
Coach: Bob Huggins, 47-21
08-09 Record: 24-11, 10-8
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: 74-60, Pittsburgh, 3/12/2009
Worst Loss: 65-61, Cincinnati, 2/26/2009
Off. Efficiency Rating: 115.3, 15th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 88.0, 7th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Players: Da’Sean Butler – 17.3 ppg/6.0 rpg; Alex Ruoff – 15.9 ppg
Unsung Hero: Devin Ebanks – 10.4 ppg/7.7 rpg
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Devin Ebanks – 8th overall in 2010; Da’Sean Butler – 41st overall in 2010
Key Injuries: Joe Mazzulla – out for season (shoulder)
Depth: 25.5% (289 nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Inconsistency. WVU is the most inconsistent at-large team in the tourney, and 325th out of 344 in NCAA Division I. Since the start of conference play, their longest win streak is three games.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Freshman Devin Ebanks continues to post personal bests in points and rebounds like he did in the Big East tournament.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The Mountaineers keep up this hot-then-cold phenomenon that plagued them during the season.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2008, Sweet 16
Streak: This is WVU’s 3rd straight trip.
Best NCAA Finish: 1959 Final Four
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): Not enough data (requires 8 bids in the period).

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Before hiring current head coach Bob Huggins, the WVU basketball team was under the charge of John Beilein. Beilein now coaches at Michigan, and his star player, Manny Harris, is a Detroit native.
Distance to First Round Site: 936 miles.
School’s Claim to Fame: The man on the NBA logo, Jerry West, is WVU’s greatest basketball alum, holding the school records for points and rebounds.
School Wishes It Could Forget: When football coach Rich Rodriguez left Morgantown for the University of Michigan, many Mountaineer fans were not pleased. Rodriguez and his family were the target of hate mail, vandalism, and death threats from fans angered by his departure.
Prediction: On paper, West Virginia looks like a team that can beat Kansas and Michigan State to make it to the Midwest Regional Final. However, the wild inconsistency that characterized the regular season will show up in the tournament. WVU loses in the Sweet 16, just like 2008.
Major RTC stories: Where 2008-09 Happens: Reason #20 Why We Love College Basketball and Huggins Takes the Fall

Preview written by Matt the Intern of Rush the Court

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QnD Midwest Region Analysis

Posted by zhayes9 on March 15th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

Favorite
Louisville, #1 Overall Seed, 28-5 (16-2), Big East Regular Season and Conference Champions

Should They Falter
Wake Forest, #4 Seed, 24-6 (11-5). Even more than Michigan State in the Regional Final, Wake could present the biggest match-up problem for Louisville.

Grossly Overseeded
Utah, #5 Seed, 24-9 (12-4). Utah tied for the Mountain West regular season title and tournament (carried by great computer numbers), but how can anyone say this team should have a higher seed than UCLA, Clemson, or West Virginia?

Grossly Underseeded
None. With the exception of Utah, the committee did an excellent job seeding this region.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower)
#12 seed Arizona. The last team in the field lucked out with an over-seeded Utah team then could throw their match-up zone at a Wake team that hasn’t handled a zone defense all season.

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower)
#6 seed West Virginia. If Alex Ruoff has a tremendous tournament and Devin Ebanks continues to progress into stardom, they have the personnel. A freshman PG worries me though.

Carmelo Anthony Award
Sherron Collins, 18.3 PPG, 5.0 APG, 38% 3PT- As Sherron Collins goes, the Kansas Jayhawks go. He has the chance to take this young team under his wings and lead them to another Final Four.

Stephen Curry Award
Ben Woodside, 22.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 43% FG- Many college hoops diehards know Woodside and his scoring prowess already. Most casual fans will be introduced to him for the first time and his Cinderella Bison.

Home Cooking
Louisville, 1, 152 miles to Dayton. Ohio State, 71 miles to Dayton.

Can’t Miss First Round Game
#7 Boston College vs. #10 USC, Friday. A very evenly matched game between two teams with studs like Tyrese Rice, Rakim Sanders, DeMar DeRozan, and Taj Gibson. Can the Trojans keep it going?

Don’t Miss This One Either
#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State, Friday. An inexperienced and slumping Kansas team battling a fifth-year senior laden Bison squad. Could we have an upset brewing in Minneapolis? Don’t miss this one.

Lock of the Year
West Virginia will make the Elite 8. They’ll take down Dayton, North Dakota State and Michigan State en route to a rematch with Louisville.

Juiciest Potential Match-up (Purists)
#6 West Virginia vs. #2 Michigan State, Regional Semifinal. Two of the best rebounding and fundamentally sound teams in the nation could do battle for a spot in the Regional Final.

Juiciest Potential Match-up (Media)
#1 Louisville vs. #4 Wake Forest. The amount of talent on the floor in this game (Samardo Samuels, Earl Clark, Terrence Williams, Jeff Teague, James Johnson, and Al-Farouq Aminu) will have NBA scouts drooling.

We Got Screwed
Kansas, #3 Seed, 25-7 (14-2). Besides the fact that Kansas deserved a #2 seed over Oklahoma, they have to face the most dangerous #14 seed in the tournament (North Dakota St.) and the most dangerous #6 seed in the second round (West Virginia). I would feel a lot better about Kansas matching up with the other #6 seeds.

Strongest Pod
#2 Michigan State, #7 Boston College, #10 USC, #15 Robert Morris. BC-USC could be a fun 7-10 game while Robert Morris is no slouch for the Spartans.

Upset Special
#14 North Dakota State will beat #3 Kansas in the first round.

Region MVP
Terrence Williams, Louisville.

So-Called Experts
The general consensus seems to be Louisville and I tend to agree. Sorry for going chalk, folks, but they’re easily the best team in this region.

Vegas Odds to Win Region


2009-midwest-odds

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ATB: Mike Singletary Redefines “The Zone” Tonight

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2009

afterbuzzer1

Redefining The ZoneTexas Tech 88, Texas A&M 83.  Mike Singletary set a new career-high tonight in Texas Tech’s first round Big 12 Tournament game against Texas A&M… in the last ten minutes of the game.  That’s right, Singletary caught lightning in his shooting hand, as he exploded for 29 straight points (9-10 FG; 8-10 FT) in the last quarter of the game (previous career high: 25) as he brought his team back from a 21-pt second half deficit.  His performance was the second-longest such conflagration of consecutive points, ranking only behind (you know this one, right?) Bill Mlkvy from Temple fifty-eight years ago, who threw up an ungodly 54 in a row in a game against Wilkes.  Courtesy of ESPN FC, we got to see the second half of this one, and we’re glad we did.  Singletary didn’t look particularly quick or athletic or smooth – he just hit nearly everything he threw up at the rim.  Oh, and did we mention that he didn’t even start the game tonight – maybe Pat Knight should just play him in the final ten minutes of the game from now on.  Texas A&M, on the other hand, may have just watched its NCAA dreams die with their second-half gag (Mark Turgeon, double-team the guy torching your defense!!!) tonight.  Probably not, though – the Aggies’ RPI is still strong, and they did finish hot down the stretch.

Other Important Bubble Games.

  • Providence 83, Depaul 74.  PC allowed the Blue Demons to hang around in this one, and by virtue of playing the 0-18 team, they probably didn’t help their RPI or SOS any… but a win is a win, and with the win comes the opportunity to play #1 seed Louisville in the Big East quarters tomorrow.  The good news for the Friars is that Louisville is lifetime 1-3 in this tournament, but the bad news is that the only team that has beaten them all three times has been Pittsburgh.
  • Baylor 65, Nebraska 49.  NU probably didn’t have much of a case for an NCAA bid, but this loss solidifies their exclusion.   The more important question is whether Baylor can salvage their extremely disappointing season by going on a run to win the Big 12 title.  They will play #1 seed Kansas tomorrow, and although highly unlikely, KU is still a rather young team and could be vulnerable.
  • Oklahoma St. 81, Iowa St. 67.  OSU will get a chance to renew bedlam with Oklahoma tomorrow based on their handling of ISU tonight.  The Pokes were already in solid RPI position, but this win ensures their bid.  Now it’s a question of seeding, and with two hard-fought Ls to Oklahoma already, will the third time be the charm?
  • West Virginia 74, Notre Dame 62. ND meekly slithered into the night (NIT) with their loss to WVU today.  The Irish really needed a strong run into the late rounds of the Big East Tournament, and instead they couldn’t out-physical a team that thrives on that style of play today.  Alex Ruoff had 25 pts and Devin Ebanks had 7/18 in the winning effort; the Mountaineers will get Pittsburgh tomorrow in what is sure to be a slugfest.

14 Down, 51 To Go...

#13 – Robert Morris (24-10, 15-3 NEC). Dallas Green instantly became a NEC legend tonight as his shot from the baseline after scooping a loose ball off the floor was the game-winner that sent RMU to it’s sixth NCAA Tournament, but its first since 1992.  It was his only basket of the game, and even his coach said “oh no” when the ball scooted to his direction. Much-maligned Mezie Nwigwe scored three points in eighteen minutes of play.

RMU Begins Celebrating (Gene Puskar/AP)

RMU Begins Celebrating (Gene Puskar/AP)

Projected Seed: #14

Something to Remember: Although it didn’t show tonight (4-14), the Colonials are a strong three-point shooting team, averaging 39.1% throughout the season.  They hit nine against Miami (FL) in an 8-pt road loss.

#14 – Portland St. (23-9, 11-5 Big Sky).  PSU nearly let their second consecutive Big Sky title get away from them tonight, as they allowed upstart Montana St. to come back from ten pts down late to tie the game.  But it was Julius Thomas’ dunk with 3.5 seconds remaining that gave the Vikings the lead back and a strong defensive effort on the ensuing MSU possession ensured that Jeremiah Dominguez and company will make a return appearance in the Big Dance.

Projected Seed: #14

STR:  Beware.  This team is an experienced squad that lost by one point at Pac-10 champion Washington and beat Gonzaga by seven.  #1 Kansas ripped them last season, but they should have a higher seed this time around, and if they can catch a somewhat limited offensive opponent, they have a chance to pull the upset.

Other QnD Tourney Updates.

A10.  St. Louis, St. Joseph’s, Duquesne and Richmond all advanced to the quarterfinals tomorrow.  RTC Live is there with College Chalktalk live-blogging all of the action.  The best game of the day Thursday will likely be the streaking Richmond Spiders (6 of 7) taking on Dayton.

Big 12.  The only other game not covered so far was Texas’ win against Colorado.  There are some juicy matchups in Oklahoma City tomorrow, but we’re most looking forward to the third incarnation of Bedlam – OU vs. OSU in a true neutral venue.  OSU just might do this one.

Big East.  Marquette had an easy time with St. John’s and Syracuse got into a bunchastuff with Seton Hall before finally pulling away late.  We’re going to say it right here, right now.  Tomorrow’s quarterfinal round is the greatest collection of teams in a conference tournament’s quarterfinals round EVER.  There are four teams with realistic F4 chances and seven teams with legitimate S16 possibilities.  Providence is the only weak link, and they managed to beat a #1 team this season.  All of the games are worth watching (damn you, Dauster), but we’re most excited about the Marquette-Villanova game at 2:30 EDT so we can see how to parse these two teams.

Big West. Two minor upsets with UC Davis and UC Riverside today, but this league is completely wide open.  Don’t be surprised if an eight-seed wins this thing.

CUSA.  Over in the Retread Conference, Rice (Ben Braun), S. Miss (Larry Eustachy), Tulane and Houston (Tom Penders) all advanced today.  The best game tomorrow is the Houston-UTEP matchup.

MEAC.  No upsets in this league tonight, as all the higher seeds but one (who will play tomorrow) advanced to the semifinals.

Mountain West.  In the opening round game, Air Force knocked off Colorado St.  Tomorrow keep an eye on UNLV-San Diego St., a game with potential bubble implications depending on how deep the winner of this one goes.

Pac-10.  Stanford and Wazzu advanced to the quarterfinals tonight.  Several good games in the quarters tomorrow, but we’re most interested to see how UCLA responds after its loss a couple of weeks ago to Wazzu, who they’ll play again tomorrow night.

SWAC.  The top two seeds in the SWAC advanced tonight.  Two other quarterfinal games continue tomorrow.

Starting Tomorrow.

ACC.  The first round matchup of Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech holds the most interest, as both teams have been slumping down the stretch, but have enough talent to turn things around in short order.

Big 10.  The first round begins tomorrow, and clearly the best game here is the Northwestern-Minnesota game.  Neither team will get in from winning this one, but they will assuredly be out if they lose it.

MAC. The MAC continues with its quarters after a day off as well.  No idea which game to keep an eye on here.  None whatsoever.

SEC.  None of the first round games are very good, but if you must pick one, go with Kentucky’s attempt to win 4-in-4 to keep the NCAA streak alive, starting with Ole Miss.

Southland. The quarterfinals begin, and Stephen F. Austin is the favorite.

WAC. The WAC is picking back up after a day off in its quarterfinal round.  Remember that RTC Live will be there for the Utah St. vs. Fresno St. game, which should be the most interesting game of this round.

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Big East Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East ConferenceHe will be live-blogging all the action from his executive suite at MSG this week. 

Schedule:

Tuesday, March 10th / First Round
- Game 1: #9 Cincinnati vs. #16 DePaul
- Game 2: #12 Georgetown vs. #13 St. John’s
- Game 3: #10 Notre Dame vs. #15 Rutgers
- Game 4: #11 Seton Hall vs. #14 South Florida

Wednesday, March 11th / Second Round
- Game 5: Game 1 Winner vs. #8 Providence
- Game 6: Game 2 Winner vs. #5 Marquette
- Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs. #7 West Virginia
- Game 8: Game 4 Winner vs. #6 Syracuse

Thursday, March 12th / Quarters
- Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. #1 Louisville
- Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs. #4 Villanova
- Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. #2 Pitt
- Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs. #3 UConn

Friday, March 13th / Semis
- Game 13: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner
- Game 14: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner

Saturday, March 14th / Finals
- Game 15: Game 13 Winner vs. Game 14 Winner

It is only fitting that the biggest conference in college basketball have the biggest tournament. For the first time, the Big East is inviting all 16 teams to MSG for a five day extravaganza. The BET is always full of exciting moments – from Ray Allen vs. Allen Iverson in 1996 to Taliek Brown’s banked in 30 footer in 2002 to Gerry McNamara’s superhuman performance in 2006. With the number of good teams and absurdly high number of talented players, this year’s edition of the BET should not disappoint.

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Mr. March Headed to the NIT

Posted by nvr1983 on March 8th, 2009

We may have just seen Stephen Curry‘s last meaningful college basketball game. That may shock those of you who don’t follow college basketball religiously, but when the rest of the nation joins us in our college basketball obsession on next Sunday at 6 PM don’t expect to see Davidson among the teams selected on the CBS Selection Show. Sure we may get a cut-in to see Bob McKillop and the Wildcats sitting in a conference room with forlorn looks on their faces, but they just lost their shot at making another miraculous run when they lost to the College of Charleston for a second time this season ending their run in the Southern Conference tournament.

Mr. March Will Have to Settle For MSG, Not Detroit

Mr. March Will Have to Settle For MSG, Not Detroit

Now you may hear some pundits (read: Joe Lunardi and Andy Katz) say that Davidson deserves a bid given their tough non-conference schedule and their run last, which should be irrelevant). I’m sure that the CBS executives are secretly hoping that Davidson gets a bid as Curry would be ratings gold to the casual college basketball fan. While I won’t argue with the fact that Davidson played an incredibly tough non-conference schedule for a Southern Conference team, the reality is that they lost almost all of those games. Their only win (on the road over West Virginia) looks great on paper, but a closer looks reveals that the Mountaineers did not have Alex Ruoff that day and his replacement Joe Mazzulla only played 6 minutes (both due to shoulder injuries). Outside of that game, Davidson doesn’t have a win against a team in the top 50 in the RPI (1-4 overall) with losses against Oklahoma, Purdue, Duke, and Butler. While the Wildcats played Oklahoma close in Norman, they lost, which at the end of the day is what matters.

As it stands today, the Wildcats were only 68th in the RPI prior to their loss tonight. They now have 3 “bad losses” (to teams outside the RPI top 100) after losing to the College of Charleston twice and the Citadel. I’m not sure how the committee will treat the Citadel loss because Curry was injured, but it probably won’t matter. When you add in the fact that their strength of schedule is only 173rd nationally you have a team that’s new goal should be making a trip to Madison Square Garden. Maybe Curry should keep his head up high. He may be auditioning for his future employer.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.07.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2009

dynamite

We’re back for the final weekend of regular season Boom Goes the Dynamite for this college basketball season. The highlights of the weekend are obviously the two top 10 match-ups (in Pittsburgh on Saturday and in Chapel Hill on Sunday). We would love to provide you with another RTC Live from those site, but apparently we’re not big enough for them yet. (The onus is on you to spread the word.)

In any event, we’re going to make lemonade out of those lemons so we’ll be providing coverage from our bi-coastal offices covering all the action. Today is loaded with 15 of the top 25 playing with the other 10 playing on Sunday. We will be trying out best to provide you with wall-to-wall coverage of the top teams in action as well as RTC Live from several different locations:

In addition to our on-site correspondents we will be focusing in on a few key games for the majority of the day while also channel surfing over to the other games when the situation merits it. Here are the primary games that we will be covering today:

  • #1 UConn at #4 Pittsburgh at Noon on CBS
  • Michigan at Minnesota at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com
  • #25 Syracuse at #15 Marquette at 2 PM on ESPN360.com
  • #12 Missouri at Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
  • California at #21 Arizona State at 2 PM on CBS
  • Oklahoma State at #5 Oklahoma at 3:30 PM on ABC
  • Texas at #9 Kansas at 4 PM on CBS
  • Washington State at #13 Washington at 5:30 PM on CBS
  • Wright State at #22 Butler at 7 PM on ESPNU
  • #6 Louisville at West Virginia at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com

As you can tell it’s a pretty ambitious schedule so we are asking you, our loyal legion of RTC followers, to help alert all of us if something interesting is happening. You can contribute by leaving a message in the comment section so we all can follow it.

One piece of RTC breaking news, UNC point guard Ty Lawson injured his left big toe yesterday in practice.

11:30 PM: ESPN GameDay is live from Morgantown, WV and they’re doing their own version of Make Your Case. I feel a little bit like Bill Simmons after ESPN stole his Mount Rushmore, but they aren’t paying me a million dollars a year.

11:45 PM: A couple pieces of NCAA tournament news to wrap-up before we focus on our TV for the next 12 hours: Cornell became the first team to officially get into the tournament last night by winning the Ivy League title and 3 others will join them when the Atlantic Sun, Big South, and Ohio Valley have their championship games today.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.01.09 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2009

dynamiteWell it’s finally here. The month of March is upon us. Here at RTC, we’ll be coming up with a ridiculous number of posts (I’m not sure how we will be able to do it with our other “lives”) so be sure to check back throughout the month as we will have posts for conference recaps, our unique bubble watch, frequent bracket updates by our resident bracketologist Zach, our favorite NCAA tournament memories, and the most comprehensive NCAA tournament preview anywhere. Ever.

11:00 AM: Just to set the table for today (and before I run out to grab some lunch before the games start), we’ll be following all three of the major games today, which will all be on CBS. At noon, Dominic James-less #10 Marquette will travel to #6 Louisville. Then at 2 PM, #8 Missouri will travel to Lawrence to take on the defending national champs, #15 Kansas. (CBS will also be airing the Tennessee-Florida game at 2. We will be very unhappy if we end up with that game instead.) The last time these teams met, Missouri shocked the Jayhawks with a Zaire Taylor 10-footer to hand Kansas its only loss in their last 13 games. A win here for Kansas would essentially seal the Big 12 regular season title for Kansas since they own the tie-breaker over Oklahoma (thanks to Blake Griffin‘s absence). Finally at 4 PM, #9 Michigan State will go to #20 Illinois. Like the preceding game, a win here would essentially clinch the Big 10 regular season title for the Spartans. In addition, we will be following the aforementioned UT-UF game (hopefully online instead of on our TVs) as well as a handful of bubble match-ups (Providence at Rutgers, Cincinnati at Syracuse, Michigan at Wisconsin, and West Virginia at South Florida).

11:50 AM: If any of you are wondering if I might decide to ditch this and go outside to enjoy the beautiful March weather, here’s your answer. On a side note, I just saw myself on ESPN for the second time this season (thanks to the miracle of HD).

11:55 AM: Wow. I just saw the Blake Griffin play from yesterday where we went over the scorer’s table. Pretty impressive after his concussion against Texas.

Noon: CBS just announced they will be have an interview with Jamie Dixon at halftime. So the Pittsburgh fans might want to tune in for that if a top 10 match-up in their own conference wasn’t enough.

12:05 PM: Rick Pitino is wearing his Colonel Sanders suit for the white out. As the CBS guys mentioned, last year he had to switch at halftime. Let’s see if it is more effective this year.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Until Tuesday night, it was a relatively uneventful week in the Big East. The teams that should have won got the Ws, while the teams that were supposed to lose generally lost. That is, until Providence knocked off Pitt in front of packed house at the Dunk (for the record, Friar fans had one of the best ‘rushings of the court‘ that I have seen in a long time – they absolutely swallowed up the three Friar players in the center of the court).

Back to the point, not only were there not many upsets during the week, their weren’t that many outstanding performances. Weyinmi Efejuku of  Providence had 31 in a loss to Notre Dame. Ryan Ayers scored 28 in that same game, but earlier in the week struggled as the Irish lost to West Virginia. Luke Harangody had 26 and 13 in the Irish loss, but was non-existent until the final few minutes (when the game was decided) against Providence. DeJuan Blair’s 20 and 18 against DePaul (which should technically make the performance not count … it’s DePaul) is overshadowed by his 17 and 8 (and 5 turnovers and 5 fouls) in the loss to Providence.

You get the point.

Why should I be pointing that out to you? What is the significance of it? Is it just so I don’t look like a fool making my Player and Team of the Week picks?

Not exactly. It should show you that no team or player in the Big East (save for Providence, the damn Friars ruined my whole column) is stepping up to make a run at the NCAAs. As of this moment, the league should expect seven teams. After this win, Providence may be the eighth.

But Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Georgetown all still had a realistic chance to get in by winning. Cincy’s loss to Louisville gives them a two game losing streak. A win at South Florida is not going to be enough for the Hoyas, who have now lost 9 of 11. Even Providence had lost two straight before the upset of Pitt.

Notre Dame is the only team that looks to have a little bit of life left in them. They have now won three of four, including wins over Louisville and Providence, with the loss coming at West Virginia. If the Irish can keep up their winning ways, there is a good chance the Big East could actually end up with nine tourney teams.

For the record, I’m sick of everyone talking about the Big East as the toughest conference in the country.

It isn’t.

Let it go.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Player of the year.

How do you define it. Who put up the best stats? Who is the best player on the best team? The most valuable player? Maybe the guy that, if you were to have a draft involving every player in the league, you would pick first?

My criterion is simple – who is the best player? Easy enough, right?

As of now, there are only four players that should be considered for the award, and another few that deserve a mention in the conversation.

  1. DeJuan Blair, Pitt – 15.7 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 5.8 Orpg, 60% FG
  2. Jerel McNeal, Marquette – 19.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 spg, 44% 3PT
  3. Terrence Williams, Louisville – 12.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.93 a/t
  4. Hasheem Thabeet, UConn – 13.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 4.3 bpg, 64% FG

Others deserving mention: Luke Harangody, Jonny Flynn, Jeff Adrien, Levance Fields, and Da’Sean Butler.

Right now, I have no idea who deserves the award. Two weeks ago, I thought McNeal would run away with it. Last week, I thought Thabeet would made a run at national player of the year. This week, well, just scroll down and read about the player of the week.

There are great arguments to be made for each of these four, as well as the five players deserving mention (I mean, Luke Harangody is the only player in the country to be in the top five of points and rebounds per game, and barely cracks the top five for Big East POY?).

What it is going to come down to is who leads their team to the Big East regular season title. Each of the four players listed are the MVPs of the four teams currently tied (in the loss column) atop the Big East.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by nvr1983 on February 11th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

It is time to stop talking about the Big East as the best conference in college hoops. In the current installment of Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, the Big East is getting seven teams in. That’s one fewer than the ACC and one more than the Pac-10. In fact, if we are talking in terms of percentage of league members to get a bid, the Big East slides all the way down to fourth as the Big Televen sends five teams.

Of course, if you look a little deeper, things could turn around pretty quickly. Cincinnati and Georgetown are Lunardi’s first two teams out while Providence is his sixth team out. He also has teams like Kansas State, Arizona, USC, and Boston College currently in the field. Maybe I’m a Big East homer (I don’t think I am) and maybe I just don’t know enough about the other teams and conferences (believe me, not true), but I find it tough to believe that those four teams are going to continue to win at the rate they currently are.

My question is why has the Big East gone from the “toughest conference in the history of conferences” to one with only the fourth highest percentage of teams into the dance this season?

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Remember all that talk about the Big East getting nine, maybe ten, teams into the dance? It seems like a long time ago now, as it is a legitimate possibility the league only gets seven teams in. The three teams in danger of missing out are Georgetown, Notre Dame and Providence.

The Irish are in the worst position right now. They are currently sitting at 12-8 and 3-6 in the Big East, but they are just 2-7 against the RPI’s top 50. Their RPI is 77 and their SOS is 49, which aren’t great. But the Irish still play four teams in the RPI top 20, and three more in the top 70, which means the Irish have plenty of chances to up their RPI rating.

Providence could also be in trouble. Their RPI is 63 and their SOS is 42. Their record is a little better than the Irish (14-7, 6-3), but they have struggled against the best teams (1-5 vs. RPI top 50, but 3-2 against 51-100). They, too, will get plenty of chances to improve their resume as they have five more games against the top 20.

Georgetown looks to be the safest right now. They have an RPI of 20, have played the toughest schedule in the country (and second toughest in Big East play to West Virginia). They are just 3-5 against the RPI top 50, but they do own wins against Memphis and at UConn. All Georgetown needs to keep in mind is Arizona last year. The Wildcats finished 16-14, 8-10 in the Pac-10 (good for 7th), but got into the dance as a 10 seed based on their tough scheduling (#2 in SOS).

The bottom line is that it is tough to rule out anyone near the bubble in the Big East. With so many quality teams in the league, all it would take for a Cincinnati or a St. John’s is a great finish to the season, and a run to the quarters or the semis of the Big East Tourney.

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