RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.24.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 24th, 2010

Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.


Midwest Region (Tom Hager)

West Region (Andrew Murawa)

  • The top-seeded Orange have been without their senior center Arinze Onuaku since he injured his right quadriceps on March 11, and to this point they haven’t really needed him. But as the competition gets a bit stiffer this week, the Orange will continue on without him on Thursday and likely throughout the weekend, as he hasn’t yet taken part in practice. The Final Four is starting to look like a more realistic goal for his return.
  • Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim knows that regardless of who plays for his Orange, Butler is a talented team that will give his team problems.
  • One of the themes of the West Region is the strength of Xavier and Butler, two teams that come from non-BCS conferences but who have become national powers. Just don’t use the term “mid-major” around Xavier head coach Chris Mack.
  • And while Kansas State vs. Xavier may not seem like a matchup with a lot of history, they did have a matchup on New Year’s Eve a couple years back, and senior guard Jacob Pullen is still holding a grudge. He’ll have to play under control though, as it may be the battle of All-American-type guards that will decide the outcome.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.23.10

Posted by THager on March 24th, 2010

Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Midwest Region (Tom Hager)

  • Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson has insisted that his players are handling the added attention well, but it is hard to keep your composure when you walk into a lecture hall and receive a standing ovation, as Ali Farokhmanesh experienced on Monday.
  • Many people know that Farokhamnesh transferred to UNI, but most people do not know that UNI, like most other schools, knew about him in high school and passed up on him.
  • According to Dan Blank, the key for Michigan State will be to push the ball (something Kansas failed to do when they let Jordan Eglseder score 14 points in 18 minutes).  However, given the injuries they have recently sustained, Blank says hastening the pace may not be so easy.
  • Ohio State has been criticized for a lack of bench production, but Blank points out that the short bench may benefit the Buckeyes.
  • The Buckeyes are underdogs in this game, but Inside Tennessee’s Patrick Gibson reported that the Vols had a solid practice session on Monday.  That should come as no surprise, as this week Doug Gottlieb listed Bruce Pearl as one of his top coaches in the country.

West Region (Andrew Murawa)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.22.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2010

Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

West Region Notes (Andrew Murawa)

  • Lower-seeded teams like Cornell, Washington, Northern Iowa and St. Mary’s advancing to the Sweet 16 surprised college basketball fans all over, but Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was not among them, saying that “there’s not a big gap” between teams in the tournament. Of course, he said that after winning by an average of 22.5 points in the first two games, but college basketball coaches never stretch the truth, right?
  • When junior forward Wesley Johnson visited Boeheim at the Syracuse campus to inquire about transferring, the hall-of-fame coach initially turned him down. Luckily for the Orange, he changed his mind.
  • With the big dog in the state back at home watching, the Kansas State Wildcats will be carrying the Sunflower State banner. The Wildcats beat up on their Sweet 16 opponent, Xavier, pretty good in early December in the Little Apple, but Fran Fraschilla says the Musketeers are a different team these days.
  • Pitt and head coach Jamie Dixon are in the unfamiliar position of having to watch the Regional Semifinal round, but the Panthers will be strong contenders heading into the 2010-11 season, when they are expected to return all of their key contributors except graduating senior guard Jermaine Dixon.
  • Gonzaga fans on the other hand will likely have to sweat out some key personnel decisions in the offseason, including the possibility that head coach Mark Few could leave and return to his alma mater, Oregon, to take over the program from recently fired Ernie Kent. With a sparkling new arena in Eugene and all the money that Nike can throw at him, this is undoubtedly the biggest run that another school has made at the popular and successful coach who has reportedly declined numerous other offers from big-name schools in the past. But, while point guard Matt Bouldin having played his last game in a Zag uniform and freshman forward Elias Harris a promising NBA prospect, some big changes could be coming to the recent prototype for mid-major success (no matter how much they despise the term).

Midwest Region Notes (Tom Hager)

  • If there was any question that Northern Iowa might suffer from a hangover after the upset over Kansas, the team did not even wait for Saturday night to end before already getting focused for the next round of games.
  • In addition to his ability to hit clutch shots, Ali Farokhmanesh has also been improving on the defensive end.  Although Kwadzo Ahelegbe usually covers the best guard each game, Farokhmanesh held Sherron Collins to 0-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
  • Joe Rexrode reminded fans today that although Michigan State will miss Kalin Lucas in their next game against UNI, it won’t be the first time the Spartans played shorthanded this year.  In addition to the injury Lucas suffered against Wisconsin, he was also suspended earlier in the season for disappointing Tom Izzo as the team’s leader.  Chris Allen was also suspended earlier this season, and Durrell Summers was benched for a walk-on.
  • As good as Evan Turner has been lately, the Bleacher Report’s Drew Gatewood points out that he turned the ball over nine times against Georgia Tech and had eight turnovers against UC-Santa Barbara.  With the Vols ranking #7 in defensive efficiency, Turner’s assignment may become even more difficult.
  • Although Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga Times Free Press may be getting ahead of himself, he says Tennessee is very close to the first Final Four in UT history.  According to Wiedmer, UNI has overachieved and Michigan State is banged up, so the OSU matchup could be the deciding game in who will advance to the national semifinals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Selected Thoughts From an Epic First Weekend

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2010

How’s Your Bracket? Of the sixteen top seeds in this year’s NCAA Tournament, eight are now gone — one #1 seed, one #2 seed and three each of the #3s and #4s.   The last time that half of the top sixteen didn’t make the Sweets?  2005 (8).  Before that?  2000 (9).  So maybe this is a cyclical thing of around twice a decade, but we’ll take it.  It makes for a wild attention-getting opening weekend, and builds a buzz about the Dance that had been lacking in the last couple of years during the early rounds. In addition to that, we have a #9 (Northern Iowa), #10 (St. Mary’s), #11 (Washington) and #12 (Cornell) crashing the rarefied air of the regionals, the most teams from the lower half of the bracket to make it since 1999 when five double-digit seeds made it to the second weekend.  To the players on those four teams, they don’t care about any of that — the unlikelihood of its occurrence is lost on their youth; all they know is that they’re still playing and they believe they can continue to advance in this tournament.  And why shouldn’t they?  None of the four teams above fit the definition of an overmatched Cinderella that just happened to catch a favorite looking ahead or on a very off night.  No, these four teams have combined to win 113 games this year, and each has shown the ability to win convincingly over quality competition.  Cornell’s 13-point victory over Temple was one thing; but an 18-point pasting over Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin while scoring 87 points is quite another.  St. Mary’s knocking out a strong Richmond team was impressive; but holding Big Shot Scottie Reynolds to 2-11 from the field is a different story.  Same thing for Washington dominating a 30-win New Mexico team, and well, we’re still in astonishment over the UNI victory over Kansas on Saturday afternoon (more on this below).  It was a bracket-busting kind of weekend, and it provided more thrills and memorable moments than the last few NCAA Tournaments combined.  It’s the reason we all love this sport, and it provides additional evidence (although none is needed) that the Tourney is already in its sweet spot in terms of the right number of teams allowed to participate.  If #9 seed Northern Iowa had to play an additional game to get to #8 UNLV before a chance to take on #1 Kansas on Saturday, would they have had the legs to get past the overall top seed?  Would any of the above teams still be dancing?


Un-Farokhing-Believable.  We were among the biggest supporters of top overall seed Kansas as a dominant team that had a great shot at steamrolling to this year’s title, but Ali Farokhmanesh and Northern Iowa had other ideas.  It wasn’t enough that the Iowan with the Persian name that no major college wanted drilled a 25-foot game winner during Thursday’s first round game versus UNLV; no, he one-upped that shot with another three (“a dagger,” according to Bill Self) on a 1-on-2 fast break opportunity where the ‘smart’ play appeared to be pulling things out and running clock.  His platinum-balls three from the right wing was all net, giving UNI a four-point lead with around thirty seconds to go.  After KU’s Tyrel Reed charged on the ensuing possession, the upset was in the books, and it will go down as one of the greatest in NCAA Tournament history.  No matter what the revisionist historians will try to argue, Kansas was the prohibitive favorite to win the NCAA Tournament this season, and in the 64/65-team era, there has never been a bigger Second Round upset.  Bigger than Stanford and Kentucky in 2004, Stanford again in 2000, and yes, even Kansas’ loss to UTEP in 1993.  The difference between those teams and this one is that 2009-10 Kansas was considerably better than all of those other #1 seeds.  If you disagree that they weren’t the prohibitive favorite, send us a screen shot of where you had the Jayhawks losing.  42% of America in the ESPN Tournament Challenge had the ‘Hawks winning it all, and nearly 75% had them in the Final Four.  We would agree that it was the biggest overall upset since George Mason over #1 UConn back in 2006, but at least by that point in time we had a decent idea of what the Patriots were made of (with wins over UNC and Michigan State already).  Here, we had no idea that Ali and his Magic Panthers had in store.

Color Us Impressed…

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.21.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2010

Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

  • Kentucky performed as a top seed should, winning convincingly, building momentum and taking confidence to Syracuse. Ashley Judd isn’t the only star fan, Grammy-nominated rapper Drake was at Saturday’s game and gave hi-fives to the Kentucky coaches.
  • Cornell is going to its first ever Sweet 16 after exposing Wisconsin in a 18-point victory. Meanwhile, the Big Red feel like they belong and will be playing their regional semifinal game just under 60 miles away from campus.
  • Washington continued its improbable run into the Sweet 16 Saturday. The Huskies are coming together as the East Region bracket falls apart, playing their best basketball in a long time. The Seattle Times is asking… why can’t the Huskies continue this run?
  • West Virginia handled the pressure and Joe Mazzulla and Darryl Bryant got redemption in their win over Missouri. Mazzulla showed heart in the Sunday win, the Charleston Gazette says.

West Region Notes (Andrew Murawa)

  • Butler has advanced to their third Sweet 16 in eight years, and while they will be a big underdog to Syracuse on Thursday, they’ve shed the Cinderella label.
  • Xavier, on the other hand, is one of just two programs in the country to achieve the Sweet 16 in each of the past three years (the other being Michigan State), and they’ve got a label they aren’t too big on either: “mid-major”.
  • A day after the BYU season ended, head coach Dave Rose still thinks his Cougars had a “special season.” They will lose seniors Jonathan Tavernari and Chris Miles to graduation and freshman Tyler Haws will head off on his two-year Mormon mission, but they also have two kids returning from missions and expect to be a strong contender in the MWC again next season.
  • Murray State also heads into their offseason feeling pretty good about their accomplishments, and with only two key contributors graduating and freshman forward Ed Daniel looking ready to be an Ohio Valley Conference star, head coach Billy Kennedy feels pretty good about the future of the program.
  • And, finally, while it is never too early to get an Arinze Onuaku update (still somewhere between questionable and unlikely for Syracuse vs. Butler on Thursday), Wesley Johnson offered up a pretty good assessment of his hand injury with his play on Sunday.

Midwest Region Notes (Tom Hager)

  • It may be surprising to hear from Ali Farokhmanesh, but the gutsy shooter claims that open looks are sometimes the harder shots to make, as a shooter has too much time to think.
  • According to Tom Izzo, the odds of Kalin Lucas having a torn ACL are around 85%.  If that is the case, his season is likely over.
  • When Tennessee and Ohio State will meet, it will be a rematch of their 2007 tournament game, in which the Volunteers led by 17 and OSU needed a Greg Oden block at the buzzer to save a one point lead.
  • Kansas coach Bill Self asserts that Northern Iowa shouldn’t be surprising the country as much as they are, claiming that the Panthers are not Cinderella.
  • According to Fox News, the NCAA needs Evan Turner, who can provide the closest substitute to the highly anticipated Kansas vs. Kentucky matchup.  If both Kentucky and Ohio State advance to the Final Four, they would not meet until the title game.
Share this story

Northern Iowa Knocks Out Kansas

Posted by jstevrtc on March 20th, 2010

Kansas has been sent packing by Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

This has to be the biggest second-round upset in the history of the event.  The Panthers weren’t afraid to get physical with the Jayhawks, and forced them into 15 turnovers while committing only nine themselves.  Kansas was of course the overall #1, and their departure means that Kentucky probably takes over as the favorite to win the title.  They play Wake Forest in a second round game in New Orleans later tonight.

Northern Iowa Celebrates! (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Ali Farokhmanesh hit a three — his fourth on the day — with about 25 seconds left to put the Panthers up four just as they were looking their shakiest.  He then sank two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to put a lid on the Panthers’ amazing performance, giving him 16 points on the day.  Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor went a combined 0-10 from three-point land, while Farokhmanesh, Jordan Eglseder, and Johnny Moran combined for 8-16 shooting from behind the arc.

The Panthers’ dismissal of the Jayhawks brings to mind the tournaments of 2000 and 2004.  In 2000, a pair of #8-seeds got the best of two top-seeded squads.  Stanford was the #1 seed in the South region and was beaten by the #8-seed North Carolina in the second round.  Arizona was the #1 seed in the West and also suffered a second round loss.  They were beaten by #8 Wisconsin, and both Wisconsin and North Carolina went on to the Final Four.  In 2004, two #1-seeds went down in the second round on the same day — Kentucky (#1 in the St. Louis region) lost to #9 UAB and Stanford (top seed in the Phoenix region) lost to #8 Alabama.

Take a look at the Midwest bracket.  The region that ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb rightly called “The Region of Death” is now wide open, with #3 Georgetown having been dispatched by Ohio University on Thursday night.  #2 Ohio State and #4 Maryland are the two top seeds left, but every supposed underdog team will play with renewed vigor, knowing there are no Jayhawks with whom to deal.  The Buckeyes will take on #10 Georgia Tech and Maryland will play #5 Michigan State on Sunday afternoon.  The winner of the Maryland/Michigan State game gets the Panthers in the Sweet 16.

We tweeted it after the UNI vs UNLV game, but it's worth repeating: Ali just bumayed.

More on this throughout the evening.  Oh, and if you’re a favorite today…you better come strong.

Share this story

Boom Goes The Dynamite: Second Round 03.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 20th, 2010

Now it’s a party.  The first round is done.  The next 48 hours of games will define which big-time teams can handle the pressure cooker that is the Big Dance, and it will identify the Cinderellas we’ll be talking about for years.  If you’re a double-digit seed, winning one game is nice, but you don’t receive your wicked stepsisters, pumpkin coach, and glass slipper until you at least reach the Sweet 16.  Oh, you’re a big-conference bigwig?  Then the next round is still probably less than what was expected of you.  People don’t remember Second Rounders.  They remember teams that make the Sweet 16 and beyond.  The first round was fun.  But it’s over.  Here are the teams vying for the Sweet 16 on Saturday:

  • #2 Villanova vs #10 St. Mary’s
  • #5 Butler vs #13 Murray State
  • #6 Tennessee vs #14 Ohio
  • #1 Kansas vs #9 Northern Iowa
  • #3 Baylor vs #11 Old Dominion
  • #3 New Mexico vs #11 Washington
  • #2 Kansas State vs #7 Brigham Young
  • #1 Kentucky vs #9 Wake Forest

We’ll be here all day, watching the games with you.  We hope you’ll join us, and we definitely look forward to seeing you in the comments section as we all climb in to ride this rollercoaster for the third time.  See you right here about fifteen minutes before the first tip!

12:55: Here we go!  For the Sweet 16, gentlemen…let’s play!  Some interesting matchups throughout the day.  Looking especially forward to Baylor vs ODU and KSU vs BYU.  To me those look like the more intriguing games.

1:05: St. Mary’s off to a quick start!  The inside battle between Omar Samhan and Mouphtaou Yarou and/or Maurice Sutton is gonna be fun to watch.  God, Samhan looks bigger every time I see him.

1:15: I guess Jay Wright’s “minor teaching point” is over.  Samhan could not have asked for a better start to this game.  Eight points on 4-6 shooting.  SMU does not look intimidated early.  I fact, Villanova still looks like they’re getting over whatever hangover they were nursing that caused them to almost get beaten by Bob Morris.

1:26: Samhan just rooked with that second foul.  I agree with Raftery.  That should have been a no-call.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Second Round Game Analysis: Saturday

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 16 of the second round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Saturday games.

1:05 pm – #2 Villanova vs. #10 St. Mary’s  (Providence pod)

A great opening game of the day for the group of teams that produced the best opening day of the NCAA Tournament ever. A lot of experts are going to be calling for an upset here and based on the way these two teams are playing we can’t say that we blame them. The Wildcats came into the NCAA Tournament having lost five of seven games and nearly lost to Robert Morris (down by 7 with less than 4 minutes left before some controversial calls went ‘Nova’s way). On the other side, the Gaels stormed through the West Coast Conference Tournament and knocked off Richmond, a team that a lot of people had as a potential sleeper, in the first round. The key to this game will be how Reggie Redding handles Omar Samhan. After watching Samhan rip apart the Spiders, Jay Wright has to be concerned about his interior players going against one of the best low-post players in the country. On the other side, Saint Mary’s has to figure out how to deal with Scottie Reynolds and the rest of the Wildcat backcourt. They are certainly better equipped to match-up with Villanova’s perimeter players with Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova than the Wildcats are to handle Samhan. Saint Mary’s perimeter players pack enough offensive punch to make keep up with Villanova’s guards, but Mouphtaou Yarou and Redding shouldn’t challenge Samhan too much defensively. The one wildcard here is Reynolds. Will he “learn” from Wright’s “teaching moment” and become the Scottie Reynolds we knew for most of the past two seasons or will be the 2-15 from the field Reynolds?

The Skinny: Samhan overwhelms the Wildcats on the inside and advance into the Sweet 16 as this year’s Cinderella.

3:20 pm – #5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State  (San Jose pod)

The second game of the second round will feature the top mid-major program in the east versus an upstart who would love to get there themselves.  In their first round game, if you haven’t heard, the Racers’ Danero Thomas hit a shot at the buzzer to knock Vanderbilt out of the Tournament, but what you may not know about that game is that Murray State pretty much controlled it throughout.  It was very late when Vandy regained the lead and set the stage for Thomas’ game winner.  The point: Murray is better than your typical #13 seed Cinderella.  Butler, on the other hand, had a weak first half and a superb second half to put away UTEP.  It was two of the staples of Butler’s attack — relentless halfcourt defense and the three-ball — that allowed the Bulldogs to quickly take the lead and never look back against the Miners.  As for this game, Murray State does many of the same things that Butler does, it’s just that Brad Stevens’ team does those things better.  It will certainly be interesting to see how Butler responds to being the Big (Bull)Dog in an NCAA Tournament game, as they’re usually the upstart taking on some higher-seeded Kansas or Florida type of team.

The Skinny: We’d love to take Murray State here, but Butler isn’t going to let a johnny-come-lately out-Butler them en route to the Sweet Sixteen, so we expect Butler to hang on and win by 6-8 points.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: A Thursday Thrill Ride

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2010

The single greatest First Round day in NCAA Tournament history.  Four last seconds shots, and this montage doesn’t even include the half-dozen other games that went down to the wire. Phenomenal.

First, at around 4:43 PM this afternoon in Silicon Valley…

Danero Thomas Gets Us Started (KC Star/M. Sanchez)

And then approximately 9:24 PM in OKC…

Ali Farokhmanesh Keeps Us Going (AP/T. Gutierrez)

Heading back to San Jose for QP’s bank shot at 9:59 PM…

Pondexter Keeps the Madness Going...

And finishing up at around 12:31 AM on Friday morning in the Big Ish-y…

Ish Finishes Us Off On a Magnificent Day of Hoops (AP/J. Bazemore)

Could things possibly be better tomorrow?  The mere contemplation of that possibility makes us a little shaky (well, that and the six coffees and two-and-a-half red bulls tonight).

Share this story

Ali Farokhmanesh Does His Best Maurice Newby Impersonation

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2010

We already talked about how great the first set of games today were , but it looks like the outstanding play didn’t stop. While Danero Thomas will be the name du jour to drop around the water cooler on Friday to act like you know what you are talking about, he wasn’t the only one etching his name into his school’s lore. In between another series of ridiculous games (Ohio shooting Georgetown right out of the NCAA Tournament and Washington mounting a huge comeback against Marquette), Northern Iowa was battling UNLV in a game that was tied at 66 with time winding down. Kwadzo Ahelegbe appeared to be dribbling out the clock and for a moment it seemed that the Panthers might not even get a shot off before the ball end up in the hands of Ali Farokhmanesh, who launched a shot that will only grow in legend in Cedar Falls, Iowa:

Farokhmanesh’s shot help UNI win its first game in the NCAA Tournament since 1990 when they were a #14 seed playing against #3 Missouri and they were facing a very similar situation with the game tied with 10 seconds left when the ball ended up in the hands of Maurice Newby:

Amazing, Farokhmanesh took his game-winning shot from almost the same spot on the court in the same situation as Newby did almost 20 years ago to the day. Unfortunately for UNI they lost their next game in 1990 to Minnesota. This year, they will play will play overall #1 Kansas. For the sake of the Panthers and their fans, hopefully that part of history does not repeat itself.

h/t to Ray Curren for digging up the 1990 video

Share this story

Boom Goes The Dynamite: First Round 03.18.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 18th, 2010

Best first flight of games ever?  It just might be.  Right now the Selection Committee are looking like a bunch of geniuses.  We have confidence in the second flight of games bringing some excitement, too.  We popped for the DirecTV package so we’ll be monitoring every game:

  • Ohio vs Georgetown
  • East Tennessee State vs Kentucky
  • Northern Iowa vs UNLV
  • Washington vs Marquette
  • San Diego State vs Tennessee
  • Wake Forest vs Texas
  • Lehigh vs Kansas
  • Montana vs New Mexico

After what we saw this afternoon, we suggest you join us for our live-blogging feature this evening.  Get that refresh-button finger warmed up, and by all means let us know in the comments section what you’re watching and how you’re celebrating this unofficial national holiday.  We’ll start at around 7 PM ET.  See you there!

7:00: That’s OK Hemogoblin.  Though scheduling a fantasy baseball draft TODAY??  Hmmm…  Anyway, Butler is polishing off UTEP in a game that is going to screw up a lot of brackets.  UTEP was a popular upset pick for the first round, and sometimes beyond.  Frankly, I expected more from Arnett Moutrie at the forward spot.  Zero points today.

7:30: OK, sorry there, folks.  Had a quick  dinner break, which I tried to time right so it would happen during the single-game interval.  Didn’t hit it.  We haven’t missed much.  Kentucky has started pretty hot against ETSU and UNLV has taken an early lead over Northern Iowa.

7:52: Kentucky is shooting 70% to start this game.  YEESH.  They’re already up 41-16 against ETSU.  At what point do you pull the starters to rest for the second game against either Wake or Texas?

7:58: Anyone want to wake up Georgetown?  The Armon Bassett/D.J. Cooper tandem has been quite effective for the Bobcats, so far a combined 6-12 and 15 of Ohio U.’s 33 points.

8:02: Goodness.  John Wall already has seven assists.  Let’s see what else is on…

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

First Round Game Analysis: Thursday Evening

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Thursday evening games.

7:10 pm – #8 Northern Iowa vs. #9 UNLV  (Oklahoma City pod)

The Midwest Region’s first game of the tournament features two teams battling for the privilege of going up against Kansas in the next round. What press there is about Northern Iowa, Jordan Eglseder gets most of it. UNLV will also have to watch out for senior guard Ali Farokhmanesh, a streaky three-point shooter who’s had five straight games in single figures and is due for a run. It was thought at the beginning of the year that UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis and Oscar Bellfield would do a little more sharing of the scoring burden for the Runnin Rebels this year, but it’s been Willis who’s shouldered most of the load. At 17.5 PPG, he averages a full seven points more than the Rebels’ next leading scorer, sophomore forward Chace Stanback. Both of these teams take good care of the basketball and, even though neither of them is going to give the scoreboard operator much of a workout, the game itself should be a good one between two teams of similar talent. We hope all these guys get to enjoy the trappings of the tournament… because it won’t last long, sorry to say.

The Skinny: In a game played in the mid-50s (both in tempo and era), look for UNI to make the key plays down the stretch to win this one by four.

7:15 pm – #1 Kentucky vs. #16 ETSU  (New Orleans pod)

If any #16 seed is going to be the first to topple a top seed in this bracket, here’s your best shot. East Tennessee State was in this exact position one March ago and took #1 Pittsburgh to the wire. In fact, the Buccaneers trailed by just three points with 2:47 left in a contest usually reserved for monumental blowouts. ETSU was expected to rebuild after losing four starters from the Atlantic Sun champion of 2008-09, but the Bucs pulled off two upsets in the A-Sun Tournament and toppled Mercer in a true road game, meaning ETSU and former UAB headman Murry Bartow are dancing for the second straight campaign. One player who may give the top seed Wildcats some trouble is a 6’4 wing named Tommy Hubbard that has finally harnessed his talent and is one of the most improved players in the nation. Let’s be honest here, though: Kentucky should roll over the underdog Bucs. The Big Blue has more athleticism and pure ability than any team in the field, never mind the A-Sun champion that finished the season with 14 losses. No guard can come close to contain the blazing speed of John Wall. DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson should have their way on the boards. Even a few breathtaking alley-oops could be in store for the ESPN folks to feast on. Last year Cal State Northridge gave John Calipari’s Memphis team a real scare in the first round. Expect the Kentucky head coach to learn from that game and have his squad prepared to blow the doors off ETSU from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

The Skinny: Kentucky will spend most of the game up 20+ before calling off the dogs Cats to win by fifteen or so.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story