A Column of Enchantment: Fantasy Booking ESPNU

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 5th, 2015

The wonderful idea of ESPNU turns 10 years old this week. The reason I mention it as an idea is because it hasn’t exactly been what it was originally designed to be — you know, a network dedicated solely to the world of college sports. Now, while it is mostly revolved around everything college athletic competition related, the programming on it sometimes goes off the beaten trail.



All of that did make to do some pondering, though, which is an incredibly dangerous thing. What if ESPNU was scheduled the way it should be booked for a network designed to cover all things in amateur athletics? Don’t get me wrong either. I get why they do some of the things they do. As much as I dislike Colin Cowherd, he is put on that network to generate ratings, attention and other things that something like Katz Korner unlikely provides. I would argue that — if the network truly dedicated itself in a more proper way — that more broadcasts of college-only related material would work. In my opinion, and it may very will be only mine, is is ESPN’s lack of dedicating ESPNU in the correct areas that makes it the non-blood relative of the ESPN family of networks. ESPN is obviously the patriarch, with ESPN2 the spouse. I suppose it also makes ESPN Classic (I honestly don’t even know if that’s still a thing) a distant cousin. ESPN3 and Watch ESPN are like the cool in-laws — you really like them, but that has as much to do with consuming them whenever you want and never being over saturated with their presence. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Here is how we are going to go about booking ESPNU. I am going to go through a random day’s lineup. After each show I will say if it works, why it works, how it can be tweaked and some other nonsense. Now, with that being said, I should also mention that one of my true dislikes is ESPNU’s constant rerun approach, mostly because of its lack of original programming. There might be instances when I will like a program on the network, but when we book a day’s lineup to my suiting later, it will appear less in the day’s programming. For your information and reference I am using an actual 24-hour window of the channel’s broadcast lineup — as pulled from ESPN’s own TV listing section — for the reference of listings. Let’s start at 9:oo AM ET and take a look at their lineup.

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The RTC Podcast: Upset Weekend Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2014

What a crazy weekend of college basketball. After more than enough upsets and upheavals to shake your fist at, the RTC Podcast is here to attempt to make some sense of all the early March Madness. To help us navigate through some of the morass, we asked ESPN analyst Andy Katz to join us for this week’s Rush the Take, and he was gracious enough to spend some time with us discussing the likes of Oklahoma State, the notion of talent vs. seed level, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin, and what he’s looking forward to in terms of the bubble over the next week. It’s excellent stuff, and will more than get you ready for the week before Championship Week. Hosted by Shane Connolly, the guys also spend time talking over the miraculous ascent of Virginia, the equally miraculous descent of Kentucky, and everything in-between. Join us for a listen!

We’re going to be dropping podcasts/podblasts like crazy over the next five weeks of action, so make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-7:39 – Virginia Sits Alone Atop the ACC
  • 7:39-9:38 – Upsets Abound This Weekend
  • 9:38-14:11 – Kentucky’s Season Spirals Downwards
  • 14:11-16:43 – Least Concerning Upsets
  • 16:43-20:43 – Most Encouraging Win
  • 20:43-28:16 – Rush The Take With ESPN’s Andy Katz
  • 28:16-31:58 – Future of Rushing the Court
  • 31:58-35:15 – Ranking New Mexico
  • 35:15-45:13 – Week Preview
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Five Years Later: Has Longer Three-Point Line Achieved Desired Results?

Posted by BHayes on October 3rd, 2013

With five full seasons of college basketball’s 20-foot, 9-inch three-point line under our belt (formerly 19’9″), now would seem like a good time to take inventory on the impact of the rule change. There was ample debate back in summer 2008 on just how much of a difference the extra foot would make, but believers, and more importantly, the enforcers (the NCAA) trusted that the new line would promote better offensive spacing, and again make the three-pointer an option for only the finest of shooters. Those on the other side of the debate refused to believe that a measly 12 inches would alter a whole lot, with common refrains ranging from “players will be able to adjust very quickly” to “most three-point attempts came from well beyond the arc anyways.” So which group gets to say “I told you so” now? We have a large enough sample size to draw legitimate conclusions, but if we recall the initial objectives of the rule change – increased floor spacing and a decrease in non-shooters attempting the shot —  it’s  hard to argue that the evidence shows anything but mixed results.

Former Blue Devil Greg Paulus Was One Of Many Who Preferred The Three-Point Line Back At 19', 9" ; After Shooting 42% From Three Point Range As A Junior In 2007-08, Paulus Shot Just 34% From Beyond The Arc As A Senior (Photo Credit: Spokeo.com)

Former Blue Devil Greg Paulus Was One Of Many Who Preferred The Three-Point Line Back At 19′, 9″ ; After Shooting 42% From Three Point Range As A Junior In 2007-08, Paulus Shot Just 34% From Beyond The Arc As A Senior (Photo Credit: Spokeo.com)

At the simplest level, the new line served its purpose: Three-point shots have been harder to make since 2008-09. In the last decade, the peak of three-point shooting proficiency came in the final year of the 19’9” line, when players shot 35.02% from distance. That number immediately plummeted to 34.18% in the first year with the new line — a significant drop when you consider that the largest shift in percentage in the five years prior was just .21%. Also worth noting is that the overall percentage in each of the last five years is well below even the lowest percentage (34.49%) in the five years before the change. StatSheet has some wonderful visual representations of this data, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that college players are simply not making as many threes as they did when the line was shorter. No PhD necessary to deduce that they are also taking fewer threes – another desired outcome for the rule book authors back in 2008. Total attempts saw a drastic decline between 2007 and 2008, as the average of 38.25 3FGAs per game fell to just 36.73 in the year after the change. That number has experienced a relative flatline in the four years since – a sharp interruption to a decidedly upward trending graph in the years prior.

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Big East M5: 02.15.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on February 15th, 2013


  1. As expected, more details have emerged in the Jim Boeheim-Andy Katz “feud”, which came to a head last night when Boeheim called Katz an idiot and refused to answer his questions at the presser that followed Syracuse’s loss at Connecticut.  What was originally assumed by many to be an issue with Katz sharing some information about James Southerland’s academic issues now seems to be more about last year’s Bernie Fine fiasco.  Let’s hear from Boeheim: “It’s really simple. I went to New York last year to play in the (NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off) Tournament in November and he (Katz) asked if he could interview me about the tournament. And I said, ‘Yeah, but I can’t talk about the (Bernie Fine) investigation.’ We got in the room and he put me on camera — there were several witnesses there — and he asked me what I’d told him I couldn’t answer. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t answer that.’ And he asked me, like, 10 times on camera. He never took the camera off me. Two or three people in the room were so disgusted they walked out of the room. The producer came over and apologized afterward. And I told Katz right then and there, ‘Don’t talk to me. Do not try to talk to me again.'” Katz issued a response following the Syracuse.com article: “There was no deal. I don’t cut deals. He might have thought there was a deal, but I have never, ever made a deal… The reason I did that is because with guys like Jim Boeheim, John Calipari, Jim Calhoun they’ll, say there’s a certain subject they don’t want to talk about and then they’ll talk about it. If I asked it one too many times, fine, criticize me. I was just trying to see if he’d answer the question.”
  2. On the brighter side for Syracuse fans… err, maybe not so much after Wednesday night in Hartford… Michael Carter-Williams continues to grab headlines for his play.  Mike DeCourcy of  Sporting News went into depth with MCW about his high-risk, high-reward play this season, and how his scant playing time last season has helped in his maturation process.  Carter-Williams, like Dion Waiters before him, is a fiery competitor, and is has gotten the best of him in games before, including one instance last season when he snapped at Jim Boeheim after being taken out of a game: “Definitely, there were a couple of times when it got the better of me and I lashed out at Coach. Those were mistakes I made. Coach told me if I wasn’t yelling at him, he wouldn’t know what to expect from me. I was a McDonald’s All-American and I wasn’t playing … he knew I wanted to be out there.”  Carter-Williams’ play has been up and down this Big East season, but few deny his talent, and the fact that if Syracuse has a chance at making a final four run this season, it will be in large part due to MCW’s play.
  3.  College basketball is wide open this season, and the Big East is no different. It seems like half of the league is still in contention for the conference crown, and no one knows what will happen once the Big East tournament kicks off at Madison Square Garden. UConn was never supposed to be in the discussion this season.  After being handed a full post-season ban due to APR issues, and losing a number of talented players from their NCAA tournament team last season, UConn was largely an afterthought in the league.  However, with the win over Syracuse, the Huskies sit just a game out of first place in the conference, and the team may be especially dangerous, as a regular season Big East title is all that they can play for this year.
  4. Cincinnati’s offensive woes have been well-documented, especially since Cashmere Wright’s injury in January.  Sean Kilpatrick has been a one man show for the Bearcats, and that hasn’t been a winning formula.  In their recent win over Villanova, Cincinnati was able to find offense from another sourceJaQuon Parker.  Parker averages 10.9 points per game for Cincy, but had been in a bit of a scoring drought before breaking out with 19 points against the Wildcats.  The significance of his contribution was not lost on Mick Cronin: “He’s got to stay aggressive and I’ve got to help him with that. Put him in situations to where he can be aggressive and he’s thinking offense.  He’s thinking attack. For us to win, he’s got to play that way. For us to be a high-level team, he’s got to be a double-figure guy.”
  5. The ballad of Todd Mayo at Marquette has hit frequent rough notes, but he is a rare talent that could become a major asset for Buzz Williams’ squad if kept in check.  Mayo spent the early part of this season on academic suspension, and he has had his playing time cut at points since his return for what many expect is disciplinary reasons.  When Mayo does suit up, he is a dangerous offensive weapon, averaging over 17.5 points per 40 minutes played.  The trouble is, for every double digit game he tallies, he only plays five minutes in another.  There are rumblings that Mayo may not be long for Marquette, but while he is still on the team, they can certainly use him in their race for the top of the Big East.
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TV Show Recap: “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things”

Posted by mlemaire on February 14th, 2013

Last night was the latest episode of one of my favorite reality TV shows, right up there with “Rick Pitino Making Jokes,” the always popular and unpredictable show, “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things.” You thought 24 seasons of  The Simpsons was a lot, well “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things” is now in its 37th season and amazingly it still does not lack for high-quality original content. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t truly understand the appeal of the show until around 2008 when the show aired the now-infamous episode in which Boeheim casually beat the ever-loving crap out of a malfunctioning microphone following a win against Long Beach State. After that I was hooked.

The show can make you laugh like the episode with the microphone, or it can make you cringe, like last season’s episode in which some felt Boeheim should have lost his job for insinuating that two men who had accused one of his assistant coaches of molesting them were only looking for money. Plenty have kept wondering whether the show will ever go off the air, but if this season, one which I have been watching devotedly, is any indication, “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things” still has plenty of gas left in the tank. This season got off to a slow start as the Orange won a lot and didn’t encounter much adversity, but it started to pick up in December when the 900th career coaching victory episode took a surprise twist and ended with Boeheim publicly airing his unsolicited stance on gun control, and who could forget last week’s laugher when our ever-so-candid protagonist explained that he doesn’t read things on the Internet because he doesn’t “want to throw up everyday.”

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Big East M5: 02.14.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on February 14th, 2013


  1. Syracuse and UConn played for the final time as Big East rivals at the XL Center in Hartford on Wednesday night.  It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, and after an incredibly poor offensive performance by the Orange, UConn captured a 66-58 win. However, the postgame headlines weren’t about the end of a major college basketball rivalry or another hiccup by a top 10 Syracuse squad. Rather, in true Jim Boeheim-ian fashion, a press conference has become the most notable part of what was otherwise a historic night. Earlier in the evening, ESPN’s Andy Katz reported that he had learned that James Southerland’s academic issues, for which the forward missed six games, stemmed from two paragraphs in a term paper. What seemed like an interesting scoop at the time turned into a major issue when Boeheim refused to answer Katz’s questions after the game, calling him “an idiot” and “disloyal.” If Katz, who has had solid access to the Syracuse program in the past, reported on something that was supposed to be off the record, then Boeheim has a gripe. The Auburn Citizen‘s Ben Meyers has a great take on the situation; while he believes that the situation set Boeheim off, the Syracuse head coach used the issue to take attention off of his team’s bad play, a technique that he has successfully used in the past.
  2. The play in the Big East this season has been relatively sloppy and unbecoming of what has been arguably the greatest basketball conference in the country. Grantland‘s Charles P. Pierce relates this, specifically Monday night’s ugly Georgetown-Marquette match-up, to the overall state of the Big East: “As the game was a perfect fractal view of the season, the season, of course, is a perfect fractal view of what’s going on in college basketball, generally. The sport has lost its logic. It has lapsed into incoherence, and nowhere more obviously than in the Big East, once the premier conference in the country, and now a listing hulk that everyone expects to be demolished and sold for parts in the very near future.” Pierce goes on to describe the conference’s break-up, which he blames on the “heroin of college sports,” football, and waxes poetic on the league which we all love. It’s a great read for Big East fans.
  3. Russ Smith has certainly earned his “Russdiculous” nickname this season, for better and for worse. In a post on the Louisville site “Card Game”, Charlie Springer contends that Smith hasn’t yet proven that he is “comfortable as a teammate,” and that his occasional moments of basketball greatness are often countered when the guard goes rogue and makes poor decisions. The Cards haven’t gotten some of the production that they expected out of a number of their players, including Peyton Siva, who many expected to take a jump to stardom. Smith, eccentric play and all, is one of the Cardinals who has actually exceeded expectations, so much so that he’s won a few games by himself this year. Rick Pitino needs to find a way to bottle that energy and ability in order to keep the talented junior from blowing his own team’s season up.
  4. Once upon a time, Pat Forde called RutgersSeton Hall one of the hottest rivalries in the country. This was just a few years ago, so it’s unclear what time period Forde was describing, but I’ll take his word for it. However, today the battle for New Jersey is dying, and not because of conference realignment or the other normal factors. It’s being killed by apathy. Under 5,000 people filled the RAC for the 2013 edition of this showdown, and by the sound of Steve Politi’s article on the subject, those who were there didn’t seem surprised by the proceedings. Rutgers squeaked out a 57-55 victory over its intrastate rivals in a game between two teams destined for mediocrity. Seton Hall last made the NCAA tournament in 2006; Rutgers, 1991. New Jersey has seen some bad basketball over the years, and interest in the sport just isn’t there to the point where the two fan bases can overcome all those lean years.
  5. It remains to be seen who the Catholic Seven look to recruit when they break off and form their own league, but one hot name is Xavier, and current athletic director Mike Bobinski (who, incidentally, is leaving the school for the Georgia Tech job) recently stated that if the C7 looks his school’s way, it will have to at least listen. Xavier is a Jesuit school in Cincinnati, a metropolitan area the C7 loses when the Big East with the hometown Bearcats, and they have a very good basketball history. The Musketeers certainly seem to be a very solid fit for the burgeoning conference.
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The Road to the Atlantic 10 Title Doesn’t Run Through Philadelphia

Posted by CNguon on February 8th, 2013

Joseph Dzuback is a RTC correspondent and longtime Big 5 basketball enthusiast.

Where the Road Runs

Halfway through the Atlantic 10 conference schedule, fans find three conference members are earning AP top 25 votes, but none is from the City of Brotherly Love:

Temple and Saint Joseph’s share a 4-4 record and ninth place in conference standings, a game behind the five teams – one of whom is La Salle — that shares fourth place. What happened to Andy Katz’s Philadelphia-centric conference overview, “Atlantic 10 race will run through Philadelphia”, that argued the conference’s three Philadelphia-based members would compete effectively for the top seeds to the conference tournament in Brooklyn or, at the very least, play a critical role (larger than their 42 game contribution to the conference schedule) when time came to crown a conference champion and divvy up the NCAA bids?

Collectively the three Philadelphia teams were, on paper, the strongest they had been in over a decade. Katz’s argument was hardly a stretch.  But now?

  • Saint Joseph’s (13-8, 4-4): The coaches’ pick to take the conference title last October, returned everyone from the 2011-12 squad that won 20 games and earned an NIT bid. Veteran coach Phil Martelli, dean of the A-10 coaching fraternity, assembled the most talented and experienced collection of players since his 2003-2004 squad won the regular season title and ran to the Elite Eight on their way to a 30-win season. Wounded by a thousand pin pricks however, the Hawk has failed to soar this season. Guard Carl Jones was suspended for the Hawks’ last exhibition and first two regular season games. Though Saint Joseph’s beat (then #20 ranked) Notre Dame during Jones’ absence, off guard Langston Galloway lost a tooth in a freak collision while diving for a loose ball. Though he has appeared in every game, Galloway’s production is down nearly two points per game from 2011-11. A mediocre December record of 3-3 included losses to Creighton and Villanova and a two game suspension for junior forward Halil Kanasevic, tabbed by some previews as the sleeper candidate for conference Player of the Year. Kanasevic has yet to appear in more than five consecutive games this season. In addition to the suspension Kanasevic did not appear in St. Joe’s game versus American and missed three conference games when he traveled overseas to attend an uncle’s funeral. With the entire squad finally assembled and healthy, perhaps Martelli can use the last eight games to establish a rhythm.

    Saint Joseph's forward Halil Kanasevic hits a point-blank bucket in the first half of Saint Joe's 70-69 win over Temple. Saint Joseph's outscored Temple in the paint 40-16

    Saint Joseph’s forward Halil Kanasevic hits a point-blank bucket in the first half of Saint Joe’s 70-69 win over Temple. Saint Joseph’s outscored Temple in the paint 40-16.

  • Temple (15-7, 4-4): The Owls fielded a squad a step behind the teams that dominated conference play the past three seasons. The 2012-2013 edition contains upperclassmen who understand, but may not be able to execute coach Fran Dunphy’s system. They have bobbled the baton passed by Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez and Eric Michael, with the accumulated attrition eroding the Owls’ front court enough to force Dunphy to bring fifth year senior Jake O’Brien in to provide depth. An unexpectedly shallow backcourt meant point guard responsibilities passed to sophomore Will Cummings which left West Virginia transfer Dalton Pepper on the bench. Read the rest of this entry »
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CIO… the West Coast Conference

Posted by CNguon on December 17th, 2012

Michael Vernetti is the West Coast Conference correspondent for RTC.

Looking Back

Bye-bye Gonzaga? Shuffling through the barrage of reports, rumors, and guesses that emerged from the defection of the Catholic Seven from the Big East Conference, one could conclude that:

  1. Gonzaga might join a new alliance of those seven plus some other basketball-only schools to form a new super-conference.
  2. Saint Mary’s might also join the party.
  3. Neither Gonzaga nor Saint Mary’s were ever in the plans of the Seven.
  4. That the WCC already has what the Catholic Seven are seeking: a mostly homogeneous group of geographically contiguous schools with a common academic philosophy and a commitment to quality basketball.

Involving the WCC in the Big East blow-up was mostly the work of Gonzaga coach Mark Few and his ever-reliable mouthpiece, Andy Katz of ESPN. Katz reported last Wednesday (December 12), before the seven departing schools had announced a decision, that, “Sources say the Zags would love to part with the West Coast Conference and be a member of a national, branded basketball conference… the Zags are looking out for themselves and would like to be positioned with fellow national Catholic-based schools instead of regional ones in the WCC.”

Is Gonzaga going to jump ship? Only time will tell (AP)

Is Gonzaga going to jump ship? Only time will tell (AP)

No one familiar with Few’s musings a few weeks ago was worried about what would happen to Gonzaga in the case of a BCS/everybody else-type split in the college basketball ranks had any doubts who Katz’s source was. And it is safe to say that no one else belonging to or friendly with the WCC appreciated Few’s willingness to throw the conference under the bus on the basis of some unfounded worries about an imminent basketball schism.

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UConn Visits the White House: Obama Reflects on “Adolph Ruff”

Posted by rtmsf on May 16th, 2011

It’s a traditional rite of springtime, one just as certain as the March rains, the April cherry blossoms and the May political posturing that takes over Capitol Hill as we head into yet another election cycle in Washington, DC.  Jim Calhoun’s Connecticut Huskies spent Monday on the Hill, visiting President Obama in the time-honored American sporting tradition of meeting the president and having him butcher players’ names and stumble over specific facts from his speech.  These events are always somewhat awkward, as the leader of the free world tries to speak knowledgeably about a team he usually knows little about while the team honored does its best to genuflect and not trip all over themselves in front of such a dignitary.  You can watch the entire nine-minute proceeding below, but we wrote up a few of the highlights just in case you don’t want to waste the time.

In keeping with the measured yet light-hearted tone of these things, Obama tried to inject levity into the proceedings throughout.  He began with a comment about how UConn winning the title was bittersweet for him, as he was “reminded once again that [his] bracket was a bust.”  Luckily, he had a ready-made excuse in the form of ESPN’s Andy Katz, who he claimed told him “there’s no way UConn’s winning” the title.  Not to go all factcheck.org on the Prez, but he’s guilty of a little naysaying here — his bracket on ESPN.com finished in the 87th percentile, which is about forty percentage points better than his current approval rating.   

One unintentional piece of humor from the speech was when Obama listed off the names of coaches with three or more national titles to honor Calhoun, now also with three.  After mentioning John Wooden, he listed someone named “Adolph Ruff” as a coach who, along with Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, represent the group of elite coaching giants that the UConn head man has now joined.  We won’t get into the dripping irony inherent in the first black president of the United States mis-pronouncing the name of a basketball coach [Adolph Rupp, incidentally] who, rightly or wrongly, has come to represent a bygone era of southern white racism, but needless to say that it’ll probably become some enterprising UK student’s senior thesis soon enough [start at the 2:05 mark of the video].    

Jim Calhoun spoke for a few minutes and was surprisingly a little tongue-tied even though he’s been to the White House two other times as a national championship head coach, but he found his bearings the more he spoke.  It was abundantly evident during UConn’s March/April run that Calhoun was in love with his team last year, and he punctuated that sentiment with a remark tying back to Obama’s presidential campaign of 2008: “You know what?  Yes, we can.  [applause]  And like you, Mr. President, yes, we did.”  Obama responded with encouragement to the Huskies to make another run at the title next season, and after some friendly banter with Kemba Walker about playing one-on-one [“as long as he’s wearing street shoes and a suit”] and the receipt of a special B. Obama #1 UConn jersey followed by a few pictures, the event was over.

These things are always fun in the same way that watching Christopher Guest movies are fun — you spend the entire time waiting for something incredibly awkward yet insanely hilarious to happen.  Maybe we didn’t reach that goal in this year’s honoring of the national champion, but presidents tend to get goofier the deeper into their terms they go.  Give it some time.

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The Other 26: Week 11

Posted by KDoyle on January 28th, 2011


We are just about halfway through the conference schedules and the true contenders are beginning to reveal themselves, while the pretenders are wallowing away after deceiving the country for so many weeks. Take a team like Central Florida, for instance. They looked like a legitimate top 25 team and a definite candidate for an at-large berth after breezing through the non-conference with an unblemished record, but their 1-5 record in Conference USA makes that great run in the non-conference all for naught. Conversely, take a gander at Duquesne. The Dukes went a modest 8-5 in the non-conference with losses to Robert Morris and George Mason, but have gone onto take the Atlantic 10 by storm. Suffice to say, it is hard to gauge just how good some teams are based solely on the non-conference. Some coaches will elect to challenge their team by scheduling a tough OOC schedule, while others will stockpile a bunch of cupcakes to pick up easy wins. The distinction between the pretenders and contenders will continue to be illuminated all the way up until the conference tournaments. Up until then, we sit and watch teams rise above expectations heading into conference play and watch others flounder.

The Other 26 Rankings

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