ATB: 9 Down, 56 To Go…

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009


Four More Automatic Bids Tonight.  We’re combining this feature tonight because every game of interest involved a conference tournament final.  The CAA, MAAC, SoCon and WCC all crowned champions tonight, and only one of the four would be considered a surprise.  The other three will all be very tough outs for whichever team(s) have to face up against them in the first round of the NCAAs next week.

#6 – VCU (24-9, 14-4) – Anthony Grant’s VCU Rams rode a home crowd to a 71-50 obliteration of George Mason for its second CAA championship in the last three seasons.  You already know Eric Maynor from his game-winner over Duke in 2007’s first round; also keep in mind his 6’9 frontcourt mate Larry Sanders (not the host of a dated HBO show), who dominated GMU with 18/20/7 blks tonight – this talented duo will make any higher seed nervous on Selection Sunday.

Projected Seed: #10

Something to Remember: VCU wasn’t a good road team this year, going 7-6 compared to 11-3 two years ago when the Rams last made the Dance, but they were 2-1 against the RPI top fifty (an 11-pt loss against Oklahoma).

This is Why We Love Championship Week (photo credit: AP/Steve Helber)

This is Why We Love Championship Week (photo credit: AP/Steve Helber)

#7 – Chattanooga (18-16, 11-9) – This is exactly why conferences are moving away from penalizing high seeds from playing on opponents’ home floors in conference tournaments – instead of having a Davidson in the NCAAs with a chance to win a game or two, the SoCon will send Chattanooga to become cannon fodder for a #1 seed.  Chattanooga came into the SoCon Tourney three days ago as a team with a losing record – tonight they left it with more than a winning record; they also got a ticket to the Big Dance by virtue of their 80-69 win over College of Charleston (who may have still been feeling the effects of knocking out Davidson yesterday).  The Mocs used a 20-0 run bridging the half to build a commanding lead that left CofC shellshocked.

Projected Seed: #16

Something to Remember: Chattanooga started the season 2-8, and has one of the worst defensive efficiency ratings in the nation (#296).  Take the over.

#8 – Gonzaga (26-5, 14-0) – The Zags made quick work of a St. Mary’s team that still looks a little lost while Patty Mills tries to return to form from his wrist injury, defeating the Gaels 83-58.  Six players reached double figures for the Zags, led by Josh Heytvelt’s 17/6.  Gonzaga won its nineteenth in twenty tries, with the only defeat coming at the hands of a red-hot Memphis team in February.  It’s definitely difficult to ascertain whether the ‘potential Zags’ have crossed over into actualization, but if things are clicking and they continue to play strong defense (#5 nationally), the Zags are a darkhorse for the Final Four.

Projected Seed: #4

Something to Remember: The Zags are the #1 team in America in 2-pt defense (38.9%), but when the Zags struggle (and lose), they also have a tendency for poor shooting – Memphis, Arizona, Utah and Portland St. all held them under 43% shooting from the field.

#9 – Siena (26-7, 16-2) – Siena was the best team in the MAAC, and after what the Saints did to Vandy in last year’s first round of the NCAAs, nobody is going to want to see Fran McCaffery’s team in their pod.  Tonight they held off a good Niagara team that had given them one of their two conference losses behind Kenny Hasbrouck, who shook off a 1-10 first half to score 17 second-half points on his way to 19/6/3 stls.  This is a dangerous team – they return the bulk of last year’s squad, and they were competitive early in the season in losses at Kansas, Tennessee and Pittsburgh.

Projected Seed: #9

Something to Remember: Siena is an offensively balanced team, with six players averaging between 8-15 ppg, and all six of those players having at least one game of 20+ this year. Who do you stop?


QnD Conf Tourney Update.

The Big East, MAC, MEAC and WAC begin their tourneys tomorrow, but there are three more auto-bids in store.

  • Horizon League Championship – Butler vs. Cleveland St. RTC Live will be there.
  • Summit League Championship – North Dakota St. vs. Oakland. Here’s hoping Ben Woodside makes the Dance.
  • Sun Belt Championship – Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama.  WKU goes for its second straight trip to the dance against the upstarts from S. Alabama.

It’s the last chance saloon for Georgetown, Notre Dame and possibly Cincinnati beginning tomorrow.  Who wants to keep playing?

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ATB: Happy in Happy Valley

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2009


Game of the Night. Penn St. 64, Illinois 63. It was nice to see a team turn the tables on Illinois after they had pulled off a furious comeback win in the last five minutes against Northwestern.  PSU was down ten pts with five minutes remaining, but the Lions stormed back and when Talor Battle’s feathery soft leaner dropped through with 0.3 remaining on the clock, the “white house” of fans went wild and quickly RTC’d the court.  Now, THAT is how you RTC, friends!  Quick, no hesitation, straight to the middle of the floor.  Immediate bedlam.  We have two clips here – the first will show the tv version of the winning shot by Battle (scroll ahead to the 6:00 mark); the second is a user-generated clip of the RTC.  Enjoy.  (btw, PSU is IN if they win at Iowa this weekend)

The Rest of Tonight’s Key Games.

  • UCLA 79, Oregon St. 54. The Bruins kept their Pac-10 title hopes alive with a blowout win over Oregon St. tonight.  If they beat Oregon this weekend and Washington loses to Wazzu, then they’ll both be tied at 12-6, where the Bruins would presumably win the tiebreaker.  What’s up with Josh Shipp’s line tonight?  27 pts, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 blocks, 0 steals, 0 turnovers, 0 fouls, 1 block.  He really didn’t do anything other than shoot tonight, did he?
  • Villanova 97, Providence 80. Villanova picked up its second strong win of the week as it continues to make its case for the coveted double-bye in the Big East Tournament.  Scottie Reynolds had 23/4/4 stls as Nova finished off a perfect home slate.  Providence has a #69 RPI but finished at 10-8 in the Big East – what to do with the Friars?
  • USC 80, Oregon 66.  USC shot 59% behind Demar DeRozan’s 19 pts and Taj Gibson’s 18 pts as the long nightmare continues for Ernie Kent’s Oregon team.  USC is a classic bubble team, sporting a mid-40s RPI and what will likely be a 9-9 Pac-10 record come Saturday night.
  • California 83, Arizona 77.  Arizona really didn’t need to lose another home game, but they’ve fallen apart the last two weeks.  Tonight’s loss to Cal was their fourth in a row, and they absolutely need to get the game against Stanford this weekend to turn this around.  Cal’s Jerome Randle had eight threes on his way to 31 pts.
  • Temple 68, St. Joseph’s 59.  This Big Five matchup had A10 ramifications as Temple moved into a two-way tie for the #3 seed in the conference (tied with Dayton), as well as kept their bubble chances alive.
  • Tennessee 86, South Carolina 70. Tough home loss for SC, while Tennessee captured the top seed in the East Divison of the SEC behind Tyler Smith’s 22/6/7 assts.  The Vols are coming on lately, having won at Florida and SC in their last two games.
  • Stanford 74, Arizona St. 64. ASU is slumping lately, having lost their last three games.  James Harden had 22, but was only 2-10 from three, and it doesn’t appear if either of the Arizona teams have much interest in playing deep into March at this point.

QnD Conf Tourney Update.  Tomorrow the America East, CAA, MAAC, SoCon and WCC begin.  Here’s what happened tonight.

A-Sun. The two higher seeds, #3 Belmont and #4 Lipscomb advanced, meaning the top four seeds will be in the semis starting tomorrow.

Big South. VMI will play Radford (the top two seeds) on Saturday for possibly the first NCAA automatic bid this year.

MVC. Indiana St. and Wichita St. advanced to the quarters.

NEC. The top three seeds (Robt. Morris, Mt. St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart) + Quinnipiac advanced to the semis on Sunday.

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ATB: The Bubble Seems to be Sorting Itself Out Nicely

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2009


Running Late.  Apologies to the twelve loyal readers of this nightly update, but we ran into some other issues that got into the way of a fully fleshed-out post tonight.  So we’re just going to do some quick takes and leave it at that.  We’ll be back stronger tomorrow night.

  • Northwestern 64, Purdue 61. It’s really quite the shame that NW didn’t get the Illinois and Michigan games; otherwise, the Cats would be a serious bubble team.  Did you know that NW has never made the Big Dance?  Not once.
  • Louisville 95, Seton Hall 78. There is no more talented dynamic duo than T-Will (14/12) and Earl Clark (27/14), but does UL have consistent enough guard play to win it all?
  • NC State 74, Boston College 69. BC is as tough of a team to figure as anybody this year – they should probably make sure to beat Ga Tech on Saturday to feel safe.
  • UNC 86, Virginia Tech 78. Another season, another 17-12 Va Tech team.  Hansbrough with 22/15.
  • Georgia Tech 78, Miami (FL) 68. Another major disappointment in the ACC.  Does 7-9 with a 40-something RPI get it done this year?
  • Pittsburgh 90, Marquette 75.  The Marquette exposure tour continues.  We thought Dejuan Blair (23/9) was seriously going to Shaq-truct the basket stanchion on one thunderous dunk (start at the 0:29 point).
  • Georgia 90, Kentucky 85. Completely unacceptable loss for Billy Gillispie at home at this point in the season.  Georgia hit 11-16 from long range.
  • Vanderbilt 75, LSU 67.  LSU was unbeaten at home in the SEC before tonight.  AJ Ogilvy dropped 33/10 on the Tigers, who were clearly looking ahead to next week’s SEC Tourney after clinching the top seed last weekend.
  • Memphis 69, Houston 60. For about a half-second, we thought Houston might have a chance in this one.  That’ll be 57 in a row in CreampuffUSA for the Tigers.
  • Mississippi St. 80, Florida 71. Another devastating loss for an SEC bubble team.  Is anyone else wondering if the Donovan magic was based solely on his O4s – Noah, Green, Horford and Brewer?
  • Minnesota 51, Wisconsin 46.  Huge bubble win for the Gophers to sweep the season series against the Badgers.  If it comes down to these two teams, Minny will have the advantage.
  • Texas A&M 72, Colorado 66.  With five straight Big 12 wins to get to 8-7, TAMU is getting in.
  • Missouri 73, Oklahoma 64.  Mizzou finished its home slate 18-0 and “held” Blake Griffin to 16/21 in setting up a shot at sharing the Big 12 regular season title with a win this weekend (+ another KU loss).
  • Texas Tech 84, Kansas 65.  No explaining this one, but KU is still a team we really like in two weeks.

QnD Conf Tourney Update.

A-Sun.  Only one game where #2 seed ETSU advanced to the semis.

Patriot.  All four quarters were at home sites tonight.  #1 American, #2 Holy Cross and #4 Army advanced.  The upset was #6 Colgate knocking off #3 Navy in OT.  The semis will be Sunday and our RTC correspondent Rob Dauster will be at American to liveblog the game between Am.U. and Colgate.

Sun Belt.  Five games at campus sites also.  Higher seeds North Texas, MTSU, S. Alabama and Denver all advanced.  The only (mild) upset was Florida Intl. over La-Lafayette.  The quarters continue on Sunday.

Upcoming: The MVC gets started with its opening round tomorrow night, and the NEC and A-Sun have their entire quarterfinal rounds tomorrow.  The Big South will have its semifinals, and all of the top four seeds are still alive.  Should be fun.

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ATB: Tuesday Bubble Bloodbath

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2009


Story of the Night. Tonight was an absolute bloodbath for bubble teams hoping to finish strong to entice the fickle eye of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee next week.  No fewer than four teams that couldn’t afford another L took it on the chin tonight, and after Notre Dame last night, we don’t want to hear the word “Georgetown” again this year.

JT3 Has No More ExcusesSt. John’s 59, Georgetown 56 (OT). #1 SOS?  Don’t care.  Toughest conference in America?  Doesn’t matter.  Georgetown had every chance in the world to finish strong with games against St. John’s and Depaul this week, and they couldn’t even get that done, which is a microcosm of their season.  The Hoyas went down in particularly frosty fashion, blowing a 15-pt lead with just over ten minutes to go in the game and putting the ball through the net just one more time from the field during that stretch.  At 15-13 and now 6-11 in the Big East, we don’t want to hear about this team again unless they win five games in a row next week in New York.  Biggest disappointment of the year.

Take OSU Off the Bubble. Oklahoma St. 77, Kansas St. 71.  Oklahoma St. heads into its battle against Blake Griffin and rival Oklahoma this weekend riding a six-game winning streak and a progressively stronger NCAA Tournament resume.  With a current RPI of #31 and a shot at a first-round bye in the Big 12 Tourney, OSU is looking more and more like a lock for the Big Dance.  Byron Eaton led the Pokes with 25 pts, including 15-15 from the line.  K-State, on the other hand, needed this one; the Cats have a much worse RPI (#72) but their bigger problem is that they managed to lose in the out-of-conference slate to teams like Kentucky, Iowa and Oregon of all teams.  They picked it up in the Big 12 season, but we’re not sure that 9-7 (if they beat Colorado on Saturday) will be good enough.  K-State will need a run in the Big 12 Tourney to get back into the serious bubble conversation.

Did USF Burst Cincy’s Bubble? S. Florida 70, Cincinnati 59.  Cincy was primed to finish with a surprising 10-8 Big East record if they could have only won their last two games of the year against USF (tonight) and Seton Hall (this weekend).  With a #53 RPI and now facing at best a 9-9 record, it appears that the Bearcats will have some work to do next week in NYC.  USF’s Dominique Jones dropped thirty on Mick Cronin’s team, who couldn’t throw it in the Gulf of Mexico for most of the night (37%).  The Bearcats have now lost four of five.

The Terps are Staggering. Wake Forest 65, Maryland 63.  Maryland continued their frustrating run of playing extremely well against top opponents but faltering late. The Terps led by seven points at the half, and even had a six point lead with about 8 minutes left in the second half thanks to a trio of threes from Dave Neal on senior night. But in the end, Wake’s athleticism, length, and size advantage were just too much. The stats really speak for themselves. The Demon Deacons out-rebounded Maryland 46-27 including 18 offensive rebounds that resulted in a ton of second-chance points. Wake Forest’s length on defense gave Maryland fits, especially Landon Milbourne who had just two points while being guarded by either Al-Farouq Aminu or James Johnson all night. The lack of production of Milbourne made Maryland almost entirely reliant on Greivis Vasquez offensively with the exception of Neal who had 19 points and was 5-6 from downtown. Vasquez looked like he was pressing, especially in the second half where he forced too many bad shots and finished 7-24 from the field. Not all is lost for the Terps however. A win probably would have put them on the inside looking out, but now they have to win Saturday at Virginia if they want to finish .500 in the ACC and remain in the bubble conversation, and a win the ACC tournament wouldn’t hurt either.  Wake was led by Jeff Teague’s 17 pts, but he should have been awarded ten for this particular Teague-bag.

A Closer Look at Two Contenders.

Duke 84, Florida St. 81.  We’ll hand it to Duke – without Gerald Henderson, they would have lost tonight’s game against Florida St.  “G” has averaged 23/6/4 assts in the last five Duke games, all wins, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that if Duke is going to do anything in March this year, it will largely be because of the skills and athleticism of their newfound star.  Normally this time of year we’d be talking about how FSU really needed this win to bolster its bubble argument, but not this year – we think the Seminoles are in.  Their RPI is #16 and the worst they can finish in the ACC is 9-7, so Nole fans should rest easy.  This is a good team that could make the Sweet Sixteen with the right matchups.

Michigan St. 64, Indiana 59. This game is an exhibition as to why we cannot get on board with Michigan St. as a F4 team this year.  They simply don’t click well enough for our liking, especially against teams they should be dominating.  All due respect to Tom Crean’s Hoosiers, but Northwestern decimated IU in Bloomington, and MSU has three times the talent that NW does (we’ll ignore that one of MSU’s three B10 losses was to NW).  But that goes to our point, MSU shouldn’t be losing to Northwestern; they shouldn’t be getting beaten by Penn St.; and they shouldn’t be barely defeating IU.  Maybe it’s a problem with focus or motivation, but there’s something not exactly “right” with this team, and we’re tired of hearing about the injuries/illnesses/etc.  We’ll be happy to retract our opinion of Izzo’s boys prove us wrong in a few weeks.

Other Games of Interest Tonight.

  • New Mexico 77, Utah 71. The Mountain West has been crazy this year.  New Mexico rode its homecourt advantage and Tony Danridge’s 29/5 assts to a victory over Utah, forcing the Utes into a two-way tie for first place in the conference for at least one night (until BYU plays tomorrow night).  There’s some really good ball in this conference this year – let’s hope the MWC gets at least three teams into the NCAAs.
  • Syracuse 70, Rutgers 40.  At least one Big East team took care of business tonight.  Syracuse shook off a no-doz first half where the Orange actually trailed at the half 20-19 to blow up on Rutgers in the second half, winning going away behind Jonny Flynn’s 18/9.
  • Gonzaga 90, USC Upstate 40. Why does this game even exist?
  • Ohio St. 60, Iowa 58. The Buckeyes really needed this win, and they got it in Iowa City tonight.  Evan Turner’s 22/9 assts led OSU, but his missed FT left the door open for Iowa to take and miss a three that would have won the game (and possibly knocked OSU off the bubble).
  • Clemson 75, Virginia 57. Clemson pulled away in the second half behind its own personal dunk contest (six in that half) to keep the pace with Wake Forest for the #3 seed in the ACC standings, who the Tigers will play this weekend in the final regular season game for both teams.

QnD Conf Tourney Update.

Big South.  No upsets.  The four higher seeds all advanced, including Seth Curry’s (30/6 assts) Liberty squad.  Liberty will play VMI and UNC-A will play top seed Radford on Thursday.

Horizon.  Cleveland St., UIC, Wright St. and Milwaukee all advanced, and will play each other Friday (respectively) for the right to play Butler and Green Bay in the semis.

OVC.  The top four seeds all advanced to the semis, where Austin Peay will play Murray St. and UT-Marting will play Morehead St. Friday night in Nashville.

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ATB: Notre Dame is a Little Overdone. Let’s Not Discuss Them Again.

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2009


It’s OV-UH. Villanova 77, Notre Dame 60.  Unless Mike Brey’s Irish win four games in four days to get to the Big East finals, we don’t want to hear another word about this team’s NCAA Tournament chances.  Sorry, but when you’re playing for your postseason life in an arena when you’ve won something like 48 of your last 50 games and you get ripped a new one in the second half by a team that has much less on the line, you’ve lost your standing to make your case.  Villanova’s defense held the Irish to 39% shooting for the game, especially during a key 12-0 run in the middle of the second half that effectively salted the game away.  Although ND’s Ryan Ayers blew up for seven threes and 25 pts, Villanova shadowed and harassed Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson into a combined 3-15 evening, while committing a season-low five turnovers on its end of the court.  Scottie Reynolds added 23/6/5 assts on 8-12 shooting, including six threes.  Villanova has surprised us all season long, and the Wildcats are now in a position to earn a top-four double-bye at the Big East Tourney should they beat Providence on Thursday and Marquette loses its final two games at Pitt and vs. Syracuse.  How have they done it?  Nova doesn’t particularly excel at any one thing offensively or defensively, but they don’t have a huge weakness either.  The difference between this year and last has been the emergence of Dante Cunningham, who has given Villanova a legitimate post threat for the first time since Curtis Sumpter was buzzing around the Main Line.  With wins over Pitt, Marquette, Syracuse and closes losses to Louisville and UConn, the Cats have proven they can play with just about anybody.

What Happened to Baylor? Texas 73, Baylor 57.  Texas beat Baylor for the 24th consecutive time tonight behind 16 from Dexter Pittman off the bench and 14  pts each from AJ Abrams and Justin Mason.  Baylor couldn’t throw it in the ocean, shooting 32% including a miserable 3-17 performance from Curtis Jerrells.  Texas got a necessary win to move to 9-6 in the Big 12 race, with a game at Kansas this weekend to finish off the regular season.  UT looks like a one-and-done team this year, but what happened to Baylor, a preseason top 25 team that, coming into conference play, looked every bit as good as the NCAA Tournament team from last season.  While the Baylor defense is marginally worse than it was last year, we don’t think that’s the reason.  Rather, somewhere along the way, the Bears forgot how to put the ball in the hole.  In eight of their last eleven games, Baylor has shot 41% or less, and not coincidentally, they lost seven of those games.  In the two games where they managed to hit 50%+, they won.  The other factor is that the face of the Bear program, Jerrells, is slumping.  In that same 11-game period, Jerrells has had three games of single figures and shot 30% from the field – without his production, Baylor has been a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team.

One Other Monday Game of Interest.

  • Davidson 90, Elon 78.  Stephen Curry had 25/5/4 stls tonight as he passed the 2,500 pt mark for his career.  Now it’s on to the SoCon Tourney next weekend, and Curry’s team probably needs to win it.
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ATB: How Much to Rent Their Gym Out?

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2009


We Think We Played This Team in Church League Ball One Year.  Seriously, our Google machine is broken… can anyone explain what this is?  Southwest Assemblies of God????


Left Coast Hoops.  There were three really good games in the Pac-10 tonight.

  • Washington 73, Arizona St. 70 (OT).  UW got a big win over its nearest competitor for the Pac-10 crown behind Jon Brockman’s 21/11 and Quincy Pondexter’s 10/12.  ASU came back from 13 down in the first half and appeared to have the momentum when the Sun Devils stole the ball from Justin Dentmon for a dunk to tie the game with 0:21 left.  Once both James Harden and James Pendergraph fouled out in the extra period, however, it was clear ASU didn’t have enough to pull off the upset.  ASU now sits in a three-way tie with Cal and UCLA in second place at 10-5 in the Pac-10.
  • UCLA 76, Stanford 71.  For much of this game, it appeared that the UCLA swoon of the past few weeks on the road would continue.  Josh Shipp made sure that wasn’t going to happen, though, going for 24/7/4 assts to keep the Bruins alive for another regular season Pac-10 title should Washington falter.  It’s clear that UCLA’s stalwart defense just isn’t what it used to be – Stanford hit 49% from the field and 50% from three in this one (can you believe the Bruins rank #254 nationally in FG% defense?).
  • California 81, USC 78 (OT).  USC went on a 14-4 run in the final six minutes to tie this game and send it to overtime, but Cal would not be denied its tenth Pac-10 win behind Patrick Christopher’s 29 pts.  USC really is the classic bubble team – #47 RPI, 16-11 overall, 7-8 Pac-10, key wins over Cal, Arizona, Arizona St., and we’re not sure how this team is even on the bubble, but they are.  The Trojans could really use a win over Stanford on Saturday.

The Rest of Your Thursday Night.

  • Gonzaga 81, Santa Clara 73.  Gonzaga got 29/9 from Josh Heytvelt to go to 13-0 in the WCC, one win away from another undefeated conference season.  This was a tight game throughout, and SC’s fans cost the home team at least four pts with their decisions to throw debris on the court protesting foul calls down the stretch.
  • Illinois 52, Minnesota 41.  With six minutes to go, the score was 42-41; Minnesota never scored again.  Another fugly Big Ten game.  Minnesota needs wins, as they’ve now lost five of their last seven games.  The Gophers get Wisconsin and Michigan at home in their final two.
  • Butler 78, Youngstown St. 57.  Butler rolled to its third straight Horizon League championship behind Matt Howard’s 25/10.
  • Cincinnati 65, West Virginia 61.  Bob Huggins visited his old stomping grounds tonight, but it was UC with the win in the battle of two Big East bubble teams.  The computers love WVU this year for some reason, but both teams currently sit at 8-7 in the conference, and this win helped Cincy a lot more than it hurt WVU.
  • Xavier 68, St. Joseph’s 54.  After having lost three straight road games, XU got its mojo back behind 18/10 from Derrick Brown.  The XU-Dayton game next Thursday night could be for all the A10 marbles.
  • Wake Forest 85, NC State 78.  Wake got back on track tonight with a tougher-than-expected home win over NC State.  James Johnson answered the bell with 28/18 for the Deacs.
  • Miami (FL) 62, Virginia 55.  The Hurricanes struggled in this one but managed to hang on and have a good chance to get to 8-8 in the ACC with games at Georgia Tech and home against NC State remaining.
  • Michigan 87, Purdue 78. Michigan ripped apart the Purdue defense to the tune of 63% shooting behind DeShawn Sims (29/5) and Manny Harris (27/8/4 assts), further contributing to the mess that is known as the middle of the Big Ten (five teams with eight wins).
  • Washington St. 69, Arizona 53.  Wazzu continued surging with another impressive win after beating UCLA over the weekend, but it’s probably too little, too late.  Arizona is ok for now, but they’d do themselves well to get another Pac-10 win out of their last three to get to 9-9 in the conference.
  • St. Mary’s 62, Pepperdine 49.  Diamon Simpson put up another dub-dub (13/14) as SMC moved into a tie with Portland for second place in the WCC, which will come down to this weekend’s games for the seedings in next week’s WCC Tourney.
  • Memphis 71, UAB 60. John Calipari’s Tigers continue to mow down Conference USA, winning its 55th straight conference game and 19th consecutive overall game in the process.  Even more interestingly, Memphis held UAB’s best player, Robert Vaden, to 0-17 shooting.  That’s ZERO FOR SEVENTEEN, which is John Starks-esque in level of bricklaying (see below).


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ATB: Marquette’s Dominic James Out For the Season

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2009


RTC Intern Mike Lemaire contributed to tonight’s ATB.

Marquette Loses Their Heart & SoulConnecticut 93, Marquette 82.  Marquette announced at halftime that their senior leader and heart/soul of the team,  PG Dominic James, had broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will not play again this season.  He hurt it on a seemingly innocuous play just four minutes into the first half, but the x-rays don’t lie, and this is a potentially devastating blow to the Golden Eagles as we approach the postseason.  James had re-invented his game this year, becoming less of a scorer and more of a set-up man (#31 nationally in assists and #22 in steals) with the ascent in production from Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews.  Marquette will need to regroup quickly with games at Louisville, at Pitt and vs. Syracuse in the next ten days.  As for this game, AJ Price was the other story – he was simply phenomenal, with 36/6/6 assts, including one ridiculous ankle-breaking move (see below) that crystallized the kind of night he was having.  Hasheem Thabeet added 14/15/5 blks and Stanley Robinson contributed 19/10.  When UConn is playing like this, they are the best team in the nation – the problem is that we don’t always see this level of effort from the Huskies.  McNeal and Matthews combined for 46/9/9 assts to pick up some of the slack from James’ injury, but Maurice Acker (and his 2.2 ppg) will be asked to carry the load that James is leaving behind.  No easy task.

Operation ScheyerFace Didn’t WorkDuke 78, Maryland 67. You have to hand it to Maryland – when Grievis Vasquez picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half, you had to wonder where Maryland’s offense would come from. But they showed a lot of heart by matching Duke basket for basket in the second half. In the end there was just too much Gerald Henderson for the Terps to handle. Freshman Sean Mosley did a good job on Henderson man-to-man, but the Blue Devils did a great job of setting screens and getting Henderson free for open looks. Vasquez’s absence finally caught up to the Terps in the final four minutes of the game as the team (with the exception of Landon Milbourne) struggled to get good looks as the Blue Devils clamped down on defense. Maryland was a completely different team from the guys we saw blow big leads in the first half of the season, but Duke showed a lot of grit by stuffing the Maryland momentum coming off their huge upset of UNC.  As for Maryland, they have two winnable road games (@ NCSU; @ UVa) and Wake at home – they can still get to 9-7 in the ACC with a strong finish, but their margin of error is thin the rest of the way.  Speaking of screens, check out this pick on Nolan Smith that had the sophomore hearing bells the rest of the game.

Some Other Games of Interest.

  • Northwestern 75, Indiana 53.  Northwestern ended 41 years of futility in Bloomington with this win tonight.  Tom Crean said his undermanned Hoosiers are running out of steam at this point in the season.
  • Texas 87, Texas Tech 81.  UT got 24 from AJ Abrams and 20/11 from Damion James, but Texas Tech hung around until the final minute in this one behind ten three-pointers.
  • Utah 70, UNLV 60.  Utah continued to pace the Mountain West with another home win to go 11-2 in the conference behind Luke Nevill’s 19/13.
  • Notre Dame 70, Rutgers 65.  ND survived a closer-than-it-shoulda-been game despite Luke Harangody’s 20/15.  The Irish’s Saturday game at UConn will be huge for this team.
  • Davidson 70, UNC-Greensboro 49.  Stephen Curry dropped 20/10/5 assts as the Wildcats rebounded from their loss to Butler with a convincing SoCon win.
  • Rhode Island 93, Dayton 91 (OT).  Dayton dropped its second consecutive game due to Marquis Jones’ driving flip layup at the buzzer which pushes UD one game behind Xavier and Temple in the A10 standings.
  • Virginia Tech 80, Clemson 77.  Huge bubble road win for Va Tech behind Malcolm Delaney’s 26/4/6 assts and AD Vassallo’s 21/5.  Clemson got double-doubles from Trevor Booker and KC Rivers, but Va Tech made the plays down the stretch in a game that went back and forth all night.
  • South Carolina 77, Kentucky 59.  UK now probably needs to win its last three games to force the Committee to leave them out.  SC, on the other hand, probably only needs one more win to become a lock.  Sam Muldrow had seven of SC’s school-record sixteen blocks tonight.
  • Villanova 74, Depaul 72. Depaul got closest to its first Big East win of the year than any other previous loss, but it still wasn’t to be as the Blue Demons moved to 0-15.  Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham each had 18 pts for Villanova.
  • Michigan St. 62, Iowa 54.  MSU never really put Iowa away, but Iowa never really threatened either.  Tom Izzo didn’t think his Spartans played all that well, but they’re now 1.5 games ahead of Purdue in the Big Ten race anyway.
  • Missouri 94, Kansas St. 74.  Mizzou moved to 17-0 at home behind DeMarre Carroll’s 21/14.  The streaking Tigers go to Kansas this weekend and will host Oklahoma in Columbia next Monday.
  • Tennessee 81, Mississippi St. 76.  In this bubblicious game, UT held off the Bulldogs behind Scotty Hopson’s 21 pts.  MSU’s bubble is close to bursting, having now lost four of their last five games.
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ATB: Griffin Sits, Kansas Benefits…

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2009


So How Long Until Blake Griffin Returns? Kansas 87, Oklahoma 78.  Ok, so we’re fairly certain that OU would have beaten Texas in Austin on Saturday night had Blake Griffin not suffered a concussion that nobody can actually pinpoint when occurred.  But we’re not sure that OU would have beaten Kansas tonight at home even with Griffin in the lineup.  This KU team is proving that, despite losing six players to graduation and the NBA, Bill Self is running a self-sustaining program over there in Lawrence.  Actually, KU ’09 is starting to remind us a little of the Kentucky teams that went to the final game in 1997 and won another national title in 1998 playing with the backups of the 1996 championship team.  With Sherron Collins (26/3 assts) on the perimeter, Cole Aldrich (15/20/4 blks) in the post and a collection of young talent including Tyshawn Taylor (26/3 assts) and Marcus Morris providing depth, Kansas is proving they’ll once again be heard from this March.  As for Griffin, he did not look good over there on the OU bench tonight, constantly wiping his eyes and looking a little dazed.  We’re no medical professional, but how long will it take for him to recover from this – a few more days?  A week?  Two weeks?  OU goes to Texas Tech this weekend and Missouri next Wednesday, two road contests that suddenly look a lot more difficult if Griffin cannot get back on the court soon.

Stick a Fork in the Hoyas – They’re DoneLouisville 76, Georgetown 58.  How silly we were – we actually thought that Georgetown had a chance at winning this game and making a run at 8-10 in the Big East to get itself back on the bubble.  Not guh happen.  Georgetown looks a lot better in the layup lines and on paper than they actually are when the clock is running.  Louisville tonight shredded the GU defense by hitting its first nine shots of the game and first seven threes to take a quick double-digit lead that they pretty much never relinquished.  Earl Clark had 22/8/4 stls and T-Will had 10/12/7 as the Cards continued to impress by staying in the hunt for the Big East regular season championship at 13-2.  With two games at home (Marquette/Seton Hall) and a road game at WVU, Pitino’s team probably has the inside track on the title.  Pitt and UConn still have another game against each other, and Marquette has a murderer’s row schedule the next two weeks.  So why does Georgetown suck?  Frankly, their usually-solid defense has been suspect for a long while – the Hoyas are the 102d most efficient defense, down from 11th and 37th the last two years, and they don’t force turnovers.  Additionally, anyone with a little toughness can get a rebound against their front line – Georgetown ranks in the bottom third of teams in rebounds per game and the in the bottom fifty teams in rebound percentage.  Greg Monroe and DaJuan Summers’ combined 11.2 rpg simply aren’t getting it done.  Add those two things together and you’ve got an ok offense that is getting marginalized by poor (by Big East standards) defense, and a situation where the inertia of losing caused this team to lose its confidence midway through the season.

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ATB: Who Wants the Pac-10 Title?

Posted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2009


Farking.  The Word is Farking, Roy.  From last night’s post-game press conference vs. NC State.  So Coach, why didn’t you press Miami again?

Game of the NightUCLA 85, Washington 76. This game was essentially for the top of the Pac-10, because if Washington had won it would have been nearly impossible for UCLA to catch them in the remaining two weekends.  The Bruins therefore did exactly what they needed to do, essentially outscoring the Huskies in a key stretch of the late second half behind a Darren Collison mini-run and Josh Shipp’s 20/8 and Nikola Dragovic’s 15/8.  We know we were hyping UCLA a mere week ago before they lost both games on the Arizona swing, but their usually stalwart defense just isn’t what it used to be.  Washington was able to get most of the shots they wanted, and that’s the first time in several years we could say that about a team playing the Bruins.

Upset of the NightCharlotte 65, Xavier 60.  Xavier dropped into a tie for second-place in the A10 with three losses (behind Dayton with two) with this loss, XU’s third in the last four games.  Make no mistake, though, this is a bad loss for the Muskies, as Charlotte entered the game 10-15 overall and 4-7 in the conference.  Sean Miller had no explanation for why his team is faltering lately, having lost its last three road games, but they’ve had two of their worst offensive efficiency performances in their last two losses.  Xavier is still safe as far as the NCAA is concerned, but with games at St. Joe’s and home against Dayton looming, the Musketeers seed could really plummet with a couple more late losses.

Some Other Nonsense.

  • W. Kentucky 78, Arkansas-Little Rock 69.  WKU got a key Sun Belt win tonight to go take a one-game lead on UALR in the Sun Belt race for the outright title.
  • Wisconsin 68, Indiana 51. The Badgers couldn’t afford to lose this game, and they didn’t behind Trevon Hughes’ 21 pts.  The middle of the Big Ten is a mess, with five teams with either six or seven conference losses.
  • Villanova 82, Rutgers 72.  Rutgers hung in this game for thirty minutes, but Nova got it together during a decisive 12-0 stretch where Corey Fisher made several key plays.  You know what we really like about the Big East top six?  They just don’t lose to bad teams, Villanova included (only exception: USF over Marquette two weeks ago).
  • Gonzaga 91, Loyola Marymount 54.  The Zags clinched the top seed in the WCC Tournament for the ninth straight year behind Steven Gray’s career-high 23 pts.
  • California 78, Oregon 60.  The Ducks remain winless in the Pac-10 as Cal got one step closer to getting off the bubble with a win to go 9-4 in the conference.
  • USC 61, Washington St. 51.  USC keeps its slim hopes alive for an at-large by moving to 7-6 in the Pac-10 – what they really need is a win this weekend over UW, though.
  • St. Mary’s 65, San Diego 61. The Gaels continue to keep their head above water without Patty Mills leading their way.   Omar Samhan had 20/11 in the win.
  • Michigan 74, Minnesota 62.  Big bubble game goes to the Wolverines at home.  Both teams are now 7-7 in the Big Ten.  Tubby’s team may be wearing down, having lost four of its last five games.
  • Duke 76, St. John’s 69.  We don’t know why the Johnnies continue to schedule this game, it’s just embarrassing for SJU most years.  Should we read anything into SJU giving Duke a mild test when they’ve only won three games in the Big East this year?  Eh, probably not.

On Tap Friday (all times EST).  There’s one early Bracketbuster game worth keeping an eye on Friday night…

  • VCU @ Nevada (ESPNU) – 9pm.  Nevada isn’t getting into the NCAAs short of a run to win the WAC Tournament, but VCU is in a battle with George Mason and Northeastern to win the CAA, so this game could potentially help VCU move up a seed line should they take care of business in their tournament.
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ATB: Bubblicious

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2009


Story of the Night.  There weren’t any particularly compelling games tonight from a national must-see perspective, but there were a multitude with bubble implications.  Our bracketologist will be posting his Your Bubble Has Burst tomorrow morning, so we’ll just do a brief rundown of observations from tonight’s key games.

  • Florida St. 80, Miami (FL) 67.  FSU moved into a four-way tie for second place in the ACC with this win, and has seemingly positioned itself for its first NCAA bid in many a year (last app: 1998) heading into the final three weeks.  Miami, on the other hand, now at 4-8 in the league needs a minimum of three of its next four to remain alive.
  • Florida 83, Alabama 74. UF hit twenty wins for the 11th consecutive season behind Nick Calathes’ 22 pts.  There are now four teams (incl. Florida) tied at 7-4 at the top of the SEC East.
  • Georgetown 65, S. Florida 40.  Georgetown got the first of several it needs to make a run at 9-9 in the Big East behind Greg Monroe’s 12/10.
  • West Virginia 79, Notre Dame 68.  Both of these teams really needed this game, and WVU got it after getting behind early in the first half.  “Gody had 26/13 in the losing effort, and now ND absolutely must get four of its final five to get to 8-10 in the Big East.
  • Penn St. 38, Illinois 33.  We already talked about this abomination elsewhere.
  • Citadel 64, Davidson 46.  No Steph Curry meant Davidson shot only 25% and got run out of the gym at home tonight.  How will the NCAA Cmte. view this loss w/o Curry?
  • Louisville 94, Providence 76.  Louisville went on a second-half 22-3 run to put Providence’s hopes of getting a signature win to rest behind Earl Clark’s 13/10/7 assts.  Four Big East teams are tied in the loss column with two losses each.
  • Wake Forest 87, Georgia Tech 69.  Wake got payback for its most confounding loss of the season behind James Johnson’s 24/11 to get to 7-4 in the ACC.
  • Ole Miss 81, Tennessee 65.  There’s literally nothing that impresses us about this UT team, of course that’s true of the entire SEC.
  • UNC 89, NC State 80. Tyler Zeller made his second debut of the season, contributing eight minutes of depth in the frontcourt.  He didn’t help the UNC defense, though, who allowed NCSU to shoot 54% from the field for the game.
  • Memphis 90, SMU 47.  Memphis won its seventeenth game in a row in an absolute destruction of Matt Doherty’s team.  All five Tiger starters reached double figures.
  • Virginia 75, Virginia Tech 61.  Va Tech is flailing right now, having lost four of its last six games, while UVa won its second in a row after having started 1-8 in the league.
  • Wisconsin-Milwaukee 63, Butler 60.  Butler has now lost two in row, leaving UWGB only one game behind in the Horizon race.  There was some funny business going on with the game clock in this one – ah, such is the life of mid-major world.
  • Mississippi St. 75, South Carolina 70.  These middling SEC teams are starting to all look the same to us.
  • Kansas 72, Iowa St. 55.  KU is really good at avoiding letdowns in games like this despite their relative youth and inexperience.  Cole Aldrich had 22/11 in the win.
  • LSU 72, Arkansas 69. LSU moved to 10-1 in the SEC with a hard-fought road victory at Arkansas.  The Tigers erased an 18-pt deficit and used an 11-1 run in the final few minutes to pull out the win.
  • Northwestern 72, Ohio St. 69.  We really wish that NW had pulled out that Illinois game last week so that we could realistically put them on the bubble.
  • Wyoming 77, UNLV 68. Terrible loss for the Rebels, who are slipping out of any contention for an at-large bid.  Hard to believe this team won at Louisville two months ago.
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