What’s Trending: A Feast Week Stuffed With Action, Intrigue & Upsets

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on December 2nd, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

The first month of the season has been completely wild and unpredictable. The only thing that everyone seems to agree on is that there is no dominant team this season — the notion that anything is possible and that the top 10 will shuffle all season long — well, it continued this week.

Duke entered the week as the #1 ranked team in the nation. Prior to this week, the Blue Devils had won 150 consecutive non-conference games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. As a 27.5-point favorite against Stephen F. Austin, Duke had four starters score 15 or more points; it shot 50 percent from the field as a team; and it won the battle on the glass. That said, this is college basketball, and chaos is to be expected. As the clock ticked down in regulation, Duke had the ball and a chance to win a tie game…

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1199544108815130625?s=20

While things did not go Duke’s way at the end of regulation, the first four minutes and fifty seconds of overtime were mostly uneventful. Both Duke and Stephen F. Austin had scored just two points. With the clock winding down, Duke again had a chance to win the game… once again, though, chaos ensues…

Chaos and upsets were not limited to the top spot. In Maui a few days earlier, #3 Michigan State found itself trailing by 10 points against Virginia Tech with 4:39 to go, but a 15-6 run had cut the Spartans’ deficit to just a single point. That is when Landers Nolley hit a dagger. The Hokies’ freshman is now averaging 20 points and 5 rebounds per game, while making over three three-pointers per game on better than 50 percent shooting.

The drama in Maui continued into the title game. Dayton, already with wins against Georgia and Virginia Tech, found itself trailing by three points again #4 ranked Kansas late. In a possession which really was not going anywhere, Jalen Crutcher came up clutch to force overtime. While Kansas ultimately would go on to win the championship, it represented yet another scare for a top-five team.

The Battle 4 Atlantis entered Feast Week as the marquee event and it certainly did not disappoint. In his first year as coach, Juwan Howard and his Michigan squad made a statement. After getting by Iowa State, the Wolverines simply manhandled North Carolina. The Tar Heels jumped out to an early 16-7 lead, but a 53-20 Michigan run broke the game wide open.

Then Michigan found itself in the title game against Gonzaga. Not to be outdone by its previous performance, Big Blue held the Zags to 37.7 percent shooting from two-point range, the lowest such percentage from a Gonzaga team since the Bulldogs’ 30 percent outing in the 2017 National Championship game against North Carolina.

https://twitter.com/umichbball/status/1200518929623347201?s=20

While Gonzaga fell short in the title game of that event, Mark Few‘s squad picked up a quality win against Oregon. One thing to watch moving forward for the Zags is this team’s depth. In their opening win over Southern Mississippi, Anton Watson was injured and he missed the rest of the tournament. While Killian Tillie played in the last two games, he also missed the opener. A player who has struggled to stay healthy in the past is already dealing with bumps and bruises early this season.

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1200190352931598336?s=20

Texas Tech spent Feast Week in Las Vegas as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, their three-point shooting did not make the trip from Lubbock to Sin City. After beginning the year shooting 42.3 percent from deep in the team’s first five games, Tech made just 4-of-24 in their opening loss to Iowa.

One night later, an 8-of-30 three-point night, along with a dazzling performance by Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski, sent Texas Tech home with an ugly 0-2 trip in Las Vegas.

The Emerald Coast Classic featured top-20 Tennessee and VCU, along with Purdue and Florida State. The four games played between the teams all ended with a margin of victory of three points. On the opening night of the tournament, Florida State held Tennessee’s Lamonte Turner to 4-of-14 shooting and eight turnovers in a close Seminoles win.

On the same day, VCU found itself down three points to Purdue with the chance to tie the game. It was a game in which the teams combined to turn the ball over 39 times and made just 7 of their combined 33 three-point attempts.

A day later, Tennessee and VCU were battling to the buzzer. With the game tied at 69-all, Lamonte Turner knocked down this corner three to win it for Tennessee. Will Wade’s Rams finished the tournament 0-2, with a pair of tough, closely decided games.

Feast Week was highlighted by more than just ranked teams going down. With eyes glued to games everywhere, big time players had some big time performances.

In Maui, Georgia’s Anthony Edwards delivered. The Bulldogs trailed Michigan State by 19 points at the half, a half in which Edwards scored just four points on 1-of-8 shooting. But the final 20 minutes brought a different Edwards to the floor that resulted in 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting, Anthony Edwards gave Georgia a chance, while showing to NBA scouts that the highly regarded freshman warrants all of the attention that has been put upon him.

A day later, Tom Crean’s team found itself tied with host Chaminade. With the clock winding down, Edwards put an end to any hope of a Silverswords upset.

The Orlando Invitational brought the very best out of Marquette’s Markus Howard. A night after scoring 40 points in a win over Davidson, Howard tore apart the USC defense to the tune of 51 points. The senior All-American became the only Division I player in the past 20 seasons with multiple 50-point games.

North Carolina’s Cole Anthony put on quite the display over an in-game stretch of two minutes late in the first half against Oregon. First, the freshman phenom had his defense lead to offense in this sequence…

Moments later, Anthony was back making a statement defensive play. This time, the 6’3″ guard rose up and turned away Oregon’s 6’7″ Shakur Juiston at the rim…

The brilliant play of freshman guards extended west to Anaheim, where in the closing seconds of the Wooden Legacy opening round, Arizona found itself tied to Pepperdine. With 7.6 seconds left in a tie game, freshman guard Nico Mannion had the ball in his hands…

Freshman aside, the Maui Invitational was a place where Dayton’s Obi Toppin shined bright. In the Flyers’ three games, Toppin averaged 22.3 points (69.4 FG%) and seven rebounds per game. While Kansas got the best of Dayton in the game, Toppin’s reaction to this shot should have his future opponents on notice.

Off the court, the wild week that was can best be summed up with the story of Stephen F. Austin’s Nate Bain. The Lumberjacks’ hero in the win over Duke comes from a family that was devastated by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. A GoFundMe for the Bain family exploded with donations following his heroics against the Blue Devils.

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Ten Questions to Consider: Feast Week

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on November 23rd, 2018

It’s time to take out the Thanksgiving leftovers, make a plate of food and sit back and watch some college basketball.¬†Here are 10 questions to consider heading into this weekend’s slate of games.

Will Virginia be the Next Highly-Ranked ACC Team to Take an Upset (USA Today Images)

  1. Will Virginia come out on top as Battle 4 Atlantis Champions?¬†(Championship Game,¬†Friday 2 PM EST, ESPN)¬†Tony Bennett’s squad squares off against Wisconsin in a defensive spectacular. This mid-afternoon match-up will likely be slow, physical, and must-see tv. Ethan Happ will test the big men of Virginia.
  2. Who will win the Grant Williams/Dedric Lawson matchup? (NIT Tip-Off Final, Tennessee vs. Kansas, Friday 9 PM EST, ESPN2)  Both Grant Williams of Tennessee and Dedric Lawson of Kansas have shined through the first few weeks of the season. Each draws more than seven fouls per 40 minutes of action, so they will be tested to defend each another without fouling.
  3. Will Villanova get back to being Villanova?¬†(Advocare Invitational, Friday and Saturday)¬†After losing consecutive games for the first time since the 2012-13 season, Villanova heads to Florida for the Advocare Invitational. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall shot a combined 7-of-31 on three-point attempts in the two recent Wildcat losses. If they get their shots back, Villanova should sail through this bracket; otherwise Jay Wright’s team could be in trouble in a second-round match-up with either Oklahoma State or Memphis.
  4. Will Miami leave the Wooden Legacy undefeated?¬†(Wooden Legacy, Friday and Saturday)¬†When Miami last played in the Wooden Legacy in 2013, they began the tournament with a loss to George Washington. The Hurricanes begin this tournament against an Atlantic 10 team again this time — La Salle. Miami heads to Fullerton as one of 14 teams with a top 25 ranking in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: Early Season Tournaments, Part II Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 19th, 2018

morning5_ACC

Note: To gauge relative team strength, we use current KenPom ratings. All times are Eastern.

  1. Cayman Islands Classic: Clemson (#18) travels to the Cayman Islands this week as¬†the tournament favorite, as Creighton (#41) is the only other squad currently among KenPom’s top 100.¬†This event will not be shown on traditional television, but¬†all the games will be¬†available on Facebook via Stadium College Basketball. The¬†Tigers will face Akron (#149) in today’s opening round (11:00 AM) and will follow that up by playing against either¬†Georgia (#102) or¬†Illinois State¬†(#113) in Tuesday’s semifinals. If they win those two games,¬†Brad Brownell’s team will play in¬†Wednesday’s championship game (7:30 PM). Hopefully Clemson will face the Bluejays in the finals — otherwise this trip won’t do much for Clemson’s non-conference schedule strength.
  2. Maui Invitational: Duke(#1) will be making its fifth trip to¬†the Maui Invitational this week, the traditional marquee event of Feast Week. Mike Krzyzewski’s teams¬†have never lost in this event, but Duke will¬†have to get through¬†a loaded field in Hawaii to keep that streak alive. The Blue Devils will face San Diego State (#56) in today’s opening round (ESPN2 – 5:00 PM) and will follow up that game with either¬†Auburn (#10) or¬†Xavier (#69) in Tuesday’s semifinals. If they can get through that¬†draw,¬†Duke would likely get a shot at Gonzaga (#6) in Wednesday’s championship game (ESPN2 – 5:00 PM).¬†So far, Zion Williamson and the explosive young Blue Devils have been must-watch TV, so we expect this to be the most discussed event of the week. If you’re looking for a sleeper in Maui, watch out for Iowa State (#27) — the Cyclones have looked strong in winning their first three outings of the year.
  3. Fort Myers Tipoff: This is probably the least appetizing tournament of Feast Week. The four teams involved do have something in common, though — each has already suffered a home court upset loss. Boston College (#87) will look to bounce back from its disappointing 76-69 loss to IUPUI by squaring off against¬†Wyoming (#187) (FS1 – 9:00 PM) following Loyola-Chicago (#68) versus Richmond (#140). Tonight’s winners will meet in Wednesday’s title game (FS1 – 7:30 PM). To win this event, Jim Christian will need better bench production than he’s been getting — Boston College’s reserves have tallied only 19 points in three games. This will be especially true if the Eagles meet Loyola-Chicago in the finals, as the Ramblers return some key pieces from last year’s surprising Final Four club.
  4. NIT Season Tip-Off: The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will once again host an event that involves an ACC¬†school.¬†Chris Mack will have his work cut out for him this week as his Cardinals are guaranteed to play two top-notch opponents.¬†Louisville (#55) takes on Tennessee (#9) in Wednesday’s opening contest (ESPN2 – 5:00 PM) with Kansas (#2)¬†and Marquette (#34) doing battle in the nightcap.¬†The winners will play in Friday night’s championship game (ESPN2 – 9:00 PM). This will be a huge step up in competition for Louisville, whose 3-0 start has been achieved against a schedule that is ranked 331st in the nation, according to KenPom. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals can continue their early hot shooting. So far, they’re converting 64.7 percent of their two-point attempts and a blistering 78.0 percent from the free throw line.
  5. Battle 4 Atlantis:¬†¬†Virginia (#4)¬†will be favored to come out of the¬†Bahamas with three wins but it will not be easy — crazy things have happened here before.¬†Last year’s tournament got turned upside early and remained that way as two¬†preseason top-10 squads,¬†Arizona and Purdue, ended up playing¬†for seventh place. Tony Bennett’s team will first see action on¬†Wednesday night (ESPN2 – 9:30 PM) when the Cavaliers take on Middle Tennessee State (#165). On Thanksgiving Day, they will face either¬†Butler (#31) or¬†Dayton (#100). There are¬†some big name programs on the other side of the bracket – Wisconsin (#14), Florida (#28) and Oklahoma (#42).¬†If Virginia meets the Badgers in Friday afternoon’s championship game (ESPN – 2:00 PM),¬†we hope¬†the offenses¬†are better than they¬†were in the¬†two¬†latest match-ups between the two — neither¬†club reached the 50-point mark in December slugfests played in¬†2013 and 2017.
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ACC M5: Early Season Tournaments, Part II Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 20th, 2017

morning5_ACC

Note: To gauge relative team strength, we use current KenPom ratings. All times are Eastern.

  1. Maui Invitational: Notre Dame¬†(#17) will be the ACC’s representative this season in the Maui Invitational, the traditional marquee event of Feast Week. The Fighting Irish will face host Chaminade in tonight’s opening round (ESPNU – 9:00 PM) and will follow that game by playing either Michigan (#43) or LSU (#76) in Tuesday’s semifinals. If they can get through that¬†draw,¬†Notre Dame would likely get a shot at Wichita State (#3) in Wednesday’s championship game (ESPN2 – 10:30 PM).¬†This will be the third appearance in Lahaina for the Irish — Mike Brey‘s¬†squad reached the championship game in 2008, falling to a North Carolina team that would go on to claim the National Championship later that season.
  2. Legends Classic: The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will once again be the site of this season’s ACC Tournament so it’s no coincidence that the facility is hosting two early season events that feature ACC schools.¬†Pittsburgh (#142) finally picked up its first win of the year last Wednesday — rallying to beat UC Santa Barbara at the Petersen Events Center — but is likely to go 0-2 in this event. ¬†The Panthers will meet Penn State (#46) tonight (ESPN3 – 9:30 PM), right after Texas A&M (#9) and Oklahoma State (#41) square off in the opener. The winners will play in Tuesday night’s championship game (ESPN2 – 6:00 PM). Pittsburgh has won seven straight against its intrastate rival from the Big Ten, but expect the Nittany Lions to break that long-running streak this evening.
  3. Battle 4 Atlantis:¬†¬†N.C. State¬†(#97) has cruised so far under new head coach Kevin Keatts, easily handling four bottom-50 teams in the friendly confines of Raleigh. But Keatts’ guys will step right into the fire in the Bahamas with an opening game against mighty Arizona (#2) on¬†Wednesday night (ESPN3 – 7:00 PM). On Thanksgiving Day, the Wolfpack will take on either SMU (#23) or Northern Iowa (#114). There are a couple of heavyweights on the other side of the bracket as well — either Villanova (#1) or Purdue (#11) is likely to be in Friday afternoon’s championship game (ESPN – Noon). But unless N.C. State pulls off an opening round stunner against the Wildcats, it is unlikely to face any teams that will do much to boost the Wolfpack’s weak strength of schedule.
  4. NIT Season Tip-Off: Another ACC team will be playing in Brooklyn this week too, as Virginia (#8) ventures to the Barclays Center for the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Cavaliers will battle Vanderbilt (#51) on Thanksgiving Day (ESPNU – 4:00 PM), and if they win that game, they will play in Friday evening’s championship game (ESPNU – 7:30 PM or ESPNews – 10:00 PM). Tony Bennett’s guys are guaranteed to get two games against quality opponents here, as Seton Hall (#26) and Rhode Island (#56) are the other schools involved. These two tilts will give Virginia a chance to test its new offensive prowess — the Cavs scored 93 last week against Austin Peay, the most points tallied by a team in the Bennett era.
  5. Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase: For the second consecutive season,¬†Georgia Tech (#59) chose not to¬†play in a traditional winners-advance holiday tournament. Instead, the Yellow Jackets’ exempt event — the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase —¬†consists of four separate home games against extremely weak competition. The first of those took place on Sunday with Georgia Tech barely beating Bethune-Cookman (#334), 65-62. Later this week, the Yellow Jackets will play Texas-Rio Grande Valley (#281) and North Texas (#296), with the last exempt game coming against Grambling State (#344) on December 1. Obviously,¬†Josh Pastner’s team should have no problem in any of these four contests, even without suspended star Josh Okogie,¬†scheduled to return after the Grambling game.

 

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Feast Week Mission Briefing: Baylor in the Battle 4 Atlantis

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 23rd, 2016

Feast Week is here. To get you ready for the Big 12’s representation in the various holiday tournaments, our Feast Week Mission Briefings continue with Baylor in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Catching Up:¬†If you really¬†think about it,¬†Baylor¬†didn’t have a lot to overcome heading into this¬†season. The Bears only lost¬†a double-double machine to the NFL (Rico Gathers), an NBA lottery pick (Taurean Prince) and the 10th-best assist man in college basketball last season (Lester Medford)… wait a minute, they DID lose a lot. And yet, despite those enormous¬†personnel losses, the Bears haven’t looked anything like a team in rebuilding mode, getting¬†off to an impressive 3-0 start that includes a¬†pounding of Pac-12 favorite Oregon. This week’s Battle 4 Atlantis is another chance for Baylor to get ready for Big 12 competition, as a loaded field awaits the Bears in the Bahamas.

Baylor point guard Manu Lecomte (#20) has dazzled in his first three games as the Bears' new point guard. (Raymond Carlin III/USA Today Sports)

Baylor point guard Manu Lecomte (#20) has been impressive in his first three games as the Bears’ new point guard. (Raymond Carlin III/USA TODAY Sports)

Opening Round Preview:¬†Baylor¬†will open the tournament against VCU in perhaps a preview of the style¬†they will see from Texas. Shaka Smart may be the architect¬†of the full-court pressing HAVOC defense, but the Rams have continued¬†this style of play under second year head coach Will Wade. Through three games, VCU ranks among the top 15 nationally¬†in steal rate¬†(13.7%), per¬†KenPom.¬†Compare that with Baylor’s first three opponents this year: Oral Roberts is¬†242nd in steal percentage; Oregon is 255th; and Florida Gulf Coast checks in at 339th. It’s clear that the dazzling point guard¬†Manu Lecomte¬†(16.7 PPG, 7.0 APG, 1.7 TOPG) will face his toughest opposition since arriving in Waco.

Potential Later Round Match-ups:¬†Regardless of what happens against VCU, Baylor is in line for a second resume-building game in Atlantis against either Michigan State — one of the youngest and most talented teams in America — or St. John’s, a program on the rise with enough talented pieces to spring an upset. This is one of those tournaments that will allow the eight participating coaches to return to the United States with a very clear progress report on their teams.¬† Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: Early Season Tournaments, Part II Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 21st, 2016

morning5_ACCNote: To gauge relative team strength, we use current KenPom ratings.

  1. Maui Invitational: North Carolina (#5) will be the favorite in the Maui Invitational, the marquee event of this season’s Feast Week. The Tar Heels will face host Chaminade in tonight’s opening round (ESPN2 – 11:30 PM) and followed by¬†either Oklahoma State (#61) or Connecticut (#67) in Tuesday’s semifinals. With that¬†draw,¬†North Carolina should easily advance into¬†Wednesday’s championship game (ESPN2 – 9:30 PM). Oregon (#9) and Wisconsin (#10) — two other top 10 teams — are on the other half of the bracket. North Carolina will look to add to its¬†past success in this event, having won three previous titles in Lahaina in 1999, 2004 and 2008. Roy Williams’ team started its trip to the Hawaiian Islands late last week¬†with an 83-68 win at Hawaii on Friday night.
  2. Legends Classic: The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be the site of the next two ACC Tournaments¬†so it is no coincidence that the facility is hosting four early season events that feature ACC schools this season. The Legends Classic is the first of those events, with Notre Dame (#33) joining a competitive four-team¬†field. The Irish will meet Colorado (#51) tonight (ESPN2 – 7:00 PM), followed by Texas (#47) taking on¬†Northwestern (#60). The winners will play in Tuesday night’s championship game (ESPN2 – 6:00 PM). With these four teams so evenly matched, expect Notre Dame to compete in¬†two close games with a chance to pick up a pair of quality wins.
  3. Global Sports Shootout: Georgia Tech (#106) is one of two ACC schools that chose not to¬†play in a traditional winners-advance tournament. Instead, the Yellow Jackets’ exempt event — the Global Sports Shootout —¬†consists of four separate home games against mid-level competition. The last of those games will take place on Tuesday night (ACCN – 7:30 PM) when Georgia Tech¬†hosts Sam Houston State (#148). Josh Pastner‘s team is 2-1 in these games after dropping Friday night’s¬†contest to Ohio (#84), but the Jackets handily defeated Tennessee Tech (#268) and Southern (#271). Junior center Ben Lammers has been a standout so far, averaging 16.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and an impressive 6.0 blocks per game.
  4. Battle 4 Atlantis: This will be Louisville‘s (#7) second appearance in the Battle 4 Atlantis event. In November 2012 the Cardinals¬†lost to Duke in the finals of this event, although¬†Rick Pitino‘s squad got its revenge in the Elite Eight¬†by¬†beating the Blue Devils handily on its way to the National Championship. As usual the Bahamas will host a highly competitive field, with all eight teams ranked among the top third of college basketball¬†(per¬†KenPom). Louisville¬†faces the lowest-rated team in¬†its opener against Old Dominion (#108) on Wednesday night (AXS – 9:30 PM). On Thanksgiving Day, the Cardinals will take on the winner of Wichita State (#23) and LSU (#87). On the other side of the bracket, Michigan State (#21), Baylor (#22) and VCU (#34) are all capable of making it to Friday afternoon’s championship game (ESPN/ESPN2 – 3:30 PM).
  5. NIT Season Tip-Off: Another ACC team will be playing in Brooklyn this week, as Florida State (#36) also ventures to the Barclays Center for the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Seminoles will battle Temple (#115) on Thanksgiving Day (ESPNU – 12:30 PM), and if they win that game, they will probably get a shot at West Virginia (#18) in Friday’s championship (ESPN2 – 3:00 PM). Two wins in Brooklyn would be huge for Leonard Hamilton‘s squad, as Florida State needs some¬†impressive victories to put on its pre-conference resume. The Seminoles have¬†not done so well in the non-conference phase of its schedule the last few years, so this represents a great opportunity to change that trend.
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O26 At-Large Watch: Early Season Games With Late Season Impact

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on November 7th, 2016

With March still several months away, it’s impossible to know which non-conference match-ups will actually prove critical once Selection Sunday arrives. But we here at the Other 26 microsite can certainly take an educated guess. Here are 11 pre-January contests that we think may play a significant role in deciding which O26 contenders will be in position to earn at-large bids on March 12.

Princeton will have several opportunities for resume-defining wins. (goprincetontigers.com)

Princeton has several opportunities for resume-defining wins. (goprincetontigers.com)

  • Princeton at Brigham Young ‚Äď November 14, 10:00 PM EST, ESPN2.¬†BYU essentially struck out in non-conference play last season and wound up paying the price on Selection Sunday. The Cougars‚Äô margin for error may be even slimmer this year. As it stands, Princeton (#39 RPI in 2015-16) is probably BYU‚Äôs best non-league opponent, making this Tip-Off Marathon home tilt critical for Dave Rose‚Äôs offensively gifted group. For the Tigers ‚ÄĒ who also play VCU, California and Monmouth in the season‚Äôs first two months ‚ÄĒ a victory at the Marriott Center would be a giant feather in their non-conference cap.
  • San Diego State at #14 Gonzaga ‚Äď November 14, 11:59 PM EST, ESPN2.¬†If the Mountain West has another down year, San Diego State could find itself with a very hollow resume come March even if it lives up to its preseason billing. The Aztecs simply don‚Äôt have many opportunities for quality non-conference wins. Luckily, the bulk of their roster back, and the addition of two power-conference transfers should enable one of the nation‚Äôs most effective defensive teams to become more impactful on offense. Which is to say that Steve Fisher‚Äôs group should be able to compete with a talented-but-unproven Gonzaga unit, especially early this¬†season. A win in the Kennel would be huge.

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Feast Week Mission Briefing: Texas in the Battle 4 Atlantis

Posted by Chris Stone on November 25th, 2015

It’s Feast Week in college basketball. To get you ready for the Big 12’s representation in the various holiday tournaments this week, our Feast Week Mission Briefings continue today.

Catching Up:¬†The beginning of the Shaka Smart era in Austin got off to a rough start when the Longhorns were upset by Washington in their opener. Outside of guard Isaiah Taylor‘s 27 points, Texas struggled to put together a competent offensive attack, shooting just 26 percent from the field against the Huskies.¬†The Longhorns bounced back with a 67-56 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in their home opener, and Smart’s first win with the program was highlighted by an impressive performance from big man Cameron Ridley¬†(14 points, 14 rebounds). But even in victory, the Longhorns failed to¬†break the one point per possession mark on offense. Looking at their offensive stats on¬†KenPom feels like you’re about to run headfirst into a brick wall:

texas offense

Luckily, the season is long and those numbers should improve as the players become more comfortable in Smart’s system. As the coach reminded everyone during a Monday¬†press conference: “We have to focus on the process. […] The process isn’t pretty. It’s not sexy. But it’s something that works.”

Opening Round Preview:¬†The Battle 4 Atlantis field is stacked this year and Texas won’t get an easy start as the Longhorns face in-state rival Texas A&M in the opening round of the tournament.¬†KenPom gives Smart’s team a 43 percent chance of winning against an A&M team that features three seniors and a cabal of freshman — many of whom chose the Aggies over Texas. A&M is undefeated through¬†four games this season and shares a common opponent with the Longhorns in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Aggies fared slightly better against the Islanders¬†than the Longhorns did, beating them by 25. Billy Kennedy‘s team¬†has been potent offensively¬†and are owners of the fifth best effective field goal percentage in the country, but haven’t¬†yet faced an opponent near the quality of Texas. The Longhorns will need to dig in defensively¬†if they want to make their way into the second round. Read the rest of this entry »

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Best of the B1G: Top November Non-Conference Games

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 26th, 2015

Despite the large number of games involving Big Ten teams during the first weekend of college basketball, things don’t really get going until the the following Tuesday of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon as the¬†Gavitt Games (including Maryland, Penn State and Nebraska) and¬†the Champions Classic (Michigan State) tip off. Much of the best non-conference action will come from the¬†former¬†event, which will pit¬†the Big Ten against the Big East for¬†eight games over four days.¬†In chronological order, here’s a look at most¬†of the marquee Big Ten match-ups during the first month of the season. ¬†Potential late-round games in holiday tournaments are also included with an assumption that brackets will hold true to form.

November 17

  • Maryland-Georgetown: Lofty preseason expectations for Maryland aside, this one is going to be absolutely huge within the Beltway. These two teams — located just 10 miles apart in the DC area — should play every year, so it’s a treat to get this match-up so early in the season.
  • Michigan State-Kansas: The Spartans can make an early statement here, as both teams have legitimate national expectations coming into the season. Whether you are looking for veterans who have seemingly been in college for 27 years (Denzel Valentine and Perry Ellis), or rookie superstars (Devonta Davis and Cheick Diallo), this one will be worth watching.

Denzel Valentine Is Back For A Final Season In Spartan Green And White (Photo: USAT Sports)

Denzel Valentine Is Back For A Final Season In Spartan Green And White (Photo: USAT Sports)

November 18

  • Illinois-Providence: Part of the Gavitt Games,¬†the Illini will have a difficult test without Kendrick Dunn as they travel to Rhode Island to take on consensus preseason All-American Kris Dunn.

Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC Stock Watch – Week Two

Posted by Lathan Wells on November 28th, 2014

We here at RTC hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. Of course, we kept on our eye on ACC hoops for you while you were eating and possibly dabbling in the football-viewing arena. It’s only week two in the season, but there continue to be teams and players who are continuing to excel or providing disappointing early returns. Below is this week’s ACC Stock Watch:

Trending Up

  • Duke. Sure, they’re obliterating lesser competition, but their win over Stanford in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic was a great sign because Jahlil Okafor was not dominant and yet the team was composed and beat a good Cardinal team. Tyus Jones (roughly five-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio through six games) and Justise Winslow (14 points per game on 45% shooting thus far) continue to show that they are beyond their years as freshmen and can help cover for a game where Okafor doesn’t play up to his standards.

Trevor Lacey had a sensational second week to keep the Wolfpack undefeated on the year (APPhoto)

Trevor Lacey had a sensational second week to keep the Wolfpack undefeated on the year (APPhoto)

  • Trevor Lacey, NC State. Lacey was billed as an impact freshman, and he certainly had an impactful week for the Wolfpack. Lacey averaged 23.5 points per game in NC State’s two wins over South Florida and Richmond this week, and even spent a large portion of the time handling the ball in lieu of Cat Barber. Lacey has hit the ground running, and has presented a great second option for Mark Gottfried at the point if Barber is playing erratically.
  • Justin Anderson, Virginia. As discussed here after last Friday’s win over George Washington, Anderson has tied for or been the lead man in scoring for this team in every game this season. Last year’s Sixth Man of the Year followed up a solid start to the season last week with a perfect shooting night against Tennessee State (7-7 from the field, 5-5 from three) to notch 20 points. Anderson might be the hottest player in the conference right now not playing in Durham.

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