RTC Big Ten Preseason Rankings: #12 to #9

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 6th, 2013

With just a couple days before the regular season tips off, it’s time to get down to how the five of us on the microsite feel that the 12 teams will shake out once the season gets rolling. What follows are the teams that we picked to finish in the bottom third of the league. Before the games tip off for real on Friday, we will show you teams #8-#5, and then close it out with teams #4-#1. Feel free to let the debates, arguments and discussions about how much or little we know what we’re talking about.

12. Nebraska

  • What they do Well: Nebraska does not turn the ball over, as it ranked 30th last season nationally in turnover rate. This is partially due to playing at a slow tempo, but their guards take care of the ball.
  • What they don’t do well: They do not get many second chance opportunities, as they ranked 319th last season in offensive rebounding rate.
  • Get to knowShavon Shields. Shields made a decent impact last year, as he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice. He and fellow wing David Rivers will need to step up to offset the losses of Brandon Ubel and Dylan Talley.
Sparkly new arena and facilities aside, we at the microsite aren't buying Nebraska as a contender this season.

Sparkly new arena and facilities aside, we at the microsite aren’t buying Nebraska as a contender this season.

  • Why they’ll finish 12th: Tim Miles looks like one of the better young coaches in the land, but with this being one of the best and deepest conferences in the country yet again, they simply don’t have enough quality depth to compete just yet. Teams will exploit their lack of quality size and kill them on the boards.
  • Why they’ll finish higher: Tai Webster turns out to be much better than advertised, and he and Ray Gallegos will be able to produce on the perimeter, shooting a high percentage and taking care of the ball. Florida castoff Walter Pitchford uses his 6’10″ frame to remedy the Huskers problem with offensive rebounding.

10 (tie). Northwestern

  • What they do well: Like Nebraska, the Wildcats are used to playing at a slow tempo to their advantage, ranking 37th nationally in turnover rate. This may or may not be the same strength this year as they look to play faster.
  • What they don’t do well: Northwestern ranked 337th in offensive block rate, meaning that they really struggled in finishing at the rim.
  • Get to know: Alex Olah. If Northwestern can get anything from this 7-foot Romanian, they’ll be balanced enough with their guards to surpass expectations in Collins’ first season at the helm.
  • Why they’ll finish 10th: There will be too much uncertainty as the players adjust to playing at a quicker tempo, transitioning from Bill Carmody and his Princeton offense to a more up-tempo style of play that Collins is implementing.
  • Why they’ll finish higher: The return of Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb will lead to a better perimeter attack more athleticism. Olah becomes a physical presence inside that they will need to create extra possessions.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VI

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 18th, 2012

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. the magic of an intrastate rivalry in a basketball crazy state with Butler/Indiana. There are some games that seem like they’re just meant to take place in March, with all of those final consequences, and this sure seemed like one of those contests. What a treat of a game this early in the year, with all the back-and-forth and late dramatics that you could ask for. It makes sense that the Cinderella-prone Bulldogs and the upstart Hoosiers would be primed to start up a testy rivalry, but this barnburner might have just sped up that process by a couple of years. And you have to love the recruiting implications, too.

I LOVED… Sean Miller’s Wildcats taking out Florida in an early-season battle of potential March heavyweights. This one made me smile for two reasons – one, I feel like Miller is still on track with molding UA back into the perennial power that it was just a few years ago (and with that campus to recruit to, as it always should be…). But the other reason is that we need a couple of schools in the West to step up after a rough couple of years, just to restore some geographic balance to the college landscape. This Wildcats team looks like they could do their part this season.

I LOVED…. how content Tubby Smith is. He’s got another sneaky good team at Minnesota this season, as the Golden Gophers have only lost to #1 Duke and taken down Memphis and San Diego State, among others. You have to think that a guy with Tubby’s resume (read: national title) has turned down some offers at more marquee programs the past few seasons, but he’s remained committed to what most people would consider a rather moderate-profile university in a quality conference. It’s not flashy, and neither is Tubby, but it’s refreshing to see a good coach stay the course and keep building.

Tubby Smith Appears to Have His Best Minnesota Team

I LOVED…. Indiana losing a game at this point in the year. Though I’ve questioned their No. 1 ranking from the start, I really do like this team and think they very well could cut down the nets at the end of the year. But they needed some adversity, and getting it now rather than in late January or February will be a positive development, in my opinion. And getting it from a team that isn’t at their talent level should give Tom Crean even more material to work with in practice.

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Maryland Secedes From the ACC, Will Join Big Ten in 2014

Posted by mpatton on November 19th, 2012

Maryland is leaving the ACC to join the Big Ten along with Rutgers. Unsurprisingly the move sparked mixed opinions from all sides. Maryland’s move is the first time since South Carolina left in 1971 that a charter member of the ACC has joined another conference, which says a lot about the current state of college athletics. Objectively–at least in the long run — Maryland’s administration made the obvious decision. The Terrapin athletic department has financially struggled mightily the last few years, and the Big Ten offers significantly more television revenue than the ACC. The caveat is the ACC’s recently negotiated $50 million exit fee (which Maryland and Florida State opposed at the time), a fee so steep will decimate the athletic department’s short-term finances.

Thinking of Maryland In the Big Ten Doesn’t Feel Right, But It’s the New Reality (credit: SI.com)

Look for the ACC to really stick to its guns regarding the exit fee, but Maryland probably won’t pay the full penalty. Contracts require diligence in order to be enforced, and Maryland will probably argue that the massive exit fee is punitive — especially considering the fact that the school didn’t support the massive exit fee hike. That said, if other schools smell instability and see a way around the exit fee, the ACC could be in trouble. If Maryland is forced to pay the full exit fee, the only two feasible options are a massive capital campaign or some sort of assistance from a third party (including the Big Ten).

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Big East M5: 11.14.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 14th, 2012

  1. The first Naismith Award watch list, comprised of 50 players, was released yesterday. While it is difficult to take a ton of stock in a list that is so long and backed by so little in terms of on-court results, it’s always interesting to see who is highlighted. Seven current Big East players have been chosen for this first watch list.  Louisville has three players included, with guard Peyton Siva, center Gorgui Dieng, and forward Chane Behanan all named. Syracuse point guard Michael Carter Williams, Notre Dame center Jack Cooley, Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick, and Georgetown forward Otto Porter were also included.
  2. Villanova‘s Jay Wright and Purdue’s Matt Painter each look forward to their teams’ upcoming match-up in the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, as they believe the two programs are in a similar place early on this season. Jay Wright explains how the two teams, who are generally known for quite different approaches, mirror each other: “We’re similar to Purdue in that we have a lot of young players, and a lot of returning players who are taking on new roles… Right now, we are an inconsistent team, probably like a lot of people are early.” Villanova has started the year 2-0, but wins against the District of Columbia and Marshall aren’t enough to get people excited about Wildcats basketball again. A win over a quality Big Ten opponent surely would be.
  3. Marquette got a big boost from an unlikely source in its 84-63 victory over Colgate Sunday: sophomore Juan Anderson. Anderson has been a bit of a forgotten man in the Golden Eagles program, at least he had been before coming one point and rebound short of a double-double in the game against the Red Raiders. Anderson missed much of last season due to surgery and an NCAA suspension, and he was supposed to miss the beginning of this season again after undergoing another surgery, a fact that makes his performance all the more impressive.  Buzz Williams was impressed with Anderson’s play as well, and indicated that we’d see more of the forward in the future: “His energy level is what helps us… He had energy last year; he just didn’t have purpose to his energy. I think now he better understands how to play with that energy and have purpose in what he’s doing… I’ve been telling him the last few weeks that he needs to put me in a position where I can’t keep him off the floor, and the way he’s going to do that is by doing the things he did today.”
  4. Many basketball pundits are high on Notre Dame due to their experience — the Irish return four players from last season’s starting line-up. The prestigious Rush the Court: Big East Microsite preseason rankings place Notre Dame in at #3 after perennial powers Louisville and Syracuse. For all of the experience that Mike Brey returns, there are lingering questions about the team’s depth. Enter: Garrick Sherman and Cameron Biedscheid. Notre Dame was very sluggish in the first few minutes against Monmouth on Monday, until Sherman and Biedschied entered the game and sparked a 12-0 run. Sherman led the Irish with 22 points, while Biedschied added nine points and five assists. If Notre Dame can count on consistent performances like that off the bench, Brey’s squad may be more dangerous than originally thought.
  5. Many former college basketball players who aren’t lucky enough to carve out careers in the NBA are long-forgotten, but many of these athletes have long, fulfilling careers overseas. DePaul athletics highlighted former Blue Demon stars Will Walker and Krys Faber, a pair who are playing exceptionally well in Bulgaria and Uruguay, respectively.  Walker plays guard for BC Beroe, while Faber has become a 20/20 machine for Atletico Welcome. While both players certainly have NBA aspirations, they’re making the best of their current situations. It is refreshing to see Walker spreading an important message to up and coming athletes: “no matter what, always remember it’s a blessing to be playing professionally. Don’t take any of it for granted because there are hundreds of guys wishing for a spot.”
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Florida State, Conference Realignment, and the ACC…

Posted by mpatton on May 15th, 2012

Florida State president Eric Barron released a statement Monday with his response to conference realignment rumors — specifically focused on Florida State Board of Trustees chair Andy Haggard‘s comments from last week. To summarize, Haggard wants out of the ACC. He pointed out that the conference’s attachment to Tobacco Road and basketball in general represents a fundamental chasm between the Seminoles and their current conference. He also pointed to the ACC’s new television deal, which reportedly will eventually pay the schools an extra $4 million dollars per school but still lags behind the Pac-12, Big 12, the Big Ten and SEC. Haggard also erroneously pointed to the ACC’s treatment of third-tier television rights as proof of the league’s anti-football bias (he claimed schools got to keep unused basketball games and not football games, but the schools actually do not have rights to either).

Florida State Eric Barron Wants to Stay in the ACC. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

Barron’s statement sided with the ACC, citing increased travel costs, lower ticket sales and the high exit fee as financial reasons to avoid a deal with the Big 12. He also highlighted Texas’s influence on the conference, losing the rivalry with Miami, and academics. Barron’s statement also falsely suggested that the Big 12 will not share revenue equally: Unlike the old Big 12 deal, the new deal will include equal revenue sharing except for third-tier rights which belong to the schools (which unlike the ACC includes unused basketball and football games). Barron also failed to acknowledge that Florida State joining the Big 12 would improve the conference’s television deal, so the current $3 million dollar difference would likely increase. Additionally, the Big 12 may share travel costs but I couldn’t confirm that one way or another. For the Florida State fan perspective, Tomahawk Nation is the best source for conference realignment (and really everything else). Bud Elliott wasn’t impressed with Barron’s statement. It’s clear that a majority of Florida State fans are at least interested in what the Big 12 has to offer. On the other side of the argument, Chadd Scott makes strong arguments for the Seminoles staying in the ACC and on the specifics of each deal.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XII

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 28th, 2012

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED….Kansas and Missouri making a play for Game of the Year. I still think you can’t top the North Carolina/Duke game, but for momentum swings and quality, Saturday’s game in Lawrence was right up there. I don’t know if I’m more impressed with how well Missouri played in a ridiculously hostile environment, or that Kansas found a way to win after getting down big. Either way, I think I like both teams’ Final Four prospects better after that one.

I LOVED….Pat Knight’s rant. No, it probably wasn’t the best choice of words or the most thought-out statement. But you have to love when coaches just say what’s on their mind and don’t give the usual coach-speak BS. Fans love getting an unfiltered view, and Pat did his dad proud with that sound-off.

I LOVED….trying to figure out what UConn can even do to make the NCAA Tournament. They’re 17-11 and 7-9 in the Big East, with games against Providence and Pittsburgh left. They’ve beaten Florida State, Harvard, St. John’s and Notre Dame as far as OK wins go. Outside of winning the Big East Tourney, obviously (which started last season’s title run), I’d say Jim Calhoun’s underachieving group has to win out and win two games in MSG – maybe three. Any guesses?

I LOVED….wondering if Georgetown has found its happy place. I seriously haven’t thought about the Hoyas for more than five seconds all year, and it usually consists of – “Is it February yet? OK, they’re finished.” But here they are with just six losses and in the Top 10 as we get set to enter into March. Perhaps GU has lowered our late-season expectations so much that they’ve finally stopped pressing?

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ATB: No Road Blues, Pennsylvania Hoops Doldrums, and a Celebration of Buzz Williams’ Sport Coat…

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. It wasn’t as crazy as Tuesday’s action, but Wednesday night around the college basketball landscape held plenty of interest in the form of a number of ranked teams going on the road, a near-complete meltdown among the major teams in the Keystone State, and a career night from a Marquette sophomore and its coach’s sport coat. Let’s jump into it…

Michigan's Celebration Means Yet Another Northwestern Disappointment (DFP)

Your Watercooler Moment. Northwestern Can’t Win For Losing. Poor Northwestern. It’s probably only a weird mind trick that the Wildcats seem to have lost about a dozen games like this over the last several seasons — games that if a few bounces had gone their way, they may have finally found their way into the NCAA Tournament — but just a week after a heartbreaking one-point loss at home against Illinois, Bill Carmody’s team once again found itself on the short end of a game that they’ll file under what-could-have-been at the end of the season. Facing the prospect of a 1-3 Big Ten start with games in the next week against Wisconsin and Michigan State, the Wildcats had Michigan down in Ann Arbor by 10 points in the second half and managed to find ways to lose (or not win, more accurately) the game both in regulation and overtime. Northwestern had what looked to be the final shot at the end of regulation, but a drive by Drew Crawford ended in a weird traveling turnover call that resulted in the extra period. Then, when presented with an opportunity to make three FTs with 0.3 seconds left to tie the game in overtime, Alex Marcotullio managed to miss the first attempt, rendering the next two rather useless. As noted above, a couple of different bounces and the Wildcats are sitting pretty at 3-1 going into a brutal part of its schedule. Instead, they’re now facing a difficult 1-5 start to conference play and a near-impossible situation to get to 9-9 and have a reasonable shot to make the NCAA Tournament (even in a deep conference such as the Big Ten).

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Road Wins From Syracuse, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas. As we have learned from an eternity of conference play, no team is ever completely safe on the road in conference play. Tonight, though, four of the Top 10 teams went on the road and took care of business. It’s true that their four opponents — Villanova, Auburn, Iowa State, and Texas Tech, respectively — are not among the elite of each conference, but a road win is a road win is a road win. As described below, Kansas’ destruction of Texas Tech in Lubbock was the most impressive victory, but Missouri’s bounceback win in Iowa State against a dangerous Cyclones squad, Kentucky’s late push to finish off Auburn, and Syracuse’s surgically methodical taking apart of Villanova are all worth noting. Read the rest of this entry »
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ATB: Wisconsin — Center of the Sporting Universe?

Posted by rtmsf on February 14th, 2011

The Lede.  Who knew that a medium-sized flyover state known more for its brats and cheese could become the center of the American sports universe, even if just for a bit?  But with the top ten seasons of both the Wisconsin Badger football and basketball teams (now including victories over #1 Ohio State in both sports), plus a little Super Bowl-winning team a couple hours to the northeast in Green Bay, a fair argument could be made, couldn’t it?  This too shall pass, but what will not is that Bo Ryan is an unbelievable coach and we should just go ahead and slot his teams into the top twenty every season regardless of the personnel he has returning.  Honestly, it’s getting a little ridiculous just how successful this guy is year after year.

Jordan Taylor: King of Madison, Wisconsin (Cap Times/A. Mertz)

Your Watercooler MomentUnbeaten Ohio State Goes Down.  When the nation’s #1 team dunks, bombs and outmuscles you in your house on its way to a fifteen-point lead in the second half, most teams wilt as quickly as those flowers you bought for your girlfriend surely will about 48 hours from now.  Wisconsin does not wilt.  In fact, the Badgers don’t even bend much, at least not in their Big 10 House of Horrors known as the Kohl Center.  Matching like with like, Bo Ryan’s team simply upped its resolve, made some stops and ripped off a 15-0 run of its own (ten points by Jordan Taylor) to tie the game at the 9:49 mark.  The last ten minutes of this game represented some of the most exciting basketball of the season, with each team taking turns showing how to score until Taylor (and his 24/4/7 assts) created some separation with his fifth three-pointer of the game at the 5:34 mark.  From that point on, it was clear that the Badgers were going to win the game and put an end to the Buckeyes’ unbeaten season, in much the same way that their football counterparts had last October 16 at Camp Randall Stadium.  When OSU cut the lead to two with just under a minute to go, it was the floppy-haired Mike Bruesewitz direct from central casting who shot-faked and nailed a ginormous three to effectively salt the game away and set the Kohl Center on fire.  At the end of the game, there was the obligatory RTC, as it was only the second time in history that the Badgers had knocked off a #1 team, and this particular OSU team was also the last remaining unbeaten.  Full and complete coverage of the court was achieved, as viewed in the video below.  Well done, Badgers.

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

  • Pitt Without Ashton Gibbs.  It was one thing to win the Backyard Brawl without Ashton Gibbs on the floor last Monday night; but to waltz into the Pavilion on ESPN Gameday and beat the Wildcats in their on-campus building where they had not lost in four years?  Very impressive work, Panthers.  We realize that Villanova played with Corey Stokes as well, but on this night it was Jamie Dixon’s team who was simply tougher than Jay Wright’s.  The physical play and three technical fouls as a result are characteristic of Pitt’s wheelhouse, and when push came to shove, it was the Panthers showing that they are indeed the Big East’s best team and a possible #1 seed next month.  Their toughest remaining game is a trip to Louisville, but would it surprise anyone if the Panthers ran the table the rest of the way to 17-1?
  • Norris Cole’s He-Man Game.  20/10 nights are damn impressive in the college game, but try doubling it.  Norris Cole became just the second player in the last fifteen seasons to drop a 40/20 in a single game — and the other was an athletic specimen you might have heard of named Blake Griffin (40/23 against Texas Tech in 2009).  Cole went for an absurd 41/20/9 assts against Youngstown State on Saturday, leaving us to wonder if he also ran the sound system, operated the scoring table and mopped up the soda residue and popcorn stains afterward.  Sheesh…  We know that Cole has had a handful (three, to be exact) of double-figure rebounding games this season, but how a 6’2, 170-pounder can pull down twenty makes no sense to us — he’s up for the Cousy Award as the best point guard in America, and with Cleveland State near the top of the Horizon League standings, let’s all hope that we get to see this kid play on the biggest stage this March.
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ATB: Shouldn’t We Just Call a Jumper a “Jimmer” From Now On?

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2011

The Lede.  It’s really been a great week of college hoops, and tonight’s slate was no different.  We were thrilled and bedazzled with another 40-point performance from the modern-day JJ/Chris Jackson/Steph Curry, depending on whom you ask; a Big East team that seems to have nine lives this season finding another one hanging around at the top of the backboard; and, an emotional evening in Oklahoma centering on a tragedy from a decade ago that people in that area still feel heavily in their hearts.

SDSU: Not the First, Nor the Last (Deseret News/S. Johnson)

Your Watercooler Moment. Jimmer Carries BYU to Knock SDSU From Unbeatens.  It wasn’t the prettiest game you’ll watch all season, but for many folks around the country it was their first chance to get a nationally-televised look at the one they call The Jimmer.  And he didn’t disappoint, especially in a scorching first half of action where you may have wondered if he was ever going to miss a jimmer, er, jumper (20 points on 8-12 shooting including 3-3 from behind the arc).  He ended the game with another ridiculous night — 43/4 on 14-24 shooting — in scoring over 60% of his team’s points and generally setting the crowd of 22,000+ at the Marriott Center and the millions more watching at home into apoplexy every time he appeared to face up to the rim for a look at the basket.  With Kemba Walker in the east, Jared Sullinger in the midwest, and Jimmer Fredette in the west, the national college basketball landscape this season has a trio of NPOY candidates with completely different skill sets who add incredible value to their teams.  It’s going to be a wild six weeks to finish out the season and determine who will take the award, but Fredette proved again tonight that despite playing in relative obscurity beyond the lights of a major conference and regular TV appearances, he deserves every bit as much attention as the other guys.

As for the game itself, San Diego State played well considering that the only real production Steve Fisher’s team had tonight was from a sick Kawhi Leonard (22/15).   And we mean sick as in illness rather than our typical usage of that word.   His frontcourt mates Malcolm Thomas and Billy White struggled shooting the ball (combined 7-20 FG) and the Aztecs’ lack of three-point bombers other than DJ Gay (who was cold as Utah snow tonight, 0-7 FG) really hurt them.  Of course, nobody truly expected SDSU to run the regular season table undefeated, but from a long-term perspective, the Aztecs are not going to be able to beat three or even four good teams in the NCAA Tournament on neutral floors if they can’t find a way to regularly make some outside jumpers.  They’re at 33% on the season out there, and they were even worse at 5-20 from beyond the arc tonight.  Is it a fatal flaw?  Yes, in the sense that when they play a really good team that can match their interior play, they’ll be forced to make some Js — when that doesn’t happen (we’re thinking back to the 2009 Oklahoma team with Blake Griffin), it’s lights out.  Still, with the right matchups, SDSU can make a run to the Elite Eight — they’ll just need to play the right teams along the way.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Just Go Ahead and Order It.  You know you want to have one in your closet if or when Jimmer and BYU make a run in March just so you can wear it around and tell all your friends you’ve had it for “years.”

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All in the Family: Episode 2

Posted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2011

We’re back with the second episode of AITF, a semi-regular piece that will take a closer look at each of the six power conferences to see what interesting tidbits relating to the national picture might be occurring.  And yes, for those of you asking, we’re still classifying the SEC as a power conference (even if KenPom has the Mountain West ahead of it). 

Power Conference Rankings

1.  Big East.

  • Everyone in the Big East has now played between six to nine conference games, so we have a somewhat decent sense as to how the pecking order in this league looks at this point.  So far, Pittsburgh (7-1), Villanova (5-1) and possibly Connecticut (4-2) have separated themselves in our eyes as the cream of the conference.  Syracuse (5-2) is just a shade below that group, but they’re going to have to figure out some things before we anoint the Orange among this year’s Big East elite – we’ll keep them at the bottom of the top tier for now, though.  The next level is a muddled mess of seven teams – Louisville, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Marquette, Cincinnati, St. John’s and Georgetown.  The most likely candidate from this group to play up to the next level is (unsurprisingly) Notre Dame after last night’s big win at Pitt, while the most likely candidate to fall completely apart is Steve Lavin’s Johnnies.  ND has already played the toughest part of its schedule whereas St. John’s is already sputtering and still faces four games versus the top tier (plus Duke and UCLA).  The lower tier — Rutgers, Seton Hall, Providence, South Florida and DePaul – isn’t likely to do much more than spring an occasional eyebrow-raising upset (witness PC’s win over Louisville on Saturday).
  • Notre Dame has been the beneficiary of the scheduling gods thus far.  The Irish have played nine games (6-3), winning five in the friendly confines of South Bend while going 1-3 away from home.  With nine games left, Mike Brey’s team has only four remaining contests at home, BUT five of their remaining games are against bottom-tier teams, more than another school in the mid-pack.  If the Irish can simply win all of those, they’ll already have eleven wins this season, good enough for an NCAA Tournament bid and a strong seed.  On the other hand, West Virginia, already with wins over three of the bottom tier en route to a 4-2 record, has four games remaining against the elites including a home date with Pitt. 
  • We’re simply not a believer in Louisville despite their 15-4 overall and 4-2 conference record.  The Cards shoot 41% of their attempts from three, and when the bombs aren’t falling, bad things happen.  In UL’s two bad performances this season, vs. Drexel and at Providence, Rick Pitino’s modern-day bombinos shot 8-39 (.205) from outside the arc.  When you keep in mind that the Cards have had a soft Big East schedule thus far and escaped Marquette on a miraculous comeback, it wouldn’t surprise us to see the wheels come off soon.
  • Rutgers is at 3-4 after defeating after defeating fellow bottom-dwellers South Florida and Seton Hall last week.  But credit is due to Mike Rice’s team for separating the Scarlet Knights a little from the true bottom of the barrel by beating those two plus Providence so far this season.  Having lost the personnel they did and to already be well past last year’s pace of five wins is a solid achievement even if the schedule toughens up from here on out.

2.  Big Ten.

  • There was some consternation over the weekend about Michigan State suffering its seventh loss of the season and whether that puts Tom Izzo’s team in danger of falling onto the bubble, and that worry is misguided at this point.  According to Pomeroy, MSU has played the toughest schedule in the nation to date, and various bracketologists (Glockner – #7; Lunardi – #6; Hayes – #6) as of this morning have the Spartans still feeling comfortable.  Still, the Spartans are a couple of bounces away from having lost six in a row (instead of three of six), and it’s clear that Michigan State is struggling to find answers.  Kalin Lucas still doesn’t appear to be himself, and the continued inconsistency of Durrell Summers and Delvon Roe remains perplexing.  Sparty needs to win its next three easily (vs. Michigan, vs. Indiana, @ Iowa). 
  • Big Ten schools must be so tired of Bo Ryan and Wisconsin.  Year after year no matter the personnel the guy finds a way to become an annoying thorn in the side of every team in the league.  After a road destruction of Northwestern in Evanston on Saturday, the Badgers sit at 5-2 in the league with four shots to overtake league leaders Ohio State and Purdue on the horizon.  Since the Big Ten expanded to an 18-game conference schedule, the Badgers have averaged a 13-5 record, with Purdue (13.3 wins) and Michigan State (13.7 wins) just barely ahead.  Would you bet against them? 
  • Illinois has been close-but-no-cigar in losses to Texas and Ohio State this season, and there’s a general sense that Bruce Weber’s team is just one little thing short of being truly elite.  That one thing is interior defense.  Despite having the very large Mikes (Tisdale and Davis) inside to man the post, Jared Sullinger and Tristan Thompson shredded the Illini frontline for easy scores when they needed them down the stretch.  If Illinois had made stops in those situations (in addition to losses to UIC and Wisconsin), they would very likely be 17-3 or thereabouts and sitting in the top eight of the polls. 
  • It’s no big surprise, but Northwestern’s NCAA prospects are dim and fading to black after the beatdown that Wisconsin put on the Wildcats Sunday.  Now at 3-5 in the league with Minnesota away followed by Ohio State and Illinois at home, it’s very likely that the next two weeks will finish them off.  The sad part is that both Michigan State losses were there for the taking; had Northwestern won those, we would be handicapping a very different situation.

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RTC Top 25: Week 9

Posted by rtmsf on January 10th, 2011

With all the ranked teams losing over the weekend, there was quite a bit of movement after the top six teams in this week’s poll.  QnD analysis after the jump…

(ed. note: we revised the original Top 25 after a data entry error surfaced)

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Vegas Odds to Win the Super Six Conferences

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2010

Last week we took a look at the Vegas odds for the 60 or so teams that sportsbooks offer futures wagers on to win the 2011 national championship.  In a complete surprise to nobody, Duke was at the very top of the list, but there were several mild eyebrow-raisers in the slots after the Blue Devils — Kentucky at #2, Memphis at #5, UNC at #7.  This week we thought it might be interesting to take a look at another futures bet that is offered: the odds for each team to win its conference regular season title.  Again, these odds aren’t necessarily an indication of what Vegas “thinks” will happen; it’s more a combination of market forces and line shading toward the more popular teams.  But these gambling establishments are not in the business of losing money, so there are some nuggets of information that we can draw from their established odds (e.g., if you think anyone but Duke will win the ACC this season, you’re a steaming hunk of moron).  Let’s break it down.  Each conference will have a few thoughts after its table.

Ed. note: keep in mind that Vegas doesn’t set its odds to add up to 100%; if they did that, they’d never be able to sucker people and make any money on long-term futures bets.  So these percentages do not represent the “true” chances of winning the conference; rather, they represent what Vegas is willing to risk on those teams. 

Quick ACC Thoughts.

  • Are there any surprises here?  Not really.  Duke is a prohibitive favorite for a reason — even if they have injuries, there’s not a lot of depth to this league right now.  UNC, an NIT team last year who lost its top three scorers, getting love as a strong second tells you a lot about the uncertainty of this conference beyond the Blue Devils.
  • Vegas doesn’t like Virginia Tech nearly as much as the pundits — that clearly has something to do with its recent history as an underachiever. 
  • Look at Maryland pretty far down the list — that’s not a typical position for the Terps to be in under Gary Williams.  Given their ”brand name” value-add, Vegas must really not be fond of Jordan Williams and company this coming season. 

Quick Big 12 Thoughts.

  • This is a crazy grouping at the top, with four schools basically acting as co-favorites — Baylor, Kansas State, Kansas and Texas.  Again we see another school (the Longhorns) living off its recruiting prowess and not its actual performance with such a high placement.
  • In our opinion, Missouri is a darkhorse candidate to not only win the Big 12 this season but also go to the Final Four.  Yet there the Tigers sit at +800 and 11.1%.  We’re not sure there’s a better value in this entire post if you’re so inclined.
  • There may not be a better duo in the Big 12 than Alec Burks and Cory Higgins at Colorado, but the Buffs aren’t getting any love from Vegas.  The CU situation is an interesting comparison with Georgia in the SEC — both teams bring back two all-conference caliber players from a mediocre squad last year.  Yet, while the experts seem to like the ‘Dawgs this year, Colorado hasn’t gotten the same traction.  Is it a Big 12 vs. SEC thing; is it the coaching (Mark Fox vs. Tad Boyle)?

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