Morning Five: 09.24.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 24th, 2010

  1. Put.  The.  Phones.  Down.  UT-Chattanooga was placed on two years probation by the NCAA for “major” violations that AGAIN included a situation where the head coach John Shulman was busily texting recruits during a no-contact period.  The Mocs will not suffer a postseason ban as a result of these violations, but we simply cannot understand why coaches continue to fall victim to such an easily traceable mistake.  Every husband in the entire world knows that you don’t text or call your mistress using the phone that your wife can access — yet coaches seem oblivious to this codified man-law, so time and time again we see problems arise in this area.  Gary Parrish discussed this last week, but coaches have proven to be slow on the uptick here.  Get some burners, fellas — hell, use Skype — just stop this nonsense already.
  2. Speaking of Parrish, his latest article captures John Wooden’s mantra of “don’t mistake activity for achievement” really well.  Too many coaches waste too much time trying to recruit prospects that they never had a shot with to begin with.  To continue with the analogies, it’s like the guy who sadly yet consistently shoots for 9s when everyone in the bar knows that he should be focusing on the 6s.  Finishing second or third in recruiting is like hearing the click with five more bullets in the barrel — you end up in the same place regardless.
  3. Scathing.  That’s how we’d describe the latest piece by Fanhouse’s Ray Holloman about the Bruce Pearl/Tennessee recruiting violations that were exposed last week.  Better than any other article we’ve seen written on this situation, Holloman perfectly exposes the true underlying motives of the “executive officers of a multi-million dollar athletic program.”  The lesson here, and we sorta already knew it: treat these guys like politicians or CEOs by assuming that everything that comes out of their mouths is a half-truth or outright lie.  Start there, and then figure out the rest.
  4. We rarely mention women’s college basketball here but this was too bizarre to ignoreUNC-Wilmington head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke (this is not a joke) apologized for a punishment that her assistant Johnetta Hayes put junior guard Julia Finlay through during practice on Monday.  Apparently Hayes forced Finlay to ‘log roll’ up and down the court at least twelve times in a row during a half-hour period as a penalty for getting booted from practice last week.  She’s suffering from plantar fasciitis, so incredulously, Hayes believed this would be an appropriate punishment in place of the normal sprints a player gets as punishment.  Finlay vomited several times during the “puke-and-roll”, and we’re pretty certain that a little piece of America died as a result of this story.
  5. “Dumb Catholic boys.”  Oh, Bob Knight, always making friends.  Just days after enjoying his roast in Hammond, Indiana, Knight took shots at both the NCAA and Notre Dame during a speaking engagement at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana yesterday.  In reference to whether Notre Dame should join the Big Ten, Knight ripped the ND brass, suggesting that being in the Big East in all sports other than football hurts their recruiting.  Surely this will come up at some point during Gameday with Digger Phelps this coming season, although we think we already know how this ends, right?  Do we even need to say it?
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Morning Five: 09.22.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 22nd, 2010

  1. Shaun Assael of ESPN’s The File Blog (Insider) published the complete 208-page transcript of Rick Pitino’s courtroom testimony from the trial of extortionist Karen Sypher back in July.  Even if you don’t have time to read all of it (and really, who does?), he gives a nice rundown of what Pitino the Man faced in the spring of 2009 at the time he first received extortion demands from Sypher, while Pitino the Coach was trying to win the Cardinals’ first-ever Big East title on the court.  Interesting primary source material there.
  2. While we’re on the subject of litigation, Tubby Smith may have saved himself a quarter-million bucks — well, the Hennepin County justice system may have — as the monetary damages awarded to Jimmy Williams from the trial against Smith and Minnesota was lowered from $1.25M to a cool $1.0M.  You may recall that Williams successfully sued Smith and the University of Minnesota for misrepresentation based on Smith offering Williams an assistant coaching job that led him to resign from Oklahoma State.  When UM athletic director got spooked by Williams’ association with prior NCAA violations at Minnesota, the school rescinded its offer.  Williams was left high and dry, and thus, the verdict went in his favor.  Minnesota isn’t satisfied yet, though, as the school plans to appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in an effort to vacate the verdict completely.
  3. The Big 12 took the initiative and announced monetary settlements with Colorado and Nebraska on Tuesday that will allow both schools to become members of their new conferences — the Pac-10 and Big Ten, respectively — on July 1, 2011.  So what is the going rate for a conference buyout these days?  Try $6.863M for the Buffs and $9.255M for the Huskers.  Nebraska has a provision in its settlement that will allow it to reduce its penalty by $500k if the school is invited to a BCS bowl this football season.  Initially both schools were taking the stance that they owed nothing because the league was on the verge of dissolution, but saner heads prevailed and ultimately the fans of both sides (schools and conferences) will be better off for it.
  4. It’s down to Duke, UNC or Kansas for Rivals #1 player Austin Rivers.  Just over two years ago Rivers committed to play for Billy Donovan at Florida, but the nearby Gators are now officially off of his list in favor of three of the biggest names in the game.  He plans on visiting all of his finalists in October, including UNC (Oct. 8), Duke (Oct. 15 – Midnight Madness) and Kansas (Oct. 22).  Carolina is so juiced for his visit to Chapel Hill that they’re already writing haikus about the kid.
  5. In case you missed it, yesterday our very own columnist Andrew Murawa released the first of an eight-part series called In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level, a tremendously informative overview of the difficulties that mid-major coaches and athletic staff face by virtue of limited resources and restricted budgets.  It’s not often that we promote our own stuff (note: this is not true), but the insights Murawa weaves from the voices of those at the mid-major level is well worth a read.  In Their Words will release every Tuesday morning for the next two months.
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NCAA Basketball 2010: The BCS Version

Posted by nvr1983 on April 2nd, 2010

With all the talk about the coming 96-team tournament, many in the sports media have forgotten that there is already another ridiculous major college sport championship in place: the BCS. We took you through this process in a post last year, but it’s worth going over again as the blogosphere is ablaze with opinions on changing our beloved NCAA Tournament.

Here are the basic ground rules:

  1. We are following the BCS Football guidelines as closely as possible. Obviously there are some differences. A college basketball team is expected to win more than 9 games (we kept a cut-off at a 75% winning percentage). We replaced the Notre Dame rule with the Duke rule since they both have sketchy TV contracts (Notre Dame with NBC and Duke with ESPN).
  2. I used the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls as the human polls and ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI, KenPom.com, and Sagarin’s ratings as the computer polls. The computer polls include data from the NCAA Tournament, but as you will see it didn’t affect the results that significantly.
  3. We used the traditional BCS calculations for determining each team’s score weighing the two human polls and the combined computer poll average as 1/3 of a team’s total score each.

Here are the results:

We will let you digest that for a minute and will provide more information/analysis and the BCS Bowls after the jump.

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Morning Five: 03.09.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

  1. The rush of conference awards are rolling in…  here are some conference POYs that were announced on Monday: James Anderson, Oklahoma State (Big 12); Jerome Randle, California (Pac-10); Evan Turner, Ohio State (Big 10); Darington Hobson, New Mexico (Mtn West); Kevin Anderson, Richmond (A10).  As for conference COY: Matt Painter, Purdue (Big Ten); Steve Alford, New Mexico (Mtn West); Herb Sendek, Arizona State (Pac-10), Frank Martin, Kansas State (Big 12), Fran Dunphy, Temple (A10).  The ACC, Big East and SEC are expected to announce their choices on Tuesday.
  2. At the national level, The Sporting News has selected Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim as its national COY, and has listed their all-americans.  Their first team has five guards on it — John Wall, Kentucky (also FrOY); Greivis Vasquez, Maryland; Evan Turner, Ohio State; Scottie Reynolds, Villanova; James Anderson, Oklahoma State.  Of course, we think that’s cheating, and RTC will have its position-specific AA team later this week.  Watch for it.
  3. Next year’s Coaches vs. Cancer Classic will feature Pittsburgh, Maryland, Texas and Illinois as the four regional hosts who are slotted into the semifinals at Madison Square Garden the week before Thanksgiving.  This could be a very interesting and talented field if the majority of underclassmen on these teams decide to stick around, as they should.  Maryland and Texas lose some key pieces in Vasquez, Milbourne, James and Pittman, respectively, but there are a bunch of really good underclassmen on all of these teams.
  4. Talk about really early entry.  Seattle University’s Charles Garcia is wasting absolutely no time in declaring his intention to go pro this spring.  Seattle is an Independent, so their season is now over unless the Redhawks are invited to one of the lower postseason tournaments such as the CBI or CIT.  What is most notable about Garcia aside from his 19/8 scoring/rebounding average is his ability to draw fouls from the defense.  Garcia picks up an astonishing 10.6 fouls per game on his defenders, which as you may imagine, puts the 6’9 forward at the line nearly ten times per game.
  5. As always, here’s some great analytical work from Vegas Watch, who takes an alternative (and much more defensible) approach to seeding the field of 65.  Keep fighting the good fight, VW, with logic, reason and most importantly, data.
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ATB: Regular Season Coda

Posted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2010

The End of the Regular Season.  Since there was so much going on this weekend, we’re going to separate today’s ATB into two separate posts.  This post exclusively covers the major conference teams, none of whom have gotten to the postseason portion of their schedules yet.  We’ll also have another ATB tonight that solely focuses on the mid-major conference tournaments — that post is here.

It’s Kyle Kuric’s World, We’re Just Living In ItLouisville 78, #1 Syracuse 68.  Rick Pitino loves these games, as it takes him back to the early days of his coaching career as the underdog at Providence or his early probation-era Kentucky teams.  With a possible NCAA bid on the line and the air filled with the pomp and circumstance of the closing of Freedom Hall, the Cards found the unlikeliest of heroes in the second half after guard Jerry Smith hurt his thumb and had to leave the game.  A little-used sophomore by the name of Kyle Kuric who had logged eight scoreless games this season found a groove from seemingly everywhere on the court.  Dunks, threes, rebounds, assists, you name it — Kuric did it.  He scored all 22 of his points in the second half, including a stretch of four treys in five minutes that gave Louisville some breathing room as Syracuse kept going inside to their big men.  It was an unbelievable performance that you have to figure will never be duplicated in that young man’s career.  With the win, Louisville moved into the #6 seed in the Big East Tournament and will await the winner of Cincinnati and Rutgers on Wednesday.  As for Syracuse, we’re not going to read much into this loss on the road where UL was playing for everything and Jim Boeheim’s team was playing for nothing, but it should be noted that the Cardinals defeated the Orange twice this year, and the Cuse only lost three times.  The way that the Cardinal players attacked the SU zone in the two wins should be Cliff Notes material for every team that the Orange faces the rest of the way.  You have to have athletes who understand good offensive spacing, and it doesn’t hurt to have a Kyle Kuric draining everything he throws up, but it can certainly be done.

Think Louisville's Next Opponent Might Scout Him? (C-J/S. Upshaw)

KU HangoverIowa State 85, Kansas State 82 (OT).  This is why we’re not sold on K-State as a Final Four contender this year.  Mere days after getting run out of the gym against rival Kansas in the Phog, we would expect a top five team to rebound at home on Senior Day to obliterate a vastly inferior team like Iowa State.  Instead what we got was an uninspired performance by Frank Martin’s team that included poor shooting (34% FG and 3-23 from three) and even worse decision-making.  Often the K-State players decided on a forced shot when there were better opportunities available, and it showed as Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen combined for 11-38 from the field (3-21 from three).  ISU led for most of the game, but when Kansas State finally tied it up in the last minute, you figured that the better team would eventually pull it out.  Didn’t happen.  There’s an element of undisciplined and scattered play that we’ve repeatedly noticed in the KSU attack this year, and while the Wildcats are definitely a dangerous team, Martin agrees that his team is not yet at a championship level of play.  It will be interesting to see how a team that doesn’t have a lot of postseason success to hang its hat on will handle going into the Big 12 Tournament next week as the #2 seed.

Quincy Acy, Dunking Machine.  We had to mention this because we’re not sure we’ve ever heard of such a thing.  In Baylor’s win against Texas on Saturday, forward Quincy Acy had 24 points on 12-15 shooting, an amazing ten of which were on dunks.  Acy is a very nice swing player, but it’s not like he’s Shaq or Dwight Howard standing in the paint all night.  How a single player can throw down that many dunks, many of which were earth-shaking in force, is as indicative as anything that Texas’ defense has checked out for the season.

Acy is a Raging Dunkaholic (AP/M. Bancale)

Conference Recaps.  As of tonight, there’s only one regular season game left (Penn-Princeton), and it’s meaningless to the national picture, although certainly important to fans of that rivalry.  Let’s recap how the final weekend of the regular season shaped up in the major conferences.

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ATB: Ashton Gibbs Had It All Along…

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2010

Close Calls.  In two closer-than-expected games, #12 Michigan State and #18 Pittsburgh held on to their positions in the Big Ten and Big East, respectively, with quite a bit still on the line.  For MSU, it’s a shot at a shared Big Ten regular season title; for Pitt, it was a double-bye in the Big East Tournament next week.

  • #18 Pittsburgh 73, Providence 71.  In a closely contested game throughout, it was Ashton Gibbs who saved Pittsburgh from what would have been their worst loss of the season at full strength (the IU loss in December was without several players).  With 3.5 seconds remaining, Gibbs (25/4/3 assts) received the ball at the right hash mark on the opposite end of his basket, took two dribbles before stopping and pulling up from about 28 feet to drain a game-winning three at the horn.  The bucket moved the Panthers to 12-5 in the Big East, and with a win over Rutgers this weekend in combination with a Villanova loss to WVU, the preseason-unranked kids from the Steel City would be the #2 seed in next week’s Big East Tournament.  Simply amazing considering the talent in that league this year.

Ashton Gibbs: "I Got This." (PPG/M. Freed)

  • #12 Michigan State 67, Penn State 65.  We’re really not going to fall into this trap that Tom Izzo likes to set for us seemingly every year.  His teams always win a bunch of games, but many of those wins seem to come by a mere point or two, and they also lose a few more than you might expect.  Then the Spartans get into the NCAA Tournament and the very same players who were somewhat underwhelming during the regular season put it all together for another run to the Final Four.  So we’ll reserve judgment on this year’s MSU team until we see what happens later this month.  Tonight Penn State had the ball with five seconds remaining but they were unable to get a shot off to win or tie the game.  With the win, MSU moves to 13-4 in the Big Ten and the Spartans will host rival Michigan this weekend to try to tie Ohio State (and possibly Purdue) for the top record in the league.

Should Washington Join the Bubble Conversation Along With Ole Miss, Dayton and Arizona State?

  • Washington 86, Oregon 72.  With an RPI of #53, twenty wins, and a better strength of schedule than its bubble peers Mississippi State and Virginia Tech, shouldn’t the Huskies at least be in the conversation?  They’ve beaten Texas A&M, Portland and Cal, which is a resume of quality Ws at least as good as Mississippi State (best win: Old Dominion), Dayton (best win: Xavier) and Virginia Tech (best win: Clemson).  We’re well aware how down the Pac-10 has been this year, but just because everyone has already seemed to decide that it’s a one-bid league shouldn’t make it necessarily so.  The resumes need to speak for themselves, and we’re having trouble understanding the difference between the above teams.  Quincy Pondexter had 34/10/6 assts in tonight’s win.

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RTC Top 25: Week 17

Posted by rtmsf on March 1st, 2010

Only one more of these after this week, and then unlike our football counterparts, they become completely irrelevant.  Analysis after the jump…

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Checking in on… the Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2010

Jason Prziborowski is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

The big thing from the past week:

  • The race is on. Purdue moved into first place in the Big Ten and #3 nationally this past week with victories over OSU and Illinois. MSU slipped a bit with its own loss against OSU. Purdue is now in the driver’s seat, looking very closely into the rear view mirror where MSU and OSU are hanging on. I am looking for a spoiler to step in to shake things up a bit, but I am not sure who it will be.

Now four Big Ten teams are in the top 25: #3 Purdue, #9 Ohio State, #14 Michigan State, and #17 Wisconsin.

Power Rankings

  1. Purdue                                 23-3, 11-3
  2. Ohio State                           21-7, 11-4
  3. Michigan State                  21-7, 11-4
  4. Wisconsin                            20-7, 10-5
  5. Illinois                                   18-10, 10-5
  6. Northwestern                   17-10, 6-9
  7. Minnesota                          16-10, 7-7
  8. Michigan                              13-14, 6-9
  9. Indiana                                 9-17, 3-11
  10. Iowa                                      9-18, 3-11
  11. Penn State                          10-16, 2-12

Coming Up

  • Purdue @ Minnesota – February 24 – 8:30 PM ET – Minnesota is coming on strong lately, blowing out both Wisconsin and Indiana at home. This game should be interesting because Minnesota plays very well at home even though Purdue is playing its best basketball of the year. Last game was a 17-point loss for the Gophers, but it was only the second game in conference play. Would be a big upset for Minnesota, and a game that Purdue should win.
  • Michigan State @ Purdue – February 28 – 4:00 PM ET – The way the season is shaping up, if Purdue beats Minnesota they will have a one-game lead on both OSU and MSU. This game, if Purdue wins, will most likely be enough to win the Big Ten outright. The last matchup was a 12-point victory for Purdue, but Kalin Lucas did come off the bench for the Spartans. The edge should go to Purdue in this one, especially at Mackey Arena. 
  • Illinois @ Ohio State – March 3 – 9:00 PM ET – This is the last regular season game for OSU and second to last for the Illini. In the grand scheme of things, this game could be meaningless, but it would matter more for Illini than OSU for a couple of reasons: this gives Illinois a chance to redeem themselves from their earlier blowout at home and it helps them make a case for the tournament, especially after racking up two losses lately against top 10 teams. Illinois will need to figure out the 1-3-1, and improve their shooting percentage to win this one.

Breaking It Down

  • Purdue is alone in First. Purdue’s Big Three has now morphed into a Big Four with Keaton Grant starting to pour in the points where Chris Kramer has been unable to do so all year. In the past two games Grant has averaged 14 points a game, besting his season average by almost 8 points. If the Big Three continue to do their thing, Kramer continues to be a beast on defense, and they get a solid offensive contribution from Grant, they could be off to the races. Purdue has Minnesota on the road, which could be tough if Minnesota comes to play. The following game against Michigan State at Mackey could prove to be the deciding game for the Big Ten Championship. I give the edge to Purdue, especially since they have Indiana and Penn State to end the season.
  • Ohio State loses then wins big. In the past week two different Ohio State teams showed up to play. Against Purdue, Evan Turner came to play, but the supporting cast didn’t pull their weight. The two OSU-Purdue games were eerily similar. Ohio State was down double figures in both games. Evan Turner played big in both games. One Purdue big man dominated in each game: the first game it was Hummel and the second it was Johnson. The difference for Purdue was Keaton Grant, but Ohio State didn’t have the same difference maker, and couldn’t get a big enough run in the second half to win. The Buckeyes went straight after Michigan State in their other game, and didn’t let up. Turner got his numbers, but William Buford had a double-double also, and David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale were both close as well. Jon Diebler did what he does best: hit big threes when it counts. Even though OSU did what they had to do against MSU, their destiny is not in their own hands the rest of the way. They have to rely on MSU knocking off Purdue, and hope for another spoiler to be able to get a share of the Big Ten Title. They might have to settle for second place though. 
  • Michigan State suffers a big setback at home. Michigan State has slipped of late. They don’t seem to be able to win the big games like they were able to earlier in the year. During their three-game slide it was a defensive problem, and now the woes have shifted to offense. During the OSU game, the Spartans came roaring back by pounding the ball inside, but then they went away from their game plan, and started launching from outside again. Shooting 33% from long range isn’t going to do it in most Big Ten games. I am still not convinced that Kalin Lucas is completely healthy. I saw him limping visibly against Indiana, and then again versus OSU. His 3-13 performance isn’t indicative of the way he plays when he is healthy and aggressive. MSU as a team needs to get back to basics, and use the big bodies they have to take it to Purdue. That is the deciding game in the Big Ten. If MSU wins they will most likely tie for the share of the Big Ten Title. If not, the Boilermakers will roll.
  • Wisconsin blown out on the road but wins at home. It’s not often that the only starter not in double figures for Minnesota is Lawrence Westbrook, but that’s exactly what happened against Wisconsin. Fortunately for the Gophers, everyone else stepped up. Wisconsin buried itself by not being able to hit from long range against Minnesota. The big question mark for Wisconsin is whether Jon Leuer came back too early. He struggled in his first outing, but then put up respectable numbers in his second game back. It’s tough to get back into rhythm in general, but at this level, and this deep into conference play, I have to give it up for Leuer for being able to make much of an impact at all. Wisconsin bounced back against Northwestern for the win, but more disconcerting is their defense right now. They are letting their opponents shoot too well from the field. Minnesota was close to 50% and Northwestern was right at 50%. They need to D it up better to close out games down the stretch, especially at Illinois.
  • Illinois drops two straight before taking down Michigan. Illinois stopped the bleeding against Michigan in a high school score of a game in Ann Arbor. It is hard to call the game a defensive battle inasmuch that both teams shot poorly. Michigan had only 18 points at half and shot a dreadful 24.6% from the field for the game. Give it to Illinois for taking down one of the duo in DeShawn Sims, limiting him to seven points. After watching Illinois play now numerous times, the difference between a win and a loss for this team is Demetri McCamey. Against Ohio State and Purdue he wasn’t really looking to score. Unlike Talor Battle, where if he doesn’t score a ton his team wins, Illinois needs McCamey to look for his shot to draw defenders, and then that is when he is really good. In my opinion he was too unselfish in their loss to Purdue. He had an amazing 16 assists, but only shot the ball six times and went to the line twice. Against Wisconsin he took 17 shots, and against Michigan State he took 12. In both games he had over 20 points, and in both games, Illinois won. They need McCamey the scorer-distributor, not the distributor-scorer. They will need him in all three of their remaining games to be ready for the tournament.
  • Northwestern is drifting quietly into the sunset. Northwestern was once the darling of the Big Ten. Now I think they have found where they stand in the conference, and on the national scene as well. Northwestern started their stumble at Iowa, and had a momentary breath of life against Minnesota before falling to a team in Penn State that has struggled all year. Northwestern just isn’t defending that well, and isn’t scoring enough to withstand their defensive weaknesses. They let Penn State shoot over 55% from the field and then followed it up with another plus 50% game against Wisconsin. The Wisconsin game came down to the Badgers hitting a couple more threes and taking a couple more trips to the line than the Wildcats. John Shurna is still filling up the stat sheet but didn’t get much help against Wisconsin. Northwestern looks to avenge their loss to Iowa at home, and really has a fairly easy rest of the season if they can play better. Northwestern’s only shot at the tournament now is by winning the Big Ten Tournament and getting an automatic bid. That is going to take some kind of playing though, especially for a team that has relied on home court to win the majority of its games.
  • Minnesota finishing strong. Somebody has awakened this Minnesota team, and I am betting that it is Tubby Smith. They have won two straight now, including an impressive won at home against Wisconsin and a blowout at home against Indiana. Minnesota is a dangerous team at home, and I am very curious to see what they are able to do against Purdue. I have already talked about the game in the upcoming games section, so I won’t mention it much here, but I am thinking that if this Minnesota team wants to make some noise this year, this will be the game.
  • Michigan upset by Penn State before dropping one to Illinois. Yes, this is a two-man team that occasionally has a third, but lately, the big two just aren’t getting enough points for Michigan. In any other game on the planet, if you hold your opponent to 37%, you win the game. The problem for the Wolverines is that they managed to shoot around 25%, and you just can’t win a game when that happens. It is also tough to win a game when half of your shots are from three-point range, another scenario that happened in the Illinois game. Both teams shot dreadfully in the game; Illinois just happened to shoot less dreadfully. I have to give a hat’s off to this Michigan team for not turning the ball over. I think what is happening though is that instead of passing the ball, especially inside, they don’t have a chance to turn it over when they are chucking up three-pointers as soon as they get across half court. If this team wants an upset in any of their remaining games, they will either have to get red hot from three-point range, or start penetrating like I said at the beginning of the year.
  • Indiana’s losses continue to pile up. With this Indiana team, it is always hard to imagine what you are going to get. For most of conference play they have relied on two guys to carry the offensive load, and for the most part one of them has: Verdell Jones III. The first time around in conference it worked quite well because Jones was overlooked, and continued to rack up 20-point games. The second time around hasn’t been so kind to him though. The defenses have keyed on Jones, and his shooting percentage has plummeted even though he is consistently in double figures and gets to the charity stripe often. The player that has come on lately has been Devan Dumes, who is trying to close out his career at Indiana in aggressive fashion. Dumes took over at the end of the Michigan State game, and then exploded for 20 against Minnesota. The problem is that Christian Watford had a bad night against Minnesota, and once again, the Hoosiers are struggling to put points on the board. Add the fact that offenses are consistently shooting over 50% against them, and that is a recipe for eight straight losses. I am not sure at this point that Indiana can emerge from its tailspin and regain some confidence, but they will need to feel good about the next couple of years.
  • Iowa takes time off. Not much to report on for Iowa, as they haven’t played since February 16 in a close loss against Michigan at home. They gear up to take on Northwestern, a team they have already beaten this season at home. Iowa has only won one game on the road this year, so they are looking for the second.
  • Penn State with two in a row. Looks like all Penn State needed this year was for Talor Battle to not score as many points. Every article this year talked about the Talor Battle Show, but it turns out that the show wasn’t producing any wins in the Big Ten until he called in the cavalry. Battle scored ten against Northwestern and two other guys scored 20 apiece, and the Lions won by 11. Then he had 14 against Michigan, and one other guy was in double figures with two others close, and they won again. Looks like the recipe for success all along. Just wish these guys could have figured it out earlier in the year.
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Checking in on… the Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2010

Jason Prziborowski is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

The big thing from the past week:

  • The Big Ten’s top four moved up as a group. Both Purdue and Ohio State reached their highest rankings of the year. The same can’t be said for Michigan State and Wisconsin, but as a group, this is the highest that the top four have been ranked. It is looking very likely that the Big Ten will send at least five teams to the Tournament this year.  Now four Big Ten teams are in the top 25: #4 Purdue, #9 Ohio State, #11 Michigan State, and #14 Wisconsin.

Power Rankings

  1. Purdue 22-3, 10-3
  2. Ohio State 20-7, 10-4
  3. Michigan State 21-6, 11-3
  4. Wisconsin 19-6, 9-4
  5. Illinois 17-9, 9-4
  6. Northwestern 17-9, 6-8
  7. Minnesota 14-10, 5-7
  8. Michigan 13-12, 6-7
  9. Indiana 9-16, 3-10
  10. Iowa 9-18, 3-11
  11. Penn State 9-16, 1-12

Coming Up

  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota – February 18th – 9:00 ET – ESPN – This game means a lot for Wisconsin, as another loss for the Badgers really takes them out of the race for the Big Ten regular season title. Minnesota has nothing to lose and everything to gain at this point. Add to the mix that Minnesota usually plays well at home, and it could spell defeat for Wisconsin. I am sure Trevon Hughes and company will have something to say about that though.
  • Illinois @ Purdue – February 20th – 4:00 ET – ESPN – Last game was a close one that ended Purdue’s losing streak, and since then, Illinois has been playing a lot better. This game definitely has big time potential impact in the Big Ten and as far as seeding goes in the tournament. Demetri McCamey had a monster game last time around, so Illinois will look for him to contribute once again. Mike Davis and DJ Richardson also played well. They will need more out of Mike Tisdale this time, as JaJuan Johnson dominated that matchup and got Tisdale in foul trouble. The Big Three for Purdue will have to lead once again. This should be a good one, although it is always tough to win at Mackey.
  • Ohio State @ Michigan State – February 21st – 12:00 ET CBS – This is another game that has direct Big Ten Title implications. Having seen both of these teams play in person as well as on TV now several times, this will be quite a battle of two very different teams. Michigan State has a much more traditional makeup to their team, with big post guys, shooting guards, and a quick high-scoring point guard. Ohio State on the other hand has oversized guards and an undersized post presence. The game is at Michigan State, so that should give the Spartans an edge. OSU has to be able to stop the post scoring of the Spartans and keep them off the boards, whereas MSU has been able to stop Evan Turner and the outside scoring of Jon Diebler and David Lighty.

Breaking It Down

  • Purdue cracks the top four. Purdue has now beaten all of the top teams in the Big Ten at least once after last night’s win at Ohio State. It is kind of amazing to look back now when Purdue went through their three-game slide at the beginning of conference play, and now they are ranked #4 nationally behind Kansas, Kentucky, and Villanova. Nova’s loss to UConn on Tuesday puts Purdue is in position to move up even higher next week after their big win at OSU (assuming they can get past Illinois over the weekend).
  • Ohio State had increased its Big Ten winning streak to nine games prior to the home loss to Purdue last night. All year everyone has been saying that if you can stop everyone else but Evan Turner, you should be able to beat Ohio State. Purdue was able to prove that notion correct, but Indiana didn’t have the scoring power to overcome it. Against Illinois, Turner had almost triple double numbers (16/11/8 asst), but even more impressively was the performance of Jon Diebler and David Lighty. OSU visits Michigan State on the road next, and they’ll need to win that one to have any remaining realistic shot at the conference title.
  • Michigan State is marching out of their mid-season valley. The problem during the Spartans’ losses was defense, and even though it appears like they have solved that problem, it’s still too early to tell. The reason I say it is too early to tell is because that improved defense has occurred against two of the bottom of the teams in the league in Penn State and Indiana. The other problem during the losses was the lack of Kalin Lucas. That problem has also disappeared as Lucas went off for 24 against Penn State and a much bigger than it seems 13 against Indiana. Michigan State has OSU and Purdue next, so there is no rest for the Spartans anytime soon.
  • Wisconsin’s destiny is in its own hands. The Badgers were upset by Illinois a week ago at home, something that never happens, due to great games by Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale. They bounced back at home trouncing Indiana behind Jason Bohannon, who lit it up from 3-point land on his way to dropping 30 on the Hoosiers. Wisconsin has the easiest schedule remaining of the top five teams in the Big Ten. They should win the next four easily, with the exception of their last game on the road against Illinois, which could prove difficult. Illinois will have battled the best in the Big Ten before taking on Wisconsin, so Wisconsin will need to make sure not to play down to the competition for the rest of the month of February.
  • Illinois’s gauntlet continues. Last week I mentioned that I thought Illinois had made great strides and proven that they weren’t gunning for the top of Big Ten just based on their scheduling. I may have underestimated Illinois’ talent and the way they have been playing lately, but I think I was redeemed a bit by watching the Ohio State game. Illinois was blown out early, and never really made much of a run against the Buckeyes. They actually did well in a couple of statistical categories, but really suffered on the shooting end and could never really stop OSU. I was very surprised that Demetri McCamey didn’t step up earlier, and it was unfortunate that Mike Tisdale got in foul trouble, because he was hurting OSU in the zone by keeping the ball high and being able to throw over the top to him near the basket. The tough thing for Illinois though, is that they don’t get to take any nights off, as they take on Purdue on the road this weekend.
  • Northwestern’s slipper came off against Iowa and got put in the closet last night agaisnt previously-winless Penn State. In the Iowa game, John Shurna and Michael Thompson combined for 36 of Northwestern’s 65. Unfortunately, nobody else was in double figures. Also dooming them was the fact that they shot under 45% from the field and 30% from deep, while Iowa shot 50% from both the field and 3 point land. Unfortunately, it was a similar story against Penn State.  The Wildcats did sandwich their two losses with an OT win against Minnesota where all of the aforementioned players were in double figures. I have heard many people say that Northwestern’s shot at the tournament is now over because of those two bad losses, but if they win at Wisconsin and the rest of their games, they might give the committee something else to think about.
  • Has Minnesota left the building? The month of January and now February hasn’t been kind for the Golden Gophers. They sandwiched a couple of wins against Northwestern and Penn State with a bunch of close losses and a blowout to Ohio State on the road. This team overall has just been too inconsistent. Lawrence Westbrook is playing well now, but where has Ralph Sampson III gone? He has been invisible the last couple of games. Devoe Joseph and Blake Hoffarber have been similarly inconsistent. What would make their season at this point is to score upsets against Wisconsin, Purdue, or Illinois.
  • Michigan wins two straight. Looks like DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris aren’t willing to ride off into the sunset just yet. These two have continued to put up huge numbers, with Sims going for 27 each of the past two games and Harris going for 20 each. All they need to win is for someone else to put in a couple buckets here and there, and they have been doing it recently. They also have three games left that they can really put a thorn in the sides of the better teams in the conference, potentially shuffling the standings at the end of the year.
  • Indiana’s streak goes to unlucky number seven. IU has turned into a two-man show lately, with Verdell Jones III and Christian Watford carrying the load. The problem is that these guys aren’t putting up Harris and Sims type of numbers. The Hoosiers need someone else to score, especially inside. The one good sign for the Hoosiers against the Spartans was how often and how many times they scored from the charity stripe. They haven’t shot 89% all year from the line, and certainly haven’t made close to 30 trips in a night either. The part where the Hoosiers really need work is on the defensive end. Everyone has been basically scoring at will, so once the Hoosiers can plug the big hole on defense, maybe their offense will come around.
  • Iowa steals Northwestern’s slipper. Iowa fulfilled its duty as a spoiler this year, or at least if Northwestern doesn’t end up making it into the tournament, they will have. There was some off the court news this past week for Iowa as well, with Anthony Tucker officially leaving the program. In their loss to Purdue, Iowa shot a frigid 30% and then stepped up to shoot 50% against Northwestern, while holding Northwestern to 44% in addition to taking 30 trips to the free throw line. Against Purdue, Aaron Fuller had an uncharacteristically bad game with only two points, but in their OT heartbreaker to Michigan, he exploded for 30. I would say that’s getting back on the right track. They go on the road against Northwestern again next, and something tells me that this result might be different.
  • Penn State finally won a game. The Nittany Lions picked apart Northwestern in Evanston last night by shooting 56%, putting all five starters in double figures and destroying the Cats on the boards (+17).  It was the kind of performance that makes you wonder where it’s been all year?  It was the Talor Battle show on Saturday against Michigan State. It was fortunate that he poured in 30 points against the Spartans. The unfortunate part was that he didn’t have a ton of help, and Kalin Lucas scored 24 points himself, thus minimizing the Battle Effect. This team has two scorers, and they both performed. Michigan State won the game on the boards, something that this Penn State team just doesn’t do well enough.
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RTC Top 25: Week 14

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

It’s a new week and we’re back with a new Top 25 poll.  The usual analysis after the jump…

Note that this week Rob Dauster of BiaH is filling in for one or usual pollsters. 

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Morning Five: 02.08.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

  1. Want to know what’s wrong with UNC this year?  One ACC coach laid out all of the dirty laundry about Roy Williams’ team in an interview with the Washington Post.  Since the coach was speaking as someone who had faced Carolina once already this season, and the article came out Saturday morning, this means that it was one of the following four: Seth Greenberg (Virginia Tech), Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Oliver Purnell (Clemson), Sidney Lowe (NC State) or Dino Gaudio (Wake Forest).  Lowe lost to the Heels in their only game and Gaudio still seems too new to make those kinds of statements about that program, even anonymously.  That leaves Greenberg, Hewitt and Purnell, and our money is on Greenberg.  For some reason it just sounds like him (and the WaPo probably has a closer relationship with him than the others).
  2. Florida State announced on Sunday that they will be vacating wins from ten sports that involved 61 athletes accused of academic misconduct during the 2006-07 academic year.  Most of the news will focus on football coach Bobby Bowden losing 12 wins from his career total, but of interest to us is that the basketball program will lose all 22 of its wins from that year as well — one from the ACC Tourney, and two from the NIT.
  3. Based on everything that Isiah Thomas says here about his lack of interest in the LA Clippers job, we fully expect him to see him stalking the sidelines (and the interns!) at the Staples Center next season.
  4. NCAA 96: a voice of reason on expansion of the NCAA Tournament from an unlikely source, the Commissioner of the Big Ten, Jim Delaney.  The key takeaway from his discussion with TSN is ‘let’s learn more about this.’  Exactly.  The more time spent talking to stakeholders as well as THE FANS is simple but seemingly missing from this idea — it helps to remove avarice from the equation and gives reasoned consideration to the premise that just because an idea will be profitable makes it a good thing.
  5. Pat Forde writes that if the COY award were handed out today, there would be no doubt who should win it – Jim Boeheim.  He won’t get any argument from us.  Syracuse received 83 votes in the preseason AP Poll (good for 31st) and 111 votes in the ESPN/Coaches Poll (25th).  The Orange are now 23-1, leading the Big East Conference, and could potentially be Boeheim’s best team ever.  That’s right.  Look through this list and find a better team.  It’s hard to do.
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RTC Top 25: Week 13

Posted by rtmsf on February 1st, 2010

A good discussion on twitter today about how to rank the top four (all one-loss) teams.  Here’s our version, with analysis after the jump:

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