ATB: Thank God We’re Not the BCS Weekend Recap

Posted by rtmsf on December 6th, 2010

The LedeThankfully We Decide Our Champions on the Court.  And we don’t use awful naming conventions when doing it.  Imagine if the First Four was actually called the Toys “R” Us First Four, or the Final Four became the Batesville Casket Company Final Four?  That’s essentially what we’re looking at with some of these absurd bowl names — our favorites: the Beef “O” Brady Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.  Maybe the two bowls should morph together and then they’d have the whole eating thing figured out.  On to more serious issues, though.  For seemingly the fourteenth consecutive year, the BCS national title game featuring Auburn and Oregon is not without controversy, as there are three unbeaten teams left standing with only two spots available.  Perhaps you’re of the opinion that a school like TCU (12-0), with its weak schedule and lack of gridiron pedigree, is not worthy of playing in that sports’ marquee event.  To this we say: neither was Butler.  Yet somehow the small college from the north side of Indianapolis that didn’t belong there found itself capable of beating two of basketball’s best coaches (Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo) and come within a hair of beating its best (Mike Krzyzewski).  It’s an absurd system that if used in basketball would guarantee that Duke would have won at least ten “mythical” national titles in the last twenty years, while robbing us of the magic of schools like George Mason and Butler along the way.  Critics of the system correctly point out that FBS college football is the only NCAA sport that does not have a playoff system to determine its champion, but it’s also the only American sport that becomes less interesting as the season progresses.  The single most exciting time is kickoff weekend, when anything seems possible.  Enjoy your BBVA Compass Bowl featuring a 2-6 SEC team, folks — we’ll be over here watching games that actually build up to something.

This Weekend’s Marquee Games.  For additional analysis on the major games from Saturday check out our Instant Analyses from Saturday (part 1, part 2, part 3).

Zeller Was Great Against UK on Saturday (AP/G. Broome)

  • Over 4,000 Wins in Chapel Hill. But it was the embattled Tar Heels of North Carolina who added win #2009 on this day, as Tyler Zeller reminded us how good he can be when he asserts himself (27/11/5 blks).  In a wrinkle we’ve never seen before, Zeller fouled out the entire Kentucky frontline with his play inside; his length (along with teammate John Henson’s) frustrated UK star forward Terrence Jones for the first time all season (3-17 FG for nine points).  The Carolina guard play still left something to be desired, shooting 6-24 from the field and totaling 21 points, but this is a known commodity — Carolina’s rise and fall this season will generally rest on how well their big men play each night out.  We came away from this game thinking that we were viewing two flawed teams — Kentucky on the inside, and UNC on the perimeter — but that Kentucky, despite losing the game, has the greater upside.
  • National Title Rematch. Butler proved for more than a half that it wasn’t going to quietly skulk away into the night after its run to the national championship game and a shaky start to this season.  As our correspondent Matt Patton wrote from the game: “First off, Butler can play: people have been down on the Bulldogs after they were blown out by Louisville and upset by Evansville, but they showed that they still have some star power and one of the smartest coaches in the game in Brad Stevens.  I thought Stevens really kept Duke on their heels the first half, giving the Blue Devils fits with a triangle and two zone and expertly controlling the tempo during the first half.  Butler also showcased some impressive depth, outscoring Duke’s talented bench 33-13 (a large amount of that credit goes to Shawn Vanzant, who had a spectacular second half).  If the Bulldogs take care of the ball like they did today and keep their stars on the court (i.e. minimize fouls and injuries), they can still surprise some people come March.”  We don’t disagree at all.  Butler isn’t a top ten team, but they will always play legitimate defense, and once they get their sea legs under them, nobody will want to face the Bulldogs (again) next Spring.
  • Battle of Seattle.  We haven’t been as high as many others have been on Gonzaga this year, and any injury to Elias Harris notwithstanding, the reason was fully on display Saturday in the Battle of Seattle game against Illinois: the Zags don’t defend.  Illinois has never traditionally been a high-octane offense under Bruce Weber, but against a Gonzaga defense that would rather reach than move, Illinois repeatedly picked Mark Few’s team apart for wide-open threes (12-23) and dunks.  Giving up twelve treys is a problem against any team, and this is the second time this season that the Zags have done so in a loss (Kansas State was the other).  This definitely appears to be Weber’s best Illini squad since the 2005 national runner-up, and it helps in that Illinois has six players capable of putting up double figures any given night.  The maturation of Brandon Paul in particular from a gunner incapable of taking a good shot in the flow of the offense (33% last year) to a disciplined shooter (52% this year) has been a pleasure to watch.  This Illinois team is capable of big things this year.

SoCal Upsets. The most surprising upsets of the weekend came at the very end of it, as the two biggest Los Angeles programs made news in one way or another.  First, UCLA, coming off a loss against top-five Kansas on Thursday night that universally slammed the officials for bailing the Jayhawks out, must have still been feeling the effects.  They allowed Montana (without Anthony Johnson, mind you) to come into Pauley Pavilion and shoot 52% in a 66-57 victory that must have UCLA fans scratching their heads perplexed.  The two stars of the Kansas game, Tyler Honeycutt and Joshua Smith, combined for 4-20 shooting and 15 total points.  Meanwhile, on the other side of town, USC, a team who had already racked up bad losses against Rider, Bradley, TCU and Nebraska, managed to completely flummox the young Texas Longhorns for an easy 73-56 victory.  If you saw either one of these results coming, then you’re well beyond the scope of this site.  Unbelievable.

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RTC Live: UCLA @ Kansas

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2010

Game # 54.  RTC Live enters the Phog Allen Fieldhouse for the first time in a matchup of college basketball bluebloods in Lawrence.

The UCLA Bruins came up short in New York, losing both of their games in the NIT Season Tip-Off. They’ll play their third straight game away from Westwood Thursday night as they travel to the nation’s loudest arena (depending on who you ask) to take on the #4 Kansas Jayhawks. Ben Howland’s team is led by the sophomore tandem of Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt, who account for over 40% of the Bruins’ scoring and rebounding output. The battle for control inside is the most intriguing aspect of this game, with Marcus and Markieff Morris, plus blossoming sophomore Thomas Robinson, all producing efficiently in the early going for the Big 12’s defending champions. In the backcourt, UCLA’s guard play has been decent against weaker teams, but against Villanova, looked outmatched and overwhelmed. KU will look to exploit that weakness as the Wildcats did with speedy guard Tyshawn Taylor. Sporting an assist-turnover rate of 43:17, Taylor can get to the basket, at which point he can dump it off to either twin or kick it out to Tyrel Reed or Brady Morningstar for a three. Join us at 9:00 pm EST for a Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series matchup that promises to be Thursday night’s marquee matchup!
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That’s Debatable: On the Conference Challenges…

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2010

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at rushthecourt@yahoo.com

This Week’s Topic: The ACC/Big Ten Challenge just ended, and the Missouri Valley/Mountain West Challenge began last night.  The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series gears up in earnest this evening after one game last weekend.  The Big East/SEC Invitational starts next week.  Are you a fan of these conference challenge events and what would you suggest to the powers-that-be to improve them?

Brian Otskey, RTC Contributor

These inter-conference events are good publicity generators and certainly give teams opportunities for quality wins early in the season. I’m a fan of the concept but aside from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, these events do not receive enough national coverage. ESPN is obviously the driving force behind the ACC/Big Ten but I’d like to see them become more involved in the other events. The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series would be a good start. ESPN televises some games but most are on FSN, stretched out over almost a month. Then we have the Big East/SEC Invitational. The Worldwide Leader covers it but the event has just four teams from each league competing. I realize the Big East is a 16-team monstrosity but why can’t we have 12 Big East teams play all 12 SEC teams over three days? Instead we have two games per night at neutral locations played over two non-consecutive days, hardly creating any buzz. When it comes to the Mountain West and Missouri Valley, let’s face it: most casual fans don’t care about non-name teams competing against each other. It’s a sad reality for us diehards, but casual fan interest makes the money and drives ratings.

David Ely, RTC Contributor

I think any event that prompts teams from the big conferences to play each other rather than the smaller schools is a good idea. Duke playing Michigan State is much better for the sport than Duke-UNC-Asheville or Michigan State-Eastern Michigan. That being said, there are things that could be done done to re-energize these events. I for one am tired of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It’s time to mix up the conferences. Give me an ACC/Big East Challenge to pit the two supposed basketball meccas against each other in a winner-takes-all series. How about a Big Ten/Big 12 Hardwood Series? There’s already a little bit of bad blood between the two conferences because of football realignment. Basketball should capitalize on that hatred. Whoever wins the first series gets the Texas football program? 

Zach Hayes, RTC Editor/Contributor

I’m a huge fan of these conference challenge events. It forces coaches to play true road games against quality opponents and sets up marquee matchups that normally may not occur. Two years ago, I distinctly remember Duke was sent to Purdue in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in a battle of top-10 teams. Because Coach K prefers to play neutral site games in most years rather than visit the home floors of elite non-conference competition, that Duke-Purdue game felt like a rare treat that wouldn’t have happened if the ACC-Big Ten Challenge was never invented. As someone that appreciates the mid-major game, the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge, while it lacks a premiere TV deal, is a fantastic way for quality Cinderella candidates to face off in December. The only change I would make is moving the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to open the season in mid-November. This solves the problem of a lackluster, trickling start to the college hoops season and instead the campaign would open with a bang that Michigan State-Duke or Purdue-Virginia Tech provides. Surely those two conferences would welcome the change as well, with basketball-starved fans tuning in to ESPN in even greater droves than in the current setup.

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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. III

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2009

backdoorcuts(2)

Backdoor Cuts is a college basketball discussion between correspondents Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore (and this week guest player Mike Walsh) that will appear every Wednesday in Rush the Court. This week they challenge each other to write about the conference challenges while excessively using the word “challenge” — before the new guy decides to monopolize the column for “Holy War” purposes.

DAVE ZEITLIN: With the Big Ten/ACC challenge finished, the SEC/Big East challenge coming up and the Pac-10/Big 12 challenge going on forever, we thought it was time to hear who your favorite RTC writers believe to be the best conference this season. Let’s call this the Dave Zeitlin/Steve Moore Challenge. Only nobody wins. And there’s no hard work or sweat involved (except maybe for Steve, whose fingers sweat when he types too fast). Here goes anyway:

Before the season started, it seemed like the Big East and ACC would be a little bit down, while the SEC and Big 10 would be a little bit up — and I think, for the most part, that’s held up so far. But even with Coach Cal (Steve’s hero), Billy Donovan and everyone’s favorite orange Jew leading a reloaded SEC East, I don’t think the conference has made up enough ground from its woeful 2008-09 performance (when only two teams finished in the top 50 of the RPI). The ACC is clearly down after losing the challenge to the Big 10 for the first time ever, and, despite their challenge triumph, I don’t think the Big 10 should stand at the top, especially after Evan Turner’s unfortunate injury. The Pac-10? Please.

So where does that leave us? I think the discussion at this point should come down to the Big East and the Big 12. The Big East may be a little down from last year when they were stacked top to bottom, but the conference still has three teams (Villanova, Syracuse and West Virginia) in the top 10. The Big 12, meanwhile, might boast the best two teams in the nation (Kansas and Texas) while also featuring teams like Texas Tech, which is coming off the biggest win in the coaching career of Pat Knight, who I like far better than his father.

So … Big East or Big 12? Big 12 or Big East? Even though I grew up watching the Big East and rooting for ‘Cuse, I’m going to give the nod to the Big 12 right now. Now I’ll let Steve crunch some numbers for you and disagree with me.

challenge

STEVE MOORE: What, no America East/Ivy League challenge? Oh…wait, that happened Tuesday night when Penn lost AGAIN to those fighting Great Danes of Albany.

As the official RTC correspondent for the ACC, I can say that the Big Ten/ACC Challenge didn’t really say much about the strength (or lack thereof of the ACC). Duke is still a better team than Wisconsin, but playing in Madison is tough. The real swing came at the bottom of the ACC (Florida State, Virginia, etc.), which is much weaker than the bottom of the Big Ten.

For my money, the Big East is the best conference in the country, and it’ll be hard for anyone to compete with that over the next few seasons. Continuing — and this is a very abstract belief on my part with no real evidence to back it up — the league seems to have more programs that are intent on competing year-to-year, i.e. not necessarily recruiting guys who are clear one-and-doners, but going more for the long-term kids. Look at the roster Jay Wright has at Villanova, or Syracuse, or West Virginia. Lots of sophomores, juniors and even the rarest of college basketball species: SENIORS! Sure, the bottom of the Big East is pretty putrid (see DePaul, South Florida), even though they all have winning records right now on a steady cupcake diet.

Texas and Kansas are obviously great teams, and the Big 12 is clearly in the discussion. But it’s really hard to even have this debate so early in the year. Texas Tech’s win over Washington was nice, but I can’t take the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge seriously considering how terrible the Pac-10 is this season.

That’s it for my abstract, totally baseless arguments on the subject. At least for now. I’m tired, and have no brain space for stats and numbers. I’ll leave that to the Ivy Leaguer…

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2009

checkinginon

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (7-0) - The Jayhawks have yet to play a tough opponent, and they didn’t play too well against a bad UCLA team. However, to KU’s credit, they’re going to get everybody’s best shot all season long.
  2. Texas (7-0) – The Horns fans are probably more excited about their football team at the moment, but the town of Austin could see another national championship appearance, this time on the hardcourt.
  3. Texas A&M (8-1) – Not a very impressive week for the Aggies who struggled at home in their wins against Akron (74-62) and North Texas (75-65).
  4. Texas Tech (8-0) – This team has earned my respect after their crazy win over Washington at home. If Pat Knight gets to the Tournament he is looking at Big 12 coach of the year honors for what he’s doing in Lubbock.
  5. Kansas State (7-1) – The Wildcats are about to get into the toughest part of their nonconference schedule. This week they play at home against Xavier (Tuesday 12/8) and on the road against Mountain West favorite UNLV (Saturday 12/12).
  6. Missouri (5-2) – I think Mizzou answered a lot of questions about their offense with the 106-69 whipping of Oregon in Columbia.
  7. Oklahoma (5-3) – It looks like the Sooners are back on track with big wins over Arkansas (67-47) and Arizona (79-62).
  8. Oklahoma State (7-1) - If you recall, I called the upset against Tulsa, if we really call it an upset. The Cowboys then had a close call at home against UT-San Antonio (61-55)
  9. Baylor (7-1) – The win over Arizona State was a good sign for the Bears, but with the Pac-10 having a down year it’s hard to know what we should make of it.
  10. Iowa State (6-3) – Really tough week for the Cyclones losing to MVC favorite Northern Iowa (63-60) and then getting dumped by Cal on the road (82-63).
  11. Colorado (6-3) – Good news for the Buffaloes is that freshman Alec Burks is off to a terrific start (16 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
  12. Nebraska (5-2) – Lost on the road to a better Creighton team. Not much is looking good in Lincoln right now other than Ndamukong Suh, and I don’t think he’s going to try out for the basketball team any time soon.

Team of the Week: Texas Tech Red Raiders – The title of “craziest game” of this young season belongs to the Washington-TTU showdown in Lubbock last Thursday, and I think its safe to say that Red Raiders fans are surprised with what their team has been able to do so far this season.

Player of the Week: Damion James (F), Texas - James combined for 35 points and 15 rebounds in Texas’ two games last week. Right now, he is the key to the Longhorns’ success.

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ATB: Weekend Cheers & Jeers

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2009

atb

The sports world may have told us that this was a college football weekend, but we know better, right?

CHEERS

That Kentucky vs. UNC is Meaningful Again.  Now that John Calipari is at Kentucky and his Cats are ranked in the Top 10 with a legitimate shot at postseason glory for the first time in a long while, it’s good to have this game on the early-season schedule.  UK rode a masterful 28-2 run to build an early 19-point lead behind John Wall’s 16/5/7 assts even though he spent much of the game cramping up, and the record crowd of 24k+ at Rupp Arena loved it… until UNC got their young legs settled in the second half, and a late 12-1 run got the Heels within one bucket with 0:33 remaining.  Eric Bledsoe and John Wall made five pressure-filled FTs to close it out 68-66 and UK moved to 8-0 on the season while UNC fell to 7-2.  One thing was clear, though — both of these teams are going to get a lot better before March – can we set a rematch in Indy on Semifinal Saturday four months from now?

Oregon State.  For putting an end to the discussion that was already gurgling (ahem) about the Pac-10 getting swept in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.  The Beavers defeated Colorado 74-69 on Friday night to give the Pac-10 its first win in the Series, and through the weekend games, only Cal’s dominant home victory over Iowa State was the other.  The Big 12 now leads 8-2 in the matchup, and with two games remaining at Pac-10 venues, we’re still not coinvinced that the league will get another win (Oklahoma State @ Stanford & Texas A&M @ Washington).

Reggie Jackson. It didn’t count, but lordy…  Jackson damn near brough the entire world down with this ridiculous dunk (below) at the end of the BC-Miami (FL) game on Sunday.   Still, Jackson dropped 18/9 in a conference opener for both teams that showed both of these teams will be heard from in the ACC this season.  BC dominated the glass 43-19, but it was Jackson’s FTs (not a dunk) with three seconds remaining that gave BC the home win to go to 1-0 in league play.

Dunk to Win.  How about a dunk that did count?  On Saturday afternoon, Ole Miss’ Eniel Polynice broke free for a throwdown right before the buzzer that ended up being the winning margin, 81-79, over Southern Miss.  This was the capper on a wild game that saw the 7-1 Rebels come back from six pts down in the final minute to take the lead and win the game on that dunk.  We’ve yet to find online video of this play but it’s really impressive, so if someone finds it a link to the dunk only, please let us know.  Chris Warren added 20/6 assts for Ole Miss, while Gary Flowers contributed 20/8  for Southern Miss.  Afterwards, USM coach Larry Eustachy found time to throw Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury under the bus for not playing his team.  Good times.

JEERS

Gravity.  If you haven’t heard by now, Ohio State superstar Evan Turner took a nasty spill after attempting a dunk in the first few minutes of the Buckeyes’ 111-60 mauling of Eastern Michigan on Saturday afternoon.  He landed on the small of his back and broke two vertebrae which will shelve the early-season leading candidate for NPOY for at least eight weeks.  Ohio State will undoubtedly have trouble recovering from his loss during that time.  For a more detailed description and video of the fall, see our report from Saturday.

A 22-point Half.  You probably missed this on Friday night, but we didn’t.  Pitt and New Hampshire tried their best to set the game back fifty years with a wretched offensive performance during a 15-7 first half.  You read that right.  15-7.  The 22 combined points was the lowest for a half in the shot-clock era, which began in 1985.  It may as well have been 1955, though, as Pitt won 47-32 with the two teams combining for 31% shooting and Pitt in particular getting almost all of its points from two players — 23 from Ashton Gibbs and 19 from Brad Wanamaker.  In fact, the entire Pitt front line contributed a total of three points.  We’re not sure what exactly caused this, guys, but let’s please not let this happen again, ok?

She Looks Different With the Lights On.  Nouveaux-riche WCC powers Portland and San Diego are learning what it’s like to be Gonzaga after all these years.  Just one week after one of the most successful weekends in both schools’ basketball history, the giant red target that was placed squarely on their backs is weighing down both teams.  On Sunday, both teams took blowout losses at the hands of schools that were clearly fired up to get a shot at a team playing with the big boys into their arena.  Portland, the media RTC darling of a week ago,  lost its second straight game to a middie after finishing as the runner-up to West Virginia in the 76 Classic.  Idaho ran out to a 16-pt first-half lead and never looked back, holding Portland to 32% shooting and 6-22 from deep.  Things have been even worse for San Diego since returning as the runner-up in the Great Alaska Shootout.  The Toreros have dropped three straight games, including Friday night’s loss to UC Riverside and a 37-pt  (19% FG) stinker on Sunday at Fresno State (note: Brandon Johnson did miss the game for disciplinary reasons, but SD was still down 38 pts in this one at one time – ugh).  It was Idaho’s first win over a ranked team in 27 years and Fresno’s first win in five tries.  Both of these WCC teams are going to need to right the ship in home games this week (Denver and New Mexico, respectively) or be considered irrelevant by Christmas after such good starts.

Weekend Upsets.

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RTC Live: Iowa State @ California

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009

RTCLive

Well that sorta figures.  After we spent all that time figuring up the percentage chance that the Pac-10 would get swept by the Big 12 in the Hardwood Series this year (0.8%), Oregon State goes and beats Colorado by five last night.  No matter.  The two games where it was a mild stretch that the Pac-10 would lose were tonight’s game, Iowa State @ California, and Texas A&M @ Washington on December 22.  RTC Live will be the Cal game tonight, as the struggling Bears continue to try to find themselves after taking three losses to Syracuse, Ohio State and New Mexico.  The nation’s #1 three-point shooting team in 2009 has been quite a bit cooler from behind the arc this year (38.1%), and they’re still missing forward Theo Robertson, who provides much-needed offense from the wing for the undersized Bears (as of posting, it was unclear if he would play tonight).  Iowa State comes into this game 6-2, but two straight losses to Northwestern and Northern Iowa remove the sheen from that record, as the Cyclones’ best win is against St. Louis.  Still, when you have a duo of powerful players like Craig Brackins (17/8) and Marquis Gilstrap (13/8), you have to believe that whoever can set the character of this game (bruising Big 12 basketball or free-flowing Pac-10 basketball) will have the best chance to win this one.  We’ll be there to talk about it tonight – join us at 11pm ET.

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ATB: Can the Big 12 Sweep the Pac-10?

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2009

atb

Who Else is Rooting for 12-0? The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series started tonight (ok, officially it started Sunday when Nebraska defeated USC 52-49, but the bulk of games are over the next four days), and given just how horrible the Pac-10 has been so far this year, there is nothing at all surprising about the Big 12 sweeping tonight’s games to go to 4-0 in the Series.  Can the Big 12 sweep this entire event?  It would be one of the all-time PWNDs if the west coast ballers fail to win a single game, and from our quick analysis, this is a possible, if not plausible, scenario.  In looking at the remaining schedule, there are a couple of sure losses (Kansas at UCLA; Oregon at Missouri), one likely loss (Washington State at Kansas State), three more games where (according to Sagarin’s predictor) the Big 12 team will be favored (Arizona at Oklahoma; Oklahoma State at Stanford; Colorado at Oregon State), and two other games where — admit it — you wouldn’t be shocked if the Big 12 team pulled out two road wins (Iowa State at California; Texas A&M at Washington).  Our curiosity got the better of us thinking about this (see below), and using the Sagarin spreads (which we realize are not fully interrelated yet, but should still give a decent ballpark estimate), we determined that there’s a <1% chance of the Big 12 sweeping the remaining games.  It’s the Iowa State and Texas A&M road games that really hurt, but honestly, we don’t have a lot of faith in any Pac-10 school at this point.  Anyway, that’s the math, but our general sense is that the odds of a sweep are in reality a little greater than that.

big12-pac10 challenge odds

Make Mine a Double (RTC)Texas Tech 99, #10 Washington 92. There weren’t many games tonight, but the matchup between Texas Tech and Washington in Lubbock tonight was a classic.  The game was so nice, the students rushed it twice.  Or something like that.  After TTU’s Mike Singletary rebounded Elston Turner’s second straight miss at the foul line with five seconds remaining, he dribbled it upcourt and appeared to beat the horn with a running three-pointer (see the 1:50 mark in the below video).  The students rushed the court and started celebrating only to be told by the refs that the shot would not count and we were heading to overtime.  After a bizarre interlude waiting for the robotic vacuum to clean off the floor, the players reconvened for the extra period where Texas Tech used a late 6-0 run to pull away and finish off the previously unbeaten Huskies (the last team in the Pac-10 to lose a game), after which the students RTC’d again (good for them).  John Roberson had 25/7 and Mike Singletary had 16/12/4 assts in the winning effort, while Quincy Pondexter dropped 31/5/3 stls for UW.  Quick question — has anyone seen Abdul Gaddy this year?  The freshman phenom had a ridiculously bad 0-point, foul-plagued 10-minute performance tonight, which dovetails nicely with his season averages of 5/3 on 28% shooting (10% from three).  Ouch.  Washington will not reach its goals this season without more production from this talented guard.  As for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders are now 8-0, but tonight was by far their best win of the season.  Still, the defense has been solid, and if they can get through several difficult road games coming up (@ TCU, @ Wichita State, @ New Mexico), then they could be well positioned from an NCAA bid standpoint heading into the Big 12 season.

Other Big 12/Pac-10 Games.

  • #2 Texas 69, USC 50.  Texas’ defense continue to impress, as the nation’s #1 stoppers (according to Pomeroy) held an obviously outmatched Trojan team to 30% from the floor and 10% from behind the line.  Damion James had 19/9 and Dexter Pittman dominated the interior for 13/5/7 blks, including a complete emasculation of USC’s Alex Stepheson (0-8 FG).  UT’s freshman corps didn’t even play well (6-23 FG), but they really weren’t needed tonight, which goes to show just how deep and talented this Longhorn team is.
  • Baylor 64, Arizona State 61.  Baylor’s Tweety Carter remains scorching hot from outside, as he nailed 7-9 threes tonight for 27/4/3 assts in an evenly-matched game between two middling major conference teams.  This gives Carter thirteen treys in his last two games, as he hit six against Xavier the last time out.  ASU led for much of the second half before a 4-minute drought at the 9-minute mark allowed Carter to do his thing, giving the Bears a lead that they would hold onto through the remainder of the game.  Baylor leading scorer LaceDarius Dunn had only 7 pts on a poor 3-10 shooting night.

Was This Really Necessary? Marshall 119, Salem International 35.  We know that it’s not Marshall’s fault that Salem Intl. is going through an especially tough season in terms of breaking in a new coach, suspended players and so on… but did Marshall really need to embarrass them by 84 points tonight?  Even though the Marshall starters barely played, it may have been a good idea to run the clock on possessions after the lead blew up to, oh, say 70 or so.  Can anyone defend this score?  Why is a CUSA team playing a D2 team anyway?  Color us unimpressed.  If there’s any justice in this world, maybe UNC will beat the Thundering Herd by 60 when they visit Chapel Hill in three weeks.

Other Games of National Interest.  After about 100 last night, we had one tonight.

  • Seton Hall 89, Hartford 56.  The Hall has been very quiet in the first month of the season, in part due to their weak schedule, but the Pirates stayed undefeated behind Robert Mitchell’s 15/9 and Jeremey Hazell’s 15/2.
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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2008

Michael Hurley of The Bleacher Report is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

The Pac-10 still is searching for the first defining win of the year.  The out of conference schedules have not helped any teams come tournament time. Sure Stanford is 4-0, but the toughest team they have played is a 4-3 Colorado team who lost to Montana State.  Arizona State is 7-1, but their best win is over a 6-1 Nebraska team, who had yet to play a team from a big conference when they came into Tempe.  One thing is for sure, the Pac-10 does not want to go back into Texas where Arizona lost 67-66 at Texas A&M and UCLA lost 68-64 at Texas .  In fact, the only win against a Texas team this week was Washington’s victory over winless Texas Southern University.  The Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series is not what Tom Hansen envisioned, as the Pac-10 is 3-6 so far.  Worth noting, Arizona is two baskets away from being 8-0. 

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Checking in on the… Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Oklahoma (8-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (7-1) (2)
  3. Texas (6-1) (4)
  4. Kansas (7-1) (5)
  5. Missouri (7-1)  (7)
  6. Texas Tech (7-1) (8)
  7. Texas A&M (6-1) (9)
  8. Nebraska (6-1) (3)
  9. Kansas St. (5-3) (6)
  10. Iowa St. (6-1) (11)
  11. Oklahoma St. (5-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (3-3) (12)

A light week for the Big 12 as most teams only played once and it was their game in the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Series where the Big 12 dominated.

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ATB: Beilein > Rodriguez

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2008

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Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.  Look, we really do like the idea of this series – two quality conferences providing juicy matchups such as UCLA-Texas, Arizona-Texas A&M, and Wazzu-Baylor (among others).  But the promoters of the Hardwood Series need to figure a way to get this thing on national tv and make it a mandatory event over the course of two or three nights.  Ideally, ESPN’s family of networks would pick it up during the same week as the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, and we’d get fantastic matchups from 7pm EST until past midnight every weekday.  As it stands now, most of the games aren’t televised nationally, and there seems to be very little coverage of the games as an “event” of any kind.  Furthermore, three of the games occur outside the most recent Thurs-Sun window (Stanford already defeated Colorado two weeks ago and has an upcoming tilt with Texas Tech, and KU’s game with Arizona is in another two weeks), which also sucked because it got completely lost amidst all the weekend football coverage.  So whoever is in charge of this “event,” take our advice and actually take the proper steps to turn this thing into something that Big 12 and Pac-10 fans will look forward to on an annual basis (similar to ACC and Big 10… uh, well, ACC fans).  Diatribe over.  Now, even if we count Stanford’s win, the Big 12 has already clinched at least a push in the Hardwood Series this year with a 6-4 record and two games remaining.  Nine of the twelve games were this weekend.  Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights (the first three games were already covered in Thursday night’s ATB).

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ATB: Blake Griffin Wasn’t Using Those Anyway*

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2008

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*

Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Challenge. We’d hoped to have gotten a preview up on these games this afternoon, but we were epically busy today, so it didn’t happen.  Nevertheless, we probably would have chosen UCLA, USC and Oklahoma St.  But we have to say that the two marquee games tonight were considerably more interesting than the premier games of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge the last two nights (Duke v. Purdue and UNC v. Michigan St.).  We had the good fortune to watch both of these game in their entirety.

  • Oklahoma 73, USC 72. As soon as you’re prepared to completely right off Tim Floyd and his Trojans, they have a game like this where it makes you reconsider every lackadaisical stereotype that you held about his team.  Of course, the stereotype for punkish behavior – yep, still got that one.  We’re sure you’ve already seen it, but in case you haven’t, USC freshman goon forward Leonard Washington introduced himself to all-world Blake Griffin with a rogue elbow to the family jewels as they ran upcourt in the second half (see below).  He was ejected for the manuever, but Griffin was forced to leave the game for a while, whereupon USC immediately started cutting into the 6-8 pt lead.  The game remained tight until the very end, when OU made just enough FTs to hang on.  USC competed well in the hostile environment, though, shooting 50% from the field and 8-11 from three; Dwight Lewis had 25 and Taj Gibson chipped in a double-double (12/10).  Most importantly, even though Griffin still had 25 pts, OU kept him off the boards to the tune of 6 total (13 below his average) and  only 1 offensive, so limiting those second-chances helped keep the Trojans in the game.

  • Texas 68, UCLA 64. When these two teams get together, you can count on physical defense, high-flying athletes, and (usually) a bricklayer’s convention.  That was pretty much the case tonight, as the two teams combined for 50-122 (40.9%) from the field and 16-29 (55.2%) from the line.  Still, the duel between all-american guards Darren Collison and AJ Abrams was well worth the price of admission.  Early in the game it appeared that Collison was going to shoot 70% for the remainder of the season, as everything he threw up was hitting the bottom of the net.  But it was Abrans who had the last laugh again this year, as his huge three with just under three minutes remaining gave Texas a more comfortable six-point lead and forced UCLA to begin rushing possessions.  Damion James added 13/13 for Texas, but UCLA is going to have to get more help for its upperclassmen from their uber-hyped freshmen (1-12) tonight.  Their rookie quintet will ultimately determine the success of their season.
  • Washington 83, Oklahoma St. 65. UW is difficult to figure this year.  They’ve looked downright awful at times, and like a tournament team others.  Tonight was the latter, as Jon Brockman dropped 16/11 in the home win.  What has happened to OSU’s James Anderson?  Big things were expected for this sophomore guard, but in his last four games he’s put up only 11ppg on 14-44 shooting.

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