Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
There are a lot of good teams in action on Wednesday, but most of them are strong favorites in their games. The two best matchups of the night are taking place in the Big East and Big Ten.
Here’s the breakdown and what else to watch for:
West Virginia at #17 Notre Dame – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (****)
Mike Brey's Team Has Won Eight in a Row and Looks Really Strong (AP Photo/J. Raymond)
It seems like every game that West Virginia plays is a toss-up, and this one is no different. The Mountaineers have lost five of their last seven but are coming off a big win at Pittsburgh where they were slight underdogs. They are once again slight underdogs in South Bend to take on the red-hot Fighting Irish. WVU usually plays strong perimeter defense, which will force the Irish guards into running more difficult offense, but will the Mountaineers’ own guards provide enough scoring punch? Truck Bryant has been a good secondary scorer at 16.6 PPG in Big East play, but no other guard averages more than eight points per night. They need someone else to step up to complement Bryant and Kevin Jones. Jones remains a stud this season and you can all but lock up 20 points and 10 rebounds from him. The Mountaineers will try to out-tough the Irish by controlling the boards with their 54.1% rebounding percentage in Big East games, tops in the conference.
Notre Dame hasn’t lost in over a month, winning eight straight games and all in impressive fashion. They didn’t look great in their Saturday night game at Villanova, but the Irish still came back from a 20-point deficit and closed out a road game in overtime. Five different Notre Dame players have led the team in scoring during its winning streak, and the offense has been tremendously well-rounded. They can pound the ball inside to Jack Cooley (12.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG), find surging Pat Connaughton from the outside (12.6 PPG in his last five games), or use strong guard duo Eric Atkins (13.0 PPG) and Jerian Grant (12.9 PPG) to make plays. The question will be whether Mike Brey‘s team can execute against WVU’s tough defense or grab any offensive boards against the strong defensive rebounding team.
West Virginia is the best rebounding team in the Big East while Notre Dame’s 49.4% rebound percentage is just 13th in the conference. The Mountaineers could control this game if they dominate the boards, but otherwise the Irish should find a much easier time scoring with their diverse offensive sets. Notre Dame is just a three-point favorite in what is expected to be a tight matchup.
#5 Michigan State at Minnesota – 8:30 PM ET on Big Ten Network (***)
Michigan State has won five straight, seven of its last eight, and looks like a strong candidate for an NCAA #1 seed. Draymond Green is fully healthy and continues to state his case for Big Ten Player of the Year, but it’s the secondary players that have come along. Freshman Branden Dawson continues to improve and has massive upside as a swing forward, while bigs Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix continue to play better and better as the season progresses. The Spartans remain one of the strongest defensive teams in the country and seem incredibly difficult to score on during stretches. There’s no reason to expect anything different against a struggling Golden Gophers offense. Tom Izzo‘s team is peaking yet again in the late stage of the season.
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.
It was only a matter of time. Murray State had been narrowly escaping against OVC competition in the past few games, so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that the Racers lost their first game of the year on Thursday against a Tennessee State team ranked second in the conference standings. The loss certainly hurts the team’s postseason seeding and kills off the major story that was the undefeated season, but the team may actually benefit from shedding that spotlight off their back. They have a quick turnaround with their most challenging week of the season upcoming. Elsewhere, Syracuse just completed a monster week of wins, and UNLV and Indiana handled business with big home victories. Let’s get to this week’s outlook:
C.J. Fair Was Huge for Syracuse Against Louisville, One of Three Big Wins This Week For the Orange (Getty Images/A. Lyons)
Trending UP Because… – They had an awesome week, solidifying themselves as a top team in the land alongside Kentucky. Cuse played tight games against Georgetown and at Louisville, but great late-game execution lead to victories. Throw in Saturday’s win over Connecticut and the Orange are now 26-1 and 13-1 in the Big East, looking like a near-lock for a #1 seed come March Madness.
This Week’s Key Cog – Kris Joseph. Who said this team doesn’t have a go-to guy? Joseph scored 29 points, including the game-winning three in overtime, in Wednesday’s win over Georgetown. He averaged a team-high 17.0 points per game in the three victories.
Talking Point – Coach Jim Boeheim talked about Monday’s ugly win at Louisville, which ended with a score of 52-51: “You can either give the defenses credit or say it was a bad offensive game. We’re going to look on the bright side and say it was a real defensive struggle tonight.”
Erasing History – The Orange had lost seven straight games to Louisville heading into Monday’s matchup, and it looked like the streak was going to reach eight when the team trailed by five points with under 4:00 to play. But Jardine and Joseph, two seniors who have never beaten the Cards, were able to erase that history and taste their first ever victory against Rick Pitino’s squad when they closed out the game with strong defense.
Stats Central – Monday’s victory was nothing to write home about. Syracuse averages a conference-leading 111.9 offensive efficiency in Big East games, but they only recorded an 89.7 rating in the game against Louisville. Nonetheless, they held the Cardinals to an 87.9 efficiency themselves and walked way with a one-point road victory.
What’s Next? – The Orange play just once this week, at Rutgers on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, ESPN) against a struggling Scarlet Knights team. However, Rutgets has already defeated Florida, Connecticut, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame at home this season, and the RAC has become a tough place to play.
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.
What made Syracuse look so beatable in the past three games? Perhaps the answer is as simple as we thought, and Orange big man Fab Melo is just that important to the team’s success. He returned on Saturday and the Orange completely ran St. John’s off the floor in a performance worthy of a number one team. Meanwhile, Indiana and UNLV each split their two-game schedules full of tough road matchups. Murray State continues to cruise along undefeated and is getting closer to its big matchup with St. Mary’s. Let’s see how each team got it done this week:
Michael Carter-Williams Had the Memorable Highlight from Syracuse's Dominant Win Last Week (AP Photo)
Trending UP Because… – They put together perhaps their best performance of the season on Saturday by scoring nearly 100 points on the road at St. John’s in their only game of the week. Center Fab Melo returned from suspension for the game and had a solid individual performance (14 points, two blocks, 5-6 shooting), but it’s the collective play of the team’s defense and transition offense that is more telling of his impact. The Orange (23-1, 10-1 Big East) held its opponent to 38% shooting on two-point attempts, whereas they were allowing an average of 44.4% in three games without him. Melo was on the receiving end of several lobs in transition as the team consistently found easy offense in the 95-70 win. The Cuse look to have their swagger back and will try to keep up this strong form with two home games this week.
This Week’s Key Cog – Michael Carter-Williams. This week was a reminder of how truly deep this team is. Carter-Williams is a McDonald’s All-American freshman averaging just 12 minutes per game this season, and he looked like the best player on the floor during his 17 minutes against St. Johns’s. The frosh had 13 points on 5-6 shooting, four rebounds, three assists, and just one turnover in limited playing time.
Talking Point – Melo talked about his return to the team after a three-game suspension: “I had fun. It felt good to be back on the court with my teammates. I felt a little rusty and I wanted to do everything at once but Coach told me to slow down and I did.”
Coaching Legend – Jim Boeheim continues his ascent up the coaching wins list. Saturday’s victory was the coach’s 879th career victory, tying him with Dean Smith for third all-time. The only men ahead of him are Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, with Knight’s 902 victories a very passable number next year.
Stats Central – Although Kentucky owns a near unanimous top ranking, the Orange have the far more impressive overall resume. If the season ended today (which, of course, it doesn’t), then Cuse would be the top overall seed of the NCAA Tournament, boasting the #1 RPI ranking and 12 victories over RPI Top 100 teams. Kentucky has seven Top 100 wins, by comparison.
What’s Next? – Syracuse has two tough opponents this week, but both games are at home. First comes rival Georgetown on Wednesday (7:00 PM ET, ESPN), followed by struggling Connecticut on Saturday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The Hoyas look like the second best team in the Big East right now, and the Huskies could be playing for their postseason lives come this weekend. It’s never easy against these talented conference rivals.
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Trending EVEN Because… – They did lose last week to a team in the mid-70’s of the RPI, but it was a two-point loss in Laramie against tough conference foe Wyoming. The Rebels had several chances to tie or win the game on their final possession of the game, and we can’t knock the team very much for this tight road game. They also easily disposed of Colorado State earlier in the week at home. UNLV (21-4, 5-2 MW) remains in good shape in the Mountain West and has a huge matchup coming up on Saturday.
Evan Jacoby is an RTC correspondent and regular contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
Two previously Top 10 teams (UConn and Indiana) are in major slides right now and have a chance to regain confidence with road wins tonight, though both are in very difficult spots. Also, perhaps the biggest game of the C-USA season takes place this evening. Here’s what to look for:
#22 Indiana at #20 Michigan – 6:30 PM ET on Big Ten Network (****)
Can Indiana Stop Trey Burke's Dribble Drive Tonight? (AP Photo)
The Hoosiers have lost four of six games and are rapidly descending in the rankings. However, they are coming off a 103-point scoring performance in a win over Iowa and they hung tough at Wisconsin in their previous game before coming up short. If Tom Crean’s team is really turning the corner in the Big Ten, then they need to prove it tonight with nothing other than a victory. Cody Zeller has been outstanding in conference play and will be the go-to man tonight against a suspect Wolverines interior defense that allowed the freshman to go 8-10 with 18 points in their first meeting, a slim Indiana win at home. IU has been efficient offensively lately without being overly reliant on the three-point shot, which is a good formula on the road. But their chances at winning tonight really boil down to their ability to stop Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s penetration, as both players have the ability to carve up soft defenses. Indiana has an insanely high 110.4 defensive efficiency in conference, which will not cut it tonight. An improved defensive effort, however, will give them a great chance to win.
The Wolverines have held serve at home this season at 12-0 and will look to feed off the Ann Arbor crowd. As discussed above, this game is all about Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. for Michigan. The two guards are the only players in double-figure scoring (14.1 PPG and 15.2 PPG, respectively) and should have plenty of opportunities to penetrate a weak Indiana half-court defense. If they are making plays and setting up Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, and Evan Smotrycz for open threes, UM is right where they want to be. Michigan has played much better defense at home this season and should not allow Indiana to shoot the lights out like they have been able to in some games.
It’s probably getting repetitive, but this game completely comes down to Indiana’s defensive intensity in the half-court. Michigan has the advantage at home and is a four-point favorite, but this would be no upset if Indiana won. If early in the game you see Burke bouncing the ball for 20 seconds during possessions and struggling to get into the paint, you’ll know IU is doing a good job on the perimeter. Prediction: Michigan comes through with a slim victory.
Connecticut at #15 Georgetown – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (****)
Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor & correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.
In this second full edition of TT4, two of our teams have taken a step backward while the other two continue to roll along as the only unbeaten teams remaining in the country. Do Murray State and Syracuse both have a good chance to go undefeated in the regular season? All four of our teams remain ranked in the Top 20 of the major polls. Let’s take a look at the juxtaposition between the two pairs of teams that are making headlines for different reasons:
Murray State Racers
Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole are Running Full Speed Ahead for Undefeated Murray State (AP Photo/L. Dennee)
Trending UP Because… – They’re still without injured starting forward Ivan Aska, who has a broken hand, and the Racers continue to take care of business. MSU (18-0, 6-0 Ohio Valley) remained undefeated after knocking off Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech at home over the past week. The Racers’ unbeaten start extends the school record to open a season, and improving to 18-0 also set the school record for longest win streak overall at any point.
This Week’s Key Cog – Donte Poole. The senior guard has been the perfect complement to Isaiah Canaan all season, but it was Poole who did the heavy lifting this week. He averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals in two games last week, including a career-high 28 points versus Tennessee Tech, to propel his team to those victories. The prolific three-point shooter was more aggressive attacking the basket, getting to the line a total of 23 times in the two games, converting 21 of those shots.
Play of the Week – Twenty-five seconds into this video clip, watch star guard Canaan split defenders on a high pick-and-roll before a crafty finish at the rim. The announcer pronounces his name wrong, so just let the highlight do the talking.
Talking Point – Steve Prohm on improving to 18-0 despite missing their best forward: “Credit our guys’ resiliency. We’re having to play a lot of different ways and we’re just trying to figure things out and they’re doing things on the fly and making adjustments and I couldn’t be prouder of them.“
Stats Central – According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the only currently ranked teams that played a more challenging non-conference schedule than Murray State were Duke, Kansas, and Gonzaga. The Racers were actually picked to finish third this season in the OVC by conference coaches in the preseason poll, behind Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech. Those two teams now don’t have as many wins combined (17) as the Racers currently do on the season.
What’s Next? – MSU has two road games this week against conference foes dreaming of ending a perfect season. First is a test at Morehead State on Wednesday (7:00 PM ET) against the defending champions of the OVC. Morehead, 3-3 in conference play thus far, is a tough team whose five best players are all upperclassmen. The Racers then head to play at SIU-Edwardsville against a Cougars team that is also 3-3 in conference. Murray will look to continue their undefeated streak again without their best big man as Aska has been ruled out for these games.
Trending EVEN Because… – Already at the top of nearly every poll and rating, there’s not much higher to go. Syracuse remained undefeated and improved to 20-0 (7-0 Big East) after beating the three teams at the bottom of the Big East conference last week. The Orange handled their toughest task at Villanova last Wednesday without a problem, and it’s been weeks since SU played a game in which the outcome was ever in doubt after the first 10 minutes. Fast starts are becoming a staple of this team, and it holds leads easily with the most talented bench in the nation. Jim Boeheim’s team is beating Big East opponents by an average of 15.7 points per game, although five of their seven games have come against the bottom four teams in the conference.
Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist and contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See the bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
Tonight’s action offers a variety of 4-star matchups, including some exciting conference openers and one of the last top-25 non-conference showdowns. Carve out some time tonight to catch these great games.
Perry Jones and Undefeated Baylor Face Their Final Non-Conference Test Tonight Against Mississippi State (AP/T. Gutierrez)
#12 Georgetown at #10 Louisville – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (****)
One of the biggest surprises in the country thus far, Georgetown is now looking to prove it can hang with the top teams in the Big East. Given how the Hoyas have played recently, they should have a great chance to add another impressive win to their resume tonight in the KFC Yum! Center. Georgetown has already won a true road game over then-top-15 Alabama, and tonight it heads west looking to rely on a veteran big three that have been consistent all year. Hollis Thompson and Jason Clark are getting it done from the perimeter, each averaging about 15 points per game and hitting exactly two three-pointers per game to lead the team from deep. Henry Sims, the most unlikely assist man in the nation, has executed his point forward role to perfection in Coach Thompson III’s Princeton-style offense. Sims leads the team with 3.7 assists and 1.6 blocks per game while continuing his low-post impact to the tune of 12.5 points and 5.5 boards per contest. If Georgetown can continue its current pace of 1.16 points per possession, which is ninth best in the country, then they will have a shot to pull off the road win tonight.
Before taking on Kentucky later this week in a massive in-state powerhouse showdown, Louisville has this fierce test to begin Big East play. Rick Pitino’s team has been well-prepared all season leading to an undefeated record, but they have been vulnerable at home and have nearly been upset several times at the Yum! Center. The Cardinals, though, continue to collect wins thanks to a spectacular defensive effort. Louisville’s defensive efficiency of 83.0 is the fifth-best number in the nation, and they are also ranked top-10 defensively in field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, points per possession, and rebounding. Coach Pitino will run out a nine- or ten-man rotation and look to speed up the Hoyas’ efficient offense by implementing high pressure and different defensive looks throughout the night. How guards Kyle Kuric, Russ Smith, Chris Smith, and Peyton Siva shoot from behind the arc will be the key to the Cardinals’ offense.
This should be a tremendous game, as two red-hot conference foes do battle with their conflicting styles of play. Louisville is a five-point favorite at home, and their depth across the board will give them an advantage tonight. But the Hoyas are able to counteract any opponent’s strengths when their offense is clicking. Keep an eye on who can establish their style of play early in the game.
Some of you younger folks may not know this, but in the first several years of its existence, ESPN actually was an acronym that stood for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. The guys in Bristol ultimately decided that the four letter “word” was such a strong brand in and of itself that they dumped the rest of it, and it appears that the Big Ten Network is thinking along the same lines two decades later. Beginning this week, the network will go by BTN in an effort to re-brand their products, which includes associated logos for each Big Ten school (Michigan pictured here) and allows the company to expand into new ventures and opportunities that may not be television-related.
It’s not every day that a Mighty Mouse joins a coaching staff, but former Arizona all-america point guard Damon Stoudamire has signed on to become an assistant on Josh Pastner’s staff at Memphis. Stoudamire enjoyed a thirteen-year NBA career that included the 1995 Rookie of the Year award, but has spent the last three years in low-level positions at Rice University and the Memphis Grizzlies. His hiring at Memphis is interesting from a player development perspective, as Stoudamire brings a wealth of experience as a 5’10 guard who had an uncanny ability to get shots off in a number of settings. For a guy like Tiger sophomore point guard Joe Jackson, who committed a total of six more turnovers than assists last season, Stoudamire could be a tremendous positive influence.
Can we send our correspondent to the pickup sessions at Memorial Coliseum this summer in Lexington? We already knew that John Calipari was going to have a boatload of talent on his roster in the fall, but it now appears that most of his key players will be on campus over the summer too given the news that forward Terrence Jones will not try out for the Under-19 Team USA later this month. The three big-time recruits that Calipari has coming in — Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, and Michael Gilchrist — have also made similar decisions to stick around campus this summer. Assuming that several of Cal’s former Cats such as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter and Eric Bledsoe pass through Lexington for even a brief interlude to hoop, there might be more young talent during the hot months playing basketball in Lexington than anywhere else in America.
Somehow we missed this over the long weekend, but Pat Forde late last week published a piece that takes a look at the top ten overachieving and underachieving programs in college basketball since 1985. This is a great article, in theory, and one that we here at RTC talk about doing in depth frequently; but, even though Forde justifies his selections with a paragraph explaining each, something seems a little off when Duke is listed as the second-biggest overachiever (does a top six program truly overachieve?) and Northwestern as the top underachiever (with no expectations, how can it underachieve?). It’s admittedly a strange list — maybe we would have preferred it if the title had been outstanding vs. disappointing programs?
What’s this, a serious piece of opinion and commentary from Deadspin? The venerable old blog’s Tommy Craggs uses the prism of the Jim Tressel scandal to nail the media to the wall for falling victim to the same dog-and-pony circus act of faux-outrage we see every time that something like this is unveiled. His key statement: “What I can’t tolerate is the passel of excellent journalists who understand all the cockeyed incentives of big-time college sports, who know precisely where the big con lies, and who nonetheless write story after story after story after story in which they mistake the symptoms for the contagion.” It’s an interesting point, but one with which we’re not sure we ultimately agree. Depending on your perspective, either these investigations and subsequent stories are part of a long-term process to expose the hypocrisy he refers to layer by layer; or, they’re simply isolated instances that don’t amount to anything in the aggregate. We tend toward the former, and until the NCAA recognizes and solves its own internal battle of enforcement versus self-interest, we’ll have to settle for the good, if piecemeal, work that these journos are doing to expose the seedy side.
Halloween, as most of us know, is and always will be one of the Four Pillars of Absolute Kid Happiness, right up there with Christmas (where celebrated), birthdays, and the moment of the announcement of a snow day. It seems like only a blink of an eye ago that we were those kids, but alas, each of us at RTC has long since put away our ghostly sheets and our Star Wars masks (we eBayed those) and — some more gradually than others — over time, evolved, kicking and screaming, into what we suppose you’d call…a grown-up. Just because the body has matured, though, doesn’t mean the mind has, because we still get jazzed for All Hallow’s. Not only is it a metaphorical “Next Exit” sign for an upcoming holiday season (which we still dig, and always will), but October 31 is a city limits line, as well. It signals that the last non-college basketball month has passed. It means that it’s been a long summer, but now we’re all back in town for another golden autumn in Hoop City.
It's Time To Hand Out Treats To Things We Like, and Tricks (Or Rocks) To Those We Don't.
What better time to reward with treats some of the recent developments or teams/players/coaches in our game we’re diggin’ on these days, and require tricks of things that we’re not. It’s time for Rush The Court’s Tricks and Treats for 2010.
Treats (no particular order):
Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger. We haven’t been this high on big men since Andre’ the Giant’s turn in The Princess Bride. We’re just as hyped to see these guys take the court as we were for Messrs. Wall, Favors, Henry, and Cousins before last season. When each of us here at RTC was 18, our worries included things like summer fast food jobs and blowing money on these things called CDs (discoid objects that played music). These guys have to worry about things like, oh, making sure Ohio State basketball doesn’t drop at all after losing the Player of the Year, and bringing North Carolina basketball — home to not exactly the most patient of fan bases — back to prominence. Plus, as they’re instant program-changers, we want to finally see these dudes play against college competition. We’ve waited long enough. And heck, let’s throw Baylor’s Perry Jones in there, too.
Horrid news from Texas, as Texas A&M recruit and current prep senior Tobi Oyedejidied from injuries sufffered when the Toyota Avalon he was driving veered out of his lane and hit another car head-on at 6:15 am yesterday morning, killing the other driver as well as himself. He was heading home after his senior prom and an after-party at a local Dave & Buster’s. We hate to wildly speculate about this without knowing the facts, but we are very hopeful that his toxicity screening comes back negative. A tragedy like this one doesn’t need additional reasons to hate everything about it. RIP young fella.
This Chicago Tribune article about Big Ten expansion hones in on just how impressively the Big Ten Network has grown in its three-year existence. The mere fact that we’re discussing expansion as a proximate cause of the success of the channel in such a short period of time shows the phenomenal foresight that the conference had to take the substantial risk and initiate this endeavor. It’s potentially paying off in droves now.
While we’re on the topic of expansion, this is an interesting article we stumbled across that considers the endgame if the major NCAA football schools eventually break away from the rest of the organization. NCAA Tournament stalwarts like Siena and Butler would no longer be a part of the Madness, a frightening proposition for those of us who think the little guys make up so much of the magic of the Tournament.
Mike DeCourcy points out some of the expected impact transfers we should all keep an eye on in 2010-11. Speaking of transfers, 6’11 JuCo Eloy Vargas from Miami-Dade CC picked Kentucky as his destination of choice, likely vaulting John Calipari’s recruiting haul to the #1 spot for the second year in a row at the school. Vargas began his career at rival Florida two years ago, seeing spot time in nine games prior to injuring his ankle and missing the rest of the 2008-09 season.
Last week the Hartford Courant listed some of the game’s top coaching salaries in light of Jim Calhoun’s new $13M, five-year contract. This list is not exhaustive, as several coaches at private schools such as Coach K at Duke and Jim Boeheim at Syracuse are undoubtedly also in this range, but it is interesting to see nevertheless.
Average yearly salaries for some other men’s basketball coaches
John Calipari, Kentucky – $3.95 million (8 years for $31.65 million in 2009)
Billy Donovan, Florida – $3.3 million (6 years for $21 million in 2007)
Bill Self, Kansas – $3 million (10 years for $30 million)
Tom Izzo, Michigan State – $2.6 million (7-year extension in 2009)
Thad Matta, Ohio State – $2.5 million (10-year extension in 2006)
Tom Crean, Indiana – $2.36 million (10 years for $23.6 million in 2008)
Bruce Pearl, Tennessee – $2.3 million (6-year extension in 2008)
Rick Pitino, Louisville – $2.25 million (6 years for $13.5 million in 2007)
Rick Barnes, Texas – $2.15 million (10-year extension in 2007)
Roy Williams, North Carolina – $2.11 million (10-year extension in 2005)
Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.
Much has been made of the Big Ten’s interest in expanding beyond their current 11 teams and all the consequences that such expansion could have on other conferences throughout the country. But, given that the other BCS conferences are multi-million dollar organizations and that the continued competitiveness and even existence of these organizations may depend on their actions both before and after the Big Ten comes to its decision, it should come as no surprise that conference commissioners and athletic directors of their respective member institutions are considering their options in a game of moves and countermoves. It is probably no coincidence that the first speculative report to surface indicating that the Big Ten has made its choices and offered up its first invitations came on the heels of reports at the end of last week that the Big 12 and Pac-10 had met to discuss a possible alliance, a big innovation that makes a lot of sense for both conferences.
Representatives from the two conferences met in Phoenix last Wednesday in what Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe described as “an informal meeting” to discuss a possible alliance. The two main planks of this possible alliance are rumored to be scheduling preferences in the future and, most importantly, joint television negotiations and ventures. As rumors have swirled of the Big Ten and possibly SEC poaching some Big 12 teams, and with the Pac-10 exploring its own expansion options, a “strategic alliance,” between the two conferences, as Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott put it, could be a boon to both.
The conference generals will do what they have to do in the spirit of self-preservation.
Aside from the potential benefits that an alliance between the conferences could bring, there is a lot of common ground between the two, as they are the only two BCS conferences made up entirely of member schools located west of the Mississippi and Pac-10 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg was Beebe’s predecessor at the Big 12. Weiberg was also instrumental in helping launch the Big Ten Network, a bit of experience that may come in handy as these two conferences discuss possibly launching a network of their own, a joint venture between the two that would allow them to show more (or potentially all) of their football and basketball games that don’t get picked up by national or regional networks.
Ok, we’ve got some information flowing in tonight this weekend…
The production values on these things are unbelievable, considering they’re still just glorified practices… from Georgetown…
How about Tom Crean’s first Hoosier Hysteria (Indiana)…
It looked like a great time at the Kennel (Gonzaga) on Friday night…
From Michigan State – a nasty 360-degree left dunk from Durrell Summers…
The original venue of Midnight Madness (Maryland)…
Here’s some K-State footage… what happened to that Beasley kid?
How about a little George Mason love with Michael Jackson in the background…
Dunk you very much at UConn…
Some Mackey Madness at Purdue…
Here’s an excerpt from Corey Johns, our America East correspondent, at UMBC Sports Blog with a description of their festivities on Fri. night.
Then came the dunk contest. Freshmen Brett Burrier (6-6), Jake Wasco (6-9) and Chauncey Gilliam (6-2) and junior Matt Spadafora (6-4) all took the floor for the contest. The first round Spadafora was the only one to
make both dunks sending him automatically to the finals, and the next guy was up to fan vote, and they choose Chauncey Gilliam.The finals were set and Spadafora hit is first one sending the crowd in an uproar thinking he won it right there, but Gilliam made and even more impressive shot making the crowd even crazier. With the second shot at a dunk Spadafora barely missed hitting the back of the rim and shooting the ball back out. Gilliam went on the court with the contest on the line. He ran up did a 360 hook tomahawk dunk for the win and a floor storming performance as some fans and both the men’s and women’s team’s picked him up and carried him around as he celebrated.
Josh over at Big Ten Geeks, RTC’s Big 10 correspondents, was kind enough to allow us access to some live-blogging he did last night while watching the BTN coverage…
Live-Blogging Midnight Madness in the Big Ten
Josh here, from Big Ten Geeks, blogging the Midnight Madness festivities from…my living room. But hey, I have the Big Ten Network in HD, and if you’re not one of the 12 or so households that receive the network – no fear! – I’ll be here to give you the rundown. Looks like we have Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, and Michigan State on tap.
…Jim Jackson just compared Wisconsin to the New England Patriots. I hope Marcus Landry has strong knees.
…Lots of dancing at the Night of the Grateful Red. Each of the players has a silly dance routine with a cute co-ed (dance team members? Does Wisconsin have a dance team? Does Bo Ryan coach that too?). Some are…better than others. Jared Berggren gave a rythmically-challenged dance to Vanilla Ice.
…Man, Wisconsin has a lot of tall white guys. Bo certainly has a type.
…Wisconsin fans hope Jason Bohannon has a better outside shot this season than pop-and-lock.
…Am I alone for thinking Bo Ryan bears a striking resemblance to Jon Voight? Everytime I see him, Coach Kilmer’s voice pops in my head.
…Yes, Bo danced again this year, but it wasn’t as good as last year’s Soulja Boy routine. But how can you top that?
…The festivities are tipping off in Mackey Arena. Purdue has a Mission Impossible theme going.
…Chris Kramer – not a dunker.
…BTN cuts away from the dunk competition as super-athlete Lewis Jackson starts his routine. That’s just bad scouting.
…Hey, Kramer threw one down, and it appears he’s worked his way into the finals. Well, hey, Purdue figures to rely on outside shooting anyways.
…JaJuan Johnson takes home the crown. No LewJack highlights to be seen. Color me disappointed.
…Coach Tom Crean figures that IU will shoot a lot of 3s this season. The talent certainly seems to be on the perimeter.
…Flipping over to ESPNU. It’s ex-Big Ten coach Bill Self with a blue microphone. He looks like he’s lost some weight.
…Scrimmage at Purdue. A lot of defense being played for a scrimmage. The Boilers will be tough to score on this season.
…Wild prediction time: LewJack will supplant Chris Kramer as the starting PG by the end of the season. He looks good out there.
…A lot of growing pains at Indiana. The fans are still figuring out how to cheer their coach. Right now, they’re adapting the classical two-syllable chant (“Mich-ael Jor-dan” clap clap clapclapclap) to an elongated “To-om Cre-ean.” Err, needs some work. A modest proposal: why not go with the two-syllable “TomCrean!” clapclap, or the “U-S-A! U-S-A” three syllable cheer (“Coach Tom Crean! Coach Tom Crean!”)?
..Out to the Barn now. You really have to like what Tubby’s done in a short time at Minnesota. I’m sure Billy Gillispie is a great coach, but I can’t help but feel that Kentucky chased away a good one.
…Announcers are debating whether or not Blake Hoffarber should come off the bench. Please – no! The Hoff needs minutes! It would be a mistake to relegate the best returning scorer to anything less than significant minutes.
…Why is Minnesota showing old footage of Flip Saunders runing some globetrotter-type drills?
…Every time I flip over to ESPNU to check out non-Big Ten festivities, I just get Andy Katz arguing with Adrian Branch in a studio. Madness!
…Cut to the Breslin Center, which is having a flashback night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1979 championship season. Izzo hints that we might see some crazy 70s hair, mustaches, and short shorts. Hopefully Goran Suton does not partake in that last one.
…Minnesota scrimmage time! The Hoff is on the bench and…Tubby calls a timeout? He can’t help himself, he’s always got to be coaching.
…IU scrimmage time! Yeah, the Hoosiers will be short this season. Either Tom Crean is mic’ed up, or he’s just really loud. Chastising players for a lot of bad shots.
Well, that does it for the BTN’s Midnight Madness coverage. Fun night for the fans, and it means that the season is just around the corner.
From Greg Miller at S. Illinois –
Even though they’re coming off their first non-NCAA Tournament season since 2001, the 2008-09 Salukis had a good crowd on hand at the SIU Arena for this year’s version of Maroon Madness (despite it being a high school football Friday night). It was the first chance to really get a look at a big group of newcomers that have been highly touted as the best recruiting class in SIU history. From my perspective, a lot of them showed some serious potential. Kevin Dillard (2008 Illinois Mr. Basketball) didn’t score much, but his ball-handling skills show he will be able to help Bryan Mullins out a lot at the point this season. Ryan Hare is an explosive wing out of Chicago who can get the rim quick. Torres Roundtree put on a well-rounded display. He threw down an alley-oop from Mullins, drove hard to the rack for an easy lay-up and also did a good job running the break and finding the open man at the other end. He will be a welcome addition to the backcourt. Didn’t see a lot from fellow McCluer North alum Anthony Booker. But size alone, he is a monster. A legit 6’8 that will definately be able to bang in the Valley. Justin Bocot was a pleasant surprise. After sitting out last year with academic problems, Bocot is back and has some serious offensive game. He showed the ability to get the rim and knock down the long three (depsite having a knuckleball shot). All in all, it was a showcase for the freshman. And they showcased some skills. The one thing that remains to be seen is if these young ‘Dawgs can play that Chris Lowery-defense that has made SIU famous. Here is a link to some interviews from SIU Media Day and highlights from tonight’s Maroon Madness.
Kyle Whelliston contributed a really insightful article on espn.com about high majors playing road games at mid-major schools this year.
Hard luck- former McD’s all-american Mike Williams ruptured his achilles tendon in a workout at Cincinnati last week and will the entire season (he sat out last year as a transfer from Texas). USC’s Daniel Hackett broke his jaw (on OJ Mayo’s elbow) last week and will miss up to six weeks. Vandy’s JeJuan Brown has withdrawn from school for personal reasons.
Speaking of OJ, this video of him playing in summer league is making the rounds.
The Big Ten Network’s twelve viewers will get to see several Midnight Madnesses next Friday, including Illini Madness, Hoosier Hysteria, Midnight Madness (MSU), Tubby’s Tipoff and Night of the Grateful Red.