Post-Championship Fast Breaks (04.08.08)

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2008

A few more drops of residual knowledge in the wake of Super Mario’s bomb…

  • Where does 2008 KU rank among this decade’s champions?  We’d put them higher than seventh but lower than fourth. 
  • Brandon Rush is going pro, according to Yahoo Sports.  What an amazing silver lining for Rush and KU after he blew out his knee during NBA workouts last spring.   
  • As a mirror question to the one floated about One Shining Moment below, is there anyone alive who actually likes Billy Packer?
  • More blowback on Roy’s Kansas decal last night.  And here
  • Arizona’s Chase Budinger will test the waters of the NBA Draft, joining teammate Jerryd Bayless from last week. 
  • In a bit of a surprise, Florida’s Marreese Speights (14/8) will also test the waters of the draft.
  • When does that two-year rule start again?  LSU’s Anthony Randolph will also be testing the waters.
  • After not playing in the entire 07-08 season due to an injury, Alabama’s Ronald Steele is also putting his name into the draft. 
  • While not official at this point, reports are indicating that Kansas St.’s Bill Walker will also declare for the draft soon. 
Share this story

Predictions for today’s games

Posted by nvr1983 on March 22nd, 2008

We’ll be updating this throughout the day so we can get the predictions out before the games start.

2:10 PM tip:
- West Virginia vs. Duke – If the Blue Devils want to get to the second week, they will have to play much better than they did in their opening round game versus Belmont. The key for Duke (as it has been for every game this year) is whether they will hit they 3. If they do, they can beat anybody because well 3 points > 2 points. For the Mountaineers to win, they will need to play solid D on the Blue Devils perimeter shooters and get a big game out of Joe Alexander. Duke also needs be cognizant of the West Virginia shooters as these are still guys recruited that John Beilein recruited.
We’re going with Duke by 5.

4:20/4:40 PM tip:
- Kansas State vs. Wisconsin – If the Wildcats are going to get past the Badgers, they will need Bill Walker to have another good game. Michael Beasley will get his 20 and 10, but he needs a little help if KSU wants to beat the Big 10 champs. The Badgers don’t have the big names that KSU has, but they have more depth. The key to the game for them is to play solid defense on Walker and try not to let Beasley have a 40/20 game. We figure that they will put Michael Flowers on Walker and pray that Beasley doesn’t go off (or just hope he gets in early foul trouble again).
We think the Wildcats run ends here. We just can’t see Walker having another big game especially with Flowers, an outstanding defender, guarding him.

- Purdue vs. Xavier – This game lacks the star power and national appeal of most of the other games today, but it should be interesting. Purdue brings in a very young, but talented team while Xavier brings in a deep team without a defined star. Even though Xavier is the favorite (both in Vegas and in seeding), but we think the crowd will be behind Xavier because of their mid-major status against the traditional Big 10 power.
Xavier’s mix of experience and depth will give them the edge as they pull away late by 10

6:40/6:45/6:50 PM tip:
- Notre Dame vs. Washington State – We really have no idea who will win this game. The Irish have an explosive offense led by Luke Harangody along with some good outside shooting while the Cougars have been up-and-down all year. Both teams had relatively easy first round games. The winner gets a date with UNC.
We’re going Washington State by 5.

- Marquette vs. Stanford – The Golden Eagles had a tough first-round game that was closer than the final score made it appear. They will have to play much better today if they want to get by Stanford who crushed Cornell in the first round in the all-nerd matchup. Marquette will have to dominate the perimeter to make up for the huge advantage Stanford has on the inside with Brook Lopez.
We don’t think Marquette will be able to make up for Stanford’s edge inside. The Cardinal by 10.

- Kansas vs. UNLV – The Jayhawks cruised in their first round while UNLV dominated Kent State despite the lack of respect Vegas was giving them. We just don’t see how UNLV can keep up with this Jayhawk team. Just too much talent and experience on Kansas’s side.
We think it will be close for a half then Kansas pulls away to win by 15.

We’ll be updating the final games later today so check back in a bit.

9:10/9:15 PM tip:
- Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh – This game is a matchup between two teams that are traditionally known for their physical play. Officiating will play a major factor in this game especially for Pittsburgh, which plays very physically. Pittsburgh has been playing better than Michigan State lately and the Spartans will need Drew Neitzel to play much better than he did in the first round while still getting a good game out of Raymar Morgan.
We think that Pittsburgh will win this game fairly comfortably given how well they have played lately.

- UCLA vs. Texas A&M – UCLA is definitely the dominant team in this region and has the easiest path to the Final 4 especially with UConn losing to San Diego. Texas A&M has some good low-post players but nobody with the skill of Kevin Love. UCLA also has the advantage on the perimeter.
UCLA should win this game by double digits

Share this story

Thursday, March 20th: Update #3

Posted by nvr1983 on March 20th, 2008

This is going to be a brief update because we realize listing the scores is kind of useless since you’re already on the Internet. We’ll just give you a little commentary and offer some more thoughts in the morning.

- The big story of the night was Belmont’s nearly historic near-upset of Duke. The amazing thing is that Belmont didn’t even have a player going off or a great night from beyond the arc. That just shows you how vulnerable this Duke team is when it doesn’t hit the 3. They needed a great 2nd half and end-to-end layup by Gerald Henderson to escape with the win. We also have to question the decision-making by Belmont in the final 10 seconds. Given their distinct disadvantage athletically we thought the decision to come back after Henderson’s layup without taking a timeout a questionable one. Then when DeMarcus Nelson short-armed a FT, they ran a horrible in-bounds play. How does Belmont expect to get a jump-ball against Duke? We also wonder why Coach K didn’t put Brian Zoubek by the basket to prevent that type of play anyways.

- In the only legitimate upset of the day, #11 Kansas State knocked off #6 USC. Surprisingly, they did it without a huge game from Michael Beasley (by his standards). Instead, Beasley used a solid game from Bill Walker and an off-night from OJ Mayo to lead the Wildcats to the win and ruin my bracket. Yes, you’re looking at the sucker who thought USC would make a run to the Elite 8.

- In the only other interesting game of the evening/early night, Texas A&M beat BYU 67-62 behind 26 pts from Josh Carter. This marks the sixth straight opening-round loss for the Cougars. Let that be a lesson before you pick BYU again. Well unless they have Danny Ainge on the team again. . .

Share this story

Midwest Regional Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2008

The rest of the previews are going to be much shorter than the East Regional Analysis because the other regions aren’t as loaded. Ok, you got me. That preview took way too much time given my schedule. Plus, the other regions suck. . .

Teams
#1 Kansas: Bill Self leads a loaded Jayhawk team into the tournament. They have all the tools–experience and talent in both the backcourt and frontcourt–that they need to win (although they are one of the few teams in college basketball that doesn’t take advantage of the short 3 point shot). The question is that will Kansas end its reputation for choking in the tournament. With a few exceptions (1991, 1993, 2002, and 2003 come to mind), the Jayhawks have found a way to lose to vastly inferior teams. The most notable example are 2005 and 2006 against Bucknell and Bradley respectively. We think the Jayhawks are too talented for that to happen, but the Jayhawks have proven us wrong before. Schedule/Roster.

#2 Georgetown: As we stated in our Big East finals review, we noted that the Hoyas have all the tools to win the tournament. They have experience, a very good backcourt, the nation’s best 7-footer, and a solid coach. Before the bracket came out, we were worried about Hibbert’s tendency to disappear for stretches when he should be able to dominate. However, their road to the Final 4 seems particularly favorable, which means they are a trendy pick to make it to San Antonio. Schedule/Roster.

#3 Wisconsin: While we don’t think the Badgers have much of a chance of winning the NCAA title, they definitely deserved a 2 seed over Duke. Like your typical Bo Ryan team, they play excellent defense. Led by Brian Butch and Michael Flowers, the Badgers are team capable of making the Elite 8, but will have a difficult road getting there (probably USC and Georgetown). Schedule/Roster.

#4 Vanderbilt: Vandy is an exciting team to watch and capable of beating anybody (ask Bruce Pearl). They have a solid all-around lineup with 3 seniors. However, their mediocre defense all but guarantees they will trip up somewhere along the line. Schedule/Roster.

#5 Clemson: With a win over Duke and three close games against UNC, Clemson can play with anybody in the country when they are on. The Tigers are athletic and had a nice run in the ACC tournament, but their awful FT shooting will catch up with them making them unlikely to advance past a round or two. Schedule/Roster.

#6 USC: We think that everybody knows about and has seen USC at this point. OJ Mayo has turned the Trojans into one the tournament’s most talked about “sleepers”. After reaching the Sweet 16 last year before bowing out to UNC, Tim Floyd added 2 “diaper dandies”. Ok, so maybe that isn’t 100% accurate since Mayo and Jefferson are closer to Depends than Huggies and Mayo’s recruitment was more like OJ adding the Trojans to his schedule. One of the interesting and challenging things for the Trojans has been how the freshman were integrated into a team that was already good. After struggling early, USC has come together at the right time. Mayo has reined in his tendency to dominate the ball although he still lapses into his old habits occasionally. The Trojans NCAA fortunes will like ride on which Taj Gibson shows up. Gibson, who has been college basketball’s version of Steve Slaton, will need to come up big if the Trojans want to make a deep run. Either way, we enjoy having another guy named OJ at USC. We hope that he has better “luck” with relationships. Schedule/Roster.

#7 Gonzaga: At this point, Gonzaga is way past the point of being a Cinderella. This team has a lot of talent including several guys with pro potential. They have a solid squad with 4 guys averaging double figures. Their first round matchup with Davidson will be a must-watch. Schedule/Roster.

#8 UNLV: These aren’t your old school Running Rebels. Lon Kruger returns a very different team from last year’s Sweet 16 team as most of the roster changed (including his son). Their own hometown doesn’t seem to believe in them, as Vegas has put UNLV (the higher seed) as 2 point underdogs against Kent State. Schedule/Roster.

#9 Kent State: As we noted above, Vegas has Kent State as 2 point favorites. Apparently they don’t agree with the selection committee. The Golden Flash should be a tough matchup as they feature a balanced attack with 4 scorers in double figures. Schedule/Roster.

#10 Davidson: Led by Stephen Curry and coming in with a NCAA-leading 22 game winning streak, Davidson is a very dangerous team. The committee made an interesting decision to pit them against Gonzaga. This can be interpreted in one of two ways: knock out a dangerous mid-major in the first round or ensure a dangerous mid-major in the second round Schedule/Roster.

#11 Kansas State: We would love to see Michael Beasley make a run deep in the tournament, but with his sidekick Bill Walker most well-known for peeing in a towel and going 0-for-14 against Texas it will be a short run for the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Schedule/Roster.

#12 Villanova: Jay Wright’s team was likely the last at-large team invited to the tournament. They are a young team with some talented players (most notably Scotty Reynolds), but they appear to be a few years away from being a threat to make a run (assuming nobody does anything stupid by leaving school early). However, Clemson’s awful FT shooting may let them stay in the game and allow Villanova’s talented players to steal a game. Schedule/Roster.

#13 Siena: Before you get too excited about their win over Stanford, you should remember that Brook Lopez was suspended earlier this season making Stanford a very different team in November. With a young team and the talent to beat Stanford (even if it wasn’t at his peak), Siena will be a very dangerous mid-major in a few years. However, their matchup with Vanderbilt will be a stiff challenge even if Vandy is soft defensively. Schedule/Roster.

#14 Cal State Fullerton: A team full of transfers (literally everybody transferred from somewhere else), CSF is a team that likes a fast pace, but will find out in the first 10 minutes that Wisconsin prefers a slow pace. They will quickly learn that it is easier to slow a game down than it is to speed it up. Schedule/Roster.

#15 UMBC: The winners of America East, a horrible conference except when Germain Mopa Njila becomes a household name for 15 minutes, UMBC should enjoy their hotel and the scenery because Georgetown is too talented and has too much experience to let UMBC hang around. We think. . . Schedule/Roster.

#16 Portland State: We’ll save both you some time (and us some research time). No #16 has ever won a first round game. Schedule/Roster.

Share this story

ATB: K-State Celebration

Posted by rtmsf on January 31st, 2008

ATB v.4 

Kansas Goes Down.  For the first time in 25 years, KU went into Manhattan, KS, and came away with a loss.  Freshman stars Bill Walker and Michael Beasley, prescient cocky in their predictions of a win, blew up for 47/11 combined, putting to rest the notion that KU has superior talent vis-a-vis everyone else in the country.  So how’d they get it done?  We caught the second half, and then spent the next two hours trying to splice some video together off our Tivo before giving up and settling (see below), and here were a few observations. 

25th Time

  • By the numbers, both teams played evenly – FG%, rebounding, turnovers, fouls, and the efficiency stats were roughly the same.  With one exception – threes.  This game-changing stat was heavily in KSU’s favor (12-26 v. 6-17 for KU). 
  • This coincides with what we actually saw in that second half.  Every time it seemed that KU was just this close to making a run to get back into the game, Beasley (4-4) or Walker (3-10) would drop one from long range.  We counted four times where KU was within one possession and one of those two would knocked down a three to create some cushion.  Clutch.
  • By the way, how sick is Beasley (preaching to the choir…)?  A quick snapshot of his numbers this year – 25/12 in only 30mpg, shooting 56% from the field (and 44% from 3).  There will be Oden/Durant debate this year.  Michael Beasley is the #1 pick. 

Mike Beasley

  • Kansas, to their credit, never panicked; they just simply couldn’t get enough stops in the second half to put together a run.  From the ten-minute mark, KU never got closer than two possessions.  We’re not willing to draw any negative conclusions from this game about the Jayhawks – they didn’t play that poorly; it’s just that KSU, fueled by a frenzied home crowd, simply played better.  If anything, it also gets the unbeaten monkey off of their neck, and they can regroup and get about the business of winning the Big 12. 
  • This is a huge win for KSU, however.  Frank Martin’s team has come a long way from the listless squad we watched lose to Oregon and Notre Dame earlier this season.  It’s doubtful anyone is getting a win out of Manhattan the rest of this season, so something like 13-3 in the conference is not out of the question for the Wildcats.  That kind of a record and finish would propel KSU into a top four protected seed in the NCAAs, and their computer profile is already solid (#6 in Pomeroy; #18 in Sagarin). 

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.474316&w=425&h=350&fv=]  

Photo Credits:  Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle

Share this story

ATB: Wed/Thurs Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.28-29.07

ACC 8 – Big Ten 3. Wed. night was the second marquee night of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, and the ACC carried a commanding 5-1 lead into the night’s games. After UNC (v. Ohio St.) and BC (v. Michigan) picked up road wins to go with Maryland’s home victory v. Illinois, the ACC had once again dominated this event (Penn St. and Michigan St. home wins made the final tally 8-3). What accounts for this annual decimation? One reason is that the ACC protects home court much better than the Big 10, going 28-1 in friendly venues during the last six years of this event (B10: 18-13 over the same period). Another reason is that the strength of the bottom of the ACC is consistently better than its Big 10 equivalent – ACC bottom-feeders throughout the series such as Clemson, Florida St. and Virginia have comprised an 18-8 record, while Big 10 equivalents Minnesota, Penn St. and Northwestern were 7-18 over the same timeframe. How thorough is the annual beatdown? Michigan St. is the only B10 school with a winning record in this event (5-3), while only four ACC schools have more losses than wins.

ACC/Big 10 Challenge. #13 Michigan St. 81, NC State 58. This was just a good old-fashioned whipping. Goran Suton scored all sixteen of his points in the first half en route to a dub-dub (16/12), as the Spartans rolled out to an early twenty-point margin and coasted home the rest of the way. MSU”s patented bruising defense held the Wolfpack to 35% shooting, which is showing signs of rising to the level of some of Izzo’s better defensive teams from the early 2000s. Through six games, the Spartans are holding teams to 38% from the field and 31% from three. #3 UNC 66, Ohio St. 55. In a brickfest game (UNC: 38%; OSU: 27%), Ohio St. ran into a looooong drought (missing 17 straight shots) in the second half that gave Carolina the boost they needed (w/o Ty Lawson) to avoid the upset bid. We watched this game in its entirety, and while we’d love to say great defense carried the day here, it just looked like sloppy basketball to us. Wayne Ellington looked great (23/8) for the Heels, but Psycho T struggled against the more athletic Othello Hunter inside (memo to NBA scouts: hustling 6’8 post men with limited range only gets you so far). There was one jawdropping sequence where Hansbrough simply could not get his shot up over Hunter (6 blks), who repeatedly threw it back into his face. By the same token, Kosta Koufos was a veritable no-show (4/3) for the Buckeyes. The other surprise of the night was the inspired play of OSU freshman Jon Diebler, whose four first half threes kept OSU in the game. Boston College 77, Michigan 64. This is a game that the Big 10 really needed to win, and UM couldn’t get it done at home against BC. A tight game opened up with about 8 mins remaining when BC went on a 12-2 run to essentially salt the game away. RTC whipping boy Tyrese Rice blew up for 28/8/5 assts (eff: 30), as Michigan simply had no answer for him. Maryland 69, Illinois 61. In a battle of two teams that will likely be up-and-down and hard-to-figure all year, the Terps were led by Eric Hayes’ career-high 18 pts in the win over the Illini. Penn St. 66, Virginia Tech 61. In a battle of conference bottom-feeders, Penn St. was led by Mike Walker’s 17 off the bench.

Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. #16 Oregon 80, Kansas St. 77. Notwithstanding the Bill Walker watersports moment, this was a really entertaining game. Both teams went back-and-forth throughout the second half, but K-State’s fate ultimately rode on their inability to make a foul shot in the OT. The Wildcats missed three straight front ends as Oregon pulled away in the overtime. The end-of-game sequence was a wild finish, as Oregon’s Maarty Leunen shot three times (and was fouled but not called on at least two of them) from point-blank range, rebounded his own misses, and finally received the foul call on the fourth attempt (6 seconds remaining). After hitting one of two FTs, KSU’s Jacob Pullen dribbled length of the court in four seconds, only to charge into an Oregon player as his made layin was waved off. Oregon then threw it length of the court, but the ball was intercepted by K-State at the opposite foul line. An immediate timeout led to the Bill Walker fiasco and a pretty good look that missed from Michael Beastley (24/12). Oregon’s big four combined for 53 pts, but we were most impressed last night by Joevan Catron (15/8), who took the key charge with two seconds left and showed a lot of heart and hustle for the Ducks last night. #25 USC 66, Oklahoma 55. The other B12/Pac-10 game of the night was at USC, and the Trojans are continuing to show improvement with their young freshmen leading the way. Davon Jefferson had 23/9 and OJ Mayo had 18/5 (but zero assts), but Mayo was the key player (scoring 11 in a row) during a second-half stretch that increased the USC lead from 2 to 12 and effectively put the game away. Where has Taj Gibson (2/3 in only 9 foul-plagued mins) gone?

More Overtime Goodness. #18 Gonzaga 70, St. Joseph’s 65. We wish we could have seen this one, but again, this one was on the U and Comcast hates us. Supposedly St. Joe’s came storming back from a 17-pt first half deficit and led for most of the second half until a late Matt Bouldin three gave Gonzaga the lead again. In the overtime, both teams mostly traded FTs until Gonzaga secured the win late. This was a very good road win in a hostile environment for the Zags. St. Joe’s was led by Pat Calathes with 24/7 in the losing effort. Vanderbilt 91, South Alabama 88. This double-OT jewel of a game wasn’t on tv anywhere we could find, but it appears that Memorial was rocking last night when the Commodores stayed unbeaten at home. Vandy came back from an 8-pt deficit in the mid-second half to take the lead, but a Ronald Douglas tip-in with 0.8 left sent the game to OT. Vandy had a shot to win in the first OT, but good foul shooting in the second OT ultimately put the game away for the Dores. Andrew Ogilvy led VU with 19/8 while Shan Foster contributed 26/4.

Upset Special. Massachusetts 107, Syracuse 100. In a tremendous boost to the credibility of Travis Ford’s rising UMass program, the Minutemen went into the Carrier Dome on Wed. night and beat the Orange in a high-scoring affair that saw the opponent score more points than any other team in the Dome’s history. Gary Forber (23/6/7 assts) hit a key three with just over a minute remaining to give UMass a six-point lead and the Orange were finished. Big numbers from many players on both sides – for UMass, Ricky Harris had 25; for Syracuse, all five starters had double figures, led by Eric Devendorf with 23 and three other players with 20 each (Greene, Flynn, Onuaku).

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #2 UCLA 83, George Washington 60. Collison comes off the bench to give the Bruins 14/5. Love with another dub-dub (12/12).
  • #4 Kansas 87, Florida Atlantic 49. Another KU rout as B-Rush goes for 17 pts off the bench in 19 mins of action.
  • #5 Georgetown 66, Old Dominion 48. Georgetown returns favor from last year, holding ODU to 31% shooting. Gerald Lee (24/12) was the only bright spot for Old Dominion.
  • #8 Texas 98, Texas Southern 61. Texas continues to impress – DJ Augustin led with 20 pts.
  • #9 Texas A&M 76, Alabama 63. Another balanced, efficient performance from the Aggies. Bama is just so limited beyond Hendrix (19/12) and Gee (19/3).
  • #21 Xavier 93, Oakland 68. All five starters hit double figures for the Muskies.

Other Notable Scores.

  • California 74, Nevada 68. Great road win for Cal, as Ryan Anderson went for a career-high 36/13 to counteract Marcellus Kemp’s 26/5/4.
  • Seton Hall 65, Princeton 55. The Hall is off to its best start since The Beard was roaming the sidelines (19 yrs).
  • Kent St. 81, St. Louis 40. Wow – has Majerus ever lost by this much before? Statistical oddity – KSU was 100% from three (3-3), while SLU was 0% (0-11).
  • Wichita St. 62, Appalachian St. 53. App St. continues to struggle with another home loss.
  • Hampton 64, VCU 55. VCU has been extremely disappointing so far as well (Maynor – 22 pts).
  • Charlotte 63, Wake Forest 59. Solid CUSA win over an ACC team.
  • Colorado 60, Air Force 50. Jeff Bzedlik’s return to AFA as an opponent went much better than the game at CU (lost 84-46).
Share this story

A River Runs Through It

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2007

We had a great time watching the second half of the Oregon-Kansas St. game last night.  There was March Madness-level intensity, high-flying dunks, bone-crunching fouls, Tajuan Porter stop-and-pops, and K-State guard Bill Walker pissing himself.  Wha…  come again? 

 

Yes, the same Wildcat who so famously was seen munching popcorn on the bench last season during a game simply decided that the 1.8 seconds remaining in the game was too long to wait for a potty break, and went ahead and relieved himself into some towels in front of 15,000 people.  We only wish we were making this up. 

Here’s an eyewitness account from a KSU fan at the game:

I saw it last night.  With the game tied, 1.8 seconds left in regulation, KSU stole the inbound pass and called timeout.  After the timeout, when the officials were trying to figure out how much time was on the clock, and my friend turns to me and says, “Bill Walker has to piss!”

I looked, and he was grabbing his junk and jumping up and down.  Sure enough, he had to piss.  I thought, “that sucks, he’ll have to miss the last play”.  Nope.  He goes over to the bench, someone throws him a towel, he stuffs it down his pants, and he just lets it fly.  EVERYONE in the sold out arena knew what he was doing.  He got done with the first towel, then grabbed another and kept going.  As he finished up with the second towel, the refs were coming over to talk to the coaches about the clock.  The guy that was going to sub for him casually walks back to the bench, and Walker stays in the game.  Then, the student manager puts on the gloves and puts the towels in the red trash bag.

And he didn’t wash his hands afterwards.  Eww.  No wonder KSU threw the ball to Beasley for the final shot.

Share this story

Breaking Down the Preseason Mags…

Posted by rtmsf on September 12th, 2007

We’re heading into the middle of September already, literally thirty days until Midnight Madness, and the first batch of preseason mags are already proliferating on B&N shelves like West Virginians on crystal meth at a swap meet (no offense intended to the West Virginians not on crystal meth, of course). We know many of our readers are asking, “what’s a magazine?” To which we reply, “it’s what old people read while they’re on the toilet.” For our few readers here over 30 (present company excluded), we offer the first installment of our continuing series of reviews of the preseason magazines.

First in line: Athlon Sports.

Athlon Preseason Cover 07

I. Covers (5 pts) - are they cool? inclusive?

  • 34 regional covers seems like overkill, but we suppose having a Minnesota/Iowa/Iowa St. cover matters to someone.
  • Coolest Cover – for some reason, we particularly like the elated yet menacing look Patrick Beverly gives the camera on the Arkansas edition.
  • Say What? Athlon’s UCLA/USC cover (above) features Kevin Love and OJ Mayo in their Burger Boy unis – was it really too much trouble to shoot them with their correct jerseys on?
  • Total Points = 4

II. Ease of Use (5 pts) – how hard is it to find confs/teams?

  • Conferences and teams are arranged alphabetically, allowing for quick navigation assuming you know your conference.
  • Standard format otherwise – features & predictions; analysis of teams; recruiting, in that order.
  • Total Points = 4

III. Roundup (10 pts) – every mag has one – tell us something new!

  • 10 Things to Watch is ok, but we didn’t learn anything new (i.e., the Pac-10 is great, keep an eye on Love/Mayo/Gordon, etc.).
  • Hoops Madness is a little better, mostly because of its lists of emerging stars (hot sophs to watch), top transfers and coaches on the hot seat. Also enjoyed learning that Dayton’s band has become the band by proxy for the Niagara Purple Aces (since NU doesn’t have one).
  • Cool Stat Award. Memo to Adam Lonon (VMI) – shoot more! (31 starts, 26 FGs)
  • Total Points = 5

IV. Features (15 pts) – give us some insightful and unique storylines.

  • Next Generation is a decent article about the young brigade of coaches who have been successful so far (Donovan, Matta, JT3, Howland, etc.). It wasn’t unique, as we expect to see a lot of this in the rags this year.
  • The Fix relates the story of the Tulane pointshaving scandal two decades ago. Although the article briefly mentions the Tim Donaghy story, it focuses primarily (and misguidedly) on the people involved in the scandal. What we needed to see here was an article about the existence of gambling among college athletes and efforts to prevent it. Big swing & miss here.
  • The Scoop is three one-page interviews with Ronald Steele (Alabama), Bill Walker (Kansas St.) and Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.), none of which are very interesting.
  • Total Points = 5

V. Predictions (20 pts) – how safe are their picks? do they take any chances? are they biased toward the big boys?

  • Athlon uses the 65-team prediction model, eschewing the traditional Top 25 (they get pts for that). But Athlon goes waaaaaaaaay safe by predicting six of the elite eight the same as 2007 (Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, UNC, Oregon, UCLA with Louisville and Tennessee added for good measure). UCLA defeats Carolina in the championship.
  • Big Conference Bias. 15 of its Sweet 16 are from BCS conferences – highly doubtful and incredibly LAME! NCAA Bids – ACC (5), Big Ten (5), Big 12 (5), Big East (9), Pac-10 (7), SEC (6).
  • Mid-Major Watch. Only Memphis from a mid-major conference (CUSA) into the Sweet 16. Mid-Major bids – 2 CAA (George Mason, VCU), 2 MVC (Bradley, S. Illinois), 1 A10 (Xavier), 1 Mountain West (BYU), 1 WAC (Nevada). We’ll bet anything Athlon’s editors choose that those six conferences will get more than eight bids next March.
  • All-Americans. Athlon really likes Drew Neitzel for some reason. He joins Psycho T, Chris Lofton, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison (?) on their first team. They took a big flier on putting oft-injured Ronald Steele on the third team.
  • Boldest Prediction. It’s sad that we had to dig this deep to find it, but it’s probably their pick for Cornell to win the Ivy League over Penn & Princeton. The last time a team other than those two won the Ivy Championship was in 1988 with (guess who?) Cornell.
  • Total Points = 10

VI. Conference Pages (5 pts) – as a primer for the conference, how much can we learn here?

  • The major conferences get a predicted order of finish, a brief recruiting roundup, and three teams of all-conference selections plus a “superlatives” section, which is fairly weak compared to others we’ve seen (POY, DPOY, most underrated, newcomer).
  • The mid-major and small conferences only get a predicted order of finish, one team of all-conference selections and an all-time NCAA Tourney stat for the conference (which is interesting).
  • Total Points = 2.5

VII. Team Pages (20 pts) – how in-depth is the analysis? where does it come from? is it timely and insightful given this year’s squad or is it just a rundown of last year’s achievements?

  • All major conference and projected mid-major NCAA Tournament teams get a full page of analysis, including evaluations of the frontcourt and backcourt as well as a team roster (w/ stats) and a team-oriented stat.
  • Non-NCAA Tournament mid-majors and low majors get at most a half-page analysis and roster, but most only get a paragraph with a very brief synopsis.
  • Clearly much of the analysis is based on what coach’s interviews, which results in analyses from “glass half full” perspective. We would have liked to have seen more contrarian viewpoints.
  • The depth of analysis is solid if not spectacular for the major conference teams, but largely lacking for the others.
  • Total Points = 14

VIII. Recruiting (5 pts) – we want to know who the top players are coming into college bball, where they’re going and who to watch for next year.

  • Four pages of recruiting information, including the top 100 (Scout.com) of 2007, the next 200 players, and the top 20 by position. Solid raw data.
  • It also includes the top 25 classes, but only as a list, with no additional details.
  • The top 100 in the class of 2008, top 25 in 2009 and top 10 in 2010 are also listed.
  • Total Points = 3

IX. Title IX Guilt (aka Chick Ball) (5 pts) – the less the better…

  • Only two pages worth, and at the very back of the magazine.
  • Total Points = 5

X. Intangibles (15 pts) – what’s good and bad about the magazine as a whole?

  • In the past, Athlon’s mag hasn’t always looked as professional as some of the others. This is no longer the case. Its layout looks great, the photos and graphics are solid, and the writing has improved.
  • Because it comes out so early, the advantage it gains in being one of the first published is mitigated by other temporal factors. Most notably, there are no schedules within the magazine – for that reason alone, Athlon cannot be your “go-to” preview issue during the season.
  • Additionally, its early publish date means that it misses late summer news involving injuries, transfers and coaching changes. While they did get the Skip Prosser news in there, they did not, for example, consider how Andy Rautins’ knee injury will impact Syracuse.
  • As a nontraditional magazine (i.e., not Street & Smith or TSN), Athlon should have taken more risks with their predictions – going all chalk won’t separate it from the pack.
  • Total Points = 8

RTC Grade for Athlon = 60.5 pts

Basis: Athlon is on the lower side of quality with the preseason magazines, but they have gotten better, and there is some value in their analysis. Its best use (given its early arrival on the newstand) is simply to refamiliarize yourself with the names and faces of the upcoming season. We wouldn’t recognize purchasing it unless you simply cannot wait for the better ones to come out.

Grading Scale:

  • 90-100 pts - exceptional quality in all areas – must buy and keep on-hand all season!
  • 80-89 pts - very good quality mag – worthy of purchasing and reading cover-to-cover
  • 70-79 pts - average, run of the mill magazine – some value in certain areas but weak in others – tough call as to whether to purchase it
  • 60-69 pts - magazine on the weaker side, but may still have some positive attributes – probably not worth the money, though
  • 0-59 pts - such a low quality magazine that it’s not worth any more than the five minutes you thumbed through it at the store
Share this story

08.30.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2007

What’s going on around the hoops world this week?

  • “Hoops” Weiss reports that 2007 A10 rookie of the year Robert Mitchell (16ppg; 5rpg) from Duquesne is transferring to Seton Hall. 
  • More injuries – Louisville’s Edgar Sosa is out four weeks with a sprained ankle, and Arkansas’ Sonny Weems is out the same amount of time with a broken hand (Weems has to miss the Hawgs’ trip to Cancun – rotten timing for him).
  • The Wooden Classic matchups are set, with San Diego St. taking on St. Mary’s in the undercard and Davidson vs. UCLA in the headliner game on Dec. 8.  We can’t wait to see Stephen Curry match up against Darren Collison. 
  • Apparently KU’s Brandon Rush is a fast healer.
  • NC State’s Gavin Grant has high expectations for his squad this season (memo to GG: you’ll have four losses by Jan. 12).  Find all 12 ACC teams’ scheduling highlights here
  • Ever the shameless promoter, OJ Mayo is floating the idea of sticking around USC for two seasons
  • OJ’s former HS buddy Bill Walker is ready for his first full season in Manhattan (Kansas). 
  • Speaking of USC, we always wondered how that big lead against UNC evaporated so quickly in last year’s sweet 16.  Oh, right, Tim Floyd
  • Sticking with the SoCal theme, here’s the next wannabe crossover conglomerate that Floyd can “recruit” to USC – 2009 #1 player Renardo Sidney (and his pops). 
  • Large things are expected in HoosierLand for Eric Gordon (best since Isiah??  Wow!).  Kelvin Sampson gives an interview on his team’s prospects prior to IU’s trip to the Bahamas here
  • Finally, the Big 10 Network is set to come on the air tonight at 8pm.  According to Mike DeCourcey,  “among the intriguing games that will show up on the BTN will be Indiana at Iowa (January 2), Purdue at Michigan State (January 8), Wisconsin at Illinois (February 20) and three conference tournament games.”
Share this story