NCAA: It’s safe to say Miami had its best day in a long time yesterday. Not only did the Hurricanes poleaxe Duke in arguably their best performance ever (relatedly, see the agony and the ecstasy), moving them to the top of the ACC leaderboard with two games over the nearest team in the loss column, but the NCAA announced major violations were commited by the NCAA in the investigation into Miami. So Miami moved into odds on favorite to win the regular season title, and potentially thwarted the NCAA thanks to overeager investigators? That’s a hell of a day. More on the NCAA situation later.
Winston-Salem Journal: Speaking of schools riding high, it’s safe to say Wake Forest is still reveling in its win over 18th-ranked NC State. This might be the first article I’ve ever read praising Jeff Bzdelik since he arrived in Winston-Salem. Dan Collins describes a Wake Forest team that “was younger and deeper,” but didn’t stop there: “you’d see at team that was tougher and far more together [than NC State].” The Demon Deacons are a foul call away from being 4-2 in conference play, tied with Duke, North Carolina and NC State in the loss column. I’m not going to go as far as to say Bzdelik deserves an extension, but the man does deserve credit for his team’s success in the early goings.
Backing the Pack: NC State‘s defense is heavily reliant on not committing (or being called for, depending on who’s talking) fouls. The outliers are UNC-Asheville and Stanford. The first can be filed away under “Puerto Rico hangover”, but the second is less easily explained. Fouls are only a symptom though. Watching the second half at the Joel, showed a lack of effort on defense: NC State tried to play defense with its hands and got whistled for it. Mark Gottfried needs to figure out what ails his team motivation-wise ASAP. The Wolfpack aren’t in any danger–yet–of missing the NCAA tournament, but they do have a big game coming up Saturday against North Carolina.
Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State’s coaching staff admitted that they’re just as confused as the rest of us about the Seminoles’ inconsistent play. Just in the game I saw at Clemson they dominated the first half (they looked unbeatable for the first 15 minutes), came out coasting in the second half until Clemson clawed all the way back, and eked out a win with a tough final stretch. That seems to be the modus operandi for the whole season. It’s easy to want to blame the inconsistency on an inconsistent lineup–Hamilton often plays ten-plus players–but this strategy isn’t a new one.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Former Georgia Tech legend Bobby Cremins may be walking into a really interesting situation, as he was appointed to serve on the NCAA’s committee on infractions. Cremins should provide a different and much needed perspective for the committee, but he also should get a chance to witness the coming changes first-hand.
ESPN: Michael Snaer has major swagger. He’s coming off his best year yet and spent the summer dominating Lebron James’ and Kevin Durant’s respective camps. Here is a sampling of quotes that should make you not count Florida State out when predicting the ACC standings this year:
“If I’m not the best, I’m one of the best. I can’t be guarded.”
“I just straight destroyed people.”
“Anybody wants to prove me otherwise, come get it. [...] That’s how I feel.”
Those quotes may show something negative, but they sound a lot like a promise that another ultra-competitive combo-guard brought to fruition a few years ago.
Raleigh News & Observer: Rodney Purvis still isn’t cleared to play, despite the NCAA last week approving him to take classes. Because of one of the NCAA’s many odd rules, Purvis wasn’t eligible to start classes at NC State the week prior because of an unrelated eligibility question. Purvis’ high school, the Upper Room Christian Academy, is being checked out. Purvis was part of the school’s first graduating class, which prompted the NCAA to vet his academics a little more closely. Purvis didn’t travel with the Wolfpack to Spain earlier this summer, though his eligibility should be decided in time for the regular season.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Great news out of Atlanta, as Bobby Cremins is back at Georgia Tech after retiring from College of Charleston for health reasons at the end of last season. The longtime Yellow Jackets’ coach (and floor namesake) will be working with Brian Gregory and the athletic department to bring back as many of his former players as he can find for the season opener on November 9. So far the committee has contacted over 200 players and hopes to get in touch with nearly 500. It’s good to see Cremins back in the fold at Georgia Tech with his jokes and contagious grin.
USA Today: Mark Turgeon is hoping to replace Terrell Stoglin “by committee” this year, and he’ll have to. The mercurial Maryland guard made up almost all of the Terrapins’ offense last season, and there’s no one on this year’s team with that sort of playmaking ability. Turgeon pointed out last year injuries made it where Stoglin had to do everything.
Keeping It Heel: Reggie Bullock has been putting in work this summer and brought home the North Carolina ProAm MVP and Championship for his effort. Bullock’s summer play concluded with a 31-point game in the finals to seal his accolades. Bullock’s performance makes it seem like he’ll be relied on a lot by Roy Williams to replace much of the offense that left Chapel Hill for the NBA.
Miami Herald: In case you missed it, Miami‘s season ended with a bunch of bricks and a quiet crowd of 1,649 people ready to watch in person. The Hurricanes got throttled by Minnesota, giving up easy baskets on one end before settling for low-percentage jumpers on the other. There’s always a danger in the NIT that teams won’t get up for the games, but I thought Miami had something to prove after narrowly missing the Big Dance. Instead, Kenny Kadji played horribly (he’s combined to go 5-27 from the field in the postseason), Reggie Johnson only managed to grab two rebounds, and only Rion Brown provided much energy. Assuming everyone returns and stays eligible, next year is Miami’s year.
Oxford Public-Ledger: This article does a great job capturing the ups and downs of March Madness, juxtaposing the NCAA’s money-maker and its suddenness with the journalists hoping to cover it. Austin Rivers‘ quotes from after Duke’s loss to Lehigh are tough to read. This is a unique article and is worth a read.
Independent Weekly: For a more long-winded take on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and media involvement, look no further than Adam Sobsey. He captures the rollercoaster of emotions the North Carolina team rode following its easy win over Creighton. He also rips the NCAA’s media policies and rightly so. After opening the North Carolina locker room to the press, Roy Williams sent the media out to tell the team about Kendall Marshall‘s injury. Needless to say the group was shell-shocked. But because of the NCAA rule, Williams had to re-open the locker room to the “vulturous mob rapacity” (Sobsey’s style is always easy to spot) for another 10 minutes.
TarHeelBlue.com: Speaking of Marshall’s injury this article offers a great tribute to the Tar Heel point guard.
It’s more than that because it impacts a person we’ve grown to love. It helps that he throws head-shaking passes, but that’s not all of it. He’s someone who occasionally hangs out in the Carolina Basketball Museum, just to soak in some Tar Heel history. He signs every autograph after every game at every hour into the night, and somehow even seems to enjoy it. He came to Carolina basketball camp as a kid and cherished the pictures, just like so many of us have done. We know we can’t pass it like him. But maybe, watching the way he plays, you can believe that we might appreciate it like him, if we were wearing that jersey.
Associated Press (via Washington Post): The news isn’t directly related to the ACC anymore, but former Georgia Tech great Bobby Cremins announced his retirement from the College of Charleston. Earlier this year, he took an indefinite medical leave for exhaustion. Coaching always took a toll on Cremins, which likely led to the six-year hiatus he took between being pushed out at Georgia Tech and returning to the Southern Conference for an encore (he started his coaching career at Appalachian State).
EXTRA: Joe Posnanski took some time to absorb the first weekend of the NCAA tournament from the neutral confines of Las Vegas. He chronicles one of the two biggest events (with the Super Bowl being the other) for most sports books, talking with oddsmakers and bettors alike.
Yesterday, the eyes of the college basketball world were fixated on a hypothetical operating room in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshallunderwent surgery to repair a fractured scaphoid. Right now information on the procedure and the outcome is limited outside of the usual useless PR information we always get. For right now we are getting conflicting reports with some people saying that Marshall hopes to play while others are saying it is unlikely he will play. In reality, the only people who are capable of making that prediction are Marshall and the orthopedic surgeon who operated on him. Over the next four days you will hear plenty of “experts” speculate on Marshall’s potential to play take it with a grain of salt because without looking at the imaging of Marshall’s wrist, examining it, or being in the operating room everything is just conjecture. That goes for all of these anonymous orthopedic surgeons that everybody is citing.
After a solid, but unspectacular Kyle Cain appears to have decided that he will be transferring from Arizona State. Cain, who is originally from Illinois, becomes the 11th scholarship player to transfer from Arizona State in the last four years.We are not sure how much Cain’s suspension earlier this season factored into his decision to leave, but something does not seem to be working in Herb Sendek‘s program and we imagine that the school’s boosters are going to be making a lot of calls.
After he took time off earlier this season for an unspecified medical condition, which he never came back from, we suspected that we might not be seeing Bobby Cremins for much longer and yesterday he confirmed our suspicions when he announced his retirement. While Cremins was fairly successful during his six years at College of Charleston, he is best known for his time at Georgia Tech where he made it to five Sweet Sixteens including an Elite Eight in 1985 and a Final Four in 1990. Cremins finishes his career with 579 wins, which ranks him 46th all-time among Division I coaches.
With all of the focus in the state on whether or not Shaka Smart will head to Illinois to take over as head coach, the team’s former head coach, Bruce Weber, may be in line to get his old job back at Southern Illinois. According to a source, Weber is expected to interview for the job although the school has reportedly refused multiple attempt at confirmation. Weber went 103-56 in his first stint at the school including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2002.
While Weber may be taking over at Southern Illinois, another well-known coach is looking at Eastern Illinois. According to a report, Dick Versace has expressed interest in coaching at the school. Versace, who will turn 72 in less than four weeks, is most well-known for his time at Bradley where he was named National Coach of the Year in 1986 and for his time in the NBA where he coached the Indiana Pacers before becoming an analyst for TNT then working with the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies. Versace says he got developed the desire to coach again while helping out Rollie Massimino and feels that he can do the work necessary to compete at a high level. While we would not discount Versace for his age as he is not much older than two very notable Big East coaches, we do have our reservations about someone who has not coached since 1998 and at that point he was serving as an assistant. For their part, Eastern Illinois is yet to respond publicly to Versace’s interest in their position.
Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can follow him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.
Taking a Break: On Monday, College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins said he was physically exhausted and was advised by his doctors to take “drastic changes or risk jeopardizing his long-term health.” In his absence, Mark Byington has gone 3-2.
Hot ‘Dogs: Samford earned its first-ever win against Davidson, a 77-74 decision on Jan 28, handing the Wildcats their lone SoCon loss of the season … After earning their first ever win against Davidson, the Bulldogs beat Wofford on Saturday for the first time since 1982.
Going Streaking: UNC Greensboro extended its win streak to seven straight before losing to Furman on Saturday. The streak marked the Spartans’ longest since stringing together eight consecutive wins during the 1995-96 season.
From the Notebook
On Saturday, The Citadel head coach Chuck Driesell started Marshall Harris III, Lawrence Miller and Jordan Robertson in their contest against Elon. They became the first three freshmen to start for the Dogs since Jan. 14, 2008.
Davidson has used the same starting lineup (Jake Cohen, De’Mon Brooks, J.P. Kuhlman, Nik Cochran and Tom Droney) in every game.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup eight games ago, Elon’s Jack Isenbarger has averaged 20.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.4 RPG while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor.
The Citadel’s Mike Groselle has 12 double-doubles this season, tying The Citadel’s single-season record. His 20 career double-doubles are three shy of tying the Bulldogs’ all-time mark.
Andrew Lawrence, College of Charleston: The junior guard from London averaged 28 points in two games last week. He played all 50 minutes in a double overtime contest at Elon in which he scored 32 points, dished out eight assists and shot 10-of-16 from the floor. He followed that performance with a 24-point, seven-assist night in a win at Appalachian State. Combined, he shot 63 percent (17-for-27) from the floor, 64.7 percent on 3-point tries (11-for-17) and missed only one free throw in 12 attempts.
Bob McKillop and Davidson Sit Atop Our Latest Power Rankings (AP)
Davidson (19-5, Previous Ranking: 1): Despite a three-point loss at Samford, the Wildcats remain atop the power poll as they own a three-game lead in the standings. They pace the SoCon in scoring, scoring margin, rebound margin, free-throw percentage and both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
Georgia Southern (12-12, Previous Ranking: 6): Sophomore Jelani Hewitt is averaging 16.2 points per game over last five games and made the game-winning 3-pointer against Chattanooga on Jan. 28. In his first 19 games, he averaged 9.4 points per game. Read the rest of this entry »
Alabama star forward Tony Mitchellwas suspended indefinitely on Monday by head coach Anthony Grant, who did not elaborate on specific causes other than to say that it wasn’t the result of a specific action but a series of transgressions. The junior wing who averages 13/7 on the season picked a tough time to fail to come through for his team, as the Crimson Tide travels to Auburn tonight and LSU on Saturday. Sitting firmly on the early February bubble, Alabama cannot afford to lose either game against two lower-tier SEC teams without one of its two best players in the lineup.
From a player forced to sit to a coach choosing to do so, College of Charleston head man Bobby Creminsopened up Monday about his recent leave of absence from the team. Citing doctor’s orders, the 64-year old coach said that he was running himself into the ground: “I got physically exhausted, fatigued and lacked the necessary energy to coach our team. My doctor advised me to take an immediate medical leave of absence, which I did.” Coaches are competitive and stressed-out people in general, so it probably didn’t help matters that Cremins’ team got off to a 9-1 start this season before dropping eight of their next 11 games. Reading between the lines a bit in Cremins’ statement to the media, he didn’t sound like someone ready to stop coaching — let’s hope he gets his energy back in time to lead CofC to a run in the Southern Conference Tournament next month.
If you were like most of America, you didn’t know Duke had lost another home game until sometime yesterday given that Miami’s overtime victory over the Blue Devils finished as most people were either en route or settling into their Super Bowl parties. One man who knew it all too well and no doubt carried it with him into a sleepless night on Sunday was Mike Krzyzewski. Already having assailed his team in the postgame interview for a perceived lack of effort, the venerable coach on Monday took to the airwaves on 99.9 FM The Fan in Raleigh to further chastise his team for not “playing hard” during parts of the loss to Miami. As we all know, Duke’s ridiculous success has always been predicated on its tough man-to-man defense; and its defensive success has derived from equal parts talent and effort. This year’s defense, however, is one of the worst the Blue Devils have fielded since Chris Collins and Jeff Capel were hoisting shots at the rim rather than dry erasers at the white board. Coach K cannot change the talent part of his defensive problem overnight, but he can change the effort issue. We’d expect his players to come at North Carolina like a pack of starving jackals in Chapel Hill tomorrow night.
We’re really not sure what to make of this, but if your goal is to figure out who has the best chance of finding the sunny side of the bubble on Selection Sunday, maybe this simple equation from Drew Cannon at Basketball Prospectus is really all you need. Could it really be that easy — perhaps so. Considering that the RPI is the metric favored by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, it makes sense that teams rated highly in that manner have a bit of a leg up. When you then add Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency-based metrics to the RPI, you’re essentially favoring teams that play the game of basketball (from a possession-by-possession standpoint) a little better than those who do not. Voila, the combination seems to result in a hybrid model that is a fairly accurate predictor of the field.
Seth Davis was back in action Monday with a new Hoop Thoughts column, and although we disagree with him that the Kansas-Missouri rivalry will take very long to see back on the regular season schedule (five years, tops), we completely concur with his sentiment that the entire rabbit hole of conference realignment is a very, very bad thing for college athletics. And yet this is the tip of the iceberg, we’re afraid. The Pac-12 on Monday just rewarded its commissioner, Larry Scott, with an extension of his contract through 2016. How is this relevant, you ask? Recall that it was Scott’s maneuvering two summers ago in trying to lure several Big 12 schools to the Pac-10 that set into motion much of the ensuing hysteria and deal-making among schools and conferences looking out only for themselves. Without Scott’s overtures, would Missouri and Texas A&M be going to the SEC? Would Pittsburgh and Syracuse be ACC-bound? It appears that there’s no honor among the barbarians at the gate, though — say it with us now — Scott’s contract extension was approved… unanimously.
CBSSports.com: Gregg Doyel hits the nail on the head in this column (by the way, Doyel covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer before going to CBSSports.com and wasn’t exactly close with Mike Krzyzewski over the years) on Duke‘s Cameron Crazies. The one caveat is that he didn’t really offer a solution to the boredom and lack of ownership. For comparison’s sake Coach K offered his thoughts (courtesy of Duke Hoop Blog):
“Our crowd sometimes becomes fans instead of part of the game. Overall, our crowd has been part of what we’ve done. They haven’t come there to watch us play. They’ve come there to compete with us. I think this year it’s more of watching us play and cheering us on. When you do that you don’t really understand the game situations as well. You don’t have a feel for the game. You can’t be as on point. That doesn’t mean we don’t love them. But, this team needs it more and would benefit from that support.”
I think both Doyel and Krzyzewski are probably right. The Cameron atmosphere was developed as Duke got more talented. It gradually became more and more controlled in the 1990s and eventually morphed to its present state. Other than big games (I’m thinking of Maryland and North Carolina recently) and big-time players, the Crazies don’t seem as connected with the game as in the past. It has started to feel like more of a show. Basically, I think Coach K describes the current issue that led to the problem brought up by Doyel. Author’s Note: As a side note, Coach K gave a pretty scathing press conference after Duke beat St. John’s at home. It’s worth a watch.
ACC Sports: Adrian Atkinson (normally our North Carolina defensive-charting connoisseur) took a look at Duke’s most used lineups this season. Remember, he’s only using Duke’s conference games so the sample size is fairly small, meaning you should take the efficiencies with a grain of salt. That said, I think his overall conclusions are fairly interesting. Duke’s most effective lineup is Tyler Thornton, Seth Curry, Austin Rivers, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. It’s a little surprising to me that this lineup isn’t used more often given the fact that its defensive efficiency is so outrageous. It’s also worth noting that Duke’s defense drops off dramatically by just replacing Thornton with Andre Dawkins. Even worse than that (shockingly) is replacing Ryan Kelly with Miles Plumlee (which leads me to believe that both Plumlees are good defenders at the five, but horrid defenders at the four). Anyways, these numbers are fascinating and worth a look.
Fox Sports South: Apparently, Harrison Barnes isn’t a fan of pink shoes. At halftime against Georgia Tech Sunday, Barnes switched from the team’s pink kicks to the normal ones. Andrew Jones makes it sound like Barnes really struggled in the pink footwear, but Barnes was 4-8 from the field with 11 points at the half. More interestingly, Barnes shared his pregame soundtrack and meal. Tunes: John Legend. Food: “I always eat mashed potatoes, rice, spaghetti, chicken and steak [...] Two pieces of chicken, one piece of steak, [and the] steak’s cooked medium.”
Palm Beach Post: If you told me one ACC coach would get a midseason contract extension I wouldn’t have been surprised. Pretty much all but two coaches appear to be doing strong jobs; Jeff Bzdelik and Jim Larranaga are the outliers (I also would probably hold my horses on Steve Donahue and Brian Gregory until I see them recruit, but that’s different). But it was Larranaga who got himself a three-year extension through 2019. Larranaga looks older than many of his coaching brethren, but he’s only 62. My guess is that the extension came (at least in some part) indirectly associated with the current NCAA investigation of Miami athletics.
Charleston Post and Courier: It’s not directly related to the ACC, but former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins is taking a short medical leave that will probably last until the end of the season. Cremins did a terrific job putting College of Charleston on the map the last few years, though his trip to the Final Four at Georgia Tech stands as his career’s crowning achievement. Assistant coach Mark Byington will take over in his stead. The details of Cremins’ medical issues weren’t announced, though it’s reportedly not life-threatening and may be sleep-related.
EXTRA: Dan Wolken thinks college basketball should push its season back to January (moving March Madness to May) in order to shirk college football and the NFL, attempting to keep casual sports fans from ignoring the regular season. It may be in the NCAA’s best monetary interest, but I can’t see something this drastic happening without a big push. Still it’s an interesting piece.
While all season-ending injuries are disheartening, the one that has taken Kevin Parrom out for season is especially difficult after all he has had to endure recently. Parrom as you probably remember was shot while visiting his ailing mother in New York City just a short time before she died, which was a few months after his grandmother passed away. Parrom, who had been showing signs of playing like he used to recently, was dealt another setback as he will be out for the rest of the season after breaking his right foot in Arizona‘s two-point loss to Washington on Saturday. Fortunately, based on the way he appears to have handled several much bigger setbacks in his life we expect Parrom to bounce back from this and be a force for the Wildcats next season.
Connecticut got its versatile freshman guard Ryan Boatright back this weekend, but not without more controversy. On Saturday, the NCAA released a statement clearing Boatright to play and also provided a timeline with some of the alleged improper benefits that Boatright and his family reportedly received. The following day while Boatright was playing the attorney representing the Boatright family issued a statement criticizing the NCAA for releasing the information about the alleged improper benefits and threatened the NCAA with legal action. The NCAA then replied with an update to the document (a blue text box in the prior link) that said their previous statement was “factual and in response to numerous public misstatements and the resulting inaccurate reporting by some media”. We are not sure when this will end, but at this point it is beginning to seem petty and would probably be best for both sides to let it fade away rather than trying to get the last word in.
There has been a lot of talk about why there has not been as much interest in college basketball this season after many people expected the sport to have a breakthrough season with several potential lottery picks opting to return to college for at least another season. Many pundits have proposed solutions to fix this, but Dan Wolken’s may be among the most interesting that we have heard. In a column yesterday, Wolken proposed that the start of the college basketball season be moved back to January and the NCAA Tournament start in May. Under this proposal, college basketball would not have to compete with college football and would be finished by the time the NBA Playoffs were in full swing. While some fans and some administrators may find this jarring to their established sensibilities it does make some sense and although it may interfere with college finals, which would only affect Duke students according to Dick Vitale, it could be a generate more season-long interest for many fans. At the very least moving back the season so it does not start at the most important time of the college football season would be a big boost. If January-May is too much for administrators, perhaps a season that starts in December after the college football conference championship games could provide a reasonable compromise.
The streak is over. Mercifully, Towsonended its NCAA Division I-record losing streak at 41 games as it knocked off UNC-Wilmington 66-61 on Saturday. The Tigers, who improved to 1-22 (bubble team status in the Pac-12), were led by 18 points from Marcus Damas. There are quite a few numbers that will give you a sense of just how bad this losing streak was, but we will now turn our attention to Binghamton, which now has the longest losing streak in Division I at a rather pedestrian 22-game losing streak. We are guessing this will be brought up on PTI much to the dismay of Mr. Tony.
Charleston will be without Bobby Cremins for the foreseeable future as the legendary coach has taken an indefinite medical leave of absence to tend to undisclosed medical conditions. Cremins, who has compiled a 579-375 record in his career, is best known for his time at Georgia Tech where he led the school to the 1990 Final Four, but has also made a mark at Charleston where he has gone 125-68 in a little over five and a half seasons and pulled off several memorable upsets over more prominent schools. Cremins will be replaced for the time being by assistant coach Mark Byington. We wish Bobby a speedy recovery from whatever he is dealing with and hope that it is not too serious.
Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer
Davidson created some separation in the South Division, besting Charleston, 87-69, on Saturday. The Cougars then lost at Georgia Southern on Monday to fall behind the Eagles, as well as Wofford, in the South standings. Jake Cohen led the Wildcats as he matched his career-high with 29 points (24 coming in the first half).
In the North Division, Elon remained in first place, defeating preseason favorite Chattanooga, 88-87, on Monday.
One for the Record Books
In the final scheduled non-conference game in the SoCon (four will play on Feb. 18 a part of the 2012 BracketBusters event), Western Carolina put itself in the company of Texas, Purdue and Long Island, becoming just the fourth school to ever defeat an opponent by at least 100 points. The Catamounts defeated Toccoa Falls 141-39.
From the Notebook
College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins owns 226 wins at a SoCon school (100 at Appalachian State from 1975-81; 126 at College of Charleston) to move into a share of fifth place on the SoCon win list. He matched Duke’s Eddie Cameron (the namesake for Cameron Indoor Stadium) against Elon on Jan. 14. He will take a temporary leave of absence for a non-life threatening health condition beginning this weekend.
In its last three games, Samford’s starting five of Tyler Hood, Drew Windler, Jeffrey Merritt, Raijon Kelly and Will Cook has combined to score 70.3 of the team’s 75.7 points per game.
Davidson's J.P. Kuhlman Reached The 1,000-point Milestone
Davidson’s J.P. Kuhlman joined the 1,000-point club on January 14 at Appalachian State, the eighth active player in the league to reach that milestone.
Wofford’s Brad Loesing leads the nation in minutes per game at an even 39.0 MPG. He has played in 819 of the team’s 845 minutes this season.
UNC Greensboro’s Derrell Armstrong averaged 27.7 points and six rebounds in the Spartans’ last three games (wins against Chattanooga, Samford and Appalachian State). The junior, who prior to this stretch had averaged 7.9 points per game on the season, notched a season-high 29 points against the Mocs. He hit a season-best five three-point field goals. He followed that performance up with consecutive 27-point efforts.
Last week’s ranking in parentheses:
Davidson (15-4) (1): The Wildcats remained undefeated in SoCon play thanks to Nik Cochran’s free throw at Chattanooga with 1.2 seconds remaining. Davidson joins Oral Roberts, Middle Tennessee and Saint Mary’s as the only schools in the country with conference records of 9-0 or better. Read the rest of this entry »
Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.
In the only regular-season meeting between Western Carolina and Davidson, the Wildcats established SoCon supremacy by beating the Catamounts, 88-67, in a contest between the early division leaders on Thursday. Jake Cohen, who entered averaging 12.4 points per game, torched the Catamounts for 26 points and connected on all four of his three-point attempts. Davidson has now won 13 of its last 14 SoCon regular-season games, dating back to last season.
Meanwhile, College of Charleston – who entered Thursday one game behind Davidson in the South Division – suffered a shocking home defeat at the hands of UNC Greensboro.
Despite the strong non-conference showings by Davidson and College of Charleston, the conference has ranked weaker than in years past. CollegeRPI.com rates the conference 23rd. A year ago they ranked 19th and haven’t finished a year as low as 23rd since 2005-06.
In spite of the low rankings, the conference did enjoy a successful non-conference season, at least in terms wins against schools from the BCS leagues. Southern Conference schools picked up five wins against BCS schools highlighted by Davidson finally getting revenge against Kansas, taking down the Jayhawks in Kansas City.
Jake Cohen (15) and Davidson Remain The Class Of The SoCon (AP)
South Rising Up
Led by the Wildcats and the Cougars, the South Division has emerged as the power half of the league. The Cougars picked wins against Clemson and Tennessee and have approached the RPI top 50. The six South Division teams own a 33-11 record at home while the six North Division schools are just 26-16 at home.
College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins owns 224 wins at a SoCon school (100 at Appalachian State from 1975-81; 124 at College of Charleston) to move within one victory of fifth place on the SoCon win list. He can tie Duke’s Eddie Cameron (the namesake for Cameron Indoor Stadium) on Saturday against Elon.
Davidson and the Wildcats’ Nik Cochran pace the nation in free-throw percentage. Cochran sits atop the leaderboard at 93.8% and as a team, the Wildcats connect at an 81.1% clip.
Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
As college hoops finishes up the non-conference season, we get to watch two teams that have transcended their mid-major status, as well as upstart mid-majors battle against the nations blue bloods. With all the holiday shopping going on this time of year, it becomes even more important to Set Your TiVo’s. Let’s get to the action.
Brad Stevens takes Butler into Spokane to face Gonzaga (Indy Star/R. Scheer)
College of Charleston at #11 Louisville – 9:00PM EST on ESPNU HD (***)
College of Charleston is off to a 9-1 and is poised to make a run through the Southern Conference. Louisville is a very difficult road test for the Cougars, but it could help them come NCAA Tournament time. Charleston is a very good two-point shooting team, hitting 54.6% from inside the arc. However, Bobby Cremins has his squad taking 40% of its shots from three. That’s a big number for a team that is only shooting 35.8% from downtown. Considering Antwaine Wiggins and Andrew Lawrence are hitting 61.3% and 55% from two, respectively, it will be important for both players to get good shots inside the arc. However, they run into a Louisville defense that is stout against the two-point shot. The Cougars are simply going to have to hit more threes to beat Louisville. Keep an eye on their makes and misses from deep. If they are not hitting early, the Cardinals could get too far out in front for Charleston to catch.
With the exception of Ohio and Vanderbilt, Louisville has been mowing opponents down with stellar defense. They rank 4th in the country in defensive efficiency and have only allowed one opponent (Vanderbilt) to shoot over 50% eFG in 10 games. Charleston is one of the better two-point shooting teams in the country, so it will be a good test for the Cardinals. Expect Rick Pitino’s club to own the boards on both ends, as well as create a bunch of turnovers. Keep an eye on how Charleston handles the Louisville defensive pressure. If they look tentative when bringing the ball up court, this one could get out of hand.
The game hinges on Charleston’s ability to handle the Louisville defense. The Cardinals will pressure the Cougar ball handlers and try to create baskets off of turnovers. If Charleston can move the ball past the pressure and hit open threes early, they can stay in the game. However, that is a very difficult task against one of the top five defenses in the country.
Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
Cincinnati plays its first game since the Xavier brawl as Dead Week continues around the country. You should also keep an eye on the Iona/Richmond game at 3 PM but that one won’t be found on television.
Cincinnati at Wright State – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (**)
Cincinnati will only have six key contributors available when it heads to Wright State tonight. The Bearcats will be without Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj, Ge’Lawn Guyn, and Octavius Ellis due to their suspensions stemming from the fight with Xavier on Saturday. Sean Kilpatrick and Dion Dixon will have to step up in a big way for Cincinnati in order to win this game on the road. Wright State is not a good team, but the Bearcats have only one player taller than 6’5” available tonigt. For a team that can’t afford to speed up the game, that’s not a good combination for Cincinnati. Kilpatrick, Dixon, and point guard Cashmere Wright all can score, but the other Bearcats are all unproven. With Gates and company out, Cincinnati is missing a combined 22.2 PPG and 14.6 RPG in this game.
Wright State’s biggest advantages in this game are home court and height. Cincinnati’s players may be rattled playing a road game after the suspensions while the Raiders have three players 6’7” or taller, including 6’10” A.J. Pacher. He’s been plagued by foul trouble all season but if he manages to stay on the court for any extended period of time, Pacher will cause problems for Cincinnati in the paint. Billy Donlon’s top scorer is point guard Julius Mays, who is averaging 10.2 PPG. Wright State doesn’t score a lot of points due to its brutal offense but Mays does hit on 39.4% of his treys. Ordinarily, Wright State wouldn’t have much of a chance to beat Cincinnati. Given the Bearcats’ personnel issues, the Raiders have a solid chance this time.
Mick Cronin Will Need To Find A Way To Win Without His Best Players Tonight
Expect this game to be played at an incredibly slow pace. Both teams struggle to put the ball in the basket so this has the makings of a close game played in the 40s or 50s. For Wright State to win, it must assert itself inside from the start, limit Kilpatrick, and force some turnovers. The Raiders rank #35 in defensive turnover percentage, certainly a respectable number. Should this game come down to the wire, Cincinnati is actually a better free throw shooting team without the suspended players on the court. Kilpatrick, Wright and Dixon all shoot over 70% from the stripe. With all of the uncertainty around Cincinnati, we’re not sure how this game will play out. If forced to pick, we would give the slightest of edges to the home squad.
We're seeking knowledgeable and reliable writers for our Big East and Pac-12 microsites in 2013-14, as well as on the national site.
Please contact us at email@example.com with a writing sample and your specific areas of interest outlined.