Morning Five: 12.17.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 17th, 2014

morning5

  1. We know that predicting the recovery time from a sprained ankle can be difficult, but the information from BYU about Tyler Haws‘ sprained left ankle is more nebulous than we are used to hearing. According to the school, Haws, the third-leading scorer in the country at 23.8 points per game, will be out for an undetermined period of time. Dave Rose seems to be targeting the team’s December 27 game against Gonzaga, which would mean that Haws would miss two weeks, but the school does not want to put a timetable on his return. We have even seen one local writer say that Haws could play as early as this Saturday, but that seems wildly optimistic.
  2. Illinois State suffered a big loss as DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell is expected to be out indefinitely with a broken right hand. Akoon-Purcell was the Redbirds leading scorer this season at 14.1 points per game and was second in rebounding at 5.5 per game. To make matters worse for the Redbirds, senior guard Bobby Hunter (fourth on the team at 8.9 points per game) is recovering from concussion-like symptoms. Akoon-Purcell is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, but it has not been decided yet if he will need surgery, which would obviously have a big impact on his expected recovery time.
  3. We have heard many people ask questions about the potential impact of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, but one possibility we had not consider was a state requiring that college athletes be paid. We might get our first example in South Carolina where a state senator is attempting to introduce a bill that would require state schools with at least $50 million in revenue (Clemson and South Carolina) to pay student-athletes in revenue sports in good academic standing a weekly stipend and set up a trust fund to pay those who graduate while providing a financial literacy course. The weekly stipend is expected to be around $150, which according to the bill should not be an issue for Clemson or South Carolina, which had budgets of approximately $90 million and $70 million respectively. While the NCAA might be willing to look the other way to a degree on the legalization of marijuana we doubt that they would be able to ignore this type of law.
  4. Yesterday, Creighton suspended junior guard James Miliken indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules. While Miliken’s season averages–5.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game–are pedestrian, he did score 23 points in 34 minutes in a double-overtime win against South Dakota last week. While these suspensions for undisclosed violations of team rules tend to typically be merely a slap on the wrist, the school’s statement that “a decision on [Miliken’s] standing within the program is not expected until after the Christmas break” does seem somewhat ominous. If Miliken does not return, the Bluejays should be fine thanks to their depth.
  5. hile the Chris Herren story gets plenty of attention thanks to the 30 for 30 on him as well as his speaking engagements, there are countless other tales of similarly talented players who saw their careers and lives wrecked by drugs. One such player is Tommy Gaines, who was featured in an excellent piece on Grantland by Jordan Ritter Conn. To be honest, we don’t remember much about Gaines and the article doesn’t give a great account of his background mostly because it is so difficult to piece together information about a person like him back then (something we won’t have a problem with if it were to happen today). Still the story about his past and his attempt at redemption is certainly worth your time.
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O26 Resume Review: New Mexico, Richmond & VCU Rising…

Posted by Adam Stillman on January 29th, 2014

As January comes to a close, we’re beginning to see teams play their way into or out of the at-large conversation. While we saw a couple teams already projected to earn a selection to the NCAA Tournament boost their profiles this past week, we also witnessed a couple more teams throw away their invitations to the Big Dance. Let’s see which O26 teams helped and hurt themselves.

Helped

Richmond (14-6, 4-1 A-10).

Cedrick Lindsay has the Richmond Spiders on the rise. (Photo courtesy of espn.com)

Cedrick Lindsay has the Richmond Spiders on the rise. (Photo courtesy of espn.com)

What a couple of weeks it’s been for the Richmond Spiders. They’ve suddenly thrust themselves into the bubble picture with wins against Massachusetts (#8 RPI), Dayton and St. Joseph’s. Richmond’s hot streak boosted its RPI from #62 to #48 in the matter of seven days. While still on the outside looking in, the Spiders can change that this week as opportunity comes knocking. The make-or-break stretch starts with a road game tonight at Saint Louis before traveling to face VCU on Saturday. Ken Pomeroy’s projections don’t give Richmond much of a chance in either game (19 percent and 20 percent, respectively). Those same projections have Richmond finishing 20-11 overall and 10-6 in the Atlantic 10, though. Is that enough to make the Big Dance? Joe Lunardi currently has Richmond listed second in his “First Four Out” category, while CBS’ Jerry Palm has the Spiders in that same group.

Projected seed for now: Out

New Mexico (16-4, 7-1 MW). The New Mexico Lobos are looking like a safe bet to be the Mountain West’s second — and maybe final — representative in the NCAA Tournament behind San Diego State. After a disappointing home loss to UNLV on January 15 that prompted me to place the Lobos in the “Hurt” category, New Mexico has since rattled off four straight wins. While three of those victories came against Utah State, Fresno State and Colorado State, the fact they came on the road helps the Lobos’ overall profile. Mix in a solid home win against Boise State, and New Mexico’s RPI jumped from #45 to #30 in a week’s time. The Lobos boast five top-100 RPI wins, including a December victory against Cincinnati (#24 RPI) that continues to look better and better as the Bearcats (19-2) climb up the rankings (#13 AP, #15 Coaches). New Mexico still faces a home-and-home with San Diego State in late February and early March, as well as road contests at Boise State and UNLV.

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ACC Team Previews: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Florida State Seminoles.

Leonard Hamilton and his team knocked off Duke and North Carolina to become the first ACC champion from somewhere off of Tobacco Road since Maryland in 2004. Hamilton’s team used experience, physical defense and drive to push through the ACC Tournament before falling in a brutal game to Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Still, the Seminoles’ triumph earned Hamilton the credibility where it’s time to start accepting his teams as conference contenders — especially when star guard Michael Snaer is at the helm.

Luke Loucks is gone, but Michael Snaer is ready to build on a dream season (Reuters)

This isn’t to say picking Florida State to finish near the top of the league again is a no-brainer; on the contrary, the Seminoles lost six players to graduation, including three starters. Among those leaving were Luke Loucks, the veteran point guard who played the cool foil to Snaer much of last year, and Bernard James, whose shot-blocking and tough defense anchored one of the best defenses in the country.

Newcomers

Five freshmen and a junior college transfer join the Seminoles this season, headlined by Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon. Brandon, a consensus four-star 6’7″ wing out of Greensboro, North Carolina, looks to be a paradigmatic Hamilton player: He’s very long, athletic and is ready to focus on defense. Thomas was also a consensus four-star recruit and is known as a slasher; he’ll be backing up Florida State’s very talented backcourt this season. His playing time will probably directly correlate to how his defense stacks up with Ian Miller. Devon Bookert and junior college transfer Robert Gilchrist also join the Seminoles, though look for their impact to be somewhat down the road. Bookert is an offensive-minded point guard out of Alaska, and Gilchrist is a skinny forward with terrific length and athleticism. Finally, there are the seven footers Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky. Ojo and Bojanovsky are both very raw, but the Seminoles will need an eraser at the center of Hamilton’s defense, and one or both may play significant time if they can fit that role.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.13.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 13th, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.

South

  • One thing the Big 12 is missing in the NCAA Tournament is a #1 seed. Coming into the Big 12 Tournament, Kansas and Missouri had their chances, but the Jayhawks dropped their semifinal to Baylor and despite winning the regular season crown, the selection committee frowned on the Tigers’ non-conference schedule in dropping them to a #2 seed.
  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari was irked by the omission of Drexel from the field of 68. While the Dragons certainly had an argument for inclusion, we’ll also point out that Calipari’s comments also serve as a defense of his former assistant, Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint.
  • Indiana sophomore swingman Victor Oladipo has done a little bit of everything for the resurgent Hoosiers. He’s a key cog in the Hoosier offense, averaging 10.9 points per game and helps out on the glass with 5.5 rebouns per contest.
  • Notre Dame turned what was supposed to be a rebuilding year into an NCAA Tournament bid. The silver lining to losing Tim Abromaitis early in the season is that it gave the Irish plenty of time to adapt.
  • Wichita State has exceeded all expectations this season. Would you be surprised to see the Shockers advance further than either of their high-major in-state brethren, Kansas or Kansas State?
  • Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut assistant Kevin Ollie were once teammates with the Chicago Bulls. Now, their teams will meet in the Second Round.
  • Notre Dame’s strong defense could pose a problem for XavierThe Irish have made life miserable for a number of opponents this season (just ask Syracuse), and without a star player on offense, they’ll have to rely on their disciplined defense.

West

  • Louisville head coach Rick Pitino looks to avoid an exit at the hands of a mid-major team for the second straight season when his Cardinals take on Davidson. The Wildcats enjoy an uptempo pace, which could play right into Louisville’s hands, but it could be curtains if the Cards’ offense continues to sputter.
  • A close bond ties Long Beach State seniors Larry Anderson, T.J. Robinson and Casper Ware together, as do their struggles with ailing relatives. The 49ers are a popular Cinderella pick due to their experience and a non-conference schedule that saw them travel to some of the game’s most intense venues.
  • After sweating out Selection Sunday, Colorado State breathed a sigh of relief but now must get to work as it prepares to face Murray State in Louisville. Donte Poole, once a CSU signee, is one of the Racers’ top contributors this season. Read the rest of this entry »
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Set Your TiVo: 02.23.12

Posted by bmulvihill on February 23rd, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

#8 Duke at #17 Florida State – 7:00PM EST on ESPN (****)

  • Duke lost to FSU on their home court at the buzzer the last time these two played. Going on the road to exact revenge and keep pace with North Carolina for the ACC lead looms large for the Blue Devils. There are two key areas that Duke needs to focus on in order to beat the Seminoles – three-point defense and getting to the free throw line. While the Blue Devils have the top three-point defense in the ACC, they let the Seminoles hit 50% from downtown in the first game. It’s a key area of focus because in 3 of the 4 Duke losses, they have allowed an eFG of over 60%. Additionally, keep a close eye on their ability to get to the line. When Duke does not get to the line frequently they are vulnerable. Their three worst free throw rate performances of the season are all losses.

    Can FSU Knock Duke Off Again?

  • Florida State was able to beat Duke in their previous match-up with its strongest shooting effort of the season. For a team that is known for its defense, FSU is the best shooting team in the ACC. Their three-point shooting has gotten much better in conference play to give their eFG a big boost. Only Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Clemson have been able to hold the Seminoles under 50% eFG in a single game. They must watch the turnovers though as they are turning the ball over at a rate of 22.3% in ACC play.
  • This game will come down to free throws and three-point defense. Both teams rely on free throws to win ball games. When taken away with good defense and no fouls, they lose. With so many of Dukes shots coming from beyond the three-point line (40%) and FSU’s recent success from downtown, the team who defends the three better should win.
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ACC Game On: 01.26.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on January 26th, 2012

Well, Maryland managed to defend the honor of newly-christened Gary Williams Court for about 30 minutes before succumbing to the temptations of lousy help defense. Beating the Terps doesn’t look like a great win on paper, but it’s a great win for a Duke team that still seems occasionally unsure of their own identity. Virginia Tech lost to Brigham Young thanks to poor offensive execution and despite a relatively strong game defensively. It was a game that came down to the last play, but the Hokies just couldn’t pull it out. Florida State put up a command performance in stomping Wake Forest with the wicked defense of the Seminoles holding star player Travis McKie to a pitiful 1-of-13 shooting night. Couple that with an over 50% shooting night from the field and the Florida State juggernaut looks as hot as ever.

A Cold War Goes Hot

An NC State vs. UNC Game That Means Something? It's Been a While...

  • North Carolina State at North Carolina at 7:00 PM on ESPN

In Chapel Hill, this game hasn’t meant much in the Roy Williams‘ era. The heat from a once-vicious rivalry cooled as the Wolfpack drifted further and further into irrelevance. Now, NC State fans are always hot for this game, but the recent history of this match-up has left Chapel Hill fans indifferent. But for the first time in a long while, Tar Heel fans are nervous. Quietly, Mark Gottfried has developed a powerful and versatile balanced attack. Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell, C.J. Williams, and Scott Wood all have a legitimate case for being the ACC break-out players of the year (ignoring Terrell Stoglin), each making massive strides in their respective games. Meanwhile C.J. Leslie still remains an immensely talented wild card, capable of taking over a game at both ends, though his inconsistency remains an issue. They match up well with the Tar Heels, having a combination of size and speed to counter North Carolina’s usual advantages in this area. Still, North Carolina is a great team and as well as the Wolfpack matches up on the perimeter, it’s unclear if their is a frontcourt answer to the Tyler Zeller and John Henson tandem. Also, a real concern: the Wolfpack’s three-point defense has been abysmal and with Reggie Bullock getting the start alongside Harrison Barnes, an early barrage of perimeter shots could break NC State’s back early. I think this game will be close, but the Tar Heels take this one. The real intrigue for this game is how it sets the stage for what’s almost certain to be the dramatic second meeting in Raleigh.

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ACC Game On: 01.25.12

Posted by KCarpenter on January 25th, 2012

Last night, Miami slammed a terrible-looking Georgia Tech team. The key with this game was the once again the sterling play of Kenny Kadji who has emerged as one of the clear breakthrough players of this season. The Hurricanes played defense and Georgia Tech’s attack basically degenerated into Glen Rice, Jr., and Mfon Udofia chucking shots like they were the only two players on the team. One day both will get hot simultaneously and the pair will annihilate some hapless team. Most days these two take all the shots, however, Georgia Tech will lose.

The Meanest Rivalry in the ACC

  • Duke at Maryland at 9:00 PM at ESPN

Could This Be the Scene in College Park Tonight?

Luckily, the Blue Devils don’t have to play at a hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium, and that’s one of the most underrated bonuses of Duke’s yearly schedule. Year in and year out, the most hostile conference venue for Duke is not in Chapel Hill, but rather in College Park. The Terrapins fans are ferocious at home and their hatred for Duke seems to reach beyond the confines of mere rivalry. For the Blue Devils, this is a tough follow-up after the hard loss at home to Florida State, but there is no doubt that Mike Krzyzewski will have his team ready to play. Maryland hasn’t shown they can play the kind of defense needed to stop Duke, but Terrell Stoglin is the exact kind of player who has the skill set to take advantage of a Duke defense that is softer on the perimeter than in years past. Duke wins this game on paper, but if Stoglin gets hot or the crowd gets really into it, this could be a tough road trip for Austin Rivers and company.

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Big East Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 23rd, 2011

  1. On October 28, the Big 12 formally announced that it had accepted West Virginia into the conference. Three days later, West Virginia sued the Big East conference in hopes of entering the Big 12, which had already agreed to accept them, as early as next year. The Big East wasn’t about to let one of their premier schools leave without a fight, especially considering it would set a dangerous precedent for other defectors Syracuse and Pittsburgh, so the conference countersued, hoping to block the Mountaineers’ move until 2014. Well, West Virginia recognized that decision, and appears ready to blatantly ignore it. Over the weekend, Athletic Director Oliver Luck said he expected West Virginia to be in the Big 12 next year, and couldn’t resist kicking the conference while it was down as well. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports relayed this juicy quote in a column Monday, “We were fortunate to get out,” Luck told the Charleston Gazette. “We got out [of the Big East] when the ship was seriously going down. I mean, only the tip of the sail was showing.” Ouch Mr. Luck, that wasn’t very nice. It is hard to argue with the logic on either side here, which makes this defection all the more ugly. West Virginia wants to get out and move on so they can get a piece of that juicy TV contract the Big 12 signed with Fox. And the Big East isn’t keen on letting their best football program and a quality basketball program leave at what they feel is a moments notice, because it opens the door for more lawsuits and hasty exits. This has all the makings of a long and protracted legal battle, so strap in Mountaineer fans, it could get bumpy.
  2. In related news, CBS Sports reported last night that the Big East’s courtship of Brigham Young University has come to an end. OK, you may not think this is as juicy as Ashton and Demi but we do!  The main point of contention leading to the break-up appears to be, yep, you guessed it…money!  BYU signed a lucrative eight-year television contract last year with ESPN to broadcast home games and it appears control of these rights is where the impasse lies. While The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting the Big East – BYU relationship may ultimately prove stalled, CBS Sports is taking a firmer position saying that the conference is done with BYU and exploring its next option, which is to add San Diego State as a football-only member.  The Aztecs would ostensibly be part of a plan to join fellow new football-only members Boise State, Air Force, and Navy along with soon-to-be-announced full members: Houston, Southern Methodist, and Central Florida. This would result in a 12 football and 16 basketball member Big East once all the Mayflower vans got done doing their thing. While the projected alignment arguably would create a better football conference than exists today, it would certainly result in a regression basketball-wise. To that end there have been some vocal proponents (see Rick Pitino) of adding two more all-sport, but basketball-centric members such as Temple and Memphis.
  3. After last week’s discouraging home loss to Long Beach State, Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon was glad to have six days off to rest his weary team and, according to him, “get the younger guys going”. The loss to the 49ers caused the Panthers to tumble all the way to #16 in the most recent AP poll heading into last night’s game against La Salle and the Panthers, while displaying a much improved defensive effort, got all they could handle from a tough Explorer team who took Villanova to overtime last week, and squeaked out a 73-69 win at the Peterson Events Center. While star senior guard, and preseason Big East Player of the Year selection, Ashton Gibbs struggled through a poor shooting night (3 of 15), it was one of the youngsters who keyed the defensive effort for Dixon’s squad. Freshman Khem Birch had an active 13 minutes, tallying four points, six rebounds, and three blocks.  Birch spent some time at the center spot last night, and drew praise from his coach, “He was more effective there,” Dixon said. “He was playing both (forward and center) and we’ve got to get him more comfortable playing there.” Junior guard Travon Woodall logged a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists to pace the 3-1 Panthers. The 5’11” guard also registered three blocks, including a huge one down the stretch to preserve the victory.
  4. Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun held sophomore forward Roscoe Smith out of a preseason game for missing a “team commitment” and it looked like the sophomore role player might cede his playing time to talented freshman DeAndre McDaniels. The problem, according to Calhoun and teammates is that Smith tends to sulk in the face of adversity when he should be doubling his effort. Currently his averages (6 PPG and 3 RPG) are similar to last year’s numbers and that’s not great. Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi are going to carry UConn all season, but the team needs a healthy, energetic, and upbeat Smith — whether it is in the starting lineup or coming off the bench — once they play fiercer competition. The linked article notes that Smith was better on both ends of the court against Coppin State, but Coppin State isn’t a Big East-caliber team, and that same pep will need to carryover to the conference schedule if the Huskies hope to repeat.
  5. As noted here yesterday courtesy of future Friar Ricky Ledo, Providence has been on the prowl for some front court help.  We thought he meant for next year but as it turns out coach Ed Cooley may (and may is the operative word here) be getting a big for the second semester as 6’10” Daquan Brown announced via his Facebook page on Tuesday that he will be transferring to Providence.  While it is not known yet if Brown will be able to play right away, the need for more immediate help is likely due to the fact the Friars have been playing with just eight scholarship players as red-shirt sophomore Kadeem Batts, perhaps their best big man, is serving an indefinite suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules and freshman guard Kiwi Gardner is out pending appeal of an NCAA academic eligibility ruling concerning his prep school curriculum.  Brown, a New York native, is currently enrolled at Fresno State and on their basketball roster however he has yet to play there due to what appears to be his own indefinite team suspension. Out of Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School Brown appeared headed for Oklahoma State until academic issues redirected him to Barstow Community College (CA) where he averaged 12 points and ten rebounds per game. Brown visited Providence this past weekend and was in attendance for the Friars’ victory over Florida A&M.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jimmer Fredette

Posted by nvr1983 on June 13th, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Jimmer Fredette

School: BYU

Height/Weight: 6’2/195 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Overview: After spending much of his junior year as a relatively under-the-radar star that only true hoop junkies appreciated, Fredette burst onto the national stage with a series of scintillating performances that turned him into a cult hero  where you could refer to him as just “Jimmer” and everybody would know who you were talking about (ok, maybe his unique name helped with that last part). Fredette’s skills were most evident in a home game against San Diego State where he lit up the Aztecs for 43 points and later in the Mountain West Tournament when he torched New Mexico for 52 points. For all of Fredette’s gifts as a scorer there are major concerns about every other area of his game. The most notable issue is his matador defense that could become a major liability at the next level if he is asked to defend an opposing point guard for any extended period. There are also concerns about his abilities to run a NBA offense against any level of pressure. Because of the stark contrast between certain NBA All-Star level skills (his shooting and scoring abilities) and his D-league skills (defense), Fredette remains one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Can Jimmer make the transition to the NBA?

Will Translate to the NBA: Jimmer appears to fit a very specific role in the NBA in our eyes: a scorer who can come off the bench and score in bunches, or, at the very least, stretch opposing defenses to give his team an ability to attack the rim or feed the post. He will probably play as a point guard, but his primary function will be instant offense and he will probably have to rely on another player to act as the primary initiator of the offense to take some of the load off of him. He will probably struggle on defense unless his team can hide him with a zone defense (or something similar), limiting his minutes, but there are plenty of NBA players who are sub-par defenders that remain in the league and play meaningful minutes so it is easy to imagine Fredette staying in the league for a number of years.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.25.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 25th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • People are quick to forget that the Ohio State basketball program was in disarray when Thad Matta arrived in Columbus. Considering this, it can be stated that Matta has been nothing short of a miracle worker.
  • Kentucky freshman forward Terrence Jones has had a theme play out over his solid freshman campaign- he plays very well in big games. This should be good news for John Calipari and the Kentucky faithful, as Friday’s game versus Ohio State qualifies as such.
  • It is hard not to root for a guy like Buzz Williams. The Marquette coach has had an interesting career that has included stops at small schools like Oklahoma City University, Texas-Arlington, and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
  • An interesting Q&A with North Carolina freshman point guard Kendall Marshall. Marshall has been nothing short of spectacular since taking over the point guard reigns from since-departed Larry Drew II.
  • Can Ohio State survive and advance if their star, Jared Sullinger, does not shine? We say they can, due to the fact that William Buford, Jon Diebler, and David Lighty are fully capable of carrying the Buckeyes on any given night.

Southeast

  • The craziness of March Madness has Butler in position to reach the Final Four again. It will not be easy though, as they will have to get through the Florida Gators.
  • Butler’s strong defense threw Wisconsin off their game. If the Bulldogs defend that well against Florida, they will probably advance to next weekend in Houston.
  • Florida guard Kenny Boynton slowed Brigham Young‘s Jimmer Fredette just enough for the Gators to get the victory. Pretty impressive for Boynton, who was recovering from an ankle injury.
  • After an almost four-year hiatus from winning big-time games, Florida head coach Billy Donovan proved on Thursday night that the Gator program is back to being one of the premier in all of college basketball.
  • Even though its season is over, Brigham Young head coach Dave Rose made a point to praise the toughness of his Cougar squad. BYU enjoyed a 32-5 dream season that may not be duplicated soon.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.24.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 24th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • Often overlooked due to the star power that Ohio State has accumulated during his career, David Lighty has been the heart and soul of this season’s Buckeyes. The fifth-year senior will leave Columbus with three Big Ten championships, an NIT championship, and four trips to the NCAA Tournament.
  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes that other programs “Want to be us. Not beat us.” While that statement may seem a bit arrogant, it does make sense when thinking about the pageantry and tradition that goes along with the Wildcat basketball program.
  • While he does provide Marquette with some scoring, swingman Jimmy Butler prides himself on being a defensive stopper for the Golden Eagles. His coach, Buzz Williams, calls Butler, “the smartest player I’ve ever coached.” High, high praise.
  • North Carolina junior center Tyler Zeller has finally been healthy all season after missing significant time during his first two seasons. A healthy Zeller has been beneficial to the Tar Heels, as he has contributed 15.2 points per game along with 7.1 rebounds. Without Zeller’s presence in the post, UNC would probably not be a Sweet 16-caliber team.
  • Despite already having a tremendous season, Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight believes he is just finally living up to the high expectations that come with playing point guard for John Calipari. Interesting enough is that those expectations are not from Calipari, but from Knight himself.

Southeast

  • Growing up in the shadow of Gene Keady and Bob Knight has not turned Butler head coach Brad Stevens into the same type of loose cannon as the two legendary coaches. Instead, Stevens is known for his calm, steady, and studious approach that he takes to coaching the game of basketball.
  • Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor has been an elite performer all season for the Badgers. This is not surprising when considering that the junior craves for pressure situations where he can showcase his bravado.
  • Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons has gone through quite the maturation process, which has allowed him to fulfill his vast potential. Despite his success, Parsons continues to raise expectations for his team and himself.
  • There is not a team in the nation that is held to the strict honor code that Brigham Young is held to. Despite the loss of big man Brandon Davies due to a violation of this code, the rest of the Cougars have learned to live by its precepts and focus primarily on winning basketball games.
  • After resting his ankle earlier in the week, Florida sophomore guard Kenny Boynton believes he is “100 percent” for Thursday’s game with Brigham Young. Boynton will be an important player for the Gators in slowing down the BYU guard attack.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.23.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 23rd, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • Ohio State freshman big man Jared Sullinger was named Sporting News Freshman of the Year. Sullinger averages 17.1 points per game for the nation’s top team, and this is far from the last piece of hardware he’s going to receive from this season’s efforts.
  • Remember John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe? Well, this year, Kentucky has Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. John Calipari has mastered the art of turning freshmen into NBA prospects.
  • Darius Johnson-Odom, a native of North Carolina, is making his dream come true playing for Marquette in the Sweet 16. Interestingly enough for Johnson-Odom, Marquette’s Sweet 16 opponent is the North Carolina Tar Heels.
  • Battling a knee injury while being forced to guard the opponent’s top scorer is no easy task, but UNC guard Dexter Strickland has performed the task admirably. While Strickland is not much of a scorer, his defensive tenacity is just as important to the Tar Heels as Tyler Zeller‘s hook shots and Kendall Marshall‘s passing accuracy.
  • Marquette head coach Buzz Williams has been rumored to take the Oklahoma job ever since the Sooner position opened up. If Oklahoma wants to secure Williams’ services, it will have to open up the wallet.

Southeast

  • Butler struggled throughout much of the early portion of the season; however, things began to change for the Bulldogs around February 1. Head coach Brad Stevens attributes this change to the elevation in the play of guard Shelvin Mack.
  • Some may call the swing offense employed by Wisconsin “boring,” but this offense has been effective for Bo Ryan‘s squad for many years. It should not matter if an offense is not very entertaining to watch. What should matter is if it works.
  • Brigham Young head coach Dave Rose has seen his star rise in the coaching world during the Cougars’ magical season. The question emerges of whether Rose will return to Provo next season.
  • After not winning a tournament game since cutting down the nets in 2007, Billy Donovan has his Florida team primed to make another Final Four run. While no players from the ’07 team remain, the program still knows how to get it done late in the tournament.
  • Butler has won several games down the stretch this season, including its first two tournament games. This clutch success can be attributed to the even-keel demeanor that the Bulldogs exhibit throughout the late stages of a game.

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