The RTC Podcast: Wiggins vs. Randle vs. Parker Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2013

We’re now 10 days into the regular season and fully focused on college basketball. Not previewing college basketball or anticipating college basketball or even faking college basketball. Actual college basketball. So as we approach the start of Feast Week in a few days, the RTC Podcast is back this week to start to dig into some of the early impressions of the young season. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114), is your gracious host, and he leads the guys through a 50-minute smorgasbord of hoops discussion ranging from “The Randy Bowl” between Michigan and Iowa State, the Wiggins vs. Randle vs. Parker debate from our Rush the Takes guest, ESPN insider Jeff Goodman, and a closer look at the disappointment of North Carolina, the dominance of Louisville, and the shakiness of Syracuse. Have a listen.

Jeff Goodman Joins Us on This Week's Rush the Takes to Talk Super Freshmen .(Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Jeff Goodman Joins Us on This Week’s Rush the Takes to Talk Super Freshmen .(Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around to the most interesting parts. Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-8:42 – Iowa State Wins “The Randy Bowl”
  • 8:42-14:26 – Ohio State Knocks Out Marquette in Ugly Slugfest
  • 14:26-25:32 – Rush the Take With Jeff Goodman
  • 25:32-31:32 – Recruiting Reactions
  • 31:32-37:50 – ACC, UNC Disappointing Early
  • 37:50-40:02 – Louisville at #1
  • 40:02-41:30 – Syracuse Looking Shaky
  • 41:30-45:11 – Oklahoma State vs. Memphis Preview
  • 45:11-46:42 – Other Games to Watch/Wrap
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Duke Trying to Strike a Balance With Its Perimeter Defense

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 15th, 2013

Everyone knew Duke would be a very different team this season compared to 2012-13. Last year’s team was built around three seniors — Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and Seth Curry. Plumlee was an athletic big man, but the other two relied on a high skill level to make up for a lack of elite athleticism. That team was clearly better offensively than defensively and had a very good year with a run to the Elite Eight and a loss to eventual national champion, Louisville. With the addition of some quicker and more athletic players, the expectation for this season was that Duke would get back to the effective pressure defense that Blue Devil championship teams of the past had shown. That was clearly not the case in Tuesday’s Champions Classic loss to Kansas. The offense was good, scoring 83 points in a 75-possession game, but the defense was not, allowing Kansas 1.25 points per possession and matching the worst performance Duke’s defense had in any game last year.

Duke could not stop Kansas down the stretch. (Photo: Getty images)

Duke could not stop Kansas down the stretch. (Photo: Getty images)

So what went wrong? There could be multiple reasons. but they may not all be fixable this season. The first explanation is that this is still a young and developing Duke team and it was only the second game of the year. Perhaps the ease with which the red-hot shooting Blue Devils dispatched Davidson in their opener gave the Blue Devils a false sense of where they really were as a team. That mentality seemed to be at issue down the stretch against Kansas. In his postgame interview, Mike Krzyzewski lamented the fact that his team just couldn’t get stops when they needed to, as if they were in a mindset that they could just outscore Kansas.

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The RTC Podblast: Episode 1.5

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2013

And we’re off and running with the regular season as well as the weekly RTC Podblast. In case you’re not aware of what this feature is all about, this is where we reset the week’s action and look ahead to the coming weekend of games in a shorter, sleeker, bite-sized format. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, and in this week’s podblast, the guys break down some positives and negatives for each of the four teams in the Champions Classic, discuss a couple of other games from the Hoops Marathon, and look forward to the two biggest games of the weekend. The full rundown is below.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-1:15 – Introduction
  • 1:15-7:26 –  Sparty Spoils Kentucky’s 40-0 Dreams
  • 7:26-11:22 – Kansas (not the Fighting Wiggins) beats Duke (not the Fighting Jabaris)
  • 11:22-13:14 – The Old Dominion Battle (That didn’t involve ODU)
  • 13:14-14:33 – Florida Battles Wisconsin Despite Missing Pieces
  • 14:33-16:34 – Ohio State-Marquette Preview
  • 16:34-20:03 – “Randy Bowl” (Michigan-Iowa State) Preview/Wrap
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Morning Five: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2013


  1. The residual from Tuesday’s Champions Classic buzzed throughout the sports world on Wednesday, with considerable discussion devoted to rank-ordering the superstar freshmen who were on display (Parker, Randle, Wiggins was a popular order), discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the four teams, and projecting the areas in which each will get better. But perhaps the biggest storyline that came out of the game was related to the interview that Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski gave afterward. In response to a media member’s question about the not-exactly-secretive practice by NBA teams to tank games in order to position themselves for high draft picks next summer, Coach K waxed poetically in his response about the virtues of good old-fashioned competition: “As an American, I wouldn’t like to think that an American team would want to lose or create situations where you would want to lose. […] Maybe I’m naive and I’m going to go read a fairy tale after this.” Full clip here. Speaking of competition, ESPN cleaned up with its broadcast of the double-header, recording the second-highest rated regular season non-conference game in history for #1 Kentucky vs. #2 Michigan State, and the nightcap game wasn’t terribly far behind.
  2. Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands on Wednesday with spectacular timing, choosing to release its 2013-14 College Basketball Preview issue in the wake of all the good Champions Classic vibe and avoiding the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls’ mistake of choosing Kentucky for its top spot. Utilizing a neat four-region cover format, the experts at SI instead went with Louisville as its preseason #1 team, although there aren’t any real surprises among the rest of their list (Harvard at #20, maybe?). For their full top 20 rankings and excerpts of some of the articles printed in the preview, check out this One and One post here; for complete scouting reports on each of the ranked teams, check out their online post here. But if you really want the full experience, get analog and enjoy the magazine the way it was intended — in hard-copy, ink-and-paper, magazine format.
  3. Speaking of the Cards, the AP announced on Wednesday that the school had negotiated the exit fee from its one-year foray with the AAC as it looks to head to the ACC next July. The final number turned out to be $11 million, which is roughly the revenue that Louisville creates in the price of a handful of hot dogs and beers at the Yum! Center during a basketball game. OK, not really, but the most profitable basketball program in the nation — estimated to bring in an annual surplus of $23-$28 million per year — shouldn’t have any problem whatsoever in finding enough couch change to write the check. With a move to its new conference starting next season and all the additional television revenue that will come with being a part of the dominant east coast sports league, expect those coffers to continue to rise.
  4. When Louisville joins the ACC in 2014, the next basketball season will culminate in a blockbuster ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, for the 25th time. But with the push to save itself and add teams from above the Mason-Dixon Line, the league is looking to make its hallmark event a bit more inclusive and cosmopolitan than the longtime location of league HQ. A part-time move to New York City is an inevitability, but before the nation’s oldest conference tournament heads to the Big Apple, the league has decided to take baby steps with a trip to Washington, DC, in 2016. The ACC has accepted this dance with the District once before at the Verizon/MCI Center in 2005, an event that was notable for its relatively light attendance over the course of the weekend. The DC area had also hosted several ACC Tournaments prior to that at the old Capital Center in Landover, Maryland, but in all of these events, the Terps and maybe Duke were the only real attractions. Syracuse, Notre Dame and to a certain degree Pittsburgh, on the other hand, all have huge alumni bases in the East Coast megalopolis between Washington and New York, now just an easy train ride between city centers. And Louisville fans travel well. Contrasted with nearly a decade prior, expect the 2016 ACC Tournament even without local team Maryland involved to be a fantastic success.
  5. Finally today, if you read nothing else, read this story from SI‘s Seth Davis about Duke guard Andre Dawkins‘ struggles with clinical depression. By all accounts, depression is a medical condition that people who don’t suffer from it have a lot of trouble understanding. Why not just pick yourself up? Why not just find something that makes you happy? The truth is that picking yourself up and finding something meaningful is extremely difficult for those with the disease. The complicated brain chemistry involved with the condition doesn’t just go away because they want it to, and as Davis elucidates so nicely with the story on Dawkins, the only way it can be solved is through therapy and (sometimes) medical intervention through antidepressants. The happy ending here is that Dawkins is back on the Blue Devils for his senior season and he really wants to play basketball again, something that he had almost no desire to do two years ago. That’s a win right there, and Davis should be commended for bringing this encouraging story to the forefront. Even if you hate Duke, you’ll have to root for Dawkins after reading this one.
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Otskey’s Observations: Episode I

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on November 13th, 2013

Each week RTC national columnist Brian Otskey (@botskey) will evaluate the state of college basketball from the comfort of his couch. 

How good was the Champions Classic last night? This event has been fantastic to begin with in its three years of existence but this year’s event was on another level. Michigan State’s performance was terrific and it was even more impressive that the Spartans, a program notorious for slow starts to the season, were in mid-season form. Now healthy, Gary Harris looks poised to meet the lofty expectations some, including yours truly, have placed on him. I was particularly impressed with his quickness and athleticism and the same goes for Adreian Payne. I saw some moves out of Payne that I’ve never seen before. He has all the tools necessary to take on the leadership role (along with Keith Appling) for a team that clearly is on a mission to reach Arlington this April. One area of concern for the Spartans? Rebounding. The Wildcats absolutely dominated the boards and it kept them in the game, even when they were down by as many as 15 points. As for Kentucky, I wouldn’t be too concerned. Sure, the Wildcats made plenty of freshmen mistakes but that is to be expected in only this group’s third collegiate game. Kentucky is not that far away and the bottom line is it wins that game with a few more free throws made or a few less turnovers committed. Julius Randle is the real deal and Kentucky will keep getting better. I’m not sure there is anyone in the college game who can effectively guard this freshman superstar. Randle will command a double or even triple team every time he touches the ball. If there is one lingering concern for John Calipari’s team from last night, it has to be transition defense. It was poor all night and ultimately cost the Wildcats the game.

Gary Harris and Michigan State knocked off No. 1 last night

Gary Harris and Michigan State knocked off No. 1 last night

In the nightcap, Kansas used a 15-4 run to pull away late from Duke, highlighted by Andrew Wiggins’ filthy step-back jumper and dunk in transition. Duke was nearly a unanimous pick to win this game but the young Jayhawks proved yet again why their program is among the very best in the nation, consistently churning out a contender year after year. Despite a brand new starting five, Bill Self’s club didn’t miss a beat. I was particularly impressed with Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden. If Self can get that kind of production out of those players on a consistent basis, Kansas will be primed for another Final Four run. To those of you who think Oklahoma State can top the Jayhawks in the Big 12, I hear you, but you are wrong. The Big 12 runs through Lawrence, as it has for the last nine years. Jabari Parker and Duke were highly impressive offensively but I have some concerns about the Blue Devils’ defense and rebounding. This is one of the more athletic Duke teams in quite some time but it lacks a true center. That has an impact defensively because opposing guards can drive at will and get wings like Parker and Rodney Hood into foul trouble, just like what happened last night. Duke played pretty well overall but don’t ignore these red flags as the season progresses. The Blue Devils did not play elite defense last season and they aren’t off to a hot start in that regard in 2013-14 either. That has to improve if Duke is to advance deep into March.

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Three Takeaways from Michigan State’s Champions Classic Performance

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 13th, 2013

Youth or experience? It was the key question posed going into Tuesday night’s showdown between Michigan State and Kentucky, and the Spartans’ experience won out after holding on for a 78-74 win over Kentucky. The Spartans will presumably be the new #1 in the polls next week, but before that, here are a few takeaways from the huge Michigan State win:

Gary Harris knows his Spartans are the new number one.

Gary Harris knows his Spartans are the new number one.

  • Michigan State will only go as far as its point guard play this season, and boy, did Keith Appling silence the critics with an incredible stat line of 22 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, four steals, and only three turnovers. Appling has been known to have turnover issues and a showing like last night will go a long way to raising the senior ‘s confidence with the ball and running the team effectively. Appling’s backcourt mate Gary Harris also contributed a huge 15-point first half performance. Along with the combined 42 points from the two Michigan State guards, both were active in intercepting the passing lanes of Kentucky and causing a total of 17 turnovers. After Kentucky had tied the game with 4:48 left, Appling hit a huge three from the corner and then Harris stole the ball and finished with a layup to put MSU up for good. Guard play in March wins championships, and if Appling and Harris can continue to make major plays like those, Tom Izzo’s squad has as good a chance as any team to make it to Dallas for the Final Four.

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Michigan State vs. Kentucky Preview: Two Completely Biased Views

Posted by Deepak Jayanti & David Changas on November 12th, 2013

Tuesday night brings us the first #1 vs. #2 match-up college basketball has seen in five-and-a-half years, as the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats take on the second-ranked Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic  at the United Center in Chicago. Two of our microsite writers – Deepak Jayanti (Big Ten) and David Changas (SEC) – examine three key questions heading into the game.

John Calipari said Kentucky could go undefeated this year. A win over Michigan State would add more credibility to that statement (ESPN Photo)

John Calipari said Kentucky could go undefeated this year. A win over Michigan State would add more credibility to that statement (ESPN Photo)

1. Can anyone from Michigan State stop Julius Randle?

David: The second most ballyhooed freshman in the country, Randle has lived up to the hype, albeit against inferior competition. His NBA-ready frame and soft touch allow him to get to the basket with ease and knock down mid-range jumpers, and will make it difficult for Adreian Payne and company to slow him down. It’s safe to assume Randle will get his points and will cause significant problems for the Spartans, but the likely key will be Michigan State’s success in limiting Randle’s talented supporting cast. Whether it can do so will determine who prevails in this battle of heavyweights.

Deepak: You might expect Tom Izzo to use Payne against Randle, but this strategy could backfire if he can’t keep up with Randle’s quickness. Randle’s size and quickness cannot be matched by anybody on the Spartans, but, Branden Dawson is Izzo’s best defensive stopper. Dawson is quick and has the meat on his bones to keep Randle in front of him and force the freshman to use his jumper. It is unclear if Randle has the post moves to use his size advantage to beat Dawson in the paint, but if he doesn’t, then the 6’6″ wing could put up a decent defensive effort against him.

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The RTC Podcast: Champions Classic Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2013

So we hear that there are some pretty good basketball games tonight? That’s right, VCU travels to Charlottesville to take on Virginia, and Florida heads to Madison to battle with Wisconsin. Oh, and there might be some kind of made-for-TV event going on in Chicago this evening as well? All kidding aside, we’re just thankful that we have actual games to start talking about — the preseason speculation can get a little boring after seven straight months. But now that opening weekend is behind us, the RTC Podcast, hosted by Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114), can get down to the serious business of reacting to the action on the floor. Starting with tonight.

Seth Davis Joins the RTC Podcast For This Week's Rush the Takes

Seth Davis Joins the RTC Podcast For This Week’s Rush the Takes

Today’s episode reviews some of the biggest games of last weekend and looks ahead to the Champions Classic double-header involving #1 Kentucky vs. #2 Michigan State followed by #4 Duke vs. #5 Kansas this evening. We were also lucky enough to have longtime CBS Sports analyst and Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis join us for this week’s Rush the Takes segment, where he discusses what he’s looking forward to during tonight’s game. Needless to say, everyone’s excitement was palpable. Also remember that you have a chance at winning a free RTC t-shirt if you find the hidden clue somewhere within the podcast. And remember that we’ll be back on Friday of this week with our short-and-sweet RTC Podblast to review these games and any other news that pops up during the next few days.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around to the most interesting parts. Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-5:18 – Oregon vs. Georgetown
  • 5:18-8:46 – Baylor vs. Colorado
  • 8:46-12:06 – Maryland vs. UConn
  • 12:06-14:46 – Foul Discussion
  • 14:46-25:10 – Rush the Takes With Seth Davis
  • 25:10-30:24 – Duke vs. Kansas Preview
  • 30:24-35:22 – Kentucky vs. Michigan State Preview
  • 35:22-38:44 – VCU vs. Virginia
  • 38:44-43:17 – Florida vs. Wisconsin
  • 43:17-47:40 – Chane Behanan’s Return/Wrap
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Champions Classic: Keeping Some Perspective With Tonight’s Games

Posted by nvr1983 on November 12th, 2013

We hate to have to do this because we really love college basketball and we embrace the fact that so many people are excited about this season due to the influx of elite freshmen talent. But we feel like we have to tell you that the Champions Classic is not going to be what everybody wants you to believe. By now you have probably read dozens of columns hyping this event as the best early-season match-up in college basketball history — which at some level it is — and hundreds or thousands (depending on how much time you have on your hands) of message board discussions talking about the implications of these two games. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things these two games might be a whole lot of fun but they’re mostly meaningless.


The Hype Machine is in Full Throttle This Week

Now this is not to say that the games and the participants playing in them won’t be interesting. According to some reports nearly 80 NBA personnel are expected to be in attendance to watch Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker along with at least a half dozen other potential NBA lottery picks in action. And of course there are the four blue-blooded programs with their Hall of Fame coaches (don’t worry, Tom Izzo, Bill Self, and John Calipari will all be joining Mike Krzyzewski in Springfield someday). On top of that nearly every major college basketball media outlet will be represented as well as quite a few NBA media members. Obviously, they can’t all be wrong. Right?

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Let’s Laugh at Calipari For a Second Then Preview Michigan State vs. Kentucky

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 12th, 2013

The Michigan StateKentucky game tonight in the Champions Classic offers plenty of compelling storylines. Experience versus likely one-and-dones, Tom Izzo against John Calipari, and what some even argue is good and bad with college basketball. Oh, yeah, and No. 1 versus No. 2 for the first time in five years and the earliest the top two teams have ever played in the season. If you want to look at the multitude of storylines and previews, the Big Ten Network already did a good job compiling them. Before getting to the key things to watch for in this game, though, let’s examine John Calipari’s comments a little more closely.

Adreian Payne and the Spartans experience will play a key role in tonight's Champions Classic game against Kentucky (AP Photo/Al Goldis).

Adreian Payne and the Spartans experience will play a key role in tonight’s Champions Classic game against Kentucky (AP Photo/Al Goldis).

We highlighted this in our Morning 5 yesterday, but in an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, Calipari is quoted as saying, “The issue becomes playing teams [like Michigan State] this early is not fair to my team. It may be fair for everybody else. But it’s no fair to my team.” Please, take a moment and think over that quote and everything involving the Kentucky basketball team and Calipari’s recruiting style. Are you done laughing? No? OK, I’ll wait a second longer.

Allowing for the possibility that this is merely gamesmanship, let’s go ahead and break it down. First, Kentucky approves of any team or event in which they play. It’s not like Calipari has no say in the schedule (just ask Indiana fans about that one). So, if he thinks it’s unfair to play a team this early that could have experience, well then he probably shouldn’t put his team in premier events during the first month of the season. Problem solved. Next, the unfair factor of experience? This is how Calipari recruits. His proven way to national championships is that he targets top 25 recruits who are only going to be at Kentucky for one season, two at the most. Calipari signs them and the players come in knowing that this is not only possible, but likely. The feedback loop is one reason he has consistently produced the top recruiting class in the nation for the past five years.

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