Conference Play Already Delivering Unexpected Drama

Posted by Bennet Hayes on January 11th, 2014

We may still be in the nascent period of conference play, but early developments have hinted that a number of league races may not play out as planned. Heading into another good college basketball weekend, here are a few of the more surprising twists supplied by the early days of conference action.

The American Athletic Conference Is Up For Grabs

Remember when Louisville was supposed to be head and shoulders above the rest of this conference? Or when UConn was the Cards’ only real competition for the inaugural AAC crown? Yeah, me neither. Rick Pitino’s team may still be the AAC favorites, but after a non-conference season featuring just one victory over a top-100 team, the recent dismissal of Chane Behanan, and Thursday night’s home loss to Memphis, it’s safe to say that the Cardinals’ grasp on pole position has been significantly weakened. As for the Huskies, an ugly 0-2 beginning to conference play (losses at Houston and SMU) has altered the trajectory of their season. Shabazz Napier and company should be able to handle UCF later today, but with a trip to Memphis and a home date with Louisville looming next week, a 1-4 start to conference play is a definite possibility. It’s not the AAC we expected to see, certainly, but this unforeseen parity could give the league one of the better, more entertaining conference races the rest of the way.

It's Early, But Russ Smith And The Cardinals Have Unexpected Company In Their Chase For The American Athletic Conference Crown

It’s Early, But Russ Smith And The Cardinals Have Unexpected Company In Their Chase For The American Athletic Conference Crown

Butler Still Seeking Its First Big East Win

Expectations were initially modest for Butler this season, but a non-conference campaign with just a pair of minor blemishes – two-point losses to Oklahoma State and LSU – gave hope that the transitions between coaches (Brad Stevens to Brandon Miller) and leagues (A-10 to Big East) might be smoother than expected. Not so much, however, as the Big East has so far proved daunting for the Bulldogs, dropping their first three games: on the road at Xavier, and home games to Villanova and (gasp!) DePaul. Three total overtime periods were needed for those two home defeats, but no number of extra sessions will excuse a loss to DePaul, a program that was 7-86 in the five-plus Big East seasons that preceded their successful trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs are better than that Big East record would indicate, but a brutal upcoming schedule has the potential to permanently sink the Butler ship. Georgetown visits Indianapolis tonight, and 11 of the 12 games that follow come against teams in Ken Pom’s current top-75. At least for a season, the Butler faithful may end up missing not only Brad Stevens, but also the Atlantic 10.

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Reviewing Seth Davis’ Stock Report: AAC Edition

Posted by mlemaire on January 9th, 2014

The indomitable Seth Davis of posted his annual Stock Report column on Monday and as is our custom here at the AAC microsite, we used that opportunity to post our own conference-specific version of the stock report. To avoid confusion, we try to adhere to the same counter-intuitive formula as Davis, which means teams that win are less likely to earn “Buy” ratings than teams that are losing. He does a terrific job with this column, especially given how many teams he evaluates, but we don’t always see eye-to-eye on all of his recommendations. So here is where we feel each team that still matters (sorry UCF, Rutgers, Temple, and South Florida) in the AAC stands as we head into the heart of the conference schedule.

Chane Behanan's Sudden Departure Doesn't Bode Well For Louisville Going Forward. (Getty)

Chane Behanan’s sudden departure doesn’t bode well for Louisville going forward. (Getty)

Louisville – Sell

It’s hard not to agree with Davis’ opinion of the Cardinals’ stock. Chane Behanan wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but he was still the team’s best interior player and losing him hurts the squad on both ends of the floor. If Behanan’s departure was the team’s only problem, the team would still be in good shape, but they didn’t look good against a Kentucky team that has underwhelmed and offensive production outside of Russdiculous and Chris Jones has been hard to come by. They are still the best team in the conference, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks they can still repeat as national champs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big 12 M5: 01.09.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 9th, 2014


  1. On Wednesday morning, Kansas head coach Bill Self encouraged freshman Wayne Selden to be more aggressive on the offensive end in looking for his shot. For Selden, that’s all he needed, as he went on to have a career night against Oklahoma in a 90-83 win: 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including five made threes. “The confidence my teammates and coaches have in me… that’s the main thing and being out there just playing, not thinking,” Selden told the Lawrence Journal-World after the game. As for fellow superfrosh Andrew Wiggins, he would finish 2-0f-9 for the night; it looks like he could use some words of encouragement from Self come Saturday when the Jayhawks welcome Kansas State to town.
  2. Who had the better stat line for Oklahoma State last night? If that’s the question that is asked after last night’s game against Texas, it’s easy to figure out that the Cowboys won. Marcus Smart had 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, six steals and a block while Markel Brown scored 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Smart had the better all-around game but it’s pretty rare to see more than one player on a college team put up great numbers in multiple categories. But what now for Texas? They’re 0-fer the state of Oklahoma to start Big 12 play, but their next two opponents (vs. Texas Tech, at West Virginia) are winnable games to push back to .500.
  3. It was a bit of a bummer to hear Bill Self say scheduling a non-conference series with Wichita State is not “best for our [Kansas] program,” but that’s not the only name-brand school in the state of Kansas. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber told The Wichita Eagle that he isn’t “against” the idea of a Wildcats-Shockers series but adds that he would be “smart about it [scheduling].” When told about Weber’s comments, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall said he’d be fine with a possible home-and-home with Kansas State, adding that he’d call Weber about future scheduling. I am all for this. The powers that be took Kansas-Missouri from us. We need something else good to take its place.
  4. When Louisville’s Chane Behanan was dismissed from the basketball team last week, Iowa State was reportedly one of the first schools to reach out to the forward to recruit him to Ames. Now, according to the Ames Tribune, the Cyclones are no longer interested in the junior. We know that ISU took on transfers like Chris Allen and Korie Lucious from Michigan State despite their admitted drug use. Could they have found out about Behanan’s problems in their initial inquiry and decided that he wasn’t worth the effort? We’ll never know. But the most important thing is for Behanan to get himself right, and then, if he so chooses, find a place where he can flourish both on and off the basketball court.
  5. Former NBA and Oklahoma State guard Richard Dumas has had another run-in with the law. Dumas was arrested by U.S. Marshals on December 19 and charged with eight counts of organized retail theft for allegedly stealing almost $800 worth of merchandise from Luke Air Force Base’s exchange store in Glendale, Arizona. Dumas was known for his talent despite an abbreviated career in the NBA due to recreational drug use. A profile piece on Dumas was done in the Arizona Republic in May detailing his long road to redemption and happiness. I have a feeling this story is far from over.
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The RTC Podblast: Legalize It Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 3rd, 2014

Happy New Year, everyone! After a brief hiatus over the holidays, the RTC Podblast is back for the first edition of 2014 and ready to get on with the rest of the season! As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts the proceedings, guiding the guys through topics that included the biggest takeaway from games the last two weeks, a number of injuries and suspensions that have come down lately, and most importantly, #rootforthesuit. A full rundown is below. We’ll be back on our regular schedule with the next full RTC Podcast dropping on Tuesday.

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.

  • 0:00-3:48 – Most Important Game During the Holidays
  • 3:48-8:42 – Evaluating the Injuries and Suspensions Suffered by Contenders
  • 8:42-11:44 – Upset Alert on Saturday
  • 11:44-17:17 – Marquee Match-ups on Sunday (Including a #rootforthesuit game)
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AAC M5: 01.03.14 Edition

Posted by Ross Schulz on January 3rd, 2014


  1. It looks more and more likely that former Louisville forward Chane Behanan will try play college basketball again, just not at any other AAC school. Behanan received a conditional release from Louisville that states he can’t transfer to any AAC schools. When dismissed from the team for breaking university rules (repeatedly), Pitino said Behanan had two options: transfer or get with a trainer and prepare for an attempt at the NBA draft. It appears Behanan has expressed interest in pursuing opportunities at other schools. A few schools have reportedly reached out to Behanan, including Arizona State, Nortwestern, Utah, Gonzaga, Delaware, Oregon, and Iowa State. Behanan could have a full season of eligibility left, after sitting out next season, if he waits to transfer at the end of the year. First, Behanan will head to Houston to get help from John Lucas, former NBA player and coach, who runs a drug and alcohol treatment program for athletes and coaches.
  2. Connecticut’s hot start has quickly faded and one game into the conference season they find themselves already looking up at teams ahead in the standings. The Huskies have lost two of their last four including a loss at Houston in the conference opener. Connecticut reached the top 10 by winning close games showing toughness and poise, but none of that was to be found in the first half versus Houston when the host built a 21 point lead. Kevin Ollie said he has to figure something out and do some soul-searching. The Huskies made the short flight to Dallas to prepare for Saturday’s match-up with SMU.
  3. One of Houston’s all-time great players and current radio analyst Elvin Hayes thinks the AAC could help Houston return to its glory day status. Hayes watched Connecticut in person for the first time on New Year’s Eve, in what was a statement win for Houston in an otherwise lackluster start to the season. Hayes said Houston and head coach James Dickey have been able to keep local talent at Houston, building a foundation. Hayes, along with Don Chaney, was the first African American to play at Houston and scored the winning points in the first nationally televised college game ending UCLA’s 47-game winning streak. He was selected on the NBA’s 50th anniversary team.
  4. Houston showed a couple of never before seen traits this season in the New Year’s Eve upset of Connecticut: dominance and grit. Coach James Dickey said the Cougars played hard and played as a team. Houston led by as many as 21 in the first half before Connecticut roared back to take a three point lead. Houston didn’t fold however, and made all the necessary plays down the stretch to win, something it didn’t do much of in the non-conference collecting an uninspiring 8-5 record.
  5. says Memphis will finish the AAC season with a 13-5, splitting with Louisville, SMU, and Cincinnati while losing both contests to Connecticut. I don’t know what the writer sees in Connecticut to think Memphis won’t be able to handle the Huskies at least in Memphis, especially after Connecticut’s loss to Houston. He does go on to say the Tigers have the athleticism to win the conference. He predicts the Tigers to also lose in the non-conference tilt with Gonzaga at home and finish 24-8 overall.
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Morning Five: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 3rd, 2014


  1. By now you are probably aware of our stance on the rampant use of transfer waivers, which the NCAA seems to be handing out like candy on Halloween. Now it appears that the NCAA might be pulling pack on the allowance of transfer waivers including those for graduate transfers. According to John Infante, the NCAA is considering requiring all transfers to sit out one year without exception. I think it goes without saying that this proposal has not been getting much public support outside of college coaching and administrative circles. It is worth noting that the NCAA would extend the student-athlete’s five-year window. Even with that marginal concession we doubt that the NCAA will be able to withstand the public backlash if it does so.
  2. Speaking of potential transfers the future of Chane Behanan became a little more uncertain yesterday. Behanan, who kicked off the Louisville team on Monday, has expressed some interest in transfer, but is first heading to work with former NBA player and coach John Lucas to deal with an undisclosed problem with the possibility that he might enter the NBA Draft. If Behanan decides to transfer, he would be eligible to play one more semester and according to reports would only be blocked from going to another AAC school. Regardless of his decision on his career path and given Lucas’ work with players dealing with alcohol and other substance abuse problems we wish Behanan the best of luck before we would worry about anything basketball-related.
  3. If you thought that the ACC could rely on depth to salvage its reputation this season, you can knock one team–Georgia Tech–off that list after it appears to have lost forward Robert Carter Jr. for the season to a torn meniscus in his left knee. While the team is being careful in saying that Carter, who was averaging 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, is out indefinitely many other reports are suggesting that he could be out for the remainder of the season. Almost everybody is aware of some players making miraculous recoveries so we will probably get a better idea of when Carter might come back following his surgery next week, but it looks like the Yellow Jackets might be towards the bottom of the ACC standings this season.
  4. Michigan is awaiting word on the status of Glenn Robinson III after he injured his left ankle in the second half of their victory at Minnesota yesterday. Robinson had been averaging 14.2 points and 5 rebounds per game coming in. With Mitch McGary likely out for the remainder of the season, the loss of Robinson for any prolonged period of time would be devastating for the Wolverines and would likely keep them out of the NCAA Tournament as they will be entering the heart of their Big Ten schedule on January 18 as they play at Wisconsin, home against Iowa, and at Michigan State in a one-week stretch. If Robinson is out, it would place even more pressure on Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert to carry the team. Both have shown great improvement since last season, but that would probably be too much to ask of them.
  5. Now for the number-heavy portion of the Morning Five. Yesterday, we sort of promised you that Ken Pomeroy would deliver the third installment of his three-part conference race preview and he delivered. As we noted yesterday these are not meant to be the best conferences, but instead the most competitive conference races. When you see the conferences on the list you will see what we mean. And of course there is our weekly link to Luke Winn’s Power Rankings. The two things that jumped out to us this week were the huge difference between the usage rates for Syracuse and Arizona were and the blinded point guard comparison.
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AAC M5: New Year’s Day Edition

Posted by Ross Schulz on January 1st, 2014


  1. Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal writes that it was time for the Cardinals to part ways with the oft-troubled Chane Behanan. He said that given the football program’s leniency with keeping assistant coach Clint Hurt in the face of a show-cause penalty, there should be no additional backsliding with Behanan. A three- or maybe even four-guard lineup may be the best option for the Cardinals moving forward. It’s a silver lining for Pitino that Behanan’s departure comes at the end of December instead of the end of February, though. Plenty of time still remains for Pitino to tinker with rotations to put the Cardinals in the best position for the postseason.
  2. Mike DeCourcy argues that Louisville, minus Chane Behanan, is done as far as defending its national title. The Cardinals were already somewhat light in the frontcourt and have compounded that weakness by losing their best rebounder as well. DeCourcy believes there is a chance, with some luck and the right match-ups, that Louisville could still make the Final Four. But even if things fell perfectly for Rick Pitino’s team this postseason, Louisville is too thin up front and lacking in elite frontcourt talent to become one of the leading contenders to win it all.
  3. South Florida guard and team leader, Anthony Collins, continues to sit out while recovering from a late summer bursa sac removal procedure. Head coach Stan Heath called the situation a “nightmare 101.” Collins was only expected to miss a week or so back in September, and even though he returned to action in the third game of the season and remains the team’s assist leader at 5.9 dimes per game, he clearly isn’t himself and hasn’t been able to play as much as expected. Collins’ knee also recently developed tendinitis, limiting his effectiveness even more. When healthy, Collins and USF are capable of contending for the upper half of the AAC and a postseason berth. But the Bulls can’t go much longer without him at full strength, as they have already lost two of their last three games without him in the lineup.
  4. After an up-and-down non-conference portion of the season that saw Cincinnati finish with an 11-2 record, the Bearcats are now ready to tip things off in their inaugural AAC season. The Bearcats fell at New Mexico in the Pit, but also were blown out by crosstown rival Xavier before rebounding with solid wins against Pittsburgh and Nebraska. Cincinnati will welcome SMU to town tonight for both schools’ AAC opener, which will provide the Bearcats another opportunity at a solid win. Cincinnati hopes to continue two trends into conference play — playing good defense and shooting a high percentage from the foul line. The Bearcats have held opponents under 70 points for 20 straight games and are shooting a Mick Cronin-era best 71 percent from the free throw line.
  5. A Cincinnati Hall of Famer and one of the all-time great players in the school’s storied history, Connie Dierking, passed away on Sunday. Dierking was an exceptional rebounder, still holding the school’s single-season record with an average of 18.8 boards per game in 1956-57. He led the Bearcats to a Missouri Valley Conference Championship in 1958 while averaging a double-double of 15.8 points and 14.9 rebounds per game. Current head coach Mick Cronin called Dierking one of the pioneers that helped build the winning tradition of Cincinnati basketball. Dierking later returned to the city where he played professionally for the Cincinnati Royals of the ABA. May he rest in peace.
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Does Chane Behanan Take Cards’ Repeat Hopes With Him?

Posted by CD Bradley on December 31st, 2013

The Louisville career of Chane Behanan, which has veered from troubled (multiple suspensions) to exultant (2012 West Region MVP, 15 points and 12 rebounds in last year’s title game), ended on Monday. Last season, Chane Behanan and Rick Pitino celebrated a national title. On Monday, Pitino announced the forward has been dimissed from the team.
Last season, Chane Behanan and Rick Pitino celebrated a national title. On Monday, Pitino announced the forward had been dismissed from the team.

In a hastily called press conference, an evidently disappointed head coach Rick Pitino announced that Behanan had been dismissed from the team by the university. The nature of the junior forward’s violation was undisclosed, but Pitino explicitly ruled out academics as well as anything related to basketball or the near-auction of his Final Four ring. He also explained that he couldn’t talk about anything related to a personal medical situation. Multiple observers, including former Louisville beat writer and current Louisville resident Pat Forde of YahooSports, interpreted that comment as something related to drug-test results. In any event, Pitino said that he could not envision Behanan returning to the team, and that he would advise him to transfer to a school where he could play after the first semester next season. Adam Zagoria tweeted on Monday afternoon that at least eight schools had already been in contact with Behanan.

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AAC M5: New Year’s Eve Edition

Posted by Ross Schulz on December 31st, 2013


  1. The Chane Behanan saga is finally over at Louisville. Behanan was dismissed from the team yesterday for a violation of university policy. It follows an early season suspension for a similar violation, but the difference is that no return to the team is available this time. Behanan averaged seven points and six rebounds per game off the bench after starting 37 games each of the past two seasons. The Cardinals’ hopes of defending their national title certainly aren’t dashed by the news, but they’re severely damaged. There was already a serious question of whether Louisville had enough size and talent in the frontcourt to make a Final Four run, and that was before this news. As much as it hurts this year’s squad, it could be devastating for the 2014-15 Cardinals. Montrezl Harrell will most likely turn pro following this season and Stephan Van Treese will graduate, leaving a very thin frontcourt for the school’s inaugural season in the ACC. Next year’s team would have been Behanan’s team, but he squandered that opportunity. Pitino said that he can either transfer to another school or prepare for the NBA Draft.
  2. UConn head coach Kevin Ollie shifted Omar Calhoun and Phil Nolan out of the starting line up, and so far, the move has paid off as both have brought great energy off of the bench. Calhoun had two of the biggest buckets of the game in Saturday’s win against Eastern Washington, knocking down a couple of threes to help the Huskies’ lead blossom to 16. Ollie said it was a gut feeling to make the switch based on who has played better together in practice. The two were replaced in the starting line up by Niels Giffey and Amida Brimah. The Huskies open AAC play at Houston later today.
  3. As mentioned above, Niels Giffey continued his strong play by starting the game against Eastern Washington on the floor instead of the bench. Giffey said his mindset did not change because of the switch, just that he’s trying to take the right shots and play consistent, aggressive basketball. Kevin Ollie added that Giffey does everything that’s been asked of him. So far this season the senior is 21-of-32 from three-point land (65 percent) and took and made his only trey over the weekend. Whether he continues to start or returns to the role of spark off the bench, Giffey will be an integral part of the Connecticut rotation throughout the AAC season and beyond.
  4. Louisville guard Kevin Ware will likely sit out the remainder of the season as he recovers from a kick in the same shin of which he suffered the horrific compound fracture in last season’s Elite Eight game against Duke. No definitive decision has yet been made, but a possible redshirt year could be in store for the junior guard. He has only averaged 5.9 minutes and 1.7 points per game this season, so it shouldn’t alter the Cardinals’ ultimate outlook in any way, rather unlike the Chane Behanan news.
  5. On a sad note, one of Houston’s all-time great players, Cecil Rose, passed away last Friday. Rose played from 1974-78 under legendary head coach Guy V. Lewis., scoring 1,244 points as a Cougar, ranking 23rd in school history. He helped lead Houston to an NIT championship game appearance in 1977 and the NCAA Tournament the following season. Rose’s brother, Lynden, also played for Houston from 1980-82. Rest in peace, Cecil.
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Morning Five: New Year’s Eve 2013 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 31st, 2013


  1. It did not take very long for Louisville’s title defense to turn into a mess. On Saturday, the Cardinals lost to their in-state rival Kentucky in a game in which the Wildcats played for long stretches without Julius Randle, their best player. Yesterday, they lost something even bigger as they dismissed Chane Behanan from the team for an undisclosed violation of university policy. Unlike Behanan’s previous indefinite suspension we think this one will stick regardless of how much sleep Behanan gets. It goes without saying that it is a big blow for the Cardinals who now face an uphill battle in their quest to repeat as Behanan’s departure means an even bigger void on the inside.
  2. Kevin Ware‘s potential redshirt is not as devastating to Louisville’s title defense chances as Behanan’s departure, but it serves as another setback for a team that is essentially living off last season’s reputation this year. Ware, whose injury and comeback served as a symbol for Louisville’s title run, had battled back to return to the court earlier than many expected. Unfortunately, it appears that a kick that he received to the same area as the fracture has caused enough damage that he might sit out the rest of the season.
  3. This has not been the typical Gonzaga season so far and things appear to have gotten even tougher with the news that Gary Bell Jr. will be out “for a while” with a broken right hand. In addition to being much lower in the rankings than they are accustomed to, Gonzaga is also already dealing with injuries to Kevin Pangos and Sam Dower so Bell’s injury only exacerbates a growing problem. Fortunately for Gonzaga it seems like they will only have two teams–BYU and St. Mary’s–to deal with in the WCC and they play them at home first so if they are able to weather the storm in January they could be in good position if they are healthy by February.
  4. On some levels Luke Fischer‘s decision to transfer from Indiana is not particularly notable, but the speed at which he did and how much of a higher level program Indiana was than the rest of his offers is interesting. We won’t pretend to know that much about Fischer or his game, but when a player has one offer from an elite program and a bunch of offers from good, but not elite programs it makes you wonder. Either the elite program is jumping on a hidden gem or maybe everybody else knows that the player might not be as competitive at that level. In any event, we suspect that Fischer will probably end up at one of the other schools that offered him a scholarship in high school.
  5. Finally, with all the injuries, suspensions, and transfers that we have been talking about recently now seems like the perfect time for Seth Davis and his annual Jigsaw Man column. If you are not familiar with the concept, Davis tries to find a “relatively obscure” player who would fill a void on teams that seem to be missing one key element. The most common complaints with the column tend to be on how to define “relatively obscure” since we probably are familiar with almost every significant player in the country. After looking at this for years the best way to do it is just to accept any player who would not be considered a star on his team.
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