Set Your Tivo: 02.18-02.20

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 18th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, it’s time for teams to make their moves. This weekend provides ample opportunities for some to do so. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

VCU @ Wichita State – 7 pm Friday on ESPN2 (***)

Skeen Leads VCU In Scoring (14.6 PPG), But Is Also Top Ten In the CAA In Rebounding (7.7 RPG) And PP40 (19.0)

This could very well prove to be an elimination game. VCU has lost two straight games at home and now has to venture out of conference on the road. Wichita State has lost three games at home already this season, however, and probably has to win out and make a run in the MVC Tournament in order to have a chance at a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers don’t have a win in the RPI top 50 and those three home losses are really holding them back. VCU was blasted on the boards by Old Dominion recently (40-21) and it’s going to be hard to avoid that again in this game. If the Rams can’t create extra possessions through turnovers, it’s going to be a very long night.

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Fear The ‘Stache!

Posted by jstevrtc on February 17th, 2011

Congratulations are in order for the University of Vermont, who wrapped up the America East regular season championship on Wednesday night with their 73-57 win over Maine. The Catamounts are the first team to clinch a conference championship this season. Evan Fjeld (file photo below) hit nine of 13 shots and finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in the victory.

Also clinching a conference title on Wednesday were the Fairfield Stags, sealing up the Metro Atlantic with a 61-54 win over Marist. They’re attempting to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years, and have put themselves in the best possible shape to do it by becoming the top seed in the MAAC tournament. Incidentally, they beat Vermont, 67-59, back on December 20th.

Behold, and genuflect.

One of the reasons we were happy to inform our readers of these developments was the chance to put up a photo of Evan Fjeld and that glorious moustache of his. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Fjeld is an outstanding player (15.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.0 BPG) and the main weapon on a Vermont team that’s won ten straight and truly excels on defense — 7th nationally in FG% defense (38.7%) and 20th in defensive points per possession (0.898) — and you can check them out for yourself this Saturday. They’ll play at Charleston at 5 PM ET as part of ESPNU’s BracketBusters series.

But seriously, look at that thing. It’s fantastic. A full-on Prefontaine. It’s the Cadillac of college basketball facial hair in the modern era. We were huge Adam Morrison fans, but come on. If Fjeld’s is a Cadillac, Morrison’s was at best a Toyota Tercel in need of an oil change. As far as this match-up is concerned, Morrison will have to be content with his Player of the Year awards.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.03.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 3rd, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Another Thursday night of mediocre power conference games means the mid-majors take priority, with the biggest one of all (Gonzaga, if they still are one) on the ropes. Apologies to Valparaiso and Cleveland State, but their game is not on television. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Wofford @ Charleston – 7 pm on ESPNU (**)

A Smiling Goudelock Means He's Hit a Rhythm, and You're In Trouble

These are the two best teams in the Southern Conference and they both happen to reside in the South Division. They’re tied in the loss column but Charleston won the first meeting in Spartanburg, as the Cougars shot 51% and out-rebounded Wofford on their way to victory. This game features the two best players in the conference, Wofford’s Noah Dahlman and Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock. You probably know about Goudelock from his exploits against North Carolina, Maryland and Tennessee, but Dahlman may be the best player most folks don’t know about.

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ATB: Kemba Is For Closers

Posted by rtmsf on January 18th, 2011

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.  — MLK, 1963

The Lede.  We hope everyone had a brilliant MLK Day Weekend.  We know that you had a great MLK Day with the great hoops on all afternoon, culminating in two top ten matchups between Big East teams (aren’t all 16 Big East teams in the top ten?).  Hopefully you were off work to enjoy it, but if you weren’t, let’s get you caught up.

Walker is Big Time in the Clutch (H-C/J. Woike)

Your Watercooler MomentKemba Is For Closers. We still don’t really believe that UConn is a legitimate Final Four contender (which you are, by definition, as a top ten team), but we will say this without reservation.  If UConn can keep itself within reach at the five-minute point of the game, they are capable of beating anybody and have the best closer in college basketball.  You can have Jared Sullinger, Jimmer Fredette, Nolan Smith or whoever else you want — we’ll take Kemba.  His ability to use the dribble to create space for himself and get off clean and makeable looks sets him apart from all of the others, and essentially gives Jim Calhoun an x-factor that no other team can counter.  Witness Jay Wright’s comments after the game — Villanova knew Walker was going to get the ball for the final shot, sent two men at him, so he simply split them anyway en route to hitting a ridiculously tough game-winning floater in the lane with two seconds left. Walker didn’t even enjoy the biggest game (that belonged to Corey Fisher and his 28 points and six assists), nor did he look dominant as he bricked his way to a 6-18 shooting afternoon, but when the outcome is on the line he’s proven again and again that he’s up to the task.  We said this repeatedly back in Maui two months ago, but it’s worth noting that as talented as Walker is and has performed this season, the success of the Huskies will ultimately depend on the support he receives.  Alex Oriakhi has played like a man possessed in the four games since his donut performance against Notre Dame, averaging 14/13 and providing great interior defense so that his team will be in the game until the end for Walker to do his magic.  So long as he plays at a similar level, Jim Calhoun will continue to snicker at all of his naysayers, and deservedly so.

Pitt's Retro Media Guide Cover (h/t Luke Winn)

Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. TwoSyracuse Drops From the Unbeatens. It was expected once Syracuse declared that starting forward and leading scorer Kris Joseph would be held out of tonight’s game against Pittsburgh due to a nasty knock on the head he suffered on Saturday, but the way in which it happened was still surprising.  For a while, it appeared that Jim Boeheim’s team must have left their entire offense back home as Syracuse’s defense faltered early, allowing Pittsburgh to run out to a quick 19-0 lead in front of a raucous crowd at the Peterson Events Center.  Then, just as quickly as they got down, Cuse battled back with a 17-0 run of its own.  We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a game start like that before, but nevertheless, it portended what would become a close game the rest of the way.  The difference was that Pittsburgh was simply better — they said they’d been practicing for a few days against a zone, and it showed in their execution (1.08 PPP was the third-best performance against the zone this year).  Time and time again the Panthers moved the ball inside-out to find the open shooter on the perimeter or found success pounding the ball down low to Nasir Robinson (21/7).  With the win, Pitt moves to the top of the line in the Big East with a flawless 6-0 record.  With upcoming games vs. DePaul, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Cincinnati in the next four, the Panthers look very good for heading into mid-February with a 10-0 conference record.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • The Ginormous MLK Monday.  All four of today’s games were great matchups on paper and we hope that ESPN keeps this up in future seasons.  There’s just something always a little cool about daytime basketball on a weekday — a little like you’re getting away with something by watching it.  The two Big East games ended up better than the Big 12 games, but we loved every bit of it.
  • The Morris Twins.  It’s like these two boys connected by genes suddenly decided to become grown men in the last two weeks.  After tonight’s combined 44/14, Marcus is averaging 24/13 in the last four games while brother Markieff is contributing 14/10 during the same period.  With point guard Josh Selby still struggling to adjust to the world of elite college basketball, it’s been the Morris twins who have pulled the Jayhawks through a series of recent close games against Michigan, Iowa State and Nebraska.  This buys Bill Self some time while his young but talented quarterback continues to develop over the next six weeks prior to March.
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The Other 26: Week 7

Posted by KDoyle on January 4th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the college basketball season is nearly half over. It is not all bad though, with conference play beginning we are just another step closer to Championship Week, Selection Sunday, and, of course, the NCAA Tournament. During this time of the year, the Other 26 and BCS largely go their separate ways, only to be reunited just two months later on the biggest stage of them all. As it is every year, the non-conference is nothing more than a tease of what is to come later. What are five major things that we learned during the first half of the year?

  • The top three teams in the Mountain West (SDSU, UNLV, BYU) will all be a force in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Gonzaga and Butler are not as dominant as they have been in past years, but both seem poised to perform well in their conference play as they drastically improved in the latter half of the non-conference schedule.
  • Temple and Richmond can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. In one week, the Owls defeated Maryland and then Georgetown, and then just weeks later they were points away from beating Villanova. As for the Spiders, they have beaten four of five BCS teams they played against.
  • Don’t sleep on Conference USA. Although the league probably will receive only two bids—maybe three—Central Florida, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB and UTEP are pretty darn good.
  • The Mountain West and Atlantic 10 will combine to have more teams in the NCAA Tournament than the ACC and SEC. Okay that is a bit of a reach, but don’t be surprised if this is close to happening. Right now, the only lock in the ACC is Duke, obviously. As for the SEC, it is only Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The MWC will almost certainly have SDSU, BYU, and UNLV, and the Atlantic 10 is a bit of a crapshoot at the top. Over the last three years, however, the A10 has sent three years to the Dance in each year—food for thought.

The Other 26 Rankings

Tidbits from the Rankings

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Around The Blogosphere: New Year’s Weekend Recap

Posted by nvr1983 on January 4th, 2011


We have quite a few links today after an extended long weekend/hiatus. If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • #2 Ohio State 85, Indiana 67: “Peeking at the numbers, it sounds a little silly to say Indiana brought it this evening. After all, the Hoosiers allowed Ohio State to shoot a blistering 60.5 percent from the floor (23-of-38) and 68.4 percent from three (13-of-19). They lost by 18. But this Ohio State team is so strong, so lengthy, so crisp, so, well, good. Undefeated through 14. Ranked No. 2 in the nation. Selfless and experienced — with a freshman phenom in Jared Sullinger to boot. No one will be surprised if the Buckeyes find themselves in the Final Four this spring. They are that good. They can outclass a team like Indiana with relative ease.” (Inside the Hall: Recap, Post-Game Interviews, and Breaking Down Jared Sullinger; Eleven Warriors: Recap)
  • #3 Kansas 83, Miami (OH) 56: “Four days ago the Jayhawks played a bit of a lackluster style in an easy but somewhat sloppy win over Texas Arlington.  Following the game Bill Self made the statement that practices were about to get interesting for the Jayhawks and he followed that up by stating he wouldn’t know the starters for this one until gameday. For coach Self basketball boils down to great effort and intensity on the defensive end.  He’s said it time and time again that offense takes a night off, but great defense does not.  Sunday night Kansas finally seemed to get back on track and heed that message.” (Rock Chalk Talk: Recap and Statistical Analysis)
  • #4 Syracuse 70, #16 Notre Dame 58: The Orange had one of their most important wins of the season over a Notre Dame team that had just knocked off Georgetown a few days earlier. (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
  • #8 Villanova 78, Temple 74: “When #25 Templa faced #8 Villanova at the Pavilion on Villanova’s Main Line campus the national media touted the match up as a “1 in 220″ game — the last time two nationally ranked Big 5 teams faced off in a City Series game. But for the 6,500 fans who braved the December cold to watch Villanova beat back four Temple second half rallies to preserve their 78-74 win, it was just another night in the Big 5. Desipite taking a commanding eight point lead, 76-68 inside the last minute, the Wildcats watched the Owls record six points in the last 18 seconds to close the final margin to four points.” (Villanova by the Numbers)
  • #8 Villanova 81, Rutgers 65: “‘Tough’ was the theme in the post game interviews — two technicals and a player ejection can refocus a storyline in that way. Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice was asked where on the toughness meter did his team play the Wildcats. The toughness meter? I have heard of turnover meters and foul meters, but not toughness meters.” (Villanova by the Numbers)
  • #9 Purdue 82, Northwestern 69: The Boilermakers had a solid win over the Wildcats to get them to 2-0 in the Big Ten and have a few more relatively easy games before they get into the heart of the Big Ten schedule. (Boiled Sports)
  • #10 Kentucky 78, Louisville 63: Buoyed by the play of Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson the Wildcats knocked off their intrastate rivals with relative ease. (Recap: A Sea of Blue and Card Chronicle)
  • #10 Kentucky 86, Penn 62: “If not for Josh Harrellson, this game might have been lost.  That’s a strong statement, but there is a defensible argument to be made that Kentucky was ripe for a major upset tonight, and Josh Harrellson was a big reason why that didn’t happen.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • #11 Georgetown 86, DePaul 75: “There is an old adage in golf that there are no pictures on the scorecard, meaning that it doesn’t matter how one gets a score, as long as it is good.  That adage does not apply to Georgetown basketball today.  Sure, we got our first Big East victory today over an improving Depaul squad.  But for 30 minutes, the Hoyas were lifeless, apathetic, and defenseless in an 86-75 victory.  Austin Freeman seemed to be the only player aware that Georgetown played today, pacing the team with 21 crucial points on 12 shots. Jason Clark and Chris Wright continued to struggle shooting the basketball, but were able to find other ways to score, netting 21 points and 17 points respectively.” (Casual Hoya)
  • St. John’s 61, #11 Georgetown 58: “In a hard-fought Big East basketball game that recalled the heyday of the Hoyas – St. John’s rivalry, the Hoyas dropped to 1-2 in Big East play after a 61-58 defeat at the hands of the suddenly surging Red Storm.  Hollis Thompson led the Hoyas 16 points, and that alone should tell you all you need to know.  The vaunted ‘Hoya Trinity’ of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Jason Clark combined for 20 points on 7 of 26 shooting from the field (2 of 14 from three point range).  Georgetown fans have long wondered what would happen if all three of the Trinity had off nights and that picture clearly isn’t pretty.” (Casual Hoya or for a St. John’s perspective: Johnny Jungle or The East Coast Bias)
  • #15 BYU 90, Buffalo 82: “More than 5,800 fans packed Alumni Arena on the campus at the University of Buffalo anticipating an All-American performance. The UB Bulls nearly stole the show. All-American Jimmer Fredette recovered from a sluggish first half scoring 28 of his game-high 34 points after the break to lead the 16th-ranked BYU Cougars over the University of Buffalo Bulls 90-82 in non-conference action Thursday night.
    More than 5,800 fans packed Alumni Arena on the campus at the University of Buffalo anticipating an All-American performance.The UB Bulls nearly stole the show. All-American Jimmer Fredette recovered from a sluggish first half scoring 28 of his game-high 34 points after the break to lead the 16th-ranked BYU Cougars over the University of Buffalo Bulls 90-82 in non-conference action Thursday night.” (Pickin Splinters)
  • #17 Illinois 69, #19 Wisconsin 61: “Demetri McCamey is the sort of guy I would hate if I were a fan of any other team. Just when you think you have locked him down and he can’t get a clean shot, he starts dishing to players and racking up assists (six in the first half) and just when you let up on him to keep his passing down, he lights up the score board (17 points in the second half.) He is crafty, an excellent ball handler and a frightening player to go up against. Demetri McCamey took the Illini over in the second half once again today, and proved again that this team will go exactly as far as he takes it. When he plays like this, or like at Iowa, he can take them far. The Illini do not win, however, when Demetri is the only person getting his production, and thankfully that was not the case today.” (Hail to the Orange)
  • #22 Washington 74, UCLA 63: “If this year’s edition of UCLA basketball needed any reminders why it’s important to play the full 40 minutes, this should be it. It is a shame that such reminders are needed at this stage in the season against one of the better opponents we’ve faced this year.” (Bruins Nation: Part 1 and Part 2)

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Behind the Numbers: The Thin White Line and Foul Theory

Posted by KCarpenter on December 1st, 2010

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC contributor.

Moneyball isn’t the founding document of sabermetrics; that honor probably belongs to Bill James’ Baseball Abstract. That said, the reason that most baseball fans know about the advanced, modern approach to baseball statistics is because of Michael Lewis’s nearly 300-page story about the Oakland A’s. Well, they know either because of the the book itself or the uproar and debate around it. In any case, Moneyball was and remains a cultural phenomenon, a true breakthrough into the mainstream. Because of Moneyball, baseball and the dialogue around baseball has gotten smarter.

Battier Represents an Efficient Player Without Huge Stats

Basketball hasn’t had a single watershed moment like Moneyball. Progress in the advanced stats movement has come in fits and starts. Unsurprisingly, the closest thing to a mainstream breakthrough for advanced statistics in basketball came from Michael Lewis. “The No-Stats All-Star” was published February 13, 2009 in the New York Times, and focused on the world of advanced stats in basketball through the microcosm of the Houston Rockets player Shane Battier and his general manager, Darryl Morey. The article introduced the larger world to lots of fun ideas like offensive and defensive efficiency and adjusted plus/minus. It had a few interesting smaller nuggets too, and today we’ll be taking a look at one of those.

According to Morey (and the research), the worst possible outcome of a defensive play is to foul. In fact, Morey mentions that they identify other teams in the NBA that make use of the modern numbers-based thinking by looking to see which teams make a consistent and radical effort to avoid fouling. It’s a simple check, but one that makes sense: of the Four Factors that contribute to defensive efficiency, opponent’s free throw rate is the easiest to control. Telling a team to not foul is an easier instruction than “rebound better!” or “reduce your opponent’s effective field goal percentage!”

In any case, Morey’s observation made me curious as to which teams in college basketball make use of that mantra and consistently avoid fouling. To make sure that I didn’t wrongly consider a fluke year, I looked at the average team opponent free throw rate from 2006-10. For those keeping score at home, free throw rate is calculated by dividing attempted free throws by attempted field goals (and multiplied by 100 to get a slightly friendlier percentage). The average free throw rate for Divison I schools over the past five years comes in at 37.1%, while the fouling-est team registered a 54.3% and the best, least-fouling-est team managed a mere 23.3%.  [the complete and fully sortable list is located here as a Google Doc] Now, to name names: The top four teams who foul the least in order: Ohio State, Siena, Connecticut, and North Carolina. Three of these teams are perennial championship contenders and Siena is one of the most successful mid-majors of the past few years. The rest of the teams near the top of the list are a little more scattered. The top thirty teams on the list are an odd admixture of regular contenders (Syracuse, Florida, Arizona), mid-major spoilers (College of Charleston, George Mason), and middling teams of all sizes (Central Connecticut, Samford, Notre Dame, Boston College). So that’s interesting, but inconclusive.

But, what about the bottom of the list? Is there any discernible trend amongst the teams that foul the most? Well, here, the picture is clearer. The bottom seventy-five or so teams are almost exclusively small conference schools that have had middling success at best, though the true booby prize goes to Central Michigan, who, from 2006-10 averaged an opponent free throw rate at an astonishing 54.3%. So while it’s unclear that rarely fouling is the true mark of a great team in college basketball (though it does appear to have helped some very good teams), fouling a lot seems to be the mark of pretty bad to thoroughly mediocre teams.

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The Other 26: Week One

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.  For an introduction to this series, please click here.

Introduction

It is finally here. After a 216-day hiatus, crowds are again filing into the 345 arenas throughout the country—ranging from the colossal Carrier Dome (33,000) to the small, but quaint Charleston Southern Field house (790)—coaches are berating their players and the officials, the zebras are whistling while they work, and the student-athletes are providing us, the fans, with numerous drama-filled and gut-wrenching college basketball games. Is there anything better in the world of sports? I think not. I know I got butterflies in my stomach when the ball went up on November 8.

Now that many schools have a few games under their belts, I am pleased to release my Top 20 rankings of the “Other 26;” everyone likes rankings, projections, and predictions. There is a reason why virtually the second after the National Championship has concluded projections for next year’s Tournament are already being drafted up. There are, of course, always the preseason rankings that give people an idea of who the top teams are heading into the coming season. Suffice it to say, I am behind in the game by releasing my top 20 rankings of the “Other 26” after the season has begun. But, without further adieu, here are your top 20 after the first full week of action:

What team impressed the most?

I have placed four teams from the Mountain West conference in the top 10 as this is one of the most underrated conferences in America. BYU, UNLV, New Mexico, and San Diego State were all quite strong last year and all four made it to the NCAA Tournament. It is apparent that the top half of the Mountain West is  stronger than the upper echelon teams in the Pac-10. San Diego State demonstrated how strong of a conference this is by defeating Gonzaga 79-76, and in doing so they had the best week of any of our “Other 26” teams. The two-headed monster of Kawhi Leonard and Billy White up front will pose lots of problems for the opposition. One needs to look no further than how they carved apart Gonzaga’s defense by combining for 48 points, 21 rebounds and four steals. The Aztecs are legitimate and should be taken very seriously by the rest of the Mountain West and the NCAA Selection Committee.

Best Individual Performances

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After the Buzzer: Pe’Shon Announces His Presence to the World

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2010

Your Watercooler Moment.

There really wasn’t going to be any question tonight, was there?  Pe’Shon Howard announced his presence to the college basketball world by spinning, driving and fading his way into a 12-footer from the right side that dashed the dream of College of Charleston earning a statement ACC road win to use as a shiny gold star on its postseason resume.   What — we’re talking about postseason resumes on only the second night of the season?  Of course we are.  For SoCon schools like Bobby Cremins’ club, there are limited opportunities available in a season to notch the marquee win that could give the Cougars a shot at an at-large NCAA bid (or a nicer seed if the auto-qualifier), and Howard’s play down the stretch of this game may have single-handedly eliminated that possibility.  CofC will have more opportunities with games at North Carolina and Tennessee plus a home date versus Clemson, but it’s unlikely that the Cougars will stumble into the same perfect storm of a turnover-prone home team that goes 5-18 from the line and makes only two treys during the entire game.  If Cremins’ team looked up the phrase “missed opportunity” on the Google, we’re pretty sure they’d see a mirror image staring back at them.

As for Gary Williams’ Terps, it’s clear that they still have some things to figure out.  But don’t be fooled — we’ve watched Maryland teams that looked like they belonged in the MEAC in November playing as well as anybody in the country by March.  RTC Live was courtside for the Terps’ 75-74 win tonight, and our correspondent Rob Dauster writes that “the Terps need a point guard and a leader… [despite] a dominating, 26/15 performance from their star center, Jordan Williams.  They have other holes — perimeter shooting, depth up front — but in two games they now have 47 turnovers. Is Howard the answer? Right now, he looks like it. He’s an excellent passer, a talented penetrator, and a capable shooter. But perhaps the more telling sign was his poise and confidence at the end of the game. He wanted the ball in his hands with time winding down. And he succeeded. That kind of leadership is what Greivis Vasquez provided.”  And it’s true — in merely two games, Howard is 8-11 from the field with 12 assists and five steals.  Throw in the ability to finish ballgames as he’s already done once, and Gary Williams definitely has another star in the making on his bench.

The Tournament That Isn’t.  Right, it’s actually a “Classic.”  Not a tournament, remember.  The 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic played three other games tonight that at first blush appeared to be tournament-style, but actually were just glorified fixes (average margin = 37 points).  #5 Pittsburgh “moved on” with a 97-54 win over Illinois-Chicago behind dominant performances from Ashton Gibbs (24/7 assts), Brad Wanamaker (17/6/9 assts) and their glass-eating corps (+22 rebs), while Bruce Weber’s #16 Illinois squad “advanced” with an overpowering 47-18 first half en route to a 39-point victory over Toledo.  Texas also looked impressive in another destruction at home, this time over Louisiana Tech 89-58 to “survive.”  In two games this year, the Horns are proving to be a second-half team, breaking open both games by wide margins in the second stanza.

Next Week in NYC.  With tonight’s wins, the four regional hosts now move on to face each other in next week’s semifinals in Madison Square Garden.  Unlike this week’s games, though, next week’s contests are not already predetermined past Thursday night’s double-header of Pittsburgh vs. Maryland and Texas vs. Illinois.  The winners and the losers will play each other on Friday night for the right to claim the championship, and based on what we’ve seen thus far, those should be two pretty great matchups.  More next week on that, of course.

Tonight’s Quick Hits & Misses.

  • The Pitt Backcourt.  In two games, Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker are averaging 44/7/14 APG on 60% shooting with a ridiculous 4.6:1 assist to turnover ratio.
  • Andrew Goudelock. His jump shot was ripping the Maryland nets with such exceptional rotation that it was actually changing the trajectory of the ball as it zipped through.  Goudelock’s 27/10 (although with eight TOs) showed everyone why he’s the projected SoCon POY.
  • Olu Ashaolu’s Breakaway DunkThis was fantabulous, from one of the best names in the game today.
  • Jordan Hamilton.  Hamilton, so smooth on Monday night, didn’t look nearly as good this evening, too often settling for the three-ball (1-6) when it clearly wasn’t dropping.
  • Peterson Events Center.  Pitt’s home court has witnessed 134 wins versus only 11 losses in its nine years, for a winning percentage of 92.4% in that span.
  • Terps Fans. Ok, it’s one thing if Texas fans can’t be bothered to show up; but Maryland?  Not only is UMCP unequivocally a basketball school, but the Terps were playing a solid mid-major (as proven by the close finish).  There better have been a reason we’re not aware of for such a lackluster fan showing.

Tweet of the Night.  Tonight’s best tweet comes from SI.com’s Andy Glockner, a fella who captured what the rest of us were thinking as we watched the Andrew Goudelock Show turn into the Announcement of Pe’Shon’s Presence.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings

NORTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Appalachian State 12-5 19-11
Western Carolina 10-7 20-10
Chattanooga 6-11 14-16
Samford 5-12 11-18
UNC Greensboro 5-12 6-22
Elon 5-12 8-21
SOUTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Wofford 14-3 22-8
Charleston 13-4 19-10
Davidson 10-7 15-14
Citadel 9-8 15-14
Furman 7-10 13-15
Georgia Southern 6-11 9-21

Quick Hits – With the Southern Conference season ending on Saturday it looks like the conference champions of their respective divisions are clinched. Congratulations to Appalachian State (12-5) for winning the North division thanks to a season sweep against Western Carolina this season. Also the Wofford Terriers for winning the South division with a solid 14-3 conference record. The Terriers clinched the division title on Thursday night with a 74-68 win at home. The conference tournament starts on March 4-8, being played in Charlotte, N.C., at the Time Warner Cable arena. In my opinion four teams still have a chance to be dancing in March with Wofford (14-3), Appalachian State (12-5), Western Carolina (10-7), and College of Charleston (13-4).

Conference Tournament Champion prediction: College of Charleston – I believe they will avenge their losses to Wofford and Western Carolina by defeating the Catamounts in the SoCon championship to head to the NCAA tournament. With the way the Cougars can move the ball around the perimeter I believe they will cut down the nets in Charlotte.

Predicting Post-season Awards:

Player of the Year: Donald Sims (Appalachian State) 20.1 points per game, leads the conference in 3 pointers made (90), free throw percentage (.948) 146-154 missed eight free throws all year.

Coach of the Year: Buzz Peterson (Appalachian State) 19-11 overall, 12-5 SoCon

Freshman of the Year: Jake Cohen (Davidson) 13.1 points per game

1st Team all-SoCon

  • Donald Sims- Appalachian State 20.1 ppg
  • Andrew Goudelock- College of Charleston 19.2 ppg
  • Cameron Wells- Citadel 17.4 ppg
  • Noah Dahlman- Wofford 17.4 ppg
  • Amu Saaka – Furman 16.1 ppg 7.1 rpg

2nd Team all-SoCon

  • Ben Stywall- UNC Greensboro
  • Jordan Miller- Furman
  • Brandon Giles- Western Carolina
  • Willie Powers- Georgia Southern
  • Drew Spradlin- Elon

Final Games remaining:

  • February 27th – Samford @ Appalachian St. 3 p.m.
  • February 27th – Citadel @ Wofford 7 p.m.
  • February 27th – College of Charleston @ Furman 4 p.m.
  • February 27th – Davidson @ Elon 7 p.m.
  • February 27th – Chattanooga @ Western Carolina 3 p.m.
  • March 1st – Georgia Southern @ UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.
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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.20.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2010

Hello everybody, welcome back to another thrilling edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite.  If you haven’t noticed, we’re at the point of the season where every game has a little more intensity, a little more pressure, a little more edginess, as each team tries to attract the eye of the fickle Selection Committee.  Whether in an attempt to lock up a high seed or simply to make the darn thing, the next three weeks will present ample opportunities for every team to make its case, for better or worse.  As always, we’ll be right there with you throughout the day, checking in on the big games and others of varying importance.  While today isn’t a blockbuster day in terms of key games, there are always going to be a good number at this time of year.  Below are the ones we’ll be keeping an eye on…

11 AM: Siena @ #13 Butler on ESPN2 – RTC Live
12 PM: Florida @ Ole Miss on CBS
12 PM: Seton Hall @ #8 West Virginia on ESPN
12 PM: Morgan State @ Murray State on ESPNU
1 PM: Louisiana Tech @ Northeastern on ESPN2
1:30 PM: #22 Baylor @ Oklahoma State on ESPN360
2 PM: #17 Texas @ Texas Tech on ESPN
2 PM: Georgia Tech @ Maryland on ESPN360 – RTC Live
2 PM: Xavier @ Charlotte on CSS
4 PM: Illinois @ #4 Purdue on ESPN
4 PM: UTEP @ Tulsa on CBS CS – RTC Live
4 PM: Colorado @ #1 Kansas on ESPN360
6 PM: #2 Kentucky @ #19 Vanderbilt on ESPN
6 PM: #7 Kansas State @ Oklahoma on ESPNU
8 PM: Charleston @ George Mason on ESPN2
9 PM: UCLA @ Washington on ESPN
12 AM: Wichita State @ Utah State on ESPN2 – RTC Live

11:02: And we’re live with another BGTD. Interesting decision by ESPN to keep GameDay at 11 AM with the Siena-Butler game on ESPN2. We already have someone doing a RTC Live for the Siena-Butler game so we’ll focus more on GameDay than we otherwise would. Definitely check out our RTC Live of the game though.

11:07: The ESPN analysts are really going out on a limb saying the Big East Tournament will be the best of the conference tournament. Digger breaks with the group and goes with the Big Ten. Surprisingly Bobby Knight calls out the Big Ten saying the Big East would beat them head-to-head.

11:09: In another surprise, Jay Bilas goes against Coach K by saying that the conference tournaments effectively act as a huge NCAA Tournament and if you win you are into the real NCAA Tournament. Digger agrees with him while Hubert Davis attempts to make a ridiculous argument against the automatic bid saying it penalizes teams like Siena that dominate their conferences, but might choke in the conference tournament. Personally I think if you’re that good you can earn an at-large bid with your play throughout the season. Knight holds the coaching fraternity party line saying that he wants to expand the tournament. Translation: Nobody gets fired ever.

11:15: Just flipped over to ESPN2 where the announcers were comparing Gordon Hayward to Mike Dunleavy Jr. I’m not sure if they are talking about their games or the way they look. Where is the college basketball Spike Lee who will call out these announcers for comparing the two only because they are white guys who look fairly similar? For the record their games are pretty similar. Feel free to call me out in the comment section. . .

11:20: Knight wants “The Committee” to get an ex-coach on there (like him?) and the team’s last 18 games. I have no idea how he decided on 18. Why not 20? The other talking heads rip the RPI. Davis wants to take the strength of schedule component out of the RPI and wants to use an “eye test” to replace it. I’d like to see Professor Davis come up with a quantitative way to come up with the “eye test” score.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by jstevrtc on January 29th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings:
NORTH    (CONF/OVER)

  1. Western Carolina     6-3    16-5
  2. Appalachian State   6-3    12-8
  3. Chattanooga              4-5    12-10
  4. UNC Greensboro      4-6    5-16
  5. Samford                       3-6    9-12
  6. Elon                               2-7    4-16

SOUTH    (CONF/ OVER)

  1. Charleston                  8-2    13-8
  2. Wofford                        6-3    14-8
  3. Davidson                     5-4    10-11
  4. Furman                        4-5    10-10
  5. Citadel                          4-5    10-11
  6. Georgia Southern     3-6    6-16

Quick Hits — Only half of the conference season has been played in the Southern Conference and we are starting to see which teams will contend for the championship come March. Four teams have clearly put themselves above the rest of the conference as WCU, Wofford, Charleston, and Appalachian State have emerged as the favorites to make the NCAA tournament. One of those teams should come away with the automatic bid. In the next couple of weeks the schedule puts most of the top teams against each other, providing for some very interesting scenarios.

Other Notes — It would take either Western Carolina or College of Charleston to both win out and make it to the SoCon finals for the league to earn two bids into the NCAA tournament. It doesn’t look like this is the year for the conference to have two teams for the first time.

Most Disappointing teams — Elon has only won two games in conference, but Samford has really been disappointing this season with its 3-6 record. The Bulldogs haven’t figured out how to win on the road.

Sizzling players — It’s all about the junior class. Seven juniors sit atop the statistics in PPG. Donald Sims from Appalachian State leads the SoCon with 19.4 PPG. Andrew Goudelock (CofC), Cameron Wells (Citadel), Noah Dahlman (Wofford), Amu Saaka (Furman), Willie Powers (Georgia Southern), and Jordan Miller (Furman) all averaging more than 14 PPG.

Upcoming Schedule/Important Match-ups:

  • Sat. Jan 30 — Furman @ Wofford.  Spartanburg, S.C. 3 p.m. – Tough road contest for Furman.
  • Thurs. Feb 4 — Chattanooga @ Charleston.  Charleston, S.C. 7 p.m. – Chattanooga looks to pull off another upset on the road.
  • Sat. Feb 6 — Appalachian State @ WCU.  Cullowhee, N.C. 7 p.m. – The Catamounts look for revenge at home.
  • Mon. Feb 8 — Citadel @ Charleston.  Charleston, S.C. 7 p.m. – In-state rivalry between the two schools.

Team Breakdowns:

  • Appalachian State (12-8): On January 28th Appalachian State won its second straight game after defeating Samford 68-55 on the road. With that victory, the Mountaineers are now tied atop the North Division standings at 6-3. Just four days earlier, Appalachian State defeated Western Carolina 87-74 at home thanks to 28 points from Donald Sims. The upcoming game against the Catamounts could determine the North Division winner, with both tied at 6-3 at the moment.
  • Chattanooga (12-10): The Mocs were on a four-game losing streak before defeating Western Carolina 80-67 on January 28th.  Ty Patterson led the way with 19 points in the victory and leads the team in scoring with 15.3 PPG. Recent road losses against Wofford (78-63) and Elon (83-80) have hurt Chattanooga in the standings. The Mocs still need to figure out how to get it done more often on the road.
  • College of Charleston (13-8): The Cougars were riding high with a seven game winning streak until Monday the 25th when Western Carolina ended the streak with a 100-90 victory at home. College of Charleston couldn’t bounce back on January 28th, losing again on the road against Davidson, 86-71. It will be interesting to see how the Cougars respond to this recent two game losing streak, which dropped them to 8-2 in conference.
  • Davidson (10-11): Two straight wins for the Wildcats puts their conference record at 5-4 heading into a key conference stretch. On January 23rd Davidson defeated Georgia Southern 91-87 on the road with J.P. Kuhlman scoring 18 points to pace the Wildcats.  Just five days later, Davidson overcame South Division leader Charleston, 86-61.  Will Archambault scored 24 points in the victory and grabbed five rebounds.
  • Elon (4-16): Elon recently ended a nine-game losing streak after defeating Chattanooga 83-80 at home on January 23rd. Drew Spradlin scored a season-high 30 points in the victory to end the losing streak for the Phoenix.  On January 28th Elon lost on the road against UNC-Greensboro 62-55 with Spradlin scoring 18 points in the loss.  The Phoenix haven’t won two straight games all season and came up just short against the Spartans.
  • Furman (10-10): The Paladins continue to impress at home with its 6-3 record but playing on the road has really hurt them. Furman’s record on the road is just 3-6; this will have to be rectified if they’re going to compete for the SoCon championship. On January 25th Furman defeated Samford 63-58 with Darryl Evans scoring 18 points in the victory.
  • Georgia Southern (6-16): The Eagles have been playing better recently, winning two of its last three conference games. Both of those wins came at home where Georgia Southern is 6-4 overall. The Eagles defeated the Citadel 61-58 on January 28th to run its SoCon record to 3-6.
  • Samford (9-12): The Bulldogs have lost two-straight games after losing to Appalachian State on January 28th, 68-55. Just three days earlier, Samford lost to Furman on the road, 63-58. Josh Davis leads the team in scoring at 11.7 PPG. The Bulldogs are just 3-6 on the road.
  • The Citadel (10-11): The Citadel has one of the top players in the Southern Conference in Cameron Wells. Wells is averaging 18 PPG but doesn’t get a whole lot of  help around him; if he did, you’d wonder if Citadel would have better than a 4-5 conference record. The Citadel defeated Furman at home 70-60 on January 23rd, but lost on the road against Georgia Southern 61-58 on Thursday night. The Bulldogs have yet to win two-straight conference games this season and are trying to stay competitive in the South Division.
  • UNC-Greensboro (5-16):  The Spartans have won two of their last three conference games to improve their record to 4-6 in conference. During UNC-Greensboro’s recent home stand, they defeated Chattanooga 62-49, and beat Elon 62-55 on Thursday night.
  • Western Carolina (16-5): The Catamounts have been perfect at home (11-0) including a huge victory against the College of Charleston, 100-90, on January 25th. Western Carolina’s losses have all been away from the Ramsey Center. This is a cause of concern for WCU, having recently fallen into a tie for first place in the North Division with Appalachian State. Western cannot expect to lose all of its road games and still claim the SoCon championship.
  • Wofford (14-8): The Terriers have been playing their best basketball of the season, led by junior Noah Dahlman. Dahlman has led the team in scoring in six straight games, and the team is 5-1 in those contests. Wofford’s only loss came against the College of Charleston 70-68 on the road. On January 25th the Terriers won 78-63 against Chattanooga; Dahlman led the way with 20 points, earning Wofford its sixth conference win.
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