Set Your Tivo: 01.19.10

Posted by nvr1983 on January 19th, 2010

Now that we’re starting to get into the meat of the college basketball conference we are starting to get quality games on a regular basis which means that we will be having the return of our regular feature. There isn’t a “blockbuster” game tonight like Texas-Kansas State, but there are 3 games that feature potential NCAA tournament teams matching up against each other that are worth keeping an eye on while you try to catch up on the last two hours of 24.

Northwestern at #25 Ohio State at 7 PM on Big Ten Network: This is clearly a big game for both teams. As has you may have heard (from basically every site covering college basketball) Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament, but despite the loss of Kevin Coble the Wildcats are firmly on the bubble this year. A victory over Evan Turner and the Buckeyes in Columbus would be a big boost following their upset win at home over a Purdue team that is rapidly falling apart (more on this in a bit). To knock off the Buckeyes in Columbus (where they are undefeated this season), they will need big games from John Shurna (16.8 PPG and 7.1 RPG) and Michael Thompson (14.4 PPG and 4.4 APG with a 2.7 to 1 assist to TO ratio). The key for Thad Matta‘s squad will be Evan Turner being Evan Turner (my choice for national POY) and someone else (David Lighty, Jon Diebler, or William Buford–all averaging 13.3 PPG) helping him out so the Wildcats can’t throw double teams at Turner all night. As much as the Northwestern story intrigues us, we suspect that tonight will not help their case as The Villain and the Buckeyes should be able to hold on for the win, but given what happened this weekend a Big Ten upset wouldn’t shock us.

#16 Clemson at #18 Georgia Tech at 7 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: For the Duke haters out there, this game could be viewed as a match-up of the two teams most likely to challenge the Blue Devils in the ACC this season (we’re almost ready to give up on UNC this season). Paul Hewett”s Yellow Jackets have been maddeningly inconsistent alternating between wins against Duke and UNC and losses against Georgia and Virginia. Meanwhile, Oliver Purnell‘s Tigers have started off with their customary impressive early season record with their only losses coming against Duke, Texas A&M, and Illinois with a majority of their wins coming against a bunch of cupcakes in non-conference play (ok, the Xavier win was nice) and they just blew out UNC in Littlejohn Coliseum. The key to this game will be the match-up on the inside with Trevor Booker (15.4 PPG and 8.3 RPG) going up against Gani Lawal (15.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG) and Derrick Favors (11.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG). Despite the Yellow Jackets’ inconsistency lately, we’re going to go with the homecourt and the fact that we never trust Clemson in big games here.

#15 Purdue at Illinois at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The big question here is how the Boilermakers will respond to Matt Painter calling out the entire team except for Robbie Hummel and E’Twaun Moore after their three-game losing streak. The key for Illinois will be if they can get Demetri McCamey going against Chris Kramer. They will probably rely on their running him through a bunch of screen in their motion offense (ESPN Insider required) to get Kramer off of him. On the other side of the ball, Purdue needs JaJuan Johnson to start playing like the All-Big Ten player that he is and not the guy who scored 17 points combined in their last three games (all losses). If Purdue plays the way they did early in the season, they are clearly capable of pulling off the road win. Given the experience on the Boilermakers team, we’re going to go with them bouncing back on the road against Bruce Weber and the Illini.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on January 5th, 2010

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every Tuesday as the season progresses.

1. More than the countless Big East tournament runs at the Garden, or the contention for conference regular season titles on a yearly basis, or reaching upper-echelon status in college basketball playing with no flashy All-American recruits, Jamie Dixon is proving his worth as a coach this year more than ever. Few teams lost as much talent, leadership, and production as senior point guard Levance Fields, dominating big man DeJuan Blair and outside threat Sam Young. The departure of these three mainstays plus two projected starters for 2009-10, Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown, beginning the year MIA prompted many preseason prognosticators (including myself) to deem Pittsburgh a non-contender in the rugged Big East. My mistake, Jamie. The Panthers just finished one of their most difficult Big East road stretches of the year with two statement victories at previously undefeated Syracuse and at fringe-ranked Cincinnati. Sophomore Ashton Gibbs is taking his experience from playing under Dixon at the U19 Games to good use, running the Pitt offense with superb efficiency, shooting the ball lights out from deep and breaking the all-time Pitt record for consecutive free throws made in the process. Brown has his academics in order and used his athleticism to make a few back-breaking baskets against Cincy last night. Dixon provides stellar defense and outside shooting. It remains to be seen whether Pitt can stay at the top of the Big East with less talent than the other squads, but we do know that Dixon’s team will play smarter and tougher than any opponent. And that always gives them a fighting chance.

2. The most significant win this New Year’s week had to be Purdue running away from West Virginia to remain unblemished and surpass the Mountaineers as a projected #1 seed at this stage of the season. Purdue and coach Matt Painter have constructed their program unlike many of their other counterparts atop the rankings on a weekly basis. There’s no Xavier Henry, Avery Bradley, Devin Ebanks or John Wall walking through the doors of Mackey Arena to play for the Boilers for one or two years; instead, their 2009-10 highly ranked squad features a group of players that have been together for three straight seasons, such a rarity in the age of one-and-done players and the glorification of NBA riches. This specific group of players- Robbie Hummel, Chris Kramer, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Keaton Grant- have practiced and played together for three straight years now, stepping up the ladder slowly but surely in the college hoops landscape. They took the Big Ten by surprise in 2007-08 before falling in the second round to Xavier and climbed up another step by reaching the Sweet 16 a season ago. This year they hope to reach the top and cut down the nets in nearby Indianapolis with a group of kids that have been through the ups and downs of a college basketball season together more than once- a group of lightly-recruited but tough-minded individuals that will utilize defensive intensity and offensive efficiency to reach the ultimate goal Hummel, Johnson, Moore and others been striving for since arriving in West Lafayette.

3. Think about this for a second: Despite losing three four-year starters that all played 30+ MPG and notched 10+ PPG, Marquette coach Buzz Williams would probably tell you that his Golden Eagles should be staring at a 12-2 (2-0) record with wins over top-ten Villanova and West Virginia and another top-25 team in Florida State. Typical of young, inexperienced squads, Marquette has simply been unable to close games this season against stellar competition. If Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler don’t miss two front ends of 1-and-1 opportunities, Da’Sean Butler’s game-winning shot never happens and Marquette has the second most impressive road win in the country this season (just behind Pitt stunning Syracuse). Up two Saturday against Villanova, Johnson-Odom again stepped to the line up two points and 2:35 left on the clock. Both of those attempts bricked, and, couple that with a bunny missed by Butler at the buzzer, the Golden Eagles again fell just short. Rewind back to November in the Old Spice Classic where Marquette held a 30-18 lead at half against FSU and a 10-point cushion midway through the second half, but squandered the lead. I haven’t even included the NC State game where Marquette lead by 11 at the intermission. Closing out games has been a devastating problem for Buzz Williams’ squad this season, and these close losses could very well cost Marquette a spot in the field come March if they’re sitting on the bubble.

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ATB: The A-10 Rises. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on December 13th, 2009

atb
In our first college football-free weekend of the season (except for Mark Ingram’s Heisman and ESPN’s phenomenal documentary on “The U”) we had quite a few interesting story lines from the weekend, but one stood out on Sunday — the pair of upset victories by Atlantic 10 teams over highly ranked Big East teams in crosstown rivalry games (Temple against Villanova and Xavier against Cincinnati). Not only does it give those individual programs some bragging rights and a much needed boost on the recruiting trail, but it also gives a huge lift to the national perception of the Atlantic 10 and might cause some consternation amongst the Big East fans who like to promote their conference as the best in the nation for college basketball.

A great night for Xavier and the A-10 (Credit: AP/David Kohl)

A great night for Xavier and the A-10 (Credit: AP/David Kohl)

The A-10 Rising

  • Xavier 78, #19 Cincinnati 75 (2 OT). This might not be as shocking to the rest of the nation, but it might go down as the game of the year so far. It had a little bit of everything you could ask for in a game at this point of the season. Bitter rivalry? Check. Physical play? Check. Biting fan chants? Check (Brian Kelly). Big comeback? Check. Buzzer beater? Check (later waved off). National TV audience? Not so much thanks to ESPNU’s sparse national penetration, but RTC Live was there. In the end it was Terrell Holloway‘s 26 points and Jason Love‘s 19 rebounds that were the difference as the Musketeers overcame 22 points from Lance Stephenson in a game where neither team led by more than 4 points during the last 19 minutes of the game and that was only after the Bearcats fouled Xavier in an attempt to get the ball back when Dion Dixon missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied the game with 21 seconds left in the second overtime.  To get a really good feel as to how intense this game was, definitely read our accounting from RTC Live above and check the highlight package below.

  • Temple 75, #3 Villanova 65: The Owls used an 11-0 run to start the 2nd half to overcome a 6-point deficit at halftime to knock off the Wildcats. The story of the game was Juan Fernandez who scored 33 points including 7 of 9 from 3-point range to knock off the highest ranked Big East team coming into the weekend. While the casual basketball fan will consider this a huge upset, those of us who follow college basketball closely knew that this would be a tough game for Jay Wright‘s crew against a team that had only lost by one to Georgetown (still undefeated) and St. John’s (only one loss by nine against Duke). The Wildcats managed to keep it relatively close with 23 from Scottie Reynolds, 16 from Antonio Pena, and 14 from Corey Fisher, but in the end it wasn’t enough to overcome Fernandez, 20 points from Ryan Brooks, and 10 points and 17 rebounds from Lavoy Allen. The loss was just the 2nd loss for Villanova in their last 23 games against one of their Big 5 rivals. After the victory, the fans began chanting, “We want Kansas!” in reference to their upcoming game on January 2nd. We love what the Owls have done so far this season, but the student body might want to be careful what they wish for because they might just get it. One bright spot for Villanova fans: Reggie Redding (think he might have been helpful against Allen today?) will return to action against Fordham on Saturday in his first action since he was suspended ten games for his arrest for possession of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia.

In other action…

Saturday’s Games.

  • #1 Kansas 90, La Salle 65: The Jayhawks were able to overcame an off-night from Sherron Collins (1/12 FG) thanks to a season-high 31 points from Xavier Henry (the last KU freshman to score 30 points in a game was some guy named Paul Pierce) and a 12-point, 12-rebound effort from Markieff Morris. Cole Aldrich added 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks while Tyshawn Taylor had 10 points and 6 assists with no turnovers. The Jayhawks’ next two games should be a bit more competitive as they face a pair of teams—Michigan (12/19) and California (12/22)—that have failed to live up to preseason expectations, but both have a lot of talent.

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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: February/March (Part One)

Posted by zhayes9 on October 25th, 2009

seasonpreview

The final two-part edition of our Top 65 games delves into the exciting stretch run of the final five weeks. These highlighted games should have tremendous implications on seeding and conference standings with heated rivals doing battle in the final push towards March Madness. Here’s a preview of what’s guaranteed to be the best slate of games 2009-10 has to offer (top games of November/December and January in case you missed it):

Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

February 1- Texas @ Oklahoma State (#33 overall)- Hard to imagine you won’t see plenty of scoring in this Big 12 clash. The point guard situation is a bit dicey in Stillwater with Byron Eaton’s departure, but Travis Ford loves to run and James Anderson can score with the best. Expect this to be one of the toughest tests for Texas in their pursuit of a regular season Big 12 title.

February 6- Texas @ Oklahoma (#25 overall)- This could very well be another test. Two freshmen will have to fill major roles for Jeff Capel’s squad with Tommy Mason-Griffin helping out Willie Warren in the backcourt and Tiny Gallon bulldozing opponents in the paint with Blake Griffin in LA. It’s entirely possible defensive stud Avery Bradley could earn the job of trying to lock down the quick Warren.

95208122242_Oklahoma_v_Rice[1]

February 6- Villanova @ Georgetown (#31 overall)- A Big East clash in February between two teams that have top-three aspirations in the conference. The point guard duel is a dandy with Chris Wright of the Hoyas matched up with Scottie Reynolds of the Wildcats. This should prove a worthy test for Villanova’s thin frontline trying to contain Greg Monroe, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.

February 6- Michigan State @ Illinois (#37 overall)- The orange-clad students right on top of the floor will be out in full force to support their Illini in hopes of knocking off the loaded Spartans. With Chester Frazier departed, it could be the freshman guard D.J. Richardson trying to contain potential All-American Kalin Lucas. There’s some tremendous outside shooting in this one from State’s Durrell Summers to the Illini’s Demetri McCamey.

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RTC Class Schedule 2009-10: Purdue Boilermakers

Posted by zhayes9 on September 7th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

The Final Four in Indianapolis sets up a dream scenario for Purdue coach Matt Painter. Much like Michigan State last season, who cruised through Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Detroit en route to the national title game, Purdue has the potential to set a goal of playing in front of their Indiana faithful at Lucas Oil Stadium for Final Four 2010. With a first/second round site in Milwaukee and the Midwest Regional located in St. Louis, Purdue could go the route of their Big Ten rivals a year ago by garnering a #1 seed on Selection Sunday.

Does Purdue have the tools to reach such lofty goals? Absolutely. For the second straight season, the core of the Boilermakers return to try and make the next step in March after falling in the second round in 2008 and in the Sweet 16 in 2009. You know the names by now- 6’10 forward JaJuan Johnson, whose numbers improved drastically from his rookie campaign, Chicago scoring guard E’Twaun Moore, team leader and potential Big Ten POY Robbie Hummel, defensive stalwart Chris Kramer and the emerging young point Lewis Jackson to compliment Keaton Grant. In addition, Painter lured in four talented Indiana recruits.

4390903138153_Penn_St_v_Purdue[1]

In order to reach Indianapolis, the Boilermakers must trek through this challenging schedule:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 7.5. The non-conference schedule is fairly demanding for the Boilermakers. One of the best non-conference games of the year takes place on New Year’s Day between two of the most rugged teams in the nation- Purdue and West Virginia. The Mountaineers return Devin Ebanks, Da’Sean Butler and Darryl Bryant for a team that could contend for a Big East crown.  Purdue also plays in the Wooden Tradition on December 19 against an unknown opponent (it’s getting late, kids) and takes on Wake Forest at home in the ACC/Big Ten challenge a year after Duke entered West Lafayette and dominated. Painter and Co. must also travel to Tuscaloosa to take on new coach Anthony Grant and Alabama. The real tests could come in November at the Paradise Jam.

Cupcake City: Not too many cupcakes for Matt Painter this non-conference season which makes sense given his team’s talent level. Purdue faces Memphis’ favorite team, Cal State Northridge, to open the campaign with an easy first round Paradise Jam game and Central Michigan rounding out November. Ball State, Valparaiso and SIU-Edwardsville rounds out the cupcake list.

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RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Michigan State Spartans

Posted by zhayes9 on August 20th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

As we continue our ongoing feature RTC’s Class Schedule for the upcoming 2009-10 season, let’s delve into the slate for the national runner-up of a season ago out of the Big 10: Michigan State. The Spartans entered last season with expectations to win their first regular season conference title since 2000-01 and accomplished said feat with a 15-3 Big 10 record, overcoming two stunning losses at home to Penn State and Northwestern along the way. The Spartans entered the tournament with high hopes as a #2 seed and, after dodging two bullets from USC and Kansas, smoked #1 seed Louisville and edged past Connecticut in the national semifinals before running into the buzzsaw known as North Carolina. With 2008-09’s successful season in the past, Tom Izzo is moving on with his point guard (Kalin Lucas), sharpshooter (Durrell Summers), enigma (Raymar Morgan), sophomore stud (Delvon Roe) and emerging big man (Draymond Green) all in the fray. Michigan State fans will accept nothing less than Tom Izzo’s sixth Final Four appearance this season in East Lansing.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the game-by-game journey Michigan State will have to endure if they wish to meet such lofty expectations. The official schedule can be found here:

4390903142044_Ohio_St_v_Michigan_St[1]

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 9.5. Tom Izzo never backs down from a challenge. Last season, Izzo traveled to the loaded Old Spice Classic, a trip halted by a stunning defeat at the hands of Maryland. He also faced Texas in Houston and North Carolina at Ford Field for the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Both the latter contests will also be featured in the 2009-10 edition of Michigan State’s non-conference slate, but this time as true road games rather than semi-neutral floors. That’s right, on December 1 the Spartans will play UNC in Chapel Hill and, on December 22, Texas in Austin. Rarely do you see a team with the status of Michigan State play such challenging road contests in non-conference play. Victories in either venue will provide Izzo with a significant quality win to tout during arguments for top seeds in March. Izzo also signed up his Spartans for the Legends Classic in November in Atlantic City where he’ll face Florida and either Rutgers or Massachusetts in the final (you’d think it would be Florida-Michigan State in the final, but I digress). Another program with a perennially loaded non-conference slate is Gonzaga. Mark Few’s team will travel to East Lansing for one of the top November contests, even with Austin Daye, Jeremy Pargo and Josh Heytvelt departed.

Cupcake City: In between the two road games in North Carolina and Texas, Michigan State packed in some much-deserved cupcakes. The challengers will be Wofford, The Citadel (that game being played in Charleston, oddly enough), Oakland and IPFW. While The Citadel had a surprising 20-win campaign last year, the only team that may be able to stay on the floor with Michigan State is Oakland, a 23-13 squad from a year ago that nearly toppled North Dakota State in the Summit final. Michigan State will also face Florida Gulf Coast and Texas-Arlington at home.

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NCAA Preview: Purdue Boilermakers

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Purdue (#5, West, Portland pod)
vs. Northern Iowa (#12)
Thurs., 3/19 at 2:30 PM
Vegas Line: Purdue, -8

purdue-vegas

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Conference: Big Ten Conference, Automatic Bid
Coach: Matt Painter, 81-49 (60.5%)
08-09 Record: 25-9, 11-7
Last 12 Games: 8-4, 3-game winning streak
Best Win: 72-54, Michigan State, 2/17
Worst Loss: 61-64, Northwestern, 3/4
Off. Efficiency Rating: 110.5, 48th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 86.9, 5th

Nuts n Bolts
Star Player(s): JaJuan Johnson (13. 2 pts, 5.6 reb, 2.1 blk); Robbie Hummel (12.7 pts, 6.9 reb, 2.0 ast); E’Twaun Moore (13.9 pts, 4.8 reb, 3 ast)
Unsung Hero: Chris Kramer (2.2 stl, 2.5 ast)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): N/A
Key Injuries: Robbie Hummel, cracked L5 vertebrae
Depth: 31% (167th nationally), percentage of minutes played by reservs
Achilles Heel: Purdue is a streaking shooting team and had a tendency to go cold for minutes at a time during the second half of the Big Ten season…and Purdue is not a deep team
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Moore and Hummel shoot well
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Kramer gets into early foul trouble, Hummel’s back flares up

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2008, beaten by Xavier in the round of 32
Streak: 3 years
Best NCAA Finish: 1932 National Champs, 1969 Runner-up, 1980 third-place
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.45. On average the Boilermakers win 0.45 less games than they would be expected to based on their seed compared to historical averages

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Purdue’s football team won the Motor City Bowl in 2007
Distance to First Round Site: 2,224 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: 22 Purdue alums later became astronauts including Neil Armstrong
School Wishes It Could Forget: Gene Keady’s hairdo…or his post-season woes
Prediction:
Purdue’s lack of depth might hurt during the NCAA tournament as Purdue only goes about 8 deep…foul trouble can kill this team defensively, which is Purdue’s strength.  And Big Ten officiating seems to allow a more physical brand of basketball than does much of the nation’s officiating.  Plus, Purdue’s offensive woes have been painful during periods of this season, especially versus zone defenses.  I look for Purdue to lose in the round of 16 versus Uconn as the Huskies depth will come into play in a close, possibly overtime, loss.
Major RTC stories: ATB: ACC & Big 10 Deadlocked 3-3

Preview written by boilerdowd of BoiledSports.com

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Checking in on the… Big Ten

Posted by nvr1983 on January 13th, 2009

Josh & Mike from Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.

Looking Back
We are only a couple weeks into Big Ten play this season and already it is shaping up to be an exciting season. Michigan State has shaken off the slow non-conference start and is looking dominant so far including a big win over defending national champion Kansas. Likewise for Wisconsin, who lulled everyone into doubting them again before turning it on before slipping up this weekend at Purdue. Indeed, it’s been the Boilermakers, the odds-on favorite to win the conference league, that has struggled a bit out of the gate.

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