Conference Report Card: ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 28th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Conference Recap

The ACC had a down year though North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall-led resurgence and Florida State’s Sweet Sixteen appearance helped a little bit. Before and during the season, Duke was the runaway favorite in the conference: Kyrie Irving’s toe injury obviously was the pivotal point that brought Duke back down to earth. Equally pivotal (in the reverse direction) was Marshall’s move to starting point guard for North Carolina. With Larry Drew II at the helm, there is no way the Tar Heels could have come close to surpassing Duke for the regular season title. The down year did not really surprise most people, and despite lofty preseason expectations (read: people forgot how highly rated North Carolina was to start the season) I think the perception is that the league at least lived up to preseason expectations with a couple of notable exceptions: NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. NC State had NCAA Tournament talent, but did not come anywhere close to sniffing the Big Dance; Wake was arguably the worst major conference team in the country; and Virginia Tech once again found itself very highly seeded in the NIT. On the flip side, Clemson and Florida State both exceeded expectations.

Roy Williams and Kendall Marshall led a mid-season resurgence that resulted in a trip the Elite Eight. (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

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Set Your Tivo: 01.20.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 20th, 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.

Thursday’s slate is considerably lighter than the rest of this week in terms of good games but make sure you tune in for a couple of important conference battles. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Virginia Tech @ Maryland – 9 pm on ESPN2 (***)

Maryland has whiffed on every opportunity for a quality win and with arguably only one or two more opportunities to pick up that signature victory, it is imperative that the Terrapins take care of business against teams they should beat, starting this evening with depleted Virginia Tech.

Take Advantage of This Chance To Watch The Gifted Maryland Big Fella

It’s been a tough go of it for Seth Greenberg, his team struggling with injuries and less-than-stellar play even before everyone started going down. Virginia Tech is barely hanging on at 11-5 (2-2), but four of their next six are on the road, starting tonight.

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Set Your Tivo: 12.04-12.05

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 4th, 2010

***** – 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.

The biggest hoops weekend of the year thus far features a blueblood clash, a national championship rematch, a good mid-major battle, a key top 25 Battle in Seattle and a bunch of other quality matchups. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#14 Kentucky @ North Carolina – 12:30 pm Saturday on CBS (****)

The UNC-Kentucky Game Is Always Special

Two of the three members of the 2,000 win club meet in Chapel Hill with the Tar Heels holding a 21-11 edge in this series. Even better, Gus Johnson is calling this game for CBS in its first nationally televised game of the season. North Carolina has won five of the last six meetings and could really use a quality win after starting the year 0-3 against major conference opponents. The story for North Carolina will be turnovers. Roy Williams must be going crazy over his backcourt, which committed 14 of UNC’s 18 turnovers in a loss to Illinois on Tuesday. Carolina ranks #217 in turnover percentage but Kentucky, surprisingly is just #305 in forcing turnovers. That could help North Carolina’s confidence in a home game where the place will be sold out and the fans really fired up. If Harrison Barnes can break out of his slump, North Carolina has a really good chance to win this game. Tyler Zeller and John Henson have been the only reason UNC has been competitive. With everyone else on the team having a hard time, Zeller and Henson have combined to average 26 points and 18 rebounds per game. They’ll face a different kind of challenge against Kentucky star freshman Terrence Jones. The 6’8 Jones has been on a tear to start the season, averaging 21/10 while blocking over two shots a game and stretching his game to the perimeter as well. It’ll be interesting to see whether Roy Williams puts Henson or Barnes on Jones defensively as neither comes close to Jones’ strength and athleticism for his size. A better strategy might be to let Jones get his points and focus the defense elsewhere, specifically on getting turnovers from Brandon Knight. The freshman point guard has played well for John Calipari, but his 4.5 turnovers can be a major problem against an up-tempo team like North Carolina. UNC ranks #19 in tempo which is the quickest pace Kentucky has seen since Washington in Maui. Against the Huskies, Knight had eight turnovers and no assists, though he did score 24 points. North Carolina’s guards must be ready defensively against a Kentucky team that shoots 41% from long range, good for #25 in the nation. The Tar Heels have not been good defending the trey, ranking #185. This matchup could tip the balance of this game towards UK if UNC doesn’t defend well. North Carolina gets 61% of its points from inside the arc, something to watch against Kentucky’s tough interior defense which ranks #8 in block percentage. Expect a fun to watch game with a lot of talent on the floor and intensity on the sidelines and in the stands. It’s hard to predict a winner here because UK has the edge overall but UNC is at home where they enjoy a nice advantage. Best to call this one a toss-up.

#1 Duke vs. Butler (IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ) – 3:15 pm Saturday on ESPN (***)

The rematch of last year’s epic title game doesn’t have nearly the same feel. Duke is better than last year while Butler has had a rough start to the season with point guard Ronald Nored suffering a concussion against Siena. He’s day-to-day according to Brad Stevens and may miss this game. Butler’s do-everything star from last year’s team, Gordon Hayward, is gone too, averaging just two points a game in less than ten minutes for the Utah Jazz. The Bulldogs were shredded by Louisville and upset by Evansville at home last week, two disappointing losses for a team that came in with high expectations again this year. Look for Duke’s shooters to dominate this game as Butler really struggles on offense and is mediocre defensively inside the three-point line. Butler ranks #171 in two point defense and is one of the worst teams at blocking shots, #312. Duke’s opponents get most of their points inside the arc but Butler is just #246 in two point percentage. Leading scorer and rebounder Matt Howard is making 55% of his shots but as a whole the team is just at 43.5%. Shelvin Mack is back too and has done a nice job distributing the ball, especially with Nored out. Howard’s foul problems are still there but he has yet to foul out of a game this season. Going up against the athletic Mason Plumlee and company inside, it would be naïve to think Howard won’t have foul problems in this game given his history. Duke is the top ranked team in offensive efficiency and should be able to pile up the points against Butler. Kyrie Irving, coming off his spectacular 31-point performance against Michigan State, makes his return to his home state of New Jersey and will surely be ready to play well in front of the home folks. Duke simply has too much for Butler this time around. While it’s sure to be nostalgic for most college basketball fans, don’t expect this game to be close especially if Nored is still out.

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RTC Live: Coaches vs Cancer Final

Posted by jstevrtc on November 19th, 2010

After an entertaining day of hoops, we head into Friday night with a couple of terrific matchups. It starts with Maryland and Illinois. The Terps got much better play out of their back court on Thursday night, as Adrian Bowie and Terrell Stoglin were able to handle the pressure put on them by Pitt’s tenacious defense. The issue for Maryland last night was their inability to get the ball to Jordan Williams in the post. When he got it, he was near unstoppable, but he didn’t get enough touches. One guy to keep an eye on for Maryland is Cliff Tucker. He’s played terrific basketball here early in the season. The guy sitting next to me last night runs an NBA Draft website, and he was raving about how good Tucker looked. Illinois, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing. Not because they lost to Texas — that will happen; Texas was better last night — but because they seemingly have the same issues they had last season in regards to leadership and execution down the stretch.

Texas and Pittsburgh will be one of the best games of this young season. Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson have really been terrific for the Horns here early in the season, and Thompson in particular shined last night. He’ll have his hands full against a very good Pitt front court tonight. The question I have is, like with Maryland, how the Texas back court will handle being defended by Pitt. The Panthers are a very deep, very balanced basketball team. They can go 11 deep, and last night proved that they don’t need a great game out of Ashton Gibbs or Brad Wanamaker to be victorious. Talib Zanna is ready to become a household name in the Big East. Join us for both games – times are set for 5:00 and 7:00 pm ET.

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RTC Live: ACC Qtrs – Maryland vs. Georgia Tech

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

Maryland versus Georgia Tech. Didn’t we just see Maryland reserve guard Cliff Tucker hit a buzzer beating three in College Park to knock off the Jackets just a few short weeks ago? We did, and here we go again. This time, however, it’s on a neutral court and Georgia Tech just played a hard-fought game yesterday to earn the right to face the Terps and Greivis Vasquez tonight. So what should we expect this time? Well, don’t expect Tech to roll over. They feel as if they had the last meeting between these teams stolen from them, and they will have something to prove. The question remains whether playing the day before will give the Jackets an advantage or if fatigue will cause their downfall late in the second half of what should be a tight, competitive game. Only time, and Georgia Tech’s legs, will tell.  Join us this evening for another edition of RTC Live from Greensboro.

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RTC Live: Villanova @ Maryland

Posted by nvr1983 on December 6th, 2009

RTCLive
We are back tonight courtside for what might be one of the best early season games of the year with #3 Villanova travelling down to Washington, DC to take on Maryland. Coming into the season, a lot of people expected this to be a huge game, but some of the hype died down after the Terrapins lost back-to-back games in Maui against Cincinnati and Wisconsin. At the time we were down on the Terrapins, but we are willing to forgive them a little for what might have been a little jet-lag (yes, we know the other teams had to travel far except for Chaminade). And it turns out that the Bearcats and the Badgers might have been a little better than advertised coming into the season (ask Coach K about the Badgers). Tonight Gary Williams and his Terrapins have a shot at regaining some respect from the rest of the college basketball universe against Jay Wright‘s Wildcats. A win over the top-ranked team in the Big East would be a big boost for the Terrapins’ chances on Selection Sunday (less than 100 days away now).

While most of the nation’s attention will be focused on the two standout senior guards Greivis Vasquez and Scottie Reynolds, the key to this game might be on the inside. Antonio Pena has filled in the void left by Dante Cunningham, but the Wildcats are very thin on the inside particularly with Mouphtaou Yarou likely out for the season with hepatitis B. That leaves Jay Wright relying on Pena and local Maryland product Maurice Sutton on the inside against a group of Maryland interior players that lacks a big name but is fairly deep with Landon Milbourne, Jordan Williams, and Cliff Tucker in frontcourt. If either Pena or Sutton gets in foul trouble, the Wildcats could be in trouble. One other interesting storyline to watch is Villanova’s 6th man Taylor King, the former Duke McDonald’s All-American who transferred after his freshman year. As you may be aware, the Maryland student body doesn’t exactly like the Blue Devils. Even though he’s no longer at Duke, King would no doubt love to stick it to the Terrapins and their fans who will certainly be ready with plenty of taunts for the former Blue Devil. Be sure to join us for another edition of RTC Live at 7:30 PM.

Update: For those of you who are interested, our correspondent is already there so he will be covering the undercard of the BB&T Classic (George Washington versus Navy).

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Daily Obituaries: 03.08.09

Posted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2009

grim-reaper

Team: Davidson Wildcats

Record: 26-7 (18-2)

Preseason Expectations: The Wildcats were the heavy favorites to repeat as Southern Conference champions and both the AP and the ESPN/USA Today poll had Davidson at No. 20 in their preseason polls. It can be argued that ranking was inflated because of the star status of Stephen Curry because this team was clearly not the same without players like Jason Richards and Thomas Sander.

Best Wins: Davidson beat North Carolina State (72-67) and West Virginia (68-65) in back-to-back games in early December and a quick glance at the schedule shows that those wins were far and away the team’s best although the win over West Virginia should come with an asterisk.

Worst Losses: With Curry out with a gimpy ankle, Bob McKillop‘s club got shellacked, 64-46, by the Citadel on February 18th. The Citadel, under the guidance of Ed Conroy, has made vast improvements this season and finished third in the Southern Conference, but getting trounced by the Bulldogs was inexcusable for a team hoping for an at-large bideven if Curry was out.

Where it ended: Right around the beginning of the second half of today’s game against College of Charleston. The Cougars outscored the Wildcats 39-23 in the second half to send Curry and company home in the semifinal of the Southern Conference tournament.

What went wrong: Aside from the second half of the game against College of Charleston, it can’t be stressed enough how important former point guard Richards was to this team. He averaged 12.7 points per game along with 8.1 assists per game, and had one of the better assist/turnover ratios (2.8/1) in the country. Without his steady hand to run the offense, Curry was forced to move over to the point guard and was unable to run around the court trying to get free on screens. Teams were able to focus their defense on Curry and he struggled with all the attention.

What’s next: It is a very good question, and one that Bob McKillop would more than likely like to put off thinking about it for at least another month. But if the Wildcats fail to make the tournament, it is a realistic possibility that Curry will go pro. While the cupboard won’t be bare, the Wildcats will have scoring issues without Curry and Andrew Lovedale (a senior) on the court. The team will be forced to shift their offensive focus to developing players like Ben Allison and Frank Ben-Eze.

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Team: Maryland Terrapins

Record: 18-12 (7-9)

Preseason Expectations: Most analysts probably would have put Maryland right where they are now, fighting for their life to squeak into the tournament. Maryland was predicted to finish seventh in the ACC according to the ACC preseason poll. They currently find themselves tied with Miami and Virginia Tech for seventh in the ACC, so, in the words of former Cardinals football coach Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.”

Best wins: Maryland has two fantastic wins on their resume: they had a borderline miraculous comeback victory over North Carolina, 88-85 in overtime, and they also had a big win over Michigan State, 80-62, early in the season when they played in the Old Spice Classic.

Worst losses: Unfortunately the Terps also have two very bad losses. They had every opportunity to solidify their tournament resume on Saturday in Charlottesville against the Virginia Cavaliers, but they blew their opportunity with sloppy play and porous defense as the Wahoos prevailed 68-63. But, possibly a worse loss was back in early January when the Terps let a double-digit lead slip away at home and they lost to Morgan State 66-65.

Where it ended: When Mamade Diane hit a 3-pointer with just under 40 seconds left to give the Cavaliers a three-point lead, Terps fans could see the NCAA tournament slipping away. The Cavaliers gave Maryland every opportunity to step up and run away with the game, but the Terps let the Cavaliers hang around and eventually take the lead in the second half. From that point on Maryland was forced to play catch up and they just didn’t have the firepower to pull it off.

What went wrong: Gary Williams had all year to develop someone to play second fiddle to Greivis Vasquez, and at times, Cliff Tucker, Landon Milbourne, and Dave Neal all played that role. But the role players on the squad were maddeningly inconsistent, disappearing for stretches of the season. In the end the Terps were too reliant on Vasquez to create offensive opportunities with his drive and kick, and Vasquez didn’t respond well to all the responsibility as there were times when he forced bad shots and tried to do too much.

What’s next: If Williams and company don’t make it to the NCAA tournament, Terps fans can take solace in the fact that it will give Williams more time to court top prospect Lance Stephenson, who would be the perfect offensive weapon to add to the Terp arsenal. Neal is the only player who will be moving on unless Vasquez decides to go pro, and the Terps add depth on the frontline with the addition of recruits Jordan Williams and James Padgett. Even if Stephenson does not end up in College Park, the Terps will have a great shot to end their tournament drought.

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