Rushed Reactions: #1 Indiana 83, #16 James Madison 62

Posted by IRenko on March 22nd, 2013


I. Renko is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #1 Indiana and #16 James Madison. You can follow him on Twitter at @IRenkoHoops.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. In Case You Were Wondering, Indiana Can Score — The best offense in the country unleashed its full arsenal this afternoon, bombarding James Madison with drives, post feeds, threes, and pull-up jumpers. Getting to play their first non-Big Ten defense in 20 games seemed to release a pressure valve for the Hoosiers, and the scoring came pouring forth. The rub is that their defense remains a step behind their offense, and teams that are physical, slow the game down, and pound the glass pose a threat. Temple may not be able to pull off the upset, but looking down the line, a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Syracuse is a real concern for the Hoosiers.

    Yogi Ferrell celebrates after making a three point basket against the James Madison Dukes. (Getty)

    Yogi Ferrell celebrates after making a three-point basket against the James Madison Dukes. (Getty)

  2. IU’s Size Advantage Paid Off — The Dukes have big strong guards, but in part due to injuries, they are sorely lacking in size inside. They paid for it against IU, getting outscored 36-20 in the paint and 16-2 at the free throw line. The Hoosiers had lots of offensive tools that they deployed in this game, but a feed to Zeller in the post almost always resulted in a bucket or free throws. And at the other end, the Dukes, who normally make 65 percent of their shots at the rim, managed to shoot just 33 percent in the first half on layups. Struggling to gain traction inside, they turned into a pure jump-shooting team, taking only three shots at the rim in the second half. The Dukes’ leading scorer, 6’6″ power forward Rayshawn Goins, was particularly ineffective, scoring only two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
  3. Will Sheehey Was On His Game — Will Sheehey, the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year, is a key X-factor for Indiana. The Hoosiers’ offense is that much more complete when Sheehey is on his game. He’s been prone to disappearing lately, scoring just two points in three of IU’s last seven games, and seeing his scoring average dip into single digits. But today, he came off the bench to score 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting. If he can repeat this kind of performance against tougher opponents, IU could be Dancing all the way to Atlanta.

Star of the Game: Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell is the oft-forgotten man in IU’s formidable starting five, but he made a grand debut on the NCAA Tournament stage, scoring 14 of IU’s first 18 points and assisting on the other four by feeding Zeller for dunks. Ferrell’s one-man onslaught gave the Hoosiers an early, impregnable lead. He finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. With all four of his starting mates likely to leave IU, the former McDonald’s All-American and top 25 recruit will be Indiana’s focal point and leader in the coming years.

Quotable: Indiana coach Tom Crean on the worry that bruising Big Ten season would wear Indiana down too much:  “That goes through your head. I’d be lying to say it didn’t.”

Sights & Sounds: The NCAA allows teams a very specific number of bench seats, so Indiana was forced to put a half dozen of its players — including two scholarship athletes — in the stands behind the scorers’ table. The biggest victim of this unusual situation was the petite IU fan, decked out in a Hoosiers jersey, who got stuck sitting behind seven-foot freshman center Peter Jurkin and spent the game trying to crane her neck around him.

Wildcard: Although the Hoosiers have been the second-best three-point shooting team in the nation over the course of the season, they’ve hit just 33 percent of their attempts over the last six games, during which they’ve gone 3-3. This afternoon, they shot 9-of-22 from behind the arc.

What’s Next? Indiana will return to Dayton Arena on Sunday to face Temple, looking for the 22nd Sweet Sixteen appearance in school history.

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The Big Ten is Ready to End the Title Drought

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 21st, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him for Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g. 

It all started in early November when three Big Ten teams — Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State — were ranked in the top five of the preseason polls. Expectations were set very high but the regular season arguably beat those as four teams finished ranked in the top 10 (adding Michigan State). Over the last few days, almost everybody involved in the college hoops world has discussed the pressure on these B1G teams to get to the Final Four and for one to cut down the nets there. The following are three reasons why the league will break its 13-year national title drought this year in Atlanta.

Cody Zeller and Trey Burke may be the best players in the Tournament which should help the Big Ten end their title drought. (AP Photo/D. Cummings)

Cody Zeller and Trey Burke may be the best players in the Tournament which should help the Big Ten end their title drought. (AP/D. Cummings)

  • Somebody needs to tell Charles Barkley that the Big Ten has plenty of individual talent this season: A few minutes into the Selection Show on Sunday, Barkley called the Big Ten overrated because they “don’t have a bunch of great players.”  He wasn’t way off in his comment because the conference hasn’t had many players picked highly in the NBA Draft over the last few years (and that’s under the assumption that NBA scouting is a good gauge to judge collegiate talent), but that argument deserves a separate discussion altogether. The Hall of Fame forward is wrong because among the favorites, there are several great individual players, such as Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Trey Burke and Deshaun Thomas. Those four are arguably among the top 10 players in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Even though Michigan State is still known for their being, well, Michigan State, they still have athletic wings such as Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson who are great within isolation plays as well as half-court sets.

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The Official RTC Bracket: South and East Regions

Posted by KDoyle on March 20th, 2013


With the NCAA Tournament officially underway as of last night’s game between North Carolina A&T and Liberty — although, let’s be honest, things don’t really begin to heat up until Thursday afternoon — we are unveiling the Official RTC Bracket today. Up first are the South and East Regions with the Midwest and West Regions to follow later this afternoon. Prior to revealing the picks, some quick analysis, and four questions to our bracket experts, here’s our methodology.

The inspiration behind the bracket largely comes from our weekly Blogpoll where a number of ballots from key contributors are combined to form a single Top 25. Rather than have eight people put their heads together and collectively fill out the bracket, we asked each to select their own bracket. Afterward, those selections were tallied up and the team with the majority vote in each slot is the one picked to advance below. As an example, you will notice that in the #8 vs. #9 game in the South Region, North Carolina was picked to advance in seven of eight brackets — hence the 88% tally next to the Tar Heels’ name. Deeper into the bracket, you may wonder how it’s possible for Kansas to advance past Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen with just 50% of the brackets choosing the Jayhawks, but that’s because three brackets had Michigan and one bracket had VCU, thereby giving Kansas the edge.

Here’s the first half of the 2013 Official RTC Bracket:


South and East Regions

Quick Hitters From the South Region

  • Advancing to Atlanta: #3 Florida
  • Round of 64 Upset: #11 Minnesota over #6 UCLA
  • Later Round Upsets: #3 Florida over #2 Georgetown in the Sweet Sixteen and #3 Florida over #1 Kansas in the Elite Eight
  • Three Most Disputed Games: #11 Minnesota over #6 UCLA, #4 Michigan over #5 VCU, #1 Kansas over #4 Michigan

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Rushed Reactions: #3 Indiana 80, Illinois 64

Posted by WCarey on March 15th, 2013


Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center following Friday’s matchup between Indiana and Illinois. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Cody Zeller was dominant. The All-American big man picked up where he left off after a sensational performance in Sunday’s victory over Michigan. Once again, Zeller was the go-to guy for the Indiana offense against Illinois, as he finished the afternoon with 24 points and nine rebounds. With the ball in his hands on the low block, the talented sophomore was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted against the Illini interior for the duration of the game. Zeller’s presence on the defensive end of the court was also quite notable as he anchored a Hoosiers’defense that did not let anything come easy for the Illinois offensive attack. There have been instances this season where Zeller’s production has not matched his level of talent, but if he can continue to put forth performances like he has in his last two games, there will be no ceiling on Indiana’s postseason hopes.
  2. Indiana’s defensive effort in the first half was phenomenal. ESPN analyst Dan Dakich tweeted at halftime that he and legendary Indiana radio announcer Don Fischer believed that the first half against Illinois was the best defensive half that the Hoosiers had played all year. The two men had a point as the Hoosiers were just suffocating on that end of the court for the first 20 minutes. The Illini were held to just 25.9% shooting in the first half and had to settle for many difficult looks due to the intense defensive pressure. The Hoosiers also forced Illinois into eight first half turnovers – many of which resulted in great transition opportunities. Illinois guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson were a combined 3-of-13 from the field and by containing the Illini’s two best scorers, Indiana was able to open up a 14-point halftime lead. Victor Oladipo rightfully gets most of the credit for Indiana’s strong defensive performances, but the Hoosiers have really made strides as a team in-terms of their defensive effort.
    Cody Zeller was all over the court Friday afternoon. (AP)

    Cody Zeller was all over the court Friday afternoon. (AP)

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Virginia, Middle Tennessee, Stony Brook and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 12th, 2013

tuesdayscribblesBrian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. Does Virginia want to make the NCAA Tournament? Since beating Duke almost two weeks ago, the Cavaliers have lost to Boston College and Florida State and barely escaped Maryland in overtime on Sunday in a game that each team tried to give away multiple times. The more and more I look at Virginia’s resume, the more I think this team will be in the NIT. It has gotten to the point where there are too many bad losses to overcome, barring a run this week in the ACC Tournament. The Hoos have a couple things going for them, mainly the win over Duke and the victory at Wisconsin in November. Home wins over North Carolina, NC State and bubble buddy Tennessee also help but Tony Bennett’s club has a stunning EIGHT bad losses on its resume. Virginia went 11-7 in the ACC but went 0-3 against Colonial Athletic Association teams. Go figure. From an efficiency perspective, this is a strong team that plays stifling defense, has a couple of great players in Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell to go along with a solid supporting cast. The resume lacks some punch though and Virginia has a lot of work to do this week in Greensboro. The Cavs will likely open with NC State on Friday, a game they really need to win.

    Tony Bennett will sweat it out this week

    Tony Bennett will sweat it out this week

  2. One team fighting with Virginia for a tournament berth is Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders were eliminated from the Sun Belt Tournament by Florida International on Sunday and now have to sit and sweat out the next five days. Kermit Davis’s team finished with an impressive 28-5 overall record and lost just once over a 20-game conference schedule, on the road in overtime to Arkansas State (the next best team in the league). Davis has been with the program since 2002 and has built it up to respectable mid-major status. Is this a team worthy of a chance at a bid? Absolutely. The question is, will it get one? If I were on the selection committee, I’d probably have to say no unfortunately. Despite doing what it was supposed to do in its conference, Middle Tennessee didn’t do much out of conference. Yes, it beat two SEC teams (Mississippi and Vanderbilt), but neither of those teams is making the NCAA Tournament (unless the Rebels have a great conference tournament). But the real reason why I’d leave Middle Tennessee out is the fact that it was not competitive against Florida or Belmont, two of its better non-conference opponents. A competitive showing in either game would likely have changed my mind. In addition, the Blue Raiders lost a tough one in overtime to Akron. Those are missed opportunities that may end up costing this team a chance to dance.
  3. The fact that Stony Brook had to go on the road in the America East Tournament is a travesty. The Seawolves won the conference by three full games and their reward was a road trip to face #4 seed Albany in its own gym. It’s not right. I realize these smaller conferences don’t have the budgets that the power leagues do but would it be so difficult to host the tournament at whichever school wins the regular season title? Is that too much to ask? Instead, the America East picked Albany to host the quarterfinals and semifinals with the championship being hosted by the higher seed. The final part makes sense but the rest of it seems like bizarro world. Stony Brook had a stellar year, going 23-6 (14-2) in regular season play. Hopefully Steve Pikiell’s team will be rewarded with a nice seed in the NIT and maybe even a home game! Read the rest of this entry »
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Handing Out the 2013 Big Ten Hardware

Posted by jnowak on March 12th, 2013

The best season of Big Ten basketball in recent memory blessed us with plenty of talented players, performances and games. So, without any further ado, our choices for this year’s Big Ten awards:

Player of the Year: Trey Burke, Michigan — Burke probably locked this up when he picked Keith Appling’s pocket in the closing seconds of Michigan’s narrow win against the rival Spartans in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago. It just goes to show you can never let your guard down against Burke, who nearly left for the NBA after his breakout season a year ago. He led the Big Ten in scoring during conference games, while leading the conference in assists (6.8 per game) by a long shot. He can put this team on his back and carry it deep into March.

What awards did Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo earn this year? (

What awards did Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo earn this year? (

All-Big Ten First Team

  • Trey Burke, Michigan — Directed the conference’s second-best offense, and narrowly missed the Big Ten scoring title. Sharp on defense, brilliant in the lane. An NBA point guard.
  • Victor Oladipo, Indiana — All aspects of the game considered, the most fun player in the Big Ten this season. Can rebound, drive, defend and lead his team to a title.
  • Cody Zeller, Indiana — Billed as the Big Ten’s top player entering the year, it’s incredible to think that this honor and 16.8 PPG and 8.1 RPG would be any kind of disappointment.
  • Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State — The conference’s leading scorer (19.7 PPG) and the player most valuable to his respective team in the conference.
  • Adreian Payne, Michigan State — His visible growth during conference play slides him into this up-for-grabs fifth spot on the first team.

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RTC Top 25: Week 17

Posted by KDoyle on March 11th, 2013

Despite dropping a game for the second straight week — this time on Senior Night against Ohio State — Indiana maintained its spot atop the rankings. It was certainly easier to put the loss to Ohio State in the back of mind after Indiana stunned Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t so much the Hoosiers’ win that was so shocking, but the manner in which they did so, as they scored six points in the final minute to win 72-71 in a sweep of the regular season series from the Wolverines. Since the return of Ryan Kelly, Duke is looking stronger than ever after demolishing North Carolina over the weekend. The Blue Devils garnered two #1 votes with Louisville securing the final #1 ballot. As for Gonzaga, despite having 30 wins and not losing since that unbelievable game at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler, the top team in the AP/Coaches polls checks in here at #4.

More good stuff with the Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…

Week 17

Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.

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Three Thoughts on the Indiana – Michigan Rematch

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 11th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

If you tuned into ESPN’s Sportscenter last night or any sports channel for that matter, you would have seen “the roll” that gave Indiana its first outright Big Ten title in 20 years. After two months of arguably the most competitive regular season in recent history, Jordan Morgan’s tip-in rolled off the rim and the Hoosiers beat the Wolverines 72-71 to win the conference crown and probably lock up a #1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The game will be remembered for the final play and Trey Burke’s missed free throw on the previous front end of a one-and-one, but the first 39 minutes featured two competitive teams that had scouted each other effectively and showed that they were ready for postseason basketball. The following are three key thoughts about one of the best games of the season.

Victor Oladipo may have gained a slight edge in the Player of the Year stakes against Trey Burke on Sunday.

Victor Oladipo may have gained a slight edge in the Player of the Year stakes against Trey Burke on Sunday.

  1. Once again, the Hoosiers forced Burke to beat them with his jumper: After two games against Burke, the Hoosiers’ Victor Oladipo has essentially written the book about how to make Burke one-dimensional — take away his dribble penetration and make him beat you with his jumper. Burke has averaged about 14 field goal attempts throughout the season but in both games against Indiana, he has taken 24 and 20 shots, respectively. Sure, Burke averaged 22.5 PPG in those two but he seems to be out of rhythm when he can’t drive to the basket to get his wings — Glenn Robinson and Nik Stauskas — active and involved in the offense. Oladipo and even Yogi Ferrell during certain possessions played excellent defense against the pick-and-roll, challenging Burke to drain shots from beyond the arc. John Beilein’s offense needs the wings to be more involved, but watching Burke hoist long-range shots is not part of the plan. It isn’t like the talented point guard is a ballhog, but Oladipo’s defense on Sunday never let him get into his normal rhythm because he took almost twice the number of shots than he usually does in a game. Read the rest of this entry »
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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XII

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 11th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. seeing Cody Zeller want, demand and pursue the ball with the game on the line against Michigan. Yes, Michigan helped blow this one with a last-minute collapse, but credit Zeller for being aggressive and relentless on the glass in IU’s biggest game to date. Winning in Ann Arbor has been brutal for road teams in the last two years, and Zeller’s fingerprints were all over this comeback – which is exactly what the Hoosiers will need during the next four weeks if they want to cut down the nets in April.

I LOVED…. Mark Few’s honesty about being No. 1 in the nation. After downplaying the accomplishment previously, the Gonzaga coach said this in a Seattle Times story after beating Loyola Marymount in the WCC Tournament — “I was kind of surprised at how many of my (coaching) colleagues reached out to me,” said Few, referring to the No. 1 vote. He smiled sheepishly and said, “I’ve adjusted my thoughts on it.” While it may be up for debate whether the Zags should be there (though at this point, it’s becoming hard to argue), it is undeniably a huge accomplishment for a mid-major program and it’s cool to see Few come to that realization.

I LOVED…. the emotion from Victor Oladipo and Tom Crean after Sunday’s win. What a special moment as they embraced after clinching the title, with Oladipo barely able to hold it together. Yes, it’s just a game – but these guys give a lot of themselves to one area of their life, and it’s special to catch a glimpse of just how much work and effort goes into it.

Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean hugs guard Victor Oladipo (4) after the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Center. Indiana won 72-71. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Victor Oladipo Had a NPOY Caliber Regular Season For Indiana

I LOVED…. While on the same subject, Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde’s great feature on Victor Oladipo’s conflicted relationship with his dad. Definitely worth a few minutes.

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Big Ten Power Rankings: March 8 Edition

Posted by jnowak on March 8th, 2013

In this week’s power rankings, we consider each team’s ceiling in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. This week’s voters were Deepak Jayanti, Joey Nowak and Kevin Trahan.

  1. Indiana — Despite their flaws, including two home losses during Big Ten play, the Hoosiers remain in this top spot mostly because no one has made a real good case to claim it from them. Ohio State is the hottest team in the conference right now but doesn’t have the same body of work or depth of talent that the Hoosiers have. If Indiana can beat Michigan this weekend, they’ll leave no doubt that they were the best team in the conference during one of the Big Ten’s all-time best seasons. If they lose, they won’t really have much that makes them stand out above the rest. Ceiling for the Big Ten Tournament: The Hoosiers are built for tournament success. They’re the deepest team in the Big Ten, which makes playing three games in three days much easier to handle. They match up well enough with everybody in the conference and have two of the best players in the Big Ten. Anything but a championship next weekend in Chicago will be a disappointment.

    Despite their flaws, Cody Zeller and Indiana remain in the top spot of our power rankings. (Getty)

    Despite their flaws, Cody Zeller and Indiana remain in the top spot of our power rankings. (Getty)

  2. Michigan — It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win on the road in the Big Ten and that’s exactly what Michigan pulled out this week at Purdue. Now the Wolverines can refocus on their new biggest game of the season, this weekend against Indiana. Both teams are vulnerable, and the Wolverines have the benefit of playing on their home floor, where they have not lost this season. One last chance for Trey Burke to prove he deserves the Big Ten (and/or National) Player of the Year. Ceiling in the Big Ten Tournament: Some of the things that have made the Wolverines great — their three-point shooting and their talented freshmen — are things that can come back to bite you in tournament play. When you rely so heavily on the long ball or inexperienced players, those things can falter when you’re playing every day on a quick turnaround. But Michigan has been steady all season in both departments, and there’s no reason they can’t ride that wave to the championship.
  3. Ohio State — Look at where the Buckeyes have suddenly ended up. After seemingly playing their way out of the conference race with three losses in four games, we’ve come to realize that basically every team in the conference has at least one of those stretches this season and it’s not going to determine the fate of their season. So after huge wins against Minnesota and Michigan State and a terrific performance at Assembly Hall against Indiana, the Buckeyes have catapulted themselves back into the mix and shaken things up in the standings. All of a sudden, the tiebreakers indicate the Buckeyes could enter the Big Ten Tournament as the #2 seed. And with the way Aaron Craft is playing, the Buckeyes are defending, and they’re playing even with a subpar Deshaun Thomas, who says they can’t win it? Ceiling in the Big Ten Tournament: Like I said, with things clicking the way they are (the Buckeyes have to be the hottest team in the conference right now), who says they can’t win the whole thing? Of course they could be one-and-done (it’s hard to believe they’ll continue to roll with Thomas not reaching his average), particularly with such little depth, but they have the pieces. It may not be likely, but that’s their ceiling. Read the rest of this entry »
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