A Recap Of Opening Weekend in the Pac-12

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 11th, 2013

The Pac-12 opened the 2013-14 season with a big splash in South Korea and ended with a head-scratching upset in Corvallis. Let’s take a closer look at how the conference fared through the first three days of the regular season.

Young, A Transfer Out Of Houston, Made His Case For Newcomer Of The Year In The Pac-12 After A Stellar Opening Night Performance Against Georgetown. (credit: Lee Jim-man)

Young, A Transfer Out Of Houston, Made His Case For Newcomer Of The Year In The Pac-12 After A Stellar Opening Night Performance Against Georgetown. (credit: Lee Jim-man)

Best Game – Oregon vs Georgetown: The stage couldn’t have been bigger. A top 20 Oregon team, missing two of its starters after receiving suspensions earlier in the week, against a good Georgetown club, being played in South Korea on ESPN at the Armed Forces Classic. The Ducks jumped out to a 19-9 lead on the Hoyas before they finally found their offense, but Georgetown eventually settled down and got a Mikael Hopkins jumper with 10 seconds remaining in the first half to pull within three. Oregon held onto a lead for the final 15 minutes of the game, but each time it looked as if it would pull away, Georgetown would come up with a big stop to stay within striking distance. The dagger came with two and a half minutes to play, as senior Richard Amardi slammed home a dunk to end a mini-Hoya run, putting the Ducks up 73-68. Junior guard Joseph Young led Oregon with 24 points and five rebounds.

Upsets – Only one, but it was a biggie. Coppin State, who was picked to finish ninth in the MEAC, went into Corvallis without its best player and topped Oregon State, 78-73. The Beavers, of course, were without two of their starting forwards, Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, so the loss may not be held against Craig Robinson‘s team if they are in the mix for an NCAA bid come March (assuming they’re in the mix at all). But regardless, this was a pathetic performance turned in by the Beavers. Except for a brief spurt of points from center Angus Brandt late in the second half, the only source of offense came from senior Roberto Nelson, who scored a career-high 36 points.

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Breaking Down Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules: California and Stanford

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 4th, 2013

In order to prepare you for the first two months of the season, we’ve been breaking down all 12 non-conference slates over the last few weeks. Up next: the Bay Area schools.

Teams are listed in order of which they will be played. Last season’s RPI in parenthesis. Potential opponents (one round in advance) are italicized. All times listed are Pacific.

California

Three Games In The Maui Invitational And A Trip To Creighton Highlight Mike Montgomery And Company's Out Of Conference Slate (credit: Mark J. Terrill)

Three Games In The Maui Invitational And A Trip To Creighton Highlight Mike Montgomery And California’s Out-of-Conference Slate (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Cream of the Crop: vs. Syracuse (#14), vs. Minnesota (#34), @ Creighton (#24)

California will face two of those three teams. The Golden Bears play either Syracuse or Minnesota in the second round of the Maui Invitational on November 26. The Orange finished 2012-13 with a record of 30-10, which included six wins over ranked opponents as well as a six-point victory against Cal in the round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Gophers started last season 15-1 but were handled by Florida in their second game of the NCAAs. The only known game on this list is a December 22 trip to Omaha to face Creighton, which will be Cal’s last game before Christmas break. The Bluejays topped Mike Montgomery’s team by a score of 74-64 last December in Berkeley, so they’ll look to return the favor this time around against the new Big East opponent. Creighton is loaded in the backcourt with both Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs returning.

Solid Names: Denver (#66), Oakland (#152), vs Arkansas (#95), UC Irvine (#126), Nevada (#173), Fresno State (#135)

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Pac-12 Pick’em: Week Five

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 27th, 2012

We are five weeks into our Pac-12 Pick’Em and Adam is slowly running away with the thing. Sure, he’s only one game up on Parker, but with a week with so many similar picks like this one, and with those shorter conference weeks coming up, making up ground will be hard to do. Last week was rough on all of us, thanks to teams like USC and Utah choking away what we thought were sure wins. I was the only one to miss Stanford’s road win at Northwestern; I did come pretty close on the score, however. I had the Wildcats winning 71-69, but they fell 70-68. So now, we enter week five. New Mexico’s visit to Cincinnati and Missouri’s meeting with UCLA headline the list as our games of the week.

Game Connor (40-12) Drew (39-13) Parker (43-9) Adam (44-8)
New Mexico at Cincy Cincy 79-71 UNM 67-65 Cincy 64-59 Cincy 76-66
College of Idaho at Utah Utah Utah Utah Utah
Missouri at UCLA UM 80-75 UM 93-77 UM 84-72 UM 84-72
Coppin State at ASU Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
Hartford at Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado
Towson at Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State
WSU vs Idaho State Washington State Washington State Wash State Wash State
Washington at UConn Connecticut Connecticut Connecticut Connecticut
Harvard at California California California California California
Lafayette at Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
Dayton at USC Dayton Dayton Dayton Dayton

 

There’s only a single difference in opinion this week, as Drew is taking the visiting Lobos over host Cincinnati. I am the only one picking the Tigers-Bruins match-up to be a close ballgame, with Missouri pulling out a five-point victory in Los Angeles.

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Numbers Tell the Story in Myck Kabongo’s Absence

Posted by dnspewak on November 15th, 2012

The numbers are in: Texas without Myck Kabongo is a bit of, well, a disaster. The Longhorns, playing without their star point guard while the NCAA determines his eligibility due to a relationship with an agent, narrowly escaped a test from Fresno State in their opener and then beat down Coppin State by 23 earlier this week. Their offensive output during those two games was frightening, and by frightening, we mean the sort of offense that would make Bob Knight or any basketball coach from church league to the NBA cringe. Rick Barnes has a freshman in Javan Felix running the point, and without Kabongo, everything’s falling apart. That’s putting it nicely. Quickly, let’s run down the statistics for you in Texas’ first two games:

No Kabongo (left) Means Big Trouble for Texas

vs. Fresno State (11/9)

  • Three team assists, 13 turnovers
  • 37 percent from the floor, 1-13 from three-point land
  • Felix: 5-15 (10 points), one assist, three turnovers

vs. Coppin State (11/12)

  • 26 team turnovers (14 assists)
  • 7-20 from three
  • Felix: zero points, nine assists, eight turnovers

These are pretty simple statistics. No Nate Silver sabermetrics here, just simple turnover, assist and field goal percentage numbers. And, as you can see from the box scores, even if you don’t receive The Longhorn Network and couldn’t see a single minute of either game, it’s evident this team could really, really, really use Myck Kabongo back in the lineup. Felix, in time, will likely grow into a solid point guard. He played very well in the first half of that Fresno State game and finished with 10 points (and, extraordinarily, nine rebounds, close to a double-double), but this team wasn’t built for a freshman. It was built for Kabongo. Without him, these Longhorns hardly look recognizable. A 26-turnover performance against Coppin State is inexcusable, and three total assists against Fresno State may actually be more inexcusable. So forgive Barnes for counting down the days until he gets his star point guard back.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.28.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 28th, 2011

 

  1. Oklahoma didn’t get much preseason publicity, but it departs southern California this weekend with two wins under its belt in the 76 Classic. The Sooners, who lost by double-digits in the title game to Saint Louis, aren’t going to get any top 25 votes for their modest two victories, but Lon Kruger has to be happy with the way his team competed this week. The Sooners looked good in wins against Washington State and Santa Clara, and Kruger found out that guard Steven Pledger could be a go-to player this season. In the end, that’s what these tournaments are all about–getting a feel for your team and learning about your players.
  2. Switching to the women’s side for a moment, we’d like to recognize Oklahoma State‘s women’s basketball program for picking up their first win since the fatal plane crash earlier this month. OSU, which lost two members of its coaching staff in that crash, beat Coppin State 59-35. It is gut-wrenching to read about the emotions of the game, and we cannot even imagine how hard it is to play basketball in this sort of a situation. No, this isn’t men’s basketball news, but OSU’s women’s team has surely picked up a lot of fans in recent weeks.
  3. It appears the NBA may be back, and that’s perfectly fine with us. But the interesting thing about this new deal between the players and owners is the potential age limit for the NBA Draft, which would obviously have enormous consequences for college basketball. There’s a possibility the league will implement a rule to require players to be two years removed from high school before entering the NBA Draft. What would that do for Quincy Miller, LeBryan Nash and Myck Kabongo? Nothing has been decided yet, but this is a story to keep an eye on.
  4. Kim English struggled for Missouri last season as a junior, but he has found a way to revitalize himself under new coach Frank Haith. English shredded Binghamton this weekend for 29 points, making six three-pointers during an unconscious first half. That’s a career-high for English, who made another three-pointer after halftime to finish with seven total. But more importantly, it is the kind of performance most never dreamed they would ever see out of English. He looked so lost at times last season, but it appears he has made the necessary adjustments.
  5. We have beaten this Border War story to death. Yeah, yeah, we know Missouri and Kansas might not play each other anymore. Big deal–we’ve been talking about it for weeks. Here is an interesting perspective, however, regarding basketball: does Missouri need Kansas more in this sport? Obviously, the Jayhawks have a legendary and historic program, and their fans will show up no matter who they are playing. Missouri’s fan base is a little less basketball-crazy, and this particular writer says Missouri “needs Kansas” for basketball (and vice versa for football).
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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.10.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 10th, 2011

  1.  The one word a college basketball coach never wants to utter is “suspension.” In Lon Kruger’s case, however, the suspension of junior guard Steven Pledger could be much, much worse. Pledger, who averaged 10.9 PPG last season for Oklahoma, will miss just one game after playing in a professional event this summer. If you’re wondering, OU plays Idaho State in its season opener Friday night, a team which finished 9-20 last season and lost three starters. Needless to say, when Pledger returns for the second game of the season against Coppin State on November 18, the damage should be minimal.
  2. The Michael Beasley lawsuit, part of which accuses Kansas State of serious NCAA violations, hasn’t gained much steam in the national media lately. One outlet in Manhattan, Kansas, is covering the story, of course, and this article breaks down the situation pretty coherently. Basically, it all comes down to any knowledge the coaching staff had of Beasley’s allegations. It’s very difficult to prove “knowledge,” though. Just ask Frank Haith, who’s embroiled in the same sort of scandal from his days at Miami. The issue for Haith is whether he knew about a payment to a recruit at UM, and that’s the same question raised in this case.
  3. The resignation of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno made national headlines Wednesday night, and it’s interesting to draw comparisons to the Baylor murder scandal from 2003. Like at PSU, the Bears’ situation also dealt with a cover-up by head coach Dave Bliss, though his role in that scandal was significantly more active. Bliss actually tried to paint the victim — former player Patrick Dennehy – as a drug dealer to hide several violations that had occurred during Dennehy’s career. The two scandals aren’t quite parallel, but they’re both landmark incidents in the continuing stain of college sports.
  4. Basketball prospects signed letters of intent all across the Big 12 on Wednesday, which marked the first day of the early signing period. And although Iowa State didn’t make national headlines with its signings, it did add Mr. Popularity. Georges Niang is already a Twitter sensation, and coach Fred Hoiberg says he’ll be replaced by Niang in terms of popularity “the minute he steps on campus.” And we’re talking about The Mayor here, folks. Here’s to a healthy and productive career for the likeable Niang over in Ames.
  5. Do you dare pick against Kansas in the Big 12 after seven league titles in a row? We didn’t, but Seth Davis has. He tweeted on Wednesday that he thinks Baylor would win the league — “eight is too much,” he said. After losing so much production from last season, it’s an understandable position. But with so many outspoken Jayhawks roaming the social media world nowadays, Davis had better be ready to defend his position.
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RTC Conference Primers: # 31 – MEAC

Posted by jstevrtc on October 3rd, 2011

For our complete list of 2011-12 conference primers working backward from #31 to #1, click here.   

Readers’ Take I

Top Storylines

  • Turmoil at Bethune-Cookman.  Bethune-Cookman is the defending regular season champion, but can they concentrate on basketball? Since least season, the school has fired Clifford Reed, its head coach for the previous nine years, because of “insubordination and failure to cooperate” during an investigation of the basketball program. His son, C. J., was last year’s conference Player of the Year and the league’s top scorer, but was named (not charged) in a now-closed sexual assault case and has left the college. The elder Reed is suing the school for wrongful termination. Forget that the Wildcats will be under new leadership and have to place replace C.J.’s scoring; will they be able to concentrate on hoops with this stuff hanging over the program all year?
  • NCCU Wild Card.  We ask the above poll question about North Carolina Central because even though they’ve been readmitted to the MEAC, the Eagles welcome three transfers from Power Six conferences (on whom more in a bit). In the few pre-season writeups we’ve seen so far, NCCU has been predicted anywhere from first to 12th. They’re by far the biggest wild card in this conference this season.
  • MEAC Parity.  From 2000 to 2009, the MEAC post-season tournament saw only two schools claim more than one title (Hampton and South Carolina State). Hampton took the conference tournament crown last year and won the honor of a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Morgan State took the two before that, and Coppin State won in 2008. Those three schools have separated themselves in recent years as the top programs in this league. Which one will rise up this year, or can another squad challenge that trio?

Predicted Order of Finish

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Morning Five: 03.03.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 3rd, 2011

  1. Jason Wright of the Deseret News sums up what he saw from the San Diego State students during last Saturday’s BYU vs SDSU game, and is still none too happy about it. After reading his account, we had some questions of our own for him: how can you blame the crowd for your daughter hearing that often-used and ineffective two-syllable expletive chant (it’s one word, by the way, Jason) after a bad call when it’s your hand holding the remote? You shouldn’t have had a problem changing the channel if this really was one of two games you’ve watched from start to finish this year, as you admit. And as far as BYU going off “to find other places to play?” Well, they did. Care to wager if the reception is any better in the WCC next season?
  2. This isn’t a recycling of a previous M5 nugget, but it is a link to a story about a former Michigan State guard transferring to Iowa State. Last summer, it was Chris Allen. Now it’s Korie Lucious who’s headed to Ames. They’ll practice but won’t play together, since Allen will be on the court next year, a season Lucious must sit out before he returns for 2012-2013. Korie cited ISU coach Fred Hoiberg’s NBA connections as a reason for choosing the Cyclones.
  3. At the Villanova @ Seton Hall game on February 15th, it has been alleged that the partner of Keon Lawrence’s mother (Lawrence had already been dismissed from the team) assaulted the mother of SHU guard Jordan Theodore in the stands. Later that night, Theodore, flanked by two dudes in ski masks, allegedly knocked on Lawrence’s dorm room door while packing a gun. Yeesh. Theodore now faces a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm on school property, despite the questionable testimony that led to it.
  4. The glare problem in Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena has been remedied, but the midcourt line controversy remains. That may soon change. In this story at the blog of The Oregonian, floor designer Tinker Hatfield comments on his inspiration for the court’s design, how he loves the controversy about it, what the symbols on the floor mean, and the competitive advantages that may be inherent in the design. As a defense for the lack of a highly visible half court line, he says that the center line at Kansas‘ Allen Fieldhouse is partially obscured by the large Jayhawk logo at midcourt [Ed. note: I'm looking at KU's floor as I type this, and the whole center line is visible].
  5. Tell us we haven’t seen the last of Fang Mitchell at Coppin State. The Eagles have been to the NCAA Tournament four times (1990, 1993, 1997, 2008) and Mitchell has been at the helm for each one. In his 26-year tenure, he’s won four MEAC Coach of the Year awards, and from 1992-98 his squads won 54 of 55 conference games. It’s been a tough decade for CSU, though, despite this year’s squad posting a 10-5 MEAC record going into their senior night game this evening against Morgan State. The Baltimore Sun’s Ken Murray writes that the winds of change may be swirling in Baltimore. Despite his evidence, we still hope it isn’t true.
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Around The Blogosphere: December 29, 2010

Posted by nvr1983 on December 29th, 2010


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

  • #10 Missouri 97, Northern Illinois 61: Going behind the numbers of the Tigers blowout victory. (Rock M Nation)
  • #11 Purdue 80, Michigan 57: “The Boilers started off hot as Smith, Moore and Johnson led Purdue to a very early 14-2 lead. UM stormed back by hitting a ton of threes while Purdue got cold. After Beilein’s squad took the lead briefly, Purdue regained a five point lead before the half…and never relinquished it.” (Boiled Sports or UM Hoops with additional video from UM Hoops of John Beilein and the Wolverine players)
  • #12 Kentucky 91, Coppin State 61: “The Kentucky Wildcats did not have a Christmas hangover, and handled the Coppin St. Eagles convincingly in Rupp Arena tonight.  It was the kind of game that we have become used to with this team — inferior opponents are rarely able to challenge Kentucky.  The ‘Cats have, for the most part, handled their weaker opponents easily, unlike last year’s team who struggled against them early.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • #14 Wisconsin 68, #13 Minnesota 60: “Several questions faced the Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball team as they entered Big Ten conference play.  How would they handle the relative increased level of competition?  Would they play up to their opponent after playing down so often in the non-conference season?  How would the team look with both Al Nolen and Devoe Joseph healthy and playing?  These questions were more or less answered in Minnesota’s frustrating 68-60 road loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten season opener in which they were torched by Jordan Taylor and unable to convert down the stretch.” (From the Barn or Gopher Nation)

Other Games of Interest

  • UNC 78, Rutgers 55: “For Christmas this year, the Tar Heels apparently asked for a shooting touch. And Leslie McDonald at least got one in his stocking – he went 4 of 7 from behind the arc, on his way to 14 points. The rest of the the team was a mixed mag, but they ran the transition game well, shot almost 47% from the field, and was never in any danger of losing, en route to a 23-point victory.” (Carolina March)

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Morning Five: 12.15.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on December 15th, 2010

  1. Quiz time: of conferences which are eligible for consideration in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major rankings, which league has racked up the most wins against teams from the big six? Time’s up — it’s the Atlantic Sun. We dig it when a small conference takes an opportunity to strut a little bit, especially when they provide good evidence as to why you should take heed. Yes, that’s the A-Sun’s Belmont tucked in neatly at 66th in the latest KenPoms, and that is indeed the A-Sun listed in the top half of all conferences at CollegeRPI.com (14th). Another good thing about the linked article is that it reminded us about the names of the two divisions in the Cancun Challenge: Riviera and Mayan (won by the A-Sun’s North Florida). Come on. At least it skunks Leaders and Legends.
  2. We can’t say for sure, but hopefully the folks at Siena take it as a compliment that we’ve come to expect so much from them every year, especially come tournament time. It’s in that spirit that we ask…what happened, here? We all knew it wouldn’t be easy replacing studs like Alex Franklin and Edwin Ubiles, not to mention departed coach Fran McCaffery. Sure, the Saints seem to have taken a serene, trance-like approach to playing defense at times this season, but nobody handicapped a 3-6 start. Mark Singelais of the Albany Times Union details how Siena has decided to put the first month of the season behind them, and proclaim Tuesday’s win over Florida Atlantic as the new beginning to their 2010-11 campaign.
  3. There’s now a Wolf among the Huskies. Connecticut has announced the mid-season addition of Enosch Wolf, a 7’1 center from Germany, to the squad. He’s enrolled and ready to go, eligible to practice on Sunday and play his first game on Monday. Coppin State – the Huskies’ foe on that night, whose tallest player playing at least 20 MPG stands at 6’8 — is not amused. Wilkommen in Connecticut!
  4. If Syracuse’s Rick Jackson looks different to you this season…good eye. Here’s a nice piece from Fanhouse about how Jackson’s lopping off of about 10% of his body mass during the off-season has led to increased expectations for Jackson from his coaching staff and teammates. You can sense the pride that fellow Orange(-man) Kris Joseph and guru Jim Boeheim feel toward Jackson in the way they talk about him in the article. More noteworthy is that you get the same sense of increased confidence from how Jackson talks about himself, his increased responsibility, and his improved skills. Averaging a robust 14.0 PPG and 12.5 RPG doesn’t hurt the ol’ confidence, either. But it’s all cyclical…
  5. We’re among those who really want New York to become a college hoops town again, and New York magazine’s Will Leitch — yes, that guy – has provided a tidy summary of how the NYC schools are doing so far. It’s shocking to see the depths to which Manhattan has plunged, and to note that, even though the Johnnies are limping right now, there’s still a Secretariat-like gap between St. John’s and the next-best NYC team (Long Island). So, even though the Steve Lavin rebuild of SJU is still in its infancy (or possibly still a fetus), all hopes of turning NYC back into the college basketball town that it should be still rest with them. We really want this to happen, no matter which school leads the way, but if it’s the Johnnies, that’s fine with us. Plus, that means we’ll probably all have more Erin Sharoni in our lives (SJU sideline reporter — it’s only a matter of time for her), and that’s just good for everyone.
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Duke: Success or Failure?

Posted by nvr1983 on March 25th, 2008

With several big-name programs going down on the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, we thought it was worthwhile to take a look back at their season and try to evaluate whether it was a success or failure (hence, the name of the post). We’re only going to take a look at the programs that are typically expected to compete for titles. So if you’re looking for a post about Coppin State, you’re out of luck.

To start things off we’ll take a look at Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils.

Where they left off: Coming off an embarrassing 1st round loss to Eric Maynor and Virginia Commonwealth and the early departure of Josh McRoberts, the Blue Devils were not expected to be their typical dominant self this year (preseason AP #13). As noted by resident Duke hater rtmsf, Duke has not had its typical monopolyover top recruits the past few years. Coming into the season, I expected the Blue Devils to go no further than the Sweet 16 as they did not have any low-post presence at all and lacked a true star (DeMarcus Nelson was as close as they came).

Story of the Season: As the season started, Krzyzewski unleashed a startling offensive set essentially playing 5 perimeter players the entire game. Given his numerous talented perimeter players and total absence of talented inside players, it seemed like a reasonable if unusual strategy. Using this offense that Krzyzewski took from Team USA assistant coach (and Phoenix Suns head coach) Mike D’Antoni, the Blue Devils climbed as high as #2 in the AP rankings. However, even as they piled up the wins their lack of an interior game on offense and defense was evident. The Blue Devils showed that they could compete with any team in the country on a given night with wins at then #1 UNC (without Ty Lawson), #5 Wisconsin (82-58), at #23 Davidson, and #24 Marquette. However, they also showed their vulnerability during back-to-back losses at Wake Forest and Miami (FL). In the end, the Blue Devils fell apart again at the end of the seasonlosing 3 of their last 5 with a narrow escape over 15th-seeded Belmont in the 1st round before falling to 7th-seeded West Virginia in the 2nd round.

The Verdict: We are hesitant to consider any season in which a team ranked #2 late in the season then loses 3 of its last 5, barely survives in the first-round against a 15 seed and loses in the 2nd round a success, but given the extremely low expectations for Duke coming into the season and the fact that they had nobody who could play inside (Zoubek? Seriously?) we have to give Coach K and his boys a “success” vote by the narrowest of margins. While they failed to play their best ball at the biggest moment (March), they played well throughout the season and did much better than we expected (not counting the NCAA tournament). Obviously, this is a big exception, but we prefer to look at the season as a whole especially when dealing with a team we never expected to make a serious title run.

Outlook: The Blue Devils certainly had some bright spots this season with the emergence of Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson as solid players who should contribute for the next few years (as long as they don’t do anything stupid and jump early). However, with the loss of Greg Monroe to Georgetown and no highly touted big men on the way, it looks like Duke will be stuck with their current system for the foreseeable future. The question is whether Coach K can turn it around and start landing some of the studs that he used to now that the NBA is forcing kids to go to college for at least a year. Unless Coach K can do this or land one solid inside player, Duke haters will likely be able to rejoice around this time each March for the next few years.

rtmsf Update:  It should surprise no one that we have a slightly different take than our counterpart with respect to the Devils’ season.  His viewpoint is that this was a successful year for Duke, given low preseason expectations.  But how low were those expectations?  He points out that Duke was preseason #13 in the AP poll, and nearly every preseason mag had the Devils in the Sweet 16.  As usual, Duke came out of the gate with a bang, blowing out Wisconsin and positioning itself securely in the top 10 for the rest of the season (all but two weeks).  There was even the usual mid-February talk of another #1 seed for Coach K’s crew.  So while the preseason expectations were slightly lower than usual, the in-season expectations for Duke were considerably higher.  To that degree, looking at Duke’s March success, we consider a #2 seed barely sneaking by a #15 seed and then getting outmuscled by a Bob Huggins team in Round 2 to be a huge disappointment.  It’s Duke, for Chrissakes, not Villanova!  Anything less than a F4 is a disappointing season, and the last two Marches in Durham have been nothing short of disgraceful.

nvr1983 update to the update: I guess I should probably stop using the royal we when I write articles since there appears to be some dissension within the RTC ranks. As I noted in my original post, I wouldn’t consider this season a huge success, which is why I stated it was a success by “the narrowest of margins”. Perhaps, I should have went with an A-F system where I would have given the Blue Devils a C. As for rtmsf’s argument that the in-season expectations being higher than usual for Duke this year, I would argue that he’s out of his f-ing mind. Everybody who watched them play this year knew it was a vastly flawed team and I don’t know of a single person who picked them to go to the Final 4. He also notes that the expectation was a trip to the Sweet 16. I think coming up 1 round short of the preseason expectation isn’t that big of a failure particularly when the Sweet 16 is close enough to the peak of the NCAA tournament performance Bell curve that losing a round earlier isn’t a huge deviation from the expectation. Stealing a point from Billy Beane, I would also argue that post-season performance isn’t necessarily representative of their overall performance especially with relatively low expectations (that they performed close to) and the one-and-done nature of the NCAA tournament.

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East Regional Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2008

As I stated earlier during my live blog of the selection show, the East Regional definitely seems likely the toughest of the four regions, which seems a little unfair to #1 overall seed UNC. I also included links to the team’s ESPN pages that includes schedules and rosters.

Teams
#1 UNC: Despite all the hype that the analysts are giving UCLA, I still think UNC is the team to beat as they have Hansbrough, the most reliable player in the nation on a team that doesn’t have a #2 guy who lay a 0-for-14 in a big game, a very good if not great yet perimeter player in Ellington, and one of the best PGs in the nation in Lawson (still unsure when he will be back to his prior form). They also have Roy Williams, who despite his record of losing tournament games with superior teams has also won a national title before so at least he knows how it is done. Schedule/Roster.

#2 Tennessee: Out of all the #2 seeds, the Vols definitely got the short end of the stick. For all the talk of Wisconsin being cheated out of a #3 seed, I would almost prefer to be in Wisconsin’s position rather than Tennessee’s. The Vols have one of the most exciting/athletic teams in the country, but sometimes they just don’t show up. I’m still waiting for Chris Lofton to turn into the potential national POY that he was hyped as coming into the season. Even though their first round game should a cakewalk, the second round will be a challenge as they will end up with either Butler (much, much better than its 7th seed) or South Alabama (the game is in Birmingham, AL). This is a pretty rough bracket for the team that most would consider the best #2 seed especially since Wisconsin didn’t even get a #2 seed. Schedule/Roster.

#3 Louisville: Despite their horrendous early-season start, Rick Pitino (and the team recovering from injuries) turned the season around and has Louisville at a very respectable seed. While they lack the star power of some of the top teams, Louisville makes up for it with their depth. Their most explosive scorer (Sosa) comes off the bench and they also have solid (if somewhat anonymous) play out of the backcourt to compliment Padgett, Character, and Palacios, who actually started on their Final 4 team. Normally, I would give this group a good chance to make the Final 4, but with UNC and Tennessee in their bracket they will be hard-pressed to make it to San Antonio. Schedule/Roster.

#4 Washington State: It’s hard to believe that earlier in the season this team was ranked #4 and now they are probably getting the 4th most hype out of the Pac-10 teams in the tournament. With tons of experience and solid play from Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low, the Cougars should be competitive with almost any team in the tournament, but their lack of firepower and depth will probably cost them if they get deep into the tournament. I’m sure that all of you are also looking at Winthrop as a potential Cinderella based on their prior performance so the Cougars also have that to worry about. Schedule/Roster.

#5 Notre Dame: Led by Big East POY candidate Luke Harangody, the Irish were one of the big surprises for us out of the Big East. We didn’t get to see them play much, but when we did they looked very good. Part of their success seems to be related to their home-court winning streak. It’s too bad for the Irish the tournament isn’t played in South Bend. They play the 2006 Cinderella George Mason in the first round, which should be an interesting matchup (we’ll leave the Irish/Cinderella commentary/jokes to someone else). Like Duke, the Irish rely on the 3 although they are not completely lacking an inside presence. This makes them dangerous on a given night, but also subject to an early upset. Schedule/Roster.

#6 Oklahoma: It looks like that whole Kelvin Sampson leaving thing didn’t turn out so bad for the Sooners. Somehow they ended up a higher seed than Sampson’s more recent previous team. The Sooners are led by Blake Griffin who managed to put up big numbers (15.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG) despite injury both knees this season. Jeff Capel has done a good job replacing Sampson on the sideline while staying off the cell phone (we hope). The Sooners aren’t a force offensively so they have to rely on their defense. While that normally is a good thing for a team, we wonder how far this team can go with all the offensive firepower in this region. Schedule/Roster.

#7 Butler: Seriously, this is unbelievable. 29-3. Ranked #10 or 11 depending on which poll you believe. They’re a #7 seed?!?!? Normally with a balanced attack (4 guys average double figures), experience (a Sweet 16 trip last year), and several impressive non-conference victories, we would expect the Bulldogs to outperform their seed, but Committee Chairman Tom O’Connor must think Butler head coach Brad Stevens looks like a bitch because. . .well you know the rest of the line. This is one of the all-time great screwjobs. They play #10 seed South Alabama in the first round in Birmingham, Alabama. If they survive that, the Bulldogs will likely face Tennessee, the best #2 seed in the tournament. Schedule/Roster.

#8 Indiana: Honestly, this is the most surprising seed that I can remember. I wouldn’t have pictured the Hoosiers as anything lower than a 6. It’s amazing that the team with the Big 10 POY (DJ White) and possibly the best freshman in the nation (Eric Gordon) along with a host of other solid players could be a #8 seed. I realize they lost 3 of their last 4, but one was in OT and the other was on a last second miracle shot (I wonder if Tubby got the idea after hearing about it so much while he was at UK). We would pick the Hoosiers to go deep in the tournament, but they have lost to every elite team they played this year (Xavier, UConn, and Wisconsin). Perhaps, Dakich can work some of his magic or Dick Vitale will be calling for the return of Robert Montgomery Knight. Schedule/Roster.

#9 Arkansas: Led by new coach John Pelphrey (look for him in the background of rtmsf’s favorite March moment), the Razorbacks have had an impressive season after a few bad non-conference losses. Much like Nolan Richardson’s teams (although not nearly as good), the Razorbacks like a quick pace. After a nice run to the SEC tournament finals, Arkansas might be a trendy pick to make a run, but they have a killer draw (Indiana then UNC if they want to make the Sweet 16). While this stat won’t help you make your picks, watch for how the Razorbacks start the game for a hint at the outcome. During the regular season, they were 18-0 with a halftime lead and 2-10 when trailing at the half. Schedule/Roster.

#10 South Alabama: After failing to win the Sun Belt tournament, South Alabama was on the edge of not making the tournament. The good news: they’re in and their pod is in Alabama. The bad news: to make it out of the sub-region they will have to be Butler and Tennessee. If they are going to make a run, they will have to feed off the home crowd and need a big performance out of star Demetric Bennett. Schedule/Roster.

#11 Saint Joseph’s: Led by Pat Calathes (older brother of UF star Nick Calathes), the Hawks made the tournament by winning the Atlantic 10 tournament. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, St. Joe’s was on the verge of a perfect regular season and almost made the Final 4. It’s also hard to believe that Jameer Nelson and Delonte West played at St. Joe’s at the same time. If Phil Martelli wants to survive the opening weekend, the Hawks will need to step up their defense. Fortunately for them, they start off with Oklahoma, a team that isn’t know for being high-scoring. Schedule/Roster.

#12 George Mason: The Patriots (Final 4 Cinderella in 2006) are back and they start off against Notre Dame. We don’t see the Patriots making a deep run this year, but then again we never would have imagined they could beat a loaded UCONN team back in 2006. Schedule/Roster.

#13 Winthrop: If the Eagles are to pull off another upset, they will need a big night out of Michael Jenkins (14.3 PPG). Before you go out and make the Eagles a Cinderella you should realize this is a different team, which is most noticeable when you see they have a new coach on the sideline.Schedule/Roster.

#14 Boise State: It looks they know one thing at Boise State and we’re not referring to the hideous blue football field that makes you try to adjust your TV every bowl season. Like the football team, the basketball Broncos can light up the scoreboard averaging 81.2 PPG (12th nationally) and shoots 51.5% from the field (2nd nationally). They are led by first team All-WAC Reggie Larry (19.3 PPG and 9.1 RPG) along with 2 other forwards who average double figures. Side note: We loved watching replays of their Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma (didn’t see live because I had to be in the hospital at 4 am for an orthopedic surgery rotation) and would love for them to meet in the 2nd round of the tournament so we can root for that. Schedule/Roster.

#15 American: I’m not going to put much time into this because well they aren’t going to be spending much time in the tournament. They like to slow the game down and they shoot 40.9% as a team from 3. Unfortunately, both of their starting guards are under 6′ tall. The result is that they might hang with the Vols for 10 minutes then it’s over. Schedule/Roster.

#16 Mount Saint Mary’s / Coppin State: Honestly, we don’t know anything about either of these teams except that Coppin State is the first 20-loss team to ever make the tournament. Nothing against either of these teams, but a detailed analysis of these teams isn’t really worth the time since they will likely be gone 5 minutes into their game with UNC. Mount Saint Mary’s Schedule/Roster. Coppin State’s Schedule/Roster.

P.S. Kelvin Sampson must love this region with his two former teams in it. I wonder how much he will be mentioned during their games. We know it’s pretty much impossible, but we would love the possibility of an Indiana-Oklahoma Elite 8 match-up.

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