Surprise! Assessing Early Signs of Life at Providence, Oregon & Iowa State

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2010

Andrew Murawa is an RTC contributor.

Last week we spent some time praising the work of two of the most familiar faces in the college basketball coaching world, Rick Pitino and Bruce Pearl, in getting their teams off to sparkling starts in the aftermath of some rough off-court patches. Today, I’d like to recognize some perhaps less well-known coaches who have turned awful offseasons of a different sort into solid starts for their respective teams. At Providence, Oregon and Iowa State, the basketball programs all went through turbulent summers full of personnel changes and uncertainty, but thus far the coaches at each of those programs has fought through the adversity to earn a combined 29-9 record for the three schools, albeit against maybe some lesser competition. None of the three schools are necessarily expected to be major contenders for NCAA Tournament berths, but at least they’ve got their programs headed in the right directions after rough offseasons.

Marshon Brooks Has Been a Revelation This Season

For Keno Davis and the Providence Friars, the offseason was an absolute nightmare – not that 2009-10 was all that great to begin with. The Friars lost their last 11 games of last season on the way to a 12-19 record, during which time junior guard Kyle Wright abruptly left the program. After the season was over, a new rash of bad news hit the Friars. First, it was announced that point guard Johnnie Lacy and center Russ Permenter would be transferring out of the program. Then, a couple days later, Lacy and freshman center James Still were charged with felony assault, leading to Still’s eventual dismissal. A month later, the bright spot in the Friar program was extinguished when leading scorer and rebounder Jamine “Greedy” Peterson was kicked off the team. About a week later, assistant coach Pat Skerry left to head to Big East rival Pitt, and in the process, severely hurt Providence’s recruiting with incoming 2010 recruit Joseph Young announcing that he would be staying closer to his Houston home for college. After Davis lost some face in refusing to allow Young out of his scholarship for a time, he was eventually released and allowed to enroll at the University of Houston. Next, 2011 commit Naadir Tharpe announced that he was withdrawing his commitment to the Friars and opening back up his recruitment. And finally, for good measure, Kadeem Batts suffered a disorderly conduct charge in July. In short, it was a miserable offseason.

But, in the face of all of that turmoil, the Friars are off to an 11-2 start to this season. Yes, they’ve dropped games to La Salle and Boston College, and for every win over a Rhode Island and an Alabama, there’s a win over Central Connecticut and Prairie View A&M, but at least Coach Davis has not allowed the negative momentum of the offseason to boil over into a disastrous 2010-11 campaign. Senior wing Marshon Brooks has developed into a versatile threat (22.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.5 BPG, 2.0 3PG) and a team leader, while sophomores Vincent Council and Bilal Dixon are each developing into serious Big East-level talents. Council is among the top ten point guards in the nation in assists, with seven per game (he had 16 in a game against Brown), while Dixon has been killing the boards on both ends, to the tune of 9.7 rebounds per night (more than three of those on the offensive glass), and adding almost three blocked shots a night. While much more serious competition awaits the Friars come Big East play, Davis has focused on tightening things up on the defensive end where PC ranked in the bottom 100 teams in Division I last year in defensive efficiency; now PC ranks in the top 100. There is certainly a ways to go for this Friar team, and the talent level  is still such that any dream of a run to an upper-division Big East finish should be tempered with, you know, sanity, but Davis has taken what was a disastrous offseason and settled things down in Providence to the point where the program is no longer in freefall and is playing up to their talent level. There are sure to be plenty of losses (and losing streaks) in conference play, but expect the Friars to beat a team or two that they have no business beating, and to be competitive on a regular basis.

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Morning Five: 07.13.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 12th, 2010

So we heard there was some news about our beloved NCAA Tournament yesterday. . .

  1. As was reported here at RTC, the NCAA has announced the format of the “First Four”. Over the next few days you will see a ton of analysis online, but be sure to keep checking back here, as we’ll probably have more to say on this topic, and we want to hear your takes as well.  Later this morning, our first Bracketology taking into account the 68-team field for 2011 will be released.
  2. Some of you may remember Royce White from his bizarre YouTube exit from Minnesota almost seven months ago. White recently announced that he intends to play for Iowa State and Fred Hoiberg.  White is filing an appeal to play for the Cyclones next year instead of sitting out the usual one season. Hoiberg could really use some talent inside after losing Craig Brackins and a group of other decent-if-not-great inside players to NCAA rulings or transfers.
  3. To all the couch coaches out there, you will have to wait there until at least the middle of November as Chicago State filled the final head coaching vacancy in Division 1 men’s basketball when they named Tracy Dildy as their new head coach yesterday. We would like to congratulate Dildy on his first college head coaching position after spending nearly two decades as an assistant at six different schools.
  4. Boise State rising senior guard La’Shard Anderson was arrested on Saturday night on two misdemeanors: disorderly household and resisting/obstructing officers. Based on reports, it seems like police responded to a loud party complaint at Anderson’s residence and he refused to cooperate with police when he spoke with them outside the house. A hearing is set for August 2nd. To date, Boise State’s only response is that the school is reviewing their conduct policy (read: hoping that the charges against Anderson are dropped so the school can give him the minimum punishment possible).
  5. Some good news for Kentucky fans although it will be hard to ever top getting five 1st round picks (I’m joking.  Seriously, don’t shut down GMail with hate mail). Fresh off their FIBA U17 World Championship, future Wildcats Marquis Teague and Michael Gilchirst talk about how winning is more important to them than stats (shocking thing to say in the news), but UK fans have to be impressed with the stats that the future Wildcats put up even though Teague did struggle with his shooting during the tournament.
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2010 NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Posted by zhayes9 on June 25th, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

Now that the Draft is complete, time to look back at Thursday night’s winners and losers, from coaches to NBA teams to players to conferences and everything in between:

Paul George saw his stock skyrocket all the way to #10 and the Pacers, Al Bello/Getty Images

Winners:

Big 12 – One of the premier college basketball conferences has gained quite a surge of momentum in the last few weeks. Big 12 commish Dan Beebe convinced Texas it was in their best interests to keep the league in tact even after the defections of Colorado and Nebraska, two of the more downtrodden BCS-conference hoops programs in the country. After chopping off those two anchors, a ten-team, 18-game round robin format has been agreed to starting in 2012. The Big 12 momentum only continued at the draft on Thursday where an astonishing seven of the top 24 selections reside from the conference (and Kentucky isn’t even a member). Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Texas’ Avery Bradley and Damion James, Oklahoma State’s James Anderson and Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, not to mention Cyclone transfer Wes Johnson, were all nabbed in the first 24 picks. The Big 12 barely trailed the ACC in terms of overall conference strength last season and the results of the first round only confirmed those numbers.

John Calipari - As Fox Sports Jeff Goodman astutely pointed out, expect plenty of John Calipari mug shots in near future drafts unless he bolts for a dream NBA job. Five of his Kentucky Wildcats from one recruiting class were taken in the first round on Thursday, from John Wall at #1 overall to Daniel Orton at #29. Next year could see two more Kentucky players announced early in the draft in center Enes Kanter and point guard Brandon Knight with forward Terrence Jones another potential first rounder. In 2011-12 when Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and another top ten recruit TBD join Big Blue Nation, it’ll be the same Calipari hugging his revolving door of players on a June night in NYC. Don’t think this is just Calipari doing this for his departing players or that recruits are not noticing. He’s fully aware of what his face constantly showing up on ESPN’ s cameras means: furthering his reputation of sending talented players to the riches of the NBA. And quickly.

Paul George - It’s been a quick ascension for George, a workout wonder who saw his draft stock shoot up in the last few weeks until he landed to Indiana at #10. It’s doubtful even George saw this coming after being lightly recruited out of Palmdale, Calif, and settling on Fresno State for his college choice. George saw both his FG% and 3pt% plummet from his freshman to sophomore seasons and he only upped his PPG by 2.5 and RPG by 1.0 along with very low assist totals. He also played for a 15-18 WAC team against far more inferior competition than, say, Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who went one pick later to Memphis. Henry averaged 13.5 PPG, shot 46% from two and 42% from three on a team filled with players who needed touches.

Greivis Vasquez’ reaction - I don’t think anyone who watched Greivis Vasquez play four years at Maryland was surprised when they saw the emotional Venezuelan surrounded by family and friends in the crowd at Radio City Music Hall waiting for his name to be chosen. Vasquez has been projected as an early-to-mid second round pick- a scorer, leader and improved floor general that simply lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards. Yet rumblings surfaced that Memphis loved Vasquez at #28. Sure enough, when he was pegged at that exact spot, the only outward, raw emotion we saw Thursday night emerged as Vasquez pumped his fist, hugged his family and practically sprinted to shake David Stern’s hand on the draft stage. Congratulations to Greivis.

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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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Morning Five: 03.11.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

  1. Folks, if there was ever a day in our history where we actually fit the word ubiquitous in our little slogan at the top of the screen there, today is that day (ok, maybe tomorrow and Saturday too).  Nevertheless, we will be providing coast to coast coverage at no fewer than six of the major conference tournaments today and throughout the weekend — ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10, Conference USA and the WAC (tomorrow we’ll add the Mountain West to our slate) .  We’ll be reporting from each venue with RTC Live (see RTC Live box above left), but we’ll also provide nightly diaries from our correspondents on site as well.  Whether in the comments, the live-blogs or lurking, we hope to have you stop by throughout the weekend.
  2. From the that-didn’t-take-very-long department, Jeff Goodman reported last night that Iowa State’s Craig Brackins is expected to announce his intention to go pro within the next few days.  Iowa State’s season probably ended in an 82-75 loss to Texas in the Big 12 Tournament first round yesterday evening.  Brackins’ teammate, Marquis Gilstrap, had applied for a sixth year of eligibility, but the NCAA denied his request and he too has finished his career as a Cyclone.
  3. The SEC Tournament begins today, and the league may re-visit how it seeds its teams as soon as next year given that schools such as East #3 Tennessee and #4 Florida went 12-0 against the SEC West this season but still did not earn a bye into the quarterfinals.  If you include the two SEC East teams who received byes — Kentucky and Vanderbilt — these four teams went an incredible 24-0 against the western half of the conference.  Re-seeding teams #1-#12 would reward the four best teams in the league rather than the two best in each division.
  4. You undoubtedly know that Oregon’s Ernie Kent has told his players that he’s out as the coach of the Ducks and that he predicted his team would win the Pac-10 Tournament this week, but did you know that former Seton Hall coach PJ Carlesimo is angling for the job?  Will Latrell Sprewell also be joining the staff as an assistant?
  5. In case you missed it elsewhere, we have the potential for one of the greatest feel-good stories in NCAA Tournament history this coming weekend at Montana if Anthony Johnson’s wife, Shaunte Nance-Johnson, can help her team (the Lady Grizzlies) make it to the NCAAs in much the same way her husband did last night (a ridiculous 42-point shooting exhibition).  Even if she doesn’t put the team on her back — she is a reserve, after all — the fact that she  was the one who resurrected AJ’s career a few years ago when he was out of basketball completely is cause for celebration.  We don’t know for a fact that a husband/wife pair have never played in the NCAA Tournament at the same time, but the odds of it are minuscule and we’d absolutely love to see it happen for both of them.  Sorry, Sacramento State/Montana State, no offense intended, but we here at RTC (America?) will be rooting for Montana on Friday to move into the Big Sky Championship game and beyond.
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Big 12 Tourney Daily Diary: 1st Round

Posted by jstevrtc on March 11th, 2010

I love days like yesterday.  Sure, the drive was a beautiful 8.5 hours of the same view — that is to say, farms, farms, and more farms, and where there weren’t actual farms, there was grass.  And it’s all flatter than a Shaquille O’Neal free throw.  But no matter the surroundings, it’s one of my favorite things to do.  Is there any greater feeling — especially right after thawing out from a tough winter — than packing a bag and a cooler (of fruit, granola, and bottled water, mind you), filling the gas tank, and hitting the road?  There aren’t many, for me.  Especially when the Big 12 Tournament is waiting at the end of that journey.  Don’t get me wrong, though — I was thankful for the satellite radio.  Have the satellite radio guys received their Nobel Prize, yet?  One second, I’m listening to ESPN Radio or Sporting News Radio dudes talking about hoops.  Then the NFL talk starts and I switch to, say, the BBC’s Europe Today, or a song by Gomez, or some blues from B.B. King.  Then back to hoops talk.  Fantastic.  And no, we’re not affiliated with them in any way.  I’m just being honest.

One of the best parts of any journey like this is when I text my friends who are at their jobs.  I’ll send them some generic message asking them what they’re doing, and they’ll respond with some variation of, “I’m at the office, knee-deep in status reports/memos/directives, trying to knock things off my action items list.  You never text during work hours.  What’s up?”  And I’ll type, “Oh, nothing.  I was driving to the Big 12 Tournament, enjoying some tunes, a gorgeous drive, a 70-degree day, and the prospect of four days of top-flight basketball.  Thought I’d give you a shout.  But you go back to your thing.”  Even though this is a blog and I’m allowed to type almost anything, I’ll spare you the vitriol that my friends offered in response.  Not even close to being safe for work.

So, as the comedian says, I’m here all week.  This’ll mostly be about basketball, but you might see some reviews of barbecue restaurants and/or interviews and pics from the festivities here.  This is such a great time of year, and this is the conference tournament at which to be.  Now, some notes from Wednesday’s games:

Texas 82, Iowa State 75

I didn’t know what we were going to get in this one, since Texas was obviously reeling, having dropped eight of 14, and Iowa State had just scored that victory over Kansas.  But is this what Texas needed, meaning the second season to arrive?  There’s a small part of me that’s been wondering if Texas mentally checked out at the midpoint of the season after they took their first loss because of the boredom that can take over teams.  A longshot, I know.  But there aren’t many reasons why a team this talented and athletic can’t get themselves out of first gear, a place they seemed to be stuck since the middle of January.

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RTC Live: Big 12 First Round – Texas vs Iowa State

Posted by jstevrtc on March 10th, 2010

Time for the big boys.  You can’t be a college basketball fan and not love the early days of Championship Week when small-conference legends are made, and NCAA Tournament dreams are realized.  But you we’re getting close to Selection Sunday when the major conferences start up.  Perhaps the biggest and baddest conference of the season gets going today, and we’ll be on hand for the nightcap.  In terms of its Tournament status, Texas isn’t really on shaky ground, but after dropping eight of your last 14, you don’t want to be giving the selection committee any more reason to consider leaving you on the sidelines.  A lot of hoop-o-philes think that Texas is one of those teams that just lost focus during the long regular season and that they’ll get the engine revved back up to full speed in the post-season.  Well, here we are.  We’ll see what they come up with in their Big 12 first round tilt against Craig Brackins and an Iowa State team who’s got a little momentum after that victory over Kansas State on Saturday.  It starts at 9:30 PM ET and you’ll see us there a few minutes early.  Join us!

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

  1. Kansas (13-0, 27-1) - After taking care of Texas A&M in College Station and Oklahoma on consecutive Big Mondays, there is only one game left that I could see the Jayhawks losing (at Mizzou). However, after Kansas dominated the Tigers at home earlier in the year, it looks like KU is in great shape to finish the Big 12 season undefeated.
  2. Kansas State (9-3, 22-4) - This year’s surprise team won two games against some of the conferences’ worst teams. The Wildcats are in the best position to finish second in the conference as of today, but their next three games (at Texas Tech, vs. Mizzou, at Kansas) are definitely not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
  3. Texas A&M (8-4, 19-7) - The Aggies and Wildcats are in similar positions. TAMU has the tiebreaker over Missouri, so if they take care of business down the stretch they will grab the three seed in the conference tournament. However, their last four games are all losable (at Baylor, vs. Texas, vs. Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma). Bryan Davis is coming on strong for this team as of late, and he will have to continue his dominant inside play if A&M wants to hold on to a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament.
  4. Baylor (7-5, 20-6) - I can’t fault the Bears for losing in Stillwater, especially when the best player in the conference is on the opposing team. In my opinion, Baylor has the best chance of any Big 12 team outside the state of Kansas to make the Elite Eight. Watch out for Quincy Acy, he is going to be key for Baylor in this home stretch.
  5. Missouri (8-4, 20-7) - The Tigers got a huge win over Texas at home on Wednesday that probably propelled them into the NCAA Tournament. Of the teams fighting for a first round bye in the Big 12 tournament I think Mizzou is least likely to get the spot because of its two games against Kansas State and Kansas, plus Baylor and Texas A&M have tiebreakers over them. Still, Mike Anderson and this MU team have been proven many critics wrong all season, so there is really no science to accurately predicting how the Tigers will finish.
  6. Texas (7-5, 21-6) - Luckily for the Longhorns they somewhat control their own destiny. If they beat Texas A&M in Lubbock and Baylor in Waco they will most likely finish in the top four of the conference. The problem is that UT has been a pretty bad road team in Big 12 play (3-4 to be exact), so any Longhorns fans that blindly assume they’ll win those two games are most likely hallucinating.
  7. Oklahoma State (7-5, 19-7) - The best news for the Cowboys in the last two weeks has to be the fact that Obi Muonelo has been stepping up his game. In games when Muonelo is in double figures scoring, OSU is 14-3. So it is pretty obvious that he is key to the Cowboys’ success. Outside of Muonelo, James Anderson continues to awe college basketball fans around the nation. He is certainly making a case for why he should be a First Team All-American.
  8. Texas Tech (4-8, 16-10) - The Red Raiders are officially dead after dropping two games last week. To their credit, no one thought they would even be in the discussion come February. Good news for Tech fans is that Pat Knight has this program going in the right direction, and he is recruiting some pretty good players for future seasons.
  9. Colorado (3-9, 12-14) - The Buffaloes picked up a nice win over OU in Boulder on Wednesday, and they have the opportunity to maybe get two more wins before the season is over (vs. Iowa State, at Nebraska). I’d say this year has been somewhat of a success for CU, the Buffs acquired another prolific scorer in Alec Burks and they have been a lot more competitive in conference play.
  10. Oklahoma (4-9, 13-14) - The 09-10 Oklahoma Sooners are the definition of letdown. They were returning one of the best freshman from the 08-09 season, and had a stellar recruiting class around him yet they couldn’t get it done. Tiny Gallon has returned, but with Willie Warren out due to mono it’s hard to see OU pulling off an unprecedented run in the Big 12 Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.
  11. Iowa State (2-10, 13-14) - The Cyclones have lost some heartbreakers this season, but overall it has also been a big letdown. Many people thought this would be the year ISU returned to its glory days and got back into the NCAA Tournament on the back of Craig Brackins. However, Brackins has seemed to have regressed from last season, and while JUCO transfer Marquis Gilstrap has made a huge impact it hasn’t been enough to get ISU even on the bubble.
  12. Nebraska (1-11, 13-14) - One of the more underrated players in the conference is Ryan Anderson of Nebraska. The Cornhuskers’ leading scorer is a great three-point shooter, and does a pretty good job rebounding the basketball for his height (6’4). Outside of Anderson, NU has few bright spots.

Player of the WeekJames Anderson (G), Oklahoma State - Anderson had his third thirty-point game this week in a huge win over Baylor at home. In that game he also pulled down 12 boards and was 80 percent from the free throw line. Since his “bad” game against Texas Tech the Cowboys are 3-0 and Anderson is averaging 27 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Team of the Week – Oklahoma State Cowboys – Travis Ford and his Cowboys need only two more regular season wins to feel good about their chances for an NCAA at-large berth. This last week moved OSU from a team on the wrong side of the bubble to feeling comfortable especially after the huge upset over Baylor at home on Saturday.

This Week’s Predictions

Kansas State at Texas Tech (Tuesday February 23,  8:00 PM ET) - I usually wouldn’t see Kansas State losing this matchup, but they have been cutting it close against lesser opponents recently. If the Wildcats let up at all in this contest they will be on the wrong end of the scoreboard. On top of that, Mike Singletary is one of the better players in the conference and he usually plays very well in Lubbock. It isn’t a Big 12 Weekly Update if I don’t mention Jacob Pullen, but I think he will have a tough time against the Red Raiders who still haven’t given up hope on making the Tournament. By no means will a win get TTU instant consideration for a bid, but Pat Knight will have his players going hard like it’s a tournament play-in game. So I’m picking a huge upset here, and saying that the Red Raiders take down one of the hottest teams in the nation on Tuesday.

Winner: Texas Tech

Nebraska at Iowa State (Wednesday February 23, 7:30 PM ET) - Both teams are on long losing streaks and they really want a win. You never know what can happen with a talented team like Iowa State if they can put together a run before the conference tournament starts. Nebraska is an abysmal road team, and I don’t see them putting up too much of a fight, even against Iowa State.

Winner: Iowa State

Colorado at Missouri (Wednesday February 23, 7:30 PM ET) - The only team the Tigers have really dominated in conference play is Colorado. Mike Anderson has never lost to the Buffaloes in his tenure at Mizzou, and I don’t see it happening for the first time in Columbia with his team playing their second to last home game of the season. Keith Ramsey had a big game in the first matchup between these two teams so look for him to be a key part of Missouri’s attack.

Winner: Missouri

Texas A&M at Baylor (Wednesday February 23, 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) - Here is a tremendous matchup that has huge implications for first-round byes in the conference tournament. Neither team can afford a loss, especially Baylor, because teams like Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma State are nipping at their heels attempting to overtake them in the conference standings. It provides a great inside matchup between Bryan Davis and Ekpe Udoh, and also a great guard matchup between Donald Sloan and B.J. Holmes of A&M vs. LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter of Baylor. These teams are about as even as any in the conference, so I will go with the home team in this game and say the Bears win an overtime thriller.

Winner: Baylor

Oklahoma State at Texas (Wednesday February 23, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) - If any of you remember the Big Monday game between these two teams a few weeks back, you must recall James Anderson’s stellar first half performance. Then OSU faded in the second half and Texas took care of business in Stillwater. UT has a lot to play for because they still think they can win out, including the Big 12 Tournament, and maybe get a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which would be a tremendous accomplishment at this point in the season. Damion James is the key to UT’s success, as he had an ok performance against Mizzou and the Longhorns lost that game on the road. If UT wants a big win they need James and Dexter Pittman to play like they were at the beginning of the season. I don’t like how Texas has been playing lately, but you still have to go with the Horns in Austin.

Winner: Texas

Iowa State at Colorado (Saturday February 27, 1:30 PM ET) - It’s a possible CBI Final preview in Boulder on Saturday. I like the Buffs in this game because they are the better team, and believe it or not they are not easy to beat at home.

Winner: Colorado

Baylor at Oklahoma (Saturday February 27, 1:30 PM ET) - The Bears should watch out here because it is the definition of a trap game. Norman will be loud as always, and the possibility of having Willie Warren back (although there is no way he would be close to 100 percent) is scary for BU fans. Tommy Mason-Griffin of OU is one to look for in this contest, as he has been the most efficient player for the Sooners all season and can be deadly from behind the arc. All that said, I don’t see any scenario in which Scott Drew lets his team lose focus and let this one slip away.

Winner: Baylor

Texas at Texas A&M (Saturday February 27, 2:00 PM ET ESPN) - The Longhorns seem to always struggle in College Station, then again so does most of the conference. I think Texas has the advantage of many mismatches in this game, for example UT’s experienced frontcourt against TAMU’s relatively inexperienced one. It’s hard for me to pick against the Aggies at home though, especially when the game is going to be sold out against an intrastate rival.

Winner: Texas A&M

Texas Tech at Nebraska (Saturday February 27, 4:00 PM ET) - The Red Raiders should be hot coming off the Kansas State game and will blow out the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. NU is just overmatched athletically against every team in the Big 12, so its hard to think they will win any more games this season.

Winner: Texas Tech

Kansas at Oklahoma State (Saturday February 27, 4:00 PM ET CBS) - The best player in the conference will be going up against the best team in the conference on Saturday in Stillwater. Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich are looking to stay undefeated, but James Anderson and Obi Muonelo should provide a tough roadblock for the Jayhawks to break through. I love Travis Ford and what he has done with the Cowboys’ program, and there is no doubt that Stillwater will probably be one of the louder places in the country this weekend, but I’ve learned my lesson picking against KU before. This team is too good, and they always find a way to win the big game.

Winner: Kansas

Missouri at Kansas State (Saturday February 27, 8:00 PM ET ESPNU) – Everyone in Manhattan has been waiting to get revenge on Missouri since the Tigers upset K-State in Columbia back in late December. Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels will be the key players for K-State if they are going to destroy MU like they’re capable of doing. I think Mizzou comes in and plays tough for the first 30 minutes, but then they will hit a second half scoring drought and the Wildcats will pull away with a big conference win over a rival.

Winner: Kansas State

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (11-0, 25-1) - The Jayhawks have pretty much made the rest of the Big 12 look like they belong in the Pac-10. The only game remaining on KU’s schedule where they have a reasonable chance to lose is the last game of the year, at Missouri.
  2. Kansas State (7-3, 20-4) - The Wildcats took care of the bottom feeders, beating ISU, CU, and NU in their last three games. They have another cake game at home against Nebraska and then they have a tough four game stretch starting with Oklahoma and ending with Kansas.
  3. Texas A&M (7-4, 18-7) - TAMU had the opportunity to pull off a huge upset on Monday night, but Kansas was just a little tougher and grittier down the stretch.
  4. Baylor  (6-4, 19-5) - What a win for the Bears over Missouri. After a very questionable intentional foul call on the Bears, Baylor came back and won the game on an Ekpe Udoh tip in. Baylor has already solidified their NCAA tournament hopes, but now they’re in a five-team battle for a top four seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
  5. Texas (6-4, 20-5) - Well if the 40-point win over Nebraska wasn’t a statement game, I don’t know what a statement game is. UT really needed to clear their heads before they start a road trip against two teams desperately in search of another signature win (Missouri and Texas Tech).
  6. Missouri (6-4, 18-7) – It was heartbreak city for the Tigers in Waco on Saturday.  Mizzou needs to beat Texas if they want a bye in the Big 12 Tournament.
  7. Oklahoma State (5-5, 17-7) - James Anderson came to play against Oklahoma, and unfortunately many OU players did not, literally.
  8. Texas Tech (4-6, 16-8) – The Red Raiders were so close to getting back to .500 in the conference, but they just couldn’t hold the lead against Texas A&M late in the game.  TTU needed that win because their next three games should be losses.
  9. Oklahoma (4-6, 13-11) – As if things weren’t bad enough in Norman, now they have two freshmen suspended (including Tiny Gallon), and Willie Warren is out with an illness. This year has got to be one of the biggest disappointments at Oklahoma for quite some time.
  10. Iowa State (2-8, 13-12) – The Cyclones were my sleeper pick this season, but that didn’t pan out nearly as well as I would’ve liked it to. Marquis Gilstrap will be back next season, but Craig Brackins will probably be going to the NBA.
  11. Colorado (2-8, 11-13) – If Colorado just had a big man they would probably be closer to around .500 in the conference than where they are at right now. Cory Higgins and Alec Burks are talents that will help them next season (if Higgins skips the draft), but other than those two players there isn’t much the Buffaloes have to throw at you.
  12. Nebraska (1-9, 13-12) – The 40-point loss could not have helped Doc Sadler make a case for why he should keep his job.

Player of the WeekJames Anderson (G), Oklahoma State. Anderson went for 31 points against his archrivals. Right now he is almost guaranteed the conference Player of the Year honor in my book.

Team of the Week – Baylor Bears.  They cut it close against Nebraska and Missouri, but they ended up getting two huge victories. Ekpe Udoh, LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter are some of the best players in the conference and it’s scary that they’re all on the same team.

This Week’s Predictions

  • Texas Tech at Baylor (Tuesday February 16, 8:00 PM ET) - I don’t think its possible for TTU fans to fathom making the NCAA Tournament after the loss to TAMU on Saturday. Sure, if the Red Raiders won at Baylor it would be a huge win but it wouldn’t do enough for them in the long run. I don’t see Tech giving Baylor much of a game. The three-headed monster of Udoh, Carter, and Dunn are going to be too much for Pat Knight and his Raiders to handle.  Winner: Baylor
  • Nebraska at Kansas State (Wednesday February 17, 7:00 PM ET) - It’s going to be tough for NU to play hard after that forty point loss against Texas on Saturday. Kansas State will also show no mercy now that they’re moving up in the national rankings. Look for Jacob Pullen and company to continue their winning streak.  Winner: Kansas State
  • Oklahoma State at Iowa State (Wednesday February 17, 8:00 PM ET) – This is a must win game for OSU because right now the Cowboys are squarely on the bubble. OSU cannot afford another bad road loss and they need to keep this winning streak going if they want any shot at a top four seed in the conference tournament. With all that said, I think Iowa State will pull off the upset behind great play from Marquis Gilstrap and Craig Brackins. The Cyclones almost pulled off a win at Missouri last Wednesday and I think they will find a way to contain Marshall Moses, which will leave OSU throwing up a lot of bad outside shots.  Winner: Iowa State
  • Oklahoma at Colorado (Wednesday February 17, 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) - I like Colorado in this game for various reasons. First, I’ve always liked the scoring duo of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. Second, there is no guarantee OU will even have some of their “better” players on the floor. Third, it’s in Boulder, which can be a pretty tough place to play.  Winner: Colorado
  • Texas at Missouri (Wednesday February 17, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) – This is definitely the most intriguing game on Wednesday’s slate. Texas is on a roll it seems after blowing out Nebraska. Missouri is trying to forget the heartbreaking loss to Baylor and get another signature win for their tournament resume. The Longhorns’ big weaknesses are turning the ball over and shooting free throws, two things that Missouri will make you do if you want to beat them. Missouri’s glaring weakness is the fact that they don’t have a big frontcourt player that can compete with the likes of Damion James and Dexter Pittman. I’m taking the Longhorns in this game because they are the hot team and I think they might be gelling at the right time.  Winner: Texas
  • Baylor at Oklahoma State (Saturday February 20, 1:30 PM ET) - James Anderson has had some pretty impressive performances at home this season, and I believe he’ll continue with that trend on Saturday when OSU avenges their loss to Iowa State and upsets a ranked Baylor team at home. The Bears have seemed to garner a ranking and then lose it the next week every single time they’re in the polls, so I don’t see why that will change this week.   Winner: Oklahoma State
  • Texas at Texas Tech (Saturday February 20, 2:00 PM ET ESPN) - The Longhorns put up 93 points on TTU the last time these two teams played so I don’t think there’s any question that this one will be high scoring. If the Red Raiders want to win they need to contain the inside and force Texas’ young guards to make shots. Sometimes Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton will make their shots, but I think you’re better off putting the hands in the game of those young guards than James or Pittman on the inside if your Tech. Still, it won’t be enough to stop the Longhorns, even in Lubbock.  Winner: Texas
  • Colorado at Kansas (Saturday February 20, 4:00 PM ET) – Here is the rematch of one of the most surprising games in the Big 12 this season, in which Colorado overcame a 16-point deficit to force overtime in Boulder. This time around I don’t think CU has any chance and this should be all but over before the second half begins.  Winner: Kansas
  • Texas A&M at Iowa State (Saturday February 20, 4:00 PM ET) - The Aggies play an up-tempo style of basketball that the Cyclones just can’t compete with. Mark Turgeon is making a case for Coach of the Year in the conference after losing Derrick Roland to a gruesome injury earlier in the year, and Turgeon will be able to lead TAMU to victory even if it is a close game.  Winner: Texas A&M
  • Kansas State at Oklahoma (Saturday February 20, 6:00 PM ET ESPNU) - In my season preview I listed this as the game that would be the battle for third place in the Big 12. Obviously I was way off, but KSU does have the opportunity to distance itself from the pack if they can pull off a win, which is sometimes tough to do in Norman no matter who is on the court for the Sooners. In the end, however, Kansas State will have enough firepower to wipe OU off the court.  Winner: Kansas State
  • Missouri at Nebraska (Saturday February 20, 6:00 PM ET) - Mizzou had a rough time in the first 30 minutes with Nebraska when they played in Columbia. However, it was one of Missouri’s worst shooting performances of the year and they still won by 17. If the Tigers can shoot well out of the gate this one shouldn’t be too close.  Winner: Missouri 
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (8-0, 22-1) - The Jayhawks have been cutting it very close against some of the conference’s weaker opponents. The game in Boulder was incredibly surprising given that Alec Burks was out of the lineup for the Buffaloes, and KU led by 16 at one point in that game. Then on Saturday the Jayhawks had a very close call with Nebraska in Lawrence, and if they’re not careful they could see their number one ranking slip away once again if they drop a game to a far lesser opponent.
  2. Texas (5-3, 19-4) - The Longhorns stay at number two because I still believe they are the second best team in the conference. Sure, they have had their share of rough performances, but with a veteran frontcourt and an experienced coach, I don’t see UT sliding any further than where they are now.
  3. Kansas State (6-3, 19-4) - The Wildcats still can’t get the monkey off their back, even when they’re playing the Jayhawks in Manhattan. The tiebreaker against Texas is going to help a lot when it’s determined who will get second place in the conference.
  4. Texas A&M (6-3, 17-6) - I feel like the Aggies probably had one of their best weeks ever. They went from being a team on the bubble to a team that has all but secured its spot in the NCAA tournament. Congratulations to TAMU, especially after the loss of Derrick Roland.
  5. Missouri (5-3, 17-6) - The Tigers destroyed Colorado, but that was expected because that’s the only team in the Big 12 that Mizzou can consistently outrebound. The Tigers have a good shot at beating Iowa State in Columbia on Wednesday in a game that, depending on how the others go, could have the Tigers sitting alone in second place.
  6. Baylor (4-4, 17-5) - That was a bad loss at A&M, mostly because they blew a late lead. The Bears are not in the tournament yet in my opinion, but if they beat Missouri at home on Saturday, it should solidify their spot.
  7. Oklahoma (4-4, 13-9) - Huge home win for the Sooners, but its probably too-little-too-late as far as the tournament is concerned. It seems this OU team is destined for the NIT.
  8. Oklahoma State (4-5, 16-7) - The Cowboys really had a tough time in Lubbock on Saturday. It proves that this team is nothing but James Anderson, and when he got into foul trouble early in the first half, OSU didn’t know what to do.
  9. Texas Tech (3-5, 15-7) - The Red Raiders kept their slim NCAA tourney hopes alive with an “upset” over Oklahoma State on Saturday. In order for this team to make the tournament they’re going to need one heck of a second half. Finishing 5-3 in their next eight games with a win in the Big 12 tournament would still probably have TTU on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday.
  10. Iowa State (2-6, 13-10) - Good news for Iowa State: Craig Brackins is back after his 30-point performance against KSU. Bad News: You’re still in 10th place.
  11. Colorado (2-7, 11-12) - That was a terrible follow-up to a great game against Kansas. Missouri is a tough team to play, but many CU fans felt that this was a game they could steal from the Tigers. Cory Higgins fouling out certainly didn’t help, but the game was out of reach by then regardless.
  12. Nebraska (1-7, 13-10) - Kudos to the Cornhuskers for not giving up against KU and showing some pride. I think if Nebraska plays like that every game, they could steal a few more wins at home this season.

Team of the Week - Baylor Bears.  It is no easy task beating Texas in Austin, especially when arguably your two best players (LaceDarius Dunn and Ekpe Udoh) foul out in OT.  Tweety Carter carried this team on his shoulders and it paid off, because now the Bears have another signature road win to show the tournament committee.

Player of the Week – James Anderson (G) Oklahoma State. If there was any question as to who the best player in the conference was, James Anderson gave us a clear answer last week. With 31 points against Missouri and 28 points against Texas (although both came in losses), Anderson showed why is without a doubt the most prolific scorer in the conference, and should be considered for 1st team All-American honors.

This Week’s Predictions

Kansas at Texas (Monday February 8th, 9:00 PM ET ESPN) – This is the game that both teams and all Big 12 fans have been looking forward to since the pre-season rankings were released. The number one team in the conference (and the nation) will be playing in an incredibly hostile environment against the only team in the conference capable of matching their interior size. For Damion James and Dexter Pittman, Texas’ senior forwards, this is probably the biggest game of their careers. This game will be the difference between a #3/#4 seed for Texas in the NCAA tournament, and the possibility of attaining a #1 seed if they were to beat Kansas again in the Big 12 Tournament. When it’s all said and done, I think that the environment will be too much for KU to handle, and they will drop their first game in conference play. They narrowly escaped Manhattan with a win last Saturday, and this time I don’t think they’ll be quite so lucky.

Winner: Texas

Texas Tech at Oklahoma (Tuesday February 9th, 8:00 PM ET) - Two teams with totally different seasons thus far, but they’ve both let their fans down in one way or another. Norman is an incredibly tough place to play, and if there is one thing Oklahoma is good at its scoring in bunches. Pair those facts with the fact that TTU has one of the worst defenses in the conference and we have a victory for OU.

Winner: Oklahoma

Iowa State at Missouri (Wednesday February 10th, 7:30 PM ET) – The Tigers are not going to lose two games in a row at home, even if they are terribly overmatched on the inside. Iowa State has had problems turning the ball over, and that plays right into Mizzou’s gameplan. Not only do I expect Missouri to win this game, but I don’t even think it will be that close.

Winner: Missouri

Baylor at Nebraska (Wednesday February 10th, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) – The Bears overmatch Nebraska in almost every category, then again so does almost all of the conference. Ekpe Udoh should have a huge game, as Nebraska has absolutely no one that can stop him on the inside.

Winner: Baylor

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on January 30th, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (19-1, 5-0) – The Jayhawks reclaim the number one spot this week after blowing out Iowa State and Missouri. Kansas looks pretty scary right now, but they may hit a roadblock in Manhattan on Saturday.
  2. Texas (18-2, 4-1) - Tough week for the Longhorns, suffering two losses. The good news for UT is that they should be 7-1 when they host Kansas on February 8.
  3. Oklahoma State (16-4, 4-2) – The Cowboys had the best week of any Big 12 team, defeating Kansas State on the road and wasting Texas A&M in Stillwater. James Anderson might be the best player in the Big 12, but he still is receiving little recognition outside of the conference.
  4. Kansas State (17-3, 4-2) – The Wildcats have plenty of opportunities to make an impact in the final conference standings. Hosting KU on Saturday means they’ll have a chance to get back in the conference race.
  5. Missouri (15-5, 3-2) - Mizzou’s biggest problem right now is that they can’t shoot the basketball. Their defense will keep them close in most games (obviously not in Lawrence) but they have to make shots if they want to play to their full potential.
  6. Texas A&M (14-6, 3-3) - The Aggies were very close to upsetting Oklahoma State on Tuesday night, but they fell just short in a high scoring second half. The biggest problem for TAMU is they have little production outside of Donald Sloan, the most underrated player in all of college basketball.
  7. Baylor (15-4, 2-3) – The Bears are going to look back at the loss against Colorado and wonder how different their season would be if they had won that game.  Granted the Bears have had the toughest Big 12 schedule thus far, they’re still in a great position to make the NCAA tournament.
  8. Oklahoma (12-8, 3-3) - The Sooners have to do so much in conference play to make the NCAA tournament, it’s a little bit ridiculous. They will need to win at least seven of their last ten games to even be considered, which will not be easy because there are three sure losses in those ten games (Texas twice and at Kansas).
  9. Texas Tech (14-6, 2-4) - The Red Raiders have little chance of making postseason play with no quality wins to their name.  I still think this team can pull some upsets in conference play, but that is all.
  10. Colorado (11-9, 2-4) - The Buffaloes already surpassed their win total from last season, and they have the opportunity to finish better than second to last in the conference for the first time since 2006. If Cory Higgins stays at school instead of entering the draft, CU will be a dangerous team next year.
  11. Iowa State  (12-8, 1-4) – I’ve officially given up on the Cyclones. Craig Brackins seems to have regressed and this team just isn’t playing the style of basketball I thought they would play. They still take bad shots and play minimal defense.
  12. Nebraska (12-8, 0-5) - Lincoln should just get used to having a good football team and sacrificing the basketball program because of it. There is no professional talent on the Huskers roster, which is usually unheard of in power conferences.

Team of the WeekOklahoma State Cowboys – This team just took itself off the bubble for the time being. Travis Ford has OSU playing good basketball right now, and they may have the best player in the conference in James Anderson.

Player of the WeekTommy Mason-Griffin (G), Oklahoma – The freshman stepped up huge for the Sooners who could not afford to drop a home game against Iowa State. Mason-Griffin went off for 38 points and shot 62% from the field.

This Week’s Predictions

  • Oklahoma at Nebraska (Saturday January 30th, 1:30 PM ET) – OU certainly can’t afford to lose this game, and I don’t think there is any chance that they will. Lincoln is the most docile environment for a Big 12 basketball game, and the Sooners shouldn’t have any problem going in there and taking care of business.

Winner: Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma State at Missouri (Saturday January 30th, 2:OO PM ET ESPN2) - This is almost as intriguing of a game as the KU-KSU matchup. Mizzou is coming off one of worst losses in recent memory and Oklahoma State is rolling. I don’t think MU will have any answer for James Anderson, and the Tigers will fall to .500 in the conference, also ending their 31 game home win streak.

Winner: Oklahoma State

  • Baylor at Texas (Saturday January 30th, 4:00 PM ET) - The Bears continue their brutal Big 12 schedule when they visit Austin on Saturday. Texas knows that if they want to have the Kansas game to mean anything they need to win all of their conference games leading up to that epic matchup on February 8.

Winner: Texas

  • Kansas at Kansas State (Saturday January 30th, 7:00 PM ET) - The Wildcats are going to try to repeat their performance against UT, and block KU from regaining their number one ranking. I think Cole Aldrich will have a big day on the boards, and look for Xavier Henry to have one of his best games for KU this season. However, I think lightning will strike twice in Manhattan and K-State pulls off the upset over their archrival. Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente weren’t stars in their game against Texas, but this time I’d look for both of them to have huge games.

Winner: Kansas State

  • Texas Tech at Texas A&M (Saturday January 30th, 9:00 PM ET) - The Aggies need a win to stay in the mix for the NCAA tournament, and Donald Sloan should be able to will them to victory. The Red Raiders have been overachieving all season, and their finally crashing back down to earth.

Winner: Texas A&M

  • Colorado at Iowa State (Saturday January 30th, 9:00 PM ET) - No one is talking about Colorado’s freshman phenom, Alec Burks. Right now Burks is averaging almost 18 PPG and is the sole reason that Colorado isn’t sitting at last place in the conference standings this season. Burks and Higgins will have huge games against the Cyclones, and inch closer to finishing in the top half of the conference.

Winner: Colorado

  • Texas at Oklahoma State (Monday February 1st, 9:00 PM ET ESPN) - This is a game that I circled on the schedule early in the season. I love the matchup between the conferences two best players, Damion James and James Anderson. The difference between these two teams is that Texas has a ton of offensive weapons, and Oklahoma State has just one consistent scorer. If Obi Muonelo steps up for the Cowboys, I could envision a possible upset, but I’m taking the safe pick and going with the Longhorns.

Winner: Texas

  • Kansas State at Nebraska (Tuesday February 2nd, 8:00 PM ET) – No chance the Cornhuskers catch the Wildcats off guard, even if KSU pulls the upset over Kansas on Saturday. Frank Martin saw what happened after they beat Texas, and won’t let his team enjoy the Kansas win for too long.

Winner: Kansas State

  • Kansas at Colorado (Wednesday February 3rd, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) - The Buffaloes should be able to keep it close for at least the first half, but we saw what Cole Aldrich does to teams with no frontcourt in Kansas’ game against Missouri. The Jayhawks should have no problem marching into Boulder and coming out with a victory.

Winner: Kansas

  • Iowa State at Baylor (Wednesday February 3rd, 7:30 PM ET) - Ekpe Udoh and LaceDarius Dunn have been one of the best inside-outside duos in the conference. Udoh has solidified himself as an NBA prospect, and Dunn is not far behind. Iowa State will have problems containing either of them, and lose a blowout in Waco.

Winner: Baylor

  • Texas A&M at Missouri (Wednesday February 3rd 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) – Mizzou should be able to contain TAMU’s guards with their press, and I think the Tigers will have a relatively easy victory. Sloan will get his points, but he doesn’t have many other options on offense that will be able to get through Mizzou’s great defense.

Winner: Missouri

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on January 21st, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings:

  1. Texas (17-1, 3-1) – I can’t fault Texas for losing on the road to Kansas State for two reasons. First, Kansas State is a great team that deserves their top ten rankings, and second because it was a road game in a conference where the home team consistently comes out on top.
  2. Kansas (17-1, 3-0) – The Jayhawks just barely squeaked out a win over Baylor behind great play from Marcus Morris and Sherron Collins. KU looks like they’re ready to make a big run and separate themselves from all the other contenders in the conference.
  3. Kansas State (16-2, 3-1) – I really thought that KSU would be overmatched against Texas, but the Wildcats won the game by dominating what was thought to be the best frontcourt in the nation.  Jamar Samuels and Rodney McGruder were the heroes for Frank Martin’s squad in their biggest home victory since 1994.
  4. Missouri (14-4, 2-1) – The Tigers blew a big lead against the Sooners in Norman on Saturday, but they should be able to rebound at home against Nebraska. Mizzou will put their 30 game home winning streak on the line against the Cornhuskers.
  5. Baylor (14-3, 2-2) – I really like how the Bears are playing at this point in the season.  Last night they played a very close game against KU on the road, which shows that this Baylor team has a lot of pride.  Ekpe Udoh is the key to this team’s success, but it should be easy for them to win most of their games against Big 12 South opponents (excluding Texas).
  6. Texas A&M (13-5, 2-2) – The Aggies are squarely on the bubble as we head into the last week of January. The win over Oklahoma was key for this team’s tournament hopes, and it is nice for TAMU fans to see production out of guard B.J. Holmes.
  7. Oklahoma State (14-4, 2-2) – The Cowboys have the toughest stretch in their schedule coming up, so it should tell us if this Oklahoma State team is good enough to play in the NCAA Tournament or if they are destined for the NIT.
  8. Oklahoma (11-7, 2-2) – The Sooners got a huge win over Mizzou at home, but they may have seen their tournament hopes slip away with the loss to Texas A&M on Tuesday night. Seven losses before we hit February is far too many for a team with so much talent.
  9. Texas Tech (13-5, 1-3) – The Red Raiders’ very weak non-conference schedule probably is hurting this team more than it is helping them. TTU needs to get back to .500 in the conference before we can start talking postseason again.
  10. Colorado (10-8,1-3) – I think we will see more wins for Colorado in Boulder, but I really don’t think CU will be able to pick up any wins on the road unless the game is in Ames or Lincoln.
  11. Iowa State (12-6, 1-2) – The Cyclones have fought hard in all of their conference games thus far. Their first three, that is.  It’s a long Big 12 season and it’s a loaded conference.
  12. Nebraska (12-6, 0-3) – NU may have seen its only potential win slip out of their hands when they blew a halftime lead against ISU.

Team of the WeekKansas State Wildcats - Really a no-brainer here, after the Wildcats knocked off the number one team. KSU got a lot of help from the Longhorns’ terrible free throw shooting, but that shouldn’t take any credit away from the outstanding play from Kansas State’s frontcourt.

Player of the WeekJamar Samuels, F Kansas State – Coming off the bench and having a 20 point/12 rebound performance against the top rated team in the nation warrants you a Player of the Week honor in my book. Without Samuels I don’t see how KSU wins that game.

This Week’s Predictions:

Colorado at Texas A&M (Saturday January 23rd, 1:30 PM ET) - Donald Sloan and company have a lot to play for in this game. They can’t let CU steal a win from them on their home court. I think Cory Higgins will keep this one close, but in the end TAMU will pull away with the victory.  Winner: Texas A&M

Kansas at Iowa State (Saturday January 23rd, 2:00 PM ET ESPN) – I really think Iowa State can win this game. Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap are a tandem that can reek havoc on any team, and Kansas is not playing their best basketball as of late. I wish I had the guts to pick ISU, but I’m taking the safe route and going with the Jayhawks.   Winner: Kansas

Oklahoma State at Kansas State (Saturday January 23rd, 4:00 PM ET) – Historically, teams are very vulnerable after coming off a huge win. However, the crowd will be loud in Manhattan and I think we’ll see a hard-fought but relatively easy win for Frank Martin and Kansas State. Winner: Kansas State

Nebraska at Missouri (Saturday January 23rd, 6:00 PM ET) – The worst team in the Big 12 is coming into Columbia, where the Tigers have not lost in 30 straight contests, and the game is sold out. Nothing is pointing to a possible win for the Huskers.  Winner: Missouri

Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Saturday January 23rd, 8:00 PM ET) – Texas Tech is coming off their first Big 12 victory, but it was just a seven point win over Iowa State at home. TTU has been the team with the least bit of “home court advantage” in this conference, so I think OU comes into Lubbock and steals a win.  Winner: Oklahoma

Missouri at Kansas (Monday January 25th, 9:00 PM ET ESPN) – KU hates Missouri, and loves every opportunity it gets to thrash the Tigers on their home court. I don’t think that MU will get destroyed, but I don’t see any way how Mizzou could get a win over the Jayhawks in Lawrence.  Winner: Kansas

Kansas State at Baylor (Tuesday January 26th, 8:00 PM ET) – Baylor is in search of their first big win in the conference, and I think they will get it Tuesday night in Waco. Ekpe Udoh and LaceDarius Dunn will be too much for KSU to handle, and the Bears will help their case for the NCAA Tournament.  Winner: Baylor

Texas Tech at Texas (Wednesday January 27th, 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) – This will be Texas’ first home game since their loss to Kansas State, so there will be plenty of fans cheering on the Longhorns as they take on an in-state rival. Damion James may have his best game of the season against TTU, and show you why he should be National Player of the Year.  Winner: Texas

Texas A&M at Oklahoma State (Wednesday January 27th, 7:30 PM ET ESPN2)- Wow, this is going to be a very important game for both teams. Both are on the bubble looking for another win to help their tournament hopes. I like Oklahoma State in this one just because it is in Stillwater, but I will not be surprised at all if TAMU comes out with a victory.  Winner: Oklahoma State

Iowa State at Oklahoma (Wednesday January 27th, 9:00 PM ET) – Cade Davis and Willie Warren should each have big games, but there is no one in Oklahoma’s frontcourt that can contain Brackins or Gilstrap. I’m picking an upset here, as I think ISU will be too much for OU on the inside.  Winner: Iowa State

Nebraska at Colorado (Wednesday January 27th, 10:00 PM ET) – Colorado can match their win total from last season if they pick up a victory against lowly Nebraska, and that’s exactly what they will do. The Cornhuskers are just too far behind the rest of the conference in terms of talent level.  Winner: Colorado

Non-Conference Games:

Texas at Connecticut (Saturday January 23rd, 4:00 PM ET CBS) – UConn is overrated, even when they are out of the Top 25. I know that the game is in Connecticut, but there is no way that the Huskies will have an answer for Texas’ talent and depth.  Winner: Texas

Massachusetts at Baylor (Saturday January 23rd, 4:00 PM ET ESPNU) – UMass currently have seven wins. I really like Baylor’s chances in this one.  Winner: Baylor

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