Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on January 15th, 2010

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

Power Rankings:

  1. Texas (16-0, 2-0) – Right now the Longhorns are the best team in the nation, and Avery Bradley is playing at the level he needs to if UT wants to win the National Championship.
  2. Kansas (15-1, 1-0) – I was very surprised by the loss to Tennessee, but it isn’t enough for me to think that the Jayhawks still can’t win the Big 12, or the National Championship for that matter.
  3. Kansas State (14-2, 1-1) – The top three teams in the Big 12 have stayed pretty consistent this season. Denis Clemente was lights out in the first half against Texas A&M, and if he can continue to shoot the three like that KSU will be insanely dangerous.
  4. Missouri (14-3, 2-0) – So far, Mike Anderson and his Missouri Tigers are silencing everyone that doubted Mizzou could get back to playing at an elite level with the loss of their “Big Three”.
  5. Texas A&M (12-4, 1-1) – Picking the fifth best team in this conference is very difficult right now. I give the edge to the Aggies because of what they’ve been able to do in non-conference games, and I also think that Donald Sloan is one of the most underrated players in the nation.
  6. Baylor (13-2, 1-1) – Flukes happen, and I truly believe it was a fluke that Colorado beat Baylor on Wednesday night in Boulder. I’m not saying that the Buffaloes are a bad team, but I think Baylor can play at a much higher level.
  7. Oklahoma State (13-3, 1-1) – If I can say one thing about Oklahoma State, it’s that they have not surprised me at all this season. As of today, they are on the bubble like everybody thought they would be and their offense is totally reliant on James Anderson.
  8. Oklahoma (10-6, 1-1)Willie Warren can lead this team to an NCAA birth, but he has to play at the highest of his abilities. Tiny Gallon is finding his stride, and that’s everything but good news for the rest of the Big 12.
  9. Texas Tech (12-4, 0-2) – I cannot explain what happened in Stillwater on Saturday. That will probably be the low point for Texas Tech basketball this season, however they are slowly slipping out of the national picture and the only way to get people talking about you is to win some games.
  10. Colorado (10-6, 1-1) – I didn’t think the Buffaloes would get a conference win this early. Maybe Colorado is going to be a tougher team than everyone thought.
  11. Iowa State (11-5, 0-1) – Cyclones fans had every reason to be excited about this season, but so far it’s more of the same.
  12. Nebraska (12-5, 0-2) – Could we see a winless Big 12 season in Lincoln? It’s possible, but improbable. The Cornhuskers will have chances to beat Iowa State and Colorado at home.

Team of the Week — Missouri Tigers.  Beating Kansas State at home would have meant nothing if they lost to Texas Tech later in the week, but Mizzou pulled it off and are looking at Top 25 candidacy.

Player of the Week — Avery Bradley, G, Texas.  What a start to this youngster’s Big 12 career. 29 points in a big win over Colorado, and then a much-needed 24 in UT’s nailbiter against Iowa State. He also had a combined 15 rebounds and 9 assists in those two games.

Top Stories:

  • Home Court Advantage — One major theme in the conference this season is that, in conference games, winning on the road is a very tough task. Road wins in the Big 12 have been few and hard to come by, and any team that steals a road win should be feeling very good about themselves. So far only 4 road teams have won in conference games.
  • Kansas Falls — Don’t worry Jayhawks fans, I wouldn’t sweat this loss to Tennessee. First off, it’s the nonconference schedule, which has no effect on KU’s first goal (to win the Big 12 Regular Season Title), and I think it will light a fire under this Kansas team. I still believe Kansas will be in the Final Four at the end of this season.

This Week’s Predictions:

  • Texas A&M at Texas (Saturday January 16th, ESPNU 6:00 PM ET) — This should be another easy win for the Longhorns, but the Aggies should stick around for a while. UT has too much depth, and TAMU just can’t matchup with the likes of Dexter Pittman and Damion JamesWinner: Texas
  • Texas Tech at Kansas (Saturday January 16th, 1:45 PM ET) — Its too bad that a Texas Tech team with a lot of promise coming into the season is going to have to start 0-3 in the conference.  Sherron Collins and company are way too much for the Red Raiders to handle.  Winner: Kansas
  • Missouri at Oklahoma (Saturday January 16th, ESPN2 1:00 PM ET) — Although Mizzou may look like the better team on paper, winning on the road is not their strong suit. I think the Sooners will get their first big win of the year Saturday in Norman.  Winner: Oklahoma
  • Kansas State at Colorado (Saturday January 16th, 4:00 PM ET) — This is going to be a much closer game than people think. Colorado fans have been looking for something to cheer about for a long time, and with the chance to knock off a top 15 opponent after defeating a ranked team at home earlier in the week, I think the CU fans will come out strong. However, Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen are not going to let the Wildcats fall subject to this trap game and KSU will pull out a very close one in Boulder.  Winner: Kansas State
  • Iowa State at Nebraska (Saturday January 16th, 8:00 PM ET) — The Cornhuskers are just not a very good basketball team, and Iowa State has Craig Brackins. Brackins should be able to do major damage in the post, and the Cyclones will notch their first conference victory.  Winner: Iowa State
  • Texas at Kansas State (Monday January 18th, ESPN 9:00 PM ET) — This is a tremendous matchup for a Monday night basketball game. Most likely we will have a battle between two Top 10 teams. A very experienced Texas team with a conditioned coach versus a Kansas State team that many think is overachieving.  In the end, I think the play of Avery Bradley will win this game for UT. Pittman and James will do their regular work inside, but Bradley’s outside shooting will dictate how many double teams the big men see. I predict Bradley will have a great game and Texas will march on, still undefeated.  Winner: Texas
  • Oklahoma at Texas A&M (Tuesday January 19th, 8:00 PM ET) — I am starting to believe in the Sooners, which is probably a bad idea because I think they might implode and end up making me look like an idiot. When I look at the talent on that team, and the fact they’re led by Jeff Capel, I see Sweet Sixteen. However, OU is the surprise team in this conference because they are underachieving, and I think they will drop this game to TAMU.  Winner: Texas A&M
  • Baylor at Kansas (Wednesday January 20th, ESPN2 9:00 PM ET) — I think Baylor has what it takes to pull an upset in this game, however I don’t think they will use that talent well enough to actually execute a victory. I could make it simpler: Kansas doesn’t lose at home.  Winner: Kansas
  • Colorado at Oklahoma State (Wednesday January 20th, ESPNU 9:00 PM ET) — If you truly enjoy college basketball there are a lot of things intriguing about this game. Two of them are NBA prospects Cory Higgins and James Anderson. Another is the fact that both teams are dying to make the postseason, and these games can end up being the best (see Texas A&M vs. Baylor 2008).  Winner: Oklahoma State
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on January 7th, 2010

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

Power Rankings:

  1. Texas (14-0) - You can make a great case for either Kansas or Texas owning the top spot, but I think the wins over UNC and Michigan State are better than Kansas’ big wins (Temple, Cal, Memphis)
  2. Kansas (14-0) - Like I said before, the Longhorns have a better resume right now than the Jayhawks do, and with last night’s close call against Cornell I can’t seem to give myself any reason for KU to be considered better than UT.
  3. Kansas State (13-1) - The Wildcats just made their way into the top 10 this week. They’ll need to prove they deserve that ranking during conference play.
  4. Baylor (12-1) - After last week’s sweep of SEC opponents (at Arkansas; at South Carolina), I am a believer in the Baylor Bears. They are just a three-point loss to Alabama away from being perfect.
  5. Texas A&M (11-3) - The Aggies have played the most top 25 opponents (4) of any other Big 12 Team, and they went 2-2 in those four games. Playing without Derrick Roland will definitely affect this team in the future, but I think we should give credit where credit is due.
  6. Missouri (11-3) - The Tigers can be very dangerous especially at home where they are unbeaten this season. The Big 12 Conference Game of the Week is going to be in Columbia on Saturday when Kansas State takes on Mizzou.
  7. Texas Tech (12-2) - Their best win is Washington at home and that win looks worse now after UW flopped against Oregon. TTU hasn’t played enough tough opponents to take them too seriously.
  8. Nebraska (12-3) - I give Nebraska the nod over Oklahoma State only because Nebraska beat Tulsa, and the Cowboys were wiped off the floor against the same Golden Hurricanes.
  9. Oklahoma State (12-2) - If the Cowboys were a legit threat in the Big 12 they would have beaten Tulsa and Rhode Island.
  10. Iowa State (10-4) - I really believed in Iowa State at the beginning of this season, and I think they have the talent to pull some major upsets in the Big 12. However with last night’s terrible showing against Duke, I no longer think that the Cyclones are an NCAA Tournament team.
  11. Oklahoma (9-5) - Surprise team of the year. If the season ended today the Sooners would be lucky to get a CBI bid.
  12. Colorado (9-5) - There is no doubt that the program in Boulder is getting better, but it’s far from being ready to compete at the national level.

Team of the Week: Baylor Bears - The Bears went 3-0 last week beating Arkansas and South Carolina on the road, and then taking care of business at home against Morgan State. I don’t know what would be more of a surprise in the conference this season: Oklahoma missing the NCAA Tournament, or Baylor making it?

Player of the Week: LaceDarius Dunn, G, Baylor - The man with the best name in the conference since Longar Longar has been lighting it up as of late. He averaged almost 19 PPG last week, and shot 45% from the field.

Top Stories:

  • Cornell causes a scare in Lawrence- The Ivy League almost had its best upset since Princeton over UCLA Wednesday night in Kansas. Cornell was leading late in the second half and then the Jayhawks turned on the gas and ended up pulling out a victory. This isn’t the first time Kansas has failed to play to the best of its ability and almost fallen against lesser teams (see Memphis). I don’t know if the Jayhawks can get away with that kind of play during the conference season and beyond.
  • Big 12 play starts this week- Finally, its conference season and we can all see the NCAA tournament on the horizon. Currently the Big 12 is one of the most exciting conferences in the country, and it should be an amazing year.

This Week’s Predictions

  • Colorado at Texas (Saturday, 1/9, 1:45 PM ET) - The Buffaloes look to shock the Longhorns in Austin, but we all know that this will most likely be a 20 point win for Texas. Winner: Texas
  • Kansas State at Missouri (Saturday, 1/9, ESPN2 2:00 PM ET) - I think this will be the best game of the weekend. The teams are very similar, because the main focus of each is in guard play. An interesting matchup will be Jacob Pullen vs. JT Tiller. One of the best offensive guards in the conference going up against one of the best defensive players in the conference. Winner: Kansas State
  • Nebraska at Texas A&M (Saturday, 1/9, 4:00 PM ET) – I haven’t seen a lot of the Cornhuskers this season so this will be an interesting game to watch, especially with TAMU not having Derrick Roland in the lineup. Its an opportunity for Nebraska to steal a win on the road, but I think Donald Sloan should be enough to fight off the Huskers. Winner: Texas A&M
  • Oklahoma at Baylor (Saturday, 1/9, 6:00 PM ET) – I went against Baylor twice last week so I’ll put my faith in the Bears this time around. Plus, Oklahoma has given me no reason to think they can win, especially on the road. Winner: Baylor
  • Texas Tech at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 1/9, 8:00 PM ET) – Tough one to call here, this could be a Pick’ Em game in Vegas. The reason I like Texas Tech is because they have a well-rounded team, giving them more options on offense. The only guy that is doing anything for OSU right now is James Anderson. Winner: Texas Tech
  • Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Monday, 1/11, ESPN 8:00 PM ET) – This time I believe that the Sooners will take care of business and beat they inner-state rivals at home. Norman provides a hostile environment for visiting teams, and I just don’t like the way the Cowboys are playing right now. No doubt this is a must win for both teams. Winner: Oklahoma
  • Texas A&M at Kansas State (Tuesday, 1/12, ESPN2 7:00 PM ET) – This Kansas State team is as good as any that Frank Martin has had in Manhattan. Jacob Pullen is an unbelievable talent and can light up defenses from behind the arc. I think the Wildcats have the potential to be an Elite 8 team. Winner: Kansas State
  • Baylor at Colorado (Tuesday, 1/12, 9:00 PM ET) – Baylor will enjoy starting 2-0 in the conference and maybe sneaking their way into the top 25. However, if they look past this game and lose it will put a damper on their whole season. Winner: Baylor
  • Kansas at Nebraska (Wednesday, 1/13, 9:00 PM ET) – Lincoln will definitely be a very loud place on Wednesday, but the crowd will have no say in this game. Kansas will wipe the floor with NU. Winner: Kansas
  • Texas at Iowa State (Wednesday, 1/12, 8:00 PM ET) - This is definitely a game that the Longhorns can’t look past, because if anyone can match up with Damion James in the conference, it’s Craig Brackins of Iowa State. However, UT has a lot of depth and should get out of Ames with a relatively easy Big 12 road win. Winner: Texas
  • Missouri at Texas Tech (Wednesday, 1/12, ESPNU 9:00 PM ET) – This should be a great matchup and I’m looking forward to seeing a good fight between two potential bubble teams.  I think Missouri is the more athletic team and that is why I’ll give them the edge. Although it’s on the road and Mizzou has not been a good road team, I think their press will be too much for Tech to handle. Winner: Missouri

Non-Conference Games This Week:

  • North Dakota State at Iowa State (Saturday,1/9, ESPNU 4:00 PM ET) - This should be an easy win for the Cyclones going into their matchup with Texas later in the week. Winner: Iowa State
  • Kansas at Tennessee (Sunday, 1/10, CBS 4:30 PM ET) - I would say Tennessee had a chance if they didn’t just suspend four of their players indefinitely, which is too bad because I was looking forward to a great game, now Kansas should have no problem winning this one. Winner: Kansas
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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on December 29th, 2009

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

1. The most competitive conference in the land this season should spark the most competitive Player of the Year race come March. Top-seeded Kansas boasts three potential candidates once center Cole Aldrich starts to play with a more aggressive mentality on the offensive end. Senior point guard Sherron Collins has the skill set to explode come conference play and should provide the Jayhawks with more than one clutch play the season wears on. Freshman Xavier Henry has surpassed everyone’s expectations early in Lawrence as the Jayhawks early scoring leader. Nipping at the heels of #1 Kansas is #2 Texas and their all-time rebounder Damion James. James has exploded onto the scene the last week-plus with two masterful performances against North Carolina (25/15/4 stl on 8-22 FG) and Michigan State (23/13 on 10-18 FG). You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that argues James isn’t the current frontrunner for Big 12 POY and deserves definite consideration for first team All-America honors. Kansas State has been one of the bigger surprises in college basketball through the first month and a half behind sharp-shooting guard Jacob Pullen. The junior went on a tear recently scoring 28 in a big road win at UNLV then topping himself with 30 points at Alabama. In his last three games, Pullen has nailed an incredible 16 of his last 25 threes. Lurking in the shadows is Oklahoma State’s James Anderson (21.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG) and Iowa State forward Craig Brackins (17.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG) with Baylor’s Ekpe Ugoh and Oklahoma’s Willie Warren also making large impacts on their respective squads.

2. It’s fairly clear the top two teams in a weaker Pac-10 conference will be Washington behind Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter and California behind their big three of Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson and Patrick Christopher. While both teams have encountered their early season struggles, Washington knocking off an emotionally scarred Texas A&M squad at home Tuesday and California hanging in with Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse should convince most critics that those two will compete for the Pac-10 title. Prior to the season, many believed UCLA would be that third team in the Pac-10 to cause some damage and sneak into the NCAA field. But with a week that included wins over Tennessee, St. Mary’s and UNLV, it’s becoming quite evident that USC might very well be that team. Even with early season home defeats at the hands of Loyola Marymount and Nebraska and blowout losses at Texas and Georgia Tech, the Trojans are coming together behind newly-entrenched point guard Mike Gerrity and coach Kevin O’Neill. The two-time transfer Gerrity is already the Trojans leading scorer and far and away their best assist man. He won’t blow anyone away with flash and speed, but he knows how to run an offense and play the position with efficiency. A starting five of Gerrity, Nikola Vucevic, Alex Stepheson, Dwight Lewis and Marcus Johnson all of a sudden doesn’t look too shabby, does it?

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RTC Live: Iowa State @ California

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009

RTCLive

Well that sorta figures.  After we spent all that time figuring up the percentage chance that the Pac-10 would get swept by the Big 12 in the Hardwood Series this year (0.8%), Oregon State goes and beats Colorado by five last night.  No matter.  The two games where it was a mild stretch that the Pac-10 would lose were tonight’s game, Iowa State @ California, and Texas A&M @ Washington on December 22.  RTC Live will be the Cal game tonight, as the struggling Bears continue to try to find themselves after taking three losses to Syracuse, Ohio State and New Mexico.  The nation’s #1 three-point shooting team in 2009 has been quite a bit cooler from behind the arc this year (38.1%), and they’re still missing forward Theo Robertson, who provides much-needed offense from the wing for the undersized Bears (as of posting, it was unclear if he would play tonight).  Iowa State comes into this game 6-2, but two straight losses to Northwestern and Northern Iowa remove the sheen from that record, as the Cyclones’ best win is against St. Louis.  Still, when you have a duo of powerful players like Craig Brackins (17/8) and Marquis Gilstrap (13/8), you have to believe that whoever can set the character of this game (bruising Big 12 basketball or free-flowing Pac-10 basketball) will have the best chance to win this one.  We’ll be there to talk about it tonight – join us at 11pm ET.

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Checking In On… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on December 1st, 2009

checkinginon

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

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (5-0) — After five games freshman Xavier Henry is leading the Jayhawks in scoring.
  2. Texas (5-0) — Won the CBE Classic in dominating fashion with wins over Iowa and Pitt.
  3. Kansas State (5-1) — The Wildcats are getting solid production from guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente.
  4. Texas A&M (5-1) — The Aggies went 2-1 at the 76 Classic, and the only loss was to #8 West Virginia.
  5. Oklahoma State (6-0)James Anderson is still playing great and helped lead the Cowboys to a win over Utah.
  6. Missouri (4-1) — The Tigers could not find any offense against Richmond in the final of the South Padre Invitational.
  7. Iowa State (6-1) — Losing to Northwestern will hurt this team’s resume in March, but I still believe Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap could lead the Cyclones to a good finish in the Big 12.
  8. Texas Tech (7-0) — We will learn a lot about the Red Raiders on Thursday night when they play host to the Washington Huskies.
  9. Oklahoma (3-3) — The Sooners finally stopped their losing streak with a win over Nicholls State, but so far OU has done nothing impressive this season.
  10. Baylor (6-1) — Finishing 5th in the Old Spice Classic is a good sign for Bears fans.
  11. Colorado (4-2) — The Buffaloes played Gonzaga and Arizona to the wire, but still only came away from Maui with a win over D2 opponent Chaminade.
  12. Nebraska (4-1) — Defeated USC in the first game of the Pac 10/ Big 12 Hardwood Series.

Team of the Week:  Texas A&M Aggies — TAMU defeated two ranked opponents en route to a third place finish in the 76 Classic, and they did it without much production from leading scorer Donald Sloan.

Player of the Week:  Cory Higgins (G), Colorado — Higgins only scored 6 points in a dominating win over Chaminade, but in big games against Gonzaga and Arizona, the guard scored 19 and 28, respectively.

Top Stories:

  • Pac 10/ Big 12 Hardwood Series Tips Off.  With Nebraska defeating USC in the first game, the Big 12 has taken an early 1-0 lead.  The series is in its third year and in the previous two seasons the conferences split the series 6-6.
  • Four Teams Suffer First Loss.  In this past week, previously undefeated teams lost their first game:  Baylor lost to Alabama, Iowa State lost to Northwestern, Missouri lost to Richmond, and Texas A&M fell to West Virginia.

Games to Watch This Week:

  • Missouri (4-1) at Vanderbilt (4-1), 12/2 — Mizzou tries to bounce back on the road against one of the SEC’s best teams.
  • Oklahoma State (6-0) at Tulsa (5-1), 12/2 — Upset Alert:  Tulsa has one of the best players that you’ve never heard of in center Jerome Jordan.  OSU is going to have trouble trying to contain him.
  • Pac 10/ Big 12 Hardwood Series -- The best games this week:  Baylor at Arizona State and Washington at Texas Tech on 12/3, Iowa State at California on 12/5, Arizona at Oklahoma on 12/6
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2009

checkinginon

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

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (3-0)
  2. Texas (3-0)
  3. Kansas State (4-1)
  4. Oklahoma (2-1)
  5. Missouri (2-0)
  6. Texas A&M (3-0)
  7. Iowa State (4-0)
  8. Oklahoma State (3-0)
  9. Texas Tech (5-0)
  10. Baylor (4-0)
  11. Colorado (3-1)
  12. Nebraska (2-1)

Team of the Week: Texas Tech Red Raiders - TTU got a big home win over an Oregon State team that many experts think have a chance at the postseason in a weak Pac-10. Junior guard David Tairu had 19 points in the victory.

Player of the Week: James Anderson (G), Oklahoma State - Anderson is already averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds per game. If he can somehow keep those stats going for the whole season he may be the frontrunner for Big 12 Player of the Year when it’s all said and done.

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Harrison Barnes Will Announce at 4pm ET Today

Posted by rtmsf on November 13th, 2009

The nation’s presumptive #1 player in the Class of 2010, Harrison Barnes, will make his college choice official this afternoon at 4pm ET on ESPNU.  Nervous but hopeful coaches and fans from his top choices of Iowa State, UNC, Duke, UCLA, Oklahoma and Kansas will all be tuning in at the end of the work day to hear whether it will be their favorite school that makes a huge leap in Final Four potential and a national title chances in 2010-11.  According to Seth Davis, nobody but nobody knows what Barnes is going to do this afternoon, so let’s briefly break down each of his choices (in no particular order) to see what makes the most sense for the 6’7 superstar from Ames, Iowa.

Dave Telep Thinks Barnes is the Real Deal

  • Iowa State – Never count out the hometown school.  ISU is a stone’s throw from Ames High School, and Barnes is undoubtedly familiar with the campus, players and coaches to a degree much more than the others.  In fact, his mother works there.  Stud inside force Craig Brackins is likely to be in the NBA in 2010-11, but Barnes could potentially be seen as a savior in much the same way Michael Beasley was for the Kansas State program in 2007-08.  Similarly, his presence at ISU, even for one season, could impact the recruiting fortunes of the Cyclones for the next five years. 
  • UNC – Roy Williams never lacks for talent, but he could use an elite scoring wing next season to supplement his formidable size inside.  The 6’10 freshman John Henson is currently playing that role, so there could be a little bit of an overlap if Henson develops into a very nice player this year and sticks around in 2010-11.  Still, Roy has often had multiple Burger Boys at each position, so it wouldn’t shock us if Barnes signs with UNC today and if you’re listening to people around Barnes, MJ (who else?) is his idol.
  • Duke – Necessity, meet invention.  If Duke lands Barnes this afternoon, the Devils will immediately shoot to the top of the 2010-11 ratings.  We’ve covered this before, but assuming that Kyle Singler sticks around for his senior year, there’s no other team in America who will have the firepower that a lineup of Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Harrison Barnes, Kyle Singler and Mason (or Miles) Plumlee could bring to bear.  That’s a NASTY lineup, and Barnes is tailor-made for Duke’s system of slashing and shooting.  If Barnes is ok with leaving his home state (and we think he is), this is our projection as to where he lands.
  • UCLA – Ultimately, this choice depends on how much the winters of Ames suck compared to those in Westwood (and we’re pretty sure they do).  If Barnes had an unbelievable visit at UCLA, this is a possible choice, but we wouldn’t call it probable.  Plus, some of the same issues that UNC has about obvious playing time exist, with the young forward corps of Drew Gordon, Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee likely to return in 2010-11.
  • Oklahoma - Jeff Capel has been a surpisingly good recruiter thus far as the head coach at Oklahoma, and the mere fact that Barnes is listing OU as a finalist belies that point.  With Blake Griffin and Willie Warren, Capel will have had consecutive all-americans who both stayed in school for at least two seasons.  And with Tony Crocker entering his senior season, the minutes will be plentiful on the wing should Barnes alight to Norman.  Still, we just don’t see it happening.  Other than the hometown school, one of these five out-of-state schools isn’t like the others, so it would be a tremendous coup if Capel pulls this one off.
  • Kansas – Bill Self is clearly hoping that if he loses star freshman wing Xavier Henry after one season, he’ll have Barnes waiting in the wings to replace him in 2010.  And it makes sense.  Regardless of what happens this year, KU will definitely lose team leader Sherron Collins and probably lose Cole Aldrich inside.  The Henry brothers are also possibilities.  Just to be clear, Kansas doesn’t re-build, but it would be unreasonable to expect next season to be as rife with possibility as the current one, even with Barnes on board.  The minutes will be there if Henry leaves, but Barnes can’t possibly know that now. 

Here’s our completely speculative projection of Barnes’ list a mere 2.5 hours before he unveils his top choice. 

  1. Duke - everything makes sense for Barnes there – title contention, PT, academics.
  2. Iowa State – the hometown school is always in play.
  3. UNC - Roy is a master salesman, but how does he explain the Henson situation?
  4. Kansas - Bill Self could be telling him that Henry is likely to leave, therefore the wing is all Barnes all the time.
  5. UCLA - the weather won’t supplant the other issues (minutes, perceived style of play).
  6. Oklahoma – Capel should be happy to have just gotten onto his list.

Keep up with all the Harrison Barnes hype this afternoon at the Des Moines Register’s page devoted to him.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

impactcountry(2)

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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2009-10 RTC Preseason All-Americans

Posted by zhayes9 on November 5th, 2009

seasonpreview

After vouching for the input of all four of our RTC scribes, here’s our official preseason All-American top four teams:

First Team

  • G- Kalin Lucas (Michigan State)
  • G- Sherron Collins (Kansas)
  • F- Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)
  • F- Patrick Patterson (Kentucky)
  • C- Cole Aldrich (Kansas)

No real surprises for our first team. Kalin Lucas is the anchor of a Michigan State team with Final Four aspirations yet again (would be Tom Izzo’s sixth), while Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich form a tandem that’s reason #1 why Kansas sits atop all preseason rankings. The final two forwards — Luke Harangody and Patrick Patterson — are double-double machines inside that are both looking to send their teams back to the Dance after a year in NIT purgatory. Patterson’s team happens to be a Final Four possibility.

Second Team

  • G- John Wall (Kentucky)
  • G- Willie Warren (Oklahoma)
  • F- Evan Turner (Ohio State)
  • F- Craig Brackins (Iowa State)
  • C- Greg Monroe (Georgetown)

It takes a special player to make any preseason all-second team list before ever playing a minute at the collegiate level. All we’ve heard this offseason from Kentucky practice viewers and his coach John Calipari suggests we could find Wall replacing Collins or Lucas on the first team by season’s end. Willie Warren has a chance to lead all BCS conference players in scoring as the Oklahoma sophomore can flat out shoot the basketball. Evan Turner will play everything from the 1 to the 4 position for an Ohio State team returning nearly every key cog. The most unknown superstar in the land might be Craig Brackins, while Greg Monroe looks to turn around a sinking Georgetown ship.

Third Team

  • G- Jerome Randle (California)
  • G- Manny Harris (Michigan)
  • F- Kyle Singler (Duke)
  • F- Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest)
  • C- Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State)

Can Cal finally win a Pac-10 title? With Jerome Randle and his 46% 3pt at the helm, it’s entirely possible. Manny Harris returns as the #1 scoring option for a Michigan team looking to contend in the all-of-a-sudden feared Big Ten. The biggest surprise may be Kyle Singler, the Duke swingman voted Preseason All-American and yet finds himself on the third team here at RTC (let the accusations of anti-Duke bias begin). Al-Farouq Aminu is the man in Winston-Salem and could take off as a potential lottery pick, while Jarvis Varnado is this year’s Hasheem Thabeet down low making a super impact defensively.

Fourth Team

  • G- Greivis Vasquez (Maryland)
  • G- Devan Downey (South Carolina)
  • F- Robbie Hummel (Purdue)
  • F- Trevor Booker (Clemson)
  • C- Ed Davis (North Carolina)

The biggest decision in April may have been Greivis Vasquez electing to return to College Park and lead the Terps back to the NCAA Tournament. He’s a tremendous scorer and improving floor leader. Speaking of scoring, South Carolina’s Devan Downey can make any shot on the floor and could total 20 PPG this season. We all know what a healthy Robbie Hummel and Trevor Booker provide Purdue and Clemson, respectively, with scoring, rebounding and defense. Ed Davis look to make The Leap we all expect out of the UNC big man.

Also receiving votes: Scottie Reynolds (Villanova), James Anderson (Oklahoma State), Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Nic Wise (Arizona), Damion James (Texas), Lazar Hayward (Marquette), Devin Ebanks (West Virginia), Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech), A.J. Ogilvy (Vanderbilt), Jerome Jordan (Tulsa), Larry Sanders (VCU).

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #4 – Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2009

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

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Kansas (15-1)
  2. Texas (14-2)
  3. Oklahoma (11-5)
  4. Kansas State (10-6)
  5. Missouri (9-7)
  6. Texas A&M (8-8)
  7. Oklahoma State (8-8)
  8. Iowa State (7-9)
  9. Baylor (5-11)
  10. Texas Tech (4-12)
  11. Nebraska (3-13)
  12. Colorado (2-14)

All Conference Team:

  • Sherron Collins (G), Kansas
  • Willie Warren (G) Oklahoma
  • Craig Brackins (F) Iowa State
  • Damion James (F), Texas
  • Cole Aldrich (C), Kansas

6th Man. James Anderson (G) Oklahoma State

Impact Newcomer. Xavier Henry (G), Kansas

big 12 logoWhat You Need to Know.

  • KU Dominance.  Of the 13 years that the Big 12 has held a conference tournament, Kansas has won the crown six times, which is the most of any Big 12 school.  Kansas has been deemed the regular season conference champion nine times in those 13 years, sharing the title in three of those times. Every time Kansas has shared the title the Jayhawks were the two-seed in the conference tournament.
  • Two At the Top. It’s very possible that Texas and Kansas could share the Big 12 title this season. Texas’ toughest conference games are Kansas (in Austin), then Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State on the road.  The Longhorns seem to have the advantage over the Jayhawks when it comes to an easier conference schedule, but with KU bringing back all of its talent and adding one of the top freshman in the nation, I still believe that Kansas will stay atop the conference alone.
  • Where are the Tigers. Where do you rank the Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 this season? After being picked seventh by the coaches in last year’s preseason poll, the Tigers finished third and won the Big 12 Tournament en route to an Elite Eight appearance. Mike Anderson will continue to play his “Fastest Forty Minutes” style, and behind leadership from senior guard JT Tiller (Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009), and sophomore guard Kim English, it’s hard to determine where Mizzou will be at the end of the season. Anderson has put together a very athletic lineup, which should be able to play to his coaching style, but their lack of experience and a consistent scorer could hurt them.
  • X-Factor. Freshman phenom Xavier Henry could be the key to Kansas’ hopes of a second national title in just three seasons.  A late decider, Henry could very well be one of the most productive freshmen in the NCAA this season.  He is surrounded by unbelievable talent that will hog most of the attention from opposing defenses, which should open up many scoring opportunities for Henry.

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ESPN Full Court Schedule: Hope You Like Craig Brackins…

Posted by rtmsf on November 3rd, 2009

The ESPN Full Court package schedule was released a few days ago, so we once again took the liberty of cleaning up the data and breaking things down for you.  The cost is $109 through your local cable/satellite provider, but they usually offer a $99 early-bird special if you sign up in November or thereabouts.  We’ve gotten the package at RTC for the past six seasons and there is a definite benefit if you follow a team or teams that aren’t on the standard national networks very often (whether due to a down year, or whatever).  It’s also very good if you one of those people who just cannot go without a Big East, Big 12 or SEC conference game this season – between the three conferences, almost 300 games will be shown.

espn full court 09

Once again, we have to point out that there are no ESPNU games on this package, which makes it just short of impossible to watch some really good games for people in areas where the cable provider will not offer this channel.  Not that we’re bitter or anything.

Here are a few highlights of this year’s schedule:

  • If you like Big 12 bottom-feeders, you’re in luck!  Colorado, Iowa State and Nebraska have 56 appearances combined over the course of the season.  We hope you like watching Craig Brackins and Cory Higgins.
  • It’s not all garbage, though.  The best high-volume teams are K-State (16), UConn (14), Cincinnati (12) and Louisville (12).  Even top-ten teams West Virginia (10), Kansas (9), Texas (8), Kentucky (7), and Georgetown (7) have a good number of appearances.

FC Apps by School

  • You won’t find a single Big Ten or Pac-10 game on this package.  Gotta get the Big Ten Network or the FSN Sports Pack for those.
  • Middie Love – one of the best features of this package annually is to get an occasional peek at mid-major leagues.  We’re always clamoring for more, but we’ll take what we can get.  There are a bunch of games involving mid-majors as the visiting team (see the entire list after the jump), but there are also 136 games where a mid-major team hosts.  The WAC has the most (24), but there are twelve leagues represented.  Here’s the list of middies:

FC Apps by Conf

Our favorite 30 games from the ESPN Full Court Package this year are:

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Lower Midwest Region

Posted by zhayes9 on October 13th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South and Mid-South) are located here.

It’s time for the sixth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of rust belt and farming states that we like to call the Lower Midwest.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower_midwest

Ed. Note: for the purposes of our analysis in this region, Butler was considered a high-major program.

  • Cole Aldrich – Jr, C – Kansas. Much like North Carolina one October ago, Kansas appears to be the unanimous selection to begin the season atop every poll and ranking. One of the main reasons for such accolades is the continued improvement of Cole Aldrich, the Kansas double-double machine in the post. Remember the national semifinals against UNC in 2008 when Aldrich burst onto the scene recording eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in a then career-high 17 minutes? That was the night college hoops fans first saw what Aldrich can provide for Bill Self and his Jayhawks. In a full season of play, Aldrich and guard Sherron Collins were the anchors behind Kansas’ surprising run to a #3 seed and a Sweet 16 berth in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Cole Aldrich and a pretty good player named Blake Griffin were the only players in the Big 12 to average a double-double in 2008-09. Speaking of stats, Aldrich’s triple-double in the second round against Dayton – 13/20/10 blks- was the first recorded triple double in KU’s illustrious basketball history. Aldrich led the conference in blocks with at 2.7 BPG, finished second in rebounding at 12.4 RPG, second in FG% at 60% and tenth in FT% at an impressive 79% for a 6’11 center.  Aldrich possesses great length, a high motor and displays the fundamentals under the basket that Self loves. The insane talent around Aldrich this season will only put less of a load on his shoulders as the big man can rely on Collins for the clutch outside shot, Xavier Henry on the wings, Thomas Robinson on the block or Tyrel Reed to knock down the long-range three. But the pressure will be on Aldrich to provide a post presence that simply cannot be matched in the Big 12 (sorry Dexter Pittman).  If he achieves his potential, a national POY award isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Kansas’ prized junior center.
  • Craig Brackins – Jr, F – Iowa St. Craig Brackins won’t get half the airtime this season as any of the other high-major names on this list, but he could end up becoming the best player of the group when it’s all said and done.  It’s not as if Brackins came out of nowhere – he was a five-star recruit out of Brewster (NH) Academy in 2007, and he turned down offers from Indiana and Pitt, among others – but, when you play in the Big 12 and your team is generally an afterthought (4-12 in 2008-09), it’s tough to get noticed.  But noticed he got on Jan. 24th in a nationally-televised home game against the defending champion Kansas Jayhawks.  Brackins sliced and diced the vaunted Jayhawk defense for 42/14 in a losing effort that had Bill Self afterwards stating that the lanky center could be the “best player in the country today.”  That single game may have put the Iowa State star on the casual fan’s radar screen, but it’s not like Brackins wasn’t tearing it up against everyone else too:  32/16 against N. Iowa; 28/17 against Jacksonville St.; 38/14 against Houston; 25/13 against Nebraska.  The all-Big 12 first teamer nearly averaged a double-double for the season (20.2 PPG and 9.5 RPG) despite seeing hard and fast double-teams every time he touched the ball.  It was widely presumed that Brackins would jump into the NBA Draft last summer after such a spectacular season; after all, projections for him of the lottery and mid-first round were prevalent.  However, Brackins said that he had some unfinished business to attend to at ISU (meaning, getting the Cyclones to an NCAA Tournament), and he returned to what should be an improved squad with 6’7 juco transfer Marquis Gilstrap’s arrival on the blocks and a solid returning backcourt of Diante Garrett and Lucca Staiger.  The only true weakness he has exhibited so far in his career is his 28% from beyond the arc, but with more firepower on the team this year he may be less inclined to feel like he has to do it all (Brackins attempted 37% of ISU’s shots last year).  Regardless of how the team’s season plays out in 2009-10, there should be no doubt that Brackins is on the short list of best post men in America.  With another year of seasoning under his belt at the collegiate level, however, we could be looking at a top five pick next June.  Don’t flip the channel so quickly if you see that Iowa St. is playing on the tube this year – it may be one of your few chances to see one of the best big men in the country.
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