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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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


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


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


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.


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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