Otskey’s Observations: Episode XIV

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on February 26th, 2014

Each week throughout the season, RTC columnist Brian Otskey (@botskey) will run down his observations from the previous week of college basketball.

Wichita State Deserves a Number One Seed

There is a vocal group out there making it known that Wichita State should not receive a top seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament. They argue that the 30-0 Shockers “haven’t played anyone” and that alone should disqualify Gregg Marshall’s team from landing on the No. 1 seed line when the brackets are released two and a half weeks from now. We can debate the merits of the RPI all we want, but the fact is it remains one of many important selection criteria. Wichita State’s non-conference schedule ranks No. 34 in that metric, which is actually pretty good. By comparison, it is only four spots lower than Georgetown, a middling Big East team about whose schedule people have been raving. Perception is indeed a funny thing.

Ron Baker should be angry if his Shockers don't get a No. 1 seed. (photo courtesy rantsports.com).

Ron Baker should be angry if his Shockers don’t get a No. 1 seed. (photo courtesy rantsports.com).

Wichita State cannot control the strength of its own league, which also happened to lose Creighton to conference realignment this season. There is something to be said, however, for taking every team’s best shot each and every night and still winning with relative ease. The Shockers beat the second best team in the Missouri Valley, Indiana State, in convincing fashion in Wichita and won the return meeting in Terre Haute comfortably. Out of conference, the Shockers challenged themselves with games at Saint Louis, Tulsa and Alabama, along with a visit by Tennessee to Wichita (Note: Game was played off campus and not at the Roundhouse). Wichita State also played BYU in a two-day event at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. The Shockers have certainly not faced a murderer’s row type of schedule, but at 30-0 with a top 35 non-conference slate, that is good enough to be rewarded with a No. 1 seed. In the next two weeks you will hear a lot of pundits talk about tournament resumes, good wins and bad losses. Just remember, Wichita State doesn’t have any bad losses. It has NO losses, period. Dear Selection Committee: Do the right thing and give this team a No. 1 seed!

Jim Boeheim’s Meltdown Masks Syracuse’s Real Issue

Say the word “Syracuse” this week and most people will immediately think of Jim Boeheim’s classic meltdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium where the iconic Orange coach was ejected from a regular season or postseason game for the first time in 38 years as a head coach. While that was certainly a memorable moment, it masks the nosedive that Syracuse’s offense has taken over its last four games. Over the Orange’s first 24 contests, they recorded an offensive efficiency below 102.1 points per 100 possessions just twice (in wins over Miami and North Carolina). Over the last four games, Syracuse’s offensive efficiency has been 92.5, 94.3, 99.6 and 88.6. Ironically the 99.6 number was in the loss to Duke, but the Blue Devils are the best offensive team Syracuse has faced all season.

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Checking In On… the Mountain West

Posted by Andrew Murawa on December 24th, 2013

Last year, the Mountain West Conference earned, and received, five bids to the NCAA Tournament. Once there, things did not go as planned, but regardless, it was a good regular season for the conference, with non-conference neutral-site wins over UCLA and Connecticut along with road wins against California, Washington, Creighton, and Cincinnati, plenty of home wins and bad losses being kept to an absolute minimum except for the very bottom of the conference. This year, with some talented players leaving the conference, there was little doubt that a step back was due. But with just four teams currently in the top 100 of the RPI, a couple of teams sitting below 270, and the overall conference RPI ninth in the nation, any prayer of getting five teams dancing again can be forgotten. Now the question is, can they get three?

Team of the Week

Utah State – Slim pickings this week, as it seems like every team that played a halfway decent opponent came away with at least one loss. But the Aggies took care of business at the Basketball Travelers Classic on its own campus. While the bookend wins over Western Illinois and Troy don’t do much for anyone, the middle game, a six-point overtime win over a good UC Santa Barbara team, is a nice accomplishment. Especially considering the fact that the Aggies fought back from an eight-point deficit at the under-four timeout, and did so without center Jarred Shaw, who is suspended indefinitely. More on Shaw below.

Spencer Butterfield Had A Career-High In Helping Utah State Knock Off UC Santa Barbara In Overtime (John Zsiray, AP Photo)

Spencer Butterfield Had A Career-High In Helping Utah State Knock Off UC Santa Barbara In Overtime (John Zsiray, AP Photo)

Player of the Week

Larry Nance, Jr, Junior, Wyoming – The Cowboys have taken two losses in a span of three games since we last did this, but that isn’t Nance’s fault. Against Denver last weekend, Nance broke out for a career-high 38 points on 15/21 shooting, adding 12 boards for good measure. Then on Friday, against Southern Methodist, he backed that up with 16 points, 13 boards and three blocks. And last night he had 29 points on 14 field goal attempts, while grabbing 13 boards and blocking three shots against Northern Colorado. All told, that’s 27.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 2 BPG, and a 72.8 eFG% in those three games.

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Morning Five: 04.15.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 15th, 2013

morning5

  1. The Mike Rice fiasco at Rutgers will take a long time to play out, but the school appears to be taking the first step of moving into a new era with the expected hiring of Eddie Jordan as its new coach some time this week. Jordan, who was an honorable mention All-American at Rutgers and led the school to the 1976 Final Four, is probably best known for being the head coach of the Washington Wizards from 2003 to 2008 getting the team to the playoffs four straight years. Jordan is currently serving as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, which means he should be free to take on the duties of being the head coach at Rutgers in the not too distant future. His biggest task will be repairing the basketball program’s image after video of Rice’s abuse surfaced. If he is able to gain the confidence of recruits again this could be a huge hire as the New Jersey area produces more than enough talent to make Rutgers a nationally competitive team under the right circumstances.
  2. It took longer than it probably should have, but on Friday Jim Crews had interim label removed from his job title at St. Louis as he officially was introduced as the head coach. Crews inherited a talented St. Louis team that was placed in a precarious position after Rick Majerus stepped down as coach before dying of issues related to worsening heart failure. What Crews did in getting his players to focus and buy into him as a coach was nothing short of remarkable. After winning the Atlantic 10 regular season and Tournament titles the Bilikens advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to a underseeded Oregon team. Although the loss of Majerus is undeniably huge, the St. Louis program should be in good hands with Crews, who won the Sporting News National Coach of the Year award this season and already has 25 years of head coaching experience  at the Division I level.
  3. We have seen quite a few sons of coaches transfer schools from their father’s are fired, but Steve Alford’s move to UCLA has brought about two recruiting moves. First was the quasi-transfer of his son, a high school recruit who had signed with New Mexico to UCLA. Now Cullen Neal, the son of Craig Neal who was hired to take over at New Mexico after Alford left, has gotten out of his signed letter of intent at St. Mary’s and will play for his father. Although some might argue that letting players out of signed letters of intent is a questionable strategy given the power schools have over athletes in most situations the recent rulings by the NCAA would appear to indicate that the players would be given waivers to transfer immediately. We are not sure how much of an impact either Alford or Neal (the sons) will have at their new schools, but it will be an interesting to see how well they play for their fathers.
  4. With the way the NCAA Tournament ended–all three Final Four games featuring controversial calls–Deadspin’s article on college referees and the way they deal with blown calls is well-timed. As is often stated nobody knows the name of an official unless they get something wrong (or they make a spectacle of themselves on television…and get something wrong). We have usually stood by officials when they make mistakes because we think in most cases there is no bias involved and the fact remains that if we had one hundred thousand people analyzing every single decision we made for two hours we would probably get a lot of criticism too. Having said that one of the interesting secondary topics discussed in the article is the travel and volume of games some officials do each season as they function as independent contractors and can be paid quite well for their work. Fatigue from travel and officiating games is certainly something that the NCAA and conferences can do by simply hiring officials and paying them set amounts based on the number of games they are contracted to do with provisions prohibiting freelancing that can compromise their ability to officiate games that they are paid to work.
  5. Now that Rick Pitino is on his way to the Hall of Fame and has won national titles with two different schools some people in Kentucky are asking the (not-so) obvious question: If this were the Baseball Hall of Fame and you had to choose a “cap” to go in under, would Pitino go in under Kentucky or Louisville? The case for both schools is certainly compelling, but given his impact on Kentucky we would go with a Wildcat cap at least as of now. However as Mark Story notes the more likely choice would be Louisville given Pitino’s current allegiances and the fact that Kentucky fans would probably still hate him even if he were to enter the Hall of Fame after having left Louisville.
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