RTC Top 25: Week 5

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2009

The Top 10 is still fairly static after five weeks of polling, but we’re seeing all kinds of movement in and out at the bottom of the poll on a week-to-week basis.  Analysis after the jump…

rtc blogpoll 12.07.09

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Conference Report Card – Sweet 16 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 25th, 2009

We’re back with the second annual review of how the major conferences are doing after one weekend of the NCAA Tournament.  As we all are aware, the Dance eliminates the pretenders – that means you, Wake and Washington – so that the teams with legitimate chops remain standing.  Chalk has predominantly ruled this tournament so far, but that doesn’t keep us from evaluating which conferences are performing better or worse than expectations.   We review the conferences with multiple bids below…

Simpsons Chalkboard

Big East  (7 bids, 5 remaining, 11-2 record)

The Big East was the most powerful conference all year and they are proving it in the postseason.  West Virginia was the only first round loser, and Marquette was outlasted by a tough-as-nails Missouri team in the second round.  All other Big East teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, setting a new record for the total number from one conference (5).  What’s more is that each of these teams are F4-caliber; there isn’t a single Cinderella in the group.  It wouldn’t surprise us if this league managed to get 75% of the F4 entrants this year, and we fully expect all five to play into the national quarterfinals.

Verdict:  A.  The Big East’s expected # of wins for the tournament is 16.2, and there’s a solid chance that the league will bust through twenty wins this season in setting another new record.

Big 12  (6 bids, 3 remaining, 9-3 record)

For the second consecutive year, the Big 12 had another great first round (6-0), culminating in their three best teams making it to the Sweet Sixteen.  The league hasn’t had an upset yet, and the three losing teams – Texas, Oklahoma St., and Texas A&M, acquitted themselves nicely in five of their six games (lone exception: TAMU vs. UConn).  Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma all have tough but winnable games if they play well, and the Big 12 should reasonably expect to see one of them playing into next weekend.  For a “down” year in the league, this is a great performance.

Verdict: A.  The Big 12 already has nine wins against an expected performance of 10.57 wins, which basically means they’re doing really well so far.

Atlantic 10  (3 bids, 1 remaining, 3-2 record)

The A10 got three teams into the Dance and made the most of its opportunity, winning two first round games (one an upset with #11 Dayton over #6 WVU), and sending Xavier to yet another Sweet Sixteen.  We don’t feel that XU has much of a chance to advance the league’s banner further against Pitt, but never count out a Sean Miller team.  Xaviercruised to the Sweets against two good teams.

Verdict: A-.  The league was expected to win 2.52 games and they’ve already won three, so anything beyond that is gravy.  How pathetic is it that the A10 is outperforming the SEC by a country mile?

Horizon (2 bids, 0 remaining, 1-2 record)

The Horizon had a chance to make some serious noise in this Tournament, but typically-solid Butler couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain when it lost to #8 LSU (who was probably underseeded).  However, Cleveland St. so far has had the upset of the Dance with its throttling of #4 Wake Forest, so we’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

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“Boom Goes the Dynamite!”: 01.10.09 Late Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 10th, 2009

As we mentioned in our BGTD Early Edition today, we’re still tinkering around with a workable format for this feature.  So with the West Coast Office taking over as you easterners hunker down for the night, we’re going to try it a little differently this evening.  Let us know in the comments if you have any feedback, constructive, destructive or otherwise.

Sidenote:  is there a better value than the Fox College Sports package on your cable or dish system?  Seriously, for $5/month, you get access to dozens more college games, and at least on ours, the Big 10 Network and the CBS College Sports Network.  Great deal, and this comes from we who typically despise our cable company.

Comments Heading into the Darkness.

  • The only significant upset so far today has been spastic UMass (5-8 ) spanking Dayton (14-1) in Springfield, 75-62.
  • Staying in the A10, that St. Joe’s – Rhodie triple-OT thriller (92-86 St. Joe’s) at the Palestra must have been something.

3pm/4pm/5pm Games.

  • There was a mild upset in Lincoln as Nebraska ran out to a big first half lead and held off Mizzou down the stretch.  From what we saw, Missouri didn’t look all that interested.
  • Life on the road in the Big 10 is not going to be pleasant for the Hoosiers this year.  The Illini were only up 45-20 at the half.

6pm/7pm/8pm Games.

  • We caught a good bit of the UConn-Cincy game and continue to wonder when (if?) the Huskies will reach their lofty potential.  They seemed to do just enough to make sure that they won the game – nothing more, nothing less.  As an example, nine-footer Hasheem Thabeet had three rebounds in 29 minutes.
  • UCF might just have the ugliest home court in America.  Memphis probably isn’t going 18-0 in CUSA this year.
  • It’s amazing how much harder Cal is playing on the defensive end this year vs. last year.  The Bears pulled off the mild upset in Washington and now stand at 4-0 in the Pac-10.  The two starting backcourts combined for 120 pts in this triple-OT game.
  • We caught a bit of the Florida-Ole Miss game and the Gators looked tough (for a half).  Still don’t think the SEC has much to show this year.
  • Also caught some of the Miami-BC game, and well, let’s just say that we have no idea how BC managed to beat Carolina last weekend.
  • Ugh.  Also noticed Illinois St. lost its second in a row (after a 14-0) start to Indiana St. tonight, a 4-12 team.

9pm and Later Games.

  • Um, Arkansas can beat top 10 teams at home, but not Mississippi St.  Nice.
  • Stanford blew a lead at Wazzu, but neither of these teams look very impressive.  NIT for both.

What We Learned Today. Not a lot, actually, other than to not assume Arkansas will roll through its home schedule.  Today’s slate of games was rather uninspiring, and it doesn’t get terribly better tomorrow until 8pm, when Wake-Carolina tips off.  We love the way the Deacs have been playing lately, and they are at home, so that one could be very interesting.  ESPN should have started Gameday this weekend and made that game the focal point instead of the worthless Miami (FL) at UNC game next weekend.

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Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2008

Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

It was quite an eventful week for Conference USA basketball, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

The issues off the court practically overshadowed the actual games this week as the season has picked up after final exams.

  1. UAB loses four players: It has become a pattern that each year under coach Mike Davis the UAB basketball program loses players to academic, attitude and other off-the-court issues. This past week the Birmingham News reported that Ed Berrios, Armon Bassett, Jeremy Mayfield and Terrence Roderick all were booted off the team due to a failure to comply with team academic and conduct standards. Bassett was a transfer from the troubled Indiana program and was sitting out this season and Mayfield had not been eligible for the fall semester. Roderick had averaged 5.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game, while Berrios averaged 1.1 points and 1.3 rebounds. While the Blazers do not lose any starters, they now have only 6 scholarship players available for the rest of the year.

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Week 3 Blogpoll

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2008

Here it is, through Monday night’s games…


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Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2008

Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

There is no polite way to spin it: this was a bad week for Conference USA basketball.

From the outset of the season I have said that this league as a whole needs to win some significant non-conference games.

Not only did the conference not win any games of significance, there were several embarrassing losses this week.

1.)    A New Tiger Comes Aboard: It was a generally ‘ho-hum’ week in Memphis as the Tigers beat Marist 100-61 and then entered into an 11 day layoff for final exams. But this past Thursday the NCAA cleared Tiger freshman F Matt Simpkins to practice and play with the team. Previously Simpkins had academic issues that kept him off the court. Coming out of the Patterson School in North Carolina, Simpkins was a 4-star prospect and expected to make immediate contributions.

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Week 1 Blogpoll

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2008

We delayed the start of the Blogpoll this year so we could get a better sense as to the first few weeks of the season, so here it is.  The blogpoll is represented through Monday night’s games (although records are current).


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Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2008


Allen R is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

The first week or so of Conference USA basketball is in the books and really you can’t tell too much from these contests.

My biggest complaint is that teams like Central Florida, Marshall, East Carolina and Southern Miss scheduled Division II and NAIA teams to start out the season. I realize that many schools struggle to find quality non-conference opponents, but there are over 300 Division I teams out there that could be potentially scheduled. In a conference desperate for an RPI boost, this does very little good.

Okay, the rant is now finished. Here are the very early storylines in the conference so far.

  1. Reload Time. With the loss of leaders such as Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey and Derrick Rose it isn’t surprising that the Memphis Tigers have looked a tad bit mortal early on in the season. During a nationally televised match-up against UMass, the Tigers struggled mightily to score any points at the outset. Clearly they are not as crisp as they were a year ago and the roles aren’t as clearly defined. In the second half of the UMass game however, Tyreke Evans showed why he was a top prep recruit and got the Tiger ‘dribble drive’ offense going en route to an 80-58 victory. While this may be the best chance for a Conference USA team to knock off the Tigers, they will only get better as the year grows on.
  2. Blazing Arizona. The current Arizona Wildcat squad would not be confused with some of the great groups to come out of Tucson in the past few decades. Longtime head coach Lute Olson stepped down just before the start of the season, while recruits and players bailed left and right from the program. But that shouldn’t take away from the UAB Blazers’ impressive 72-71 road win over the Wildcats in the pre-season NIT. Coach Mike Davis has a deep, senior-laden team that has proven itself capable of dealing with challenges early in the season. Keep an eye on the health of point guard Paul Delaney III. He missed all of last season with an ACL tear and the Blazers’ success is quite contingent on him staying healthy this year.
  3. First Impressions. At least a few freshmen from Conference USA teams look like they’ll be major impact players on their respective teams. Obviously Tyreke Evans on Memphis has superstar written all over him and has broken into the lineup from day one averaging 15.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Along with Evans, Tiger freshman Wesley Witherspoon has received a good chunk of minutes early on. Houston point guard Desmond Wade has also worked his way into the lineup from the first day, all the while showcasing a selfless attitude and hard-nosed defensive play (he’s averaged 6 assists and 2 steals per game). Junior college transfer Aubrey Coleman has also played well for Houston early, averaging 16.8 points and earning CUSA newcomer of the week honors  along with Tyreke Evans in week one. On a team full of newcomers UCF’s Dave Diakite has stood out early on and will pose some matchup problems down the road with his combination of size and scoring ability. Another team featuring a lot of new faces is the Marshall Thundering Herd, who have 8 new players on the court (including 3 transfers and Marcus Goode, who sat out the 2007-08 season due to academics). Out of that group, Shaquille Johnson and Chris Lutz have both broken into the Herd starting lineup to start the year. Expect Lutz, a Purdue transfer, to light up the scoreboards all season.
  4. Dancing With Experienced Partners. On the opening weekend of college basketball, both Houston and Tulsa chalked up victories against teams that went to the NCAA tournament last season. One of last year’s biggest Cinderella stories: the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers were defeated by Houston 73-64. In their home opener the Cougars trailed 37-27 at the half, but relied on a stingy defense and an aggressive offense led by Aubrey Coleman (19 points, 6 rebounds) to pull it out. Tulsa hosted Oral Roberts in what has become an interesting regional rivalry game. It was a fairly ugly and disjointed game, but the Golden Hurricane pulled out a 50-43 victory, led by 20 points from point guard Ben Uzoh.
  5. House of Tudor. They may be a few years from being an upper-echelon CUSA team and have no basketball history to speak of, but the Rice Owls finally have a real basketball facility to play in. Previously the Owls played in Autry Court, a tiny and decrepit facility that seriously hampered any recruiting efforts. Prompted by a large donation from former Owl player and Goldman Sachs executive Bobby Tudor, the university began a major renovation of Autry Court that spanned all of last season. Now with new coach Ben Braun the Owls are looking to build a winning tradition in this new arena. For the record the Owls are 0-1 so far this year, with a 78-74 loss to defending Big Sky champion Portland State.
  6. Not Cowboying Up. In one of the games I highlighted as an important non-conference contest for Conference USA, the Oklahoma State Cowboys dismantled Tulsa 91-73 in Stillwater. The Cowboys and their new up-tempo offense under coach Travis Ford made quick work of the Golden Hurricane in the first half. Led by Byron Eaton the Cowboys built a 54-28 first half lead and coasted from there on out. The lone bright spot for the Golden Hurricane would probably be another 20-point performance from Ben Uzoh.
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Preseason Polls Released

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2008

Prediction:  by the end of the first week of December, UNC will no longer be #1 in the major media polls.

No way, there’s too much pressure and they have too many good teams to handle before we even get our advent calendars.  Oh, and did you hear, a small piece of their offense will be out for a while with a stress reaction?  Even if this substantial piece never misses a game, which is extremely unlikely, he’s going to miss practice and be out of ‘game shape’ for a while.  And no, we’re not talking about Marcus Ginyard, but his loss hurts too.

Here’s Carolina’s early schedule – you tell us how they’re going to come out of this unscathed…

  • v. Penn  (11.15.08) – easy enough at home, right?
  • v. Kentucky (11.18.08) – this home game suddenly becomes extremely interesting if TH is out or still ailing – Patrick Patterson will wipe up the inside.
  • @ UCSB  (11.21.08) – UNC fans will remember the west coast stopover game before Maui in 2004-05 well.  Trap game.
  • @ Chaminade  (11.24.08) – Maui Invitational first round – easy W.
  • v.  Alabama (probably) (11.25.08) – UNC should be careful to not sleep on an athletic Bama team, but will probably win regardless.
  • v. Notre Dame/Texas (probably) (11.26.08) – either of these teams could defeat a less-than-full-strength UNC in Maui.
  • v. UNC-Asheville  (11.30.08) – easy home win.
  • @ Michigan St. (Detroit) (12.03.08) – 40,000 people could watch this game at Ford Field, and UNC will absolutely need to be at full strength to win this game vs. MSU.

There are at least three opportunities for the major upset here, and if Hansbrough and/or Ginyard are out for any of those games, go ahead and mark it down.  UNC will not enter the second week of December #1 and unbeaten.

Now, on to the polls, where UNC was a unanimous #1 in the AP Poll for the first time EVER (nope, not even 1991 UNLV, 1992 Duke or 2007 Florida), and also unanimous in the Coach’s Poll.  No pressure or anything…  FYI – UNC has been preseason #1 six times in its history (incl. this year) – the results of those seasons are: 1982 (Natl. Champs), 1984 (S16), 1987 (E8), 1994 (R32), 2008 (F4) – all that’s missing is a first-round loss or a title game loss.

Here are the polls.

We plan on doing some broader-based analytics of preseason polls in a general sense next week, but for now, here are a few things that we noticed right away.

  • Biggest jumps from AP to Coaches – Georgetown (+4) and Duke (+3)
  • Biggest drops from AP to Coaches – USC (-3) and Wake Forest (-3)
  • Coaches tend to vote by available talent + belief in other coaches’ abilities – what does this say about Tim Floyd and Dino Gaudio in relation to JT3 and Coach K?
  • Overrated – UConn, Duke, Oklahoma, USC
  • Underrated – Wisconsin, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga
  • All 25 teams in both polls are duplicates, but it’s interesting that Xavier was #26 in the AP vs. #30 in the Coaches.
  • We’re a little surprised to not see St. Mary’s and Baylor ranked over teams like Villanova and Kansas, but whatever, that’s their poll, not ours.
  • Alabama gets 16 AP votes but a donut in the Coaches – Mark Gottfried, much?  And LSU is getting too much love for simply getting a new coach.
  • Conference Breakdown – Big East (7 + 2 others receiving votes); ACC (4), Big 10 (3), Big 12 (3), Pac-10 (3), SEC (2), CUSA (1), SoCon (1), WCC (1).
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Blogpoll – Week 3

Posted by rtmsf on November 29th, 2007

What a week. So we’re a little late on this week’s blogpoll, among several other things, but we’re slowly getting caught up and feel that this week’s poll is the first one that accurately captures how teams are playing several weeks into the season. We’ve had a chance to watch most of the teams in the poll ourselves, and our illustrious blogging brethren have ostensibly done likewise. So here’s Week 3 (blogger ballots located here)…

Blogpoll - Week 3

Note: blogpoll does not include 11/27-28 games.

Justifying Our Ballot. We still rank UCLA #1 and UNC #2 ahead of overall #1 Memphis simply based on the fact that we believe UCLA and UNC have beaten better teams than Memphis thus far. Memphis looked solid in CvC wins versus Oklahoma and UConn, but those teams are probably mid-conference finishers this year. UCLA has a marquee win (w/o Darren Collison) against #13 Michigan St., a team that is better than we thought; and UNC has solid wins over likely NCAA teams Davidson, Old Dominion and #20 BYU (w/o Ty Lawson). Memphis will have an opportunity this weekend to improve its standing in our eyes with a win vs. #25 USC. Like everyone else, we raised #9 Texas A&M and #6 Duke on the strength of their wins in the PNIT and Maui, respectively, and #8 Texas got a nod into the top ten by virtue of its destruction of #12 Tennessee. In the lower reaches of the top 25, we still refuse to vote for #18 Clemson despite their win at Mississippi St. We’ve been down this road before with them, and if the Tigers are 14-0 going into the game vs. UNC on January 6, then we’ll consider it. We also left BYU, Miami (FL), and USC off of our ballot, figuring that Stanford, Ohio St., Wisconsin and Baylor had put together better resumes to this point. After the ACC/Big 10 meetings the last two nights, we’re really questioning our sanity on those two midwestern teams above.

Uncertainty. We’re still seeing blogger indecisiveness when it comes to Indiana and Michigan St., but some new additions at the low range of the top 25 populate our list this week. Here are the top five most uncertain teams (remember, a high std dev means greater variation in blogger rankings of that team):

  • Indiana (std dev = 6.43; range = 10 to nr)
  • Pittsburgh (6.39; 8 to nr)
  • Clemson (5.74; 11 to nr)
  • BYU (5.44; 13 to nr)
  • Michigan St. (4.83; 8 to 21)

The top seven teams in the blogpoll are also the top seven lowest standard deviation this week.

Conference Call.

  • Big East – 5
  • ACC & Pac-10 – 4
  • Big 12 – 3
  • Big 10 – 2
  • Atlantic 10 , CUSA, Horizon, MVC, Mtn West, SEC, WCC – 1

Wow, the SEC is really struggling right now, with only one team ranked (Tennessee) and that squad getting its doors blown off by Texas last week. The ACC only has four ranked teams, but leads all conferences with 6 of the 31 remaining unbeaten teams in D1. Impressive that half of that league is still flawless. Other BCS unbeatens: (Big East & Big 12 – 4 each; Pac-10 – 3; SEC – 1; Big 10 – 0).

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