Morning Five: MLK Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 18th, 2010

  1. Happy MLK Day, everyone.  There’s probably no other American sport as impacted by the civil rights legislation spearheaded by the nonviolent resistance of Dr. King and his fellow agents of change as that of basketball.  Fifty years ago, major college basketball was whiter than virgin snow and the prevailing sentiment was that black players were too undisciplined to play the game at an elite level.  Look around today — how could so many people be so dreadfully wrong?  King’s lifelong work helped so many people in this country, and one of the relatively insignificant (in the grand scheme) results of his work was to change such an uninformed and misguided perception about black athletes (and basketball players in particular) for the better.  Our sincere hope as we celebrate Dr. King’s life today is that every player of color who will play a college basketball game this week understands the sacrifice and pain that he and others endured a half-century ago so that they can suit up and play nowadays without anyone raising so much as an eyebrow.
  2. Kentucky’s John Calipari held a telethon called “Hoops for Haiti” on Sunday that raised over a million dollars for the earthquake-stricken island nation.  Notable donors included Ashley Judd, Jim Boeheim, Dick Vitale and even former UK coach Tubby Smith.
  3. Cornell’s Jon Jacques, a 6’7 senior forward for the Big Red, blogs for the NY Times on his team’s recent trip to Kansas and learning what the word “snowdrift” means.  Keep in mind he’s spent 3+ years in Ithaca, NY, already!
  4. Marquette transfer forward Jeronne Maymon has enrolled at Tennessee, and will be eligible to suit up for Bruce Pearl’s team next season.  While on the subject of the Vols, suspended players Melvin Goins and Cameron Tatum were reinstated on Sunday for practice and will be on the bench for UT’s next game versus Alabama on Tuesday night.
  5. Mike DeCourcy examines the ridiculous second half that Texas forward Damion James gave his Longhorns on Saturday night to preserve their first #1 ranking ever.
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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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Boom Goes The Dynamite: Wednesday 1.13.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 13th, 2010

There are some REALLY good games on tonight and many of them will be somewhere on the tube, so we figured tonight we’d step up with a special edition of our weekend live-blogging feature.  To start off, we’ll be checking on Boston College at Duke (ESPN), Pittsburgh at Connecticut (ESPN2), and Cincinnati at St. John’s (ESPN-U), and we’ll branch out to other networks as well throughout the night.  We want to know what you’re watching, as well.  Keep hitting that refresh button and we’ll see you in the comments section.  It’ll all start off momentarily…

7:03 pm ET: Wow, where to start?  This is a ridiculous night of hoops.  SO many games on, which is why we’re here.  The first thing I notice is the wardrobe symmetry between play-by-play man Rece Davis (?!?) and Bobby Knight.  Both in the v-neck sweaters.  Is it good when Bobby Knight is influencing your wardrobe choices?  I guess Rece can make it work.

7:07: Yeesh.  Not exactly a good trip for Nolan Smith.  A missed dunk and then a missed 10-foot jumper from almost behind the backboard.  Meanwhile, over on the Big Ten Network, Minnesota is keeping up with Michigan State early; MSU has a 24-21 lead at the under-4 TVTO.  I’m especially fired up for this UConn-Pitt game.  Can Pitt continue this ascent after being basically forgotten about in the early part of this season?  Up on the Huskies early in Storrs…

7:20: UConn looks like a YMCA club team.  They’re straight up on defense, if you can call it that.  At this point they seem severely uninterested.  Pitt has guys moving on offense without the ball, talking on defense, etc.  That’s how you build an early ten point lead on a team in their own house.

7:23: Maybe that Jerome Dyson dunk will get UConn going.  UConn’s strategy is obvious, and that’s to run Pitt into the ground.  UConn scored on four straight possessions so it looks like they’ve finally shown up mentally.  But what’s this?  Interesting score…South Florida up at home on West Virginia 23-12 over on ESPN 360 with about 7:00 left in the first.  Virginia has an early lead on Georgia Tech and BC just got a NICE dunk by Reggie Jackson to go up one on Duke.

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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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ATB: Life On the Road Ain’t Easy

Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2010

Playing Away From Home is Tough, Eh?

  • Georgia 73, #17 Georgia Tech 66.  This is why we can’t get on board with this Georgia Tech team just yet.  There’s no excusable reason for a team with Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors, Iman Shumpert and others to lose to a team like Georgia, even in a rivalry game.  Yet the Jackets walked out of Athens with yet another loss, and questions about Paul Hewitt’s coaching abilities continue to be raised.  Georgia got a balanced scoring effort from its starters, with four of its players going for double figures and led by Trey Thompkins’ 20/6, while Tech only had two players reach that mark — Lawal with 21/6 and Zachery Peacock with 16/5.  Thompkins, a sophomore forward who averages 16/8 who almost nobody outside of the SEC has heard of, took over the game with under-four minutes remaining, finishing a three-point play and knocking down a couple more FTs to secure the win.  This is a great win for Mark Fox’s Bulldog program, who won this one in front of a half-empty arena, and signals the rest of the SEC that a trip to Athens isn’t going to be an auto-win this year.  As for Tech, we’re still not sure about this team in the ACC race — they just seem emotionally fragile to us.  Anytime a team punches them in the mouth, as Florida State and Georgia did, they appear all too ready to fold.  They play Duke in Atlanta on Saturday; that’ll be a very interesting test.
  • San Diego State 74, #14 New Mexico 64.  Just another night in the wacky Mountain West.  It’s hard to believe that the same SDSU team that we saw St. Mary’s destroy by about 25 points earlier this year could knock off a top 15 team, but it happened tonight.  Malcolm Thomas had 18/15 to light up the Lobo frontline to help compensate for Bill White’s ankle injury suffered in the first half that knocked him out of the game after only nine minutes of action.  The Aztec defense accounted for itself well also, holding New Mexico to 35% shooting and their two stars (Darington Hobson and Roman Martinez) to 7-26 from the field.  There are arguably four MWC teams that are in the running for an NCAA bid this year, and it wouldn’t be out of the question that all four make it, as their conference profile is trending as the top mid-major league this season.

No Cause For Alarm? #2 Texas 96, Arkansas 85. This was a much closer game than the score indicates, but should it be cause for alarm that Texas seems to be struggling with inferior teams lately (they only beat TAMU-CC by six on Saturday)?  It’s certainly not the offense, as the Longhorns shot 59% from the field tonight and seemingly got whatever they wanted all night long (especially with Dexter Pittman and his 21/10 inside).  But, if anything, the defense has been a little lacking, especially compared to where it was earlier this season.  Two of the team’s worst defensive performances came in the last two games, and you start to wonder if a little complacency is setting in with how easy it was for the Horns earlier this season.  Tonight Pittman was the story.  His monstrous dunk and-one to begin the second half set the tone, and UT thereafter went on a 20-9 run to give themselves some breathing room and hold on to the lead down the stretch when Arkansas made its expected run.  Arkansas’ Rotnei Clarke had 24/3 and Courtney Fortson made his first appearance of the year with 19/3/7 assts, but the Hawgs have the look of a sinking ship this season and we’re not sure that John Pelphrey can do anything to prevent it.  Damion James also added 20/9 for the Longhorns.

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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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ATB: Texas the New Florida?

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2009

Damion James Makes an Early Case for POY. #2 Texas 79, #9 Michigan State 68. Four days and two games against top ten opponents for Rick Barnes. No sweat, right? Texas passed yet another difficult test prior to the winter break by imposing their hellacious perimeter defense into 22 Michigan State turnovers and allowing the future Big 12 all-time rebounder Damion James to put up 23/13 on 10-18 FG in a statement victory at home. The dynamic defensive duo of Dogus Balbay and lengthy freshman Avery Bradley confused star point guard Kalin Lucas (3-11 FG and 2:6 A:TO ratio) all night while also forcing guards Chris Allen and Korie Lucious into a combined nine turnovers of their own. In a key stretch late in the second half, reserve forward Gary Johnson drained a difficult shot and forced two consecutive Michigan State miscues around the halfcourt line that were converted into easy buckets. But the real story is the utter dominance of Damion James. He’s now been clearly the best player on the floor against two national title participants in a matter of four days, making a case ahead of Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins for the favorite to win Big 12 POY (and perhaps more). Texas also received four treys from freshman Jordan Hamilton and did most of their damage with center Dexter Pittman on the bench with foul trouble. One could certainly make a case for the Longhorns as the #1 team in the land. They play Kansas, right?

Texas is Good Enough to Do the Florida Twin-Title Thing

Down to Seven Unbeatens. Arkansas 66, Missouri State 62 (OT). The undefeated run came to a bitter end in Fayetteville for Missouri State as the enigma that is the Arkansas basketball team edged the Bears in overtime. Regulation ended in crazy fashion with a wide-open Caleb Patterson layup at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. With 18 seconds left in the extra frame, three-point mastermind Rotnei Clarke nailed a clutch trey and then sealed the game with two free throws afterwards. Missouri State struggled from the field all night, shooting just 32% from three and 31% overall in a rare positive showing for the Razorback defense. Kyle Weems led the way for the Bears with 24 points.

Cal Challenges Kansas for a Half. #1 Kansas 84, California 69. Maybe the Pac-10 is improving?  The much-maligned league got three wins over BCS conference teams in the same evening; and considering that coming into tonight’s games, the league was a combined 6-20 against the other five power conferences this season, three more wins in a single night is something to be excited about.  This was not one of those three wins.  For about twenty-five minutes tonight, though, Cal hung right there with the nation’s #1 team on its home court, but eventually the superior talent of KU won out, as the Jayhawks hit a scorching 73% for the second half and used a 15-3 run to open some distance and ultimately put the game away.  All five Kansas starters scored in double figures, led by Sherron Collins’ 17/5 and Cole Aldrich’s 10/10/5 blks.  Patrick Christopher had 21 for the Bears, picking up for the struggling star Jerome Randle (3-15 FG), who had trouble finding open looks against the Jayhawk defense (including seven turnovers).

Texas Tech Loses More Than a Game. #19 Washington 73, Texas A&M 64. UW got 25/13/3 blks from Quincy Pondexter, who is putting up all-america numbers this year, but more importantly the Huskies’ defense was superb, holding A&M to 30% shooting and handling the Aggies on the boards (+10).  The overarching story of this game, though, was the terrible injury that TAMU guard Derrick Roland suffered when he came down awkwardly and broke his leg after jumping under the basket in the second half.  Those who saw it live compared it to the gruesome broken leg that Joe Theismann once endured on national television a generation ago.  If you’re the type of person who does not handle seeing injuries well, you probably shouldn’t make the jump today (we put the video up, but you don’t have to watch it; seriously, it’s bad).

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2009

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (10-0) - The Jayhawks hold the top spot because they played a bad game against Michigan but still won by double digits.  This team is going to be scary once they start playing their best basketball.
  2. Texas (10-0) - The Longhorns are very close to grabbing the number one spot away from Kansas. A win over Michigan State tonight will probably push them to the top.
  3. Kansas State (11-1) - It looks like KSU will end their non-conference season at 13-1 if they can take care of Cleveland State and South Dakota. Frank Martin and the Wildcats could be looking at a possible top three seed in the NCAA tournament if they finish third in the conference.
  4. Texas A&M (9-2) - The Aggies have a huge game against Washington tonight. This could be a big statement game for TAMU, which has fallen outside the Coaches Poll Top 25.
  5. Oklahoma State (10-1) - The Cowboys had a very close call with Stanford, and then took care of La Salle last week. This is probably the hardest team to rank right now because their non-conference schedule is not very tough.
  6. Texas Tech (9-1) – Losing to the Wichita State Shockers on the road is not necessarily a bad loss, but it makes it harder for the Red Raiders to make the NCAA tournament if they don’t finish in the top six of the conference.
  7. Baylor (9-1) - The Bears are on a long break, but when they resume play against a pair of SEC opponents (Arkansas and South Carolina) is when we’ll really know if Baylor is for real.
  8. Iowa State (8-3) - Marquis Gilstrap had a huge game against Bradley, scoring 25 points. If he can elevate his play during the conference season then the Cyclones could surprise a lot of people this year.
  9. Missouri (7-3) - Last week’s good news is that Mizzou didn’t let Arkansas-Pine Bluff register their first win of the season. The Tigers will have to prove their worth Wednesday in St. Louis when they face Illinois.
  10. Oklahoma (8-4) - I was starting to believe that the Sooners had turned it around, but then they laid a huge egg at home against UTEP. The problem with OU right now is their depth. For instance, in their loss last night, Jeff Capel got just two points from his bench players.
  11. Nebraska (8-2) - The Cornhuskers play Tulsa on a neutral court, and I really don’t see NU coming out with a victory in this game. The good news for Big Red is that they get a lot of production from a lot of different players; their leading scorer Ryan Anderson is averaging just 11 PPG.
  12. Colorado (6-4) - It looks like it will be another long year in Boulder. Cory Higgins is an NBA prospect, but that’s about the only good thing to say about this team.

Team of the Week: Texas Longhorns - Defeating North Carolina at Cowboys Stadium was a tremendous accomplishment for Rick Barnes and the Longhorns. Dexter Pittman snagged twelve Offensive boards in the victory, which may be the most impressive stat for the whole game.

Player of the Week – Damion James (F), Texas- James scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the weekend win over UNC. He is now averaging a double-double. One thing he does need to work on his is FG percentage, as he was just 8-22 from the field against the Tar Heels.

Top Stories

  • Missouri to the Big Ten? – PTI was talking about the potential move last week, and apparently Missouri wants to join the other midwestern BCS conference. The move makes sense geographically, and the Big Ten has been looking for a twelfth member for a few years. The likely scenario is that Missouri would move to the Big Ten,  and then the Big 12 would pick up TCU to compensate. Obviously this is all speculation, but it would be quite interesting if the move went through.
  • Texas’ Big Day - Dexter Pittman and Damion James both had a tremendous day against UNC, which helped the Longhorns put up triple digits on one of the nation’s best teams. I think UT answered a lot of questions about how good their team is, and I think the Horns showed that they are a final four caliber team.

This Week’s Predictions (* indicates “Game to Watch”, # indicates “Upset Watch”)

  • Kansas - California 12/22 (W)* – This is not an easy matchup for Kansas because the Golden Bears can get hot and put up a lot of points in a hurry. However, the game is in Lawrence, and that’s spells a win for the Jayhawks.
  • Texas - Michigan State 12/22 (W)* – Another big test for the Longhorns, but if they play as well as they did against North Carolina, they should be able to take the Spartans. I think this one will be closer than the UNC game, but in the end Texas’ frontcourt will prove to be too much for the smaller, more perimeter-oriented Michigan State team.
  • Kansas State is on an off week.
  • Texas A&M – at Washington 12/22 (L)* – The Huskies want revenge against this conference after their loss to Texas Tech. I think A&M has enough talent to upset Washington on the road, but Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas will prove to be too much for the Aggies.
  • Texas Tech - Stanford 12/22 (W) – Oklahoma State took care of Stanford, even though they almost faltered at the end of the game. I think Texas Tech plays better “team basketball” than OSU, and they will overpower Stanford.
  • Oklahoma State is on an off week.
  • Baylor is on an off week.
  • Iowa State - North Dakota 12/22 (W) – This will be an easy win for the Cyclones, before they take a long break until their January 3rd contest against Houston.
  • Missouri - vs. Illinois 12/23 (L)*,  Austin Peay 12/27 (W) – I don’t see Mizzou beating the Illini in St. Louis. It is a big game for both teams that need another win over a power conference team, but I just think that Illinois has a more talented roster and will beat MU pretty easily.
  • Nebraska – vs. Tulsa 12/22 (L) – Jerome Jordan was too much for Oklahoma State, and I think he will also dominate this game against the Cornhuskers. Tulsa is a possible top nine seed in the NCAA tournament, and Nebraska is a possible NIT team.
  • Colorado – Cal State Northridge 12/22 (W) – Cory Higgins and the Buffaloes need to get some momentum before they start the conference season.
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ATB: Snow Problem, Plenty of Hoops…

Posted by rtmsf on December 20th, 2009

The Debacle in Hinkle#17 Butler 69, Xavier 68. The story over the weekend was the bizarre and (some say) unconscionable ending to the Butler-Xavier game on Saturday afternoon.  If you somehow missed it, check out our post on the subject from last night.  We pretty much agree that the referee crew followed the rules as they’re written, but that the rules as they’re written pretty much suck in a situation such as this.  RTC Live was there, and as our correspondent wrote at the time:

That would be one ballsy crew to take a full second OFF the clock against a visitor down by 1 point.  HUGE controversy WOW…. I have been doing bball for years and I cannot believe that they just did that?!?!?!?!?!”

Ballsy they were, but also correct by the letter of the law.  Unfortunately for Xavier and Chris Mack, the Musketeers were left holding the bag when a timing error led them to believe they’d have a final shot to win the game.  The NCAA needs to step up and immediately clarify this rule, including what kind of stopwatch can and cannot be used to estimate the time so that we’re not faced with an equally ridiculous ending on a much bigger stage later this year.

Jerry’s Joint#2 Texas 103, #10 UNC 90.  The featured game of the weekend at Jerry’s World known as the new-and-improved-to-a-ridiculous-degree Cowboys Stadium showed why many people are very high on Rick Barnes’ Texas team to cut down the nets in April.  UT put four players in the 20+ points column, including huge dub-dubs from seniors Damion James (25/15) and Dexter Pittman (23/15) to go along with Avery Bradley’s 20/4 assts/3 stls and J’Covan Brown’s 21/5/3 assts.  Showing the depth that Barnes now has at his disposal, much ballyhooed transfer Jai Lucas (recently eligible) only played six minutes and recorded zero points.  He’d start for most of the teams in the Top 25 from day one.  UNC’s Ed Davis was the only Carolina player who seemed comfortable with the waves of Texas players inside, as he blew up for 21/9/4 blks for one of his best performances of the year.  Texas will get another test on Tuesday of this week as Michigan State visits Austin, while UNC will head back home for a few easier games prior to the start of the ACC in early January.  We’re still worried about UNC’s point guard play, but we’d imagine that Texas is going to make a lot of pretty good teams look bad over the course of this season.  That team is loaded!

The JumboTron Dwarfs the Court (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

Gonz-awfulness#7 Duke 76, #15 Gonzaga 41.  In a game all too reminiscent of other early-season blowouts that Duke has administered on overrated teams, the Devils completely overwhelmed the Zags defensively to, as Mark Few put it after the game, “woodshed” his team on Saturday afternoon at MSG.  Duke’s defense held Gonzaga to a mere fifteen FGs for the game, 28% shooting, a single three-pointer and a quarter-century team low of 41 points.  Despite all the hype for the Duke bigs coming into the season, it’s been the backcourt play of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith, combining for 36 PPG, 7 RPG, and 10 APG that has truly driven this team to have the look as one of the best teams in America this year.  Scheyer’s ridiculous A:TO ratio of 5.8 to 1 actually went down after two TOs in this one, but his 20/5/8 assts more than made up for the miscue.  Smith added 24/3/3 assts, and we’re going to spare talking about the Gonzaga awfulness since not a single Zag got into double figures on the day.

Shot of the WeekendCornell 91, Davidson 88 (OT). Ryan Wittman’s 30-footer at the buzzer in overtime gave the Big Red its eighth win of the year and a shot at a Big East team (St. John’s) on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.  Lost in the heroics and glee of Wittman’s shot was the fact that it wouldn’t have even been possible had Louis Dale not hit a driving layup with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation.  Cornell’s only two losses this year were against Big East teams (Seton Hall and Syracuse), so this will likely be the Ivy League favorite’s best chance to get a huge win this season (Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse is not realistic).  We haven’t been able to locate a video of this shot yet, but if you see one, let us know.

SEC Sucktitude. A week ago, we were ready to start believing that the SEC is much-improved this year.  Then the SEC East craps itself on Saturday and Sunday.  We’re reserving judgment for now, which of course means we really think this league is terrible and deserves only one bid (ok, not really).

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 12.19.09

Posted by jstevrtc on December 19th, 2009

Welcome back!  Another weekend means another edition of everyone’s favorite college basketball live blog.  Assuming they all actually happen (there was, like, a huge snowstorm, you see), there are actually some pretty darn good games happening today (Michigan at Kansas, anyone?  Maybe a little Xavier at Butler?), and since we know you’ll be watching, and we know we’ll be watching…why not watch with us?  We’ll be commenting all day, but we want to know what your thoughts are on the games as they’re being played.  So keep checking this space and hitting that refresh button, and let’s have your comments as well.  It’ll start at noon and go all day long, so I suggest you grab some hot chocolate (or your beverage of choice), turn on your favorite game, and join us.  Keep checking back every few minutes!

12:03 pm: So here we go.  Starting off with Michigan at Kansas on ESPN as our principle (and as of right now, only noteworthy) game.  This is a good but perplexing Michigan team.  Their four losses are Marquette, Alabama, Boston College, and at Utah.  Michigan was a tournament team last year and returned those two stars in Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, which would make me think they should have at least won a couple of those.  BC is tough, but Michigan has to defend the home floor against a team like that if they want to be taken seriously.  Quite a tall order they’ve got today.  As I type this, Michigan’s last three shots have been threes, none of which went down.  Meanwhile, Kansas has been getting the ball inside every trip down.

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on December 17th, 2009

checkinginon

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

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (9-0)- The Jayhawks dominated Radford and La Salle at home this last week, but now the schedule gets much harder.  A Michigan team that is in need of a big win will visit Lawrence on Saturday.
  2. Texas (9-0)- The Longhorns blow out every team they play, probably because they have such an easy schedule, but also because Damion James is averaging a double-double. The matchup between the frontcourts of Texas and North Carolina may provide us with the most evenly matched game of the season, between two final four contenders.
  3. Kansas State (9-1)- Sorry Red Raiders fans, but I have to give the three-spot to the Wildcats despite TTU being the only other team in the conference outside Texas and Kansas that is undefeated. In my opinion, a road win against UNLV is better than a home win over Washington.
  4. Texas Tech (9-0)- John Roberson put the team on his back against TCU after being down five at halftime. Roberson played all 40 minutes and finished with 21 points on 7-11 from the field.
  5. Texas A&M (8-2)- Losing to New Mexico is nothing to be ashamed of; the Lobos can play with anyone in the power conferences.  The Aggies need to look at their game against Washington on December 22nd to get their name back in the national spotlight.
  6. Oklahoma State (9-1)- James Anderson is continuing his great play, and if Marshall Moses keeps averaging a double-double, Oklahoma State will be a hard team to beat in this conference.
  7. Oklahoma (7-3)- The Sooners have a good streak going, and they should have two more wins before they play on the road against Gonzaga.
  8. Baylor (8-1)- The Bears were off last week, but they’re win over Xavier looks a lot better after Xavier beat Cincinnati.
  9. Iowa State (7-3)- Beating their in-state rivals should get this team back on track.  The Cyclones have a lot of talent, they just need everyone to play well at the same time.
  10. Missouri (6-3)- Losing to Oral Roberts?  That’s a sign of a team that is in rebuilding mode.
  11. Nebraska (7-2)- A very ugly win over Oregon State, but it was a win nonetheless.
  12. Colorado (6-4)- Losing against Colorado State, a team that has been dwelling in the basement of the MWC the last few seasons, won’t get anyone in Boulder excited about basketball.

Team of the Week:  Kansas State WildcatsJacob Pullen had a huge night against UNLV (28 points, and 7-10 from behind the arc), which helped lead the Wildcats to their second big win of the week.  Denis Clemente and Pullen can lead this team to a deep run in the NCAA tournament when all other parts of the team are running smoothly.

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2009

checkinginon

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

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (7-0) - The Jayhawks have yet to play a tough opponent, and they didn’t play too well against a bad UCLA team. However, to KU’s credit, they’re going to get everybody’s best shot all season long.
  2. Texas (7-0) – The Horns fans are probably more excited about their football team at the moment, but the town of Austin could see another national championship appearance, this time on the hardcourt.
  3. Texas A&M (8-1) – Not a very impressive week for the Aggies who struggled at home in their wins against Akron (74-62) and North Texas (75-65).
  4. Texas Tech (8-0) – This team has earned my respect after their crazy win over Washington at home. If Pat Knight gets to the Tournament he is looking at Big 12 coach of the year honors for what he’s doing in Lubbock.
  5. Kansas State (7-1) – The Wildcats are about to get into the toughest part of their nonconference schedule. This week they play at home against Xavier (Tuesday 12/8) and on the road against Mountain West favorite UNLV (Saturday 12/12).
  6. Missouri (5-2) – I think Mizzou answered a lot of questions about their offense with the 106-69 whipping of Oregon in Columbia.
  7. Oklahoma (5-3) – It looks like the Sooners are back on track with big wins over Arkansas (67-47) and Arizona (79-62).
  8. Oklahoma State (7-1) - If you recall, I called the upset against Tulsa, if we really call it an upset. The Cowboys then had a close call at home against UT-San Antonio (61-55)
  9. Baylor (7-1) – The win over Arizona State was a good sign for the Bears, but with the Pac-10 having a down year it’s hard to know what we should make of it.
  10. Iowa State (6-3) – Really tough week for the Cyclones losing to MVC favorite Northern Iowa (63-60) and then getting dumped by Cal on the road (82-63).
  11. Colorado (6-3) – Good news for the Buffaloes is that freshman Alec Burks is off to a terrific start (16 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
  12. Nebraska (5-2) – Lost on the road to a better Creighton team. Not much is looking good in Lincoln right now other than Ndamukong Suh, and I don’t think he’s going to try out for the basketball team any time soon.

Team of the Week: Texas Tech Red Raiders – The title of “craziest game” of this young season belongs to the Washington-TTU showdown in Lubbock last Thursday, and I think its safe to say that Red Raiders fans are surprised with what their team has been able to do so far this season.

Player of the Week: Damion James (F), Texas - James combined for 35 points and 15 rebounds in Texas’ two games last week. Right now, he is the key to the Longhorns’ success.

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