RTC’s Top 10 Moments of 2010

Posted by nvr1983 on January 6th, 2011

Ok. Maybe this is a little bit later than most of the 2010 retrospectives that you have seen over the past month or so, but just consider our countdown very thoroughly reviewed. We decided to focus on the defining moments of the past year. These weren’t necessarily the most exciting moments, but the ones that made us hold our breath, run around our respective RTC-funded mansions, bury our head in our hands, or reflect on the sport. Even though we think we did a good job of reviewing the biggest moments of the year and ranking them appropriately it is possible that you may disagree with us on either the ranking or inclusion/exclusion of certain moments. If you feel that way, leave a comment and we will respond to you. If you have a strong enough argument we may even update the post.

#10. Izzo Sticks at Michigan State: In the universe of potential train-wreck decisions, Tom Izzo’s summer dalliance with the Cleveland Cavaliers ranks alongside Justin Bieber’s hair and Sarah Palin’s Alaska as near-misses of epic proportions.  (Wha?  you mean they actually exist? ughhhhh…)  With his six Final Four appearances and a national title in the last twelve seasons, Izzo is already one of the best coaches in the game; by turning down the additional millions to coach Boobie Gibson and Mo Williams to twenty-five wins for the next several seasons, he has a great chance to cement himself as one of the greatest of all-time. Frankly, it was surprising to most that the fiery Michigander so strongly considered leaving East Lansing without a promise from LeBron James that he would stick around, but in the end, we believe Izzo’s choice to remain in the college game was the right one. After all, few coaches make the transition from college to pro successfully, and even among those who do (Larry Brown) there is a lingering sense that true greatness was never achieved in either domain.  As for us, we’re happy to see Izzo stalking the sidelines in the college game again, and we’re quite certain that Michigan State fans are too.

#9. Hummel tears ACL and breaks Boilermaker Hearts…Again: Wasn’t it bad enough the first time? It’s not like Purdue fans had totally climbed out from under the fate-dropped anvil that landed on them on February 24th last season, 27 games into the schedule, ranked third and the holy month of March merely DAYS away, when Robbie Hummel‘s right ACL tendered its resignation and removed the Boilermakers from any discussion of likely title contenders. I mean, that’s just cruel, right? Sure, bad luck sometimes befalls even the best kids and eventually finds all teams. But there was always the NEXT year, because there’s no way that something else could happen that would ruin the 2010-11 squad, right? Um…sure. Even to basketball fans neutral toward the Purdue program, the news was hard to fathom on the Saturday morning after this year’s Midnight Madness night (or whatever) when it was announced that Hummel had torn the same damn ligament AGAIN. The very serious and justified championship talk had returned to West Lafayette as fall settled in. At least it was there was up until the morning of October 16th. By noon, it was all gone. That’s one season-changing moment.

#8. Pearls of Untruth: A lie, by definition, is not accidental. At some point, whether it’s a week or a millisecond before it happens, there is a decision point. There is that moment where you make the call to tell the truth or — usually because of something you stand to gain or lose — to deceive. Bruce Pearl was already under suspicion for his telephoning and party-hosting skills, which is what put him in the position to lie to NCAA investigators back in June while they were investigating his program. We don’t know when his decision point was, and it really doesn’t matter. When he deceived the NCAA, at that very moment he violated the trust of a huge sports-loving fan base, not to mention that of every player who hoped he could teach them something about being a being a better basketball player and a better man. Some people want to give Pearl a pass because he went back later and told the truth. But that’s like the moment in the outstanding film Quiz Show when, after Charles Van Doren confesses to the Senate that he lied to America and he receives kudos from various Senators for his courageous statement, the Senator from New York tells him that a grown man does not deserve praise for finally telling the truth. We are not saying Pearl is a bad person — just that he made some bad decisions here. We all do that, just as we all lie. And we all know that after the lie, there is usually punishment and a chance to learn from it. The hole Bruce Pearl has dug for himself only tells us a small something about him. It is whether or not he climbs out of it in the years to come that will tell us what we really need to know about this man.

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RTC Live: Murray St @ Morehead St

Posted by jstevrtc on December 4th, 2010

The RTC odyssey continues on Saturday night, and one of the many locales at which we will temporarily alight on this snowy eve will be in the eastern part of the state (or should I say, commonwealth) of Kentucky, a place whose inhabitants take their roundball quite seriously at all levels. Sure, the vibe here is domianted by a couple of leviathan programs just down the road a bit, but tonight’s contest features a couple of “other” Bluegrass schools who are pretty darn proud of the basketball they play, too. Surely you know about Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried (16.9 PPG, 13.0 RPG), one of the country’s best players and a man whose hands attract rebounds through some cosmic blend of hard work and leather magnetism. Murray State (specifically, the graduated Danero Thomas) buzzer-beat Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year and came within two points of erasing eventual finalist Butler two days later, and the Racers have no intentions of missing out on the March fun this year. Every pre-season prognosticator had these two as the best teams in the OVC. The fun in Morehead, Kentucky starts at 8 pm ET and we hope you’ll check it out with us. It might be freezing outside, but we’re happy to be here no matter the weather.

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HSAC Analyses: Time Out Before Last Possession Benefits Defense

Posted by jstevrtc on August 31st, 2010

Those folks from the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective have been at it again, continuing what will apparently be a series of analyses of close basketball games. They’ve released two more sets of data, one that says the defense benefits from a time out being called before a team that trails by two points or less takes its last possession, and another that verifies this defensive advantage in situations where the score is tied. The benefit comes from the fact that a foul on the leading/defending team is less likely to be called because a coach has time to communicate with his players and set his defense. This is important because their data from last season also shows that offenses which draw fouls on the defense in these situations score almost twice as much (1.62 points per last possession) on the average than offenses that do not draw fouls (0.878 points).

As college basketball fans, we’re all familiar with the scenario. Close game, just a few seconds left. Team A is up on Team B by two points or less. A time out is called. The last possession then follows, and Team B wants to either score or draw a foul on Team A. The HSAC says that Team A benefits from a time out because if they can set their defense, they’re less likely to have a foul called on them (the actual numbers are below).

Murray State's Danero Thomas says the T.O. did not help Vandy. (MJ Sanchez/AP)

When we first read their write-up about situations where a team trails by two points or less, we wondered if the analysis had been based on the time out being called by the team about to play defense (Team A above). From their site:

Teams were much more likely to draw a foul if they did not call a timeout before that possession. Teams drew fouls on 13 percent of end-of-game possessions when they did not call a timeout. Teams that called a timeout only drew fouls on 8 percent of their possessions. This difference was strongly statistically significant (p=0.001).

We took that to mean that the defense had just called the time out, which would have been a problem, since that’s not usually how it happens, from our experience. If Team A scores late in a game and takes a one- or two-point lead, it’s almost always Team B, the team who just got scored on, who calls the time out. If the HSAC analysis would have only considered the scoring team having called the time out, to us it would have meant a lack of real-world generalizability. If the benefit is that the defense is able to set itself, it shouldn’t matter who calls the time out. We contacted the HSAC about this, who confirmed to us that the analysis was based on either team calling a time out, not just the leading team (Team A).

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Summer School in the Ohio Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 16th, 2010

Greg Waddell is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference

Around the OVC

  • He’s Baaack…: Kenneth Faried has decided to return. An Associated Press All-American honorable mention last season, the 6’8 power forward is back in Morehead after garnering NABC All-District honors and sweeping the Ohio Valley Conference awards, earning Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and First Team All-Conference. His 16.9 points and 13.0 boards per game captured the attention of NBA scouts as he turned down what might have been a second-round pick to return to school. Clocking in at No. 25 on Chad Ford of ESPN’s Big Board, he is viewed as a mid to late first rounder by the worldwide leader.
  • The Rich Get Richer…and So Do The Poor: Recruiting is a funny thing, and sometimes, crazy things happen. Take this season’s OVC recruiting haul, for example. The top two ranked players entering the conference according to ESPN.com, Shawn Jackson and Jeverik Nelson, went opposite routes with one choosing the conference’s best team (Jackson to Murray State) and the other the worst (Nelson to Tennessee-Martin). Martin, which limped to a 4-25 record and finished last in conference play (excluding SIU-Edwardsville, who is technically not a member of the conference yet), benefited the most from recruiting as they added three highly-touted players.

Kenneth Faried's return to Morehead State spells trouble for the rest of the OVC in 2010-11. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Power Rankings:

  1. Murray State: After winning the OVC regular season title, conference tourney, upsetting Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament, and falling just short of knocking off national runner-up Butler, the 2009-10 Murray State team was one to remember. The scary thing is the 2010-11 edition may be better. Despite losing senior stalwarts Tony Easley and Danero Thomas, there is help on the way. Easley, the Racers’ emotional leader from last season, looks to be the biggest hole to fill but head coach Billy Kennedy managed to work his magic yet again, luring 6’9 big man Shawn Jackson from Florida. Jackson, arguably the best freshman in the conference, should start immediately and looks to be a force in the paint from his first day on campus while Chris Griffin, the other freshman recruit, will look to back up the three, potentially sophomore high-flier Ed Daniel. With the two-headed scoring attack of guards Isacc Miles and B.J. Jenkins returning, OVC Tournament MVP Isaiah Canaan may be relegated to sixth man again. What a good problem for Kennedy to have as the Racers look to be the class of the Ohio Valley once again.
  2. Morehead State: The other MSU had a decent season as well. Okay that might be a bit of an understatement. Led by Kenneth Faried, who won almost every award the OVC has to offer, the Eagles soared to a second place finish in league play and captured an NIT berth that led to a beatdown of Colorado State and a narrow loss to Boston University in overtime. Projected as a second-round pick in the NBA draft, it seemed that Faried was all set to try his luck in the league, until he decided to come back. Although Morehead State does say goodbye to second leading scorer Maze Stallworth, (12.6 PPG) they welcome back three of their top four scorers and look like a promising pick come tournament time.  The only team standing in their way is Murray but after dashing the Racers’ hopes of an undefeated conference run, they’ve shown they can hang with Billy Kennedy’s squad.  The OVC is a two-team league, and if Morehead can take out their rivals to the west, March Madness may find more than two MSUs dancing.
  3. Austin Peay – After last season’s unexpected finish, a loss at the hands of Tennessee Tech in the first round of the OVC Tournament, the Govs will look to pick up the pieces and build on their 17-15 2009-10 campaign. The only problem is they’ll be forced do so without two main components. Guard Wes Channels, whose 16.9 PPG led the team, has graduated, and 6’8 forward Duran Robertson fell victim to a career-ending knee injury in a preseason pickup game. Robertson’s injury will affect the Govs’ frontline depth where Austin Peay returns 6’9 junior center John Fraley (9.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG) and 6’7 second-team all-Ohio Valley Conference forward Anthony Campbell (15.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG), The Govs do add Tyshawn Edmonson, a transfer from St. John’s via Midland (Texas) College, who will look to push for playing time. Edmonson played high school ball at nearby University Heights Academy. Read the rest of this entry »
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San Jose Pod Daily Diary: 03.20.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 20th, 2010

We’ve got two pretty cool matchups today here in San Jose.  First, we’ll start with the strange situation of everyone’s favorite giant-killer, #5 seed Butler, acting as the heavy favorite over #13 seed Murray State, who of course advanced on Thursday when Danero Thomas’ shot at the horn against Vandy dropped.  In the second game, we’ll enjoy the Pac-10 renaissance for at least another game, as #11 Washington will try to continue its hot streak (now eight Ws in a row) against #3 New Mexico.  We’ll be checking back in throughout the day with our thoughts on the games.

Game 1: #5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State

1st Half

  • Getting ready to come out for the tip of this game, I got into a conversation with two of the young female intern-types who were helping out with the drinks for media.  They were discussing whom to root for in this game, and one said to the other: “well, you have to go with the underdog, Murray.”  Sensing a teaching moment (hey, Scottie), I said, “yeah isn’t it interesting that Butler is the favorite when they’re usually the giant-killer and Murray is the underdog now?”  They were both amazed with that role-reversal and asked a bunch of questions about it.  But it illustrates a point about programs such as Butler and Gonzaga — there comes a tipping point where you’re no longer viewed as the plucky little team anymore, and I think Butler is close to getting there (Gonzaga has been there for years).
  • Butler came out off to a great start 12-3 as Murray State looked a little off kilter, which is to be expected coming off a great win like they had on Thursday.  But eventually they got their sea legs under them and were able to start getting some stops.
  • It’s always interesting to watch The Butler Way…  they take care of the ball; they look for open teammates; they crash the boards; they contest every shot.  Rarely will you see a shot out of the offense, although I did count a couple of them this half.
  • Murray’s defense really picked up about mid-half and it showed in that Butler ended up shooting a horrid 8-28 from the field (29%).  The Bulldogs were held scoreless for the last 6:24 of the first half.  In that time, Murray went on a 9-0 run.  That may not sound like much, but in a game trending toward the 50s, that’s a huge disparity.
  • It took a while to figure out, but the crowd is definitely pro-Murray State.  Again, that’s just weird.  Usually Butler is the team that has the non-partisans on their side.  Ed Daniel’s follow jam with about a minute left on the break really brought the house down.  If this stays close down the stretch, definite home advantage to Murray.
  • I’ve been very impressed with Murray’s Isaiah Canaan in this pod so far.  He has 8 points and has a real swagger about him like nobody can stop him offensively.  Only a freshman and six feet tall standing on a phone book, he is undoubtedly going to be a star in this program the next few years.
  • Coming into the second half, I’m reminded of how Butler had played so poorly in the first half on Thursday, but then used the first five minutes of the second half to completely put UTEP under.  Will that happen again today?  I somehow don’t think it will.  I just don’t see Murray getting as frustrated into making poor decisions as UTEP did the other day.  I really like the poise of this Racer team.

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Second Round Game Analysis: Saturday

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 16 of the second round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Saturday games.

1:05 pm – #2 Villanova vs. #10 St. Mary’s  (Providence pod)

A great opening game of the day for the group of teams that produced the best opening day of the NCAA Tournament ever. A lot of experts are going to be calling for an upset here and based on the way these two teams are playing we can’t say that we blame them. The Wildcats came into the NCAA Tournament having lost five of seven games and nearly lost to Robert Morris (down by 7 with less than 4 minutes left before some controversial calls went ‘Nova’s way). On the other side, the Gaels stormed through the West Coast Conference Tournament and knocked off Richmond, a team that a lot of people had as a potential sleeper, in the first round. The key to this game will be how Reggie Redding handles Omar Samhan. After watching Samhan rip apart the Spiders, Jay Wright has to be concerned about his interior players going against one of the best low-post players in the country. On the other side, Saint Mary’s has to figure out how to deal with Scottie Reynolds and the rest of the Wildcat backcourt. They are certainly better equipped to match-up with Villanova’s perimeter players with Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova than the Wildcats are to handle Samhan. Saint Mary’s perimeter players pack enough offensive punch to make keep up with Villanova’s guards, but Mouphtaou Yarou and Redding shouldn’t challenge Samhan too much defensively. The one wildcard here is Reynolds. Will he “learn” from Wright’s “teaching moment” and become the Scottie Reynolds we knew for most of the past two seasons or will be the 2-15 from the field Reynolds?

The Skinny: Samhan overwhelms the Wildcats on the inside and advance into the Sweet 16 as this year’s Cinderella.

3:20 pm – #5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State  (San Jose pod)

The second game of the second round will feature the top mid-major program in the east versus an upstart who would love to get there themselves.  In their first round game, if you haven’t heard, the Racers’ Danero Thomas hit a shot at the buzzer to knock Vanderbilt out of the Tournament, but what you may not know about that game is that Murray State pretty much controlled it throughout.  It was very late when Vandy regained the lead and set the stage for Thomas’ game winner.  The point: Murray is better than your typical #13 seed Cinderella.  Butler, on the other hand, had a weak first half and a superb second half to put away UTEP.  It was two of the staples of Butler’s attack — relentless halfcourt defense and the three-ball — that allowed the Bulldogs to quickly take the lead and never look back against the Miners.  As for this game, Murray State does many of the same things that Butler does, it’s just that Brad Stevens’ team does those things better.  It will certainly be interesting to see how Butler responds to being the Big (Bull)Dog in an NCAA Tournament game, as they’re usually the upstart taking on some higher-seeded Kansas or Florida type of team.

The Skinny: We’d love to take Murray State here, but Butler isn’t going to let a johnny-come-lately out-Butler them en route to the Sweet Sixteen, so we expect Butler to hang on and win by 6-8 points.

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ATB: A Thursday Thrill Ride

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2010

The single greatest First Round day in NCAA Tournament history.  Four last seconds shots, and this montage doesn’t even include the half-dozen other games that went down to the wire. Phenomenal.

First, at around 4:43 PM this afternoon in Silicon Valley…

Danero Thomas Gets Us Started (KC Star/M. Sanchez)

And then approximately 9:24 PM in OKC…

Ali Farokhmanesh Keeps Us Going (AP/T. Gutierrez)

Heading back to San Jose for QP’s bank shot at 9:59 PM…

Pondexter Keeps the Madness Going...

And finishing up at around 12:31 AM on Friday morning in the Big Ish-y…

Ish Finishes Us Off On a Magnificent Day of Hoops (AP/J. Bazemore)

Could things possibly be better tomorrow?  The mere contemplation of that possibility makes us a little shaky (well, that and the six coffees and two-and-a-half red bulls tonight).

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Ali Farokhmanesh Does His Best Maurice Newby Impersonation

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2010

We already talked about how great the first set of games today were , but it looks like the outstanding play didn’t stop. While Danero Thomas will be the name du jour to drop around the water cooler on Friday to act like you know what you are talking about, he wasn’t the only one etching his name into his school’s lore. In between another series of ridiculous games (Ohio shooting Georgetown right out of the NCAA Tournament and Washington mounting a huge comeback against Marquette), Northern Iowa was battling UNLV in a game that was tied at 66 with time winding down. Kwadzo Ahelegbe appeared to be dribbling out the clock and for a moment it seemed that the Panthers might not even get a shot off before the ball end up in the hands of Ali Farokhmanesh, who launched a shot that will only grow in legend in Cedar Falls, Iowa:

Farokhmanesh’s shot help UNI win its first game in the NCAA Tournament since 1990 when they were a #14 seed playing against #3 Missouri and they were facing a very similar situation with the game tied with 10 seconds left when the ball ended up in the hands of Maurice Newby:

Amazing, Farokhmanesh took his game-winning shot from almost the same spot on the court in the same situation as Newby did almost 20 years ago to the day. Unfortunately for UNI they lost their next game in 1990 to Minnesota. This year, they will play will play overall #1 Kansas. For the sake of the Panthers and their fans, hopefully that part of history does not repeat itself.

h/t to Ray Curren for digging up the 1990 video

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Let The Madness Begin

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2010

All season long we have heard about how this year did not feature a “dominant team” and this was the “weakest bubble ever”, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a great tournament, which may be off the greatest start to a NCAA Tournament ever. While I’m not usually one prone to hyperbole, I can confidently say that I am having a hard time thinking of an opening set of games that can compare with this year. So far we have had the following things happen today:

  • Double-overtime thriller between BYU and UF where Jimmer Fredette (37 points) announced himself to the non-college basketball obsessed nation and proved to be a bit of a prophet when he told Chandler Parsons (aka “The Regular Season Christian Laettner“): “No game-winning shots tonight”. Parsons proceeded to miss potential game-winners at the end of regulation and the first OT.
  • #3 seed Baylor, a trendy pick to advance to the Final Four out of the South, struggling to put away #14 Sam Houston State in a game that was tied at 55 with 2:40 remaining in regulation
  • #2 seed Villanova, a Final Four team last year, almost falling to #15 seed Robert Morris in a game that the Wildcats trailed by 7 points with under 4 minutes to go. If the Wildcats hadn’t found a way to comeback, Jay Wright‘s decision to sit his senior star Scottie Reynolds at the start of the game as a “teaching point” then having Reynolds respond by going 2/15 from the field would have been talked about for a very long time in Philadelphia.
  • Old Dominion knocking out Notre Dame, 51-50, after the Irish missed a late 3 to tie the game and Luke Harangody, one of the most decorated players in the program’s history, added a meaningless put-back (he said he was trying to draw a foul and tie it with the continuation) for only his second basket in 23 minutes of action.

And that was only the undercard to the main event in San Jose where Vanderbilt took on Murray State in a game that was even more emotional for the Racers than you would normally expect given the recent death of the mother of Picasso Simmons, a guard for the Racers.  After letting a small lead in the 2nd half slip away, the Racers found themselves down by one with 4.2 seconds left. What followed will certainly put Racers guard Danero Thomas into this year’s “One Shining Moment” and quite possibly into NCAA lore:

(h/t to Dan Levy for the video)

I don’t want to sound like Magic Johnson, but after years of critics bashing the tournament I think it is safe to say “The NCAA Tournament is BACK!”

After the jump we have a picture of A.J. Ogilvy in the aftermath of the shot by Thomas from our correspondent who is covering the games in San Jose and a full highlight video from the game.

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San Jose Pod Daily Diary: 03.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2010

Greetings, everyone, from beautiful San Jose, California.  It’s a 75-degree outside the building, but nobody cares about that because it’s time for March Madness, and already across the country today, the games have been insane.  Is there any other sporting event in the world that is so consistently awesome on a year-to-year basis?   I’m going to be updating this diary by the half so as to accord with NCAA policies.  Let me know if you have anything you’d like to know in the comments.

Game 1: #4 Vanderbilt vs. #13 Murray State

1st Half

  • What a crazy early afternoon of games so far – are you kidding me?  Two games in OT and a third down to a last-second shot that missed?  The one thing that I can’t believe the NCAA doesn’t mandate is at least a running scoreboard to keep the fans here abreast of other games.  Because that’s all anyone wants to know about right now is what’s going on in the Villanova – Robert Morris game.
  • Vandy is more athletic than you might think, but Murray is right there with them, jump for jump.  The only real advantage I see Vandy having is a little more size and length inside with 6’11 pair of AJ Ogilvy and Festus Ezeli.
  • This Murray team has the look of a team that won 30 games this year.  They have a swagger and confidence that they belong here and have shown no sense of intimidation against their SEC foes.  There’s a regional rivalry at play here too, as Murray is located squarely in SEC country and surely gets their fill of talk about Kentucky, Vandy and so forth.

Racers Mascot Hyped Up
  • Murray State forward #43 Tony Easley acts as cheerleader/coach when he’s not on the floor, encouraging his teammates, getting in their ears, and greeting them as the first one off the bench during timeouts.  I love seeing that.  Every team needs at least one of those players to keep his teammates honest.
  • Gotta love March Madness when an upset is brewing… the buzz in the room just turns on like a switch, and suddenly 90% of the arena starts looking to buy Murray State t-shirts and caps.
  • In keeping with the style of play of both Murray and Vanderbilt, a lot of players saw action and put up points in the first half.  Murray was led by the electric little guard BJ Jenkins with 9 pts and Vandy by Jeffery Taylor also with 9 pts.  AJ Ogilvy has been largely unheard from in the game (2 pts, 1 reb).

2d Half

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First Round Game Analysis: Thursday Afternoon

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Thursday afternoon games.

Thursday, March 18 (all times ET)

12:20 pm – #7 BYU vs. #10 Florida  (Oklahoma City pod)

The NCAA Tournament kicks off in style this year with a good first round game from Oklahoma City.  BYU enters the postseason riding the wave of one of its most successful regular seasons in decades, but it won’t matter much if the Cougars can’t slay their old bugaboo of winning a first round game on Thursday afternoon.  The last time BYU won an NCAA opener in 1993, Grant Hill’s high fade was in style and the internet was something employees wore in their hair at fast food joints.  Eight trips later, BYU has by far its best team and chance to end that losing streak.  Jimmer Fredette is the best player casual fans haven’t yet heard of, but his 21/3/5 assts per game and 45% three-point shooting allow for the occasional explosion, as in the cases where he dropped 49 points at Arizona or 45 against TCU just last week in the Mountain West Tournament.  The Cougs’ opponent, Florida, limped into the postseason, having lost four of five games and is a questionable entrant (especially as a #10 seed).  But the Gators are still dangerous, boasting five players who average double figures with an ability to go off at any time.  The most difficult problem Florida will face, though, is how to stop the highly efficient offense that BYU brings to the dusty plains.  Dave Rose’s team shoots well from everywhere on the floor, and the Gator defense has been appropriately described as soft throughout the season, so UF will have to get into a high-scoring shootout to have a chance to outscore the Cougars in this one.

The Skinny: it’ll be difficult for Florida’s defense to slow the offensive talents of Fredette and his Cougars so we’re going with BYU by ten in a shootout.

12:25 pm – #6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Old Dominion  (New Orleans pod)

Everybody knows about the Irish and their response to what was believed to be a potential season-ending injury to their superstar Luke Harangody. After the injury (and during Harangody’s return), the Irish have rebuilt themselves into a better team. We’re not saying they are a better team without Harangody because that would be ridiculous, but the brand of basketball they play when they don’t dump it down to him and watch him go to work is producing better results. They will have their hands full with the CAA champion (both regular season and tournament) Old Dominion. While the Monarchs ended up losing many of the “resume-building” games they played this year, they were competitive in most of them (5-point loss versus Missouri and 9-point loss at Northern Iowa) they also managed to win the biggest game on their schedule at #3-seeded Georgetown. So we know they can hang with a Big East team. Now the question is whether senior Gerald Lee can put it together to lead Blaine Taylor’s squad to an upset in the first game of the NCAA Tournament.  It says here that they can, but the Irish are playing so well that they won’t.

The Skinny: Notre Dame gets enough production from each of its key scorers and is able to clamp down late on Lee and company to eke out a six-point victory.

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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on February 21st, 2010

Greg Waddell of Murray State News is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Standings (as of 2/18)

Team of the Week – Murray State captures the honor this week at the Racers continue a run of dominance through the OVC. Sitting at 16-0, Billy Kennedy’s team secured the regular season crown on Tuesday in a 80-68 win over Southeast Missouri State. Joe Lunardi of ESPN currently has Murray as a No. 13 seed in the NCAA tournament, playing Temple in Spokane.  It will be interesting to see how the brackets unfold if Murray falls in the conference tournament as the OVC has typically been a one-bid conference.  As Doug Gottlieb noted, it may be hard to turn down a Racer team with only four losses.

Player of the Week- In an unorthodox move, this week’s edition will nominate two players for the top honor.  Seeing as how coverage is divided into a bi-weekly segment it would only seem fair to have two winners.  Week one winner, Nick Murphy of Jacksonville State averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per game as the Gamecocks split a pair of games from Feb. 8 through Feb 15 while week two winner Mark Yelovich from SIU – Edwardsville earned the award after dropping 34 points on the University of North Dakota.

Play of the Week – Instead of the typical game of the week, this edition will instead focus on a single play.  This week’s honor goes to Isaiah Canaan, a freshman on the Murray State basketball team, after a half court shot from his knees earned the guard the top spot on the Sportscenter Top 10 and an interview with Jay Crawford on ESPN2 First Take.  The heave has been mentioned as a possible nominee for an ESPY as Play of the Year.

League Notes

  • According to OVCSports.com the OVC has a conference RPI of 19th nationally entering this week, a 10-spot improvement over two seasons ago.
  • Also as of now seven OVC teams have clinched a spot in the eight-team tournament as Tennessee State, UT Martin and SEMO fight for the final spot.

Roundups

  • Murray State.  The Racers wrapped up a conference championship and no. 1 seed in the OVC tournament Tuesday, coasting past the Redhawks of SEMO 80-68.  Senior Danero Thomas recorded 18 points in the win and Isaiah Canaan hit a circus shot from half court to earn a date with ESPN.  This season has been All-Racers thus far. Can it continue? We’ll see.
  • Morehead State.  The Eagles played one of the toughest conference games this week, taking on Eastern Kentucky in a battle of the OVC’s No. 2 and 3 teams.  Kenneth Faried was, well, Kenneth Faried, notching 15 points and 16 rebounds for the his 20th double-double on the year. Maze Stallworth added 20 points and four three-pointers and State rolled, clinching second place in the conference in the process.
  • Eastern Kentucky.  The Colonels played admirably but fell just short against Morehead, stumbling 77-64. Josh Taylor played well for EKU, notching 21 points in the loss, but it just wasn’t enough.  Eastern will get a shot at Murray State on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m.
  • Austin Peay.  The Govs had an exciting week as they opened play against Jacksonville State, drubbing the Gamecocks 83-63, before edging the Golden Eagles on Tennessee Tech in overtime. Austin Peay got a little help from two players this week, as Anthony Campbell and Wes Channels team to lead the team in scoring both games. The highlight of the week came in the second contest as Channels dropped 24 with Campbell adding 23.
  • Tennessee Tech.  Overtime is just not good to the Golden Eagles as both games this week went to extra periods and both ended with losses. Tech is now 1-4 in extended play this season with Elijah Muhammed remaining one of the few bright spots after notching 26 points and 8 assists against Tennessee State and 15 against Austin Peay.  Frank Davis added 15 in the loss to Peay.
  • Jacksonville State.  Jacksonville State had another bad week, stumbling in back to back games at Austin Peay and Tennessee State.  Dominique Shellman and John Barnes recorded 13 points apiece in the loss to the Govs.
  • Eastern Illinois.  Eastern Illinois only played one game this week but that one game was a win, knocking off UT-Martin 83-68. Zavier Sanders, notched 16 points on eight of 10 shooting, to lead the Panthers.
  • Southeast Missouri State.  SEMO played an integral role in Murray State’s conference championship Tuesday. Mainly in that they lost, but it’s a role they played nonetheless.  There really isn’t anything to positive to say about the Redhawks at this point other than Marland Smith (19 points) and Derek Thompson (17 points) played well in the loss.
  • Tennessee State.  The Tigers managed a two game winning streak this week, knocking off the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State in succession.  Jeremiah Crutcher and Robert Covington teamed up for 48 points (24 apiece) in the win against Tech and Jacquan Noble dropped 18 points in the win over State.
  • UT Martin.  Marquis Weddle was the only thing to write home about again as the Skyhawks lost their only game of the week.  Weddle scored 18 points but it just wasn’t enough.  Maybe next week.
  • SIU Edwardsville.  Playing a JV team this week, the Cougars picked up their fourth win of the season as Mark Yelovich exploded for 34 points against North Dakota.  That was pretty much the only bright spot for SIU-E
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