Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day One

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009

dynamite

Hello everyone, it’s been a long four days since the last games ended on Sunday evening, but we’re back in earnest and ready for what should be a tremendous set of regional semifinals over the next two nights.  Out of the top sixteen teams entering this Tournament, only two have been dismissed.  The “upstarts” are Big 10 Tournament champion Purdue and a little school from the desert you might have heard from before, Arizona.  We’ll be providing you with all the coverage as the weekend progresses…  here’s tonight’s schedule:

7:07 pm.  #5 Purdue vs. #1 Connecticut
7:27 pm.  #4 Xavier vs. #1 Pittsburgh
9:37 pm.  #3 Missouri vs. #2 Memphis
9:57 pm.  #3 Villanova vs. #2 Duke

9:07 pm.  Apologies to everyone, but real world got in the way and we’re just now getting to where we can start the BGTD tonight.  Hopefully you’ll join us for the rest of the evening.

9:08 pm.  What have we missed.  Two good games, apparently.  UConn-Purdue is nearing the finish line, and it appears the Huskies are going to advance.  We thought there was a possibility of an upset there, but Hasheem showed up tonight for 15/15 and when he puts up those kinds of numbers, there are only a handful of teams in America that can compete with UConn.  Pitt has been fighting off Xavier all night long, only recently getting the lead back for the first time in a while.  From what we’ve seen so far, Pitt continues to shoot threes (not their strong suit and miss FTs.  Xavier is doing enough to pull this upset if they can continue to keep Blair in check (8 pts).

9:14 pm.  Jamie Dixon was right to complain about that shot clock violation there – it was still in XU’s hand when the clock turned to zero.  But what is going on with Pitt’s shot selection?  A fadeaway 18-footer from the corner is NOT their strength…

9:17 pm.  And then a timeout on the throw-in…  this team appears out of sync to us.  UConn is finishing off Purdue on the other channel.

9:19 pm.  Blair got the putback tip to go in there, but can you believe he’d miss such a point-blank shot; and then Jermaine Dixon barely drew iron on a dunk attempt?!?  My God, if Pitt survives this game, it’ll be miraculous.

9:21 pm.  Wow, these two teams are hitting 20% and 25% this half (Pitt higher).  SCORCHING.

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Notes from the East Region Open Practice

Posted by nvr1983 on March 25th, 2009

Because of the NCAA’s refusal to give us a media credential (or discuss the issue and our side of the case), we were forced to go to today’s open practice to get an up-close look at the teams. As an aside, if anybody has extra tickets for the games in Boston for the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8 (in case your team gets cheated by the refs), send me an e-mail at rushthecourt@gmail.com and I might be able to take them off your hands.

The guys who don't want me covering the game

The guys who don't want me covering the game

Let’s get one thing out of the way. The East Region open practice might have been the most boring 5 hours of my life (not counting lectures). There’s a reason the NCAA makes this event free (outside of the fact that they more than make up for it through the $8 programs, $5 Cokes, and $23 baseball caps). The crowd was 95% white males in their mid-30s or above along with a handful of kids chasing autographs from players who they were looking up during the practices checking to see which ones had the best stats. My favorites were the old guys sitting behind me who kept on commenting on how good Gary McGhee and Brian Zoubek were (the tallest guys on the court) and what outstanding pros they were going to be. Anyways, here are my thoughts and pictures (some pictures are from my iPhone because I forgot to charge my digital camera) from each team’s “practice”.

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NCAA Sweet Sixteen: East Region Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 25th, 2009

The East Region: A Look Back, A Look Ahead  (By Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

A look back: Here are some of the bests and worsts of the first two rounds of the East Region – as well as some other haphazard notes …

Most impressive team remaining: Villanova. The Wildcats’ dismantling of UCLA was a sight to behold.

Shakiest team remaining: Pittsburgh. I sat next to a diehard Pitt fan at a sports bar Friday. I knew it was a bad sign when he turned to me disgusted midway through the second half and said, “Just root for East Tennessee State. I know you want to.”

Don’t forget about us:  In Xavier’s opening-round win over Portland State, the Musketeers shot 54 percent from the field and committed just seven turnovers. In their second-round win, they held Wisconsin to 25 percent shooting. Xavier has now won at least one game in six of the last seven NCAA Tournaments.

Don’t forget about us either: Duke is back in the Sweet 16. Oh, how we missed you.

Best performance: Pitt’s Sam Young was electric against Oklahoma State, scoring 32 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking three shots.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day Four

Posted by nvr1983 on March 21st, 2009

dynamiteAfter a thrilling finish last night that made Demetri Goodson a household name for at least a few days, we think the tournament has officially begun. Even being fairly selective, we think there are at least 3 outstanding games today. Here’s a quick rundown of the games we’ll be covering tomorrow:

  • 12:10 PM: #6 Arizona State vs. #3 Syracuse
  • 2:20 PM: #12 Wisconsin vs. #4 Xavier
  • 2:30 PM: #11 Dayton vs. #3 Kansas
  • 2:40 PM: #13 Cleveland State vs. #12 Arizona
  • 2:50 PM: #8 Oklahoma State vs. #1 Pittsburgh
  • 4:50 PM: #6 Marquette vs. #3 Missouri
  • 5:00 PM: #10 USC vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 5:20 PM: #9 Siena vs. #1 Louisville

A couple thoughts on the scheduling: (1) It’s nice to see the early finish for those of us who have to work on Monday morning and (2) I think the NCAA and CBS might have finally figured out the spacing issue. Outside of the early game, I don’t think there should be any point during the other 2 sets of games where  we have all the games at halftime. I’m guessing the NCAA and/or CBS must have hired a bunch of McKinsey consultants at $500/hr to figure out how to stagger the games. Now I’m looking at it without a fancy Excel model, but this looks like a reasonable set-up, which should get the job done, but I’ve been wrong before. . .

12:08 PM: One piece of big news from the morning: Dominic James has been cleared to play today. I’m not sure what kind of experimental medical techniques they have up at Marquette, but that’s a shocking piece of news. I’d be surprised if he could even go 10 minutes today as he was expected to be out for at least 2 months when he broke his foot (don’t remember which bone) back on Febraury 25th, but we will wait and see.

12:25 PM: This game looks like it should be fairly entertaining and competitive. Interesting back story about Jonny Flynn and James Harden. I know the old school guys won’t like it, but with the growth of AAU and all these summer camps I think it should be expected that stuff like that will happen.

12:30 PM: For those of you who questioned my earlier assertion that the arenas looked dead this year, the NCAA is backing me up. I guess it should be somewhat expected with the economy although most tickets are purchased via the lottery well in advance. The 50% in Miami is appalling though. One more thing to remember about these numbers. . .they reflect the number of tickets purchased not the attendance. I’m sure there are a lot of tickets that have been purchased by ticket brokers that have not been purchased by people who actually go to the games.

12:40 PM: As talented as Harden is, I really question his tendency to disappear for long stretches. Is he unable to play hard for 40 minutes or is he “letting the game come to him”?

12:47 PM: Arizona State is getting run out of the gym right now. I wonder how much the early start hurts the West Coast teams here. I’m not sure if any of you have data on this.

12:50 PM: We just posted the next part of our Mascot Challnege. Be sure to vote for your favorite mascots and help him/her win the national title.

12:52 PM: Rihards Kuksiks is single-handedly keeping the Sun Devils in this game with 15 of their first 30 points. Syracuse goes into half with a 41-32 lead. Harden still doesn’t have a point. If I’m a NBA GM, his tendency to do this drops him a few spots on my board.

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East Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (pt. 2)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 20th, 2009

EAST REGION GAME PREVIEWS – PART TWO (By Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

Once again, we will be picking the East Regional games, while also pitting non-basketball alums from each school in a no-holds barred battle for March supremacy.

Friday’s Games – Dayton, Ohio

(8) Oklahoma State vs. (9) Tennessee (12:25 p.m.)

DZ: This match-up is about as even as they come. Both teams play fast-paced, high-scoring basketball. The Cowboys’ James Anderson (18.6 ppg) will be the best player on the court, but the Vols are stronger in the interior with Tyler Smith (17 ppg) and Wayne Chism (13.8 ppg). I’ll go with Bruce Pearl and the Vols here – but you might be better off just flipping a coin.

SM: Usually, these 8 vs. 9 games include at least one so-called mid-major team against a BCS conference team, and I usually lean toward the little guy with my pick. But as the only 8/9 game between two mediocre big boys, this is a total toss up. I have to go with the team I know more about, and that would be Tyler Smith and Tennessee. The real question is whether Bruce Pearl will break out the day-glo orange blazer.

Alumni Throwdown – Gary Busey (Oklahoma State) vs. Chris Hadfield (Tennessee)

DZ: Like the real game, this has all the makings of a great match-up with an actor lost in space going up against the first Canadian to walk in space. But the astronaut wins when Busey gets distracted trying to figure out the life force of a basketball.

SM: Busey had a great turn in a recent season of Entourage. But once you’ve appeared on a reality show called Celebrity Rehab, you’re disqualified. I’ll go with the Canadian astronaut, eh?

(16) East Tennessee State vs. (1) Pittsburgh (2:55 p.m.)

DZ: If the national championship hopeful Panthers have a hard time with this one, they could be in trouble. High-scoring guard Kevin Tiggs (21.5 ppg) helped ETSU win the Atlantic Sun tournament championship, but you may have heard Pitt has a couple of stars in its own in DeJuan Blair (15.6 ppg, 12.4 rpg) and Sam Young (18.8 ppg). The Panthers coast into the second round.

SM: I’ll lay it on the line – Pitt is my pick to win it all. So if they show ANY signs of trouble against a school whose finest alum is a late bishop, my bracket could be in trouble. Tiggs may be a small-conference gunner against Lipscomb and South Carolina-Upstate (yeah, that’s a real school), but DeJuan Blair is a big enough force to block out the (Atlantic) Sun. Panthers rest the starters late, and still run away by 20-plus.

Alumni Throwdown – Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr. (East Tennessee State) vs. Mark Cuban (Pittsburgh)

DZ: It will take a wing and prayer for ETSU to beat Pitt, but prayers are what the late bishop has (sorry, there aren’t many famous ETSU alums). Look for the bishop to prove faith is stronger than money by knocking off the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks in the feel-good upset of the (fake) tournament.

SM: I don’t want to vote against a bishop, but I also don’t want Mark Cuban to rip me on his blog or his Twitter or whatever it is the kids are doing these days. Cuban politely edges Bishop Hunt in this one, but then gets fined by David Stern for excessive celebration.

Friday’s Games – Boise, Idaho

(4) Xavier vs. (13) Portland State (7:25 p.m.)

DZ: The Musketeers notched some signature wins early but have just a .500 record since Feb. 7. Meanwhile, pint-sized guard Jeremiah Dominguez, the two-time Big Sky MVP, fuels a very good shooting Portland State team that knocked off Gonzaga, on the road, earlier in the season. Xavier is a tourney-tested team under head coach Sean Miller, but I like Portland State here in the East Region’s upset special.

SM: I’m on record saying Xavier is a little high as a four seed, but Portland State may be the one team in this region with an even more favorable ranking. I was the one person who watched the Vikings win the Big Sky title at the buzzer, and they did not look like a 13 seed. The Musketeers handle their business rather easily in this one. After that, though, I make no promises.

Alumni Throwdown – Robert Romanus (Xavier) vs. Holly Madison (Portland State)

DZ: Madison, one of Heff’s girlfriends on Girls Next Door, matched up against the actor who played Mike Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High? This one would be over before it starts with the Playboy model easily wooing the overconfident sleazeball. (“I woke up in a great mood. I don’t know what the hell happened.”)

SM: Blondes aren’t usually my thing, but in this matchup, it’s a no-brainer. I mean she’s a Playmate, for goodness sake. Personally, I would’ve gone with Phillies legend and Xavier grad Jim Bunning, but a certain Mets’ fan picked this alumni matchup. At least he has a World Series title to back it … oh, wait.

(5) Florida State vs. (12) Wisconsin (9:55 p.m.)

DZ: Averaging over 20 points per game, the Seminoles’ Toney Douglas is one of the best players in the region. But Wisconsin is a pretty solid team for a 12 seed, allowing less than 60 points per contest. Florida State should win a close one, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 12-13 game in Round 2 here.

SM: I’m much higher on the Big Ten than most folks this year (Purdue to the Elite 8!), but not in this case. The Badgers have been totally unimpressive this year, and first-round games are often decided by the best player on the floor. In this case, that is FSU’s Toney Douglas – this year’s breakout star in the East Region. The ’Noles win a tight one late, possibly on a Douglas trifecta.

Alumni Throwdown – Burt Reynolds (Florida State) vs. Stephen Ambrose (Wisconsin)

DZ: Because why wouldn’t we pit a famous actor and former Florida State football player against a late historian and author of Band of Brothers? I’m going with cool guy Reynolds since Ambrose was accused of plagiarizing one of my old professors at Penn.

SM: That’s the best a large state school like Wisconsin has to offer? No Bud Selig, Steve Miller, Joan Cusack, or Charles Lindbergh? This one goes to Burt Reynolds in a landslide. The man nearly stole the show in Boogie Nights – a film that included Heather Graham and not a lot of clothing.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day Two

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2009

dynamiteWe’d like to apologize for our coverage yesterday. We had some technical/communication issues regarding the post yesterday, but I’ll be back covering the games today so everything should be back to normal. Here’s a quick rundown of the games we’ll be covering today:

Early Games

  • 12:15 PM: #14 Stephen F. Austin vs. #3 Syracuse
  • 12:25 PM: #9 Tennessee vs. #8 Oklahoma State
  • 12:30 PM: #11 Utah State vs. #6 Marquette
  • 12:30 PM: #14 North Dakota State vs. #3 Kansas

Afternoon Games

  • 2:45 PM: #11 Temple vs. #6 Arizona State
  • 2:55 PM: #16 East Tennessee State vs. #1 Pittsburgh
  • 3:00 PM: #14 Cornell vs. #3 Missouri
  • 3:00 PM: #11 Dayton vs. #6 West Virginia

Evening Games

  • 7:10 PM: #16 Morehead State vs. #1 Louisville
  • 7:10 PM: #12 Arizona vs. #5 Utah
  • 7:20 PM: #10 USC vs. #7 Boston College
  • 7:25 PM: #13 Portland State vs. #4 Xavier

Late Night Games

  • 9:40 PM: #9 Siena vs. #8 Ohio State
  • 9:40 PM: #13 Cleveland State vs. #4 Wake Forest
  • 9:50 PM: #15 Robert Morris vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 9:55 PM: #12 Wisconsin vs. #5 Florida State

Quite frankly, today’s slate looks a lot more interesting than what was on yesterday. There are 3 games in each of the 4 groups that seem like they will be entertaining except for the afternoon set where only the 6/11 match-ups really catch my eyes. Feel free to leave your thoughts or questions on any of these games or the ones from yesterday in the comment section. I’ll be back around noon to cover the day’s action.

12:15 PM: Ok. We’re about to get underway. I was a little delayed by the fact that the bus to RTC East decided to pick up 3 people in wheelchairs, which slowed down my trip significantly (had to get them in/out during 6 stops). Is anybody rooting for Stephen F. Austin just because they can’t stand Eric Devendorf?

12:20 PM: “The best look the Lumberjacks have had so far”? That was only their 2nd possession of the game. The crows is awful in Miami. I know its early, but there is nobody there. I have to say the NCAA did a pretty poor job with their pod placement. I’ll have to double check, but Miami is probably the worst pod location in terms of distance from the participating schools (and the fact that they don’t care about sports in Miami).

12:30 PM: Rough start for Stephen F. Austin in Miami. Already down 10-2. Hopefully they can keep it close although this was probably the game that was the most likely to be a blowout in this group.

12:35 PM: Did anybody pick upsets in this group of games? I have North Dakota State and Utah State.

12:40 PM: Good game in Dayton (Ok State 14, Tennessee 13 with 12:20 left in the first half). In Boise, Lazar Hayward is up 7-5 on Utah State.

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Offensive Variation and A Short Word about Defense

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2009

When Ben Allaire isn’t drumming up meaningless college basketball statistics, he’s writing about the Virginia Cavaliers over at Dear Old UVa.  RTC appreciates having Ben stop over this week to make some numerical sense of this year’s NCAA Tournament field.

What the analysis thus far has told you is how consistent a team is, without regard to how good they are.  In theory, a team could be consistently abysmal and do well in its Pythagorean consistency.  Granted, that team would be unlikely to make the big dance, but we wouldn’t have controlled for it.

Take a Pitt as an example.  We’ve seen that Pittsburgh is a maddeningly inconsistent team in terms of offensive efficiency.  As you probably have guessed, it’s a major function of their over-reliance on DeJuan Blair, but it’s a tad bit more subtle than that.  Pitt is first overall in the country at offensive rebounding, again as a function of Blair’s obscene board work.

This reliance on offensive rebounding makes them susceptible to foes; if Blair gets in foul trouble, they have trouble producing points.

Furthermore, they don’t shoot that many free throws relative to their field goal attempt (in an attempt to get more offensive rebounds?).  Free throws can be a consistent and efficient way to get the ball in the hoop.

Back to the main point: perhaps none of these reasons matter for Pitt to succeed.  Maybe Pitt is so outstanding, even their bad times are good times.

That’s why I’ve “devised” a measure of offensive consistency relative to the offensive efficiency.  Basically, I’ve just divided the standard deviation of offensive efficiency by its mean. Statistically, this is known as the coefficient of variation (CV).

The CV often used to assess how wide a distribution of numbers is.  It has an added wrinkle here in that teams are trying to minimize the top (low variation) and maximize the bottom (high offensive efficiency).  Thus, teams want this to be as low as possible.

Think about it like a dart board. The main goal is hit the bull’s-eye. Do you hit it once every ten shots, but otherwise are all over the place or are you consistently off by three inches? Really, you want to hit the bulls-eye often and when you miss, you want to be close to it.

Here are the top/bottom five teams seeded fifth or below in the coefficient of offensive variation:

Rank Top Performers Off CV Bottom Performers Off CV
1 Oklahoma (B12) [2] 0.0954 Illinois (B10) [5] 0.1533
2 North Carolina (ACC) [1] 0.0980 Pittsburgh (BE) [1] 0.1501
3 Duke (ACC) [2] 0.1059 Memphis (CUSA) [2] 0.1438
4 Syracuse (BE) [3] 0.1093 Michigan St. (B10) [2] 0.1418
5 Washington (P10) [4] 0.1119 Louisville (BE) [1] 0.1417

I guess this answers our conjecture about Pitt, but also raised a number of questions about Memphis and Louisville: two teams that many have winning it all.  Will they have enough firepower to last eight games? You have to wonder.

I assume that no one is surprised to see Illinois tops at the bottom considering they’re (1) in the Big 10 and (2) that debacle against Pitt.  Michigan St. has been pretty awful at times as well.

On the left side, we have OU. Jeff Capel has put together a great offensive group in Norman.  Jeff, if you’re reading this, Charlottesville is lovely this time of year.

UNC is no surprise at #2.  The secondary break is king, as is Ty Lawson (when he plays).

Duke is a surprising #3.  I think most people think of Duke as been rather sporadic on offense because they rely on the three so much.  Not so, they can hang with the top teams in the country on offense.

Lastly, I’d like to note that had we not included only the top five seeds, Siena would’ve been tops still.  Fran McCaffery’s crew is really solid on offense. Fran, if you’re reading this, Charlottesville is lovely this time of year.

A final word on filling out your bracket, I’d hoped to do something with defense before today. Alas, it was not to be.  I’ll still probably come up with something about it, but it won’t help you fill in your bracket.  Be cautious with teams that force a lot of turnovers.  From all the analysis that I’ve done, teams that force a lot of turnovers aren’t very efficient on D and are likely to get upset.

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NCAA Preview: Pittsburgh Panthers

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Pittsburgh (#1, East, Dayton pod)

vs. East Tennessee State (#16)
Mar. 20 @ 2:55pm

Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -20

pitt-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Conference: Big East, at-large
Coach: Jamie Dixon, 150-41
08-09 Record: 28-4, 15-3
Last 12 Games: 10-2
Best Win: 76-68, Connecticut, 2/16/2009
Worst Loss: 81-73, Providence, 2/24/2009
Off. Efficiency Rating: 122.9 [2]
Def. Efficiency Rating: 92.2 [34]

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): DeJaun Blair – 15.6 ppg/12.2 rpg; Sam Young – 18.7 ppg/6.1 rpg; Levance Fields – 10.7 ppg/7.6 apg
Unsung Hero: Jermaine Dixon – 9.0 ppg
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): DeJuan Blair, 13th overall in 2009 / Sam Young, 22nd overall in 2009
Key Injuries: No injuries to report
Depth: 29.4% mins, #206
Achilles Heel: DeJuan Blair and fouls – Pitt is 0-3 when their big guy fouls out, and 28-1 when he stays on the court.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Everything goes as expected.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Blair gets in foul trouble, and the other Pitt stars can’t make up the difference.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, Round of 32
Streak: Pitt is dancing for the 8th straight year.
Best NCAA Finish: 1941, Final Four
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.40 wins per appearance

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: Head coach Jamie Dixon (1) took over in 2003 at Pitt after Ben Howland (2) left for UCLA. Howland’s Bruins won a spectacular game again Gonzaga in the 2006 tournament, with Adam Morrison (3) starring for the Zags. Morrison was the first draft pick by Michael Jordan (4), who famously played for the Chicago Bulls (5), who were at the time the chief rival of the Detroit Pistons (6).
Distance to First Round Site: 256 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: “Send it in Jerome!” In 1988, Pitt forward Jerome Lane had one of the most spectacular highlight reel dunks ever, shattering the backboard with a slam against Providence.
School Wishes It Could Forget: In 2005, a University of Pittsburgh scientist named Gerald Schatten was linked to a South Korean embryo-cloning debacle that made international controversy. Generally, schools don’t like their faculty members getting involved in such things.
Prediction: FSU doesn’t have the firepower, outside of Douglas, to take down Pitt, and Blair should dominate over Duke’s tepid post players. In the end, Pittsburgh makes it all the way to the Final Four, but can’t quite make it to the title game.

Major RTC stories: None

Preview written by…  Matt the Intern

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NCAA Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Oklahoma State (#8, East, Dayton pod)
vs. Tennessee (#9)
Fri. 3/20 @ 12:25pm
Vegas Line: Oklahoma St. +2

okstate-vegas

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
Conference: Big 12, at-large
Coach: Travis Ford, 22-11
08-09 Record: 22-11, 11-8
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: vs. Oklahoma (N), 71-70, 03/12
Worst Loss: @ Baylor, 98-82, 1/17
Off. Efficiency Rating: 115.2, 16th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 95.9, 73rd

Nuts n Bolts
Star Player(s): James Anderson (19/6 on 49%/41%/83% shooting).
Unsung Hero: Byron Eaton (14/4/6 assts/2 stls) as a floor leader.
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Anderson, #21, 2010 draft
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 23.5% (315th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Defense.  OSU can run with most anybody, but they can’t play defense worth a lick (#213 nationally in FG% defense).
Will Make a Deep Run if…: The threes fall and they don’t face substantial size in the post.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Byron Eaton gets into foul trouble, as he makes the entire offense go.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2005, lost Sweet 16 to Arizona 79-78
Streak: 1
Best NCAA Finish: 1945 & 1946, National Champions
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.23 Ws per appearance than would be expected based on its seeding based on historical data.

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: OSU’s biggest benefactor is T. Boone Pickens, who made his fortune in energy markets.  Detroit is traditionally a huge spoke in the wheel of Big Energy.
Distance to First Round Site: 821 miles to Dayton.
School’s Claim to Fame: Garth Brooks is OSU’s most notable alumnus.
School Wishes It Could Forget: The Johnny Bright Incident.
Prediction: Oklahoma St drew a team in the Vols that likes to run and gun as much as the Cowboys do.  This is a winnable game, but the next one against Pitt isn’t unless DeJuan Blair gets himself in foul trouble.
Major RTC stories: None

Preview written by Rush the Court

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NCAA Basketball 2009: The BCS Version

Posted by nvr1983 on March 16th, 2009

bcs-fail

With the release of the brackets on Sunday evening there has been quite a bit of controversy (Arizona over St. Mary’s being the predominant gripe) and there have been some interesting moments with Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps ganging up on Dick Vitale and almost bringing him to tears. However, it was nothing compared to the furor that we saw when the BCS released its final poll that determined the BCS bowl games and more importantly the national championship. We thought it would be a fun exercise to try to make a mock BCS basketball system. I used the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls as the human polls and ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI, KenPom.com, and Sagarin’s ratings as the computer polls. There are a couple polls I excluded for other reasons: Kenneth Massey’s (wasn’t updated yet) and Jerry Palm’s (not free). I did not throw out the high and low computer polls for two reasons: (1) we only had 3 available and (2) they were fairly similar with a few exceptions (Gonzaga in the RPI, but they weren’t going to be a factor anyways because of Memphis). ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI didn’t include the games from Sunday, but after looking at the final results they would not have had any impact on the rankings  based on the teams involved. Here are the results:

bcs-2009

If you want to try and follow along, here are the BCS criteria.

Now onto the match-ups. . .

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QnD East Region Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2009

EAST REGION PREVIEW (by Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

Favorite
Pittsburgh
, 1, 28-4 – DZ: We at RTC love the upset. But let’s be honest: Pitt has a relative cakewalk. SM: No argument here. I’m a man of few words (not really).

Should They Falter
Villanova
, 3, 26-7 – DZ: Upperclassmen guards own this tournament. And in that department, Scottie Reynolds is as good as they come. SM: I agree here, as well. Dave and I wouldn’t work well on ESPN First Take – too much agreement. DZ: Could this be because we agreed on mostly everything before we started writing? Maybe.

Grossly Overseeded
DZ: Xavier, 4, 25-7 – The Musketeers have lost five of their last 10 against only average competition. SM: Texas, 7, 22-11 – It’s hard to call a seven seed grossly overseeded, but count me among the non-believers when it comes to the Longhorns. A.J. Abrams can shoot the lights out, but he can also disappear in big moments. Texas feels more like a 9-to-11 seed to me.

Grossly Underseeded

DZ: UCLA, 6, 25-8 – A No. 9 Pomeroy rating should have outweighed a bad loss to USC in the conference tourney. SM: Minnesota, 10, 22-10 – It’s hard to ask for more than a 10 seed when you’re 9-9 in conference, but it’s easy to forget Minnesota’s win over Louisville back in the fall. And Tubby Smith in March is a pretty good bet. The Golden Gophers are the fourth team Tubby has taken to the Dance.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper

DZ: Portland State, 13, 23-9 — Realistically, No. 12 Wisconsin probably has the better chance to get to the second weekend, but we like the little guy here. Portland State has an impressive win over Gonzaga on its resume, too. SM: Binghamton, 15, 23-8 – OK, so it probably won’t happen, but I’ve gotta show the America East some love. My alma mater (Boston University) hasn’t gone dancing since 2002, so I have to support my low-major conference brethren.

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower)
Florida State, 5, 25-9 – DZ: Coming off an impressive run in the ACC tournament – but a tough loss, too – the Seminoles will be hungry to make a deep run. Let’s just hope they leave the tomahawk chop at home. SM: I agree the Seminoles can make noise in the second weekend. Whether those wins will be vacated in 10 years or so? That’s a different story.

Carmelo Anthony Award
DZ: DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh (15.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg, .599 FGP) – Everyone knows how strong Blair is. And everyone who doesn’t should watch this. SM: Toney Douglas, Florida State (21.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 38% 3-point pct.) – Senior guards are critical to March success, as Douglas proved during the ACC tournament last week.

Stephen Curry Award

DZ: D.J. Rivera, Binghamton (20.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 spg, .468 FGP) – The Philadelphia product and St. Joe’s transfer is legit – though he’s not quite as cherubic as last year’s Mr. March, Steph Curry. SM: Jeremiah Dominguez, Portland State (12.9 ppg, 3.2 apg, .437 3-pt. pct) – The Vikings could give Xavier some trouble, and yet another senior point guard will be key. Dominguez dropped 22 on Montana State in the Big Sky final just to get into the dance.

Home Cooking
(3) Villanova,
16 miles from Wachovia Center; (2) Duke, 56 miles from Greensboro Coliseum – DZ: Villanova plays plenty of games at the Wachovia Center, so this will feel like a home game for them. And, of course, Duke in Carolina is always a tough matchup. SM: It’s likely that most Philly-area residents who bought tickets months ago for this site are Villanova fans, anyway, which gives the Wildcats a huge advantage.

Can’t Miss First Round Game
UCLA vs. VCU, Thursday – DZ: Darren Collison and Eric Maynor will battle for acronym bragging rights in this intriguing contest between a perennial giant and a strong mid-major. SM: Far and away this is the game I’m most looking forward to. The large Nova-heavy crowd will gravitate toward the underdog anyway, and Maynor should bring them to their feet.

Don’t Miss This One Either

Duke vs. Binghamton
, Thursday – DZ: We love how this game pits the squeaky clean program from the ACC against the thugs and retreads from the America East. SM: As an alum of the real BU, I hate that the Bearcats try to use that moniker. But I’ll be rooting for them anyway.

Lock of the Year:

SM: Villanova cruises to the Elite 8, and is never really challenged along the way. With two games in their quasi-home gym, and a Sweet 16 date with perennial disappointment Duke, this bracket fits the Wildcats better than Jay Wright’s three-piece suit. I understand that hating on Duke is easier than getting away with a travel at Cameron Indoor, but Villanova has an experienced leader in Scottie Reynolds, and a nearly extinct collegiate species in Dante Cunningham: A big man who can consistently drill 16-footers. Want another East Region lock? Wright will edge out Bruce Pearl as the bracket’s best-dressed coach. But it’ll be close. DZ: Are you talking about Pearl’s orange blazer or his bare chest, because either way his outfits would make even Lloyd Christmas blush. I agree with a deep run for ’Nova but I’m a bit wary of its second-round matchup. Also, based on what I just wrote, I clearly don’t know what the word lock means.

Juiciest Potential Matchup – purists
Duke vs. UCLA, Sweet 16. SM: Two traditional powers with some of the most talented recruits in the nation and a bevy of devoted (and often annoying) fans. It would also bring two coaches face to face with their recent reputations for premature exits. Coach K vs. Jamie Dixon – they wouldn’t both be able to fail (there’s no ties in the Big Dance, right Mr. McNabb?). DZ: I think John Wooden deserves to see another deep tournament run before he turns 100. And I think Duke needs to be fined every time they slap the floor on defense.

Juiciest Potential Matchup – media
SM: Pittsburgh vs. Villanova, Regional Final – It’s a long way off, but this one would send the suits at ESPN into a downright tizzy. Not only would it reaffirm the Worldwide Leader’s obsession with the Big East this year (they happen to ignore the atrocities that are St. John’s, South Florida, Depaul and Rutgers), but it would provide a handful of incredible individual matchups: Blair vs. Cunningham, Fields vs. Reynolds, Wright vs. Dixon. Plus, it would further infuriate the Penn State fans to see two Pennsylvania teams fighting for a Final Four spot while they get bounced from the NIT. And as anyone who knows me can tell you, anything that makes Penn State fans cry and complain is fine with me. DZ: Pittsburgh vs. UCLA, Regional final – If UCLA makes it to the regional final against Pitt that would make for an intriguing matchup, as well. Could Howland, Pitt’s former coach, stop his old team, and good friend Jamie Dixon, from making its first final four? UCLA did beat Pitt in the 2007 tourney, but this is a much stronger Pitt team and a far worse UCLA team.

We Got Screwed
UCLA, 6, 25-8. SM: I’m no geography major, but I don’t think Philadelphia is around the corner from Pauley Pavilion. Not only do the Bruins have to fly across the country to face a trendy upset pick in Virginia Commonwealth, but they would likely face Villanova in the second round. That game would take place nearly 3,000 miles from UCLA’s campus, and about 18 miles from Villanova. UCLA may be the only team who would have rather been placed in Boise. Congratulations to the Bruins on three straight Final Fours – now that’ll be $15 for each checked bag. DZ: Agreed. UCLA has made three straight final fours, has a kickass trombone section and once made Adam Morrison cry. The committee clearly didn’t take any of this into account.

Strongest Pod
PhiladelphiaVillanova, American, UCLA, VCU. SM: I don’t want to focus entirely on the lower half of the region – and especially this pod – but there’s no denying the talent at the Wachovia Center. A perennial Final Four contender in UCLA, a possible Final Four team in Villanova, a trendy upset pick in VCU, and … well … American University. Three out of four ain’t bad. The other pods in the East Region include too many first-round walkovers to be taken seriously. And who wants to go to Boise in March, anyway? DZ: Definitely. And American comes into the tourney on a 10-game win streak. Don’t sleep on the Patriot League!

Wild Card, Bitches
Like Charlie, we’re going rogue in our Green Man suits (not really). Here are some other things to watch for over the next three weeks. …

  • Easiest Sweet 16 to (Literally) Write Into Your Bracket: ETSU, FSU, UCLA, Duke (there’s Duke screwing up the all-acronym thing again).
  • Second-Round Rivalry Game That Will Never Happen: East Tennessee State vs. Tennessee. They’re huge rivals, like Duke-North Carolina. Right?
  • Thank Goodness for NCAA Bracketing Rules: Fortunately, the committee won’t pair conference foes against each other in the first round. If they did, we could have had another 5 seed – Illinois – facing No. 12 Wisconsin. What’s the only way to make a Big Ten slugfest less entertaining? Play it in Boise, Idaho.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Curry Award for CBS Parental Crowd Shots: Ralph Sampson III, Minnesota. Yes, they’re related. We don’t get to see the wonder and beauty that is Mrs. Curry this year. So we’ll have to deal with endless shots of this draft day trivia answer.
  • Year of the Sophomore: With plenty of star sophomores roaming this year’s Dance, we could see a potentially good matchup in the second round pitting Pitt’s Blair against Oklahoma State’s James Anderson.
  • Rookie hazing: Of the 43 rookie head coaches this season, five made the tournament and one is in the East Region – Travis Ford of Oklahoma State.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: East Tennessee State head coach Murray Bartow once coached at UAB, while American head coach Jeff Jones once roamed the sidelines at Virginia.
  • Minnesota’s Miracle Man: Not since Gordon Bombay has a sports figure in Minnesota produced more miracles than the Golden Gophers’ Blake Hoffarber. Can he make a third miracle shot this month? Stay tuned.
  • All-Name Team: Nikola Dragovic, UCLA; Uche Echefu, Florida State; Larry Sanders, VCU; Moussa Camara, Binghamton; Teeng Akol, Oklahoma State.

So-Called Experts Prediction
Who cares? We’re just happy Dickie V didn’t cry. Or did he?

Vegas Odds to Win Region

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.15.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2009

dynamiteIt’s officially here. . .Selection Sunday is upon us. Time for a bunch of whining and complaining by grown men about how their team that went 20-12 deserved to get in or for Billy Packer to rip some mid-major for getting in at 26-7 over an ACC team that went 17-15. Thankfully, the slate today is a little lighter to let us get some work done on our NCAA tournament preview. We’ll be covering all 4 games today and we will be doing a separate live blog (RTC Live style, but we won’t be inside the Selection Committee room although give it time). Here are the games today in chronological order and a brief synopsis of what is at stake in each game:

  • 1 PM: #22 FSU vs. #8 Duke on ESPN, Raycom, and ESPN360.com: This is only for seeding purposes. FSU is probably a solid #5 after knocking off UNC yesterday. A win here might be able to move them up to the last #4 seed. Duke is pretty much locked into a #2 seed. There is no way they are getting a #1 seed and they won’t fall to a #3 seed because the two teams above them and three teams below them in the rankings all had worse weeks.
  • 1 PM: Tennessee vs. Mississippi State on CBS: This is the biggest game of the day because of its implications on the bubble. I’m guessing 95% of the people who have any rooting interest in this game will be pulling for Tennessee. The Vols are solidly in the field at a #7 seed in most predictions and I can’t see them jumping much higher, which would essentially mean they should be ranked, if they beat a good, but not great MSU team. The Bulldogs on the other hand can wreck a bunch of teams NCAA dreams by winning the SEC title.
  • 1 PM: Texas-San Antonio vs. Stephen F. Austin on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: The winner of this game will end up with a 14 or 15 seed. SFA might be an interesting first round opponent since they actually had a decent RPI for a Southland team (#79) and boast a win over #94 North Dakota State. Honestly though, unless you’re a fan/grad of one of the schools, you’re not going to be watching this over the other two games.
  • 3:30 PM: Ohio State vs. #24 Purdue on CBS: Another game that is about seeding. I think Purdue has moved up about as far as it can after destroying Illinois in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Ohio State has a chance to move up to a 7 if they can win this after knocking off Michigan State yesterday.

12:20 PM: Ok. Some quick questions for you that ESPN.com posed this morning:

  1. Which teams are the #1 seeds?
  2. Is UConn better off as a #2 seed?
  3. Which conference will send the most teams to the NCAA tournament?
  4. Will the SEC really only put two of its teams into the NCAA field?
  5. Will Arizona’s 24-year bid streak finally end?
  6. Which teams will be seeded higher than you think?
  7. Which teams will be seeded lower than you think?
  8. Which mid-major teams will the big boys hope to avoid in the first round?

Let me know what you think and I’ll give you my thoughts in a little bit.

12:45 PM: Why does CBS drag these Selection Committee people onto the show? I know they’re trying to hype up the Selection Special at 6 PM, but they add absolutely nothing. They just give generic, PR firm answers. I almost prefer the bickering that ESPN has arguing whether or not a team deserves to be in.

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