04.08.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2009

Lots more swirling around the basketball landscape today…

  • Fran McCaffery Staying at Siena.  Well, one way to keep your coach from going to Xavier is to give him an eight-year extension
  • See Ya, Big Fella.  Pitt’s DeJuan Blair is leaving the program for the NBA Draft and he will sign with an agent. 
  • Wake Rumors.  We know about James Johnson, but the word is that Jeff Teague will test the waters but not Al-Farouq Aminu this year.   
  • Pac-10 Stars.  USC’s Demar DeRozan will capitalize on his strong finish as he too heads to the draft; Arizona’s Jordan Hill will join him.  Add ASU’s James Harden to that list.  All three are projected lottery picks. 
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Villanova and Pittsburgh put the madness back in March Madness

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 2009

After nearly 10 days of college basketball critics bemoaning the lack of excitement in this year’s edition of March Madness, two of the Big East’s best teams answered all of those critics by submitting an all-time classic. After one of the strangest 10 seconds you will ever see, Scottie Reynolds made an end-to-end run that might replace the Danny Ainge and Tyus Edney versions on NCAA Tournament highlight reels from now on as this was on a much bigger stage with a trip to the Final 4 on the line. Even with Reynolds miracle, Pittsburgh still had its shot, but a 75-foot desperation heave by Levance Fields was off-target and the Villanova fans which filled TD BankNorth had their biggest moment since 1985 when Rollie Massimino, who attended the games in Boston, guided the Wildcats to their only national championship.

It was a game that showed off everything that the Big East was this year: tough, physical, surprisingly high-scoring, and always entertaining. The Wildcats came out of the gates strong and held a 22-12 lead with 9:27 left before the #1 seeded Panthers joined the fight. Relying on its three stars (DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, and Fields), Jamie Dixon‘s squad cut the lead to 2 with an 8-0 spurt in 1:09. From that point forward, the two team traded punches like world-class heavyweights (back when being a heavyweight actually meant something) as neither team was able to stretch their lead beyond 5 points. Villanova relied on a balanced attack (Dwayne Anderson with 17 points, Reynolds with 15 points, Dante Cunningham with 14 points, and Shane Clark with 11 points) while Pittsburgh relied heavily on its two 1st team All-Big East performers (Young with 28 points and 7 rebounds and Blair with 20 points ant 10 rebounds) to keep it in the game.

A tight game throughout. . .

A tight game throughout. . .

After trading haymakers for nearly 37 minutes without either team achieving any separation, Pittsburgh appeared to have a chance to do so coming out of a Villanova timeout with a 4-point lead and the ball out of bounds with 3:05 left.  Instead, that’s just when the madness started. Jermaine Dixon, who had hit a tough jumper just moments earlier  (with a shot that was reminiscent of one that his brother Maryland star Juan Dixon used to hit not too many years ago) to give the Panthers the lead, had the ball stolen from him and in an attempt to recover fouled Dwyane Anderson for the conventional 3-point play. A Sam Young turnover and a Corey Fisher lay-up later, the Wildcats had the lead with 2:16 left, but Fields hit a pair of free throws to give the Panthers the lead back. The Wildcats showed their mettle by scoring the next 5 points to take a 4-point lead with 47 seconds left. As he has done all night long, Young provided the answer for the Panthers with a clutch 3-pointer (“Onions!” as Bill Raftery would say) with 40 seconds left to cut the lead back to 1. A pair of Fisher free throws and a Reggie Redding free throw allowed the Wildcats to stretch the lead back to 4 with 20 seconds left.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day One

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009


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


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


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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