First Round Game Analysis: Friday Afternoon

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 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 Friday afternoon games.


12:15 pm – #2 West Virginia vs. #15 Morgan State  (Buffalo pod)

West Virginia enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation. They squeaked out an enormous road win at Villanova to end the regular season then swept through Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Georgetown en route to a Big East championship riding the heroics of Da’Sean Butler. The Mountaineers are an extremely gifted rebounding team; in fact, sometimes their best offense comes after a missed shot. They feature multiple weapons that can step out and shoot a mid-range jumper or three from Wellington Smith to Kevin Jones to the all-around dynamo Butler. Also, few teams can match West Virginia’s intensity in the halfcourt defensively. Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman will need a gigantic scoring output from their own star, Baltimore native Reggie Holmes. Holmes scored 25 or more points fifteen times this season, averaging 21.3 PPG and ranking in the top-50 in percentage of shots taken. The Bears also feature a rugged forward named Kevin Thompson who comes in at fifth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. In fact, Morgan State ranks 11th in the country as a team in that very category. Unfortunately for the underdogs, West Virginia is never outworked on the glass, not with Jones, Devin Ebanks and Bob Huggins prominently involved.

The Skinny: This one shouldn’t be close from the tip. Morgan State dominated the MEAC all season, but West Virginia is flying high at this point. Expect the Mountaineers to dominate by 25-30 points.

12:25 pm – #6 Xavier vs. #11 Minnesota  (Milwaukee pod)

The answer to which team will win this game depends entirely on which Gopher team shows up to play in Milwaukee.  Will it be the defensive juggernaut that held Purdue to 11 first  half points last Saturday, or will it be the team that got obliterated by Ohio State 52-29 in the second half on Sunday?  Tubby Smith’s team has been schizophrenic like that all year, following up strong wins with disastrous performances (two losses to Michigan?  really?), which probably explains why they were a bubble team up until Sunday evening.  Xavier comes into this one with the stronger resume, but it’s difficult to say if the Musketeers are the better team.  When he plays under control, XU’s Jordan Crawford is a talent, and his supporting case of Jason Love on the interior and Terrell Holloway running the show makes for nice balance throughout the Xavier lineup.  The question we have is who will win the defensive battle, though.  Xavier defends the three really well, while Minnesota behind Blake Hoffarber and Lawrence Westbrook both shoot it equally as well.  This game is essentially a tossup (Vegas agrees, setting Minny as a one-point favorite), and we really liked the first seven halves of basketball that the Gophers put up in Indianapolis on a neutral floor last week, so we’re going with the extremely mild 6/11 upset here, in a close game that comes down to the last possession. 

The Skinny: Despite the seedings, this is a tossup game and we like the Gophers to win it on the last possession. 

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Big 12 Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.  The Big 12 Tournament begins on Wednesday at Noon CT.

Final Standings

  1. Kansas (15-1, 29-2) - Obviously the Jayhawks are above and beyond the best team in the Big 12, and regardless of what they do in the Big 12 Tournament, KU will be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, this season has been a wildly successful one for the Jayhawks, but Bill Self and his team will not be satisfied unless they’re hoisting the trophy in Indianapolis.
  2. Kansas State (11-5, 24-6) - After losing two straight games, one to Kansas in Lawrence and another to lowly Iowa State at home, its safe to say that KSU backed its way into the Big 12 Tournament. Kansas State was one of the many surprise teams in the conference this year, and they’ll hope to continue surprising people all the way into April.
  3. Baylor (11-5, 24-6) – This is probably the best team in college basketball that few people are really talking about. Ranked #20 in the nation, Baylor has the resume to be a three seed in the NCAA tournament. After where I picked this team in my preseason poll, I think Scott Drew is a safe pick for my coach of the year in the Big 12.
  4. Texas A&M (11-5, 22-8) - After the loss of Derrick Roland I thought the Aggies were done. But behind great leadership from Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, TAMU had a legitimate shot at finishing in second place. Even though they didn’t achieve that feat, Mark Turgeon’s team looks pretty good heading into the conference tournament as the winners of three straight. I think if anyone is going to beat Kansas again it could be the Aggies from A&M.
  5. Missouri (10-6, 22-9) - The Tigers are still adjusting to life without Justin Safford (1-2 without him, the one win coming off of a last second buzzer-beater in OT against Iowa State). Mizzou has the best shot to improve their tournament seed if they can beat A&M in the quarterfinals. A third shot at Kansas is what everyone in Columbia is wishing for, but I’m not sure another 20-point loss to Kansas is what MU needs before the NCAA Tournament.
  6. Texas (9-7, 23-8) – If there is any sportswriter in the world that picked Texas to finish sixth in the Big 12 please come forward and let me bask in your wisdom. I think its safe to say UT is the surprise team of the season in this conference, even more so than Oklahoma. The Longhorns have one of the most talented teams in the nation and they will probably end up being a #7 seed in the NCAA tournament. No one in Austin is satisfied. However, if the Longhorns go on a run we could still have the Big 12 final that everyone expected, Kansas vs. Texas.
  7. Oklahoma State (9-7, 21-9) – If the Cowboys want to make some more noise on the national level now is the time to do it. James Anderson will keep you in just about every game, but the other players around him need to step it up. I think this team could be the surprise of the Big 12 Tournament this season, remember they beat Kansas State in Manhattan back in late January and the Wildcats would be their second round matchup if OSU gets past Oklahoma.
  8. Colorado (6-10, 15-15) – Find me one person in Boulder that isn’t happy with an eighth place finish in the Big 12 and I’ll be overly surprised. CU has finally gotten themselves out of the cellar, and this could be enough reason for Cory Higgins to skip the draft and make a run at the NCAA Tournament next season.
  9. Texas Tech (4-12, 16-14) – What started out as a promising year for the Red Raiders has ended quite terribly. Right now TTU is riding a seven-game losing streak and even if they were to beat Colorado in the first round of the conference tournament, it is highly unlikely they could beat KU to make some kind of improbable run.
  10. Oklahoma (4-12, 13-17) - OU fans would love to see an upset of their in-state rival in the first round game, but I also think many Sooners fans feel the same way about this season that the Coates family felt about Old Yeller. Sure, you’d love to see the season go on, but it might be time to put this team out of their misery and head to the offseason.
  11. Iowa State (4-12, 15-16) – I think ISU pulled off the biggest upset of the year in the last game of the regular season. The Cyclones are playing their best basketball at the right time, and Texas can’t take this first round game lightly or they could find themselves on a bus back to Austin as early as Wednesday night.
  12. Nebraska (2-14, 14-17) – The Cornhuskers and Mizzou will meet for the third time this season, and the good news for NU is that usually its hard to beat the same team three times in the same season. However, I don’t see the Huskers pulling off an upset of that caliber, and it looks like NU fans can finally focus on the women’s team, which is undefeated.

Season Awards

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010

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

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (11-0, 25-1) - The Jayhawks have pretty much made the rest of the Big 12 look like they belong in the Pac-10. The only game remaining on KU’s schedule where they have a reasonable chance to lose is the last game of the year, at Missouri.
  2. Kansas State (7-3, 20-4) - The Wildcats took care of the bottom feeders, beating ISU, CU, and NU in their last three games. They have another cake game at home against Nebraska and then they have a tough four game stretch starting with Oklahoma and ending with Kansas.
  3. Texas A&M (7-4, 18-7) - TAMU had the opportunity to pull off a huge upset on Monday night, but Kansas was just a little tougher and grittier down the stretch.
  4. Baylor  (6-4, 19-5) - What a win for the Bears over Missouri. After a very questionable intentional foul call on the Bears, Baylor came back and won the game on an Ekpe Udoh tip in. Baylor has already solidified their NCAA tournament hopes, but now they’re in a five-team battle for a top four seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
  5. Texas (6-4, 20-5) - Well if the 40-point win over Nebraska wasn’t a statement game, I don’t know what a statement game is. UT really needed to clear their heads before they start a road trip against two teams desperately in search of another signature win (Missouri and Texas Tech).
  6. Missouri (6-4, 18-7) – It was heartbreak city for the Tigers in Waco on Saturday.  Mizzou needs to beat Texas if they want a bye in the Big 12 Tournament.
  7. Oklahoma State (5-5, 17-7) - James Anderson came to play against Oklahoma, and unfortunately many OU players did not, literally.
  8. Texas Tech (4-6, 16-8) – The Red Raiders were so close to getting back to .500 in the conference, but they just couldn’t hold the lead against Texas A&M late in the game.  TTU needed that win because their next three games should be losses.
  9. Oklahoma (4-6, 13-11) – As if things weren’t bad enough in Norman, now they have two freshmen suspended (including Tiny Gallon), and Willie Warren is out with an illness. This year has got to be one of the biggest disappointments at Oklahoma for quite some time.
  10. Iowa State (2-8, 13-12) – The Cyclones were my sleeper pick this season, but that didn’t pan out nearly as well as I would’ve liked it to. Marquis Gilstrap will be back next season, but Craig Brackins will probably be going to the NBA.
  11. Colorado (2-8, 11-13) – If Colorado just had a big man they would probably be closer to around .500 in the conference than where they are at right now. Cory Higgins and Alec Burks are talents that will help them next season (if Higgins skips the draft), but other than those two players there isn’t much the Buffaloes have to throw at you.
  12. Nebraska (1-9, 13-12) – The 40-point loss could not have helped Doc Sadler make a case for why he should keep his job.

Player of the WeekJames Anderson (G), Oklahoma State. Anderson went for 31 points against his archrivals. Right now he is almost guaranteed the conference Player of the Year honor in my book.

Team of the Week – Baylor Bears.  They cut it close against Nebraska and Missouri, but they ended up getting two huge victories. Ekpe Udoh, LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter are some of the best players in the conference and it’s scary that they’re all on the same team.

This Week’s Predictions

  • Texas Tech at Baylor (Tuesday February 16, 8:00 PM ET) - I don’t think its possible for TTU fans to fathom making the NCAA Tournament after the loss to TAMU on Saturday. Sure, if the Red Raiders won at Baylor it would be a huge win but it wouldn’t do enough for them in the long run. I don’t see Tech giving Baylor much of a game. The three-headed monster of Udoh, Carter, and Dunn are going to be too much for Pat Knight and his Raiders to handle.  Winner: Baylor
  • Nebraska at Kansas State (Wednesday February 17, 7:00 PM ET) - It’s going to be tough for NU to play hard after that forty point loss against Texas on Saturday. Kansas State will also show no mercy now that they’re moving up in the national rankings. Look for Jacob Pullen and company to continue their winning streak.  Winner: Kansas State
  • Oklahoma State at Iowa State (Wednesday February 17, 8:00 PM ET) – This is a must win game for OSU because right now the Cowboys are squarely on the bubble. OSU cannot afford another bad road loss and they need to keep this winning streak going if they want any shot at a top four seed in the conference tournament. With all that said, I think Iowa State will pull off the upset behind great play from Marquis Gilstrap and Craig Brackins. The Cyclones almost pulled off a win at Missouri last Wednesday and I think they will find a way to contain Marshall Moses, which will leave OSU throwing up a lot of bad outside shots.  Winner: Iowa State
  • Oklahoma at Colorado (Wednesday February 17, 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) - I like Colorado in this game for various reasons. First, I’ve always liked the scoring duo of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. Second, there is no guarantee OU will even have some of their “better” players on the floor. Third, it’s in Boulder, which can be a pretty tough place to play.  Winner: Colorado
  • Texas at Missouri (Wednesday February 17, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) – This is definitely the most intriguing game on Wednesday’s slate. Texas is on a roll it seems after blowing out Nebraska. Missouri is trying to forget the heartbreaking loss to Baylor and get another signature win for their tournament resume. The Longhorns’ big weaknesses are turning the ball over and shooting free throws, two things that Missouri will make you do if you want to beat them. Missouri’s glaring weakness is the fact that they don’t have a big frontcourt player that can compete with the likes of Damion James and Dexter Pittman. I’m taking the Longhorns in this game because they are the hot team and I think they might be gelling at the right time.  Winner: Texas
  • Baylor at Oklahoma State (Saturday February 20, 1:30 PM ET) - James Anderson has had some pretty impressive performances at home this season, and I believe he’ll continue with that trend on Saturday when OSU avenges their loss to Iowa State and upsets a ranked Baylor team at home. The Bears have seemed to garner a ranking and then lose it the next week every single time they’re in the polls, so I don’t see why that will change this week.   Winner: Oklahoma State
  • Texas at Texas Tech (Saturday February 20, 2:00 PM ET ESPN) - The Longhorns put up 93 points on TTU the last time these two teams played so I don’t think there’s any question that this one will be high scoring. If the Red Raiders want to win they need to contain the inside and force Texas’ young guards to make shots. Sometimes Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton will make their shots, but I think you’re better off putting the hands in the game of those young guards than James or Pittman on the inside if your Tech. Still, it won’t be enough to stop the Longhorns, even in Lubbock.  Winner: Texas
  • Colorado at Kansas (Saturday February 20, 4:00 PM ET) – Here is the rematch of one of the most surprising games in the Big 12 this season, in which Colorado overcame a 16-point deficit to force overtime in Boulder. This time around I don’t think CU has any chance and this should be all but over before the second half begins.  Winner: Kansas
  • Texas A&M at Iowa State (Saturday February 20, 4:00 PM ET) - The Aggies play an up-tempo style of basketball that the Cyclones just can’t compete with. Mark Turgeon is making a case for Coach of the Year in the conference after losing Derrick Roland to a gruesome injury earlier in the year, and Turgeon will be able to lead TAMU to victory even if it is a close game.  Winner: Texas A&M
  • Kansas State at Oklahoma (Saturday February 20, 6:00 PM ET ESPNU) - In my season preview I listed this as the game that would be the battle for third place in the Big 12. Obviously I was way off, but KSU does have the opportunity to distance itself from the pack if they can pull off a win, which is sometimes tough to do in Norman no matter who is on the court for the Sooners. In the end, however, Kansas State will have enough firepower to wipe OU off the court.  Winner: Kansas State
  • Missouri at Nebraska (Saturday February 20, 6:00 PM ET) - Mizzou had a rough time in the first 30 minutes with Nebraska when they played in Columbia. However, it was one of Missouri’s worst shooting performances of the year and they still won by 17. If the Tigers can shoot well out of the gate this one shouldn’t be too close.  Winner: Missouri 
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

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

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (8-0, 22-1) - The Jayhawks have been cutting it very close against some of the conference’s weaker opponents. The game in Boulder was incredibly surprising given that Alec Burks was out of the lineup for the Buffaloes, and KU led by 16 at one point in that game. Then on Saturday the Jayhawks had a very close call with Nebraska in Lawrence, and if they’re not careful they could see their number one ranking slip away once again if they drop a game to a far lesser opponent.
  2. Texas (5-3, 19-4) - The Longhorns stay at number two because I still believe they are the second best team in the conference. Sure, they have had their share of rough performances, but with a veteran frontcourt and an experienced coach, I don’t see UT sliding any further than where they are now.
  3. Kansas State (6-3, 19-4) - The Wildcats still can’t get the monkey off their back, even when they’re playing the Jayhawks in Manhattan. The tiebreaker against Texas is going to help a lot when it’s determined who will get second place in the conference.
  4. Texas A&M (6-3, 17-6) - I feel like the Aggies probably had one of their best weeks ever. They went from being a team on the bubble to a team that has all but secured its spot in the NCAA tournament. Congratulations to TAMU, especially after the loss of Derrick Roland.
  5. Missouri (5-3, 17-6) - The Tigers destroyed Colorado, but that was expected because that’s the only team in the Big 12 that Mizzou can consistently outrebound. The Tigers have a good shot at beating Iowa State in Columbia on Wednesday in a game that, depending on how the others go, could have the Tigers sitting alone in second place.
  6. Baylor (4-4, 17-5) - That was a bad loss at A&M, mostly because they blew a late lead. The Bears are not in the tournament yet in my opinion, but if they beat Missouri at home on Saturday, it should solidify their spot.
  7. Oklahoma (4-4, 13-9) - Huge home win for the Sooners, but its probably too-little-too-late as far as the tournament is concerned. It seems this OU team is destined for the NIT.
  8. Oklahoma State (4-5, 16-7) - The Cowboys really had a tough time in Lubbock on Saturday. It proves that this team is nothing but James Anderson, and when he got into foul trouble early in the first half, OSU didn’t know what to do.
  9. Texas Tech (3-5, 15-7) - The Red Raiders kept their slim NCAA tourney hopes alive with an “upset” over Oklahoma State on Saturday. In order for this team to make the tournament they’re going to need one heck of a second half. Finishing 5-3 in their next eight games with a win in the Big 12 tournament would still probably have TTU on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday.
  10. Iowa State (2-6, 13-10) - Good news for Iowa State: Craig Brackins is back after his 30-point performance against KSU. Bad News: You’re still in 10th place.
  11. Colorado (2-7, 11-12) - That was a terrible follow-up to a great game against Kansas. Missouri is a tough team to play, but many CU fans felt that this was a game they could steal from the Tigers. Cory Higgins fouling out certainly didn’t help, but the game was out of reach by then regardless.
  12. Nebraska (1-7, 13-10) - Kudos to the Cornhuskers for not giving up against KU and showing some pride. I think if Nebraska plays like that every game, they could steal a few more wins at home this season.

Team of the Week - Baylor Bears.  It is no easy task beating Texas in Austin, especially when arguably your two best players (LaceDarius Dunn and Ekpe Udoh) foul out in OT.  Tweety Carter carried this team on his shoulders and it paid off, because now the Bears have another signature road win to show the tournament committee.

Player of the Week – James Anderson (G) Oklahoma State. If there was any question as to who the best player in the conference was, James Anderson gave us a clear answer last week. With 31 points against Missouri and 28 points against Texas (although both came in losses), Anderson showed why is without a doubt the most prolific scorer in the conference, and should be considered for 1st team All-American honors.

This Week’s Predictions

Kansas at Texas (Monday February 8th, 9:00 PM ET ESPN) – This is the game that both teams and all Big 12 fans have been looking forward to since the pre-season rankings were released. The number one team in the conference (and the nation) will be playing in an incredibly hostile environment against the only team in the conference capable of matching their interior size. For Damion James and Dexter Pittman, Texas’ senior forwards, this is probably the biggest game of their careers. This game will be the difference between a #3/#4 seed for Texas in the NCAA tournament, and the possibility of attaining a #1 seed if they were to beat Kansas again in the Big 12 Tournament. When it’s all said and done, I think that the environment will be too much for KU to handle, and they will drop their first game in conference play. They narrowly escaped Manhattan with a win last Saturday, and this time I don’t think they’ll be quite so lucky.

Winner: Texas

Texas Tech at Oklahoma (Tuesday February 9th, 8:00 PM ET) - Two teams with totally different seasons thus far, but they’ve both let their fans down in one way or another. Norman is an incredibly tough place to play, and if there is one thing Oklahoma is good at its scoring in bunches. Pair those facts with the fact that TTU has one of the worst defenses in the conference and we have a victory for OU.

Winner: Oklahoma

Iowa State at Missouri (Wednesday February 10th, 7:30 PM ET) – The Tigers are not going to lose two games in a row at home, even if they are terribly overmatched on the inside. Iowa State has had problems turning the ball over, and that plays right into Mizzou’s gameplan. Not only do I expect Missouri to win this game, but I don’t even think it will be that close.

Winner: Missouri

Baylor at Nebraska (Wednesday February 10th, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) – The Bears overmatch Nebraska in almost every category, then again so does almost all of the conference. Ekpe Udoh should have a huge game, as Nebraska has absolutely no one that can stop him on the inside.

Winner: Baylor

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Set Your Tivo: 01.27.10

Posted by THager on January 27th, 2010

***** - quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** - best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** - set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** - set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* - don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#23 Vanderbilt @ #14 Tennessee – 7pm on ESPNU (*****)

Bruce Busts Out the Orange Blazer in Big Games

This should be an absolutely fantastic game. It features one of the country’s favorite teams right now in Bruce Pearl’s new-look Volunteers, as well as the most underrated team in the country in Vanderbilt. These teams are in-state rivals, and a win will be huge for either team. Tennessee just suffered their first loss since the arrest of four players earlier this month to Georgia over the weekend. This group of “new” players has not had to face adversity yet this year on the court, so it will be key for their confidence to win this one at home. Vanderbilt is on a tear, winning their last nine games en route to becoming the only undefeated team remaining in the SEC. They have shown the ability to play both sound offense and defense at times, but tonight’s game will truly test their grit when they play in Knoxville, where the Volunteers have not lost since last season. As Wayne Chism goes, so goes the Vols. He only scored six points in UT’s loss to Georgia and eight points in their loss to USC, but he has shown the ability to carry the team on his back as well (Ole Miss comes to mind). If Chism gets going against the Commodores, Tennessee will keep their home winning streak alive.

Notre Dame @ #3 Villanova – 7 pm on ESPN (***)

This is a fantastic game, but it may be lost among the plethora of incredible matchups available tonight. The Irish are right on the bubble if the season ended today, and they have six winnable games coming up on the horizon, so a victory over Villanova tonight could spark the fire they need to push through this season. Notre Dame is not getting much love in the polls, at #68 in the RPI and #80 according to Ken Pomeroy, but they are comparable to Villanova statistically. They average over 80 points a game and give up just 0.6 points more per contest than the Wildcats. Villanova is one of those teams that finds ways to win games, but Notre Dame has already beaten a top ten team previously this season in West Virginia. That victory was at home, though, and they will need to step up their game to win at the Wachovia Center, where the Wildcats are undefeated. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher are the two guards to watch in this game, but Notre Dame also has some underrated guards in Ben Hansbrough and Tory Jackson that get overshadowed by their big men. Those two average more than five assists per game (Villanova has just one guard averaging over 3.5 per game) to complement forward Luke Harangody who can get down the court fairly quickly for a 246-pound player. Villanova has had more success this season, and is probably more talented as well, so expect the Wildcats to get off to their best start in school history tonight.

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What You Missed While Watching College Football…

Posted by zhayes9 on January 8th, 2010

Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist plus author of the weekly Ten Tuesday Scribbles and Bubble Watch columns.

With college football crowning another faux-national champion Thursday night in Pasadena, the college sports scene can officially shift its axis to basketball. While a number of college basketball diehards such as yours truly were knee-deep in mid-major box scores and enthralling non-conference tournaments since the season tipped off in mid-November, it’s perfectly understandable for our college football-fan brethren out there to have been entranced in the gridiron scene during this time. For many folks out there, college basketball truly begins when a football champion is crowned and conference play heats up, when Rece and the gang show up on our TVs every Saturday morning at 11 AM and the bubble begins to take its early shape. For those people, you sure missed plenty of exciting hoops action. To get you caught up in what has gone down thus far on the hardwood, here’s a summary for your enjoyment, divvied up into the six major conferences and all the rest:

ACC

What we’ve learned: There was much back-and-forth debate entering this season whether Duke or North Carolina represented the class of this conference. After two solid months of play, it’s fairly evident Duke has separated themselves from their bitter rival as the class of the ACC. While the Tar Heels may top Duke skill-wise up front, Carolina simply does not boast the backcourt to even contend with the Dukies’ tandem of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith. The primary knock on Duke heading into this season was point guard play with Elliot Williams transferring to Memphis. As a true sharp-shooting 2-guard who creates his shots coming off screens in Redick-like fashion, could Scheyer handle the responsibility of running the Duke offense? The answer has been resounding in the affirmative: 19.7 PPG, 46% FG, 92% FT, 43% 3pt and an otherworldly 4.8 A/TO ratio that currently leads the nation. Another key to Duke’s early season success has been Coach K’s willingness to adjust his defense to fit his roster. Rather than employing the normal Duke on-ball pressure attack, Krzyzewski is utilizing more of a sagging defense that plays into the frontcourt depth Duke enjoys with six players that receive time at 6’8 or taller.

Scheyer Has His Devils Looking Great This Season

What’s still to be determined: After Duke and Carolina (and let’s not go overboard following the Heels loss to Charleston, they’re still clearly the second best team in this conference), who will emerge as the third contender behind the top two dogs? An ever-shifting proposition, the current edge probably goes to Florida State despite their utter lack of point guard play. The Seminoles are one of the tallest teams in the nation and have a few capable long-range shooters that get open looks when defenses collapse on Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton. Plus, they’re off to a head start with a December win at ACC foe Georgia Tech. Plenty of folks think Clemson could be that team behind powerful big man Trevor Booker, but they lack a second scoring option and I can’t stop thinking back to their collapse at home to an inexperienced Illinois squad. It would be unwise to count out Gary Williams, and the jury’s still out on Virginia Tech and Miami due to their soft schedules, so I’ll give the current edge to Wake Forest as that third team. The road win at Gonzaga’s on-campus arena stands out, Ish Smith has turned into a fine point guard and Al-Farouq Aminu has as much pure talent as anyone in this conference.

NCAA Locks: Duke, North Carolina.

Likely bids: Clemson, Florida State, Wake Forest.

Bubble teams: Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech.

Make other plans for March: Boston College, North Carolina State, Virginia.

Big East

What we’ve learned: The NCAA picture is shaping up quite similarly to last season when Louisville (regular season champion), Pittsburgh and Connecticut all received #1 seeds. There will be much back-and-forth debate about whether the top three teams this season — Syracuse, West Virginia and Villanova -- holds the edge in this conference, but does it really matter? Right now you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think Kansas, Texas, Kentucky and Purdue are the likely #1 seeds (of course plenty could change, we have two months of games left), while those top contenders in the Big East are likely all on the second seed line. Even of greater importance though is the obvious revelation that Jamie Dixon can coach basketball. You wouldn’t be alone if you counted out Pittsburgh following a near-loss to Wofford, a 47-point output at home vs. New Hampshire and a second half butt-kicking at the hands of Indiana, but those losses came without their most athletic player, Gilbert Brown, and their best defender, Jermaine Dixon. Those two have returned to action with the most improved Big East player Ashton Gibbs (who recently broke the all-time Pitt record for consecutive free throws made) as a fearsome trio that has carried the Panthers to road wins over previously-undefeated Syracuse and fringe-top 25 Cincinnati. If Dixon is able to coax his Panthers into a NCAA Tournament team after losing such enormous production and leadership in Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields, there is little debate on his merits as National Coach of the Year.

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2009

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

Power Rankings

  1. Texas (12-0) – Last Week the Longhorns beat Michigan State pretty handily. I’m going to side with the Rush the Court Top 25 and say that right now Texas is the best team in the country.
  2. Kansas (12-0) – The Jayhawks have a pretty tough three game stretch coming up: at Temple, vs. Cornell, and at Tennessee. If KU takes care of those teams they could reclaim the top spot.
  3. Kansas State (12-1) – Jacob Pullen is one of the best guards in the country that isn’t getting nearly enough recognition.
  4. Oklahoma State (11-1) – I don’t know if I really believe that the Cowboys are the fourth best team in the conference, but they take this spot by default because all the teams above them lost.
  5. Texas A&M (9-3) – The loss to Washington was expected, but the loss of  Derrick Roland to a broken leg was not. Hopefully he can regain his eligibility and come back strong next season.
  6. Texas Tech (10-2) – The Red Raiders became the second Big 12 team to lose to New Mexico (Texas A&M also lost to the Lobos) Tuesday night.
  7. Missouri (10-3) – The Tigers get a big jump after taking care of Illinois on a neutral court. Kim English is playing very good basketball right now.
  8. Baylor (10-1) – I’m still skeptical of the Bears because they really haven’t had any tough competition since Thanksgiving, but they took care of Arkansas easily.
  9. Nebraska (10-3) – The Cornhuskers get to move up because of their impressive win over Tulsa.  This team has set themselves up for an NIT bid if they can finish in the top nine in the conference.
  10. Iowa State (9-3) – I’m waiting for this team to get hot, because when they do they are going to be an exciting team to watch. They have two huge home games coming up against Houston on 1/3, and Duke on 1/6.
  11. Oklahoma (8-4) – I thought this Sooner team was supposed to compete for the conference title.
  12. Colorado (8-4) – I like Alec Burks, and I think he can be a very good player in conference play, but I don’t see Colorado ever getting out of the cellar.

Team of the Week: Missouri Tigers – In a quiet week, Missouri beat their interstate rivals Illinois pretty handily. The Big 12 is looking very strong right now, and its teams like the Tigers that are helping make it the best conference in the nation.

Player of the Week: Cole Aldrich (C), Kansas – The reason I’m giving it to Aldrich is because of his rebounding. This past week he had 10 rebounds against California and 14 against Belmont. Aldrich isn’t putting up Player of the Year numbers like some thought he would, but to his credit he has only registered 30 minutes in a game twice this season.

Top Stories

  • Derrick Roland. I feel terrible for this kid who broke his leg against Washington ending a season in which the Aggies were probably headed for the NCAA Tournament. Now the Aggies are left without their star player and they’re in trouble of missing the Tournament if they can’t find someone to pick up the slack left by Roland.
  • New Top Team. Texas overtook Kansas for the top spot in the Big 12 Power Rankings. Right now the Longhorns are playing like a national championship caliber team. Their frontcourt is the best in the nation, and their young guards are slowly getting better. Avery Bradley is key to this teams hopes of winning a national championship.

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

  • Texas – vs. TX-AM CC 1/2 (W), at Arkansas 1/5 (W) – The Longhorns are probably remembering their loss to Arkansas last season, and they don’t want that to happen again.
  • Kansas – at Temple 1/2 (W)*, vs. Cornell 1/6 (W) – These are two tough games that the Jayhawks really want to win. You can’t sleep on either of these teams, especially Temple, who beat Tennessee at home last season.
  • Kansas State – vs South Dakota 1/3 (W) – Kansas State will get one more cupcake before conference play begins on January 9th.
  • Oklahoma State – at Rhode Island 1/2 (L) #, vs. Coppin State 1/5 (W) – Rhode Island is 10-1, and I think they will be too much for James Anderson and the Cowboys.
  • Texas A&M – vs. Northwestern State 1/2 (W), vs North Dakota 1/5 (W) – The Aggies will get to play some easy games in order to adjust to life without Derrick Roland.
  • Texas Tech – vs UTEP 1/3 (L) # – The Miners now have Derrick Caracter, and I think that makes them too much of a match for the Red Raiders.
  • Missouri – vs. UMKC 12/30 (W), vs. Georgia 1/2 (W), vs. Savannah State 1/6 (W) – The Tigers need to beat Georgia if they want to keep their NCAA hopes alive, barring a tremendous Big 12 finish.
  • Baylor – at Arkansas 12/30 (L), at South Carolina 1/2 (L), vs Morgan State (W) – I don’t believe that Baylor will be a good team in conference play, and I think they’ll prove it this week when they lose to two mediocre SEC teams on the road.
  • Nebraska – vs. Maryland Eastern Shore 1/2 (W), vs. Southeastern Lousiana 1/5 (W) – Two cupcake opponents should give the Cornhuskers a respectable record going into conference play.
  • Iowa State – vs. Houston 1/3 (W), vs. Duke 1/6 (L)* – I could see the Cyclones putting up a good fight against the Blue Devils, but ultimately Duke has too much talent for this Iowa State team.
  • Oklahoma – at Gonzaga 12/22 (L)*, vs Maryland-Eastern Shore ¼ (W)- The Sooners could make a statement against Gonzaga if they pull off a win, but they probably won’t.
  • Colorado – at Tulsa 1/2 (L), vs Miami (OH) 1/5 (W) – Tulsa will prove to be too much on the inside for Colorado to handle.
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Morning Five: Christmas Eve Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 24th, 2009

  1. Great, great news about Texas A&M’s Derrick Roland about his broken leg suffered in A&M’s game at Washington two nights ago.  His surgery was successful and he will likely head home today or tomorrow for Christmas, and even better, according to the surgeon, he should be able to play basketball again at some point in the future.
  2. Jeff Goodman is one national writer who agrees with our assessment that Texas should be the #1 team in the polls right now.  The fact is that they’ve just got a better resume than Kansas at this point in the season AND they’ve looked better in doing it.
  3. Luke!  Go ahead, put Texas #1 in this week’s power rankings.  We know you want to.  C’mon, man, everybody’s doing it.
  4. Talk about being a tough critic – Seton Hall’s Herb Pope called his own team a “fraud” because they have a loss to Temple on their record.  Guess we’ll find out just how fraudulent the Pirates are this Saturday when they host West Virginia, won’t we?
  5. Here’s your holiday treat.  Lost Letterman listed the top ten most despised players in CBB history, and while there are always quibbles with lists like these, we love that they did their homework to show video evidence of Art Heyman (Duke) and Corky Taylor (Minnesota).  Here’s Part II (#10-#6) and Part I (#5-#1).  Btw, there’s absolutely no doubt about #1, and anyone who disagrees didn’t live through it.
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A Rush The Court Christmas List

Posted by jstevrtc on December 24th, 2009

As if we weren’t already immature enough here at RTC, this season we figured we’d regress further into our childhood years and come up with a Christmas list, each participant naming one or two things we’d like for ourselves and/or the game of college basketball.  As you can see, the answers ranged from the practical to the impossible, the civil to the…well, hostile.  Above all, we hope that you, our faithful readers, will have a happy, healthy, hoop-filled holiday season.  Enjoy the list, and thanks for being here.

Zeitlin totally owns this tie. No need to get it for him.

rtmsf, RTC founder/editor/contributor:

All I want for Christmas this year is for a titanium-based super extra force field with double-secret password protection to be built on, around, above and under the current NCAA Tournament format.  Seriously, I want this thing to be more hermetically sealed than Tiger Woods’ brand-new Swiss bank accounts or Jerry Jones’ new face.  Please, Santa, no matter what the rest of these guys ask for — the new rear spoiler for nvr1983, a clue with the ladies for Stevens, that ridiculous jumpsuit for Hayes, and whatever Penn nonsense Zeitlin wants this year — just throw away their lists.   Please.  The single most important thing you’ll find on anyone’s list this year is mine (ok, I say that every year, but I mean it this time).  The possibility that some television money-men and NCAA decisionmakers long on greed but short on perspective and common sense support the idea of expanding the single most exciting and grand spectacle in all of sports to 96 teams should appall your jolly sensibilities.  If you can make this happen, Santa, I promise to be good all year round; I’ll even send in that cash pledge this year I keep promising to do but never do, I swear.   Thanks.

–Signed, 65 is Enough.

Hands OFF.

nvr1983, RTC  editor/contributor:

  1. The NCAA finally gets a sense of reality and actually go after some big name programs instead of focusing on the relatively little guys.  Sure, Memphis and Renardo Sidney were involved in some shady dealings, but was it any worse than what USC has done over the past decade?
  2. Have ESPN get ESPNU on every major cable provider or at least put those games on ESPN360.com
  3. Go back to 64 teams.  Forget this talk about 96 teams.  I don’t even want the 65th team.  The play-in game has been a joke for years and everybody knows it.  It cheapens the tournament by making the official start of the tournament a game that even die-hard fans don’t care about.
  4. Someone needs to fix this one-and-done rule.  I love watching these guys—Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, and John Wall—play, but I know that I will never get to see them mature in the college setting. Either make them stay 4 years or let them enter the draft right out of high school.
  5. Fire the guy running the clock at Hinkle.  Somebody has to get some coal this Christmas…

Here's your 1.3 seconds.

John Stevens, RTC editor/contributor:

I can’t lie, there are some things I want for the other guys.  Heck, this is the giving season, right?  I’d like nvr to remember how to sleep, since he rarely gets to.  I think it’d be nice if rtmsf’s, er, “rash” finally cleared up.  And yeah, there are some things I’d like for myself.  Michelle Beadle’s phone number.  Fran Fraschilla’s tweeting abilities.  But those are things I’d rather earn of my own efforts.  As far as gifts that revolve around college hoops, there’s just no way I can limit it to one thing.  Yes, I’m that selfish.  But I think I want things that everyone wants, so I’m willing to share.  I’d like Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery to be the implied #1 announcing crew for any weekend CBS game, even though I still love and respect Enberg, Lundquist, Elmore, Bilas, et al.  I’d like fewer TV timeouts.  I’d like the NCAA Tournament to be freaking left alone.  But most of all, what I want is for the rest of the season to be free of major injuries.  The Evan Turner fall was scary and he’s lucky it wasn’t worse than just a couple of fractured transverse processes.  After Derrick Roland broke his leg last night I went outside and sat in my car for half an hour just to avoid the television.  That’s gotta be it for the gruesome injuries.  I don’t want to watch Kansas or Kentucky or Duke or Texas or anyone come tournament time and think, “That’s not the same team, compared to when they had (x).”  It’s been too fun of a season so far to have some team’s chances ruined by a misstep or a freak accident.

"Rise and FIRE...." "ONIONS, Mr. Johnson!!" It has to happen.

Zach Hayes, RTC Bracketologist-in-Residence:

This one might cause some controversy, but I’d ask Santa for some duct tape for Dick Vitale.  Watching the Texas-UNC game on Saturday sent me over the edge.  His shameless self-promotion and constant hyperbole is incredibly irritating and the man fails to make one cogent basketball point from an analytical perspective the entire telecast.  His quirks and habits get extremely tiresome by December.  While others like Bill Raftery have their fun, they bring to the broadcast a true sense of the intricacies of basketball to further my understanding of the sport.  Jay Bilas is constantly providing enlightening analysis and former coaches like Bob Knight and Steve Lavin are tremendous.  Yet ESPN keeps giving us Dick Vitale in the biggest games so he can yell things like “I’ll tell you, Ed Davis has talent!” and “go onto dickvitale.com for my freshman of the year, coach of the year, fans of the year…”  It’s enough.  Santa, send me some duct tape so I never have to hear that old man screaming again.

We'll go ahead and cancel that interview request...

Dave Zeitlin, RTC Ivy League Correspondent and feature writer for Backdoor Cuts:

What I really want for the holidays is for Penn to beat Duke on New Year’s Eve.  But since the odds of that happening are about as slim as Isiah Thomas doing one good thing in his life, I have another wish.  I want big-conference coaches to stop whining about tournament expansion.  I mean, really?  Everyone knows college football is a joke because of the BCS, but let’s not turn college basketball into a joke on the other end of the spectrum by completely diluting the regular season.  Yes, I like the idea of more mid-major teams getting berths, which would be a side benefit to tournament expansion.  But here’s a better solution for that:  limit the number of berths for big-conference teams.  How about you have to have a .500 record in the conference and finish in the top half of your league to be eligible?  I’m tired of the sense of entitlement some of these coaches have.  You have a whole season AND a conference tournament to be one of the 65 teams to make the Big Dance — that should be enough.  Most of these guys should take a lesson from Bill Carmody, who in nine seasons at Northwestern has never guided the Wildcats to the NCAA touranament.  Still, he is against expansion, saying it would make every game a little less meaningful.  Merry Christmas, Bill.  I like you even though you coached at Princeton.

(credit: palestra.net)

Mr. Zeitlin declines. But gives credit where it's due.

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ATB: Texas the New Florida?

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #4 – Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2009

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

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Kansas (15-1)
  2. Texas (14-2)
  3. Oklahoma (11-5)
  4. Kansas State (10-6)
  5. Missouri (9-7)
  6. Texas A&M (8-8)
  7. Oklahoma State (8-8)
  8. Iowa State (7-9)
  9. Baylor (5-11)
  10. Texas Tech (4-12)
  11. Nebraska (3-13)
  12. Colorado (2-14)

All Conference Team:

  • Sherron Collins (G), Kansas
  • Willie Warren (G) Oklahoma
  • Craig Brackins (F) Iowa State
  • Damion James (F), Texas
  • Cole Aldrich (C), Kansas

6th Man. James Anderson (G) Oklahoma State

Impact Newcomer. Xavier Henry (G), Kansas

big 12 logoWhat You Need to Know.

  • KU Dominance.  Of the 13 years that the Big 12 has held a conference tournament, Kansas has won the crown six times, which is the most of any Big 12 school.  Kansas has been deemed the regular season conference champion nine times in those 13 years, sharing the title in three of those times. Every time Kansas has shared the title the Jayhawks were the two-seed in the conference tournament.
  • Two At the Top. It’s very possible that Texas and Kansas could share the Big 12 title this season. Texas’ toughest conference games are Kansas (in Austin), then Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State on the road.  The Longhorns seem to have the advantage over the Jayhawks when it comes to an easier conference schedule, but with KU bringing back all of its talent and adding one of the top freshman in the nation, I still believe that Kansas will stay atop the conference alone.
  • Where are the Tigers. Where do you rank the Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 this season? After being picked seventh by the coaches in last year’s preseason poll, the Tigers finished third and won the Big 12 Tournament en route to an Elite Eight appearance. Mike Anderson will continue to play his “Fastest Forty Minutes” style, and behind leadership from senior guard JT Tiller (Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009), and sophomore guard Kim English, it’s hard to determine where Mizzou will be at the end of the season. Anderson has put together a very athletic lineup, which should be able to play to his coaching style, but their lack of experience and a consistent scorer could hurt them.
  • X-Factor. Freshman phenom Xavier Henry could be the key to Kansas’ hopes of a second national title in just three seasons.  A late decider, Henry could very well be one of the most productive freshmen in the NCAA this season.  He is surrounded by unbelievable talent that will hog most of the attention from opposing defenses, which should open up many scoring opportunities for Henry.

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ATB: Black Friday for Louisville

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.23.07

Game of the Day. BYU 78, #6 Louisville 76. Due to familial obligations, we didn’t get to see this game tonight, so chime in if you did, but the result here didn’t shock us. On Wed. night we caught a good portion of the Cards’ game with UNLV, and even though they ended up winning by 20, it was an ugly performance. BYU is significantly better than UNLV, and the tournament site of Las Vegas, while culturally a million miles away from Provo, is still familiar Mtn West country for the Cougars. So what happened? Well, BYU forward Jonathan Tavernari (29/7 with 5 threes) and center Trent Plaisted (21/12) essentially took over the game for the Cougs in the second half, accounting for all but six of BYU’s points. Louisville got twin dub-dubs from Derrick Caracter (24/11) and Terrence Williams, but the missing men tonight for the Cards were guards Andre McGee and Edgar Sosa (3 pts combined in 39 mins). UL just isn’t going to be the same team without some kind of inside presence besides Caracter. They need Palacios to come back healthy (at a minimum) if they expect to compete for a F4 berth this year. BYU, on the other hand, appears to be completely back from the nadir (9-21) it reached in 2005 – all credit to coach Bob Rose for their reconstruction to a legitimate MWC contender and national presence again. Oh, and this loss also ruined our most anticipated early-season matchup between Louisville and UNC – thanks for that, Brigham Youngsters.

Other Games We Saw. Texas A&M 70, Ohio St. 47. The most impressive win of the night was in the PNIT finals. TAMU put a defensive clinic on in the second half of this game to blow open a close halftime score (31-25) to a thirty-point evisceration with ten minutes remaining – the Aggies held OSU to only one FG in the first 11.5 mins of the second half! We haven’t seen a defensive shutdown against a quality opponent like that since Georgetown was willing itself into the F4 last year. If this is any indication of how A&M is going to play defense the rest of this year, then everyone (including us) has severly underrated Mark Turgeon’s team. Kosta Koufos, who on Wed. night looked fantastic against Syracuse, was held in check (10/5 on 4-16 FGs) and the whole Buckeye team shot a miserable 24% for the game. A&M was led by Derrick Roland (15 pts) off the bench, but the player who really caught our eye tonight was freshman center DeAndre Jordan (11/8). That beefy front line of Jordan, Josh Carter and Joseph Jones is going to present a lot of problems for people this year. Syracuse 91, Washington 85. In what was a pretty exciting game at times, the Syracuse freshmen showed up tonight to lead the Orange past Washington. Donte Greene had 25/10/4 assts/3 blks in an all-around showcase of skills, and Jonny Flynn got off the schneid with 16 pts in 21 minutes of play. For Washington, Quincy Pondexter had an array of nasty moves to get his 20/13, but poor D in the form of incessant fouling led to the Cuse taking 52 foul shots (v. UW’s 19 attempts). Washington had four players foul out of the game, but their rebounding advantage (+25) kept them in the game – UW nearly had as many offensive rebounds (24) as Syracuse had total rebounds (27). Guess this is how it’s going to go for Syracuse this season – when the freshmen play well, they win; when not, they don’t. As for Washington, we still can’t figure them out. We just have this sneaky feeling that they should always be a little better than they are.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #2 UCLA 81, Yale 47. Bruins shoot 55% in easy win.
  • #3 UNC 99, Old Dominion 82. Roy’s technicolor tie distracted us, but we found it interesting that ODU missed two layups at the end that would have covered the spread (in Vegas). Lawson’s speed was sick this game.
  • #7 Tennessee 74, West Virginia 72. Didn’t get to see this one, and sorry we missed it. It appears that Huggins’ guys took it right at UT’s softies, though.
  • #8 Washington St. 66, Montana 55. Taylor Rochestie led Wazzu with 17.
  • #9 Indiana 70, Illinois St. 57. E-Giddy with 31 in a nice win for the Hoosiers. DJ White only 4, though?
  • #13 Texas 102, New Mexico St. 87. Abrams and Augustin combine for 56.
  • Texas Tech 73, #15 Gonzaga 63. Didn’t see that one coming…
  • #17 Butler 84, Virginia Tech 78. If Butler wants respect, it needs to do better than barely beating an ACC bottom-feeder.
  • #18 S.Illinois 63, Mississippi St. 49. Paging SEC:TGTBTD, didn’t you guys predict 26-4 for MSU? You’ve got two left.
  • #19 Kansas St. 73, UCF 71. Ho-hum, Beastley with another 30/13.
  • #20 Pittsburgh 92, Buffalo 45. Pitt continues to roll early.
  • #25 Villanova 84, George Mason 76. Great game – GMU will be dealt with in the CAA this year, but the Nova guards were too much today.

Other Scores of Note.

  • Rider 82, Penn St. 73. Ugly loss for the Big 10 (Jason Thompson 21/10/3 blks).
  • NC State 63, South Carolina 61. NC State is not a good team, people.
  • Bradley 67, Iowa 56. Great MVC win v. a B10 team.
  • Florida St. 65, Florida 51. This was in Gainesville – looks like Billy D’s team got a wakeup call with their worst loss in 3 yrs.
  • Virginia 100, Penn 85. Another nice road win for UVa.
  • Vanderbilt 77, Utah St. 56. Vandy might be the second best team in the SEC
  • USC 57, Miami (OH) 53. USC looks bad again – Gibson with a mere 6 pts (Mayo w/ 21).

On Tap Today (all times EST). Mostly pigskin on the tube, but as always, there are a few jewels in the lineup.

  • Air Force (-1) v. Montana 4:30pm – solid mid-major matchup.
  • Tennessee (-5.5) v. Texas. this is a game worth watching – should be very uptempo.
  • California (-6) v. San Diego St. 6pm - necessary win for SDSU if it’s thinking at-large (eh, M2M?)
  • Wisconsin (-9) v. Georgia 6:30pm – odd non-tourney game between B10/SEC – could get ugly for Dennis Felton.
  • Pacific v. St. Louis (-6.5) 8pm – another solid mid-major contest.
  • Louisville (-9.5) v. Old Dominion 7:30pm. Based on what we saw tonight, ODU will beat Louisville unless the Cards play better than their previous two LV games.
  • Indiana (-2.5) v. Xavier 8:30pm. IU’s first real test of the year.
  • Vanderbilt (-4.5) v. Bradley 8:30pm. can Vandy keep it going so easily?
  • Oregon (-18.5) v. San Francisco (ESPN FC) 10pm – Oregon gets a chance to take out its St. Mary’s loss on another WCC team.
  • Nevada v. UNLV (-3) (ESPN FC) 10pm – intrastate rivalry!
  • UNC (-8) v. BYU 10:30pm – not the preferred matchup, but still a very good one.
  • Texas Tech v. Butler (-5) 12:30am. Butler could use this one in Alaska.
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