Checking in on… the Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2009

checkinginon

Jason Prziborowski is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

  1. Michigan State (AP #2) 4-0
  2. Illinois (AP #20) 3-0
  3. Minnesota (AP #22) 3-0
  4. Purdue (AP #6) 3-0
  5. Michigan (AP #15) 2-0
  6. Wisconsin 2-0
  7. Ohio State (AP #17) 3-1
  8. Northwestern 2-1
  9. Penn State 3-2
  10. Indiana 2-3
  11. Iowa 1-2

Top Storylines

It is no coincidence that Michigan State, the team at the top of the AP poll from the Big Ten at #2, also has the most successful coach in school history in Tom Izzo. Michigan State, except for its close call against Gonzaga, has been bringing teams up to East Lansing and disposing of them. Kalin Lucas has been leading the Spartans into battle by putting points on the board and stuffing the stat sheet from his guard position. Purdue, not to be outdone at #6, squeaked out a nail biter against #11 Tennessee to win the Paradise Jam Tournament. E’Twaun Moore, leading Purdue with 16 PPG on the year, was named Tournament MVP. Michigan at #15 has played two teams that most people haven’t heard of in Northern Michigan and Houston Baptist. The good news is that they won both, and the dynamic duo of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims combined for 47 of their 77 points against Houston Baptist. It doesn’t look like they should be challenged in the upcoming Old Spice Classic this weekend either. Ohio State at #17 in the AP is the only other team in the Big Ten to have really played anyone so far. They went toe to toe with UNC and lost, even though they shot terribly from the field. Evan Turner is tops in the Big Ten, having garnered player of the week status the past two weeks while stuffing his stat sheet at 21.8 PPG, 14.8 RPG, and 6 APG. His stats are so ridiculous that he has gone off for a double double in every game, and even pulled off a triple double against Alcorn State. Illinois so far hasn’t played anyone of note, although they might get their first test at the Las Vegas Invitational in the next week. Minnesota has steamrolled through an easy schedule thus far, cruising to a 3-0 record, but they will have to contend with Butler and potentially UCLA in the very near future. Minnesota has actually made more news off the court than on, as three players are currently suspended pending team rules violations or pending investigations, things that Tubby Smith would rather avoid if he could. Northwestern has its only loss against a strong Butler squad and will have another upcoming battle against Notre Dame. Penn State, not thought to have any serious chance of competing this year, might surprise a few teams, although their three wins are really due to soft scheduling. They did beat Davidson in a nail biter, but that might be a better indicator of how poor Davidson will be this year than anything PSU is doing. Indiana, on year 2 of their recovery, is showing their youth by dropping all three games in Puerto Rico to teams that weren’t that great. Iowa, not getting let off the hook at all, had to contend with #3 Texas in the semifinals of the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic. They had enough to stay with Texas for one half, but the game ultimately ended with Texas winning in a 25-point rout.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

impactcountry(2)

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

seasonpreview

Josh & Mike from Big Ten Geeks contributed this preview for the Big Ten Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Purdue (14-4)
  2. MSU (14-4)
  3. Minnesota (12-6)
  4. Michigan (12-6)
  5. Ohio St. (11-7)
  6. Illinois (9-9)
  7. Wisconsin (8-10)
  8. Northwestern (6-12)
  9. Penn St. (5-13)
  10. Indiana (5-13)
  11. Iowa (3-15)

All-Conference Team:

  • Kalin Lucas (G), Michigan State (110.2 ORtg, 28.6 Shot Percentage)
  • William Buford (G), Ohio State (108.1 ORtg, 27.6 Shot Percentage)
  • Evan Turner (F), Ohio State (108.3 ORtg, 25.3 Shot Percentage)
  • DeShawn Sims (F), Michigan (108.6 ORtg, 30.3 Shot Percentage)
  • JaJuan Johnson (C), Purdue (112.3 ORtg, 8.1 Block Percentage)

6th Man. Robbie Hummel (F), Purdue.

Impact Newcomer. D.J. Richardson (G), Illinois.

big 10 logo What You Need to Know.

  • The Big 10 is Very Good This Year. No, really, we mean it. Last year we predicted mediocrity, and I think we were mostly right. Although Michigan State had a great run in the tournament, it was not a Final Four team “on paper.” Indeed, the efficiency margins of the teams were bunched closely together, without any real spectacular performers. Sure, lots of teams made the Dance, but not a lot of them garnered high seeds. But we think that will be different this season, mostly because the Big Ten didn’t lose anyone. Sure, B.J. Mullens is gone, as are standouts Marcus Landry, Craig Moore and Jamelle Cornley. But the conference’s best players all returned, including the entire all-conference 1st Team. Throw in some strong recruiting classes, and you’ve got what appears to be the conference’s best year in possibly a decade. Although there’s not a lot of star quality to this conference–there might be less than 10 NBA players among the 11 teams–there is the experience that can take you far in March.
  • Michigan State and Purdue are the expected frontrunners, but they have company this year. Both the Spartans and Boilermakers return most of the minutes from good teams, so there’s no reason why one of them can’t win the conference crown. But watch out for Ohio State and (especially) Minnesota. They returned more minutes than anyone, and they also both have a couple other things going for them. For Ohio State, you might be talking about the most talented starting five in the conference, and one of the best in the country. With the Gophers, you have an incredibly deep roster. So deep that athletic freak and top 50 recruit Rodney Williams will fight for playing time. When these teams are grabbing high seeds on Selection Sunday, don’t forget where you heard it first.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: January

Posted by zhayes9 on October 22nd, 2009

seasonpreview

Last Monday we broke down the top games of November and December as part of our season preview here at Rush the Court. As we examine the best games of the month of January, keep in mind what games during this crucial portion of the season usually represent: separating the contenders from the pretenders. With conference play heating up, the true top-seed players emerge from the pack and leap up their conference standings, while teams that may have overachieved or floated along on a cupcake-filled slate during the first two months begin to fall apart. Here are the games of great importance to circle on your calendar for January:

Ed. Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

January 1- West Virginia at Purdue (#7 overall)- The top game in the entire month of January will be played on the first day of 2010. You won’t find a more bruising, rugged and intense contest played all year with Bob Huggins and Matt Painter’s teams battling it out in East Lafayette. West Virginia is led by the shooting ability of Da’Sean Butler, the super-athletic Devin Ebanks, the two headed point-guard combo of Joe Mazzulla and Darryl Bryant and impact JC transfer Casey Mitchell. Purdue will be entering their third full season with the core of E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and Keaton Grant intact.

January 2- Louisville at Kentucky (#23 overall)- This game has been circled for fans of Big Blue since the details emerged of Rick Pitino’s affair and subsequent extortion mess. They’ll be on Pitino relentlessly for these transgressions because they know their ultra-talented Wildcats can back up the berating on the court. Kentucky fans will also be eager for revenge after Edgar Sosa’s stunning game-winning three a season ago crushed Kentucky in Freedom Hall. Sosa will have to handle sensational freshman John Wall this time around.

781090314285_Syracuse_v_Louisville[1]

January 9- Kansas at Tennessee (#12 overall)- If Tennessee gets into an offensive rhythm, they can hang with the Jayhawks. Look for Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism to utilize their versatility to move Cole Aldrich, Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson and other Kansas bigs away from the basket while allowing their wings — Scotty Hopson, J.P. Prince -- to penetrate inside and draw fouls while Kansas has to recover. This could be an electric, high-scoring affair that may be decided at the foul line.

January 9- West Virginia at Notre Dame (#24 overall)- How about four top-25 games to kick off the month of January? This Big East clash is one of West Virginia’s toughest road tests in their quest of a conference title. Notre Dame recently had a long home court winning streak and the West Virginia forwards Devin Ebanks, Wellington Smith and Deniz Kilici have to deal with the likely BE POY Luke Harangody. Whether the Irish can receive production from their guards is the key.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Upper Midwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South, Mid-South and Lower Midwest) are located here.

It’s time for the seventh installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of very cold, very northern states that we’re calling the Upper Midwest.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Upper Midwest Region (MI, WI, MN, SD, ND)

uppermidwest(2)

  • Manny Harris – G, Jr – Michigan. The mastermind behind the turnaround of Michigan’s basketball program may be John Beilein and his 1-3-1 zone defense, but the catalyst has to be Beilein’s explosive 6’5 scoring guard/forward, Manny Harris. The lone bright spot in a 10-22 campaign in 2007-08 was the freshman Harris and his 16.1 PPG, strong enough to garner All-Big Ten Second team honors. Much like Beilein’s other reclamation projects, the Wolverines, and Harris, improved drastically in their second season under the former West Virginia head man. While his scoring average didn’t even jump a full point, it was Harris’ all-around production and on-court leadership that propelled Michigan to a 13-3 start, respectable Big Ten record and second-round NCAA tournament appearance, their first in 11 seasons. 6.8 RPG for a 6’5 guard is an accomplishment that cannot be overstated, a mark that tied forward DeShawn Sims for the team lead. Harris led Michigan in assists by a wide margin at 4.4 APG, upped his FG% from 38% to 42% and played nearly 33 MPG to lead the Wolverines. Harris has also become a much more efficient playmaker for Beilein, increasing his assist and scoring rates (even while attempting and making over 20% of Michigan’s shots) while his turnovers have dipped. One area where Harris must improve is outside shooting, which jumped from 32% to 33% behind the arc a year ago. With Harris’ tremendous penetration ability and explosiveness to the rim, making opposing defenses respect his outside shot will only enhance an already lethal game. The All-Big Ten first teamer is the straw that stirs the Michigan drink, having started 67 games in a row for Beilein. Should he improve his defense, Harris’ draft stock will shoot up in a season that could be full of accolades, and, for the first time since the Steve Fisher era of the 90s, a legitimate chance to lead Michigan deep into March.
  • Lazar Hayward – F, Sr – Marquette. Lazar Hayward’s role on this year’s Marquette squad should not be understated. Three guards and team leaders through the Tom Crean and Buzz Williams eras – Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews – saw their illustrious college careers end in the second round last March, leaving the program in the hands of Williams’ outstanding recruiting efforts off the court and Hayward’s all-around play on the court. The 6’6 multi-dimensional forward is now the face of a proud basketball school that may take a step back this season with the losses of those three guards that starred for four full seasons in Milwaukee. But it’s unlikely that Hayward will take a step back. Often overshadowed and underappreciated, Lazar averaged 16.3 PPG and 8.6 RPG as a junior last season while shooting 36% from three and 82% from the line, offering another outside threat to go along with McNeal and Matthews. In fact, Hayward finished in the top ten in a historic Big East in scoring, rebounding and free throw percentage last year. He even refined his game on an international stage over the summer, averaging 9.3 PPG and 5.6 RPG on the bronze medal-winning USA team at the World University Games. Hayward is now the face of the Marquette program for his senior season. While the Golden Eagles could struggle, Hayward must step into the departed guards’ shoes as team leader for the junior college and freshman influx headed to the Bradley Center in 2009-10, not only to facilitate success this season, but also for the future.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: November/December

Posted by zhayes9 on October 18th, 2009

seasonpreview

To get our readers excited for the endless possibilities of 2009-10, I’ve compiled an extensive list of the top 65 college basketball games of the upcoming season. Any true college hoops fan knows why we selected the number 65. Splitting up this season preview feature into three posts the next three Mondays (November/December, January and February/March), hopefully this list will provide you with the most vital of dates to circle on your calendar. Coaches are realizing more and more the importance of compiling a respectable non-conference slate to boost RPI/SOS numbers and provide their team adequate experience and preparation for the grind of conference play. Let’s lead off with the first batch of potentially memorable meetings during the first two months of the season:

Ed. Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

November 17- Gonzaga at Michigan State (#59 overall)- The featured game in ESPN’s 24-hour hoops marathon pits a backcourt-laden Gonzaga squad in the first of many difficult road tests against a top-five Michigan State team. The State backcourt of Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Chris Allen and Korie Lucious will be given a true test from the Bulldogs trio of scoring senior Matt Bouldin, deep marksman junior Stephen Gray and emerging sophomore Demetri Goodson.

4393705_Michigan_State_at_Ohio_State[1]

November 17- Memphis vs. Kansas in St. Louis (#64 overall)- A young and largely inexperienced Memphis team will receive a stiff test right away with the likely #1 team in the nation- Kansas. Guards Doneal Mack and Roburt Sallie must shoot well from deep for the Tigers to stay competitive. Former JUCO standout Will Coleman and burly senior Pierre Henderson-Niles will have their hands full down low with likely All-American Cole Aldrich.

November 19- North Carolina vs. Ohio State in NYC (#39 overall)- November and December means one thing: plenty of electrifying non-conference action at Madison Square Garden. This semifinal matchup could prove the best. Ohio State has their entire team returning besides the underwhelming B.J. Mullens and return defensive stalwart David Lighty from injury. They could definitely surprise the inexperienced Heels, who should have a distinct frontcourt advantage with Dallas Lauderdale sidelined.

December 1- Michigan State at North Carolina (#10 overall)- The Spartans and Heels meet in a rematch of the national title game that once again headlines this year’s ACC/Big Ten challenge. State may be able to avenge those two harsh defeats a year ago by taking advantage of the point guard mismatch. With Ty Lawson no longer around, Kalin Lucas could dominate against Larry Drew or Dexter Strickland. On the flip side, Draymond Green should have his hands full with a loaded UNC frontline.

December 5- North Carolina at Kentucky (#8 overall)- Notice a trend with this list so far? Roy Williams has challenged his team with an extremely difficult non-conference schedule, and this early season matchup in Lexington should be one of the best on the early season. There will be loads of projected lottery picks on the floor in this one, from North Carolina’s Ed Davis to Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Michigan State Spartans

Posted by zhayes9 on August 20th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

As we continue our ongoing feature RTC’s Class Schedule for the upcoming 2009-10 season, let’s delve into the slate for the national runner-up of a season ago out of the Big 10: Michigan State. The Spartans entered last season with expectations to win their first regular season conference title since 2000-01 and accomplished said feat with a 15-3 Big 10 record, overcoming two stunning losses at home to Penn State and Northwestern along the way. The Spartans entered the tournament with high hopes as a #2 seed and, after dodging two bullets from USC and Kansas, smoked #1 seed Louisville and edged past Connecticut in the national semifinals before running into the buzzsaw known as North Carolina. With 2008-09’s successful season in the past, Tom Izzo is moving on with his point guard (Kalin Lucas), sharpshooter (Durrell Summers), enigma (Raymar Morgan), sophomore stud (Delvon Roe) and emerging big man (Draymond Green) all in the fray. Michigan State fans will accept nothing less than Tom Izzo’s sixth Final Four appearance this season in East Lansing.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the game-by-game journey Michigan State will have to endure if they wish to meet such lofty expectations. The official schedule can be found here:

4390903142044_Ohio_St_v_Michigan_St[1]

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 9.5. Tom Izzo never backs down from a challenge. Last season, Izzo traveled to the loaded Old Spice Classic, a trip halted by a stunning defeat at the hands of Maryland. He also faced Texas in Houston and North Carolina at Ford Field for the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Both the latter contests will also be featured in the 2009-10 edition of Michigan State’s non-conference slate, but this time as true road games rather than semi-neutral floors. That’s right, on December 1 the Spartans will play UNC in Chapel Hill and, on December 22, Texas in Austin. Rarely do you see a team with the status of Michigan State play such challenging road contests in non-conference play. Victories in either venue will provide Izzo with a significant quality win to tout during arguments for top seeds in March. Izzo also signed up his Spartans for the Legends Classic in November in Atlantic City where he’ll face Florida and either Rutgers or Massachusetts in the final (you’d think it would be Florida-Michigan State in the final, but I digress). Another program with a perennially loaded non-conference slate is Gonzaga. Mark Few’s team will travel to East Lansing for one of the top November contests, even with Austin Daye, Jeremy Pargo and Josh Heytvelt departed.

Cupcake City: In between the two road games in North Carolina and Texas, Michigan State packed in some much-deserved cupcakes. The challengers will be Wofford, The Citadel (that game being played in Charleston, oddly enough), Oakland and IPFW. While The Citadel had a surprising 20-win campaign last year, the only team that may be able to stay on the floor with Michigan State is Oakland, a 23-13 squad from a year ago that nearly toppled North Dakota State in the Summit final. Michigan State will also face Florida Gulf Coast and Texas-Arlington at home.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

04.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on April 28th, 2009

It’s been a light few days, but we’re here to get you caught up on the few things surfacing…

  • Florida’s Alex Tyus was transferring, now he’s not.  This confused us until we remembered that he learned from Donovan two-step from the master himself. 
  • Bruce Pearl’s romantic overtures know no bounds… not even the head football coach’s wife (not that we blame him). 
  • Oddly, USC is no longer recruiting big man Renardo Sidney (who moved to LA three yrs ago for marketing purposes).  Now he may be heading back home to Mississippi St?  Stay tuned on this one.
  • Will Syracuse be the one-year football destination for Greg Paulus?
  • The NBA’s early entry deadline was Sunday – here are a few of the last-minute entries:  Mississippi St.’s Jarvis Varnado (no agent), UConn’s Ater Majok (no agent), Tennessee’s Tyler Smith (no agent), USC’s Taj Gibson (no agent) and BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari (no agent). 
  • Returning:  Iowa St.’s Craig Brackins (a major coup), Michigan’s Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
  • Gary Parrish doesn’t believe that Davidson will recapture the Curry magic for quite some time. 
  • It’s hard to believe this didn’t happen now that the FBI has brought charges against Karen Sypher for attempting to extort Rick Pitino for $10M, two cars, a paid-off house and college tuition.  Wow.  Regardless, we have to agree with Goodman when he says nothing good is ultimately coming from all of this.
  • He was only “holding it” for someone named “Luck.”  Welcome to Nevada basketball in the post-Mark Fox era.
  • Wichita St.’s Gregg Marshall got a one-year contract extension (to 2015) after an improved second year at the school.
  • Good to see the NCAA gumshoes going after the big boys like Northeastern, who received two years probation on Friday.
Share this story

NCAA Preview: Utah State Aggies

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Utah State (#11, West, Boise pod)

vs. Marquette (#6)

Fri. 3/20 @ 12:10 pm

Vegas Line:  Utah St. +4.5
General Profile

Location: Logan, Utah

Conference: Western Athletic Conference, Tournament Champion

Coach: Stew Morrill

08-09 Record: 30-4, 14-2

Last 12 Games: 9-3

Best Win: vs. Utah, 66-64, 12/22

Worst Loss: @ St. Mary’s, 64-75, 02/21

Off. Efficiency Rating: 116.8, 13th

Def. Efficiency Rating: 101.3, 169th
Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Gary Wilkinson (17/7/4 assts); DeShawn Sims (16/7)

Unsung Hero: The freshmen corps of Laval Lucas-Perry, Zach Novak and Stu Perry

Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None

Key Injuries: None

Depth: 23.9% (#313)

Achilles Heel: Turnovers, In two of their four losses this season they committed 17 or more turnovers. Holding onto the ball is the key to their efficiency

Will Make a Deep Run if…: They can get Cornell to upset Mizzou.

Will Make an Early Exit if…: Gary Wilkinson has an off night.
NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2006, lost 1st round to 5th seed Washington 75-61

Streak: 1

Best NCAA Finish: 2001, 2nd round

Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.38 Ws per appearance


Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: None.

Distance to First Round Site: 291 miles to Boise.

School’s Claim to (Dis)Fame: Currently… mascot Big Blue accepting a $100 bribe from a Nevada fan to steal New Mexico State mascot Pistol Pete’s fake mustache.

School Wishes It Could Forget: The 2003 season when they finished 25-3, tied for the regular season title but did not get an at-large bid after losing in the semifinals of the Big West tournament.

Prediction: Utah State is a dangerous 11 seed playing close to home in a familiar arena and facing a team that has lost five of its last six since losing a key player to injury.

Major RTC stories: n/a

Preview written by… Sam Wasson, bleedCrimson.net

Share this story

South Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

North Carolina v. Radford (#1 v. #16)

This is probably the most interesting 1 v. 16 in the tournament. North Carolina will be heavily favored, and will probably win the game, but the Radford Highlanders are no slouch. They have four players that score in double digits, led by 7-foot-0 Artsiom Parakhouski, who is leading the team in scoring (16.3), rebounding (11.2). Matching Parakhouski with Tyler Hansbrough will be fun to watch. One analyst said the Tar Heels don’t even need to start Ty Lawson, but this is the NCAA Tournament, if he is ready to go, he will play.

The Tar Heels are more talented and deeper than Radford, so this wouldn’t be the game to hope for a monumental upset. Radford’s best win is against VMI in the Big South Conference Final, and they have been blown out by every team they have played in a major conference. I will still tune in, just to see Hansborough post up Parakhouski.

LSU v. Butler (#8 v. #9)

This game pits two teams that were under-seeded by the NCAA and as a result, will give the viewers a competitive, fast-paced game to watch. Both teams are in the middle of the tournament pack in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency but they both have great athletes and fun players to watch.

The key match-up will be on the wing where Butler’s Gordon Hayward and LSU’s Marcus Thornton will see a lot of each other. Both players can light it up offensively in a number of ways. Matt Howard and Chris Johnson should be a good one down low. Johnson has a significant height advantage, but Howard scores  a lot of points of hustle, and can be a crafty scorer in the post.

Illinois v. Western Kentucky (#5 v. #12)

Everyone’s trendy upset pick is looking even better with the news that the Illini senior point guard, and best defender, Chester Frazier, is a “long shot” to play according to coach Bruce Weber. But, the Hilltoppers are not the same team they were last year when they made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to UCLA; however, they are good.

Illinois has not played well away from home (4-6), and Portland is quite a trip from Champaign. The Illini have not shot well from the field, and they will need to get Mike Davis (11.6 pts/game, 53.2 FG%) involved early if they want to keep up. The Hilltoppers have four players between 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-5 who average double digits and they will run away with this one if the Illini aren’t careful.

Gonzaga v. Akron (#4 v. #13)

I don’t think this game will be as close as many people think. The ‘Zags are one of the hottest teams in the country having won 18 out of their last 20 games, and dismantled Saint Mary’s 83-58 in the WCC Final.

The ‘Zags are in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and Akron just does not have the firepower or the athleticism to keep up with Gonzaga for 40 minutes. Akron has the advantage in depth though. The Zips can go ten deep, and defend well. If they can wear down Jeremy Pargo, they have a chance.

Arizona State v. Temple (#6 v. #11)

Anyone who thinks these teams are both one-man shows is sadly mistaken. There is absolutely no doubt the Sun Devils’ James Harden and the Owls’ Dionte Christmas can take over a game offensively, the there will be another battle to keep an eye on down low.

ASU’s Jeff Pendergraph (14.5/8.4/66.5%) and Temple’s Lavoy Allen (10.9/8.9/57.9%) will be banging on the low blocks, and crashing the glass will be extremely important for both teams. The role players will be the deciding factor in this game, and if ASU point guard Derek Glasser minimizes mistakes, and finds Harden often, ASU has the advantage over the surprising Owls.

Syracuse v. Stephen F. Austin (#3 v. #14)

The Orange enter the tournament playing some of their best basketball of the season, and despite their fatiguing run through the Big East Tournament are a heavy favorite over the Lumberjacks. Jonny Flynn and Andy Rautins have been absolutely on fire, and there is no one on the Lumberjacks roster to match up with them.

The Lumberjacks are an interesting case. They are in the top 20 in defensive efficiency, but are 242nd in offensive efficiency. They beat Drake in December, but they also lost by 16 to Arkansas and 14 to Texas Tech, and neither one of those teams are as good as the ‘Cuse. The Lumberjacks will rotate in a lot of guys, and they only stand a chance if Syracuse isn’t fresh and comes out slow.

Clemson v. Michigan (#7 v. #10)

Both teams and their coaches come into the game with something to prove. The Tigers have to prove they are for real this year, and that they can make noise in the tournament, and the Wolverines need to prove their system works outside of the plodding Big Ten.

The game will feature two of the more athletic combo forwards in Clemson’s Trevor Booker and Michigan’s DeShawn Sims. It will be interesting to see if the two guard one another. But, the Wolverine offense goes as Manny Harris goes, but he is inconsistent as he has nine games with single-digit point totals. If Clemson’s KC Rivers can frustrate Harris, the Wolverines will have a tough time offensively.

Oklahoma v. Morgan State (#2 v. #15)

On paper, the Sooners have a clear advantage in every facet of the game, but the Bears have beaten both DePaul and Maryland, and played close games with Mississippi and St. Mary’s. The problem is, they don’t have anyone who can guard Blake Griffin, or Willie Warren.

Oklahoma has been struggling late and if ever there was a time to strike for Todd Bozeman’s club, now is the time. But they might not have enough weapons to keep up with the Sooners, and Griffin will get to have his way on the low blocks.

Share this story

NCAA Preview: Michigan Wolverines

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Michigan (#10, South, Kansas City pod)

vs. Clemson (#7)

Thurs. 3/19 @ 7:10pm
Vegas Line:  Michigan +5

General Profile
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Conference: Big 10, at-large
Coach: John Beilein, 30-34
08-09 Record: 20-13, 10-10
Last 12 Games: 6-6
Best Win: vs. Duke, 81-73, 12/06
Worst Loss: @ Iowa, 60-70, 2/22
Off. Efficiency Rating: 111.4, 41st
Def. Efficiency Rating: 95.5, 67th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Manny Harris (17/7/4 assts); DeShawn Sims (16/7)
Unsung Hero: The freshmen corps of Laval Lucas-Perry, Zach Novak and Stu Perry
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 35.3%, 72nd nationally (Percentage of minutes played by reserves)
Achilles Heel: The really good Beilein teams can shoot it from deep.  This team can’t (33%, 10th in the Big 10).
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Harris and Sims both play well and getting help from their freshman teammates.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Either of the two has an off game and the threes aren’t dropping.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 1998, lost 2d round to UCLA 85-82
Streak: 1
Best NCAA Finish: 1989, National Champions
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.38 Ws per appearance

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Umm… other than the fact that Ford Field is only 38 miles away, both Harris and Sims are from the Motor City.
Distance to First Round Site: 751 miles to Kansas City.
School’s Claim to Fame: UM is a world-class academic institution and, of course, the Fab Five.
School Wishes It Could Forget: The whole sordid Ed Martin scandal surrounding the aforementioned F5.
Prediction: Befitting a young team, Michigan has been terrible on the road (3-8); there’s really no reason to believe that they’re going to win a neutral site game against a more experienced team like Clemson.
Major RTC stories: The Fraud Five or Fab 5?

Preview written by Rush the Court

Share this story

Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.07.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2009

dynamite

We’re back for the final weekend of regular season Boom Goes the Dynamite for this college basketball season. The highlights of the weekend are obviously the two top 10 match-ups (in Pittsburgh on Saturday and in Chapel Hill on Sunday). We would love to provide you with another RTC Live from those site, but apparently we’re not big enough for them yet. (The onus is on you to spread the word.)

In any event, we’re going to make lemonade out of those lemons so we’ll be providing coverage from our bi-coastal offices covering all the action. Today is loaded with 15 of the top 25 playing with the other 10 playing on Sunday. We will be trying out best to provide you with wall-to-wall coverage of the top teams in action as well as RTC Live from several different locations:

In addition to our on-site correspondents we will be focusing in on a few key games for the majority of the day while also channel surfing over to the other games when the situation merits it. Here are the primary games that we will be covering today:

  • #1 UConn at #4 Pittsburgh at Noon on CBS
  • Michigan at Minnesota at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com
  • #25 Syracuse at #15 Marquette at 2 PM on ESPN360.com
  • #12 Missouri at Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
  • California at #21 Arizona State at 2 PM on CBS
  • Oklahoma State at #5 Oklahoma at 3:30 PM on ABC
  • Texas at #9 Kansas at 4 PM on CBS
  • Washington State at #13 Washington at 5:30 PM on CBS
  • Wright State at #22 Butler at 7 PM on ESPNU
  • #6 Louisville at West Virginia at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com

As you can tell it’s a pretty ambitious schedule so we are asking you, our loyal legion of RTC followers, to help alert all of us if something interesting is happening. You can contribute by leaving a message in the comment section so we all can follow it.

One piece of RTC breaking news, UNC point guard Ty Lawson injured his left big toe yesterday in practice.

11:30 PM: ESPN GameDay is live from Morgantown, WV and they’re doing their own version of Make Your Case. I feel a little bit like Bill Simmons after ESPN stole his Mount Rushmore, but they aren’t paying me a million dollars a year.

11:45 PM: A couple pieces of NCAA tournament news to wrap-up before we focus on our TV for the next 12 hours: Cornell became the first team to officially get into the tournament last night by winning the Ivy League title and 3 others will join them when the Atlantic Sun, Big South, and Ohio Valley have their championship games today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story