Welcome back! Another weekend means another edition of everyone’s favorite college basketball live blog. Assuming they all actually happen (there was, like, a huge snowstorm, you see), there are actually some pretty darn good games happening today (Michigan at Kansas, anyone? Maybe a little Xavier at Butler?), and since we know you’ll be watching, and we know we’ll be watching…why not watch with us? We’ll be commenting all day, but we want to know what your thoughts are on the games as they’re being played. So keep checking this space and hitting that refresh button, and let’s have your comments as well. It’ll start at noon and go all day long, so I suggest you grab some hot chocolate (or your beverage of choice), turn on your favorite game, and join us. Keep checking back every few minutes!
12:03 pm: So here we go. Starting off with Michigan at Kansas on ESPN as our principle (and as of right now, only noteworthy) game. This is a good but perplexing Michigan team. Their four losses are Marquette, Alabama, Boston College, and at Utah. Michigan was a tournament team last year and returned those two stars in Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, which would make me think they should have at least won a couple of those. BC is tough, but Michigan has to defend the home floor against a team like that if they want to be taken seriously. Quite a tall order they’ve got today. As I type this, Michigan’s last three shots have been threes, none of which went down. Meanwhile, Kansas has been getting the ball inside every trip down.
Who Else is Rooting for 12-0? The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series started tonight (ok, officially it started Sunday when Nebraska defeated USC 52-49, but the bulk of games are over the next four days), and given just how horrible the Pac-10 has been so far this year, there is nothing at all surprising about the Big 12 sweeping tonight’s games to go to 4-0 in the Series. Can the Big 12 sweep this entire event? It would be one of the all-time PWNDs if the west coast ballers fail to win a single game, and from our quick analysis, this is a possible, if not plausible, scenario. In looking at the remaining schedule, there are a couple of sure losses (Kansas at UCLA; Oregon at Missouri), one likely loss (Washington State at Kansas State), three more games where (according to Sagarin’s predictor) the Big 12 team will be favored (Arizona at Oklahoma; Oklahoma State at Stanford; Colorado at Oregon State), and two other games where — admit it — you wouldn’t be shocked if the Big 12 team pulled out two road wins (Iowa State at California; Texas A&M at Washington). Our curiosity got the better of us thinking about this (see below), and using the Sagarin spreads (which we realize are not fully interrelated yet, but should still give a decent ballpark estimate), we determined that there’s a <1% chance of the Big 12 sweeping the remaining games. It’s the Iowa State and Texas A&M road games that really hurt, but honestly, we don’t have a lot of faith in any Pac-10 school at this point. Anyway, that’s the math, but our general sense is that the odds of a sweep are in reality a little greater than that.
Make Mine a Double (RTC). Texas Tech 99, #10 Washington 92. There weren’t many games tonight, but the matchup between Texas Tech and Washington in Lubbock tonight was a classic. The game was so nice, the students rushed it twice. Or something like that. After TTU’s Mike Singletary rebounded Elston Turner’s second straight miss at the foul line with five seconds remaining, he dribbled it upcourt and appeared to beat the horn with a running three-pointer (see the 1:50 mark in the below video). The students rushed the court and started celebrating only to be told by the refs that the shot would not count and we were heading to overtime. After a bizarre interlude waiting for the robotic vacuum to clean off the floor, the players reconvened for the extra period where Texas Tech used a late 6-0 run to pull away and finish off the previously unbeaten Huskies (the last team in the Pac-10 to lose a game), after which the students RTC’d again (good for them). John Roberson had 25/7 and Mike Singletary had 16/12/4 assts in the winning effort, while Quincy Pondexter dropped 31/5/3 stls for UW. Quick question — has anyone seen Abdul Gaddy this year? The freshman phenom had a ridiculously bad 0-point, foul-plagued 10-minute performance tonight, which dovetails nicely with his season averages of 5/3 on 28% shooting (10% from three). Ouch. Washington will not reach its goals this season without more production from this talented guard. As for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders are now 8-0, but tonight was by far their best win of the season. Still, the defense has been solid, and if they can get through several difficult road games coming up (@ TCU, @ Wichita State, @ New Mexico), then they could be well positioned from an NCAA bid standpoint heading into the Big 12 season.
Other Big 12/Pac-10 Games.
#2 Texas 69, USC 50. Texas’ defense continue to impress, as the nation’s #1 stoppers (according to Pomeroy) held an obviously outmatched Trojan team to 30% from the floor and 10% from behind the line. Damion James had 19/9 and Dexter Pittman dominated the interior for 13/5/7 blks, including a complete emasculation of USC’s Alex Stepheson (0-8 FG). UT’s freshman corps didn’t even play well (6-23 FG), but they really weren’t needed tonight, which goes to show just how deep and talented this Longhorn team is.
Baylor 64, Arizona State 61. Baylor’s Tweety Carter remains scorching hot from outside, as he nailed 7-9 threes tonight for 27/4/3 assts in an evenly-matched game between two middling major conference teams. This gives Carter thirteen treys in his last two games, as he hit six against Xavier the last time out. ASU led for much of the second half before a 4-minute drought at the 9-minute mark allowed Carter to do his thing, giving the Bears a lead that they would hold onto through the remainder of the game. Baylor leading scorer LaceDarius Dunn had only 7 pts on a poor 3-10 shooting night.
Was This Really Necessary?Marshall 119, Salem International 35. We know that it’s not Marshall’s fault that Salem Intl. is going through an especially tough season in terms of breaking in a new coach, suspended players and so on… but did Marshall really need to embarrass them by 84 points tonight? Even though the Marshall starters barely played, it may have been a good idea to run the clock on possessions after the lead blew up to, oh, say 70 or so. Can anyone defend this score? Why is a CUSA team playing a D2 team anyway? Color us unimpressed. If there’s any justice in this world, maybe UNC will beat the Thundering Herd by 60 when they visit Chapel Hill in three weeks.
Other Games of National Interest. After about 100 last night, we had one tonight.
Seton Hall 89, Hartford 56. The Hall has been very quiet in the first month of the season, in part due to their weak schedule, but the Pirates stayed undefeated behind Robert Mitchell’s 15/9 and Jeremey Hazell’s 15/2.
Story of the Night. Evan Turner’s Date With History. It’s only a matter of time. So long as Evan Turner stays healthy this year, he should have the new record for triple-doubles in a single season by around New Year’s Eve. He’s already got two in November, which puts him in select company of 33 others players in the entire history of the NCAA to have multiple trip-dubs in one season. The record is four, held by Stephane Lasme (UMass), Jason Kidd (Cal), Brian Shaw (UCSB) and Michael Anderson (Drexel). We should go ahead and dust off the record book because Turner is on pace to not only beat this record, but obliterate it. With his 16/10/11 asst night in an 84-64 win over Lipscomb, he’s now averaging an absurd 21/14/7 apg over five games this season. He’s really not that far from approaching an Oscar Robertson-esque season-long triple-double average, but suffice it to say that we’re calling the over/under on this year’s total at 10. The mere fact that you’re thinking about this — really thinking about this! — should give you pause as to the ridiculousness of how well Turner is playing. If Ohio State continues to hang around the top 10-15 in America this year, does anyone else stand a chance at NPOY?
Upset of the Night.Morgan State 97, Arkansas 94. We guess that the Pac-10 and SEC are simply going to trade spots in this section for the rest of the nonconference season. Arkansas, with several really good players in their lineup (Michael Washington, Rotnei Clarke, Marshon Powell), dropped a barnburner of a game to a nonconference foe for the first time in a long time (45 games). Morgan State’s Reggie Holmes went off for 34/5/4 stls, but there’s really no excuse for a loss like this for a team like Arkansas. Maybe it was something we saw in the body language of John Pelphrey’s players last week in St. Louis, but we feel like there are fundamental problems on this team beyond basic basketball skills.
Co-Upset 0f the Night. Seattle 77, Utah 74. This is nothing short of amazing, as Cameron Dollar’s Seattle club is playing its first full season as a member of D1, and to get a win on the road in a fairly tough environment as that at Utah is very impressive. Seattle’s Charles Garcia blew up for 24/8 and is it too early to tell Lorenzo Romar to start looking over his shoulder in the Emerald City? The Redhawks are already 3-2 this season with wins over Fresno State and Weber State in addition to the Utes.
Cincinnati 69, #22 Maryland 57. Cincinnati is looking good. Yancy Gates dominated the inside, dropping 17/13 on the Maryland frontline, who often looked confused about where to be and what to do during this game — UC was also +15 on the boards. Greivis Vasquez finally broke through for double-figure points (19), but he shot poorly (5-17, 0-5 from three) and his percentage for the year is downright icy (30%). The Bearcats will take one of the other surprises of the young season in Gonzaga tomorrow night in the title game.
Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.
Predicted Order of Finish:
Kansas State (10-6)
Texas A&M (8-8)
Oklahoma State (8-8)
Iowa State (7-9)
Texas Tech (4-12)
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
What 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.
The final two-part edition of our Top 65 games delves into the exciting stretch run of the final five weeks. These highlighted games should have tremendous implications on seeding and conference standings with heated rivals doing battle in the final push towards March Madness. Here’s a preview of what’s guaranteed to be the best slate of games 2009-10 has to offer (top games of November/December and January in case you missed it):
Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.
February 1- Texas @ Oklahoma State(#33 overall)– Hard to imagine you won’t see plenty of scoring in this Big 12 clash. The point guard situation is a bit dicey in Stillwater with Byron Eaton’s departure, but Travis Ford loves to run and James Anderson can score with the best. Expect this to be one of the toughest tests for Texas in their pursuit of a regular season Big 12 title.
February 6- Texas @ Oklahoma (#25 overall)– This could very well be another test. Two freshmen will have to fill major roles for Jeff Capel’s squad with Tommy Mason-Griffin helping out Willie Warren in the backcourt and Tiny Gallon bulldozing opponents in the paint with Blake Griffin in LA. It’s entirely possible defensive stud Avery Bradley could earn the job of trying to lock down the quick Warren.
February 6- Villanova @ Georgetown(#31 overall)– A Big East clash in February between two teams that have top-three aspirations in the conference. The point guard duel is a dandy with Chris Wright of the Hoyas matched up with Scottie Reynolds of the Wildcats. This should prove a worthy test for Villanova’s thin frontline trying to contain Greg Monroe, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.
February 6- Michigan State @ Illinois (#37 overall)– The orange-clad students right on top of the floor will be out in full force to support their Illini in hopes of knocking off the loaded Spartans. With Chester Frazier departed, it could be the freshman guard D.J. Richardson trying to contain potential All-American Kalin Lucas. There’s some tremendous outside shooting in this one from State’s Durrell Summers to the Illini’s Demetri McCamey.
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.
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.
Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Atlantic South) are located here.
It’s time for the fourth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico known as the Deep South region. 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?
Ed. Note: our assumption is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney will not be eligible to play this season.
Aubrey Coleman – Sr, G – Houston. Young Mr. Coleman was a controversial pick for our panel, to say the least. There’s no denying his talent, but the 6’4 rock of a player went national (and viral) last season for his footplant on Chase Budinger’s face during a game at Arizona. Seriously, that thing made what Christian Laettner did to Aminu Timberlake in 1992 look like playtime in the sandbox. Coleman served his one-game suspension for the ugly incident, and proceeded to take out any residual anger he might have on the rest of Conference USA to the tune of twelve double-doubles and becoming the only player to finish in the top five in both CUSA scoring and rebounding. Yeah, rebounding. At 6’4. Playing guard. If that doesn’t give you a clue as to Coleman’s toughness (despite his cowardly act against Budinger), we don’t know what will. Despite his position, Coleman makes it a common practice to regularly venture into the lane for frequent trips to the foul line on offense and for rebounds on defense (ranks #294 in def reb%). He also ranked in the top 25 nationally in steals, and we should point out that only three guards in the entire country pulled down more boards per game than Coleman. About the only part of Coleman’s game that isn’t quite honed is his outside shot (21% on threes), but he doesn’t take many, which shows recognition of his strengths and weaknesses. With two star players (including Kelvin Lewis) returning for their senior seasons in Houston, it’s safe to say that Tom Penders is sitting on an explosive duo who could lead UH to a successful slate in a wide-open CUSA and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly twenty years.
Damion James – Sr, F – Texas. Just three days prior to the declaration deadline for the 2009 NBA Draft, Damion James told Texas head coach Rick Barnes that he’d be returning for a final season in Austin, a decision that drastically alters the expectations of a Longhorns team that underachieved a campaign ago. Texas should be a top-five team in 2009-10 due to an influx of talent from all angles: from returnees like Dexter Pittman, to transfers like Jai Lucas, stud freshmen like Avery Bradley and, most importantly, a senior season from Damion James. James has just about as much pure athletic talent as any forward in the nation featuring an NBA-ready body, constant activity on the glass and an ability to run the floor like few other 6’7 forwards. The issue with James has always been complacency and wavering effort. Often James will hang around the perimeter, settle for outside shots, disappear when his team needs him the most or settle for being a secondary figure when a player with the ability of James should always be The Man. When James is motivated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the Big 12 that can contain him. James finished on the All-Big 12 Second Team his junior season after finishing with 15.4 ppg and 9.2 rpg a year following a sophomore campaign in which James averaged a double-double. James ranked fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding, tenth in the conference in scoring and totaled double-figures on 31 occasions in 2008-09. A player the caliber of James should be right there with Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins at the top of potential Big 12 POY candidates for the upcoming season. He should be a first round pick and he should average another double-double. One of the reasons I have Texas pegged #2 in the nation preseason is because I trust James to provide that consistent effort for Rick Barnes in search of a very realistic Final Four.
Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.
The primary debate throughout college basketball this offseason is not who should claim the top spot in the polls in early November. It’s fairly evidentKansas is the near-unanimous choice and the most talented team in the land on paper. Instead, the serious discussion will surround which team should hold the rights to the #2 spot in the country after the Jayhawks. Some will say Kentucky and their immense talent, or Villanova and their elite backcourt. Some will argue Duke or North Carolina or Michigan State deserve the nod. My money is on Kansas’ main Big 12 foe: the Texas Longhorns.
Losing the all-time Big 12 leader in three point field goals, a 16.6 points per game scorer and a guard who played over 35 minutes per contest the last three seasons will be an adjustment for coach Rick Barnes. Consistency wasn’t always A.J. Abrams’ forte, but the constant threat he posed from outside would stretch defenses and help teammates find easier lanes to the basket. Even with Abrams gone, the backcourt looks strong led by holdover Dogus Balbay, a tremendous passer, and Florida transfer Jai Lucas, an elite guard that played thirty minutes per game for Billy Donovan just two seasons ago and shot 44% from deep. The #1 recruit in the entire nation according to ESPN, Avery Bradley, also joins the backcourt as an attacking wing that can hit mid-range jumpers and defend like a senior. Talented guard J’Covan Brown also joins the fray after missing last season due to academics.
The frontcourt also looks strong, bolstered by the return of Damion James for another campaign in Austin after testing the NBA Draft waters. James nearly averaged a double-double as a junior and could very well accomplish said feat in 2009-10. Another top-ten recruit, small forward Jordan Hamilton, has the potential to be a huge scoring force for Texas. Hamilton is an exceptional shooter with a long wingspan that can finish at the rim with equal prowess. Dexter Pittman and Gary Johnson, two monsters inside, both return as double-digit scorers a year ago. Justin Mason and Varez Ward are the glue guys on the perimeter defending and contributing when needed. This team is loaded and could challenge Kansas for the top spot in the country at some point.
How does the schedule play out for my #2 team in the nation? Let’s examine:
Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 8.5. The Longhorns non-conference slate features two top-ten teams in a span of four days right before Christmas. On December 19, Texas will face defending champion North Carolina in Arlington at Jerry Jones’ new monstrosity and take on Michigan State at home in Austin on December 22. Rick Barnes is never one to dodge challenging non-conference schedules and this year is no different. Still, the Longhorns don’t leave the state of Texas for an entire month (November 28 vs. Rice in Houston to December 29 vs. Gardner-Webb at home). Their neutral floor games in Kansas City are against Big Ten bottom-feeder Iowa and a rebuilding Pittsburgh team who will be without Gilbert Brown for the fall semester (assuming they beat Wichita State). They’ll also take on a talented Connecticut team in late January. Barnes put together this schedule in brilliant fashion. He’ll pick up neutral floor wins against moderately big names and brings two highly ranked schools to his home state, surely boosting his RPI and SOS with the chance to pick up quality wins in hopes of grabbing a #1 seed in March.
Cupcake City: Barnes did schedule his fair share of cupcakes, but nothing excessive to the point of being embarrassing. I count seven games against “cupcakes” (including Long Beach State, the Big West preseason favorites) in Austin with two to begin the campaign as part of the CBE Classic and the others sandwiched around the North Carolina and Michigan State games, which makes perfect sense. I never understood why coaches schedule weaker opponents 8-9 games in a row during the season. Sprinkling in serious challengers in the middle portion, as Barnes did, is the best strategy to keep his Longhorns motivated and focused.
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 Stateand 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:
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.
After a relatively weak set of 1st round games (except for very late last night), we’re looking to forward to our beloved tournament returning to form with a strong set of 2nd round games. One of the benefits of the lack of shocking upsets in the first round games is that we get a good set of 2nd round games that won’t be blowouts. Right? Anyways, here is your slate of games.
We’ll be starting this post around 3:20 so head over to the aforementioned RTC Live before that time for our coverage of the start of round 2.
3:23 PM: Memphis starts off like they did in the 1st round with a 35-second violation that wasn’t called because Maryland stole the ball as the shot clock expired. Greivis Vasquez just got called for his first foul 57 seconds into the game. That’s definitely something to watch for.
3:27 PM: Nice run by Memphis to silence any of the early doubts after their ugly opening game. This is the Memphis team I put in the Final 4.
3:40 PM: Sorry for the delay. I was busy responding to an e-mail from the NCAA trying to get you coverage from the NCAA East Regional (they’re pretty myopic in Indianapolis). Anyways, back to the game. . . John Calipari has to be pleased with this start. His Tigers have come out much sharper than they did against Cal State-Northridge.