Set Your Tivos: Finals Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 15th, 2008

After a couple weeks off spent touring the country, Set Your Tivos is back. When I started to look at this week’s slate of games, I thought it was one of the worst weeks of the year. Then I saw Saturday, which is without a doubt the best set of college basketball games so far this season. In fact, Saturday is so good that I am going to do a separate Set Your Tivos for it.
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Source: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/

Monday
– Stony Brook at #2 UConn at 7 PM on ESPN Full Court, ESPN360.com, and the Big East Network: The only way this game stays within 20 is if the Huskies actually have to take final exams. Nothing to see here unless you know one of the Huskies benchwarmers and want to see him get some PT.

- Cleveland State at #11 Syracuse at 7 PM on Time Warner-New York: Should be another snoozefest, but you might want to check the Orangemen out to see how they are adjusting to life without Eric Devendorf (or not). If Time Warner-New York is on their game, they will run a feature on the 1985-86 Cleveland State team that upset Indiana in the NCAA tournament that was documented in John Feinstein’s classic “Season on the Brink” (great winter break reading for the erudite RTC fan).

Tuesday
– South Florida vs. Vanderbilt at 7 PM on ESPN 2 and ESPN360.com: This game is officially at a “neutral” location, but the game is being played in Nashville. Even Coach K would be embarrassed to call that a neutral site. The Commodores could use a win here as they have been disappointing so far while the Bulls have been surprisingly competitive. However, since Vanderbilt plays in the SEC and USF plays in the Big East the reverse will be true during league play.

- #23 Marquette vs. #19 Tennessee at 9:30 PM on ESPN 2 and ESPN360.com: The game of the week (before Saturday). Another “neutral” site game in Nashville. The Volunteers will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Dionte Christmas Temple. The loss dropped them 11 spots from a #8 ranking. They can make a case for a top 10 ranking again if they can beat Marquette. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles have been playing well (7-1) and come into the game with a top 25 ranking. Unfortunately, that only makes them the 8th highest ranked team in the Big East. I know it’s early and sounds ridiculous for a top 25 team, but Marquette could use a win here to start building a case for a NCAA tournament bid in case they fall back a little in the Big East because I still have a hard time believing the Selection Committee will give the Big East 10 bids.

Wednesday
– Cram for your last finals or go through the games you missed while studying for those finals/writing that term paper because this is a weak set of games.

Thursday
- Mississippi State at Cincinnati at 6:30 PM on ESPN 2 and ESPN360.com: The Bearcats (6-2) are off to a respectable start–losses to FSU and Xavier–by almost any league’s standards except for the Big East where they will struggle to stay out of the bottom third of the conference. The Bulldogs (7-3) are also off to decent start, but may be without coach Rick Stansbury who was admitted to a local hospital for new-onset migraines (the administration expects him to be able to coach that night). The Bearcats will have their handful trying to score inside with “The Human Eraser” Jarvis Varnado who comes into the game with a 6.2 blocks per game average.

- Evansville at #1 UNC at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: I’m expecting the line for this game to be UNC by 20, but don’t sleep on Evansville. They come into the game with a 7-1 record including a 32-point win over a Western Kentucky team that handled preseason Final Four favorite Louisville its only loss. The Tar Heels may also be a little off their game if they start buying into the hype (we aren’t) or if they continue to have late-night trysts with America’s sideline princess.

- Mississippi at #9 Louisville at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The Rebels shouldn’t really present a challenge Louisville, but I haven’t bought into Rick Pitino’s Cardinals yet. In their only game that could be considered moderately challenging, they fell apart losing to Western Kentucky. If Pitino hopes to contend for a national title this year, his team needs to be able to put away teams like Mississippi early. We’ll also be watching to see Samardo Samuels, who is playing like the best freshman in the country right now.

Friday
- Get some sleep or go get some sun because you’re going to be glued to your couch all day tomorrow.

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ATB: An A10 Kind of Weekend

Posted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2008

A10 Weekend. The A10 used three televised games on Saturday to announce its presence to America, knocking off an SEC, Big East and Big 12 team in the process (two of which were effectively road games).  With the relative weakness of the Pac-10 and SEC this year, the A10 could make a run at a legitimate four NCAA bids this season.  Today’s results could go a long way in the Tourney Committee’s minds toward that end.   Great weekend for the Atlantic 10.

  • Temple 88, Tennessee 72. Every outlet in America is making the “Merry Christmas” joke, so we’ll refrain here, but suffice it to say that Temple’s Dionte Christmas stole Bruce Pearl’s cookies and blew up his sled with an explosive game where it seemed as if every shot he threw at the rim was flushing straight through.  More importantly, Temple exposed Tennessee’s defense for what it is – simply not good enough to sustain any kind of legitimate run in March.  The Owls shot a blistering 55%, led by Xmas’ 35 on seven threes, and it often appeared as if the Vol players had little interest in covering him.  The roof nearly came off the place when he hit three trifectas in a row during a personal 1:30 run to blow open the game.  Temple, who had not defeated a top 10 team since John Chaney was still on campus, celebrated with a spirited RTC, to which, we say – deserved.

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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This Week in the A-10
By Christian Marge | November 24, 2008

PLAYER OF THE WEEKKeith Cothran, Junior, URI.  Quite simply, Keith Cothran had his best week as a collegiate player, leading URI to a 2-0 week with wins over Monmouth and Virginia Commonwealth.  In back to back games, Cothran set new career highs in points, as he poured in 18 against Monmouth, and 23 against the CAA favorites, VCU.  Cothran shot a blistering 17-26 (65%) from the field during the two-game stretch.  On the year, the junior is averaging 14.7 points and 1.7 steals per game, while also shooting 42.9% from three point range; up 19% on the young season, from his figure last season.

HONORABLE MENTION: Aaron Jackson, (Sr.) Duquesne; Dionte Christmas, (Sr.) Temple; Rodney Green, (Jr.) La Salle.

(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10′ each Monday morning.)

GAME OF THE WEEK:  November 21st, 2008.  Xavier 63, Virginia Tech 62.

In a week full of close games, this one took the cake as Xavier’s Dante Jackson nailed a half-court buzzer beater to lead the Musketeers to a one-point win in the semifinal of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.  Jackson had been 0-8 from the field before he let his miraculous shot fly.  The win for Xavier marked the first blemish for Virginia Tech.  In fact, it marked the first game any ACC team had lost this season, as the conference had gone 29-0 til Jackson’s shot banked off the glass and dropped through the net.

HONORABLE MENTION: St. Bonaventure 64, Rutgers 63 (OT).

GAME OF THE UPCOMING WEEK: Ahmad Nivins (21.0 ppg., 12.5 rpg) leads Saint Joseph’s out to Maui to face a Texas Longhorns squad in the Maui Invitational.  Texas has excellent balance, led by A.J. Abrams and Damion James.  The Hawks’ Tasheed Carr, formerly of the Big 12 (Iowa State) will try to contain Abrams and frustrate the Longhorn attack, as SJU would prefer to keep this contest in the sixties.

RPI BOOST OF THE WEEK: Xavier (Current RPI: No. 13)

A perfect 4-0 on the week with your lowest ranked opponent at RPI#119 (Missouri) will certainly boost team standing.  The Musketeers made a final jump, leaping fifteen spots by knocking off Memphis to claim the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship.

RPI FALL OF THE WEEK: Charlotte (Current RPI: No. 319)

It’s difficult to fall harder than the 49ers have to start the season.  Their lone win on the season came against RPI #337 UNC-Greensboro.  A strength of schedule at 299 and a 1-3 record hurts the ‘Niner cause.  RPI help is on the way if Charlotte can seize the opportunity in a loaded Anaheim Classic field this coming weekend.

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2008-09 Season Primers: #7 – Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on November 4th, 2008

Predicted order of finish:

  1. Xavier (29-6, 14-2; Schedule)
  2. Temple (23-11, 12-4; Schedule)
  3. Charlotte (20-13, 11-5; Schedule)
  4. UMass (19-14, 10-6; Schedule)
  5. Dayton (22-11, 9-7; Schedule)
  6. St. Louis (21-11, 9-7; Schedule)
  7. St. Joseph’s (21-12, 8-8; Schedule)
  8. Rhode Island (16-17, 7-9; Schedule)
  9. Richmond (15-17, 7-9; Schedule)
  10. La Salle (13-18, 6-10; Schedule)
  11. George Washington (13-16, 6-10; Schedule)
  12. Duquesne (11-19, 5-11; Schedule)
  13. Fordham (8-22, 4-12; Schedule)
  14. St. Bonaventure (7-22, 4-12; Schedule)

WYN2K.  If the A-10 wants to lay claim to being one of the premier mid-majors [Note: Hold the e-mails, I’m not putting the A-10 with the big boys yet. If you want to, become an RTC correspondent], they will have plenty of shots against the big boys: Duke (3 times-Rhode Island, Duquesne, and Xavier), Kansas (2 times-UMass and Temple), Memphis (UMass), Tennessee (Temple), Texas (St. Joe’s), and many other less prestigious programs in BCS conferences.

Predicted Champion. Xavier (#4 NCAA). Last year, #3 seed Xavier made it to the Elite 8 before falling to perennial national semifinalist UCLA. While Xavier loses several key seniors, they should be able to remain the dominant team in the A-10 due to their superior depth (6 players last year averaged between 9.7 and 12.4 PPG with 3 of those players returning). The Musketeers return Derrick Brown (10.9 ppg), C.J. Anderson (10.7 ppg), and center Jason Love. The loss of the seniors may also be eased by the addition of 6-11 freshman Kenny Frease, freshman point guard Terrell Holloway, freshman shooting guard Brian Walsh, and Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford.  Helping lead the Musketeers will be Sean Miller who became the first Xavier coach to turn down an offer from a bigger name program in quite some time (see: Gillen, Pete; Prosser, Skip; and Matta, Thad). Xavier has a chance to put itself in position for a very high NCAA seed if they can beat Duke in a “neutral site” game in East Rutherford, NJ, on December 20th.  Here’s a clip on Xavier’s trip to the E8 last season.

Others Considered. To be perfectly honest, Xavier should run away with the A-10 this year. Their depth makes them resistant to any reasonable expectation of injuries. The only other legitimate contender if Xavier slips up is Temple (NCAA #10). The Owls, coached by Fran Dunphy (still seems weird not to see John Chaney on the sidelines or storming into other coach’s press conferences), will need to replace the all-around output of Mark Tyndale. They return Dionte Christmas, the A-10’s leading scorer, but he will face increased defensive pressure this year. The Owls also lost Chris Clark to graduation so they will need Ryan Brooks, Lavoy Allen, and Sergio Olmos to step up this year if they want to seriously challenge Xavier.  We also see Charlotte (NIT) and Dayton (NIT) as postseason teams.

RPI Boosters.

  • Rhode Island at Duke  (11.16.08)
  • UMass at Memphis  (11.17.08)
  • Virginia Commonwealth at Rhode Island  (11.22.08)
  • St. Joe’s vs. Texas (Lahaina, HI)  (11.24.08)
  • Dayton vs. Marquette (Hoffman Estates, IL)  (11.29.08)
  • Boston College at UMass  (12.06.08)
  • UMass vs. Kansas (Kansas City, MO)  (12.13.08)
  • Tennessee at Temple  (12.13.08)
  • Temple at Kansas  (12.20.08)
  • Oklahoma State at Rhode Island  (12.20.08)
  • Xavier vs. Duke (East Rutherford, NJ)  (12.20.08)
  • Butler at Xavier  (12.23.08)
  • Vanderbilt at UMass  (01.03.09)

Neat-O Stat. Despite being a mid-major league, the A-10 managed to get 2 programs into ESPN.com’s Prestige Rankings. Interestingly, they are the only programs to make the top 20 without having made a Final 4. The only A-10 team to have made the Final 4 is UMass, which checks in at #52. I guess this speaks to the rewards of being consistent. A while back some bums stated they were going to revise the criteria to come out with their own rankings. It’s coming. We promise. . .

65 Team Era.  As stated above, the A-10 is often the bridesmaid, never the bride, when it comes to the Final Four.  Ok, UMass did have its one shot at glory in 1996, but ten other times an A-10 team has gotten to the Elite Eight only to have its hopes dashed in that round (five times in the last decade).  This includes Temple five times, Xavier twice, UMass once, St. Joseph’s once, and Rhode Island once.  During the era, the A-10 has gone 63-65 (.492), which puts it right there with CUSA as the top mid-major league over the last quarter century. 

Final Thoughts. Despite my cheap shots, the A-10 is one of the top conferences in the country. Last year, they only managed to get three teams into the NCAA tournament, but has the potential to get a couple of more bids. To do this, teams will have to get to 10 wins in this conference since the bottom of the conference is so weak. If a lot of teams end up 9-7 or 8-8 in conference play, those teams will end up in the NIT again.

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Thursday, March 20th: Update #2

Posted by nvr1983 on March 20th, 2008

We missed the 2nd half of the first set of games while we were being tortured by a massage therapist so these recaps will be brief.

Final Scores
#1 Kansas 85, #16 Portland State 61:On the bright side for Portland State, they played Kansas close in the 2nd half. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks already had won the game in the first 10 minutes.

#3 Xavier 73, #14 Georgia 61: I’d like to thank Xavier for turning it around and saving my perfect bracket. Maybe Georgia should have scheduled another game earlier in the day.

#5 Michigan State 72, #12 Temple 61:The Spartans survive an awful game from Drew Neitzel (2/11 FG) thanks to an even worse game from Dionte Christmas (1/12 FG). Raymar Morgan wasn’t bad either with 15 pts on 7/9 FG.

Ongoing
#6 Marquette 56, #11 UK 51: The only reason Kentucky is still in this game is because of a huge game from Joe Crawford (28 pts with 7:43 left).

#4 Pittsburgh 47, #13 Oral Roberts 24: The Panthers are cruising as they are almost doubling up their overmatched opponents.

#6 Purdue 48, #11 Baylor 27: The young Boilermakers look like they have this game in control.

#8 UNLV 51, #9 Kent State 30: It looks like the Vegas books led me astray and cost me my perfect bracket.

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South Regional Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2008

This is our final regional analysis and we’re running short on time to get them in before your brackets are due. Consequently, our analysis of the lower seeds will be very brief.

Teams
#1 Memphis:We can’t remember a #1 seed that has gotten less hype as a potential nation champ or more criticism. We know the Tigers aren’t going to remind anybody of a J.J. Redick shooting video. We know that they play in a relatively weak conference. We also know that they are 33-1 and were a short jumper away from being undefeated. We also know they may be the most talented team in the country. What does this all mean? We have no idea if the Tigers will win the title, but we do know that nobody wants to face Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. They have an easy path to the Sweet 16 where they could face a very difficult challenge in Pitt. Schedule/Roster.

#2 Texas:In their first year AD (After Durant), Rick Barnes brings the Longhorns back to the tournament with a much better team even if certain LA residents who like to claim allegiance to Boston sports teams without suffering through the winter don’t care about them (or college basketball) any more. These Longhorns are led by All-American candidate D.J. Augustin (19.8 PPG and 5.7 APG) who brings a strong supporting cast with him to the NCAA tournament. Although they are the #2 seed, some might argue they are the favorites in the region thanks to the committee’s ridiculous decision to give them homecourt in the regional finals. That and the fact that they already have been UCLA and Tennessee this season. If they meet Memphis in Houston, the NBA scouts will definitely be watching for the great PG matchup (Rose vs. Augustin). Schedule/Roster

#3 Stanford: We actually have quite seen quite a few Cardinal games this year thanks to FSN. With Brook Lopez clearing that little issue of going to class, Stanford has become a very good team. Despite playing West #1 seed UCLA close two times in the past 2 weeks, we don’t think Lopez has the support to get Stanford by either the Longhorns (in Houston) or Memphis (anywhere other than Palo Alto) to make it to the Final 4. Schedule/Roster

#4 Pittsburgh:Jamie Dixon’s Panthers have done a great job overcoming injuries since their early-season win over Duke in Madison Square Garden. The Panthers tend to dominate inside with Sam Young and DeJuan Blair, but are yet another good team that struggles at the FT lines (22/44 in the Big East final). While we normally would look at their Big East title as a sign they are ready to make a deep run in the tournament, Pitt has a history of doing well in their conference tourney and failing to reach the Final 4. When we combine that with the fact that their physical style is subject to the tight NCAA tournament officiating (h/t to Jay Bilas), we are unsure about their chances to make it to San Antonio. However, we look forward to seeing Levance Fields against Derrick Rose (and possibly D.J. Augustin) in Houston. Schedule/Roster

#5 Michigan State:It seems like Drew Neitzel has been a Spartan forever. He has grown from a talented if inconsistent player into Tom Izzo’s go-to guy. While he will have difficulty creating against more physical guards, Neitzel finds a way to get it done. If MSU can get there, it should be a very interesting matchup with Pitt in the Sweet 16. If they are to get past the Sweet 16, Neitzel will need a lot of help from Raymar Morgan. Schedule/Roster

#6 Marquette:The Golden Eagles are led by Jerel McNeal, who has overtaken his more hyped teammate Dominic James as the team’s most vital player. While Marquette is not as good as advertised early in the season, but they should be good enough to get by Kentucky, which is a rematch of the 2003 Elite 8 matchup where Dwayne Wade’s triple-double knocked out the last great Wildcat team. Schedule/Roster

#7 Miami (FL): After a torrid 12-0 start (helped by a cupcake schedule), the Hurricanes cooled off in the middle of the season before getting into the Big Dance with some big late season wins most notably over Duke. Miami will be challenged right off the bat by St. Mary’s. To be honest, their potential 2nd round matchup may be easier than playing St. Mary’s despite what the seeds say. Schedule/Roster

#8 Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were able to survive the falling Georgia Dome, but they were unable to withstand their buzzsaw namesakes from Athens, Georgia. MSU is led offensively by Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes and defensively by the human eraser known as Jarvis Varnado. We think they should be able to get by Oregon before meeting a tougher challenge in the 2nd round. Schedule/Roster

#9 Oregon: Perhaps no team has received more criticism for their seed than the Ducks. They made the tournament by winning their last 3 regular season conference games, but we question their ability to make a serious run as they lost every game down the stretch to the top Pac-10 teams including the ones at the vaunted McArthur Court. Schedule/Roster

#10 Saint Mary’s: The Gaels, led by Patrick Mills and Diamon Simpson, are a quick, athletic team that sports wins over Oregon and Gonzaga. However, they struggle with more physical teams that slow the tempo down. This may not matter as they probably won’t play a slow-paced team before they are knocked out. Schedule/Roster

#11 Kentucky: Billy Gillispie has done an outstanding job salvaging this season, which started out so poorly with a loss at home to Gardner-Webb in the 2nd game of the Wildcat season. This is a pretty mediocre Kentucky team especially with the loss of their best player Patrick Paterson to injury. However, Gillispie has molded the team’s style (slow the game down and limit possessions) to maximize what he has. Kentucky isn’t nearly good enough to make a run in the tournament, but they might be able to pull of an upset or two. Schedule/Roster

#12 Temple: The Owls come in having won the Atlantic 10 tournament title, which sends a pretty strong signal that they are playing well late in the season. When you watch, Temple you will realize these aren’t Don Chaney’s Owls. Instead of relying on their physicality, these Owls are very explosive led by Dionte Christmas (20.2 PPG and 6.0 RPG) and Mark Tyndale (15.9 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 4.3 APG). They should provide the Spartans with a stiff challenge in the first round. Schedule/Roster

#13 Oral Roberts: While Oral Roberts is led by 5’9″ guard Robert Jarvis, their hallmark is their relentless defense. Unfortunately for them, they will be facing what is potentially the most physical team in the tournament in the first round. Schedule/Roster

#14 Cornell: The Ivy League champs usually can at least taunt opposing fans that they will usually be the boss of the fans of the team that is kicking their ass. Unforunately for Cornell and their fans, they play Stanford so they don’t even have that to hang their hat on this year. Schedule/Roster

#15 Austin Peay: They have absolutely no shot against a talented and tough Longhorn team. Schedule/Roster

#16 Texas-Arlington: We give them 5 minutes before their game against Memphis gets out of hand. Just way too much athleticism on Memphis’s side. Texans may get some form of revenge in the regional finals. Schedule/Roster

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