Summer School in the ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on September 7th, 2010

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the ACC and an occasional contributor.

Around The ACC:

  • Encore, Encore: Duke won the national title by toppling Butler in a hard-fought final, but unlike recent championship squads, there’s no major mass exodus of talent from Durham (unless you’re related to Jon Scheyer or Brian Zoubek), so the Blue Devils will have a legit chance to repeat.
  • New Faces, New Places: Former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, best known for elevating the Big Red from NCAA Tournament floormat to the Sweet 16, takes the lead for Boston College. Another import is former Wright State general Brad Brownell, who will lead Clemson after the departure of Oliver Purnell. Brownell previously served at UNC-Wilmington, so it shouldn’t take long for him to reopen that pipeline. Lastly, Jeff Bzdelik comes to Winston-Salem, hoping to provide Wake Forest with long-term stability.
  • No News Is Good News: Rumors came and went surrounding conference realignment, but in the end, the ACC held steady amongst the national wave of teams changing conferences.

McDonald's All-American Kyrie Irving looks to complement an already-stacked Blue Devils squad on their way to a repeat.

Power Rankings (last season’s conference and overall records in parentheses)

  1. Duke (13-3, 35-5): The Blue Devils don’t rebuild, they just reload. Losing Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek hurts, but when Coach K gets back from Turkey, he’ll be happy to see familiar faces in Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Mason and Miles Plumlee. College basketball fans everywhere can also rejoice in another season of Curry, as Stephen’s brother Seth is eligible to play after transferring in 2009, and Kyrie Irving (West Orange, NJ) makes his long-awaited debut. The frontcourt will have to pick up for the loss of Zoubek, but with this much talent to being with and Josh Hairston arriving in Durham, I don’t think it’ll be a problem.
    BETTER OR WORSE?: If you can believe it, I think Duke might be even better. They can’t top last year’s national title, obviously, but I don’t see any other ACC team touching them for the regular season title.
  2. Virginia Tech (10-6, 25-9): The Hokies lose no one. I repeat: NO ONE. Find me another team in the nation that doesn’t lose a key contributor. With one of the ACC’s most exciting players, Malcolm Delaney, coming back, Tech also learned its lesson from NCAA snubs in the past and scheduled at least a couple interesting nonconference games, including Kansas State (away), Purdue, Penn State, Mississippi State and possibly Oklahoma State, depending on how the 76 Classic plays out in Anaheim.
    BETTER OR WORSE?: Better, at least by enough to not be sweating it out come Selection Sunday. Whether they can make noise in March, no one really knows, but the Hokies will dance this season.
  3. Boston College (6-10, 15-16): Experience, experience, experience. No one has more of it in the ACC than the Eagles. BC’s new coach, former Cornell boss Steve Donahue, has more Sweet 16 experience than most coaches in the ACC. Don’t underestimate the Eagles this season (this coming from a Boston University grad and card-carrying BC hater). With so much youth all around the ACC, BC’s experience will be invaluable, and Donahue was an absolute no-brainer to replace Al Skinner.
    BETTER OR WORSE?: Better – much better. With Corey Raji, Joe Trapani and others leading the way, BC will join NC State as the league’s most improved teams, and should get an NCAA invite. Now if only they’d man up and put my alma mater back on their schedule. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Tourney Daily Diary: Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the ACC Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the quarterfinal games.

Duke 57, Virginia 46

  • Virginia was again playing without second team all-ACC Sylven Landesberg, who was suspended by head coach Tony Bennett for the remainder of the season due to academic issues, and senior guard Calvin Baker, who left the team for personal reasons.
  • Sammy Zeglinski did not score in today’s game after leading the team yesterday with 21 points. Duke did a good job of limiting his open looks and keeping him out of the lane. He shot 0-9 from the floor, 0-4 from three point range.
  • Duke got its usual production from the big three of Singler, Scheyer, and Smith, accounting for 48 of the team’s 57 points. No other player had more than three points. This is going to bite Duke hard at some point, because one of those players is going to have an off night, and that will spell doom for their NCAA run. This looks like no better than an Elite Eight team, but I could easily see them losing in the Sweet 16.
  • Give Virginia credit, they scared Duke for about 33 of the 40 minutes. They fought hard on both ends and did not back down. Tony Bennett’s team may not always be the prettiest thing to watch, but they do compete. This could be a very solid program in a few years after Bennett has a couple of recruiting classes under his belt.

Miami 70, Virginia Tech 65

  • Miami starting PF Dwayne Collins was again not available for today’s game due to a “stress condition” of his left leg. Reggie Johnson, who scored a career high 22 points yesterday versus Wake, replaced him in the starting lineup. This game was not nearly as successful for him, scoring only five points.
  • Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer at 20.5 ppg, was held to seven points on 3-15 shooting today, one of his worst performances all season. He was short on just about every shot, including an airball from three on Tech’s last possession.
  • Miami pulled off their second consecutive upset in as many days, having defeated the 4th and 5th seeds. No one was happier than coach Frank Haith, except for maybe the Duke fans who were cheering the loudest. They will now see a worn-down Hurricane team for a chance to advance to the championship game. As usual, the lucky ones get luckier.
  • Who needs Dwayne Collins? Apparently not Miami. They’re playing better now than at any point since the conference season began. No Collins clogging up the middle allows the lightning quick guards to penetrate for either a lay up or a dish for three. The threes didn’t fall today (4-16) as much as yesterday, but continued penetration put Miami on the line, where they were 83% yesterday and 76% today.

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ACC Tourney Daily Diary: 1st Round

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the ACC Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the 1st round games.

Virginia 68, Boston College 62

  • Virginia was playing without second team all-ACC Sylven Landesberg, who was suspended by head coach Tony Bennett for the remainder of the season due to academic issues.
  • Virginia opened a 34-27 halftime lead mostly in part to 6-11 (55%) 3-point shooting, compared to only 3-8 (38%) for BC.
  • This was a clean, well-played game with both teams combining for only 12 turnovers (UVa – 5, BC-7), but not a thrilling game by anybody’s definition.
  • Virginia held BC’s leading scorer, Joe Trapani, to 2 points on 0-7 shooting. Maybe he should consider transferring back to Vermont.
  • BC’s Corey Raji injured his shoulder during the game. “We’ll let the doctors look at it, and hopefully rest will do it.”

Miami 83, Wake Forest 62

  • Miami starting PF Dwayne Collins was not available for today’s game due to a “stress condition” of his left leg. Redshirt freshman big man Reggie Johnson, from Wake’s backyard in Winston-Salem, got the start in his place, scoring a career-high 22 points. Even without Collins, Miami still outrebounded the taller Deacons 39-34 for the game.
  • Wake’s 2nd team all-ACC forward Al-Farouq Aminu again pulled a disappearing act, as he has been oft to do. He managed only 11 points on 3-10 shooting and 7 rebounds, a less than stellar performance for a supposed lottery pick. This kid pulls more disappearing acts than Lance Burton. If he’s ready for the NBA, then so am I. Maybe he should spend less time tweeting and more time finding out why he’s slumping. He needs another year of college ball, because he doesn’t have the body or the handle to be effective in the NBA next year.
  • #12 Miami led 41-27 over #5 Wake Forest at the half. Miami opened the second half on an 8-0 run, extending their lead to 22. Their lead never dropped below 16 points in the second half. Miami was unconscious from the floor, shooting 52% for the game versus Wake’s 35%.
  • Wake Forest never displayed the ability to keep Miami’s guards, particularly freshman Malcolm Grant, out of the lane. Wake’s usually stingy 3-point defense, which held teams to 32% during the regular season, was torched by Miami for 47% (8-17).
  • Wake Forest is in their annual end of the year slump, which coach Dino Gaudio can’t explain. “I thought we were tired down the stretch last year, so we changed things this year, going with more time off.” Guess what coach, that hasn’t worked either. Maybe he’ll be able to explain why he doesn’t have a job this time next year.

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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2010

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

After weeks and weeks of mediocre matchups, we have FINALLY been rewarded with a big week of games to talk about. So let’s get right to it.

(Plus, my prognostication got off to a great start – just call me Joe Lunardi. Wait, I’m not that nerdy.)

ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Tuesday, Jan. 12)

1. Duke (13-2, 1-1)

PAST: The Blue Devils stay atop our rankings, despite the “upset” loss at Georgia Tech (if I see one more person call it an upset – I’m looking at you, ESPN, with your “Upset Alert” – I’m gonna scream). Duke lost to a very good team and in a very tough venue. They showed a few chinks in the armor – namely their lack of any sort of depth – but it was not enough to cost them the top spot here.

FUTURE: Two home games this week – Wednesday against Boston College and Saturday against Wake Forest. Guess which one will be the bigger test?

2. North Carolina (12-4, 1-0)

PAST: We didn’t really have time here last week to talk about the loss at Charleston. Is it one that would bother me if I were a UNC fan? Yes. Would I get hung up on it? Absolutely not. Any time a team like UNC takes a non-traditional road trip like that, the home team and its fans prepare for the biggest game ever on campus. With the players and fans amped up, it’s a tough test for even the best teams. As for Sunday’s win over Virginia Tech? It proved just how experienced and talented teams respond to tough losses.

FUTURE: The Heels face the toughest week of anyone in the league, traveling to Clemson on Wednesday and hosting Georgia Tech on Saturday. If UNC and Duke both go 2-0 this week, we might have a close race atop the rankings.

3. Georgia Tech (12-3, 1-1)

PAST: If the Yellow Jackets had not lost at Georgia, they might have leapt over UNC this week. But Saturday’s win over Duke was enough to make Tech fans forget about that in-state loss. Gani Lawal is emerging as an all-around force, not only scoring 21 points, but also dominating the vaunted Duke frontcourt in the second half, as Georgia Tech out-boarded the Devils 26-12.

FUTURE: After a semi-trap game Wednesday at Virginia, Tech heads to Chapel Hill Saturday for what is easily the ACC game of the week.

4. Wake Forest (11-3, 1-1)

PAST: This is where this gets interesting. I debated bumping Wake down after a one-point loss at Miami, but I’ve never been one to overreact too much to one game, and Wake’s three losses are Purdue, William & Mary and now Miami. They’re on shaky ground here, but I still have faith in the Deacons.

FUTURE: Wake hosts Maryland Tuesday and heads to Duke on Sunday.

5. Miami (15-1, 1-1)

PAST: The Miami win over Wake may not have cost the Deacons a spot, but it bumped the Hurricanes up a few places. Yes, their schedule still stinks, but the Hurricanes proved they can share the court with a real Division I team. Dwayne Collins led the way on Saturday, with 23 and 11, as Miami continued its best start in half a century. But as the schedule proves, that’s all relative.

FUTURE: The ’Canes travel through Virginia this week, facing Virginia Tech on Wednesday and Virginia on Saturday. Both will be tough games, but if Miami wants to be taken seriously in the ACC, they need to win both.

6. Clemson (13-3, 1-1)

PAST: The win over Boston College isn’t enough to bump Clemson up one spot – but everyone else at this mid-level faltered this week, so this was really a process of elimination.

FUTURE: Clemson hosts UNC Wednesday and heads to N.C. State on Saturday.

7. Virginia Tech (12-2, 0-1)

PAST: Yes, I know the Hokies didn’t post a win this week – losing their only game, at North Carolina. But compared to the rest of the middle-ground, I still find the most promise in Blacksburg. Last week, I said I wanted to see how the Hokies fared with a healthy Malcolm Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson in the lineup. The pair combined for 40 points, but the Hokies let things get away from them in the second half against UNC. Nothing to be ashamed about, especially in Chapel Hill.

FUTURE: The Hokies host Miami Wednesday and head to Florida State Saturday.

8. Florida State (13-3, 1-1)

PAST: In their only game this week, Florida State lost at Maryland. So far, it looks like the same old FSU team: one that struggles away from Tallahassee, and loses to mediocre/good teams.

FUTURE: The Seminoles host N.C. State Tuesday and Virginia Tech Saturday. At least they’re at home.

9. Virginia (9-4, 1-0)

PAST: The Cavaliers posted a very nice comeback win at N.C. State, thanks largely to 23 points from Sylven Landesberg. Virginia is tough to figure out so far, but we should learn more this week…

FUTURE: …with home games vs. Georgia Tech (Wednesday) and Miami (Saturday). A split would be really nice for the Cavaliers, methinks.

10. Maryland (10-4, 1-0)

PAST: A one-spot jump for Greivis Vasquez and Co. after a strong (how strong is to be debated) win over Florida State at home. Maryland nearly let a big lead slip away in that one, and won’t have much time to recover…

FUTURE: … before a Tuesday trip to Wake Forest. They also play at Boston College on Saturday. The Terps desperately need two wins to move up to where I think they belong in these rankings.

11. N.C. State (11-5, 0-2)

PAST: I really do feel for the Wolf Pack. They seem to have some talent, but they keep losing heartbreakers. Now, with a home loss to Virginia, you can add losses they really shouldn’t suffer at all.

FUTURE: The Pack heads to Florida State Tuesday and hosts Clemson Saturday.

12. Boston College (10-6, 1-1)

PAST: The Eagles were never really in it in a 16-point loss at Clemson.

FUTURE: Wednesday’s game at Duke could be ugly. Saturday’s home game against Maryland shouldn’t be close either, but moody Maryland might play down to its competition again.

WEEK THAT WAS…

GANI TIME, GANI-WHERE: Derrick Favors may have gotten all the preseason hype, but try to watch a Georgia Tech game and tell me that Gani Lawal isn’t the most impressive player on the floor. My DVR flamed out for most of the Duke-Georgia Tech game (blame the wife, I was away for the weekend), but I did catch the last 10 minutes or so. And Lawal seemed to have his way with the Duke frontcourt. Sure, Duke missed 22 of its 28 3-pointers, which didn’t help its cause, but with Lawal dominating like this and Favors growing up with each game, Georgia Tech can only get better.

HOW TO TREAT MIAMI?: The Hurricanes are an impressive 15-1, but nearly all of those 15 wins are against the hyphens and ampersands of the world (UNC-Wilmington, USC-Upstate, North Carolina A&T ). This week’s win over Wake Forest was a good place to start, and players like Dwayne Collins, Malcolm Grant and James Dews are talented enough to keep up in the ACC. But no one will believe in the Hurricanes unless they can win some tough ACC games – and do it on the road.

CRYSTAL BALL TIME…

I went 3-for-5 in my first week, including the Georgia Tech “upset.” From here on in, we’ll keep track of overall win/loss record. And if you want to join in, just add on your predictions to my five games of the week.

LAST WEEK’S CORRECT PICKS

DUKE AT GEORGIA TECH

  • My prediction: Georgia Tech by 2
  • Actual result: Georgia Tech by 4

FLORIDA STATE at MARYLAND

  • My prediction: Maryland by 5
  • Actual result: Maryland by 9

VIRGINIA TECH at NORTH CAROLINA

  • My prediction: North Carolina by 10
  • Actual result: North Carolina by 14

LAST WEEK’S INCORRECT PICKS

VIRGINIA at N.C. STATE

  • My prediction: N.C. State by 4.
  • Actual result: Virginia by 8

WAKE FOREST at MIAMI

  • My prediction: Wake Forest by 8
  • Actual result: Miami by 1

THIS WEEK’S PREDICTIONS

MARYLAND at WAKE FOREST (Tuesday, 8 p.m., RAYCOM).  Wake Forest rebounds, and Maryland stays moody: Wake Forest by 9

MIAMI at VIRGINIA TECH (Wednesday, 7 p.m.).  Miami realizes what it’s like to play a tough road game, and falls hard: Virginia Tech by 10

NORTH CAROLINA at CLEMSON (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ESPN).  The toughest game to pick of the week. I see UNC eking one out on the road: UNC by 3

GEORGIA TECH at NORTH CAROLINA (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN).  My upset of the week comes as the Heels come home from Clemson: Georgia Tech by 2

WAKE FOREST at DUKE (Sunday, 8 p.m., FSN).  Duke finds its 3-point stroke, and its frontcourt scoring: Duke by 6

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ATB: Big Ten Victorious on Comeback Wednesday

Posted by rtmsf on December 3rd, 2009

atb

Wisconsin: First RTC of the Season? If anyone knows of another one, let us know.  But this is the first one we’ve seen this year.  But c’mon Musberger, get it right!  RUSH.  THE.  COURT.  (Ed. note – apparently UNLV fans RTC’d on Saturday after defeating Louisville, which is about as unjustified of an RTC as we’ve ever heard of… goodness gracious, folks, it’s Vegas.  And beating an overrated Louisville team excites you?)

Story of the NightBig Ten Finally Gets Monkey Off Its Back.  It didn’t turn out the way we thought it would tonight, but it did end up as a 6-5 victory for the Big Ten schools over their ACC counterparts.  Two unexpected events conspired to make this possible — Illinois’ inspirational comeback win at Clemson after being down by as many as 23 points in the second half, and Wisconsin’s home victory over Duke in the type of game the Blue Devils always seem to win (because, well, they do — Duke was 10-0 in the ACC/B10 Challenge prior to tonight).  These two surprises combined with Ohio State’s expected win over Florida State at the end of the evening resulted in three straight victories at the end of the Challenge to put the midwesterners on top for the first time EVER.  So what does that mean?  Does it prove once and for all that the Big Ten is better than the ACC this year?  Well, not at all.  In fact, if anything, this year’s Challenge has shown us that the middle of the ACC might be a tad bit stronger than we thought it was (Wake, Miami, BC, Clemson).  Now… about our predictions for tonight.  Regression to the mean is the lesson here.  After a perfect 6-0 start over the first two evenings of play, it all crashed and burned with a 1-4 record tonight.  But yeah, at least we called it, baby!  That’s all that matters!  6-5 Big Ten over the ACC, just like we said!*

*note – our Caribbean friends disagree with this assessment.

Game of the Night #1. Wisconsin 73, #5 Duke 69. Duke took its first ever loss in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge tonight for two reasons as we saw them.  First, their big men other than Kyle Singler (28/6/3 assts) were virtually nonexistent.  Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and the Plumlee brothers combined for just six points and fourteen rebounds.  Compare that with 16/27 against UConn last week, and you’ll see that almost all of the scoring burden fell onto the Duke backcourt + Singler.  Second, Wisconsin’s Trevon Hughes was spectacular tonight.  The senior guard shredded the Duke defense for a career-high 26 pts, using an assortment of drives to the basket to go along with a solid outside stroke (4-7 threes).  After taking an 11-pt lead with five minutes to go, though, Duke guard Andre Dawkins nearly brought the Devils back all by himself, hitting three straight triples to cut the lead down to 2 with two minutes left.  It appeared that this was going to be one of those epic Duke comeback wins, but UW ran clock down the stretch (surprise) and when Singler missed a wild layup attempt off the bottom of the backboard with under thirty seconds left, it was clear the Badgers were going to take the win tonight.  One odd situation occurred in the very last few plays, when color commentator Bob Knight seemed to lose his mind for a moment as he stated that Wisconsin was “for sure” at worst going to overtime after only going up two with 4.9 seconds left (he clearly thought they were up three), and then contemplated whether Trevon Hughes should intentionally miss his second FT (again, thinking up three).  What’s that phrase coaches like to use?  Time and score? Can you imagine if one of Knight’s players had made a similar mistake at such a key juncture?  Maybe now we know why Texas Tech wasn’t nearly as good as Knight’s Indiana teams — he wasn’t paying attention!

Game of the Night #2Illinois 76, #19 Clemson 74. What can you say about Bruce Weber’s young backcourt of Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson tonight other than we’re extremely impressed.  There is absolutely no way that Clemson should have lost this game.  The Tigers ran out to a 20-pt halftime lead, pushed it up to 23 early in the second half, and had Littlejohn rocking.  But Weber’s kids dug deep, showed the kind of composure that belies their age, and dropped a combined five threes in the next ten minutes of a 35-10 run that got the Illini back into the game and ultimately allowed them an opportunity to steal this one away from Clemson and the ACC.  The Clemson players suggested that they relaxed after getting such a big lead, and from our viewpoint, there’s probably something to that.  It certainly appeared that Illinois was the team with the drive and moxie throughout most of the second half, and when it came down to Demontez Stitt’s driving layup attempt at the buzzer, we just had a feeling that it wasn’t going down.  It didn’t, and Illinois has a rallying cry for the rest of this season no matter how badly they’re playing.  Mike Davis had 22/9 for the Illini, but as mentioned above, it was the youthful backcourt of Paul and Richardson (34/8/5 assts) that made tonight happen.

Game of the Night #3.  #21 UNLV 74, Arizona 72 (2OT).  The Runnin’ Rebels justified their shiny new Top 25 ranking by taking to the road for the first time this season, heading down to Arizona, and knocking off the Wildcats in double-overtime.  Despite poor overall shooting from both teams (UNLV 39.7%, UA 36.5%; both teams less than 20% from three!) this one was neck-and-neck from the tip, as neither team ever led by more than six points the whole way.  Arizona got up three in the second OT but UNLV’s Derrick Jasper (12/7/5/3 stls) hit one from deep to tie it at 70, and the Wildcats never led after that.  Tre’Von Willis continued to carve his name out on the national scene with 25/4 for the Rebs, and Arizona got a huge game from freshman forward Derrick Williams with 28/5 on 10-15 shooting.  This kind of win in such a difficult and hostile setting can only help Lon Kruger’s club, which has a few easy ones coming up except for a home game against Kansas State thrown in there on 12/12.  If they can get by those Wildcats, there’s a very good chance UNLV will be 12-0 going into a pair of tough road games in early January at BYU and at (currently undefeated) New Mexico. 

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Deep South

Posted by zhayes9 on September 29th, 2009

impactplayers

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?

Deep South Region (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX)

south_impact

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.
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06.08.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2009

Another week has started, and we’re within one week of the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline, so let’s see who’s returning…

  • LSU’s Tasmin Mitchell will return to Baton Rouge for his senior season (smart move).
  • Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds is leaning toward a return to the Main Line for his senior year (also a smart move).
  • Arizona’s Nic Wise will also return for his senior season (a wise move, indeed).
  • Miami (FL)’s Dwayne Collins has wisened up and will also be back for his senior season (yep, these guys are getting it).
  • Memphis players continue to jump ship, with Shawn Taggart now deciding to forgo his senior season (not a great move, but he’s already 24 and who knows what penalties Memphis may face next season).
  • Tennessee’s Tyler Smith is still thinking about returning, but he’s also considering going to Europe to start his professional career.  While on the subject of collegians moving to Europe, Luke Winn explores the issue a little further in the context of Nick Calathes’ decision to play in Greece.
  • Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague injured his knee in a workout last week, but is expected to remain in the first round and therefore will most likely stay in the draft.

Some other news bouncing around the early summer months…

  • Memphis made its defense to the NCAA on Saturday, and we pretty much agree with most of what Gary Parrish writes here.  Details are scarce as to what was actually said at the hearing, but Kentucky’s John Calipari did phone in from China, and Memphis official stated on the record that they feel that they’d made their case to the NCAA.  Not sure what else they could say in that spot though.  Memphis should hear something from the NCAA in 6-8 weeks.
  • The Shane Battier Memorial Rule will be in effect beginning next season.  Wonderful.
  • We really don’t have a good feeling about the long-term prospects of Josh Pastner at Memphis.  Nothing against the kid, but Calipari is just too tough of a situation there to follow.  He’s showing his recruiting chops already, but can he coach?
  • In a cost-cutting measure, three Big Ten schools (Michigan, Ohio St., Wisconsin) are eliminating their annual media guides for their sports teams.  We’d expect this to be a major trend in the next few months nationwide.   The NCAA is also lending a hand by suspending members’ dues this upcoming year.
  • A Tennessee congressman named Steve Cohen is petitioning the NBA to change its “one-and-done” rule.  Interesingly, his district includes Memphis, who is of course dealing with the Derrick Rose fiasco.  Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt took offense at some of Cohen’s comments about his former player, Thaddeus Young, and is now demanding an apology.
  • Former Razorback Patrick Beverley threw Arkansas under the bus in an interview with DraftExpress when he said, “Someone from Arkansas was doing papers, was doing me and some of my teammates’ papers…”
  • UK countersues Billy Gillispie.  This could be really fun.
  • Gary Parrish explores Billy Donovan’s thoughts on the Orlando Magic making the NBA Finals two years after he backed out of his commitment to coach that team.
  • In a bit of a shock, Fairleigh Dickinson fired head coach Tom Green after 26 years of loyal service, including four NCAA Tournament appearances and 407 wins at the school.
  • UT-Martin’s head coach, Bret Campbell, resigned after an internal audit found that he had deposited $20k in basketball camp checks directly into his personal account.
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04.09.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 9th, 2009

Would the word flood be an appropriate representation?

  • Early Entry Fatigue.  LSU’s Tasmin Mitchell will test the waters, but he won’t sign with an agent.  Ditto for Memphis’ Shawn Taggart.  And Miami (FL)’s Dwayne Collins has the same idea.   UCLA’s Jrue Holiday is a bit of a surprise given how he struggled at the end of the season, but he too will take a dip
  • Curry Watch.  One player who has yet to throw his hat in the ring is Davidson’s Stephen Curry.  Will he be back to make a run at Pete Maravich’s all-time scoring record next season?
  • Nice raise.  Alabama’s new coach Anthony Grant will earn $1.8M annually through the term of his seven-year contract.
  • Nobody?  It’s really hard for us to believe that nobody currently in D1 wanted this guy after he did a pretty good job keeping the Arizona program together this season. 
  • Xavier Coaching Search.  Word is that assistant coach Chris Mack is the most likely candidate to take over for the departed Sean Miller. 
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Breaking News: Curry to Transfer

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2009

Ok. It’s not that Curry (Stephen). It’s actually his little brother Seth Curry, a freshman at Liberty, who has decided to transfer after bowing out in the CollegeInsider.com tournament to James Madison. After being lightly recruited out of high school (when will scouts and college coaches learn), Curry led all freshman in scoring at 20.2 PPG. Curry has not listed any of his potential choices and college coaches are not allowed to comment on potential transfers so at the very least Seth will keep college basketball message boards abuzz for the next couple of weeks.

Credit: ESPN.com

Credit: ESPN.com

Obviously, Liberty’s coach Ritchie McKay is a little disappointed, but he seems to be handling it in stride (did you hear that Randy Shannon?). Here is Curry’s prepared statement:

Today I am announcing that I will not be returning to Liberty for my sophomore year. This is a difficult decision that I have reached after close consultation with my family and others close to me, and it is based on my desire to develop as an athlete to the fullest of my potential and take advantage of new opportunities that may be available to me in a higher rated conference.

My freshman year at Liberty has been an incredible experience. It has been a time of learning, growth and discovery of my potential as a person, a student and an athlete. For that I am deeply indebted to all of those who have influenced and supported me here – Coach McKay and his staff, my great teammates, my teachers, and my friends.

You have given me memories that will last a lifetime, and for that I cannot find words to express my gratitude.

Thank you,

Seth

Any guesses on where he is headed? There are a couple interesting potential legacy destinations: Davidson (replace his brother) or Virginia Tech (his father’s alma mater–helping Seth Greenberg save some face and get in the NCAA tournament, but that bridge may have been burned). Or will Seth go to another big-name program? There are plenty of other programs that could use a guy who averaged over 20 PPG as a freshman and averaged 25 PPG on 55% FG in 2 games against ACC opponents (Clemson and Virginia) this year. I would think he would want to stay relatively close to home (Charlotte area) and be in a starring role at a place where he could take over in a year so I would think that would exclude a place like UNC or Duke, but I could see him at Wake Forest or NC State (potentially saving Sidney Lowe‘s job) particularly since all of their current stars leaving by then. I don’t think a move west will be as likely, but who knows if a BCS coach promises him an offense that will showcase his skills. . .

Update: I just found a quote from McKay in a Lynchberg, VA newspaper blog that seems to suggest that Curry is ACC-bound:

“They only gave us one,“ McKay said. “He wanted to play in a more high profile league. He said it was nothing against us. I genuinely believe that. Seth and I have a great relationship and I love the kid. He enjoyed playing for us and being a part of our program. I think he was frustrated by the constant schemes to stop him and felt like if he was playing in a conference that starts with an ‘A’ and ends with a ‘C,‘ that one of those schools would have some other guys around him that he wouldn’t bear such a brunt of the scoring load. Seth is a tremendously competitive kid, not afraid of any challenge. I don’t fault him. I want what’s best for Seth. It was tough for us. Kind of a one and done deal. But that’s the risk you take when you recruit a really good player.“

Even though McKay doesn’t spell it out for us (he left a letter out), his statement narrows it down to 12 teams:

  • Boston College: Replaces Tyrese Rice in a major media market, but one where there isn’t a major emphasis on college basketball so he wouldn’t have near as much pressure. He would still get to play with Joe Trapani and Rakim Sanders.
  • Clemson: Would replace K.C. Rivers and be relatively close to home. Oliver Purnell‘s program is right around the level where they are relevant nationally, but by no means a powerhouse (at least after conference play starts).
  • Duke: Nope. Too much talent here to run an offense around a guy who isn’t a sure-fire top 5 pick.
  • FSU: Had a very good team this year and Leonard Hamilton did use a one-man show this year in Toney Douglas, but it still seems like an outside shot.
  • Georgia Tech: Interesting choice, but I’m not sure if they Curry family wants Seth to have to go to a place where he would have to revive a program that has fallen on hard times since Jarrett Jack left.
  • Maryland: The Terrapin fans and Gary Williams would love to land Curry who would take over Grievis Vasquez‘s role (without all the yapping).
  • Miami: Living in Coral Gables with South Beach and taking over Jack McClinton‘s role sounds enticing, but this was a 2-man team last year and both of those guys (Dwayne Collins is a junior) will be gone by the time Curry is able to play there.
  • NC State: This would be fairly close to home and at a big-name program albeit one that has fallen a few notches since they let Herb Sendek go. This would have to be a huge addition for a program that has fallen to the #4 program in the state (possibly lower) and could save Lowe’s job.
  • UNC: See Duke.
  • Virginia: No coach = No shot.
  • Virginia Tech: See above. The logical choice if Greenberg hadn’t ignored Dell’s two kids (Stephen and Seth–the first time around).
  • Wake Forest: I could see this as a solid location. Small school similar to Liberty and Davidson, but one with a passionate fan base. He could also have some support depending on how long the current group stays. I am assuming that Jeff Teague would be gone by then or at worst (for Seth’s FG attempts) would only be there one more year. This is a solid darkhorse.
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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.15.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 15th, 2009

dynamite

Welcome back to another edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite. I’m back as your semi-regular host after a day off with John Stevens covering for me. Today is a kind of weird day of basketball with the best games later in the day going head-to-head against the NBA All-Star game. So hopefully everyone will be sticking with us throughout the day and the real basketball fans (the ones who actually like defense and competition) will stay with us into the night.

1:00 PM: Our early games today are Illinois at  Indiana on CBS and Clemson at Virginia on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com. We’ll be updating you with highlights of those games throughout the day, but like always if there is something going on that we are missing or we make a mistake leave us a message in the comment section.

1:10 PM: Illinois is up 10-7 early. Bruce Weber‘s club must be riding high after their amazing comeback at Northwestern in their last game. Clemson is tied 3-3 in Charlottesville with 15:54 left in the first half. I’m guessing today is Sean Singletary day at UVA today based on the parts of the pre-game that I caught. Singletary, a 3-time 1st team All-ACC player, is one of three players in ACC history (Danny Ferry and Johnny Dawkins being the others) to have 2,000 career points, 500 career assists, and 400 career rebounds.

1:25 PM: Illinois is up 15-7 as we go to a TV timeout. CBS just showed a graphic about Indiana’s tough losses this year by featuring the games they led, but lost. You know the Hooisers are having a bad year when having a lead of 2 points at some point during the game is highlighted as a tough loss. Meanwhile, UVA is up 16-7 with 11:54 as they head into a timeout as well.

1:30 PM: I just noticed the electronic board on the side of the court at Assembly Hall. I guess it’s a nice fan friendly feature and probably generates some revenue through ads, but I think it looks horrendous in this famous arena. I haven’t noticed it at Cameron Indoor, but I think they should avoid it in the historic arenas.

1:40 PM: Jeff Jordan just hit a jumper for Illinois. As we noted before, he was recently was given a scholarship at Illinois. For those of you who haven’t seen him play, we think you might have missed his only big play of the day if his performance this season is any indication of what we can expect today. He’ll probably be out there quite a bit since Indiana is awful so watch for #13 on Illinois.

1:45 PM: UVA is up 22-16 coming out of a timeout with 5:11 left in the first half. Illinois is up 27-13 with a little less than 5 minutes left in the first half. I’ll be focusing on the UVA-Clemson game for now unless the Illinois-Indiana game gets interesting.

1:55 PM: UVA is up 33-25 at half. That 3 by Terrence Oglesby with a little over a minute left in the first half was Clemson’s first of the day after the Tigers missed their first 10 straight. The Cavaliers might have a chance if the Tigers continue to have difficulty hitting from the outside. Trevor Booker has had a big first half with 10 of Clemson’s 25 points, but it wasn’t enough as none of the other Tigers are playing well today. Illinois is up 38-21 at half.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Set Your Tivos: 02.07.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Set Your Tivos
I’m not sure why everyone complains about February. Sure the NFL season is over, but at least we don’t need to hear about steroids, holdouts, and whether or not both feet were in bounds. There isn’t a blockbuster “Game of the Year” match-up today, but there are several solid games for the hoops aficionado. So just settle into your favorite spot on the couch and dig in. In the spirit of promoting healthy habits, we suggest that you try to have some vegetables today so use some ketchup on your food today.

#20 Syracuse at #16 Villanova at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The appetizer for a great day of basketball. This isn’t necessarily a must win for either team, but a win today would probably boost their NCAA seed by at least a spot on Selection Sunday. Both teams have virtually assured themselves a NCAA bid (particularly with Syracuse’s relatively easy remaining schedule in the Big East). One of the more interesting aspects of this game is that if the Orangemen lose, there is a decent chance that they will drop out of the top 25 leaving the Big East with only 5 teams in the top 25 after having as many as 9 teams earlier this season. Anyways, back to the game. Watch the match-up at point guard featuring Jonny Flynn against Scottie Reynolds. The winner of that match-up will likely win the game barring an explosion by either Eric Devendorf or Dante Cunningham.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Cincinnati at Georgetown at Noon on The Big East Network, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Georgetown is killing me this year. I saw them play in Orlando against Tennessee in the Old Spice Classic. They lost that game, but it was pretty clear to me that day that they had the talent to make it to the Sweet 16 at the very least. I never imagined that they might be in a position at this point in the season that they might not make the NCAA tournament. To be fair, at that time I was also operating under the assumption that Tennessee was good. The Hoyas were able to break their 5-game losing streak against Rutgers and will need to beat the Bearcats if they want to get some momentum heading into their game against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. If John Thompson III is able to figured out a way to keep Deonta Vaughn in check, the Hoyas should be able to ride Greg Monroe and DaJuan Summer to a victory.

Notre Dame at #12 UCLA at 1 PM on CBS: The Irish are desperate for a victory having lost 6 straight games. They will have to end their losing streak in one of the rare non-conference match-ups this month. Everybody knows Luke Harangody is going to get his (25.3 PPG and 13.2 RPG), but Notre Dame will need Kyle McAlarney to break out of his prolonged shooting slump and get a great game out of Tory Jackson, who will be matched up against the Bruins veteran PG, Darren Collison. Look for UCLA to pull away in the 2nd half behind Collison, Josh Shipp, and Jrue Holiday.

Miami (FL) at #3 Duke at 1:30 PM on Raycom, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: I’m fully expecting Duke to come back strong at home after the massacre at Littlejohn on Wednesday night, which is something that rtmsf actually predicted before the game (sort of), but nobody picked up on until after the game. (Ok, nobody has really picked up on it yet.) On the other hand, Miami was on the right side of the other blowout upset beating Wake Forest by 27. Look for Kyle Singler to rebound with a strong game after a weak “effort” against Clemson that was plagued by foul trouble. Coach K will likely use Gerald Henderson, the only Blue Devil who showed up against Clemson, on Jack McClinton in an attempt to slow down the mercurial Miami star. If Singler and Henderson can contain or at least equal Dwayne Collins and McClinton, respectively, the Blue Devils should return to their winning ways. Well at least until UNC invades Cameron on Wednesday night.

kyle-singler

#17 Texas at Nebraska at 2 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Texas will be looking to rebound after back-to-back losses on the road. Today, they return to Austin to take on the Cornhuskers. Look for A.J. Abrams and Damion James to have big games as Rick Barnes‘s squad will definitely be motivated in this one after falling 3.5 back of conference leader Oklahoma. If Abrams and James have big games that should be enough to hold off Nebraska’s balanced attack.

Michigan at #1 UConn at 6 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: This is a game that the Huskies should be able to win fairly convincingly particularly with the game in Gampel Pavillion, but as this year has taught us never expect too much out of the #1 ranked team in the country. A Michigan win would obviously do wonders for their NCAA tournament chances, but it will tough particularly with John Beilein‘s recent changes in his rotations including bringing DeShawn Sims off the bench in their 71-51 win over Penn State in their last game. The new lineup, which is still led by Manny Harris, may provide some match-up problems for UConn and their big men. I expect UConn to pull this one especially with the recent play of Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien, but Michigan could give them problems and Beilein certainly knows all about the Huskies dating back to his days as the coach at West Virginia.

Charleston at Davidson at 6 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Most people will tune in just to watch Stephen Curry, but this could actually be a realtively close game (a rarity for the Wildcats in the weak Southern Conference). When these teams met earlier this season, the Wildcats escaped with a 4-point win on the road after Charleston had a chance to tie it with a 3 with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game. This is particularly meaningful as the Wildcats haven’t lost a Southern Conference game since January 20, 2007 (a 43-game winning streak). As an added bonus, you can see Bobby Cremins (former head coach of Georgia Tech) try to come up with a scheme to guard Curry. Cremins is one of the few coaches in the country who has had a player who was at Curry’s level or even above that as he coached Kenny Anderson (along with Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver aka “Lethal Weapon 3″) to the NCAA Final 4 in 1991.

www.zimbio.com
Credit: www.zimbio.com

Florida State at #10 Clemson at 7 PM on NESN and Fox Sports: I’m actually more interested in this game than the others for my own selfish reason since I’ll be doing another RTC Live when Clemson comes to Boston College on Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers have returned to Earth after their beatdown the hated Blue Devils just a few days ago. Oliver Purnell‘s squad had better be ready because the Seminoles are a fairly dangerous team (ask Roy Williams, who needed a Ty Lawson 3 at the buzzer to pull out a win against FSU). This is a classic letdown game so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on it especially if Toney Douglas gets hot or if either Trevor Booker or K.C. Rivers isn’t on his game after the celebrations following the Duke win.

#19 Minnesota at Ohio State at 8 PM on The Big Ten Network: Minnesota will be licking its wounds after getting crushed by Michigan State at the Breslin Center earlier this week. Unfortunately for Tubby Smith, the Gophers have to head to Columbus to take on a Buckeye team that just knocked off Purdue. If Evan Turner is hot, the Buckeyes could make a move into the top 25 with a win here knocking the Gophers out in the process.

#23 Arizona State at Oregon State at 8:30 PM on Fox Sports: James Harden and the Sun Devils will be looking to complete the Oregon sweep against Craig Robinson‘s Beavers. [Ed. Note: Isn't Robinson related to some famous guy? I thought I heard something about it on the news.] The Beavers, who were undefeated following Barack Obama‘s Inauguration, finally lost to Arizona ending Oregon State’s hopes of riding Obama-mania to an undefeated term. If the Sun Devils can contain Calvin Haynes, they should hand the Beavers a second consecutive defeat.

Do you pay your taxes?
No, Mr. President. I’m not Reggie Love.

#15 Memphis at #18 Gonzaga at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Spokane is the site of ESPN GameDay today and it features a match-up of two highly regarded programs that hit rough patches this season, but have rebounded well. Gonzaga appears to have used their victory over Tennessee in Knoxville as a catalyst for their resurgence (Patty Mills‘s injury didn’t hurt either). Memphis, on the other hand, appears to have found its rhythm again with John Calipari‘s decision to move freshman Tyreke Evans from shooting guard to point guard (the kid is lost when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands). Evans has responded with his best play of the season and the Tigers have not lost since the move. Interestingly, both teams dominance in their leagues means that this is a huge game for each in terms of NCAA seeding. A win today would probably be worth 2 seeds on Selection Sunday assuming both teams are able to run the table for the rest of the regular season. Despite the fact that both teams have pretty balanced scoring attacks (4 starters in double figures for each team), the key to this game will likely be the PG match-up of Evans versus Jeremy Pargo. If the more experienced Pargo can outplay Evans, the Bulldogs should be able to run away with this one. If he isn’t, we could be in for a hard-fought game.

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Set Your Tivos: 02.04.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 4th, 2009

Set Your Tivos
After last night’s relatively weak slate of games, we’re back to normal tonight with a great set of games.

Game of the Day
#3 Duke at #10 Clemson at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Our second top 10 match-up of the week. Once again the road team is the higher ranked team, but I feel like this time they are also the favorites coming in to the game. All of you know about Duke by now thanks to their frequent appearances on national TV so I will keep it brief. Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson have emerged as their two most consistent players. Usually that is enough to get them by most teams even if they only get minimal support from the rest of the team. However, when that happens against quality teams the result isn’t always that good (even if they come really really close). The key for the Blue Devils in this game and for the rest of the season will be the play of Brian Zoubek (go ahead and snicker Duke haters) and Nolan Smith. Zoubek merely needs to be a mediocre 7-footer and Coach K and the rest of the Blue Devils staff will be happy. Smith, who replaced Greg Paulus in the starting lineup, has to improve his decision-making. He must have one of the worst assist-to-turnover ratios (1.03 to 1) of any starting PG on a top team in the nation. On the other side of the ball, Clemson may be the most under-appreciated team in the country. I’m not sure if it is the Tigers’ recent history of falling apart down the stretch, but I never hear anybody mentioning them as a team that could make a run in March despite the fact that they probably have the most reasonable losses of any team in the country (Wake Forest and at UNC). The key for Oliver Purnell‘s team will be to have Trevor Booker dominate on the inside. I doubt that Duke will let him play against Zoubek so he will probably have to do it against Singler, which could make for an interesting match-up. If Booker can win that match-up, Clemson will have a shot. After that they will need a strong game out of K.C. Rivers and hope to contain Duke’s outside shooters (particularly Jon Scheyer). I think Clemson will keep it close until midway through the 2nd half when Duke will go on a run and pull away to win by about a dozen.

Worth Watching
West Virginia at #20 Syracuse at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The Mountaineers are a a perfect example of why it is so hard to read Big East teams. They are only 4-4 in the conference, but all 4 of those losses were to top 10 teams (UConn, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Marquette). Likewise, Syracuse comes in having lost 3 straight and 4 of 5, but 3 of those losses have been on the road (Georgetown, Pittsburgh, and Providence) and the other to one of the hottest teams (Louisville) in the country. The Orangemen should be able to break their recent skid if they can contain Da’Sean Butler and Alex Ruoff, but a lot of that will have to do with whether or not they will have their full compliment of players available. Mookie Jones is done for the year with a hip injury, but someone will have to step up as Jim Boeheim can’t expect to get 62 points from Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf every game (and even that didn’t work in their last game).

#19 Minnesota at #14 Michigan State at 8:30 PM on The Big Ten Network: What is going on with the Spartans? Tom Izzo‘s team has lost back-to-back games at the Breslin Center to pretty weak competition (Northwestern and Penn State). Just two weeks ago everyone was talking about this team as a potential Final 4 contender with the return of Goran Suton. Unfortunately for Izzo, the Spartans will be without Raymar Morgan, who is out with “walking pneumonia”. To turn things around, the Spartans will need improved play out of Kalin Lucas, who still boasts an impressive 3.09 to 1 assist to TO ratio, but most of that is from his early season play. They will have to do it against a Gopher team that held Illinois to a ridiculous 36 points in their last game. Keep an eye on Al Nolen and Ralph Sampson III in this one for the Gophers as they will be matched up against Lucas and Suton respectively.

#6 Wake Forest at Miami (FL) at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Wake needs to develop some consistency if they want to be a national championship contender. We know that they can beat the big boys as they knocked off UNC, Clemson, and Duke in a three week stretch. The question is why they can’t maintain that level of play when they go up against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech (both losses). Dino Gaudio will need to figure this out if he wants to get this team up to the level of Duke and UNC at the end of the season. Maybe it’s just a focus thing, which hopefully shouldn’t be an issue in March. Either way, this trip to Miami should be a nice challenge for the Demon Deacons. Jeff Teague will be matched up against Jack McClinton and Al-Farouq Aminu will be up against Dwayne Collins. I think Miami may be able to hold its own in those match-ups. Unfortunately for Frank Haith, the Hurricanes run into depth problems after their top 2 while the Demon Deacons run much deeper. Perhaps Haith should look into giving more PT to his ridiculously athletic freshman DeQuan Jones.

#16 Villanova at Providence at 8 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com: Villanova finally got the signature win we were asking for by beating Pittsburgh last week in the last college basketball game at the Spectrum. This time they will have to do it on the road against a Friar team that was playing well before they ran into the UConn buzzsaw. Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds will need to have solid games if Jay Wright‘s crew is going to pull out a rare Big East road win against a Providence team that is actually above them in the Big East standings. Providence will need a solid effort out of its 8-deep rotation including Weyinmi Efejuku and Jonathan Kale to defend its home court tonight.

Keep an Eye On
Notre Dame at Cincinnati at 7:30 PM on ESPN360.com: Mike Brey
needs  Kyle McAlarney to snap out of his funk and start helping Luke Harangody out or the Fighting Irish might be looking at trip to the NIT this year. This is a game Notre Dame needs to win if they expect to make the NCAA tournament.

Tennessee at Arkansas at 8 PM on Raycom, Fox Sports South, and ESPN360.com: Can freshman Scotty Hopson be the one to reenergize the Vols who have struggled to play up their pre-season #8 ranking? Bruce Pearl might want to give him some more PT against the confusing Arkansas team that beat Texas and Oklahoma (the Sooners only loss), but is just 1-5 in the SEC.

Texas A&M at #2 Oklahoma at 9 PM on The Big 12 Network, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Watch this one for Blake Griffin, who will be your national Player of the Year barring some freak injury or sketchy voting. I guess the Aggies played Oklahoma close at College Station so this could be a decent game, but since it is in Norman I doubt it will be that close after the half unless the Sooners are already looking ahead to Texas and Kansas two weeks from now.

USC at #12 UCLA at 10:30 PM on Fox Sports: Ben Howland‘s will be going for a sweep of the California Pac-10 teams at Pauley Pavilion against their cross-town rivals. The Trojans are my pick for secretly good team that nobody is talking about, but could make a run in March. Watch this one for the battle of the freshmen: DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday. They won’t be matched up against each other, but it should be fun to see Josh Shipp guard DeRozan. As an added bonus, you might get to see Lil’ Romeo (ok, maybe not).

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