SoCon Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 4th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference, bringing you up to speed, with the SoCon Tournament tipping off Friday.

Postseason Preview

 

College of Charleston remains the favorite to win the SoCon tournament, but Wofford and Furman are able candidates as well. I see Davidson as a possible darkhorse team, with the Paladins also having an outside chance. Here are my predictions:

Friday, March 4:

  • Davidson over UNC-Greensboro
  • Appalachian State over Georgia Southern
  • Furman over Samford
  • Elon over The Citadel

Saturday, March 5:

  • Davidson over Western Carolina
  • Wofford overAppalachian State
  • Furman over Chattanooga
  • College of Charleston over Elon

Sunday March 6:

  • Wofford over Appalachian State
  • College of Charleston over Furman

Monday, March 7:

  • College of Charleston over Furman

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Other 26: Week 15

Posted by KDoyle on February 26th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

And down the stretch they come! Just like a commentator of a competitive horse race fervently belches when the horses make the final turn, college basketball commentators, analysts, and enthusiasts alike all speak of the game with greater eagerness and zeal at this time of the year. Judgment Week—still am not sure what ESPN is trying to do with this—has passed us, Championship Week is nearly upon us, and we all know what comes after that: the Madness!

While the majority of Other 26 teams around the country still have one or two remaining games left in the regular season, there are a handful of teams out there who have completed the second part of their season. Many coaches, especially those coaching in perennial single bid leagues, break down their year into three seasons: 1) the non-conference, 2) conference play, 3) the postseason. The opportunity is presented for many teams that have struggled during much of the season to get hot at the right time and advance onto the greatest postseason tournament in all of sports.

At the beginning of conference play, I wrote in a previous article the concept of “three games in March” which is often the mentality of teams from smaller conferences who have to win three games, or four in some cases, to advance to the Dance—it is their only way in. Well, here is that opportunity.

The conference tournaments will officially begin in the middle of next week with a few of the smaller conferences going at it. If one really wants to get technical though, the argument can be made that the Ivy League has a season-long conference tournament that commences at the beginning of league play.

The Other 26 Rankings

Tidbits from the Rankings

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 23rd, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference

[Ed. Note – the following piece was written in advance of Saturday’s action.]

A Look Back

As the weather warms, so too does the race for the SoCon conference championship. Andrew Goudelock and the Cougars of College of Charleston still remain the favorite, but four teams are within three games of the Cougars, and with two weeks left, nothing is certain. UNC-Greensboro is continuing its rise out of the cellar, and has boosted their conference win total to five. This wouldn’t be noteworthy, however, if the Spartans hadn’t taken two months to win their first game. While the Spartans are enjoying their rise to mediocrity, Georgia Southern is still waiting for the first conference win.  Standing at 4-24 for the season, only one of the Eagles’ season victories have come against a Division-1 opponent, and it took overtime to decide the outcome. The hottest team in the SoCon right now is the Catamounts of Western Carolina, who have won five straight, and continue to shoot up the standings, led by senior guard Mike Williams.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (20-7, 13-2)- The Cougars have held this spot for about a month now, thanks in large part to their fantastic duo, Andrew Goudelock and Jasper Simmons. I fully expect the Cougars to be the #1 seed in the SoCon Tournament.

A Look Ahead: The Cougars play in the annual ESPN Brackerbusters game against Vermont, and then will host Samford. They finish the season with road games against Appalachian State and Western Carolina.

2. Furman (19-7, 11-4)- The Paladins continue to look up to the Cougars, and down on everybody else. That being said, the Paladins have proved that when do-it-all forward Amu Sakku plays well, they’re one of the toughest teams to beat in the conference.

A Look Ahead: The Paladins travel to Samford and Chattanooga, and will finish the regular season at home against Wofford, in a game that will potentially determine the #2 seed in the SoCon Tournament.

3. Western Carolina (14-13, 10-5)- As mentioned earlier, the Catamounts are the hottest team in the SoCon these days. Mike Williams continues to score (14.9 Points Per Game) and dish out the assists (3.8 per game).

A Look Ahead: Western Carolina will participate in the Bracketbuster games, against Eastern Kentucky. Then the Catamounts will travel to UNC-Greensboro. After that, the Catamounts will finish their season with home games against The Citadel and College of Charleston.

4. Wofford (15-12, 12-4)- The Terriers continue to tread water. They beat all the teams they are supposed to, but when big matchups against teams like College of Charleston and Furman, they Terriers falter. That being said, if the Terriers can win out, they’re looking at being the #2 seed in the conference tournament.

A Look Ahead: The Terriers will participate in the Bracketbuster games, squaring off against Ball State. They finish the regular season with road games against Chattanooga and Furman.

5Chattanooga (14-14, 10-5): If Western Carolina is the hottest team in the league, then the Mocs of Chattanooga are the coldest. Losers of their last four, the Mocs need Omar Wattad to get his scoring touch back; the junior forward has scored just fourteen points combined in his last two conference games.

A Look Ahead: The Mocs host Furman and Wofford, and then finish the season at Samford.

6. Davidson (14-13, 8-8): After four consecutive losses in late January, the Wildcats rattled off five wins in a row, and have won six of their last seven. Davidson has put up impressive rebounding numbers as well; they rank 90 in the nation in rebounds per game.

A Look Ahead: The Wildcats travel to Presbateryian College, then finish the season at home, against Elon and UNC-Greensboro.

7. Appalachian State (12-14, 8-8): The Mountaineers continue to be plagued by their low number of assists per game, 10.5, which ranks 321st in the nation. Donald Sims continues to carry the offensive load, with 21.2 points per game, with healthy contributions from Omar Carter, averaging 16.5 points per game.

A Look Ahead: Appalachian State will participate in Bracketbusters, squaring off against High Point. After that, it’s home games against College of Charleston and The Citadel.

8. UNC-Greensboro (5-20, 5-9): Ok, ok, the Spartans might not deserve this spot, but I’ll give it to them anyway, due to their impressive turnaround. The key to the Spartans recent success? Scoring. Preposterous, I know. The Spartans have score over 85 points in their last three wins.

A Look Ahead: The Spartans travel to Elon, then host Western Carolina. After that, it’s road games against Georgia Southern and Davidson. As crazy as it sounds, the once-winless Spartans have a chance to finish .500 in conference play.

9Elon (11-15, 5-10): Elon finally broke their five-game losing streak with their recent victory over The Citadel. Once considered a dark-horse contender for the conference title, the wheels have seemingly fallen of for the Phoenix.

A Look Ahead: Elon hosts UNC-Greensboro, and finish the season with road matches against Davidson and Georgia Southern.

10Samford (12-15, 4-11): The Bulldogs rank in the 300’s in both rebounding and scoring. Honestly, with those numbers, I’m surprised they have won twelve games all season.

A Look Ahead: Samford hosts Furman, then will travel to College of Charleston, and will finish the regular season with a home game against Chattanooga.

11. The Citadel (9-19, 5-10): Losers of their last six, the Bulldogs continue to freefall down the standings. Senior guard Cameron Wells continues to play stellar basketball, but isn’t getting much help from his teammates.

A Look Ahead: The Bulldogs finish the season with three consecutive road games, at Georgia Southern, Western Carolina, and Appalachian State.

12. Georgia Southern (4-24, 0-15): If nothing else, the Eagles are consistent. They have been ranked in the 12th spot just as long as College of Charleston has been ranked in the top spot. They continue to search for that elusive first conference win.

A Look Ahead: Georgia Southern will finish the season with three consecutive home games, against The Citadel, UNC-Greensboro, and Elon.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 30th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

A Look Back

Greetings, fellow SoCon hoops lovers. Let’s jump right into it. All season long, UNC-Greensboro has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Not only had they lost every game, but they were getting run off the court. Nothing was working for them. Two weeks ago, they were at the bottom of my power rankings, and were receiving national media attention for being one of the two remaining zero-win teams in DI hoops. Since then, they have won three out of their last four, with their lone loss coming against first place Chattanooga in double-overtime. Needless to say, I’m excited to see how the rest of their season plays out. College of Charleston is still rolling, especially as Andrew Goudelock continues his offensive domination, averaging 23.6 points per game. Also, Jeremy Simmons’ contributions shall not be overlooked; Jeremy is averaging 13.7 points and pulling 6.4 rebounds per game. Georgia Southern has replaced UNC-Greensboro as the conference bottom-dweller. The Eagles have yet to win a conference game, and things aren’t looking good. The silver lining is freshman guard Eric Ferguson, who is wasting no time becoming comfortable in the college basketball world. He is averaging 13.7 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, and almost two steals per game.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (15-7, 8-2)- The Cougars continue to be the SoCon team to beat. Their first conference loss came at the hands of Chattanooga, in a 91-88 thriller. Saturday’s slip-up against lowly Davidson is an unsightly blemish, but the Cougars should be fine as Andrew Goudelock continues to look like the SoCon POY.

A Look Ahead- The Cougars are in Charleston for home games against Wofford and Furman, two games that won’t disappoint.

2. Wofford (12-10, 9-2)- Winners of six of their last seven, the Terriers seem to have finally pieced it together, thanks in large part to Noah Dahlman, who is averaging 20 points per game.

A Look Ahead- The Terriers travel to College of Charleston (a SoCon must-watch) and The Citadel.

3. Furman (16-6, 8-3)- The Paladins’ offense was seemingly coming together quite nicely until they squared off against Western Carolina, and managed only 16 points in the first half of their loss. Amu Saaka continues to fill out the stat sheet, averaging 16.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

A Look Ahead- Furman takes to the road for showdowns against The Citadel and College of Charleston, the latter of which will be a crucial conference clash.

4. Chattanooga (12-10, 9-2)- Chattanooga, at times, has looked like the most talented team in the SoCon. Just ask College of Charleston. Other times, however, their play has left us all scratching our heads, like last week’s 88-56 loss to Wofford, or their 85-59 loss at Furman. If the Mocs are for real, they need to prove they can hang with fellow conference leaders.

A Look Ahead- The Mocs host Georgia Southern in a big showdown Thursday, especially with a four-game road trip coming up.

5. Western Carolina (9-12, 5-4)- It looked like the Catamounts’ rollercoaster season had taken another turn for the worse when they lost big to The Citadel and College of Charleston. Then, they got a much-needed victory over Furman, and are back in the conference race. Sometimes, all it takes is one big victory. Freshman guard Trey Sumler continues to look more and more comfortable out on the court.

A Look Ahead- Western Carolina will travel to Wofford and Elon, then host UNC-Greensboro, Chattanooga and Samford in a three-game homestretch.

6. The Citadel- (9-13, 5-5)- While the Bulldogs are on a roll, winners of their last four games, it might be too little, too late. The Bulldogs started 2011 with five consecutive losses. If they want to stay in contention for the conference title, they need this winning string to extend.

A Look Ahead- The Citadel will host Furman and Wofford, and then will travel to face the resurgent Spartans of UNC-Greensboro.

7. Elon (10-12, 4-7)- The Phoenix are having no trouble scoring, averaging 75 points per game, thanks in large part to the guard play of Chris Long and Drew Spradlin. Defense was the culprit in Saturday’s 85-76 loss at Chattanooga.

A Look Ahead- Elon hosts Western Carolina, Appalachian State, and College of Charleston after having played five of seven on the road.

8. Appalachian State (8-13, 4-7)- Once considered a likely candidate for the conference crown, Appalachian State has fallen hard, losing six of their last seven. On the bright side, Donald Sims continues to impress at 21 points per game. If there is one player who can challenge Andrew Goudelock for SoCon Player of the Year, it’s him.

A Look Ahead- Things won’t get any easier for the Mountaineers, as they play a pair away from home against UNC-Greensboro, and Elon.

9. UNC-Greensboro (4-16, 4-6)- Break up the Spartans! Ok, ok, they probably don’t deserve to be ranked this high, but I couldn’t resist. In earlier posts, I touted UNC-Greensboro as arguably the worst team in college hoops, so consider this my crow-filled meal. What is the method to UNC-Greensboro’s recent success, you ask? Scoring. Crazy, I know. In winning four of five, the Spartans scored over 70 points for the first time since November 14.

A Look Ahead- The Spartans will host Appalachian State and then hit the road again, traveling to Western Carolina.

10. Samford (11-11, 3-7)- The Bulldogs rank 317th nationally in points per game, and 343rd in rebounds per game. With these numbers, it’s rather impressive they’ve won 11 games already. Jeffrey Merritt is the only player averaging more than ten points per game.

A Look Ahead- The Bulldogs will host Davidson, then hit a three-game road trip, traveling to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, and Western Carolina.

11. Davidson (9-12, 3-7)- At the end of 2010, Davidson had a winning record, and only one conference loss. Since the new-year has begun, the Wildcats are 1-8, their lone win coming against Furman.

A Look Ahead- Davidson will pay a visit to Georgia Southern for a battle of the conference bottom-dwellers.

12. Georgia Southern (4-18, 0-9)- Thanks to UNC-Greensboro’s “turnaround,” we have a new #12. Georgia Southern’s pitiful rebounding, which ranks 314th in the nation, continues to be their downfall, as they have yet to win a conference game. Eric Ferguson, however, is wasting no time with his transition into college basketball. The freshman is averaging almost 30 minutes per game, and dropping 13.7 points per game.

A Look Ahead- Davidson, Chattanooga, and Samford are next on tap for GSU.

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 16th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

 

A Look Back

Howdy, hoop fans. I hope everyone is staying warm. The SoCon itself is beginning to heat up, as conference play is well underway. College of Charleston made national headlines after upsetting Tennessee on the Vols’ home court on New Years Eve.  The Cougars have continued their strong play with huge road victories against then-conference leaders Furman and Wofford. The Spartans of UNC-Greensboro have also been gaining national attention, although for all the wrong reasons. The hapless Spartans have still yet to win a game, and they are running out of time. They will square off against fellow bottom-dweller Georgia Southern on January 20; this is seemingly their best chance to end their winless streak. Andrew Goudelock of College of Charleston has continued his dominant play, averaging 23.1 PPG, eighth best in the nation.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (11-5, 4-0)- The Cougars have been on fire recently, and are proving to be the strongest team in the conference. Behind Andrew Goudelock’s and Jeremey Simmons’ offensive production, the Cougars look to be the team to beat in the SoCon.

A Look Ahead- The Cougars host The Citadel on Saturday. After that, they’re off to Chattanooga, for a huge road game against Mocs. This game could determine who has sole-possession of first place in the SoCon.

2. Chattanooga (8-8, 4-0)- I’m still not really sure what to think about the Mocs. On one hand, they’re tied for first place in the SoCon, and have yet to lose in conference play. Their only impressive conference win was against Appalachian State, however, while the rest have been close victories against conference bottom-dwellers. Their success so far can be attributed to their phenomenal rebounding. The Mocs rank 12th in the nation in rebounds per game, with 41.1.

A Look Ahead- The next few weeks will determine if Chattanooga is a contender or pretender. A home game against College of Charleston, and road games against Wofford and Furman await the Mocs.

3. Wofford (7-9, 4-1)- The Terriers have one conference loss, and if it weren’t for Goudelock, they probably wouldn’t have any. But close doesn’t count in college hoops (just ask Gordon Hayward). The Terriers still have been impressive in conference play thus far, and are averaging a hefty 15.4 assists per game.

A Look Ahead- The Terriers will travel to North Carolina for a game against Davidson, then back to Spartanburg for three consecutive home games. This home stretch will be a golden opportunity for the Terriers to propel themselves to the top of the conference.

4. Furman (11-5, 3-2)- While the loss against Davidson was frustrating (the Paladins have now lost to College of Charleston 11 times in a row), the Paladins are still in position to win the SoCon. Consistency will be the key for Furman; they are 3-2 in their last five games, after not losing from November 28 to December 29.

A Look Ahead- The Paladins will travel to play the hapless Georgia Southern Eagles, and then square off against Samford and Chattanooga at home. If Furman can win these games, they will solidify themselves as legitimate conference contenders.

5. Appalachian State (7-7, 3-1)- Perhaps the Mountaineers were visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve, because they have not lost since. Senior guard Donald Sims continues to be the focal point of the dangerous Mountaineer offense, as he’s averaging 21.6 points per game.

A Look Ahead- After hosting the winless Spartans of UNC-Greensboro, the Mountaineers will travel to face Western Carolina, followed by another home game against The Citadel.

6. Davidson (8-8, 2-3)- After losing three in a row, the Wildcats continued their recent dominance over Furman with a 79-70 victory. This victory was desperately needed, as Davidson was in danger of losing three conference games in a row.

A Look Ahead- Davidson hosts the Terriers of Wofford on the 15th, and then road games at UNC-Greensboro and Elon. If Davidson wants to get back to the top of the standings, it needs to play well on the road, something they haven’t done well all year.

7. Samford (10-6, 2-2)- Looking at the statistics only, it’s amazing the Bulldogs have ten wins. They rank 301st in points per game, and 338th in rebounds per game. Fortunately for Samford, games aren’t played on paper.

A Look Ahead- Samford plays three of their next four on the road, with games at Chattanooga, Furman, and Wofford. If the Bulldogs want to last against these talented teams, they need to start scoring. Easier said then done.

8. Western Carolina (6-10, 2-2)- No one welcomed January more than Western Carolina did, after they lost every game in December. The calendar change apparently did them some good, as they’ve are undefeated in January thus far.

A Look Ahead- The Catamounts will host Appalachian State, then travel to College of Charleston and The Citadel. Wouldn’t it be something if they won every game in January, after losing every game in December? If you’re nodding yes, you’re right. But that was a rhetorical question.

9. Elon (8-8, 2-3) – After a tough start to the year, including two early conference loses, the Phoenix seem to be getting the hang of it. Elon recently earned road wins against Navy and Columbia, and was able to stay competitive against ACC foe North Carolina State.

A Look Ahead- The Phoenix will travel visit the Mountaineers of Appalachian State, then host Davidson and Georgia Southern.

10. The Citadel (5-11, 1-3)- The Bulldogs’ in-state road trip didn’t go so well, as they lost at Clemson, Wofford, and Furman. Offense has plagued the Bulldogs, as they rank 312th in points per game, and 300th in field goal percentage.

A Look Ahead- The Bulldogs host Chattanooga then hit the road again with games at College of Charleston and Samford.

11. Georgia Southern (4-14, 0-5)- The Eagles have defeated just one D-I team all year, and it took overtime to do so. This team is just plain bad, especially when it comes to rebounding, where they ranked 305th in the nation in rebounds per game. Don’t be fooled by the four wins, this team could easily be ranked below UNC-Greensboro.

A Look Ahead- The Eagles host Furman then travel to UNC-Greensboro, for the battle of the SoCon bottom-dwellers.

12. UNC-Greensboro (0-15, 0-5)- I’d say the record speaks for itself. The Spartans have yet to win a game, and if they don’t do so against Georgia Southern, I’m not sure they will all year. That being said, we are all cheering for you, UNC-Greensboro. Nobody deserves to lose every game.

A Look Ahead- The Spartans will travel to Appalachian State, and then host Davidson and Georgia Southern. Circle the Georgia Southern-UNC-Greensboro game on your calendar; it’s going to be a dandy.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2011

RTC welcomes Clark Williams, our new Southern Conference correspondent.

[ed. note: this post was written prior to Friday/Saturday games]

A Look Back

I hope everybody had quite the festive and merry holiday. Let’s talk SoCon basketball, shall we? Furman’s month-long win streak has come to an end, after the Paladins fell to the Golden Knights of UCF on Wednesday in the first round of the UCF Holiday Classic. Also on Wednesday, Georgia Southern came back from a 27-point halftime deficit and nearly upset the Auburn Tigers, but eventually fell 88-84 in overtime. I realize Auburn is one of the worst power-conference teams out there, but it’s always nice to see the SoCon bottom dwellers keep up with the SEC bottom dwellers. The cold streak continues for UNC-Greensboro, as the Spartans’ record fell to 0-12 after Duke demolished them, 108-62, in Greensboro. The game was the highest-attended athletic event in school history, with a crowd of 22, 178.

Power Rankings

1. Furman (8-3, 2-0) – Despite their five-game winning streak coming to an end, the Paladins possess the top spot. They are undefeated in conference play, and easily defeated South Carolina last Wednesday, something they have not done since 1980.

A Look Ahead - The Paladins continue playing in the UCF Holiday Classic, and take on the Huskies of Northeastern on Thursday night.  Then, a warm-up game against NAIA foe UVA-Wise, which will be the Paladins’ last non-conference game of the year. On January 6, Furman will square off against College of Charleston, with whom they currently share first place.

2. College of Charleston (8-4, 2-0) – The Cougars earned the number two spot, after nearly defeating the Tigers of Clemson last Wednesday. Charleston hasn’t played since. Andrew Goudelock continues to impress; the senior guard is averaging 23.4 points per game.

A Look Ahead - The Cougars will be on ESPN on New Year’s Eve, as they take on the Volunteers of Tennessee, in Knoxville. Then, a game at Morehead State, followed by a conference clash at Furman on January 6.

3. Wofford (5-7, 2-0) – A popular preseason pick to win the SoCon, the Terriers have struggled at times this season. However, they seem to be more talented then their record indicates. They have played a combined five overtime periods already, and have taken on six power conference teams, playing all of them relatively close.

A Look Ahead - The Terriers play their last non-conference game against Cornell on Thursday night, then have conference foes Citadel and College of Charleston at home. Wofford needs to make a statement in both of those games, if they really are the team pundits believed them to be at the beginning of the year.

4. Chattanooga (7-6, 3-0) – The Mocs are the sole possessors of first place in the North division of the SoCon. What has impressed me the most about the Mocs so far is their rebounding ability — Chattanooga ranks #23 in the nation in rebounds per game with the amount of assists they’ve racked up.  Still, it’s hard to tell what this team will be like in February and March. The Mocs’ last two opponents have been NAIA teams, and they have not played a D-1 team since December 17.

A Look Ahead – Chattanooga has Georgia State on December 30, in-state rival Austin Peay on January 3, and then squares off against the winless Spartans of UNC-Greensboro on January 8.

5. Davidson (6-5, 1-1)- The Wildcats are getting better by the day. Since their December 2 conference loss to College of Charleston, Davidson is 3-1. They easily defeated The Citadel, Charlotte, and Saint Francis (NY), and nearly beat Saint John’s.

A Look Ahead – Davidson travels to Nashville to take on a talented Vanderbilt team on January 2.  Then, it’s a duo of in-state rivalry games, as the Wildcats host Appalachian State, then travel to play Western Carolina.

6. Samford (8-5, 1-1) – The Bulldogs continue to be plagued by a lethargic offense, as Creighton easily defeated the Bulldogs, 58-40 on December 22. This marks the fourth game the Bulldogs were held to less than 60 points. Their rebounding has been no better, and ranks 333rd in the nation in rebounds per game. Samford has, however, been able to move the ball around very well. Four players are averaging more than eight points per game.

A Look Ahead – Samford has a New Year’s Eve date with Eastern Michigan, then hits the road for three consecutive conference road games. First up is UNC-Greensboro, then Elon, and then Chattanooga.

7. Appalachian State (4-7, 1-1) – The Mountaineers continue to get fantastic play from senior guard Donald Sims, who is averaging 22.4 points per game, and forward Omar Carter, who is averaging 15 points per game. Unfortunately, his stellar play has not translated into victories. Appalachian State has struggled as of late- they have lost their last three games by a combined score of 42.

A Look Ahead – The Mountaineers will take on the Wildcats of Davidson on January 5. Then, it’s Georgia Southern, followed by UNC-Greensboro.

8. The Citadel (4-8, 1-1) – The Bulldogs haven’t played since the December 23, when they lost to SIU-Edwardsville, a recent addition to D-1 basketball. The Citadel has managed to play well in games against fellow mid-majors, but has been absolutely destroyed against any higher competition. They lost by 42 to Richmond, 28 to Colorado, and 26 to New Mexico.

A Look Ahead – The Citadel starts the New Year with four tough road trips in South Carolina. The Bulldogs will play at Clemson, then Wofford, then Furman, and will finish at College of Charleston. If the Bulldogs want to stay competitive in conference play, they need to win at least one of these games.

9. Elon (5-7, 0-2) The Phoenix of Elon are doing a fine job putting points on the point, as they rank 55th in the nation in points per game. However, their talented offense hasn’t been able to compensate for their lack of defense of rebounding. Elon has been the cupcake of choice for the ACC thus far, and haven’t been completely embarrassed in games against Wake Forest, Maryland and Duke. Hopefully, the experience from these games will help them find their own winning ways.

A Look Ahead – The Phoenix will travel to New York City for a game against Columbia, then will face off against another ACC foe, NC State. Elon will resume conference play at UNC-Greensboro, on January 10.

10.  Georgia Southern (4-10, 0-2) – The Eagles finally got their first victory over a D-1 opponent, beating Georgia State in overtime, on December 22. The “momentum” created by this victory carried over to their next game, as they overcame a 27-point halftime deficit at Auburn to force overtime, where they eventually fell.  Freshman guard Eric Ferguson is wasting no time making his presence felt. He is averaging 14.4 points per game, and 6.4 rebounds.

A Look Ahead - The Eagles will start 2011 with home games against Eastern Kentucky and Western Carolina, and then travel to Appalachian State. The Eagles are the only team in the South division of the SoCon without a conference win. If the Eagles have any shot at turning this thing around, this trend must end, and quickly.

11. Western Carolina (4-10, 0-2)- Things are not getting any easier for the Catamounts. Western Carolina has dropped their last six games, and hasn’t won since late November. The strangest part of their winless December? The Catamounts lost to the Fighting Camels of Campbell by 23, but only lost to #2 Ohio State by 15.

A Look Ahead – The Catamounts will travel to Georgia Southern, then host Davidson, Elon, and Appalachian State. Here’s hoping their January goes better than their December.

12. Ah, the loathed 12th spot. This is reserved for the hapless Spartans of UNC-Greensboro, a team still searching for its first victory. In their defense, the Spartans have played a brutal schedule, and seem to be getting better each game. Before the Duke disaster, the Spartans played Wake Forest, Clemson, and Richmond, losing by ten or fewer in each game.

A Look Ahead – It doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans, as they resume conference play. They host Samford on January 6, and continue their search for that elusive first win. Home games against Chattanooga and Elon follow.

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The Cases For & Against a Duke Unbeaten Season

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2010

If you haven’t heard, this year’s Duke team is pretty darn good.  The defending national champions are loaded with talent on every area of the court and they’ve looked mighty impressive in the pre-conference slate against an impressive cast of characters — #5 Kansas State, #6 Michigan State, Marquette and defending runner-up, Butler.  As great teams are expected to do, they’ve  handled the contenders and destroyed the pretenders on their way to an 8-0 record. According to Ken Pomeroy’s latest figures, the Blue Devils have the most efficient offense in the nation and the fifth-most efficient defense — their efficiency margin of 36.8 points per 100 possessions is the best around, and they’ve been doing it against a schedule that rates in the top 25 through the first month of the season.  On most nights, the talented combination of playmakers featuring the versatile trio of Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler will be enough to secure another win for Coach K’s team; on the rare night when the offense sputters, the Blue Devil defense will keep the game close until the last few possessions, and Duke will have arguably the best point guard in the game handling the rock in crunch time. What’s not to like?

One of the Few Things Coach K Hasn't Done is Go Unbeaten

With the usually-reliable ACC looking like a mangled mess of mediocrity outside of Durham this year, some of the early-season buzz has already noted that Duke has gotten through the toughest part of its 2010-11 regular season schedule.  Liberally allowing for many of those good-not-great teams (i.e., Virginia Tech, UNC, Maryland, BC, etc.) to put it together and make the NCAA Tournament this year, Duke will have at most between 6-10 remaining games against quality competition the rest of the way, making for an interesting barstool debate over whether the Devils can run the table this season.  The argument goes as such:

  1. The remaining nonconference schedule is manageable.  Even considering the ACC as down (see #2), there are seven more non-conference games on the slate.  The next four — Bradley, St. Louis, Elon, UNC-Greensboro — are home or quasi-home games that Duke should have no trouble with.  Two others — UAB and Temple — are also home games that they typically win, although they’ll need to perform well against the Owls.  The last — a roadie to play St. John’s in another familiar environment, Madison Square Garden — is interesting on its face but will ultimately depend on how much Steve Lavin’s team progresses over the next two months.
  2. The ACC is down, way down.  In a typical year the best team in the ACC can expect to be put through the ringer with trips to Maryland, UNC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, NC State, Florida State, etc., pending.  Duke has all of those road games on the schedule, but already half of those teams have lost home games this year, and all of them will eventually.  The essential point is that if you’re not good enough to generally protect your home court against the likes of Stetson, Virginia or even Florida, you’re not likely to do so against Duke, an outfit that prides itself on road conference wins.
  3. Duke is not a team that is prone to many letdowns.  There are some schools that for whatever reason do not seem to take the regular season as seriously as they do the postseason.  Michigan State comes to mind immediately, but there are others.  Coach K has never been one of those coaches — in fact, a common critique through the mid-late 2000s was that he wore his teams down by overworking them during the regular season so that they had nothing left in the tank for the NCAAs.  Still, the Devils more than any other team and regardless of personnel tend to come strong all year long.  It’s difficult to catch them snoozing, one of the key recipes for a team to pull a major upset. Read the rest of this entry »
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Around The Blogosphere: 11.27.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 27th, 2010

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Top 25 Games

  • Tennessee 78, #6 Villanova 68: “I was going to use the word “upset” in the headline, but I’m not sure that this was. We could also talk about how this team didn’t allow distractions to get in their way, but that’s nothing new with our basketball program. The story here is that the Vols are once again a team to be reckoned with – not later in the year once we’ve matured, but right here, right now.” (Rocky Top Talk)
  • #8 Purdue 79, Southern Illinois 60: “Unusually-frigid 30 degree temperatures (pssst- that’s sarcasm), and fantastic Black Friday sale prices kept the Purdue alums in Chicago away from the Sears Center this evening…but poor attendance and a small-time feel of the Chicago Invitational didn’t stop Matty’s boys from opening a can…at least for a half. And those who did brave the barely-freezing temps to see their Boilers play, got to see Smooge get silly.” (Boiled Sports)
  • #12 Syracuse 53, Michigan 50: “The good news is that the Orange are now 5-0 and played for the Legends Classic championship. They’ll be lining up against Georgia Tech (4-1) on Sunday. GT topped UTEP 71-61 in the semis. The Jackets also feature the progeny of a former NBA star (Glen Rice, Jr.). For the Orange, they might keep winning but sooner or later this act is going to catch up with them. Georgia Tech might not be a great team but they’re good enough to catch Syracuse napping if they come in with another performance like tonight.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)

Other Games of Interest

  • Virginia Tech 56, Oklahoma State 51: Taking a look at the Hokies close victory over the Cowboys. (Tech Hoops)
  • Maryland 76, Elon 57: “Adrian Bowie won’t get enough talk, but he had an amazing statline: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, no turnovers. He made the couple of boneheaded plays he usually makes – like lowering his head and barreling into a forced layup – but they weren’t as bad as normal and he was very, very good outside of those couple of plays.” (Testudo Times)
  • VCU 89, UCLA 85: “After UCLA showed some positive signs in Wednesday’s loss to #7 Villanova, the Bruins took a step backwards in their execution this afternoon. Despite sloppy play and a surplus of turnovers, the Bruins displayed a measure of resolve and the ability to keep themselves in a game despite many flaws.” (Bruins Nation)
  • Indiana 100, Northwestern State 66: “Whatever the future holds, this team’s near past has shown sizable signs of improvement on both sides of the ball. There’s reason for optimism, regardless of the opponents’ skill level. Yes folks, it’s true: There’s not only optimism from Crean’s recent/stellar in-state recruiting run, but optimism also because of how IU has taken care of business on the court in the early goings of 2010-11. Just know better competition lies ahead.” (Inside the Hall)

News/Analysis

  • If you will allow me to retort: UConn is one of the best teams in the country: “If you want a team that mirrors this year’s Michigan team, the answer isn’t UConn, the answer is any one of Fasulo’s four examples, because they, like Michigan, played no one before getting exposed. In the course of three days, UConn collected more high-quality wins than those four teams did combined. This is a long season, and I’m the Huskies will lose games during it. However, UConn showed in Maui that they are the real deal. Through five games the Huskies have played as tough a schedule as anyone and looked better in each successive game. This team is the real deal, write them off at your own peril.” (The UConn Blog)
  • Kentucky Basketball: Post-Thanksgiving Review Of The Connecticut Game: “In the end, this provides a “teachable moment” to the Wildcats, which I expect Coach Cal to use to its fullest advantage.  A loss is a loss, but you have to try to make the most of them and hope you don’t have to do it too often.  I am not a believer in the “good loss” theory, so you’ll forgive me if I reject that outright.  A loss is always bad, period.  Don’t bother to argue, because this is my story and I’m sticking to it.  Save it for those who are persuadable.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: NIT Tip-Off Tennessee Post Game: “For the second straight year the Big East finished in a runner-up position int the Pre-Season NIT at Madison Square Garden. Tennessee defeated Villanova 78-68, in what was, a very defensive oriented contest.” (Villanova by the Numbers)
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Around The Blogosphere: 11.26.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 26th, 2010

It was a relatively quiet day of college basketball yesterday with most of the nation eating themselves into a food coma, but things will be picking up this weekend. If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Recaps

  • California 57, Temple 50: “Temple could not limit turnovers and costly mistakes against California in the first round of the Old Spice Classic. At times it seemed as if these guys didn’t want it as much as the Golden Bears did, and that’s exactly what ended up happening. We look back on TU’s first loss of the year.” (Owlified)

Pre-Game Analysis

  • Quick Look at Maryland-Elon: ” Today, Terrapin fans feasted on turkey. Tomorrow, Terrapins will feast on Elon. That, or something will have gone horribly, horribly wrong. Remember that awful Wake Forest team, the one that lost to Stetson (who has since lost to Bethune-Cookman by 12) and Winthrop (who has since lost to Hampton)? Yeah, they beat Elon by 19. I’m not saying that the Phoenix are a bad team, and they’re certainly better than Maryland’s last opponent, Delaware State, but they are another opponent lined up in the midst of cupcake season, and there’s a reason for that.” (Testudo Times)
  • Mini-Preview: Virginia Tech (3-1) vs. Oklahoma State (4-0): “Tech needs to come out and expect to win. Play hard for 40 minutes, something VT hasn’t done yet this year, and the Hokies can prevail if they force turnovers and limit second chance points.  This is a chance against a quality program that was in the NCAA Tournament last year and would good on VT’s tourney resume this season.  Tech has to cash in these opportunities.” (Tech Hoops)
  • Owls Will Try to Bounce Back Against Georgia Today: “The Owls did not come back from their 11-day break strong, falling to California in the first round of the Old Spice Classic. Temple will get right back into play later today against Georgia, who lost to Notre Dame in a heartbreaking and tiring double OT. Both teams are now part of the loser’s bracket of the OSC.We will take some time to get to know our opponents for tomorrow, the GEorgia Bulldogs.” (Owlified)

Commentary

  • Where will UConn be ranked on Monday?: “If you’re looking for history, the highest a team has ever jumped into the polls is Kansas’ 1989 squad. The defending-champion Jayhawks were unranked before beating the No.1, No. 2 and No. 25 ranked teams in the perseason NIT. The next week they came in at No. 4. In 2001, Arizona entered at the No. 8 spot after beating No. 2, No.7 and No. 23, and last year, Syracuse went from unranked to No. 10 in the poll after beating Cal and North Carolina. I doubt UConn will be able to match Kansas’ mark, but they should come in pretty high. My gut says the Huskies will come in around No. 8, so I’ll go with that.” (The UConn Blog)
  • The 2010 NIT Tip-Off — A log5 Look at the Last Day: “The semi-final games have decided the match-ups for the last round in the 2010 Tip-Off Tournament. Pythagoras may have prevailed with absolute accuracy, but the exact route was not as predictable (and nevertheless very interesting), as Ray Floriani reported in the previous post. Looking ahead to the Third Place and Championship games…” (Villanova by the Numbers)
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RTC Conference Primers: #16 – Southern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 20th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference, but he is moving on and therefore we are seeking a skilled, knowledgeable writer familiar with this conference.


Predicted Order of Finish

North Division:

  1. Appalachian State: 21-11 (13-5)
  2. Chattanooga: 17-14 (11-7)
  3. Western Carolina: 16-15 (9-9)
  4. Samford: 14-18 (9-9)
  5. UNC Greensboro: 9-23 (7-11)
  6. Elon: 8-23 (5-13)

South Division:

  1. Wofford: 25-10 (14-4)
  2. College of Charleston: 21-13 (13-5)
  3. Furman: 17-15 (10-8)
  4. Davidson: 16-17 (8-10)
  5. Georgia Southern: 13-19 (6-12)
  6. Citadel: 10-21 (3-15)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Andrew Goudelock (G) – College of Charleston (19.4 PPG)
  • Donald Sims (G) – Appalachian State (20.4 PPG)
  • Amu Saaka (F) – Furman (15.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG)
  • Tim Johnson (F) – Wofford (6.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
  • Noah Dahlman (C) – Wofford (16.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG)

6th Man

Omar Carter – Appalachian State: The Charleston Southern transfer will look to contribute early on as a junior. While in the Big South, he was freshman of the year in 2007-08.

Impact Newcomer

James Carlton - College of Charleston:  One of the top prospects out of the state of North Carolina, Carlton played in the 2010 NCCA East-West All-Star Game and Carolinas All-Star Basketball Classic. Carlton averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four blocks per game as a senior at South Central High School and is rated as a three-star power forward by Rivals.

Wofford head coach Mike Young has his Terriers on a mission in 2010-11.

What You Need to Know

  • Not surprisingly, the losses of Stephen Curry and Andrew Lovedale from Davidson led to a slide from the Wildcats, who made major strides under Bob McKillop in the latter part of the decade.
  • All 24 men’s and women’s teams will take part in the annual SoCon Tournament, the longest-running conference tournament in the nation.  McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will serve as host during March 3-7.
  • The Southern Conference ranks as the fourth oldest major college athletic conference in the United States. Only the Big Ten (1896), Missouri Valley (1907), and Southwestern Athletic (1920) are older.
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Summer School in the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 30th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Mike Young's Terriers Look to Lead the SoCon Again

Around The SoCon

  • Former Citadel coach Ed Conroy moves on to coach Tulane University. The Bulldogs hired former Maryland assistant coach Chuck Driesell, who was with the Terps for four seasons under head coach Gary Williams.
  • The Mountaineers hired former UNC star forward Jason Capel, who becomes the youngest head coach in Division I at 30 years old, to replace Buzz Peterson, who departs for UNC-Wilmington.
  • The Georgia Southern Eagles made a splash in its recruiting class coming in, ranking sixth among mid-major programs, according to ESPN.com.
  • Asheville, North Carolina, has been awarded the league’s men’s and women’s basketball tournament for 2012-14, to be held in the Asheville Civic Center, just a stone’s throw away from the Western Carolina campus. The facility will undergo a considerable renovation to prepare for the event.

Power Rankings

The Southern Conference will likely be a one-bid league in 2010-11, but the recent NCAA tournament expansion will certainly add motivation for teams on the rise to perform. With the return of forward Noah Dahlman (16.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG last season), Wofford is the early favorite to repeat as SoCon champs next season.

North Division

  1. Western Carolina – The Catamounts lost some very good talent from a team that won 22 games in 2009-10, including an impressive 14-2 home record. WCU lost its top two scorers in Brandon Giles and Jake Robinson, but return former freshman of the year Harouna Mutombo. Also, the Catamounts bring back spark plug Mike Williams, who contributed 9.4 points off the bench last season. Starting center Richie Gordon returns after posting 8.5 ppg and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. WCU welcomes four newcomers, including 6’4 guard Brandon Boggs, from Greenville, South Carolina. Boggs averaged 16 PPG in his senior season, earning him a spot on the South Carolina all-star team. Boggs scored a game-high 24 points in the contest.
  2. Appalachian State - The Mountaineers lost Buzz Peterson to UNC-Wilmington and welcome a new era with Jason Capel, who becomes the nation’s youngest head coach heading into the 2010-11 season. ASU won an impressive 24 games en route to the North Division crown last season. To repeat as champs, they are going to need Donald Sims to perform at a level similar to last season, when he averaged 20.4 points per game and was a sure thing from the stripe, with a league-leading 95 percent. Also returning is Isaac Butts, who led the team in rebounding, grabbing 8.1 rebounds per game last season. Two newcomers for the Mountaineers are Anthony Breeze, who transferred from Coastal Carolina last season, and Omar Carter, who transferred from Charleston Southern.
  3. Chattanooga – The Mocs have three starters returning from a team that went 15-18 last season. Chattanooga went 6-12 in conference play, tying UNC-Greensboro for third in the north division. Rising junior guard Ricky Taylor returns after putting up 11.4 points per game in 2009-2010. Keegan Bell, who averaged 7.6 points per game last season, is another starter from a year ago. Together, Taylor and Bell will look to provide the Mocs with a 1-2 punch in the backcourt. Three newcomers round out the roster, including some size in the frontcourt in Philip Jurick, who stands 6’11 and played at Chattanooga State Community College last season.
  4. Samford – The Bulldogs head into 2010-11 returning three starters from last year’s team, including leading scorer Josh Davis, who averaged 12.5 points per game and netted a team-high 85 three pointers. Also returning is starting center Andy King, who posted 6.6 points per game last season. The Bulldogs struggled on the road last season, going 4-10 away from Birmingham, and the team hopes that more veteran leadership will change their fate this season. Three newcomers will join the squad, including two in the frontcourt in Levi Barnes (6’10) and Drew Windler (6’9). Guard Greg Wooten rounds out the recruiting class for Samford.
  5. UNC-Greensboro – The Spartans return rising sophomore Kyle Randall, who was second on the team in points per game with 9.5. Also returning is fellow guard Brandon Evans, who averaged 8.5 points per game last season. The Spartans had a tough non-conference slate containing six ACC opponents, which contributed to a 2-11 record before conference play started. While overmatched in most of those contests, they hung around with Virginia Tech until late in the game Six of those losses came at home. Three newcomers join the team this season in Aaron Brackett, David Williams, and Aloysius Henry, who hopes to contribute right away.
  6. Elon - The Phoenix return their leading scorer in Drew Spradlin, who averaged 13.3 points per game last season as a sophomore. Also returning is starting guard Chris Long, who posted 9.9 points per game in his junior season. Sixth man Terrance Birdette returns as well, after scoring 6.8 points per game and seeing court time in all 32 games last season. There are five newcomers who join the Phoenix hoops squad in 2010. Incoming freshmen include Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger, Sebastian Koch, Lucas Troutman. Sophomore transfer Egheosa Edomwonyi from Rice will be a part of Elon’s quest for a Southern Conference championship. Isenbarger was a McDonalds All-American nominee and could be the prize in the recruiting class.

South Division

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Southern Conference Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Southern Conference Championship- Predictions

First/Second Rounds

March 5

(3S) Davidson vs. (6N) Elon – Davidson has had a better year than what people expected after losing Stephen Curry to the NBA draft. The Wildcats should win by double digits against a bad Elon team.

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