RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by KDoyle on November 9th, 2012

And so it begins. The time of year where we hear familiar voices on the television, faces on the floor, and our teams finally playing games that count in the standings. It is a beautiful time, indeed. With the games commencing in mere hours, we officially unveil RTC’s Preseason Top 25. In the future, you can expect our poll to come out every Monday morning. Along with the rankings will be the usual quick ‘n dirty analysis that takes a deeper dive into how the teams shake out #1-#25. To see how we did last year, check out our 2011-12 preseason poll—some right on the money (North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State), and others not so much (Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M). The QnD after the jump…

 

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Morning Five: 04.20.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 20th, 2012

  1. With the media starting to come down on the Wisconsin program for its handling of Jarrod Uthoff‘s attempt to transfer Bo Ryan decided to take matters into his own hands and went on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning for what most thought would be a creampuff interview. We have been critical of the show in the past, but M&M managed to make Ryan’s claims seem questionable even if the interrogation would not have reminded anybody of the work of Jack McCoy. While we give Ryan credit for stepping up to the media to answer questions (something his colleague Phil Martelli still has not done), we think that the Wisconsin public relations department might want to give Ryan a few lessons before he is steps in front of a microphone again. Notwithstanding his on-air performance Thursday morning, the school decided to ease its restrictions on Uthoff later in the afternoon. Whereas previously he was not allowed to transfer to 26 different schools (the entire ACC and Big Ten, plus three other schools on Wisconsin’s schedule), he will now be allowed to transfer to any school outside of the Big Ten.
  2. We have heard quite a few creative excuses trying to explain recruiting violations, but to our knowledge Memphis coach Josh Pastner is the first to blame his wife for the violation. Pastner, who has been forced to do more work after a member of his staff moved on, claims that he was trying to do an Internet search, but instead tweeted “Tony parker” on the official Memphis Tiger basketball account. The tweet was deleted a few minutes later, but Pastner had to report himself for a secondary recruiting violation relating to Tony Parker, the uncommitted senior out of Georgia . In his defense, Pastner claims that he had been trying to do too many things at once and his wife was yelling him for being too loud while on the phone, which had woken up the rest of the house, leading to his gaffe. While this seems possible and plausible, we would have gone with the excuse that we were tweeting about the San Antonio Spurs guard, who was having a spectacular game against the Los Angeles Lakers although the game had just tipped a few minutes before the tweet.
  3. We have heard of some outrageously expensive food items over the years, but never a $301 taco. That is until Florida‘s Erving Walker decided to steal one from a street vendor in Gainesville at 1 AM on March 30. Walker, who later said he was “just playing around”, took the taco without paying then ran from police before being caught. The judge in the case ordered Walker to pay the fine by September 27 after Walker pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft charges. Walker, who finished as the school’s all-time assist leader, may wind up playing basketball internationally as we doubt he will see NBA action for anything more than an occasional 10-day contract.
  4. ESPN is continuing to post columns by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and while they leave something to be desired (we were kind of hoping for the crotchety old man to take shots at the current system) it is interesting to read what he has to say about today’s one-and-done system especially in a year where his alma mater UCLA has at least one and possibly two such players who may lift the school back into the national spotlight. Essentially Abdul-Jabbar says that we live in a very different age and that it is unrealistic to harbor the romantic ideal of everybody staying four years because of the way society has changed. It is not exactly an earth-shattering statement, but it is something that some fans may need to be reminded of and Abdul-Jabbar may have enough gravitas to make that point stick.
  5. Some pundits may not believe it, but as Luke Winn points out there are a few talented players who stick around after their freshman season. Winn focuses on five rising sophomores with two who played major roles last year, another two who were productive if not spectacular, and a fifth who saw limited action due to a loaded frontline ahead of him. Interestingly, the one who saw the least time on the court may be the most desirable in the eyes of NBA scouts. The progression of these five players may end up determining next season’s national championship.
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Rushed Reaction: #7 Florida 84, #15 Norfolk State 50

Posted by Patrick Marshall on March 18th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Three-point shooting was the killing blow. The biggest difference between Friday and today was the three-point shooting by Florida. Against Virginia the Gators were completely cold behind the arc, only hitting one three before halftime. Against Norfolk State, the Gators hit seven before the half that effectively led to their 28-point lead. For the game the Gators shot 10-of-28 from three, a far cry from the four they made on Friday. Florida set a school record with made three-pointers this season and they will need those to go down as they progress through the tourney.
  2. Ball movement. Florida has done a great job in Omaha with its ball movement. Despite Norfolk State playing zone for a large part of the game, Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and the rest of the Gators were moving around and looking for the open man when the Spartans would shut off drives to the basket.  They were obviously quicker than Norfolk State, but they will have to keep up their intensity for the whole game. After getting out to a large lead on the Spartans, their intensity fell off quite a bit in the second half. But the Gators only turned the ball over eight times for the game. Constant ball movement is a big part of the Billy Donovan offense.
  3. Balance will win games. Florida doesn’t have a dominant player like Thomas Robinson or Anthony Davis, but their team is really balanced. Walker (15), Boynton (20), Bradley Beal (14), Mike Rosario (10), and Erik Murphy (10) all scored in double figures for the Gators. Patric Young didn’t even score his first field goal until early in the second half, as he finished with only six points.  It will take a combination of players having a good game for Florida to continue to advance.

Star of the Game. Kenny Boynton, Florida. Although the Gators were balanced, it was Boynton who got things going for Florida with his 20 points and seven rebounds.  His physical play got Norfolk State out of sync and they could not recover. 

Quotable. “I’m extremely proud of my team, we did things that have never happened before at our university.” – Anthony Evans, Norfolk State head coach

Sights & Sounds. The Norfolk State band again was in full force, this time on the total opposite end of court than Friday. However, they were still very powerful and the fans in the stands enjoyed their enthusiasm.  Even the Purdue band that was right next to me waiting for the next game, all they could say was “wow.”

Wildcard. A #15 seed has never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Still, Norfolk State won the hearts of fans in Omaha during this trip as there were pockets of fans wearing their green St. Patrick’s Day shirts to show their support for the Spartans.  The Gators have now advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the eighth time in school history, six of which have occurred under head coach Billy Donovan.

What’s Next? The Gators now head to Phoenix to take on Marquette in the Sweet Sixteen, where the Golden Eagles will try to slow down this quick Florida offense. The Florida guards look like they might be a little quicker than those from Marquette, but the Golden Eagles have a bit more inside. It should be a great game Thursday night.

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ACC in the NCAAs: Scouting Virginia vs. Florida

Posted by KCarpenter on March 16th, 2012

This is a tough draw for Virginia. Florida is a very good team for a #7 seed, and that more than offsets the advantage Virginia could have theoretically gained as an unusually good #10 seed. In this match-up the NCAA did something that fans of contrasting styles love: pitting an elite offensive team against an elite defensive team. By Ken Pomeroy’s offensive efficiency rankings, Florida has the second best offense in the country after Missouri while Virginia has the 104th. On defense, Virginia ranks 5th in efficiency while Florida ranks 121st. Virginia’s star is an elite post player in Mike Scott, while Florida relies on it’s triumvirate of guards (Bradley Beal, Kenny Bonyton, and Erving Walker) to rain down threes from the perimeter. Polar opposites of each other in terms of focus, both teams share an affinity for slow pace and play their starters heavy minutes. So what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Well, in this case, the news doesn’t look particularly good for Virginia.

How Will Donovan Contain Mike Scott?

Of all the teams in the country, few match the statistical profile of Virginia as well as Florida’s SEC brother, Alabama. Like Virginia, Alabama is a defensive-minded team that struggles to score efficiently with a post-centered attack. The Gators played Alabama twice this year, once in the regular season and once in the conference tournament and walked away with the victory both times. It’s tempting to attribute these victories, like many of Florida’s victories, to hot three-point shooting, but the Crimson Tide actually did a pretty good job against the Gators, holding them to only 28.6% and 33.3% from behind the arc. Yet Florida won, by making enough threes, getting enough offensive rebounds, and forcing enough turnovers to get the win. Does the same fate await Virginia?

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Bracket Prep: West Region Analysis

Posted by AMurawa on March 12th, 2012

Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), South (11 AM), Midwest (2 PM), West (4 PM). Here, Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) breaks down the West Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC West Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCwestregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Andrew breaking down the West Region here.

West Region

Favorite: Michigan State, #1, 27-7. This is the fourth time in the Tom Izzo era that Michigan State has earned a #1 seed. The previous three times (1999, 2000, and 2001), they advanced at least to the Final Four, winning the national title in 2000. Led by likely All-American senior forward Draymond Green, this is, almost without question, the best Spartan team since those teams at the turn of the century. They do have to go forward without injured freshman Branden Dawson, out for the year with a torn ACL, but senior Brandon Wood stepped into his starting spot and he shot the ball well in the Big Ten Tournament this weekend. You can say that there are more talented teams in this region (Missouri and Marquette come to mind), but beating Izzo in March is always easier said than done.

Draymond Green And Michigan State Are The Team To Beat In The West Region (AP)

Should They Falter: Missouri, #2, 30-4. While the Spartans are the favorite, the Tigers are a solid 1-A. The Selection Committee had Mizzou as the #8 overall seed, but they have been excellent all season long behind the most efficient offense in the nation. The Tigers are undersized (only two players taller than 6’6” are in the rotation) and lack depth (they only play seven guys), but head coach Frank Haith gets every last drop out of the guys who do play. And with guards like Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Phil Pressey, and Michael Dixon, they have enough talent on the perimeter to cause plenty of trouble.

Grossly Overseeded: BYU, #14 (First Four), 26-8. I don’t have a whole lot of problems with any of the seeding this year; I think the Selection Committee by and large did a pretty good job. But I’m not sure why BYU is in the tournament. Their lone quality win of the season is over Gonzaga, a team who doesn’t have much in the way of quality wins itself. I would rather have seen a team like Drexel or Oral Roberts (teams admittedly without a ton of big wins either) get the Cougars’ spot. The Dragons and Golden Eagles both had better records against top 50 RPI teams, and both excelled in their conference regular season. I will even take Iona, their First Four opponent, over the Cougs despite a complete lack of quality wins on the Gaels’ resume. The committee gave Iona credit for scheduling a tough non-conference slate, and their strength of schedule out of conference even exceeds BYU’s.

Grossly Underseeded: Missouri, #2, 30-4. I’m having trouble working up a whole lot of outrage about anything in the bracket, but Missouri should not have dropped to the #8 overall seed. To me, they were right in the conversation with Kansas for the #5 overall seed (and I might have given Missouri the edge, although the committee docked them for a relatively tame non-conference schedule). The only difference for the Tigers in terms of their placement in the bracket is that had they earned the #5 overall seed, they would have been dropped in the St. Louis regional instead of being shipped West. But the good news is that they still are in the bracket with the lowest #1 seed. It all works out.

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SEC Morning Five: 03.05.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 5th, 2012

  1. Florida has lost three games in a row, but that doesn’t mean the Gators are lacking in confidence. “I don’t think our confidence is ever going to be a problem,” said Florida junior Erik Murphy, who added 14 points and tied a season high with eight rebounds. “We’ve got a bunch of confident guys on this team. We haven’t been playing too great and hopefully we can start putting it together.” The Gators are playing with effort, despite the results. “Whether you play hard or not, you’ve got to come out with the win,” Florida senior point guard Erving Walker said. “We’re in a one-and-done situation now, so we gotta figure this out.” Florida will have a bye into the second round of the SEC Tournament for the extra benefit of added practice time.
  2. The Florida players may not have come through against Kentucky, but the Gators’ fans came ready. Florida fans distributed this chant guide to organize the crowd’s heckling efforts against Kentucky players during Sunday’s game. But do Florida fans really need a guide to remember how to cheer? While it was a was a nice effort, Gator fans were really digging deep on this one. Needles? Wait, Anthony Davis has a unibrow? The heckling fell about as flat as the Gators defense on this Sunday afternoon.
  3. Tennessee is officially on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, but the Vols know they just need to focus on winning. “Whatever the numbers are, there’s nothing we can do but play games and win games,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin said on Sunday. “We control our own situation. Whoever we play against, all we can do is everything in our power to win that game.” Just how many games do the Vols need to win? “A win at the SEC tourney makes NCAA possible,” ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said, “two wins makes it probable.” Tennessee gets the winner of Ole Miss and Auburn on Friday. The Vols have an RPI of 76 currently, and obviously have work to do in order to feel safe on selection Sunday.
  4. Some might argue that the Vols already have the look and feel of an NCAA Tournament team. The progress the Vols have made under Martin was obvious when Tennessee kept fighting on Saturday even when Vanderbilt cut the Vols’ second half lead to just two points.  “That’s our growth as a team,” Tennessee point guard Trae Golden said. “Back in the day, at the beginning of the season, we probably would’ve lost the lead and lost the game.” Pundits can compare numbers like the RPI all day long, but sometimes a team has to pass the eye test. And Martin knows he has an NCAA team on his hands. “We’re changing the culture and defining what we expect,” he said.
  5. Ole Miss is also in the hunt for an NCAA berth with a solid showing in the SEC Tournament, but the Rebels will need Jelan Kendrick to make an impact. Kendrick didn’t play in the Rebels’ win on Saturday because of a coach’s decision. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said he would “revisit” the situation before determining whether the troubled freshman will play in the SEC Tournament on Thursday. Saturday marked the third time that Kennedy chose not to play Kendrick even though he was eligible to play.
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Still Plenty of Questions Surrounding Gators

Posted by rtmsf on February 29th, 2012

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after last night’s Florida-Vanderbilt game in Nashville.

As the college basketball regular season draws to a close, talk of bubbles being popped and which teams will secure #1 seeds dominates the conversation. What does not get discussed as much is the teams that are solidly in the field, but who no one expects to hear much from once the Big Dance arrives. One such team is the struggling Florida Gators. After dropping their second road contest in a row to Vanderbilt on Tuesday night, the Gators are staring at the likelihood of ending the regular season with three consecutive losses.

For Better Or Worse, Billy Donovan's Crew Lives By The Three-Point Shot (AP)

Mighty Kentucky comes to the O’Connell Center on Sunday in the regular season finale seeking a perfect SEC record (assuming a home win over Georgia Thursday night). From what the Gators have shown us in their last two outings – and from what Kentucky has shown us over the past two months – there is little reason to think the Wildcats won’t achieve conference perfection. A look at Florida’s resume shows very few wins over quality teams. The Gators have handled most of the teams they should have beaten – Tennessee (twice) and Georgia notwithstanding – but home victories over Florida State and Vanderbilt and a road win against an Alabama team playing without its two best players are the only wins the Gators have over NCAA Tournament-bound teams.

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SEC Morning Five: 2.22.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on February 22nd, 2012

  1. Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators are trying to take things one game at a time, but it is proving difficult as Florida fights for a higher seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. “I don’t really talk to them about the seeding and those kind of things,” Donovan said. “I’ve always been a big believer you kind of take care what’s in front of you right then, and now and talking about something that’s going to be two or three weeks down the road, that will come.” Florida insists it is focusing on Auburn, but even point guard Erving Walker admits he “sometimes” checks mock tournament websites like brackets produced by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. And what is his opinion of Florida’s current placement on those websites? “Joe Lunardi is wrong sometimes,” Walker said.
  2. One team that needs to begin peeking at mock NCAA Tournament sites if it is not already doing so is the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are currently on the bubble according to USA Today’s latest bracketology. “What’s going on with the Bulldogs,” asks USA Today writer Nicole Auerbach. “Three not-great losses in a row. Need to turn things around quick, but for now, MSU stays in the field because of those three Top 50 wins.” After a tough home loss to Kentucky on Tuesday night, Mississippi State has another chance for a big win against Alabama that could propel the Bulldogs onto solid ground.
  3. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury prepared for his team’s matchup with Kentucky on Tuesday by taking a shot at former player Twany Beckham who transferred to Kentucky. “I saw his stats the other day in SEC play. Did he make one or attempt one shot,” asked Stansbury. “He’s seeing some pretty good basketball. He’s getting a front-row ticket every night. Yes, sir.” But Beckham fired right back via his Twitter account saying, “that dude wanna coach where I’m playin at…not worried at all”. Although Beckham didn’t play against the Bulldogs on Tuesday night, it certainly added fuel to an already heated rivalry.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari played a game of his own, as he praised Stansbury’s Bulldogs relentlessly prior to Tuesday’s showdown.Dee Bost is good. You’ve got guys that could go for 30 (points),” Calipari said. “You’ve got five of them that could go for 30. All the sudden, you’re not just, ‘Stop this guy.’ You can’t do it that way. You’ve got to play basketball and try to make it difficult for them.” While Calipari’s point about the strength of the Bulldogs roster was not lost, not a single player on the Bulldogs roster has scored 30 points all season. But Calipari zeroed in on the most likely player to do so, and the one who has come the closest, Arnett Moultrie. “Arnett could go for 35 or 40 (points),” Calipari said. “It could happen, just like (Jeffery) Taylor went for whatever he went for (23 first-half points) against Mississippi.” Calipari’s motivation tactics worked yet again for the Wildcats as they rallied in the second half on Tuesday night, while not allowing a single Mississippi State player to get to 30 points during the game.
  5. Georgia coach Mark Fox had high praise for Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins after the Commodores defeated the Dogs 61-52 on Sunday. Jenkins buried six of eight three point shots on his way to 28 points.“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever coached against,” Fox said about the reigning SEC Player of the Week. “I mean he’s phenomenal. He really is.” On the season, the Bulldogs have been a fairly strong team in guarding the perimeter shot. The 10 made threes by the Commodores were tied for the most Georgia has given up all season. Then again, it is difficult to defend Jenkins, who is a special player with an incredible outside shot. “We didn’t defend him well today all around,” Georgia guard Gerald Robinson said. “Everybody got a piece, got a taste in zone. The guy can shoot, flat-out shoot it. No ands, ifs or buts about it.”
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SEC Set Your Tivo: 02.11.12

Posted by EMoyer on February 10th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

#1 Kentucky @ Vanderbilt  - 9:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN (*****)

  • ESPN’s College Gameday descends on Nashville, Tenn., for the first time ever for this SEC clash between the Wildcats and Commodores.
  • Vanderbilt has won four straight games at home against #1 teams. The Commodores defeated Tennessee on Feb. 26, 2008; Florida on Feb. 17, 2007; Kentucky on Jan. 13, 1993 and North Carolina on Dec. 5, 1987. All-time, Vanderbilt has four wins against top-ranked Kentucky squads (Mar. 3, 1951; Jan. 6, 1959, Jan. 6, 1964 and the 1993 game).
  • The Commodores have won five of their last six against the Wildcats in Memorial Gym.
  • Youth meets experience on the interior when freshman sensation Anthony Davis squares off with Festus Ezeli. Davis has been breaking block records throughout the year and Ezeli set the Vanderbilt all-time record last month.

Tennessee @ #8 Florida – 4:00 PM EST Saturday on SEC Network (***)

 

  • The 12-12 Volunteers meet the 19-5 Gators looking to sweep the season series for the third time in the last five seasons (2007-08 and 2008-09) and continue their recent control of the series (winning 11 of the last 17).
  • When Florida came to Knoxville, Tenn., in early January, the Volunteers held the Gators to a season-low 56 points. In league games, Tennessee has held its opponents to an SEC-leading 60.2 points per game.
  • Jarnell Stokes sat on the UT bench when the teams met in January as he had not yet been cleared to play. In seven games he has averaged close to nine points and eight rebounds per game. However, he strained his right wrist on Tuesday and did not play against South Carolina on Wednesday.
  • Florida will don its Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms, designed by Nike as a way to honor its recent national championship programs.
  • The Gators have made 10 or more 3-pointers in 16 games this year, the most such games in a season under Donovan. Florida had seasons with 15 (1998-99, 2008-09).
  • Erving Walker needs eight assists to set the Florida all-time record. Ronnie Montgomery dished out 503 assists from 1985-88.

Plenty of SEC games slated for Saturday:

  • South Carolina @ Arkansas (1:30 PM on SEC Network) –  After stubbing their toe at Auburn and at Georgia, the Razorbacks return home where they sport a 16-1 record. Conversely, the Gamecocks are just 1-6 on the road and have lost four straight overall.
  • Georgia @ #20 Mississippi State (4 PM Saturday on SEC Network/ESPN3.com) – In the battle of Bulldogsthe Bulldogs (Athens version) scored their biggest margin of victory this season with a 22-point win against the Razorbacks on Arkansas. The Bulldogs (Starkville) face their second Thursday-Saturday turnaround this season and enter off a 10-point win vs rival Ole Miss.
  • Auburn @ Ole Miss (7 PM on FSN) – The Tigers and Rebels meet for the second time in less than a month. The Rebels suffered a one-point overtime loss to the Tigers on Jan. 14, their lone loss to a team outside the RPI top 100. Their last four losses are by a combined 17 points. Auburn has lost five of seven since scoring that win against Ole Miss.
  • Alabama @ LSU (7 PM on ESPN2) – After a four-game slide that followed Alabama’s 69-53 win at home against LSU on Jan. 11, the Crimson Tide has responded with three straight wins. Conversely, the first Alabama-LSU matchup starting the Tigers on their current 2-6 slide.

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2014
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

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SEC Morning Five: 02.02.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 2nd, 2012

  1. Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post spotlighted Florida forward Will Yeguete in advance of Thursday’s contest with South Carolina. Yeguete has moved into the starting lineup after Patric Young’s injured ankle forced him to come off the bench. Last year, Yeguete averaged 3.4 turnovers per 40 minutes played; this year, that ratio is down to 1.2 turnovers per 40 minutes. “It became very difficult to play him because when he touched the ball, there was a good chance he was going to turn it over,” said coach Billy Donovan.
  2. At DeathValleyVoice.com, a Wednesday story wondered aloud if a 3-6 finish and a 15-15 season would put LSU head coach Trent Johnson on the hot seat. While asking the question, the article does take the time to point out that this year’s squad has shown marked improvement in the national rankings in scoring, scoring defense, rebounding margin, turnover margin and free-throw percentage.
  3. In three of their last four games, Vanderbilt has been hurt by its opponent’s three-point shooting. Arkansas and Mississippi State combined to shoot 19-of-43 (44.2%) in defeating the Commodores while Middle Tennessee almost pulled off the upset on Saturday thanks in part to connecting on 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. None of those teams rank in the top 100 in three-point percentage. However, the next team on the Commodores’ schedule, Florida, leads the nation in three-pointers made per game.
  4. For the second consecutive weekend, Florida will be part of the controversial Thursday-Saturday scheduling as the Gators host South Carolina today followed by welcoming in Vanderbilt on Saturday. In the last three years, Florida has gone 11-1 in Thursday-Saturday matchups and as Erving Walker said last week,  “The coaches just prepare us well. We’re young kids. We shouldn’t be worn down with a day of rest. We had a day of rest and we were ready to go. We like to play.”
  5. In an Opelika Auburn News story, Auburn head coach Tony Barbee anticipated Noel Johnson, the transfer from Clemson, having an immediate impact on Auburn. Instead, over his first nine games as a  new Tiger, Johnson has not met expectations, averaging just 1.2 points in 11.4 minutes per game. Worse, he has shot only 15.6% from the floor. Johnson remained invisible in Auburn’s win against Georgia as he missed his only shot in six minutes of action.
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SEC Morning Five: 02.01.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 1st, 2012

  1. The Anthony Davis season-long block party continued in Lexington last night as he blocked seven shots in Kentucky’s 69-44 win. Davis increased his block total to 108 on the season, good for 10th on the SEC single-season list. He trails only Shaquille O’Neal for the SEC freshman record, when he blocked 115 shots in the 1989-90 season. For the first time in more than 1,800 games, the Wildcats held three straight opponents to 50 or fewer points (Georgia 44, LSU 50, Tennessee 44). Kentucky had not limited three teams to 50 or fewer points in three consecutive games since the 1950-51 season. On the offensive side, UK hit its first 11 shots and jumped out to a 26-8 lead.
  2. Arkansas remained perfect at Bud Walton Arena this season beating Vanderbilt, 82-74, thanks to a 50-point effort in the second half. The Razorbacks improved to 16‐0 at home this season, tying the school record for the most consecutive home wins to start a season (matching the 1993-94 national championship team). The Razorbacks now own home victories against Mississippi State, Michigan and Vanderbilt; the last time that Arkansas defeated three ranked teams in the same season came in 2007‐08 when it beat Mississippi State, Florida and Vanderbilt.
  3. The only contest on Wednesday night features Georgia traveling to Auburn to face the Tigers at 8 PM on the SEC Network. Although neither team is threatening the top of the SEC standings, the series is extremely tight as the Bulldogs took a two-game lead in the series (89-87) after a pair of wins last year. Over the 176 games, Georgia leads the all-time score, 10,427-10,223, a difference of a mere 204 points. The home team has won 16 of the last 20 contests.
  4. Florida has moved to the top of the national leaderboard in assist/turnover ratio at 1.55. The Gators have increased that mark over their last four games (wins against South Carolina, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State) by dishing out 66 assists against only 33 turnovers. Point guard Erving Walker paces the team with 106 assists and the senior has only 43 turnovers, good for a 2.47 A/TO ratio. He entered his final season sporting a 1.67 A/TO ratio. In the previous two seasons, the Gators sported a 1.14 A/TO ratio, a mark that ranked just outside the top 50 in the NCAA.
  5. Since starting 12-1, Mississippi State has gone just 5-4. In defense of the Bulldogs, the losses are all to RPI top-50 schools (Baylor, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Florida). However, Brad Locke surmised that the Bulldogs’ lack of depth could be showing itself. The top three minute-loggers in the SEC come from Mississippi State with Dee Bost (35.0), Arnett Moultrie (34.2) and Rodney Hood (34.2) seeing significant minutes. The Bulldogs feature just 10 scholarship players, and that still includes Renardo Sidney, who as Locke writes is “clearly out of shape and overweight, and he seems incapable of handling any bigger of a playing load.”
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Set Your TiVo: 01.27 – 01.29

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 27th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

There aren’t too many big time matchups on the schedule this weekend but it’s still a decent slate of games to keep you occupied.

Mississippi State @ #12 Florida – 1:30 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com  (***)

Florida May Struggle to Contain the Mississippi State Big Men

  • It has gone largely unnoticed but Florida has won six of its past seven games since losing at Rutgers in December. The Gators bring the top-rated offensive efficiency to the table and are a threat to win any game they play because of it. However, Billy Donovan’s team is thin up front and lacks the lockdown defense elite teams exhibit. Against Mississippi State, Florida could very have major problems dealing with the Bulldogs’ front line. Patric Young attempted double figure shots for only the fifth time this season against Mississippi on Thursday. Without a go-to guy in the post, Florida’s offense revolves around Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton with Brad Beal and forward Erik Murphy, a pick-and-pop specialist. Florida will attempt plenty of threes, connecting 40.7% of the time. Scoring from outside shouldn’t be a major problem against Mississippi State but stopping the Bulldogs inside will be.
  • Rick Stansbury has a huge advantage in this game with Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney in his frontcourt. Florida can’t match those two players and the Bulldogs should be pounding the ball inside all day long on Saturday. However, Dee Bost has to be able to create and get into the lane in order to get Moultrie and Sidney going early and often. If Bost isn’t able to penetrate Florida’s defense, the Gators can pack it in and dare Mississippi State to beat them from the outside. Of more concern to Stansbury has to be his defense. In SEC play, the Bulldogs are allowing opponents to shoot 43.4% from beyond the three point arc. If Florida shoots anywhere near that percentage, it’s likely going to be a long afternoon at the O-Dome for the visitors from Starkville.
  • In order to steal an important road win, the Bulldogs have to rebound and score in the paint as well as in transition off long rebounds since neither team turns the ball over much. Fast break points will be at a premium in this game but whichever team wins that category will have an advantage. However, the most important part of Mississippi State’s game plan has to be defending the three point line. If the Bulldogs can’t, they won’t win in Gainesville. Even with all that said, this is a game Mississippi State can win with a strong effort. Florida needed a second half rally to defeat Ole Miss in its last game and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Mississippi State could spring the upset.
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