A Column of Enchantment: Fantasy Booking ESPNU

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 5th, 2015

The wonderful idea of ESPNU turns 10 years old this week. The reason I mention it as an idea is because it hasn’t exactly been what it was originally designed to be — you know, a network dedicated solely to the world of college sports. Now, while it is mostly revolved around everything college athletic competition related, the programming on it sometimes goes off the beaten trail.



All of that did make to do some pondering, though, which is an incredibly dangerous thing. What if ESPNU was scheduled the way it should be booked for a network designed to cover all things in amateur athletics? Don’t get me wrong either. I get why they do some of the things they do. As much as I dislike Colin Cowherd, he is put on that network to generate ratings, attention and other things that something like Katz Korner unlikely provides. I would argue that — if the network truly dedicated itself in a more proper way — that more broadcasts of college-only related material would work. In my opinion, and it may very will be only mine, is is ESPN’s lack of dedicating ESPNU in the correct areas that makes it the non-blood relative of the ESPN family of networks. ESPN is obviously the patriarch, with ESPN2 the spouse. I suppose it also makes ESPN Classic (I honestly don’t even know if that’s still a thing) a distant cousin. ESPN3 and Watch ESPN are like the cool in-laws — you really like them, but that has as much to do with consuming them whenever you want and never being over saturated with their presence. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Here is how we are going to go about booking ESPNU. I am going to go through a random day’s lineup. After each show I will say if it works, why it works, how it can be tweaked and some other nonsense. Now, with that being said, I should also mention that one of my true dislikes is ESPNU’s constant rerun approach, mostly because of its lack of original programming. There might be instances when I will like a program on the network, but when we book a day’s lineup to my suiting later, it will appear less in the day’s programming. For your information and reference I am using an actual 24-hour window of the channel’s broadcast lineup — as pulled from ESPN’s own TV listing section — for the reference of listings. Let’s start at 9:oo AM ET and take a look at their lineup.

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Morning Five: 10.01.14 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 1st, 2014


  1. Welcome to October. For many Americans, the 10th month of the calendar represents the leaves changing, the heart of the football season, the if you’re over 55, the World Series. For us, it means we’re talkin’ ’bout practice. Officially, college basketball practice won’t begin until two days from now — Friday, October 3 is this year’s earliest possible date for teams to start lacing them up — but with the preseason now basically here, you’ll be hit with a flurry of previews, prospectuses and all the rest of it in short order. Forty-four days until tipoff…
  2. And just over two weeks until Midnight Madness, or what the modern-day equivalent has become with all of its high-profile musical acts, firework shows, and cults of personality. ESPNU on Tuesday announced its complete lineup for the October 17 programming, which begins at 6:00 PM ET and will cycle between both of last season’s national finalists — Connecticut and Kentucky — along with Arizona, Gonzaga, Florida and San Diego State over the next three hours. ESPN3 will offer the entire proceedings that same night from Harvard, Mercer, Kentucky, Connecticut, NC State and Florida Gulf Coast, if you’re not interested in all of the studio time cutting into the Madness festivities. And if you can’t wait a mere two weeks, ESPN3 will carry Kansas’ “Late Night in the Phog” on October 10 at 7:30 PM ET, if you want to get a first look at Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre (unsolicited advice: you do).
  3. Speaking of ESPN’s wall-to-wall college basketball coverage, the organization also announced on Tuesday that Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg will replace Jalen Rose and Digger Phelps on this year’s version of College Gameday. As Matt Yoder describes in his writeup at Awful Announcing, Williams and Greenberg have both come on strong with their sharp studio analysis in recent years, and with the stale Phelps now retired and Rose focusing on his preferred NBA, this seems like a good crew to pair with host Rece Davis and Renaissance Man Jay Bilas. But the bigger news that came out of this report from our perspective is that ESPN is planning on finally, finally, finally moving to the College Gameday football model, where the group camps out at the campus site of the week’s biggest game, regardless of whether ESPN is carrying it on prime time. Certainly there will be some overlap — do we really believe that Duke-UNC won’t be one of those games? — but this is a long-awaited improvement.
  4. Let’s talk about prestigious public universities that play college basketball, shall we? Out west, the People’s Republic of California at Berkeley has decided that a descending APR score along with middling graduation rates does not befit a school that ranks among the top 10 universities in the world. An AP report stated that Cal is likely to adopt recommendations made by a task force that will raise admissions standards for its student-athletes. Let’s just call this what it is: the Stanford Envy Rule. Given that a certain rival school a bit south and across the San Francisco Bay from Berkeley has managed to figure out a way to win in both football and basketball while retaining high APR scores (1,000) and graduation rates (83%), it was inevitable that Golden Bears’ brass was going to try something to fix the problem. It may very well improve the academic side of the equation; the athletic side, however, may need new head coach Cuonzo Martin to find more diamonds in the rough.
  5. In the Southwest, the Behemoth Otherwise Known as the Athletic Department at the University of Texas at Austin has decided that its $165.7 million in annual revenue (FY13) isn’t enough to unilaterally fund the construction of a new basketball arena to replace the sterile on-campus Erwin Center. Speaking to a local civic group earlier this week, Texas athletic director Steve Patterson told the crowd that the cost of a new $500 million arena should, at least in part, be shouldered by the taxpaying citizens of the Lone Star State. His underlying argument: that the city of Austin has enjoyed the free services of a nice mid-sized arena for 35 years without having “invested a nickel” in its construction or operation. Wow. Of course, Patterson’s flaw here is that he’s asking for public funding for a basketball arena in an area that’s lukewarm at best about the sport. Why not just build another Godzillatron and be done with it?
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In America East Race, Vermont vs. Stony Brook Looms Large

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on January 24th, 2014

Stony Brook entered 2013-14 with a combined 49-15 record in conference play over the previous four seasons, a stretch which included three regular season titles and a few trips to the NIT — a categorical success by most measures. But for Steve Pikiell and the Seawolves, there’s one ever-important goal that has continuously eluded them despite all that winning, often in heartbreaking fashion: a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Odd things tend to happen in a league that rewards the highest remaining seed in its conference championship game home court advantage. And that is why Stony Brook’s tilt against fellow-undefeated Vermont tonight looms large in the team’s quest to go Dancing — the top seed matters in the America East.

Jameel Warney and the Seawolves look to take control of the America East tonight. (Ryan Restivo/Big Apple Buckets)

Jameel Warney and the Seawolves look to take control of the America East tonight. (Ryan Restivo/Big Apple Buckets)

Based on tangibles alone, the Seawolves are probably the most talented team in the conference, featuring a stable of excellent guards and one supremely skilled, load of a big man in sophomore Jameel Warney. The 6’8’’, 280-pound center is almost unguardable when he gets the ball on the low block, either using his size to back down defenders or finding buckets by utilizing his wide range of post moves, the soft-touch baby hook being among his favorites. With any one of team’s backcourt studs able to attack the basket — Dave Coley and Anthony Jackson the senior leaders, Carson Puriefoy the breakout sophomore — or run the pick-and-roll with Warney (who also possesses great hands, mind you), Stony Brook has a clear personnel advantage over just about every other league opponent. Indeed, Pikiell’s group would probably be the standalone favorite this season if it weren’t for one area where it might have a meaningful disadvantage, especially against Vermont: experience.

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In Case You Were Out Friday Night: Green Bay and Billy the Kid

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on January 18th, 2014

If you hit the town Friday night to enjoy a few beverages or catch up on Oscar-nominated flicks and you missed the Horizon League/MAAC double-header on ESPNU, allow us to catch you up on a couple storylines that emerged from two excellent basketball games.

Alec Brown and the Phoenix can play with anyone this season. (Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics)

Alec Brown and the Phoenix can play with anyone this season. (Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics)

Green Bay has tremendous potential. Green Bay withstood another monstrous dunk  by Jerran Young to beat Wright State on Friday night and move to 4-0 in the Horizon League, marking its eighth straight win overall. Alec Brown and Keifer Sykes again led the charge for Brian Wardle’s club, combining for 42 points and controlling the game from start to finish, even as the Raiders made numerous mini-runs throughout the second half. Now 14-3 and with metric rankings that scream ‘dangerous mid-major’, it’s time to start asking the question: Just how high is the ceiling for the Phoenix? If the team’s recent play is any indication, the answer might be “really, really high” — as in, NCAA-Tournament-victory-or-victories high. For one, there probably isn’t another inside-out combination as productive and dynamic as Brown and Sykes at the mid-major level. Brown is a legitimate NBA prospect (scouts were in the building on Friday night) whose athletic, 7’1” frame and ability to shoot from the perimeter (50% from three) — when he’s not dominating the paint — make him unstoppable on most nights. Sykes, meanwhile, is a quick, explosive point guard whose skills as a distributor are surpassed only by his scoring prowess — he dropped a career-high 34 points against Milwaukee last week and had 32 against Wisconsin in November. The rest of the group — players like the athletic forward Greg Mays and rebounding/defensive maven Jordan Fouse — complete a Green Bay team well-rounded enough to sit 42nd overall in KenPom’s rankings, having already beaten ACC-contender Virginia and pushed Wisconsin to the wire earlier in the season. Sure, the Phoenix could go on to drop several Horizon contests, lose in the league tournament and miss the Big Dance altogether. But it’s just as easy to see this team winning the conference, embracing the role of disrespected underdog and pulling off an upset or two in March.

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Big East M5: 11.16.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 16th, 2012

  1. ESPNU’s National Signing Day Special airs tonight, and features two top-30 players who may select Big East schools. Four-star center Kennedy Meeks will reportedly decide between Georgetown and North Carolina. Meeks is a big-bodied post player who should be able to dominate the glass at the next level.  Four-star Tyler Roberson will choose between SyracuseVillanova, and Kansas. Roberson would fit well in both Jim Boeheim’s and Jay Wright’s up-tempo systems.  He has range out to the NBA three-point line, and his coach Dave Boff from Roselle Catholic in New Jersey calls him the best rebounder in the state.
  2. Following a big win in Germany over Michigan State, UConn fans are pretty excited about their prospects this season, with a pair of student writers debating the possibility of the Huskies claiming the one title they can win this year – a Big East regular season crown. While the Huskies are certainly a talented team, they lack the depth and experience of the top-tier Big East teams, and the grind of the conference season does not bode well for teams in that situation. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are both talented scorers, but neither is a tremendously efficient player, and if one has a really off night it will be interesting to see what other players are capable of picking up the slack. The Huskies are talented, but choosing them to win the Big East is an aggressive prediction.
  3. In other news about a wiser monetary investment in Connecticut basketball, interim coach Kevin Ollie further demonstrated his loyalty to the program with a $100,000 donation to the new UConn Basketball Developmental Center. Combined with his big first win over Tom Izzo and the blessing of his mentor Jim Calhoun, Ollie seems to be doing all the right things in order to have his coaching contract extended at UConn. He really needs to just focus on his team improving every day in practice so that they can compete in every game where they lace them up.
  4. One of the major themes of this early season seems to be the growth of many big players in the conference.  Yesterday’s M5 touched on the evolution of Eric Atkins, and today we learn about Louisville’s Russ Smith‘s own maturity as a player.  Smith spent last year as a sparkplug off the bench for the Cardinals, and while he had a penchant for the big play, his usage rate was incredibly high and he was prone to big mistakes as well. Going into this year, Rick Pitino tasked Russ with improving his consistency and becoming a more reliable basketball player. Eamonn Brennan’s ESPN article also delves into the etymology of Smith’s nickname “Russdiculous.” I’m not sure if it’ll ever catch on outside of Louisville, but if it’s good enough for one of Pitino’s horses, it’s good enough for me.
  5. This early signing period has been a joyous occasion for Marquetteas the school looks to bring in one of the best classes in school history. The Golden Eagles, who in the past have built the program on the backs of underrated players and junior college prospects from all over the nation, focused on higher-rated high school talent this time around, and were able to keep a few Milwaukee-area stars at home. Scout has Marquette’s 2013 class ranked seventh in the nation, with four top-100 players committed to Buzz Williams. If this class can pan out for the school, we may see the Golden Eagles’ ascendance from conference contender to top-flight program.
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Morning Five: 09.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 25th, 2012

  1. If you’re in the market for an experienced scorer just a few weeks before practice begins and you missed out on the extremely late and unanticipated transfers of Xavier’s Dez Wells and Rice’s Arsalan Kazemi, you might still be in luck. Washington State shooting guard Reggie Moore was dismissed from his team on Monday for an undisclosed “violation of team rules,” effectively ending his career in Pullman and making him an immediate free agent for a team in need of some help. Even if Moore were able to find a school with an open scholarship at this late date, it’s unlikely he’d be eligible for the upcoming season anyway; but, Moore has shown flashes of offensive pop (10.7 PPG) and good play-making acumen (4.4 APG) in his three years at Wazzu. Whether Moore will be able to clean up his act (he was suspended in 2011 for marijuana possession) is another story, but sometimes the incentive of a last, best chance in a new environment is what it takes.
  2. On Monday ESPNU announced its television schedule for this year’s Midnight Madness whirlwind, scheduled to begin at 5 PM on October 12, which, if you’re scoring at home, is a shade over 17 days from now. The broadcast will begin at likely preseason #1 Indiana with an actual nuts-and-bolts practice rather than the fan frenzy Hoosier Hysteria (scheduled for one week later), and will be followed by a studio show peeking in on 12 other prominent programs including Kentucky, Missouri, Baylor, North Carolina, Georgetown, NC State, Syracuse, Murray State, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Florida State and Kansas. While we’re absolutely thrilled to have college basketball in any form coming back in two weeks and change, can we strongly encourage the producers at ESPNU to focus predominantly on the action on the floor at these schools rather than endlessly talking at us in the studio? There will be plenty of time for that as we get closer to the start of the season.
  3. In yesterday’s M5 we mentioned a piece by Gregg Doyel excoriating the NCAA for its presumed lack of interest in aggressively investigating the allegations involving Lance Thomas’ 2009 trip to a New York City jeweler. In the interest of equal time, today it’s North Carolina‘s turn. AOL Fanhouse‘s David Whitley doesn’t break any new ground in his scathing piece against the governing body (and his missive could be premature, depending on what the Martin Report shows), but the way in which he frames the NCAA’s lack of interest in the school’s academic scandal is amusing. Whitley’s best line: “The fact a basketball power like UConn got nailed shows that the NCAA is somewhat serious about putting the student in student-athlete. The fact UNC skated shows that the NCAA is still the NCAA. It wrote the manual on double standards and arbitrary justice. In fact, NCAA officials could teach a course on those subjects. If they taught it at North Carolina, it would be in front of an empty room.” The NCAA is an easy target to pile on — everyone knows that — but its weirdly inconsistent usage of precedent given very similar sets of facts is without question confounding.
  4. With rumors persisting that Class of 2014 superstar prep player Andrew Wiggins will reclassify to the Class of 2013 soon, one of his peers beat him to the idea. Noah Vonleh, a 6’8″ power forward who was considered a top five player in his class, has performed enough academic work at New Hampton School (NH) to reclassify as a senior for the current academic year. ESPN.com‘s Dave Telep reports on the move and says that Vonleh compares favorably with some of the elite players in his new class, rating him as ESPNU’s #7 overall player in the Class of 2013. This is actually the second reclassification for the 17-year old in that this move represents Vonleh’s return to his original class, so let’s hope that he’s finished moving around so that some lucky suitor — Indiana, Ohio State and UNC have recruited him the hardest — will have him in uniform just over a year from now.
  5. It’s nothing new that Butler’s Brad Stevens is a prominent user of advanced statistical metrics as a tool to understanding his team’s strengths and weaknesses. This article by WISH-TV in Indianapolis explains that one of Stevens’ directives for this offseason was for his staff (led by statistical wunderkind Drew Cannon) to determine what kind of RPI the Bulldogs will need heading into conference play to ensure an NCAA Tournament bid now that they’ve moved to the more competitive Atlantic 10. People game the system in all kinds of different ways — some ethical, some not — but we get the feeling that coaches like Stevens and Buzz Williams are so far ahead of their competitors in this regard that it’s astonishing to us that the rest of the coaching lemmings haven’t already fallen in line.
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The Impact of Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad’s Signing Decisions

Posted by EJacoby on April 11th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Say what you want about the signing day process, one that includes kids announcing their college intentions on live television specials, but the effect of the announcements certainly meets the hype. While most of the top recruits had already made their decisions earlier this year, Wednesday night showcased the top two players in high school basketball announcing their decisions on ESPNU. Nerlens Noel (6’10” center from Massachusetts) chose Kentucky while Shabazz Muhammad (6’6” wing from Nevada) chose UCLA, enormous gains for each of these programs. Let’s take a look at what it means for the Wildcats and Bruins to each add a star recruit, as well as breaking down how teams like Georgetown, Syracuse, and Duke that were in the mix are now negatively affected.

They've Announced: Shabazz Muhammed (Left) is Headed to UCLA; Nerlens Noel (Right) is Off to Kentucky (Photo Credit - BleacherReport.com)

The Winners

UCLA – Despite the disappointing season in Westwood and the shaky ground under head coach Ben Howland, the Bruins have now found a way to notch a top-two recruiting class with the addition of Muhammad. Muhammad joins Kyle Anderson, another top 10 player in this class, as two talented, versatile wing players. Anderson is closer to 6’7” yet excels as a distributor with excellent awareness and vision with the basketball. Muhammad is 6’6” and more of a scorer, one whose attacking mentality should mesh perfectly with Anderson’s game. These two immediately become a potent one-two duo in the Pac-12 to match the solid talent already on the roster (David Wear, Travis Wear, Josh Smith, Larry Drew), and the Bruins may not be done. Top unsigned big man Tony Parker is also considering UCLA. The Bruins are a surefire Top 25 team heading into next season and could easily have Top 10 upside. There is reason for great optimism in Westwood, and the Pac-12 as a whole should be on the rise with Arizona and UCLA now taking home two of the top three recruiting classes in the nation.

KentuckyThe 2012 National Champions already had a very strong recruiting class for next season, but continuing the theme of the past several years the Wildcats will now welcome the top player in high school basketball — Nerlens Noel. Muhammad and Noel both had UK on their short lists, and Big Blue Nation surely wanted both to commit, but adding Noel is still a massive gain. John Calipari’s team now has a player to build around in the 6’10” Noel, who is an Anthony Davis-like shot-blocker that can have a similar defensive impact next season. He’s less skilled on the perimeter and has work to do offensively, but Noel is the No. 1 player in this class for a reason. He can be a dominant big man to pair up with the other talented freshmen Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley, and another likely one or two unsigned recruits. Kentucky once again has the top recruiting class in the country, and the Wildcats will be favorites to repeat as champions if any of the starters from last season decide to stick around for another year.

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Adonis Thomas: Coming To A Couple Of Stations Near You

Posted by jstevrtc on August 16th, 2010

Remember MTV? It’s evidently still popular with the kids these days, not so much for the playing of actual music videos, but…wait a minute.  I’m getting ahead of myself.

Remember music videos?  Oh, forget it.  Suffice to say, there’s still this thing called MTV and they now play alleged reality shows as often as they used to play music videos (go look those up yourself), and have even made a few forays into the world of sports.  Soon, they’ll even have a hand in college basketball, or at least in the life one particular kid who will be playing it starting in the fall of 2011.

As reported by CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish last week, Melrose High School in Memphis — the high school of Adonis Thomas, a consensus top ten recruit in the class of 2011 — will be featured on an upcoming MTV reality series similar to the Two-A-Days series that chronicled the lives of those kids from high school football powerhouse Hoover High in Alabama. Shooting could begin as early as this week, and it’s said the show will focus on the battle of, as Parrish writes, “inner-city minorities trying to repeat as state champions.”

Hey, sounds good.  We’d tune in for that.  But we wonder if the upcoming MTV series might have also led to this:

That’s from Adonis’ Facebook page, as you can tell.  We’ve all seen kids announce final college choices on ESPN-U before, so that’s nothing new.  We enjoy those a lot — almost as much as we enjoyed the eloquent invitation on Thomas’ page for him to stay at home and play at Memphis by the inarguably well-dressed Charles Sims, Jr.  But an ESPN-U appearance to announce a final list of colleges?  Is this something we should all be getting behind?

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Adam Zagoria on Kyrie Irving, Recruiting, and Social Networking

Posted by nvr1983 on October 27th, 2009

When Adam Zagoria, a writer for SNY.tv and ZagsBlog.com, broke the news last Tuesday night about super-recruit Kyrie Irving‘s committing to Duke (note: initial report did not have Irving’s denial and had Chris Collins named in place of “[a Duke assistant]”) reaction across the blogosphere varied from ecstatic to negative after Irving denied Zagoria’s reports. After Irving eventually officially committed to Duke on an orchestrated ESPNU ceremony less than 48 hours after his initial denials and told multiple media outlets that he had decided on Duke long before he went on ESPNU several media members (Seth Davis and Gary Parrish being the most prominent) felt that Irving owed Zagoria an apology. We were a little more measured and felt that the entire episode reflected more of the circus that is college basketball recruiting. Since that time, the issue of the interaction between Zagoria (the journalist) and Irving (the recruit) has grown increasingly contentious on message boards across the Internet so we decided to go to Mr. Zagoria and get his take on it.

Rush the Court: What kind of background do you have doing this type of stuff [covering recruiting]?

Adam Zagoria: I’ve been a sportswriter for about 15 years and I’ve been doing basketball recruiting for I guess about 5 years. I was at a newspaper, The Bergen Record and The Herald News, in New Jersey for 10 years and I’ve been at SNY for about 2 years.

RTC: I don’t know if you have been reading what they have been saying on the Duke message boards and other places like that. Have you been keeping up with that at all or do you try to avoid that stuff?

AZ: I’ve read some of it. I’m pretty busy with my other job duties, but I’m aware of it.

RTC: Ok. Could you talk a little bit about how you developed a relationship with Kyrie Irving and his family and how that came about happening?

AZ: I cover metropolitan-area basketball and I know the players and coaches at the local high schools–St. Anthony’s, St. Patrick’s, and St. Benedict’s–for a number of years so I met Kyrie going to his team’s games and going to different events.

RTC: So your relationship with him was no different than the typical star recruit in the area? Or was it a little closer than that?

AZ: I have a lot respect for Kyrie and his family. I think they’re great people and he’s a tremendous player and person. I wish him nothing, but the best going forward.

RTC: Could you tell us a little bit about what happened when you broke the story [about his commitment]?

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 2009 Midnight Madness Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2009

BOOMEd. Note: for our Midnight Madness wrapup post, click here.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our first Boom Goes The Dynamite of the new season.  And now, we can say those words — “new season.”  For tonight is the final hurdle in that long lull of the off-season that we have to cross.  Maybe it’s inappropriately named, but who cares?  Tonight is Midnight Madness across the country.  Schools all over the place have got the festivities going, the first official games are less than a month away, and we can finally say that the new season is here.

ESPN-U’s broadcast is minutes away from starting.  I’m John Stevens, one of the editors here at Rush The Court, and I’ll be live-blogging the whole way with RTMSF, our founder and guru, behind the scenes watching message boards, Twitter accounts, and getting texts and video from all over, and we’ll put up everything we get.  So settle in, enjoy the coverage, and let us know your opinions as always.  Keep hitting that refresh button, and we hope you enjoy it.  Most of all — welcome.  It’s finally here.

9:01pm:  Here are some tweets RTMSF has already procured from various sources:

Mike Davis, Illinois

IlliniBalla24… @BuckWildBill33:  Three point contest tonight, i’m looking to go 15 for 15 <—- I like ur confidence but I like @dkeller23 for a bill lls

Abdul Gaddy, Washington

gaddy0uw…Midnight madness tonight! Everybody come support

Jim Boylen, Utah

JimBoylen…Talking to the media for a few minutes before practice starts. We’re going to hit the ground running!

Tom Crean, Indiana

TomCrean…http://twitpic.com/lr6zu – The first four in line for Hoosier Hysteria

Gary Williams, Maryland

MDCoachWilliams…MARYLAND MADNESS IS HERE!!!! Come out to the Comcast Center and check out all the action.

9:12:  Evidently the University of Kentucky had recording artist Drake at the festivities.  No report on Ashley Judd’s whereabouts.

9:16:  Right now, just lots of talk by Katz, Gallindo, and Branch.  Mostly about North Carolina.  Keep in mind, in the race for all-time wins, UNC is only 4 behind Kentucky, and the two face off on December 5th.  Might be REALLY important.

9:20:  Nice UNC picture:

unc pic

9:24: And here’s Drake from Kentucky:

drake and cal

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Preseason NIT Breakdown

Posted by rtmsf on November 17th, 2008

(ed. note: if you’re looking for the 2009 NIT Bracket, click here.)

The Preseason NIT, the Granddaddy of all the Preseason Tourneys, begins tonight, with all sixteen teams in action at four regional pods (Chestnut Hill, MA; W. Lafayette, IN; Norman, OK; Tucson, AZ).  Unlike many of the D2 and whatever-else teams thrown into the pods of the CvC last week, the PNIT at least uses all D1 teams for its sacrificial lambs.  A new feature is that each of the sixteen teams was seeded, although we’re not sure how BC and Arizona ended up with protected seeds over Davidson (also, why isn’t #1 Purdue playing #16 Miss. Valley St., and #2 v. #15, etc.?).  We suppose BC fans would buy more tickets in Manhattan next week?  Whichever.   Below is the regional bracket, and our thoughts and picks follow.

Best first-round game. #8 St. John’s v. #9 Cornell.  You don’t think that Big Red is looking forward to sticking it to their Big East brethren to the south?  Click here if you don’t believe us.  These two NY teams have never played, but we’re thinking that Cornell will ride its three-point shooting to the upset win in Chestnut Hill tonight.

Other Upset Possibilities. Keep an eye on these two games in the Tucson regional:

  • #3 Arizona v. #15 Florida Atlantic.  Nobody has a clue how Arizona is going to respond to all of its turmoil from the offseason, or whether half of its players will even be available tonight (apparently so), but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about college basketball and despite trite cliches to the contrary – adversity generally does NOT end well.  New FAU head coach Mike Jarvis knows how to coach up a team for one game, and this could be a rude awakening for Russ Pennell as a D1 coach.
  • #7 UAB v. #11 Santa Clara. The recipe for an upset here is clear.  WCC talent is generally underrated.  This is a west-coast team playing an east-coast team in the Pacific time zone.  John Bryant inside the paint.  Robert Vaden may still be feeling the effects from his recent arrest hanging over his head (4 pts last game on 2-13 FGs).  UAB head coach Mike Davis has been known to lay an egg or two in his career.  UAB will have no answer for Santa Clara big man

Will MVSU Break 30? #2 Oklahoma v. #16 Mississippi Valley St. Knowing what we know about Oklahoma’s defense, and knowing also what we know about MVSU’s inability to score the basketball, we foresee something along the lines of 75-35 in this game.

They Should Roll. BC at home v. Loyola (MD).  Purdue at home vs. Eastern Michigan.  And Davidson in Norman vs. James Madison.  No way any of these three loses tonight.

Two Evenly Matched Bad Teams. #6 Georgia v. #10 Loyola (IL). Wow, the PNIT should commend itself for getting two Loyola into this tournament.  Was Loyola Marymount not available?  No further comment on this game, other than to say either team could win, and Purdue will blast said winner tomorrow night.

Regional Picks. We’ve got BC, Purdue, Davidson and Santa Clara (taking advantage of the FAU upset).  We really didn’t want to pick against Oklahoma at home, but then again, how do you justify picking against Stephen Curry?  If the Wildcats can contain Blake Griffin inside, they can win that game and head to MSG.

Enough with ESPNU!!!! Three of the four televised games tonight in this tournament are on the U.  Look, we understand why the games are on there.  But why not also put them on the ESPN Full Court package so that those of us held completely hostage by our cable companies can actually take advantage of those games as well?  We already pay for the FC service, so what possible harm could it do to expose more paying customers to your product?  Make us pay $10 if you like, but just give us access to it!

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Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2007

The official start of the 2007-08 regular season isn’t until Friday, but the NCAA exempted the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, which is starting tonight in Memphis and will run throughout the week at several other sites (Storrs, Lexington, Norman) before holding the championship rounds at MSG next week. ESPN and Comcast have ensured that we won’t be able to see any of this week’s games in our local viewing area – thanks, guys! But jeez, this seems really early – we just changed our clocks for chrissakes. Mike DeCourcy has the best take on the matter:

Once again, instead of the triumphant introduction to the season we have in such sports as NFL football and Major League Baseball, college basketball just sort of stumbles in and grabs a seat in the corner.

With college football and the NFL in full swing, it’ll take until Thanksgiving for anyone to notice that we’re already playing games, but that’s ok. It gives us a chance to bone up on early hits and misses (ahem, Michigan St.) while nobody’s watching.

Here’s the CvC bracket:

Coaches v. Cancer Bracket 07 v.1

A few comments:

  • Quick Rant. Why the hell aren’t ESPNU games part of the Full Court Package? That makes completely no sense to us as it seems a natural fit. And yes we’re extremely annoyed that Comcast will not offer ESPNU in our area.
  • Predictions. Memphis will roll through its regional, keeping the nation’s longest homecourt winning streak (32) alive. Kentucky will bomb Central Arkansas but struggle with Alabama A&M and shotblocker extraordinaire Mickell Gladness in the second round. UConn will get a game from Todd Bozeman’s Morgan St. squad before faltering, then destroy Buffalo in round two. Our possible upset alert is USF over Oklahoma. The Dons probably don’t have enough to pull it off, but we expect a close game there. Still, we expect Jeff Capel’s OU team to represent the Norman region at MSG next week.
  • Quick Fact. Kentucky is 0-2 in this event, with both losses coming in 2000 (UCLA, St. John’s) when it was a four-team tourney. Grab the ball, Tayshaun! That record will change this time around.
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