Vanderbilt Guard Dai-Jon Parker Suspended

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 31st, 2012

Coming off its first SEC Tournament title since 1952 and losing a majority of their offense from last season due to the NBA Draft or graduation, Vanderbilt already knew it would have to replace many pieces on this season’s team. Today, they will have to add sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker to the list because of a non-academic suspension. Head coach Kevin Stallings announced Tuesday that the projected starting shooting guard will be suspended indefinitely because Parker “failed to uphold the high standard that we expect of a Vanderbilt basketball player and will be disciplined accordingly.” Parker and sophomore Kedren Johnson were expected to fill the voids left by Brad Tinsley, John Jenkins, and Jeffery Taylor, all upperclassmen who left after last season due to graduation or to pursue professional careers. The guard trio of Tinsley/Jenkins/Taylor provided Vanderbilt’s most dangerous weapon: 244 three-pointers on a blistering 43% clip and high offensive efficiency numbers. Parker and Johnson, on the other hand, were substituted into the rotation last year with very minimal roles.

Who will replace Dai-Jon Parker in Vanderbilt’s already depleted backcourt?

The departures of Tinsley, Jenkins, and Taylor, as well as experienced defensive big men Festus Ezeli, Lance Goulbourne, and Steve Tchiengang, made up arguably Vanderbilt’s most well-rounded team in the Kevin Stallings era. The Commodores’ offensive efficiency (115.7) ranked #11 in the country while their defensive efficiency (92.7) was solid at #30. Sky-high expectations after winning the SEC Tournament over heavily favored Kentucky  quickly came crashing down when Vanderbilt lost to Wisconsin in the Third Round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, one step short of the school’s first Sweet Sixteen since 2007.

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SEC Weekly Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on May 25th, 2012

  1. The biggest splash this week in the SEC again came from the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats and its scheduling choices. First, some group of stuffy faculty members chastised John Calipari’s decision to move toward more neutral site games. So what does Calipari do? He announced that UK has added Baylor to its schedule in a Rupp Arena game in 2012-13, but the Cats will travel to play the Bears in Cowboys Stadium in 2013-14. Now that’s an “experience.” But it’s not about playing Baylor. This move, as is seemingly everything Calipari does, is a strategic move to advance his program. First, four members of the 2013 high school class play in Texas, and all four are considering Kentucky. This is in part a recruiting move to gain an edge on his competitors. But first and foremost, Cowboys Stadium just happens to also be the host site for the 2014 Final Four. Calipari wants a practice run in the venue where his Cats hope to cut down the nets again in two years. That’s what scheduling huge neutral site games are all about — giving his squad a simulation of the biggest stage possible to prepare them for when the time comes.
  2. While Kentucky is adding Baylor to its schedule, another SEC school is calling off its match-up with the Bears. Mississippi State and Baylor have agreed to cancel the two remaining games on their contract. New Bulldogs coach Rick Ray realizes he has a rebuilding year ahead of him. “We play in the toughest tournament known to mankind out at Maui and then we come back from that and our next game is Baylor,” Ray said. “We open up our season at Troy. Our schedule — if I had my say so, we wouldn’t have that type of a schedule. So, that’s a concern.” Mississippi State was set to host Baylor this season in Starkville, but would have been required to travel to Waco in 2013 to return the favor. The decision to cancel was mutual.
  3. Yahoo Sports published a list of the top newcomers gracing the SEC with their presence next season, and a couple of Kentucky Wildcats were joined by a new member of the Missouri Tigers at the top of the list. Shouldn’t all of Missouri’s team be up for inclusion? Regardless, senior center Alex Oriakhi, a transfer from Connecticut, joins Kentucky freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel as the players most likely to make an impact next season. From the article: “Noel is a defensive difference-maker. While he lacks bulk, he is athletic and already has advanced shot-blocking skills. His offense is raw, but his defense and rebounding make up for that.” Hey, that sounds familiar. Here’s what the site said last year at this time about Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis: “His shot-blocking and rebounding ability make him a game-changer defensively. His offensive skill set is good and continues to improve.” Not a bad person to be compared to at this stage in his career.
  4. Arkansas added juco forward Coty Clarke to its roster earlier this week. Clarke averaged 14.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game with Birmingham (AL) Lawson State Community College last season. Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson is excited about the addition. “Coty is excited about being a Razorback and that excites me,” Anderson said. “He is an athletic forward who can impact on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. Coty has a blue collar mentality which is needed on this team. He is an excellent fit for the ‘Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.’” Depth is an important issue for this year’s Arkansas team, as injuries impacted how far Anderson could go down the bench last year.
  5. Our very own Rush the Court profiled a couple of former SEC players in our NBA Draft Profiles. Vanderbilt senior Festus Ezeli is viewed as a late first round pick in the mold of current Houston Rockets center Samuel Dalembert. RTC compared him to the big man, saying, “Ezeli has a similar skill set as a defense-first center with ideal size who can protect the rim. Dalembert, though, transitioned from a raw prospect to a 10-year NBA veteran who has averaged 8.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in a strong career thanks to the ability to adapt to the speed of the NBA game.” Kentucky senior Darius Miller is hoping to get picked up in the second round and RTC says he has at least has the look of an NBA player. “While his three-point percentage dropped from the blistering 44.3% he shot as a junior to a merely good 37.6% as a senior, he’s shown NBA range and a willingness to step into the right shot when needed. Throw in the fact that at 6’8” and 235 pounds he’s got the frame to handle the big boys at the next level, and Miller looks the part of an NBA wing.” Good luck to both of the seniors as well as the rest of the SEC athletes hoping to be selected.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Festus Ezeli

Posted by EJacoby on May 23rd, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Festus Ezeli

School: Vanderbilt

Height/Weight: 6’11” / 255 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round/Early Second Round

Festus Ezeli Will Give an NBA Team a Strong Interior Force (US Presswire/J. Brown)

Overview: Festus Ezeli brings a lot to the table besides having the best name of any available prospect. At 6’11” and 255 pounds, Ezeli is a physical specimen who stands out immediately as usually the strongest player on the floor. His wide body allows him to carve out space on the low blocks to make simple moves in the post. But most impressive is his ability to defend the rim with his prototypical size and wingspan (7’4”) for a center. Unfortunately, Ezeli suffered a knee sprain at the start of his senior year that forced him to miss 10 games and seemed to hamper him throughout the entire season. His lack of elite athleticism was already a concern and remains an issue after he struggled to recover from injury. As a result, he averaged just 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds as a senior, a far cry from the numbers that we expected after a breakout junior year. He also has poor floor awareness in the post, leading to an atrocious 0.14 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 2.0 blocks per game in 23.2 minutes, though, shows that he maintained his strongest asset as a shot-blocking force. Because of the overall unproductive senior campaign, Ezeli may be dropping on the center totem pole behind guys like Fab Melo and Andrew Nicholson, both players he was arguably ahead of prior to injury. This could make him a strong value at the end of the first round or in the early second round for a team in need of some size and strength defensively.

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Rushed Reaction: #4 Wisconsin 60, #5 Vanderbilt 57

Posted by AMurawa on March 17th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Players making plays. Down the stretch, it seemed just about all of the star players in this game made significant plays. There was Festus Ezeli with a giant swat on one end followed up by a soft lay-in on the other. There was a great play by Jeff Taylor to bring Vanderbilt back within one possession. There was the John Jenkins dish to Ezeli to put the Commodores up a point just before Jordan Taylor answered with a dagger three-pointer. And then, down the stretch, Wisconsin ran down two straight long offensive rebounds, allowing them to take over a minute off the clock. Still, after Josh Gasser missed the front-end of a one-and-one, Jenkins had a pretty good look at a three with six seconds left, but it was not to be.
  2. Starting strong, finishing strong. Ryan Evans scored ten points right out of the gate, including eight in the first four minutes of the game, then disappeared for about 20 minutes after picking up his second foul with four minutes remaining in the first half. But, with the game in the balance, Evans soared above bigger Vanderbilt players to snatch a huge rebound following that missed Jenkins three in the closing seconds, then proceeded to hit a free throw to extend the Badger lead to three, which was the final margin.
  3. Balance. In a game like this, with solid fundamental defensive teams, no one player was able to stay hot for long, which led to balanced scoring all the way around. Five different Badgers scored in double figures, led by Jordan Taylor’s 14, but with players like Jarred Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, and even freshman guard Ben Brust stepping up and making plays. Brust wound up with 11, all in the second half, including three big three-pointers.

Star of the GameFestus Ezeli, Vanderbilt. In a tight game that went down to the wire, Ezeli was the one unstoppable force in the game. Despite not starting, he wound up with 14 points and 11 rebounds and had a hand in three of the final four Commodore hoops (two baskets and one assist). While his career ends, Ezeli was the one athlete who stood out among a company of equals.

Sights & Sounds. While some portions of the Baylor and Colorado section did not fill up until halftime of this game, just about every other seat in this arena was filled early. And with two excellent bands, filling up the pregame, halftime and extended timeouts, the environment inside The Pit was every bit as electric as you would hope March basketball would be. As the game went down to a wire, all the neutral fans in the arena seemed to wind up just rooting for whoever was behind in the game, making for a loud and exciting conclusion.

Wildcard. For much of the final stretch in crunch time, Vanderbilt senior guard Brad Tinsley watched from the bench as freshman Kedren Johnson ran the point. While other lesser leaders might be hurt by such a perceived slight, Tinsley was there ready to give the youngster advice on leaving the timeouts. Call it a passing of the torch, as the quartet of Commodore seniors wraps up their careers with just one NCAA Tournament win to their names.

What’s Next? Wisconsin will face Syracuse in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. While the Orange looked excellent in advancing to the Sweet 16, the ineligibility of sophomore center Fab Melo may leave them susceptible on the inside where the Badgers interior tandem Bruesewitz and Berggren can make an impact.

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Rushed Reaction: #5 Vanderbilt 79, #12 Harvard 70

Posted by AMurawa on March 15th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Vanderbilt Struggles To Close. The Commodores led by as much as 18 in the second half, but struggled to close out against a game Harvard team late. The Crimson used a 14-3 run over 2:30 to get back within five late, but an ill-timed turnover killed the momentum. Still, for a Vanderbilt team with a history of losing opening round NCAA Tournament games, their performance down the stretch was not confidence-inspiring. In the final five minutes, they turned the ball over three times and missed three free throws while Harvard hit clutch shots. Now that the Commodores have that NCAA win under their belt, maybe they’ll finish stronger in the future.
  2. Too Much Size and Athleticism. At one point in the middle of the second half, Vanderbilt’s Jeffrey Taylor picked the pocket of a Harvard guard, leading to a breakaway on which he threw down a massive, soaring dunk. And throughout the game, Festus Ezeli blocked shots, rebounded and scored above the rim, while being able to step out and challenge shots away from the basket. While these types of athletes may not be typical for Vanderbilt, they were certainly the difference today.
  3. Six-Point Swing. At the start of the second half, Harvard junior forward Kyle Casey blew a dunk that led to a Vanderbilt breakout, on which John Jenkins pulled up and hit a three-pointer in the process of getting fouled. The made free throw turned it into a six-point swing in the Commodore favor, a total that could have made the pressure on Vanderbilt even tighter in the end-game.

Star of the GameJohn Jenkins, Vanderbilt. Jenkins was the one guy to finish the game with confidence, knocking down game-sealing free throws on top of his effort in the meat of the game. The final line says it all: 27 points, six boards, three assists, and three three-pointers in helping the Commodores earn their first NCAA Tournament win since the 2007 Sweet 16 team.

Sights & Sounds. Despite the fact that Albuquerque’s own Lobos were playing during this game, The Pit was mostly full during action, and with plenty of locals among the crowd. While Vandy and Harvard each had chunks of the fans in the crowd, there were quite a few people in the crowd wearing New Mexico shirts keeping track of the game in Portland by phone or word-of-mouth. The score was announced regularly throughout the game, to nervous reaction from Lobo fans, but once the final was announced, The Pit exploded in approval.

Wildcard. Harvard’s sophomore wing Laurent Rivard had a busy day, not only having to shadow Taylor throughout the game, but also providing a big scoring threat for the Crimson. Rivard hit six increasingly improbable three-pointers (the last a fall-away, shot-clock-beating dagger in Jenkins’ face) that helped keep the Crimson in the game.

Quotable. Jenkins on Rivard: “I hadn’t seen somebody get that hot in a long time.  He was making them from everywhere, no matter how deep they were and the shot clock going down, it was money.  So it was very impressive.”

What’s Next?  Vanderbilt will face Wisconsin Saturday in what should be a heck of a game. They will need to close with a lot more confidence and they will need to do a better job on the glass in order to advance to the Sweet 16.

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NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: Second Round — Thursday Afternoon

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 15th, 2012

RTC Region correspondents Brian Otskey (East), Kevin Doyle (South), and Andrew Murawa (West) contributed to this preview.

#6 Murray State vs. #11 Colorado State – West Region Second Round (at Louisville, KY) – 12:15 PM ET on CBS

Steve Prohm Brings His One-Loss Team to the Dance (US Presswire)

Anytime you enter the NCAA Tournament with just one loss and 4-0 record over NCAA Tournament teams, you’re a big story and a threat to go deep in the tournament. That’s the situation Murray State finds itself in. The fact that they’ve got a recent history of some success in the tournament (they knocked off Vanderbilt in the first round in 2010 before losing a heartbreaker to eventual national runner up Butler) makes them an even bigger challenge. In that 2010 loss to Butler, then-freshman guard Isaiah Canaan had the ball in his hands with the clock running down and threw an errant pass that got deflected by Gordon Hayward, effectively sealing the Racers’ fate. Two years later, Canaan is this team’s leader and one of the best guards in the nation, capable not only of getting his own opportunities in a variety of ways, but also creating for his teammates. And he’ll certainly be a problem for a Colorado State team whose guards, though talented scorers offensively, struggle to stay in front of their men on defense. Another issue for the Rams is the fact that they are one of the smallest teams in the nation (there are only five teams smaller, according to Ken Pomeroy’s effective height statistic), with a frontline that doesn’t go any larger than 6’6”. Murray may not have a lot more height (their two main interior players – Ivan Aska and Ed Daniel – go just 6’7”), but the lack of size has been an issue for CSU this year. Still, the Rams can score with just about anybody, but their inability to lock down defensively will be a problem. A bigger problem could be the fact that the Racers are playing not only within an easy drive of their campus, but that the hordes of Kentucky fans who show up for the early session will most certainly convert their allegiance to the Racers, at least temporarily.

The RTC Certified Pick: Murray State

#8 Kansas State vs. #9 Southern Miss – East Region Second Round (at Pittsburgh, PA) – 12:40 PM ET on truTV

This could be an ugly game right off the bat. Neither of these two teams shoots the ball particularly well, especially Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles have an awful two point field goal percentage (43.3%) and rank second to last among NCAA Tournament teams in effective field goal percentage. Only 16th seeded Western Kentucky is worse. Despite the poor shooting numbers, Larry Eustachy’s Golden Eagles have a respectable offensive efficiency number thanks to a minimal turnover percentage and solid offensive rebounding. If Southern Miss is going to win this game, it must rebound the basketball and score on second chance opportunities. While Kansas State is regarded as a team that plays terrific defense and rebounds well, the Wildcats are vulnerable on the defensive glass. Provided Southern Miss and point guard Neil Watson can keep a good handle on the ball and get some decent looks, this team will hang around. For Kansas State, it must get Rodney McGruder going early and often. McGruder is the best offensive player on this team and has been playing at a high level of late. Kansas State should win the game if it rebounds well and plays its typical brand of physical hard-nosed basketball. The Wildcats should get plenty of offensive rebounding opportunities against a Southern Miss team that has just one player taller than 6’7.” The free throw battle could be important as well. Each team gets to the line well but also fouls a lot when playing defense. The Golden Eagles shoot it much better from the stripe and they’ll need to today in order to offset the rebounding disadvantage.

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Syracuse’s Fab Melo To Miss NCAA Tournament Because of an Eligibility Issue

Posted by mlemaire on March 13th, 2012

The bad breaks just keep coming for Syracuse and its basketball program. After one of the team’s best seasons in recent history and right as they prepared for the NCAA Tournament as a #1 seed, they learned that starting center and key cog Fab Melo will miss the entire tournament due to an eligibility issue. Melo missed three games earlier this season because of academics, but it is unclear whether this eligibility issue is about academics or something else as the school would not provide any additional details. [Update: It's apparently about academics and he is also apparently declaring for the NBA Draft]

It doesn’t take a basketball junkie to know that Melo’s absence is a potentially lethal blow to the Orange’s national title hopes. He was the best rebounder on a team that struggles to rebound the basketball and he was also the conference’s defensive player of the year this season. He is one of the main reasons why Syracuse limited opponents to an effective field-goal rate just 44 percent this season and the team’s staunch 2-3 zone relied on Melo to protect the rim — something he did very well during the regular season.

Fab Melo's Absence Could Crush Syracuse's National Title Aspirations

The onus now falls on freshman Rakeem Christmas and sophomore Baye Keita to pick up the slack and neither proved consistently capable of that during the regular season. The good news is that Keita and Christmas, while young, are athletic and energetic defenders who can block shots and rebound the basketball unless they run up against more experienced and physical post players. But the understated effect this blow might have on the Orange will be on the offensive end.

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Bracket Prep: East Region Analysis

Posted by Brian Otskey 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, Brian Otskey (@botskey) breaks down the East Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC East Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCeastregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Brian breaking down the East Region here.

East Region

Favorite: #1 Syracuse (31-2, 17-1 Big East). Despite losing to Cincinnati in the Big East semifinals, the Orange are the clear favorites and will have plenty of fans in Beantown to cheer them on, assuming they advance. SU features a transition attack that’s arguably the best in the nation, usually sparked by Dion Waiters off the bench.

Jim Boeheim and Syracuse Are The Favorites, But The Path to New Orleans Is Loaded With Tough Opponents (AP)

Should They Falter: #2 Ohio State (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten). I was tempted to slot #3 Florida State in this space but the Seminoles are too inconsistent for my liking to be a legitimate Final Four threat. Ohio State is a terrific team but not nearly as good as last year’s outfit which had Jon Diebler to bury a perimeter jumper. Even so, the Buckeyes are still capable of reaching New Orleans.

Grossly Overseeded: #11 Texas (20-13, 9-9 Big 12). This is an exaggeration because I thought the Selection Committee did a very nice job with the seeding across all regions. But I have to pick someone, right? I’ll go with the Longhorns, a team I didn’t have in my projected field of 68. Texas has four RPI top 50 wins but three of those came against teams seeded on the eighth line in this tournament. The Longhorns are 4-11 against top 100 competition, a fact that I felt should have kept them out of the Big Dance.

Grossly Underseeded: #5 Vanderbilt (24-10, 10-6 SEC). Again, this is a very minor quibble. As I said before, I thought the Committee did an admirable job seeding the teams. I had Vanderbilt pegged for a #4 seed after beating the best team in the country (Kentucky) in the SEC championship on Sunday. The Commodores won 16 games against the RPI top 100, with two of those coming against top 10 opponents either on the road (Marquette) or a neutral site (Kentucky). In fact, only one of Vandy’s five RPI top 25 wins has come at home. That’s impressive and an indicator of a team that can do some damage in this event despite its recent history of early flameouts.

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Bracket Prep: Michigan State, Florida State, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure, Long Beach State, & New Mexico State

Posted by EJacoby on March 11th, 2012

Selection Sunday is here! We’ve been providing you with summaries of every automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and this post concludes all of the conference tourney winners. Big Ten, SEC, ACC, A-10, Big West, and WAC were the last ones to complete their championships. Here’s everything you need to know.

Michigan State

Draymond Green is the Force Behind the Spartans' Strong Attack (AP Photo/A. Goldis)

  • Big Ten Champion (27-7, 16-5)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #4/#3/#3
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +17.3
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #1

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. After winning the Big Ten Tournament, expect Michigan State to steal the last #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There’s nothing that this team hasn’t done to deserve the top line. 27-7 against the #1 strength of schedule, co-champion of the best conference in the country, and Big Ten Champions. This is a classic Tom Izzo team that’s ferocious on the boards and executes efficiently on both offense and defense. The Spartans run through their Big Ten Player of the Year, but this is a deep team that relies on many contributors in different areas. A late season ACL injury to blossoming freshman forward Branden Dawson was horrible news and is potentially devastating. But Dawson was still not much of an offensive factor and the team won the Big Ten Tournament without him, showing an ability to adapt.
  2. Draymond Green is the Big Ten Player of the Year who does everything that you want in a senior star leader. 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game is what Green provides. The 45% field goal percentage doesn’t look great until you realize that Green does much of his work on the perimeter, including hitting the most three-pointers on the team. The rest of this team is loaded with strong athletes and defenders, from the interior duo of Derrick Nix and Adriean Payne to the perimeter players Keith Appling and Brandon Wood, and beyond to the reserves. Appling is crucial to this team as the playmaking point guard with explosive agility to make plays for his teammates and himself.
  3. Most things in March Madness are unpredictable, but one of the few guarantees is that Tom Izzo’s teams will play their best basketball in the NCAA Tournament. This Izzo team is loaded and ready to dance with as difficult a combination to beat as nearly anyone in the country. A +17.3 adjusted scoring margin is the fourth best in the nation, led my MSU’s elite defense. The Spartans allow just 37.7% defensive field goal shooting, the second best in the land. Their 89.9 defensive efficiency also ranks in the top 10. Throw in their own 47.7% field goal shooting, and this team’s shooting percentage disparity is fantastic, which is always a top formula for success. Their 55.2% rebound percentage is top 10 in the nation, as well. The numbers look great for Michigan State. But this team just lost its best athlete to the ACL injury and it doesn’t have the amount of elite scorers that a usual #1 seed does. Instead, this team is so efficient defensively that it will be difficult to knock off. Teams that gave Michigan State trouble were those that caught fire from the outside while holding their own defensively, like Indiana. Expect an awesome clash of styles between MSU and its opponent in a Sweet Sixteen matchup, if it can avoid an upset from the 8-9 seed, or 10-7 seed if it receives a #2 seed.

Florida State

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Set Your TiVo: 02.28.12

Posted by bmulvihill on February 28th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

We are counting down until March as the college hoops frenzy begins to build. Tonight the Michigan State Spartans look to clinch an improbable Big Ten regular season title and some teams in question look for answers in the SEC.

#4 Michigan State at #21 Indiana – 7:00PM EST on ESPN HD (****)

  • With a win tonight, Michigan State would clinch the Big Ten regular season title and a possible number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are playing extremely strong basketball heading into March having won seven games in a row. Over the last 10 games, only Minnesota was able to shoot above 50% eFG against Tom Izzo and company. Keep a close eye on how Sparty defends Indiana’s two-point shooting specifically Cody Zeller. While Indiana is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation, they do not take many from downtown and their offense depends quite heavily on the free throw line. If Michigan State is playing strong interior defense without fouling, the Hoosiers will have a tough time winning this game.

Tom Izzo goes for another regular season Big Ten title tonight.

  • It will be important for Indiana to establish Zeller early by feeding the post. Additionally, the guards need to drive the ball to the net to create fouls or easy three-point opportunities on the drive and kick. Look to see if Indiana can create turnovers. Michigan State has had some trouble with turnovers including a turnover rate of 28% in their last game against Nebraska. While that game was a complete blow out, Indiana’s offense can make a team pay for such mistakes. The Hoosiers are 3-7 when creating turnovers on less than 18% of opponents possessions, so it’s an extremely important stat to watch during the game.
  • This game will be won in the paint. Michigan State throws Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, and Derrick Nix at Zeller. The trio held Zeller to 4 points and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes of action in the Spartans victory over the Hoosiers in late December. Zeller is going to have to have a much bigger game in order to take this one from the Spartans.
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Enough Confusion, NCAA Looks to Trim Down Rulebook

Posted by EJacoby on February 17th, 2012

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

What is and what isn’t against the NCAA law these days? The line between a ‘good deed’ and a ‘violation’ has become so thin that not even the original lawmakers are able to easily distinguish the difference. And coaches in fierce competition for recruits? Forget about it. There are so many minor rules about extensive contact that it is impossible to police every one of them. That’s why the NCAA is finally working to create a slimmer and more efficient rulebook to make it easier for all parties to follow the rules. We certainly love the thought of trimming down the book, but it will not be an easy task.

The NCAA Rulebook is Far Too Complex to Consistently Enforce

“It’s very complicated to take a 400-plus-page rule book and shrink it down to something sensible, but we’re going to do it,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert last month. The most meaningful idea changes being discussed include making all transfers eligible to play immediately during the next semester rather than having to sit out a full year at their new school. The transfer rule has been noted as unfair for players, considering that coaches are allowed to bolt from school to school whenever they see more money or a better opportunity, but student-athletes need a waiver signed by the school and are required to sit out a full year before they can even join a new team. Another idea being discussed is to allow coaches to talk publicly about unsigned recruits since Twitter and other social media have made it so difficult to track everything being mentioned publicly. It’s unclear if public discussion would even have an influence on recruits’ decisions.

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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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