NCAA Game Analysis: First Four – Wednesday Night

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 20th, 2013


In last night’s opening round games, North Carolina A&T and St. Mary’s both advanced to the Round of 64, and two more games tonight will round out the field. Once again, tonight’s games will get under way at 6:40 PM tonight on truTV — here’s our analysis of tonight’s two games.

#16 LIU Brooklyn vs. #16 James Madison — East Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 6:40 PM ET on truTV.


LIU Brooklyn Will Depend on Its Transition Attack

Night two of the First Four begins with a game that will feature two vastly different style of basketball. LIU Brooklyn loves to play fast but unlike most up-tempo teams, the Blackbirds do not force many turnovers to fuel a transition attack. LIU shoots the ball very well, led by senior forward Jamal Olasewere and junior point guard Jason Brickman (a 46% three-point shooter). Olasewere operates primarily inside the arc but also isn’t afraid to step out and take an occasional triple. Brickman is a terrific assist man, averaging over eight dimes per game. He’s ranked #16 in assist rate nationally but is vulnerable to coughing it up as well, averaging four turnovers a night. Still, his 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio is fantastic. James Madison has to focus on these players defensively along with C.J. Garner, who averages 16 PPG for a team that scores nearly 80 PPG on average. LIU’s offensive statistics are impressive but Jack Perri’s team doesn’t take defense, ahem, very seriously. The problem for James Madison is that it doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well to begin with, so it will have to slow the game down (easier than speeding it up) and limit LIU’s possessions. JMU is led by strong senior forward Rayshawn Goins who, at 6’6” and 266 lbs, is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Goins against Olasewere could be the key match-up in this game. Neither team has a lot of size but Olasewere is giving up about 40 pounds to the burly Duke. In the end, we feel LIU has enough offensive firepower despite its defensive issues to advance and play Indiana on Friday.

The RTC Certified Pick: LIU Brooklyn.

#13 Boise State vs. #13 La Salle – West Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) – 9:10 PM ET on TruTV

Jeff Elorriaga Will Be Bombing Away Tonight

Jeff Elorriaga Will Be Bombing Away Tonight

These two underdogs will have the attention of the nation all to themselves as they fight to be included in the bulk of the bracket. And this game is definitely one to keep an eye on, as it may be one of the more entertaining contests you’ll see on this first weekend of play. Both teams are guard-dominated, both teams shoot the three regularly and with great proficiency, and both teams will get out in transition when they have the opportunities. For La Salle, the backcourt trio of Ramon Galloway, Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland combine to average 44.9 points and 9.1 assists between them and shoot a collective 37.4% from deep. Meanwhile, Boise’s trio of Anthony Drmic, Derrick Marks and Jeff Elorriaga combine to average 43.9 points, 8.4 assists and a collective 41.8% clip from behind the arc. Those guys go a long way toward cancelling each other out, in which case the game may come down to the frontcourts, where the Broncos have the advantage. While the Explorers are largely ineffective in controlling the glass, Boise is the third-best team in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. Forwards Ryan Watkins and Kenny Buckner are particularly good in that area but it is a full-team effort, as even the guards chip in to clean the glass. In a game where both teams have perimeter players to put the ball in the hoop, the dirty work up front may turn out to be the difference.

The RTC Certified Pick: Boise State

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #14 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 26th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#14 – Where Comeback Tuesday Night Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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ATB: And Then There Were 64 — First Four Breakdown

Posted by EJacoby on March 15th, 2012

The First Round Lede. Debate all you want about the structure of the new NCAA Tournament (since last year) – the First Four format is the new norm, and it must be appreciated because of the momentum it can give to the teams that win these play-in games. Of course, last year VCU began its run to the Final Four from the First Four. Over the past two nights, we saw a couple of really interesting games and a couple of blowouts. We’ll analyze the best moments for you here, as well as preview what’s next to come for the four winners. Here’s your First Round wrap-up…

Your Watercooler Moment. BYU Mounts An Enormous Second Half Comeback

Noah Hartsock Brought Intensity to BYU's Second Half Comeback (AP Photo/S. Peterson)

At the 4:00 mark of the first half of their game against Iona, the BYU Cougars trailed 55-31. Not a single soul watching this game on Tuesday night was thinking about a BYU comeback, and even the announcing crew on truTV was discussing how Iona could pose a serious threat to Marquette in the next round. But Dave Rose was not having it; the BYU coach made the necessary adjustments that included putting his defense into a 2-3 zone that it had hardly used during the season. The result was a complete shift in momentum, and the Cougars continued to convert on the offensive end while holding the Gaels to nothing offensively. Just 16 minutes later, at the 8:00 mark of the second half, Iona’s lead had vanished. BYU controlled the game from there and pulled away with a 78-72 victory, a seemingly impossible result after watching the events of the first half. The upperclassmen forward combo of Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies was terrific, combining for 41 points and 20 rebounds against the undersized Iona front line. The Cougars will take this momentum into Friday night when they take on Marquette in the Round of 64.

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NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: First Four – Wednesday Night

Posted by EJacoby on March 14th, 2012

The ‘First Four’ play-in games continue on Wednesday night, hoping to repeat what was an incredible first night of games on Tuesday. We saw two of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history — in back-to-back games — on the opening night of the Big Dance! Both of tonight’s games are from the Midwest Region. Here’s what to watch for, including the primetime First Round matchup in the nightcap.

#16 Lamar vs. #16 Vermont – Midwest Region First Round ( at Dayton, OH) – 6:30 PM ET on truTV

The early game on Wednesday night pits two of the last-ranked teams on this year’s NCAA Tournament S-Curve, and the winner gets rewarded with a date against #1 seed North Carolina on Friday. There is actually an intriguing storyline in this matchup, as Lamar is coached by Pat Knight, Bob Knight’s son, who recently delivered an infamous press conference after his team lost to Stephen F. Austin on February 22. In the presser (see above), Knight lashes out at his players, throwing his seniors under the bus for their despicable performance. Crazy enough, the Cardinals got Knight’s message loud and clear and have not lost since the rant, winning six straight games by an average of 14.6 points per game. The Southland Conference champions now match up with Vermont, trying to keep the post-presser streak alive. The Catamounts, though, have won 14 of their last 15 games and play solid defense with a defensive efficiency and field-goal percentage nearing the top 50 in the country. Their job will be to stop Mike James, Lamar’s top scoring guard (17.1 PPG), who once put up 52 points in a game last season. Both teams lack size, and whomever ends up winning the battle on the boards could have the advantage in this one. Vermont’s leading scorer is a freshman who comes off the bench, Four McGlynn, at just 12 points per game. In a toss up game, we’ll go with Lamar to continue its terrific story of  post-rant resiliency.

The RTC Certified Pick: Lamar

#12 California vs. #12 South Florida – Midwest Region First Round ( at Dayton, OH) – 9:00 PM ET on truTV Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 Who’s Going Where

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2012

Here’s a look at each Pac-12 team’s postseason capsule, by order of each team’s tip-off. Enjoy!


Who, When, Where: vs. LSU (18-14) in Eugene, Oregon, NIT First Round, 3/13, 6:30 PM PDT, ESPN

First Up: What the Tigers lack in scoring they make up in rebounds and points in the paint. LSU averages 37 RPG and they are led by big men Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren. What makes the Tigers dangerous is their ability to adapt to a certain style. They will play at the pace you want the game at, and then beat you with your own style.

Best Case Scenario: With the way Oregon has been playing of late (Pac-12 Tournament notwithstanding), the Ducks can easily make a run in this tournament. With players like Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim that are able to create and knock down their own shots, Oregon should be able to beat LSU in the first round. After that things get much more tough, but I can’t see the Ducks losing a “best case scenario” game until they would likely meet either Seton Hall or Arizona in the championship.

Worst Case Scenario: Even if the Ducks do not play well against the Tigers, home-court advantage should pull them through to the next round. However, they would likely have to travel to Dayton in the second round, and the Flyers pose matchup problems all over the court for Oregon. Expect an Oregon-Dayton matchup to be much like last Thursday’s Colorado-Oregon game. The Flyers stingy defense and potent offense should build a large lead early on against the Ducks, and while Oregon battles to cut the deficit to three with four minutes left, it is never able to come all the way back after a long road trip and an emotinal comeback drians all of its energy.

Devoe Joseph's offensive prowess has the Ducks dreaming of a trip to Madison Square Garden. (credit:Jayne Kamin)

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NCAA Game Analysis: First Four – Tuesday Night

Posted by KDoyle on March 13th, 2012

No matter whether you feel the First Round of the NCAA Tournament is legitimate or not (and we know at least one person writing Amicus briefs to the Supreme Court on this very issue), it all gets under way at 6:40 PM tonight. From 68 to 16 in the next six days… let’s analyze the first two games this evening.

#16 Western Kentucky vs. #16 Mississippi Valley State — South Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 6:40 pm ET on truTV.

It's Still the Big Dance to Big Red

It is hard to believe that the NCAA Tournament officially tips off tonight — it seems like the 24 hours of college basketball marathon on ESPN was just last week — as Western Kentucky will do battle against Mississippi Valley State in the First Round. Things looked bleak for both squads midway through the year as MVSU entered conference play with a 1-11 record, while Western Kentucky stood at 5-14 just six games into league play. In fairness to the Delta Devils, however, they did play one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the nation with virtually all of their contests being so-called “guarantee games.” As for the Hilltoppers, they fired Ken McDonald halfway through the season, and have looked like an entirely different team since. Mississippi Valley is 20-1 since SWAC play began, while Western Kentucky is 10-7 since Ray Harper took over the helm in Bowling Green. Hailing from the weakest conference in America, the Delta Devils will enter the game as slight underdogs, even though they have a much more impressive overall record than their opponent. Western Kentucky is led by freshman Derrick Gordon (11.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG), but junior transfer Teeng Akol — formerly of Oklahoma State — has provided the Hilltoppers with a formidable presence in the frontcourt as of late; Akol scored a career high 23 points in the Sun Belt championship game. Meanwhile for MVSU, it has a balanced approach as five players on the squad average nine points or better. Terrence Joyner is their sharpshooter as he connects on just over two triples a game, while Paul Crosby (13.3 PPG, 7.4 RBG) mans the paint. Despite Sean Woods‘ team losing only one game since the New Year, Western Kentucky is the more talented team and is playing with a real chip on its shoulder.

The RTC Certified Pick: Western Kentucky

#14 BYU vs. #14 Iona — West Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 9:10 pm ET on truTV. Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 07.28.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 28th, 2011

  1. It’s roughly 16 months away, but when is discussing the tropical paradise of Maui a bad thing?  The Maui Invitational released its roster of invited teams for its November 2012 island tournament, and one of its attendees, Butler, is still basking in the glow of a report stating its last two NCAA Tournament championship game runs were worth over a billion dollars in media publicity.  Well, the publicity train continues to roll, as Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs will join North Carolina, Illinois, Marquette, Mississippi State, Southern California, Texas, and host Chaminade in what promises to be another strong field.  It’s difficult to project any team two seasons out these days, but you can more than likely expect that, at a minimum, UNC, Butler, Texas and Marquette will all have strong squads in 2012.
  2. Get ready to see a whole lot more Pac-12 hoops on your television no matter where you live.  Starting about a year from now, the Pac-12 Networks will launch seven new channels for its fans, starting with a national network (presumably similar in scope to the Big Ten Network) but also with six regional networks featuring the six geographic areas where two schools are located (Washington, Oregon, NorCal, SoCal, Arizona, Mountain).  The national network will be available on the digital sports tiers outside of the local markets, which means that if you get the Fox Regionals, you’ll probably get the Pac-12 Network.  The networks will show roughly 35 football games and 100 basketball games each season in addition to the games already picked up by ESPN as part of its new $3B, 12-year deal.  Commissioner Larry Scott has crafted some innovative, forward-thinking deals to get his conference more notoriety; now he just needs to ensure that the product is something that people will want to see.
  3. Last season the NCAA Tournament debuted its “First Four” games, and Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers was one of the participants.  After defeating UAB in Dayton in the late game on Tuesday night, his team had to fly to St. Petersburg, Florida, to get to its Second Round game against West Virginia on Friday afternoon where they lost a close one down the stretch.  His primary beef is in having to play in an early afternoon slot on Friday after traveling all night after the Tigers’ first game, and it makes sense.  A few extra hours to recuperate that afternoon could have gone a long way in terms of tired and travel-weary legs, and after all, what’s the harm?  We know that CBS/Turner has heavy involvement in the selection of game tip times, but it shouldn’t be all that unreasonable to slot four teams into the sixteen late games on Thursday and Friday nights — the ratings will be fine regardless.
  4. We’re quite certain that if UCLA head coach Ben Howland could get a do-over on his 2008 recruiting class that was rated #1 in the nation, he’d take it in a heartbeat.  Jrue Holiday had one lackluster season before he was 1-and-done; Drew Gordon fell out with Howland and eventually transferred to New Mexico; J’mison Morgan never produced and landed at Baylor; Malcolm Lee played three semi-effective seasons before bailing to the NBA Draft without a guarantee.  That left Jerime Anderson as the lone survivor going into his senior season in Westwood.  A role player in the backcourt who similarly never lived up to his prep on-court hype, he was recently arrested on campus for stealing another student’s Macbook Pro.  A tracking device within the computer led police to Anderson, who was immediately suspended from the team and will miss at least the Bruins’ opener against Loyola Marymount on November 11.  If this allegation turns out to be true, we wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the final nail in the coffin of the illustrious UCLA Class of 2008.  Wow.
  5. This is one of those things that is so disheartening that you sometimes stop to wonder why you bother even to get up in the morning.  Earlier this week former Kentucky guard Desmond Allison was murdered in Columbus, Ohio, in an incident so completely senseless and illogical that it strains credulity.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, friends of Allison reported that the dispute that may have led to his murder involved a baseball cap that he was wearing while talking on the phone.   You read that correctly.  A baseball cap.  Reportedly, an ex-girlfriend of Allison’s removed the cap from Allison’s head which led to an argument between that woman and Allison’s current girlfriend.  Allison got involved in the dispute involving the cap, but soon walked away.  A bit later, three men (still unidentified) approached Allison when one of them (possibly a relative of one of the two women) began arguing with him and soon thereafter, shooting.  Allison died at a local hospital later that evening.  It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it?
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Season in Review: Top 15 Storylines From 2010-11

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2011

From Jimmer to Kemba to a Blue Devil toe that wouldn’t heal and a Rocky Top saga that wouldn’t end, it’s been another wild season for college basketball fans from coast to coast.  As we bask in the afterglow of 68 teams down to UConn’s championship, let’s take a look back at the top 15 storylines (in no particular order) of the 2010-11 season.

In an Epic Season-Long Battle, Kemba Smiled Last

  1. Kemba vs. Jimmer.  The national Player of the Year race hasn’t been this exciting since Adam Morrison of Gonzaga and JJ Redick of Duke took turns outdoing each other from opposite ends of the country back in 2006.  Yet these two one-name guards, Kemba from the Boogie Down Bronx and Jimmer from a tiny town in upstate New York, electrified fans nationwide with their unique ability to take over games at Connecticut and BYU, respectively.  Kemba Walker, the cocksure Husky guard with the ball on a string and a crossover dribble to make defenders cry, carried UConn to 32 wins, a sterling 14-0 record in knockout games and the school’s third national championship in what was supposed to be a “down” year.  Fredette, the nation’s leading scorer at 28.9 PPG and owner of a deadeye jumper pure out to 30 feet,  inspired fans to call their cable companies to add The Mountain to their channel lineup.  While it was The Jimmer who swept the NPOY awards (which are based on regular season performance only), we here at RTC factored Kemba’s Big East Tournament MVP and NCAA Tournament MOP performances into our selection of the UConn superstar as our 2010-11 Player of the Year.
  2. A Tourney to Remember, a Championship to Forget.  On the opening Thursday of the NCAA Tournament, still the first “real” day of the Dance to most people, five of the first eight games of the day ended on the final possession.  In addition to close games, there were upsets aplenty in the first weekend, as Butler (knocking out #1 seed Pittsburgh), VCU, Marquette, Florida State and Richmond all broke through as double-digit seeds into the Sweet Sixteen.  The fun didn’t stop there, wither Arizona and Kentucky beating #1s Duke and Ohio State, respectively, in the Sweet Sixteen, followed by VCU shocking the world with its destruction of #1 Kansas in the Elite Eight.  The combined seed total of #3 Connecticut, #4 Kentucky, #8 Butler and #11 VCU was the highest ever in a Final Four, and although the two semifinal games were hard-fought and exciting, the 53-41 championship tilt between UConn and Butler was widely regarded as an ugly finish to what had been a tremendous tournament.  Butler’s 18% shooting for the game was the worst-ever in a championship, and the meme that the national sports media was that such a dud represented some kind of fault in the sport itself.  Last year’s Duke-Butler championship and 2008’s Memphis-Kansas games were awesome — where were those people then?
  3. Kyrie Irving’s Toe.  In early December, there was some talk that preseason #1 Duke, with All-Americans Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler returning to join wunderkind point guard Kyrie Irving, could go unbeaten this year.  All of that discussion ended on December 4 when Irving sprained his toe during what appeared to be a routine play in a win over Butler.  The young player with an explosive extra gear in the open court suffered damage to a ligament and bone that made cutting, running and jumping without pain very difficult.  Subsequently, after sitting out over three months resting and rehabilitating the unusual injury, Irving returned to the court during the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.  While at first it appeared that Irving could be the x-factor needed to put Duke into the driver’s seat in a crowded field of national title contenders, there was some question as to whether his return to the lineup threw off the delicate chemistry that Coach K and his players had engendered throughout the season.  The Devils were thoroughly dominated by Arizona and Derrick Williams in the Sweet Sixteen — Irving played well with 28 points against the Wildcats, but his backcourt mate Nolan Smith only managed eight points while committing six turnovers. Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC Travelogue: New Orleans, Part I

Posted by jstevrtc on April 1st, 2011

RTC Senior Editor John Stevens covered the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in New Orleans for us last week. In addition to watching Butler emerge as the Southeast Region champion, he also had time to check out a little bit of the city. Occasionally on RTC we like to get out of our comfort zone and write up a travelogue of our experiences for your amusement. He’s home and (we think) fully recovered from the both the amazing basketball he saw and his time in the Big Easy, so here is Part I of John’s sumbission from New Orleans.

If you’re looking forward to the destination, one of the great feelings a person can have, for my money, is the series of moments right before a journey starts. Nothing screams of possibilities more than a plane awaiting its turn on a runway, an empty passport, or a camera memory card with no photos. But when RTC’s founder, correspondent wrangler and assignement hander-outer called me to talk about where I’d be traveling and what games I could possibly cover in the post-season, I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation.

John Makes His First Approach To the Quarter -- It Went Downhill From Here

I covered many games in many locales for RTC this season, and frankly, I was tired. I also remembered how I did the same thing last season, and how fatigued I was after the 10-hour car trip to the Big 12 Tournament last year. It was a total blast to cover. I loved every single moment of being there, and I can still taste the Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue. I spent way too much time in the Power and Light District. ButI always spend too much money and push my poor automobile too hard (nothing like an engine rebuild around Christmastime!). By the time I got off the phone with him, though, my defenses had been proven futile. He landed quick jabs by telling me that I was signed up for the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, the First Four in Dayton, and the Cleveland sub-regional.

Then he finished me with this right cross: “And…you’re also penciled in for the regional in New Orleans.”

As if having a media pass to the nation’s greatest sporting event in four different locations wasn’t enough, I had the opportunity to go to one of the country’s coolest cities. I’d always wanted to go to New Orleans. He knew I couldn’t resist that, the dirty dog that he is. I had more fun covering the games in Indianapolis, Dayton, and Cleveland than I thought I would, and that made me anticipate New Orleans even more. My flight to the Crescent City was at 6:00 AM on Thursday, the day of the Sweet 16 games. I barely slept the night before out of excitement. To me, the night and even the minutes before such a journey like this starts are every bit as good as being on the trip itself.

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That’s Debatable: NCAA First Weekend

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2011

As we head into the Sweet Sixteen round, let’s take a look back at some of the key questions and moments of the first two, er, three rounds…

RTC Take:  It was more interesting than it was the last nine years when it only involved two #16 seeds, but the only way to make it truly compelling is to pick teams with a little more national oomph than USC, VCU, UAB and Clemson. 

RTC Take: The fouls at the end of Butler/Pitt offset each other and the two no-calls appeared to be play-on situations in those games.  The Kalin Lucas travel probably wouldn’t have impacted the outcome anyway.  But the Texas five-second call seemed to be a fast whistle, and it essentially gave Arizona the daylight it needed to win the game. 

RTC Take:  We really liked the ability to surf between games without too much trouble, and the free online platforms worked great.  We did not like having entire afternoons on Saturday & Sunday limited to one game per window, though.  That could end up poorly in future years with blowouts. 

RTC Take:  It’s true that Barkley/Jet don’t do their homework, but the scene where Barkley razzed Pitino about Louisville losing in their first game and clowning the Big East was priceless, well worth putting up with the rest of it.  We’ve never seen someone so openly disdainful and dismissive of Pitino in his presence.  Awesome.

RTC Take:  Was Jimmer, still Jimmer.  His performance against Gonzaga was phenomenal, and although Kemba was equally awesome, we still think BYU would essentially be Air Force without Fredette in the lineup.

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