ACC Tournament Preview: Syracuse Over North Carolina For the Crown

Posted by Lathan Wells on March 12th, 2014

The 61st annual ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament will tip off Wednesday in Greensboro. This should be one of the more entertaining tournaments of recent years, as every team has something to play for from bottom to top. It’s startling that so many are dismissing Virginia, who just won their first outright ACC regular season championship in 33 years. Syracuse has been left for dead after once being projected to be the overall number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, losing four of their last six to close the regular season. Duke and North Carolina need late runs to continue to improve their seeding for the Big Dance. The lone likely bubble team in the conference, Pittsburgh, will seek to bolster its resume. Everyone else seeks to shock the world and win the whole thing to steal a tourney bid. Here is RTC’s ACC Tournament preview, with predicted champion included.

This year's ACC tournament field should be wide open.

This year’s ACC tournament field should be wide open.

The first round kicking off on Wednesday is a new wrinkle for a newly-enlarged conference, and there won’t be any big surprises there. Virginia Tech owns two wins (their only two conference wins) over Miami this year; that will change this time around. It’s very difficult for anyone to beat a team three times in the course of one season, and this isn’t a juggernaut squad by any means. Jim Larranaga’s team tops James Johnson’s. Maryland, fresh off of its stunning win over Virginia in the season’s final game, will keep their momentum rolling in knocking Wake Forest out on the first day. The Demon Deacons don’t win away from home, and that won’t change in Greensboro. Georgia Tech will continue the disastrous year that Boston College has endured by out muscling them inside with Daniel Miller and capping off the win with Trae Golden’s ace free-throw shooting.

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Rushed Reaction: #10 Xavier 67, #7 Notre Dame 63

Posted by mpoindexter on March 17th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Don’t try to Get Away with Anything at the end of a close Game. Officials in this year’s NCAA Tournament games have made a point of calling small violations in the final seconds of games. Down by two with 2.8 seconds left on the clock, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins went to the line for a 1-and-1. His first shot went in, but an official erased it and the following attempt by calling a lane violation on Notre Dame. Then, on the ensuing play, the official called a flagrant foul on Notre Dame for tugging on a Xavier player’s jersey before the ball was put into play. Xavier’s Dezmine Wells took his foul shots, icing the game. We weren’t as likely to see these calls in previous years, but it’s obvious that the NCAA is making an effort to have their officials call the games consistently start to finish, regardless of the score. This may initially lead to some head-scratching, but it’s better for college basketball in the long run.
  2. This was the Tu Holloway We’ve Been Waiting For. Xavier’s star senior Holloway has been solid this year, but he hasn’t played quite as well as the All-American season many expected. Holloway lived up to the hype against Notre Dame though, putting in 25 points with a 10-for-15 shooting performance.
  3. Offense, Offense, Offense. The Musketeers and Fighting Irish played hard on defense, but today’s contest was really a slow-paced shootout. Notre Dame would usually win scoring 1.09 points per possession, but Xavier managed a stunning 1.22 points per possession. The Musketeers took 44 shots on the night, and 22 of them went in. That type of efficiency will get you a long way in March.

Star of the Game. Tu Holloway, Xavier. As stated above, Holloway hasn’t lived up to the very high expectations set for him this year. However, he carried the Musketeers down the stretch, most importantly hitting a late-game running floater over two Notre Dame players while fading away from the basket to put his team up by one with 22 seconds left. The NCAA Tournament is about narratives almost as much as it is about wins and losses, and today’s performance against Notre Dame may be the first step to Tu Holloway reversing the negative one that he and his team have dealt with since the Cincinnati brawl.

Sights and Sounds. Notre Dame and Xavier played a fantastic, competitive game, but most in attendance seemed exhausted after experiencing Lehigh’s prior victory over Duke. The Lehigh cheering section went off to celebrate, the large Duke contingent went off to forget, and what was left was a sparsely-populated coliseum that felt more like a high school crowd than anything else. The 10:15 start time was late, and the basketball was slow and methodical. Yet, at the end, well after midnight in Greensboro, as the two teams traded baskets and the clock wound down, the crowd rose and the Greensboro Coliseum, once again, became electric.

What’s Next? The Lehigh Mountain Hawks. And if today’s UNC Tar Heel favoring crowd is any indication, the Musketeers will be playing against a team that has the crowd behind them. Lehigh is playing with tons of confidence at the moment, but Xavier should look to use their slight size advantage to their benefit against the Mountain Hawks. Xavier could be a man down, though, as starting forward Andre Walker spent much of the second half at the end of the bench. Walker caught an errant forearm to the face before hitting the floor hard. Walker and his 28 minutes per game would be a huge loss for Xavier on Sunday.

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Bracket Prep: Midwest Region Analysis

Posted by EJacoby 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, Evan Jacoby (@evanjacoby) breaks down the Midwest Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC Midwest Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCmwregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Evan breaking down the Midwest Region here.

Midwest Region

Favorite: #1 North Carolina (29-5, 14-2 ACC). The preseason #1 team in the country, UNC is among the elite on both sides of the ball with a roster full of NBA talent. The one 33-point loss at Florida State in January remains a massive aberration in this otherwise sterling season. Roy Williams knows a little bit about postseason success; he’s taken North Carolina to the Elite Eight or further five times in the past seven seasons.

An Injured John Henson Might Be The Only Blemish For A Loaded North Carolina Squad Favored To Win The Midwest (AP)

Should They Falter: #2 Kansas (27-6, 16-2 Big 12). Kansas was on track for a #1 seed before a loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals. Led by one of the two front-runners for National Player of the Year (Thomas Robinson), KU has been rock solid all season. The Bill Self era has included a National Championship as well as several early upsets. The makeup of this year’s Jayhawks leads us to believe they’re more likely to make a deep run than an early exit.

Overseeded: #11 NC State (22-12, 9-7 ACC). Not a whole lot of complaints with the seeding in this region, but NC State seems to have been rewarded a bit too much for its recent performance. The Wolfpack made a great run in the ACC Tournament and will be a difficult out in this Tournament, but they were squarely on the bubble just two days ago. A win over Virginia and close loss to North Carolina appears to have moved this team up from the potential First Four play-in game matchups to a solid #11, and it seems a bit unwarranted.

Underseeded: #8 Creighton (28-5, 14-4 MVC). Again, there’s nothing egregious in this bracket but Greg McDermott’s Creighton team got a really rough draw. Consider that the Bluejays won their conference tournament and finished with five losses while Gonzaga lost in the WCC finals and finished with six losses, both with a similar strength of schedule, and Gonzaga received the better seed. Creighton has a beef that it should be on the #7 line.

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Who Says the South Only Cares About Football?

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2009

The NCAA is starting to scare us a little bit with the news today that the Final Four will be held in warm-weather venues from 2011-13.  Surely they don’t expect us to stay in our rooms during the interminable wait from F4 Saturday night to Monday night’s championship.  Don’t they know that basketball is a cold-weather sport?  That you should see your breath as you huddle outside the arena waiting to get inside, where the scents of metallic air ducts mix with wet clothing and hot dogs in an olfactory orgy of late winter sensations?    Where’s my Minneapolis, my Detroit, my St. Louis?  No, now we’ll actually be forced to enjoy some early April outdoor air in three fun cities where 70s and 80s (before the oppresssive summer humidity hits) are common that time of year.  This means that you, the readers of this site, will pay for our folly.  We’re not happy with you, NCAA. 

The 2010 Final Four is in Indianapolis, IN.  Here’s the list for the next four years…  make your travel plans now.

Which Venue Will You Attend?  (photo credit: NCAA.org)
Which Venue Will You Attend? (photo credit: NCAA.org)

2010 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – Indianapolis, IN
  • Regionals - Syracuse, NY (East); Houston, TX (South); St. Louis, MO (Midwest); Salt Lake City, UT (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Providence, RI; Buffalo, NY; Jacksonville, FL; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Milwaukee, WI; San Jose, CA; Spokane, WA.

2011 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – Houston, TX
  • Regionals - Newark, NJ (East); New Orleans, LA (South); San Antonio, TX (Southwest); Anaheim, CA (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Tulsa, OK; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Tampa, FL; Tucson, AZ; Washington, DC.

2012 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – New Orleans, LA
  • Regionals - Boston, MA (East); Atlanta, GA (South); St. Louis, MO (Midwest); Phoenix, AZ (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Albuquerque, NM; Columbus, OH; Greensboro, NC; Louisville, KY; Nashville, TN; Omaha, NE; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR.

2013 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – Atlanta, GA
  • Regionals - TBD (East); Arlington, TX (South); Indianapolis, IN (Midwest); Los Angeles, CA (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Dayton, OH; Auburn Hills, MI; Lexington, KY; Salt Lake City, UT; San Jose, CA; Austin, TX; Kansas City, MO; Philadelphia, PA.

A few quick reflections on the next four years of March Madness venues:

  • ACC fans who bellow from the mountaintops that Duke and UNC always “get to play at home” in the first two rounds (we’re also guilty of this) and/or the regionals won’t have much to complain about the next four Tourneys.  There are two subregional sites (Charlotte in 2011; Greensboro in 2012) within the friendly confines of North Carolina, but a grand total of zero regionals and certainly not a F4. 
  • On the flip side, the West Regional looks EXTREMELY friendly to a certain blue/gold team from SoCal, with locations in Anaheim in 2011 (34 miles), Phoenix in 2012 (368 miles) and downtown LA in 2013 (11 miles).  Egads. 
  • We can’t recall the last time an NCAA Tournament game was in Louisville, and we always wondered why Freedom Hall stopped doing it.  Good to see the River City back on the list with its planned new 22k-seat arena. 
  • What’s with the NCAA renaming a region the “Southwest” Regional for one year only (San Antonio: 2011)?  Regardless of that, you can’t tell us that Rick Barnes hasn’t already circled the Tulsa/San Antonio/Houston pathway in his Iphone calendar as something to shoot for. 
  • Newark (2011 East Regional), really?  Looks like Cory Booker’s doing better than we thought there. 
  • Other than that, mostly the usual suspects.  We all know that it doesn’t really matter where the games are played – they’ll be exciting regardless.
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