Set Your Tivo: 02.06.10

Posted by THager on February 5th, 2010

***** – 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 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#8 Georgetown @ #2 Villanova – 12 pm on ESPN (*****)

Should Be a Great One in DC Today (David Maialetti)

Is Villanova the best team in the country?  Many voters are split between the Jayhawks and Wildcats, but if VU wins its next two games at Georgetown and West Virginia, they will at least cement their standing as a top seed, if not the number one ranking.  Georgetown can be a dangerous team, with wins over Butler and Duke, but also have losses to Old Dominion and South Florida.  Villanova, largely due to their #60 defense in terms of efficiency, rank only 13th overall according to Ken Pomeroy.  The Wildcats score 85 points per contest (second nationally), but if they have an off night against a GU team that surrenders only 63 ppg, they could find themselves in real trouble.  The last time the Wildcats scored below seventy points, they lost to Temple.  Since then, Nova has won 11 games in a row, one of which was a five-point victory against the Hoyas in Philly.  On that afternoon, Georgetown actually outscored VU 46-36 in the second half and Greg Monroe scored 29 points.  In addition to Monroe, four Hoyas average in double figures and they rank second in the country in field goal percentage at over 50%.  If the Hoyas can make their shots and hold the Wildcats to less than seventy points, they will have a great chance to win the game.

Xavier @ Dayton – 12 pm on ESPN2 (***)

With wins in their last four games, Xavier has not only played itself back to the top of the Atlantic 10 (temporarily), but they have also gotten back into the conversation of an at-large berth.  All of the wins were by double digits, while Dayton appears to be heading in the opposite direction.  Although the Flyers are coming off a win at lowly Saint Bonaventure, they had lost three of their previous four games.  They average an acceptable 70 points per game, but are ranked 112th in offensive efficiency.  The A-10 will send a few teams to the tournament this year, but at currently sixth in the conference, Dayton will need to get it going to earn an at-large bid.  In their last meeting on January 16, Xavier came back in the second half to preserve a 25-game home winning streak against the Flyers.  Today’s matchup will be at Dayton Arena, where the flyers are 10-1 this year.  If the Flyers want to win this time around, they will have to make the Musketeers shoot outside of their comfort zone.  Led by Dante Jackson, Xavier shot 53% from beyond the arc and 80% from the line against Dayton in the first game.  Dayton’s leading scorer, Chris Wright, only scored five points in their last game, so he will have to play one of his best games of the season to pull off the win.

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ATB: Is it Dominique or Dominant Jones?

Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2010

Dominique Jones is SupermanSouth Florida 72, #8 Georgetown 64.  A few days after getting its best win of the year against Pittsburgh at home, South Florida outdid itself tonight with a major upset at Georgetown to move back into the middle of the pack at 5-5 in the Big East race and put the Bulls squarely into the NCAA Tournament picture.  The primary reason for the recent four-game surge, of course, has been the astounding play of guard Dominique Jones, who dropped another 29 points (plus 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals) to give him a ridiculous 140 points in the last four games (all USF wins, mind you).  Georgetown, coming off a big win versus Duke and looking ahead to a huge game this weekend against Villanova, may have found itself lacking focus, but as usual, the Hoyas’ fortunes came down to the offensive play of Chris Wright, and he was not good.  His 3-10 shooting included 0-6 from deep, and even though Greg Monroe (21/8/3 blks) and Austin Freeman produced (21 pts), it wasn’t enough for the Hoyas to survive.  Monroe was in foul trouble in the second half, which undoubtedly ended the Hoyas’ chances as soon as he left the floor.  We’d like to believe that this was a minor blip on the Hoya season exacerbated by a player hitting on all cylinders and a motivated team, but we have a feeling that Georgetown’s margin for error is just so incredibly slim because of the complete lack of quality depth.  Where’s Vernon Macklin and Jeremiah Rivers when you need them?

Dominique Jones: USF Superman (AP)

Backyard Brawl, Literally#6 West Virginia 70, #21 Pittsburgh 51.  WVU easily handled Pitt tonight in the Backyard Brawl tonight, with solid games from Da’Sean Butler (18/5) and Kevin Jones (16/6), but it was an incident late in the game with the Mountaineers up twelve that makes you wonder what the hell is in the water in Morgantown these days.  Just days after the WVU student section took heat for their uncouth behavior during the Louisville game, and barely 15-20 minutes after Bob Huggins excoriated the crowd for throwing things onto the court, someone threw a coin from the stands (see below), hitting Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion just below the eye.  The incident that inspired the bad behavior wasn’t even all that rage-inducing, as a couple of players got tangled up when a ref got under them and everyone fell to the ground.  There certainly weren’t any punches thrown, and neither player seemed all that upset with the play.  Pitt’s hot start to the Big East season has officially come to a grinding halt with this loss (four in five games), shooting just 30% and handing out just five assists in this one.  The Panthers get Seton Hall at home prior to hosting WVU again next week — these unbalanced schedules are crazy, eh?  Final thought – WVU’s Deniz Kilicli came off the bench for nine points on 4-4 shooting in only seven minutes – what a debut for Bob Huggins’ new big man.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles… (With a Wednesday Twist)

Posted by zhayes9 on February 3rd, 2010

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every week as the season progresses.

This week’s Scribbles column will look ahead to a couple months down the road in Indianapolis, where 65 deserving teams will be whittled down to just four, and to that blissful Monday night in April when one lucky group will be dancing at mid-court to the tune of One Shining Moment. In my estimation, there are ten squads with a promising-to-slight chance of hoisting a 2010 National Champions banner during their home opener next season. I’m here to tell you those ten teams, why they have hopes of winning a national title, what’s holding them back, and the most realistic scenario as I see it come late March or beginning of April. These teams are ranked in reverse order from 10-1 with the #1 school holding the best cards in their deck.

10. Duke

Why they can win it all: Their floor leader and senior stalwart Jon Scheyer is the steadiest distributor in all of college basketball, evident from his incredibly stellar 3.28 A/T ratio and a 5.6 APG mark that ranks third in the ACC and 23d in the nation. Scheyer is also a deadly shooter coming off screens when he has time to square his body to the basket, nailing a career-high 39% from deep to go along with 44% from the floor overall. Duke is also a tremendous free-throw shooting team as a whole and Coach K has the ability to play a group of Scheyer-Kyle Singler-Nolan Smith-Mason Plumlee-Lance Thomas that doesn’t feature one player under 70% from the charity stripe. Duke also features a ton more size in the paint than during previous flameouts in the NCAA Tournament. When Singler plays small forward, Coach K can rotate Miles and Mason Plumlee, the glue guy Thomas, rebounding force Brian Zoubek and even Ryan Kelly at two positions with no player under 6’8. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more efficient backcourt in the nation than Scheyer and Smith. And it’s widely known that exceptional guard play is the ultimate key to winning in March.

What Makes Duke 2010 Different than Duke 2006-09?

Why they won’t win it all: Depth could certainly be an issue for the Blue Devils’ chances of raising their first banner since 2001. Andre Dawkins has fallen almost entirely out of the rotation and Coach K has started to limit Mason Plumlee’s minutes during important games. Also, Brian Zoubek’s tendency to immediately step into foul trouble limits his availability. It wouldn’t shock me to see Duke play Scheyer, Smith and Singler 40 minutes per game during their time in the NCAA Tournament. That could cause those key players, who rely primarily on their jump shot, to lose their legs and start throwing up bricks. Kyle Singler isn’t quite the superstar he was last season, either. Singler’s numbers are down across the board — scoring, rebounding, FG%, 3pt% — and he’s been dealing with a nagging wrist injury that may not improve in the weeks and months ahead. Duke also lacks the athleticism of teams like Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Texas. They could struggle with quicker guards like John Wall and athletic rebounders of the Damion James mold.

Likely scenario: I see Duke reaching the Sweet 16 as a #2 seed where they fall to a more athletic, quick group of guards that can explode to the rim and draw fouls. Duke may have height, but most of that height just isn’t a threat offensively by any stretch of the imagination. Eventually getting into a jump shooting contest could be the Blue Devils’ downfall if two of Smith, Scheyer and Singler go cold.

9. West Virginia

Why they can win it all: Da’Sean Butler is one of the best players in the nation when the chips are on the table. If the Mountaineers need a big shot to keep their season alive, Butler will demand the basketball and more than likely deliver. He’s downed Marquette and Louisville on game-deciding jumpers and led the second half charge against Ohio State. West Virginia is also supremely athletic and Bob Huggins’ teams always crash the boards with a tremendous ferocity. No contender can match the height across the board that West Virginia touts other than Kentucky. Huggins has experimented with lineups in which all of his players are 6’6 or taller, including 6’9 Devin Ebanks acting as a point-forward and 6’7 Da’Sean Butler capable of posting up smaller two-guards. Sophomore Kevin Jones is an incredible talent and a rebounding machine (7.7 RPG) that hits 55% of his shots from the floor and 44% from deep. West Virginia has the luxury of any of their forwards being able to step out and drain a mid-range jumper, from Ebanks to Jones to Wellington Smith to John Flowers every once in a full moon.

Ebanks is the X-factor for West Virginia

Why they won’t win it all: Let’s face it: Bob Huggins doesn’t have exactly the best track record when it comes to NCAA Tournament success. Huggins hasn’t reached the Elite 8 since 1995-96 with Cincinnati and only one Sweet 16 in the last ten years. In 2000 and 2002, his Bearcats lost just four games all season and yet didn’t reach the second weekend of March both times. Most also question whether the Mountaineers can hit outside shots on a consistent basis. They’ve struggled mightily in the first half of Big East games and can’t afford to fall behind against elite competition in March like they did against Dayton last season. Point guard play is a prudent question for West Virginia, as well. Joe Mazzulla is a quality perimeter defender and a capable distributor, but he’ll never be the offensive threat he was two seasons ago due to that shoulder injury. Darryl Bryant can certainly catch a hot streak shooting-wise, but in all honestly he’s more suited as an undersized two-guard. Bryant is averaging just 3.6 APG in 25+ MPG of action.

Likely scenario: I’m still fairly high on this team. I love Butler at the end of games and Ebanks can do anything for Huggins — from score to rebound to run the point — and Kevin Jones is one of the most underappreciated players in the Big East. In the end, I see a clankfest from outside ultimately costing West Virginia their season. And for all their rebounding history, the Mountaineers are in the mid-60s in the nation. The Elite Eight seems like a proper place for their season to conclude.

8. Texas

Why they can win it all: No team boasts better perimeter defenders than Texas. Anyone that watched Dogus Balbay completely shut down James Anderson in the second half Monday night knows he’s the best perimeter defender in the nation, even stronger than Purdue’s Chris Kramer. Avery Bradley came in with the reputation as an elite defender and he’s certainly lived up to that billing. Even J’Covan Brown off the bench is a capable defensive player and Justin Mason is a plus defender. When Dexter Pittman stays out of foul trouble, Texas boasts a legitimate shot-blocking presence that can negate quick guards on the rare occasion they slip past Balbay or Bradley. Texas is also the deepest team in the nation and Rick Barnes has the capability of playing 10 or 11 men on any night if he feels the need. The preserved minutes could pay dividends in the form of fresh players come March. Damion James should also be on a mission come March as a senior. He’s never reached a Final Four during his Longhorns career and came back for a fourth year in Austin to accomplish that very feat.

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ATB: Kansas Makes a Statement in Manhattan

Posted by rtmsf on February 1st, 2010

Game of the Weekend. #2 Kansas 81, #13 Kansas State 79 (OT). First, props to the K-State fans for stepping up on Gameday.  They created an environment for this one that was as electric as any place we’ve seen this season.  There’s no doubt their players felt the love, too.  They needed to.  If you think these teams thought this was just another game, think again.  Sherron Collins was so amped up that he was dehydrated BEFORE the game started.  Jacob Pullen was seen on two different occasions dry-heaving into a trash can at the KSU bench.  If Kansas could manage a win in such surroundings, they’d be the presumptive #1 on Monday and would certainly deserve it.  The first narrative hook came early when Bill Self yanked Cole Aldrich (18/11/3 blks) and evidently reminded him on how to use his size to eat up space on the inside, because he began to hit layup after layup and pull rebound after rebound.  KSU stayed close even with Aldrich’s elevated play, but as the Wildcats’ shot selection began to fail them, KU built a five-point lead.  This was quickly erased as Jacob Pullen began to get more touches, and KU’s halftime lead was a mere point.  The Jayhawks managed to build it back to eight early in the second half, but KSU remedied that by settling for layups instead of bad looks from three, and by hitting the offensive glass HARD.  After regulation time couldn’t decide it, and a neck-and-neck overtime, it’s only fitting that this game should be effectively decided by an incredible play by a big time player.  With KU up by a point and thirteen seconds left, Sherron Collins — battling dehydration and muscle spasms the entire night — drove to the hole knowing he was going to take contact, knowing there was little chance he was going to land in any way except on his back, and banked in a lay-up for a three-point play.  The Wildcats’ body language told the story.  He couldn’t convert the free throw, but after a Cole Aldrich offensive board and two Brady Morningstar free throws (which proved to be vital, after Jacob Pullen drilled a long three at the buzzer), it was done.  There were a few moments of celebration by the Jayhawks, but soon after, what you saw was more solemn pride and relief.  True, there isn’t much difference between the one-loss teams at the top of the polls.  But you can’t really have a three-way tie for #1, and the way the wins and losses have fallen — and after seeing what Kansas went through to win in Manhattan — the Jayhawks deserve the top position for now.

Collins and KU Will be Back at #1 (KC Star/Rich Sugg)

Finally, No Obama Jinx. #11 Georgetown 89, #7 Duke 77.  Well, at least Duke shot 84.6% from the free throw line. And that’s because you can’t guard free throws.  If you look at the numbers on this one, you might simply assume that the Hoyas “out-defended” the Blue Devils, since they held Duke to a 37% shooting day, including 31% (9-29) from three-point range.  All due respect to the Hoyas, because that statement is formally true — in this case, though, it’s not profound.  This wasn’t the Duke defense to which we’ve grown accustomed.  If you were looking for that in this game, you saw it on maybe one of every five Georgetown possessions.  Even more importantly, John Thompson III instructed his squad to be as selective with their shots as the admissions committees are with applicants at these schools.  As a result, Georgetown took 16 fewer shots in this game than the Devils — but hit 72% of them (33-46), an unfathomable number against anyone, let alone Duke.  All but maybe two of Georgetown’s attempts from behind the three-point arc were good looks, and they hit six of them (46%).  What was it that forced Duke out of their usual game plan?  Was it just Georgetown’s economical approach?  The excellence of Greg Monroe (21/5/5)?  The presence of Barack Obama and Joe Biden on the front row?  RTC Live in the building?  Hard to say.  Maybe it was the fact that this wasn’t Cameron Indoor, since Duke has dropped four of the five true road games it’s played this year.

Obama Giving the Zebra Tips on Dipomacy (AP)

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RTC Live: Duke @ Georgetown

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Welcome to another installment of RTC Live, coming to you courtside from the Verizon Center. We have a doozy on our hands as the Georgetown Hoyas host the Duke Blue Devils. How big of a game is this? President Barack Obama will be in attendance. If our suspicions are correct, it is because he is a big fan of RTC and heard we would be covering the game, but I digress. Duke has had their fair share of struggles of late, but at the end of the day they are still just a game out of first place in the ACC. After dropping a game to NC State on the road, the Devils bounced back nicely with wins over Clemson and Florida State. The one thing box score junkies will have noticed is the rapidly decreasing minutes of freshmen Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins. As Coach K makes his annual rotational cuts, it has meant more time for the Blue Devils’ big three. Could weak legs become a factor again this season?

Georgetown has a big three of their own, and with the lack of depth on their roster, it has resulted in heavy minutes for Greg Monroe, Chris Wright, and Austin Freeman as well. The most interesting stat for this year’s Hoyas comes in the form of Mr. Wright. In the Hoyas four losses, he is averaging 6.5 ppg, 6.5 apg, and just 1.3 turnovers. In their 15 wins, those numbers jump to 16.8 ppg, but only 3.5 apg and 2.9 turnovers. With the offense running through Monroe, Georgetown needs Wright and Freeman to be the guys that can score. And thus far, they have done a pretty good job.   When its all said and done, this game has no importance other than seeding come tournament time. Duke and Georgetown will both be looking for a two-seed, and a win here could go along way towards that goal for both sides. So sit back, leave a comment, and enjoy what is sure to be a heckuva game.

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Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Rob Dauster of Ballin’ is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

With Georgetown, Pitt, West Virginia, and UConn all coming down to earth in the last few weeks, Syracuse and Villanova have established themselves unequivocally as the favorites in the Big East.

But who is better?

It depends on how you look at them.  Going strictly by the numbers, its Syracuse. They are first in the country in the RPI, and third according to KenPom. They’ve done so playing the fourth-most difficult schedule in the country. They won at West Virginia and handily beat Georgetown at home despite digging a 14-0 hole. They are 4-0 on the road, beat Cal and UNC in MSG early in the season, and also beat Florida in Tampa. Their sole loss on the season was to Pitt.

Their length has made their zone almost impenetrable. They deflect passes and force turnovers, and are able to convert those turnovers into points as well as anyone in the country. Offensively, they play an incredibly smart brand of basketball, rarely taking a bad or forced shot. Want proof?  They shoot, as a team, 53.4% from the floor, and have an effective field goal percentage of 59.3, second best in the country.  It makes sense that Syracuse’s name is being thrown around when talking about the Final Four and the national title. They’ve had a fantastic season.

But Villanova has been great this year as well.  In fact, they have a better record than Syracuse, as they are 8-0 in the league. They have five wins against the RPI top 50, and nine against the top 100. Their only loss is to Temple, which doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did when they were beaten. They’ve played more games (11) away from home than they have at home (10), and are 10-1 in those games. While their efficiency numbers are lower than you would expect from a team in the top five (KenPom has them at 13th), a big reason for that is their poor defensive efficiency, which is 71st in the country. But that number has been steadily climbing (they were 95th a month ago), and is made up for by a potent offensive attack.

Those numbers will only get better as Villanova continues to play at full strength. Reggie Redding, the Wildcats’ best perimeter defender, wasn’t eligible until after the Temple loss. Mouph Yarou is back from a bout of hepatitis, giving Villanova some depth in the paint.  Head-to-head, this game would be a toss-up. Villanova has shooters and penetrators in their backcourt that thrive against a zone. Syracuse has the size inside and the discipline offensively to pick apart the Wildcat defense. I don’t think I’m the only one that would say the winner of this game would be a toss-up, depending on who got hot and where the game was played.

Having said that, if I had to bet on one of these two teams to win the Big East, I would put everything I own on the Orange.  In a heartbeat.  You see, Villanova has yet to really play the meat of the Big East. In February, not only will Villanova have to play Georgetown, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, and Cincinnati, they will have to play all five of them on the road.  Going 3-2 in that stretch would be quite an accomplishment.  And that’s not it. The Wildcats also have to UConn and West Virginia again at home. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a tougher schedule down the stretch than Villanova.

Syracuse doesn’t exactly play cupcakes the rest of the season. They get Louisville twice, UConn and Villanova at home, and travel to Georgetown and Cincinnati. But that is a far cry from what the Wildcats finish the season with. Its not crazy to predict the Orange to go 9-1 over their last 10 games, putting them at 16-2 in the conference.  Can Villanova match that?  The most intriguing part in all of this is that Villanova and Syracuse only play once this season, on Feb. 27th. Seeing as the winner will hold the tie-breaker if the two teams should finish the season with identical records, in all probability that game will be the de facto Big East championship game.

Think the Carrier Dome will be packed for that one?

Other News and Notes

  • UConn has had a weird couple of weeks. They lost at Michigan before finding out that Jim Calhoun was going to be taking an indefinite leave of absence. They then beat St. John’s and #1 Texas at home, before looking lost in a 15-point defeat at the hands of Providence. The problem for UConn at Providence was the lack of a leader. When the Friars put a late run on the Huskies, they folded. Their offense stopped moving, they settled for contested jumpers and headlong drive into the lane, and lost all aggressiveness on the defensive end and on the glass. Could that have been different if Calhoun was on the sidelines? Who knows, but unless someone on that Husky roster becomes a leader a la AJ Price, UConn now looks headed for the NIT, while the win over Texas looks like a fluke.
  • Another interesting tidbit from UConn’s last two weeks: in their loss to Michigan, the students rushed the Crisler Arena floor. When UConn beat Texas, their fans stormed the Gampel Pavilion court. But after losing to Providence, Frair fans RTC’d the Dunk. Has that ever happened before?
  • In Georgetown’s 15 wins, Chris Wright is averaging 16.8 ppg as opposed to 6.5 ppg in their four losses. Pretty standard, considering Wright is one of Georgetown’s top scorers. But where it gets interesting is that Wright is averaging 6.5 apg and just 1.3 turnovers in the Hoyas’ four losses, a 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In their 15 wins, he is averaging 3.5 apg and 2.9 t/o’s. Not exactly ideal point guard numbers. But Chris Wright isn’t exactly your prototypical point guard, and Georgetown doesn’t exactly run your prototypical offense. The Hoyas’ playmaker is Greg Monroe. The offense runs through him at the high post, which means that Wright isn’t needed to be a great distributor or facilitator as much as he’s needed to be a guy that can score. And if he’s proved anything this season, its that he certainly has that ability.
  • The top five in the Big East are all, barring a collapse down the stretch, a lock to make the Dance. But after that, the question marks begin to mount.
  • UConn has a win over Texas to give their resume some credibility, but after that their best “win” is probably close losses to Kentucky and Georgetown. The only reason they are in the conversation right now is the fact they’ve played the toughest schedule in the country, bolstering what is a top 30 RPI. The Huskies have a lot of work to do if they want to ensure a bid.
  • Louisville is just 1-5 against the RPI top50, with that one coming against Cincinnati, who is 49th. Their best win out of conference? East Tennessee State, who is 128th. Louisville will have plenty of chances the rest of the season – they play six of their 11 games against teams in the RPI top 30.
  • Cincinnati is in a little better shape than Louisville. They are 3-5 against the top 50, including a win over Vanderbilt that gets more and more impressive. They don’t really have any terrible losses, either, as their worst is a loss at St. John’s (a game they absolutely pissed away). If the Bearcats can take care of business in games they should win, their season will be decided in the final week, as they go to West Virginia, get Villanova at home, and go to Georgetown.
  • Notre Dame has a lot of work to do. They lost their only top 100 nonconference matchup to Northwestern, while also losing to Loyola Marymount. Notre Dame’s biggest issue is that they don’t have the opportunities that other teams do – only two of their ten games are against the top five in the league.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK and TEAM OF THE WEEK: Dominique Jones and South Florida Bulls

For the first time in their Big East tenure, South Florida has won back-to-back games, beating Providence in overtime on Saturday before knocking off Seton Hall on Thursday night in another overtime game. I’ve been touting Dominique Jones all season long in this space, and this week he backed me up. Against Providence, Jones had the best all-around performance of the Big East season (sorry, Scottie Reynolds, but its true), as he scored 46 points (on 15-23 shooting), grabbed 10 boards, and dished out 8 assists as the Bulls overcame a 12 point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force the OT. Against Seton Hall, Jones scored six of his 28 points (on just 9-16 shooting) in overtime, also adding 4 boards and 3 assists. On the week, he averaged 37.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 5.5 apg while shooting over 60% from the floor.


1. Syracuse: 20-1, 7-1

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Marquette 76-71, 1/25 vs. Georgetown 73-56

Next Week: 1/30 @ DePaul, 2/2 vs. Providence

2. Villanova: 19-1, 8-0

Last Week: 1/23 @ St. John’s 81-71, 1/27 vs. Notre Dame 90-72

Next Week: 2/2 vs. Seton Hall

3. West Virginia: 16-3, 5-2

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Ohio State 71-65, 1/26 @ DePaul 62-46

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Louisville, 2/3 vs. Pitt

4. Georgetown: 16-4, 6-3

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Rutgers 94-68, 1/25 @ Syracuse 56-73

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Duke, 2/3 vs. USF

5. Pitt: 16-4, 6-2

Last Week: 1/24 @ Seton Hall 61-64, 1/28 vs. St. John’s

Next Week: 1/31 @ USF, 2/3 @ West Virginia

6. Louisville: 13-7, 4-3

Last Week: 1/24 vs. Cincinnati 68-60

Next Week: 1/30 @ West Virginia, 2/1 vs. UConn

7. Cincinnati: 13-7, 4-4

Last Week: 1/24 @ Louisville 60-68

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Providence, 2/4 @ Notre Dame

8. Notre Dame: 15-6, 4-4

Last Week: 1/23 vs. DePaul 87-77, 1/27 @ Villanova 72-90

Next Week: 1/30 @ Rutgers, 2/4 vs. Cincinnati

9. UConn: 13-7, 3-4

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Texas 88-74, 1/27 @ Providence 66-81

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Marquette, 2/1 @ Louisville

10. Marquette: 12-8, 3-5

Last Week: 1/23 @ Syracuse 76-71, 1/26 vs. Rutgers 82-59

Next Week: 1/30 @ UConn, 2/3 vs. DePaul

11. South Florida: 13-7, 3-5

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Providence 109-105 OT, 1/28 vs. Seton Hall 76-74 OT

Next Week: 1/31 vs. Pitt, 2/3 vs. Georgetown

12. Seton Hall: 12-7, 3-5

Last Week: 1/24 vs. Pitt 64-61, 1/28 @ South Florida 74-76 OT

Next Week: 2/2 @ Villanova

13. Providence: 12-8, 4-4

Last Week: 1/23 vs. South Florida 105-109 OT, 1/27 vs. UConn 81-66

Next Week: 1/30 @ Cincinnati, 2/2 @ Syracuse

14. St. John’s: 12-8, 2-6

Last Week: 1/23 vs. Villanova 71-81, 1/28 @ Pitt 53-63

Next Week: 2/2 @ Rutgers

15. DePaul: 8-12, 1-7

Last Week: 1/23 @ Notre Dame 77-87, 1/26 vs. West Virginia 46-62

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Syracuse, 2/3 @ Marquette

16. Rutgers: 9-11, 0-8

Last Week: 1/23 @ Georgetown 63-88, 1/26 @ Marquette 59-82

Next Week: 1/30 vs. Notre Dame, 2/2 vs. St. John’s

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ATB: More Like Small Monday…

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2010

Big Monday, Not So Much.  And this is why they play the games.  On paper, the two ESPN games tonight looked like tremendous matchups with the potential of both going down to the wire.  Didn’t really work out that way, though.  Perhaps better luck tomorrow night…

It had an 80s Feel at the Dome Tonight (The Post-Standard/Gloria Wright)

  • #4 Syracuse 73, #7 Georgetown 56.  It may not have been a classic, but the first matchup between the Cuse and Georgetown in twenty years with both teams residing in the top ten was certainly interesting.  The Hoyas denigrated the Syracuse zone from the tip, jumping out to a 14-0 lead behind four threes and a layup that had the 25,000+ upstaters wondering when Jim Boeheim’s team was going to show up.  The answer wasn’t long in coming, as Syracuse shook off the early doldrums and put together a 30-15 run of their own to take the lead before the half ended.  From that point it was all downhill for JT3’s team, as the well with which the Hoyas had hit early jumpers ran dry throughout the rest of the game.  The biggest problem for the Hoyas was that two of their primary scoring options — their star point guard, Chris Wright, and center, Greg Monroe — were completely ineffective tonight on the offensive end, scoring only fifteen points on 7-17 shooting (0-6 from three).  Considering that Georgetown gets so much of its scoring from its starters (92%), they simply cannot afford off nights from these players (note: the Hoya bench contributed zero points tonight).  As for Syracuse, their offense is incredibly efficient — in 15 of the Orange’s 21 games this year, they’ve shot over 50% from the field, and tonight was no exception (53%).  They know what they’re good at and they force other teams to deal with it — most cannot, which means they better hope they’re having a strong shooting night against the confounding SU zone.  Good luck with that.  In terms of the Big East race, does this mean that Syracuse and Villanova are clearly the teams to beat?  Hard to say because VU has had a very weak conference schedule to date, but we can state without equivocation that Syracuse is in the top tier of contenders.
  • #2 Kansas 84, Missouri 65.  When Kansas plays team defense like they did tonight against rival Missouri, there is nobody in America who can beat them.  Not Kentucky, not Texas, not Villanova, not Duke, not Syracuse.  It’s a testament to just how dominant their D was tonight that the Jayhawks could turn the ball over twenty-three times (vs. four for Missouri) and still have absolutely no trouble with the Tigers, whom they held to 28% shooting.  Imagine what it would have looked like if they’d been more careful with the ball.  The KU defense of course starts and ends with Cole Aldrich inside, and he was spectacular, nearly earning a trip-dub with 12/16/7 blks.  Marcus Morris continues to come on strong with a 17/9 night in his fifth straight game of double figures as well.  Mike Anderson’s Tigers never got into any kind of offensive groove after an opening 8-3 run, as there was often a sense that Kansas had a sixth defender on the floor to get out on the Missouri shooters.  Since the loss at Tennessee three weekends ago, the Jayhawks have yet to play another tough road game, but they’ll have their hands full with Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente on Saturday night in the Little Apple.  It says here that the brief issues of focus that KU had, in part because of Aldrich’s family matters, are put behind them and will be tough to beat more than once the rest of the year.

Other Games of National Interest.

  • Western Carolina 100, Charleston 90.  A wild offensive-minded game in the SoCon tonight, with Western Carolina giving Charleston its first loss in league play.  Both teams put five players each in double figures, with the Catamounts hitting eleven threes and shooting 59% from the field while Charleston nailed a scorching nineteen treys on 57% shooting.  The SoCon is more than likely a one-bid league this year, but with WCU possessing the scalps of Louisville and Charleston holding UNC’s, keep an eye on one of these two as a possible first-round darkhorse in March.
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Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by jstevrtc on January 23rd, 2010

Rob Dauster of Ballin Is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Jeremy Hazell can score.

No one has questioned that. Ever.

He’s averaging 22.9 PPG. He put 41 on West Virginia. He’s hit 30 four times.

No, the issue for Hazell isn’t putting up points. Its how he gets his points.

Prior to Thursday night’s game against Louisville, an argument could have been made that Hazell was the most selfish player in the Big East, if not the entire country. Yes, Hazell is an outstanding three-point shooter, but he only makes 32.5% of his attempts from deep.


Because Hazell has a bit of a problem with shot selection. He has a knack for hitting some incredibly tough shots, but far too often he forces quick shots, challenged shots, early in a possession. There is nothing wrong with taking a tough shot at the end of a shot clock, or the end of the game, or even when you’ve knocked down three or four jumpers in a row – your proverbial heat check.

But there is something wrong with taking the number of forced jumpers that Hazell was taking early in the season. Take a look at some of the shooting performances Hazell has had this season:

  • In a win over Monmouth, Hazell scored 26 points, but was 9-23 from the floor and 5-14 from three.
  • In a loss at Temple, Hazell finished with just 11 points while shooting 4-17 from the field and 1-11 from three.
  • Hazell’s two best scoring outputs of the season came in back-to-back losses against West Virginia and Syracuse, when he went for 41 and 38 points, respectively. But in those two games combined, Hazell was just 26-64 from the floor and 10-34 from three.
  • Hazell scored just 13 points on 5-20 shooting, 2-8 from three, in a loss at UConn.

And while he has had his economic scoring performances, those are, for the most part, few and far between.

Now fast forward to Thursday’s game against Louisville. Seton Hall picked up a win in a do-or-die game for the Pirates at-large hopes as they played arguably their best basketball of the season.

While there were some line-up changes – most notably using Keon Lawrence strictly off of the ball – the biggest difference was Hazell and his shot selection. The 6’5 junior finished the game with 25 points, but he only needed 12 shots to do so, hitting nine and making 3-6 from deep. He played 39 minutes, and in those 39 minutes, Hazell took just a single bad shot.

And it was an awful shot. With just four minutes left on the clock and the Hall up 12, Hazell airballed a deep three with a good 30 seconds on the shot clock after the Pirates had broken the Louisville press.

Doris Burke, who was doing the color for the game, ripped him. The twitterati ripped him. No doubt Bobby Gonzalez ripped him.

(Side note: Burke is a very underrated commentator. She really knows the game, she breaks it down in an insightful manner, and she does it in a way that makes what she is explaining seem very basic. Bill Simmons may disagree, but Burke should be spending more time away from the sideline.)

But while ripping him for taking a poor shot with a big lead late in the game, you must also commend him. Hazell’s mindset is “shoot, shoot, shoot, score, score, score”. He has always looked for his best shot first, and the best shot for the team second. But tonight, it was different. Louisville chased Hazell around all night, for the most part having a defender in his jock everytime he caught the ball.

What happened as a result is that driving lanes opened up. Post up opportunites became available. And for maybe the first time in a game I’ve seen Hazell play, he didn’t take it as a personal challenge. He didn’t try to prove that he could score despite an opponent’s game plan centering around slowing him down. If he didn’t have a shot or a lane to drive on the catch, he moved the ball. This meant that guys like Jordan Theodore, who played a fantastic game, going for 17 points and 4 assists on a season-high 11 shots, and Keon Lawrence and Eugene Harvey had an opportunity to take advantage of those driving lanes.

Seton Hall has a lot of talent on their roster. How much? Well, that’s tough to say, but I think I’m far from the only person that believes this team is much better than their 11-6 (2-4 in the Big East) record would indicate.

Tonight, the Hall played their best game of the season and picked up arguably their biggest win of the season. The reason why is that Jeremy Hazell, the most talented player on a talented roster, gave his teammates the opportunity to show how good they are.

Hopefully, he will learn from that.

Other news and notes:

  • Believe it or not, but Greg Monroe is currently the third leading scorer for Georgetown. Why? Because Austin Freeman is averaging 19.6 PPG over the last eight games while Chris Wright is posting 18.8 PPG over that stretch. That’s not to say Monroe isn’t important. In fact, it is pretty tough to argue against Monroe being their most valuable player. He’s their best rebounder, their best post defender, and without a doubt the player that the Hoyas run their offense through. Watching him work out of the high post – find cutters, putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim – is a thing of beauty. But what Georgetown didn’t have last season was potency on the offensive end, and both Freeman and Wright and developed into guys that can go for 20 on a given night. More importantly, they have become players that can create their own shots in the half court. Hell, Pitt is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and Wright was getting to the rim at will on Wednesday night. I know Georgetown runs a system, and I know JT3’s goal is to get the best shot for the team, but there are times when, as a coach, you need to say “f*** it, here’s the ball, go get me a basket”. Right now, the Hoyas have two guys that can do that.
  • The Big East is being touted as a very good conference again this season, but the teams in the middle of the pack have quite a bit of work to do to guarantee themselves a bid to the tournament. The top five – Villanova, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, and Georgetown – can be considered all but locks at this points. But after that, who is a tournament team? Notre Dame? Cincinnati? UConn? Louisville? Seton Hall? Marquette? Granted, .500 in the Big East, as long as there are a couple of good wins sprinkled in, should be enough to garner a bid this season with the Pac-10 down, and outside of Seton Hall and Marquette, every team listed is at least .500 in the league. But for the fans of the teams on the bubble, don’t sleep easy just yet. Combined, those six teams have amassed just four tournament quality wins (excluding games between two of the listed teams): Cincinnati’s win over Maryland, UConn’s win over William & Mary, and Marquette’s wins over Xavier and Georgetown. That’s shaky ground to stand on.
  • Congratulations must be given to DePaul, who got five points from Mike Stovall in the final 9.7 seconds of the game, including a fadeaway jumper with 0.7 seconds left for the win, as they picked up their first regular season Big East win since the 2008 season. As for Marquette, this is just another in a season’s worth of tough losses. Their four losses in Big East play have come by a total of six points, and their three losses in the non-conference were by a total of 14 points.
  • “I feel like during the game, we gave up. And we can’t get better, we can’t improve, if we give up on games. The high school I went to, no matter what the score is you gotta play till the game’s over and I felt like we just gave up at the end.” That quote is from Rutgers freshman Dane Miller, who had 26 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists in a 94-68 loss to Villanova. That’s not a good thing to hear.

TEAM OF THE WEEK:  Syracuse Orange

The Orange solidified their status as one of the Big East elite as they beat both West Virginia and Notre Dame on the road this week, improving to 5-1 in the conference and 18-1 on the season, with their only loss coming to Pitt. The guy that impressed me the most this week was Brandon Triche. Triche had a terrible start to the game against West Virginia, but made a number of crucial plays during the game-deciding run. For a player that wasn’t ranked in many top 100 lists coming out of high school, Triche is now averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.2 APG, starting at the point for the #5 team in the country.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

Is there a conference that has more player of the year candidates? Wes Johnson, Luke Harangody, Jerome Dyson, Da’Sean Butler, Ashton Gibbs, Lazar Hayward, Greg Monroe. But the favorite right now hasto be Scottie Reynolds. If the numbers he’s posted this season – 18.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.4 APG – aren’t enough, the plays he made down the stretch at Marquette, against Louisville, and against Georgetown (among other) may change your mind. For the week, Reynolds averaged 18.0 PPG, but it was his 27 point performance, on 8-15 shooting, and tiebreaking basket against a Georgetown team that had overcome a 17 point lead that earned him the nod.


(Side note about the power rankings: Yes, I know that Pitt beat Syracuse, and I know that Georgetown beat Pitt, which should mean that Georgetown is ranked above Pitt and Pitt above Syracuse. But, for that to happen, Syracuse would then be the fourth best team in the Big East. They aren’t the fourth best team in the Big East, in fact I think they are the best team in the Big East. So instead of ranking the teams – at least 2-4 – based on head-to-head wins, I’m sticking with putting them in order of who I think is the best.)

1. Villanova: 17-1, 6-0

Last Week: 1/17 vs. Georgetown 82-77, 1/20 vs. Rutgers 94-68

Next Week: 1/23 @ St. John’s, 1/27 vs. Notre Dame

2. Syracuse: 18-1, 5-1

Last Week: 1/16 @ West Virginia 72-71, 1/18 @ Notre Dame 84-71

Next Week: 1/23 vs. Marquette, 1/25 vs. Georgetown

3. Georgetown: 14-3, 5-2

Last Week: 1/17 @ Villanova 77-82, 1/20 @ Pitt 74-66

Next Week: 1/23 vs Rutgers, 1/25 @ Syracuse

4. Pitt: 15-3, 5-1

Last Week: 1/16 vs. Louisville 82-77 OT, 1/20 vs. Georgetown 66-74

Next Week: 1/24 @ Seton Hall, 1/28 vs. St. John’s

5. West Virginia: 14-3, 5-2

Last Week: 1/16 vs. Syracuse 71-72, 1/20 @ Marshall 68-60

Next Week: 1/23 vs. Ohio State, 1/26 @ DePaul

6. Cincinnati: 13-6, 4-3

Last Week: 1/16 vs. Notre Dame 60-58, 1/20 vs. South Florida 78-70

Next Week: 1/24 @ Louisville

7. Connecticut: 12-6, 3-3

Last Week: 1/17 @ Michigan 63-68, 1/20 @ St. John’s 75-59

Next Week: 1/23 vs. Texas

8. Notre Dame: 14-5, 3-3

Last Week: 1/16 @ Cincinnati 58-60, 1/18 vs. Syracuse 71-84

Next Week: 1/23 vs. DePaul

9. Louisville: 12-7, 3-3

Last Week: 1/16 @ Pitt 77-82 OT, 1/21 @ Seton Hall 77-80

Next Week: 1/24 vs. Cincinnati

10. Marquette: 11-7, 2-4

Last Week: 1/17 vs. Providence 93-63, 1/20 @ DePaul 50-51

Next Week: 1/23 @ Syracuse, 1/26 vs. Rutgers

11. Seton Hall: 11-6, 2-4

Last Week: 1/21 vs. Louisville 80-77

Next Week: 1/24 vs. Pitt

12. Providence: 11-7, 3-3

Last Week: 1/17 @ Marquette 93-63

Next Week: 1/23 vs. South Florida

13. St. John’s: 12-6, 2-4

Last Week: 1/17 vs. DePaul 67-47, 1/20 @ UConn 59-75

Next Week: 1/23 vs. Villanova

14. South Florida: 11-7, 1-5

Last Week: 1/16 vs. Rutgers 73-64, 1/20 @ Cincinnati 70-78

Next Week: 1/23 @ Providence

15. DePaul: 8-10, 1-5

Last Week: 1/17 @ St. John’s 47-67, 1/20 vs. Marquette 51-50

Next Week: 1/23 @ Notre Dame, 1/26 vs. West Virginia

16. Rutgers: 9-9, 0-6

Last Week: 1/16 @ South Florida 64-73, 1/20 vs. Villanova 68-94

Next Week: 1/23 @ Georgetown, 1/26 @ Marquette

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Boom Goes The Dynamite: 01.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 20th, 2010

HOLY GUS JOHNSON, there’s a lot of college basketball on tonight.  We usually do our hoops-watchin’ live blog on Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, but we got such a nice response from last week’s special Wednesday edition that we’re going to fire it up again tonight.  We’ll start off focusing on Wake Forest vs UNC and Georgetown vs Pittsburgh.  We’ve got RTC Live going on at Michigan at Wisconsin.  So join us, send us some comments, tell us what’s on your TV, and enjoy the hoops with us.  Because it starts in, like, ninety seconds…

7:02 pm ET: JStev here at RTC’s Southern Compound, and we’re starting off with Wake at UNC, but we’ve got quite a selection already.  So I guess this game is one of those announcer-trade things.  ESPN’s NBA announcers are calling this one.  I don’t know if I’m liking this.  We might get to Pitt/G’town earlier than expected…

7:16: …AND, we’re there.  Faster pace, two ranked teams, and fewer people get the U so this will actually help more folks tuning in.  See?  We’re all about helping people at RTC.  Boy, Georgetown looks comfortable early.  That last move by Greg Monroe was quite tasty.  NBA quality drop step and lay-in, wow.  Up six early.

7:24: Just flashed over to Wake/UNC and L.D. Williams just THREW DOWN an alley-oop, following a three and a previous dunk by Al-Farouq Aminu.  I know it’s mid-first half, but has UNC lost their mystique?  Teams just look more confident against them this year, steadier.  Back on G’town/Pitt, Gilbert Brown was going out of bounds and threw the ball off of Jerelle Benimon, and hit him right in the misters.  Looks OK, though.

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Set Your Tivo: 01.20.10

Posted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2010

We’re trying a new star system out here at the Set Your Tivo desk beginning today.  Let us know in the comments if you think we should change our ratings system.

SYT Star System

***** – 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 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Xavier @ Temple – 7 pm on FSOhio and CSN  (*****)

It is a shame more people won’t be able to watch this Atlantic Ten battle that will most likely decide the regular season conference champion.  Xavier is the only 4-0 team in the A10 right now, but Temple is the conference’s representative in the top 25 rankings.  Both teams are coming off four straight wins, including Xavier’s recent victory over a strong Dayton team.  Needless to say, these teams are talented and should provide an entertaining game.  Scouts will also be in attendance to see how potential first round pick Jordan Crawford can match up against Temple’s methodical style of play.  The Owls only score 64.6 points per game, but at 56.0 points given up on defense, most of their games are close.  Considering Xavier’s lack of success in big games this year (Butler, Wake Forest, Baylor, Kansas State) and Temple’s ability to perform well at home, look for the Owls to give Xavier a run for their money, but something tells me the Musketeers are ready to emerge as the best team in this talented conference.

Georgetown @Pittsburgh – 7 pm on ESPNU  (****)

Those without ESPNU will unfortunately miss out on the night’s only matchup between two top 25 teams.  Both Pittsburgh and Georgetown have been pleasant surprises this year, as Georgetown responded from last year’s NIT season and Pitt has been able to cope with the loss of several key players.  The Panthers have all the momentum heading into this game, as they have won eight straight while the Hoyas are coming off of a loss to Villanova.  Over 82 percent of ESPN voters claim Pitt will win this game at the Petersen Events Center, where they are 10-0 this year, but Georgetown will not be an easy team to take down.  The Hoyas are much more balanced with four players scoring in double figures, including center Greg Monroe, who is averaging a double-double so far this season.  If Georgetown’s road woes (just 3-2 on the year with losses in their last two road games) and Pitt’s ability to excel at home continue, look for Pitt to ride Ashton Gibbs and company to stay even with Villanova atop the Big East.  However, Georgetown’s defense has been strong all season, and if they can find a way to lock down Gibbs or Brad Wanamaker, this game will be a close call.

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