RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.16.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

South Region Notes (Patrick Sellars)

  • The first “upset” of the tournament occurred in the South Region when SWAC champion Arkansas Pine-Bluff took down the Big South tournament champion Winthrop, 61-44. The Golden Lions earned the right to play top seeded Duke on Friday night.
  • When #9 Louisville takes on #8 California on Friday night, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino says he’ll be ready for the Bears’ “organized chaos.”  There is also an interesting quote in the article from Cardinals’ guard Edgar Sosa that says he has heard Cal referred to as “poor man’s Marquette”.
  • Utah State’s leading scorer, junior guard Tai Wesley, broke his nose in the WAC tournament final on Saturday when the Aggies got pounded by New Mexico State.  He will play in the Aggies’ upcoming game versus Texas A&M, but you have to wonder what kind of effect it will have on USU’s star. On TAMU’s side, they will have Dash Harris back in the lineup after he missed the Big 12 Tournament with a bone bruise in his right wrist. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that if his team wants any chance to win this weekend, they will need Harris healthy.
  • Fran McCaffery is not letting his Siena team think they can beat Purdue by just showing up in Spokane on Friday. He says Purdue is by far the best team Siena will face all season even without Robbie Hummel. You’d have to think a Butler Bulldogs fan would think otherwise.
  • Here is an interesting article from The Times-Picayune which highlights the #3 Baylor vs. #14 Sam Houston State game. Not only are the two teams from Texas, but they have two New Orleans natives returning to their home town for the first round. Star senior guards Tweety Carter (Baylor) and Ashton Mitchell (Sam Houston State) both played their high school ball in The Big Easy.
  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer about his team’s lackluster play in first round games the past two seasons. Wright said “we’ve survived first-round games, but we really haven’t played well in first-round games.”

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Bracket Prep: Midwest Region

Posted by jstevrtc on March 15th, 2010

This is the fourth of our four quick-and-dirty region breakdowns. This will serve to help the quick triggers who like to fill out their brackets first thing on Monday morning. For the rest of you, we’ll be providing more detailed game-by-game analysis throughout the rest of the week.

Edward Jones Dome Hosts the Midwest Regional

Region: Midwest

Favorite: Kansas, #1-seed, 32-2. The overall #1 seed.  The experts say there are no dominant teams this year, but for our money this year’s Jayhawks are just as dominant as North Carolina was in 2008-09.  Top-flight weapons at every position.  A solid bench.  Excellent coaching.  Youth.  Experience.  Any way you prefer to be beaten, they’ll beat you.  That switch they flipped to put Texas A&M away in the Big 12 Tournament was scary, but that’s the sort of command of which they’re capable.

Should They Falter: Ohio State, #2-seed, 27-7. We all know how special Evan Turner is.  But teams seem to make the mistake of thinking that this team has no other weapons.  David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford are all capable of big games.  They defer to Turner, yet Turner enjoys sharing the wealth.  As a team, they almost never take a bad shot, a trait that will serve them well even more this time of year.

Grossly Overseeded: Northern Iowa, #9-seed, 28-4. Northern Iowa’s only win in the NCAA was 20 years ago.  I know that has nothing to do with now, but the last four times they’ve been to the Tournament, they’ve been a popular upset pick and have always come up short.  To be honest, based on their body of work, they’re probably seeded where they should be, it’s just that there are a few teams seeded lower than them that are playing a little better brand of basketball right now.  If UNI can give us some results in the Tournament, then we’ll be happy to put some chips on their square in the future.

Grossly Underseeded: Michigan State, #5-seed, 24-8. At this point, we should all be used to Tom Izzo overachieving in the NCAA Tournament.  This team went 14-4 in the extremely tough Big Ten.  After that stretch in which they dropped three straight (at Wisconsin, at Illinois, and Purdue), everyone forgot about them.  Then they won five of six to end the year before the conference tournament, the only loss coming against surging Ohio State.  Don’t ever sell the Spartans short in the Big Dance.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper: Houston, #13-seed, 19-15. Aubrey Coleman is the nation’s leading scorer at 25.0 PPG, and it looks like he and Kelvin Lewis have finally started to put it together.  Honestly, we thought we’d see more out of the Cougars this year.  They’ll be a tougher out for Maryland than everyone thinks.  Houston is second in the nation in turnovers per game (8.8), and 12th in turnovers forced (16.8), nice numbers when you have a pair of guards who can scoop up those turnovers and score quickly.

Final Four Sleeper:  #5 Michigan State. They can own a game through their work on the boards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Tourney Daily Diary: Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the ACC Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the quarterfinal games.

Duke 57, Virginia 46

  • Virginia was again playing without second team all-ACC Sylven Landesberg, who was suspended by head coach Tony Bennett for the remainder of the season due to academic issues, and senior guard Calvin Baker, who left the team for personal reasons.
  • Sammy Zeglinski did not score in today’s game after leading the team yesterday with 21 points. Duke did a good job of limiting his open looks and keeping him out of the lane. He shot 0-9 from the floor, 0-4 from three point range.
  • Duke got its usual production from the big three of Singler, Scheyer, and Smith, accounting for 48 of the team’s 57 points. No other player had more than three points. This is going to bite Duke hard at some point, because one of those players is going to have an off night, and that will spell doom for their NCAA run. This looks like no better than an Elite Eight team, but I could easily see them losing in the Sweet 16.
  • Give Virginia credit, they scared Duke for about 33 of the 40 minutes. They fought hard on both ends and did not back down. Tony Bennett’s team may not always be the prettiest thing to watch, but they do compete. This could be a very solid program in a few years after Bennett has a couple of recruiting classes under his belt.

Miami 70, Virginia Tech 65

  • Miami starting PF Dwayne Collins was again not available for today’s game due to a “stress condition” of his left leg. Reggie Johnson, who scored a career high 22 points yesterday versus Wake, replaced him in the starting lineup. This game was not nearly as successful for him, scoring only five points.
  • Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer at 20.5 ppg, was held to seven points on 3-15 shooting today, one of his worst performances all season. He was short on just about every shot, including an airball from three on Tech’s last possession.
  • Miami pulled off their second consecutive upset in as many days, having defeated the 4th and 5th seeds. No one was happier than coach Frank Haith, except for maybe the Duke fans who were cheering the loudest. They will now see a worn-down Hurricane team for a chance to advance to the championship game. As usual, the lucky ones get luckier.
  • Who needs Dwayne Collins? Apparently not Miami. They’re playing better now than at any point since the conference season began. No Collins clogging up the middle allows the lightning quick guards to penetrate for either a lay up or a dish for three. The threes didn’t fall today (4-16) as much as yesterday, but continued penetration put Miami on the line, where they were 83% yesterday and 76% today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: ACC Qtrs – Maryland vs. Georgia Tech

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

Maryland versus Georgia Tech. Didn’t we just see Maryland reserve guard Cliff Tucker hit a buzzer beating three in College Park to knock off the Jackets just a few short weeks ago? We did, and here we go again. This time, however, it’s on a neutral court and Georgia Tech just played a hard-fought game yesterday to earn the right to face the Terps and Greivis Vasquez tonight. So what should we expect this time? Well, don’t expect Tech to roll over. They feel as if they had the last meeting between these teams stolen from them, and they will have something to prove. The question remains whether playing the day before will give the Jackets an advantage or if fatigue will cause their downfall late in the second half of what should be a tight, competitive game. Only time, and Georgia Tech’s legs, will tell.  Join us this evening for another edition of RTC Live from Greensboro.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 2010 All-America Teams

Posted by zhayes9 on March 11th, 2010

Unanimous 1st Teamer Evan Turner

With the regular season winding down to a close, the powers-that-be here at Rush the Court met in rtmsf’s basement bunker and spent 36 hours without food or water sorting out our 1st, 2nd and 3rd All-American teams for the 2009-10 season. Just kidding, we actually did it by e-mail. Regardless, here is the much-anticipated unveiling (with a slight adjustment to the three-guard lineup for the 3rd team based on the voting). Enjoy:

1st Team

  • G – John Wall, Kentucky (16.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.8 SPG)
  • G – Evan Turner, Ohio State (19.5 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.8 SPG)
  • G – Greivis Vasquez, Maryland (19.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.6 SPG)
  • F – Wesley Johnson, Syracuse (15.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.9 BPG)
  • C – DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky (15.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.8 BPG)

There’s not much surprise with Wall, Turner or Johnson. All three garnered 1st-team selections from all four of our voters and accomplished the feat basically wire-to-wire. The two late bloomers were Cousins and Vasquez. Cousins was overshadowed in the early part of the season by his superstar teammate, but more and more attention was paid to his obscene production as the campaign wore on. His numbers spread out over 40 minutes are off the charts. Vasquez really took off late as well, dusting off the cobwebs from a slow shooting start to lead his Terrapins to a share of the ACC crown. His heroics at the end of the Duke win likely was the clincher for our voters.

2nd Team

  • G – Scottie Reynolds, Villanova (18.8 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.6 SPG)
  • G – James Anderson, Oklahoma State (22.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.4 SPG)
  • G – Sherron Collins, Kansas (15.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 1.2 SPG)
  • F – Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia (17.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.3 APG)
  • C – Cole Aldrich, Kansas (11.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.5 BPG)

The 2nd-team features the Jayhawks inside-outside tandem of Collins and Aldrich. While many expected at least one of them to finish the season as a first-teamer, I think both players would rather grab that #1 overall seed in the Dance. This honor is not a bad consolation prize, either. Reynolds and Butler provided the backbones for two squads that excelled in the loaded Big East, while Anderson posted the strongest raw stats of any power six-conference player other than Turner. He’s expanding his game to become more of a complete weapon, and, along with Turner, is probably the most important player to his respective team of anyone in the nation.

3rd Team

  • G – Jon Scheyer, Duke (18.9 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG)
  • G – Jimmer Fredette, BYU (20.6 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG)
  • F – Darington Hobson, New Mexico (15.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 4.6 APG)
  • F – Luke Harangody, Notre Dame (23.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG)
  • C – Greg Monroe, Georgetown (16.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.5 BPG)

The Mountain West received some serious love on this team with outstanding seasons from Hobson and Fredette both rewarded. Despite missing a good portion of the stretch run, Harangody’s statistics just couldn’t be ignored. Monroe put up a solid campaign for the Hoyas and might be the best passing big man in the nation. The most efficient guard? Could very well be Scheyer. He’s led Duke to #1-seed contention.

Also receiving votes: Quincy Pondexter, Washington, Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, Robbie Hummel, Purdue, Luke Babbitt, Nevada, Damion James, Texas, Kyle Singler, Duke, Patrick Patterson, Kentucky, Gordon Hayward, Butler, Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest.

Share this story

ACC Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2010

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The ACC Update finally returns after a few weeks away due to uncontrollable fried-laptop-related issues. But before we start looking ahead to this week’s ACC Tournament, I want to take a quick look back.  Late Friday night, with my laptop still fried and my shiny new MacBook not yet purchased, I found myself flipping channels in the wee hours of the morning. I was so bored, that I even ventured outside my HD comfort zone to find ESPN Classic. With the Duke-UNC game the following night, the channel was airing prior “classics” in the rivalry. Of course, I came across the final five minutes of regulation in the epic February 2, 1995 affair.

In case you need a refresher: Duke was 0-7 in the ACC at the time, while UNC was LOADED with stud players, like Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, and ranked #2. Jeff Capel’s one-footed 3-pointer at the buzzer tied the game, and sent Dickie V into a insane frenzy.  Considering I was 12 years old at the time, there were many things about that game that I forgot, and that made it unbelievably fascinating:

  • Duke was left for dead, trailing 26-9 at one point in the first half and by as many as seven in the final minutes. As they continued to fall behind, I actually kept checking to make sure this was the game I thought it was.
  • Hindsight is easy, as they say, but Cherokee Parks just looked like one of those great college players who would never materialize in the pros. He was dominant inside, but really unathletic.
  • If UNC had hit even one or two free throws down the stretch, Capel’s shot never would have happened.
  • Dickie V questioned the decision at the time, and I agree wholeheartedly — why wouldn’t Dean Smith put any UNC players on the lane to rebound the final free throws? He had a terrible foul-shooter at the line, and by giving Parks a free rebound and hand-off to Capel, he gave Duke at least a second of time and probably 20 extra feet of court. Even if UNC doesn’t rebound it there, at least Wallace or Stackhouse could have put a body on Parks or Capel.
  • Finally, I gained an even greater (if that’s possible) appreciation for today’s video and production quality. This game was only 15 years ago, but for someone used to HD, 30 camera angles, and excellent sound quality, this might as well have been in black and white. Replays were scarce, there appeared to be three cameras in the entire gym, and the lack of a constant score and gameclock on the screen was jarring to say the least.

Anyway, I just found that interesting, and was jotting down notes as I watched. Now let’s jump ahead to 2010. We’ll take a quick look at each matchup, and even toss out a few meaningless predictions. First, let’s examine the NCAA Tourney fates of our ACC friends:

BOOKING TRAVEL PLANS

  • Duke, Maryland, Florida State and Virginia Tech are absolutely in at this point.

SAFE AND SOUND

  • Wake Forest and Clemson probably shouldn’t go out and lose in the first round, but otherwise, both the Deacons and Tigers are safe bets.

DON’T CHOKE…

  • I’m looking at you Georgia Tech. You are just too talented to even be on the bubble at this point. But if you don’t take care of lowly North Carolina on Thursday (and I can definitely see a UNC stunner), you are NIT-bound.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 03.10.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2010

  1. We love this bracket science stuff, which is reminiscent of some of the work we did when this site was in its infancy nearly three years ago.  It’s good to see Peter Tiernan continuing to do this every year, now for CBS Sportsline.  Maybe the NCAA Selection Committee should bring him on board.  Here’s a taste: best team against seed expectation in the last decade?  Florida.  Worst?  Wake Forest.  Sounds about right.
  2. The NCAA’s Greg Shaheen came out yesterday with the news that there has been no decision made to expand the NCAA Tournament.  Sounds great, but is Mr. Shaheen playing the role of Colin Powell standing before the UN here, or is this more like Mark McGwire’s contention that he only took steroids for health reasons?  Willfully misleading or delusional — you tell us?
  3. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a select movie theater chosen by the NCAA overlords, the Final Four will be shown in living, breathing 3-D.  Because nothing says March Madness like seeing Sherron Collins barreling down the court at you at 100 miles an hour.  We have no idea if this will be incredibly awesome or incredibly lame, but we’ll make sure to send someone out there to check it out.
  4. Speaking of all three dimensions, here’s Seth Davis’ 2010 All-Glue team.  The headliner is Ohio State’s David Lighty, but we also love the Willie Veasley (Butler) and Rick Jackson (Syracuse) picks.
  5. More conference awards today.  POYACC: Greivis Vasquez, Maryland; Big East: Wes Johnson, Syracuse; SEC: John Wall, Kentucky.  COYACC: Gary Williams, Maryland; Big East: Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; SEC: Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt.  FrOY: ACC: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech; Big East: Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati; SEC: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky.  Some weird goings-on in the SEC there.  First, how does John Wall win POY but not FrOY?  Isn’t he a freshman, and isn’t he the best player in the league according to the voters?  Second, how does Kevin Stallings win COY — DeMarcus Cousins was so shocked he didn’t even know who Stallings was!

Share this story

ATB: Maryland Becomes Everyone’s NCAA Sleeper Team

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2010

Large Wednesday.  It was a big-time night of games, the kind of evening that has you checking the clock all day long in nervous anticipation.  Most of the games ended in predictable fashion, but that didn’t make them any less interesting.  To get this out of the way, ranked teams #3 Kentucky, #6 Purdue, #10 New Mexico, #13 Tennessee, #15 BYU, #16 Temple, #17 Wisconsin and #24 Texas A&M all won, most easily.  UNM won the Mountain West title outright, and Kentucky grabbed at least a share of the SEC title tonight.  We’ll focus on the biggest games, the key games of bubbular interest, and the conference tourneys in this space tonight, though.

  • #2 Kansas 82, #5 Kansas State 65. ESPN got lucky that this game was only interesting for about thirty minutes tonight.  At the 15:39 mark of the second half, K-State’s Luis Colon hit a layup to pull the Wildcats back within one point, and we thought this battle between Big 12 stalwarts was destined to go down to the wire in Lawrence.  We were wrong.  Kansas seemingly awakened from its halftime slumber and went on a quick 9-0 run to open its lead back up to double digits.  KSU made one more push to get it back to six, but the Jayhawks used a 13-1 run to put the game away for the 59th consecutive time in Allen Fieldhouse.  The Kansas defense, virtually nonexistent in their loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday, was back in action here, holding their in-state rival to 40% shooting and limiting the opponents not named Denis Clemente or Jacob Pullen to a mere 24 points.  The old barn was rocking as Kansas won the Big 12 regular season outright and likely wrapped up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as well, but we’re not completely certain because we could hardly see the action on our ESPN360 feed.  KU walks into a trap game at Missouri on Saturday, while K-State should still finish second in the league with a win over Iowa State this weekend.

Sherron Collins: Winningest Player in KU History (KC Star/R. Sugg)

  • #23 Maryland 79, #4 Duke 72.  The better big game of the night took place in College Park, as Maryland outlasted Duke in a back-and-forth contest that resulted in the Terps tying the rival Blue Devils at the top of the ACC standings with one game remaining.  Ultimately, it was Gary Williams’ team, led by the animated and spectacular Greivis Vasquez (20/4/5 assts), who broke a 69-all tie with two minutes to go and ended the game on a 10-3 closing run.  In particular, it was Vasquez’s running, fading, only-the-kind-of-shot-he-would-take-and-make jumper that gave Maryland a four-point lead with 39 seconds left and forced Duke to start fouling soon thereafter.  We really shouldn’t read too much into one result in a rivalry game, so we won’t, but one thing is very clear in that Maryland has been playing the better part of two months much, much better than their ranking might 0therwise indicate.  Since the new year turned, the Terps have only lost at Wake (when WFU was playing well), Clemson and Duke.  That’s it.  Pollsters have been holding four nonconference losses against them, but if Maryland isn’t a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament, then we haven’t seen one.  As for the regular season title, the Terps will play in a trap game at Virginia this weekend, while Duke will actually have the easier home game against rival UNC.  If both win (or lose), then Duke will win the top seed in the ACC Tournament, but suffice it just to say that these two are clearly the best two teams in the ACC.  Now, about that RTC, Terp fans…  we love the quick, full coverage of the court, and we know it’s been a few years since you last beat Duke, but, what if you’re the better team?

Huge Bubble Games.

  • Notre Dame 58, Connecticut 50. There’s absolutely no question that the Irish are playing better without all-american Luke Harangody than they were with him.  Notre Dame won its third straight game over a solid team to put themselves squarely back into the NCAA picture, but with an RPI in the 60s, a win over Marquette this weekend and another in the Big East Tourney are needed.  The Ls keep piling up for UConn (13 now), but how long can you hide behind the excuse of a tough schedule and some big wins before you cut them out of the picture?
  • Florida State 51, Wake Forest 47.  Wake is busily playing itself from a projected #4 seed to outside the field in a short span of two weeks with the Deacs’ fourth straight loss tonight.  Al-Farouq Aminu had a ridiculous zero-point, five-foul performance in the loss, and with a game versus surging Clemson on Sunday, Wake could be staring at five Ls in a row to end the regular season.
  • Memphis 70, UAB 65.  In a battle of CUSA bubble teams, Memphis was able to get a big win while also wrapping up the #2 seed in next week’s Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa.  In most mock brackets, UAB is the second team out of this conference, but now Memphis has swept the season series between the two.  It will be interesting if they meet again in Tulsa with Memphis taking a third game as well.

Helped/Hurt Themselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your Tivo: 03.03.10

Posted by THager on March 3rd, 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

Connecticut @ Notre Dame – 7:00 pm on ESPN (***)

This game will be absolutely crucial to the tournament stock of both teams.  If UConn gets in the tournament this year, it will be by the skin of their teeth, and if Notre Dame is actually dancing in March, they will likely be one of the last teams in.  Both of these teams are dangerous right now, as the Huskies have recently beaten Villanova and West Virginia, while the Irish are coming off victories against Pitt and Georgetown.  What is ironic about Notre Dame is that their recent run has come without superstar Luke Harangody.  If the Irish win their last two contests and win a game in the Big East tournament, how will the NCAA selection committee view his absence?  The more that ND wins without him, the less it seems they will be punished come selection time.  Tim Abromaitis, who has been Harangody’s sidekick this year, scored 53 points in the first two games Harangody was out (both games were losses), but when his point totals and shooting percentages dropped in his team’s last two games, the Irish won.  The team has only had seven bench points in their last two games, but every other starter has stepped up at times to take the weight off of Abromaitis.  In the previous matchup of these teams early in the year, Harangody scored 31 points and the bench did not score at all in a 12-point loss for the Irish.  If they can get double figure efforts from at least three starters and keep up their 1.7:1 assist to turnover ratio, they have an excellent shot of moving into one of those last spots in the field.

#5 Kansas St. @ #2 Kansas – 8:00 pm on ESPN 360 (*****)

Can KU's Mr. Big Shot Do It Again (Getty/P. Aiken)

KSU coach Frank Martin has already built up the game to be one of the biggest in school history, and nobody can blame him.  With a win tonight, Kansas State would make a huge jump in their bid for a top seed.  Unfortunately, the viewing for this game could be tricky.  It is being broadcast on the Big 12 network, which is not accessible to many fans across the country, and ESPN360 is available intermittently.  Fans can try to access channelsurfing.net and atdhe.net in order to view this game, because almost everybody can agree it is worth watching.  When these teams met earlier in Manhattan, Sherron Collins came up with a huge three-point play at the end of overtime to give Kansas the key victory.  The Jayhawks were unable to pull away earlier because they missed 11 free throws in the game.  Kansas actually shoots below 70% from the line on the year, and if the game goes down to the wire again, their free throw shooting could become a factor.  Kansas State has won seven consecutive games, and their wins have become increasingly more impressive, with solid victories at Texas Tech and against Missouri in their last two contests.  Now that some of KSU’s former opponents are now struggling, the Wildcats are still looking for a win against a great team, and if they can keep up their outstanding defensive efforts like they had against the Red Raiders and Tigers, they will have a great chance to win tonight.  Still, Kansas has an even better defense (the Jayhawks rank third in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive rankings), and with 58 consecutive wins at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks should likely win again in a highly entertaining matchup.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Daily Bracketbusters: Monday-Thursday

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2010

Even though ESPN likes to hype up its Bracketbuster day, the fact is that the last few weeks of the season act like an elimination tournament with teams moving in and out of the NCAA Tournament, while other teams move up and down on a daily basis. While each and every game could theoretically have an impact on the Bubble and NCAA seeding, there are a few games that matter more than the others which we will feature over the next two weeks leading up to the conference tournaments. We will feature these in two posts per week. The first will be a post released on Sunday night for games from Monday through Thursday, and the second will be a post released on Thursday night for games from Friday through Sunday.

Tenth
Georgia Tech at Clemson on Raycom/ESPN Full Court at 8 PM on Tuesday – This game is important not just for NCAA seeding, but also for ACC seeding. Both teams are currently occupying a position in the ACC standings where they could easily rank anywhere from 3rd in the conference all the way down to 7th in the conference. That conference rank could be the difference between having to play Duke or having to play UNC (ok, I’ll admit that was a cheap shot Tar Heel fans) early in the ACC Tournament. As you would expect from fairly similar teams, they both sit in the middle of most brackets. I could see either one going as high as a 6-seed or as low as a 9-seed when Selection Sunday roles around and these head-to-head match-ups will play a huge role in where they fit in the bracket.

Ninth
Memphis at UAB on Comcast Sports South at 9 PM on Wednesday – It still seems incredible after all these years of John Calipari‘s teams dominating Conference USA that the Tigers are no longer dominating CUSA any more. In fact, these two Conference USA teams will be playing for more than the #2 seed in the CUSA Tournament (UTEP is in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed) when they meet in Birmingham. They might be playing for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament as well. Most bracketologists have the Blazers as one of their last teams in while the Tigers are one of the last teams out. A win by Josh Pastner‘s squad could cause the teams to flip positions into and out of the bracket overnight. Normally I might make this game even higher, but I’m not buying the UTEP Kool-Aid and the loser could still get in with either a win in the conference tournament over the other or could potentially win the CUSA Tournament outright.

Eighth
Oklahoma State at #24 Texas A&M on ESPN at 9 PM on Wednesday – Both teams are coming off huge home wins. Now the question is whether they can sustain the momentum. The Cowboys will need to show they can win away from the land of perpetual T. Boone Pickens money and the Aggies will need to show they can win against a team that isn’t collapsing. Both teams are currently in a group of five Big 12 teams with in-conference records of either 8-6 or 9-5. A win here or there could mean the difference between finishing 3rd in the conference or finishing 7th in the conference and even though OSU has a win over KU everybody in the Big 12 (and the country) wants to avoid the Jayhawks for as long as possible in any tournament (Big 12 or NCAA). Right now both teams are in the 6-8 seed range, but a hot or cold streak to finish the season could mean anywhere from a 5-seed to a 10-seed for these two teams.

Seventh
#19 Vanderbilt at Florida on ESPN at 7 PM on Tuesday – The Gators are coming off a tough two-point loss at Georgia, but their prior three-game winning streak has assured them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Now they are entering a two-game stretch (home versus Vanderbilt then at Kentucky) where it might appear that they can only help their NCAA seed and a win could boost them 2-3 spots, but if they lose these two and their opener in the SEC Tournament a four-game losing streak might be enough to take them to the NIT for the third straight year. As for the Commodores, they have a treacherous two-game finish in Gainesville then at home against Devan Downey and company. They are currently chasing a #3 or #4 seed, but a loss in either of those games could cripple their chances at getting a top-4 seed (barring an upset victory over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament). Technically they still have a chance of winning the SEC regular season title (if they win out and the Wildcats finish on a 3-game losing streak), but we don’t see that happening.

Can Chandler Parsons and his Gators shoot their way into the field?

Sixth
#9 Villanova at Cincinnati on ESPN2 at 7 PM on Tuesday – The question here is how these teams respond to difficult loses on Saturday. Villanova’s loss was more visible and watched (by just about everyone in upstate New York–aka everything outside of NYC), but the Bearcats suffered a difficult loss in Morgantown where they blew a 2nd half lead before falling just short. The Wildcats loss likely will keep them out of a #1 seed, but the Bearcats loss might be enough to keep them out the NCAA Tournament altogether. A win here for Villanova would be big to ensure that they stay on the 2-seed line while Cincinnati needs a win here and probably at Georgetown along with 1 or 2 wins in the Big East Tournament to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: Georgia Tech @ Maryland

Posted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2010

RTC Live is back in College Park, MD, as the Maryland Terrapins host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Maryland is an interesting team. They haven’t beaten much of anyone this season, and don’t have a the greatest overall profile in the ACC, but nonetheless this team is sitting just a game back (in the loss column) of the Duke Blue Devils for first place in the ACC. Georgia Tech is in a different situation. The Yellow Jackets have struggled mightily to win games on the road this season, and as they are currently sitting at .500 in the league, Tech really needs to start putting together some wins to assure themselves of a decent seeding.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that this game is going to be won in the paint. Georgia Tech has a very, very good front line with Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal, and Zach Peacock. Maryland’s front line consists of a promising freshman and, well, a couple other bodies. The Terps are going to need to compete on the glass.   Another aspect to watch for is Maryland’s press. Tech’s backcourt is a bit up and down and can be turnover prone. Maryland has been running a three-quarter court press this season, and it has been pretty effective at times. If the Terps can rebound, force a few turnovers, and get a game from Greivis Vasquez, they should be able to handle the Jackets at home.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Stay Classy, Kelsey Barlow

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2010

Thursday Night Doldrums.  There weren’t a lot of great games on paper tonight, and it turned out to be the case in reality as most of the marquee games were average at best.  We’ll break down the biggest two games, and just highlight the others.

Purdue Didn’t Choke, But Kelsey Barlow Did#7 Purdue 78, Indiana 75.  The one exception tonight was this game in Bloomington between the surging Boilermakers and the home Hoosiers.  These two teams went back and forth for thirty-eight minutes before a 5-0 run keyed by Robbie Hummel (21/7) and E’Twaun Moore (14/5/3 assts) put Matt Painter’s team in position to win at IU for the first time since the 90s.  Indiana had a shot to tie the game at the buzzer, but Verdell Jones III’s  (22/6/4 assts) shot from around 40 feet missed the mark, and Purdue won its fifth straight game prior to the big showdown with Michigan State next Tuesday.  JaJuan Johnson had a big night with 21/7, and as we’ve discussed in this space before, when the big man is putting in the work, Purdue is a much better team.  He’s gone for 18/8 a night during the Boilers’ five-game winning streak; in the previous three-game losing streak, he put up an average of 6/5.  Obviously Matt Painter and his guards want to keep Johnson happy.  As for Indiana, their second-consecutive loss on the final possession stings, but it’s further evidence that Tom Crean’s team isn’t all that far from competing in the Big Ten.  We’d suppose that one year from now IU will be winning these close games.  Final note: starter Kelsey Barlow will undoubtedly be suspended as soon as Matt Painter sees the below image (taken in the final moments of the game).  Brilliant move, that one.

When Will Kelsey Barlow's Suspension Begin?

Dud in Durham#9 Duke 86, #19 Georgia Tech 67. This was fairly close until three minutes left in the first half, at which point the Blue Devils turned up the defense a couple of clicks and began to separate themselves from the Yellow Jackets.  The one thing Tech couldn’t afford was to let Duke hit a three at the end of the half and make it a double-digit lead, so when Jon Scheyer found Kyle Singler in the corner for a trey as the buzzer sounded, you didn’t need a Magic 8-ball to predict the Jackets’ second half.  Georgia Tech got in early foul trouble and never came close to finding a rhythm against the Devils, who looked comfy at home as usual.  You would never have known that it was the Yellow Jackets who came in with the nation’s fourth-best defense (holding opponents to 37% shooting per game).  Duke shot holes through that with tremendous ease, and got big games they needed from Singler (30/5 on 9-17 shooting) and Scheyer (21/7 assts), not to mention a helpful 11 boards from Lance Thomas in a performance that was frankly better than their current #9 ranking.

The Rest of the ACC.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story