We Salute You: Paying Homage to the Nation’s Winless Teams in League Play

Posted by Kenny Ocker (@kennyocker) on February 4th, 2014

Kenny Ocker (@kennyocker) is a national columnist for Rush The Court and spent way too much time on these articles.

With the calendar turned to February and the meat of conference play upon us, the most dominant and least effective teams are showing their colors against equal competition. And with the halfway point of conference season rapidly approaching for many – and already here for others – now is a good time to take stock of both teams that are undefeated in conference and those who have yet to win a game. Today’s installment takes a look at the less fortunate teams among us, ranked from least to most likely to not win a game in conference play.

Note: All statistics dutifully harvested from kenpom.com.

Princeton (12-5, 0-3 Ivy League)

T.J. Bray and Princeton winless? Probably not. (AP)

Although things have been a struggle lately for T.J. Bray and Princeton, the chances of the Tigers going winless is zero. (AP)

  • Odds: 0.0 percent chance to go winless
  • Most likely wins: February 8 at home vs. Cornell, 97 percent; March 7 at Cornell, 91 percent
  • Biggest strengths: Top 15 in field-goal shooting, top 10 in defensive rebounding nationally
  • Achilles’ heel: Field-goal defense in bottom 100 nationally
  • Key player: Senior guard T.J. Bray (17.8 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, 55 percent field goal shooting; the nation’s most efficient player to use more than 20 percent of available possessions.)
  • Outlook: Perhaps it’s not fair to start off with an Ivy League team, given that the Tigers are only three games into their conference slate. But few teams have had more surprising collapses than Princeton, which squandered a 9-2 non-conference slate and talk of a possible two-bid Ivy League by losing games against Penn, Harvard and Dartmouth. Here’s the thing: Each game was on the road; Penn is an ancient rival; Harvard has athletes unlike the conference has seen in a generation; and Dartmouth, well, there’s probably not a ready-made excuse for that one, although it did happen in overtime. To get an NCAA Tournament bid now, though, the Tigers have to sweep their next 11 games and hope the Crimson lose twice aside from the teams’ head-to-head February 22 matchup, and then beat them in a one-game neutral-site playoff. That’s a tall order, even for one of the nation’s best offenses, and the one that shoots more three-pointers than any other. But failing to win a game in the Ivy League is not in question here. Read the rest of this entry »
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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Horizon League

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 29th, 2012

Ethan Back is the Horizon League correspondent for RTC.

Top Storylines

  • The Departure of Butler: It’s pretty crazy to think that the Horizon League has produced two of the last three runners-up in the NCAA Tournament, but Butler did indeed reach the final game of the season in both 2010 and 2011. The Bulldogs have been the reason why the conference receives the national attention that it does, but they are now members of the A-10. What does this mean for the conference? Wright State head coach Billy Donlon and Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters don’t seem to think much of the departure, as the former noted that Butler finished fifth in the conference a season ago, and the latter speculated that the Bulldogs would not have been the favorites this season. Despite this, Butler’s departure has been covered extensively by the national media, and we will be able to see its effects in the seasons to come.
  • Will Valparaiso Dominate Conference Play? Results from the Media Day polls would seem to indicate that Valparaiso will indeed dominate the Horizon League, as the Crusaders received 40 of the possible 44 first-place votes this preseason. Valpo went 14-4 in conference last year, and returns reigning Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff and first team all-Horizon League forward Kevin Van Wijk. Reaching the NCAA Tournament will be the goal for the Crusaders, as this was a feat they were unable to accomplish one season ago.

Will The McCallums And Detroit Step Up To Fill The Void Left By Butler? (AP)

Reader’s Take I

 

Predicted Order of Finish

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Oregon State Week: Running Down The Returnees

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 23rd, 2012

Six significant Beavers return for Craig Robinson this season, a group that will be called upon to quickly meld with four freshmen and a newly eligible transfer. Below we’ll break down those returnees in order of their per-game scoring averages last season.

Devon Collier, Junior, Forward (13.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG) – Collier graduated from starting all but seven games as a freshman to all but just three as a sophomore. His scoring totals nearly doubled in 2011-12, going from 7.0 PPG to 13.1 PPG. He was by far the team’s best scoring option in the post, and at times when Jared Cunningham couldn’t find his jumper, the best option, period. The next step on the road to becoming an all-conference performer is to finish more of his opportunities off the glass. That should come as he makes the transition to an upperclassman, and he already showed some improvement in the Beavers first European Tour game, going six-for-six from the field against Saint Charles Basketball Club. If he can continue anywhere near that kind of production, he has a solid passer in Ahmad Starks to get him the ball on the block. Collier can also run the court and is a great dump-off option in transition. On the other end of the court, Collier’s defense will be just as important to Oregon State’s success this season. The combination of Eric Moreland and Collier’s long wingspans made it nearly impossible for opponents to have any success in the lane, with Devon himself having one four-block game and three three-block outings.

Once Starks Begins To Get Going, There Isn’t A Better Shooter In The League (credit: Andy Wooldridge)

Ahmad Starks, Junior, Point Guard (12.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG) – Along with Collier, Starks is the only other player from Robinson’s 2010 freshman class still with the team. Starks is a shoot-first point guard, the best of his kind in the Pac-12. Despite only standing a generous 5’9″, he is able to get up and make shots consistently with his unique fadeaway jumper. Starks was the main reason for Oregon State’s late success in 2011-12, as the Beavers went 6-2 in their final eight games. With Cunningham struggling to put down his three-point shot, Starks averaged 11.3 PPG in the seven games he played during that stretch. Not surprisingly, Oregon State’s two losses came in games where Starks scored only four points or sat out. The guard is at his best when he catches the ball on a wing or is able to create separation by stopping on a dime, pulling up, fading away, and shooting. More of this, and less of the jacking up random shots outside of the offensive flow, will result for more offensive production for both Starks and the Beavers.

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Pac-12 Game Of The Week: California @ Oregon State

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 5th, 2012

We may only be two games into the conference season, but tonight will give us a good feel on who is a contender and who is a pretender in the Pac-12. The game that most fits that bill will take place tonight in Corvallis when 2-0 California meets 0-2 Oregon State. For the visiting Golden Bears, a loss won’t make or break their chances at a conference crown, but it could be listed as a bad loss on a tournament résumé that is sure to be on the bubble come March. On the other side is Oregon State, where a victory is crucial after being swept in Washington last week. For the Beavers to have any shot at an at-large into the NCAA Tournament, a 3-1 record over their next four games is a must. So of course, they could lose tonight and win their next three, but that is highly unlikely as Stanford and Arizona are on the horizon. Despite this being one of the best games of the week and boasting multiple talented players on each side, the game will not be televised or webcast. That means the winner may get a little national attention just from being on ESPN’s bottom line, but the loser would likely fall from the nation’s radar for a LONG time.

Junior guard Jared Cunningham leads Oregon State with 17 PPG (credit: Sports Chat Place)

For the Beavers to get a win tonight they will need to rely on their defense. They have played three teams this season that are at Cal’s level offensively, and so far they are 1-2. The one win came against Texas, a game in which the Beavers were able to get out on multiple fast breaks after stepping into the Longhorn passing lanes. The Beavers would score a total of 100 points in a game where they actually didn’t shoot the ball that well, but they got the win because of their great defense. That is what they need to do here if they want to have a chance.

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Pac-12 SYT: 12.13 & 12.14

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 13th, 2011


See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s “avoid any more bad losses on your tournament résumé” week in the Pac-12. Tonight we get Oregon State against Illinois-Chicago in Corvallis, and on Wednesday Eastern Washington will travel to UCLA. Here’s a quick look at both games.

Illinois-Chicago @ Oregon State – Tuesday, 7:00 PM PST on ROOT Sports NW (*)

Junior guard Daniel Barnes is the Flames' second leading scorer with 9.8 PPG. (credit: Michigan Exposures)

  • This one should be simple; Oregon State is talented and UIC is terrible, right? It’s true, but these are excactly the types of games the Beavers lose year in and year out. In fact, UIC beat Oregon State two years ago in Chicago, and that Flames team was worse than they are now. UIC will need to shoot the three well to stay in this one, so look for Daniel Barnes and Gary Talton as the main targets of a tenacious Oregon State defense. They could both go for 25 in this one and the Beavers should still win this one, that’s how bad the pieces around Barnes and Talton are. If they are to steal the win, they will need to hit these shots so they can set up some sort of zone against the Beaver offense. Expect them to follow Idaho’s game plan and deploy a 1-2-2 zone at times, especially if the Beavers aren’t shooting well. If the small UIC players can manage to rebound with four players in the paint, this will severely limit the OSU offensive possesions and keep the Flames close.
  • This one should be close for the first ten minutes or so, but after that I see Oregon State running away, literally. The Beavers are just too fast, strong, and talented for the Flames, and they should be able to win by just reaching 60 points. I think the Beavs hit 80 and roll for a 83-62 win.

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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Five

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 12th, 2011

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew and I have compiled after the fifth week of Pac-12 games. Here we go!

1. Stanford, 8-1: The Cardinal hold steady at number one despite taking the week off to study for finals. Why then, you might be wondering, do they get all of THIS week off as well? Those brainiacs on the bay needed a full week just to study, and they will take the actual exams this week. Up Next: 12.17 vs. San Diego

Aaron Bright leads the Cardinal with 12.2 PPG. (credit: Patrick McDermott)

2. California, 8-2: The Golden Bears move up two spots after picking up a pair of blowout victories. The first came Wednesday night, an 81-36 beat down of in-state rival San Jose State. And yesterday, it was Jackson State who was the unlucky recipient of a 73-46 loss. Up Next: 12.16 vs. Weber State

3, Oregon State, 6-2: The Beavers suffered their first setback of the season (it was bound to happen sometime) on Friday as Idaho came into Corvallis and stole a 74-60 win. The game did come just 48 hours after the death of Fred Thompson, another student athlete at Oregon State. Still, the Beavers have to do a better job of recognizing and then fighting through screens against good three-point shooting teams. Up Next: 12.13 vs. Illinois-Chicago

4. Arizona, 7-3: It wasn’t a terrible week for Arizona, but it could have been a lot better. The Wildcats opened up the week on Tuesday in Gainesville, where they fell to 12th-ranked Florida by six in overtime. The Cats did bounce back in fine fashion, beating a solid Clemson team by 16 on Saturday. Up Next: 12.17 vs. Gonzaga in Seattle

5. Oregon, 5-2: The Ducks kept up their tradition Saturday of beating bad teams in the ugliest way possible. This time it was Fresno State, who came into Eugene with a 4-5 record. The Bulldogs hung with Oregon all night long, but lack of execution down the stretch resulted in a 74-70 loss. Up Next: 12.12 vs. Portland State

6. Washington, 4-4: An 0-2 week is never good, but Washington has to feel better than they did last week. The Huskies hung with #11 Marquette and #5 Duke (both in New York City) before poor finishes doomed them. Up Next: 12.16 vs. UC Santa Barbara Read the rest of this entry »

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Inside The Mack (And the Two Other Biggest OOC Arenas Pac-12 Teams Will Visit)

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 28th, 2011

The road is a difficult place. It’s foreign, it’s hostile, and it can just be plain annoying. It’s where seasons and teams can fall apart (See Oregon State @ Illinois-Chicago two years ago) or, it’s a place where teams can come together and start a great run. Let’s take a look at the three biggest non-conference arenas that Pac-12 teams will play in this year.

1. Thomas & Mack Center

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Capacity: 18,776
Pac-12 Games: California @ UNLV (Dec. 23)

It’s hard to imagine a time when UNLV played its home games in the 6,000 seat Las Vegas Convention Center, but 23 years ago, that was indeed the case. Now Rebel Nation flocks to “The Mack,” an 18,000+ seat basketball jewel that also hosts the NBA Vegas Summer League every year (well, not this year). Pac-10 (Not counting Colorado and Utah) teams are 4-5 against UNLV in The Mack since 2002, but considering UNLV doesn’t play top-notch basketball every single year, that is a pretty good mark. This year they will welcome the Golden Bears into their house, which is sure to be sold out whenever a power conference team ventures in.

A white out at the Thomas & Mack Center, which looks like an NBA arena more than ever in this picture. (credit: unlvrebels.com)

California doesn’t like to play on the road when they do not have to, as their only road non-conference games last year were either scheduled by the conference or a tournament committee. They went 1-1 in those two games, defeating Iowa State in the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Challenge, and falling to Colorado in the NIT. A win at UNLV would mean a lot more to Mike Montgomery’s team this year, as a late-December road victory would surely put the Bears into the Top 20 going into conference play.

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RTC Conference Primers: #13 – Horizon League

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 24th, 2011

Jimmy Lemke of PantherU.com is the RTC correspondent for the Horizon League. You can find his daily ramblings @PantherU or @JimmyLeMKE on Twitter.

Reader’s Take I

Last season, the Horizon League put four teams in the postseason — can it do it again?


Top Storylines

  • Eli Holman’s Leave of Absence: The Detroit big man is easily the best returning post player in the H-League, but whether or not he will return is a big question. Holman was placed on “indefinite leave” from the team at the end of September to handle some legal issues drawn from an incident at a fraternity house earlier in the month. Big Ten fans will remember Holman as the player who left Indiana after getting into a confrontation with then new coach Tom Crean.  Without Holman, the Titans have a big hole in the post and would have to rely more heavily on Nick Minnerath and LeMarcus Lowe to pick up the pieces of a broken inside game.  They still have some of the best talent in the league, but without that dominant force, who knows what they’ll get.
  • Kaylon Williams In Trouble:  Milwaukee got some bad news as well, with starting point guard Kaylon Williams getting pulled over in Iowa and blowing a .228 BAC.  What makes matters worse for Williams is that he fled the scene on foot, although he was picked up shortly afterward.  No official word has come down from the university on punishment besides a short statement from head coach Rob Jeter. “We are aware of the situation involving Kaylon Williams.  We are disappointed and will take appropriate action as we gather more information and the legal process runs its course.”  This is Williams’ first offense and it is unclear how much, if any, time he will miss.  Last season, Milwaukee had difficulty with Williams off the floor, but prepared for further uncertainty by recruiting junior college player Paris Gulley and high school point guard Shaquille Boga.

It Says Here That Matt Howard Was the Difference Maker at Butler

  • Butler’s Back Again: Obviously, the college basketball world is familiar with the recent NCAA Tournament dominance of Butler.  “Familiar” might not be the word; “obsessed” may be closer.  In any case, Butler came a 50-footer from the title in 2010 when no one thought they would make it. They suffered a poor shooting night in 2011 to keep the Bulldogs from that elusive title when no one thought they’d be back.  Is it so crazy to say that they could make another run to the Final Four?  The answer is yes.  While losing Gordon Hayward and some key players from the previous year’s team didn’t spell the end for them in 2010-11, 2011-12 will be a different story.  Forget Shelvin Mack, Hayward, and even Brad Stevens.  To me, the one person that deserves the most credit for both of these runs is Matt Howard.  We all knew from day one that he was a special player, and what lack of NBA athleticism (he’s still athletic) he had was made up big time in his skill, determination, and intelligence. To me, he’s the best leader-by-example in basketball that I have ever seen, and his graduation means someone else at Butler will have to try and pick up that torch.  You can replace Shelvin Mack’s scoring and Zach Hahn’s knack for the timely three-pointer, but you can’t replace Matt Howard’s… Matt Howard.
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Morning Five: 08.04.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 4th, 2011

  1. The match-ups for several early season tournaments were released yesterday. Looking through the match-ups we have to say we are kind of underwhelmed. By far the best bracket released yesterday was from the 2K Sports Classic, which features Texas A&M against Mississippi State and St. John’s against Arizona. With four intriguing teams we would be interested in all four of the games played there including the consolation game. Outside of that the only interesting match-ups are the opening round match-up between Iona and Purdue in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and a potential match-up between Vanderbilt and Texas in the Legends Classic. Of course, our perception of what is deemed a quality early season tournament might be skewed by the upcoming Maui Invitational.
  2. On Tuesday we pointed out how weak Connecticut‘s non-conference schedule was. We won’t be doing the same with Florida‘s non-conference schedule where they are scheduled to play against six teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. The most daunting games are trips to Ohio State and Syracuse (both of which should be ranked in the top 5 in the preseason rankings). Outside of that the Gators will play against Arizona, Florida State, and UAB in Gainesville and a neutral site game against Texas A&M. That has to be one of the most brutal non-conference schedules in the country and if Billy Donovan has any questions about his team they should be answered relatively early in the year.
  3. Yesterday there was a lot of buzz on Twitter about an article in The Wall Street Journal about Jerron Love, a 15-year old basketball player, and his father Jerry, who runs his own recruiting site. The basic premise of the article is that Jerron is a “phenom” who some are calling the country’s top eighth-grade basketball player. The catch? The person calling him that is his father. We didn’t have a chance to follow every comment on Twitter about this story, but it seemed like everybody thought the entire story was ridiculous (here’s our tweet about it). The more amusing thing was how they were interviewing people who were raving about Jerron based on the ranking and did not even realize that it was his father doing the ranking.
  4. For years sports fans have made jokes about Boise State‘s blue football field. Now, thanks to Northwestern, we may have the college basketball version. The school is designing the court at Welsh-Ryan Arena and has offered it fans (and curious onlookers) four options from which they can reportedly choose the new court. We aren’t sure how much impact the fan voting (done here), but we would like to direct your attention to option 3. We are hoping that option 3 is a joke or we might have to make another post similar to the one we did for Oregon‘s court.
  5. The NCAA granted Toledo transfer Hayden Humes a waiver to play next season at the University of Illinois-Chicago after Toledo’s program lost three scholarships due to low APR scores. As a freshman Humes averaged 5.7 PPG and 5.1 RPG and he will be expected to contribute to a team that finished last in the Horizon League (7-24 overall, 2-16 in conference) and graduated its top three rebounders from last season. While Toledo will miss his production on the court they might miss his 3.43 GPA as a freshman even more as it may have been more helpful to the program in the long run.
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Circle of March II

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2011

Last night’s Big South and Horizon League losers knocked eight teams from the ranks of national title contenders.  That leaves a total of 310 teams vying for the crown this season.  Liberty, Winthrop, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, Illinois-Chicago, Green Bay, Loyola (Ill) and Youngstown State — we’ll see you again next year!

Coming next: eight more teams eliminated from the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley and Patriot Leagues tonight.

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The Week That Was: Jan. 4-Jan. 10

Posted by jstevrtc on January 11th, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

It wasn’t the best of weeks for TWTW. Notre Dame and Kentucky failed to live up to TWTW’s lofty praise heaped upon them. Notre Dame’s defense allowed Marquette to shoot 53.1% from the field and 70.6% from three in a 22-point loss, and the Wildcats lost their SEC opener after TWTW proclaimed them a sure-thing to come close to running the table in conference.

What will TWTW say this week that in seven-days will seem ridiculous? Let’s find out…

What We Learned

Walker Is Still Your Leader In the POY Race. (P. Raycraft/Hartford Courant)

Connecticut probably wasn’t quite in panic mode yet, but no team scored a bigger win than the Huskies with their road win at Texas on Saturday. After a 12-0 start to the regular season, the Huskies stumbled to a 1-2 start in the Big East. UConn barely beat USF at home on Dec. 32, and that game was sandwiched between road losses at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Considering how young the Huskies are (they play six freshmen) and their dependence on Kemba Walker, the slump definitely cast doubts on the Huskies’ bona fides as a national contender. UConn seems to have its mojo back now, as other players proved they can step up in big games. The Huskies received a tremendous effort from Alex Oriakhi (11 points, 21 rebounds), while Roscoe Smith and Shabazz Napier contributed 13 and 15 points, respectively. UConn even survived one of the most mind-boggling shots in recent history: Smith’s full-court heave with more than 10 seconds left in regulation. If you can win in spite of a play like that, you have to think you’re destined for big things this season.

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BGTD: Afternoon Games Analysis

Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2010

Hello, Donnie. Get ready to see head coach Donnie Jones and his Knights of Central Florida in the next Top 25 that comes out in about 48 hours. They knocked off Miami (FL) earlier, 84-78, and are now 10-0. Understandably, your attention may immediately gravitate to Marcus Jordan (15.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.4 APG), given his famous papa, and he was outstanding tonight with 23 points. The name you also need to know is Keith Clanton (16.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG), their star 6’8 sophomore forward. They’ll next put that undefeated record on the line at Massachusetts on Wednesday.

Save somethin’ for the second half (of the season), big fella. There’s not much else to say about Jared Sullinger, but it’s still fun talking about how ridiculously good he is. South Carolina isn’t exactly long, and they looked like a team feeling the effects of a post-finals week, pre-holiday road trip — they shot terribly (38.3% FG, 42.9% FT), didn’t take care of the ball (15 turnovers) and their defense in transition was non-existent — but 30/19 for the Ohio State big fella is still an outstanding performance. And when he’s hitting halftime buzzer-beating spinning jumpers off glass from near the hash marks, you know what kind of day you’re in for.

An Early Christmas? Perhaps a little post-finals malaise from Illinois? You might drop a clanger of a game every once in a while and get away with it, but 18-55 (32.7%) from the field and 4-17 (23.7%) from beyond the three-point arc wasn’t going to get the Illini by Illinois-Chicago today. The Flames (now 5-7) forced some late Illinois turnovers and UIC’s Darrin Williams took advantage of every late scoring chance he had in helping his team pull off the upset, but the story here was how the Flames removed Illinois’ bigs from the equation. The Illini starting front line had a combined 13 points on 5-16 shooting, and they only got five more points from big guys off the bench.

Making a Point. North Carolina will take the next step forward when Kendall Marshall eats up more of Larry Drew II’s minutes. Drew plays twice as much as Marshall on the average but Marshall has shown to be a better distributor of the basketball, is great at getting into the lane and finding an open teammate, and is a little more comfortable getting physical than Drew appears to be. What do you think, Tar Heel fans? Would you be comfortable with Marshall seeing more time at Drew’s expense? Despite Harrison Barnes’ clutch three to tie it at 76 (his first three of the game and only UNC’s third) Texas just stunned the Heels in Greensboro on Cory Joseph’s stick in the final seconds.

Orange Bawl. From here, Kansas State has officially removed itself from consideration as one of the elite teams in the nation that could conceivably contend for a national title. We probably gave them longer than most people, actually. Losing to Florida in the Gators’ home state (this was an Orange Bowl Classic affair) is no crime, but that the Wildcats can be goaded into some of the shots they took tonight (15-55 or 27.3% FG, and 3-19 or 15.8% from three) shows that they aren’t ready to be considered among the big boys at this time.

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