ATB: Life On the Road Ain’t Easy

Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2010

Playing Away From Home is Tough, Eh?

  • Georgia 73, #17 Georgia Tech 66.  This is why we can’t get on board with this Georgia Tech team just yet.  There’s no excusable reason for a team with Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors, Iman Shumpert and others to lose to a team like Georgia, even in a rivalry game.  Yet the Jackets walked out of Athens with yet another loss, and questions about Paul Hewitt’s coaching abilities continue to be raised.  Georgia got a balanced scoring effort from its starters, with four of its players going for double figures and led by Trey Thompkins’ 20/6, while Tech only had two players reach that mark — Lawal with 21/6 and Zachery Peacock with 16/5.  Thompkins, a sophomore forward who averages 16/8 who almost nobody outside of the SEC has heard of, took over the game with under-four minutes remaining, finishing a three-point play and knocking down a couple more FTs to secure the win.  This is a great win for Mark Fox’s Bulldog program, who won this one in front of a half-empty arena, and signals the rest of the SEC that a trip to Athens isn’t going to be an auto-win this year.  As for Tech, we’re still not sure about this team in the ACC race — they just seem emotionally fragile to us.  Anytime a team punches them in the mouth, as Florida State and Georgia did, they appear all too ready to fold.  They play Duke in Atlanta on Saturday; that’ll be a very interesting test.
  • San Diego State 74, #14 New Mexico 64.  Just another night in the wacky Mountain West.  It’s hard to believe that the same SDSU team that we saw St. Mary’s destroy by about 25 points earlier this year could knock off a top 15 team, but it happened tonight.  Malcolm Thomas had 18/15 to light up the Lobo frontline to help compensate for Bill White’s ankle injury suffered in the first half that knocked him out of the game after only nine minutes of action.  The Aztec defense accounted for itself well also, holding New Mexico to 35% shooting and their two stars (Darington Hobson and Roman Martinez) to 7-26 from the field.  There are arguably four MWC teams that are in the running for an NCAA bid this year, and it wouldn’t be out of the question that all four make it, as their conference profile is trending as the top mid-major league this season.

No Cause For Alarm? #2 Texas 96, Arkansas 85. This was a much closer game than the score indicates, but should it be cause for alarm that Texas seems to be struggling with inferior teams lately (they only beat TAMU-CC by six on Saturday)?  It’s certainly not the offense, as the Longhorns shot 59% from the field tonight and seemingly got whatever they wanted all night long (especially with Dexter Pittman and his 21/10 inside).  But, if anything, the defense has been a little lacking, especially compared to where it was earlier this season.  Two of the team’s worst defensive performances came in the last two games, and you start to wonder if a little complacency is setting in with how easy it was for the Horns earlier this season.  Tonight Pittman was the story.  His monstrous dunk and-one to begin the second half set the tone, and UT thereafter went on a 20-9 run to give themselves some breathing room and hold on to the lead down the stretch when Arkansas made its expected run.  Arkansas’ Rotnei Clarke had 24/3 and Courtney Fortson made his first appearance of the year with 19/3/7 assts, but the Hawgs have the look of a sinking ship this season and we’re not sure that John Pelphrey can do anything to prevent it.  Damion James also added 20/9 for the Longhorns.

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Morning Five: 12.07.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2009

morning5

  1. In case you missed it amidst all the football over the weekend, leading NPOY candidate Evan Turner broke two vertebrae in his back when he fell on a dunk attempt and will miss up to eight weeks as he recovers from this injury.  This is unquestionably a huge blow to Ohio State’s Big Ten and national chances this season, as it’s always uncertain how someone will respond both physically and mentally to such a blow.
  2. Georgia Tech sophomore guard Iman Shumpert will miss 3-6 weeks because of surgery on his right knee related to a meniscus tear.  Tech, at 6-1 is off to its best start since 2006, and Shumpert’s 8/5 APG is a big part of that.  Other than a home date against Florida State on 12/20, the schedule is fairly light for the Jackets until after the new year, when road trips to Charlotte, Georgia and a home game against Duke await.   Hopefully Shumpert will be back in action before then.
  3. Did you catch John Wall over the weekend?  Two plays in particular in the first half seemed to represent just how sicknasty this guy can be.  One resulted in a crossover step-through for a full-speed dunk; the other resulted in a ridiculous reverse layup on the break that only he knows how he got to roll in.  Mike DeCourcy called it the collegiate version of the famous Dr. J dunk, while Jeff Goodman believes that the only reason the second half was close was because Wall cramped up for a while.  Fair points, both.  We’d still like to know the real reason(s) why Roy Williams never offered Wall a scholly, though.
  4. Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy, not a fan of Rick Stansbury, eh?
  5. South Florida reported to the St. Petersburg Times on Friday that they have no record of inquiry from the NCAA, which disputes a previous report by Fanhouse that the NCAA has opened an investigation into the school based on illegal benefits given to Gus Gilchrist and open practices run by assistant coach Terrelle Woody.
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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: February/March (Part Two)

Posted by zhayes9 on October 27th, 2009

seasonpreview

The final two-part edition of our Top 65 games delves into the exciting stretch run of the final five weeks. These highlighted games should have tremendous implications on seeding and conference standings with heated rivals doing battle in the final push towards March Madness. Here’s a preview of what’s guaranteed to be the best slate of games 2009-10 has to offer (top games of November/December, January and the first part of February/March in case you missed them):

February 16- North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (#36 overall)- Many believe Georgia Tech has assembled the talent to play with the supposedly rebuilding reigning champs. Still, UNC should be the favorite to win the ACC and Tech may be right on their heels (no pun intended). Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors make up a frontcourt composed of two possible lottery picks. Iman Shumpert (5.0 APG) returns to bolster the backcourt at the 1 or 2 position while Zach Peacock and Mo Miller provide depth for a Tech squad looking for a late-season impact win.

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February 22- West Virginia @ Connecticut (#20 overall)- Whether Stanley Robinson is assigned Da’Sean Butler on the perimeter or Devin Ebanks in the post, Stix is the key for Connecticut this season and in this specific Big East battle. Robinson averaged 14.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG in his final ten contests last year and the UConn coaching staff strongly believes their athletic forward can replicate that success the entire season. He won’t be spending the first half in a sheet metal plant this time around, either.

February 23- Tennessee @ Florida (#62 overall)- The Gators could linger around the bubble this season in a difficult SEC East. Knocking off likely high seed Tennessee at home would send a message to the committee at this late date in the season. It’s imperative Kenny Boynton have an electric shooting game against Tennessee’s shaky defense for the Gators to have a shot. They’ll also need Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons to contain the Tennessee bigs inside and out.

February 24- Purdue @ Minnesota (#32 overall)- A difficult road contest for a Purdue team looking to capture the Big Ten title. Minnesota always plays at a different level defensively at the Barn, meaning this could be a battle of wills in the 50s that sends Big Ten haters screaming in the streets. How Minnesota’s youth, whether it be sophomores Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson or their freshmen Royce White and Rodney Williams, develops into late February should reveal whether the Gophers can pull off this upset.

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Statistical Proof Iman Shumpert is a Gunner

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2009

What really gets us all juiced and lathered up are statistics that appear self-evident only after someone shows you how to figure them.  You know, the kind of thing where we say, “wow, that makes a lot of sense,” and yet, we never thought of it ourselves.  Forest for the trees and all that.

So it was with particular interest that we were alerted to a post made earlier this week by our friends at the Virginia athletics blog, Dear Old UVa.  This post attempted to get to the bottom of the question about whether UVa coach Dave Leitao was properly utilizing his players on the offensive end of the court.  So how would you measure such a thing?  With the help of KenPom’s statistical treasure trove, they were able to cross-tab players’ offensive efficiencies with their percentage of team’s possessions used.  This produced a relatively simple graphical representation of every player in the ACC which quickly shows which players are being utilized properly or improperly (see below).

acc-players-off-efficiency

On the above graph, you can easily see that Jeff Teague and Ish Smith, for example, are being properly used by Wake Forest head coach Dino Gaudio.  Teague has a very high percentage of possessions used and his offensive efficiency is relatively high.  Smith has a low efficiency and therefore is being used more sparingly on the offensive end.  The graph can also tell you when a player might be over- or under-used.  As an example, Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert has an efficiency in the same ballpark as Ish Smith, yet he uses significantly more possessions for the Jackets – an example of a player who is overused given his skill set at this time.  The converse of course is true for players with high efficiencies but low possession utilization.

We love this stuff, so we’ll try to find some more of this kind of thing as we get closer and closer to the NCAA Tournament.  The data is as rich as it will get this season, so hopefully we’ll be able to do so.

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ATB: Can Anyone Stop Carolina?

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2008

afterbuzzer1

ACC Wins Again. Well, it was closer this year than it has been since 2005, but the ACC won the event for the tenth year in a row, 6-5.  The league of atlantic coast schools are now 62-35 (.639) against its midwestern counterparts in this challenge – can we go back to the ACC/Big East version now?  Oh, and we really couldn’t have made worse picks today if we had tried – we went 1-4, and Wake was our only winner – picking that game correctly was akin to picking the sun to come up tomorrow.  Maybe we’ll stay out of this prediction business for a while.  What we found really interesting was that home court in the two leagues with the most advantageous home environments didn’t seem to matter much – home teams were 5-6 in the Challenge (see below).

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Carolina Looks Unstoppable. UNC 98, Michigan St. 63. We hesitate to move into the realm of hyperbole in early December, preferring to leave that to the likes of Vitale with his offerings of UNC “competing with” the Clippers, T-Wolves and Grizzlies (which is patently absurd, btw).  But at least at this point in the 2007-08 season, UNC is well ahead of everyone else in college basketball.  What the Heels did to Michigan St. tonight in its home state could appropriately be described as an absolute dismantling.  Frankly, we’re not sure how the Spartans show their faces in E. Lansing tomorrow, considering the Heels only defeated UCSB by 15 in Santa Barbara and Kentucky by 19 in Chapel Hill.  As good as Carolina was, MSU was utterly moribund.  UNC held the Spartans to 35% shooting from the field, 24% from three, and forced 21 turnovers, many of which directly led to Carolina layups or threes.  Speaking of which, if Ty Lawson is going to play as well as he did tonight – ripping balls out of passing lanes (7 steals) and dropping 25-footers with consistency (twice), then we really can go ahead and pass the championship trophy over to Roy Williams.  And the question of whether Tyler Hansbrough is healthy was put to rest with another workmanlike 25/11 where he was pretty much able to do whatever he wanted inside the lane.  Danny Green was his typical stat-stuffer self (6/5/5 assts), and Ed Davis continues to impress off the bench (10/7 in 17 mins).  As for MSU, the only player that seemed ready to play was Chris Allen, who singlehandedly kept MSU in the game with his long-range shooting in the first half.  The others – Kalin Lucas, Delvon Roe, Marquise Gray – all horrible.  Looking at the schedule, the next  even remote possibility of a team staying within 15 pts of Carolina will be at Wake on January 11th.  As for MSU, this supposed top ten team hasn’t looked anywhere near it thus far this season – can Izzo get it together?

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2008-09 Conference Primers: #3 – ACC

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2008

Zach Smith of Old Gold & Blog and DeaconsIllustrated is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). 

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. North Carolina (28-2, 14-2)
  2. Duke (27-5, 13-3)
  3. Wake Forest (21-8, 11-5)
  4. Miami (20-9, 10-6)
  5. Clemson (20-10, 8-8)
  6. Virginia Tech (18-12, 8-8)
  7. Georgia Tech (17-12, 7-9)
  8. Maryland (17-13, 7-9)
  9. NC State (15-14, 5-11)
  10. Boston College (15-15, 4-12)
  11. Florida State (13-16, 4-12)
  12. Virginia (11-16, 4-12)

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WYN2K. The ACC is still the ACC. I know many still long for the return of the days of nine teams (or even eight), but for better or worse a 12-team ACC is here to say, and it’s still plenty enjoyable. It may not be the absolute best conference in 2008-2009, but it’s dang good, and I have a feeling the majority of college basketball fans would still rather watch Duke play North Carolina play than Louisville play UConn. Everyone agrees UNC is the best team in the country (assuming they’ll have Tyler Hansbrough back sooner rather than later) and Duke is right there in the top five with them. With high expectations and lots of potential, Wake Forest is also making appearances in preseason top 25 rankings, and Miami also came in at #17 in the preseason AP poll. Clemson doesn’t appear to be far behind. I expect all five of those teams to make the NCAA Tournament this season, and I will not be surprised if Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Maryland compete for berths as well. If he comes back healthy, Hansbrough (22.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg) is likely to once again be the national player of the year, while Boston College’s Tyrese Rice (21 ppg, 4.9 apg), Miami’s Jack McClinton (17.7 pgg), North Carolina’s Ty Lawson (12.7 ppg, 5.16 apg), and Duke’s Gerald Henderson (12.7 ppg, 31 blocks) are all players to keep an eye on this season. Wake Forest boasts this year’s best recruiting class, led by forward Al-Farouq Aminu, and people will definitely want to keep an eye on Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert as well.

Predicted Champion. This isn’t a difficult choice to make this season. There’s little doubt the North Carolina Tar Heels (NCAA #1) are the best team in the ACC this season, and I think just about everyone will be surprised if they don’t win both the regular season and the tournament. Roy Williams has done an excellent job in his time at Carolina, and with both Tyler Hansborough and Ty Lawson deciding to return for another season, the Tar Heels have all five starters from last season back on the floor. No team in the ACC can match the talent, depth, and experience on this Carolina roster. They play fast and score quickly (88.6 ppg, .488 from the field last season) beat teams by the widest margins in the ACC (+16.1), and have an absurdly high rebounding margin (+11 – the closest team was +5). They also led the ACC in assists per game (16.8) and assist/turnover ratio (1.17). They don’t always play the best defense in the conference, but with their offense they don’t need to. It’s going to take an excellent performance for anyone in the ACC to beat them this season.

Others Considered.  I’d be lying if I said I seriously considered anyone else. North Carolina is just that good. I’m not saying Duke (NCAA #3) isn’t a great team—they are—but I don’t think they’re quite there with Carolina this season. Duke is a pretty clear favorite to be runner-up this season, and for good reason. They return a talented base, including point guard Greg Paulus (11.4 ppg, 3.2 apg), shooting guard Jon Scheyer (11.7 ppg), forward Gerald Henderson, and center Kyle Singler (13.3 pgg, 5.8 rpg). They will also count on strong performances from new starter Lance Thomas, as well as bench contributions from Nolan Smith and freshman Miles Plumlee. They score almost as much as UNC (83.2 ppg), play even better defense (allowing only 69.4 ppg) and lead the conference in turnover margin (+4.8). The Wake Forest (NCAA #5) Demon Deacons get in this discussion based primarily on potential. They didn’t graduate a single impact player, return two of last season’s most talented freshmen in forward James Johnson (14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and guard Jeff Teague (13.9 ppg, 1.83 steals), and bring in the ACC’s best recruiting class of forward Al-Farouq Aminu and centers Tony Woods and Ty Walker. If Coach Dino Gaudio can maximize the potential in this team then they could really make some noise this season.

Other Likely NCAA Bids.  Miami (NCAA #6) and Clemson (NCAA #12) should both be good enough to make the tournament this year. Jack McClinton (17.7 ppg) is the clear leader of the Miami team – a great shooter who has improved his entire game. Miami relies on a strong defense (second in scoring defense last season at 67.9 ppg) and will do so again this season, hoping to ride that into the NCAA Tournament. Clemson hopes to join them, led by Trevor Brooker who is both a great scorer and rebounder. In the past the Tigers have relied on a speedy trapping defense that creates lots of turnovers, but much of the talent that made that style of play work in the past is gone this season. They’ll need Brooker and KC Rivers to step up and put points on the board this season. Virginia Tech (NIT) and Georgia Tech (NIT) are likely bubble teams this season. VT only lost one starter from last year’s squad and returns lots of young talent, including AD Vasallo and Jeff Allen. Georgia Tech lost a lot from last year’s team but brings back some young talent in a good recruiting class. Maryland (NIT) lost a great frontcourt and will rely on Greivis Vasquez to lead them to a potential NIT birth.

The Rest.  NC State, Boston College, Florida State and Virginia are all likely to be staying home in March, although it is certainly possible for one or two to surprise and make some kind of noise this season and maybe grab an NIT birth. NC State lost its top three players from a season ago and will need lots of guys to step up this year. Boston College boasts a great player in Tyrese Rice, but lacks anyone to support him and I don’t see who could step up and really fill that role. Florida State loses as much as NC State did, if not more, and probably has even less talent that could step up. Virginia, like these other teams, lost its top three players from last season and another to injury. For now, everything is on Mamadi Diane’s shoulders and the prospects for this season are grim.

RPI Boosters.

  • Kentucky @ North Carolina – ESPN 9:00  (11.18.09)
  • Ohio State @ Miami – ESPN 7:00 ACC/B10 Challenge  (12.02.08)
  • Duke @ Purdue – ESPN 9:15  ACC/B10 Challenge  (12.02.08)
  • Indiana @ Wake Forest – ESPN 7:00  ACC/B10 Challenge  (12.03.08)
  • North Carolina @ Michigan State – ESPN 9:15  ACC/B10 Challenge  (12.03.08)
  • NC State @ Davidson – FSN 12:00  (12.06.08)
  • Miami @ Kentucky – ESPN 5:30  (12.06.08)
  • Duke @ Xavier – CBS 2:00  (12.20.08)
  • Davidson @ Duke – ESPN 7:00  (01.07.09)
  • Georgetown @ Duke – CBS 1:30  (01.16.09)

Preseason Tourneys.

  • North Carolina – Maui Invitational
  • Duke – Coaches Versus Cancer
  • Boston College – Preseason NIT
  • Virginia Tech – Puerto Rico Tip Off
  • Miami – Paradise Jam
  • Wake Forest – 76 Classic
  • Maryland – Old Spice Classic
  • Florida State – Las Vegas Invitational

The preseason/Thanksgiving tournaments should provide some good early challenges for these ACC teams, and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge usually provides some entertainment as well. Just about everyone has a couple of significant OOC games, and for some of the bubble teams these could be the RPI boosters they need to make a push into the NCAA Tournament.

Key Games.  I’ve heard it said that every game is a big game in the ACC, and in many ways this is true. Obviously, though, some are bigger than others so let’s take a look:

  • Clemson @ Miami – FSN 7:45  (12.21.08)
  • North Carolina @ Wake Forest – FSN 8:00  (01.11.09)
  • Duke @ Georgia Tech – ESPN 7:00  (01.14.09)
  • Miami @ North Carolina – ESPN 9:00  (01.17.09)
  • Virginia Tech @ Wake Forest – ESPN2 7:00  (01.21.09)
  • Duke @ Clemson – ESPN 9:00  (02.03.09)
  • North Carolina @ Virginia Tech – ESPN 7:00  (03.04.09)
  • Duke @ North Carolina – CBS 4:00  (03.11.09)

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s really difficult to just pick a handful of important ACC games, but these represent a smattering of some of the best teams and contenders playing each other. I promise, there will plenty of important and exciting games in the ACC all season long.

Did You Know. Tyler Hansbrough is the first AP National Player of the Year to return for another season since Shaquille O’Neal did it at LSU after winning the award in 1991. Pretty impressive, but maybe more surprising is that O’Neal returned – I’d be curious to know why he did. Also interesting, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski actually led a team to a gold medal for the second time over the summer. He had also been an assistant coach on the 1992 Dream Team. Unfortunately for him, coaches aren’t actually awarded medals, only players.

65 Team Era.  By nearly every objective measure, the ACC has been the best league of the last quarter-century: the best overall NCAA record (234-116, .669), the most #1 seeds (21), the most titles (6), the most F4s (22) and the most S16s (63).  These numbers are all driven by the fact that UNC and Duke have arguably been two of the top several programs in the nation during this time period.  What if we removed these two from consideration – how would the ACC compare?  After removing 130 wins, 19 #1 seeds, 5 titles, 18 F4s and 33 S16s, you’re left with a conference that would look a lot like the Atlantic 10 or CUSA in its best years.  It’s pretty amazing just how dominant those two programs have been over the years, and will continue to be. 

Final Thoughts.  It’s going to be another fun year in the ACC this season. I grew up outside ACC country, but having been here for several years now I can honestly say there’s nothing quite like it. I was skeptical at first, but I’ve been convinced. I’m looking forward to another great season. The top tier of teams is excellent, and the conference has enough depth to be exciting from nearly top to bottom. Despite North Carolina’s unanimity at the top, I don’t believe it is impossible for someone else to knock them off. Duke could certainly do it, as could anyone else in that next tier of teams. It will also be interesting to see how Tyler Hansbrough’s injury affects the Tar Heels and the ACC as a whole.

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10.22.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2007

The hits just keep on comin’…

  • Tough week at Pepperdine.  First, their top returning player Kingsley Costain was dismissed from the school; now they don’t have anywhere to practice due to the insane fires in Malibu.
  • Now that Maryland has instituted a new alcohol awareness program, what’s the over/under on some Terp like James Gist getting a DWI?  Or maybe it’ll be our favorite tool, Gus Gilchrist?  He committed to the Terps over the weekend and will play next season.
  • Maybe Purdue’s Gordon Watt should transfer to Maryland now – he was kicked out of Purdue for a DWI last week.
  • In a nice gesture, the ACC renamed its Scholar-Athlete award in honor of Skip Prosser.
  • BYU extended head coach Dave Rose‘s contract through 2011.
  • Bob Knight really hates cell phones.
  • Beginning next year, the Preseason NIT will guarantee each participant four games at on-campus sites, even for those teams that lose in the first two rounds.
  • We hadn’t seen this yet, but ESPN announced its College Gameday sites a week or two ago.  We cannot wait until Jan. 26 – Creighton at S. Illinois.
  • Thankfully, Myles Brand says there will be no expansion of the NCAA Tournament anytime soon.
  • Raymond Felton didn’t help Roy after all – Iman Shumpert chose Georgia Tech over UNC and Marquette.
  • Andy Katz has a really interesting article about Kevin Love asking the Wizard of Westwood (who turned 97 Sunday) for advice.  We like this kid already.
  • Thad Matta is hobbling around after back surgery this summer.
  • More Preseason Chatter -
    • ACC Media Days – the Research Triangle schools came in 1 (UNC), 2 (Duke), 3 (NC State) in the preseason conference poll.
    • Seth Davis breaks down Indiana‘s prospects.
    • Katz explains why Calipari opted to stay in Memphis over taking the NC State job two years ago.
    • DeCourcy gives USC some love for tough scheduling (even though they’re going to lose all those games), while he rates crosstown rival UCLA #1 in his poll.
    • STF gets us up to speed on what the mid-major conferences are bringing to the table this year.
    • SEC Hoops:TGTBTD chooses Jamont Gordon over Chris Lofton for SEC POY.   Interesting…
    • Final thought – believe it or not, the Colorado Lady Buffaloes actually have a Brittany Spears and a Whitney Houston on their squad this season.   Coke dealers in Boulder are already calculating their profits.
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