The RTC Podblast: Episode 1.5

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2013

And we’re off and running with the regular season as well as the weekly RTC Podblast. In case you’re not aware of what this feature is all about, this is where we reset the week’s action and look ahead to the coming weekend of games in a shorter, sleeker, bite-sized format. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, and in this week’s podblast, the guys break down some positives and negatives for each of the four teams in the Champions Classic, discuss a couple of other games from the Hoops Marathon, and look forward to the two biggest games of the weekend. The full rundown is below.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-1:15 – Introduction
  • 1:15-7:26 –  Sparty Spoils Kentucky’s 40-0 Dreams
  • 7:26-11:22 – Kansas (not the Fighting Wiggins) beats Duke (not the Fighting Jabaris)
  • 11:22-13:14 – The Old Dominion Battle (That didn’t involve ODU)
  • 13:14-14:33 – Florida Battles Wisconsin Despite Missing Pieces
  • 14:33-16:34 – Ohio State-Marquette Preview
  • 16:34-20:03 – “Randy Bowl” (Michigan-Iowa State) Preview/Wrap
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The RTC Podblast: Big 12 Preseason Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2013

seasonpreview-11

We’re just a few more days from the start of games across this fair nation, and that means it’s time to preview each of the major seven basketball conferences on the RTC Podcast. Last week we dropped previews for the Big East (Tuesday), Big Ten (Wednesday), SEC (Thursday) and Pac-12 (Friday); this week we’ll have the Big 12 (Monday), ACC (Tuesday) and AAC (Wednesday). As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our talented and engaging host, leading the group through a series of topics and questions related to the upcoming season. For this podblast, we invited RTC Big 12 microsite correspondent Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) to the program, as he tried to make a case that Rick Barnes can save his job at Texas (hint: he couldn’t).

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And don’t forget to check out our 2013-14 Preseason Podcast, the National Edition, and feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around.

  • 0:00-13:31 – Kansas vs. Oklahoma State (and Wiggins vs. Smart)
  • 13:31-17:22 – Big 12 Second Tier (Baylor and Iowa State)
  • 17:22-20:32 – Best of the Rest
  • 20:32-22:18 – What to Do With Rick Barnes
  • 22:18-24:55 – Iowa State a Contender for Randy’s Favorite Team
  • 24:55-26:31 – POY debate
  • 26:31-28:43 – Battle for Third Best Player
  • 28:43-30:14 – Under the Radar Big 12 Players
  • 30:14-31:55 – Bold Big 12 Predictions/Wrap
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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #21 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 25th, 2013

seasonpreview-1

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#21 – Where Gettin’ a Little Crafty Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

 

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The RTC Interview Series: Big 12 Preview with Fran Fraschilla and Jason King, Part II

Posted by Walker Carey on October 23rd, 2013

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. As part of our national preview of the Big 12, RTC Correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking to two Big 12 experts in ESPN Big 12 analyst, Fran Fraschilla, and ESPN.com college basketball writer, Jason King.  (Ed. note – we spoke to each individual separately, but for the sake of expediency, combining their answers into a round table format made the most sense.)

*Make sure to start with Part I of the Big 12 Preview, published on Tuesday.

RTC: Oklahoma lost its three leading scorers from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. Where will the Sooners go to for their scoring in Lon Kruger’s third season in Norman?

Lon Kruger

Lon Kruger Faces a Transition Year at Oklahoma

Fraschilla: Oklahoma is one of the youngest teams in the conference. It is likely to start a freshman and three sophomores. I think if there is one guy who will be able to pick up the scoring slack, it is going to be sophomore Buddy Hield. He showed flashes of brilliance last year. He has a scorer’s mentality and can be very versatile. People are forgetting that Ryan Spangler, a transfer from Gonzaga, is now eligible and the last time he was on the court he produced a very solid performance in Gonzaga’s 2012 NCAA Tournament win over West Virginia. He will be underrated for about a third of the season before people realize he will be one of the best big men in the Big 12. This is a young Sooner team that still might be a year away, but I still expect it to compete for a spot in the postseason.

King: I think it is going to be a transition year for Oklahoma. I do not think people appreciated just how good players like Romero Osby, Steven Pledger, and Andrew Fitzgerald were for this team. Those were really good players – especially Osby — and I was glad to see that he got drafted because he was one of the best players in the league. The problem Oklahoma is facing now is that they are not bringing in guys who can replace those departures right off the bat. There are some young guys, but that production just will not be the same. A lot of pressure is going to be placed on the backcourt of Buddy Hield and Je’lon Hornbeak to produce. I do not know if Oklahoma is going to have enough to return to the NCAA Tournament. It might be one of those seasons where you go through some bumps and get guys some experience, so the program will be back where you want it to be next season. The one thing Oklahoma definitely has going for it is that is as well-coached as anyone in the league. Lon Kruger has proven time and time again that he can get it done as well as any coach in this league. Due to that, you can expect Oklahoma to win some games that they are not expected to win this season. I just do not expect the Sooners to win those game consistently enough. This could be a tough season in Norman.

RTC: West Virginia had a nightmare debut season in the league. The Mountaineers experienced a bit of a roster overhaul in the offseason, as Deniz Kilicli exhausted his eligibility and Jabarie Hinds and Aaric Murray transferred. Do you believe some of those losses are addition by subtraction and what are reasonable expectations for Bob Huggins’ team in its second year in the league?

Fraschilla: I do not think it was an addition by subtraction situation for West Virginia because those guys still played major roles for the team at certain times. I believe there is a solid nucleus there that can definitely play better than it did last year. Sophomores Terry Henderson and Eron Harris are guys who showed at certain points last year that they can put the ball in the basket. The key for the team this season is going to be Juwan Staten, the junior transfer from Dayton. Staten did not hit a three last season in his first season on the floor for the Mountaineers. If Henderson, Harris, and Staten can improve their play, I think West Virginia can compete for a postseason berth. I do expect the team chemistry to be much better this year and guys to be more in tune with what Bob Huggins wants.

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After a Wild Opening Night, the Meat of the Big 12 Tournament Set to Begin

Posted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013

Bob Huggins’ teams have always blocked out. Except for when there’s a game-winning shot attempt in the air, apparently. In a sequence that epitomized West Virginia’s season so much it seemed as though it had to have been some sort of sick joke, Texas Tech ended the Mountaineers’ brutal campaign with a tip-in by Dejan Kravic in the final milliseconds of regulation to win, 71-69. He was standing untouched in the paint after Josh Gray’s three-point attempt rimmed out. No body on him. No effort by the Mountaineers to hit the boards, as they were simply standing around as though time would expire before any potential rebound attempt. They guessed wrong, and the Red Raiders now advance to play top-seeded Kansas. There wasn’t as much drama in the nightcap, as Texas dispatched of TCU in an ugly 70-57 win. They’ll now play Kansas State this evening.

Bob Huggins Probably Had To Cry A Lot This Season

Bob Huggins Probably Had To Cry A Lot This Season

That’s where we stand after two play-in games in the Big 12 Tournament. No disrespect to the victors on Wednesday night, but now the real games begin. Remember to stay with the Big 12 microsite all weekend long, as microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) will arrive in Kansas City this morning to cover the tournament through the championship game on Saturday. But today, there’s two games you really need to keep an eye on: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State early and Baylor vs. Oklahoma State this evening. There will be drama in this tournament across the board, especially if Kansas and Kansas State play each other in a conference tournament final, but these are by far the two most important games of the Big 12 Tournament. The top three teams in the league are playing for seeding. Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor are playing for their lives. Let’s take a look at the resumes for each three bubble teams and explain what they’ll need to do in this tournament to feel OK on Selection Sunday:

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RTC Bubble Watch: Three Teams Needing Wins Tonight

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 6th, 2013

bubble

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top bracketologists among those who have produced brackets for more than three years, including two seasons with perfect bracket projections. He updates the field daily on his site, Bracketology Expert, and will be producing a weekly bracket update here at RTC on Fridays. RTC Bubble Watch will publish on Sunday nights and Thursday afternoons for the rest of the season.

Now that we are within two weeks of Selection Sunday, I will be posting a little more frequently to show how certain games can/will affect the NCAA Tournament field. As usual, Wednesday night is loaded with some gigantic games. Let’s look at three teams that need big wins tonight:

Hoiberg's Team Would Do Well to Win Tonight

Hoiberg’s Team Would Do Well to Win Tonight

  • Villanova (vs. Georgetown): If the Wildcats can get past the Hoyas, a team that seems destined for a top two seed, Villanova will be in pretty good shape. A win tonight would push them to 10-8 in the Big East and give them a nice W to pair with earlier wins over Louisville and Syracuse. Coming off two straight losses, Villanova cannot afford another setback.
  • Iowa State (vs. Oklahoma State): If Iowa State loses tonight, the Cyclones could miss the NCAA Tournament. If a call or two had gone differently in one of the losses to Kansas, I probably would not have Iowa State on this list. The Cyclones only have two wins against the RPI top 50 and their best two wins (Kansas State, Oklahoma) probably are not enough alone to get them into the field.  Like Villanova, Iowa State cannot afford a three-game losing streak at this point of the season.
  • Maryland (vs. North Carolina): Outside of wins against Duke and North Carolina State, Maryland’s profile is very weak. The Terrapins need this game at home against North Carolina to realistically stay in the hunt for a bid heading into the ACC Tournament. North Carolina is practically locked in right now, but a win over the Terps would sew that up. The Tar Heels won the first meeting in Chapel Hill by 10 points.

No. 1 Seeds in Conference Tournaments in Action Tonight:

  • Atlantic Sun: Mercer (vs. Lipscomb)
  • Patriot League: Bucknell (vs. Navy)
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Morning Five: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2012

  1. The AP on Monday released its All-America squad and there were no surprises with this year’s group. Indiana’s Cody Zeller received all but one vote (64) for the first team (queue the Gary Parrish outrage article), while mid-major stalwarts Doug McDermott (62), Isaiah Canaan (43) and CJ McCollum (16) joined fellow Big Ten stars DeShaun Thomas (26) and Trey Burke (16) on the squad. There are six players on this year’s team because McCollum and Burke tied for the last spot — not because the AP has, like many conferences, forgotten how to count. Keep this and all preseason All-America lists in the proper context, though — of the five players chosen to last year’s preseason team, only Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger ended up on both the preseason and postseason first team. Three others — Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, UNC’s Harrison Barnes, and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor — finished as Honorable Mention postseason winners, while Kentucky’s Terrence Jones didn’t even earn that distinction. The two season-long NPOY candidates from last year — Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson — were among the others receiving votes in last year’s preseason list. Caveat emptor.
  2. Tis the season for preseason rankings, selections, lists, and all sorts of fun but ultimately meaningless analysis. Still, until the first games tip off just over 10 days from now, this is all we’ve got. Basketball ProspectusDan Hanner has produced his preseason analysis of all 345 Division I teams, and as he notes, some of the results of his model may well surprise you. For example, the model loves UCLA and all of its incoming talent but isn’t nearly as high on Louisville and all of its returning talent. It seems to think that the Big 12 conference race is going to be one for the ages with eight teams at .500 or better, but it’s not buying into the hype that NC State is ready to overtake one of its rivals to win the ACC. If you’re a numbers geek who gets off on efficiency analytics, it will be interesting to do a cross-tabbed comparison between Hanner’s preseason rankings and the Ken Pomeroy preseason rankings which are due to release sometime later this week.
  3. For non-stat geeks, there’s always the controversial RPI, which despite its myriad shortcomings, remains the “organizational tool” of choice for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Building off of SI.com writer Luke Winn’s previous work examining several power conference schools gaming the RPI by playing (and beating) good mid-majors in the non-conference slate, TSN’s Ryan Fagan takes the next step and reviews a number of mid-major programs that have figured out the best way to prepare a team in terms of both the RPI and its corresponding mental toughness is to play those kinds of games, often on the road in places like Lawrence, Durham or Pittsburgh. He mentions that Davidson, Lehigh, Detroit, Belmont, UNC Asheville and Long Beach State (what else is new?) have all taken this tack with their non-conference scheduling this season. We’re certainly not complaining — these are some of the best games of the November and December months of the schedule.
  4. Iowa State’s transfer project keeps right on truckin’, with the weekend news that USC point guard Maurice Jones has matriculated there and will become eligible in the 2013-14 season. While Fred Hoiberg has picked up another talented piece for his backcourt — Jones did everything but serve fajitas to the fans in the Galen Center last year — there is a degree of oddness about his departure from the Trojan program. According to a September statement released by the school, Jones was declared academically ineligible at USC and would be forced to miss the season as a result. Jones disputes this characterization, stating unequivocally that he “just got suspended from the school for a year, but it wasn’t because of my grades. […] It was something that happened at the school. I can’t really say what it was, but it wasn’t my grades.” It would seem somewhat unusual for a school to suspend a player for a different reason while using academic issues as a cover story, so we’re not sure what exactly is going on with this one — what we do know is that Iowa State has picked up a talented waterbug of a player who should seamlessly move into a starting role to replace Korie Lucious (another transfer) next season.
  5. With Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky all populating the preseason top five lists, this is as good a time as any to make sure that you’re regularly reading the WDRB.com College Basketball Notebook from Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich. Based in Louisville, the duo is perfectly situated to report on many of the anecdotes, rumors and tidbits that come out of this basketball-crazed Fertile Crescent on a daily basis. In this week’s version, for example, Crawford and Bozich discuss the numerous suitors for Andrew Wiggins, Tom Crean’s threat to use his bench productively, Calipari’s naysaying about his latest batch of fabulous freshmen, and Pitino’s verbal merengue around his contract extension with the Cardinals. Trust us,  you’ll learn something new every time you stop by — make it part of you weekly reading.
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Big 12 M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on October 24th, 2012

  1. It seems the Houston Rockets and former Iowa State forward Royce White have figured out the rookie’s fear of flying. White, who has struggled with anxiety issues most of his life, missed parts of Houston’s training camp while trying to figure out the travel issue. White will be allowed to travel by bus to as many road games as he can this season. He’ll obviously have to fly in certain situations, like long trips up either coast or for back-to-back road games that occur throughout the season, but allowing him to drive when possible should keep him in a good frame of mind and protect the Rockets’ nearly $3 million investment. FoxSportsSouthwest‘s Tully Corcoran had a great column on the situation earlier this month. It’s in the Rockets’ best interest to accommodate White for the two years they have to pay him. After that, we’ll find out if all the extra effort is worth it to the team.
  2. The CBSSports.com basketball staff unveiled their top 50 big men on Tuesday, and not surprisingly, Indiana’s Cody Zeller topped the list. The Big 12 didn’t fare as well as on Monday’s point guard rankings, landing just four players on this list. Kansas center Jeff Withey came in at No. 8 and Matt Norlander predicted “another huge season from a big white guy in Lawrence.” Newcomer Aaric Murray of West Virginia was next in line at No. 18, followed by freshmen Isaiah Austin of Baylor (#21) and Cameron Ridley of Texas (#43). It’s hard to argue against Zeller at No. 1, seeing he’s the best player on the preseason No. 1 team in the country, but I would have put Creighton’s Doug McDermott (#2) in that spot. Semantics, I know. Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel (#3) received the Anthony Davis treatment and was overrated at No. 3 ahead of proven college players like Mike Moser, Tony Mitchell, and C.J. Leslie, but that’s what the UK hype machine does to otherwise reasonable people.
  3. Last season, Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger allowed fans into the Lloyd Noble Center to watch practices from the stands. Now there’s no excuse for the diehard Sooner basketball fan not to catch a glimpse of practice, as he has decided to live stream every preseason practice online for fans to watch. It looks to be the first time a Division I team has tried this, and while watching every minute of every practice would bore even the most loyal fan to tears, it’s cool that Kruger is looking into other avenues to excite his football school’s fan base. He doesn’t have anything to lose.
  4. Jeff Goodman has an in-depth list of the “secret scrimmages” that are happening all across the country in the next week. According to Andy Katz of ESPN, teams can play two exhibitions with non-Division I teams or scrimmage fellow Division I opponents. Looking at Goodman’s list, a lot of teams prefer to scrimmage a similar opponent rather than pay a Little Sisters of the Poor to come in and lose by 50 points in front of a few dozen fans. Somewhere in the NCAA wording of the rule, though, it states that scrimmages can’t be open to the public or media and they can’t be advertised. Whatever the case, this Saturday TCU is playing at Texas A&M, Texas is hosting Davidson, Texas Tech is playing at Texas Southern, and Xavier is playing at West Virginia. Sunday, Iowa State is hosting Nebraska. Allegedly.
  5. The odds are stacked against Texas Tech interim head coach Chris Walker, but he’s handling his situation — at least so far — as well as anyone. He was surprisingly upbeat at last week’s Big 12 Media Day and had some of the best quotes of the day. My personal favorite: “I tell the guys all the time that 85% of the people don’t care what’s going on, and the other 15% are glad you’re going through it.” The Red Raiders are looking up at every team in the Big 12 except TCU this season, and how Walker handles the struggles might determine if the interim tag is removed and he returns next season. Either way, Tech fans could have had done much worse than having Walker on board to guide this team this year.
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Morning Five: 06.19.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 19th, 2012

  1. Mike Brey has built Notre Dame into an annual fixture in the Top 25 during his tenure in South Bend, and the three-time Big East COY who has led the Irish to six straight 20-win seasons will be rewarded with long term job security as a result. Reports indicate that the school on Tuesday will announce a 10-year extension to Brey’s contract, ostensibly keeping him at the school well into his 60s (he’s currently 53). It’s a proactive move by Notre Dame brass who are looking to shore up a winning program that has arguably been more successful than its football counterpart over the same period, while also signaling to potential poachers that Brey is going to cost quite a bit of coin to attract him away from northern Indiana.
  2. It’s June 19, so what better time than to debate the relative merits for three top contenders for next year’s national title? The gents from CBSSports.com — Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, and Matt Norlander — each chose a team on Monday and made their case. Goodman chose Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals; Parrish chose John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats; and Norlander chose Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers. If you believe these guys, the Mesopatamia of college basketball in 2012-13 lies somewhere near Otisco, Indiana.
  3. In reading about the way friends, family and even recruiters treated high school star Khadeem Lattin‘s year spent in Spain at Canarias Basketball Academy, we weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity of it all. Despite going to a skills academy run by an American that has sent 41 Europeans to D-I schools over the years, the general consensus stateside was that Lattin was somehow hurting his career by taking the year to hone his skills in a European environment. He was removed from the ESPN rankings altogether per a policy regarding ranking only US players, and his rating was downgraded from four stars to three after a lackluster showing in the spring. And people wonder why the abominable AAU system of prep basketball in the US never improves — they hold all the cards, man.
  4. Sometimes we openly wonder whether the hardship waiver transfer rule has gotten completely out of hand, but in the case of Villanova’s Tony Chennault (a transfer from Wake Forest), we understand why the rule exists. The school announced on Monday that the NCAA had approved Chennault’s waiver request, making him eligible to take over a decimated VU backcourt effective in 2012-13. Chennault’s mother suffered some health issues recently, but more tragically than that, he lost his brother, Mike Jay, recently. Villanova is coming off its toughest season under Jay Wright’s stewardship, but with a solid interior crew surrounded by the talented Chennault and another promising player or two, maybe the Wildcats can find their typical game next season with a different cast of characters.
  5. Finally this morning, we’re about six weeks removed from the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics and players from around the world are preparing to compete in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament to earn a spot in London. The Dagger took a look at seven college (or recently graduated) players who will play in that tournament, with a few notable names such as Creighton’s Gregory Echinique (Venezuela), Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim (Nigeria), and Florida State’s Deivydas Dulkys (Lithuania) leading the way. Of course, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis is one of the finalists for the US men’s national team, but his odds of making the final roster remain a long shot at best.
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Grading the Big 12’s 2011-12 Season: Top Half

Posted by rtmsf on April 6th, 2012

Yesterday we gave you our season grades for the bottom half of the Big 12. Today we bring you the top half.

5. Kansas State (22-11, 10-8)

McGruder Led a Surprising K-State Team This Season

FINAL GRADE: B+

Despite all of the personnel question marks and the graduation of star Jacob Pullen, you had the sense Frank Martin would figure something out. He certainly did, as his team weathered a mid-season swoon to finish strong and reach another NCAA Tournament. Martin may have left for South Carolina after the season, but his final Kansas State team fought hard in 2011-12 despite a load of adversity. A December championship at the Diamond Head Classic helped the Wildcats enter the Top 25 before Big 12 play, but poor offensive execution and a lack of consistency on the defensive end doomed the Wildcats during the winter. They weren’t playing like Martin’s teams usually did. They weren’t tough, and it showed, starting 1-3 in Big 12 play and dropping four home games in Manhattan. Oklahoma swept them. Things were getting ugly, and they hit rock bottom after a home loss to Kansas on Big Monday on February 13. That’s when Martin turned this thing around and solidified an NCAA Tournament berth. The Wildcats got back to the basics: defense, rebounding and delivering a knockout punch to opponents. Rodney McGruder stepped up his play as the team’s star, helping it win four of five games to close the season, including road wins at Baylor and Missouri. The controversial suspension of Jamar Samuels left Kansas State without its best forward in an NCAA Third Round game against Syracuse, but it’s impressive that this team even reached that point. With McGruder presumably returning next year, first-year coach Bruce Weber will have a lot to work with. Angel Rodriguez should be even better as a sophomore, and Will Spradling and Jordan Henriquez should grow, too.

4. Iowa State (23-11, 12-6) 

FINAL GRADE: A

The Transfer Effect worked to Iowa State’s benefit this year. In December, we wrote a piece questioning Fred Hoiberg’s recruiting tactics, as he’d brought in four Division I transfers this season. It took a while for everybody to get acclimated, resulting in a couple of losses to Drake and Northern Iowa during an inconsistent non-conference stretch. But once league play began, this team took off. Royce White took the nation by storm with his wild hair and versatile play, showing an ability to run the Cyclones’ offense as a sort of point-forward. He emerged as one of the most fascinating and entertaining players to watch in college basketball, but the team around him helped add to the fun. These guys shot lights-out from beyond the arc, including senior Scott Christopherson, who finished with the highest three-point percentage in the Big 12 (45.5%) for players with more than four attempts per game. Hoiberg added a fresh energy to this program, leading ISU to a victory over Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament. His team even briefly competed against Kentucky before falling apart late in that matchup. There was no fairy-tale March run for The Mayor, but given time, his program may eventually reach those heights. The 2011-12 season marked a major turning point for the Cyclones.

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NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: Second Round — Thursday Evening

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2012

RTC Region correspondents Brian Otskey (East), Kevin Doyle (South), and Andrew Murawa (West) contributed to this preview.

#1 Kentucky vs. #16 Western Kentucky – South Region Second Round (at Louisville, KY) – 6:50 PM ET on TBS

The Pressure is Squarely on Calipari This Year

It is all gravy from here on out for Ray Harper and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Standing at 9-18 at one point this season, WKU turned things around in a big way as they won the Sun Belt conference tournament to earn the automatic bid to the Big Dance. Trailing Mississippi Valley State by 16 points with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, the Hilltoppers ended the game on a 22-5 run to win by one point. Make no mistake about it, Western Kentucky’s magical run will end against Kentucky, but what a run it was. WKU was at their best against Mississippi Valley when they were pressuring the ball and running in transition, but this will simply not work against the Wildcats. It is senseless to breakdown the match ups as Kentucky is staggeringly better at every position, but don’t be surprised if the ‘Toppers keep it close for a good chunk of the first half as they are playing with house money and in their home state.

The RTC Certified Pick: Kentucky

#5 Wichita State vs. #12 Virginia Commonwealth – South Region Second Round (at Portland, OR) – 7:15 PM ET on CBS

One of the most intriguing games in not just the South Region, but the entire second round as a whole, Wichita State and Virginia Commonwealth proved to be two of the top mid-majors throughout the season. Wichita did it with their high-powered and efficient offense, while VCU with their pressure and relentless defense. The victor in this one will most likely be the team that excels in what they do best better than the opposition. If Joe Ragland is hitting shots from the perimeter and Garrett Stutz is his usual force down on the blocks, the Shockers will be in a good position to advance. However, much of the success Wichita has will hinge on whether they can protect the basketball and not let VCU get out in transition as the Rams force more turnovers better than any team in the country. A half court game certainly favors Wichita State, but Bradford Burgess and Darius Theus will look to push the ball every chance they have. In the end, Stutz on the inside and the slew of exceptional shooters Wichita State will throw at VCU proves to be too much for the Rams to overcome.

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ATB: Iowa State’s RTC, Syracuse’s Goaltend That Wasn’t and Robbie Hummel’s Game Winner…

Posted by rtmsf on January 30th, 2012

This Weekend’s Lede. In the season’s first non-football weekend (if you were watching the Pro Bowl, sorry, we can’t help you), we were left with a bunch of ho-hum games this weekend, but that doesn’t mean that they were unimportant. As of right now, there are approximately 60-70 teams that have a realistic shot at putting a run together the rest of the season to earn one of those elusive 37 at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament. Right now, it’s easier to find teams that don’t deserve an at-large than those that do, but that will probably change as teams separate themselves over the next six weeks. For the time being, here’s what we experienced this weekend…

Your Watercooler Moment. Iowa State RTCs Kansas.

In one of the more predictable situations of a hot team playing great basketball facing a hungry, up-and-coming team needing a statement win in its own building, Iowa State took it to Kansas in the last few minutes of their Saturday matchup, resulting in a major RTC and one of the biggest wins in recent Cyclones basketball history. The Mayor suffered an avalanche of criticism for his lack of coaching experience upon his hire two offseasons ago, but sporting a 5-3 Big 12 record and looking every bit the part of an at-large NCAA team for the first time since 2005, it now appears that it is he who will have the last laugh. The other takeaway from this game is that NPOY candidate Thomas Robinson may have met his Kryptonite, at least at the college level, in the form of ISU’s Royce White. The beastly Cyclone big man outplayed Robinson in both of their matchups this season (18/9/5 assts vs. 13/7 yesterday; 18/17/4 assts vs. 11/14/3 blks two weeks ago), and that’s not an easy task to perform. For our money we’d love to see a Round Three in March in Kansas City at the Big 12 Tournament.

Five More Weekend Storylines.

  • The Goaltend That Wasn’t. With Syracuse up two in the closing seconds of a hard-fought game with West Virginia on Saturday, the Mountaineers’ Truck Bryant fired up this wayward shot from the outside:

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