Big 12 Weekend Primer

Posted by dnspewak on January 13th, 2012

It’s not the best Saturday of all-time in Big 12 hoops. In fact, with only one ranked team in the conference (Kansas State) playing on the road, playoff football may be the better option if you’re looking for dramatic storylines and unpredictable results. If that’s not your thing, though, here’s a look at the admittedly boring match-ups in in the league this weekend.

  • Texas at #9 Missouri, Saturday, 12 p.m. CT (ESPN2)

Myck Kabongo Will Need To Stay Poised in Columbia

A loss in Austin last year snapped Missouri’s three-game winning streak against the Longhorns, but the Tigers shouldn’t have much trouble on Saturday in the teams’ final game in Columbia for the foreseeable future. Missouri may have shut up the critics by winning at Iowa State on Wednesday, but nobody has ever questioned whether this team can win at home. Since 2008-09, the Tigers have lost just three games at Mizzou Arena and normally blow young teams like Texas out of the water on Norm Stewart Court. The Longhorns, who already lost in Ames this year, are also not a very good match-up for Missouri. They don’t have the size to bully the Tigers down low, and their young guards could really struggle with Missouri’s quickness. Look for a rebound game from Marcus Denmon, who shoots lights out at home. Missouri missed his normal production at Iowa State, but it can’t afford many more off-nights from its star.

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Big 12 Weekly Primer: Jan 9 – 11

Posted by dnspewak on January 9th, 2012

Kansas State has a rare opportunity this week to ruin two teams’ undefeated seasons in consecutive games. Just three days after handing Missouri its first loss at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats will host 15-0 Baylor on Tuesday night in a battle of two of the Big 12’s top frontcourts. There are a few other games to keep an eye on this week, too: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will meet tonight in a Bedlam game, though the series is hardly enticing right now with both programs struggling. And on Wednesday, MU will need to recover quickly from Saturday’s smackdown with Iowa State looming in Ames.


  • Baylor at Kansas State, Tuesday, 7 p.m. CT (Big 12 Network)

Facing an undersized Missouri team this weekend, Kansas State frustrated Ricardo Ratliffe and punished the Tigers with a physical frontline. Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez combined for seven blocked shots and Rodney McGruder attacked the basket at will as Frank Martin‘s team exposed MU’s main weakness in the paint. Unfortunately for KSU, it won’t be able to bully Baylor like that on Tuesday night. The Bears, who have been rebounding better lately, can throw any number of forwards at the Wildcats’ post defenders, including Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Perry Jones and starters Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller. They can’t play effectively unless their guards get them the basketball, though, so  it’s important for Pierre Jackson in particular to play well in a road environment. He has turned the ball over at a fairly alarming rate this year, but he has provided the missing piece for Baylor’s offense this year as a facilitator off the bench. Still, Kansas State’s half-court intensity on the defensive end may give the guards some problems, and this game could turn ugly if they can’t hold on to the basketball. In fact, for all of the talk about the forwards in this game, the guards will make the difference. Brady Heslip can provide BU with another element if his outside shots are falling, and starter A.J. Walton and reserve Gary Franklin cannot be outplayed by Will Spradling, Angel Rodriguez and the rest of KSU’s deep and balanced backcourt. When BU has looked shaky offensively this season (for example, in a two-point win over Mississippi State), turnovers and a lack of ball movement has held it back. Baylor may have been able to edge MSU on a neutral court during a cold shooting night, but it won’t be able to recover from an off game in Manhattan.

Rodney McGruder Is a Difficult Matchup For Baylor

The key individual matchup is… Perry Jones vs. Jordan Henriquez. Filling in for the struggling Thomas Gipson, Henriquez earned the start against Missouri on Saturday and did not disappoint. The seven-footer blocked four shots and played one of his most complete games of the season with 10 points and eight rebounds. Now a junior, Henriquez no longer plays like a project anymore. He has the size and defensive ability to frustrate Jones, who has struggled against elite big men like Arnett Moultrie (MSU) and Kevin Jones (West Virginia) this season.

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Set Your TiVo: 01.04.12

Posted by EJacoby on January 4th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist and contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Huge games in the Big East and Big 12 highlight tonight’s action, along with Duke’s final non-conference test. Here’s your schedule for tonight:

#8 Duke at Temple – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (***)

Will Dunphy Have His Owls Ready To Upset K's Devils? (Getty)

  • The Blue Devils have shockingly stayed out of the spotlight for the past few weeks, quietly handling their business in the non-conference. Perhaps the shellacking that Mike Krzyzewski’s team took in Ohio State in November was the wake-up call that this team needed, as Duke has won five straight in impressive fashion since that game. Coach K’s team is ranked 4th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive rankings, boasting the nation’s third-best true shooting percentage (60.6%) and eighth-best points per possession statistic (1.16 PPP), amongst many other impressive offensive numbers. As Austin Rivers continues to improve his decision-making and efficiency offensively, Duke gets harder to defend. The freshman is now up to a team-leading 15.4 points per game while shooting 46% from the field and 41% from three. If Rivers can penetrate the Owls’ defense to create good looks for the other Duke guards and himself, Duke will be in good shape.
  • Temple is an elite perimeter defensive team, where the Owls hold opponents to shoot 25.6% from three-point range, the fourth-best percentage in the country. Against a Duke team that loves to shoot the three, guarding the perimeter will again be priority number one in this game. In addition, Temple is strong with the ball and their 1.28 assist-to-turnover ratio is a top-30 national number, far better than Duke’s 1.02 ratio. By limiting their opponent’s long-range makes and winning the turnover battle, Temple will seek to gain an advantage at home. Their trio of guards Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez, and Khalif Wyatt, all at 13.3 PPG or better, will look to neutralize Duke’s own trio in the scoring department. However, their best big man Michael Eric remains out with a knee injury, which could spell trouble against Duke’s 6’10” Plumlee brothers.
  • Duke is a seven-point favorite in this game and will be well-prepared in their final non-conference game. But the Blue Devils haven’t played a road game since their blowout loss at OSU, and Temple has the guards to match Duke. With Eric missing down low, Temple is without a key defensive cog, but they’ve been playing without him for over a month. Expect a hard fought game in Philly.

#17 Marquette at #9 Georgetown- 7:00 PM EST on ESPNU (****)

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Set Your TiVo: 12.16.11 to 12.18.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 16th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

With Dead Week mercifully over, we finally have some good games to enjoy this Saturday despite Sunday being a very slow day in the hoops world.

#6 Baylor @ BYU – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on BYU TV (****)

Perry Jones Leads Baylor into Provo Saturday (AP)

  • The Bears have had difficulty on the road in past seasons but they already passed one important test, demolishing Northwestern in Chicago a couple weeks ago. This game, however, will be an even better measure to see where the highly-rated Bears are really at. The Marriott Center is a notoriously difficult place to play but Baylor has a clear talent edge in this game. BU welcomes Gary Franklin, now eligible after the first semester, to an already highly skilled roster. Franklin didn’t play all that well at California last season but he was a four star recruit out of high school. He should help the Bears out at the point guard position, a place where turnovers are still an issue. Baylor averages 16 turnovers a game and that will be dangerous playing on the road against a team like BYU that likes to push the pace. 5.8 of those 16 turnovers come from the point guard position so Scott Drew is hoping that Franklin can help handle the ball. How Franklin will fit in alongside Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton remains a question mark.
  • BYU’s top six scorers are all 6’5” or taller, an important factor against the length and athleticism of Baylor’s front line. Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies and Charles Abouo do the bulk of the damage for Dave Rose, as those three are his top scorers and rebounders. Hartsock in particular has been outstanding, scoring in double figures in every game thus far. All three will have to play well in order for BYU to pull the upset because Baylor’s front court is strong, deep and talented. With Quincy Acy blocking 3.3 shots a game, BYU’s big men should find it more difficult to score inside on Saturday. The Cougars have to get their outside game going as well. Baylor’s defense is very average against the three and BYU has three big deep threats, Abouo, Stephen Rogers and Brock Zylstra. Going up against the top-ranked interior defense in the nation, BYU needs its outside shots to fall in order to win. However, the Cougars can’t afford to settle for threes if they aren’t falling. They must get something going in the paint, even against such a strong defense, in order to balance out their offense.
  • This is an important game for both clubs. Baylor has played only two teams of note so far while BYU’s best win is over a mediocre Oregon team. Baylor shoots well (49.1% FG) but the biggest difference this season has been its defense. The Bears allow only 33.3% shooting inside the arc and their defensive efficiency has been terrific. Both teams get most of their offense from their respective front courts but Baylor may have the ultimate edge with Cory Jefferson off the bench. He adds some scoring punch and, more importantly, rebounding and depth for the Bears. For the Cougars to win, they’ll have to force turnovers to get points in transition because it’ll be awfully tough to score inside in the half court. In addition to making its threes, BYU must rebound well and get to the line while putting the Baylor big men in foul trouble. However, BYU ranks #295 in free throw rate and Baylor doesn’t foul too often. Although BYU rarely loses at home, this is a game Baylor can win. There are some who still doubt the Bears but a win here would put them on their way towards legitimate national recognition.

Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida (at Sunrise, FL) – 2:30 PM EST Saturday on FSN (***)

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ATB: Weekend Edition — A. Davis, Boeheim, Tu, Big East/SEC & Dunkdafied…

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2011

This Weekend’s Lede. Every Week a Playoff… Until It Isn’t. No matter your opinion on whether Oklahoma State or Alabama should have the right to play LSU for the BCS national championship next month, can we at least come to an agreement that college football’s tired meme of “every week a playoff” has once again been blown out of the water as farcical? Look, we all know that the NCAA Tournament system is far from perfect in terms of anointing the best team as the champion, but like every other major American sport, at least every team that has a reasonable claim to the crown gets a chance to prove its worth on the hardwood. The old saying goes, “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” but as this comical CFB playoff scenario shows, at least one deserving school will get no such chance to do that. On to basketball…

Your Watercooler Moment. Anthony Davis’ Game-Saving Block.

Kentucky vs. North Carolina. North Carolina vs. Kentucky. What else could it be? Saturday afternoon’s tilt in Lexington was one of those rare fulfilling games where the action on the floor not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded it. And the hype for this game was extraordinary, especially considering that it took place on the first Saturday in December rather than sometime deep in March. Our post-game takes on what we’d seen in the one-point Kentucky win are located here, but the long and short of it is this: Carolina should feel as if they were only a play away from winning a difficult road game that didn’t cater to its strengths (61% on threes, but only 33% on twos), while Kentucky should feel that its extremely young but talented team stood toe-to-toe with the other most talented team in America and didn’t blink. Both UNC and UK should be playing in New Orleans next Spring, and if we’re lucky they’ll tip off for the fourth time in just over 16 months with nothing less than the national championship on the line.

Five More Weekend Storylines.

  1. Big East Dominates SEC in Challenge. Coming into Friday, the SEC was tied with the Big East at 2-2 in this year’s Challenge. The Big East then won the next six games before dropping the final two Saturday evening to finish at 8-4. The most impressive wins over the weekend were Pittsburgh and Cincinnati’s road wins at Tennessee and Georgia, respectively(the Big East had four roadies), and as we noted in our commentary on Saturday, the Big East appears to be an eight- or nine-team NCAA Tournament conference, whereas the SEC seems to deserve roughly half that. Nothing too surprising here, just further confirmation that the Big East, along with the Big Ten, are the top two conferences in college basketball this season. Read the rest of this entry »
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Learning Curve Begins for Kansas State

Posted by dnspewak on December 1st, 2011

After losing star guard Jacob Pullen to graduation, Kansas State was one of the more difficult teams to peg during this preseason. Frank Martin has recovered just fine from past departures from Michael Beasley, Bill Walker, and Dennis Clemente, but there’s no question this 2011-12 team is vastly different than the squad that earned a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

And through three games, Kansas State still hasn’t answered any questions: it overcame sluggish first halves defeat Charleston Southern, Loyola Chicago, and Maryland Eastern Shore. None of the Wildcats’ wins were particularly troublesome, but they weren’t exactly convincing either. They trailed by 14 at halftime to Charleston Southern and led by single digits at the break in its two following wins. What do we make of these Kansas State Wildcats?

Frank Martin Is About to Learn A Lot About His Team

We’ll find out starting tonight, when they host a decent George Washington program at 7 PM. This isn’t the same Colonials team that once ran the table in the A-10 during the middle of the decade, but first-year head coach Mike Lonergan has his team off to an impressive 4-1 start. With a veteran squad returning from a 4th-place team in 2010-11, GW has already knocked off Detroit and Austin Peay, both considered favorites to win their respective conferences.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.22.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 22nd, 2011

  1. After the stunning plane crash at Oklahoma State last week, the school gathered on Monday to honor the four people killed in the accident, including women’s basketball coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna. To give you an idea of how the event impacted the campus, OSU actually decided to cancel classes during the memorial to encourage students to attend. Given what the school had deal with a decade ago when a similar plane crash affected the men’s basketball program, last week’s tragedy hit especially close to home for many members of the OSU community. Our condolences to the victims’ families and the entire OSU program.
  2. In lighter Oklahoma State news, legendary coach Eddie Sutton has made his way into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, and he was in attendance Monday night at the Missouri/Notre Dame game. Sutton has his share of black marks on his resume, including the Chris Mills scandal at Kentucky and a bout with alcoholism. However, he still finished with more than 800 wins, and he built nearly every program he coached at into a national power. You take the bad with the good and Sutton deserves every honor he gets.
  3. Perry Jones can’t play yet for Baylor due to an NCAA suspension, but he is getting closer to his return. And despite his absence on the court, he apparently has been nothing but supportive from the bench. Baylor has been just fine without him during a 3-0 start, and the Bears likely won’t need him until their game at Northwestern on December 4. When Jones returns to the lineup, it will be interesting to see how he meshes with freshman Quincy Miller and the rest of the frontcourt crew.
  4. Out in Manhattan, Kansas State will also welcome the return of a forward as Jamar Samuels will suit up tomorrow night against Maryland-Eastern Shore after serving a three-game suspension. With Samuels in the fold, Wildcat fans will not need to rely so much on younger, inexperienced players as they have been so far this November. The Wildcats have not faced any stiff tests yet, but games with Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Alabama are looming next month Samuels will provide the team with a major boost.
  5. Iowa State newcomer Tyrus McGee is known as a shooter, and he has been living up to that reputation so far. In fact, he is shooting a blistering 90% (9 of 10) from beyond the arc this season. But according to his teammates, he may be more important on the defensive end. A lot of talking heads (like us) mention the likes of Chris Babb, Chris Allen, Royce White, and Anthony Booker when we talk about newcomers for the Cyclones, but McGee is also a key contributor for Fred Hoiberg. He is the kind of role player that could make a big difference this winter.
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Who’s Got Next? Poythress Picks, Carter Commits and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 17th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at

Lead Story: Poythress Picks Kentucky, UK Still Able To Nab Number One Recruiting Class

Poythress Gave UK Fans Hope To Have the Best Recruiting Class In the Country... Again (Daryl Paunil/NRS)

Big Blue Nation Has Reason To Rejoice. Don’t lie Kentucky fans, you were worried about not getting the number one recruiting class for the fourth straight year. You tweeted about it, you posted on message boards about it, you wrote on Facebook about it. But when Class of 2012 small forward Alex Poythress decided to join Big Blue Nation last Thursday, head coach John Calipari kept his 2012 class in the running to be rated as the top collection of talent in the country. The 6’7″, 220-pound wing joins shooting guard Archie Goodwin and center Willie Cauley as Coach Cal’s commitments so far with top senior targets small forward Shabazz Muhammad and power forwards Anthony Bennett and Jarnell Stokes still out there. Poythress had a terrific summer and showed the ability to consistently get to the bucket, finish in traffic and an improved perimeter shot. At times, he’s simply unstoppable when he attacks the rim and he’s able to impact the game in a number of ways whether it’s defense, rebounding or running the floor. He fits in well with Calipari’s system and will thrive with Goodwin and Cauley running the floor with him. At this point, the Wildcats have the second-best recruiting class in the country only behind Arizona’s ridiculous haul of talent but with another commitment or two they could reign supreme for the fourth straight year.

What They’re Saying:

  • Senior standout Robert Upshaw‘s mother, Ceylon Sherman, on her son choosing Kansas State: “It was a close run, he had a lot of great schools, but when it came down to it, him and all of us family just all had Kansas State. For Robert, it was about how much he liked the guys out there. He had chemistry with them.”

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Big 12 Team Previews: Kansas State Wildcats

Posted by cwilliams on November 8th, 2011

Projected finish:6th

2010-2011 record: 23-11, 10-6 (3rd, Big 12)

Head coach: Frank Martin, 5th season

Key losses: Jacob Pullen (20.2 PPG), Curtis Kelly (10.5 PPG)

The 2010-11 campaign started off with extremely high expectations for the Kansas State Wildcats. Many pundits chose them to win the Big 12, and I personally had them going to the Final Four. Unfortunately, K-State began the season with more of a thud than a bang. They recovered somewhat and turned their season into a decent one, but ultimately fell in the Second Round of the NCAA tournament. This year the Wildcats will see what life is like without the spotlight, as they are not high on anybody’s list for anything. Gone is superstar Jacob Pullen and reliable inside force Curtis Kelly. But if the right players step into their proper roles, I wouldn’t write the fiery Frank Martin’s squad off just yet.

Rodney McGruder Moves Into a Starring Role at K-State This Season

The Stars: Last season, Rodney McGruder was a third team all-Big 12 choice after averaging 11.1 PPG. All eyes will be on McGruder during his junior season, as he is expected to led this Wildcats team into the fray. Luckily for him, he will have the help of Jamar Samuels back for his senior season. Samuels has been deemed one of the more frustrating basketball players to watch by Wildcat fans. He has had games where he looks like he’s NBA-bound, and he’s had games where he looks just confused. He gets one more shot to live up to his potential this season, and I think he’ll take full advantage of that opportunity.

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RTC Summer Updates: Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 10th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Big 12 correspondent, Evan Pfaff.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • Round Robin Scheduling – For the first time since the Big 12 was formed, the conference will implement full round-robin scheduling, meaning each school will play a home-and-home with each of the other nine schools in the conference.  In the past, schools played the teams in their division in a home-and-home, but only played schools in the other division once per season, switching home courts every year.  That meant the epic battles between the Texas Longhorns and Kansas Jayhawks happened only once per regular season, and whichever school hosted the game had a monumental advantage over the other.  With a full round-robin format, not only will each school play two additional conference games, but seeding will be based more on outcomes on the floor than the scheduling fates.
  • Reloading Talent – The Big 12 is used to replacing an enormous amount of talent. In 2010, ten Big 12 players were taken in the NBA Draft.  Two months ago, the Big 12 cupboards were once again raided, as seven players heard their names called. The conference should again be stacked and we might hear as many as ten names called on draft day 2012. From incoming freshmen like Baylor’s Quincy Miller, Texas’ Myck Kabongo and Oklahoma State’s LeBryan Nash, to returning stars like Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Baylor’s Perry Jones III and Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton, the Big 12 should again be a breeding ground for NBA rosters.
  • New Coaches… EVERYWHERE.  Change is inevitable in college athletics, but stability at the top usually translates into success on the floor. So it is eye opening that from Mike Anderson and Mark Turgeon leaving to Pat Knight and Jeff Capel being shown the door, the Big 12 had a 40% coaching turnover this summer. Now with Frank Haith, Billy Kennedy, Billy Gillispie and Lon Kruger roaming Big 12 sidelines, the conference has some questions to answer. Can Missouri conform to a set offense? Can A&M meet high preseason expectations under new management? Do Billy Clyde Gillispie and Lon Kruger have another run left in them?

Kansas head coach Bill Self has a tall task in front of him after losing most of the punch from last season's potent lineup.

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