30 Days of Madness: Six OTs

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so for the next two days, we’ll be re-visiting some of the timeless moments from Championship Week.  Enjoy.

Championship Week

Dateline: 2009 Big East Tournament – Syracuse vs. Connecticut

Context: Once in a very long while, a game comes along that unites a generation of fans, and this 2009 Big East quarterfinal matchup was such a game even though it was only a quarterfinal in a conference tournament.  Where were you when…  will start the discussion, and any fan of the sport will be able to seamlessly jump right into the conversation no matter his age or location.  Everyone will be able to faithfully answer that question in five, ten, twenty, or fifty years.  “I was at my brother’s house sitting on his sofa when Devo hit the three,” will say one; “Not me, I was actually on the road that night, but I kept having my wife give me updates over the phone,” will say another.  This game was such compelling theater that Madison Avenue has already made a commercial referencing it (starring Jay Bilas) and the Big East Conference has an entire website devoted to it at SixOvertimes.com.  And yet, unlike most games of such posthumous magnitude, this one doesn’t have a signature moment…  er, not one that counted, at least.  At the end of regulation, after a Kemba Walker putback layup for UConn to tie the game 71-all with 1.1 seconds remaining, Syracuse inbounded the ball the length of the court; it was partially deflected and then caught by Eric Devendorf, who turned and drilled what appeared to be the game-winner from 28 feet.  Multiple replays showed the ball still barely touching his fingertips as the red light came on, so the basket was negated and the two teams continued to play.  And play they did.  Even though there was no true signature moment that defined the six overtimes, there were plenty of great smaller moments: Rick Jackson’s dunk in OT to send the game into another period; Walker’s halfcourt near-miss at the end of the second OT; Paul Harris’ Charles Smith moment under the rim in the fourth; Jeff Adrien on the floor after missing the game-winner in the fifth extra period; the fact that Syracuse never so much as held a lead from the end of regulation until the sixth overtime.  In fact, a reasonable argument could be made that the story of this game might be the incredible number of missed shots that both teams had to win it throughout the first five overtimes, but our takeaway here was sheer volume – the number of points (244), the minutes of live action (70), the length of the game (3 hours, 46 minutes), even the number of fouls (66) and disqualifications (eight, including six starters).  In fitting with the Big East and NYC attitude, everything about this game was more, and by the end of the night when an exhausted couple of teams shook hands completely spent in the wee hours of the morning (1:22 am), everyone in the building knew that they had witnessed a classic that will not soon be forgotten in the annals of this league. 

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RTC Interview: Seth Davis On College Basketball, His New Show, & Fannovation

Posted by nvr1983 on January 29th, 2010

Last week, RTC spoke with Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS to talk about a variety of topics on college basketball and a new promotion for Coke Zero. This is not the first time we have spoken with Seth as we interviewed him last March for the launch of his book “When March Went Mad” about the 1979 championship game between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Before the interview officially began, Seth expressed his displeasure about not getting linked every day in the Morning Five. We would give you the transcript of that discussion, but Chinese government regulations prohibit us from doing so.

Ed. Note: This interview took place last week, but due to some transcribing issues we are just putting it up now.

Seth Davis: Man of Intrigue

RTC: I guess we will start with your alma mater. Duke is looking strong again this year, but is different than they usually look as they are not relying on the outside shooting as much as a complete game. A lot of people have been talking up Duke. Do you think this is the year they can make it back to the Final Four?

SD: I do. I think they are legit. It’s kind of funny. Here they are ranked 5th or 6th in the country, putting together a great record, and there is not a lot of buzz about Duke right now. It’s funny to say that because they are so ubiquitous on television, but I think that we have all seen them get off to these great starts the past few years before they fall in the tournament. This team does things that those teams did not primarily defend and rebound. Those things are very important assets to carry into the tournament because at some point you are going to have an “off” shooting night and I think back for example to when they lost in the 2nd round to West Virginia. I think West Virginia was like +16 on the boards. At some point the shots aren’t going to fall. This team has the ability to overcome that so I don’t know from strictly a talent standpoint if I would put them on the Texas, Kentucky, and Kansas level, but do I think of them on a short list of contenders to get to the Final Four? Absolutely. I think by the way they will have a great chance of getting a #1 seed if they win the ACC regular season and then win the [ACC] tournament. I would be surprised if they aren’t a #1 seed.


RTC: Sticking with a US News & World Report College Rankings theme. Another team that has really made a lot of news this year is Cornell with a lot of close losses to very good teams, but that doesn’t impact their RPI and NCAA seeding as much as some people would think. How good is this team? How high do you think they could be seeded and how far could they go in the NCAA tournament?
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2009-10 Conference Primers: #3 – Big East

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2009

seasonpreview

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Predicted order of finish:

  1. Villanova
  2. West Virginia
  3. UConn
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Louisville
  6. Georgetown
  7. Syracuse
  8. Seton Hall
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Marquette
  12. South Florida
  13. Rutgers
  14. Providence
  15. St. John’s
  16. DePaul

Preseason Awards.

  • Player of the Year. Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
  • Newcomer of the Year. Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
  • Breakout Player of the Year. Kemba Walker, UConn

big east logo

All-Conference First Team.

  • Kemba Walker, UConn
  • Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
  • Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
  • Greg Monroe, Georgetown
  • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame

All-Conference Second Team.

  • Jerome Dyson, UConn
  • Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
  • Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia
  • Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
  • Lazar Hayward, Marquette

All-Conference Third Team.

  • Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
  • Corey Fisher, Villanova
  • Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
  • Stanley Robinson, UConn
  • Samardo Samuels, Louisville

All-Rookie Team.

  • Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
  • Peyton Siva, Louisville
  • Maalik Wayns, Villanova
  • Dante Taylor, Pitt
  • Mouphtaou Yarou, Villanova

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: Final 4 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 4th, 2009

dynamiteWe’re back for the second to last BGtD of the season and while we’re a bit saddened by that we are looking forward to a pair of great games today. If you’ve been checking our site the past week, you’ve probably seen some of the stuff we have been doing. We have had the best bloggers for the various teams (UConn, UNC, Michigan State, and Villanova) write previews explaining how/why their team will win, our statistical analysis for both the UConn-Michigan State game and the UNC-Villanova game, and our ongoing 64-team era modern NCAA tournament, which is in the Final 4 too with results coming over the next 2 days.

I’m assuming that most of you know the schedule of games today, but here it is for the rest of you.

  • #1 UConn vs. #2 Michigan State at 6:07 PM
  • #1 UNC vs. #3 Villanova at 8:47 PM

We’ll be back around 6 PM for the start of the first game. As always, leave your questions/comments and we’ll be responding to them throughout the day.

5:14 PM: Yikes. That shirt that Blake Griffin is wearing. At least we know that if an agent is giving him any money, it isn’t going towards buying tasteful clothing.

6:00 PM: It’s finally here. In a little under 10 minutes, we should have the starting lineups. I’m going with the chalk here like I said on the Dan Levy show. Hopefully we get a pair of entertaining games.

6:10 PM: Big question for today: Will Clark Kellogg make us miss Billy Packer?

6:15 PM: Phenomenal start for the Spartans. I think UConn is too tough to let this bother them.

6:25 PM: Decent level of play so far. Neither team looks that tentative so hopefully that means we will have a good game. One thing to note is that typically we have a story about how playing in a dome affects some great shooter. I haven’t read anything like that this year partly because Wayne Ellington is probably the only star who is an exceptional shooter, but he doesn’t fall into J.J. Redick or Trajan Langdon territory.

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Why UConn Will Win…

Posted by rtmsf on April 4th, 2009

As part of our ongoing attempt to bring you the best college basketball coverage anywhere, we enlisted the editors from the finest blogs we could find to write posts explaining why their team will win today.

This submission is from our friends at UConn Blog.

They won’t. Seriously. I’m one of those stick-in-the-mud fans who can’t acknowledge how good their own personal rooting interest is. Everything tells me that UConn is pretty good, and obviously you don’t get to the Final Four without having some talent.  But I can’t explain why the Huskies, who looked so sloppy at the end of the regular season and into the Big East tournament, have, played four dominant games to make it to Detroit. I do know that they must be way overdue for a Big East tournament-esque poor performance.

Nor can I explain why no one has gotten Hasheem Thabeet in foul trouble yet this tournament; nor how Stanley Robinson morphed from an introverted, inconsistent caterpillar into a 14-point, 7-rebound-averaging butterfly in UConn’s starting lineup.  I don’t understand these specific parts, probably because I’ve watched just about every game these guys have played for three (in Jeff Adrien’s case, four) years and I could tell you their every flaw. And if I, a simple layman, could see these things, you’re telling me Tom Izzo can’t?

781090214013_uconn_v_seton_hall

As for actually-helpful analysis: UConn plays defense (0.883 defensive points-per-possession) and they rebound. If the Huskies limit other teams’ chances on offense and funnel everything inside to Thabeet, it means the gameplan is working. And I like UConn’s chances against anyone if the gameplan is working.  But that gameplan assumes that Thabeet is on the floor. So far, he’s been able to stay out of foul trouble, but, as UConn fans learned with Emeka Okafor in 2004, all it takes is one bad call to lay the best plan to waste.  Plus, if Thabeet gets the call Saturday to guard Goran Suton, he’ll be playing away from the basket quite a bit, neutralizing (part of) his shot-blocking abilities.  Offensively, A.J. Price must handle much of the load this weekend. When he’s on, Price is one of the best players in America. If he hits his first long jumper, the opposition is generally in for a tough night. Price’s importance might be mitigated a bit by freshman Kemba Walker, who was the best player on the court in the regional final victory over Missouri.

In most realistic scenarios ending with Connecticut cutting down the nets, Price averaging something like 17 and 5 assists is a given. Thabeet getting a near-double-double with a bunch of blocks is a given. Beyond that, a couple other players will have to step up. In order of importance: Jeff Adrien must own the boards and make his beloved elbow jumper; Stanley Robinson has to get to the rim early and often (he is always capable of doing it, but he loses focus at times); Walker must use his quickness to create havoc in the opponent’s interior defense; Craig Austrie must knock down a couple 3s; Gavin Edwards must play like a “statistical Jeff Adrien clone,” as he was dubbed by Basketball Prospectus’ John Gasaway the other day.  The Huskies don’t need every one of those things to happen to win. But in a lineup that goes seven-deep, probably three out of those five are vital.

Still, in a four-team event where three teams will go home unhappy, there are plenty of reasons to believe that UConn won’t win the title: Seventy thousand fans will be rooting against UConn on Saturday; the Huskies don’t have the depth of Michigan State; Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansborough are really bad matchups; Scottie Reynolds and Villanova could reasonably have beaten UConn in Hartford a month ago .

There’s that nagging pessimism, again. But UConn has the talent to beat any of these teams. The Huskies have been dominant for most of the tournament thus far, and should be prepared for anything they’ll see this weekend. And, remember, Jim Calhoun is 4-0 in the Final Four all-time.

So maybe it’s a bit melodramatic to say UConn won’t win the national title. Obviously, they could. I may not be as confident as, say, North Carolina fans, but the Huskies should at least make it to Monday night if they play up to their abilities. After that, it’s all a crapshoot anyway.

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NCAA Preview: Connecticut Huskies

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

UConn (# 1, West, Philadelphia pod)
Vs. Chattanooga (#16)
Thurs., 3/19 at 3 PM
Vegas Line: UConn, -20.5

uconn-vegas

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Storrs, CT
Conference: Big East, at-large
Coach: Jim Calhoun, 553-204 at UConn; 801-341 overall
08-09 Record: 27-4, 15-3
Last 12 Games: 9-3
Best Win: 68-51, at Louisville, Feb. 2
Worst Loss: 74-63, vs. Georgetown, Dec. 29
Off. Efficiency Rating: 114; 20th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 85.6; 3rd

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): PG A.J. Price, 14 ppg, 4.7 apg, 40.8% 3-point shooting; C Hasheem Thabeet 13.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 4.6 bpg; PF Jeff Adrien 13.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg
Unsung Hero: PG Kemba Walker (8.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg off the bench)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Hasheem Thabeet, projected No. 2 pick; A.J. Price, No. 32, Jeff Adrien, No. 39
Key Injuries: SG Jerome Dyson, torn meniscus, out for season
Depth: 25.9% (287th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Depth. UConn is essentially a six-man team without Dyson, getting only cameos of late from PF Gavin Edwards and SG Scottie Haralson. And Calhoun has said recently that Price simply cannot be a 35-minute player because of his ACL injury last year. Four players (Dyson, JUCO transfer C Charles Okwandu and would-be freshmen SF Ater Majok and SG Nate Miles) who would have contributed in the tournament are (in order) injured, academically ineligible, ineligible due to transcript issues and playing in junior college for violating a restraining order.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Price carries the offense on his back and streaky SF Stanley Robinson finds a way to play like a superstar in one or two games.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Thabeet gets in foul trouble and the guards can’t buy a bucket.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2008, lost to San Diego in the first round, 70-69 in OT
Streak: 2nd year
Best NCAA Finish: 1999, 2004 national champions
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.47. On average, the Huskies win 0.47 more games than would be expected based on their seed compared to historical averages.

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: UConn fans want payback against the Motor City for the Huskies’ 2001 NIT second round loss to Detroit Mercy in Storrs. That was the last time UConn took part in the second-tier tournament. I’m sure UConn fans were torn up about it and have thirsted for revenge ever since, although I was 13 and living in another state and a St. John’s fan at the time.
Distance to First Round Site: 239 miles, which is about five hours if you’re on the NJ Turnpike
School’s Claim to Fame: UConn became the first Division I school to win national titles in both men’s and women’s basketball in the same year in 2004. Since Connecticut sports fans have no pro team to root for (though they still pine for the miserable Hartford Whalers), the UConn men and women are pretty much it. Off the court, Meg Ryan and Moby are apparently listed as alumni on Wikipedia. I do not wish to claim Moby as one of our own.
School Wishes It Could Forget: You would think that prior to the ’99 championship, UConn students had no reason to riot. You’d be wrong. Back in 1998, more than 100 students were arrested after flipping and burning a car, throwing rocks and bottles at police and being pepper sprayed by said police, as a part of the annual Spring Weekend (the weekend prior to the last week of spring classes). Unfortunately for car-burning enthusiasts, the traditional weekend party has become slightly more civil since then.
Prediction: With Dyson, it was Detroit or bust. Without Dyson – and with that ‘haven’t-won-a-postseason-game-since-2006′ cloud hanging over their heads – I think most UConn fans would be mildly content with the Sweet 16, and satisfied with a trip to the regional final. UConn has Final Four talent, but no one’s quite sure if they have the makeup to win four, five or six straight in March.

Major RTC stories: RTC Live: Notre Dame at #2 UConn – Saturday 2 PM ET, RTC Aftermath: #2 UConn 72, Notre Dame 65, Jerome Dyson: Done for the Season, and Game Night: Pittsburgh at UConn.

Preview written by Kevin Meacham of TheUConnBlog.com

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Big East Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East ConferenceHe will be live-blogging all the action from his executive suite at MSG this week. 

Schedule:

Tuesday, March 10th / First Round
- Game 1: #9 Cincinnati vs. #16 DePaul
- Game 2: #12 Georgetown vs. #13 St. John’s
- Game 3: #10 Notre Dame vs. #15 Rutgers
- Game 4: #11 Seton Hall vs. #14 South Florida

Wednesday, March 11th / Second Round
- Game 5: Game 1 Winner vs. #8 Providence
- Game 6: Game 2 Winner vs. #5 Marquette
- Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs. #7 West Virginia
- Game 8: Game 4 Winner vs. #6 Syracuse

Thursday, March 12th / Quarters
- Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. #1 Louisville
- Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs. #4 Villanova
- Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. #2 Pitt
- Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs. #3 UConn

Friday, March 13th / Semis
- Game 13: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner
- Game 14: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner

Saturday, March 14th / Finals
- Game 15: Game 13 Winner vs. Game 14 Winner

It is only fitting that the biggest conference in college basketball have the biggest tournament. For the first time, the Big East is inviting all 16 teams to MSG for a five day extravaganza. The BET is always full of exciting moments – from Ray Allen vs. Allen Iverson in 1996 to Taliek Brown’s banked in 30 footer in 2002 to Gerry McNamara’s superhuman performance in 2006. With the number of good teams and absurdly high number of talented players, this year’s edition of the BET should not disappoint.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.07.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2009

dynamite

We’re back for the final weekend of regular season Boom Goes the Dynamite for this college basketball season. The highlights of the weekend are obviously the two top 10 match-ups (in Pittsburgh on Saturday and in Chapel Hill on Sunday). We would love to provide you with another RTC Live from those site, but apparently we’re not big enough for them yet. (The onus is on you to spread the word.)

In any event, we’re going to make lemonade out of those lemons so we’ll be providing coverage from our bi-coastal offices covering all the action. Today is loaded with 15 of the top 25 playing with the other 10 playing on Sunday. We will be trying out best to provide you with wall-to-wall coverage of the top teams in action as well as RTC Live from several different locations:

In addition to our on-site correspondents we will be focusing in on a few key games for the majority of the day while also channel surfing over to the other games when the situation merits it. Here are the primary games that we will be covering today:

  • #1 UConn at #4 Pittsburgh at Noon on CBS
  • Michigan at Minnesota at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com
  • #25 Syracuse at #15 Marquette at 2 PM on ESPN360.com
  • #12 Missouri at Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
  • California at #21 Arizona State at 2 PM on CBS
  • Oklahoma State at #5 Oklahoma at 3:30 PM on ABC
  • Texas at #9 Kansas at 4 PM on CBS
  • Washington State at #13 Washington at 5:30 PM on CBS
  • Wright State at #22 Butler at 7 PM on ESPNU
  • #6 Louisville at West Virginia at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com

As you can tell it’s a pretty ambitious schedule so we are asking you, our loyal legion of RTC followers, to help alert all of us if something interesting is happening. You can contribute by leaving a message in the comment section so we all can follow it.

One piece of RTC breaking news, UNC point guard Ty Lawson injured his left big toe yesterday in practice.

11:30 PM: ESPN GameDay is live from Morgantown, WV and they’re doing their own version of Make Your Case. I feel a little bit like Bill Simmons after ESPN stole his Mount Rushmore, but they aren’t paying me a million dollars a year.

11:45 PM: A couple pieces of NCAA tournament news to wrap-up before we focus on our TV for the next 12 hours: Cornell became the first team to officially get into the tournament last night by winning the Ivy League title and 3 others will join them when the Atlantic Sun, Big South, and Ohio Valley have their championship games today.

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RTC Aftermath: #2 UConn 72, Notre Dame 65

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2009

I’m assuming that most of you got a chance to see this game unlike the last RTC Live when Providence knocked off #1 Pittsburgh. As a result this RTC Aftermath will not be quite as extensive as our first edition, but what we lack in length we will make up for in quality.

This was my first trip to Storrs, Connecticut and I have to say that I was surprised at how small the town is. I’m not sure if I missed the town center coming off of I-84, but it’s easily the smallest town for any state school that I have visited. The campus itself is pretty nice even if it lacks the uniqueness of some other campuses I have visited on this year’s RTC Live tour. Gampel Pavilion is a relatively nondescript building much like the other places we have visited this year with the except of UNC with the Dean Smith Center. Interestingly, the Huskies split their home games between Gampel and the XL Center in Hartford. While the XL Center seats more fans (16,294 compared to 10,167 in Gampel), the students seemed almost unanimous in agreement that they prefer the atmosphere when the games are held at Gampel. The one complaint they did have about Gampel was the lack of student seating. From what we were told (and my eyes seemed to confirm it), students are confined to a small section behind one basket and in the upper level behind another basket. Most of the students would have preferred to have been situated along the sidelines to make the atmosphere more imposing for visiting teams similar to Cameron Indoor at Duke as much as the students hated to say it. I’m not sure how the boosters seated along the sidelines would react to the proposition, but it is an interesting idea.

Pre-game
Pre-game
My view from underneath the basket
My view from underneath the basket
Clark Kellogg and Jim Nantz
Clark Kellogg and Jim Nantz

Pre-Game: For the second game in a row, we were there for a team’s Senior Night. Or was it Senior Day this time since the opening tip was at 2 PM? While the Huskies did not have as many seniors as Providence did, the scene was no less emotional as the fans were particularly excited for two players: A.J. Price, who has battled personal problems (he was the other guy in the Marcus Williams computer theft case) as well as medical problems (radiosurgery for an arteriovenous malformation and ACL surgery), and Jeff Adrien, the team’s physical inside presence and fan favorite for his interaction with the student section before and after games. As an added bonus, Jim Calhoun was honored for winning his 800th game (on Wednesday at Marquette). The student section was given cardboard Calhoun faces (think PTI’s Role Play) and they unveiled a banner celebrating the fact his 800th win although there were some technical difficulties when they tried to unveil the banner.

Adrien and Calhoun
Adrien and Calhoun

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.28.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2009

dynamite1

Welcome back to Boom Goes the Dynamite.  It’s Noon eastern and it’s Saturday, so that means we’re affixed to the couch for the rest of the weekend.  The day gets off to a little bit of a slow start, but keep in mind that RTC Live will be coming to you from Gampel Pavilion at UConn at 2pm, and we’ll be here for the rest of the action today (all 135 games).  Let’s get it going…

12:17pm. We’ve got Villanova – Georgetown on ESPN and Cleveland St. – Butler on ESPN2 right now.  UNC – Georgia Tech is on CBS, and if you’re really misogynistic, Depaul – St. John’s is on ESPN 360.  Here at the RTC compound we’re going to keep an eye on Butler right now because they don’t get much air time, tracking the others.

12:22pm. Has anyone else noticed that we’re only a week until the end of the regular season, but several of these “national” games are complete garbage?  Who’s making these schedules?  There’s no way UNC – Georgia Tech should be a CBS game on Feb. 28 this year.  Later we get the thrilling Oklahoma – Texas Tech game.  Oh well, at least Blake Griffin is due to return today.

12:27pm. So far it’s a brickfest in Philly at the Georgetown-Nova game, while the UNC-Ga Tech game is (shockingly) lacking defense.  Cleveland St. is giving Butler all they want so far – love the Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Where are Coach Dale, Shooter and Jimmy Chitwood?

12:43pm. Yes, Bucky, it is definitely a whiteout there.  Speaking of white, could Gordon Hayward be the second coming of Adam Morrison (w/o the floppy hair and needle injections during games)?  They both have similar builds and games (from our viewpoint), but Hayward has the superior numbers as a frosh (GH: 14/6 on 48%/83%/46% vs. AM: 11/4 on 53%/73%/30%).  Granted AM played 20 mpg his freshman season versus Hayward’s 32 mpg, but still.  Butler takes a six-pt lead into the half.

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RTC Live: Notre Dame at #2 UConn – Saturday 2 PM ET

Posted by nvr1983 on February 26th, 2009

rtc_live

We’re following up Tuesday Night’s RTC Live where Providence knocked off #1 Pittsburgh leading  to the first RTC Aftermath with a trip to Storrs, Connecticut, where Notre Dame will attempt to knock off UConn. While the game is significant for the Huskies (a win would mean they would go back to #1), it is enormous for the Fighting Irish. Mike Brey‘s squad remains on the bubble despite winning 4 of their last 5 games (including a 33-point annihilation of a very good Louisville team that played very poorly) after going a month without a win (7 consecutive losses), but a win over Jim Calhoun‘s Huskies would be huge for their NCAA tournament resume and would put them in position to finish 10-8 in the Big East with their remaining games against Villanova and St. John’s in South Bend.

The last time these teams met was on January 24th when UConn came into the Joyce Center and beat the Fighting Irish, 69-61, to end Notre Dame’s home winning streak at 45, which was the longest in the nation at that time. In that game, UConn held Notre Dame to 33% FG and used a 13-1 run in the 2nd half (along with a huge edge at the line–30 attempts compared to 4 for the Irish) to put the game away. Jerome Dyson, who won’t be playing on Saturday as he is out for the year with a meniscal tear, led the Huskies in scoring with 15 points to go with 9 rebounds. Jeff Adrien also had a big game with 12 points and 19 rebounds. Luke Harangody led the Irish with 24 points and 15 rebounds despite playing against Hasheem Thabeet, the likely national defensive player of the year. Notre Dame’s other big scoring threat, Kyle McAlarney, started off hot hitting his first three shots from beyond the arc before going pulling a John Starks-in-Game 7 performance by missing his last 12 shots from the field. Senior guard Ryan Ayers also struggled with his shooting going 1-for-10 from the field in the game.Since that game, which was featured on ESPN GameDay, the teams have gone in opposite directions. The Huskies went on a roll with the exception of their hiccup last Monday against Pittsburgh while the Irish, who were ranked 19th in the nation at the time, lost their next 5 games as part of their month-long 7-game losing streak.

The big match-up in this game will be in the middle where Harangody will be battling Thabeet, who called out Harangody on an ESPN cover in the pre-season (Thabeet later apologized). These two will likely end up on the first team All-Big East squad and on an All-American team. While Harangody dominated Thabeet statistically in the first match-up, Thabeet’s defense disrupted Notre Dame’s attack enough to help the Huskies escape with the win. [Please don't leave a Chamberlain-Russell comparison in the comment section. This also applies for Michael Lewis-style Shane Battier arguments.] One of the interesting aspects of this match-up outside of the obvious offense/defense contrast is whether Harangody’s outside game can draw Thabeet away from the basket opening up space for Notre Dame to clean up underneath. Unfortunately for the Irish, they don’t have another interior presence on the offensive end. Thus, barring an explosion from Harangody, which he is capable of, the interior match-up will probably end up being a draw with Stanley Robinson and Adrien making up for any statistical advantage that Harangody has over Thabeet because I’m not expecting much out of Zach Hillesland (5.4 PPG and 5.5 RPG) against the Huskies frontline.

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Game Night: Pittsburgh at UConn

Posted by nvr1983 on February 16th, 2009

Obviously, the big game tonight is #4 Pittsburgh (23-2) at #1 UConn (24-1). We were unable to obtain a media credential for this game, but in our quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage anywhere (that doesn’t require any broadcast equipment) we’ll be covering the big game from the RTC penthouse in Boston.

Preview
I’ll keep this short since there are already a ton of experts out there who have offered their thoughts on this game. Although I believe the news that Jerome Dyson is out for the season is a big deal long-term for UConn, I don’t think it should be a major factor today as the Huskies did not expect to have him in the lineup today anyways. From my perspective, I think this game comes down to 3 key match-ups: Hasheem Thabeet versus DeJuan Blair, Jeff Adrien versus Sam Young, and A.J. Price versus Levance Fields. While there are several other role players (Kemba Walker, Craig Austrie, and Stanley Robinson for UConn and Jermaine Dixon, Ashton Gibbs, and Brad Wanamaker for Pitt) who could potentially have a big impact tonight, I believe that whoever wins 2 out of the 3 big match-ups should win the game.

Thabeet vs. Blair: Thabeet’s ability to block and alter shots has been discussed ad nauseum already this season and we have just crossed the midway point in February. Needless to say, he has a big presence in the paint. One of the interesting things that most people don’t realize is that when Thabeet goes outside of the paint to try to block a shot, it leaves a huge gap under the basket for the opposing team to clean up. Take the Huskies win against Seton Hall on Saturday. Everyone has been raving about Thabeet’s 25 points, 20 rebound, and 9 blocks, but most people have completely ignored John Garcia‘s 22 points, 13 rebounds (6 offensive), and 6 blocks for the Pirates. While I can’t hold Thabeet responsible for Garcia’s 6 blocks, the offensive numbers Garcia put up are pretty startling especially since he is a mediocre player (8.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG). I think Thabeet has an advantage over Blair when they are matched up one-on-one, but watch out for Blair picking up a lot of “garbage” points and rebounds when Thabeet goes after a block.

Adrien vs. Young: This is probably the least hyped of the three match-ups I am featuring, but these two are the leading scorers for their respective clubs. Their numbers are pretty similar with Young having the edge in points and Adrien having a big edge on the boards, but their games are very different. Adrien likes to bang on the inside (only 1 3-point attempt this year) while Young likes to play on the perimeter (95 3-point attempts this year) although he doesn’t mind bringing it inside for the highlight reel finish (see below). Normally, I’d give the edge here to Young, but with Thabeet inside to clean up Adrien’s mistakes, I think it will come out being closer to a draw between these two.

Price vs. Fields: With the two other match-ups probably being pretty close tonight, the match-up at point guard will likely decide the game. Neither guard is a great scoring guard, but both teams have enough talent that they don’t need their point guards to score. Price has a respectable 1.6 to 1 assist to turnover ratio while Fields is currently at an absurd 4.2 to 1. These two guards are fairly evenly matched and it probably would be a draw (or even a slight edge to Fields) if I had to match them up without allowing them any substitutes, but Jim Calhoun‘s ability to utilize Walker or Austrie shifts this match-up in favor of the Huskies. Jamie Dixon has some solid perimeter players in Dixon (9 PPG) and two 3-point threats in Gibbs (49.1% from 3) and Wanamaker (45.2% from 3), but nobody of the caliber of Walker or Austrie.

Prediction: UConn by 5 in a close one that comes down to execution at the end. I’d expect Thabeet to end up with at least 1 block in a frantic final minute of action.

Live blog after the jump.

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