Checking in on… The Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

The Not Ready For Prime Time Players

It probably started with the nationally acclaimed recruiting class. It picked up momentum in early December when Jeremy Lin and his 30 points nearly singlehandedly upset then-Big East powerhouse UConn.

It gathered steam with a victory against Boston College, followed soon by a seven-game winning streak. And it came to a boiling point with stories in Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal prior to a showdown with Cornell.

We are talking about expectations…specifically those for the Harvard Crimson. The trouble with expectations is that they rarely turn out as you would hopefully…expect. And in this case, they exploded on Jan. 30 when Cornell administered an 86-50 dose of reality. In retrospect, perhaps we were all guilty of anointing Harvard as a serious Ivy threat too soon. After all, its roster is composed of — amazingly — seven sophomores and seven freshmen. And its schedule, aside from a brutal three-game stretch against UConn, B.C. and Georgetown in December, was ultra-soft. The combined records of the schools Harvard has beaten (not counting Division III neighbor MIT and considering vanquished Ivy foes only once) stands at 152-224, and that figure is somewhat softened by William & Mary at 19-8.

In fact, Harvard has beaten only THREE teams with a winning record — the aforementioned Tribe (thrashed in their BracketBuster game by Iona), BU, and GW. None of those inspire fear. Harvard has lost to the other five teams on their schedule with winning records — Army, UConn, Georgetown, Cornell (twice), and Princeton. The latter three games represent the defining moments of Harvard’s season. Given his coaching history, Tommy Amaker is an easy target. But with a youthful roster, a resurgent and rebuilt Princeton team, and a powerhouse up in Ithaca, it is clear that all those expectations were, indeed, unrealistic.

The true measure of this team will come in succeeding seasons. Will all those recruits stay happy and keep coming — knowing that, while they will receive a superb education, they will play in relative obscurity? Cornell loses much of its strength via graduation but Princeton is back to where Princeton expects (there’s that word again) to be and Penn may be on that road as well. Harvard may likely be the sexy Ivy pick for the 2010-11 season and with it will come more … expectations.

A Non-Ivy Footnote (or, Six Degrees of Separation from Craig Robinson)

It has been a month since President Barack Obama sat down with Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg at halftime of the Georgetown-Duke game. And it got me thinking. Now, nothing against Special K, who we remember as a dominant forward for THE Ohio State University and who we regard as one of the finest nuts-and-bolts analysts of the college game. But we lament the fact that CBS decided to break up the Lundquist/Bill Raftery team. Their rapport and repartee was delightful, sometimes irreverent, and always spontaneous and unrehearsed. It was definitely good for a few laughs, especially during the most one-sided games. Imagine if they were still together for Barack Banter at halftime. We would have found out if he had suggested to his campaign contributors to “send it in”; if he addressed Congress as a group or “mantaman”; or if he tucked his daughters in at night with a “kiiisss” and if he left Michelle with some of her “lingerie on the deck”; and most importantly, could he deal with some of the problems in the Middle East with “onions!”

And now on to the power rankings. With two weekends of Ivy play remaining, the top spots, while technically still up for grabs, are sorting themselves out. The middle is a muddle. And at the bottom, even Dartmouth broke into the win column. Here’s how we see it:

  1. Cornell (9-1, 23-4): The Big Red recovered from the Score Heard ‘Round the World (a 79-64 loss to Penn for those of you more interested in triple salchows) with three straight workmanlike victories. They took over undisputed possession of first place by beating Princeton at their own game — holding them to 45 points and 36% shooting. Then they shot the lights out versus Harvard (50% FG, 52% from three) and Dartmouth (57% FG, 60% from three) to finish their four-game road trip. A third straight trip to the Dance should be coming soon.
  2. Princeton (7-2, 16-7): The loss to Cornell at home was understandable. The loss to Brown at home was inexcusable — especially for a team that was still in contention for Ivy crown. They allowed the Bears to shoot 58% and score 57 points, five more than their NCAA-leading defensive scoring average. An opportunity for atonement arrives tonight when the Tigers travel to Ithaca — a game which represents the last chance for some down-to-the-wire Ivy excitement.
  3. Harvard (7-3, 18-6): Only a possible shot at second place (and perhaps some post-season-play in a tourney not named NCAA) likely awaits the Crimson thanks to that Feb. 19 loss to Cornell. That shot at the runner-up spot will come on March 6 when they close the season at Princeton. It is hard to imagine a likely 20-win season being disappointing (see above) for any Ivy team, but the goals were higher in Cambridge. The good news is that while Harvard will lose Jeremy Lin, they will return 15 out of the 18 players on their roster.
  4. Brown (4-6,10-17): OK, so, why the Bears to round out the top half of the conference and not Penn? Here’s the logic:  they have split games so head-to-head doesn’t apply. Brown has a better overall record, albeit against a weaker schedule. And while they both have games vs. Harvard and Cornell still remaining, Penn visits Princeton to end the season. So this ranking is a projection. Besides we applaud Brown’s rare (for any Ivy team over the past 30 years) southern double weekend-road wins vs. Penn and Princeton.
  5. Penn (4-5, 5-18): This could have been a resurgence, redemption, replacement (as in coaching) and an all-is right-with-the-world paragraph. Instead, the postgame euphoria that was evident after the Doug Gottllieb hyperbole win versus Cornell was followed by three straight home losses. With road contests against Cornell and Princeton sandwiched around a home date with Harvard, the hopes for a .500 conference record look bleak — but with almost everyone returning next season, more Palestra magic will be back again soon.
  6. Yale (4-6, 10-17): The Elis have exactly the same record as Brown and a better overall record than Penn. But they are kind of like 2009 football Giants — they get their wins against the teams they are supposed to beat. Their only wins in their last seven games have come at the expense of bottom-feeders Columbia and Dartmouth. And their lost loss to Penn definitively relegated them the sixth spot in the power rankings.
  7. Columbia (3-7, 9-15): The disappointing Lions appear to have a firm grasp of seventh place. A road win at the Palestra (thanks to Niko Scott’s 29 points and an amazing seven 3-pointers) is the only thing that has kept Columbia from a five-game losing streak. They would need to win their last four games (unlikely) to keep Coach Joe Jones’ string of .500 conference seasons intact.
  8. Dartmouth (1-9, 5-19): A victory on Feb. 19 vs. Columbia averted a winless conference season for the Big Green. The good news is that they have actually had at least two players in double figures in their last three games — led by junior guard Ronnie Dixon with 46 points during that span. The glass half full approach in Hanover (for a team that ranks 326 out of 347 in RPI) has to be that five out of the top six scorers return. Come to think of it, that may be the glass half empty approach as well.
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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.20.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2010

Hello everybody, welcome back to another thrilling edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite.  If you haven’t noticed, we’re at the point of the season where every game has a little more intensity, a little more pressure, a little more edginess, as each team tries to attract the eye of the fickle Selection Committee.  Whether in an attempt to lock up a high seed or simply to make the darn thing, the next three weeks will present ample opportunities for every team to make its case, for better or worse.  As always, we’ll be right there with you throughout the day, checking in on the big games and others of varying importance.  While today isn’t a blockbuster day in terms of key games, there are always going to be a good number at this time of year.  Below are the ones we’ll be keeping an eye on…

11 AM: Siena @ #13 Butler on ESPN2 – RTC Live
12 PM: Florida @ Ole Miss on CBS
12 PM: Seton Hall @ #8 West Virginia on ESPN
12 PM: Morgan State @ Murray State on ESPNU
1 PM: Louisiana Tech @ Northeastern on ESPN2
1:30 PM: #22 Baylor @ Oklahoma State on ESPN360
2 PM: #17 Texas @ Texas Tech on ESPN
2 PM: Georgia Tech @ Maryland on ESPN360 – RTC Live
2 PM: Xavier @ Charlotte on CSS
4 PM: Illinois @ #4 Purdue on ESPN
4 PM: UTEP @ Tulsa on CBS CS – RTC Live
4 PM: Colorado @ #1 Kansas on ESPN360
6 PM: #2 Kentucky @ #19 Vanderbilt on ESPN
6 PM: #7 Kansas State @ Oklahoma on ESPNU
8 PM: Charleston @ George Mason on ESPN2
9 PM: UCLA @ Washington on ESPN
12 AM: Wichita State @ Utah State on ESPN2 – RTC Live

11:02: And we’re live with another BGTD. Interesting decision by ESPN to keep GameDay at 11 AM with the Siena-Butler game on ESPN2. We already have someone doing a RTC Live for the Siena-Butler game so we’ll focus more on GameDay than we otherwise would. Definitely check out our RTC Live of the game though.

11:07: The ESPN analysts are really going out on a limb saying the Big East Tournament will be the best of the conference tournament. Digger breaks with the group and goes with the Big Ten. Surprisingly Bobby Knight calls out the Big Ten saying the Big East would beat them head-to-head.

11:09: In another surprise, Jay Bilas goes against Coach K by saying that the conference tournaments effectively act as a huge NCAA Tournament and if you win you are into the real NCAA Tournament. Digger agrees with him while Hubert Davis attempts to make a ridiculous argument against the automatic bid saying it penalizes teams like Siena that dominate their conferences, but might choke in the conference tournament. Personally I think if you’re that good you can earn an at-large bid with your play throughout the season. Knight holds the coaching fraternity party line saying that he wants to expand the tournament. Translation: Nobody gets fired ever.

11:15: Just flipped over to ESPN2 where the announcers were comparing Gordon Hayward to Mike Dunleavy Jr. I’m not sure if they are talking about their games or the way they look. Where is the college basketball Spike Lee who will call out these announcers for comparing the two only because they are white guys who look fairly similar? For the record their games are pretty similar. Feel free to call me out in the comment section. . .

11:20: Knight wants “The Committee” to get an ex-coach on there (like him?) and the team’s last 18 games. I have no idea how he decided on 18. Why not 20? The other talking heads rip the RPI. Davis wants to take the strength of schedule component out of the RPI and wants to use an “eye test” to replace it. I’d like to see Professor Davis come up with a quantitative way to come up with the “eye test” score.

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RTC Aftermath: Cornell 79, Harvard 70

Posted by zhayes9 on February 19th, 2010

The Harvard students changed from white shirts to black shirts at halftime.

Too bad for the Crimson faithful the ploy didn’t transfer to the hardwood.

Cornell maintained a nine-point halftime lead into a nine-point road victory at a raucous Lavietes Pavilion Friday night to hold a lead atop the all-important Ivy League regular season standings and firmly re-establish their status as the top team in the conference. Despite a remarkable 32 of 34 from the line and 48% shooting from the Crimson, Cornell used trademark three-point shooting, strong rebounding and timely scoring from Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale to eek out a victory in quite possibly the most challenging game on their Ivy slate.

Cornell Moving Toward March

The matchup was billed as a duel between the two best players in the conference- Wittman and Harvard’s point man Jeremy Lin. Lin was his usual stellar self- 24 points, 7-12 FG and 10-11 FT- but it was Wittman who stole the show with an array of clutch NBA-distance treys that stymied multiple Crimson rallies. The most importance sequence of the game came near the midway point of the second half when Harvard cut a 17-point Cornell lead to five until Wittman and Dale answered the call one more time with consecutive dagger threes that killed any remaining Harvard hope.

Cornell coach Steve Donahue remarked after the game how terrific the atmosphere was in Cambridge tonight. One could sense the urgency in the air from both sides with the Ivy League not fielding a year-end conference tournament to decide the league’s auto berth. This puts a giant magnifying glass on the regular season results and the players, coaches, fans and students all realized tonight just how crucial of a contest this happened to be.

Donahue made sure to commend a young Harvard team on their effort. Lin is their leader and anchor, but the Crimson rely on three freshman- Kyle Casey, Christian Webster and Brandyn Curry- for a good chunk of their production. Donahue correctly pointed out how vital Cornell’s experience was tonight in terms of both poise and confidence. He singled out Wittman as someone that played with a toughness and confidence unmatched by any other player on the floor for both sides.

Wittman admitted after the game there was a “lack of urgency” before the stunning upset at Penn last Friday. He said the Big Red absolutely has to bring it every night in the Ivy League and Dale remarked that it feels good to get an opposing team’s best shot every time during league play, similar to Gonzaga in the WCC or Butler in the Horizon. Dale also singled out the importance of getting out to a lead so fighting back on the road was not a necessity.

On the losing end, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker was proud of his team for their commendable effort but the Crimson just could not contain Wittman and Dale to pick up the stops in clutch situations. He was straight to the point in his assessment: Cornell just did things better. Lin also made sure to say this was the best atmosphere he’s seen at a home game in his four years as a member of the Crimson.

Too bad the home team could not deliver for the white-then-black-clad fans screeching, whistling, blowing horns and stomping their feet for 40 solid minutes Friday night.  Then again, this was Cornell. They are on a mission to reach the NCAA Tournament as the class of this league. And it does not appear anyone will stop them from achieving that very goal, at least on this night.

- Zach Hayes

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RTC Live: Cornell @ Harvard

Posted by nvr1983 on February 19th, 2010

RTC Live is back for a rare Friday night edition. Normally we “take the night off” given the relatively light slate, but tonight is a special occasion. Tonight the unofficial playoff for the Ivy League title and first official NCAA tournament bid commences when Cornell travels to Cambridge, MA to take on Harvard.

When these two teams met on January 30th, it was one of the most highly anticipated Ivy League match-ups in years. Cornell came in 17-3 having won 15 of 16 with its only losses coming against Seton Hall (10 points) and on the road against a pair of top-5 foes in Syracuse(15 points) and Kansas (5 points). Harvard came in 14-3 having won 7 straight with its only losses coming on the road against Army (3 points), UConn(6 points), and Georgetown (16 points). Many were expecting one of best games of the season featuring a match-up of Ivy League Player of the Year favorites Ryan Wittman and Jeremy Lin. Wittman and the Big Red lived up to their billing, but Lin and the Crimson apparently forgot to bring their game with them to Ithaca as they were embarrassed 86-50 while Lin managed to outscore Wittman (19-11), but committed a season-high 8 turnovers (of the team’s 25) with only 1 assist. With Wittman having a relatively quiet game the Big Red were led by seven-foot senior center Jeff Foote, who had 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks. Following the blowout, it appeared as if the two teams were headed in opposite directions as the Crimson lost their next game to a surprisingly good Princeton team before bouncing back with 3 straight wins. The Big Red appeared poised to run the table in the Ivy League before stumbling in a shocking loss at Penn before bouncing back to win a hard-fought game at Princeton the following night. All this left the Ivy League with 3 teams sitting near the top of the conference: Cornell at 7-1, Princeton at 6-1, and Harvard at 6-2. The game is being billed as the biggest in the history of Harvard basketball (please, no snickering) and the athletic department is going to try to use a “Fade to Black” theme where the fans wear white shirts in the first half then taking them off to reveal black shirts in the second half [Ed. Note: Another benefit is layering for the New England winter night.] while the audio system will play Jay Z’s “Run This Town” and AC/DC’s “Back in Black” before the start of the 2nd half when the fans will reveal their black shirts in an attempt to throw off the Big Red (who happened to almost win at Kansas, which we think would be slightly more daunting than the visual “hallucination” of having the fans in the stands change their shirts from white to black at halftime).

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Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2010

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

At Large….At Last?

Following the Sports Illustrated story profiling Tommy Amaker and Harvard hoops, and with Cornell breaking into the Top 25, the intro this week was going to be all about the suggestion that the Ivy League could possibly receive (gasp!) an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The last time that happened was, well, never.Then Coach Amaker’s team did what most of his teams (Seton Hall and Michigan) have done previously — crashed and burned at the most inopportune time. An 86-50 thrashing at the hands of the Big Red was followed by a detrimental loss to Princeton. So much for the at-large conversation, right? Wrong! Traditional one-bid mid-major conferences have a simple formula for getting a second team into the tournament: have the nationally known and ranked team get knocked off during the conference tournament – i.e. Butler (Horizon League), Gonzaga (West Coast Conference) even Siena (MAAC) – allowing the eventual conference tourney champ to get the bid. But wait, all you Ivy-savvy fans say, our conference doesn’t have a tournament. So RTC presents the formula to you: Princeton (undefeated in conference) splits with Cornell and both win the rest of their games (not impossible) forcing a playoff as both teams would finish conference play at 13-1. Princeton wins the playoff and gets the automatic bid and the Big Red gets an at-large, as ESPN shows the jubilation in Ithaca when Donahue and company see their name announced. This sets up an eventual rematch with Kansas at the Final Four. And to think the dream seemed so real.

The Gang(s) That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

Rick Pitino’s mantra has always been shoot the three, defend the three and I’ll see you at the Big Dance. It has worked for him at all four of his college coaching stops (BU, PC, Kentucky, and Louisville). The way the game is played these days, the emphasis on success from beyond the arc has never been greater even with the line being moved back. Let’s look at how the “three for the money theory” has played out during the first two full weekends of Ivy play. Over the course of those 16 games, the losing teams shot a combined 67-255 or 26% from 3-point range. Columbia and Dartmouth each had a 1-for-11 game vs. Harvard and Cornell respectively, while Penn shot an unparalleled 1-for-18 vs. Yale. The winners shot an aggregate 111-for-281 or 39.5%. Not surprisingly, Cornell led the way with an 11-for-27 clip vs. Dartmouth, 12-for-27 vs. Harvard, and 13-for-27 vs. Yale, proving they are a bunch of equal opportunity shooters. Broken down by game, the losers are averaging about 4-16 while the winners approximately 7-17, a difference of 9 points per game. Now, if only I had some eligibility left…..

One third of the way through the conference season, here is how RTC sees the Ivy League:

1. Cornell (6-0, 20-3): SRO in the locker room after games as Coach Steve Donahue has used an average of almost 16 players per game (19 vs. Dartmouth). Only Ivy coaches could remember that many names. The four victories have come by an average of more than 25 pts per game. After a tune-up at the Palestra against Penn tonight, the nationally ranked Big Red face Princeton on Saturday before a rematch with Harvard the following Friday – both on the road.

2. Princeton (4-0, 13-5): Their undefeated conference record has earned the Tigers the No. 2 spot in our bi-weekly power poll. More amazingly, the four victories have all come on the road – leaving only three games remaining away from home. Once again, defense has been the trademark with the Tigers allowing a mere 45 points per game in those wins. Jadwin Gym should be rocking this Valentine’s Eve (Ted officiating?) as Cornell comes calling.

3. Harvard (4-2, 15-5): Leapfrogged by Princeton thanks to a head-to head loss and the aforementioned disappointing performance vs. Cornell. We are guessing that they will be much better prepared for both rematches and at least one of the losses (most likely vs. Princeton) to be avenged. This team is too talented led by likely Ivy Player of the Year Jeremy Lin (17 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game) and the highly touted freshman class.

4. Yale (3-3, 9-14): One of two teams with a .500 record in conference completes the top half of the rankings. A home loss to Brown has been the only puzzling result and this Friday’s battle with traditional foe Harvard (a 29-29 tie perhaps?) should be the talk of New Haven. Alex Zampier’s 17.5 pts per game paces the Elis.

5. Penn (2-2, 3-15): The other team with a .500 record jumps two spots because as we know, it is the all-important loss column that counts. The ship appears to be somewhat righted thanks to the return to Ivy competition, the shortening of the bench by Jerome Allen, and the emergence of Dan Monckton as a complement to Zack Rosen. The junior has averaged over 11 pts over the last four games, including a controversial buzzer-beating tip-in vs. Brown.

6. Columbia (2-4, 8-12): Is Joe Jones headed for his fifth consecutive 7-7 Ivy season? To do so the Lions will have to overcome the injury bug that has plagued them, particularly to senior guard Patrick Foley, and an upcoming four-game road trip that includes stops at Princeton and Harvard. Columbia continues to be near the top of NCAA in 3-point shooting efficiency led by the marksmanship of Noruwa Agho (51.6%).

7. Brown (1-5, 7-16): The only thing keeping the Bears out of the cellar is Dartmouth. Five consecutive losses, albeit competitive ones, followed a promising conference- opening victory at Yale. Superman Matt Mullery leads the team in ppg (15.3), rebounds (6.0) assists (3.0), field goal percentage (55.3) and blocks (1.5).

8. Dartmouth (0-6, 4-16): After a close home loss to Harvard (in which they actually led in the second half) things have fallen apart for the Big Green. Their next four losses have been by an average of 16 points and their offense could not produce more than 51 points in any game. Coach Mark Graupe continues to look for a productive combination as no player is averaging more than 27 minutes or eight points per game. This Friday’s game vs. Brown could be the first of two basement battles.

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Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Seeds of Doubt?

Last time we suggested that a single digit tournament seed was a possibility for Cornell. While we feel that it would be deserved, the reality is that it may be a pipe dream. So, you may ask, with a perfect Ivy season looming, why not a #8 or a #9 seed come March? The numbers tell the story. As of Thursday, the Big Red has an RPI of 37 and a strength of schedule ranking of 129. And with 12 games remaining within a conference with an RPI rank of 19 out of 32, those numbers won’t improve, even if they go undefeated. So expect #11 or #12 seed and a first round match-up against maybe a Wake Forest or a Pittsburgh.

Green With Envy

With two mid-season coaching changes in the Ivy League, most of the attention has been on Jerome Allen at Penn. Given his stellar playing career and the high profile nature of the Quaker program, the focus is understandable. But playing second fiddle up in Hanover is Mark Graupe (pronounced GRAW-pee for those keeping score) at Dartmouth. This is his first Div.1 head coaching position after 21 years in the business that has included high school and JUCO stops in North Dakota and most recently as an assistant at Colorado State. While we at RTC wish Mark much success, we would also like to remind him that there are coaching positions throughout the U.S. where the temperatures rise above single digits during hoop season.

Ivy Futures – Buy or Sell

Thought it might be interesting to take a look at some budding stars in the conference, so we present the gems (so far) of the Class of 2013:

Taken as a projection the class of the Class may well be Errick Peck of Cornell (the rich get richer). Though limited in playing time given the quality and experience ahead of him, the 6’6 forward came to Ithaca with impressive credentials. The Indianapolis native not only played in the Indiana/Kentucky HS All-Star Games, but was named MVP of the first game with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

As a class, give kudos to Tommy Amaker at Harvard with four prize recruits that include starting guard Christian Webster, possible 6th man of the year Kyle Casey (nine points, five rebounds off the bench), Brandon Curry and Dee Giger. This may be the best recruiting class at Cambridge since the Class of 1975 — G.W. Bush and Bill Gates, who left early for some computer gig but was known for his (micro)soft hands.

Here is a closer look at Arne Duncan’s favorite conference as it enters its first full weekend of play:

  1. Cornell (2-0, 16-3): Coming off two thrashings of travel partner Columbia by 21 and 26 points, the deep Big Red has eight players averaging at least 13 minutes. They’ll tune up at home vs. Dartmouth before entertaining likely conference runner-up Harvard in an early showdown.
  2. Harvard (2-0, 13-3): Two wins came at the expense of hapless travel partner Dartmouth, though most recent win was too close for comfort (62-58). Kyle Casey (see above) led the way with 19 pts off the bench, while conference player of the year candidate Jeremy Lin continues to impress.
  3. Princeton (0-0, 9-5): Because of late exam schedule, the Tigers and travel partner Penn are the only Ivy teams who have not played a conference game. They begin play with a four-game road trip and need to win at least three if they want to contend for a runner-up spot.
  4. Columbia (0-2, 6-10): The bad news: 0-2. The good news: the Lions are done with Cornell and thus have 12 winnable games left. They need a healthy return of point guard Patrick Foley to team with sharpshooter Noruwa Agho to have a chance, however.
  5. Brown (1-1, 7-12): The Bears split with travel partner Yale, each winning as the visiting team. They badly need the return of hobbled starters and leading scorers Peter Sullivan and Matt Mullery; the two forwards and only two double-figure scorers combine for more than 27 points and 9 rebounds per game.
  6. Yale (1-1, 7-12): It’s difficult to separate the Bulldogs and Bears, but the bottom of the league should begin to sort itself out this weekend when Penn heads to Yale and Brown. The Bulldogs continue to be led by All-Ivy lock and Player of the Year candidate Alex Zampier whose 18.6 ppg average is tops in the league.
  7. Penn (0-0), 1-13): Only tradition keeps the Quakers out of the bottom spot this week after a non-competitive, non-conference showing which concluded with a 85-64 drubbing at the hands of St. Joe’s — a Big 5 rival that had already lost to Cornell and Princeton. It will be interesting to see if conference play proves to be the panacea for Penn and emerging star Zack Rosen.
  8. Dartmouth (0-2, 4-12): The last two games — a win vs. St. Francis (N.Y.) and a near-miss (62-58) vs. conference heavyweight Harvard — may auger well for the Graupe era (see above) in Hanover. At least the Big Green appears to playing hard, which may be enough for them to escape the cellar this season.
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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 01.30.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Welcome back, everyone!  Boom Goes the Dynamite returns for the fourth weekend of the year with a blockbuster Saturday of games that are so good that we’re getting them up today as a reminder to join us tomorrow afternoon.  With noon-to-night coverage and the fact that most of the country is completely frozen over again, we expect that you’ll be right there with us on the couch, eating a bunch of bad food and breaking down zone offenses.  We hope to see you then!

Here are the games we plan on keeping an eye on…

12 PM: La Salle at #15 Temple on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
12 PM: Marquette at #19 Connecticut on Big East Network HD and ESPN Full Court
12 PM: Louisville at #9 West Virginia on ESPN and ESPN360.com
1 PM: #7 Duke at #11 Georgetown on CBS – RTC Live
2 PM: #4 Syracuse at DePaul on Big East Network and ESPN Full Court
2 PM: Indiana at Illinois on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
3 PM: FSU at Boston College on Raycom and ESPN Full Court
3 PM: #25 Northern Iowa at Missouri State
4 PM: Baylor at #6 Texas on Big 12 Network and ESPN Full Court
4 PM: #23 Vanderbilt at #1 Kentucky on ESPN and ESPN360.com A
4 PM: Arkansas at #20 Mississippi on SEC Network and ESPN Full Court
6 PM: Notre Dame at Rutgers on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
6 PM: New Mexico at TCU on CBS College Sports
7 PM: #2 Kansas at #13 Kansas State on ESPN and ESPN360.com
7 PM: Georgia at South Carolina on Fox Sports (regional) and ESPN Full Court
7 PM: Northwestern at #5 Michigan State on Big Ten Network
8 PM: Providence at Cincinnati on ESPN U
9 PM: Utah at #10 BYU on Mountain Network
9:30 PM: #8 Gonzaga at San Francisco on Fox Sports (regional)- RTC Live

We will be dividing the day into three shifts with nvr1983 starting things off then rtmsf will handle the afternoon games before John Stevens takes you into the night with late night coverage of all the day’s big games.

10:50 AM: Apparently ESPN forgot to pay the electricity bill as the lights just went out on Jason Williams. (As a college basketball fan, I refuse to call him Jay. Jason Williams was a great player. Jay Williams crashed his motorcycle.)

11:00 AM: Dear College Students of America, This is how you show up for a College GameDay. I don’t want to call anybody out, but the Kansas State fans are crushing what I saw when I went to GameDay at UNC last year. To be fair, a game against in-state rival Kansas is much, much more important than a disappointing Miami team. This seems more like a College Football GameDay and that’s what we need for the basketball version too. Right now the pressure is on Illinois, Kentucky, Washington, Syracuse, and Duke to match this atmosphere when GameDay comes to town later this year.

11:10 AM: Does anybody have a link to where we can buy one of those Frank Martin t-shirts?

11:15 AM: According to the Kansas State website, the previous record for College Basketball GameDay attendance was 6,700 at Clemson last year before they played Duke. I haven’t heard an official number for today. Bramlage Coliseum holds 12,528 and I would think they are well over half full.

11:20 AM: Is Coach K advocating for abolishing the requirement for players to spend one year in college or wanting them to stay in school for more than one semester, which is all they really have to do to be eligible to play in their freshman year? It sounds more like the former. Jay Bilas is right that this issue is more a NBA/business issue.

11:22 AM: If you’re wondering who Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps are going to pick to win the Kansas-Kansas State game, their clothes might be a pretty good clue. Hubert is wearing a purple shirt and a purple tie. Digger is wearing a purple shirt and a purple tie and he he has a purple highlighter. . .

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Morning Five: 01.29.10

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

  1. Today’s completely unsubstantiated rumor is that Kansas will be busing students the 85 miles over to Manhattan, Kansas, for ESPN Gameday on Saturday morning (as K-State tries to set a new record for Gameday attendance).  If there’s any truth whatsoever to this, we fear a little for the lives of those young Jayhawks.
  2. Did Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins “cold-cock” a South Carolina student as they were RTCing after the Gamecocks’ big win over Kentucky the other night?  Video evidence is inconclusive, but at least one radio broadcaster and a student say they witnessed it.  For whatever that’s worth.
  3. Gary Parrish reminds us that in the volatile world of college basketball polling, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the polls around this time of year because they offer a window into the teams that will be left standing in early April.  This is an accurate point to a certain extent, but it’s more fun to take the reverse view and think about which teams in the Top Ten will flame out early in March (best guesses: WVU, Duke, Michigan State).
  4. You may have heard a little about this upcoming Harvard-Cornell game on Saturday night, but did you think an Ivy League battle would ever escalate to a Twitter cage match between the New York Times’ Pete Thamel and SI.com’s Pablo Torres?  Apparently Thamel tweeted Torres out for his soft handling of Harvard’s program in his recent piece on Wooden Award candidate Jeremy Lin, and Torres responded by accusing Thamel of similar kid-glove treatment on one of his pieces about Syracuse’s Wes Johnson.  Must be the full moon….
  5. Finally, UNC-Wilmington fired their head coach last night Benny Moss, with a record of 41-74 in four years at the school, was coming off a 39-point pasting at the hands of Hofstra on Wednesday night, and his teams were making a habit of regularly getting run out of the gym.  Moss is the fifth head coach to lose his job during the season this year, further validating a troubling trend (even at the mid-major level) of ADs impatiently cutting their losses in the middle of the season.
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Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

There hasn’t been much action on the floor recently as the Ivy League geniuses are in the middle of final exams — but there was one huge move off the floor when Penn fired head coach Glen Miller after an 0-7 start.  The firing has generated rare attention to the league from the national media, and most of it has been negative.  Believe me, I understand why people are saying that the Ivy League should hold itself to higher standards.  But after following the team closely for the last few years, I must say that I firmly believe Penn made the right decision.  A program that wins six conference championships this decade should never get to a point where it has the third lowest RPI in the entire country.  The Palestra, college basketball’s most historic gym, should never be silent and half-empty.  It wasn’t just the wins that disappeared; it was the spirit of Penn basketball.  And only a move like this — rash as it may seem to outsiders — can restore the program’s tradition, which has been glorious for many, many years.  I talk more about the firing in my new blog that just launched for all things Penn sports.

On to the (unofficial) power rankings….

  • Cornell (7-2): Big Red has deservedly been getting some votes in the AP Top 25 poll.
  • Harvard (7-2):  Knocking off big-conference schools has almost become a staple under Tommy Amaker.
  • Princeton (5-4): After losing four straight, Tigers have reeled off three consecutive wins.
  • Columbia (5-4): Sophomore guard Noruwa Agho continues to dominate for the Lions, sharing league player of the week honors with Harvard’s Jeremy Lin after averaging 26.5 points per game in a pair of road wins.
  • Brown (4-7): Bears lost four straight heading into a three-week layoff but their schedule has been difficult.
  • Yale (4-6): Bulldogs are getting healthier heading into the new year.
  • Dartmouth (2-7): Big Green earned its second win of the season with a 29-point thrashing of Division III Lyndon State.
  • Penn (0-7): The Quakers are probably not the worst team in the league … but it’s hard to put them anywhere else since they haven’t won a game and have the third worst RPI in Division I.

B.C. CAN’T BEAT HARVARD:  If not for the Miller firing, the biggest story in the past two weeks would be Harvard’s win over Boston College — for the second straight year. And this came only three days after the Crimson narrowly lost to Connecticut. Senior Jeremy Lin may be the best player in the league, and is even getting a little NBA buzz. But before anyone thinks of that, the Crimson go up against another Big East opponent when they face Georgetown (and former Ivy League coach John Thompson III) on Dec. 23. Could another upset be in the works? Don’t rule it out.

THE HAWK DIES AGAINST CORNELL:  Cornell used a crippling 25-4 run in its most recent win, a 78-66 victory over St. Joe’s, to go into its break with a very impressive 7-2 record — considering its only two losses came against Big East teams. Still, the team hasn’t always clicked on all cylinders — which is why the 25-4 run was so nice to see for Big Red fans .

HITTING THE CENTURY MARK:  In its 102-91 win over Wagner last week, Columbia put up the most points against a Division I opponent since the 1976-77 season — also against Wagner.  At Penn, fans get free cheesesteaks if the team scores over 100 points. Unfortunately, they haven’t been giving out half of a cheesesteak in the rare cases Penn scores over 50 this season.

VINTAGE PRINCETON:  The Tigers beat Monmouth, 46-42, on Wednesday, despite shooting 30.4 percent for the game. The last time Princeton won with a field goal percentage as low was in 2004.

BATTLE OF PROVIDENCE:  Despite 12 points from each of the Sullivan brothers (Matt and Peter), Brown fell to Providence, 78-62, in the annual showdown for Rhode Island’s capital. Rhode Island — neither a road nor an island. Discuss.

BULLDOGS IN COLORADO:  Yale will spends its New Year’s Eve in the Rocky Mountain State, taking on Colorado on Dec. 29 and Colorado State on Dec. 31.

WELCOME, JEROME ALLEN:  Penn’s interim coach Jerome Allen, a terrific player in the 90s, will lead the Quakers into Davidson on Dec. 28 for his first game as a head coach. Penn then stays in North Carolina to face Duke on Dec. 31. Allen’s first home game in charge? That’s against Temple and his old coach, Fran Dunphy. Welcome to coaching, sir.

FEARLESS PREDICTION OF THE WEEK:  I have a feeling Harvard makes it two terrific wins in a row after it meets Georgetown. And if Penn beats Duke on New Year’s Eve, I will drink about nine extra bottles of champagne in celebration.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Last year, I told everyone to pray to God Shammgod.  This year, I recommend you pray to Boubacar Aw — who doesn’t have a religious name…just an awesome one.

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ATB: John Wall is College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on December 10th, 2009

atb

The Face of the 2009-10 Season#4 Kentucky 64, #12 Connecticut 61. Ladies and gentlemen, if there was any doubt whatsoever about who the face of college basketball was, is, or will be this season, consider it no more.  The buzz was already there.  There have been sketchy highlights of  Johnathan Hildred Wall  from Raleigh, NC, dressed in a Kentucky uniform and easily floating game-winners over Miami and Stanford; there have been a couple of filthy dunks and drives against North Carolina that had you out of your seat shaking your head when you saw them on SportsCenter; but there wasn’t this.  No, not thisThis being a nationally-televised game with no other competition on the tube where the too-young-to-know-how-good-he-is Mr. Wall emphatically and with reckless abandon introduced himself to the sports world beyond the hoops diehards, shouting from the top of New York’s Empire State Building to the rest of the world… “I am College Basketball.”  Dramatic?  Possibly.  Truthful?  Absolutely.

Sure - Why Not??

Sure - Why Not??

John Wall (25/2/6 stls) scored twelve of the last fifteen points of the game for his team, and as our RTC Live correspondent Ballin is a Habit put it at the game, “Garden security should kidnap Wall and throw a Nate Robinson jersey on him. Who will know?”  That’s the point.  Wall is probably nearly as good as anyone on the Knicks (or Nets) roster, and the star-studded NYC crowd was electric tonight as they knew this was but a first glimpse of WonderWall and that they would be seeing this kid play for a very long time  at the Garden.  When it came down to the last five minutes of the game tonight, the scoring went back and forth, but as you were watching the action you already knew where the ball was going when Kentucky got it.  You also knew what the result would be — several clutch jumpers followed by a strong and-one when Wall drove from the left side, absorbed contact, and still finished the play to put UK up two with a half-minute left.  After a Kemba Walker (12/8/6 assts) miss and  Ramon Harris FT for Kentucky, UConn took and missed a couple of threes to finish the game and push Calipari’s team to 9-0 and John Wall into hype overdrive.

We’re just as guilty as anyone of being awed by the guy, but the last time we saw a freshman player who was so spectacular (must-see tv) was when Kevin Durant was dominating everyone in his path at Texas.  You tuned in because you sensed that anything could happen when Durant had the ball, and people are starting to sense that about John Wall as well.  One key difference in their careers at this point – Wall has already won three games down the stretch by himself.  We’re not sure that even Durant did that before Christmas of his freshman season!  John Wall — the 2009-10 Face of College Basketball.

Upset of the NightGreen Bay 88, #23 Wisconsin 84. Students RTC’d after the Fighting Phoenix of Green Bay upset the flagship university of the state in overtime tonight (send pics or vids!) in a classic trap game for Bo Ryan’s Badgers.  Bryquis Perine (22/3/3 stls) and Randy Berry (13/12) led the way for UWGB, who, despite having ten fewer boards than Wisconsin were able to force 18 turnovers from normally surehanded Badgers to grit out the win.  For the Phoenix, this was the first win in their last fifteen games against Wisconsin, and the Badgers will now face home games against Marquette and UW-Milwaukee in the next two weeks to try to regain state supremacy.

Another UpsetOral Roberts 60, Missouri 59. We had a feeling that this would have upset written all over it, and sure enough it did (complete with a mini-RTC at the end – see below video).  Missouri fans have to be beating themselves up over this one, though, as the Tigers had a ten-point lead on the road with just over five minutes remaining and they couldn’t close out the game.  Michael Craion’s layup with 0.9 seconds remaining (first video) capped a 15-4 closing run for ORU that gave the Golden Eagles their second win over a BCS team this season (although a considerably better one than Stanford).  ORU got 21/7/4 assts from Dominique Morrison and 10/13 from Kevin Ford, and it was just enough for Scott Sutton’s program to pull off the upset tonight.  One major concern for Mizzou has to be that they only attempted three FTs tonight (making one), which signals a lack of aggressiveness on the offensive end.

And a ThirdHarvard 74, Boston College 67. Is this an upset after how well Harvard has been playing and especially after last year’s Harvard win at BC?  Well, it is still Harvard, so we’ll say yes.  Jeremy Lin continues to impress, dropping 25/3/4 assts just a few nights after ripping the Connecticut defense up for thirty, and BC is at some point going to have to realize that winning a single ACC game doesn’t mean they can take the next night off (as they did last year as well).  The Crimson shot 50% from the field, held BC to 38%, and stood toe to toe with the bigger Eagles on the boards.  Furthermore, when crunch time came around, Harvard, especially Lin, calmly walked up to the line and sealed the win, which is something winning programs tend to do.  It’s been a foregone conclusion that Cornell would once again own the Ivy League this year, but could Harvard challenge the Big Red in the Ancient Eight?

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Checking In On… the Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on November 20th, 2009

checkinginon

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

OFFICIALLY UNOFFICIAL POWER RANKINGS

  1. Cornell (2-0) – Convincing road wins over Alabama and UMass to start the season not only secures the Big Red’s place as the clear best team in the Ivies; it also establishes them as one of the nation’s premier mid-majors.
  2. Princeton (2-0) – Tigers take care of a good Central Michigan team on the road, before following that with a victory over Manhattan.
  3. Columbia (0-1) – DePaul may be one of the worst teams in the Big East, but the Lions’ near-win against them is still impressive.
  4. Harvard (2-0) – The Crimson’s best player, Jeremy Lin, is the man. More on this later.
  5. Penn (0-2) – It’s hard to get a good read on the Quakers, who lost to the reigning NIT champion (Penn State) and reigning NCAA semifinalist (Villanova). But early indications are not good.
  6. Yale (1-2) – Bulldogs edged by Hofstra in preseason NIT opener, but respond with 10-point with over Colgate.
  7. Brown (1-2) – Losing to Virginia Tech and Rhode Island is nothing to be ashamed about.
  8. Dartmouth (0-2) – Like most other teams in the league, Big Green starts season with two tough games, falling to Boston College and George Mason.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #28 – Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2009

seasonpreview

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League and a featured columnist.   Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials..

Predicted Order of Finish (with projected records in parentheses):

  1. Cornell (14-0)
  2. Princeton (9-5)
  3. Penn (8-6)
  4. Columbia (7-7)
  5. Harvard (7-7)
  6. Yale (6-8)
  7. Brown (3-11)
  8. Dartmouth (2-12)

All-Conference Team:

  • Louis Dale (G), Sr., Cornell
  • Jeremy Lin (G), Sr. Harvard
  • Ryan Wittman (F), Sr., Cornell
  • Matt Mullery (F), Sr., Brown
  • Jeff Foote (C), Sr., Cornell

6th Man. Tyler Bernardini (G), Jr., Penn

Impact Newcomer. Brian Grimes (F), Jr., Columbia

ivy league logo

What You Need to Know.  Fueled by three star seniors (Louis Dale, Ryan Wittman and Jeff Foote), the reigning Ivy League rookie of the year (Chris Wrobleski), and two major transfers (Mark Coury from Kentucky and Max Groebe from UMass), Cornell is coming into the 2009-10 season as the heavy favorite to capture its third straight conference crown — and perhaps win a game or two in the NCAA tournament.  Head coach Steve Donahue’s squad is so deep and talented (they also boast a pair of experienced seniors in Geoff Reeves and Alex Tyler), their toughest challenge may be finding significant minutes for all their heavy hitters. Penn and Princeton, the powerhouses that owned the Ivy League for two decades until Cornell rose to the top, are both trying to return to their glory days but might have to wait a year to make a serious run at the crown. Princeton should improve on its 8-6 league mark with the continued development of point guard Doug Davis, who averaged 12.3 points per game as a rookie last season, and the addition of Ian Hummer, who may be the best freshman in the league. This is an important year for rebuilding Penn, which clears out some mediocre seniors and hands the keys of the team to junior guard Tyler Benardini and sophomore point guard Zack Rosen, the last two Big 5 rookies of the year. Columbia has some nice incoming talent with Brian Grimes, who sat out last season with an ACL tear after transferring in from La Salle, and Loyola Marymount import Max Craig, who is 7 feet tall and not a stiff.  Harvard coach Tommy Amaker has one of the best players in the league in Jeremy Lin and a couple of good recent recruiting classes, but the Crimson are coming off a 6-8 conference season. Yale has been a consistent threat under longtime coach James Jones, finishing above .500 for nine straight seasons. The Bulldogs will need to put a lot of the burden on senior guard Alex Zampier (13.2 ppg) to keep that streak alive.  Matt Mullery shot a ridiculous 60 percent for Brown last year, but the Bears will be hard-pressed to significantly improve their 3-11 league record. And finally, after an impressive 7-7 Ivy season by its standards, Dartmouth should tumble back down the league standings with the loss of Alex Barnett and his 19.4 points per game.

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