Morning Five: 08.07.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 7th, 2012

  1. We mentioned in yesterday’s M5 that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun was recovering well after surgery to repair his hip from a cycling accident suffered over the weekend. According to an orthopedic surgeon not affiliated with Calhoun’s treatment, the standard recovery time for this surgery ranges between eight to 12 weeks. Basketball practice begins in earnest in nine weeks, so there’s a strong possibility that the beginning of a rebuilding season in Storrs is already off to a rough start. As Mike Decourcy writes, Connecticut as a program faces a number of long-term issues with the 70-year old Calhoun undoubtedly reaching the end of his career soon — his latest health dust-up only serves to complicate those very important issues.
  2. It’s probably not often that we’ll choose a valuable M5 blurb to write about a player who only averaged a half-point and 1.8 rebounds per contest last season. But UCLA’s Anthony Stover dismissed from the team Monday for academic problems — is a statistical anomaly of sorts — the 6’10″ rising junior only saw eight minutes a game in Ben Howland’s system, but he still managed to block shots at a higher rate in limited time (18.2%) than Kansas’ Jeff Withey (15.3%) and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis (13.8%). Of course, for every block Stover registered last season (38), he also recorded a foul (37), so there’s clearly a learning curve he must still conquer. Still, for a mid-major willing to work with the young man in the classroom, the potential (at least on the defensive end) is there.
  3. Quiet among all the other newsworthy things the NCAA has done lately, the governing body has implemented a number of new player eligibility standards that will be phased in by 2016. So why is this important now? As Dana O’Neil explains in this wide-ranging piece, high school freshmen for the Class of 2016 will report to their freshman years at high school in the next few weeks. The new requirements increase the number of core curriculum courses to 16 (10 of which must be completed in the player’s first three years of high school, and seven of those must be in math, science, or English classes), raise the minimum GPA from 2.0 to 2.3, and generally scare the bejeezus out of college coaches everywhere. According to the NCAA, 43 percent of players who entered college basketball in 2009-10 would not have been eligible to play as freshmen under these new standards. Well, that solves the fake coursework problem — now, on to the AAU problem.
  4. More on this later today, but the Legends Classic released its faux-bracket yesterday, and we could be in for quite an early season treat in the new Barclays Arena during Feast Week if things work out. This event is one of those preseason “tournaments” where the semifinal teams are prospectively placed regardless of what happens in the earlier rounds, but if both Indiana and UCLA beat their semifinal opponents (Georgia and Georgetown, respectively), we could be treated with an epic neutral site showdown between two of the nation’s top five teams. Both IU and UCLA boast talent aplenty, and if you believe CBSSports.com’s recent report that IU star Cody Zeller and UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad are the two most coveted players in college basketball by other coaches, then this potential match-up represents the best that November will likely have to offer.
  5. Next season cannot get here soon enough, but SI.com’s Andy Glockner is helping us fill the summer time off with his second annual Twitter-style State of the College Hoops Union piece where he breaks down 53 of the nation’s best teams in 140 characters or less. There’s some good stuff there, so we’d encourage you to stick with the article after reading Arizona’s blurb and his first of more than a dozen awful hoops-related puns. Out like a Lyons in March? Yeah, we meant awful as in good. Somewhere in a lair under a golf course, Jim Nantz is stealing many of Glockner’s better quips.
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Morning Five: 07.27.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 27th, 2012

  1. The academic scandal at North Carolina does not appear to be going away anytime soon as a faculty panel has called for an outside review of the academic fraud scandal. A group of three professors released an internal report that found 54 courses in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies that essentially had little or no oversight and were not up to the academic rigor that you would expect from a college-level course. UNC says the investigation does not need to involve the NCAA because there were some non-athletes (read, very, very few) in the courses, which would allow the school to deny preferential treatment to athletes although anybody with any sense could notice a very strong pattern.
  2. Yesterday, ESPN released the brackets for many of its early season tournaments yesterday and to be quite frank they are for the most part they are uninspiring. A year after having a ridiculous field the Maui Invitational is much less impressive boasting only a few teams that we would be interested in watching. Conversely, the Legends Classic, which has traditionally been much weaker than some of its peer tournaments, has an excellent field including two teams — Indiana and UCLA — that are both legitimate NCAA title contenders.
  3. While on the subject of Indiana, some sad news out of Hoosier Nation as former IU guard Neil Reed, the player who arguably was the primary impetus for Bob Knight’s ouster in Bloomington, died at the tender age of 36 of a heart attack. Some of our younger readers may not remember the story well, but Reed was a hotshot young player in the mid-1990s when Knight notoriously grabbed him by the neck during an Indiana practice in 1997. In the era before ubiquitous camera phones and Youtube, someone later produced a video of the incident (shown here), which became Exhibit A of Knight’s longstanding and reported bullying ways with his players. Then-IU president Myles Brand placed Knight on a zero tolerance policy soon after the video’s release in 2000 (by that time, Reed had moved on to a flameout career at Southern Miss), and within a year of that, he was fired in the wake of a separate incident physical altercation involving another IU student. We always thought that Reed’s situation at Indiana may have been an issue of wrong player/wrong program, but we certainly wish his family and friends nothing but our condolences in this surprising turn of events. For a compelling story about Reed’s time interning at ESPN Magazine during graduate school, check out this piece — it’s a stark and somewhat humbling reminder that everyone has a story behind “their story.”
  4. Las Vegas may be known for the bright lights and glamour, but as Jeff Goodman points out sometimes what happens in Vegas during the July recruiting period stays in Vegas as many of the events are very poorly attended. As Goodman points out there are plenty of college coaches in Las Vegas at this time of the year, but most of them are focused in on a couple of events and often times only on a couple of key players staying to check out those games and then leaving. For more marginal recruits it can be a frustrating experience, but one that they undertake with the goal of earning a Division I basketball scholarship. One wonders if it wouldn’t be better for schools to send a secondary coach–an assistant or even a video coordinator–to some of these smaller events on the off-chance that they catch potential prospect who would probably be delighted to have any school not just the blue-bloods talking to them.
  5. Get used to hearing some of the same voices we’ve gotten used to hearing call basketball games on the various ESPN platforms over the years. In a group announcement, ESPN play-by-play stalwarts Mark Jones, Sean McDonough, Brad Nessler, Dave Pasch, Joe Tessitore and Bob Wischusen all received multi-year contract extensions this week. All but Tessitore has a regular gig involving college hoops, and certainly McDonough and Nessler have become standards within the industry. By the same token, one of the most recognizable college basketball play-by-play men, Jim Nantz, has been chosen to receive the NABC’s Court of Honor Award for this year. The award is given to someone who “has roots in college basketball, values those roots, and has gone on to distinguish himself in his profession, exhibiting the highest standards of leadership.” Aside from his ridiculous championship game colloquialisms (“Simon Says… Championship”), we’ve always enjoyed listening to Nantz’s commentary — 27 straight Final Fours is a rather impressive achievement.
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SNL’s March Madness Spoof

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

In case you missed it over the weekend, Saturday Night Live spoofed CBS’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show with a five-minute skit where they broke down brackets for the Actual Madness (as opposed to the March kind), “the tournament to determine who is the craziest person in the world.”  It’s not the funniest thing we’ve ever watched on that show, nor is it the worst, but the Jim Nantz “golf whisper” quip and the Charlie Sheen bit are respectably funny.  We won’t be offended if you only watch the first twenty seconds of it before turning to something else, but we felt obligated to make sure those of us who were completely inundated by hoops over the weekend have the option.  Here it is:

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The Week That Was: Jan. 17-Jan. 24

Posted by jstevrtc on January 25th, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

Get ready college hoops fanatics. Get ready for the stampede of casual fans that are about to crash the sports bars once the NFL season comes to a close. They’ll have to find something for their sports fix and they’ll turn to college basketball. So be prepared for people asking things like, “Who’s that big guy for Ohio State? He looks pretty good.” Or “San Diego State’s in the top five? Really?!?” Just try to smile and nod at those fools. No need to let them ruin the season’s stretch run.

What We Learned

TWTW Loves Jimmer and Kawhi, But Prefers E'Twaun and the Boilers Traveling to Columbus This Week

Even with SDSU and BYU squaring off on Wednesday, TWTW feels that if there’s only one game you watch this week, make sure it’s Purdue at Ohio State, tonight at 9pm ET. Matt Painter’s squad is one of our favorites and TWTW thinks they’re a good bet to pull off the upset. Purdue rebounded from back-to-back losses at Minnesota and West Virginia to grind out a win over a plucky Penn State squad and then took care of business against reeling Michigan State. It would have been easy for the Boilermakers to fold at the first sign of trouble this season. They have the built-in excuse of Robbie Hummel’s injury, and no one really believed they could sustain their early-season success once they hit the meat of their schedule, but seniors JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore wouldn’t let that two-game losing streak turn into a prolonged swoon. Johnson scored 25 points in the win over PSU, while Moore poured in 26 against the Spartans.

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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. IX

Posted by rtmsf on February 9th, 2010

Backdoor Cuts is a weekly college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh that occasionally touches on relevant subjects. This week the guys turn the volume up in their heads and listen to their favorite fake basketball broadcasters.

DAVE ZEITLIN: Seeing Barack Obama in the broadcast booth for the Duke-Georgetown game last Saturday got us thinking. What other non-basketball people would we like to see call college basketball games? Since my esteemed colleagues seem to hate when I set criteria, I won’t make any. I just hope, like me, they’ll try to pick someone as funny, likable and basketball-savvy as our president. (I think I just made Glenn Beck cry).  After careful consideration (actually, I’ve hardly thought about it all), my No. 1 choice would have to be Will Ferrell — if only because he could switch between Ron Burgundy and Harry Caray, and maybe even throw a little Jackie Moon in there. Just picture a Kentucky-Duke game with Ferrell on the mic alongside Jim Nantz:

Ferrell as Harry Caray: Hey everybody! This should be a fun one as Coach Mike Shacklestein tries to figure out a way to stop John Wall. Hey! What if the world was made up of only walls? How would anyone walk? Oh, and there’s a fly ball to deep center…

Jim Nantz: No, no, no, this isn’t baseball, Will. It’s a basketball game. And I didn’t know you’d be doing voices…

Ferrell as Ron Burgundy: Did you just interrupt Harry? If you were a man, Jim, I would punch you! Right in the mouth! That was great analysis from Harry — compelling and rich. And now we turn our attention to Brian Fantana on Panda Watch.

Jim Nantz: No, there are no pandas here. Can we just talk about the game, please?

Ferrell as Jackie Moon: Sure thing, Jim. I know a lot about basketball. Some would even say I perfected the game. And there’s John Wall performing the play I invented as he leaps and forces the ball in a downward direction through the net off of a high arching pass.

Jim Nantz: I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Billy Packer.

You’d watch that game, wouldn’t you? What’s that? You’d watch anyway because it’s Duke-Kentucky? Shut up, reader.  Also, just because a week can’t go by where I don’t mention Penn (the same way Mike can’t not mention Jersey Shore), I’d like to see Quakers point guard Malcolm Washington’s father call a game. You may have heard of him. His name is Denzel and he sometimes acts in movies. That would be fun.

Finally, there was this bald guy I met once at a game that I think would do a pretty good job behind the microphone. I think his name was Richard Vitale or something, but some people called him Dick. Anyway, he seemed to really love basketball and had a lot of energy so he might be fun to listen to for one half — or one game at the most. After that, you’d probably get sick of him.

MIKE WALSH: Way to name drop, Dave. We’re all very impressed.

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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. I

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2009

backdoorcuts(2)

DAVE ZEITLIN: Everyone these days has a voice. And sometimes, it seems, most people try to use that voice in the most loud and obnoxious way possible. This column won’t be like that. Yes, this column will be a running dialogue between two people (myself and fellow RTC contributor Steve Moore) that will focus on angles, trends, players, coaches, fans and everything else in our favorite sport (which, if you haven’t already guessed, is college basketball).  But we promise not to Stephen A. Smith you, or act like these guys. When we do have debates, they will be civil and funny — and in most cases, I will be right. But, really, our goals with this column are simple. If we can just generate excitement about college basketball, get fans of this site thinking, and end the threat of nuclear war forever, we will have done our job.

Why should you read us? Well, for starters, the column will appear in THE place to get your college basketball news, rushthecourt.net (that’s a plug, people). Secondly, we’re both award-winning sportswriters for Philadelphia-area newspapers (yes, we know no one reads newspapers; why do you think we’re writing this column?). Thirdly, we both really, really like college basketball. (Like a lot. Like in unhealthy ways. Like we may or may not sacrifice non-vital organs for the chance to touch Gus Johnson’s larynx.) And finally, you should feel bad for us since we both root for mid-major teams that have little to no chance of winning a NCAA tournament game. I root for the mighty Penn Quakers of the Ivy League (hence the name of this column), while Steve roots for Boston University, whose best all-time basketball player is Mike Eruzione, who played hockey. This column is our salvation.

Throughout the season, we will flood you with topics from around the college basketball landscape, while splicing in semi-informed opinions and slightly irrelevant historical and pop culture references. But we wanted to start with an interesting news story that is just coming across the wire: a study that finds that college basketball referees tend to show biases in certain situations. The study basically says that a) refs favor the home team; b) refs try to even the score; c) refs do like to make “make-up” calls; and d) Duke gets every call no matter what because how can you not be terrified of this man? I have a few thoughts on this right off the bat, but I’ll let Steve — the Robin to my Batman, or Billy Packer to my Jim Nantz — take the ball and run with this one to start.

STEVE MOORE: First of all, how come you get to be Batman? Secondly, I’ve touched Gus Johnson’s larynx, and it wasn’t all that memorable. Bill Raftery’s onions, however…well that’s a different story.

Anyway, Dave did a good job of introducing our lame attempt at analysis and humor, so I won’t try to one-up him there. Except to point out that people do read newspapers (like my grandfather), and that Mike Eruzione is a national hero who doesn’t appreciate being mocked. I asked him.

Now to the topic at hand. I didn’t need a professor to tell me that referees are biased, especially toward home teams or when they know people are watching on TV. The question really is: Does it matter? I would argue that it doesn’t, and that it’s actually better for the game this way.

Do you really want your officials to not have a mind of their own? With all these debates about out or safe, strike or ball, or handball-that-destroyed-the-hopes-of-an-entire-Guiness-drinking-nation, we always hear people say “I just want them to get the call right.” Well in basketball, the only calls we have that are similar to those are whether a shot is released before the buzzer — and we already allow replay for that situation. Everything else is subjective, and open to interpretation by reasonable men (and women) who work just as hard as the players.

Every basketball fan knows that the home crowd sways officials — that’s why there’s such a thing as homecourt advantage. And make-up calls are a part of the game that we may scream about as fans, but they work out in favor of your team just as often as they hurt (unless you’re playing Duke). I was all set to come out and say that officials should be fair and never let the crowd influence them, etc., etc. And I’m sure none of them do it consciously. But think about it: Would you really want every game officiated by a robot? By an objective observer who doesn’t understand anything about flow, rhythym, or a certain spot in the game? Whether you like it or not, a foul in the first half is not the same as a foul in the second half — and it shouldn’t be. Let the players play. That’s another mantra we always hear. Well, by the strict definition of the rule book, there is likely at least one foul on EVERY POSSESSION in a college game. Everyone moves their feet on screens, everyone travels, everyone palms the ball, and everyone uses their hands on defense. But smart officials understand what they’re looking at, and know when something needs to be called.

Are there bad refs? Of course. Do good refs have bad nights? Absolutely. But part of the fun of being a hoops fan are those throwaway arguments, like “you’ll never get that call on the road.” Why do you think places like Cameron are so tough for opponents? It’s because officials get a little gun-shy with the whistle since they don’t want to hear it from the crowd. It’s human nature, and it’s part of what makes college basketball great.

Your move, caped crusader…

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The Hypocrisy of ESPN

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2009

Before I get started, I want to reiterate our stance against the scumbags who surreptitiously videotaped Erin Andrews in the clips that apparently came out almost 4 months ago and somehow remained unknown before exploding on the Internet one week ago. . .

As you may know by now the past week has been a particularly trying one for the sports media overlords in Bristol as they have been hit by the aforementioned peephole video scandal, which their own sister network claims might have been an inside job [Ed. Note: Can ESPN sue its parent company?],  and the Ben Roethlisberger fiasco where they waited several days to announce the news that one of the most recognizable athletes in America had a sexual assault charge filed against him. Perhaps the most interesting story out of Bristol this week was that ESPN had decided to blacklist all New York Post staff members from appearing on any ESPN or any of their outlets after the Post ran screencaps of the infamous videos that left little to the imagination. On a basic visceral level, most people would agree to ESPN’s decision as they would  be disgusted by the decision of the Post brain trust to run the screencaps.

hypocrisy meter

The situation becomes a little more dicey when 2 other major media outlets (CBS and FOX News) decided to show the actual clips on their news broadcasts. If the front office people at ESPN actually had a policy or stance regarding the use of these illegally filmed clips, they should have taken a similar stance against CBS and FOX staff members. This raises an interesting question: Why did ESPN single out the New York Post? While some may argue that it was the way the Post utilized the images, we find that rather hard to believe. Although CBS and FOX were not as sensational in their presentation of the clips as the Post was they are in fact doing the same thing–using the illegal footage to try and further their story. For our money, there is a simple answer as to why ESPN singled out the Post staff members for their blacklist–because they can.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day Two

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2009

dynamiteWe’ll be doing a full BGtD today so you won’t have any interruptions in coverage tonight. Honestly, last night’s games were kind of disappointing. Pittsburgh-Xavier was entertaining, but that was the only game that I would say was memorable from a pure basketball standpoint. Now the other games did have their own interesting subplots. UConn rolled over Purdue in a game that was close at points in the 2nd half, but I never really got the sense that the Huskies were in any danger of losing. I was particularly impressed with how the Huskies played despite the media circus that is going on around them. Missouri‘s victory over Memphis was entertaining although for me it was marred a little by the atrocious free throw shooting. As we mentioned last night, I really wonder what John Calipari does, if he does anything, for his team’s free throw shooting. At this point, I’m convinced J.J. Redick would have shot 70% from the free throw line if he had gone to Memphis. Also, what happened to vaunted Memphis defense. Missouri has a good offense, but they shouldn’t be able to hit triple digits in regulation against a team that went into the game with the #1 defense according to the Pomeroy numbers. I’m sure some of you took great pleasure in watching Villanova pick apart Duke leading to another early March exit for Coach K, but the game wasn’t exactly exciting if you didn’t have a rooting interest for (or in most people’s case against) a team.

The line-up for tonight should give us a couple of interesting games:

  • 7:07 PM: #12 Arizona vs. #1 Louisville
  • 7:27  PM: #3 Syracuse vs. #2 Oklahoma
  • 9:37 PM: #3 Kansas vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 9:57 PM: #4 Gonzaga vs. #1 UNC

We’ll be back around 7 for the start of tonight’s action. Leave your comments/questions and we’ll respond to them as soon as we start.

6:55 PM: A couple quick pieces of news to pass along in the midst of this Billy Gillispie madness and these somewhat important games tonight. Clemson‘s star forward Trevor Booker will return for his senior year. The news out of Iowa isn’t as good after Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, and David Palmer announced that they are transfering, which means that Todd Lickliter will need to replace 2 starting guards and a reserve forward.

7:10 PM: Chase Budinger makes a great play to temper Louisville’s great start. He’s going to need to have a great game tonight. If both teams use the press tonight, we’re going to get a blowout (and I think it will end up going in Louisville’s favor).

7:12 PM: I should warn you that I’m a big Chase Budinger fan so you’ve been warned. I haven’t seen a lot of him this year (stupid west coast starts), but I think he has the makings of a very solid NBA player.

7:14 PM: That’s not a good stat for Arizona. Only 6 Wildcats have scored in the NCAA tournament.

7:19 PM: Great play by Edgar Sosa feeding it to Preston Knowles. This pressure is going to kill Arizona if they only go 6 deep.

7:28 PM: I don’t think it will matter tonight, but I hope you paid attention to that FT statistic. Louisville shoots 63.8% as a team (307th out of 334 teams). That will come back to bite them. Just ask John Calipari. Actually he probably wouldn’t admit it because his team was just as bad last night. . .

7:30 PM: I think that any Blue Devil who mentions that they made the 1994 title game should put an asterisk by it on their resume saying that they rode Grant Hill‘s coattails there. If you don’t agree with me, see what happened the next year even if Coach K missed the last 2/3 of the season.

7:31 PM: It looks dead in Memphis. What do you guys think? I’m guessing it’s only 20% full. UNC fans must have bought up most of the stadium.

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Rating the Sweet Sixteen Announcers

Posted by jstevrtc on March 26th, 2009

John Stevens is a featured writer for Rush The Court.

It looks like CBS has made its selections and placements for the Sweet 16 announcing crews.  I think this is important for a couple of reasons; first, because we got us some heavyweights going at it this weekend and these matchups deserve top-drawer announcers; and second, because when you consider some of the tournament’s great moments, the announcing calls are just as much a part of the history as the actual visual images.  It’s good to have the big boys behind the mics in case a legendary event happens.  That said, let’s take a look at, and rate, the pairings.

The New #1 Crew
The New #1 Crew (image credit: daylife.com)

SOUTHJim Nantz (pbp) and Clark Kellogg (color)
Games:  North Carolina v. Gonzaga and Syracuse v. Oklahoma (Friday)
Grade:  C+

This is the premiere crew, as CBS would have you believe.  I give this pairing a C+ because I think these two gentlemen are still working on their rhythm with Kellogg having taken over the seat previously occupied by Billy Packer.  Jim Nantz, despite being one of the consensus nice guys in television and a man who has more than put in his time as far as being a basketball announcer, has just never done it for me as a play-by-play man.  He’s always struck me as a big-picture, in-the-studio guy, the captain of the whole ship.  I have nothing against Kellogg or Nantz as individuals, but because they’re still feeling each other out this late in the year, I don’t think it’s the “premiere,” automatic, Final Four crew any more.  Plus, Syracuse v. Oklahoma is going to be an absolute war, and I think it’s a game that’s just tailor-made for Gus Johnson at the play-by-play mic, or Raftery doing color, or — God help us all — both.

Lundquist and Raf. (image credit: ning.com)

EAST Verne Lundquist (pbp) and Bill Raftery (color)
Games:  Pittsburgh v. Xavier and Villanova v. Duke (Thursday)
Grade:  B

I’ll admit, there’s really no reason to give this pairing anything other than an ‘A’ except for my own sour grapes.  I always loved the pairing of Lundquist with Len Elmore.  Plus, if CBS reunited them, it could slide Raftery over to the seat next to Gus Johnson and blow the speakers out of your television.  Both Lundquist and Raftery still give me the impression that they’re still amazed to be getting paid for doing this for a living, and when that comes through, it always enhances my enjoyment of a game they’re calling.  Especially Raf.  Those tag-lines that we all know — “The Kiss!” or “A little lingerie, Mr. Lundquist!” or “Onions!!” — just never get old to me.  Also, if a legendary moment presents itself, you know neither of these guys is going to drop the ball.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.14.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2009

dynamiteWelcome back to the weekend edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite. First off I’d like to commend rtmsf for his strong work on yesterday’s BGtD. You guys really have no idea how exhausting it is doing a full day’s worth of this is and he managed to do it with only a short break although it almost caused me to give up working on the site after being forced to endure the American-Holy Cross game yesterday. As he outlined in his After the Buzzer post last night/this morning, there are 12 conference championship games today. For the sake of maintaining our sanity and having enough energy in the tank for our huge March Madness preview, we’ll be taking multiple shifts but we promise to coordinate it so you won’t miss anything during our handoffs.

6:00 AM: Yes. That’s actually the time I’m starting this thanks to a “short nap” that ended up going from 9 PM to 5 AM. Obviously my posts will be infrequent in the early morning hours, but I’ll be passing along some news and links to you before the games start at 11 AM. The New York Times has been stepping it up with their college sports blog “The Quad” recently and has an interesting post on Louisville‘s Terrence Williams and his pre-game ritual of the giving himself a pep talk during the national anthem. Before anybody thinks this might be a Chris Jackson Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf situation, it should be noted that Williams actually stands during the anthem and is supposedly talking about family members that he has lost and asking that everyone on the court avoids injuries. Of course, we can’t verify this, but if we have any lip-readers in our vast legion of RTC readers, we would love hear your take on this particularly if you have seen this is in person.

7:00 AM: Before I head out for a few minutes to take care of some errands like stocking up on groceries for the coming storm where I probably won’t leave my apartment for 3 weeks. I thought I would pass along one of my favorite things we are doing at RTC right now. We enlisted the help of our correspondents and got them to send us their favorite March memories. We narrowed down the submissions to the 16 best entries and are counting down to #1, which will be revealed on Wednesday (the day before the tournament starts). I’d encourage you to check out the entries we have so far and keep on coming back throughout the day to see what they selected as their favorite March memories and then chime in with your memories on those moments.

8:45 AM: Ok. False alarm on that grocery run. Apparently Costco doesn’t open until 9:30 so after this post I’ll be on a short break. So today’s RTC East breakfast is brought to you by Flour Bakery and consists of their Bobby Flay-slaying “Sticky Buns” and a twice-baked brioche. Here’s a quick run-down of the games (title game in red–there’s a lot of red) that I will be focusing on today:

Early Games

  • UMBC vs. Binghamton at 11 AM on ESPN2 for the America East title
  • Memphis vs. #3 Tulsa at 11:35 AM on CBS for the Conference USA title

Afternoon Games

  • Mississippi State vs. #16 LSU at 1 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • #6 Michigan State vs. Ohio State at 1:30 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals
  • #1 UNC vs. #22 FSU at 1:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • Tennessee vs. Auburn at 3 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • Maryland vs. #8 Duke at 3:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • #25 Illinois vs. #24 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals

Evening Games

  • #23 Arizona State vs. USC at 6 PM on CBS for the Pac-10 title
  • Baylor vs. #15 Missouri at 6 PM on ESPN for the Big 12 title
  • Temple vs. Duquesne at 6 PM on ESPN2 for the Atlantic 10 title

Late Night Games

  • San Diego State vs. Utah at 7 PM on Versus for the Moutain West title
  • Morgan State vs. Norfolk State at 7 PM on ESPNU for the MEAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Buffalo vs. Akron at 8 PM on ESPN2 for the MAC title
  • #5 Louisville vs. #20 Syracuse at 9 PM on ESPN for the Big East title
  • Jackson State vs. Alabama State at 9 PM on ESPNU for the SWAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Utah State vs. Nevada at 10 PM on ESPN2 for the WAC title
  • Cal State-Northridge vs. Pacific at 11:59 PM on ESPN2 for the Big West title (This one is questionable)

10:55 AM: Ok. I’m back from my extended Costco run and have enough food to last me through the week. A quick summary on the early games. In the America East, Binghamton is a 5-6 point favorite (depending on your gambling establishment of choice). Honestly, I’m surprised that they aren’t bigger favorites since they come in at 22-8 while UMBC comes in 15-16 and the game is at Binghamton. It could be interesting though as they split the season series in the regular season with Binghamton winning the last game of the regular season at home against UMBC 71-51. I’m guessing the America East commissioner is rooting for UMBC to avoid the embarrassment of the CBS announcers having to explain why the conference’s regular season leading scorer (D.J Rivera) was left off the all-conference team. In Conference USA, Memphis is a 14-point favorite against Tulsa. Memphis might be playing for a #1 seed even with their ridiculously easy schedule. We’re hoping this game is more like the first time they met (a 55-54 Memphis win) rather the last time they met (a 63-37 Memphis win). I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be more like the latter, but we’ll be following it anyways to get a last look at Memphis before CBS’s new Billy Packer rips the NCAA selection committee for putting them over a Big East team.

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Thoughts on Kansas-UNC

Posted by nvr1983 on April 5th, 2008

Wow. If the Memphis-UCLA game gave us a dominating performance, this game gave us a roller-coaster ride. I called one of my friends who is a UNC fan when Kansas was up by 22. He didn’t answer (not a surprise) so I left a message that consisted mostly of me laughing. I kept on expecting a return call from him in the 2nd half, but mercifully that call will never happen.

1) I don’t think I have ever seen a quality team get blown out as decisively as UNC did at the beginning of the game. Kansas was all over the court and UNC looked like their feet were in cement. The only thing I can think of that comes close to this was the 2001 Duke-Maryland Final 4 game that Packer and Nantz refered to the entire game. Although Packer blew it when he said “This game is over” with 7:32 left in the 1st half, he was quick to criticize the Jayhawks for letting the Tar Heels back in the game late in 1st half.

2) The next 15 minutes were a completely different story. Kansas wore down after their torrid start. UNC didn’t even play exceptionally well to make the game close again. Kansas just kept on making dumb plays and coming up short on 3s while UNC played solidly hitting a few 3s to get themselves back in the game. UNC cut it to 54-50 with 11:16 left. At that point, I fully expected UNC to win this game.

3) Amazingly the guy who may have saved the season for the Jayhawks was Sasha Kaun, who made several nice plays just before the 6 minute mark to give Kansas some much needed breathing room (because they were choking if you didn’t notice).

4) In the end, Kansas used a late spurt to win rather easily (in relative terms). Tyler Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington both had decent if unspectacular games. The key for UNC was that Ty Lawson was awful going 2 for 8 (1 was a meaningless jumper with 20 secs left) from the floor and allowing Kansas to force a ton of UNC turnovers. I know it was the whole UNC team that was turning it over early, but Lawson should have made sure that Kansas didn’t steal the ball every freaking time in that first half stretch. I’m not really sure what to make of this Kansas team. Which team will show up on Monday night?

5) Tip of the hat to the Kansas fans for what I thought was a “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk” towards the end of the game.

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