First Round Game Analysis: Friday Afternoon

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Friday afternoon games.


12:15 pm – #2 West Virginia vs. #15 Morgan State  (Buffalo pod)

West Virginia enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation. They squeaked out an enormous road win at Villanova to end the regular season then swept through Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Georgetown en route to a Big East championship riding the heroics of Da’Sean Butler. The Mountaineers are an extremely gifted rebounding team; in fact, sometimes their best offense comes after a missed shot. They feature multiple weapons that can step out and shoot a mid-range jumper or three from Wellington Smith to Kevin Jones to the all-around dynamo Butler. Also, few teams can match West Virginia’s intensity in the halfcourt defensively. Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman will need a gigantic scoring output from their own star, Baltimore native Reggie Holmes. Holmes scored 25 or more points fifteen times this season, averaging 21.3 PPG and ranking in the top-50 in percentage of shots taken. The Bears also feature a rugged forward named Kevin Thompson who comes in at fifth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. In fact, Morgan State ranks 11th in the country as a team in that very category. Unfortunately for the underdogs, West Virginia is never outworked on the glass, not with Jones, Devin Ebanks and Bob Huggins prominently involved.

The Skinny: This one shouldn’t be close from the tip. Morgan State dominated the MEAC all season, but West Virginia is flying high at this point. Expect the Mountaineers to dominate by 25-30 points.

12:25 pm – #6 Xavier vs. #11 Minnesota  (Milwaukee pod)

The answer to which team will win this game depends entirely on which Gopher team shows up to play in Milwaukee.  Will it be the defensive juggernaut that held Purdue to 11 first  half points last Saturday, or will it be the team that got obliterated by Ohio State 52-29 in the second half on Sunday?  Tubby Smith’s team has been schizophrenic like that all year, following up strong wins with disastrous performances (two losses to Michigan?  really?), which probably explains why they were a bubble team up until Sunday evening.  Xavier comes into this one with the stronger resume, but it’s difficult to say if the Musketeers are the better team.  When he plays under control, XU’s Jordan Crawford is a talent, and his supporting case of Jason Love on the interior and Terrell Holloway running the show makes for nice balance throughout the Xavier lineup.  The question we have is who will win the defensive battle, though.  Xavier defends the three really well, while Minnesota behind Blake Hoffarber and Lawrence Westbrook both shoot it equally as well.  This game is essentially a tossup (Vegas agrees, setting Minny as a one-point favorite), and we really liked the first seven halves of basketball that the Gophers put up in Indianapolis on a neutral floor last week, so we’re going with the extremely mild 6/11 upset here, in a close game that comes down to the last possession. 

The Skinny: Despite the seedings, this is a tossup game and we like the Gophers to win it on the last possession. 

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RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.16.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

South Region Notes (Patrick Sellars)

  • The first “upset” of the tournament occurred in the South Region when SWAC champion Arkansas Pine-Bluff took down the Big South tournament champion Winthrop, 61-44. The Golden Lions earned the right to play top seeded Duke on Friday night.
  • When #9 Louisville takes on #8 California on Friday night, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino says he’ll be ready for the Bears’ “organized chaos.”  There is also an interesting quote in the article from Cardinals’ guard Edgar Sosa that says he has heard Cal referred to as “poor man’s Marquette”.
  • Utah State’s leading scorer, junior guard Tai Wesley, broke his nose in the WAC tournament final on Saturday when the Aggies got pounded by New Mexico State.  He will play in the Aggies’ upcoming game versus Texas A&M, but you have to wonder what kind of effect it will have on USU’s star. On TAMU’s side, they will have Dash Harris back in the lineup after he missed the Big 12 Tournament with a bone bruise in his right wrist. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that if his team wants any chance to win this weekend, they will need Harris healthy.
  • Fran McCaffery is not letting his Siena team think they can beat Purdue by just showing up in Spokane on Friday. He says Purdue is by far the best team Siena will face all season even without Robbie Hummel. You’d have to think a Butler Bulldogs fan would think otherwise.
  • Here is an interesting article from The Times-Picayune which highlights the #3 Baylor vs. #14 Sam Houston State game. Not only are the two teams from Texas, but they have two New Orleans natives returning to their home town for the first round. Star senior guards Tweety Carter (Baylor) and Ashton Mitchell (Sam Houston State) both played their high school ball in The Big Easy.
  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer about his team’s lackluster play in first round games the past two seasons. Wright said “we’ve survived first-round games, but we really haven’t played well in first-round games.”

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

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Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

Standings

  1. Oakland                                               12-7       (6-0)
  2. IUPUI                                                     12-7       (5-1)
  3. South Dakota State                         9-8          (5-1)
  4. Oral Roberts                                      9-9          (4-3)
  5. UMKC                                                    8-8          (2-3)
  6. North Dakota State                         5-10       (2-3)
  7. IPFW                                                     7-9          (2-4)
  8. Centenary                                           6-11       (2-5)
  9. Western Illinois                              7-9          (1-5)
  10. Southern Utah                                  5-12       (1-5)

Top Storylines

  • IUPUI beat Oral Roberts at home 90-87. You can now legitimately argue that IUPUI is just as good as Oakland, if not better, and the Golden Grizzlies will be looking over their shoulder the rest of the way.
  • Oakland is on a 12-game conference win streak right now, dating back to late last year. The record is held by Cleveland State with 16. The way things are going for Oakland, they are going to blow that record away.
  • In Thursday night’s game, both IUPUI coach Ron Hunter and ORU coach Scott Sutton went an entire game shoeless to draw awareness to Samaritan’s Feat, a nonprofit organization that accepts shoe donations and distributes them to needy children worldwide.

    Last Week

    The Summit was quiet last week, with only four games played. However we still learned a couple new things: 1) IUPUI is good. Oakland is still better, but how much better? I can’t wait until these two meet again.  The power struggle between these two will be the top storyline going forward this year. 2) Maybe ORU can’t overcome the bad hand they have been dealt by injuries. It’s a shame, because it was looking like IUPUI, Oakland, and ORU were going to battle until the end. ORU just can’t win on the road, and even though the two losses to Oakland and IUPUI were by a combined six points, it’s still clear that they are on the outside looking in.

    Alpha Squads: Oakland, IUPUI

    Contenders: South Dakota, Oral Roberts

    Long Shots: North Dakota, UMKC

    Bottom FeedersIPFW, Centenary, Southern Utah, Western Illinois

    Team Breakdowns

    In a nutshell, there are three teams that can win the conference from this point in the season and South Dakota State and Oral Roberts are fighting for that third position. The Golden Grizzlies and the Jags are rolling while Oral Roberts is reeling, but they can bounce back. It is going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    • Oakland: Still Rolling.  I am really impressed with preseason player of the year, Jonathan Jones. Is it safe to change his name to Jon Jones yet? This guy is a man, and he owns every guard in this conference. He is clearly the number one player. His stat line is not huge, just 12/6/2 stls, but he doesn’t have to score with all those weapons available to him at Oakland.
    • IUPUI: Hear those footsteps? That‘s IUPUI closing the gap on Oakland.  Big conference win over Oral Roberts at home. People are paying attention now.
    • South Dakota: The enigma team. They shouldn’t be doing this well, but they are. It probably has something to do with having three players shooting 82% or better from the line. No other team has more than one. That can get you wins in close games they might have lost in the past.
    • Oral Roberts: Their three conference losses came from the three teams above, does that mean they are the fourth best team? Maybe, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish right here in fourth.  Scott Sutton is a great coach, but no coach in America can survive a long season after losing half his team.
    • UMKC: Just a little short on talent to compete with the big boys, but on a good night, they could squeak by South Dakota and Oral Roberts.
    • North Dakota State: They are a long way from the days of Ben Woodside. 5-10 is not where you want to be to say the least.
    • IPFW: I had a fan ask me during one Summit League game “what is a Mastodon (the IPFW mascot) anyway?” I said, “kind of like an elephant.” They could use an elephant in their roster; they’re too small to be a serious threat to anyone.
    • Centenary: The Gents are already having a better season than last year, and although his production dropped, David Perez is still scoring 17 points a game.
    • Southern Utah: They lost to IPFW and only managed to score 56 points. They are in serious need of offensive production.
    • Western Illinois: They blew out Centenary by 19, so we know they can still win. I hate to see teams play poorly, so I hope they can start getting things together in the second half of the season.

    Games to Watch

    • Tulsa @ Oral Roberts, Wednesday, January 20. 7 p.m. – Rumor has it that this game is already sold out. Over 11,000 fans expected for this one, and it should be split right down the middle. Crosstown rivals will be battling for the Mayor’s Cup, and city pride on the line. This game is always good, and both teams want to win it and can.
    • Oakland @ South Dakota State, Saturday, January 23, 7:30 p.m. - I cant imagine Oakland losing this one, but its #1 vs. #3 in the conference, and it could be a great opportunity for South Dakota to prove something.
    • North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts, Thursday January 28, 7 p.m. - Oral Roberts is looking to avenge last year’s heartbreaking loss at home that won the Summit League regular season crown for NDSU. There is a lot of bad blood between these two schools, and no Ben Woodside to save NDSU. Expect a good, close game.
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    Checking in on… the Summit League

    Posted by jstevrtc on January 9th, 2010

    Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

    Standings:

    1. Oakland   10-7 (4-0)
    2. South Dakota State   8-8 (4-1)
    3. IUPUI   10-7 (3-1)
    4. Oral Roberts   8-8 (3-2)
    5. UMKC   8-7 (2-2)
    6. Centenary   6-9 (2-3)
    7. North Dakota State    5-9 (2-3)
    8. IPFW   6-8 (1-3)
    9. Southern Utah   5-10 (1-3)
    10. Western Illinois   6-8 (0-4)

    Top Stories:

    • Oakland Center Keith Benson earned his third Summit League Player of the Week award while averaging 21 points and 9.5 rebounds in two conference wins. He is drawing a lot of draft buzz as of late, and I don’t see anyone matching up with this guy in the conference. His numbers are going to blow up in the next month.
    • Oral Roberts became the first Summit League team this season to defeat a ranked opponent. On December 23, Oral Roberts dismantled previously unbeaten New Mexico, 75-66. The win becomes even more impressive when you consider the fact that Oral Roberts is suiting up only six scholarship players because of injuries.

    Last Week:

    The big game of the week was Oakland at Oral Roberts, the two juggernauts of the Summit League. Oakland won the game, 67-64, claiming its first victory at ORU since 2000. Neither team was too impressive. Both teams could easily be upset, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both of these teams failed to make the NCAA tournament. ORU lacks toughness needed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and even though they have impressive wins against Stanford, Missouri, and #12 New Mexico, it just seems like their young players don’t understand what it means to win yet. When it comes down to who wants it more, Oral Roberts hasn’t shown they are that team this season. Oakland has tons of talent, but they are routinely getting outcoached. Greg Kampe has a bad track record when his team is a favorite, and I’m not convinced they can live up to the pressure of being a favorite in this conference. Expect a dark horse team to upset them in the conference tournament and make the NCAA.

    Alpha-squads: Oakland, IUPUI

    The Contenders: Oral Roberts, North Dakota

    The Long-Shots: South Dakota, UMKC

    The Bottom-Feeders: IPFW, Centenary, Southern Utah, Western Illinois

    Oakland – I could tell you the numbers of the Oakland stars — like Keith Benson and Jonathan Jones — but the bottom line is this team is beatable. If they are focused and locked in, Oakland has five guys that can score at any time. But when they let up, this team can be beat by anyone in this conference. They may win 24 or 25 games, but when the conference tournament comes around, I would be nervous if I was a Golden Grizzly fan.

    IUPUI — This team is going to be scary down the stretch. They have been playing well, and I expect them to finish second in this conference. They lost by three at Oakland last week, and forwards Alex Young and Robert Glenn are dominating. The Jags are my favorite dark-horse at this point.

    Oral Roberts — This is the definition of a Jekyll and Hyde team. They win on the road in Stanford, they dismiss Missouri and New Mexico at home, but they lose to South Dakota and Oakland with two of the worst basketball games I have ever seen in terms of overall execution. You could blame it of the horrible refs (seven fouls in 30 seconds at one point in the game against Oakland), but in reality Oral Roberts has no one to blame but themselves. Since their win against New Mexico they have shot an abysmal 38% from the field, and 63% from the line. Maturity is needed before the Golden Eagles can be taken seriously.

    North Dakota — The Bison really are not that good, but who below them is going to be better? Michael Tveidt is playing well and that may be enough to keep them above the other competition.

    South Dakota — This was the team at the beginning of the year for whom I had the highest expectations, and so far — holding a 4-1 conference record — they are living up to them.

    UMKC — The days when UMKC was a conference force seems so long ago. Their small lineup gets physically beaten by the top teams. On the bright side, UMKC already has as many wins as they did all last year, standing at eight for the year.

    IPFW — They showed some promise on the defensive end, holding Western Illinois to 49 points in their last game. On the other hand, how hard is it to do that? We are talking about Western Illinois. Deilvez Yearby, the lone star on IPFW, has scored in double figures every game this year, and has posted 16.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3 BPG so far this season.

    Centenary — The Gents are in a tough position, being demoted from D-1 basketball at the end of the year, but they are still playing hard, and that deserves a shout-out.

    Southern Utah — It’s hard to find anything good about this team. But they have blocked a shot in every game this season. Always glass half-full.

    Western Illinois — Forget what I said about the glass half-full stuff, these guys are bad.

    To sum-up the season so far, Oakland is the best team and they should be looking to dominate this conference all the way to the big dance, and they just might. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were upset by a team like IUPUI or even Oral Roberts. I could see the best team in this conference not making the NCAA tournament — in other words, it is still wide open.

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    Checking In On… the Summit League

    Posted by jstevrtc on December 4th, 2009

    checkinginon

    Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

    Current Standings (Overall Record/League Record):

    1. IUPUI  (6-2/1-0)
    2. Centenary  (4-2/1-0)
    3. Oral Roberts  (4-4/1-0)
    4. North Dakota State  (3-3/1-0)
    5. Oakland  (3-4/0-0)
    6. IPFW  (2-3/0-0)
    7. UMKC  (3-3/0-1)
    8. Western Illinois  (3-4/0-1)
    9. Southern Utah  (3-5/0-1)
    10. South Dakota State  (2-5/0-1)

    Top Storylines:

    • Whatever could go wrong has gone wrong for Oral Roberts University to start this season.  After getting an emotional win against Stanford, everything came crashing down to earth when they discovered that their junior point guard Rod Pearson became the third player THIS YEAR to suffer a season-ending ACL tear.  To make matters worse, the third string point guard, sophomore Beloved Rodgers, quit the team last week as well.  Apparently he was not happy with the minutes he was seeing.  So Scott Sutton was forced to activate his fourth-string emergency guard, redshirt freshman Mikey Mangum.  Who knew the most valuable player of the Golden Eagles season would not be a player at all, but the personal trainer?  Here is a suggestion:  stretch before games.
    • Oakland continues to roll, with Keith Benson earning player of the week honors, averaging 20/11/5 blocks in three games last week.  Also, Oakland guard Jonathan Jones became the conference’s all-time assist leader when he dished out 11 in a win over Central Arkansas on November 28; he now has 639 for his career.  The previous record holder was Valparaiso legend Bryce Drew (626).
    • The non-conference schedule is wrapping up for most of the Summit League, with only IUPUI, Centenary, and UMKC coming out on top with winning records.  Oral Roberts and Oakland remain neck and neck according to their records, but in reality, Oral Roberts has fallen back even further with the loss of four key players.  It’s never good when your second-string shooting guard, Kyron Stokes, now becomes your first-string point guard.  The Summit is still the 20th or 21st best conference in the country, so the one coveted bid will hinge on the conference play.  Anything can happen at this point, and this week will be a good indicator as to who are the true contenders.

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    Checking in on the… Summit League

    Posted by nvr1983 on February 15th, 2009

    Ryan Pravato of College Fast Break is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

    North Dakota State Bison 19-5 (13-1)
    11 games and counting since this squad last lost a game (Jan. 2 @ Oakland). Three out of their last four wins have been by at least 20. In a 38-point murder of UMKC on Thursday, 11 different players scored for NDSU and their 4th leading scorer Michael Tviedt was not one of them.

    Ben Woodside (left), Senior, 5’11″: Leads the conference is scoring, 2nd in assists, and totally needs to acquire a license for his guns. Balances the duties of point guard and go-to scorer perfectly.

    Brett Winkleman (middle), Senior, 6’6″: 3rd in the conference in scoring, tied for 3rd in rebounding, and his last name is Winkleman.

    Mike Nelson (right), Senior, 6’4″: NDSU’s 3rd leading scorer, 3rd in minutes/game, and 1st in headshot creepiness.

    Woodside, Winkleman, & Nelson

    Woodside, Winkleman, & Nelson

    Oral Roberts Golden Eagles 12-13 (10-3)
    oralrobertsExtended their 33-game conference home winning streak by squeaking past Western Illinois on Thursday, an important win considering the two game slide they were on coming into the game. Home date February 24th vs. NDSU.

    Robert Jarvis (left) Senior, 5’11: 5th in the conference in scoring, probably has bigger guns than Woodside, and shoots a lackluster 38.5% from the field. Guy thinks his fecal matter and jump shot don’t smell.

    Marcus Lewis (right), Senior, 6’8″: Oral’s 2nd leading scorer, team leader in FG% by a mile, and is tied for the team lead in assists (averages more feeds than Jarvis).

    Jarvis & Lewis

    Jarvis & Lewis

    Oakland Grizzlies 15-11 (8-5)
    Two straight victories after two straight losses have the Grizz still in the hunt for the #2 seed. Celebs were in full force when Centenary traveled to Rochester for a date on the 7th. Didn’t actually see Joe Cribbs Car Wash mastermind Jerry with my own two eyes (almost sold out), but he was there.

    Erik Kangas (left), Senior, 6’3″: The best shooter in the nation (inside joke, actually, wait a second) is 3rd in the country in total threes made, 2nd in the conference in scoring, and 2nd on the team in minutes/game (36.3).

    Jonathon Jones (middle), Junior, 5’11″: J.J. currently has the most total assists in the nation, leads the team in minutes/game (38), and is only shooting 39.5% from the field (it’s unhealthy to be too much of a homer, got to keep it real).

    Keith Benson (right), Redshirt Sophomore, 6’11″: Had to throw the big guy in here because he’s blocking over 2 shots/game (best in the conference.), 2nd on the team in scoring with 13.7, and the only guy I know who can effectively smile while swatting a shot, “running” back on defense, and getting cussed at by Coach Kampe. I’m telling you, the Only Guy.

    Kangas, Jones, & Benson

    Kangas, Jones, & Benson

    The Others…

    • Southern Utah had a golden opportunity to draw within one game of Oakland for 3rd place with a win @ SDSU on Thursday, but couldn’t get it done.
    • After a 5-4 beginning in conference play, Centenary has lost four straight games by double figures.
    • IUPUI is quietly lurking at 7-7 thanks to a 5-1 record since Jan. 24th.
    • I think it’s safe to assume 2-10 UMKC won’t qualify for the Summit league tourney at this rate.
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