ATB: Weekend Review

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2008

afterbuzzer1

What a Saturday! We hope you had as much on Saturday as we did, sitting around in our sweats in front of a family member’s HD flatscreen while the wind pushed thermometers to nearly zero outside.  If there was ever a day for lazing around and watching nothing but college hoops, this was it.  And the games did not let us down.  From Minnesota to Gonzaga/Arizona St. to Xavier to Steph Curry, there were upsets, great finishes, shocking blowouts and a struggling all-american for good measure.

Game of the Year (to date). Connecticut 88, Gonzaga 83 (OT). For our money, the Connecticut-Gonzaga game in Seattle was the game of the year thus far.  Each team brought NBA-level talent and NCAA Tournament intensity to this one, and it took an extra period to finish it off.  We really felt as if we were watching a March game in December.  Both teams ran out to leads where they appeared the far superior team, and both teams made huge plays to get back into the game, capped off by a simply astounding three to send the game into OT by AJ Price (where he was floating left and had a man right in his face upon the release).  For large portions of this game, Gonzaga looked like a F4 team, with Austin Daye’s captivating talent (13/5) all over the court, Josh Heytvelt’s steady interior play (15/3) and Jeremy Pargo’s timely forays (16/4 assts) into the paint (not to mention Steven Gray’s 23/7/4 assts off the bench).   The Zag D held UConn to 43% shooting, while hitting half of its own shots, and yet, UConn showed a resolve and toughness that we haven’t seen out of a Calhoun team since Emeka Okafor left campus.  The Huskies really had no business pulling this game off, especially since big man Hasheem Thabeet spent the last fifth of the game on the bench in foul trouble, but team leader AJ Price (24/10 assts) kept finding penetration into the lane for easy looks and trips for his teammates to the foul line.  This was a take-notice game – we’ve been down on UConn until now because we still weren’t sure they had the chemistry and resolve to win six tough games in March.  Now we’ve taken notice.  UConn will go as far as Price takes them, and that could be all the way.  It wouldn’t surprise us at all to see a rematch of this game in Detroit in April.

Upset of the Weekend. Minnesota 70, Louisville 64. Ok, Louisville is officially the most disappointing team in America right now.  We sensed something was wrong with them the last couple of times we watched them play (and that’s not even including the WKU loss), but the Minnesota game proved to us that this is a team without a soul right now.  The Cards have enough pure talent to compete with any team in college basketball, but they don’t seem to want to give the effort that it takes to do so.  And the Edgar Sosa situation has every hallmark of another exceptional talent crawling into a hole and dying under Pitino’s tutelage (we’re channelling Rodrick Rhodes here) – it’s amazing just how ineffective he has become.  As for Minnesota, they’re now 11-0 and this was the signature win the Gophers needed to announce that Tubby Smith is once again building a competitive program.  The Gophers played hard, held Louisville to 38% shooting, and made all the right plays down the stretch to secure the win (when UL crept back within four pts).  Tubby has now won his last four games against his mentor, and suddenly the Big 10 is looking a lot stronger than it did a month ago.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your Tivos: Super Saturday Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 20th, 2008

Super Saturday is a term usually reserved for the final Saturday of the US Open where the two men’s semifinals and the women’s final are played, but this Saturday of college basketball trumps any day at Flushing Meadows (unless we could somehow get a Kournikova-Ivanovic final). Normally I would cover all the interesting games on the docket, but today is so good that I’m only going to cover the ones featuring ranked teams matched up against each other.

No naps this Saturday afternoon

No naps this Saturday afternoon

The Undercard: On any other Saturday, these games would be the headliners, but today they are merely an appetizer to get you ready for the even bigger match-ups to follow.
- #22 Michigan State at #5 Texas at 2 PM on CBS: Tom Izzo’s Spartans come into Saturday badly in need of a victory against a quality foe. Although Michigan State comes in with a respectable record of 7-2, they have been underwhelming and certainly nowhere near the level they were predicted to be coming into the season (AP #5 back on November 24th). On the other side, the Longhorns have been surprisingly strong with their only loss coming against Notre Dame (81-80) in what was the best game of the Maui Invitational. Texas has responded well to the setback with wins over 2 ranked teams in December (UCLA and Villanova). The last time Michigan State played a team of this caliber was in their much-anticipated match-up against UNC (clearly Texas isn’t quite at that level), they were blown off the court in a virtual home game. Tom Izzo will need a big game from Raymar Morgan and hope that his defense can contain A.J. Abrams and Damion James if he hopes to steal one in Austin.

- #20 Davidson vs. #18 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS: Both teams are all but assured of NCAA tournament bids. However, neither team has a signature win yet. Davidson certainly has the marquee value with national POY contender Stephen Curry, but they lost their only game against a ranked team (82-78 at #14 Oklahoma on November 18th). While the Wildcats can hardly be faulted for losing a road game against Blake Griffin and the Sooners, it still leaves them without a win they would need to merit a potential 5 seed or better. If they are unable to win today in Indianapolis, their only other chance to beat a top 25 team will be on January 7th against Duke at Cameron (ESPN might be hyping that game a little bit in the time leading up to the BCS title game). The Boilermakers are in a similar situation albeit without a star anywhere close to the level of Curry. The Boilermakers lost their only games against ranked teams back-to-back (87-82 in OT against Oklahoma on November 28th and 76-60 at home against Duke on December 2nd) and after tomorrow they don’t have a game against a currently ranked team until February 3rd against Ohio State. This game will likely come down to how well the Boilermakers can contain Curry (31.9 PPG and 6.8 APG) and limit his sidekick on the inside Andrew Lovedale (13.9 PPG and 10.7 RPG). The Boilermakers will counter with a much more balanced attack (4 players averaging between 9.9 and 15.6 PPG).

National POY?

National POY?

- #11 Syracuse at #21 Memphis at 6 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The Orangemen (other than Jim Boeheim) responded well to their crushing loss at the buzzer on Monday night. However, they will be without Eric Devendorf for at least 2 games so Jonny Flynn will have to hope that Paul Harris and/or Arinze Onuaku can pick up the slack as John Calipari will almost certainly be focusing on Flynn on the perimeter. The Tigers could use a quality win here as they have lose both of the games they have played against quality opponents (Xavier and Georgetown). Tyreke Evans and Shawn Taggert will need to play well, but this is a game that the Tigers should win.

The Title Bouts: These games are as good as you will find any time this season (in-conference or out-of-conference) until we get to March.
- #7 Xavier vs. #6 Duke at 2 PM on CBS: Although this game is a “neutral” site game and quite far away from North Carolina, East Rutherford, New Jersey has become a de facto home for Coach K and the Blue Devils over the past 20 years. Despite that edge, I don’t think Coach K will be starting his bench (including everybody’s favorite whipping boy Greg Paulus) like he did in the Blue Devils last game against UNC-Asheville. Sean Miller didn’t have quite the same luxury in Xavier’s last game as they had to fight hard to beat crosstown rival Cincinnati 76-66 a week ago. Both teams rely on a balanced scoring attack, but the outcome of the game will likely be decided by Duke’s ability to hit the 3. The Blue Devils don’t shoot a particularly high percentage from 3 (32% for the season), but they are such high-volume shooters (20.6 attempts per game compared to 15.3 attempts per game for the Musketeers) that it becomes a major factor in all of their games. Their only loss this year was their rematch against Michigan in Ann Arbor where they opened the game hitting 3 of their first 27 attempts for 3 point range before hitting 4 in a row late to close the gap. The key match-up in this game should be Kyle Singler versus Derrick Brown, which should be interesting to watch if Singler tries to pull Brown away from the basket with his outside shooting. This should be a close game, but look for Duke to win this one as they have had a tendency to pull out big games before conference play starts.

- #2 UConn vs. #7 Gonzaga at 4 PM on CBS: This game could have very easily been a 2-4 match-up if Gonzaga hadn’t slipped up last week against Arizona in Tucson. One of the interesting subplots, which I’m sure that CBS will cover repeatedly, is that it was match-up that introduced the nation to Gonzaga basketball less than 10 years ago and propelled UConn to its first Final 4 trip. While I remember the game for its significance for Gonzaga’s program, I had completely forgotten that it gave UConn its first Final 4 trip ever (won the title that year in a nail-bitter over Trajan Langdon’s Blue Devils). This Gonzaga team is significantly different than the one you might see on ESPN Classic. They are no longer just the team that relies on exceptional skill and execution. Now they have the athletes to compete with anybody in the nation. However, UConn has been playing better than anyone in the nation not wearing baby blue so Gonzaga will have its hands full trying to keep up with the Huskies, who have a balanced scoring attack led by Jerome Dyson, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jeff Adrien. Dyson leads the Huskies in scoring at 15.4 PPG and provides Jim Calhoun with a versatile one-on-one scorer. Thabeet, his counterpart on the inside, has finally started to show some of the promise that has had NBA scouts salivating over him in the past as he has started to score on a consistent basis to compliment his always strong defensive presence. The one area that the Huskies need to improve upon if they want to compete for the national title (read: challenge UNC) is for A.J. Price to step up as an elite college PG. His 35% FG and 36% FT isn’t going to cut it in March and may even be a liability in Big East play, which may be more competitive than the NCAA tournament itself on a nightly basis. The Bulldogs have also been playing exceptionally well this year with the exception of their loss last week to Arizona last week. They also come in with a balanced attack, but they are led by PG Jeremy Pargo whose scoring is slightly down (12.1 PPG to 8.9 PPG) from the past 2 season as he has focused more on running the team (3.4 assist:turnover ratio compared to 1.8 last year). To beat the Huskies, Mark Few will need everybody–Pargo, Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, and Matt Bouldin–to be near the top of their games. In the end, the Huskies depth and superior interior defense will probably be too much for Gonzaga to overcome.

Tyler who?

Tyler who?

Share this story

ATB: An A10 Kind of Weekend

Posted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2008

A10 Weekend. The A10 used three televised games on Saturday to announce its presence to America, knocking off an SEC, Big East and Big 12 team in the process (two of which were effectively road games).  With the relative weakness of the Pac-10 and SEC this year, the A10 could make a run at a legitimate four NCAA bids this season.  Today’s results could go a long way in the Tourney Committee’s minds toward that end.   Great weekend for the Atlantic 10.

  • Temple 88, Tennessee 72. Every outlet in America is making the “Merry Christmas” joke, so we’ll refrain here, but suffice it to say that Temple’s Dionte Christmas stole Bruce Pearl’s cookies and blew up his sled with an explosive game where it seemed as if every shot he threw at the rim was flushing straight through.  More importantly, Temple exposed Tennessee’s defense for what it is – simply not good enough to sustain any kind of legitimate run in March.  The Owls shot a blistering 55%, led by Xmas’ 35 on seven threes, and it often appeared as if the Vol players had little interest in covering him.  The roof nearly came off the place when he hit three trifectas in a row during a personal 1:30 run to blow open the game.  Temple, who had not defeated a top 10 team since John Chaney was still on campus, celebrated with a spirited RTC, to which, we say – deserved.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Gonzaga is For Real

Posted by rtmsf on December 10th, 2008

afterbuzzer1

Game of the Night. Gonzaga 74, Washington St. 52. This game, more than any other thus far this year, proves to us that Gonzaga is for real.  More than the Maryland blowout one day after the Terps pounded Michigan State.  More than the Tennessee win where the Zags held the high-scoring Vols to 36% shooting.  No, while all you guys were sleeping on the east coast, the Zags were laying waste to their in-state nemesis in a rivalry game whom had frustrated and annoyed and outworked them in victories the last two seasons.  Not this time around. Take a look at the gametracker below.  Wazzu hung in there for a half, only going into the locker room down 32-29.  After a quick post-halftime bucket, Gonzaga then went on a 15-0 run followed by another 10-4 run (totaling 25-4 for the mathematically challenged) to completely eviscerate the Cougs on their home court.  What was the difference?  Once again, the Zags played some serious defense.  They held WSU to only 33% shooting from the field and a paltry 2-19 (11%) from three while grabbing seven steals and hitting ten threes on the other end.  The Zags are currently 9th nationally in defensive FG% (34.7%) and 8th in defensive pts per possession (.80), and they’ve done so against the current RPI #2 schedule in the nation.  Josh Heytvelt continued his renaissance with 22 pts, Austin Daye added 14, and Jeremy Pargo contributed 11/10 assts for the Zags.  We were all over this team a year ago, but we didn’t realize the extent of Heytvelt’s injuries – now that he appears to be nearly 100% back, this team is legit.

gu-wazzu-gametracker

Upset of the Night. Charlotte 70, Mississippi St. 64. Can we just go ahead and establish the SEC as a two-bid league this year?  When a 2-6 team can come into the house of (supposedly) one of the better SEC West teams (6-2 prior to tonight) and run out to a 24-pt lead and never really be threatened, something is seriously wrong with the league.  We’re certain RTC’s SEC correspondent Kurt Wurth will have something to say about this next week.

Mushing Eric Devendorf.  You’ve probably heard by now that the Syracuse Judicial Board decided to boot guard and key cog Eric Devendorf out of school for “punching” a woman in the face on Nov. 1.  Devendorf will probably get reinstated on appeal, but if you read the comments at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, you’ll learn about “mushing” someone who might be a little too amorous on the dance floor (and what Devendorf may have allegedly done to this woman).  Great stuff.  Check it out.

Other Games You Really Care About.

  • St. Peter’s 51, NJIT 38. 42 in a row.  NJIT actually led 20-19 at the half.  Short-lived.
  • Xavier 78, Ohio 56. Terrell Holloway returned from his foot problem to lead XU to its second-best start ever.  Now they prepare for the Crosstown Shootout on Saturday at Cincy.
  • Indiana 66, TCU 56. We have to admit, Indiana is better than we thought they would be.  We didn’t think they would win games like this one.
  • Oklahoma 78, Maine 52. Blake Griffin continues to slow down a little – only 22/10 tonight.
  • California 72, Utah 69. Nope, we can’t figure either of these teams out, but Cal is starting to make us think they’re finishing top three in the Pac-10 this year.  Jerome Randle hit a three to win the game with six seconds left.
  • Butler 87, Bradley 75. Butler moves to 8-0 with a solid win over an MVC foe.
  • Creighton 77, Dayton 59. Dayton takes its first loss in a tough way, getting thumped by Creighton and their 13 threes, five of which came for Booker Woodfox, one of the best names in CBB this year.
  • Arizona 69, San Diego St. 56. A close game became not close as UA scored the last 11 pts of the game behind Jordan Hill’s 25/14.
  • BYU 94, Boise St. 56. BYU rode a 61-pt second half to a humiliation of Boise, and remained unbeaten as a result.

On Tap Thursday (all times EST):

  • Miami (OH) (-14.5) v. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
  • Villanova (-10) v. St. Joseph’s (ESPN2) – 8pm
  • Kansas St. (-5.5) v. Southern Mississippi (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
Share this story

Checking in on the… WCC

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2008

Michael Chin is the RTC correspondent for the West Coast Conference.

So first, five things I noticed from WCC basketball this week:

  1. If you haven’t notice by now, Gonzaga is for real. To beat Maryland, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee in one week is a feat so early in the season. If this is a foreshadowing of what’s to come, consider them a Sweet Sixteen lock.
  2. Patrick Mills is not the best point guard in college basketball. I love, love, love the Gaels, but Mills is not NBA-ready. Throughout last week’s tournament you saw a player who continually forced the ball, trying to make too many difficult shots and passes. He has some really spectacular moments, especially in transition, but as a true point guard he didn’t run the offense well. I would say from a point guard standpoint I would put: Lawson, Collison, and Pargo all ahead of him.
  3. San Diego is overrated. So I really had high hopes for these guys, but they have crumbled in games this year. Close game against Wisconsin, but lose to Miami by 20. Granted the U is a top 25 team, but if you are supposed to be a tournament team, you can’t get blown away. Oh, and I don’t really think UNLV is that good, and San Diego couldn’t hang there either. I think they still have the potential to be very good, especially when you have guys like seniors Gyno Pomare and Rob Jones, but this team needs to pick it up.
  4. Eric Reveno of Portland has done an amazing job. Welcome back to relevancy, Pilots. I guess I’ll change your name back to UP from PU. One might have thought that after a loss to Portland St. this team was a fluke. I’m going on record and saying, “You’re Wrong.”  While they don’t have a special player, Reveno has them playing good team basketball and he knows how to play to their strengths.
  5. Gonzaga is for real…Oh I already mentioned that, but I can’t believe how talented this team is. I had them ranked low because I didn’t believe Austin Daye could play the four, or Josh Heytvelt would return to his normal self.  They proved this writer wrong.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Turkey Weekend Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2008

afterbuzzer1

And we’re back… We hope that our fair readers had a luckier Thanksgiving weekend than we did.  Due to substantial computer issues, we were unable to keep the site updated over the weekend.  But we managed to watch a fair number of the multitude of games this weekend, so rather than recapping what has effectively become stale news, we’ll instead offer our observations.

What We Learned.

Old Spice Classic.

  • Maryland is equally as likely to pull a major upset as to lay a gigantic egg (beating Michigan St. by 18, then losing by 22 to Gonzaga and 27 to Georgetown).
  • Michigan St. isn’t going anywhere without a healthy Delvon Roe/Goran Suton and learn to make its FTs (49-84, .583 for the tourney).
  • A Gonzaga team that actually defends (with a healthy Josh Heytvelt) is a dangerous one.  Oklahoma St., Maryland and Tennessee shot 36.7%/29% against the Zags.
  • Georgetown is going to be dealt with.  With tremendous balance between their inside/outside players, the Hoyas should only get better as the year (and Greg Monroe) progresses.
  • Tennessee is far and away the best team in the SEC, and the Bobby Maze experiment at PG appears to be working (so far).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your Tivos: Week 3

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2008

Our third installment of Set Your Tivos brings us what I consider the first legitimate tournament of the season–the Maui Invitational. It’s your yearly chance to see some of the biggest names in college basketball rocking Hawaiian t-shirts or polos. You could argue that I’m just being nostalgic over the most shocking upset in NCAA history (that barely anybody saw live) except that the famous game actually happened a little less than 3 months before I was born. Anyways, onto our weekly countdown. . .

Courtesy: http://www.gizmodo.com

#10: Boston College vs. #10 Purdue, Wednesday at 7 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: I’m curious to see how one of the Big 10 co-favorites (along with Michigan State and now Michigan) will do against a middle to bottom of the pack Big East ACC team. This game is about getting some respect for the Big 10. If the Boilermakers don’t win this game easily, it could be a sign that we’re in for another season of really bad Big 10 basketball.

#9: Duquesne at #5 Duke; Friday at 3 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: It will still be November when they play this game so the Blue Devils should win this game even though they have struggled at times this year. One of the revelations from last week’s Coaches vs. Cancer was that Brian Zoubek may still be a stiff, but he is a tall one. Look for Coach K to try to get Zoubek involved as he may be a key for Duke if they want to advance deep into the NCAA tournament this year. (Hint: Don’t put Duke too far in your March Madness bracket). 

#8: Maryland vs. #7 Michigan State, Thursday at 7 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: This game seems more interesting on paper (program reputation) than it will be on the court (this year’s teams), but I’ll be tuned in to see what Tom Izzo actually has this season. The Spartans come in with a preseason #7 ranking, but got “UNLV-Duke 1990″ crushed by Memphis in their Sweet 16 match-up and have lost their floor general Drew Neitzel. This year’s Spartan team has the potential to make it to Detroit (for the Final 4–I can’t imagine why you would want to go there for any other reason), but they’ll have to step it up several levels from where they were last week (beating Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne by 11 in a game that was as close as the final margin indicates). 

#7: UAB vs. #14 Oklahoma, Wednesday 9 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: This game will be a match-up of potential All-Americans–Robert Vaden and Blake Griffin–although they won’t match-up against each other outside of the occasional switch off a screen. The Sooners looked like they were still basking in the glow of beating America’s sweetheart Davidson when they almost lost to Gardner-Webb although BIlly Gillispie may disagree. The thought here is that if Oklahoma could hold of Stephen Curry then they can do the same against Vaden.

#6: Saint Joseph’s vs. #8 Texas, Monday at 3 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Rick Barnes managed to get to the Elite 8 one year after losing national POY and the greatest freshman ever (I disagree with rtmsf) Kevin Durant. Now the question is how far he can get the Longhorns after losing All-American point guard D. J. Augustin. The early game of ESPN’s tripleheader will give us some insight into that. The Longhorns should win this one easily since Phil Martelli’s crew is in rebuilding mode (see their loss to Holy Cross), but the Hawks could show us some weaknesses that the Longhorns may have.

#5: Syracuse at #19 Florida, Monday at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Jim Boeheim will need big games out of Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf to pull off the upset tonight. Despite struggling to put away Richmond last week, the Orangemen have the potential to pull off the upset against Billy Donovan’s young squad especially after the loss of last year’s starting PG Jai Lucas. I’m assuming that the Gators will return to the NCAA tournament, but if they want to have a successful season (Sweet 16 trip), they will have to be able to beat teams of Syracuse’s caliber.

#4: Indiana vs. #9 Notre Dame, Monday at 5:30 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Our first look at Tom Crean’s new squad (Bruce Weber has already told us what he thinks of them). Unfortunately this game isn’t at Alumni Hall. It will be interesting to see how the Hooiser faithful react to Crean and his JV squad. I am imaging the scene out of Hooisers at town hall where they vote Norman Dale out before Jimmy Chitwood shows up and saves the day. Unfortunately, I don’t think Eric Gordon can come back to Bloomington with any eligibility to recreate this. Bottom line: The Golden Domers will have something to look forward to after pelting their football players with snowballs after another embarrassing loss.

#3: #6 Pittsburgh vs. Texas Tech, Friday at 7:30 PM on HDNet: I’m guessing that Pat Knight’s boys won’t be putting up 167 tonight unless this game goes to 6 OTs. So far the Panthers have players compared to Shaq (DeJuan Blair) and Lebron (Sam Young) and that doesn’t even factor in Levance Fields, who may be the most important player on the roster. There is no question that Pittsburgh is the better team in this match-up, but I’ll be following this to see just how good the Panthers are and the Red Raiders have had a tendency to come up with big upsets early in the year.

#2: #3 Louisville vs. Western Kentucky, Sunday at 3 PM on Fox College Sports Atlantic: Our first good look at RTC pre-season bracketology national champion against some real competition. The Hilltoppers lost a lot in the backcourt (Courtney Lee, Ty Rogers, and Tyrone Brazelton), but they return a lot of experience in the frontcourt. If the Hilltoppers want to give Rick Pitino’s Cardinals a game they will need JUCO transfer Sergio Kerusch, Motlow State Community College transfer Anthony Sally, and Dejan Cvoro, a point guard from Serbia, to step up. I’m guessing that Western Kentucky will keep it close for the first 10 minutes before Louisville pulls away, but it should still be interesting to see just how good freshman Samardo Samuels is. If he is as good as advertised, Pitino may have a legitimate title contender.

#1: Oklahoma State vs. #11 Gonzaga, Thursday at 9 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Mark Few comes into this year with his 2nd highest ranked team ever (7th in the 2005-2006 preseason poll) and one of the most talented teams he has ever had. While the Zags lack the superstar they had a few years ago in Adam Morrison, they are not lacking in talent (Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, Austin Daye, and Josh Heytvelt). However, as the Zags have steadily moved up in the national conscience andthe regular season polls, they seem to have underperformed in the NCAA tournament. After losing to Cinderella (Davidson) in the first round last year, the Zags are hoping to bounce back and their first big test of the season will be against Travis Ford’s Cowboys. Ford has been quick to keep expectations realistic for his rookie season, but some experts have picked the Cowboys to be a surprise in the Big 12 despite their lack of interior play.

Share this story

2008-09 Season Primers: #11 – West Coast

Posted by rtmsf on November 1st, 2008

Michael Chin is the RTC correspondent for the West Coast Conference (WCC).

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Saint Mary’s
  3. San Diego
  4. San Francisco
  5. Santa Clara
  6. Portland
  7. Pepperdine
  8. Loyola Marymount

SleeperSan Francisco

WYN2K.  For the last ten years the WCC national storyline has read “Gonzaga and the seven dwarfs.” However, as many have learned, Grumpy and Sleepy are finally growing up.  Saint Mary’s and San Diego, both of which made the Big Dance last season, return 88% of their scoring and are primed for return trips to March Madness. Saint Mary’s is lead by lightning quick Aussie Patrick Mills and All Conference Defensive Player of the Year Diamon Simpson.  Down south, the Toreros return forward Gyno Pomare and guard Brandon Johnson, both of whom made the All-Conference team a season ago. Don’t be fooled however, Gonzaga still has the bullets to defend their conference crown as they return WCC player of the year Jeremy Pargo and potential lottery pick Austin Daye. Aside from the “three wise men,” the remaining teams in the conference are rebuilding. Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and USF all have new coaches, while Santa Clara’s Kerry Keating is only in his second year as the head man of the Broncos. Portland looks to build on a young cast which includes Nik Raivio (brother of former GU All-American Derek) and Luke Sikma  (son of Sonic great Jack Sikma).

Predicted Champion.  Gonzaga (NCAA #3).  The Bulldogs’ strength this year will be in its backcourt where they figure to go with three guard sets quite often. This team will go as far as Conference POY Jeremy Pargo will take them. After flirting with the NBA this summer, the Chicago native decided to return for a final year to hone his outside shooting skills. His backcourt mate Steven Gray is the sharpshooter of the bunch. The third guard for the Bulldogs is Matt Bouldin.  After a stellar freshman campaign two seasons ago, Bouldin had an up-and-down year as a sophomore. Demetrius Goodson, a super athletic freshman point guard and Micah Downs, a former Kansas Jayhawk capable of playing the 2, 3, and 4 positions add significant depth to the GU backcourt. The frontline, though stellar on offense, lacks proven depth and a real defensive force. Austin Daye, the silky forward from Irvine, can shoot it from anywhere on the court and provides GU with a real mismatch when he plays at the 3 spot. The only true experienced big man on the GU roster is senior Josh Heytvelt. Injuries and personal problems have nagged at his career, however, but if he can bounce back from a constant foot problem and returns to his sophomore form, GU should have a solid post threat to go alongside their outstanding perimeter shooting.  The depth for Gonzaga has potential, but right now it is unproven. The best of the bunch is 7-footer Robert Sacre, but last year Few used him in limited action on tips-offs.  Another 7-footer, Will Foster, may provide some defensive minutes, but to date has not shown any offensive prowess.  Coaches like Ira Brown’s toughness, but against a Diamon Simpson or Gyno Pomare, he will have a tough time. Freshman Andrew Poling and Iowa POY Grant Gibbs may end up redshirting this season.

Others Considered. 

  • Saint Mary’s (NCAA #10).  Although the Patty Mills story is the biggest news around in the picturesque campus of Moraga, CA, the Gaels have more to be excited about than Kobe and Chris Paul describing Patty as “lightning quick.” Not only do the Gaels return last year’s freshman of the year (Mills) and Defensive POY (Simpson), but also two other starters and almost all of their scoring. However, what could put the Gaels over the top in the WCC is their depth. Unlike other WCC teams, the Gaels are arguably ten deep.  The front line returns all three starters (Simpson, Omar Samhan and Ian O’Leary).  Of the three Diamon is the most polished. His game can be described in one word – relentless. Already the senior from Hayward, CA, has broken the career blocks record at SMC and is currently in the top ten all-time in rebounds for the Gaels.  Samhan, the only true center on the team, has a nice offensive skill set and has steadily improved his defense over the last two seasons.  As mentioned, the bench provides the Gaels with a wealth of experience. Returners Yusef Smith and Lucas Walker, as well as 7-foot Indiana transfer Ben Allen provides the Gaels with true backups for Samhan and Simpson. In particular, Ben Allen’s shooting ability should allow Coach Randy Bennett to use some of the high post offense that got the Gaels to the Dance in 2003-04.  In the backcourt, aside from Mills, the Gaels return redshirt junior Wayne Hunter to the lineup. The 6-2 guard would have been Bennett’s best on-ball defender, but because of the logjam last year, Bennett could not find a place for him. Should Hunter’s offense regress, expect the Gaels to go Aussie Carlin Hughes. Even if he doesn’t start, Hughes will see significant minutes as he is the best returning shooter on the Gaels roster.  One guy to keep an eye on is freshman Clint Steindl. Another transport from down under, he may take minutes from O’Leary if the senior swingman’s offensive game goes cold.  There is talk that Collin Chiverton, fellow teammate of UCLA recruit Drew Gordon, may also see time, but with the depth the Gaels possess, he may end up redshirting.
  • San Diego  (NIT).  Seniors Brandon Johnson and Gyno Pomare took the WCC by surprise last season with a strong finish, winning the conference tournament at home, then knocking off UConn in the first round of the NCAAs. The question now is whether their “one shining moment” will catapult the Toreros to the top of the WCC.  The good thing for the Toreros is they return their entire team from a year ago.  While Pomare and Johnson are the headliners, guards Dejon Jackson and Tremaine Johnson will have to continue their growth in order for their team to reach the Dance.  Forwards Chris Lewis and Rob Jones also saw significant action next year and should also to continue to improve. However, in order to have a real shot at the Gaels or Bulldogs, USD will have to get some major contributions from some young players, most notably Brazilian transfer Roberto Manfra and Nathan Lozeau.  The two are USD’s biggest bodies and must be able to hold their own against the likes of Josh Heytvelt, Omar Samhan, and Diamon Simpson.  Another factor for the Toreros is that the tournament moves from the friendly confines of Jenny Craig Pavilion to a neutral site this year. The last two times USD made it to March Madness, they hosted the WCC Tournament.  Here’s an audience-eye view of the big upset over UConn.

 

Fighting for Fourth.

  • Santa Clara.  Center John Bryant, perhaps the best center in the conference, is a load. But aside from him the team is thin and unless junior guard Calvin Johnson and some transfers step up, the Broncos will only be a .500 team at best.
  • San Francisco.  With the return of all conference forward Dior Lowthorn and former Rutgers guard Manny Quezada, USF has the offensive weapons to upset anyone in the conference. But if new coach Rex Walters wants to play with the big boys he will need to find some other pieces to go along with these two studs.
  • Portland.  Quietly former Stanford assistant Eric Reveno has built a solid team in Portland. Most of his team returns, including guards Taishi Ito and Nik Raivio and forwards Luke Sikma and Robin Smuelders, but they don’t match up well with the likes of Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and San Diego.

Bottom Feeders. 

  • Pepperdine.  After the Vince Walhberg debacle, Pepperdine went to the archives and dug up former coach Tom Ashbury. With a promising but young team, Ashbury will need to teach these guys how to win so they have a chance in years to come.
  • Loyola Marymount.  Like Pepperdine, Coach Bill Bayno is counting on next year when he brings in Seton Hall transfer Larry Hughes and Oregon Transfer Drew Viney.

All Conference Team.

  • Patrick Mills, St. Mary’s  (POY)
  • Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga 
  • Austin Daye, Gonzaga
  • Diamon Simpson, St. Mary’s  (DPOY)
  • Gyno Pomare, San Diego  

Prediction.  Until another team proves otherwise, the Gonzaga Bulldogs remain at the top. However GU is not a unbeatable as some think (Sporting News ranks them #4 nationally). The Bulldogs can shoot the lights out with the best of them, but their frontcourt remains a huge question mark. On the other hand, Saint Mary’s can bang with anybody, but until someone can prove to be their go-to deep shooter, the Gaels will have a difficult time matching up against upper echelon athletic teams, especially those with great shooting guards. San Diego is the darkhorse, but to this analyst they look like a poor man’s Gonzaga.  In order for all three to make a return appearance to the NCAAs they will have to perform well in brutal preseason schedules and manage the expectations. This shouldn’t be a problem for Gonzaga, as they are used to the pressure which comes from being the top dog, but as for Saint Mary’s and San Diego, it will be interesting to see what how they will respond as the hunted.

65 Team Era.  The WCC is 20-34 (.370), but let’s not kid ourselves, the majority of those wins (12) are from Gonzaga during the last decade (4 others are from the run-n-gun LMU teams in the late 80s/early 90s).  Still, in five of the last nine seasons, the WCC has been a multiple-bid league, including the best-ever showing of three bids in 2008.  How interesting is it that the lowest seed, #13 San Diego, was the only team to win a game in the Tourney, while higher seeded #7 Gonzaga and #10 St. Mary’s were sent packing in their first game.  With the collective strength of the top half of this conference this year and potentially into the future, there should be numerous opportunities for the WCC to have multiple teams advancing very soon.

Share this story

2008 Early Entry Winners and Losers

Posted by rtmsf on June 16th, 2008

Whew. After an exhausting day trying to track the news feeds seemingly every minute to figure out who was staying and who was leaving college, we can finally take a deep breath and start to sort out what this means for all the parties involved. Of the 69 early entries of US collegians submitted to the NBA league offices last month, 35 will remain in the 2008 NBA Draft pool. Here are the 35 early entries:

  • Joe Alexander, West Virginia
  • Ryan Anderson, California
  • Darrell Arthur, Kansas
  • D.J. Augustin, Texas
  • Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
  • Michael Beasley, Kansas State
  • Mario Chalmers, Kansas
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
  • C.J. Giles, Oregon State
  • Donte Greene, Syracuse
  • Kalen Grimes, Missouri
  • Eric Gordon, Indiana
  • DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
  • Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
  • Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State
  • Shawn James, Duquesne
  • Davon Jefferson, Southern California
  • Brook Lopez, Stanford
  • Robin Lopez, Stanford
  • Kevin Love, UCLA
  • O.J. Mayo, Southern California
  • Richard Hendrix, Alabama
  • J.J. Hickson, North Carolina State
  • George Hill, IUPUI
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA
  • JaVale McGee, Nevada
  • Kojo Mensah, Duquesne
  • Trent Plaisted, Brigham Young
  • Anthony Randolph, LSU
  • Walter Sharpe, Alabama-Birmingham
  • Derrick Rose, Memphis
  • Brandon Rush, Kansas
  • Marreese Speights, Florida
  • Bill Walker, Kansas State
  • Russell Westbrook, UCLA

We’d Be Excited Too, Roy

Today’s Winners

  • Roy Williams. Ole Roy could slip into a coke-induced coma for half of next season and still watch his team win 30+ games and make the Final Four. Why? Because the nation’s top backcourt (Ty Lawson & Wayne Ellington) and sixth man (Danny Green) all decided to return to Chapel Hill today to join forces with the reigning NPOY and a top five recruiting class. Yeah, apparently Roy is living right.
  • Lute Olson. It’s been a rough year for Olson, what with all his divorce proceedings and the loss of Jerryd Bayless to the NBA. The surprising return of the sensational Chase Budinger for his junior season provides Olson a key bulding block to get his program back on track.
  • Mark Few. Few only had to sweat out his beefy point guard Jeremy Pargo’s decision, but this player remains the key to Gonzaga’s success next season. With Pargo back to run the system, interior players such as Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt can expect the ball in the right place at the right time.
  • Mark Gottfried. Alabama was facing a seemingly unthinkable situation where they would lose their best player from last season, forward Richard Hendrix, while simultanously losing their best player from two seasons ago, point guard Ronald Steele, even though Steele sat out the entire last season due to injury. We’ve shown previously how important a healthy Steele is to the Alabama attack, and with the additional return of Alonzo Gee to help offset the Hendrix loss, Gottfried must feel as if he dodged a serious bullet.
  • John Calipari. Why is he here? Didn’t he lose super-frosh Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts to the NBA? Well, yes, but he also retained the services of Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier, which when combined with incoming stud wing Tyreke Evans, there will be more than enough talent for Calipari to roll through CUSA pretty much unscathed again. Calipari isn’t as big a winner as some of the above coaches, but today was a good day for him.

Tough Day For Howland, But He Knows He’ll Have More Chances

Today’s Losers

  • Ben Howland. There was some talk that Kevin Love may return to Westwood, but that quickly died down. When Russell Westbrook decided to leave as well, few were surprised. Josh Shipp made the wise choice to return, but today’s decision by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to leave early has to leave UCLA fans scratching their heads – he’s unlikely to be drafted in either round, according to some people.
  • Rick Stansbury. It’s bad enough that all-SEC guard Jamont Gordon left Stansbury’s Mississippi St. program, but it’s even worse when there’s a strong sentiment that Gordon may not get a sniff of the second round. This feels a lot like Kennedy WInston from Alabama a few years ago.
  • Bill Walker. Yes, he gets his own mention here. The popcorn munching, towel-pissing, former K-State guard had it in his head all along that he was going League. So even though he sat out the NBA Predraft Camp and then proceeded to seriously hurt his knee during a workout last weekend – giving scouts even more pause about his shaky sticks – Walker decided that he was ready for the NBA and shouldn’t be too surprised if he finds himself in the D-League next season.
  • Bill Self. How bad can it be if you just won the national title? Not very. Still, there was a chance Mario Chalmers would return next season to lead Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and the other Jayhawks back to another F4 opportunity. Only Collins of the quartet of he, Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush is returning, but somehow we think Bill Self is still smiling.
Share this story

ATB: St. Mary’s – Gonzaga

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2008

ATB v.4

We had the pleasure, and we really mean pleasure, of attending that outstanding SMC-Gonzaga game last night in Moraga, CA. First of all, for anyone who ever tries to locate St. Mary’s College, good luck. It’s not really close to anything in particular, yet it’s only a half-hour away from one of the world’s great cities. Still, given the sparse environs surrounding the campus, you’d think you were a million miles away from anything resembling a place where ESPN would show up and televise a basketball game.
    Zag Dog
      Gaels and Zags in Moraga
      Anyway, the campus was small but very pretty, befitting the $42k/year price tag. We were told that the doll/guy ratio there was 2:1, which made us quickly regret our age, choice of undergraduate colleges and decision to work outside of academia, in that order. We had to walk a while to the gym, but once we got there, we were impressed. The gym is really dark for a normal college hoops arena, but in contrast to some other WCC gyms we’ve been to, it’s actually a pretty nice place, all things considered. SMC has clearly spruced it up in recent years, but the one bathroom situation really needs to go.
        Here are a few of the thoughts and observations we had at the game:
        • The Jeremy Pargo dunk in the first half of the open court was one of the most shockingly powerful dunks we’ve ever witnessed from a guy his size (similar to this one). Unreal. Pargo was pretty much unstoppable throughout – he got everywhere he wanted to go on the court with his strength, handle and ability to finish going either way, and he showed some range with two late second half threes that appeared to have given Gonzaga control of the game.

        Patty Mills

        Mills and Pargo Played Each Other Tough

        • Josh Heytvelt continued to look like a shell of the former player we saw dominate the likes of Carolina last year. 2 pts and 5 rebs in 19 minutes against a team that clearly struggles with any and all interior size? Maybe he was sick? Still hurting? From our view, Heytvelt should be an All-American on par with what Nick Fazekas was at Nevada the last few years. But he’s not. Most of the time we watched him, he looked completely uninterested in playing basketball. His lateral movement and body language sucked. What’s up, Zag fans?
        • Austin Daye is so long and skinny that he looks like Marcus Camby did when he was a freshman at UMass. He’s nowhere near as developed as Camby defensively, but he’s already very skilled on the offensive end. He has great touch out to 3-pt range on his shot, and he clearly thinks very highly of himself, as he loves to woof and congratulate himself after a good play. He’s already projected as a lottery pick in 2009, and we believe it.
        • Patty Mills was a wonder to watch. He clearly needs some more strength, and his jump shot looked suspect all night long, but he never got rattled and made several big plays down the stretch. The fast break where he outraced the entire Gonzaga team to reverse the layup and get the and-1 foul was fantastic. He really reminds us a lot of Tony Parker his first couple of years in the NBA. Potentially great things await this young player.
        • The unsung hero last night was SMC’s #24 Todd Golden and his push shot jumper, which hit nothing but net all six times he released it. He helped get St. Mary’s the lead in the first half, and hit the huge one in the OT period that pretty much sealed it. When the Gaels were busily blowing their lead in the late second half, we kept referring to our significant other that perhaps they should consider running a play to get the ball to “#24.” They never did, but Mills saved them anyway.

        #24

        #24 Hits the Big 3 in Overtime

        • There were a few home cooking calls where it was clear the refs were unsure what had happened, so it seemed as if they said “screw it, this crowd looks pretty involved, let’s just go their way…” We didn’t see the key disputed call in front of Gonzaga’s bench until we got home and watched the replay, but yeah, that was a horrendous call.
        • One cool thing we saw the SMC players do with eight seconds remaining in the game was to motion the Gael Force student fan group to not RTC after the victory was secured 89-85. Although a few students ran onto the court, the majority did not, and that signifies a shift in the attitude of the program about beating the Zags. As of this date on this season, SMC has proven it is every bit the team as Gonzaga; but that’s merely the first step in becoming every bit the program. Still, this acknowledgement by both fans and players was nice to see for a program on the rise.

        In our dreams, when we envision writing the great american travelogue about college basketball, last night’s game was exactly the type of environment we’d hope to capture. There was a bandbox arena with poor lighting, a rabid crowd so fired up for the contest that it sang the last stanza of the national anthem in unison, multiple eye-popping plays on both ends of the court, a sprinkle of controversy, and an overtime classic that went to David. Oh, and a 2:1 ratio. :-)

        Share this story

        ATB: Flowers Blooming in Austin

        Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2007

        ATB v.4

        12.29.07

        Recap. ESPN2 stepped it up today with its sextuple-header from Noon to Midnight. And heck, at least half of those games were worth watching. Ok, maybe four of the six.

        Games We Watched. Wisconsin 67, #7 Texas 66. We started the day with this game, which once again proved to us just how good of a coach Bo Ryan is. Every year we see all these methodical players in those Wisky uniforms, and every year we underrate them because of it – you watch, by March this will once again be a top 3 Big Ten squad. Lesson learned, as winning in Austin today was a fantastic win, and oh my, how they got it done! The Badgers’ Michael Flowers hit the game-winning three with two seconds remaining, and then proceeded to steal the inbounds pass in the corner while flying out of bounds. He then made the smartest play we’ve seen all year – 99% of players would have a) tried to call timeout; b) thrown the ball back into play; or c) simply landed with possession – in all three cases it’s a hustle play but Texas would get the ball back. Instead, Flowers had the presence of mind to launch the ball high into the air, knowing fully well that the last two seconds of the clock would expire while the ball floated out of reach of everyone on its way back to the ground. Brilliance. As with its previous game versus Michigan St., Texas once again showed that it has problems with beefy front lines (making its win against UCLA even more impressive, in retrospect). DJ Augustin (16/4/9 assts) and Damion James (21/15) had nice games for the Horns, while Brian Butch also added 21/11 for the Badgers.

        [vodpod id=ExternalVideo.446646&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_511%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1229%2Fhu_071229ncb_wisconsin1v.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

        #11 Tennessee 82, Gonzaga 72. Every time we’ve watched the Zags lately, we have a lingering feeling that they should be better than they’re showing. Granted, Josh Heytvelt clearly isn’t himself yet, as he continues to recover from ankle surgery. But we just wonder if there aren’t issues beneath the surface on this team. In this game, Chris Lofton continued to struggle shooting the ball (4-13), but the rest of the Vols more than made up for his output, as the troika of Smiths combined for 39/14/10 assts. Tayshaun’s cousin, JP Prince, had another fine game, going for 12/3 in only 18 mins – he seems to have a knack for making timely plays. No doubt this is an impressive nonconference win for the Vols, but we still ultimately have questions about how deep a team playing this style can go into March.

        [vodpod id=ExternalVideo.446647&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_858%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1229%2Fhu_071229Tenn.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

        Oklahoma 88, #24 West Virginia 82 (2OT). This was the game of the day, no doubt. West Virginia probably should have won this game several times, but Oklahoma simply would not quit. Yes, we were impressed with OU’s frontline dominance (Longar – 22/4; Griffin – 18/16), but the guy who continually made big shots and dropped superb dimes down the stretch for the Sooners was Austin Johnson (13/4/9 assts). Color us impressed with his heady play and court vision tonight. One play in particular, where the camera from the baseline showed AJ never looked up yet still found Griffin right on the money flying to the hole for a lob, was sick. How did OU lose to Stephen F. Austin??? On the other side of things, WVU looked solid as well. They didn’t shoot that well (41%), but their players clearly remembered the Beilein backdoor cuts, as they used the play several times in the second half to get easy buckets. All the hallmarks of a classic Huggins team are already there – hustle, defense, scrappiness – the only thing missing is the Thuggins personnel that will start showing up in Morgantown next year.

        [vodpod id=ExternalVideo.446650&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_497%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1229%2Fhu_071229ncb_oklahoma.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

        #1 Memphis 76, #18 Arizona 63. This was one of those games where Arizona was never really out of the game, but they were never really in it either. Not once did we ever have a suspicion that an upset was actually brewing, even though Arizona regularly cut the second-half lead to two possessions. Every time Memphis needed something, they’d get it from CDR (17/5) or Shawn Taggart (15/7) off the bench. Jerryd Bayless (knee) was sitting out for Zona, and the Cats clearly needed his offense, as Chase Budinger (20/6) and Nic Wise (10/4/5 assts) were left to their own devices most of the time. We’re still not sure what we think of Memphis – having defeated the toughest teams on their schedule (Oklahoma, UConn, USC, Georgetown and Arizona), and with only two home nonconference tests remaining (1/26 v. Gonzaga; 2/23 v. Tennessee), we could be looking at a strong possibility of an unbeaten regular season (31-0). Games at Houston (1/30) and at UAB (2/16) figure to be the toughest conference games on their schedule, but both are likely wins. We pretty much agree with Steve Lavin’s comment tonight during the broadcast, though. If Memphis goes into the NCAAs unbeaten, they will most definitely not win the national title.

        Upset Alert. #25 Dayton 80, #8 Pittsburgh 55. Look at the A10 again. What an asskicking the Flyers put on Pitt tonight. Things really couldn’t have gone much worse for Pitt – Dayton’s Brian Roberts exploded for 31 pts on their vaunted perimeter defense, and Levance Fields went out with an ankle injury in the early second half. This was a statement game by Dayton, and we heard the message loud and clear. We bet they wish they could get that George Mason loss back now (67-56 in their second game of the year). Winthrop 76, #17 Miami (FL) 70. Was it an upset? Only in the sense that Miami was heretofore unbeaten this season, but Winthrop is undoubtedly the stronger program overall, so we’ll call this one a very minor upset. The Eagles haven’t had a great nonconference run (7-5) this year, but they have beaten two ACC teams (Ga Tech is the other). The question is what will happen to Frank Haith’s Hurricane team now that they’ve tasted their own blood? They get one more breather (v. Penn) before the ACC games start. There are now seven unbeatens remaining.

        Other Ranked Teams.

        • #3 Kansas 86, Yale 53. KU continues to roll with 18 steals in this game.
        • #5 UCLA 76, UC Davis 48. Davis had 13 rebounds for the game. Thirteen!
        • #6 Michigan St. 93, Wisconsin-GB 75. Raymar Morgan with 24/8.
        • #9 Georgetown 78, American 51. Roy Hibbert isn’t getting any better, is he (one measly board)?
        • #12 Marquette 77, Savannah St. 37. There are too many D1 teams.
        • #13 Indiana 97, Chicago St. 59. DJ White with 21/15/4 blks. See above re: Marquette.
        • #14 Texas A&M 83, Florida A&M 54. DeAndre Jordan’s FG% actually dropped from this game (6-8 FG).
        • #16 Vanderbilt 92, UT-Martin 85. Surprisingly close home win for Vandy. AJ Ogilvy with 21/9.
        • #19 Villanova 71, Lasalle 58. Dante Cunningham with 12/12 and Scottie Reynolds with 19/4.
        • Boise St. 73, #21 BYU 70. Trent Plaisted held to 12/9. Is Boise (9-3) worth watching this year?
        • #22 Rhode Island 85, Georgia Southern 80. Will Daniels blew up for 28/8.
        • #23 Clemson 78, Samford 45. Before ESPN, were there any good games this time of year?

        Other Notable Scores.

        • San Diego 81, Kentucky 72. Prepare for the full-scale mutiny in Lexington soon.
        • Washington 73, LSU 65. Another second-half meltdown for John Brady (LSU led 41-27 at halftime).
        • Florida Gulf Coast 60, Penn 30. Um, Penn had six points at the half in this one. Ugh.
        • Furman 67, Howard 62. The Purple Paladins earn their first win (1-11)!
        • Illinois St. 80, Creighton 67. Early MVC battle for primacy between good teams.
        • Drake 62, Wichita St. 54. Staying in the Valley, Drake is now 10-1.

        On Tap Today (all times EST).

        • Mississippi St. (-3) v. Missouri (ESPN FC) 1:30pm – game of the day – MSU needs this one.
        • Wake Forest (-11.5) v. Air Force 2pm. nice intersectional contrast in styles of play.
        • Georgia Tech (-4) v. Florida St. (FSN) 5:30pm - ACC matchup pitting teams vying for 8-8 on Selection Sunday.
        • UNLV (NL) v. Minnesota 7pm - probably Tubby’s toughest test so far in GopherLand.
        • UNC (-24.5) v. Valparaiso (FSN) 7:30pm – Valpo is 10-2, but it won’t matter…
        Share this story

        ATB: Northwest Passage

        Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2007

        ATB v.4

        12.05.07

        Game of the Day. #7 Washington St. 51, #18 Gonzaga 47. How fun would it be to watch a game at the Kennel? It wasn’t too much fun for the Gonzaga fans tonight as they watched their Zags lose for only the second time in that building and in the process, score their lowest total of points in almost eleven years. Although the stats would lead someone to believe that this was an ugly game, we didn’t really see it that way. There were enough bricks on both sides (esp. Gonzaga) to build a smokestack, sure, but the game was intense, defensive-minded and filled with show-stopping plays. For the second time in a week (Baylor), Wazzu went into a veritable lion’s den and slugged its way to a close win. This team is experienced, doesn’t panic and makes smart decisions with the ball – its only real weakness is a style of play that allows teams to stay in the game with them (i.e., Gonzaga shot 26% but was still in the game until the last ten seconds). It didn’t hurt that Kyle Weaver (12/6) seemed to make every big play for the Cougars each time the Zags crept withing striking distance. His airball rebound-turn-putback sequence was sick. On the Gonzaga side, Matt Bouldin (0-9 FG), Jeremy Pargo (3-11) and Austin Daye (1-12) should be ashamed of themselves for their performances at home tonight. We were really high on the Zags early, even going so far as to pick them for the F4, but their inconsistent performances are making us a little wary – still, we’ll wait to pass ultimate judgment until we see how they play once Josh Heytvelt returns.

        Other Good Games. Syracuse 70, Virginia 68. Regrettably, we didn’t get to see anything but the last four minutes of this game. This is a very good win for Syracuse, especially in light of its loss at home to UMass last week. From what we can tell, UVa’s Sean Singletary was ill, and it showed in his shooting numbers (10/9/5 assts on 3-14 FG and 2-8 FT) and cramping at the end of the game. Virginia isn’t a one-man team by any stretch (Adrian Joseph had 19/13), but they’re typically not going to beat quality opponents unless SS has a solid game. Tonight was no exception. The Cuse’s Donte Greene (20/10) and Paul Harris (10/14) each had dub-dubs in the road win.

        [vodpod id=ExternalVideo.443660&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_830%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1205%2Fhu_071205ncb_syracuse.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

        SEC/Big East Invitational. What a joke this thing is. Hey, here’s an idea, let’s copy the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, except instead of, like, matching up teams based on relative abilities, we’ll just throw a bunch of cannon-fodder SEC teams out there against some good-to-great Big East teams and see how it washes out. Who came up with this plan – the Big East RPI Improvement Committee? Ok, we give them one mulligan. Georgetown v. Alabama was supposed to be a game between two top 25 teams, but then Ronald Steele went and got hurt again. Still, Bama put up a solid fight tonight in Birmingham (#5 Georgetown 70, Alabama 60), which is more than we can say for their mortal enemies over on the Plains. Thuggins and his band of merry men stormed Auburn like Sherman coming back through the South – the Tigers were down 28-6 before they knew what hit them. West Virginia 88, Auburn 59. Now let’s all put our hands together and furiously clap with excitement over tomorrow night’s slate of South Carolina v. Providence and LSU v. Villanova. Anyone got the Big East to go 4-0 in this event? We do.

        [vodpod id=ExternalVideo.443659&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_748%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1205%2Fhu_071205ncb_hoyas.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

        Upset of the Day. Charlotte 75, Davidson 68. We love Davidson, but after their recent losses at Eastern Michigan and now at Charlotte, they’re going to need to win the SoCon to make the NCAA Tourney (we’re assuming they will not beat UCLA this weekend). Stephen Curry ripped off 31, but he’s just not getting any offensive help from his frontcourt (7-22 shooting). Charlotte’s Leemire Goldwire sensed a shootout with Curry and ultimately one-upped him with 34 of his own points. Charlotte, with two solid wins in a row, is a team to keep an eye on going forward.

        Other Ranked Teams.

        • #4 Kansas 85, E. Washington 47. Too bad Rodney Stuckey is already in the NBA.
        • #8 Texas 88, North Texas 72. The DJ blew up with 29/10, representing our #1 vote well.
        • #17 Pittsburgh 73, Duquesne 68. Pitt really struggled to win this crosstown rivalry game.
        • #18 Clemson 82, East Carolina 67. We’re not voting for you Tigers until you win ACC games.
        • #21 Xavier 79, Creighton 66. Drew Lavender with 28/10 as Creighton takes its first loss.

        Other Notable Scores.

        • Florida 91, Florida A&M 52. UF now 4-1 against other Florida teams.
        • Drake 79, Iowa St. 44. Wow, how do you win at Oregon St. then get drilled by Drake?
        • George Mason 57, Hampton 54. Mid-major nirvana in Fairfax.
        • Purdue 70, Ball St. 57. How’s that Ronny Thompson thing working out for Ball St.?
        • W. Kentucky 69, Nebraska 62 (OT). WKU couldn’t afford to drop this BCS win at home.
        • Oklahoma 81, Tulsa 55. OU had a thirty-pt lead at the half.
        • Vanderbilt 83, Wake Forest 80. Vandy remains unbeaten behind Shan Foster’s 26 and Andrew Ogilvy’s 23.
        • Georgia Tech 72, Georgia St. 67. From what little we saw, Ga Tech sleptwalk through this one.

        On Tap Today(all times EST). Yeah, a few tv games, but um, good luck with that.

        • Providence (-3.5) v. South Carolina (ESPN2) 7pm – set your alarm for more of the thrilling Big East/SEC Showdown!
        • Connecticut (-17) v. Northeastern (ESPN FC) 7:30pm. ugh.
        • Ill-Chicago (-5.5) v. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (ESPN FC) 8pm - if you’re going to show mid-majors, pick GOOD teams!
        • Villanova (-9.5) v. LSU (ESPN) 9pm – we cannot get over the garbage the SEC trotted out for this event.
        Share this story