UCLA Week: Evaluating the Recent Past

Posted by AMurawa on August 13th, 2012

There are no two ways around it, so we might as well get right to the punch: The past three seasons at UCLA, even with an NCAA Tournament appearance and win in 2010-11, is in the conversation for the worst stretch of three consecutive seasons in the history of the storied program. Aside from the transition at the end of the Steve Lavin era to the beginning of the Ben Howland era, you have to go back to Wilbur Johns in the World War II era for a string of three such poor seasons in Westwood. All that is bad enough, but if you consider where this program was at the end of the 2007-08 season, coming off three consecutive Final Fours and welcoming in the nation’s #1 recruiting class, such a precipitous fall was highly unlikely.

Kevin Love, UCLA

It Has Been Four Unsatisfying Seasons Since Kevin Love Helped UCLA Last Advance to A Final Four (Mark J. Terril, AP Photo)

So how did Howland and the Bruins go from being on the verge of ushering another great era of UCLA basketball to missing the NCAA Tournament in two out of three seasons? Much of it has to do with underachievement from that 2008 recruiting class. In the 2008-09 season, after future pros like Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute departed early (a certain byproduct of the type of success the Bruins were having), the Bruins rode gutsy performances by veterans like Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya to a solid 26-9 overall record, but failed to win the Pac-10 for the first time in three years and were bounced from the NCAA Tournament in resounding fashion by a Villanova team that outhustled and outfought the Bruins. More ominous for UCLA was the fact that none of the highly-regarded freshman class made much of an impact that season. And despite point guard Jrue Holiday’s struggles as a frosh, he couldn’t get out of Westwood fast enough, declaring for the NBA Draft while averaging just eight points and four assists in his lone season.

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NCAA Preview: UCLA Bruins

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

UCLA (#6, East, Philadelphia pod)

vs. Virginia Commonwealth (#11)
Mar. 19 @ 9:50pm

Vegas Line: UCLA -7

ucla-ncaa-graph

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

General Profile

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Conference: Pac 10
Coach: Ben Howland, 149-53
08-09 Record: 25-8 (13-5 in the Pac 10)
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: 85-76 vs. Washington, February 19
Worst Loss: 82-81 vs. Washington St., February 21
Off. Efficiency Rating: 121.2, 3rd
Def. Efficiency Rating: 92.5, 40th

Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Darren Collison, PG, senior- 14.8 points, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 54% FG, 92% FT; Josh Shipp, SF, senior- 14.4 points, 1.3 steals, 51% FG, 44% 3PT
Unsung Hero: Alfred Aboya, C, senior- 10.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 58% FG
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Darren Collison, 1st round, 24th overall
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 31% (165th nationally); percentage of minutes played by payers coming off the bench
Achilles Heel: 250th out of 330 in field goal percentage defense
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Jrue Holiday steps up his game on both ends of the court and the perimeter defense improves, while the Bruins continue to shoot at the 50.6% that leads the nation.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The perimeter defense allows easy penetration so opponents shoot at a high percentage and Alfred Aboya gets in foul trouble early.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, Final Four (Lost to Memphis)
Streak: 4 consecutive years
Best NCAA Finish: National champions 11 times, 1995 most recent
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.31. UCLA wins 0.31 more games on average each year than would be expected based on this historical performance of teams with a similar seed.

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: UCLA has played a team from the state of Michigan in every year since 2002.
Distance to First Round Site: 2,709 (Philadelphia, PA)
School’s Claim to Fame: UCLA has more applicants than any other school in the country and counts Jack Black, Francis Ford Coppola, James Dean, Will Forte, James Franco, Heather Locklear, Rob Reiner and Ben Stiller among its enterainment alumni.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Their loss to Princeton in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament as defending champions.
Prediction: Can the Bruins make it to a fourth consecutive Final Four if a couple higher seeds in their bracket are upset? Sure, but a Sweet 16 appearance sounds like a better guess, which isn’t too bad for a down year. Is it?

Major RTC stories: Yeah, You Might Be Better than a UCLA Player
Preview written by… Ryan Rosenblatt of Bruinsnation.com

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Pac-10 Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by nvr1983 on March 9th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

Pac-10 Final Regular Season Standings
1. Washington 14-4, 24-7
2. UCLA 13-5, 24-7
3. Arizona State 11-7, 22-8
4. California 11-7, 22-9
5. Arizona 9-9, 19-12
6. USC 9-9, 18-12
7. Washington State 8-10, 16-14
8. Oregon State 7-11, 13-16
9. Stanford 6-12, 17-12
10. Oregon 2-16, 8-22

Player of the Year: James Harden
The third sophomore in Pac-10 history to win player of the year. The others were Jason Kidd (1994) and Mike Bibby (1998). Harden is also the third ASU player to win it following Ike Diogu (2005) and Eddie House (2000).

Freshman of the Year: Isaiah Thomas
Thomas set the freshman scoring record for Washington with 477 points and is the fourth Husky to win the award.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes

  • Washington has clinched their first regular season Pac-10 title since 1985 and with a win against Washington State can clinch their first outright conference title since 1953.
  • Washington State’s first senior class of Taylor Rochestie, Aron Baynes, Caleb Forest, and Daven Harmeling is its first to defeat all nine Pac-10 rivals since 1989.
  • Darren Collison is shooting 91.8 percent (89-for-97) from the free-throw line this year good for second in the nation, and second on the UCLA all-time single-season chart.
  • It may not make Oregon feel any better, but Pomeroy College Basketball ranks Oregon’s schedule as the toughest in the nation.

Some three-point information

  • California still leads the nation in three-point accuracy, at 43.9 percent.
  • Junior guard Jerome Randle is two shy of the team record 68 set by Ryan Drew in 1990.
  • Theo Robertson has hit 52.2 percent of his three-point attempts this year which would be the highest in school history, and is first in California career percentage at 44.3.
  • Junior guard Tajuan Porter of Oregon is second all time in team history in three-pointers made with 269. The leader is Orlando Williams with 282.

Player of the week: Jon Brockman
Brockman scored 17.5 points per game and pulled down 10.5 rebounds in the two victories for Washington this past week. Brockman came up big in overtime against ASU scoring the first two baskets.

Honorable Mention
Freshman Klay Thompson scored 16.5 points per game this past week fueled in part by 7-for-15 shooting from three-point range. Thompson also pulled down seven rebounds in the victory over Arizona State. Darren Collison scored 14.5 points a game for UCLA in the past week when the Bruins bounced back with two wins. He also posted five assists a game. Arizona was winless this past week, but could not find much fault in Jordan Hill who averaged 21 points, and 9.5 rebounds per game.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.28.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2009

dynamite1

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

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

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

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

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

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ATB: How Much to Rent Their Gym Out?

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2009

afterbuzzer1

We Think We Played This Team in Church League Ball One Year.  Seriously, our Google machine is broken… can anyone explain what this is?  Southwest Assemblies of God????

church-ball

Left Coast Hoops.  There were three really good games in the Pac-10 tonight.

  • Washington 73, Arizona St. 70 (OT).  UW got a big win over its nearest competitor for the Pac-10 crown behind Jon Brockman’s 21/11 and Quincy Pondexter’s 10/12.  ASU came back from 13 down in the first half and appeared to have the momentum when the Sun Devils stole the ball from Justin Dentmon for a dunk to tie the game with 0:21 left.  Once both James Harden and James Pendergraph fouled out in the extra period, however, it was clear ASU didn’t have enough to pull off the upset.  ASU now sits in a three-way tie with Cal and UCLA in second place at 10-5 in the Pac-10.
  • UCLA 76, Stanford 71.  For much of this game, it appeared that the UCLA swoon of the past few weeks on the road would continue.  Josh Shipp made sure that wasn’t going to happen, though, going for 24/7/4 assts to keep the Bruins alive for another regular season Pac-10 title should Washington falter.  It’s clear that UCLA’s stalwart defense just isn’t what it used to be – Stanford hit 49% from the field and 50% from three in this one (can you believe the Bruins rank #254 nationally in FG% defense?).
  • California 81, USC 78 (OT).  USC went on a 14-4 run in the final six minutes to tie this game and send it to overtime, but Cal would not be denied its tenth Pac-10 win behind Patrick Christopher’s 29 pts.  USC really is the classic bubble team – #47 RPI, 16-11 overall, 7-8 Pac-10, key wins over Cal, Arizona, Arizona St., and we’re not sure how this team is even on the bubble, but they are.  The Trojans could really use a win over Stanford on Saturday.

The Rest of Your Thursday Night.

  • Gonzaga 81, Santa Clara 73.  Gonzaga got 29/9 from Josh Heytvelt to go to 13-0 in the WCC, one win away from another undefeated conference season.  This was a tight game throughout, and SC’s fans cost the home team at least four pts with their decisions to throw debris on the court protesting foul calls down the stretch.
  • Illinois 52, Minnesota 41.  With six minutes to go, the score was 42-41; Minnesota never scored again.  Another fugly Big Ten game.  Minnesota needs wins, as they’ve now lost five of their last seven games.  The Gophers get Wisconsin and Michigan at home in their final two.
  • Butler 78, Youngstown St. 57.  Butler rolled to its third straight Horizon League championship behind Matt Howard’s 25/10.
  • Cincinnati 65, West Virginia 61.  Bob Huggins visited his old stomping grounds tonight, but it was UC with the win in the battle of two Big East bubble teams.  The computers love WVU this year for some reason, but both teams currently sit at 8-7 in the conference, and this win helped Cincy a lot more than it hurt WVU.
  • Xavier 68, St. Joseph’s 54.  After having lost three straight road games, XU got its mojo back behind 18/10 from Derrick Brown.  The XU-Dayton game next Thursday night could be for all the A10 marbles.
  • Wake Forest 85, NC State 78.  Wake got back on track tonight with a tougher-than-expected home win over NC State.  James Johnson answered the bell with 28/18 for the Deacs.
  • Miami (FL) 62, Virginia 55.  The Hurricanes struggled in this one but managed to hang on and have a good chance to get to 8-8 in the ACC with games at Georgia Tech and home against NC State remaining.
  • Michigan 87, Purdue 78. Michigan ripped apart the Purdue defense to the tune of 63% shooting behind DeShawn Sims (29/5) and Manny Harris (27/8/4 assts), further contributing to the mess that is known as the middle of the Big Ten (five teams with eight wins).
  • Washington St. 69, Arizona 53.  Wazzu continued surging with another impressive win after beating UCLA over the weekend, but it’s probably too little, too late.  Arizona is ok for now, but they’d do themselves well to get another Pac-10 win out of their last three to get to 9-9 in the conference.
  • St. Mary’s 62, Pepperdine 49.  Diamon Simpson put up another dub-dub (13/14) as SMC moved into a tie with Portland for second place in the WCC, which will come down to this weekend’s games for the seedings in next week’s WCC Tourney.
  • Memphis 71, UAB 60. John Calipari’s Tigers continue to mow down Conference USA, winning its 55th straight conference game and 19th consecutive overall game in the process.  Even more interestingly, Memphis held UAB’s best player, Robert Vaden, to 0-17 shooting.  That’s ZERO FOR SEVENTEEN, which is John Starks-esque in level of bricklaying (see below).

robert-vaden-uab

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 26th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes

  • Lute Olson compiled a 43-6 record against Arizona State. Since he took a leave of absence last year, Arizona is 0-4 against the Sun Devils.
  • Against ASU, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, and Nic Wise all logged 40 minutes. For the year the three are each averaging over 35 minutes a game. They are the only team in the Pac-10 with three players averaging over 35 minutes a game. Come Pac-10 tournament time these three horses have to be tiring.
  • Oregon State swept the season series against Cal for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
  • Jerome Randle has 59 three-pointers this season putting him 9 shy of the school season record 68 set by Ryan Drew in 1990. With four games left and Randle averaging over two a game he stands a fighting chance at overtaking Drew.
  • Washington State’s win at UCLA last week was only their second win in their 53 games at Pauley Pavilion.
  • The battle for coach of the year in the Pac-10 has four solid candidates. With the jobs Mike Montgomery, Russ Pennell, Craig Robinson, and Lorenzo Romar have done, there is an excess of candidates to choose from.
  • Pennell is the front-runner right now in my mind. He turned this Arizona team around and has them at 8-6 in the Pac-10 and 18-9 overall. He was the second choice for interim coach in late October. Last year he did color commentary for Arizona State radio network.
  • Jon Brockman is the only mid-season candidate for the Naismith trophy from the Pac-10.

Player of the week: Taylor Rochestie
Rochestie scored 24.5 points a game for Washington State this week. Rochestie also averaged five rebounds and four assists a game. Rochestie scored 33 points in WSU’s upset of UCLA. He shot 5-for-7 from three-point range and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw stripe.

Honorable Mention: Darren Collison and Rihards Kuksiks
Collison scored 18.5 points and averaged 6.5 assists for UCLA this past week. Collison went a perfect 7-for-7 from the line in the two games. Kuksiks scored 17 points in Arizona State’s win this week. Kuksiks scored 15 of those on five three-pointers.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.21.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 21st, 2009

dynamite1

It’s BracketBuster Saturday, and we’re back with another compelling edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite.  We don’t know how it is where you live today, but it’s rainy and chilly here at the RTC Western Compound, which means it’s a great day for huddling up on the couch, firing up the three tvs, ordering up some pie and watching hoops all day.   There are some pretty strong games on the slate today, starting with Butler v. Davidson early and finishing with BYU v. UNLV late.  Settle in and feel free to make your own observations in the comments section.

12:08pm. Oh no, Steph Curry’s mom is NOT at the Davidson game today!!!!  Who will the cameras show in the crowd?!?!!?  Oh yeah, Dell’s there.  Ok.  Whew.

12:10pm. Wonder how ESPN decides who gets to host these games?  Seems like a pretty big decision considering Butler and Davidson are so tough at home, and the loser could drop a seed line or two based on this game.  Curry doesn’t like quite as quick as normal so far – the ankle is probably a little tender.

12:17pm. Our new uber-intern sent over some interesting news today – looks like Patrick Patterson might go for Kentucky today against Tennesee (coming up at 1pm), and surprise of all surprises, the NCAA is investigating USC with respect to recruiting Daniel Hackett.   His dad is the strength and conditioning coach at USC (which is legal, btw).

12:30pm. There are a couple of other BB games that started at 11am, and the most interesting one is Northeastern at Wright St., which is on ESPN2.  NE is leading by six right now, while CAA sibling ODU is crushing Liberty and Seth Curry.

12:46pm. How many games this year have we watched Davidson only to hear some announcer talking about Steph Curry having an “off” game.  It would be nice if he’d just come out and blow up one of these nationally-televised games.   As it now stands, he’s 1-10 and 0-6 from three.

12:50pm. Interesting stat from Brad Nessler there – that if Curry continued his 30 ppg pace for another season-plus at Davidson, he could conceivably catch Pete Maravich’s all-time scoring total record.  Of course, Pistol Pete did it in three years, but that would be a phenomenal record to approach.  We’ll see if we can figure the math and get back on that.

12:52pm. Early afternoon bubble watch.  Miami is smoking BC in S. Florida at halftime (up 12) and ND is also up 12 at halftime on Providence.  These are both pretty much must-wins, although Notre Dame needs it a little more than Miami.

12:57pm. Somehow three of the top four CAA teams drew road games in the BracketBusters event.  So far, the CAA looks good.  VCU only lost by one at Nevada last night, and Northeastern is finishing off Wright St.  ODU already won, and it’ll be very interesting to see what George Mason can do at Creighton later this evening.

1:02pm. Wow, Doug Gottlieb just eviscerated Jay Williams as to why Georgetown was going to make the tournament.  He must have thought he was back on that motorcycle there.  No inside presence?  Except the best freshman big in the country, Greg Monroe.  We get his point about frontcourt depth, but we’re with Gottlieb here – we think Georgetown makes a run to get to 9-9 in the Big East.

1:06pm. We’ve got some 1pm games starting here, incl. Bruce Pearl’s orange blazer at Kentucky (speaking of bubbles), Buffalo at Vermont on the deuce, and the second half of ND-Providence on ESPN FC.  Oh, and did we mention Gus Johnson is in Lexington today.  Oh yes.

1:11pm. Thanks CBS for showing me a graphic telling me that UK is on a 5-0 run in the last 3:20…  or, to start the game.  Brilliant.

1:18pm. Ok, here’s the deal on Curry catching Maravich.  Curry had 2414 coming into today.  Maravich ended with 3667 pts.  If we assume eight more games this year (three regular season; three SoCon Tourney; two NCAA Tourney), and 35 games next year, that’s 42 games.  He’d have to average 29.84 over that stretch to pass him.  Since he’s averaging 29.0 already this season, this is eminently possible should he stick around another season.  That would be fairly cool to track next season – let’s hope he returns.

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ATB: Who Wants the Pac-10 Title?

Posted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2009

afterbuzzer1

Farking.  The Word is Farking, Roy.  From last night’s post-game press conference vs. NC State.  So Coach, why didn’t you press Miami again?

Game of the NightUCLA 85, Washington 76. This game was essentially for the top of the Pac-10, because if Washington had won it would have been nearly impossible for UCLA to catch them in the remaining two weekends.  The Bruins therefore did exactly what they needed to do, essentially outscoring the Huskies in a key stretch of the late second half behind a Darren Collison mini-run and Josh Shipp’s 20/8 and Nikola Dragovic’s 15/8.  We know we were hyping UCLA a mere week ago before they lost both games on the Arizona swing, but their usually stalwart defense just isn’t what it used to be.  Washington was able to get most of the shots they wanted, and that’s the first time in several years we could say that about a team playing the Bruins.

Upset of the NightCharlotte 65, Xavier 60.  Xavier dropped into a tie for second-place in the A10 with three losses (behind Dayton with two) with this loss, XU’s third in the last four games.  Make no mistake, though, this is a bad loss for the Muskies, as Charlotte entered the game 10-15 overall and 4-7 in the conference.  Sean Miller had no explanation for why his team is faltering lately, having lost its last three road games, but they’ve had two of their worst offensive efficiency performances in their last two losses.  Xavier is still safe as far as the NCAA is concerned, but with games at St. Joe’s and home against Dayton looming, the Musketeers seed could really plummet with a couple more late losses.

Some Other Nonsense.

  • W. Kentucky 78, Arkansas-Little Rock 69.  WKU got a key Sun Belt win tonight to go take a one-game lead on UALR in the Sun Belt race for the outright title.
  • Wisconsin 68, Indiana 51. The Badgers couldn’t afford to lose this game, and they didn’t behind Trevon Hughes’ 21 pts.  The middle of the Big Ten is a mess, with five teams with either six or seven conference losses.
  • Villanova 82, Rutgers 72.  Rutgers hung in this game for thirty minutes, but Nova got it together during a decisive 12-0 stretch where Corey Fisher made several key plays.  You know what we really like about the Big East top six?  They just don’t lose to bad teams, Villanova included (only exception: USF over Marquette two weeks ago).
  • Gonzaga 91, Loyola Marymount 54.  The Zags clinched the top seed in the WCC Tournament for the ninth straight year behind Steven Gray’s career-high 23 pts.
  • California 78, Oregon 60.  The Ducks remain winless in the Pac-10 as Cal got one step closer to getting off the bubble with a win to go 9-4 in the conference.
  • USC 61, Washington St. 51.  USC keeps its slim hopes alive for an at-large by moving to 7-6 in the Pac-10 – what they really need is a win this weekend over UW, though.
  • St. Mary’s 65, San Diego 61. The Gaels continue to keep their head above water without Patty Mills leading their way.   Omar Samhan had 20/11 in the win.
  • Michigan 74, Minnesota 62.  Big bubble game goes to the Wolverines at home.  Both teams are now 7-7 in the Big Ten.  Tubby’s team may be wearing down, having lost four of its last five games.
  • Duke 76, St. John’s 69.  We don’t know why the Johnnies continue to schedule this game, it’s just embarrassing for SJU most years.  Should we read anything into SJU giving Duke a mild test when they’ve only won three games in the Big East this year?  Eh, probably not.

On Tap Friday (all times EST).  There’s one early Bracketbuster game worth keeping an eye on Friday night…

  • VCU @ Nevada (ESPNU) – 9pm.  Nevada isn’t getting into the NCAAs short of a run to win the WAC Tournament, but VCU is in a battle with George Mason and Northeastern to win the CAA, so this game could potentially help VCU move up a seed line should they take care of business in their tournament.
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Set Your Tivos: 02.07.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Set Your Tivos
I’m not sure why everyone complains about February. Sure the NFL season is over, but at least we don’t need to hear about steroids, holdouts, and whether or not both feet were in bounds. There isn’t a blockbuster “Game of the Year” match-up today, but there are several solid games for the hoops aficionado. So just settle into your favorite spot on the couch and dig in. In the spirit of promoting healthy habits, we suggest that you try to have some vegetables today so use some ketchup on your food today.

#20 Syracuse at #16 Villanova at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The appetizer for a great day of basketball. This isn’t necessarily a must win for either team, but a win today would probably boost their NCAA seed by at least a spot on Selection Sunday. Both teams have virtually assured themselves a NCAA bid (particularly with Syracuse’s relatively easy remaining schedule in the Big East). One of the more interesting aspects of this game is that if the Orangemen lose, there is a decent chance that they will drop out of the top 25 leaving the Big East with only 5 teams in the top 25 after having as many as 9 teams earlier this season. Anyways, back to the game. Watch the match-up at point guard featuring Jonny Flynn against Scottie Reynolds. The winner of that match-up will likely win the game barring an explosion by either Eric Devendorf or Dante Cunningham.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Cincinnati at Georgetown at Noon on The Big East Network, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Georgetown is killing me this year. I saw them play in Orlando against Tennessee in the Old Spice Classic. They lost that game, but it was pretty clear to me that day that they had the talent to make it to the Sweet 16 at the very least. I never imagined that they might be in a position at this point in the season that they might not make the NCAA tournament. To be fair, at that time I was also operating under the assumption that Tennessee was good. The Hoyas were able to break their 5-game losing streak against Rutgers and will need to beat the Bearcats if they want to get some momentum heading into their game against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. If John Thompson III is able to figured out a way to keep Deonta Vaughn in check, the Hoyas should be able to ride Greg Monroe and DaJuan Summer to a victory.

Notre Dame at #12 UCLA at 1 PM on CBS: The Irish are desperate for a victory having lost 6 straight games. They will have to end their losing streak in one of the rare non-conference match-ups this month. Everybody knows Luke Harangody is going to get his (25.3 PPG and 13.2 RPG), but Notre Dame will need Kyle McAlarney to break out of his prolonged shooting slump and get a great game out of Tory Jackson, who will be matched up against the Bruins veteran PG, Darren Collison. Look for UCLA to pull away in the 2nd half behind Collison, Josh Shipp, and Jrue Holiday.

Miami (FL) at #3 Duke at 1:30 PM on Raycom, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: I’m fully expecting Duke to come back strong at home after the massacre at Littlejohn on Wednesday night, which is something that rtmsf actually predicted before the game (sort of), but nobody picked up on until after the game. (Ok, nobody has really picked up on it yet.) On the other hand, Miami was on the right side of the other blowout upset beating Wake Forest by 27. Look for Kyle Singler to rebound with a strong game after a weak “effort” against Clemson that was plagued by foul trouble. Coach K will likely use Gerald Henderson, the only Blue Devil who showed up against Clemson, on Jack McClinton in an attempt to slow down the mercurial Miami star. If Singler and Henderson can contain or at least equal Dwayne Collins and McClinton, respectively, the Blue Devils should return to their winning ways. Well at least until UNC invades Cameron on Wednesday night.

kyle-singler

#17 Texas at Nebraska at 2 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Texas will be looking to rebound after back-to-back losses on the road. Today, they return to Austin to take on the Cornhuskers. Look for A.J. Abrams and Damion James to have big games as Rick Barnes‘s squad will definitely be motivated in this one after falling 3.5 back of conference leader Oklahoma. If Abrams and James have big games that should be enough to hold off Nebraska’s balanced attack.

Michigan at #1 UConn at 6 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: This is a game that the Huskies should be able to win fairly convincingly particularly with the game in Gampel Pavillion, but as this year has taught us never expect too much out of the #1 ranked team in the country. A Michigan win would obviously do wonders for their NCAA tournament chances, but it will tough particularly with John Beilein‘s recent changes in his rotations including bringing DeShawn Sims off the bench in their 71-51 win over Penn State in their last game. The new lineup, which is still led by Manny Harris, may provide some match-up problems for UConn and their big men. I expect UConn to pull this one especially with the recent play of Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien, but Michigan could give them problems and Beilein certainly knows all about the Huskies dating back to his days as the coach at West Virginia.

Charleston at Davidson at 6 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Most people will tune in just to watch Stephen Curry, but this could actually be a realtively close game (a rarity for the Wildcats in the weak Southern Conference). When these teams met earlier this season, the Wildcats escaped with a 4-point win on the road after Charleston had a chance to tie it with a 3 with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game. This is particularly meaningful as the Wildcats haven’t lost a Southern Conference game since January 20, 2007 (a 43-game winning streak). As an added bonus, you can see Bobby Cremins (former head coach of Georgia Tech) try to come up with a scheme to guard Curry. Cremins is one of the few coaches in the country who has had a player who was at Curry’s level or even above that as he coached Kenny Anderson (along with Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver aka “Lethal Weapon 3″) to the NCAA Final 4 in 1991.

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Credit: www.zimbio.com

Florida State at #10 Clemson at 7 PM on NESN and Fox Sports: I’m actually more interested in this game than the others for my own selfish reason since I’ll be doing another RTC Live when Clemson comes to Boston College on Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers have returned to Earth after their beatdown the hated Blue Devils just a few days ago. Oliver Purnell‘s squad had better be ready because the Seminoles are a fairly dangerous team (ask Roy Williams, who needed a Ty Lawson 3 at the buzzer to pull out a win against FSU). This is a classic letdown game so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on it especially if Toney Douglas gets hot or if either Trevor Booker or K.C. Rivers isn’t on his game after the celebrations following the Duke win.

#19 Minnesota at Ohio State at 8 PM on The Big Ten Network: Minnesota will be licking its wounds after getting crushed by Michigan State at the Breslin Center earlier this week. Unfortunately for Tubby Smith, the Gophers have to head to Columbus to take on a Buckeye team that just knocked off Purdue. If Evan Turner is hot, the Buckeyes could make a move into the top 25 with a win here knocking the Gophers out in the process.

#23 Arizona State at Oregon State at 8:30 PM on Fox Sports: James Harden and the Sun Devils will be looking to complete the Oregon sweep against Craig Robinson‘s Beavers. [Ed. Note: Isn’t Robinson related to some famous guy? I thought I heard something about it on the news.] The Beavers, who were undefeated following Barack Obama‘s Inauguration, finally lost to Arizona ending Oregon State’s hopes of riding Obama-mania to an undefeated term. If the Sun Devils can contain Calvin Haynes, they should hand the Beavers a second consecutive defeat.

Do you pay your taxes?
No, Mr. President. I’m not Reggie Love.

#15 Memphis at #18 Gonzaga at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Spokane is the site of ESPN GameDay today and it features a match-up of two highly regarded programs that hit rough patches this season, but have rebounded well. Gonzaga appears to have used their victory over Tennessee in Knoxville as a catalyst for their resurgence (Patty Mills‘s injury didn’t hurt either). Memphis, on the other hand, appears to have found its rhythm again with John Calipari‘s decision to move freshman Tyreke Evans from shooting guard to point guard (the kid is lost when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands). Evans has responded with his best play of the season and the Tigers have not lost since the move. Interestingly, both teams dominance in their leagues means that this is a huge game for each in terms of NCAA seeding. A win today would probably be worth 2 seeds on Selection Sunday assuming both teams are able to run the table for the rest of the regular season. Despite the fact that both teams have pretty balanced scoring attacks (4 starters in double figures for each team), the key to this game will likely be the PG match-up of Evans versus Jeremy Pargo. If the more experienced Pargo can outplay Evans, the Bulldogs should be able to run away with this one. If he isn’t, we could be in for a hard-fought game.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News and Notes

  • Arizona State‘s Rihards Kuksiks leads the nation in 3-point percentage, but is only third in the Pac-10. How is that possible? Well NCAA statistical leaders need to make a minimum of 2.5 per game from three-point range to qualify, while Pac-10 needs to make one per game and play in 75 percent of the team’s games. Theo Robertson is shooting 56.2% and Michael Roll is shooting 54.5%, both ahead of Kuksiks’s 46.7%. Either way Kuksiks has had a tough time the past two games going 3-for-20 from behind the arc.
  • Ben Howland‘s 13-4 record against California is his best against any team in the Pac-10.
  • UCLA’s recent victory over Stanford was UCLA’s largest victory over Stanford at Pauley Pavilion in over 30 years. It was also UCLA’s highest scoring game under Howland. UCLA shot 73% from 3-point range and only 62% from the free throw line. Maybe they should start taking their foul shots from behind the arc.
  • California, the best three-point shooting team in the nation at 47%, shot 2-for-16 from three-point range against USC.
  • UCLA dominated teams this week. The Bruins went 3-0 with average margin of victory over 21 points.
  • Darren Collison, who earlier this year broke the UCLA record for consecutive free-throws with 43, is shooting 94.4% from the line, which leads the nation.
  • Craig Robinson has turned it around for Oregon State. The Beavers have four wins in the first half of the Pac-10 schedule for the first time since 2002-03.
  • After another week of ups and downs in the Pac-10, there are really only two locks for the tournament at this point: UCLA and Washington. Four others (Arizona, Arizona State, California, and USC) still have work to do.

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Set Your Tivos: 02.04.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 4th, 2009

Set Your Tivos
After last night’s relatively weak slate of games, we’re back to normal tonight with a great set of games.

Game of the Day
#3 Duke at #10 Clemson at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Our second top 10 match-up of the week. Once again the road team is the higher ranked team, but I feel like this time they are also the favorites coming in to the game. All of you know about Duke by now thanks to their frequent appearances on national TV so I will keep it brief. Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson have emerged as their two most consistent players. Usually that is enough to get them by most teams even if they only get minimal support from the rest of the team. However, when that happens against quality teams the result isn’t always that good (even if they come really really close). The key for the Blue Devils in this game and for the rest of the season will be the play of Brian Zoubek (go ahead and snicker Duke haters) and Nolan Smith. Zoubek merely needs to be a mediocre 7-footer and Coach K and the rest of the Blue Devils staff will be happy. Smith, who replaced Greg Paulus in the starting lineup, has to improve his decision-making. He must have one of the worst assist-to-turnover ratios (1.03 to 1) of any starting PG on a top team in the nation. On the other side of the ball, Clemson may be the most under-appreciated team in the country. I’m not sure if it is the Tigers’ recent history of falling apart down the stretch, but I never hear anybody mentioning them as a team that could make a run in March despite the fact that they probably have the most reasonable losses of any team in the country (Wake Forest and at UNC). The key for Oliver Purnell‘s team will be to have Trevor Booker dominate on the inside. I doubt that Duke will let him play against Zoubek so he will probably have to do it against Singler, which could make for an interesting match-up. If Booker can win that match-up, Clemson will have a shot. After that they will need a strong game out of K.C. Rivers and hope to contain Duke’s outside shooters (particularly Jon Scheyer). I think Clemson will keep it close until midway through the 2nd half when Duke will go on a run and pull away to win by about a dozen.

Worth Watching
West Virginia at #20 Syracuse at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The Mountaineers are a a perfect example of why it is so hard to read Big East teams. They are only 4-4 in the conference, but all 4 of those losses were to top 10 teams (UConn, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Marquette). Likewise, Syracuse comes in having lost 3 straight and 4 of 5, but 3 of those losses have been on the road (Georgetown, Pittsburgh, and Providence) and the other to one of the hottest teams (Louisville) in the country. The Orangemen should be able to break their recent skid if they can contain Da’Sean Butler and Alex Ruoff, but a lot of that will have to do with whether or not they will have their full compliment of players available. Mookie Jones is done for the year with a hip injury, but someone will have to step up as Jim Boeheim can’t expect to get 62 points from Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf every game (and even that didn’t work in their last game).

#19 Minnesota at #14 Michigan State at 8:30 PM on The Big Ten Network: What is going on with the Spartans? Tom Izzo‘s team has lost back-to-back games at the Breslin Center to pretty weak competition (Northwestern and Penn State). Just two weeks ago everyone was talking about this team as a potential Final 4 contender with the return of Goran Suton. Unfortunately for Izzo, the Spartans will be without Raymar Morgan, who is out with “walking pneumonia”. To turn things around, the Spartans will need improved play out of Kalin Lucas, who still boasts an impressive 3.09 to 1 assist to TO ratio, but most of that is from his early season play. They will have to do it against a Gopher team that held Illinois to a ridiculous 36 points in their last game. Keep an eye on Al Nolen and Ralph Sampson III in this one for the Gophers as they will be matched up against Lucas and Suton respectively.

#6 Wake Forest at Miami (FL) at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Wake needs to develop some consistency if they want to be a national championship contender. We know that they can beat the big boys as they knocked off UNC, Clemson, and Duke in a three week stretch. The question is why they can’t maintain that level of play when they go up against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech (both losses). Dino Gaudio will need to figure this out if he wants to get this team up to the level of Duke and UNC at the end of the season. Maybe it’s just a focus thing, which hopefully shouldn’t be an issue in March. Either way, this trip to Miami should be a nice challenge for the Demon Deacons. Jeff Teague will be matched up against Jack McClinton and Al-Farouq Aminu will be up against Dwayne Collins. I think Miami may be able to hold its own in those match-ups. Unfortunately for Frank Haith, the Hurricanes run into depth problems after their top 2 while the Demon Deacons run much deeper. Perhaps Haith should look into giving more PT to his ridiculously athletic freshman DeQuan Jones.

#16 Villanova at Providence at 8 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com: Villanova finally got the signature win we were asking for by beating Pittsburgh last week in the last college basketball game at the Spectrum. This time they will have to do it on the road against a Friar team that was playing well before they ran into the UConn buzzsaw. Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds will need to have solid games if Jay Wright‘s crew is going to pull out a rare Big East road win against a Providence team that is actually above them in the Big East standings. Providence will need a solid effort out of its 8-deep rotation including Weyinmi Efejuku and Jonathan Kale to defend its home court tonight.

Keep an Eye On
Notre Dame at Cincinnati at 7:30 PM on ESPN360.com: Mike Brey
needs  Kyle McAlarney to snap out of his funk and start helping Luke Harangody out or the Fighting Irish might be looking at trip to the NIT this year. This is a game Notre Dame needs to win if they expect to make the NCAA tournament.

Tennessee at Arkansas at 8 PM on Raycom, Fox Sports South, and ESPN360.com: Can freshman Scotty Hopson be the one to reenergize the Vols who have struggled to play up their pre-season #8 ranking? Bruce Pearl might want to give him some more PT against the confusing Arkansas team that beat Texas and Oklahoma (the Sooners only loss), but is just 1-5 in the SEC.

Texas A&M at #2 Oklahoma at 9 PM on The Big 12 Network, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Watch this one for Blake Griffin, who will be your national Player of the Year barring some freak injury or sketchy voting. I guess the Aggies played Oklahoma close at College Station so this could be a decent game, but since it is in Norman I doubt it will be that close after the half unless the Sooners are already looking ahead to Texas and Kansas two weeks from now.

USC at #12 UCLA at 10:30 PM on Fox Sports: Ben Howland‘s will be going for a sweep of the California Pac-10 teams at Pauley Pavilion against their cross-town rivals. The Trojans are my pick for secretly good team that nobody is talking about, but could make a run in March. Watch this one for the battle of the freshmen: DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday. They won’t be matched up against each other, but it should be fun to see Josh Shipp guard DeRozan. As an added bonus, you might get to see Lil’ Romeo (ok, maybe not).

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