2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Horizon League

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 29th, 2012

Ethan Back is the Horizon League correspondent for RTC.

Top Storylines

  • The Departure of Butler: It’s pretty crazy to think that the Horizon League has produced two of the last three runners-up in the NCAA Tournament, but Butler did indeed reach the final game of the season in both 2010 and 2011. The Bulldogs have been the reason why the conference receives the national attention that it does, but they are now members of the A-10. What does this mean for the conference? Wright State head coach Billy Donlon and Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters don’t seem to think much of the departure, as the former noted that Butler finished fifth in the conference a season ago, and the latter speculated that the Bulldogs would not have been the favorites this season. Despite this, Butler’s departure has been covered extensively by the national media, and we will be able to see its effects in the seasons to come.
  • Will Valparaiso Dominate Conference Play? Results from the Media Day polls would seem to indicate that Valparaiso will indeed dominate the Horizon League, as the Crusaders received 40 of the possible 44 first-place votes this preseason. Valpo went 14-4 in conference last year, and returns reigning Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff and first team all-Horizon League forward Kevin Van Wijk. Reaching the NCAA Tournament will be the goal for the Crusaders, as this was a feat they were unable to accomplish one season ago.

Will The McCallums And Detroit Step Up To Fill The Void Left By Butler? (AP)

Reader’s Take I

 

Predicted Order of Finish

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RTC Conference Primers: #18 – Mid-American Conference

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2011

This conference primer was prepared by the RTC staff. If you are knowledgeable about the MAC and have an interest in becoming the correspondent for this league, please e-mail us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Freshman Grow Up. After having 15 freshman start for MAC teams last year, this year promises a more balanced, less chaotic version of basketball as many of those freshmen will have matured (although we know that is not always the case). With increased experience, the MAC promises to offer a higher quality of basketball with less inconsistency across its teams. It also bodes well for the conference’s futures as many of these players are expected to be four-year players so even if the conference is not loaded this year it has the potential to be very strong in another year or two.
  • Three Team Battle at the Top. While the MAC has traditionally been a wild conference, there appears to be three teams this year — Akron, Kent State, and Western Michigan – as the class of the conference. While the Zips and Golden Flashes return quite a bit of experience and waged a hard-fought game in the conference tournament finals that was decided on a last second block, the Broncos field a young team with plenty of potential. They are probably a step below the other two teams, but this trio is most likely several levels above the rest of the conference.

Can Akron Do It Again? (AP/M. Duncan)

  • Can the MAC Get an At-Large? As mentioned earlier, the conference has traditionally been a wild one, which means that the team that wins the regular season will not necessarily win the conference tournament (Kent State the past two years). The question is whether a team from the MAC can establish a strong enough regular season resume to earn an NCAA at-large bid. The truth is that we aren’t sure, but at least the three teams already highlighted are trying to play good non-conference schedules, which should boost their strength of schedule come Selection Sunday. Western Michigan has the toughest schedule with a home game against Temple (November 17), at Purdue (November 23), at Gonzaga (November 26 listed as a “neutral site” game in Spokane), at Detroit (December 8), at Oakland (December 23), and at Duke (December 30). Akron has games at Mississippi State (November 9), home against Detroit (November 26), at West Virginia (November 28), and at home against Virginia Commonwealth (December 29). Kent State isn’t quite as impressive, but still has games at West Virginia (November 15) and at Utah State (November 22).
  • How Bad Will Toledo Be? We usually don’t like kicking a team when it is down, but the Rockets might end up having one of the worst teams in Division I this year. Last year they were 4-28 overall and 1-15 in the conference while finishing 344th in Division I in scoring and that was before they had their scholarships cut from 13 to 10 due to poor APR scores and they lost their top returning scorer Malcolm Griffin and Hayden Humes to transfer and Justin Moss retired after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). So basically this team is going to be really, really bad.
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Morning Five: 10.05.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2011

  1. Official practices start in a little over a week, but players around the country are already involved in conditioning and individual instruction as the season quickly approaches.  As a result, we’ll start to see an uptick in unfortunate injury news as was reported Tuesday that Missouri senior Laurence Bowers has torn his ACL and will miss the entire 2011-12 season.  The 6’8″ forward is a massive loss for a Tiger team already thin across the front line, and it will be felt particularly in the hustle areas of offensive rebounding and blocked shots where the bouncy Bowers excels.  Kim English will more than likely to slide over to Bowers’ position at the four, while center Ricardo Ratliffe, the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year in 2010-11, will be asked to considerably increase his production of 11/6 per game.
  2. Missouri was the epicenter of college basketball news on Tuesday, as one day after the Big 12 unveiled its new revenue sharing plan for Tier I & II broadcast television rights, the school’s board of directors announced that it had unanimously authorized chancellor Brady Deaton to explore its conference affiliation options.  The backroom snapshot of this, of course, is that Missouri thinks that will receive an invitation to become the SEC’s fourteenth member institution, bringing along the 21st and 31st largest US media markets with it (St. Louis and Kansas City).  Whether this sets off another free-for-all of rapacious deal-making/breaking that sets the Big East and Big 12 completely on fire remains to be seen, but if Missouri ends up following Texas A&M southeast, the Big 12 will have to answer in kind.
  3. Western Michigan sophomore forward and Fab Five progeny, Juwan Howard, Jr., is transferring back to his hometown of Detroit to play at Detroit Mercy for his remaining three seasons of eligibility.  Howard had a very successful freshman campaign at WMU in 2010-11, averaging 9/4 off the bench in just over 23 minutes per contest, and he will be eligible in 2012-13 at his new school.  If Ray McCallum, Jr., is still playing for his father next year, a team that was already on the rise looks even better with Howard and McCallum in the lineup.
  4. With the NBA lockout continuing indefinitely (talks on Tuesday reportedly did not go well), Jeff Goodman checks in with several former NCAA stars who are currently back on campus earning a few more credits toward their college degrees.  Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson, Tennessee’s Tobias Harris, and UCLA’s Kevin Love are but a few of the names current students are shocked to find in some of their classes this fall.  Obviously, we think this is great and highly encourage these guys to continue along that path — we only wish more of them would see the value in it while they’re still in college, but alas… maybe the new NBA collective bargaining agreement will take care of that issue for us.
  5. We’re late to this article, but RTC alumnus John Gorman at GossipSports gets out his tin foil hat and begins connecting some of the open and notorious dots between the power players behind the scenes in the conference realignment discussions.  His target: the marriage between IMG College and its client schools, ESPN and its conference affiliations, and all of the dollars flowing back and forth between them.  It’s a really interesting piece, just try to not pay attention to the person opening his umbrella on the grassy knoll while you’re reading it.
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