RTC 2011 NBA Mock Draft: Version 1.0

Posted by zhayes9 on May 19th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an RTC contributor, columnist and bracketologist.  For the next six weeks, he’ll also be our chief draftnik, mocking up the place with his first round selections.  For additional detail, be sure to also check out our 35 draft profiles of the top collegians that we are rolling out over the next five weeks. 

As a college basketball fan, the NBA Draft has always represented a final sendoff to the previous season and for the players we’ve followed religiously over the course of their collegiate careers. Even though some stops (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Greg Oden) have been shorter than others (Tyler Hansbrough, J.J. Redick, Evan Turner), each player has provided a long list of memories while making their individual imprint on the college game. Similar to a parent sending their kids off to school for the first time, the draft in late June serves as one last chance to say goodbye.

It's 2003 All Over Again For the Cavs... Sorta

Now that the lottery order has been unveiled, it’s time to introduce our first ever 2011 NBA Mock Draft here at RTC. As someone who annually follows the happenings surrounding the draft for weeks leading up to the big night, hopefully my mock selections will provide both insight and expectation into what will transpire in around five weeks time, although with this year’s weak draft class we could see more trades than ever with teams looking to exchange picks this year for 2012 selections.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke.  In a point guard heavy league where a gifted court general is essential for any team with championship aspirations, Irving makes the most sense of any single pick in the draft. Irving has tremendous playmaking ability at the position both setting up teammates and generating his own offense.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona.  The most efficient player in college basketball who possesses phenomenal athleticism and excels in isolation, Williams is the clear cut choice if Minnesota hangs onto this pick. Although Williams is a bit of a tweener, an improved mid-range game will render Williams a matchup nightmare for opposing threes.

3. Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky.  This pick could certainly go in a different direction if the Jazz head honchos feel Devin Harris is their point guard for the foreseeable future. Even if Harris sticks around, Knight needs some grooming as a distributor before he’s ready to shine. Knight is already a capable shooter and offensive threat.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey.  After selecting Irving, it only makes sense to grab the best available big man and pick Kanter. A supremely skilled 7-footer with advanced footwork and scoring ability in the post, Kanter’s ceiling is very high. Kanter hasn’t played outside of a Kentucky practice in over a year, so there’s risk in this selection.

5. Toronto Raptors- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania.  The Raptors have never been bashful about selecting international players and there’s certainly a need for more athleticism in the low post for Toronto. If the question marks surrounding Valanciunas’ buyout can be resolved, the Raptors are nabbing a projectable low-post threat who can really rebound.

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Morning Five: Tax Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 15th, 2011

  1. We made mention yesterday that Kansas disruption Josh Selby was too busy working out in Las Vegas to attend last week’s KU Basketball banquet; well, he made if official on Thursday.  The Rivals #1 recruit from the class of 2010 will be taking his eight points and two assists per game to the NBA, where team executives are now classifying him as a late first/early second round pick after a tumultuous freshman year in Lawrence.  The combo guard will sign with an agent, thereby closing the door on his returning to school — from Garden City to Emporia, Jayhawk Nation shrugged.
  2. Moving on to players who actually performed at an elite level while in college, San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard also announced that is going to the NBA and is signing with an agent.  The sophomore who led SDSU to its greatest two-year run in program history is projected as a mid-first rounder, and with the graduation of Billy White, DJ Gay and Malcolm Thomas pending, Steve Fisher will have a significant rebuilding project ahead of him next season.  Two others from Thursday…  Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott will both test the waters, but neither will sign with an agent and are expected to be back in a collegiate uniform next season.
  3. If you’re looking for further insight as to why Harvard’s Tommy Amaker would turn down a much higher-paid position at Miami (FL) in the ACC, this article from The Harvard Crimson is rather insightful.  For some reason, we get a little jiggy with the idea that there’s something called Friends of Harvard Basketball, and that its core function is to write checks for things like assistant coach pay raises and upgrades to Lavietes Pavilion.  Considering that FoHB probably owns 5% of this nation’s wealth, we somehow don’t think those specific requests will be much of a problem.
  4. We’ve talked extensively about how the decision to go pro impacts the players themselves and the colleges they’re leaving, but we haven’t really spoken much about how it affects the incoming freshmen who are positioned to take their time.  This article by Ryan Fagan about the incoming freshman class does.  While Austin Rivers may view Kyrie Irving leaving Duke as an “opportunity,” we’re not sure Duke fans see that the same way.
  5. It’s with bittersweet feelings that we report that New Mexico and former Tennessee forward Emmanuel Negedu’s basketball career is officially over.  You certainly recall that Negedu collapsed and was literally dead for a brief period at Tennessee in 2009; he then transferred to New Mexico and played in ten games last season before a reading on his internal defibrillator gave team officials reason to shut him down.  He will remain on scholarship at UNM, but he will not count against the team total for competition purposes, and frankly, we’re just happy that this story didn’t end with us writing a heartfelt post about all the reservations we had with the Lobo program allowing him to continue to play.
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Mountain West Report Card

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 5th, 2011


Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap: It was a banner year for the Mountain West despite the turbulence of the offseason that will see two of the standard-bearers of the conference (Utah and BYU) leave for arguably greener pastures this summer with TCU following them out the door the following summer. The two teams leading the conference this season, BYU and San Diego State, posted a combined 66-8 record this year and were constants in the national top ten making the Sweet 16 before bowing out in tight contests. In addition to having two of the country’s top teams the conference also had arguably the nation’s top player in BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, who led the country in scoring, regularly producing eye-popping, shake-your-head-in-disbelief moments and becoming a household name in Utah and beyond. UNLV joined the conference leaders in the NCAA Tournament, but tripped up in ugly fashion before losing head coach Lon Kruger to Oklahoma over the weekend. Colorado State and New Mexico had their hopes pinned on NCAA Tournament bids, but came up a little short. Nevertheless, this was undoubtedly the biggest collection of talent in the history of this conference and likely the high water mark. While there is not a whole lot of love lost between either followers of the conference or executives in the MWC and BYU, there is little doubt that the loss of both of the Utah schools from its ranks will leave a major hole.

It was clearly the year of the Jimmer in the Mountain West

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2010-11 RTC All-Americans

Posted by zhayes9 on April 5th, 2011

The head honchos here at RTC gathered over the weekend to separate the cream of the crop in college basketball and concoct our official first and second All-American teams. There’s a catch, though: the voting included postseason competition. You’ll notice a certain National POY award changed because of this all-important caveat. Without further ado, the ten players that have taken us on a wild ride from mid-November to early April, making their mark on the sport we so passionately adore:

2010-11 RTC NPOY: Kemba Walker

First Team

G- Kemba Walker, Connecticut, JR (23.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 43% FG, 82% FT, 33% 3pt)– Walker was the captain of the most improbable championship run since Danny Manning’s Jayhawks in 1988. The diminutive scoring guard captivated the country from his heroics in Maui to an incredible 11 wins in 28 days to finish a memorable season. Walker finished fourth in the nation in scoring, was named Big East Tournament MVP and carried a Huskies team packed with underclassmen to unimaginable heights.

G- Jimmer Fredette, BYU, SR (28.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, 45% FG, 89% FT, 40% 3pt)– Jimmer moved into All-American lock status the moment his first name became a verb. Fredette led the country in scoring and captured the attention of even the most casual hoops fans with his in-the-gym shooting range. Fredette will forever be remembered as one of the best shooters in collegiate basketball history.

G- Nolan Smith, Duke, SR (20.6 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.5 RPG, 46% FG, 81% FT, 35% 3pt)– Smith nearly became the first player in ACC history to lead the conference in scoring and assists during a commendable senior campaign. A multi-dimensional scorer and distributor, Duke’s most valuable player manned both guard spots this season and excelled with flying colors. He was the glue that held the Blue Devils together from November to March.

F- Derrick Williams, Arizona, SO (19.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 60% FG, 75% FT, 57% 3pt)– The most efficient player in the nation, Williams displayed awe-inspiring athleticism and versatility. A dynamo in isolation situations, Williams led the nation in free throw attempts and shot an incredible 57% from deep as a power forward. The sophomore is likely to be chosen #1 overall in June’s draft for good reason.

F- Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, FR (17.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 54% FG, 70% FT)– Unanimously voted as this season’s freshman of the year, Sullinger lived up to his billing as a low-post force to be reckoned with. Sully averaged a double-double as a freshman in the rugged Big Ten and his capabilities in the paint opened up countless shot opportunities for a willing and able supporting cast. Sullinger is the early favorite for NPOY in ’11-’12 if a sophomore season happens as promised.

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Morning Five: The Morning After

Posted by nvr1983 on April 5th, 2011

  1. While most of the college basketball world has been focused on the Final Four or certain ridiculous coaching hires (more on that in a bit), there was some very interesting news out of San Diego State where according to Malcolm Thomas, Aztec star Kawhi Leonard is essentially set to head to the NBA this summer. Although Leonard hasn’t said anything officially, the statements by Thomas are intriguing as the two players live together. We should probably hear something from Leonard in the next few weeks to make this official.
  2. On to the ridiculous coaching hirings, Missouri‘s decision to hire Frank Haith was widely panned and it seems like he will be coaching some of his own players in the very near future. Although they are stating otherwise, the decision by Kim English and Laurence Bowers to look into the NBA Draft on the same day that news of Haith’s hiring became public looks very suspicious. Both have stated that Haith’s hiring had nothing to do with their decision and neither has hired an agent, so it is possible that both will return and play for Haith. The timing of their announcement, though, will not do anything to assuage the already frail psyche of Missouri fans.
  3. In one of the more interesting coaching transitions of the young offseason, Princeton coach Sydney Johnson announced that he was leaving the school to take the same position at Fairfield. In a short time at Princeton, Johnson turned the Tigers around from a 6-23 record in his first season to the NCAA Tournament this year after that buzzer beater that knocked off Harvard in a playoff for the Ivy League title. In the NCAA Tournament, Princeton nearly shocked the basketball world in playing Kentucky to the wire before Brandon Knight hit a lay-up to win it for the Wildcats in the closing seconds. From what we have read, the primary motives here appear to be a significant increase in pay and the hope of competing on a level playing field, as many speculated that Harvard’s reported decision to ease admission standards further for basketball players would leave Princeton at a significant competitive disadvantage, since their administration was unwilling to budge on its admissions standards.
  4. Former Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams was charged with one count of sexual assualt and four counts of rape based on allegations from two women stemming from an incident in December. The trial is set to begin on May 13th. Technically Williams has been suspended indefinitely, but we can’t imagine that Travis Ford will let Williams back on the team or that Williams would want to remain at Oklahoma State even if he was found not guilty.
  5. Finally it looks like not everybody was in Houston just to see the Final Four. Southern University athletic director Greg LaFleur was in Houston for the Final Four, as were many high-ranking officials from other schools, except that LaFleur was arrested on charges of soliciting a prostitute. The school has released a terse generic statement saying that they will investigate the matter.  LaFleur has been athletic director at Southern since 2005, but we suspect that he will lose his job over this. The one thing saving him from national embarassment here is that he is the athletic director at Southern.
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NCAA Regional Diary From Anaheim

Posted by rtmsf on March 28th, 2011

After another weekend of scintillating and shocking NCAA Tournament results, it’s time to check back in with our various correspondents who were in Anaheim, San Antonio, New Orleans and Newark reporting on the games this weekend. 

Location: Anaheim, CA 
Round: Regional Final
Teams: Connecticut, Arizona 
Date: 26 March 2011
Correspondent: Andrew Murawa

  • In the preview for this game, I talked about the idea that it wouldn’t necessarily be the stars that determined the outcome of this game, but the role players. While Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams led the way with 20 points each, the two All-Americans combined to make just two of their 13 attempts from beyond the arc and to shoot a combined 12-30 from the field. The big difference between the two is that Walker was able to take advantage of all the defensive attention that was being paid to him and trust his teammates to make big plays. Walker wound up with seven assists as teammates like Jeremy Lamb (19 points, two threes) and Shabazz Napier (ten points, two threes) came up big when called upon.  “Arizona did a great job of throwing two guys at me and I realized it kind of late,” said Walker. “But I was able to get Jeremy involved and he was able to make so big plays for us. Jeremy was on tonight, and I wanted to keep going to him.”
  • According to Jim Calhoun, it was Walker’s suggestion to repeatedly run Lamb off baseline screens in several late-game possessions. “Kemba says, ‘We got to get the ball to Jeremy!’ Now, I’ve had a lot of great players, and great players want the ball in their hands and he did some great things down the stretch obviously, but he’s saying to the coaches let’s not run cage, let’s run circle for Jeremy, and obviously it paid off great. And he looked at Jeremy and he said, ‘And you’ll make those shots, too.’ I don’t think there is any kid in America doing that. He’ll carry us and take over the game but as good as it has been, his play was great, his leadership even better.”
  • Jeremy Lamb was asked in the postgame press conference to comment on a UConn assistant coach’s statement that the freshman had been so great in the Tournament that it was like he didn’t even know where he was. What followed next proved beyond all doubt that Lamb really didn’t know where he was, as he turned to Coach Calhoun and Walker with a confused look on his face, prompting both of them to begin cracking up, then responded to the reports with “you mean like — what do you mean?” Alex Oriakhi cleared things up a bit, telling Lamb, “he wants to know if you have a pulse.” Lamb responded: “Well, no, I mean, I haven’t thought about it sinking in yet, I just like to go out there and play. I don’t like to think about where we’re playing and how big the stage is. Right now I’m just having fun playing basketball.”
  • Some 27 years ago, Jeremy Lamb’s father, Rolando Lamb, hit a game winning buzzer-beater to beat a Calhoun-coached Northeastern team in the NCAA Tournament. According to Calhoun, all is now forgiven. “I think that after his shot that beat us when he played for VCU I told him he owed me one and he certainly has – he’s paid me back ten-fold. That was just one game.”
  • For the second straight game, the Huskies were the beneficiaries of their opponent’s star forward getting in early foul trouble. And in both games, after taking a solid lead into the halftime locker room, UConn had to withstand numerous second-half charges, playing in what was essentially a road game. “When teams make runs, we don’t let it get to us because I guess we know we’re going to make runs back with Kemba and Jeremy Lamb being able to score the ball the way they’re able to,” said sophomore center Oriakhi.

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NCAA Sweet Sixteen Game Analysis – Thursday

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 24th, 2011

After three days of quiet, it’s time to get serious about figuring out this national championship thing.  Sixteen to twelve… let’s check out tonight’s games.

#2 San Diego State vs. #3 Connecticut – West Regional Semifinal (at Anaheim, CA) – 7:15 pm ET on CBS.

Does Fisher Have Another Final Four Run in Him?

One of these teams has won two national championships. The other just got done winning their first two NCAA Tournament games ever. While the Aztecs have had a great breakout season and now stand at 34-2 on the season, UConn has won 44 Tournament games in the Jim Calhoun era alone. Luckily for SDSU, past performances in the Big Dance need have no impact on this year’s games. If you throw out the bloodlines for the two programs, you’ll find that we have the makings for what should be an excellent game. We’ve got star power on both ends of the court, with UConn’s point guard Kemba Walker a candidate for the National Player of the Year and SDSU’s Kawhi Leonard an All-American candidate. We’ve got big name coaches with national championships and Final Four experience, as Calhoun will be matched up with Steve Fisher, who won one title at Michigan in ’89, then got back to the title game in both ’92 and ’93. We’ve got an impressive freshman class including Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith, and Jeremy Lamb on the UConn side matched up with three starting seniors on the Aztec squad. In short, we’ve got all the trappings of a serious battle. For the Aztecs, the big goal is going to be slowing Kemba Walker. While SDSU has had plenty of experience at trying to slow another high-scoring point guard (one Jimmer Fredette – you may have heard of him), Walker is a different challenge for SDSU, as he is a quicker, shiftier guard than Fredette, and a guy who you’d rather have shooting the three than challenging his defenders off the dribble. As a result, it is likely that D.J. Gay and/or Chase Tapley will get the majority of minutes tasked with defending Walker, while frontcourt players like Leonard, Billy White and Malcolm Thomas will be left to keep one eye on Walker while trying to body-up the Huskies’ athletic offensive rebounders up front. The SDSU frontcourt will also have to provide the majority of the scoring, and given that they haven’t seen a team as big, long and bouncy as the Huskies, they’ll need to prove that their opponents’ size does not bother them. The Aztecs figure to have plenty of support from their fans, who only need to drive about an hour north to attend the game, but they’ll need to prove that their shaky performance down the stretch in Saturday’s game against Temple was an aberration rather than the norm. Until they can close out a game in the NCAA Tournament with confidence, we’re not sure they’re trustworthy against a big-time foe.

The RTC Certified Pick: Connecticut

#2 Florida vs. #3 BYU – Southeast Region Semifinals (at New Orleans, LA) – 7:27 pm ET on TBS.

Looking at this game on paper, it’s pretty hard to find any discernible differences between these two teams. The main determinant of this game will likely be tempo. BYU would love nothing more than to get the Gators caught up in a fast-paced game, forcing them to recklessly throw up ill-advised three pointers leading to long rebounds and many Cougar runouts. Dave Rose’s team excels in transition with Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery leading the charge. While Emery is certainly a terrific point guard, his biggest impact on this game could come defensively. He’ll guard Florida’s Erving Walker in all likelihood and that could be a major problem for the 5’8 Walker. Emery’s length and quickness has the potential to disrupt the Florida floor general, plus the BYU senior ranks #15 individually in steal percentage. If Walker can’t get the offense flowing, Florida may result to lots of isolations and quick shots, certainly not ideal for a team that does its best work at a slower pace in the half court. The Gators have a big advantage inside and have to use it to win. Billy Donovan needs to keep Kenny Boynton, expected to play after spraining his ankle against UCLA, in check and make sure his guards work the ball inside to Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus. This could very well be the game where the loss of Brandon Davies dooms BYU for good. The Cougars rank a paltry #222 in offensive rebounding percentage so Florida should hold a significant edge on the glass. BYU has been out-rebounded in four of their seven games without Davies and we expect that trend to continue tonight. Defensively, Florida has to keep Fredette off the free throw line and force him to make outside shots. It’s alright for the Gators if Jimmer drains more than a few bombs but he’s most dangerous when he can get into the lane and to the stripe, or create for others when defenders are drawn to him inside. Florida ranks #15 in defensive free throw rate and will have to keep that up against Fredette specifically. We have to wonder if Donovan will assign Parsons the task of defending Fredette. Parsons is a big man (6’9) but he’s fairly quick for his size and can bother Jimmer with his superior length. Quickness will be the issue because Fredette possess a terrific first step to blow by opponents. The Cougars will have an edge at the line if this is a close game since Florida struggles as a team (67%). It should be a terrific matchup but a slight edge has to go to the Gators in New Orleans this evening.

The RTC Certified Pick: Florida.

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BGTD: Saturday Night Tourney Sessions

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2011

Throughout conference tournament weekend, we’re going to pop in with some BGTD-style analysis at least twice a day.  If you are interested in the action earlier today check out our afternoon post.

  • 5 for 5. The UConn Huskies capped off a historic run winning their fifth game in five nights with the last four coming against ranked teams in scintillating fashion knocking off a game Louisville team. Led by another solid performance by Kemba Walker who was nothing short of sensational the past week in Madison Square Garden the Huskies likely played themselves into a #3 seed and a favorable regional placement. While Jim Calhoun may be dealing with some significant professional struggles he has a team that is capable of making a run deep into the NCAA Tournament behind a solid, but inexperienced group of role players and a superstar in Walker. On the other side the Cardinals are probably looking at a #3 or #4 seed as well and Rick Pitino should be looking forward to making a push towards Houston.
  • The Aztecs stand up to Jimmer. The closing moments of the Mountain West Conference final will be remembered for Kawhi Leonard jawing at Jimmer Fredette, but in reality the Aztecs had been making a statement to the Cougars for the previous 40 minutes. In avenging their two losses to BYU (the only two blemishes on their resume this season) San Diego State showed signs of a being a team that could make a run to the Final Four. While Fredette still got his 30, the Aztecs dominated the Brandon Davies-less Cougars on the inside outscoring them 38-14 thanks to big games out of Billy White and Leonard. The Aztecs and Cougars are likely headed toward the 2 and 3 lines respectively, but the two teams appear to be headed in opposite directions as the Aztecs have few glaring holes and Cougars still have a big one in the middle.

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Set Your Tivo: 03.12.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 12th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

When we’re this late into Championship Week, every game is dynamite and a must-see event. There are too many games to preview in their entirety so here are a handful you absolutely have to watch today. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

ACC Semifinals (at Greensboro, NC): #5 Duke vs. Virginia Tech – 3:30 pm on ESPN (****)

With the status of Nolan Smith uncertain after suffering a toe injury yesterday (bad toes have killed the Blue Devils this year, right?), Virginia Tech can lock up a bid for certain with another win over Duke this afternoon. After a scintillating conclusion to their game against Florida State, one tenth of a second may be enough to vault this Hokies team into the Big Dance regardless of what happens today. If Smith can’t go, Kyle Singler and Seth Curry become Duke’s go-to players. Singler played like the guy we saw last year against Maryland yesterday, posting 29/9 on 10-15 FG, while Curry did a nice job filling in at the point after Smith left. Virginia Tech slowed the pace down in their win over Duke last month but more importantly committed only five turnovers in that game. The Hokies also held the Blue Devils to 20% shooting from three and owned the paint with Jeff Allen and Victor Davila combining for 29/25 in the win. To beat Duke for the second time, Seth Greenberg needs a similar game plan. If Duke can get out in transition, Virginia Tech’s limited depth will become a major concern, as will their propensity to turn the ball over. The Hokies are at their best playing in the half court where they work the ball inside to Allen and crash the glass, not when Malcolm Delaney is jacking up ill-advised deep shots leading to long rebounds and fast break points for the opponent. If Smith can’t go and Curry doesn’t make his teammates better, look for Virginia Tech to use a lot of zone (they might anyway) to force Duke into deep jumpers, especially Singler. He shot the ball poorly in the first meeting and was a big part of why Duke lost that game. A game like he had against Maryland will lead Duke to a win but Virginia Tech knows what is at stake and can definitely win this game if they stick to the blueprint we just outlined.

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Set Your Tivo: 03.11.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 11th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

One auto bid and a host of major conference games are on tap today, two days out from Selection Sunday. The afternoon session features plenty of bubble teams making their closing arguments to the Selection Committee. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

SEC Quarterfinals (at Atlanta, GA): Georgia vs. Alabama – 1 pm on ESPN FullCourt (***)

We’ve heard all kinds of things about this game from an elimination game to a play-in game. Whatever it may be, one team will be looking better than the other by the time it’s over. Alabama beat Georgia in the regular season finale six days ago and now they meet again in another game with major NCAA implications. RTC’s resident bracketologist had Georgia in and Alabama the first team on the “out” list as of last night while Joe Lunardi over at ESPN has the Bulldogs as the last team in the field and the Crimson Tide in the same position as RTC. This game will be played almost exclusively in the paint as neither team shoots it well from deep. Both teams rank in the top 20 in interior defense but Georgia has to avoid turnovers to win. Alabama thrives on giveaways despite their slower tempo, ranked #28 in defensive turnover percentage. Georgia committed 16 turnovers in the loss to the Tide last week and lost the game despite out-shooting Alabama from the floor. Senario Hillman leads Alabama in steals and will look to harass the Georgia guards all game long. The battle in the paint between Trey Thompkins and JaMychal Green could determine the outcome of the game if the Bulldogs don’t turn it over often.

Big Ten Quarterfinals (at Indianapolis, IN): Michigan vs. Illinois – 2:30 pm on ESPN (***)

Illinois is generally considered to be in the field of 68 but Michigan could really use a win. The Wolverines are likely in as of now but a loss here and other results around the country could make it a very close call on Sunday. The Illini won the only meeting of the regular season, a two point win in Champaign on February 16. Michigan protects the ball very well but rebounding and defense did them in against Illinois in that game. John Beilein would love to play this game in the half court where his team can probe and dissect the Illinois defense, although the Illini rank tenth in three point defense and Michigan fires up almost 23 triples per game. With two dynamic playmakers in Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway Jr, Michigan can break a team down off the dribble of spot up for a three. This is a game they definitely can win but a better effort on the glass is needed. Michigan ranks near the bottom of D1 in offensive rebounding percentage (that will happen when you shoot so many threes) and was out-rebounded in the loss to Illinois last month.

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