NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.15.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 15th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.


  • Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim discusses the Orange’s history in the Final Four with columnist Bud Poliquin.
  • Indiana State is using creativity as the Sycamores practice for Syracuse on Friday.
  • A possible distraction for Georgia: Mark Fox being mentioned as a candidate at NC State.
  • Balance and consistency have been keys for Washington this season.
  • Wright State head coach Billy Donlon is happy for his former boss, Clemson‘s Brad Brownell.
  • Can Kentucky make a run to the Final Four?



  • Illinois guard DJ Richardson crossed paths with several UNLV players when he spent his final high school season at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas.
  • Vanderbilt‘s opening round survival against Richmond could hinge on bench production.
  • Kenneth Faried‘s tenacious rebounding style draws comparisons to Dennis Rodman, according to first-round opponent Rick Pitino.
  • The matchup that almost wasPurdue coach Matt Painter is relieved that the scenario of facing St. John’s wouldn’t come up until the Final Four. Painter played at Purdue for current Scarlet Knight coaches Gene Keady and Steve Lavin.
  • 15-seed Akron will hope to contain Notre Dame with some overbearing size down low.
  • USC coach Kevin O’Neill learned a valuable lesson after his suspension from a verbal confrontation with an Arizona booster during the Pac-10 Tournament last week.


  • An update on college basketball’s most-watched toe indicates there’s a chance that Kyrie Irving will return for Duke at some point in the tournament.
  • Hampton has a shot at one-upping its memorable upset of two-seed Iowa State in 2001.
  • An emphasis on perimeter defense is the norm this week in Tennessee‘s practices as it preps for Michigan.
  • A Q&A with Arizona‘s Derrick Williams discusses a variety of topics, including being recruited by his first-round opponent, Memphis.
  • Sticking with the feline motif, Missouri will try to buck a foreboding trend against Cincinnati, as Big East teams have ended the Tigers’ last two seasons.
  • Teammates will rally around Temple junior guard Ramone Moore, who has been instrumental in providing a leadership element to the Owls’ season.
  • Kawhi Leonard may be an NBA prospect for the Aztecs, but DJ Gay is San Diego State‘s Iron Man, having played at least 39 minutes in his team’s last seven games, without the benefit of a single overtime.
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Morning Five: 03.15.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2011

  1. Every year the announcement of the NCAA Tournament field gets athletic directors across the country to puff their chests out and tell the secretary to be ready for the alumni/boosters to being calling in with their checkbooks open. And every year the following day another announcement (one detailing the academic performance of those teams) makes those same athletic directors slouch their shoulders and tell their secretary to tell the administration that they are in meetings all day and won’t be available to speak to them at this time. The latest report indicates that basketball players across the board are doing marginally better in terms of graduating, but the gap between Caucasian and African-American student-athlete graduation rates is widening. The relative graduation rates of different schools will undoubtedly become message board fodder, but the atrocious graduation rates at many schools (particularly for African-American players is appalling).
  2. Over the past 36 hours there has been a lot of talk about teams being snubbed, but one team that has notably been left out of the discussion is Harvard. While there have been a few readers on our site who have been quite vocal in their support for the Crimson today they have largely gone unrecognized except for one national/local (ok, a hated local) writer who is beating the drum for Harvard as being worthy of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
  3. We will be releasing our All-American teams in the near future, but to get a sneak peak of what our voting might look like check out the results of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) voting where we are a member. It is hard to argue with any of the selections, but is surprising and refreshing to see Kenneth Faried honored as a 2nd team All-American despite playing in a lower-profile conference.
  4. With all the movement along the coaching carousel there are inevitably rumors about coaches at relatively big-name schools moving to even bigger name schools. One of the most prominent figures has been Tubby Smith who was rumored to be in the running for the recently open Arkansas position. However, it seems like Smith is not interested in becoming the Razorbacks head coach at least according to his statement from his local radio show yesterday as intends to return to Minnesota next season.
  5. One of my favorite aspects of the NCAA Tournament is when non-college basketball fans try to show off their college basketball knowledge. (I’m really trying not to come off as a snob here. I would love to have more people be serious college basketball fans.) In recent years this has been altered slightly by people trying to break out sophisticated statistical analysis to find the key to unlocking a perfect bracket. We at RTC love statistical analysis so when The New York Times tried its hand at picking the bracket we were interested until we saw the result, which was essentially all chalk except for six “upsets” (three #9s beating #8s, two #10s beating #7s, one #11 beating a #6, and one #3 beating a #2).


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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.14.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 14th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with all the chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.  We hope to have these up each morning starting Tuesday, March 15, but don’t kill us if it sometimes slips to the early afternoon.



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Bracket Prep: Southwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

Throughout Monday, we’ll be releasing our Bracket Prep analyses of each of the four NCAA Tournament regions.  The order will be as follows — please check back throughout the day for all four (all times eastern).

  • West – 9 am
  • Southeast – 11 am
  • Southwest – 1 pm
  • East – 3 pm


Favorite: #1 Kansas (32-2, 14-2 Big 12). When the Kansas that showed up on Saturday afternoon in Kansas City is the team we get, the Jayhawks are the favorite not only in this region but in the entire NCAA Tournament.  The problem is that isn’t always the team that plays (witness the near-miss against Oklahoma State on Thursday).

Should They Falter: #2 Notre Dame (26-6, 14-4 Big East). Many observers had the Irish pegged as the fourth #1 seed over Duke given their sterling numbers on paper, so we know they’re capable.  Quite possibly playing as well as anyone the past two months, Mike Brey’s team is well-positioned in its bottom half of the bracket to make a run at the Final Four.

Grossly Overseeded: #11 USC or VCU (19-14, 10-8 Pac-10; 23-11, 12-6 CAA). It’s questionable whether either of these two First Four teams should even be playing in this Tournament, and for them to get an #11 seed slot instead of a #12 or #13 is equally irresponsible.  Before playing near home and making a run to the CAA finals, VCU had lost four of five games; USC had been playing better of late, but the Trojans also went through a Pac-10 stretch where they lost seven of ten (remember, we’re talking about the Pac-10 here, not the Big East).  The #12 seed in this region, Richmond, is better than both of these two teams, and they’re also playing like it.

Grossly Underseeded: #6 Georgetown (21-10, 10-8 Big East).  We’re hearing that Georgetown’s straw that stirs the drink, Chris Wright, will play in the NCAA Tournament, and if he’s near 100%, the Hoyas are much better than a #6 seed.  If not, or if he’s closer to 50% productivity, then JT3’s team is very much overseeded.  Guess we’ll find out on Friday which is which.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): #12 Richmond (27-7, 13-3 A-10).  The Spiders received a favorable #5/#12 matchup in playing Vanderbilt, a BCS team that will not wow you with its athleticism.  They also defend the three very well, holding teams this year to 30.1%, an important consideration with Commodore sharpshooters John Jenkins (40.8%) and Jeffery Taylor (36.4%) very capable.  #4 Louisville in the second round would be difficult, but the Cards are a star-less team that sometimes drops a stinker against an inferior team (see: Providence, Drexel).

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower): #6 Georgetown (21-10, 10-8 Big East). Again, it completely and totally depends on the health of point guard Chris Wright.  If he can go, the Hoyas are quite capable of knocking out #3 Purdue, #2 Notre Dame and, under certain circumstances, #1 Kansas.  Their offense is so much more effective with Wright leading the charge that Georgetown has only broken sixty points in one game since his injury.

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The Week That Was: Mar. 1-7

Posted by jstevrtc on March 8th, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor.


Congrats are in order for the following teams that locked up automatic NCAA berths this week: St. Peter’s (MAAC), Old Dominion (CAA), Wofford (SoCon), Gonzaga (WCC), Indiana State (MVC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun) and UNC-Asheville (Big South). It’s always fun watching these teams celebrate their conference championships because the excitement just feels more honest than, say, when an Ohio State or a Pittsburgh wins its conference tournament. Championship Week is great for television purposes because there are so many great games to watch, but there usually is less urgency among the teams from the major conferences. For them, conference tournaments are about posturing for seeds and surviving the weekend injury-free. Roy Williams once called the ACC Tournament a big cocktail party, and it’s not surprising that his two title teams both bowed out in the semifinals.  

What We Learned 


Davies Will Obviously Be Missed, But Charles Abouo's Emergence Has Mitigated the Sting


If you’re a big time recruit and have BYU in your top five, you might want to reconsider your stance on the Cougars. Seriously, why would a player with options want to go to BYU now that its draconian honor code system is in the national spotlight. By now, everyone knows Brandon Davies (BYU’s third leading scorer and leading rebounder) was suspended from the BYU basketball team for allegedly having premarital sex with his girlfriend. Davies’ suspension is a crushing blow for the Cougars, who have gone from a sexy popular national title pick to a team some think won’t make it out of the first weekend.

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Set Your Tivo: 03.05.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 5th, 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.

The final Saturday of the regular season is also the best of the year. Epic would be one way to describe the schedule today. Bids will be clinched, bubbles will burst and conference titles will be decided. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

#2 Kansas @ #21 Missouri in progress on CBS (****)

It's Title Time (Again) For Markieff and KU, Though We Don't Expect the Tigers To Go Quietly

The Jayhawks can clinch the Big 12 title with a win here or a Texas loss at Baylor this evening. Through Texas’ surge and preseason projections brandishing Kansas State and Baylor, we learned one thing in this conference in 2010-11: the conference title goes through Lawrence until proven otherwise. Missouri will be in the NCAA Tournament win or lose, but a win here would really improve their seeding and give them confidence heading into the postseason. The Tigers are a different team at home and should give KU all they’ve have in front of their raucous crowd and a national television audience, looking to complete their home slate undefeated. Kansas will need to protect the ball and dominate in the paint and on the glass in order to win on the road. Missouri’s preference for a quick pace means rebounding is a vulnerability, and the Morris twins should be able to pull down a lot of missed shots assuming they stay out of foul trouble.

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O26 Primers: Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley & Patriot League Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 2nd, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

Three more conferences get their tournaments underway tonight which means that several more teams will have their dreams of advancing to the greatest Dance in the world dashed, while others will inch one step closer to winning their conference championship. Tonight the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley and Patriot League tournaments all get underway. Belmont and Bucknell are the obvious favorites to win their respective conferences, but the Ohio Valley is a little unclear with Morehead State and Murray State butting heads at the top, and Austin Peay not too far behind.

Atlantic Sun

The Favorite: Belmont is the clear-cut favorite to win the league this year and advance to the Tournament for the first time since 2008 when they nearly upset Duke. A surprising setback at Lipscomb is the only loss that prevented the Bruins from going a perfect 20-0 in league play.

Dark Horse: Not surprisingly, Lipscomb is the dark horse to win the A-Sun. Although they have a rather pedestrian 12-8 record within the league, they were the only team to knock off Belmont. Plus, they boast one of the best players in the league with Adnan Hodzic as the senior forward from Bosnia is averaging 18 points and 7.5 rebounds a night. In their victory over Belmont, Hodzic tore up the Bruins going off for 26 points.

Who’s Hot: Winning 19 games in conference and not losing to a team located outside the state of Tennessee makes Belmont the hottest team in the Atlantic Sun. To be honest, it would be a real shock if the Bruins were not the last team standing come March 5.

Player to Watch: With Mike Smith—the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year from ETSU—sidelined with an injury, there is no clear player to keep an eye on during the tournament. Lipscomb’s Josh Slater, however, is someone to definitely keep tabs on. Most of the attention is focused on Adnan Hodzic, but no one in the A-Sun can fill up the stat sheet quite like Slater who averages 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.

First-Round Upset: Campbell over East Tennessee State. ETSU looked to be one of Belmont’s biggest threats in the conference tournament, but the Buccaneers have been decimated by injuries to two of their top players: Mike Smith (ankle) and Micah Williams (shoulder); their status for ETSU’s first game is uncertain. Campbell is one of the coldest teams around having lost eight of their last nine games, but lost by just seven points to ETSU in their last meeting.

How’d They Fare? ETSU was a 16 seed and was ripped apart by Kentucky 100-71 in last year’s Tournament.

Interesting Fact: Dating back to the 2005 Tournament, the highest seed the Atlantic Sun team has received in the NCAA Tournament has been a 15. Assuming Belmont wins the league this year, that will all change.

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Behind the Numbers: Defense and the Individual

Posted by KCarpenter on March 2nd, 2011

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC contributor.

This is a story about Kenneth Faried and Morehead State. I know that it’s March now, and that Morehead State, who went 13-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference, has only the slightest chances of making a tournament splash. We have all March to talk about the contenders and the Big Dance. For now, let’s talk about Kenneth Faried and Morehead State. Actually, first let’s set the stage.

Faried is BTN's National Defensive POY

We are very good at measuring offense in basketball. We have a good sense of what is valuable and how much impact a player can make on the offensive end. The box score stats provide enough of a jumping-off point that a few bits of mathematical transformation can paint a pretty clear picture of a team or player’s impact on the offensive end. We’re talking about offensive efficiency, as good a tool as we have in college basketball. It’s so good, in fact, that we like to cheat and use opponent offensive efficiency to measure defensive efficiency, which is a pretty clever little trick. By measuring how opponents perform against a given team on average, we have some measure of that team’s defensive abilities.

The operative word here, however, is “team.” While we can tell how well a team performs by measuring their opponents foibles on offense, how do we assign individual credit? Not every player defends equally, and while I wouldn’t argue that defense isn’t a team effort, surely some players have a clear measurable defensive value over others. Defensive efficiency tells us very little about this.

Of course, maybe I was getting ahead of myself by plunging into advanced stats before just checking out the box score. Steals, blocks and defensive rebounds are all individually counted categories that suggest defensive aptitude, and indeed, after converting these categories into their tempo-free counterparts, we have a pretty good suggestion of players with specific defensive abilities. There are, however, problems with these categories. A block where an opponent retains possession really doesn’t do much good, yet those blocks are counted just the same as those that trigger fast-break opportunities. Steals generate extra possessions, but failed gambles for steals can lead to high-percentage shots. The example with steals highlights the bigger problem of what isn’t captured by the box score, namely, how good a player is at making the man he is guarding miss shots. Now, manual defensive charting and a thorough parsing of play-by-play data might be able to produce a pretty good individual opponent field goal percentage ranking, but so far, accurate and comprehensive data of this sort is just not available to us.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.24.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 24th, 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.

This is one of the biggest Thursday nights we’ve had this year in terms of quality games with NCAA bids and conference titles on the line. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

West Virginia @ #3 Pittsburgh – 9 pm on ESPN (****)

Are Dixon and the Panthers #1? #6? Does It Matter, As Long As It's #4 Or Better?

The Backyard Brawl (Part II) takes place in Pittsburgh tonight. The Panthers won the first meeting in Morgantown on February 7, a game they played without their star Ashton Gibbs. Gibbs returned to the lineup with a bang, scoring 26 points, including 6-9 from deep, in the team’s loss to St. John’s last Saturday. Gibbs will play a central role in a matchup between the Big East’s best three-point shooting team (Pitt) and the best three point defense (WVU). The Panthers are shooting 40% from deep in conference play and 38.4% overall while the Mountaineers allow 28.4% shooting overall and 29.1% in league games.

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The Week That Was: Feb. 15-21

Posted by jstevrtc on February 22nd, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor 


Monday’s Syracuse-Villanova and Kansas-Oklahoma State games kicked off Judgment Week at ESPN, and TWTW has no idea what that exactly means. Are our opinions (or “judgments,” if you will) supposed to be dramatically altered based on this week’s outcomes? Syracuse’s win over ’Nova doesn’t mean they’re no longer a flawed team that’s capable of looking great one night and mediocre the next. And barring any game-changing injury, you shouldn’t think differently about a squad based on a couple of games at the end of February. You are who you are at this point — no extra judgments are necessary. So why does ESPN feel the need to dub almost every week now? Just stop at Rivalry Week. Sometimes games are just games, they don’t need any extra labels. There’s only one real judgment to be made this week — Battle: Los Angeles looks like a god-awful movie. 

What We Learned

Smith And the Devils Are Back On Top of the Polls, But It Means Less At This Time of Year

We thought that Tristan Thompson was just speaking for Texas when he said that the Longhorns would prefer not to replace Kansas as the No. 1 team in the next AP poll — turns out he was expressing the sentiments for just about every possible No. 1 team in the nation. On Saturday #4 Pittsburgh went down at St. John’s, followed by #2 Texas at Nebraska, and then on Sunday #3 Ohio State lost at Purdue. ESPN Stats & Information said it was the first time that the #1-4 teams in the ESPN/USA Today poll all lost in the same week since 2003 — yikes. But this isn’t the first week that we’ve seen this level of attrition in the polls; remember, it was just a few weeks ago that 13 of the AP’s Top 25 lost and half of the top 10. So who deserves to be #1 now? Duke got the nod on Monday, but do the Blue Devils deserve to be vaulted all the way from #5 to the top? In all honesty, you could probably just put the top six teams on a dartboard (top seven if you want to include BYU who got two first place votes), close your eyes, throw your dart, and there’s your #1 team. Not that it matters — during the season #1 in college hoops has always felt like a superficial title to TWTW. What’s really important is who’s in position for a #1 seed. It’s not important to determine who’s #1 now. The competition to watch is the race to distinguish between teams #4 and #5.

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