RTC Live: Creighton @ Northwestern

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2010

Game #48.  Mid-major power Creighton heads to the Chicag0 area to take on Northwestern, a team trying to load up on quality wins early.

Get out the Thanksgiving leftovers one more time and have a feast with more hoops.  There is a great matchup on Sunday night between the Creighton Bluejays and the Northwestern Wildcats.  Both teams could be NCAA contenders this season with many projections having them in the NCAA’s “First Four” expanded tournament.  Creighton is sitting at 4-1, their only loss coming to Iowa State on a three pointer that should not have counted, while Northwestern is sitting at 3-0 and haven’t played a game in over a week after their defeat of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  They have their own distractions with more Kevin Coble drama. Join us live at Ryan-Welsh arena Sunday evening for the 7:30 match up. Whether you get the Big 10 Network or not,  get the sights and sounds of the game that the cameras do not pick up as we will be there courtside.  Follow along or leave your comments.  Either way, it should be a competitive and entertaining evening.

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Morning Five: 11.19.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on November 19th, 2010

  1. Never let it be said that Michigan State doesn’t take care of its own. Tom Izzo received a $500,000 raise from MSU yesterday as part of his reworked contract, plus 25 hours of personal-use time of a private plane every year. The quotes from athletic director Mark Hollis in this AP report via ESPN.com definitely give you a sense of how much Izzo means to both the school and the state, and that they have no problem doing whatever is necessary to make Izzo happy. Congrats on the raise and the wings, coach, but please,  just make that aircraft carrier game happen next year.
  2. Mark Yost from the Wall Street Journal makes the case that Catholic college and universities do a better job graduating their student-athletes than their secular counterparts. We’d need a bit more time and space than what we allot here to fully evaluate such a claim, but in the story Yost mentions how Xavier’s Terrell (now Tu) Holloway gave credit to one of the sisters at XU for getting on him when he fell behind in a particular class. Quote from said nun: “They  [student-athletes] may have been attracted to Xavier by a coach, but from the very start, we make it fundamentally clear to them that they are here to receive an education.” We”d love to hear some thoughts on what you think of Yost’s assertion.
  3. Ever wondered how much those new elite freshman are impacting your program? Luke Winn sure has, and he offers up a soul-rocking bonanza of tempo-free statistics as he endeavors to establish a realistic standard of what college basketball fans should expect from new star recruits-turned-frosh. Don’t read it during lunch or while otherwise distracted. That applies to everything in the M5, of course, but especially this one.
  4. Portland senior Jared Stohl is one of the country’s best long-range bombers, but we have to figure the shot he fired when he told Pilot fans yesterday that the team would need them “when we beat Kentucky” might wind up on a Wildcat bulletin board on Friday night (then again, what’s he supposed to say?). John Calipari admits he’s “scared to death” of Stohl’s range and is obviously aware that Portland coach Eric Reveno possesses an excellent basketball mind. Fun viewing in store for late Friday, if you ask us.
  5. We don’t usually give 40% of the M5 to one person, but this came across late and had to be included. SI.com’s Luke Winn heard from former Northwestern forward Kevin Coble regarding the latter’s odd departure from the Wildcats over the summer. This is only one side of the story, of course, but it looks like Coble was caught in a spot where he couldn’t make his doctors, himself, and coach Bill Carmody happy, and it led to Coble’s exit. It’s a must-read, and as much as we’d like to hear Coach Carmody’s thoughts on the matter, it’s understandable if he prefers to focus on coaching his current team and say no more about it.
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RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big Ten

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 8th, 2010

John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

  • 1. Michigan State (15-3)
  • 2. Ohio State (13-5)
  • 3. Illinois (12-6)
  • 4. Wisconsin (11-7)
  • T5. Purdue (9-9)
  • T5. Minnesota (9-9)
  • T5. Northwestern (9-9)
  • 8. Penn State (7-11)
  • 9. Indiana (6-12)
  • 10. Michigan (5-13)
  • 11. Iowa (3-15)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • G: Demetri McCamey, Illinois (15.1 PPG, 6.8 APG)
  • G: Kalin Lucas, Michigan State (14.9 PPG, 3.9 APG)
  • F: Jon Leuer, Wisconsin (15.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG)
  • F: John Shurna, Northwestern (18.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG)
  • C: JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (15.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG)

6th Man

G: E’Twaun Moore, Purdue (16.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG)

Jared Sullinger (above) and three returning double-figure scorers succeed Evan Turner in Columbus, but Michigan State is the team to beat in the Big Ten.

Impact Newcomer

C: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Sullinger is a consensus top-five recruit. The 6’9 post player from Columbus played his high school basketball at Northland High School and won three national AAU championships with the All-Ohio Red team. He was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball his junior and senior seasons and the Naismith National High School Boy’s Basketball Player of the Year in 2010. While some have compared him to Greg Oden, scouts say that Sullinger has a better face-up offensive game than the former Buckeye, but isn’t as intimidating on the defensive end. The hype reached epic proportions when Gary Parrish named Sullinger to his Preseason All-America team along with Harrison Barnes.

What You Need to Know

The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in college basketball, potentially the best this season. The pace is typically slower (eight of the 11 teams played at an adjusted tempo that ranked lower than 200th in the nation last season) and the play might be a little rougher (the top seven teams in the conference had a defensive efficiency that ranked 53rd or better last season), but there are a lot of teams that are a tough out come tournament time. Michigan State always seems to overachieve in the NCAA Tournament and there’s seldom a shortage of talent. Northwestern is the oddball in the conference, as the Wildcats are the only major conference team to have never been to the Big Dance.

Predicted Champion

Michigan State (NCAA Seed: #1): The Spartans took a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament last season and ran with it all the way to Final Four before falling to Butler in the National Semifinals. Most of that team returns this season. Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers will drive the backcourt, but there is also depth behind those two to help counter the conference grind. Up front, Draymond Green is an underrated force in the paint that should be able to absorb the minutes left behind from Raymar Morgan, the biggest loss from Michigan State’s Final Four team. Adreian Payne and Keith Appling are two high-profile recruits that can only help bolster the Spartans’ rotation. The Spartans have the look of a team that will be in the top five all season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegas Odds to Win the Super Six Conferences

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2010

Last week we took a look at the Vegas odds for the 60 or so teams that sportsbooks offer futures wagers on to win the 2011 national championship.  In a complete surprise to nobody, Duke was at the very top of the list, but there were several mild eyebrow-raisers in the slots after the Blue Devils — Kentucky at #2, Memphis at #5, UNC at #7.  This week we thought it might be interesting to take a look at another futures bet that is offered: the odds for each team to win its conference regular season title.  Again, these odds aren’t necessarily an indication of what Vegas “thinks” will happen; it’s more a combination of market forces and line shading toward the more popular teams.  But these gambling establishments are not in the business of losing money, so there are some nuggets of information that we can draw from their established odds (e.g., if you think anyone but Duke will win the ACC this season, you’re a steaming hunk of moron).  Let’s break it down.  Each conference will have a few thoughts after its table.

Ed. note: keep in mind that Vegas doesn’t set its odds to add up to 100%; if they did that, they’d never be able to sucker people and make any money on long-term futures bets.  So these percentages do not represent the “true” chances of winning the conference; rather, they represent what Vegas is willing to risk on those teams. 

Quick ACC Thoughts.

  • Are there any surprises here?  Not really.  Duke is a prohibitive favorite for a reason — even if they have injuries, there’s not a lot of depth to this league right now.  UNC, an NIT team last year who lost its top three scorers, getting love as a strong second tells you a lot about the uncertainty of this conference beyond the Blue Devils.
  • Vegas doesn’t like Virginia Tech nearly as much as the pundits — that clearly has something to do with its recent history as an underachiever. 
  • Look at Maryland pretty far down the list — that’s not a typical position for the Terps to be in under Gary Williams.  Given their “brand name” value-add, Vegas must really not be fond of Jordan Williams and company this coming season. 

Quick Big 12 Thoughts.

  • This is a crazy grouping at the top, with four schools basically acting as co-favorites — Baylor, Kansas State, Kansas and Texas.  Again we see another school (the Longhorns) living off its recruiting prowess and not its actual performance with such a high placement.
  • In our opinion, Missouri is a darkhorse candidate to not only win the Big 12 this season but also go to the Final Four.  Yet there the Tigers sit at +800 and 11.1%.  We’re not sure there’s a better value in this entire post if you’re so inclined.
  • There may not be a better duo in the Big 12 than Alec Burks and Cory Higgins at Colorado, but the Buffs aren’t getting any love from Vegas.  The CU situation is an interesting comparison with Georgia in the SEC — both teams bring back two all-conference caliber players from a mediocre squad last year.  Yet, while the experts seem to like the ‘Dawgs this year, Colorado hasn’t gotten the same traction.  Is it a Big 12 vs. SEC thing; is it the coaching (Mark Fox vs. Tad Boyle)?

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Morning Five: 09.03.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 3rd, 2010

  1. The wait continues.  UConn was expected to release its response to eight NCAA allegations by the end of this week, but today the school released a statement that a second extension (the first was from August 20 until today) had been granted until September 7 (Tuesday next week).  Of course, everyone is interested to hear how the school plans to respond to the allegations, but it’ll have to wait until after the Labor Day weekend.  A second extension means somebody is going to be locked away in a windowless office all weekend, though — sucks to be them.
  2. UNC head coach Roy Williams is hopeful that none of his players will be affected by some of the allegations swirling about academic fraud and player/agent relationships in the Tar Heel football program, but he was careful to hedge by saying you can never be 100% sure.  It is a valid concern, though, as often times the football and basketball players commiserate together (notable exception: Kansas).
  3. Speaking of Roy, the ACC released all of its schedules for the 2010-11 season yesterday, and this pleases us… well.
  4. No worries at Northwestern, who despite Kevin Coble’s surprising exit from college basketball still thinks it can make the NCAA Tournament.  And perhaps with three extra bids next year, they have a chance.  Rivals takes a look at how the Wildcats are planning to handle this in what is probably the toughest major conference in America next season.
  5. We don’t really care about what Time Warner is doing with respect to Disney and, by proxy, ESPN.  But what we do care about is this thing they’re calling “Buzzer Beater.”  This… could be very interesting.  Very interesting indeed.
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The Loss of Kevin Coble Doesn’t Kill Northwestern’s NCAA Hopes

Posted by rtmsf on July 28th, 2010

John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Horizon League.  He is also very familiar with the Chicago area basketball scene.

By now you’ve heard that Kevin Coble will not play for the Northwestern Wildcats during the 2010-11 season, or ever again. The recovery from his broken foot is taking longer than expected, and instead of continuing through grueling rehab with the chance of injuring it again during the season which would come with possible life-altering implications, Coble has decided to hang up his basketball shoes. Of course, this story is getting a lot of national attention because of Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament drought and the fact that “everyone” thought that Coble returning was the magic elixir that was going to solve all of the Wildcats’ problems.

Coble Will Be Missed, But He's Not the Tipping Point

I’m here to tell you that “they” were wrong. Coble’s return wasn’t going to fix the thing that Northwestern has to work on more than anything to make the NCAA Tournament — defense. The Wildcats had one of the most efficient offenses in the country last season. They scored 1.12 points per possession, which ranked 33d in the country according to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency statistics. Being the 33d best offense in the country is more than enough to make the NCAA Tournament. The problem was Northwestern’s 169th ranked defense.  If Coble had been able to return at full strength this coming season he still wouldn’t have provided the defensive presence that the Wildcats need. A foot injury is exactly the type of problem that hinders your lateral movement, and it is the key to staying in front of people cutting with the basketball. Even when the doctors say you’re fully recovered, these types of injuries aren’t over. So even if Coble had completed his rehab he’d probably be wondering, “What happens if I try this?” on the basketball court. If you’re taking time to wonder, you’re taking too long.

When Coble was healthy he led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding, and while his rebounding would be nice to have next season, his scoring wouldn’t have been necessary. Coble was essentially the same player his first three seasons at Northwestern with an offensive rating around 110 in approximately a quarter of the team’s possessions while he was on the court. He also had a rebounding rate of 2.7% on the offensive boards and 15.5% on the defensive boards.  But you know whose numbers were better than that last season? John Shurna. Shurna replaced Coble in the lineup last year and became an even better offensive threat. He’s still improving too. His national team experiences appear to have helped him elevate his game. It’s also worth noting that Drew Crawford as a freshman put up an offensive rating of 107.5 and Michael Thompson put up a ridiculous 115.9 last season. With JerShon Cobb coming in and Alex Marcotullio improving, the Wildcats are surely going to be just as good, if not better, on offense next season.

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Morning Five: 07.28.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 28th, 2010

  1. From the we are completely and utterly shocked, shocked we tell you, department, the two Drexel players who were arrested on Monday on suspicion of armed robbery were suspended indefinitely from the team yesterday Jamie Harris and Kevin Phillip will find it awfully tough to play basketball next year while in lockup anyway.
  2. Additional information from the WVU program yesterday revealed that head coach Bob Huggins actually broke seven ribs (#3-#9), not four as was originally reported.  He is still having trouble breathing without pain and will continue to be held in a Las Vegas hospital until that pain subsides.
  3. Northwestern’s Kevin Coble indicated yesterday that he is retiring from basketball after a summer of worse-than-expected rehabilitation on the foot he injured prior to last season’s first game.  This is obviously very sad news for Coble and Northwestern in their hopes that the all-Big Ten second-teamer in 2008-09 would be back next season to lead the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA Tournament.  The silver lining for Wildcat fans: Coble is on track to graduate from the elite school in December, and four starters including star John Shurna (18/6) will return from an NIT team next year.
  4. Day two of the Karen Sypher extortion trial was Tuesday in Louisville, and jurors were rewarded with a previously unseen video of her making allegations of rape to authorities in April 2009 after the extortion plan fell through when Rick Pitino reported her to the feds.  Testimony was also given by patrons and workers on the infamous night at Porcini’s that suggest Sypher and Pitino were getting along very well throughout the encounter.  Pitino could testify as to his side of the story as soon as today.
  5. Seth Davis checks in with a summer report from Las Vegas, where he spoke to eleven prominent coaches about the status of their programs going into next season.  Always good stuff from one of the class acts in the business.
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Big Ten Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2010

The big thing from the past week. Big Ten season ends in three way tie. Exciting as the seesaw race was all year, it ended in melodramatic fashion as both Purdue and Michigan State hung on after Ohio State had already won out several days prior. The Boilers and Spartans took care of business, beating teams they were supposed to beat. Michigan State racked up back to back banners, but the big story is that this was the first title for Purdue since 1996. Now to see how many teams can go to the dance based on their performance in the Big Ten tournament.  Four Big Ten teams are in the top 25: #5 Ohio State, #6 Purdue, #11 Michigan State, and #13 Wisconsin.

Power Rankings (final)

  1. Ohio State 24-7, 14-4
  2. Purdue 26-4, 14-4
  3. Michigan State 24-7, 14-4
  4. Wisconsin 23-7, 13-5
  5. Illinois 18-13, 10-8
  6. Minnesota 18-12, 9-9
  7. Northwestern 19-12, 7-11
  8. Michigan 14-16, 7-11
  9. Iowa 10-21, 4-14
  10. Indiana 10-20, 4-14
  11. Penn State 11-19, 3-15

Big Ten Tournament – Indianapolis – March 11th-14th

First Round

  • #9 Iowa vs. #8 Michigan – March 11 – 2:30 ET – ESPN2 – This game could really go either way. The first game was a 14-point victory for Michigan at home, whereas the second game was a two-point victory in OT for Michigan on the road. For Michigan, Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims both had at least 20 in each game, so look for that to continue. For Iowa, Aaron Fuller played well in the first game, but went crazy for 30 in the second game. Matt Gatens was absent in the first game, but exploded for 21 in the second game. Michigan comes in having lost four of six games while Iowa has lost the past five of six games. Iowa should do well inside in this game, but I think Michigan has finally figured out that they can’t rely totally on threes, so I am going with Michigan in this one.
  • #10 Indiana vs. #7 Northwestern – March 11 – 4:55 ET – ESPN2 – This game will most likely go to Northwestern. It is just too difficult to win two games against the same team within a week’s time, especially for a team as inconsistent as Indiana has been all year. The big thing Indiana has going for itself in this game and for this tournament is that they are essentially the home town team, especially if they are able to fill Lucas Oil Stadium with Indiana fans. If not, I think Northwestern has too much John Shurna and too much Michael Thompson for IU to handle. I also think Northwestern will make the adjustments on Jordan Hulls to stop his flurry of threes.
  • #11 Penn State vs. #6 Minnesota – March 11 – 7:30 ET – I am going with Minnesota in this one. They have really come on strong to close out the season, winning four of their last six games, including a 35-point drubbing of Iowa. Both of the matchups between these teams during the regular year were close victories for Minnesota, so I expect this one to be close because it is on neutral ground, and I wouldn’t expect either of the team’s fans to come out in droves. Penn State will need Chris Babb to have a big game along with Talor Battle and David Jackson, while Minnesota needs a consistent performance from Westbrook, Sampson, Hoffarber, and Johnson. The X-factor for Minnesota is Devoe Joseph who struggled in both contests. If he can step up then Minnesota wins easily;  if not they will win in a close battle.

Quarterfinals (projected)

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Set Your Tivo: 01.19.10

Posted by nvr1983 on January 19th, 2010

Now that we’re starting to get into the meat of the college basketball conference we are starting to get quality games on a regular basis which means that we will be having the return of our regular feature. There isn’t a “blockbuster” game tonight like Texas-Kansas State, but there are 3 games that feature potential NCAA tournament teams matching up against each other that are worth keeping an eye on while you try to catch up on the last two hours of 24.

Northwestern at #25 Ohio State at 7 PM on Big Ten Network: This is clearly a big game for both teams. As has you may have heard (from basically every site covering college basketball) Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament, but despite the loss of Kevin Coble the Wildcats are firmly on the bubble this year. A victory over Evan Turner and the Buckeyes in Columbus would be a big boost following their upset win at home over a Purdue team that is rapidly falling apart (more on this in a bit). To knock off the Buckeyes in Columbus (where they are undefeated this season), they will need big games from John Shurna (16.8 PPG and 7.1 RPG) and Michael Thompson (14.4 PPG and 4.4 APG with a 2.7 to 1 assist to TO ratio). The key for Thad Matta‘s squad will be Evan Turner being Evan Turner (my choice for national POY) and someone else (David Lighty, Jon Diebler, or William Buford–all averaging 13.3 PPG) helping him out so the Wildcats can’t throw double teams at Turner all night. As much as the Northwestern story intrigues us, we suspect that tonight will not help their case as The Villain and the Buckeyes should be able to hold on for the win, but given what happened this weekend a Big Ten upset wouldn’t shock us.

#16 Clemson at #18 Georgia Tech at 7 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: For the Duke haters out there, this game could be viewed as a match-up of the two teams most likely to challenge the Blue Devils in the ACC this season (we’re almost ready to give up on UNC this season). Paul Hewett”s Yellow Jackets have been maddeningly inconsistent alternating between wins against Duke and UNC and losses against Georgia and Virginia. Meanwhile, Oliver Purnell‘s Tigers have started off with their customary impressive early season record with their only losses coming against Duke, Texas A&M, and Illinois with a majority of their wins coming against a bunch of cupcakes in non-conference play (ok, the Xavier win was nice) and they just blew out UNC in Littlejohn Coliseum. The key to this game will be the match-up on the inside with Trevor Booker (15.4 PPG and 8.3 RPG) going up against Gani Lawal (15.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG) and Derrick Favors (11.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG). Despite the Yellow Jackets’ inconsistency lately, we’re going to go with the homecourt and the fact that we never trust Clemson in big games here.

#15 Purdue at Illinois at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The big question here is how the Boilermakers will respond to Matt Painter calling out the entire team except for Robbie Hummel and E’Twaun Moore after their three-game losing streak. The key for Illinois will be if they can get Demetri McCamey going against Chris Kramer. They will probably rely on their running him through a bunch of screen in their motion offense (ESPN Insider required) to get Kramer off of him. On the other side of the ball, Purdue needs JaJuan Johnson to start playing like the All-Big Ten player that he is and not the guy who scored 17 points combined in their last three games (all losses). If Purdue plays the way they did early in the season, they are clearly capable of pulling off the road win. Given the experience on the Boilermakers team, we’re going to go with them bouncing back on the road against Bruce Weber and the Illini.

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RTC Live: Michigan State @ Northwestern

Posted by rtmsf on January 2nd, 2010

The last time Northwestern (10-2) and Michigan State (10-3) met the Wildcats pulled out a stunning 70-63 victory on the road. Of course the two leading scorers in that dramatic upset were Kevin Coble and Craig Moore, neither of whom will be on the court this afternoon. Instead the Wildcats are led by point guard Michael Thompson – one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten, forward John Shurna and freshman Drew Crawford. #11 Michigan State was supposed to be the class of the Big Ten this season, but the Spartans have struggled a bit early in the season against good competition. They come into the game 10-3 on the season and are led by all-everything point guard Kalin Lucas – who has earned the ire of his coach Tom Izzo – along with two excellent forwards in Raymar Morgan and Draymond Green. #25 Northwestern lost its Big Ten opener in a thrilling game against Illinois, so the Wildcats need to bounce back against a Michigan State team that is making their conference debut. It should be an excellent game, and we hope to see you drop by.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 12.12.09

Posted by nvr1983 on December 12th, 2009

boomdynamite

We are back with our first Boom Goes The Dynamite of the season (not counting our coverage of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon). For those of you who are not familiar with this feature, we will be covering all of the important college basketball being played today in a live blog. So for those of you who love college basketball, we invite you to spend part (or all) of the day with us. If you’re still getting back into college basketball after spending the fall following a sport that does not let an undefeated team play for a title, here is a quick rundown of the major games that we will be following throughout the day:

  • Noon: #4 Kentucky at Indiana on CBS
  • Noon: #15 Ohio State at #20 Butler on ESPN and RTC Live
  • 2 PM: #13 Georgetown vs. #16 Washington on FSN and RTC Live
  • 2 PM: La Salle at #1 Kansas on ESPN
  • 4:30 PM: Mississippi State vs. UCLA on FSN and RTC Live
  • 5 PM: Marquette at #23 Wisconsin on ESPN2
  • 6 PM: New Mexico vs. #18 Texas A&M on Fox Sports Southwest
  • 7 PM: Kansas State vs. #17 UNLV on ESPN Full Court
  • 9 PM: #5 Purdue at Alabama on ESPN2

Noon: And we’re live. Like we noted earlier there are 2 big games to watch in this TV session. We’re expecting Kentucky to destroy Indiana, but Ohio State-Butler promises to be much more interesting especially with the absence of Evan Turner.

12:10 PM: Agree with Greg Anthony. DeMarcus Cousins is the key for Kentucky’s title hopes this season. John Wall and Patrick Patterson are almost a given. If Cousins can play consistently (and the Wildcats play a little D), they have a great shot at a NCAA title.

12:12 PM: Phenomenal start for Indiana. Tom Crean could not have asked for anything more than a 12-4 start. Is it possible that Kentucky could have overlooked Indiana. I know the Hoosiers are down, but you have to get up for a trip to Bloomington, right?

12:15 PM: For those who caught that discussion about the relative scoring ability of Matt Howard and Jay Bilas. Here are Jay’s numbers from his time at Duke.

12:20 PM: Kentucky looks really sloppy right now. Have the Wildcats been listening to all the hype?

12:25 PM: Great start for Butler. Up 24-14 midway through the 1st half. William Buford answers a bucket but misses the free throw. Wow. That’s a ridiculous class for Ohio State, but like Bilas mentions how long will they stay there. Gordon Hayward almost converts a ridiculous alley-oop from Shelvin Mack.

12:30 PM: Wow. Bilas thinks Northwestern is still a NCAA Tournament team even without Kevin Coble. I’m not so sure about that. I guess there is a lot of Big 10/11 basketball to be played.

12:32 PM: And Kentucky has taken the lead at 21-19 thanks to a 12-2 run. It figured it would only be a matter of time before they came back, but this is pretty quick. The question is whether the Hoosiers can respond and keep this game tight. If they keep it within 10 at half, the crowd should still be into it.

12:35 PM: Did they just say that Wall has a 3.8 GPA? Has Kentucky’s semester already ended or is that his high school GPA? I have heard it was closer to 2.6 in high school. Is this another Tim Tebow situation?

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ATB: Thanksgiving Leftovers…

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2009

atb

Ed. Note: sorry for the delay on Sunday’s ATB, but the travel schedule got in the way…

Over the weekend, there was something in the neighborhood of 145 college basketball games.  Many were several times more compelling than watching Tim Tebow praise God one more time in another blowout Florida win or seeing the Charlie Weis Bataan death march at Notre Dame (although the Iron Bowl was good).  With that in mind, we’re here to sort through our Thanksgiving leftovers to award the teams that most and least deserve a scrumptious plate of tofurkey and leeks (ok, maybe that menu was at your house, not ours).

Turkey Sandwiches.  Usually better the second time around.  And the third time.  And the fourth…  Unless you’re Ben Howland and UCLA, and you’re starting to wonder if that mayo tastes a little spoiled after the fourth helping.  After UCLA dropped its third game in a row at the 76 Classic (and fourth on the year), questions are swirling as to what is wrong with his Bruins.  It’s not just that UCLA has four losses; it’s that these losses are to mid-majors like Cal State Fullerton, Portland, Butler and now Long Beach State.  Butler and Portland are NCAA-worthy, but the others?  Let’s examine what’s wrong, and see if anything can be done to fix it.  For starters, the UCLA offense — often a challenge in Howland’s era — is on life support this season.  Nobody on this team appears to be able to shoot the ball, and that includes from the field (44%), three (26%) and the line (56%).  Guards Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson were hot-shot recruits in the backcourt, but neither of them can break 40% from the field; there was a big fuss about Nikola Dragovic’s return to the team after an accusation of assault, and he’s hitting a frigid 25% of his attempts.  Good grief – when Michael Roll (23 pts in the LBSU game) is your “star” player, you have serious offensive issues.  But it’s not just the offense this season, as bad as that has been.  It’s also the defense, which is traditionally a Howland staple and has him contemplating changing his usual tough man-to-man for a zone.  UCLA is giving up 45% shooting to teams (worst in the Pac-10) and when they’ve needed to get the stop — witness the CS Fullerton and Butler games — they came up empty.  So the question is whether this team can turn it around, and we’re not sure that it can in time to stop the bleeding.  #1 Kansas is on the agenda next weekend, and Mississippi State and Notre Dame soon thereafter.  The Pac-10, as we all know by now, is incredibly weak, but if you can’t beat Long Beach and Fullerton, you’re not going to beat Arizona and Washington either.  There is a ton of work to be done here, and if Howland can turn it around by March, we’ll be right there at the front of the line to give him accolades.  Until then, though, UCLA basketball doesn’t take kindly to this stuff, so he’d better get moving quickly…

Pumpkin Pie.  A meal unto itself, making yourself fat and happy with pasty goodness.  Has anyone — and we mean anyone — looked better than West Virginia through the first three weeks of the season?  Let’s look at the short list: Syracuse and Duke.   That’s it – those are the only two teams who have looked as dominant as WVU in our estimation.  Yesterday Bob Huggins and his Mountaineers left Anaheim with what they were expected to do: win the 76 Classic.  Few expected them to do it by facing upstart WCC foe Portland in the championship game, as the Pilots crushed UCLA and outlasted Minnesota to get there, but there was Eric Reveno’s crew facing off against WVU in the finals.  The Pilots ran into a buzzsaw on Sunday, though, as Tournament MVP Da’Sean Butler posted 26 points and Portland shot just 5-24 from behind the three-point arc, clearly bothered by West Virginia’s athleticism and close-out pressure defense.  With the return of sophomore Devin Ebanks – after his mysterious stint in coach Huggins’ doghouse –- the Mountaineers look fine-tuned and ready to compete with anyone in the nation.  Of course, it’s only November, and we’ve been down this road with Huggins before, so stay prepared for anything.

Mac n’ Cheese.  Gooey deliciousness.  That’s how Northwestern must be feeling after winning the Chicago Invitational over two tough teams, Notre Dame and Iowa State.  Maybe that NCAA Tournament bid isn’t a pipe dream after all since losing Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan to injuries, because it’s clear that Northwestern has decided that it will not go quietly.  John Shurna led the Wildcats with 23/7/4 assts while helping to harass ISU star Craig Brackins into a 6-16 FG, 18/9 night (he’s capable of much more).   As it stands, Northwestern is now 5-1, with its sole loss to Butler and a good chance to enter Big Ten play at 11-1 (tomorrow night’s ACC/B10 game against NC State is winnable). 

Green Bean Casserole#2 Michigan State gets the green bean casserole leftovers because, like the dish, they held up fairly well after a disappointing start in the Legends Classic.  The Spartans recovered from their shocking upset loss to Florida on Friday night in the semifinal round by taking it out on UMass in the consolation game 106-68 on Saturday.  RTC Live was there if you want more details, but MSU used a 30-3 first half run to dominate the Minutemen, and ended up the game shooting a red-hot 58% and hitting fourteen threes.  Tom Izzo set a new record for wins at Michigan State with his 341st win on this night, passing his mentor Jud Heathcote.

Warm Rolls. It’s comforting and makes you feel all fuzzy inside, just like family; the First Bro-in-Law had his warm fuzzies at Oregon State’s game in DC with GW on Saturday.  Craig Robinson’s Oregon State team got its first decent win of the season 64-57 against the previously unbeaten Colonials as the First Family looked on.  OSU’s Seth Tarver lit up the stat sheet with 18/7/3 assts/3 stls, but given how badly the Beavers have played to this point, President Obama may want to make plans for several visits to the west coast in January and February. 

Obama

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