East Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (pt. 2)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 20th, 2009

EAST REGION GAME PREVIEWS – PART TWO (By Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

Once again, we will be picking the East Regional games, while also pitting non-basketball alums from each school in a no-holds barred battle for March supremacy.

Friday’s Games – Dayton, Ohio

(8) Oklahoma State vs. (9) Tennessee (12:25 p.m.)

DZ: This match-up is about as even as they come. Both teams play fast-paced, high-scoring basketball. The Cowboys’ James Anderson (18.6 ppg) will be the best player on the court, but the Vols are stronger in the interior with Tyler Smith (17 ppg) and Wayne Chism (13.8 ppg). I’ll go with Bruce Pearl and the Vols here – but you might be better off just flipping a coin.

SM: Usually, these 8 vs. 9 games include at least one so-called mid-major team against a BCS conference team, and I usually lean toward the little guy with my pick. But as the only 8/9 game between two mediocre big boys, this is a total toss up. I have to go with the team I know more about, and that would be Tyler Smith and Tennessee. The real question is whether Bruce Pearl will break out the day-glo orange blazer.

Alumni Throwdown – Gary Busey (Oklahoma State) vs. Chris Hadfield (Tennessee)

DZ: Like the real game, this has all the makings of a great match-up with an actor lost in space going up against the first Canadian to walk in space. But the astronaut wins when Busey gets distracted trying to figure out the life force of a basketball.

SM: Busey had a great turn in a recent season of Entourage. But once you’ve appeared on a reality show called Celebrity Rehab, you’re disqualified. I’ll go with the Canadian astronaut, eh?

(16) East Tennessee State vs. (1) Pittsburgh (2:55 p.m.)

DZ: If the national championship hopeful Panthers have a hard time with this one, they could be in trouble. High-scoring guard Kevin Tiggs (21.5 ppg) helped ETSU win the Atlantic Sun tournament championship, but you may have heard Pitt has a couple of stars in its own in DeJuan Blair (15.6 ppg, 12.4 rpg) and Sam Young (18.8 ppg). The Panthers coast into the second round.

SM: I’ll lay it on the line – Pitt is my pick to win it all. So if they show ANY signs of trouble against a school whose finest alum is a late bishop, my bracket could be in trouble. Tiggs may be a small-conference gunner against Lipscomb and South Carolina-Upstate (yeah, that’s a real school), but DeJuan Blair is a big enough force to block out the (Atlantic) Sun. Panthers rest the starters late, and still run away by 20-plus.

Alumni Throwdown – Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr. (East Tennessee State) vs. Mark Cuban (Pittsburgh)

DZ: It will take a wing and prayer for ETSU to beat Pitt, but prayers are what the late bishop has (sorry, there aren’t many famous ETSU alums). Look for the bishop to prove faith is stronger than money by knocking off the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks in the feel-good upset of the (fake) tournament.

SM: I don’t want to vote against a bishop, but I also don’t want Mark Cuban to rip me on his blog or his Twitter or whatever it is the kids are doing these days. Cuban politely edges Bishop Hunt in this one, but then gets fined by David Stern for excessive celebration.

Friday’s Games – Boise, Idaho

(4) Xavier vs. (13) Portland State (7:25 p.m.)

DZ: The Musketeers notched some signature wins early but have just a .500 record since Feb. 7. Meanwhile, pint-sized guard Jeremiah Dominguez, the two-time Big Sky MVP, fuels a very good shooting Portland State team that knocked off Gonzaga, on the road, earlier in the season. Xavier is a tourney-tested team under head coach Sean Miller, but I like Portland State here in the East Region’s upset special.

SM: I’m on record saying Xavier is a little high as a four seed, but Portland State may be the one team in this region with an even more favorable ranking. I was the one person who watched the Vikings win the Big Sky title at the buzzer, and they did not look like a 13 seed. The Musketeers handle their business rather easily in this one. After that, though, I make no promises.

Alumni Throwdown – Robert Romanus (Xavier) vs. Holly Madison (Portland State)

DZ: Madison, one of Heff’s girlfriends on Girls Next Door, matched up against the actor who played Mike Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High? This one would be over before it starts with the Playboy model easily wooing the overconfident sleazeball. (“I woke up in a great mood. I don’t know what the hell happened.”)

SM: Blondes aren’t usually my thing, but in this matchup, it’s a no-brainer. I mean she’s a Playmate, for goodness sake. Personally, I would’ve gone with Phillies legend and Xavier grad Jim Bunning, but a certain Mets’ fan picked this alumni matchup. At least he has a World Series title to back it … oh, wait.

(5) Florida State vs. (12) Wisconsin (9:55 p.m.)

DZ: Averaging over 20 points per game, the Seminoles’ Toney Douglas is one of the best players in the region. But Wisconsin is a pretty solid team for a 12 seed, allowing less than 60 points per contest. Florida State should win a close one, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 12-13 game in Round 2 here.

SM: I’m much higher on the Big Ten than most folks this year (Purdue to the Elite 8!), but not in this case. The Badgers have been totally unimpressive this year, and first-round games are often decided by the best player on the floor. In this case, that is FSU’s Toney Douglas – this year’s breakout star in the East Region. The ’Noles win a tight one late, possibly on a Douglas trifecta.

Alumni Throwdown – Burt Reynolds (Florida State) vs. Stephen Ambrose (Wisconsin)

DZ: Because why wouldn’t we pit a famous actor and former Florida State football player against a late historian and author of Band of Brothers? I’m going with cool guy Reynolds since Ambrose was accused of plagiarizing one of my old professors at Penn.

SM: That’s the best a large state school like Wisconsin has to offer? No Bud Selig, Steve Miller, Joan Cusack, or Charles Lindbergh? This one goes to Burt Reynolds in a landslide. The man nearly stole the show in Boogie Nights – a film that included Heather Graham and not a lot of clothing.

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NCAA Preview: East Tennessee State Buccaneers

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

East Tennessee St.  (#16, East, Dayton pod)

vs. Pittsburgh (#1)
Mar. 20 @ 2:55pm
Vegas Line: ETSU +20

General Profile

Location: Johnson City, Tennessee
Conference: Atlantic Sun — Tournament Champion
Coach: Murray Bartow, hired 2003. Record at ETSU = 118-71
08-09 Record: 23-10 (14-6)
Last 12 Games: 8-4, won 5.
Best Win: vs Jacksonville 85-68 on 3/7/09 for the Atlantic Sun title.
Worst Loss: at Florida-Gulf Coast, 61-64, on 1/12/09.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 105.3 (105th)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 100.3 (149rd)

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Kevin Tiggs (6’4″ senior guard), 21.5 ppg on 54% shooting.
Unsung Hero: Mike Smith (6’6″ junior forward), 17.5 ppg/7.7 rpg/1.3 steals/gm.
Potential NBA Draft Pick: None.
Key Injuries: No significant injuries.
Depth: 28.4% mins (230th nationally)
Achilles Heel: Shooting the three. ETSU shoots 33.6%, 184th in the nation.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: …they improve their offensive efficiency. ETSU averages 74 possessions per 40 minutes, which is 17th in the nation. They need to take advantage of each one of them to pull of an upset(s).
Will Make an Early Exit if…: …they can keep their main three players — Tiggs, Smith, and Courtney Pigram — out of foul trouble, since they each play about 34 minutes/game with the other two spots on the floor basically platooned.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2004
Streak: 1
Best NCAA Finish: 1992, Second Round.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): n/a


Six Degrees to Detroit: Two of ETSU’s starters (Kevin Tiggs, Greg Hamlin) are from Flint.
Distance to First Round Site: 407 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: ETSU has the only master’s degree program in the discipline of Storytelling.
School Wishes It Could Forget: How everyone violates/ignores last year’s campus-wide smoking ban.
Prediction: First round and out.

Major RTC stories: 4 Tickets Punched, 61 To Go

Preview written by: John Stevens, Rush The Court.

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4 Tickets Punched, 61 to go…

Posted by rtmsf on March 7th, 2009

We punched four RSVPs to the Dance in the last 24 hrs, so we thought it’d be worthwhile to show these guys a little love before they get crowded out by all the bigger leagues next week.

These Four Teams Got Their Dance Tickets

These Four Teams Got Their Dance Tickets

#1 – Cornell (21-9, 11-3 Ivy). Your back-to-back Ivy League champion dominated Penn 83-59 last night to clinch the Ivy again.  The Big Red fans were so excited that they RTC’d and “demolished” a computer that ran the scoring system.  Believe it or not, the o/u for that game was 142 – maybe the students knew that.  Cornell lost to Stanford by 24 in last year’s first round.

Projected Seed: #14

Something to Remember: Cornell is the nation’s fifth best three-point shooting team (41%).  You’d better close out on their shooters.

#2 – Radford (21-11, 15-3 Big South).  VMI was the team with the better storyline, but Radford was the top seed in the Big South Tourney as the regular season champion.  They played VMI’s game today and beat them at it 108-94 behind Artsiom Parakhouski’s ridiculous 26/18 today. Radford has one  prevoius NCAA appearance, a 1998 thrashing at the hands of Duke.

Projected Seed: #15

STR: Get after it on the glass – Radford is the nation’s sixth best rebounding team in total boards (37.3 rpg) and twelfth best in rebound pct (55.8%).

#3 – East Tennessee St. (23-10, 14-6 A-Sun). ETSU is old hat at this, winning today against Jacksonville 85-68 to earn a bid to its seventh NCAA Tourney.  Mike Smith had 22/12 to help pick up for teammate and star guard Courtney Pigram, who was 3-12 for 9 pts today.  ETSU has a strong NCAA history, having three 3-pt losses and a 7-pt win over higher seeds in their last four appearances.

Projected Seed: #14

STR: With three legitimate scorers (Smith, Pigram, Kevin Tiggs) plus their NCAA history of being a thorn in the side of higher seeds, nobody will want to see ETSU in their bracket next Sunday.

#4 – Morehead St. (19-15, 12-6). Best game of the day, as MSU rode its workhorse Kenneth Faried and his 15/10/3 blks to a double-OT victory over Austin Peay, 67-65.  The Eagles put all five starters in double figures, but it was a reserve named Steve Peterson who knocked down the 12-foot baseline jumper to give Morehead St. its first NCAA bid in 25 years.

Projected Seed: #15

STR: MSU is susceptible to pressure teams because they turn the ball over a lot – ranking #276 in the nation in turnover pct. at 15.1 per game.

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Conference Primers: #28 – Atlantic Sun

Posted by rtmsf on October 7th, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Predicted Order of Finish:


  1. East Tennessee St. (20-7) (13-3)
  2. Belmont (19-12) (12-4)
  3. Lipscomb (15-15) (10-6)
  4. Campbell (13-16) (7-9)
  5. Gardner-Webb (10-18) (6-10)
  6. South Carolina – Upstate (6-21) (4-12)


  1. Jacksonville (17-10) (11-5)
  2. Mercer (17-12) (10-6)
  3. Kennesaw St. (14-14) (10-6)
  4. Stetson (13-15) (8-8)
  5. Florida Gulf Coast (5-23) (3-13)
  6. North Florida (3-24) (2-14)

Atlantic Sun logo

WYN2K. The Atlantic Sun has been an up and down league over the past decade. It spent much of the late 90s and early 2000s as a league hovering at the top of the low-majors (#19-#23 ranked conference most years). But the last two seasons it has fallen hard, finishing as one of the bottom four conferences in the computer rankings both years. Its OOC record (70-174, .287) the last three years is standard for a league at this level. Still, the NCAA typically shows some love to the conference champion, having given the A-Sun only five #16 seeds in 64/65-team era (and two of those were when the league received multiple bids) and peaking with a #11 seed in 2001 (Georgia St. defeated #5 Wisconsin in the first round). The league has earned a #14 or #15 seed each of the last six years, and we see no reason for this to end.

Predicted Champion. East Tennessee St. (#15 Seed NCAA). We see Murray Bartow’s ETSU squad (16-2 last season in the A-Sun) as the team to beat here. They return league POY Courtney Pigram and bring in former juco D2 POY Kevin Tiggs, a combo guard from whom big things are expected immediately. As a program, ETSU is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, having made the Dance two of the last five years (as a member of the Southern Conference) and seven times overall.

Others Considered. The A-Sun North division is clearly the class of the league, containing two-time defending tourney champion Belmont and rising Lipscomb. Belmont is a system program predicated on efficient ball movement (#21 nationally in eFG%) and tight defense (#5 nationally in eFG% defense), but the loss of their two best post men (Boomer Herndon and Andrew Preston) makes it difficult for us to pick them again. Lipscomb is another intriguing choice if for no other reason than they’re hosting the conference tourney this year – oh, and they’re 24-2 at home during the last two seasons. Jacksonville engineered one of the all-time greatest turnarounds last year, going from one win in 2006 to fifteen in 2007, and while they won eight of their last eleven regular season games, we’re not ready to push them past the more experienced teams just yet.

Games to Watch. There’s likely only one A-Sun game probably worth watching this year.

  • Atlantic Sun Championship Game (03.08.08).

RPI Booster Games. The A-Sun has thirty games against BCS opponents scheduled this year, and hopefully it can perform a little better than last year when it was 0-34. There are some opportunities against lower-tier BCS teams, however, in the following list of games:

  • Belmont @ Cincinnati (11.09.07)
  • ETSU @ Georgia (12.21.07)
  • Lipscomb @ Vanderbilt (12.08.07)
  • Campbell @ South Carolina (11.28.08)
  • Jacksonville @ Florida (12.03.07)
  • Alabama @ Mercer (11.13.07)
  • Kennesaw St. @ Auburn (11.13.07)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. <5%. It’s extremely unlikely that this is a two-bid league, but if any team was going to make it so, it would be ETSU. It would require domination of the league as well as a scintillating non-conference record before they lose in the conference tourney – we don’t see that happening.

Neat-o Stat. We have a couple for the A-Sun. First, North Florida last season enjoyed the dubious distinction of having the least efficent offense in the nation, scoring a mere 79.6 pts per 100 possessions. Secondly, Florida Gulf Coast (one of four transitional schools making the jump to D1 in the A-Sun) is the youngest D1 university in America, having opened its doors to students in 1997.

64/65-Team Era. In 26 appearances, the Atlantic Sun is 3-23 (.115) over the era, scoring the #11 over #6 upset mentioned above, #12 College of Charleston defeating #5 Maryland in 1997, and #14 Arkansas-Little Rock defeating #3 Notre Dame (Digger!) in 1986. That UALR team then took NC State to double OT in the next round before succumbing – that is the closest the league has gotten to the Sweet 16 in its history.

Final Thought. Belmont has gotten destroyed by Georgetown (80-55) and UCLA (78-44) in the last two years in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t appear that their style of play is conducive to pulling off an upset against a bigger, more athletic team. The league would have a much better chance at the first round upset if an uptempo, athletic team like ETSU earns the automatic bid.

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