ACC M5: 10.23.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 23rd, 2012

  1. CBSSports.com:  N.C. State has drawn a lot of attention due to its preseason top 10 ranking and position as a strong conference favorite. Jeff Goodman took in a Wolfpack practice on Saturday and is very high on Mark Gottfried’s squad. A few quick takeaways from Goodman’s 10 points from Raleigh: Lorenzo Brown is N.C. State’s best player… Goodman thinks he is by far the best point guard in the ACC and possibly the best in the country (and that N.C. State ultimately benefited from Ryan Harrow’s transfer to Kentucky), Rodney Purvis is much further along than should be expected considering that he was only recently declared eligible, and this team has more talent than Raleigh has seen in a long time. With the abundance of talent suiting up in Raleigh, the question remains: Can this team shoulder the burden of such lofty expectations?  That may be the only thing that can stop the Wolfpack.
  2. BC Interruption:  Boston College has its first commitment for 2013-14: 6’5” guard Garland Owens, who chose the Eagles over Seton Hall and UTEP. Owens has the potential to be the most athletic player of the Steve Donahue era in Chestnut Hill. Owens selected Boston College in order to improve his shooting skills, calling Donahue “a great shooting teacher” and also citing the similarities of his high school’s offense to BC’s as another reason why he picked the school. Regardless of whether Owens becomes an elite shooter, he will surely provide a different wrinkle for Boston College going forward.
  3. Keeping it Heel: Matt Hamm has an interesting take on two important cogs in the North Carolina lineup this year, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland, who both missed considerable time last season with torn ACLs (McDonald the whole season, while Strickland only appeared in 16 games). With freshman Marcus Paige seemingly given the reins at point guard to start the season, both players will likely be competing for minutes (Strickland more so at PG and McDonald more so at SG) and potentially, in McDonald’s case, a starting spot. More importantly, it is unlikely that either player will be at 100% until at least a month into the season. With so many unknown variables, whether these two players can return to the levels they showed before their injuries will play a huge role in how far the Tar Heels can go this season.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has only determined one of his starters for this season: Ukrainian center Alex Len.  The 7’1” center and Xavier transfer Dez Wells have been by far the most impressive players in Maryland’s opening practices and scrimmages. Wells’ eligibility for the season is still up in the air, as he has requested a waiver that would allow him to play; the outcome of this request should be determined in the next couple of weeks. The fact that Len has been guaranteed a starting spot must mean that the sophomore, who was ineligible until midway through last season, has improved greatly during the offseason. Len is reportedly showing off an improved mid-range jumper and may even attempt some three-pointers this season. While Maryland does have many question marks heading into Turgeon’s second season, at least one piece of the puzzle appears to have been solved.
  5. Duke Basketball Report: Al Featherston touches on many different topics in this piece, which primarily deals with a potential resurgence of the ACC and analyzes the preseason polls. One interesting finding in this article: Florida State and Boston College have been the teams must underrated by the ACC writers in the preseason polls in the past five years, whereas Georgia Tech and North Carolina have been the most overrated during this same span, with Florida State unsurprisingly following this trend and getting more respect this preseason from the national pundits rather than the ACC media. Featherston also delineates a top five and bottom seven of the ACC with the Triangle schools, Florida State, and Miami make up the top five.
Share this story

ACC Weekly Five: 08.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on August 14th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State finished up its preseason trip to Spain with a 15-point win over CB Gran Canaria. The win means the Wolfpack head home undefeated. While Rodney Purvis couldn’t play as the NCAA reviews his eligibility, Lorenzo Brown was back from knee surgery sooner than expected and in time for all four games. CJ Leslie led all scorers with 19 in the final game and incoming freshman point guard Tyler Lewis finished with 14 points and eight assists. Probably more in response to the high expectations for this team, Mark Gottfried noted: “There were positive things even though we know we have a long way to go.”
  2. VirginiaSports.com: Speaking of preseason trips to Europe, Tony Bennett‘s squad is getting a head start too. The Cavaliers lost a heartbreaker with controversy to boot. Apparently, the scorekeeper gave AMW Team France an extra basket in the middle of a run that would eventually tie the game. To put things politely, Bennett wasn’t amused by the gaffe:

    “I understand when you come here, you’re going to get some questionable officiating — I can handle that — but what I don’t appreciate is when they take two points away from us. Two points in a game like that, that changes the whole game, and that’s frustrating, because we were there for the win, and that’s just not the way you do it. I don’t care if you’re international or in the States, you gotta keep the right score. But it’s a mistake, it was done, and I just want our guys to understand what the blueprint is for us to play competitive basketball.”

    Virginia went on to lose by four after a late run by AMW Team France.

  3. Associated Press: Important news out of Clemson this week. Tigers athletic director Terry Don Phillips announced he plans to retire next summer to enjoy more time with his wife. Phillips played an integral role in upgrading Clemson’s facilities and spearheaded the hiring of Brad Brownell (along with football coach Dabo Swinney). Keep an eye on names that pop up during the search process, as athletic directors are more important than most give them credit for — especially when it comes to rebuilding (or building in this case) programs like Brownell is trying to do.
  4. CBSSports.comCBS Sports drew some heat (along with plenty of page views) for its recent series “Critical Coaches” where they polled nearly 100 coaches on topics  like “Who is the most overrated coach in the country?” The answer? Roy Williams. Yep, the guy with two national titles in the last decade, to go with more conference championships than you can count with two hands between his time at Kansas and North Carolina. Jim Young of ACC Sports Journal has a thoughtful interpretation of the argument.
  5. ESPN.com: Surprising no one, Coach K added another gold medal to his resume as Team USA took down Spain and the Gasol brothers in the Olympics last week. Krzyzewski announced this would be his final Olympics, leaving his Team USA record an astounding 62-1. Unfortunately his dry humor didn’t translate as well to the international game as his coaching abilities, as a media member apparently thought Krzyzewski was serious when he stays out till 6 AM, “drunk as a skunk” because Team USA doesn’t really need much coaching.

EXTRA: In weirder news, North Carolina forgot to scrub former two-sport star Julius Peppers’ transcript and made it visible to the public. Needless to say NC State fans on PackPride.com found the transcript and went to work researching to confirm it was a real transcript. It’s hard to tell exactly what the repercussions of this will be, but suffice to say North Carolina’s academic issues may go back much further than previously thought.

Share this story

ACC Summer Recess: NC State Wolfpack

Posted by mpatton on August 7th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: NC State.

Where They Stand Now

Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Brown Have Big Expectations (AP Photo/E. Hyman)

The Wolfpack are still riding a wave of momentum from a Sweet Sixteen performance in Mark Gottfried‘s inaugural year. After perennially underperforming with alumnus Sidney Lowe at the helm and hearing the media blast the school for running off Herb Sendek, NC State’s administration made the switch to the former Alabama coach who matched Sendek’s best postseason performance in his first season on the job. Gottfried added structure, and his talented roster improved throughout the year showing flashes of true greatness thanks in large part to the maturation of CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown. But 2012′s postseason success makes the bar much higher in Raleigh — Jay Bilas even put the Wolfpack on top of his preseason ACC power rankings. The questions now are: How will the new pieces fit with the current roster, and can Brown and Leslie make the leap to consistently dominant players?

Who’s Leaving

Guards Alex Johnson and CJ Williams both graduated. Johnson played the role of sparkplug: He was good for at least one heat check three and a lot of hustle. He also appeared to be a vocal leader on the team, both from the court and the bench. Williams was a more significant offensive contributor, averaging 10.6 points per game on 50 percent shooting. His versatility on the wing will definitely be missed on the defensive end of the floor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 07.25.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 25th, 2012

  1. Louisville has made headlines recently with their abundance of scholarship players and the need to cut down and they managed to do so yesterday for one player as incoming freshman Terry Rozier will be spending next season in prep school at Hargrave Military Academy with the apparent reason being to straighten out his academic standing. Rozier will also get to know Anton Gill, another Louisville commit, who will be spending next season at the same prep school. While this may seem like bad news for Louisville fans it is good news for the rest of us in that Peyton Siva’s backup at point guard will be Russ Smith and we all could use a little more Russ Smith in our lives.
  2. North Carolina State fans who have been waiting to see what has been expected to be a loaded Wolfpack team may have to wait until after the team’s summer trip to Europe to see their full arsenal as Mark Gottfried has indicated that injured point guard Lorenzo Brown may not play during the team’s trip to Spain as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. The decision is not surprising as Gottfried says Brown is still only “between 75 and 80 percent healthy”. Given the goals of this Wolfpack team, which is a legitimate Final Four threat, this seems entirely reasonable although we are sure that Brown would love to take the court with his new teammates.
  3. A little over a month ago we mentioned the attempt by Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis to get Mississippi State and Loyola (IL) to play a rematch of their 1963 Regional semifinals in Jenison Field House to commemorate the game, which the Bulldogs played despite a court order forbidding them from playing a team containing African-Americans. Unfortunately for Hollis, the schools were unwilling to commit to playing at an off-campus site, but they were willing to schedule a home-and-home series with the first match-up occurring on December 13 in Chicago. While the games probably won’t mean much in the context of the two seasons they could serve as an important way to educate many people about a significant event and highlight the ability of sports to stand for something more than just the outcome of a game.
  4. The first game will be without the services of Mississippi State freshman Jacoby Davis, a 6’1″, 185-lb point guard who was new head coach Rick Ray’s first signee. Davis tore his ACL on Monday during individual workouts and will most likely miss the entire 2012-13 season. Ray was already facing a precarious backcourt situation with only Davis and juco transfer Divonte Bloodman projected as point guards next season — now with Davis out of the lineup, the Bulldogs will have to depend on Bloodman and hope for the best unless Ray can find another point guard in the bushes somewhere. Mississippi State was for a while one of the most reliable SEC programs under Rick Stansbury, but it appears like it’s going to be some time before the Bulldogs get back to that level of success.
  5. SEC basketball coaches often feel like they’re the stepchildren of the conference in a region and among local cultures that value college football exponentially more than their sport on the hardwood. So imagine how they felt this week when they received an email from the league offices telling them that their conference schedules — the ones that they had all agreed to in June — were changed. According to this report from Gary Parrish, the conference’s 14 coaches weren’t even informed that changes were afoot — their first notification on the matter came in the email. So what does it mean? Last month the coaches agreed to an 18-game schedule where each school would play a permanent rival twice, four other schools in home-and-homes, and the other eight teams once. This report says that the home-and-homes have changed, meaning that some schools’ schedules have gotten considerably harder (oh, we play Kentucky twice now?), while others have gotten easier. For a league that likes to tell anyone who will listen that they have the most money, the most success, the most everything… it sounds like Mike Slive’s group might want to invest in a communications liaison. Folks aren’t happy.
Share this story

ACC Weekly Five: 07.02.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on July 2nd, 2012

  1. ESPN: Rodney Hood, the impressive freshman guard from Mississippi State, has made his decision. Hood is going to be a Blue Devil, helping to ensure that the reliably-loaded Duke backcourt remains one of the conference’s best for years to come. As a transfer, Hood will sit out the coming year, but he will have three years of eligibility after that. It’s a great pick up and the latest salvo that shows that Duke will continue to be a potential destination for discontented guards across the country (cf. Seth Curry).
  2. News & Observer: North Carolina State has named its first Hall of Fame class. While the  Hall is designed to honor collegiate athletes and coaches from many different programs at NC State, basketball is certainly given its due in this inaugural class. Legendary coaches Everett Case and Jim Valvano are to be honored along with the greatest ACC basketball player of all time, David Thompson. NC State’s women’s basketball program will also have two inductees, longtime coach Kay Yow and the program’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, Genia Beasley. It’s a good start to enshrining the traditions of one of the most storied basketball programs in college basketball.
  3. CBS Sports: The Virginia Cavaliers struck decisively to win a recruiting battle early. Devon Hall, a four-star point guard in the 2014 high school class, has not only committed to Virginia but he has also reclassified to the class of 2013. The Cavaliers could certainly use some help at this position and Hall looks like the kind of player who could potentially contribute as soon as he sets foot on campus.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Former ACC players did well in the NBA draft last Thursday, with eight players selected across the two rounds. North Carolina had four first round picks led by Harrison Barnes, while Duke’s Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee were also selected in the first round. One of the finest moments in the draft came with the rousing applause and standing ovation when Florida State’s Bernard James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers (though a trade with Dallas actually will see James with the Mavericks in exchange for Tyler Zeller going to Cleveland). Meanwhile, Mike Scott’s selection by the Atlanta Hawks may go down as one of the savviest value picks of the draft. Of the notable ACC players who went undrafted, the conference’s leading scorer, Terrell Stoglin from Maryland, didn’t hear his name called on Thursday night. Stoglin had a number of pre-draft workouts with NBA teams and it seems likely he will get invited to one or more training camps, though that likely doesn’t lessen the sting.
  5. News & Observer: Lorenzo Brown‘s knee surgery apparently went well. His medical team repaired a partially torn right meniscus and Brown is only expected to miss between two to four weeks, though head coach Mark Gottfried stressed that they are in no hurry to get Brown back on the court before he has had a chance to fully heal. Considering how scary the phrase “knee surgery” can be in college basketball, this is nothing but good news for Brown and North Carolina State.
Share this story

ACC Weekly Five: 06.26.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on June 26th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Lorenzo Brown, arguably one of the top three point guards in the ACC last year, will be undergoing exploratory knee surgery Tuesday. Brown is one of the key cogs of a North Carolina State team that figures to be a major contender for the top spot in the conference next season. While coach Mark Gottfried’s worries are probably somewhat ameliorated by incoming freshman point guard, Tyler Lewis, losing an experienced point guard for even a few games can be fairly tough in the ACC.
  2. Durham Herald Sun: In news that is surprising no one, Mike Krzyzewski confirmed that Duke guardAndre Dawkins will be taking a redshirt in the coming season. Dawkins has been struggling with grief ever since his sister died in a tragic car accident in 2009.  I think that taking some time can only help Dawkins, and basketball can certainly wait.
  3. ZagsBlog: The Blue Devils in coming seasons certainly won’t be hurting for talent. Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood has winnowed his transfer decision to either Duke or Ohio State. Hood has great size at 6’7″ and talent in spades. In his one year as a Bulldog he made the Freshman All-SEC team. His great combination of size and skill would be very valuable to a Duke team that has been small on the wing for the past few seasons.
  4. Tetsudo Times: Listen, Maryland has a really cool flag. There’s no questioning that. It’s stylish, bold, and arresting whereas most state flags are really boring. I also understand that Under Armour wants to have the same relationship with the University of Maryland that Nike has with Oregon. I just don’t know about these uniforms though.
  5. CBS Sports: APR is going to be a hot topic in college basketball as long as postseason bans based on program academic performance are a potential punishment. If a rash of transfers and drop-outs can get a team banned from a shot at the NCAA Tournament in successive years, this odd number is one that’s worth following. The good news is that the ACC, as a conference, does really well in terms of APR.
Share this story

Two of Nation’s Top Point Guards Facing Potentially Serious Injuries

Posted by EJacoby on June 25th, 2012

It’s been well documented that the point guard position was not a strong suit of Division I basketball last year, and the same applies for the incoming class of freshmen players. The last thing we need is for some of the country’s elite lead guards to suffer setbacks this offseason heading into 2012-13, but it appears that’s exactly what has happened over the past week. NC State’s rising junior Lorenzo Brown is set to undergo knee surgery this week, and incoming Providence stud Kris Dunn suffered a recent shoulder injury that could require surgery as well. Brown’s procedure is notable as only ‘exploratory’ and should not leave him sidelined for more than several weeks, but knee surgeries are never good news for quick guards. It often takes far longer than the required rehab time before a player returns to 100% health and regains the trust to rely on his knee for all the cuts required during games. Dunn’s status, meanwhile, remains unknown but could become a far more serious issue that requires several months of rehabilitation. Both players could also end up fine for the upcoming season — still over four months away — but their teams could also become affected during parts or all of the year.

Lorenzo Brown is a versatile guard for NC State and hopes to avoid a serious knee injury after exploratory surgery this week (AP Photo/C. Burton)

Brown averaged 12.7 points, 6.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game as a sophomore last season for a late-surging Wolfpack team that made a strong run to the Sweet Sixteen. The heady guard has terrific size at 6’5″ that enables him to see the floor well and defend at a high level; he even averaged half a block per game last year. He’s the leader of a preseason top 15 team who led the squad in minutes played last season. Luckily, Mark Gottfried’s team also has incoming McDonald’s All-American freshman Tyler Lewis as its backup point guard, but he is not ready or able to handle all the responsibilities that Brown does — Lewis would fit much better as a rotating reserve to start his career. Hopefully, Brown’s surgery doesn’t reveal anything particularly damaging and the veteran can re-join the team long before the season starts, but having a procedure to “discover the source of pain” leaves reason for temporary concern.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 06.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2012

  1. We’ve spent too much time on this site in the last five years lamenting a number of initiatives perpetrated against the game of college basketball in the name of dollar-chasing. The shamelessness of college administrators in discussing the welfare of student-athletes in one breath while simultaneously making decisions to further enrich themselves without regard for players and fans who put these folks in their positions of power continues to appall us. Interestingly, others outside our game (and our first cousin, college football) are starting to notice. Two articles published independently over the weekend get at the same point — that those who run college basketball have forgotten what made it so popular in the first place. John Supinie writes that “the integrity and traditions that made the game so great were lost in the money,” while Dick Jerardi says that “when your fans can’t follow what it is you are doing, you are in danger of losing those fans.” Both articles take different tacks but end up in the same place — college hoops cannot thrive if it remains the red-headed stepchild to college football and the NBA, a mere pawn to be tossed around in their pursuit of increasingly greater shares of the pie.
  2. While we’re in the mood for piling on this morning, a recent article about transfers by USA Today informed us that four of every 10 D-I recruits who enter as a freshman will have left that program by the end of his second year. That 40% attrition rate includes only two percent of players who leave halfway through their college careers to the NBA, meaning that fully 38% of incoming players are transferring or simply quitting school altogether by that time. Transfers have been a hot topic this offseason, with over 400 players already moving on to presumably sunnier situations and a couple of public (and thorny) battles between coaches and players over their right to head elsewhere. NCAA president Mark Emmert says that he plans on initiating a task force to study the issue, a step in the right direction, but we’re almost certain that any recommendations will benefit the coaches more than the players.
  3. One of those 400+ transfers is Connecticut’s Michael Bradley, as hard luck a player as you will find. A young man who grew up in an orphanage in Tennessee because he was estranged from his mother never saw action in his two years at UConn. He redshirted his freshman year and suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of Jim Calhoun’s rotation last year. After his grandmother in Chattanooga was recently diagnosed with cancer, Bradley decided to transfer to Western Kentucky to be closer to her, but over the weekend the NCAA denied Bradley’s waiver request to play immediately at WKU. This decision proves once again that the criteria for justified waivers does not appear to be consistently articulable, which would probably cut down on these requests if the NCAA would simply provide clearer guidelines.
  4. Prepare yourselves for three years of Pitino Bowl, as Louisville has agreed to play FIU for the next three seasons (two in Louisville; one in South Florida) now that Richard Pitino has settled in as the new head coach of the Panthers. Father/son matchups are often lopsided because of the superior position within the industry that the elder has over the younger, and this situation should be no different. But it’ll be interesting to see if Richard is more like a Pat Knight (Bob) or Tony Bennett (Dick) in his career, especially given that he’s starting out at a school that not even the coaching phenom Isiah Thomas could make work.
  5. A couple of key ACC players may not lace them up next season, depending on how the rest of the summer shakes out for each. NC State’s Lorenzo Brown, a rising junior who averaged a superb 13/6/5 RPG manning the point guard spot for Mark Gottfried’s surprising Wolfpack team, will have surgery on his right knee this week to determine what is causing him some discomfort. An early report suggested that he had a meniscus problem there, but that has not been confirmed, and there is no timetable for his return to action. On the other side of the Triangle, Duke’s Andre Dawkins appears to be redshirting next year, his senior season as a Blue Devil. Coach K announced that the redshirt was an official decision as of last Friday, but he also added that Dawkins needs time “to step away,” which might leave open the possibility that things could change if he chooses not to take that step. Dawkins contributed 8.4 PPG last season as a key member of Duke’s backcourt, but he disappeared down the stretch as Duke did likewise in the last several games of the season.
Share this story

Handicapping Next Season’s Best Big Ten/ACC Challenge Matchups

Posted by EJacoby on May 15th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

With the announcement of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule for next season, fans now have some important dates to circle on their calendars. The 14th annual competition between power conference heavyweights will take place on November 27 and 28 with all games televised on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU. Eight of the teams in competition are currently slotted in the RTC preseason Top 25, and there are several enticing matchups between big-time teams. Given that it’s mid-May, it’s far too early to break down the individual strategic matchups, but we’ll give you the best games to look forward to, and why. The Big Ten has won three consecutive challenges after the ACC was victorious in the first 10. Here’s what the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge presents us.

Last Season, Aaron Craft and Ohio State Punked Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (Getty Images/J. Robbins)

Prestige and Intrigue, North Carolina at Indiana (Nov. 27) – Two of the top five or six programs in college basketball history square off in the headline event of this challenge, and it’s going to be one of the biggest games of the non-conference season. North Carolina loses its four top players from last season, but don’t count out the Tar Heels next year. James Michael McAdoo returns along with a bevy of talented perimeter players in Reggie Bullock, Dexter Strickland, Marcus Paige, and Leslie McDonald. However, UNC has the task of playing in Bloomington against a Hoosiers squad that might be the top team in the country next season. With a lineup full of talented scorers and the experience of last season’s spotlight, Indiana will be a title contender and a strong favorite in this game. The battle between Cody Zeller and McAdoo inside is a matchup of perhaps the two most talented low post prospects in the country.

The Best of the Bunch, NC State at Michigan (Nov. 27) - While UNC at IU presents the greatest national intrigue, a game on the same night presents a better overall matchup. When NC State hits the floor at Michigan, we’ll be seeing two likely Top 10 teams meet with experienced talent. Lorenzo Brown against Trey Burke pits two of the nation’s best point guards going at it, with two different styles at the position. Tim Hardaway, Jr., and C.J. Leslie are each talented juniors for their respective teams that flirted with the NBA but are back to lead their contenders. Throw in strong recruiting classes for each squad and we’ve got a doozy. Lucky for the Big Ten, they once again have the home court advantage in this one.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 2012-13 Top 25: Post NBA Draft Deadline

Posted by KDoyle on May 1st, 2012

It’s never too early for these, right? We all love the debates, projecting who is too high or too low, and taking a closer look at the upcoming college hoops season — six months goes by quickly, promise. In quickly looking at the Top 25, one would surmise that having five of a team’s top players forgo the remainder of their college careers in favor of the NBA Draft would absolutely kill that team’s prospects for the upcoming season, but that is simply not the case for Kentucky. Last year’s National Champions check in at #2 in the Top 25, proving that John Calipari doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. It would not behoove us to let Kentucky steal the storyline, however, as Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers are the top dog in what looks to be a banner upcoming year. In what was arguably the most exciting and high-flying game of last year’s Tournament, the Hoosiers fell to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen, but have nearly all the pieces back. Just two years ago this was a 12-20 team with no postseason experience, and now they are the top team in the land — according to our group of experts, at least. What a tremendous job Tom Crean has done. The usual Quick ‘n Dirty after the jump…

Whether it is through an exceptional recruiting class, or an impressive finish to the 2011-12 season coupled with a strong nucleus returning, the following five teams surged upward—and for good reason:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC in the NCAAs: Scouting North Carolina State vs. Kansas

Posted by KCarpenter on March 23rd, 2012

North Carolina State, by this point, has hopefully demonstrated that it has the talent to match up with just about any team in the nation. The Wolfpack has height, speed, athleticism, and skill. Kansas, however, has all that, tournament-tested experience and perhaps the second best player in college basketball, a guy named Thomas Robinson. Like so many games that NC State has competed in this season, this is a game that may very well come down to foul trouble. To win this game, C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and DeShawn Painter need to stay on the floor, which may be a challenge considering how good the Jayhawks are at drawing fouls. Yet, in Kansas, NC State faces a team that shares their weaknesses as well as their strengths.

Gottfried Was A Controversial Hire, But He Has The Wolfpack Back In The Sweet Sixteen

Lorenzo Brown, Leslie, and Howell are all excellent at drawing fouls and Kansas’s big men are fairly susceptible to foul trouble. Jeff Withey‘s physical style means that he often finds himself with more than a few fouls while the rest of the big man rotation, outside of Thomas Robinson (who still gets called for 3.5 fouls per 40 minutes), fouls like there is no tomorrow. Kevin Young gets called for 5.4 fouls per 40, while Justin Wesley‘s 8.6 fouls per 40 is about as double-take inducing as it gets. If  NC State can win the foul battle, avoiding fouls on defense while drawing contact on offense, the Wolfpack may be able to leverage an advantage in the frontcourt while picking up easy points from the free throw line. NC State’s ability to keep Georgetown‘s Henry Sims on the bench with foul trouble was a major key to last Sunday’s upset and I think a Friday night victory follows a similar game plan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: Sweet Sixteen Friday

Posted by EJacoby on March 23rd, 2012

RTC Region correspondents Kevin Doyle (South) and Evan Jacoby (Midwest) contributed to this preview.

#3 Baylor vs. #10 Xavier – South Regional Semifinal (at Atlanta, GA) – 7:15 PM ET on CBS

Baylor was supposed to be here, Xavier was not. That is the beauty of March Madness and the NCAA Tournament though: play it out on the floor. One can review all the matchups, crunch the numbers, and look at past tournament history, but sometimes simply getting hot at the right time is a more important factor than anything else. The Xavier Musketeers, an up-and-down team all year following the brawl against Cincinnati back in December, are peaking at just the right time. After a 21 game stretch in the middle of the year that saw Xavier go 10-11, they rebounded by winning five of six; the melee seems like a thing of the distant past right now. What teams should now begin to take notice of: Tu Holloway is back to playing at the level of an All-American. Not to mention, Kenny Frease is looking like one of the most dominant big men in the country after dismantling the Lehigh front line last Sunday. Despite all of this, Baylor is a downright scary team to be playing this weekend, especially with the shooting prowess of Brady Heslip who is a combined 14-22 from downtown. Xavier’s three-point defense is one of the best in the nation as they allow opponents to shoot just 30% from the outside, but can they contain the hot shooting Heslip and the steady Pierre Jackson? Consequently, if Heslip and Jackson are not connecting from distance, the onus will be on Perry Jones III. The Jones-Frease matchup down low is one to keep an eye on, and if we are to take any stock in the first two games, Frease is the one playing better of the two as Jones has combined to score just nine points on 4-14 shooting against South Dakota State and Colorado. A streaky scorer throughout the year, Jones has scored in single digits nine times and double digits 19 times; the Bears will need the latter of Jones’ scoring efforts to keep Xavier honest on defense. Baylor’s only losses this year have come against Big 12 opponents, and I expect this trend to continue as the Bears hold off Holloway and the Musketeers.

The RTC Certified Pick: Baylor

#1 North Carolina vs. #13 Ohio – Midwest Region Semifinals (at St. Louis, MO) – 7:47 PM ET on TBS

The storylines leading up to this game have been completely taken over by Kendall Marshall’s “wrist watch”, but once the ball tips off on Friday night and Marshall is presumably unable to play, then we can finally focus on the matchups in-game. Of course, Marshall’s expected absence will then be the main factor to watch in the game. How will North Carolina distribute minutes at the point guard position against the harassing perimeter defense of D.J. Cooper? Expect Roy Williams to explore several different options, including seldom-used reserves Stilman White and Justin Watts. Both White and Watts average under seven minutes per game and were never expected to be significant factors for the team, but they are the only players with experience at the lead guard spot. But since neither guy is likely to make much of an impact offensively, UNC also could experiment by placing Harrison Barnes at the position in a point-forward role. Barnes has the size to see over any defenders but has never been asked to run an offense. P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock, two primary wing shooters, could help Barnes bring the ball up in a point guard by-committee approach, as well.

Regardless, as long as the point guard replacements or by-committee members don’t turn the ball over at an alarming rate, then Carolina should still have the advantage in this game on both ends because of its tremendous forwards. Ohio’s regular rotation only includes two bangers in the post in Reggie Keely and Jon Smith, and while Keely is a solid post defender with bulk at 265 pounds, neither of those players is taller than 6’8”. It will be an adventure trying to defend the most talented front line in the country. Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and James Michael McAdoo should have a field day in the paint, and the lack of a point guard means that every UNC possession should include an early paint touch. Expect big numbers from this trio. But if Ohio is somehow able to key on the UNC bigs and stop the domination in the paint, then the Bobcats can pull another upset by gaining an advantage on the perimeter. Nick Kellogg and Walter Offutt must hit a high percentage of shots from the outside and D.J. Cooper will need another breakout performance to carry this team. It just seems unlikely that Ohio has enough firepower to hang with Carolina’s athletes on the interior. With or without Marshall, roll with North Carolina in this one.

The RTC Certified Pick: North Carolina

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story