O26 Game of the Week: Saint Louis-VCU Pt. II, Iona-Manhattan & More…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on February 27th, 2014

Each week the O26 microsite will run down the biggest upcoming game of the week as well as a handful of others to keep an eye on.

Saint Louis (25-2) at Virginia Commonwealth (20-7) – 6:00 PM ET, ESPN2, Saturday. Yes, this was our Game of the Week just two short weeks ago and yes, the Billikens all-but-clinched the Atlantic 10 crown by winning on their home floor. So why does the second iteration once again headline the week? Well, for one thing, it was a really good basketball game the first time around. Saint Louis held serve in Chaifetz Arena, sure, but not before VCU forced 17 turnovers and battled back from a double-figure deficit to make the final two minutes thrilling — it took a Rob Loe three-pointer with around 30 seconds left to ice it for the home team. And the defenses lived-up to their dominant billing, each limiting the opposing offense to well-under one point per possession on the afternoon. Even if you had tuned in for just five minutes of action, the high level of play and serious potential of both teams would have become quickly evident.

The Billikens and Rams will battle in Richmond this time around. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee)

The Billikens and Rams will battle in Richmond this time around. (Chris Lee, AP)

And that’s the overarching reason why Saturday’s tilt — this time in Richmond — is the main event in an already-loaded week; Saint Louis-VCU isn’t merely a marquee A-10 match-up, it’s a marquee national match-up. Everything at stake in a high-profile power-conference game is also at stake here: perception, NCAA Tournament profile, late-season momentum, bragging rights, and in the case of the Billikens, a very long winning streak. Jim Crews’ bunch has reeled off 19 straight victories over the course of three full months, last losing way back on December 1 to still-undefeated Wichita State. Shaka Smart’s group, meanwhile — fresh off a painfully-close road loss to UMass last Friday — has not dropped a home game in more than a year, obliterating visiting opponents this season by nearly 17 points per contest. An unstoppable force meets an immovable object in Verizon Wireless Arena, and the basketball-watching public will be the beneficiary. KenPom has the home squad pegged as 62 percent favorites, which is to say, it’s more or less a toss-up. Tune in on Saturday — Round II should be great.

Four More to Watch

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The Other 26: Saturday’s Top Five Bracketbuster Games and More…

Posted by IRenko on February 22nd, 2013

other26

This weekend marks the end of the decade-long Bracketbuster era — or experiment, depending on your perspective. Sadly, if appropriately, it looks like the event will go out with more of a whimper than a bang. Not a single game features a top 25 team, resulting in little hype for this year’s slate. But for true mid-major basketball fans, no top 25 ranking, or lack thereof, is going to dissuade them from devouring the late season, inter-conference action among the country’s best, under-the-radar-until-March teams. Here’s a preview of the five Bracketbuster games we’re most looking forward to, followed by an updated Top 10, our weekly honor roll, and the most compelling non-Bracketbuster games of the coming week.

Can Matthew Dellavedova And His Prominent Mouthpiece Lead the Gaels to a Much-Needed Win Over Creighton? (Las Vegas Sun / Sam Morris)

Can Matthew Dellavedova And His Prominent Mouthpiece Lead the Gaels to a Much-Needed Win Over Creighton? (Las Vegas Sun / Sam Morris)

  1. Creighton at St. Mary’s (6 pm, ESPN) — Both teams enter what is perhaps the premier Bracketbuster matchup with a great deal to prove. Creighton’s hot 17-1 start has given way to a rough 5-5 stretch, as the depth of the MVC has taken its toll. In four of those five losses, Creighton’s once unstoppable offense slowed to a pace of less than a point per possession. An at-large Tournament bid remains a safe bet, even with a loss to St. Mary’s, but the Bluejays are no doubt looking to this game to reignite their offense and their season. St. Mary’s, on the other hand, is in desperate need of a quality win for its Tournament resume. Having been swept by Gonzaga, Saturday’s matchup is a virtual must-win for the Gaels. Both teams have highly efficient offenses that rely heavily on the three-point shot. Whichever defense can step up its game may emerge with the win.
  2. Ohio at Belmont (10 pm, ESPN) – This should be a really entertaining game between two teams who love to run and gun. But for the colors of their jerseys, it may be hard to tell the two apart, as the Bobcats and Bruins have remarkably similar statistical profiles. Both are high-possession squads that shoot more than 40 percent of their field goals from three-point range and rank in the top 20 nationally in forcing turnovers. Both have high effective field goal percentages, but rebound poorly and allow their opponents to shoot far more free throws than they do. Toss in a great point guard matchup between seniors D.J. Cooper and Kerron Johnson, and you have the ingredients for a great nightcap to the day’s action. 
  3. South Dakota State at Murray State (8 pm, ESPN2) – Neither team is as good as it was last season, but both returned their star player. And it’s their matchup at the point guard spot, with Nate Wolters squaring off against Isaiah Canaan, that makes this a must-see game. The two players are the heartbeats of their respective team’s offenses. Each uses roughly 30 percent of all possessions, ranking them in the top 50 in the country. Wolters has been on a particularly nasty tear of late, averaging more than 33 points over his last five games, though two of his 30-plus efforts in that stretch were in defeat. Canaan, meanwhile, is coming off his own 35-point outburst in a win over Morehead State.
  4. Detroit at Wichita State (4 pm, ESPN2) — Wichita State has bounced back from a recent three-game swoon with a four-game win streak that includes two close victories over Illinois State and Indiana State this past week. They’ll be the favorites against Detroit, but his game has definite upset potential. Detroit is on the upswing, winning six of their last seven, and developing a potent offensive attack with a multitude of options, from Ray McCallum’s attacking ability to Jason Calliste’s three-point shot to Nick Minnerath’s versatile inside-out game to Doug Anderson’s physical interior play. The Titans will try to push the tempo, while the Shockers will try to slow things down and pound the ball inside to their big men Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall, who may find success against Detroit’s mediocre interior defense.
  5. Denver at Northern Iowa (8 pm, ESPN3) — After a rough 4-6 start to MVC play, Northern Iowa has righted the ship and fought its way back to where we thought it would always be — at the top of the league standings, just a step behind Wichita State and Creighton. They face a Denver team that has flown a bit under the radar, recovering from a slow start to the season to win 13 of their last 14 games. A trip to Cedar Falls will be a test of just how far the Pioneers have come. Expect a low-possession, halfcourt-oriented game, with a steady barrage of three-point shots. The Panthers have a balanced attack, with five players averaging between 9 and 13 points. Denver will turn primarily to Chris Udofia, the versatile forward who is the hub of their Princeton offense.

And now on to our updated Top 10 rankings, weekly honor roll, and the (other) games we’re keeping an eye on …

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Checking In On… the Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 28th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer

Reader’s Take

 

Looking Back

  • Davidson created some separation in the South Division, besting Charleston, 87-69, on Saturday. The Cougars then lost at Georgia Southern on Monday to fall behind the Eagles, as well as Wofford, in the South standings. Jake Cohen led the Wildcats as he matched his career-high with 29 points (24 coming in the first half).
  • In the North Division, Elon remained in first place, defeating preseason favorite Chattanooga, 88-87, on Monday.

One for the Record Books

In the final scheduled non-conference game in the SoCon (four will play on Feb. 18 a part of the 2012 BracketBusters event), Western Carolina put itself in the company of Texas, Purdue and Long Island, becoming just the fourth school to ever defeat an opponent by at least 100 points. The Catamounts defeated Toccoa Falls 141-39.

From the Notebook

  • College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins owns 226 wins at a SoCon school (100 at Appalachian State from 1975-81; 126 at College of Charleston) to move into a share of fifth place on the SoCon win list. He matched Duke’s Eddie Cameron (the namesake for Cameron Indoor Stadium) against Elon on Jan. 14. He will take a temporary leave of absence for a non-life threatening health condition beginning this weekend.
  • In its last three games, Samford’s starting five of Tyler Hood, Drew Windler, Jeffrey Merritt, Raijon Kelly and Will Cook has combined to score 70.3 of the team’s 75.7 points per game.

    Davidson's J.P. Kuhlman Reached The 1,000-point Milestone

  • Davidson’s J.P. Kuhlman joined the 1,000-point club on January 14 at Appalachian State, the eighth active player in the league to reach that milestone.
  • Wofford’s Brad Loesing leads the nation in minutes per game at an even 39.0 MPG. He has played in 819 of the team’s 845 minutes this season.

B.M.O.C.

UNC Greensboro’s Derrell Armstrong averaged 27.7 points and six rebounds in the Spartans’ last three games (wins against Chattanooga, Samford and Appalachian State). The junior, who prior to this stretch had averaged 7.9 points per game on the season, notched a season-high 29 points against the Mocs. He hit a season-best five three-point field goals. He followed that performance up with consecutive 27-point efforts.

Power Rankings

Last week’s ranking in parentheses:

  1. Davidson (15-4) (1): The Wildcats remained undefeated in SoCon play thanks to Nik Cochran’s free throw at Chattanooga with 1.2 seconds remaining. Davidson joins Oral Roberts, Middle Tennessee and Saint Mary’s as the only schools in the country with conference records of 9-0 or better. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

Reader’s Take 

 

Looking Back

  • In the only regular-season meeting between Western Carolina and Davidson, the Wildcats established SoCon supremacy by beating the Catamounts, 88-67, in a contest between the early division leaders on Thursday. Jake Cohen, who entered averaging 12.4 points per game, torched the Catamounts for 26 points and connected on all four of his three-point attempts. Davidson has now won 13 of its last 14 SoCon regular-season games, dating back to last season.
  • Meanwhile, College of Charleston – who entered Thursday one game behind Davidson in the South Division – suffered a shocking home defeat at the hands of UNC Greensboro.

Non-Conference Recap

  • Despite the strong non-conference showings by Davidson and College of Charleston, the conference has ranked weaker than in years past. CollegeRPI.com rates the conference 23rd. A year ago they ranked 19th and haven’t finished a year as low as 23rd since 2005-06.
  • In spite of the low rankings, the conference did enjoy a successful non-conference season, at least in terms wins against schools from the BCS leagues. Southern Conference schools picked up five wins against BCS schools highlighted by Davidson finally getting revenge against Kansas, taking down the Jayhawks in Kansas City.

Jake Cohen (15) and Davidson Remain The Class Of The SoCon (AP)

South Rising Up

Led by the Wildcats and the Cougars, the South Division has emerged as the power half of the league. The Cougars picked wins against Clemson and Tennessee and have approached the RPI top 50. The six South Division teams own a 33-11 record at home while the six North Division schools are just 26-16 at home.

Worth Noting

  • College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins owns 224 wins at a SoCon school (100 at Appalachian State from 1975-81; 124 at College of Charleston) to move within one victory of fifth place on the SoCon win list. He can tie Duke’s Eddie Cameron (the namesake for Cameron Indoor Stadium) on Saturday against Elon.
  • Davidson and the Wildcats’ Nik Cochran pace the nation in free-throw percentage. Cochran sits atop the leaderboard at 93.8% and as a team, the Wildcats connect at an 81.1% clip.

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