Make Your Case: Creighton Bluejays

Posted by nvr1983 on March 11th, 2009

makecaseAs part of our ongoing quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage in the nation, we have enlisted the help of some of the finest team-specific bloggers on the planet to help us. With the NCAA Selection Show coming up on March 15th there are still several teams on the proverbial “bubble”. We figured it might be interesting to see what kind of nonpartisan arguments these bloggers could make for their team deserving a spot in the NCAA tournament. We welcome any discussion of their arguments and praise or criticism of their reasoning in the comment section. If your team is on the “bubble” and you would like to submit something, please contact us at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Creighton- Submitted by Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball.

Creighton Profile
Record: 26-7
RPI: 40
SOS: 108
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 2-2
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 7-3
Best Wins: New Mexico (Home), Dayton (Home), Northern Iowa (Road), and Illinois State (Home)
Worst Loss: Drake
(Home)

After last Saturday’s blowout loss in the Semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference to Illinois State, Creighton is one of those teams that is sitting squarely on the bubble. I am going to state my case as to why Creighton deserves to go to the NCAA Tournament over other bubble teams.

Creighton was favored to win the Missouri Valley Conference this season, and even though they had a slow conference start at 5-4, they started playing better as a team and reeled off 10 straight wins (including a Bracketbuster win against George Mason) to tie Northern Iowa for a share of the MVC regular season title. The Bluejays extended their winning streak to 11 with a first round win in the MVC Tourney against Wichita State in dramatic fashion, but then turned around and got blasted by Illinois State.

Last impressions are hard to erase from people’s minds and the Illinois State loss will be a hard one for people to forget. However, statistical history is on Creighton’s side. There has never been a team with 26 wins in the RPI top 100 that missed the NCAA Tournament. Also, the MVC regular season champion has made the NCAA tournament the last 15 years.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.07.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2009

dynamite

We’re back for the final weekend of regular season Boom Goes the Dynamite for this college basketball season. The highlights of the weekend are obviously the two top 10 match-ups (in Pittsburgh on Saturday and in Chapel Hill on Sunday). We would love to provide you with another RTC Live from those site, but apparently we’re not big enough for them yet. (The onus is on you to spread the word.)

In any event, we’re going to make lemonade out of those lemons so we’ll be providing coverage from our bi-coastal offices covering all the action. Today is loaded with 15 of the top 25 playing with the other 10 playing on Sunday. We will be trying out best to provide you with wall-to-wall coverage of the top teams in action as well as RTC Live from several different locations:

In addition to our on-site correspondents we will be focusing in on a few key games for the majority of the day while also channel surfing over to the other games when the situation merits it. Here are the primary games that we will be covering today:

  • #1 UConn at #4 Pittsburgh at Noon on CBS
  • Michigan at Minnesota at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com
  • #25 Syracuse at #15 Marquette at 2 PM on ESPN360.com
  • #12 Missouri at Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
  • California at #21 Arizona State at 2 PM on CBS
  • Oklahoma State at #5 Oklahoma at 3:30 PM on ABC
  • Texas at #9 Kansas at 4 PM on CBS
  • Washington State at #13 Washington at 5:30 PM on CBS
  • Wright State at #22 Butler at 7 PM on ESPNU
  • #6 Louisville at West Virginia at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com

As you can tell it’s a pretty ambitious schedule so we are asking you, our loyal legion of RTC followers, to help alert all of us if something interesting is happening. You can contribute by leaving a message in the comment section so we all can follow it.

One piece of RTC breaking news, UNC point guard Ty Lawson injured his left big toe yesterday in practice.

11:30 PM: ESPN GameDay is live from Morgantown, WV and they’re doing their own version of Make Your Case. I feel a little bit like Bill Simmons after ESPN stole his Mount Rushmore, but they aren’t paying me a million dollars a year.

11:45 PM: A couple pieces of NCAA tournament news to wrap-up before we focus on our TV for the next 12 hours: Cornell became the first team to officially get into the tournament last night by winning the Ivy League title and 3 others will join them when the Atlantic Sun, Big South, and Ohio Valley have their championship games today.

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Make Your Case: Kansas State Wildcats

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2009

makecaseAs part of our ongoing quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage in the nation, we have enlisted the help of some of the finest team-specific bloggers on the planet to help us. With the NCAA Selection Show coming up on March 15th there are still several teams on the proverbial “bubble”. We figured it might be interesting to see what kind of nonpartisan arguments these bloggers could make for their team deserving a spot in the NCAA tournament. We welcome any discussion of their arguments and praise or criticism of their reasoning in the comment section. If your team is on the “bubble” and you would like to submit something, please contact us at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Kansas Statesubmitted by TB at Bring On The Cats.

Kansas State Profile
Record: 19-10
RPI: 72
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 5-7
Best Wins: Missouri (home), Texas (road), Texas A&M (road), and Cleveland State (road)
Worst Loss: Oregon

After Tuesday night’s loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, K-State’s chances at receiving an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament are smaller than ever. Still, because the proprietors of RTC asked me to make K-State’s case, and because I’m an insufferable homer (OK, not really), I’m going to do my best. Also, ESPN’s Andy Katz still has us in consideration, so it’s still worth looking at what K-State needs to do.

As you can probably tell from the profile above, K-State’s non-conference schedule is bereft of, well, anything. The best teams we played in the non-con schedule were Kentucky, Iowa, and Cleveland State, and we only managed to defeat CSU among those teams as we dropped two-point decisions to both UK and Iowa. You might be wondering why I don’t have Iowa listed in the “Worst Losses” category, considering they’re at 105 in the RPI and 14-15 (4-12 Big 10). At the time, Iowa was at full strength, whereas later in the season several key players would lose time to injuries or suspensions. The Hawkeyes were never going to challenge for the Big 10 title, but they were a decent team at 11-4 before Cyrus Tate’s injury, and had decent wins over Northern Iowa and Iowa State.

Anyway, that one loss doesn’t change things for K-State. Given that we inexplicably lost to woeful Oregon and didn’t have a big win in the non-conference, we needed to separate ourselves in conference play. With wins over Missouri, Texas (on the road), and Texas A&M (on the road), we gave ourselves a chance. But with last night’s loss to Oklahoma State, the best we can hope for is a tie for fourth place in the Big 12 at 9-7, a tie we will win by virtue of our head-to-head win over Texas. The problem is, with Texas, Texas A&M and, to a lesser extent, Oklahoma State having more impressive non-con resumes, we needed to have a clearly superior conference resume to even the playing field. While our conference run still stacks up favorably with all our intra-conference bubble competition, we failed to clearly distinguish ourselves.

One thing that plays in K-State’s favor that wouldn’t have been true in the recent past is the strength of the Big 12 North this season. Coming into this week, the unofficial divisions were 14-14 against each other, but after Kansas’s inexplicable loss to Texas Tech and Colorado’s continued woefulness, the South now owns a 16-15 advantage. But with KU owning wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M; Missouri owning wins over every South opponent it has played, and K-State picking up road wins over Texas and Texas A&M, it’s clear the North is not the South’s little brother this season. If you compare the records of the teams from each division, you will notice that the South did not fare markedly worse against itself as compared to its record against the North, indicating the South didn’t beat each other up and pick off easy wins against the North. The divisions actually appear to be pretty evenly matched.

  • Oklahoma: 4-2 North, 8-1 South (Oklahoma State remaining)
  • Texas: 2-3 North (@ KU remaining), 7-3 South
  • Oklahoma State: 4-2 North, 5-4 South (@ OU remaining)
  • Texas A&M: 3-2 North (Missouri remaining), 5-5 South
  • Kansas: 9-1 North, 4-1 South (Texas remaining)
  • Missouri: 7-3 North, 5-0 South (@ Texas A&M remaining)
  • Kansas State: 5-4 North (Colorado remaining), 3-3 South
  • Nebraska: 5-5 North, 2-3 South (@ Baylor remaining)

(Note: I omitted the bottom two teams from each side because, really, does anyone care what Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Colorado did? Yeah, me neither.)

So, our last shot at an at-large bid is to impress in the conference tournament. If K-State does manage the four seed, it will likely play Texas in the 4/5 game on Thursday in Oklahoma City. A win there would be a big resume boost and would affirm the earlier win in Austin, not to mention giving the Wildcats a third shot at KU on Friday. The Jayhawks will be the top seed in the Big 12 and are one of the hottest teams in the country right now, Wednesday night’s debacle in Lubbock notwithstanding. If K-State could somehow come away with the win there, they would have two impressive wins on the last weekend and would be playing in the conference tourney finals on Saturday. Of course at that point, you might as well just win the title game and eliminate all doubt, but it would at least give us a chance. Beyond the two impressive wins, our “Last 12” record would be 9-3 at that point, another selling point to the committee.

Undoubtedly, K-State is still in the “Work Left to Do” category, and at this point it’s probably more like “A Whole Lotta Work Left to Do.” However, using the scenario outlined above, I believe it’s possible for K-State to remain in consideration for one of the last at-large berths. A win over Colorado would push K-State to 20-10 overall, and two games in the conference tournament, likely against Texas and KU, could push the record to 22-10 with impressive wins on the last weekend of the season. Given that other bubble teams aren’t exactly making huge statements right now, either, a late run could impress the committee. While we’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt K-State if Texas A&M and Oklahoma State would lose this weekend – their opponents are Missouri and Oklahoma, respectively – and go quietly into the night at the conference tournament in Oklahoma City.

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Make Your Case: Maryland Terrapins

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2009

makecase

As part of our ongoing quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage in the nation, we have enlisted the help of some of the finest team-specific bloggers on the planet to help us. With the NCAA Selection Show coming up on March 15th there are still several teams on the proverbial “bubble”. We figured it might be interesting to see what kind of nonpartisan arguments these bloggers could make for their team deserving a spot in the NCAA tournament. We welcome any discussion of their arguments and praise or criticism of their reasoning in the comment section. If your team is on the “bubble” and you would like to submit something, please contact us at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Marylandsubmitted by “bbroman” at Testudo Times.

Maryland lost last night to Wake Forest in a game that very well could have clinched their NCAA tourney bid. But they’re not done yet, not at all. Our mantra as Maryland fans all year has been 8-8 in conference, plus one in the ACC tourney, and they’re in the NCAAs. Right now, Maryland stands at 7-8 with one game left. Luckily, it’s against Virginia, the worst team in the ACC.

Maryland should get to “8-8 + 1″. They’re better than Virginia and better than NC State, who they’d likely play in the first round of the ACC tourney. They’ve already played against both and won both games. If they close out the way they’re supposed to, I can’t envision them getting left out.

There’s plenty of blemishes on their resume, of course: a loss to lowly Morgan State, a mid-50s RPI, a 41-point drubbing to Duke, a bad road record. But for every negative, there’s a positive that’s just as big. Two huge wins over top 10 teams Michigan St. and UNC, one of which was out-of-conference; a mid-20s strength of schedule; a solid record down the stretch; and of course, the biggest one: a .500 record in the toughest conference in basketball (that’s right Big East, I went there).

In the conference they play in, with the big wins they have, and a good strength of schedule, I can’t see the committee turning them away, provided they get to “8-8 + 1″. If they end up 7-9 in the ACC, there’s almost no chance. If they get to 8-8 and don’t get the win in the tournament, I wouldn’t hold my breath. But with two more wins, it should be a happy Sunday for all the Maryland fans out there.

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Make Your Case: Providence Friars

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2009

makecase1

As part of our ongoing quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage in the nation, we have enlisted the help of some of the finest team-specific bloggers on the planet to help us. With the NCAA Selection Show coming up on March 15th there are still several teams on the proverbial “bubble”. We figured it might be interesting to see what kind of nonpartisan arguments these bloggers could make for their team deserving a spot in the NCAA tournament. We welcome any discussion of their arguments and praise or criticism of their reasoning in the comment section. If your team is on the “bubble” and you would like to submit something, please contact us at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Providencesubmitted by Dave at FriarBlog.com.

Right now, the Providence Friars deserve an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. The big reason? 10 conference wins (possibly 11 if they can knock off Villanova on the road Thursday night) in arguably the “Greatest Conference in the History of the Universe” (or something like that). While it’s true the Friars have a few warts in their computer numbers, it can be argued that they have no bad losses. Providence has done a great job beating all the teams it should have, and have also picked up a few signature wins along the way.

Technically One Bad Loss
The one loss that is going to be consistently brought up come Selection Sunday is the Friars’ first game of the season against Northeastern. However, there is a perfectly cromulent reason for this loss. First off, this was the debut of the new Providence coach Keno Davis, who was bringing an entirely new system to a veteran team who mostly played 3 years under former coach Tim Welsh. Things obviously took some time to gel, and I have no doubt in my mind that PC would defeat Northeastern soundly if they came back to THE DUNK today. Another huge turnaround from how this team performed against Northeastern and early on in the season is a healthy Sharaud Curry.

Rust be Gone
Point guard Sharaud Curry missed all of last season due to a broken foot. In most of the non-conference schedule this year, Curry was clearly not himself. His quickness wasn’t quite there, and he had several poor shooting nights (averaged only 8 PPG shooting shot 30% including 1/8 FG and 2 points versus Northeastern). However in Big East conference play, Curry has arguably been Providence’s MVP. In 17 conference games, Curry is averaging 13.9 PPG, ranks #1 in FT% (87%), #2 in three-point FG% (44%), and #3 in assist/turnover ratio (2.5). A healthy Sharaud Curry clearly makes a difference on this team, which is why the early season non-conference losses should not be so heavily weighted.

The 10 Wins
For most of the Big East season, everyone was quick to point out how Providence had not beaten anyone of note in the conference. However, nobody seems to want to give them credit for what they have done on the road. The Friars are a solid 4-4 away from home in Big East games (with a chance to get to 5 Ws against Nova), beating Cincinnati, Seton Hall, USF, and Rutgers. While those teams aren’t the powerhouses of the conference, winning on the road in the Big East always tough — just ask Georgetown and Cincinnati after last night. Combine that with an amazing win versus #1 Pittsburgh and another big home win against #15 Syracuse, PC has performed very well in the BBBE (Big Bad Big East). They are guaranteed to finish in the top half of the standings, which should count for something.

The Biggest Blemish: RPI

  • As of Wednesday morning, Providence has an unsightly 69 RPI ranking. The team is hurt by a few things:
  • The aforementioned home loss to Northeastern. As BaseLineStats.com recently posted, “Don’t you dare lose at home: The story of the ‘new’ RPI”
  • Playing fellow Rhode Island teams Bryant (#304 in RPI) and Brown (#314) are just murder on PC’s RPI. Throw in another team over 300 (Dartmouth at #310), and the RPI is going to take a big hit.
  • I don’t trust RPI as far as I can throw it, but hopefully the committee doesn’t put too much stock into it.

The Friars could also be penalized by their 3-7 record versus teams in the RPI #26-100 (which could surely change in the last two weeks as teams move in and out). Four of those losses came early on during the non-conference schedule. However, a 7-5 record over the last 12 Big East games proves just how different this Friar team is than they were back in November/December.

I think it’s clear that this team belongs.

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