Considering Florida: Is NBA Talent Necessary to Advance in the NCAA Tournament?

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 20th, 2013

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

Florida is one of the most debatable teams in the NCAA Tournament. UF should have walked away with the SEC crown on Sunday, but the Gators lost a double-digit lead to the Ole Miss Rebels. And again, UF was on the wrong side of another endgame situation with two crucial missed free throws by guard Scottie Wilbekin. Some believe the Gators have the talent and efficiency to make it to the Final Four, but others think they could find themselves in another close battle where the lack of a go-to guy leaves Billy Donovan’s squad looking for an answer. As Americans fill out their brackets, the debate over Florida begins.

Erik Murphy is an efficient college player, but that success probably won't translate to the pro game.  (US Presswire)

Erik Murphy is an efficient college player, but that success probably won’t translate to the pro game. (US Presswire)

During the SEC podblast last week (a fun 30 minutes of SEC Tournament debate if you haven’t checked it out yet), podblast co-host Randy gave us his gut feeling that Florida will experience an early NCAA Tournament exit (his prediction was that the Gators would leave prior to the Sweet Sixteen). In his commentary, he mentioned the lack of an NBA player in the Gators’ regular rotation, begging the question, have Final Four teams in the last five years had a presence of future NBA talent on the roster? Could some teams experience a situation where the sum is greater than the parts or is NBA level talent ultimately necessary to make it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament?

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A Non-Sports Woman’s Guide to March Madness

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2013


The RTC Babe is back this year to give her unique take on what we call March Madness.

March Madness is like the guy version of the Oscars. We spend weeks analyzing and guessing who will get a bid and then, once teams are selected, we spend another several days predicting the outcome. I like to think of right now — the days leading up to the Big Dance — as the red carpet. Sadly though there is lot less fashion to critique unless you want to include Digger’s daily tie selections or the occasional coach sporting a bold look (i.e., Pitino’s KFC getup.)

I have noticed a few trends this season, though. Expect to see a fair amount of neon colors on the floor. Especially bright greens and orange hues. But just like last year’s grey fad, this trend will be relatively short-lived in the Tournament. I’d recommend not picking teams with too much brightness in their outfits.

No. Just no.

No. Just no.

Something else I’ve seen a lot of this season is bold patterns. It’s risky, but when worn correctly, can look amazing.

Some Things Just Aren't Good Ideas

Some Things Are Better Ideas Than Others

As far as accessories go, watch for bold statement pieces, specifically those that are giant and head-shaped. They’re a personal favorite of mine. The more crazy heads I see in the crowd, the better I like that team.

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Circle of March, Vol. I

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2013

March Madness is here, and as we put this post together on Tuesday afternoon, the first trickle of conference tournament action has already started with the Big South Tournament getting under way in Conway, South Carolina. Over the next 36 days, we’ll celebrate postseason basketball with our annual visual tribute from 300+ teams down to one, the Circle of March. Assuming our math is spot on, there are 310 Division I teams still “alive” for the NCAA title this season — 37 have already been eliminated for a variety of reasons (ineligibility, failure to qualify for or no conference tournament, not in an auto-bid league, independent, etc.). Those teams are listed below the Circle. The rest of the contenders will slowly be whittled away on a daily basis until we’re left with 68 on Selection Sunday and of course just one team standing tall on the morning of April 9.

To make this year’s CoM a bit more entertaining, we’ve built the logos of all 310 teams into a number of spatially-similar groupings within the Circle. For example, in the area approaching 11 o’clock below, there are a number of images that prominently use birds as their school’s logo. See how many of these groupings you can determine (note: make sure to click on the image for a larger view) — the first dozen folks who tweet at us (@rushthecourt) or e-mail us ( with 12 or more distinct groupings will receive a free RTC t-shirt. For the person who identifies the most distinct logo groupings, we’ll have a grand prize.

Welcome to March Madness…


How Many Distinct Groupings of Logos Are in the Circle of March?

Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.04.13)

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Dissecting Joe Lunardi’s First Bracketology: Three Reaches and Three Underrateds

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 14th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn. 

A three-month chasm stands in the way before another new beginning to another college basketball season. The NCAA Tournament won’t take place for another four months on top of that. But even with that distant timetable, the world’s premier bracketologist, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, thought it pertinent to release his early projections for the 2013 Field of 68. From this faraway August vantage point, reasonable cases can be made for most every team’s inclusion. After all, no one has actually played any games; thus we have no hard evidence – beyond what our speculative eyes can gather from offseason work, recruiting hauls, summer practices and European tours – that any team actually deserves a Tournament berth. As such, it’s hard to find great fault with Lunardi’s summer projections, if only because we have no factual evidence to debunk their authority. In fewer than three months, teams will officially begin their RPI-building missions, hoping over the winter span to construct a Tournament-worthy resume. It’s a long and enduring process, but come March, Lunardi usually has a pretty decent sense of whose season-long body-of-work belongs and whose doesn’t make the cut.

It’s never too early to begin analyzing March Madness bracket projections

For such a subjective process, Lunardi has over years of trial-and-error deconstructed the Tournament selection procedure into a predictive science. Fans often take his word as fact, or at least to the point where their Selection Show expectations are tempered by Lunardi’s analysis. In that context, it’s not hard to figure out why, even during these late summer months, his brackets drive both positive and negative discussion. The Lunardi bracket craze has reached yours truly, and as a starved college hoops fan, I couldn’t help but pore over its contents. All in all, the entire field seems reasonable, though I did come upon quite a few intriguing placements. To convey my thoughts in coherent form, I’m laying out three teams whose positions seem to be overstating their talent and three others who were undersold by Lunardi’s layout (“Underrateds”). These impressions derive only from the superfluous knowledge we have of each team at this point in the offseason, and how those vague profiles fit within Lunardi’s bracket. When the season begins, my perceptions will no doubt change, as will Lunardi’s March projections, so understand the limited scope from which these interpretations stand. This is merely an avenue to analyze sports’ greatest postseason tournament in a detached and unbiased way, without much in the way of evidence… more than a half-year in advance.


UCLA: one-seed (West)

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Circle of March, Vol. XX (animated)

Posted by rtmsf on April 3rd, 2012

On February 27, we released our first version of this year’s Circle of March, with a little over 320 Division I teams vying for a national championship. Today — 36 days later — we’re down to a single, solitary and deserving champ. Through 20 different iterations of the CoM (you can see the progression below), we’ve come all the way back around. Congratulations to the Kentucky Wildcats, the 2011-12 National Champions.

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Circle of March, Vol. XVIII

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2012

And then there were four. After 28 days of eliminations, the Circle of March is now in its 18th iteration, and there will be only two more versions until one team is left standing. Over 315 schools have been eliminated from national title contention, and the four that remain are some of the bluest of bloods in college basketball history. Kentucky, Kansas, Ohio State, and Louisville will play on the sport’s grandest stage in New Orleans next weekend in what is certain to be one of the most highly anticipated Final Fours in history. Is it Saturday evening yet?

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ACC Morning Five: 03.20.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 20th, 2012

  1. Miami Herald: In case you missed it, Miami‘s season ended with a bunch of bricks and a quiet crowd of 1,649 people ready to watch in person. The Hurricanes got throttled by Minnesota, giving up easy baskets on one end before settling for low-percentage jumpers on the other. There’s always a danger in the NIT that teams won’t get up for the games, but I thought Miami had something to prove after narrowly missing the Big Dance. Instead, Kenny Kadji played horribly (he’s combined to go 5-27 from the field in the postseason), Reggie Johnson only managed to grab two rebounds, and only Rion Brown provided much energy. Assuming everyone returns and stays eligible, next year is Miami’s year.
  2. Oxford Public-Ledger: This article does a great job capturing the ups and downs of March Madness, juxtaposing the NCAA’s money-maker and its suddenness with the journalists hoping to cover it. Austin Rivers‘ quotes from after Duke’s loss to Lehigh are tough to read. This is a unique article and is worth a read.
  3. Independent Weekly: For a more long-winded take on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and media involvement, look no further than Adam Sobsey. He captures the rollercoaster of emotions the North Carolina team rode following its easy win over Creighton. He also rips the NCAA’s media policies and rightly so. After opening the North Carolina locker room to the press, Roy Williams sent the media out to tell the team about Kendall Marshall‘s injury. Needless to say the group was shell-shocked. But because of the NCAA rule, Williams had to re-open the locker room to the “vulturous mob rapacity” (Sobsey’s style is always easy to spot) for another 10 minutes.
  4. Speaking of Marshall’s injury this article offers a great tribute to the Tar Heel point guard.

    It’s more than that because it impacts a person we’ve grown to love. It helps that he throws head-shaking passes, but that’s not all of it. He’s someone who occasionally hangs out in the Carolina Basketball Museum, just to soak in some Tar Heel history. He signs every autograph after every game at every hour into the night, and somehow even seems to enjoy it. He came to Carolina basketball camp as a kid and cherished the pictures, just like so many of us have done. We know we can’t pass it like him. But maybe, watching the way he plays, you can believe that we might appreciate it like him, if we were wearing that jersey.

  5. Associated Press (via Washington Post): The news isn’t directly related to the ACC anymore, but former Georgia Tech great Bobby Cremins announced his retirement from the College of Charleston. Earlier this year, he took an indefinite medical leave for exhaustion. Coaching always took a toll on Cremins, which likely led to the six-year hiatus he took between being pushed out at Georgia Tech and returning to the Southern Conference for an encore (he started his coaching career at Appalachian State).

EXTRA: Joe Posnanski took some time to absorb the first weekend of the NCAA tournament from the neutral confines of Las Vegas. He chronicles one of the two biggest events (with the Super Bowl being the other) for most sports books, talking with oddsmakers and bettors alike.

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Circle of March, Vol. XVII

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2012

Three weeks ago today we started March Madness with over 320 teams dreaming of a national title. We’re now down to only 16, and four of those are from the great state of Ohio! The power conferences represent well, with the Big East and Big Ten each putting four teams into the regional semifinals, and the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 adding two more each. The Atlantic 10’s Xavier and MAC’s Ohio are the two strangers at the party.

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Circle of March, Vol. XVI

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2012

Are you exhausted, exhilarated, enchanted? You should be, as the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend is NEVER less than all of those things. It’s the biggest lock in all of sports, and that’s why we love it. Two days and the CoM has seen its contenders cut in half, but unlike Zeno’s Paradox, we’ll eventually get to one and one alone. Does anyone else find the clustering of teams kinda cute and also hilarious… yeah, that’s just us. Gotcha.

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ATB: Big Dance Day One Roundup — Two Upsets, Top Four Seeds Roll, Defending Champs Are Gone…

Posted by EJacoby on March 16th, 2012

Tonight’s Lede – It’s madness, baby!!! The real start of the NCAA Tournament arrived on Thursday afternoon, as did the collective drop of productivity from employees across the country. March Madness brings the best sick days, mobile apps, and computer split screens out of us, in the pursuit of tracking our brackets and following our favorite teams throughout the day. This Thursday is always special; the mark of the most exciting postseason in sports, and this year was no different. Despite the lack of buzzer-beaters and major upsets, day one was still a fantastic day of college basketball with plenty of key storylines. More fascinating finishes and thrilling games are surely on the way, but let’s take a look at all the action from the first half of the round of 64…

Your Watercooler Moment. #12 VCU Pulls Another Shaka.

Wichita State Was Devastated After Shaka Smart's Boys Pulled Another Upset (US Presswire)

It was just last year when Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams pulled off one of the all-time great Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history, winning five games as a #11 seed to go from the First Four to the Final Four in the 2011 Big Dance. In 2012, things were expected to be different — VCU is no longer a sleeper, the Rams were stuck with an even worse seed, and they had to take on a fellow strong mid-major team with Sweet Sixteen aspirations of their own. But the VCU boys did it again, or at least completed stage one of another improbable run. The #12 seed Rams defeated #5 Wichita State in a thrilling game, 62-59, for the biggest upset of day one. VCU jumped to a quick advantage and led by nine at halftime, but a late run by the Shockers gave WSU the lead with about two minutes to play. Bradford Burgess, the lone returning starter from last year’s Final Four team, answered with the biggest shot of the night — a three from the corner that would give VCU a lead that it did not relinquish. Joe Ragland and Toure’ Murry did their best to keep Wichita State’s dreams alive, but VCU was not to be denied on this day. Burgess finished with 16 points, five boards, four assists, and two steals in the win, which sends VCU to a date with #4 Indiana on Saturday.

Also Worth Chatting About. #16 UNC Asheville Nearly Makes History. #16 seeds were 0-108 all-time in the NCAA Tournament coming into Thursday, but nobody told the Bulldogs, a senior-laden team that was fired up to take on a reeling Orange team after word that their center Fab Melo would be ineligible for the Tournament. Without Melo, Syracuse was completely out of sorts, though the player’s absence was no excuse for the rest of the team to play so poorly on both ends. ‘Cuse survived and will move on to Saturday while putting this game behind them, but the story was UNC Asheville’s incredible effort to nearly win this game. The Bulldogs led by four points at halftime and hung tough for the entire 40 minutes despite leading scorer Matt Dickey only shooting 1-13 with five points! Asheville got 18 points from J.P. Primm and all of the team box score statistics were very similar in this game, but Syracuse’s late-game execution proved to be too much. Plenty of fans and media members will say that poor officiating was a large factor in the outcome, as UNCA may have gotten jobbed on several calls in the final four minutes. There was one undoubtedly awful call against Asheville that should have resulted in a Syracuse turnover, but blaming the loss on the referees is not something coach Eddie Biedenbach would do. It was a valiant effort by the Bulldogs that just came short, ending in a seven point win for Cuse. The Orange survive to play #8 Kansas State in the next round on Saturday.

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Circle of March, Vol. XV

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2012

And now it gets really interesting again. With California and Lamar now summarily dismissed from the CoM, we’re down to the traditional group of 64 teams — win six games from this point and you’re the last team standing. Sixteen more schools will be eliminated by just after Midnight ET tonight.

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Circle of March, Vol. XIV

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2012

It sure didn’t appear like it would end this way, but Mississippi Valley State and Iona were eliminated in dramatic fashion last night. From 68 to 66, with two more gone after tonight…

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