Conference Report Card: Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 25th, 2011


 

 

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and contributor.

Year In Review

Before the start of the season, pollsters bought into Kansas State as the sexy pick to take the Big 12 in 2011 on the heels of an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. The Big 12 was not overly impressive in non-conference play, as the Wildcats fell hard to Duke in a de facto home game in Kansas City, and Missouri did the same against Georgetown in one of the more thrilling matchups of the early season.

As league play began, the preseason #3 Wildcats disappointed, starting 2-5, and the usual stalwarts of the Big 12, Kansas and Texas, rose to the top. After topping the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in January, the Longhorns looked to be in the driver’s seat, especially after Kansas was blindsided at Bramlage Coliseum to give Texas a two-game lead. However, Rick Barnes‘ team suffered another late-season collapse, going 2-3 to finish the regular season while the Jayhawks dusted off the competition to pull ahead to take their seventh straight conference crown.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Wildcats bounced back to end the season in third place. The middle of the conference wasn’t settled until the latter stages of the season with Missouri falling lat and Texas A&MColorado and Nebraska treading water. Baylor underachieved, given the talented personnel in Waco, and Oklahoma State never really looked in sync. OklahomaTexas Tech and Iowa State all had awful seasons to finish at the bottom of the standings.

In the conference tournament final, Kansas played its best basketball of the season, topping Texas to gain some revenge entering the Big Dance. Colorado was snubbed on Selection Sunday despite beating Kansas State three times, but the Big 12 still managed to get five teams into the NCAA Tournament. However, only the Jayhawks made it out of opening weekend alive, and they fell short of expectations as they lost to Shaka Smart and the Rams’ reign of BCS destruction.

KU's front line of Thomas Robinson (left) and the Morris twins evolved into a strength, and the Jayhawks struggled most when they weren't utilized on offense. (AP/Jamie Squire)

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RTC Live: Big 12 Semifinals

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 11th, 2011

Games #195-196. The Big 12′s Final Four square off in Kansas City tonight, with a couple of surprises joining a couple of stalwarts.

7 pm. Kansas vs. Colorado. After its third win over Kansas State this season, Colorado should feel safe about its tournament chances, but a win over #2 Kansas would remove any remaining doubt. Alec Burks and Cory Higgins have been outstanding in the Buffs’ two crucial victories, but need help from its supporting cast, especially in the frontcourt. The Jayhawks squeaked by Oklahoma State on Thursday thanks to a big three-point play from Mario Little in the final minute, but like Colorado, needs a more complete effort on the offensive end to rectify a three-game dip in production. Will fatigue set in for Colorado after playing two straight days, or will it ride momentum to an upset on the shoulders of its two stars?

9:30 pm. Texas vs. Texas A&M.The second semifinal will feature Mark Turgeon’s Aggies against the Longhorns. Texas A&M rolled to a comfortable win on Thursday night, bouncing Missouri from the conference tournament, but its next challenge is to beat a Texas team that blew out the Aggies in both regular season meetings. Rick Barnes’ team slammed on the gas against Oklahoma in the first half thanks to a 62% shooting clip before shifting things into cruise control in the second half. With a win, Texas would return to the Big 12 Tournament final for the first time since 2008. Join us as we find out who advances!

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Around The Blogosphere: January 11, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on January 11th, 2011


If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • Marquette 79, Notre Dame 57:  “Tonight, with Hayward in the house, YOUR Golden Eagles exacted their revenge and then some, riding a well-balanced scoring attack and a reinvigorated (or perhaps just “invigorated,” since it hasn’t looked this good all year) defense to a 79-57 thumping of the Fighting Irish.” (Anonymous Eagle); “All of that offense is fine but the real difference last night was defense. MU played with an edge defensively and it showed. MU held the sweet-shooting Irish to a paltry eFG% of 42%. Notre Dame came in with a national top 15 offense — averaging over 1.15 points per possession (ppp) — and the Warriors held them to 0.90 ppp, the Irish’s third worst offensive performance of the season. This was easily MU’s finest defensive performance against a quality opponent this year.”  (Cracked Sidewalks)

Pre-Game Analysis

  • Maryland-Wake Forest: “Here’s an unusual phenomenon, at least in conference play: after playing arguably the best team in the country on Sunday, Maryland will turn around and play arguably the worst high-major team in the country. Ah, the joys of Wake Forest.” (Testudo Times)

News/Analysis

  • Kentucky Basketball: Fairness “Made In America” For Enes Kanter: “Not anybody can be happy with the NCAA ruling in the Enes Kanter Case.  Not a soul.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Four Things We Learned from the Terps’ Loss to Duke: Reflecting on nearly knocking off the #1 team int the country. (Testudo Times)
  • Who Is The Biggest Big 12 Threat To Kansas?: With the rest of the Big 12 struggling so far the question is who can challenge the Jayhawks. (Rock Chalk Talk)
  • Mario Little Cleared To Play By Bill Self: “This afternoon Bill Self announced that Mario Little would once again be eligible to play for the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team.  Little, as most will recall, has been suspended since December 16th following a misdemeanor arrest in Lawrence.” (Rock Chalk Talk)
  • Does Purdue’s Ranking Matter?: “I saw on Twitter this morning that one of the many fools media types (Gary Parrish) put up his top 25 and he had Purdue at 13th. And that’s fine. It’s worse than their actual ranking will be, but honestly, who cares? Gary Parrish has probably not watched a complete half of Purdue basketball this season, so really, his opinion is nothing. The problem, of course, is that his opinion — and those of other fools like him — actually gets traction simply because of the size of their megaphone (platform). And then other people who haven’t watched 5 minutes of Purdue take their opinions as fact. But does it matter?” (Boiled Sports)
  • UConn getting by, but Walker needs even more help from his friends: “Walker got the most support he’s had from his backing band offensively against a quality opponent since Maui, with three non-Kemba players (Shabazz Napier, Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith) breaking into double-digits, and two more (Donnell Beverly, Charles Okwandu) hitting season-highs. And yet, perhaps the Huskies’ most meaningful win of the season, one that head coach Jim Calhoun labeled “Our best win of the year,” basically came down to a little luck; not only did Walker’s miracle Taliek Brown-esque heave somehow find the bottom of the net, but the Longhorns also opened overtime by missing three free throws.” (The UConn Blog)
  • UCLA Hoops Roundup: Confidence and Conditioning: Recapping where the Bruins stand at this point in the season. (Bruins Nation)
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Morning Five: 01.11.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 11th, 2011

  1. News broke late Monday that a Washington player is currently under investigation for sexual assault of a sixteen-year old girl whom he allegedly met on Saturday night through Facebook.  It’s notable that the report out of Seattle cites the player as “prominent,” which is language that it would be unlikely to use if they were talking about a walk-on or other benchwarmer.  With Abdul Gaddy already on the shelf with a torn ACL and now this disconcerting news, Lorenzo Romar’s team could be on the verge of self-destruction after a strong first half of this season.
  2. Some transfer news for your Tuesday morning.  Former Minnesota guard Devoe Joseph will end up in Oregon to play for Dana Altman next season, while Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger announced that he is transferring to La Salle.  Both of these players are difference-makers for their new programs.  Joseph was attracted to the more uptempo style of play employed by Altman, while Standhardinger will step into a starting role with plenty of playing time next season on the Main Line.
  3. Speaking of second chances, Kansas forward Mario Little has been reinstated by head coach Bill Self and will be eligible to play immediately.  Little has missed KU’s last six games as he worked through some legal issues surrounding a misdemeanor battery and other criminal charges from an incident that took place in mid-December.  Prior to his suspension, Little was averaging 6/4 in about sixteen minutes per game backing up Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed.  The rich get richer…
  4. Bill Carmody received a “multi-year extension” recently at Northwestern even though he’s been coaching in Evanston for ten-plus years now and has yet to get the Big Ten school to the NCAA Tournament.  Granted, his career record of 143-160 (.472) at the school is virtually unprecedented, but even though it now appears that the Wildcat program is moving in the right direction (back-to-back NITs in 2009 and 2010), Carmody still has more tenth and eleventh place finishes (four) than he does Big Ten finishes in the top half (one).
  5. The nation’s top 25 freshmen players, as presented to you by Basketball Prospectus.  Since it comes from that site, you know that they have the statistics to back up the choices.  The most amazing thing?  That preseason AP All-American Harrison Barnes hasn’t even performed well enough to be considered one of the top 25 frosh in the country so far — would anyone have taken that bet prior to November 1???
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Morning Five: 12.17.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2010

  1. Mike Krzyzewski said on his XM radio show on Wednesday that he expects Kyrie Irving will be out of action for “a long time.”  He didn’t specifically elaborate on what that might mean, but given the relative gloom and doom coming out of Durham over the last week, we’re leaning toward not seeing him in a Duke uniform again this season.  Coach K has been called many things in his career over the years, but one of the things we’ve not heard about him is that he’s an embellisher or BSer — he pretty much tells you what he thinks to be true.  With that in mind, we believe him when he says Irving may not play again this season.
  2. Well, it’s not the Nobel Peace Prize, but maybe that’s next…  Bill Self, John Calipari, Ron Hunter, Mike Sutton and Scott Nagy have been nominated for the first United Nations Nongovernment Organization Positive Peace Awards in the coach category.  Yes, there actually is a coach category.  Self and Sutton were nominated for work with other charities, but the other three were honored as a result of the work they’ve done with Samaritan’s Feet, a charity that provides footwear to needy children around the world.  The article actually says that two of those places were “Haiti and Detroit,” which is rather depressing that an American city has such inherent structural and poverty problems that it appears in the same sentence as a third-world country.
  3. Luke Winn is back with his weekly power rankings, a compendium of information where if you don’t walk away after reading it having learned sixteen new things, then you’re smarter than the average bear.  This week is particularly insightful because he talked with numerous assistant coaches to get the insider scoop on all of his ranked teams and their best players.
  4. Kansas’ Mario Little has been suspended indefinitely by Kansas for a late-night altercation on Wednesday involving his girlfriend that resulted in his arrest for battery, criminal damage and criminal trespassing.  Without reading too much between the lines, it appears that Little got upset when he found another man at his girlfriend’s residence, and things escalated to a bad place from that point.  Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that Bill Self and KU are taking this seriously, especially in the light of the past year-plus of poor decisions by KU athletes.  The 6’6 Little was averaging 6/4 in around sixteen minutes per game, but certainly Kansas has plenty of depth at the guard position especially with Josh Selby debuting on Saturday against USC.
  5. In this article at the Omaha World-Herald, Lee Barfknecht writes that former UTEP, Texas A&M and Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie could be a candidate for the Texas Tech job if things don’t turn around for Pat Knight there soon.  From the entire blogosphere to TTU brass, we believe that such a move would be a great hire — Billy Clyde needs to be back in college basketball somewhere (big grin).
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 6th, 2010

Owen Kemp of Rock Chalk Talk and SB Nation Kansas City is the RTC Correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

A Look Back

This week saw the return of more great Big 12 basketball to Sprint Center in Kansas City as well as a week highlighted by matchups around the league taking place as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.

  • The first major action of the week tipped on Tuesday night as Missouri played host to the #14 Georgetown Hoyas at Sprint Center in Kansas City.  The game represented the first true test for the Tigers, and much like Texas did early on against Pittsburgh, Missouri might have said plenty about what they have to offer despite a loss.  Georgetown hit the court with a haymaker jumping out to an early 18-point lead while Mizzou struggled to find their way.  After settling in, the Tiger pressure started to pay off and lead to points in transition.  From there the fastest 40 minutes of basketball finally got underway.  Missouri brought the game all the way back and held a lead late only to see it erased by a last-second lead and a brilliant overtime frame from Hoya guard Jason Clark.  Either way, the game made a statement for Mizzou.  They still have work to do in the halfcourt, but with the addition of Ricardo Ratliffe and the ability to force teams into their brand of basketball, Mizzou will be tough.
  • Thursday featured more action in the Big 12/Pac-10 challenge with Kansas, MU and Baylor all claiming wins over their respective opponents. The big news early? The way the Jayhawks won.  Kansas struggled at home against a resurgent UCLA team and after a Bruin three-pointer looked to have both teams headed to overtime, Kansas’ Mario Little drew a foul with seven tenths of a second on the clock.  Kansas would win 77-76.
  • Friday night, the Kansas State Wildcats took on Washington State.  Popular preseason Preseason POY candidate Jacob Pullen stumbled a bit and was a non-factor for most of the game.  Fortunately, the supporting cast handled business and K- State was able to secure a five-point victory to push the Big 12 to a 6-0 record to start the series.
  • Saturday saw three teams continue the series with Texas Tech being blown out by the Washington Huskies after escaping with a close win early in the week against Oral Roberts.  At this point, Pat Knight has his team at what many would consider a disappointing 5-4 early season record and buzz is building that Knight could be on the hot seat.
  • Elsewhere, Iowa State continued to look better than expected early.  While the Cyclones still lost the game in Ames, Cal is no cakewalk and the Cyclones were in the game until the very end before losing by just three.
  • The lone winner from the Big 12 on the day was from Colorado, who will soon be departing for the Pac-10.  Tad Boyle’s team looked like a group turning a corner in a 26-point win over Oregon State.   The Beavers are far from a good team, but Colorado might just be getting closer to being the team that many expected.

Big 12 Power Rankings

  1. Baylor (6-0) – The Bears looked the most impressive of any team this week, leading to the top spot nod in the power rankings.  They’re long, athletic and they can beat you in a variety of ways.  Scott Drew looks to have reloaded after losing a few players following last season’s Elite Eight run.
  2. Kansas (7-0) – After looking like a finished product through a few early season cupcakes, Kansas has plenty of room to improve.  UCLA took the Jayhawks to the brink with an impressive performance, and for the moment, Kansas drops a spot until they can find a way to better manage their defense on the interior.
  3. Kansas State (7-1) – The Wildcats are still getting used to being the hunted and Jacob Pullen is learning what it means to have all the attention.  Kansas State is handling business as expected against lesser competition, but like Kansas, when the level of play ticks up, things tend to get interesting.
  4. Missouri Tigers (6-1) – The Tigers might have shown as much about who they are in a loss as they have all year.  Despite losing to Georgetown they fought back from a big deficit, had the game in hand and played Mike Anderson basketball before dropping the game in overtime. Two days later, they went to Oregon and scored a nice win on the road to put the tough loss behind them.
  5. Texas (6-1) – Texas beat a bad team handily.  They play USC late Sunday night after this report wraps up so there’s a possibility they could make an argument for a higher spot, but for now other teams just did more to look good in a power ranking.
  6. Texas A&M (7-1) – The Aggies handled business against two lesser opponents.  Their depth and the multiple weapons on the interior continue to be a strength.  Circle next Saturday’s game against Washington as the Aggies will face a big test against the Huskies. With their top players still averaging less than 30 minutes per game, and ten players averaging at least ten minutes per game, Mark Turgeon is still trying to find the best rotation.
  7. Oklahoma State (7-1) – Oklahoma State was one of the teams expected to drop off after the Big 12 experienced one of the most successful seasons in its history a year ago. That doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case.  The perceived weakness on the interior has actually been a strength with Marshall Moses continuing to lead the way. They still need to prove they can hang with quality opponents (just one game against a KenPom top 50 squad, which they lost at home).
  8. Colorado (4-3) – After losing at Harvard a week ago, this looked like a team dead in the water early.  However, in a couple blowouts this week, Colorado looks like they could be turning a corner.  They’re finding themselves offensively and may be buying in to Tad Boyle’s defensive focus.
  9. Iowa State (6-2) – The Cyclones dropped two in a row this week to Northern Iowa and California after jumping out to a 6-0 start.  Still, things might be better than expected in Ames.  A team picked last by many has managed to compete in every game and in a very impressive stat at the moment, five players currently average double figures in scoring.  That’s balance and Fred Hoiberg has to like that.
  10. Nebraska (6-2) – The Huskers are doing what they’ve done over the past several seasons:  Pad their resume in the non-conference and then try to hold on.  They’re undefeated at home and continue to hang their hat on tough physical play.  Just one game this past week (against lowly Jackson State), but they took care of business Wednesday. It’s just hard to say this early against token competition if that success will translate to the Big 12 or fail once again.
  11. Texas Tech (5-4) – Tech appears to be on a path to underachieve in 2010-11.  A big loss to Washington and a narrow win at home against Oral Roberts are the signs of disappointment from last week.  Last year, defense was the concern, and that appears to be the developing trend yet again for Pat Knight in Lubbock.
  12. Oklahoma (3-5) – Oklahoma went straight from Maui into a tough stretch on the road against Arkansas and Arizona.  They aren’t winning, but they might be finding a reliable inside presence in sophomore Andrew Fitzgerald (14.6 PPG and 5.6 RPG).

A Look Ahead

  • This week, the Kansas Jayhawks dive in head first with their first ranked opponent in Memphis.  The game between the two teams will take place at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
  • Wednesday’s schedule is full of solid games and in-state opponents.  Mizzou hosts a Vanderbilt team from the SEC that has experienced some success early this season and currently sits at 7-1.  Texas Tech and Oklahoma State host in-state opponents TCU and Tulsa, respectively, while Colorado will tip against in Colorado State in what promises to be a great test of the Buffaloes’ recent upswing.
  • Friday, the Cyclones head down the road to Iowa City to take on their big intrastate rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes.  The game presents an opportunity for Iowa State to get back on track and put an early feather in the cap of first-year coach Fred Hoiberg.
  • All that leads to next Saturday, when eight Big 12 teams will be in action across the country as we get ever closer to conference play.  The headliner for the day is Texas A&M and Washington as the Aggies play host to their Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series game and will look for an upset to continue the conference’s control in the series.

Stats, Quotes and other Notables

  • 6-4 – That’s the record of the Big 12 against Pac-10 competition through the first week of the Hardwood Series.  With two games to go, last year’s record of 9-3, which was the single best by one conference over the other during the series, will go unmatched. Two additional games in late December (Stanford at Oklahoma State and Kansas at Cal) as well as some past matchups like Kansas vs. Arizona in Las Vegas two weeks ago are not officially considered part of the series.
  • 18-18 – Georgetown goes 100% from the free throw line and in general shoots extremely well in an overtime win over Missouri.  The irony lay in that it took a missed Missouri free throw for the Hoyas to even have a chance at the end.
  • 4 years – That will be the duration of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series which wraps up this year after starting in 2007.  Seems like a mistake as the ACC/Big 10 Challenge enters it’s 11th year of existence.
  • “It was really a poor way to end the game on that call.” – Ben Howland, discussing the most talked-about call of the young basketball season. 

Player of the Year Stock Watch

  • Jacob Pullen – (15 PPG, 4.3 APG, 40% FG) Even: Pullen’s numbers are up, but he once again struggled against a solid opponent.  Ultimately his season will be judged on conference play and during the Tournament.
  • Marcus Morris – (18.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 62% FG) Trending Down: In his last two games, Morris has found himself in early foul trouble and it’s hurt his team.  He’ll need to play smarter down the stretch for Kansas to reach their potential.
  • Quincy Acy – (14.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG,55% FG) Trending Down: After a fast start, Acy might be coming back down to earth. The return of Dunn has no doubt played a factor, and at this point, he’s an important piece but probably not player of the year material.
  • Alec Burks – (19.9 PPG, 48% FG) Even: Burks’ numbers are falling, yet his team has played better.  Colorado seems to be finding themselves and Burks is still the leader.  His improvement on the defensive end might be the most welcome sign for coach Tad Boyle.
  • Jordan Hamilton – (20.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG) Even: A slow week and a poor game against USC for the Longhorns but Hamilton is still in the mix.
  • LaceDarius Dunn – (22.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 53% FG) Even: Dunn was welcomed back to Baylor after biding his time due to off-court issues.  His addition has paid dividends immediately, as the Bears look long, athletic and as explosive as anyone in the country.
  • Marcus Denmon – (16.4 PPG, 1.7 SPG, 56% 3FG) New: Mike Anderson’s team is balanced, so you don’t necessarily expect on player to rise above the rest in his system.  Denmon has, though, thanks to deadly outside shooting. 
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ATB: Orange Crushed

Posted by rtmsf on January 14th, 2009

afterbuzzer

Some mid-week news and notes

  • One of the nation’s top prospects, 6’9 Derrick Favors, decided on his hometown school Georgia Tech today.  He’ll join a long line of 1-and-dones at Ga Tech under Paul Hewitt.  Speaking of recruits, Gary Parrish spoke with Sonny Vaccaro about the Brandon Jennings Experiment, and it appears more players are interested in testing the waters in Europe next season.  What’s left unsaid in this article is how BJ’s year in Europe (where he’s not playing all that well) will impact his draft status.
  • Kansas guard Mario Little will play out the remainder of the season rather than apply for a medical hardship due to his stress fracture (leg) and hand injuries.
  • The MVC and Mountain West will start an ACC/Big 10-style Challenge next season.   Great idea.  Kyle Whelliston should be happy about this.
  • Vegas Watch breaks down his Futures Watch with eight teams in Part 1 and another seven in Part 2.
  • Seth Davis breaks down the non-conference strength of schedule RPIs to see who is in good shape and who is in trouble come Selection Sunday.

Tonight’s Big East Blockbuster (there’s seemingly one every night)Georgetown 88, Syracuse 74. Looks like nvr1983 may have been onto something earlier today in his SYT piece previewing this game when he ripped Syracuse’s schedule thus far.  The bottom line about this game is this.  When Georgetown shoots the ball from deep as well as they were today (12-21 from three), the Hoyas are nearly impossible to beat due to their system.  The discipline they show on the offensive end limits their turnovers and their players are drilled to always move the ball to find the open man.  The reason Georgetown isn’t the top national title contender, though, is because they don’t usually shoot it that well.  They’re currently ranked #205 in 3fg% at 33%, which is below the national average of 34%.  Tonight was a bit of an anomaly, but Syracuse looked significantly off its game tonight – the Orange shot the ball ok (48%) and outrebounded the Hoyas by seven (who doesn’t?), but their defense seemed a couple steps slow on their rotations and losing Andy Rautins to injury early in the game seemed to remove most of the wind from their sails (word is that Rautins will be ok).  The thing about this conference that Syracuse must remember is that any one game is simply that – one game.  Georgetown just finished a five-game stretch where they played four Top 10 teams and came out of it 3-2 – they’ll take that in spades.  Cuse, on the other hand, played four bottom-dwellers (starting 4-0), and is about to play Notre Dame, Pitt and Louisville in succession – they’ll be lucky to get a split in this four-game stretch.  Everyone in the Big East is going to lose games.  The strongest teams in March will have learned from these wars and made the necessary adjustments – that’s what Syracuse needs to take away from tonight’s loss.  Oh one final note – that Dajuan Summers and-one was unreal.

Peter Lockley/Washington Times)

(Photo Credit: Peter Lockley/Washington Times)

Upset of the Night. Colorado St. 71, UNLV 69. Ouch.  CSU came into this game 5-11 overall.  UNLV had better be careful, as they’ve now lost two in row in the Mountain West to teams they shouldn’t be losing to (TCU was the other).  The Rebs had built a solid non-conference resume with wins over Arizona and Louisville, but all of that good will has disappeared with these last two losses.

Other Games Inducing General Malaise.

  • Michigan St. 78, Penn St. 73. PSU used a furious second-half comeback to shave 16 pts off of a 17-pt lead and give MSU a huge scare, but the Spartans held on for their tenth in a row.  Penn St. is becoming a place nobody in the Big Ten wants to play.
  • Duke 70, Georgia Tech 56. Duke only hit 39% from the field but was able to completely shut down Tech’s scorers, holding Gani Lawal, Lewis Clinch and Alade Aminu well below their averages.  Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson had 19 each.
  • Pittsburgh 75, South Florida 62. The nation’s #1 team started slowly, but they pulled away in the second half – perhaps they were looking ahead to their battle with Louisville on Saturday night.  DeJuan Blair singlehandedly outrebounded USF on the offensive end (9-8).
  • Davidson 83, Elon 68. Stephen Curry dropped 6 threes en route to a 39-pt night.  He must have seen that Jodie Meeks added 2 pts/game to his average in one night and needed to secure his national lead in scoring.
  • Florida 68, Auburn 65. We caught a little of this one, and as usual, UF failed to impress.
  • LSU 85, South Carolina 68.  LSU is now 13-0 at home, 0-3 on the road.  Tasmin Mitchell blew up for 30/14 tonight.
  • Mississippi 74, Arkansas 65. Speaking of which, Arkansas has beaten Oklahoma and Texas at home, but is 1-2 on the road.
  • Creighton 73, S. Illinois 72 (OT). P’Allen Stinnett dropped 29 pts in the late comeback win for Creighton at home, which SIU apparently was trying to give away (and they did).
  • Illinois 66, Michigan 51. The Illini held Michigan to 32% shooting, including an ugly 3-14 night from DeShawn Sims.
  • Wake Forest 83, Boston College 73. Wake improves to 15-0 behind Jeff Teague’s 29 pts, setting up a huge matchup of unbeatens at Clemson on Saturday.  Check RTC’s liveblog of this game here.
  • Miami (FL) 62, Maryland 60. Another gutpunch loss for the Terps, who led 52-35 with 12+ minutes to go in the game.  Miami, behind five late threes from Jack McClinton and James Dews, roared back to take their first lead with 24 seconds remaining.
  • Texas A&M 84, Baylor 73. A&M is quietly putting together an NCAA resume, and by watching the Aggies tonight, they have sufficient talent to get there this year and do some damage.  All five starters for Texas A&M reached double figures, and they showed an array of ways to score.  Baylor has to improve on the road in the Big 12 to ever make the leap to serious contender (4 wins in the last 33 trips).
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Checking in on the… Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2009

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

  1. Texas A&M (13-1) (3)
  2. Oklahoma (13-1) (1)
  3. Texas (11-2) (4)
  4. Baylor (12-2) (2)
  5. Kansas (10-3) (6)
  6. Missouri (12-2)  (5) 
  7. Kansas St. (10-3) (7)
  8. Oklahoma St. (10-3) (8)
  9. Texas Tech (10-5) (9)
  10. Iowa St. (10-4) (10)
  11. Nebraska (9-3) (11)
  12. Colorado (7-5) (12)

This week for the Big 12 had some ups and downs.  Let’s check in on these teams. 

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Kansas (2-0 this week)—This young Kansas team is really starting to get it together and have started to win some bigger games.  Mario Little finally made his debut for the Jayhawks but almost went out on the court without his shorts on.  However, it gets real tough for them before heading into conference play as they take on a hot and hyped Siena team and then hit the road at Michigan St.   Kansas gets a little New Year’s gift by getting Jeff Withey (a transfer from Arizona) to play for them, but won’t be able to until December of this year. 

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Checking in on the… Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 23rd, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Oklahoma (11-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (9-1) (3)
  3. Texas A&M (10-1) (5)
  4. Texas (8-2) (2)
  5. Missouri (9-1)  (4)
  6. Kansas (8-2) (6)
  7. Texas Tech (8-3) (7)
  8. Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
  9. Oklahoma St. (8-3) (11)
  10. Nebraska (7-2) (9)
  11. Iowa St. (7-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (5-3) (12)

Most teams only played one game this week.  The holidays are a little slow for the Big 12 teams.  However what is starting to show is that this conference is wide open and it will be a  battle once conference play starts.  Oklahoma looks a little above the rest, but not much.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Texas A&M (3-0 this week)—Texas A&M is starting to make me a believer, winning 3 more games this week to move to 10-1.  With some solid wins now over Arizona, Alabama, and an undefeated LSU team, this team is building itself quite a resume.    Things are definitely going their way as they almost got themselves in a position to lose the LSU game, but a controversial call late in the game led to an LSU technical and A&M sealed the win.  They should get a win over Sam Houston St. this week.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings:

  1. Oklahoma (6-0)
  2. Baylor (6-1)
  3. Nebraska (5-0)
  4. Texas (5-1)
  5. Kansas (4-1)
  6. Kansas St. (5-2)
  7. Missouri (5-1)
  8. Texas Tech (6-1)
  9. Texas A&M (5-1)
  10. Oklahoma St. (5-2)
  11. Iowa St. (4-1)
  12. Colorado (3-2)

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma (2-0 this week)—Oklahoma won the NIT Tip Off defeating UAB and a pesky Purdue team as the Griffin brothers helped lead the team to victory.  Although  Purdue was able to somewhat contain Blake Griffin, he still came away with 18 points and 21 rebounds and averaged 25 points and 18 rebounds in the two games in New York.

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2008-09 Conference Primers: #2 – Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on November 9th, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Texas   (27-3, 14-2)
  2. Kansas  (24-7, 14-2)
  3. Oklahoma  (27-5, 13-3)
  4. Baylor  (25-5, 12-4)
  5. Oklahoma St.  (19-11, 8-8)
  6. Texas A&M  (19-12, 7-9)
  7. Nebraska  (18-11, 7-9)
  8. Missouri  (18-13, 6-10)
  9. Kansas St.  (18-13, 6-10)
  10. Iowa St.  (16-16, 3-13)
  11. Texas Tech  (15-16, 3-13)
  12. Colorado  (14-16, 3-13)

big-12-logo

What You Need to Know.  Although Kansas won the National Championship last season in dramatic fashion, most of the team won’t be around to try to do the repeat shuffle like Florida did the previous two seasons.  However, that doesn’t mean the Big 12 Conference won’t have an exciting season in the wings.  The buzz around the Big 12 is that sophomore Blake Griffin from Oklahoma (who passed on the NBA, unlike is KU peers) decided to stay another year at Oklahoma to try to lead his team to a championship.  Griffin has already been mentioned for several preseason All-American teams and awards.  Texas returns a great nucleus of talent on a team that tied for the conference championship last year with Kansas.  Baylor is the biggest surprise coming into the season.  Head Coach  Scott Drew has brought this disgraced program back from the ashes a few years ago when Patrick Dennehy was murdered by teammate Carlton Dotson and information was later covered up by then head coach Dave Bliss. Baylor made the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time in twenty years.   Iowa State and Texas A&M are led by former Missouri Valley Conference coaches, Greg McDermott and Mark Turgeon, respectively.  Although Kansas State made a splash back into the national spotlight showcasing Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, they’ll now take a step back into the pack, but with the salaries of their coaches including their assistants, they should be held to high expectations.  Nebraska will be playing small ball this year as they do not have a player over 6’8, but it isn’t like they haven’t triedMissouri is still trying to find its identity and coach Mike Anderson hopes to finally play his type of up-tempo, high pressure defense.  Although only in his third year at the helm, Anderson is on the hot seat.  Colorado has a lot to build on with mostly freshman and sophomores.  Texas Tech got a little head start when legendary coach Bobby Knight passed the keys to his son Pat Knight at the end of last season, while first year coach Travis Ford restarts the Oklahoma State program after the Sutton family was ousted. 

Predicted Champion.  Texas (NCAA #1).  Although Texas  hoped DJ Augustin wouldn’t leave Austin for the NBA, he did.  The Horns return four of five starters, though, (AJ Abrams, Conner Atchley, Damion James and Justin Mason) and most of the team that made it last season to the Elite Eight.  AJ Abrams can hit a shot quickly and from anywhere.  He is the top returning scorer in the Big 12 (16.5 ppg).  Without Augustin, Texas will be relying on Dogus Balbay to run the point.  Unfortunately, Balbay is returning from an injury and played on a Turkish club team with players who received money.  However, Abrams is also an option at point guard and feels confident that he can run the team.  The frontcourt is solid with veterans James (12/10 last season) and Atchley.  Height doesn’t always equal playing ability, but when you have four players on the roster that are over 6’10”  (Atchley, Clint Chapman, Dexter Pittman and Matt Hill) they have the ability to be physical underneath.  The thing that sets Texas apart from the other Big 12 teams is their NCAA Tournament and coaching experience compared to the other contenders.  I expect Texas to take it a step further this year and make a Final Four appearance. 

NCAA Tournament Teams.

  • Kansas (NCAA #4). Some might think that I am crazy for predicting Kansas to finish second in the Big 12 this season with only 2 players coming back with significant playing time (Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich).  Kansas will have seven newcomers to the program and some will be expected to be big players right away including juco All-American Mario Little, freshman twins Markieff and Marcus Morris and freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor.  Expect that there will be some growing pains.  However, Kansas is a beneficiary in scheduling, not only during the non-conference season, but in the Big 12 schedule as well.  The Jayhawks are participating in the CBE Classic that has them playing preliminary games at home and the semis/finals in Kansas City which is also basically at home.  Then in Big 12 play, they play the North schedule which means that they’ll play at Baylor and at Oklahoma only once, play Texas in Lawrence, while those three South teams have to play each other twice.  Playing at Allen Fieldhouse is not an easy task which makes their schedule amenable to success.  The Jayhawks will lose some early non-conference games and probably games they should not, but will be solid come conference and post-season time. The main cogs of the team that won the National Championship last year played together as freshmen and struggled early, but turned out to be one of the big stories as the season went along.  Similarly to that group, this season I see KU only getting past the first round of the NCAAs. 
  • Oklahoma (NCAA #5).  The media has picked Oklahoma to win the conference, Blake Griffin to be POY and Willie Warren to be the ROY. Warren was the leading scorer in the McDonalds All-American game and can seriously dunk.  If you want to see some of the talent Warren has to offer, check out this dunk.   Along with Griffin and talented freshman Warren, the rest of the team will be full of role players.  With so much of the focus on Griffin and Warren, that means that several other players need to step up their play to give Oklahoma additional options along with those two gifted players.  One of those players that might make an impact is 6’9” UCLA transfer Ryan WrightJeff Capel is a capable coach, but his 3rd year in the conference will keep them from winning the conference.  However, expectations are high and I expect Oklahoma to reach the Sweet 16. 
  • Baylor (NCAA #6).  Baylor is a team that returns its top eight scorers from last season led by Curtis Jerrells (15.3 ppg).  They were the Big 12’s highest scoring team and who could forget the epic non-televised 5 OT game with Texas A&M last season.  Kevin Rogers, LaceDarius Dunn and Henry Dugat are scoring machines that provide a depth of experience.  A senior-laden team, Scott Drew has built this team from scratch and is creating dividends by making he NCAA Tournament for the first time in two decades. But Baylor will not win the conference because their defense is suspect and their frontcourt will need to improve.  However, they tasted the feeling of the NCAA Tournament and got knocked out right away, but it will be different this year and I expect that they will make the Tourney again and at least win one game. 
  • Oklahoma St. (NCAA #7).  The Cowboys still have enough in the cupboard to make it to the NCAA Tournament even though they will break in first-year coach Travis Ford.  They are a little thin on the inside but return their leading scorer, James Anderson, and 80% of their scoring.  Having an up-tempo style that Ford likes to run will help minimize the frontcourt deficiencies.  They should do well enough to make it to the NCAAs, but will probably be bounced in the first round.
  • Texas A&M (NCAA #9).  Mark Turgeon in his 2nd year will be able to make one more run with the players that Billy Gillispie left behind before heading to Kentucky.  It remains to be seen if Turgeon will be able to recruit the right players to fit into playing in the Big 12.  Coming from the Valley, it is a big transition to try recruiting the right players for the large conference schools (note:  Bruce Weber (Illinois), Matt Painter (Purdue), Greg McDermott (Iowa St.)).  Though I see A&M sneaking into the NCAAs, this team could very well find itself in the NIT next March. 
  • Nebraska (NCAA #12).  Nebraska will be playing small ball this year and more in the up-tempo style that Doc Sadler would like to play, but the lack of an inside presence and a weak non-conference schedule will put them squarely on the bubble of the NCAA tournament.  This team could realistically have only one loss coming into conference play.  It has everyone coming back except for Aleks Maric who was their productive center, but even the newcomers were around the team and know the system as four players redshirted last season.  Having the confidence-building games will bring Nebraska into conference play on a high and they’ll benefit by playing in the North division, but they will struggle when they have a stretch of four games against South teams and Kansas. However, the Huskers will surprise some people this year, finish 7th in the conference and sneak into the NCAAs as one of the last at-large bids.

NIT Teams. 

  • Missouri (NIT).  The pieces appear to be in place in Columbia for the Missouri Tigers to start making some strides to return to the spotlight again but the depth is not there to run a full court, high pressure defense for Mike Anderson’s system to be completely successful.  They will have some success early in the season, but they will be tired by the time they get to conference play and will fall off from the picture.  They will be the last team into the NIT. 
  • Kansas St. (NIT/CBI).  Michael Beasley and Bill Walker are not there anymore so this team will have some significant challenges to replace those players.  They have a somewhat soft non-conference schedule except for the Las Vegas Invitational which will build up their win total, but will fall short in the Big 12 race to be considered for the NCAAs.  If they do not do well enough for the NIT, they will be in the CBI for the postseason.

Others.

  • Iowa St.  Greg McDermott is still getting his feet wet in his 3rd year as the roster has had a total turnover in the past two seasons (seven new players last year and another six this year).  Like Turgeon, it is hard to tell if he’s getting the right recruits to compete in the Big 12.
  • Texas Tech.  Although Pat Knight received the keys to the team mid-season last year, this team will struggle as they try to find their identity and whether they decide to implement a whole new scheme or keep with what Bobby Knight established and the players that were recruited for his scheme. 
  • Colorado.  Jeff Bzdelik is in year two of a total rebuild of this team, as eight players have left the team since Bzdelik arrived in Boulder in 2007.  They will probably start several freshman who will be overwhelmed.  Their offense is yet to be established as they try to run clock to keep the score in the 50s.  There are too many things going against the Buffs from being a factor this year.

Important Games.  The Big 12 has a great advantage in that they are key players in several major exempt tournaments this year that they can make a splash in:

  • Texas—Maui Invitiational
  • Oklahoma—Preseason NIT
  • Baylor—Anaheim 76 Classic
  • Kansas—CBE Classic
  • Oklahoma St—Old Spice Classic
  • Kansas St.—Las Vegas Invitational
  • Colorado (Rainbow Classic)
  • Missouri (Puerto Rico Tipoff)
  • Texas Tech (Legends Classic)
  • Texas A&M (South Padre)

Also some great non-conference matchups as a part of the PAC-10/Big 12 Challenge:

  • Oklahoma vs. USC  (12.04.08)
  • Texas vs. UCLA  (12.04.08)
  • Kansas @ Arizona  (12.23.08)

It is always a chore to get a large conference school to go on the road to play on a smaller team’s home court, but here are the road tests the Big 12 is taking on this year (not neutral site):

  • Nebraska @ TCU  (11.19.08)
  • Kansas St. @ Cleveland St.  (11.22.08)
  • Iowa St. @ Northern Iowa  (12.03.08)
  • Texas Tech @ Lamar  (12.13.08)
  • Oklahoma St. @ Texas A&M-CC  (12.14.08)
  • Texas Tech @ UTEP  (12.17.08)
  • Iowa St.  @ Houston  (12.18.08)
  • Oklahoma @ Rice  (12.22.08)
  • Texas A&M @ Rice  (12.31.08)
  • Colorado @ SMU  (01.05.09)

Conference Key Games.  These games will decide the conference champ:

  • Texas @ Oklahoma  (01.12.09)
  • Baylor @ Oklahoma  (01.24.09)
  • Texas @ Baylor  (01.27.09)
  • Kansas @ Baylor  (02.02.09)
  • Oklahoma @ Baylor  (02.11.09)
  • Oklahoma @ Texas  (02.21.09)
  • Kansas @ Oklahoma  (02.23.09)
  • Baylor @ Texas  (03.02.09)
  • Texas @ Kansas  (03.07.09)

Neat-O Stats.

  • 4-The number of 20-win seasons in Baylor’s 102-year history.
  • 5-Texas is one of just one of five schools to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six years (Duke, UConn, Kansas, Pitt)
  • 51-4—This is Kansas’ record in the last 55 games dating back to 2006-07 when Kansas lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight.  Their only losses since then leading up to their NCAA Championship last year were to Texas, Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. last season. 

65 Team Era.  The teams in this conference are a combined 268-222 in the NCAA Tournament with 35 Final Four appearances and five National Championships.  As the Big 12 conference, their first National Championship was with Kansas last season (the others were as the Big 8, which merged into the Big 12 in 1996-97).  The conference’s record in this era is 161-112 (.590), which puts it roughly on par with the SEC as a major conference.  Where the league has struggled (until last year, of course) was winning national titles.  Only KU in 1998 and 2008 have won championships during this era. 

Final Thoughts.  The Big 12 will be a top heavy league this year and in some minds might be down compared to years past.  It will have four strong teams that will easily make the NCAA tournament and then there is a log jam between 5-9 on who will step up to either make the NCAA or settle for the NIT for the post season.  It will be interesting to see if Texas will finally outlive the hype that is given to them each year to make it to the Final Four and be in line to play for the National Championship.  Oklahoma is poised to make a run, but if Griffin gets hurt, will they still be able to win games?   It will be interesting to see how Kansas does after winning the championship the year before but losing so much to not be considered able to repeat.  With 10 of the 12 teams in the conference participating in high profile early season tournaments, the Big 12’s season will be defined on how those teams do in those tournaments.  If they are successful, then they will be the talk of this basketball season.  If they fail miserably, expect them to get fewer teams into the Big Dance than they have the last few years.

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