RTC Top 25: Week 14

Posted by KDoyle on February 18th, 2013

Indiana survived the curse of being ranked the #1 team in the country—fortunately for the Hoosiers they feasted on two bottom feeders in the Big Ten: Nebraska and Purdue—and maintain their ranking atop the RTC25. A midweek trip to Michigan State will decide whether they maintain their status as top dog, though. Is it possible that Miami, if the Hoosiers were to falter, are the #1 team in waiting? Pretty remarkable considering that they were unranked in the preseason and thought to be a middle-of-the-road ACC club. The Hurricanes continue to escalate in the RTC25 moving to the #2 spot this week after close road wins over Florida State and Clemson. Further down in the Top 10, we welcome Kansas back (#10) after posting resounding wins against Kansas State and Texas. Perhaps the three straight losses were a minor blip? We’ll find out later this week as they travel to Oklahoma State in a big time Big 12 showdown. More good stuff, as always, with the Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…

Week 14

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Award Tour: Mason Plumlee Back at No. 1; A Farewell to Nerlens Noel

Posted by DCassilo on February 15th, 2013


David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

College basketball suffered a devastating loss when news broke that Nerlens Noel had torn his ACL in Tuesday’s game against Florida. Perhaps the best defender in the country, Noel was starting to come into his own offensively. The injury has once again sparked the debate about the one-and-done rule. First of all, know your target with this debate. It’s the NBA, not the NCAA. David Stern came up with the rule, but the biggest effects have been seen in college basketball. The positive for the NCAA has been increased exposure. Everyone wants a chance to see players like Noel before they hit the big show. But on the flip side, it’s tough on coaches who can’t plan their recruiting as easily as they used to. And finally, there’s the health risk for the player. This is another reason why I think there needs to be some sort of union-like body watching out for college athletes’ interest. If we knew a player like Noel would be taken care of financially in the event of an injury, I don’t think people would have as big a problem with the one-and-done rule.


10. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG

The big man for Gonzaga is as consistent as they come, seemingly giving the Bulldogs somewhere between 15 and 20 points every single night. Some say this is the best Gonzaga team ever, and he deserves much of the credit for that. This week: February 16 at San Francisco, February 20 vs. Santa Clara

9. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG

The drop for McLemore is mostly because of the terrific weeks by other players on this list. The freshman didn’t do too badly himself, as he poured in 30 points in a win over Kansas State. This week: February 16 vs. Texas, February 20 at Oklahoma State

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 20.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

As one of the few Buckeyes that can score, Thomas keeps posting 20-point games because he keeps getting a lot of shots. The junior has taken at least 15 shots in each of his last five games and fewer than 11 just once all season. This week: February 17 at Wisconsin, February 20 vs. Minnesota

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 23 PPG, 7.7 RPG

Losers of three straight and perhaps headed for a seat on the bubble, McDermott’s team is playing him out of the Player of the Year race. While he has played well, he’s missing the memorable performances he needs to overcome everything working against him. This week: February 16 at Evansville, February 19 vs. Southern Illinois Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Bracketology: February 15 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 15th, 2013


Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top several bracketologists among those who have produced brackets for more than three years, including two seasons with perfect bracket projections. He updates the field daily on his site, Bracketology Expert, and will be producing a weekly bracket update here at RTC on Fridays. RTC Bubble Watch will publish on Sunday nights and Thursday afternoons for the rest of the season.

New in This Update:

  • The top seed line might finally be taking shape again. Duke, Indiana, Florida, and Miami (FL) appear to have put a touch of separation between themselves and the trailing pack. The one team to watch out for is Michigan State. The Spartans destroyed Michigan on Tuesday night and moved into their highest seed position of the year (#2 seed).
  • Creighton is driving me nuts. The Bluejays are now a #10 seed. At one point this year, I had Creighton as a #5 seed. Although it is hard to see them missing the field, Creighton has at least made it a possibility with its recent poor play.
  • Colorado State is the team on the rise this week. The Rams won a big game on Wednesday night against San Diego State, which dropped the Aztecs from the #5 seed they were at before the game.  Illinois, who had barely been in the field a couple of weeks ago, is also rising fast now that the Illini are no longer five games under .500 in the Big Ten.
  • If there’s one team nobody can agree on, it is Virginia. The Cavaliers’ RPI is finally becoming stronger (now in the top 80). This team has six wins against the RPI top 100, which would usually be enough to get in during a season where the bubble is so weak. The problem is that the Cavaliers also have six bad losses, including three to the awful CAA.
  • Kentucky’s resume completely resets after Nerlens Noel’s ACL injury. If the Wildcats struggle down the stretch, they will not make the NCAA Tournament.
  • Selection Committee chair Mike Bobinski held a teleconference on Wednesday and made a great point about putting First Four teams in Dayton (or close to Dayton) for potential Second/Third Round games. In my brackets going forward, I will try do that as well. Look for those teams to be in Dayton, Kansas City, Auburn Hills, or Lexington on Selection Sunday.
  • I’m not sure what to do with Saint Mary’s just yet. The Gaels’ resume screams NIT right now and considering the only chances it had for a great win is now in the rear view mirror (0 for 2 vs. Gonzaga), the overall profile is not going to improve. However, everyone should keep in mind that the Selection Committee put Iona in last season’s field based off of the eye test and not on those Gaels’ overall profile. Could it happen again for another set of Gaels?
  • In the bracket below, Indiana and Duke would play in the Final Four. I realize this is against my actual S-curve order, but at this point I think you could throw all four No. 1 seeds in a hat and pick them one through four. I’ll wait for a little more of the season to play out before I put an extra half hour into changing out the regional pairings so that the best two teams won’t play until the national title game.

LAST FOUR IN: Boise State, Indiana State, California, Saint Mary’s
FIRST FOUR OUT: Virginia, Stanford, Temple, St. John’s

NOTE: Projected conference champions (or auto bid winners) are in capital letters.

(full bracket after the jump)

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RTC Top 25: Week 13

Posted by KDoyle on February 11th, 2013

Sorry, Indiana, but you’re the new #1 team. It is not very often that a team can lose a game during the week and actually move up to the #1 spot, but that’s what happened after Florida was dismantled at Arkansas and the #3 and #4 teams both lost too. Many will clamor that Duke should be the top team, and perhaps they should be with just two losses on its record, but the Blue Devils team that squeaked out a win against Boston College on Sunday certainly didn’t look like #1 material. The big story of the week was rather the rise of another ACC team, the Miami Hurricanes; the ‘Canes beat up on North Carolina to move to a perfect 10-0 in conference play. It must be the first time in history that an ACC team has defeated Duke and North Carolina by a combined 50+ points (56, to be exact), in less than a month’s span, right? Overshadowed by all of the movement in the Top 10 are four new teams entering the RTC25. With its thrilling overtime win over Michigan, Wisconsin is up to #19, while Colorado State makes an appearance for the first time this season. Lastly, there must be an obligatory mention of the luck of the Irish as Notre Dame somehow beat Louisville in five overtimes — so there you go, Notre Dame, welcome back to the RTC25.

The Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…

Week 13

Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.

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The RTC Podcast: Episode Eleven

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2013

And we’re back for another shiny edition of the RTC Podcast. This week our host, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114), artfully leads us on a discussion of all the crazy goings-on in college basketball over the last week-plus. With so many topics to choose from, we tried to keep it relevant, discussing Louisville’s surprising fall from grace, the possible #1 seeds at this point in the season, what to think about Miami’s ascendant behavior, and a bunch of other junk throw in between. Feel free to use the outline below to jump around to the areas of interest, of course.

Check back on Friday of this week for our shorter RTC Podblast, which will run down some of the action from this week and look ahead to the weekend’s biggest games. And don’t forget to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after each recording. Thanks!

0:00-3:07 – Villanova’s Great Week
3:07-10:25 – Louisville’s Fall From #1 to Barely Top 10
10:25-12:40 – Syracuse Loses a Game, But Two Key Players
12:40-19:21 – Duke and Arizona Both Drop Games in Surprising Ways
19:21-25:50 – Which Teams are Positioned to be #1 Seeds Come Selection Sunday?
25:50-29:45 – Marshall Henderson, Rock Star
29:45-32:30 – Latest Terrible Uniform Trends
32:30-37:51 – Where Does Miami Deserve to Rank After an Amazing Week?
37:51-42:41 – Minnesota’s 4-Game Losing Streak
42:41-46:18 – Where Does New Mexico Deserve to be Ranked
46:18-51:21 – Week Preview – Ohio State/Wisconsin and Top 10 Teams on Upset Alert

We welcome any and all feedback on these podcasts including topics for future discussion or if you want to send us any questions for our “May Not Be From Actual Listeners” segment. Hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or @rushthecourt on Twitter.

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Who Won the Week? Hurricanes, Orange, and Not Doug McD…

Posted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2013

wonweekWho Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: Miami (FL)

Miami Fans RTC'd the Blue Devils After Last Night's Destruction (credit: WaPo)

Miami Fans RTC’d the Blue Devils Wednesday Night (credit: WaPo)

Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes, by extension the subject of an NCAA inquiry regarding the alleged payment of former player DeQuan Jones, had one of the best weeks on and off the court of any school this season. First, the NCAA botched its investigation so much that it has to investigate its own investigators, according to CBS Sports. Then the ‘Canes went off and destroyed No. 1 Duke by the score of 90-63 on Wednesday, putting the third-worst beating ever onto an AP top-ranked team. Wednesday’s game also marked the return of gargantuan center Reggie Johnson (listed at 6’10”, 292 lbs.), who scored two points and grabbed five rebounds in his first game back from a broken thumb that was supposed to leave him out for up to another month. Miami now has a two-game lead on the rest of the ACC, although a return trip to Duke does remain. You know you had a good week when knocking off the top team in the country isn’t even the best thing that happened to you.

(Related winners: Miami guards Shane Larkin and Durand Scott, who combined to shoot 17-of-28 from the field on their way to 37 total points. Related losers: Duke guards Quinn Cook, Seth Curry and Tyler Thornton, who combined to go 1-of-29 from the field on their way to six total points; the NCAA – see below.)


This was all set to be Frank Haith’s spot, as his Missouri team got shellacked by Florida 83-52 on Saturday, barely escaped at home Tuesday against South Carolina, and then news broke that Haith could face unethical conduct charges from the NCAA relating to the aforementioned DeQuan Jones issue. But instead, the NCAA now must review its own investigators’ conduct, particularly related to the release of Haith’s supposed looming punishments. So Haith is safe for now, and all of a sudden NCAA President Mark Emmert has another public relations maelstrom on his hands. Bummer.

(Related winners: Florida, because it still shellacked Mizzou. Related losers: Ethics.)

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Miami Has Arrived: Two Conference Road Wins Show Hurricanes Experience

Posted by mpatton on January 11th, 2013

Miami is finally here. The past two years the Hurricanes’ roster was better on paper than it ever performed on the court. This year it looks like they’re finally reaching that potential, despite Reggie Johnson‘s current absence from the lineup with a broken thumb. The Hurricanes will also contend with NC State for the ACC runner-up slot come March. Their success isn’t thanks to a flashy offense, which you might expect from a team with Shane Larkin at the helm — rather, it’s thanks to their physical defense.

Durand Scott's toughness adds a lot to Miami's backcourt. (Photo: Robert Willett / Raleigh News & Observer)

Durand Scott’s toughness adds a lot to Miami’s backcourt. (Photo: Robert Willett / Raleigh News & Observer)

This is the first year the team has been in the top 50 in defensive efficiency since 2009, and it’s making a big difference. Statistically, the secret is two-fold: The Hurricanes shut down the interior (opponents are only 41% from inside the arc this season), and they don’t commit fouls. Visually, their experience plays a big role. Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble are very good shot-blockers and their guards are athletic enough to stay in front of people. Experience combined with Jim Larranaga’s system allow the Hurricanes to play physically and avoid fouling. Offense is still a factor in Miami’s success. Miami runs Larkin or Durand Scott through at least one (often two) high ball screens per possession. Against North Carolina the Hurricanes’ offense looked bad most of the game. They shot too many threes, and there was no flow. After the game, Jim Larranaga made it sound like this was at least in part intentional: “When we play a team that pressures us and is going to be trapping the ball-handler, we share the ball and spread them out. And if you get an open three, you have the green light to shoot it.”

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ACC M5: 11.22.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 22nd, 2012

  1. Sporting News: Reading this convinced me that Brian Gregory may be exactly what Georgia Tech needs. He’s a very good salesman, which is crucial both for future recruiting and getting alumni and fans involved. The two go hand in hand as good recruiting leads to better teams which leads to more alumni support; likewise good alumni support leads to better facilities and more hype around the program and better recruiting. Give Gregory a couple more years and he’ll have Georgia Tech back in the conversation.
  2. Washington Times: As more and more opinion pieces start to turn up regarding Maryland‘s move to the Big Ten, there are a couple of distinct themes: that the Terrapins made the no-brainer choice given the realignment climate, the athletic department spit in the face of tradition, or it was a necessary evil because of the department’s financial woes. This piece clearly falls on the side of the latter. More interesting are the demographics of groups on both sides: In general, current students and the athletic department seem to come down in the first camp, older alumni and fans of other ACC schools in the second camp, and a mixture of the two falling in the third camp. None of the other realignment moves have seemed nearly as polarizing amongst the fan base.
  3. Indy Week: NC State has received a lot of hype this season — even after the ugly loss to Oklahoma State — but a lot of people don’t remember how the program faded to obscurity in the first place (at least as far as national titles are concerned). Through the 1970s and 1980s the Wolfpack were a top program in the ACC and the country, but the school forced Jim Valvano out in 1990 and the program never really recovered to that level under any of Les Robinson, Herb Sendek or Sidney Lowe.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: It should only be good news that Reggie Johnson is more motivated than ever, has lost weight, and is disciplined. But why are Miami and Johnson struggling to start the season? Johnson and frontcourt partner Kenny Kadji are off to very poor offensive starts. Kadji is turning the ball over far too much, and Johnson just can’t shoot with any accuracy. But in the long run both are proven commodities, and the Hurricanes should be much better than they’ve played so far.
  5. Baltimore Sun: Kevin Coherd’s column about the Terrapins is cautiously optimistic, echoing Mark Turgeon‘s sentiments about his young team. It’s true this team is not a national contender just yet, but it could really rock the boat in the ACC if it can find some consistent offense. Alex Len already deserves any ACC Most Improved Awards we can find for him. Coaches like to spin things down a little at the beginning of the season to keep their teams as clean as possible, but Turgeon has a lot to look forward to this season.


Could the Big Ten be poaching another ACC (Carolina) blue blood as its 15th or 16th member?

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ATB: Calipari On Duke’s Flopping, Harvard Heartbreaker, Appling Revival, and Poythress’ Putbacks…

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. Hoops Marathon Ends With Basketball Royalty in Atlanta. The fifth iteration of ESPN’s College Hoops Marathon went from Spokane to Albuquerque to Honolulu to New Jersey to Indiana to Amherst to Ohio to NYC to Cincinnati to Atlanta, with 16 games of varying quality and competitiveness, but it finished at the Champions Classic with two hard-fought and generally well-played games befitting the assembled hoops royalty of Izzo, Krzyzewski, Calipari and Self. Last season’s inaugural event in Madison Square Garden featured Krzyzewski’s 903d all-time victory and the coming-out party of Calipari’s talented band of super-freshmen. This year’s set of games in Atlanta featured a Michigan State team finding itself after a surprising loss to a scrappy Connecticut team last week in Germany, while Duke was looking to shore up its perimeter defense to reclaim its usual spot among the nation’s elite as a national title contender. Tonight’s losing teams, Kentucky and Kansas, came away from the experience not feeling terrible, realizing that November games — while important to their resumes — are more a time for reflection and focused learning than worrying about finished products. Let’s jump into the day’s games…

Your Watercooler Moment. Calipari Calls Out Duke’s Flopping. 

What else could it be? In one of the better preaching to the choir moments in recent college basketball history, John Calipari told ESPN’s Andy Katz at halftime of the Champions Classic nightcap in a half-joking/half-serious manner that Duke’s players were “flopping all over the place.” The Twitter-verse immediately seized the moment because if there’s anything that gets Duke haters riled up, it’s the tendency for Coach K’s defenders to find their backs on the floor with the ball headed the other way. For what it’s worth, Calipari said after the game that he was just joking. Nevertheless… the head coach may have made some new friends tonight.

This Other ThingBoth Kentucky and Duke Impressed. Duke walked out of Atlanta as the clear winner of the event, knocking off the #2 Wildcats and showing that some of the defensive deficiencies that caused so many problems for the Blue Devils last season may be solved. Seth Curry (23 pts) was outstanding in his twin roles as leader and scorer, and his game-finishing drive to fake Nerlens Noel off his feet and drop in a right-handed layup was a thing of beauty. Mason Plumlee, when not in foul trouble, showed that he is an elite big man (18/3 on 7-8 FG) and the rest of the Duke cast was at least serviceable on this night. Coach K was not going to let the Kentucky perimeter beat his team, and a 9-25 shooting night from Kyle Wiltjer, Archie Goodwin and Julius Mays ensured that Duke wouldn’t have to get into an 80- or 90-point game to win this one. As for the Wildcats, we anticipated that John Calipari would get a much better effort on the glass, and he did (27 each) while also allowing his talented big men, Alex Poythress and Noel, to pick their spots and follow the fluidity of the game. The duo combined for 36 points and 16 rebounds, and the mere sight of those two flying around the airspace above the rim should send shudders throughout the rest of college basketball wondering how good they’ll be when they figure out the plays. Brian Joyce was at the game and provided his takeaways here from watching it courtside, but from the perspective of talent (Kentucky) and cohesion (Duke), it wouldn’t surprise us to see both of these squads matching up again in that very building next April.

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Introducing the ACC’s Preseason Awards

Posted by mpatton on November 8th, 2012

With play starting around the nation tomorrow, it’s time for the ACC microsite’s 2012-13 preseason awards.

Player of the Year

The player of the year vote was split between Michael Snaer and Lorenzo Brown. Both guys need their respective teams to do very well to be in the running for the award. Brown probably needs success a little more, as the NC State roster has a lot of talent already on it. If the team does poorly, it will reflect on its floor general. His numbers probably won’t be that flashy, but if he improves even half of what he did from his freshman season to last season, he’ll be one of the most well-rounded players in the league. One struggle Brown may have is in terms of the “most talented” versus “most important” argument that plagued Kendall Marshall at North Carolina last season. Marshall didn’t have the best numbers, but he was more critical to his team’s success than any of his teammates. Brown could face similar questions (or just a split of the vote) if CJ Leslie has a monster year. But Brown has the advantage over Marshall in that he’s much more complete as a basketball player.

Snaer edged out Lorenzo Brown for Preseason ACC Player of the Year. (Grant Halverson / Getty Images)

Snaer is a known quantity: he’s a supremely talented two-guard with a competitiveness and motor unrivaled around the conference. He’s so competitive that Leonard Hamilton has to pull him out a few minutes into important games to make sure he doesn’t go over the top. He’s one of the best defensive players in the country, but he doesn’t get many steals. He just shuts down passing lanes and makes every shot difficult. Watching some of the ACC Tournament last year, he looked like he was running circles around very good opponents. It’s not like he was putting up ludicrous numbers, but there was no question who the best player on both ends of the floor was for much of his games against North Carolina and Duke. Unlike Brown, Snaer may be able to still win if Florida State falters a little. The key for him (and Hamilton) is keeping his drive to a usable level and not letting it suffocate him.

In the end Snaer is more of a proven commodity. He’s also the reason we ranked the Seminoles so high despite losing major pieces from last year’s team. So our preseason ACC Player of the Year award goes to Michael Snaer.

Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year after the jump.

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ACC Team Previews: Miami Hurricanes

Posted by mpatton on October 29th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami never really clicked last season. The team showed flashes of brilliance like in its overtime win at Duke or their home dismantling of eventual ACC champion Florida State. However, more often than not, Jim Larranaga’s team looked mediocre and inconsistent. Reggie Johnson added trying to recover from a knee injury to his ongoing weight issue, which meant he couldn’t stay on the court for extended stretches nor run the floor very well. To make matters worse, senior sharpshooter Malcolm Grant lost his stroke last season, regressing at an alarming rate to an abysmal 34% from the field. This year looks much better on paper, though history certainly calls for caution when prognosticating Miami’s season.

Shane Larkin

Shane Larkin Is The X-Factor For Miami This Season (credit: Paul Abell / US Presswire)


Consensus three-star center Tonye Jekiri and shooter Steve Sorenson are the only freshmen joining Larranaga in Coral Gables this season. However, redshirt freshman Bishop Daniels may prove to have the most impact, as he’s spent the most time with the team. Daniels redshirted last season after missing the first half of the season with a foot injury. He’s a very athletic combo guard known for his leaping and could provide an offensive spark off the bench backing up Durand Scott or Shane Larkin.

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Set Your TiVo: 02.29.12

Posted by EJacoby on February 29th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s another big Wednesday night in college hoops. Three bubble teams have home games against top 15 opponents, so we will see who really wants to earn their way into an at-large bid. Let’s jump into the breakdowns:

#8 Marquette at Cincinnati – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (****)

Cincinnati Will be Fired Up at Home Against #8 Marquette (AP Photo/A. Behrman)

  • Buzz Williams’ team continues to impress. Even a suspension of four of its best players for at least one half couldn’t stop Marquette from winning at West Virginia last Friday. Now the Golden Eagles will look to add another quality road win to an already sparkling resume. Jae Crowder’s campaign for Big East Player of the Year is gaining steam as he ranks in the top 10 in the conference in points per game (17.6), rebounds per game (7.7), steals per game (2.9), field-goal percentage (52.4%), and offensive rating (123.9). He and Darius Johnson-Odom are the most potent and consistent one-two punch in the league, and they both have versatile games that should thrive against the Cincinnati zone defense. Marquette leads the conference in scoring but must adapt to the Bearcat attack that plays at a slow pace and limits turnovers.
  • The last time the Bearcats were on national television, they had another ranked Big East foe at home in what Rick Pitino called the best home court advantage his team had faced all season. Cincinnati will look to mimic that environment in this game, facing the high-flying Golden Eagles. To slow down Marquette, Cincinnati needs a big game from its veteran guards who can control pace and hit shots. As a team, the Bearcats commit just 9.6 turnovers per game, best in the conference, and they score 31.5% of their points from the three-point line. Dion Dixon, Cashmere Wright, and Sean Kilpatrick will win or lose this game for Cincy. It will be up to Yancy Gates to keep the Marquette defense honest inside as well as trying to shut down Crowder in the paint.
  • This game is a pick’em in Vegas, which feels accurate. Cincinnati will be fired up on Senior Night and a win over a top 10 opponent will guarantee its entrance into the Big Dance, but Marquette has been simply fantastic in Big East play, winning 12 of its last 13 games in a variety of fashions. As a believer in this Bearcats team, I think they pull this one out and lock up a postseason bid.
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