Checking in on… the MAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 30th, 2010

Matt Giles is the RTC correspondent for the Mid-American Conference.

Standings as of 1/29

West Division

  1. Central Michigan            4-2       9-8
  2. Northern Illinois            4-2       8-10
  3. Ball State                               4-3       9-9
  4. Western Michigan          3-3       11-8
  5. Eastern Michigan            2-4       10-9
  6. Toledo                                     0-6       3-17

East Division

  1. Akron                                      4-2       14-6
  2. Kent State                             4-2       13-7
  3. Buffalo                                    3-3       10-6
  4. Bowling Green                  3-3       10-8
  5. Miami OH                              4-3       6-13
  6. Ohio                                          2-4       11-9

Superlatives

Team of the Week Ohio: After starting the conference season 0-4 against East Division foes, the Bobcats erupted from the three-point stripe in their only two games this week. In wins over Northern Illinois and Toledo, Ohio shot 46.7% from deep and dropped 99 points over both squads (it also helps that NIU and Toledo are two of the weakest defensive teams in conference play). Upcoming road games against Toledo and Eastern Michigan should prove whether Ohio is ready to blitz the conference in February; the road has been the Bobcats’ bugbear all season (3-6).

Player of the Week David Kool, Western Michigan: Not only does the 6-foot-3 guard lead the Broncos in PPG (20.1), three-point FG percentage with at least 25 attempts (38.2%) and offensive rating (121.9), the senior now also owns WMU’s career scoring record. In a loss to Akron Wednesday night, Kool dropped 30 and broke Manny Newsome’s 46-year old record. Kool currently has 1,790 points in his career and it’s conceivable he could break the 2,000 point barrier: five of WMU’s final 10 games are against teams allowing more than one point per possession.

Game of the Week Kent State 87, Akron 70: A grudge match between the top two East Division contenders? Check. A nationally televised game? Check. A 17-point loss … what? The last time a game between these two rivals was decided by 17 points or more was in the 2008 MAC championship game (won by the Golden Flashes). The Zips were outmanned on the boards, 38-28, and consequently, in a game where Akron suffered more than a few scoring droughts, Kent State’s 23-11 second chance points were too much to overcome.

Games of the Upcoming Week: Eastern Michigan at Miami, January 30, ESPNU, and Buffalo at Central Michigan, February 4. Central Michigan continues their East Division swing and will want to end the East Division’s dominance of the garnering the NCAA tournaments’ auto bid. A West Division team hasn’t made the Dance since 2005 (Central Michigan). One of the final ESPN-televised games on the MAC slate, the Miami-Eastern Michigan tilt will be the final chance — barring a run through the conference tournament — to see Miami’s Kenny Hayes live in action.

Superlatives: On January 20th, Miami’s Charlie Coles won his 217th game at Miami and is now the MAC’s all-time leader in career conference wins. Coles passed the record previously held by Darrell Hedric, who was a former coach at Miami.

Team Roundups

Central Michigan

Looking Back: The Chippewas had a topsy-turvy week. First, CMU hosted Northern Illinois and managed a win against an intra-divisional foe, 81-75. CMU ‘held’ NIU’s Xavier Silas to 26 points and Robbie Harman continued his impressive three-point turnaround, hitting 3 of 13 from deep. Harman is the best long-range shooter on the Chippewas this season and has upped his percentage from 34% to 42.8%. On Thursday, CMU started their East division swing with intentions of proving they are a contender in the conference, not just in their own division. Falling to Miami didn’t help their plans; CMU has held opponents to a scant 59.7 ppg in 2010 but the RedHawks managed to score 64 points  — four more than their conference average.

Looking Ahead: As previously stated, Central Michigan continues its play against East division foes, taking on Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Akron and Ohio. Second-place Northern Illinois is on a similar swing so if the Huskies struggle and CMU can finish the six-game trip with at least three wins, they could begin to distance themselves within the division.

Northern Illinois

Looking Back: Xavier Silas continues to rise up the MAC scoring ranks, totaling 57 points in two games (26 against CMU, 31 against Ohio). The junior transfer is now averaging 23.5 PPG – best in the conference – and the 6-foot-5 guard is tops in the conference in percentage of possessions used (32.0%) and percentage of shots taken (33.5%). NIU is not just a one-man team: Darion Anderson is 17th in the conference with a 12.0 ppg and the Huskies could become a dangerous team if sophomore Mike DiNunno emerges as a third option. The 5-foot-11 guard rang up 16 on Ohio. However, if Northern Illinois wants to unseat Central Michigan and run away with the East division title, the Huskies need to step up their defense. Sure, the Huskies are the second best at FG defense but they are the third-worst defensive team in the MAC, allowing opposing teams to drop 71.3 PPG. With Silas in the midst of a hot streak, NIU needs to focus on locking teams down.

Looking Ahead: NIU begins its East division swing and will take on the likes of Buffalo, Kent State, Akron and Miami. Look for at least three of the four games to be offensive affairs: Kent State, Buffalo and Akron all rank in the top five in terms of conference scoring offense while at the same time, ranking in the bottom half in scoring defense. If Silas continues to up his scoring average, he could be the first player to average more than 20 a season since John Bowler (20.1) of Eastern Michigan in 2005-06.

Ball State

Looking Back: For as long as Ken Pomeroy has kept his statistical database running, Ball State has cared little for defensive efficiency. In what technically should be considered Billy Taylor’s second ‘real’ season at the helm (don’t forget, he was dealt a rough hand when he took the job in 2007-08), Taylor has remade the Cardinals into the best defensive team in the MAC and overall as well (21st in the nation). Although their overall and conference records may not reflect their defensive superiority, Ball State has allowed only two teams to score above 70 points this season (Valparaiso and Tennessee Tech). Since scoring a meager 38 points against Central Michigan over two weeks ago, the Cardinals have been on a tear, winning four out of five games through defensive prowess. Just ask Miami and Buffalo (Ball State’s two wins this past week); the Cardinals held both squads under their season FG percentage (Miami 32.2%, normally at 42.6% and Buffalo 36.7%, normally at 41.7%).

Looking Ahead: Ball State is definitely the sleeper team in the West division (side note: should it really be surprising though? The Cardinals tied for the West division title in 2008-09) and will get a chance to showcase their defense when the Cardinals visit Ohio on Sunday. The Bobcats recently reeled off consecutive 99 point efforts and are the top scoring team in the conference.

Western Michigan

Looking Back: As we have already detailed, David Kool was RTC’s player of the week in the MAC. His 30-point effort against Akron wasn’t good enough for the win but the senior is on pace to break 2,000 points in his career. Even UA coach Keith Dambrot was impressed, saying he wanted a David Kool Western Michigan jersey. WMU did manage to get a win this week, defeating winless Toledo in Kalamazoo. Although the game was never in doubt, Bronco fans did get a chance to see what 2010-11 starting lineup will be; freshmen Nate Hutcheson scored 15 and Flenard Whitfield scored 11.

Looking Ahead: Western Michigan is in the middle of the pack in the West division and the MAC overall and they better start harvesting those wins quickly. Next season will undoubtedly be a rebuilding year as the Broncos will be losing David Kool, Donald Lawson and Martelle McLemore after this season (aka three of WMU’s top five scorers). If the Broncos want to send those seniors out with a memorable bang, they need to have a strong East division swing that starts Saturday at Kent State followed by a Monday affair at Buffalo.

Eastern Michigan

Looking Back: With Carlos Medlock completely healed from his injury that sidelined the guard the entire 2009 season, EMU was expected to compete in the MAC’s East division. Unfortunately, that hasn’t really happened. Medlock resumed his spot running the offense so EMU’s tempo has risen (62.4 possessions per game to 69.3) but for an experienced team, the Eagles have had their problems on the road – only two of their eight games on the road have been wins. However, since both games this past week were at home, EMU was not affected by the road jitters. Another disturbing trend, though, has emerged and that is the Eagles’ lack of defense. In their loss to Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan allowed the Falcons to connect on 49% of their FGs. In fact, opposing teams have shot well above 40% from the field in most of their nine losses. One positive to take from this past week: Brandon Bowdry is performing like a star. The junior is a rebounding machine, grabbing 28% of opposing teams’ misses and in the two-game span (a win over Ball State and the loss to BGSU), Bowdry averaged 7.1 RPG. The 6-foot-6 Bowdry does need to work on his free throw shooting though; Bowdry is fouled  just over 6 times per game but only shoots 50.4% from the stripe. One has to wonder if the team’s woeful FT percentage (65.9%) has contributed to some of their losses.

Looking Ahead: Eastern Michigan could pick up a few games this week against Miami and Akron. We have already mentioned the rebounding force that is Brandon Bowdry. Miami and Akron both struggle with offensive rebounds and EMU could have a field day thanks to second-chance points as well as quick run-outs after missed shots.

Toledo

Looking Back: According to Ken Pomeroy, the Rockets  — still winless in conference play – have a 40.5% chance of going winless in conference play. That is second-highest percentage among still-winless teams (Fordham leads with a 61% chance). The second half has doomed Toledo all season in conference play and it continued to hurt UT in losses to Western Michigan and Kent State this week. Although Gene Cross’ crew has struggled has never led after the first half either, they were outscored by a combined 15 points in the two games. Toledo is having a tough time breaking out of the cellar in most MAC offensive and defensive categories. The Rockets are last in scoring offense, FT and FG percentages, offensive rebounds, assists, steals, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio. Basically, it has been a bleak winter in Toledo.

Looking Ahead: Tilts against Akron, Bowling Green and Ohio dot Toledo’s upcoming schedule and, barring an unforeseen upset, it doesn’t look like the Rockets will have enough offensive juice to keep these teams. Even Bowling Green, which ranks in the bottom half of scoring offense, still manages to average 12.2 more PPG than Toledo (61.2 to 49.0).

Akron

Looking Back: We have already mentioned that Akron lost this past week to Kent State due to their inability to corral defensive rebounds. In fact, this has been the Zips’ bugbear the entire season. Akron only grabs 22.8 defensive rebounds a game, good for ninth in conference play. Even though Zeke Marshall has helped on the glass, the Zips are still a smaller than average team. However, Akron is a deep team but will only succeed depending on how well the brothers McKnight (Brett and Chris) play. Against Kent State, Chris played well and scored 13 points while Brett struggled, connecting on only 1-6 from the field. In their win against Western Michigan, though, both Chris and Brett scored in double-digits.

Looking Ahead: According to Coach Dambrot, the MAC is becoming a balanced conference as well as developing into a much more competitive league. That being said, Akron’s next three games (against Toledo, Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois) are all at the James A. Rhodes H&PE Building so a four-game winning streak (counting last week’s win over WMU) is definitely not out of the question.

Kent State

Looking Back: Across the board, Kent State is a very good team. Whether it’s scoring (fourth in the MAC with 70.2 PPG) or defending the goal (third with 60.7 PPG), Kent State seems like an early favorite to make the MAC tournament championship game. A 87-70 win over Akron – a top team – confirmed that an auto bid could be waiting for the Golden Flashes after the season as they pounded the glass to a tune of 34-27. Then, Kent State handled Toledo, 60-49 – a team it should beat but could have become a trap game (especially after the big win over Akron).

Looking Ahead: Kent State is the second-best team in the MAC from the field, connecting on 44.6% in conference play. However, a Monday tilt against Northern Illinois could snakebite the Golden Flashes. Although we have noted NIU is not a good defensive team, they are the second-best team in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot a meager 39%.

Buffalo

Looking Back: Although Buffalo may not be the most offensively efficient team in the MAC (100.8 points per possession), the Bulls have phenomenal ball-handling skills. Buffalo leads the conference in assists (15.17) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.15) and is second in steals (8.0) and turnover margin (+1.83). So how did they lose both games (Ohio, 99-77 and Ball State, 75-69) this past week? The loss to Ohio is easy to explain: the Bulls turned the ball over 15 times (second most TOs by Buffalo in a conference game in 2010) and the fast play of the game also meant that leading scorer Rodney Pierce (18.1 PPG) would take a lot of shots. Problem is, he attempted 20 and only made six of them. Against Ball State, Buffalo didn’t turn the ball over nearly as much (six times) but apparently, on the way home from Athens, they forgot how to play defense. Ball State skewered Buffalo’s man D and connected on 55.5% of their shots.

Looking Ahead: The Bulls travel to Northern Illinois on Saturday and if UB against forgets how to play defense, it could be a long afternoon (and one guaranteed to keep the statisticians at the Convocation Center busy for a full two hours).

Bowling Green

Looking Back: It’s a miracle Bowling Green was able to pull out a win at Eastern Michigan (64-61). The Falcons have been the MAC’s best free throw shooting team in conference play (76.7%) but against EMU, their shaky FT shooting almost doomed them: 8-13 from the line. The 64-52 loss to Miami offered BGSU fans a glimpse of the future as sophomore Dee Brown scored 17 points off an impressive 3-5 shooting from deep. Three-point shooting has become Bowling Green’s forte; in 2009, the Falcons were third in conference play while in 2010, they have moved to first thanks to Joe Jakubowski (55%) and Brown (52.4%).

Looking Ahead: Expect a plethora of threes when Bowling Green matches up with Central Michigan on Saturday. The Falcons are eighth in the conference in guarding the long ball at 35.3% (but strangely, are the best when it comes to shooting from deep with a 40.4%) while the Chippewas shoot 37.5% from deep. If the statistics prove correct, CMU’s Robbie Harman, Brown and Jakubowski could all have career days. If BGSU does fall to CMU, at least they have Toledo next on the schedule.

Miami

Looking Back: Two wins and a loss are nice but even better was the milestone coach Charlie Coles reached. In a conference that is one of the oldest in college basketball, Coles’ feat is a testament to one of the better coaches in the game today whose teams continually thrive against BCS conferences.

Looking Ahead: Under Coles, Miami is a very good team at blocking shots. They lead the conference with over four per game and their block percentage is ranked 113th in the country (10.1%). Miami’s next two opponents, Eastern and Western Michigan, conversely, get blocked a lot (EMU 8.8% and WMU 10%) so the next two games should be fun times for Antonio Ballard and Adam Fletcher, who both rank in the MAC’s top ten for blocked shots.

Ohio

Looking Back: Ohio was RTC’s team of the week in the MAC and we have already detailed the offensive juggernaut that the Bobcats have become. If their offensive onslaught continues, Ohio and Ball State could wind up the teams in the MAC tournament no one wants to face.

Looking Ahead: On Sunday, opposing basketball strategies will collide. The top ranked offensive team (Ohio) will take on the top ranked defensive team (Ball State) in what should be a widely-watched game … if only the game was televised.

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ATB: Weekend Wrap – Pac-10 and SEC Struggle Again

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

atb

It was an odd weekend of basketball.  The games weren’t all that interesting — at least when compared to Friday night, for example — but there was plenty to talk about when scores started rolling in.  Mainly, it was a weekend that had few storylines other than Pac-10/SEC incompetence and prep work for all of the holiday tournaments that start this week.

Pac-10 Nightmare Saturday.

  • Loyola Marymount 67, USC 59. Will this ultimately be the worst BCS team loss of the entire season?  LMU won a total of three games last season, and while the Lions are undoubtedly better, there is absolutely no excuse for them to beat a Pac-10 team on their homecourt.  Ever.  We understand that Kevin O’Neill has virtually no depth at his disposal, but come on…
  • Sacramento State 65, Oregon State 63.  Regression to the mean on OSU this year?  All the great work Craig Robinson put in to make a horrid team competitive seems to have gone by the wayside this year, as the Beavers laid another stinker against a team they should easily handle at home.  Down 22 at the half, OSU rallied back behind Seth Tarver’s 14/10, but it was too little too late.  The Pac-10 RPI continues to sink.
  • Portland 88, Oregon 81. This is actually the one loss that should have been expected, as Portland is likely to be the better team this year.  Nik Raivio had 24/8 and his frontcourt mate had 17/8 as they shredded the Duck defense for 53% from the field and 58% from deep.  This will end up being a win that Portland will look favorably upon later this season.

More Upsets This Weekend.

  • VCU 82, #17 Oklahoma 69.  This seemed like a trap game when reviewing schedules, and it turned out to be one.  Willie Warren had a disastrous game, shooting only 3-14 (0-8 from three) and committing six turnovers in the outing.  Freshmen Tiny Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin combined for 25/18/6 assts, but VCU’s stars Larry Sanders (17/4/3 blks) and Jay Gavin (20/5/3 assts) outperformed them in Jeff Capel’s return trip to his old coaching haunt.
  • Temple 71, Siena 67.  The Saints found themselves on the wrong end of a 13-0 second half run by Temple that gave up their hard-earned halftime lead.  Juan Fernandez led the Owls with 20/3 assts, but it was Siena’s poor three-point shooting (1-9) that ultimately doomed them in this game.  Alex Franklin had 22/6 and Ryan Rossiter had 8/11, but Siena will need to play better in coming weeks to make a push for an at-large should they not win the MAAC Tournament.
  • Vermont 77, Rutgers 71.  Vermont should be proud to have gone into a Big East arena of a team that some expect to make waves this season and get a big win.  Marqus Blakely did everything — 17/9/2 assts/4 stls/5 blks — as UVM gutted out a hard-fought victory in Piscataway.
  • Kansas State 83, #21 Dayton 75.  Really not much of an upset, but a good team was going to leave Puerto Rico 1-2, and Dayton is the unlucky recipient.  Jacob Pullen had 26/5/4 assts for K-State, while Dayton’s Chris Wright came through with 15/10 on the other side.

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Checking In On… the MAC

Posted by jstevrtc on November 22nd, 2009

checkinginon

David Sanchirico is the RTC correspondent for the MAC.

Current Standings

East Division

Team Record

  1. Ohio   3-0
  2. Kent State   3-0
  3. Bowling Green   1-1
  4. Buffalo   1-1
  5. Akron   0-1
  6. Miami (Ohio)   0-2

West Division

Team Record

  1. Ball State   1-0
  2. Eastern Michigan   1-0
  3. Central Michigan   2-1
  4. Western Michigan   1-1
  5. Northern Illinois   0-2
  6. Toledo   0-2

The MAC continues to struggle during out-of-conference play as potential upsets slipped out of teams’ hands, others succumbed in blowouts, and teams that were expected to win, didn’t.

But there were also some good showings from a few surprise teams, including a club from Oxford, Ohio that almost pulled off the biggest upset in recent memory.  The first week of basketball really set the stage for what should be an intense and competitive season in the MAC.

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ATB: WonderWall

Posted by rtmsf on November 17th, 2009

atb

Game of the Night#4 Kentucky 72, Miami (OH) 70.  Heeeeeere’s Johnny! As if the mystique and hype surrounding John Wall already wasn’t enough, in his official college debut the freshman not only becomes an on-court leader and contributes 19 points, 2 boards, 5 assists, and 3 steals (and five turnovers); he also hits a game-winner from 15 feet with less than a second left. Miami (OH) hit 15 of 26 three-point attempts and deserves all the credit in the world for pushing Kentucky to the limit in its own building. They actually led by as many as 18 points, and the man most responsible for that was junior forward Nick Winbush. Despite the loss, Winbush will remember this game for the rest of his life. He bewildered the Kentucky players, coaches, and the Rupp Arena crowd with his 3-point shooting ability, going 8 for 10 from beyond the arc, and they were of all types, folks. Fall-aways. Off the dribble. Contested. Open. It didn’t matter to Winbush. He went into halftime having hit his first SIX, and the fans in Lexington won’t forget his name anytime soon. In the post-game press conference, Winbush described playing so well in Rupp Arena as “the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball,” and said of his three-point prowess on the night, “I shot the first one, and it went in. So I shot another one. It went in, too, so I kept shooting. It just kept going from there.” His teammate (and MAC Player Of The Year contender) Kenny Hayes chipped in 16/4/5 including 4-6 from three-point range, the most impressive being a 27-footer to tie it with just a few seconds left. Kentucky was able to slowly erase the RedHawks’ lead behind double-doubles from Patrick Patterson (16/10) and freshman DeMarcus Cousins (10/10) and trio of threes by sophomore Darnell Dodson. But it was Wall who had the final say. After Hayes hit his long three to tie it, Wall quickly took the in-bounds pass, saw that the lane was clogged after a speed-dribble up the court, and pulled up from 15 feet. After the game, I asked him if he knew it was good when it left his hand. He smiled and said, “I was hoping so. But it felt good.” I just bet it did.

RTC Live#6 Villanova 103, Pennsylvania 65. When the Villanova Wildcats beat the Penn Quakers at the Pavilion at Villanova tonight it was not just another out of conference basketball game between two local schools. These two competitors have a history, a history that binds them together with three other Philadelphia D1 schools, in the City Series, a rivalry known as the Big 5. This game opened the 55th season that La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova have played for the bragging rights to the City of Brotherly Love. In the 5+ decades of the rivalry, the Penn teams of the 1970s have set the standard for domination in the series. Those teams, coached by the legendary (and recently deceased) Chuck Daly racked up a 29-11 record from the 1971 to the 1980 seasons. No team has matched that win total over a decade… until tonight. Villanova won their 30th game of the decade, ironically beating Penn team to do it. For Coach Jay Wright, this, his 26th win moves him into a tie in 6th place for wins by Big 5 coaches. His record, 27-7 (0.788) sandwiches him at second between the aforementioned Chuck Daly (19-5, 0.792) and Saint Joseph’s legendary coach, Dr. Jack Ramsey (34-10, 0.773) for winning percentages in Big 5 games.  Tonight a freshman, Maalik Wayns, led Villanova with 16 points, while Penn off guard Darren Smith led all scorers with 21 points. Wildcat forward Antonio Pena recorded his first career double-double, corralling 10 rebounds while scoring 12 points in 25 minutes of play.

ESPN’s 24 Hours of John Stevens Hoops.  For recaps on the late games involving UCLA-Cal State Fullerton, St. Mary’s-SDSU, Hawaii-N. Colorado and more, check out John’s liveblog here.

Other Games of National Interest.

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RTC Live: Miami (OH) @ Kentucky

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2009

RTCLive

The fun continues tonight as RTC Live steps into one of the oldest and revered venues in the game to see the debut of one of its newest stars.  Miami (OH) comes to Rupp Arena to face 5th-ranked Kentucky at 7 pm ET in a game that serves as the coming-out party for the Wildcats’ John Wall.  He’s got a lot to live up to, in light of fellow freshman point guard Eric Bledsoe’s 24-point debut on Friday against Morehead State.  We think he’s up to the task.  Miami (OH) has a fine point guard of their own in Kenny Hayes, a 5th-year senior who sat out most of last year with a wrist injury but comes back this year healthy and ready to make a run at winning Player Of The Year in the MAC.  Come join us at 7 pm tonight.

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RTC Live: Week 2

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2009

RTCLive

What a week of RTC Live events, huh?!?  We managed to cover a total of six games literally from coast to coast, and this coming week should be even better.  RTC Live will be at no fewer than eleven games this week, including four top ten teams and two tremendous events, the Hall of Fame Showcase in St. Louis on Tuesday night, and the Coaches vs. Cancer semis and finals in Madison Square Garden on Thursday and Friday evenings.  We hope to see you with us along for the ride!

Monday November 16

  • Miami (OH) @ #5 Kentucky – 7 pm ET (also on ESPN FC) – John Wall’s collegiate debut is all we need to say here.
  • Pennsylvania @ #6 Villanova – 7 pm ET – Big Five games are always intense, and this one should be no different as the Quakers visit the top ten Wildcats.
  • San Diego State @ St. Mary’s – 2 am ET – SDSU is a little banged up, but this has been a great series over the past several years.

Tuesday November 17

  • Arkansas vs. #23 Louisville (in St. Louis) – 7:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – John Pelphrey takes on his collegiate mentor as part of the Hall of Fame Showcase event, but we’re more interested in seeing how the Cardinals react to their offseason of turmoil.
  • Fairfield @ Maryland – 8 pm ET – we’ll also be coming live from College Park for our first visit to the Comcast Center to see Greivis Vasquez and company in action.
  • Memphis vs. #1 Kansas (in St. Louis) – 10 pm ET (also on ESPN) – The showcase game of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops pits the top-ranked Jayhawks against Josh Pastner’s revamped Tigers.  This game should have an NCAA Tournament environment.

Wednesday November 18

  • #10 Butler @ Northwestern - 8 pm ET (also on BTN) – this would have been a little more exciting had NW’s Kevin Coble not injured his foot, but Butler is going to have to be ready for this one if they want the win in addition to the RPI boost for playing a Big Ten team away.
  • Utah State @ Utah – 8 pm ET (also on The Mtn) – Utah is coming off a home loss to Idaho where they allowed the Vandals to drop 94 pts on them.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Utes respond against one of their in-state rivals, a very good team in their own right.

Thursday November 19

  • #12 California vs. #25 Syracuse (in New York) – 7 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – semifinal matchup of the Coaches vs. Cancer between Cal’s exceptional shooters and the long, sticky Syracuse zone defense should result in a great game at MSG.
  • #17 Ohio State vs. #4 North Carolina (in New York) – 9:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – the other semifinal will feature Mr. Everything Evan Turner for OSU navigating the athletic frontline of UNC.  Who will be tasked with guarding Turner — Marcus Ginyard?  John Henson?

Friday November 20

  • Coaches vs. Cancer Consolation Game – 5 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – we expect to see Cal vs. UNC in this matchup after Ohio State pulls the upset the night before.  If so, UNC will dominate the much weaker California front line.
  • Coaches vs. Cancer Championship Game – 7:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – in the title tilt, we’re expecting OSU to take on the near-home crowd of Syracuse, with Evan Turner leading his team to the early season championship and a top ten ranking.
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Set Your Tivo: 11.16.09

Posted by nvr1983 on November 15th, 2009

tivo

After a relatively slow opening week things begin to start picking up this week so I’ll be going back to the daily version of SYT to avoid writing a 5,000 word post. RTC will be doing our “world famous” RTC Live from multiple major games this week so it’s definitely worth checking out. That feature has become so popular that our correspondent at the Davidson-Butler game noticed that another writer in the row in front of him on Saturday was following the simultaneous Creighton-Dayton game on RTC Live. Anyways, there are two games on the slate for tonight and coincidentally we will be covering both of them. Some of you may think this is even more shameless self-promotion (and it is to a certain extent), but as always if you think another game should be mentioned or if I make a careless mistake let me know in the comment section.

Miami (OH) at #5 Kentucky at 7 PM on Big Blue Sports, Fox Sports South, and ESPN360.com: Unfortunately, Wally Szczerbiak will not be in action although we hear that he has some free time now. Fortunately, John Stevens will be there with RTC Live though as well as some guy named John Wall that you may have heard some people talking about the past few months. Quite frankly the RedHawks, fresh off an 11-point loss to mighty Towson to open the season shouldn’t be much of a hurdle for the Wildcats, but this game is worth watching to see how the young Wildcats function in a regular season game with Wall playing alongside Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt. Coming into the season it was widely expected that Bledsoe would serve as a backup to Wall, but in the first game of the season it was Bledsoe not Wall (serving the 2nd game of his split suspension for a suspected infraction relating to his time in AAU) who stole the show. It will be interesting to see how those two play with Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins. Scoring shouldn’t be a problem given the prodigious talents of those four players, but the thing to look for if you are wondering if this Wildcat team can win a NCAA title is their defensive effort. Although we doubt you will see “Rick Pitino at Kentucky” level defense out of these young Wildcats don’t be surprised if their effort is much better after their first game (minus Wall) left John Calipari wanting more defensively out of his team. If they heed Calipari’s advice and turn up the defensive intensity, it could be a very long night for the RedHawks.

Pennsylvania at #6 Villanova at 7 PM: It looks like this game will not be on television, but RTC has all the coverage you need with yet another installment of RTC Live. As for the game itself, this rivalry (both teams are part of Philadelphia’s famous “Big 5″) hasn’t quite lived up to expectations in recent years. Since the Quakers last beat the Wildcats with Ugonna Onyekwe, Koko Archibong, and Andrew Toole in both 2001 and 2002 the two programs have gone in opposite directions. Penn is no longer even a contender to win the Ivy League title (it is Cornell‘s to lose this year) while Villanova is coming off a Final Four trip highlighted by one of the best NCAA Tournament games ever and is expected to contend for another Final Four trip this season. The story here is obviously the Wildcats and how they will continue to develop without Dante Cunningham controlling the paint. The Wildcats are loaded in the backcourt with Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, and Corey Stokes leading the way, but will need to develop an inside game if they want to replicate the success of last season or even the 2006-07 team that featured Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, and Allan Ray. While I don’t think this year’s backcourt is as good as it was in 2006-07, they do have an impressive set of newcomers –f reshmen McDonald’s All-Americans Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns and another McDonald’s All-American in Duke transfer Taylor King – who might enough to push them over the top. The real key to Villanova’s success this year may be how Antonio Pena and freshman Mouphtaou Yarou, who just started playing basketball in 2004, develop as threats on the inside. Normally, I wouldn’t give Penn a chance in this game, but it is rivalry game and Penn looked better than expected (remember this is a relative thing) in a loss at Penn State and Villanova looked a bit shaky in the 1st half against Farleigh Dickinson on Friday night so you never know. Regardless, Penn’s Tyler Bernardini and Jack Eggleston will have their hands full against a Jay Wright-led team that is deeper and more talented than Glen Miller‘s crew.

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The Race For 2,000 Wins

Posted by jstevrtc on November 12th, 2009

As I write this, the North Carolina men’s basketball team just finished off their second win of the 2009-10 season against North Carolina Central.  The University of Kentucky squad will play their first game this Friday, November 13th against Morehead State.  That means that as of right now, the UNC program has amassed 1,986 wins in its incredible history.  UK will start this season with 1,988.  From this, it looks like in the Race For 2,000, we have a real barnburner on our hands.

Well, if you’re a Tar Heel supporter and you’re reading this, I have some bad news.  We don’t.  To Wildcat fans:  you can fire up the sewing machines and start creating that banner.  Call the silkscreeners and start cranking out T-shirts.  I’m calling it.

The wins have occurred over time in such a way that both programs will get to the 2,000-win mark early in this season’s schedule, and we know the early part of any season is a time of the year when many teams load their schedule with a fair number of cupcakes and a few big non-conference names thrown in there for RPI/strength-of-schedule boosting.  UNC and UK have both done this for this season, and this is nothing new for anyone.  This season started with UK leading the race with 1,988 wins to UNC’s 1,984.  UNC’s early start this week pulls them to within two wins.  So let’s see how the rest of their schedules look up until December 5th, when Kentucky and North Carolina meet  up for a monumental clash at Rupp Arena:

North Carolina:  Valparaiso, Ohio State (in NYC), California OR Syracuse (in NYC), Gardner-Webb, Nevada, Michigan State.

Kentucky:  Morehead State, Miami (OH), Sam Houston State, Rider, Cleveland State, Stanford OR Virginia, UNC-Asheville.

For the sake of argument, let’s say both teams start the season perfectly up to this point.  That’s no guarantee; UNC-Ohio State, UNC-California/Syracuse, or even UNC-Nevada could be interesting.  Kentucky has it a little easier up to here, so we’re actually helping the Tar Heels by assuming a perfect start to the season.  But let’s say it happens — this would put the race at UK with 1,995 and UNC with 1,992 going into the head-to-head matchup.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #19 – MAC

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2009

seasonpreview

Rush the Court currently does not have a correspondent from the MAC so if you would like to represent the conference and educate the rest of us, please e-mail us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Predicted Order of Finish:

East

  1. Akron (12-4)
  2. Buffalo (11-5)
  3. Kent State (10-6)
  4. Bowling Green (9-7)
  5. Miami (OH) (8-8)
  6. Ohio (7-9)

West

  1. Ball State (8-8)
  2. Northern Illinois (7-9)
  3. Eastern Michigan (7-9)
  4. Central Michigan (6-10)
  5. Toledo (6-10)
  6. Western Michigan (5-11)

All-Conference Team:

  • David Kool (G), Sr, Western Michigan
  • Darion Anderson (G), Jr, Northern Illinois
  • Jarrod Jones (F), So, Ball State
  • Brandon Bowdry (F), Jr, Eastern Michigan
  • Zeke Marshall (C), Fr, Akron

6th Man. Brett McKnight (F), Jr, Akron

Impact Newcomer. Zeke Marshall (C), Fr, Akron

mac logo

What You Need to Know. To begin with this is the MAC not the MAAC. Sienadoesn’t play in this conference so if you came here expecting to see a preview for them you are in the wrong place (at least for a few days). This conference, the MAC, is ridiculously unbalanced. While none of the the teams in the MAC would be considered contenders for a national title there are four good teams in the East that might actually pique some interest when they played a decent BCS school as an “Upset Alert.” There isn’t a single team in the West you could say that about even if they were playing a cellar-dweller in any of the BCS conferences. In fact, last year the last-place team in the East (Ohio) would have been tied for first in the West. The winner of the automatic bid will almost definitely come from the East with Akron and Buffalo being the top contenders. The edge may go to the Zips who lose less of their championship team from last year (only Nate Linhart) and add a 7’0″ center in the middle with Zeke Marshall while the Bulls will not have Greg Gamble and Andy Robinson this year.

Predicted Champion.  Akron Zips (NCAA Seed: #13). Coming off a 20-win season and the MAC title/NCAA bid the Zips are loaded by MAC standards. The only significant player they lose is Linhart (the MAC tournament MVP), but the Zips should have more than enough to stay up at the top of the MAC with the McKnight brothers (Chris and Brett) leading the way. Even though Brett came off the bench last year, he still led the team in scoring and figures to do so again although I’m not sure if he will stay on the bench with Linhart’s departure. With the McKnights and Marshall controlling the inside, Daryl Roberts and his 39.6% from beyond the arc should get his fair share of quality looks. With so much returning talent, the key for the Zips will be how quickly Marshall adapts to the college game. Marshall, who FoxSports.com rated as the #13 impact freshman this upcoming season, could give the Zips something the MAC hasn’t seen in a long-time–a legitimate seven-foot center. His presence, even if tips the scales at a relatively svelte 218 lbs, could be just the boost that the Zips need to repeat in the MAC and scare some big-name school in the 1st round.

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MAC Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2009

Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the OVC and MAC Conferences.

What in the world has happened to the MAC?  Check out Monday’s edition of bracketology and you’ll see Bowling Green as Joe Lunardi’s choice to be the MAC’s representative in the NCAA Tournament.  No problem with that, considering they edged Buffalo for the MAC regular season title on Sunday.  The problem lies with where they are seeded.  A #16 SEED!?!?!?  WHAT?!?!?!?  This conference is at maybe it’s lowest point in decades.  Scratch maybe.  This is rock bottom for the MAC.

With that being said, the play has been super-competitive within in the league.  Going into the final four game stretch, every team in the MAC East was alive for the league title.  We’re not even going to touch the West.  They were a flat debacle.  Nobody had a winning record.  Ball State had the most wins in the West and the Cardinals won 13 games.  Just sad.

The league did announce their postseason awards Monday.  Click here to take a look.

The league tournament starts on Tuesday and, if you throw out the West, the tournament should be wide open.

2009-mac-tourney-bracket

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Checking in on the… Missouri Valley

Posted by nvr1983 on February 15th, 2009

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

Current Records and My Standings (Conference Record)(Last Week Rank)

  1. Northern Iowa (18-8) (12-3)(1)
  2. Creighton (21-6)(11-4) (2)
  3. Illinois St. (21-5) (10-5)(3)
  4. Bradley (14-12) (8-7) (4)
  5. Evansville (15-10) (7-8) (5)
  6. Wichita St. (13-13) (7-8) (8)
  7. Drake (15-12) (6-9) (6)
  8. Indiana St. (7-19) (5-10) (10)
  9. Southern Illinois (11-15) (6-9) (7)
  10. Missouri St. (10-16) (3-12) (9)

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Checking in on the… Missouri Valley

Posted by nvr1983 on February 8th, 2009

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

Current Records and My Standings (Conference Record)(Last Week Rank)

  1. Northern Iowa (17-7) (11-2)(1)
  2. Creighton (19-6)(9-4) (2)
  3. Illinois St. (19-5) (8-5)(3)
  4. Bradley (13-11) (7-6) (4)
  5. Evansville (15-8) (7-6) (5)
  6. Drake (15-10) (6-7) (6)
  7. Southern Illinois (11-13) (6-7) (7)
  8. Wichita St. (11-13) (5-8) (8)
  9. Missouri St. (10-14) (3-10) (9)
  10. Indiana St. (5-19) (3-10) (10)

The Missouri Valley Conference is part of the ESPNU Bracketbusters event (February 21st) once again this season and received 4 games on one of the ESPN family of networks:

  • Illinois State at Niagara (2/20)
  • Miami (OH) at Evansville
  • Northern Iowa at Siena
  • George Mason at Creighton

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