The RTC Podblast: The Comeuppance Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 10th, 2014

Welcome back to the RTC Podblast. With a loaded week of big games this week, there was plenty to talk about, including Arizona-UCLA, Memphis-Louisville, Michigan State-Ohio State, Iowa State-Baylor, and Randy’s annual comeuppance. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) leads us through the discussion, with an added cherry on top looking forward to a mildly entertaining group of games this weekend.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-5:34 – Memphis Proves Randy Wrong
  • 5:34-9:44 – Arizona Escapes Pauley Pavilion Unscathed
  • 9:44-15:19 – But Ohio State Doesn’t Escape East Lansing
  • 15:19-16:08 – Iowa State Rolls Baylor
  • 16:08-19:19 – Saturday Games Preview
  • 19:19-21:51 – Sunday Games Preview
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RTC Bracketology: January 10 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 10th, 2014

bracketology

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert.

Our latest bracketology shows a little bit of movement at the top. After Michigan State‘s big win over Ohio State Tuesday night, the Spartans jump to the No. 1 line. Iowa State continues to climb and is up to No. 6 overall on my S-curve, while Wichita State is up to No. 9. I’m still doubting that the Shockers can get a No. 1 seed unless they finish the regular season with an unblemished record (or at most one loss), so for now they remain on the No. 3 seed line despite remaining undefeated.

The "Most Annoying Team in America" to Bracketologists (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

The “Most Annoying Team in America” to Bracketologists (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

North Carolina remains the most annoying team in the country. The Tar Heels lost to Miami (FL) earlier this week to add another awful loss to a resume full of them. Of course, the Tar Heels also have three of the best wins in the country over Michigan State, Kentucky and Louisville.. The Tar Heels are like many of my ex-girlfriends, bipolar and unpredictable.

Here is the complete field, seeded #1-#68:

LAST FOUR IN: Georgetown, Texas, Oklahoma, Dayton
FIRST FOUR OUT: California, SMU, North Dakota State, St. Mary’s

#1 Seeds:

  • ARIZONA (Pac 12/WEST)
  • WISCONSIN (Big Ten/SOUTH)
  • SYRACUSE (ACC/EAST)
  • Michigan State (Midwest)

#2  Seeds:

  • Ohio State
  • IOWA STATE (Big 12)
  • FLORIDA (SEC)
  • Oklahoma State

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Gary Harris’ Re-Aggravated Ankle Injury Will Test Sparty’s Depth

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 6th, 2013

It hasn’t been a good week for Michigan State. After losing at home in surprising fashion to North Carolina and likely losing its No. 1 ranking in the process, the Spartans are now going to be without a key part of its team for the foreseeable future. It now appears star guard Gary Harris will be out indefinitely, as he tweaked his ankle in the game against the Tar Heels Wednesday night. Not only did the Spartans lose their first game of the season this week, but now will be without the almost unanimous Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year pick for at least a few weeks more.

Gary Harris

Gary Harris Must be Healthy For Michigan State to Reach Its Goals

Depending exactly how long Harris is out could have a big influence on Michigan State’s seeding and potentially the Big Ten race. The Spartans have two easy games against Oakland and North Florida before going on the road to battle Texas  in two weeks. It has another game with New Orleans a week later, but then the Big Ten slate opens at Penn State on New Year’s Eve, at Indiana on January 4 and then home against Ohio State on January 7. The report says that Harris will be completely held out of basketball activities for the next few weeks, likely with the hope he’ll be ready to go by the start of the new year. Either way, it isn’t a good situation for the Spartans who need the talents of Harris to compete at their highest level.

Michigan State already was a team relying heavily on its starting line-up, specifically Harris, Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson. Tom Izzo’s bench has up to this point received only 25.7 percent of the available minutes, which ranks the Spartans in the bottom 100 nationally. Now it will need heavy minutes from Travis Trice and Denzel Valetine to fill the void left by Harris’ shooting and scoring abilities. If their superstar isn’t fully healthy by Big Ten play, those first two road games won’t be easy against a solid Penn State backcourt on the road and the always tough Assembly Hall against Indiana. The Spartans can’t really afford to have him out for an extended period of time or it could find itself starting the conference slate in a big hole. Not to mention it could impact hope for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with too many losses. No matter what, though, we are going to learn exactly how much or little depth the Spartans have this season over the next few weeks.

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The RTC Podblast: UNC Say What Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 6th, 2013

Tis the season everyone… it’s RTC Podblast time. In this week’s quick and dirty version, the guys dig into just what in the hell is going on with this year’s North Carolina team, talk through some of the takeaways from this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and look forward to some of the most interesting games of the upcoming weekend (conclusion: snowboarding weekend). As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, and the complete rundown is listed below.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-9:52 – Trying to Solve the Mystery in East Lansing
  • 9:52-12:08 – ACC Middle Tier Still a Question Mark
  • 12:08-14:14 – Michigan in Trouble
  • 14:14-19:26 – Weekend Preview/Wrap
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RTC Bracketology: Way Too Early Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on December 5th, 2013

bracketology

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top 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 Thursdays. 

Right now it is almost impossible to separate a No. 1 seed from a No. 10 seed in the bracket below, so preseason expectations still matter. For instance, North Carolina upset Michigan State last night in East Lansing but the Spartans are still a No. 1 seed. Later in the year, upsets like this will more easily be reflected in the bracket, but right now with such a small sample size, it is hard to compare teams to one another.

If you look hard enough with this iteration of the bracket, you might find a bracketing error or two (or more). At this point of the year, I’m more focused on showing where teams are relative to each other than I am on nailing every single bracketing procedure — although I do try.

NOTE: Small conference champions are still represented by their preseason favorite (or who I expected to win the conference). This will change in the next update.

RTCDEC5

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North Carolina’s Big Upset Over Sparty Only Begs More Questions

Posted by Lathan Wells on December 5th, 2013

College basketball fans, welcome to the most perplexing team in the nation. North Carolina pulled off the stunning upset last night in East Lansing, besting the top team in the nation, Michigan State. A team beset by ongoing suspensions, inconsistent play and horrendous foul shooting went into a hostile road environment following an ugly loss to UAB and promptly outplayed and outhustled the nation’s top team. A confounding team? Absolutely. A team that can be pegged as playing to its competition thus far? Perhaps. But most importantly, this might be a team with just a short enough memory to continue to make noise as the season progresses.

UNC Was Quicker to the Ball All Night Long Versus Michigan State (DFP/J. Gonzalez)

UNC Was Quicker to the Ball All Night Long Versus Michigan State (DFP/J. Gonzalez)

What might be most striking thus far in the Tar Heels’ season is this squad’s resiliency. This is a team that has been forced to juggle lineups with a lot of young players forced to play significantly larger roles than they’d anticipated. Freshmen Nate Britt and Kennedy Meeks were supposed to play complementary roles while their elders carried the torch early.Instead, the suspensions of PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald have forced a lineup shift that saw UNC running 11 players in just the first half against the Spartans. Britt was invaluable, playing perhaps his best game thus far. His ability to handle the ball without turning it over as the Michigan State team pressed out of necessity in the closing minutes was huge for this team. He was also a solid 7-of-8 from the line (UNC’s Achilles heel, 61.8 percent on the season), most of which was in crunch time when the Spartans turned to fouling in the hopes of mounting a comeback. Meeks’ passing ability and impressive touch down low was again on display; despite facing taller big men most of the game, he still finished with an impressive line of 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench and made numerous gorgeous passes to facilitate the team’s half-court sets. Not to be outdone was the continually impressive Brice Johnson. His 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks helped North Carolina control the paint.

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RTC Top 25: Week Two

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2013

We’re now two weeks into the season and there’s not a whole lot more clarity in the poll than there was last week. Michigan State is a strong #1, but #2 Kansas is nipping on the Spartans’ heels and #3 Kentucky and #4 Arizona are not far behind. Then things start to get muddled. Louisville put doubt into everyone’s minds with its no-show versus North Carolina, while Oklahoma State is soaring as a result of its fantastic beatdown of Memphis. Duke‘s close call versus Vermont led pollsters to devalue the Blue Devils, while Connecticut‘s close win over Indiana pushed the Huskies to the edge of the Top 10. And then there are a bunch of teams that people still haven’t gotten a great handle on — the good news is that for schools like Syracuse, Gonzaga and Creighton, we’ll know a lot more about them at this time next week — Feast Week will make sure of it. The quick n’ dirty analysis of this week’s poll is after the jump.

rtc25 11.25.13

Quick n’ Dirty Analysis:

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The RTC Podblast: Episode 1.5

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2013

And we’re off and running with the regular season as well as the weekly RTC Podblast. In case you’re not aware of what this feature is all about, this is where we reset the week’s action and look ahead to the coming weekend of games in a shorter, sleeker, bite-sized format. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, and in this week’s podblast, the guys break down some positives and negatives for each of the four teams in the Champions Classic, discuss a couple of other games from the Hoops Marathon, and look forward to the two biggest games of the weekend. The full rundown is below.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-1:15 – Introduction
  • 1:15-7:26 –  Sparty Spoils Kentucky’s 40-0 Dreams
  • 7:26-11:22 – Kansas (not the Fighting Wiggins) beats Duke (not the Fighting Jabaris)
  • 11:22-13:14 – The Old Dominion Battle (That didn’t involve ODU)
  • 13:14-14:33 – Florida Battles Wisconsin Despite Missing Pieces
  • 14:33-16:34 – Ohio State-Marquette Preview
  • 16:34-20:03 – “Randy Bowl” (Michigan-Iowa State) Preview/Wrap
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Morning Five: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2013

morning5

  1. The residual from Tuesday’s Champions Classic buzzed throughout the sports world on Wednesday, with considerable discussion devoted to rank-ordering the superstar freshmen who were on display (Parker, Randle, Wiggins was a popular order), discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the four teams, and projecting the areas in which each will get better. But perhaps the biggest storyline that came out of the game was related to the interview that Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski gave afterward. In response to a media member’s question about the not-exactly-secretive practice by NBA teams to tank games in order to position themselves for high draft picks next summer, Coach K waxed poetically in his response about the virtues of good old-fashioned competition: “As an American, I wouldn’t like to think that an American team would want to lose or create situations where you would want to lose. […] Maybe I’m naive and I’m going to go read a fairy tale after this.” Full clip here. Speaking of competition, ESPN cleaned up with its broadcast of the double-header, recording the second-highest rated regular season non-conference game in history for #1 Kentucky vs. #2 Michigan State, and the nightcap game wasn’t terribly far behind.
  2. Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands on Wednesday with spectacular timing, choosing to release its 2013-14 College Basketball Preview issue in the wake of all the good Champions Classic vibe and avoiding the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls’ mistake of choosing Kentucky for its top spot. Utilizing a neat four-region cover format, the experts at SI instead went with Louisville as its preseason #1 team, although there aren’t any real surprises among the rest of their list (Harvard at #20, maybe?). For their full top 20 rankings and excerpts of some of the articles printed in the preview, check out this SI.com One and One post here; for complete scouting reports on each of the ranked teams, check out their online post here. But if you really want the full experience, get analog and enjoy the magazine the way it was intended — in hard-copy, ink-and-paper, magazine format.
  3. Speaking of the Cards, the AP announced on Wednesday that the school had negotiated the exit fee from its one-year foray with the AAC as it looks to head to the ACC next July. The final number turned out to be $11 million, which is roughly the revenue that Louisville creates in the price of a handful of hot dogs and beers at the Yum! Center during a basketball game. OK, not really, but the most profitable basketball program in the nation — estimated to bring in an annual surplus of $23-$28 million per year — shouldn’t have any problem whatsoever in finding enough couch change to write the check. With a move to its new conference starting next season and all the additional television revenue that will come with being a part of the dominant east coast sports league, expect those coffers to continue to rise.
  4. When Louisville joins the ACC in 2014, the next basketball season will culminate in a blockbuster ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, for the 25th time. But with the push to save itself and add teams from above the Mason-Dixon Line, the league is looking to make its hallmark event a bit more inclusive and cosmopolitan than the longtime location of league HQ. A part-time move to New York City is an inevitability, but before the nation’s oldest conference tournament heads to the Big Apple, the league has decided to take baby steps with a trip to Washington, DC, in 2016. The ACC has accepted this dance with the District once before at the Verizon/MCI Center in 2005, an event that was notable for its relatively light attendance over the course of the weekend. The DC area had also hosted several ACC Tournaments prior to that at the old Capital Center in Landover, Maryland, but in all of these events, the Terps and maybe Duke were the only real attractions. Syracuse, Notre Dame and to a certain degree Pittsburgh, on the other hand, all have huge alumni bases in the East Coast megalopolis between Washington and New York, now just an easy train ride between city centers. And Louisville fans travel well. Contrasted with nearly a decade prior, expect the 2016 ACC Tournament even without local team Maryland involved to be a fantastic success.
  5. Finally today, if you read nothing else, read this story from SI‘s Seth Davis about Duke guard Andre Dawkins‘ struggles with clinical depression. By all accounts, depression is a medical condition that people who don’t suffer from it have a lot of trouble understanding. Why not just pick yourself up? Why not just find something that makes you happy? The truth is that picking yourself up and finding something meaningful is extremely difficult for those with the disease. The complicated brain chemistry involved with the condition doesn’t just go away because they want it to, and as Davis elucidates so nicely with the story on Dawkins, the only way it can be solved is through therapy and (sometimes) medical intervention through antidepressants. The happy ending here is that Dawkins is back on the Blue Devils for his senior season and he really wants to play basketball again, something that he had almost no desire to do two years ago. That’s a win right there, and Davis should be commended for bringing this encouraging story to the forefront. Even if you hate Duke, you’ll have to root for Dawkins after reading this one.
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The RTC Podcast: Champions Classic Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2013

So we hear that there are some pretty good basketball games tonight? That’s right, VCU travels to Charlottesville to take on Virginia, and Florida heads to Madison to battle with Wisconsin. Oh, and there might be some kind of made-for-TV event going on in Chicago this evening as well? All kidding aside, we’re just thankful that we have actual games to start talking about — the preseason speculation can get a little boring after seven straight months. But now that opening weekend is behind us, the RTC Podcast, hosted by Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114), can get down to the serious business of reacting to the action on the floor. Starting with tonight.

Seth Davis Joins the RTC Podcast For This Week's Rush the Takes

Seth Davis Joins the RTC Podcast For This Week’s Rush the Takes

Today’s episode reviews some of the biggest games of last weekend and looks ahead to the Champions Classic double-header involving #1 Kentucky vs. #2 Michigan State followed by #4 Duke vs. #5 Kansas this evening. We were also lucky enough to have longtime CBS Sports analyst and Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis join us for this week’s Rush the Takes segment, where he discusses what he’s looking forward to during tonight’s game. Needless to say, everyone’s excitement was palpable. Also remember that you have a chance at winning a free RTC t-shirt if you find the hidden clue somewhere within the podcast. And remember that we’ll be back on Friday of this week with our short-and-sweet RTC Podblast to review these games and any other news that pops up during the next few days.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around to the most interesting parts. Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-5:18 – Oregon vs. Georgetown
  • 5:18-8:46 – Baylor vs. Colorado
  • 8:46-12:06 – Maryland vs. UConn
  • 12:06-14:46 – Foul Discussion
  • 14:46-25:10 – Rush the Takes With Seth Davis
  • 25:10-30:24 – Duke vs. Kansas Preview
  • 30:24-35:22 – Kentucky vs. Michigan State Preview
  • 35:22-38:44 – VCU vs. Virginia
  • 38:44-43:17 – Florida vs. Wisconsin
  • 43:17-47:40 – Chane Behanan’s Return/Wrap
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Vegas Odds to Win It All: Season Opener Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2013

seasonpreview-11

It’s opening week and we’ve already gotten a taste of what’s to come through the first weekend of college basketball. As we head into the start of the 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon tonight, culminating in tomorrow night’s top-five double-header at the Champions Classic, it’s time to take a look at how oddsmakers view the upcoming season. As we mentioned last week upon the release of the RTC Preseason Top 25, there appears to be a consensus top five (Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, Duke and Kansas), followed by a second-tier group of six more teams (Arizona, Florida, Ohio State, Syracuse, Oklahoma State and Michigan). Although the order might be a little different, that is also more or less how Las Vegas is viewing the 2013-14 national championship race. Keeping in mind that unlike those of us who can make any ridiculous prediction we can think of without an appreciable fear of repercussion, oddsmakers stake their livelihoods on this practice. Therefore, they generally have a good idea of what they’re doing.

Let’s first take a look at the odds below (NCAA basketball lines taken from a prominent international sportsbook, where the listed odds are not much different from those in Vegas), then we’ll analyze some takeaways after the jump below. (ed. note: for those unfamiliar with futures odds, +380 represents the amount of money a potential gambler would receive back if he placed a $100 wager on that team and it won.  He would, in other words, win back 3.8 times his original wager.)

2013-14 vegas odds

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Running Down Our Big Ten Preview Posts

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 8th, 2013

Folks, the season is finally here! With three ranked teams in the top-10 of the national polls, the Big Ten is ready to once again make its case as the deepest conference in college basketball. Over the next five months, our team of Big Ten writers – Jonathan Batuello, Brendan Brody, Deepak Jayanti, Max Jakubowski and Alex Moscoso — will provide our insights about the conference we love. To prepare you for the season, we’ve outlined all the posts we’ve written about each of the 12 teams in the league, listed below (sorry, Minnesota, we owe you one).

Which Big Ten Team Will Be Playing Into April Like Michigan Was Last Year?

Which Big Ten Team Will Be Playing Into April Like Michigan Was Last Year?

Overall League Coverage

Michigan State

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