RTC Live: WKU @ Murray State

Posted by rtmsf on December 18th, 2010

Game #77.  A regional rival rekindles tonight as mid-major power Western Kentucky visits mid-major power Murray State.

Western Kentucky and Murray State will meet on Saturday night for the 148th time, and it could be the last for the foreseeable future. Murray coach Billy Kennedy told reporters earlier this week that the series wasn’t likely to continue past this season. WKU coach Ken McDonald refuted that, saying instead that official talks haven’t happened in regards to continuing the series. Either way, meeting No. 148 could mean a lot to the Racers (6-4) or the Hilltoppers (5-5) when the teams meet at 8:30 p.m. ET at Murray. Forward Juan Pattillo, WKU’s leading scorer and rebounder, has practiced this week but might not play, as McDonald said Pattillo is “going through some personal things that he has to handle right now.” Enter Teeng Akol, an Oklahoma State transfer who at 6-foot-11 is the tallest player on the Hilltoppers’ roster. Akol will be eligible for the first time for Saturday’s game. The Racers feature a balanced attack, as only two players average double figures, and at 12 points per game, guard Isaiah Canaan leads the team.

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RTC Live: 76 Classic Finals

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2010


Games #46-#47.  It’s been a long week of feast, but we’ll wrap it up in Anaheim with the consolation game and the finals of the 76 Classic.

Coming into Feast Week, UNLV and Virginia Tech had to be the favorites to advance to the 76 Classic Championship game, and when it tips off at 6 PM PST, those are the two teams who will be fighting it out for the title. While Virginia Tech had to finish strong in their semifinal matchup with Oklahoma State to move on, UNLV has advanced through Tulsa and Murray State with solid workmanlike efforts. Both squads will rely on their strong backcourts and defensive pressure, with the matchups between the Running Rebels’ Oscar Bellfield and Tre’Von Willis and the Hokies’ Dorenzo Hudson and Malcolm Delaney definitely worth keeping an eye on, but it may be the performance of some talented and skilled front court players, namely UNLV’s Chace Stanback and Virginia Tech’s Jeff Allen, that will decide the outcome. We hope you’ll come and join us for what should be a very entertaining matchup in the championship, but you’re welcome to show up early too, as we’ll be keeping an eye on the third-place game between Oklahoma State and Murray State, with both teams hoping to avoid a second loss on the weekend, beginning around 3 PM PST.

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RTC Live: 76 Classic Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2010

Games #39-#40.  Back in Anaheim with Mickey and Friends for the semifinal round of the 76 Classic.

It’s Friday of Thanksgiving week, and while you could join the rest of the lunatics out braving crowded parking lots and jam-packed stores, you being the faithful college basketball fan,  you’re hanging out on the couch and catching up on your hoops-watching time while working your way through your turkey-day leftovers. If that’s the case, you may as well join us as we take in the 76 Classic all day long. We’ll start with the first semifinal (Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State) at 11:30 am PST and wrap up the night with Murray State and UNLV somewhere around 8:30 pm PST, but we’ll be here the whole day long breaking down the action from courtside. The Hokies coasted through their opening round game with CS Northridge, while Oklahoma State had to put in a full day of work to handle DePaul, behind 27 outstanding points from senior forward Marshall Moses. But the Cowboys figure to have their hands full with a strong Virginia Tech backcourt on Friday and will need to get more out of their starting backcourt who were a combined 2/17 from the field against DePaul. In the nightcap, Murray State’s backcourt will also have the spotlight firmly upon them as they will have to hold up under UNLV’s non-stop defensive pressure to give the Racers a chance to advance to the championship game. In between the two semis, we’ll keep in touch regarding the consolation games, so we’ll hope you’ll join us for a long and exciting day of basketball out west.

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After the Buzzer: Paul Hewitt Provides Season’s First (mini) RTC

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2010

Your Watercooler Moment.  Yes, Paul Hewitt is still at Georgia Tech, and yes, the Ramblin’ Wreck is still one.  If your memory was hazy as to why major conference schools don’t like visiting mid-majors on their home floors, Kennesaw State’s blitzing of Georgia Tech tonight, 80-63, is your reminder.  But be honest — have you even heard of Kennesaw State before?  The Owls joined Division I a mere five years ago and its best win in five-plus years of basketball at the highest collegiate level was a two-point victory over conference rival Belmont in 2007-08.  It’s quite a leap to go from sneaking by a mid-100s RPI conference opponent to obliterating an ACC foe from start to finish, even one as generally unpredictable and disappointing as Georgia Tech, but the sellout crowd at the school a half-hour north of Atlanta loved it.  Kennesaw State took a fourteen-point lead into the half, and except for a couple of minor pushes by the Jackets, they were never truly threatened tonight.  Paul Hewitt reportedly has a huge buyout in his contract, but we figure eventually Georgia Tech is going to tire of year after year of mediocrity despite the lure and promise of star recruits coming onto campus, right?  We think there’s no greater tell of the abilities of Hewitt to get it done at Georgia Tech than the fact that he’s never in ten years in Atlanta finished better than 9-7 in the ACC — and he’s only done that once (in 2004).  And consider the players who have come through GT: Chris Bosh, Jarrett Jack, Will Bynum, Javaris Crittenton, Anthony Morrow, Thaddeus Young, Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal.  Only a handful of schools nationally have put more players into the NBA than Paul Hewitt, yet this surfeit of talent simply hasn’t translated to success at the collegiate level.  He needs to go, and this loss may have been the ugly slap to the face that Tech administrators need to finally cut him loose.

Hewitt Has No Answers (AJC/C. Compton)

Tonight’s Hits…

  • Mini-RTC at Kennesaw State.  Honestly, we’re not sure when a school like Kennesaw would get another shot at something like this, so we’re somewhat shocked that the entire student body wasn’t immediately on the floor after the final buzzer.  Maybe they’re still new to this whole basketball thing.  Nevertheless, there was a mini-RTC of which we found photographic evidence.  If anyone has a better photo or can show more students filling the floor, we’ll count it as a full one, and the first of the 2010-11 season.

There Was a Mini-RTC at Kennesaw Tonight

  • Clarence Jackson. During several portions of tonight’s Siena game at Minnesota, it appeared that the confident Jackson was going to win the game all by himself.  He had 29/5/4 assts including five threes and if he’d gotten any help from his teammates — he had more FGs and points than the other four starters combined — Siena may have been able to walk out of the Barn with a big win.
  • Fordham’s Streak. It took 322 days and 23 games but the nation’s current longest losing streak ended tonight when Fordham defeated Sacred Heart, 69-51.  Good for those guys, and even better that they really did it in a convincing fashion.  Chris Gaston had 12/17/4 blks.
  • Nikola Vucevic. Could be one of the more underrated and unknown big men in the nation — through two games the USC forward is averaging 21/13 against not-terrible competition (UC Irvine and Santa Clara).
  • Double Your Morris Trouble. The Kansas twins Marcus and Markieff Morris both had dub-dubs tonight — Marcus went for 22/11 while his brother dropped 12/13 in an easy win over Valparaiso.  The win was also KU’s 61st consecutive home victory, one short of its all-time record.  Watch out, North Texas (Friday night’s opponent).
  • Atlantic Sun! Just a few days after Stetson took out Wake Forest, Kennesaw State did the same to Georgia Tech.  What’s the lesson here?  Maybe yellow and gold teams shouldn’t play A-Sun squads?  Or maybe those ACC teams are really struggling right now.
  • Oakland.  The Golden Grizzlies going into the MAC favorite’s gym and easily dispatching them after getting rolled up over the weekend by WVU was an impressive win, and the kind of thing that will be very helpful come March.  Keith Benson didn’t even play all that well (10/6/3 blks while in foul trouble), but OU was still able to win easily.
  • Steve Lavin. Lavin gets a nod here for having the cojones to schedule his team to play 3,000 miles away in a bandbox gym at 2 am ET.  This was going to almost assuredly be a loss for his team, but we have a sneaky suspicion that putting his players through this will be a good learning and bonding experience for them that will help come the rigors of Big East play later this year.

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RTC Live: ETSU @ Murray State

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2010

Game #11.  RTC Live makes its inaugural trip (a recurring theme this season) to Murray State’s CFSB Center tonight.

After last season’s 54-52 heartbreaking loss to eventual national runner-up Butler, host Murray State will have a bad taste in their mouth as they return to the court tonight, looking to kick off the 2010-11 season right. Standing in their way will be last season’s Atlantic Sun Champion, East Tennesse State, who travels to the CFSB Center with a chip of their own. ETSU, who fell to John Calipari and the University of Kentucky 88-65 on Nov. 12, will look to overcome the early setback behind the play of junior forward Isiah Brown whose 25 points and 14 points led the Bucs. Murray State will enter the contest with an Isaiah of their own, boasting sophomore guard Isaiah Canaan, whose 18 points led the Racers over Freed-Hardeman in their only exhibition game. All in all, it should be a good one as two 2010 NCAA teams square off. The game starts at 7:30 C.S.T. so we’ll get things kicked off from Murray 15 minures early. We hope you’ll join us.

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ESPN Full Court Schedule – 480 Games of Delicious Goodness

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2010

Once again this year we’ve been inundated with requests for our annual release and analysis of ESPN’s Full Court Schedule, which for some reason the WWL makes very difficult to find and use every year.  You’d think that if they want us to pay $104 for this product, they’d make it considerably easier to know exactly what we were buying.  Alas.  Keep in mind that according to ESPN every one of these games is simulcast for free on ESPN3.com (previously ESPN360), so the decision point on whether to spend the hundy probably comes down to whether you enjoy watching games on a 15″ or a 50″ screen.  We didn’t want the length of this post to be a mile long, so we’ve thumbnailed the entire schedule (which we re-organized in a useful way) below.

Note: You’ll have to click the table in the new page to expand it to full size.

Click for Full Schedule

A fully sortable Google Doc that we created containing the same information is also located here.  You can sort the table by your favorite school or conference if you like, a feature that ESPN with its boring .pdf format simply doesn’t provide.

If that’s too much to look at, here are the twenty games that we find the most compelling on the package this year.  There are some legitimately good games on this list, including several matchups where talented mid-majors having something to prove visit a ranked team’s gym (i.e., Morehead State @ Florida; ORU and ODU @ MissouriOhio @ Kansas).  Additionally, some of the conference matchups later in the year could turn out to be important games for the overall standings and in terms of NCAA Selection Committee seeding (i.e., Kentucky @ Georgia; Maryland @ Virginia Tech; UNC @ NC State).

Here are the schools with the most appearances on Full Court this year.  If you enjoy bad Big 12 basketball (Iowa State and Oklahoma), then you’re in luck, but the  package’s comprehensive coverage of the SEC’s Georgia (with probable first-rounders Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie) and Mississippi State (with Renardo Sidney) should be interesting.  Seton Hall is on FC fourteen times, and given the amount of talent the Pirates are bringing back with the level-headed Kevin Willard entering the fray, it might be worth catching several more of their games.  And if you’re not getting enough of Jacob Pullen through the usual channels, the Full Court package will give you eleven more opportunities to fear the beard this season.

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RTC 2010-11 Impact Players – Mid-South Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2010

For the second October in a row, we’re bringing you our RTC Impact Players series.  The braintrust has gone back and forth on this and we’ve finally settled on a group of sixty players throughout ten geographic regions of the country (five starters plus a sixth man) to represent the who and where of players you should be watching this season.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen every one of these players ball at least once by the end of February, then you need to figure out a way to get a better television package.  As always in a subjective analysis such as this, some of our decisions were difficult; many others were quite easy.  What we can say without reservation is that there is great talent in every corner of this nation of ours, and we’ll do our best to excavate it over the next five weeks in this series that will publish on Mondays and Thursdays.  Each time, we’ll also provide a list of some of the near-misses as well as the players we considered in each region, but as always, we welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments.

You can find all previous RTC 2010-11 Impact Players posts here.

Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR)

  • Brandon Knight – Fr, G – Kentucky. What on earth could Brandon Knight do to live up to what has preceded him? It’s not just that he’s been stood for membership along the Caliparian Derrick Rose-Tyreke Evans-John Wall axis, or that he’ll immediately be expected to live up to the ridiculous standard entailed by that little club. Yeah, that’s hard enough, but there’s something more. Last year’s Kentucky team wasn’t just about five first-round draft picks and an Elite Eight run. It wasn’t about the actual on-court achievements of Messrs. Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe, and Calipari. It was what the season symbolized, a pronouncement that, after two years of weirdness under Billy Gillispie, Kentucky had returned to prominence in a major way, wasn’t likely to go anywhere for a very long time, and that deep tournament runs with big bad recruits were to be the norm once again. That’s quite a show to follow. Brandon Knight says he’s up for the challenge, and he might be right. Don’t let the 32.5 PPG average as a prep senior in Ft. Lauderdale fool you. Even though Calipari cautions people against comparing last year’s Wildcats to this year’s, since Knight has yet to play a single second of college basketball, something has to be used as a reference point right now. That said, Knight shares Wall’s second-most important attribute as a collegian, which is the ability to provide whatever’s needed. Scoring? Not a problem. Less emphasis on points and more on distribution? Consider it done. Help on the glass? Let’s do it. Defensive leadership? Fine. Another similar aspect is that while Wall was a genius at getting to the rim, taking contact, and finishing, Knight has this gift as well and will gladly take whatever’s waiting on him in terms of body blows, but he’s also likely to pull up at the edge of the lane to shoot his mid-range jumper or slip a pass to an open teammate before defenders know what happened. Finally, as for the most important thing Knight has in common with Wall? That’d be the commitment in the classroom. You might as well just go ahead and fill in the bubbles on Knight’s APR sheets. He arrives from high school riding a 4.3 GPA, which we’ll assume is based on an accelerated/AP scoring system. Unless that 4.3 is based on some screwy 9.0 scale from Florida that we don’t know about, anybody looking for an offseason scandal here is wasting their time.

Brandon Knight Will Take the Reins From Wall at UK

  • Will Barton – Fr, G – Memphis. Considered by many to be the top shooting guard in this year’s freshman class, Will Barton has already taken a rather interesting path on his way to Midnight Madness. First there was concern over whether he would be academically eligible for the coming season, which he ultimately overcame. Then there was his Twitter guarantee that the Tigers were going to win the national title, which upon questioning he defended by simply saying, “What was I suppose [sic] 2 [sic] say?” Now that Memphis appears to have gotten past all of the headaches (hopefully) it is time for Josh Pastner and Tiger fans to enjoy Barton’s many gifts. If they’re expecting another Derrick Rose they are going to be disappointed because Barton’s game is quite different from the one-and-done Tiger star — who technically never played at Memphis according to the NCAA — as Rose was more of a distributor whose athleticism and physical skills made him a legitimate scoring threat, whereas Barton is primarily a scorer who also distributes because of his athleticism and physical skills. Barton also lacks many of the complementary pieces that Rose had around him so don’t expect a repeat of the 2007-08 season for the Tigers, but Barton could lead them further than you would otherwise expect for a team that was weaker than recent Memphis teams even before the departure of Elliot Williams. Although Barton does not have range of some of the premier scorers of recent vintage like J.J. Redick or Stephen Curry, he does possess a solid outside shot, which he combines with a mid-range game that very few players at any level have, and an ability to get to the basket. What could potentially set him apart from  the likes of Redick and Curry is Barton’s ability to rebound and play defense. With that combination of skills and his potential for improvement (he is rail-thin right now, listed at 6’6” and 170 pounds coming out of high school) Barton could be the best player at Memphis since Rose and if he sticks around for a few years his name could be mentioned alongside Keith Lee, Elliot Perry  and Anfernee Hardaway as one of the all-time greats there.

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Where 2010-11 Happens: Reason #26 Why We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2010

Shamelessly cribbing from the clever NBA catch phrase, we here at RTC will present you with the 2010-11 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball as we ramp up to the start of the season a little over a month from now.  We’ll be bringing you players to watch for this season and moments to remember from last season, courtesy of the series of dump trucks, wires and effluvia known as YouTube.  If you want to have some fun while killing time, we encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.  Enjoy.

#26 – Where The Slipper Still Fits Happens

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Let’s Kick It Off: Observing a College Football Weekend Through A Hoops Lens

Posted by rtmsf on September 2nd, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 Conferences and an occasional contributor.

Hooray! Today is the official end of the Great Sports Desert – you know, that period of time between the first Monday in April and the first weekend of the college football season. Beginning tonight, there are actual meaningful sporting events that I am interested in. Let’s be clear, I love college football. Easily my second favorite sport. But, I’m a college hoops junkie first and foremost, and part of the reason I love the start of college football season is because that means that the start of college basketball is within shouting distance from here. And, while looking over the slate of college football games this weekend, I couldn’t help but imagine some of these matchups as college basketball games. So, here I have, in reverse order, the ten most intriguing matchups of the college football weekend, provided they are re-imagined as season openers in basketball season.  (ed. note: yes, he is sick, but we love him for it)

College Sports is Back on the Calendar!

First, a nod to a handful of games which, being a junkie and all, definitely appeal to me, but were just a bit off of my top-10 list:

  • Pittsburgh @ Utah – on Thursday night, with only six other games on. If this was basketball season, and there were only six other games on, you could bet I’d watch some of this. Sure, Utah isn’t going to be very good, but it would be interesting to see Pitt go on the road early into a hostile environment.
  • Murray State @ Kent State – a very good mid-major matchup between one of last season’s Cinderellas and one of the MAC’s always competitive teams.
  • Connecticut @ Michigan – this game just sounds really good, but in reality, UConn is down and Michigan is, well, I would say Michigan is down, but its been awhile since they’ve been up.
  • Richmond @ Virginia – a big intrastate matchup between the A-10 and the ACC. If Virginia was just a little bit better, this may have made the cut, because UR will be very good again, but a road trip into the John Paul Jones Arena would be a good early test for Kevin Anderson and company.
  • Northwestern @ Vanderbilt – as enticing as this Wildcat/Commodore matchup would be between two talented teams with NCAA Tournament hopes, this just misses the cut.

And on to the top 10:

  • #10 – Washington State @ Oklahoma StateKlay Thompson, Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto invade the Gallagher-Iba Arena to provide a good early season test for a young Cowboy squad minus last season’s two leading scorers. While the young Cowboy guards Ray Penn and Keiton Page keep this close throughout, too much Thompson eventually does them in.

Predicted Football Score: Oklahoma State 31 Washington State 10

Predicted Basketball Score: Washington State 72 Oklahoma State 66

  • #9 – UCLA @ Kansas State – Kansas State is one of the teams on the short list of national title contenders. UCLA is, well, honestly, not very good at least judging by last season’s performance. But, they’re still UCLA. And their frontline of Reeves Nelson, Josh Smith and Tyler Honeycutt will test Curtis Kelly, Wally Judge and company, perhaps even to a draw. We’ll also get a first chance to see if the Bruins have even remotely solved their problems at the point, an area of concern that will eventually be the deciding factor in this matchup as Jacob Pullen eventually gets over on Malcolm Lee and the Wildcats pull away in the second half.

Pullen is Back With Another Strong Team

Predicted Football Score: UCLA 23 Kansas State 17

Predicted Basketball Score: Kansas State 70 UCLA 60

  • #8 – Syracuse @ AkronJim Boeheim taking his Orange on the road early against a Midwest mid-major? Sure, that’ll happen. But, if it did, I’d be thrilled to see my first glimpse of Syracuse freshman center Fab Melo battling the Zips own young center, sophomore seven-footer Zeke Marshall. Sure, the Orange’s talent would probably win out in the end with Akron not having an answer for Kris Joseph, but I’m pretty sure that we’d get at least 30 minutes of pretty compelling basketball here.

Predicted Football Score: Syracuse 24, Akron 20

Predicted Basketball Score: Syracuse 67 Akron 55

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A Little Summer Madness For Your Basketball Jones

Posted by rtmsf on July 16th, 2010

It’s the middle of summer and hotter than hell pretty much everywhere, and college basketball feels a long way away.  Luckily, CBS College Sports has realized that some of us will watch great college hoops year-round if given the opportunity, and they’re using the next couple of weeks to replay the entire 2010 NCAA Tournament for people of our ilk.  They started this feature last week, but there are still plenty of great games on tap.  Here’s a taste of some of when some of the better games will be on — set your Tivo accordingly…  (although make sure to check the complete listings because most of these games and many others are televised multiple times over the next week).

Um, Why Does Summer Madness Have a Football Field in the Background?

Saturday July 17

  • 4:30 pm – St. Mary’s vs. Villanova (2d Round)
  • 6:30 pm – Murray State vs. Vanderbilt (1st Round)
  • 11 pm – Northern Iowa vs. Kansas (2d Round)

Monday July 19

  • 6 am – Old Dominion vs. Notre Dame (1st Round)
  • 12:30 pm – Michigan State vs. Maryland (2d Round)
  • 6:30 pm – Xavier vs. Pittsburgh (2d Round)
  • 9 pm – Texas A&M vs. Purdue (2d Round)

Tuesday July 20

Wednesday July 21

  • 6 pm - Butler vs. Kansas State (E8)
  • 11 pm - Tennessee vs. Michigan State (E8)

Thursday July 22

  • 12 pm – Baylor vs. Duke (E8)
  • 2 pm – Butler vs. Michigan State (F4)
  • 6 pm – Butler vs. Duke (Ch)

Friday July 23

  • 8:30 pm – Wake Forest vs. Texas (1st Round)
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RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.21.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2010

Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

  • Kentucky performed as a top seed should, winning convincingly, building momentum and taking confidence to Syracuse. Ashley Judd isn’t the only star fan, Grammy-nominated rapper Drake was at Saturday’s game and gave hi-fives to the Kentucky coaches.
  • Cornell is going to its first ever Sweet 16 after exposing Wisconsin in a 18-point victory. Meanwhile, the Big Red feel like they belong and will be playing their regional semifinal game just under 60 miles away from campus.
  • Washington continued its improbable run into the Sweet 16 Saturday. The Huskies are coming together as the East Region bracket falls apart, playing their best basketball in a long time. The Seattle Times is asking… why can’t the Huskies continue this run?
  • West Virginia handled the pressure and Joe Mazzulla and Darryl Bryant got redemption in their win over Missouri. Mazzulla showed heart in the Sunday win, the Charleston Gazette says.

West Region Notes (Andrew Murawa)

  • Butler has advanced to their third Sweet 16 in eight years, and while they will be a big underdog to Syracuse on Thursday, they’ve shed the Cinderella label.
  • Xavier, on the other hand, is one of just two programs in the country to achieve the Sweet 16 in each of the past three years (the other being Michigan State), and they’ve got a label they aren’t too big on either: “mid-major”.
  • A day after the BYU season ended, head coach Dave Rose still thinks his Cougars had a “special season.” They will lose seniors Jonathan Tavernari and Chris Miles to graduation and freshman Tyler Haws will head off on his two-year Mormon mission, but they also have two kids returning from missions and expect to be a strong contender in the MWC again next season.
  • Murray State also heads into their offseason feeling pretty good about their accomplishments, and with only two key contributors graduating and freshman forward Ed Daniel looking ready to be an Ohio Valley Conference star, head coach Billy Kennedy feels pretty good about the future of the program.
  • And, finally, while it is never too early to get an Arinze Onuaku update (still somewhere between questionable and unlikely for Syracuse vs. Butler on Thursday), Wesley Johnson offered up a pretty good assessment of his hand injury with his play on Sunday.

Midwest Region Notes (Tom Hager)

  • It may be surprising to hear from Ali Farokhmanesh, but the gutsy shooter claims that open looks are sometimes the harder shots to make, as a shooter has too much time to think.
  • According to Tom Izzo, the odds of Kalin Lucas having a torn ACL are around 85%.  If that is the case, his season is likely over.
  • When Tennessee and Ohio State will meet, it will be a rematch of their 2007 tournament game, in which the Volunteers led by 17 and OSU needed a Greg Oden block at the buzzer to save a one point lead.
  • Kansas coach Bill Self asserts that Northern Iowa shouldn’t be surprising the country as much as they are, claiming that the Panthers are not Cinderella.
  • According to Fox News, the NCAA needs Evan Turner, who can provide the closest substitute to the highly anticipated Kansas vs. Kentucky matchup.  If both Kentucky and Ohio State advance to the Final Four, they would not meet until the title game.
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San Jose Pod Daily Diary: 03.20.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 20th, 2010

We’ve got two pretty cool matchups today here in San Jose.  First, we’ll start with the strange situation of everyone’s favorite giant-killer, #5 seed Butler, acting as the heavy favorite over #13 seed Murray State, who of course advanced on Thursday when Danero Thomas’ shot at the horn against Vandy dropped.  In the second game, we’ll enjoy the Pac-10 renaissance for at least another game, as #11 Washington will try to continue its hot streak (now eight Ws in a row) against #3 New Mexico.  We’ll be checking back in throughout the day with our thoughts on the games.

Game 1: #5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State

1st Half

  • Getting ready to come out for the tip of this game, I got into a conversation with two of the young female intern-types who were helping out with the drinks for media.  They were discussing whom to root for in this game, and one said to the other: “well, you have to go with the underdog, Murray.”  Sensing a teaching moment (hey, Scottie), I said, “yeah isn’t it interesting that Butler is the favorite when they’re usually the giant-killer and Murray is the underdog now?”  They were both amazed with that role-reversal and asked a bunch of questions about it.  But it illustrates a point about programs such as Butler and Gonzaga — there comes a tipping point where you’re no longer viewed as the plucky little team anymore, and I think Butler is close to getting there (Gonzaga has been there for years).
  • Butler came out off to a great start 12-3 as Murray State looked a little off kilter, which is to be expected coming off a great win like they had on Thursday.  But eventually they got their sea legs under them and were able to start getting some stops.
  • It’s always interesting to watch The Butler Way…  they take care of the ball; they look for open teammates; they crash the boards; they contest every shot.  Rarely will you see a shot out of the offense, although I did count a couple of them this half.
  • Murray’s defense really picked up about mid-half and it showed in that Butler ended up shooting a horrid 8-28 from the field (29%).  The Bulldogs were held scoreless for the last 6:24 of the first half.  In that time, Murray went on a 9-0 run.  That may not sound like much, but in a game trending toward the 50s, that’s a huge disparity.
  • It took a while to figure out, but the crowd is definitely pro-Murray State.  Again, that’s just weird.  Usually Butler is the team that has the non-partisans on their side.  Ed Daniel’s follow jam with about a minute left on the break really brought the house down.  If this stays close down the stretch, definite home advantage to Murray.
  • I’ve been very impressed with Murray’s Isaiah Canaan in this pod so far.  He has 8 points and has a real swagger about him like nobody can stop him offensively.  Only a freshman and six feet tall standing on a phone book, he is undoubtedly going to be a star in this program the next few years.
  • Coming into the second half, I’m reminded of how Butler had played so poorly in the first half on Thursday, but then used the first five minutes of the second half to completely put UTEP under.  Will that happen again today?  I somehow don’t think it will.  I just don’t see Murray getting as frustrated into making poor decisions as UTEP did the other day.  I really like the poise of this Racer team.

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