ATB: Weekend Edition — A. Davis, Boeheim, Tu, Big East/SEC & Dunkdafied…

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2011

This Weekend’s Lede. Every Week a Playoff… Until It Isn’t. No matter your opinion on whether Oklahoma State or Alabama should have the right to play LSU for the BCS national championship next month, can we at least come to an agreement that college football’s tired meme of “every week a playoff” has once again been blown out of the water as farcical? Look, we all know that the NCAA Tournament system is far from perfect in terms of anointing the best team as the champion, but like every other major American sport, at least every team that has a reasonable claim to the crown gets a chance to prove its worth on the hardwood. The old saying goes, “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” but as this comical CFB playoff scenario shows, at least one deserving school will get no such chance to do that. On to basketball…

Your Watercooler Moment. Anthony Davis’ Game-Saving Block.

Kentucky vs. North Carolina. North Carolina vs. Kentucky. What else could it be? Saturday afternoon’s tilt in Lexington was one of those rare fulfilling games where the action on the floor not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded it. And the hype for this game was extraordinary, especially considering that it took place on the first Saturday in December rather than sometime deep in March. Our post-game takes on what we’d seen in the one-point Kentucky win are located here, but the long and short of it is this: Carolina should feel as if they were only a play away from winning a difficult road game that didn’t cater to its strengths (61% on threes, but only 33% on twos), while Kentucky should feel that its extremely young but talented team stood toe-to-toe with the other most talented team in America and didn’t blink. Both UNC and UK should be playing in New Orleans next Spring, and if we’re lucky they’ll tip off for the fourth time in just over 16 months with nothing less than the national championship on the line.

Five More Weekend Storylines.

  1. Big East Dominates SEC in Challenge. Coming into Friday, the SEC was tied with the Big East at 2-2 in this year’s Challenge. The Big East then won the next six games before dropping the final two Saturday evening to finish at 8-4. The most impressive wins over the weekend were Pittsburgh and Cincinnati’s road wins at Tennessee and Georgia, respectively(the Big East had four roadies), and as we noted in our commentary on Saturday, the Big East appears to be an eight- or nine-team NCAA Tournament conference, whereas the SEC seems to deserve roughly half that. Nothing too surprising here, just further confirmation that the Big East, along with the Big Ten, are the top two conferences in college basketball this season. Read the rest of this entry »
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After the Buzzer: A Wild and Wacky Wednesday Night to Close Out November…

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. Big Ten Does It Again. Day two of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge finished in the same way as the first — with a Big Ten beatdown. The midwestern-based conference rode wins from Michigan State and Minnesota at home along with Penn State and Indiana on the road, to notch another 4-2 night and win the event convincingly, 8-4. Four of those eight victories this year came on ACC hardwood, showing that Big Ten teams can pick up victories in hostile environments regardless of location. It’s difficult to draw too much from late November events like these, but the eye and sniff test in watching pieces of the twelve games over the last two nights is highly suggestive that the Big Ten appears to go seven or eight teams deep this year for NCAA Tournament consideration, while the ACC looks to be in the neighborhood of five or six. As our columnist Evan Jacoby wrote in Night Line last night, the Big Ten has unquestionably earned the right to hold the mantle as the top conference in college basketball a few weeks into the season. The ACC appears to be in the mid-pack, perhaps as high as third but also maybe the worst of the five power conferences (the Pac-12 has some work to do to earn our good graces again).

Your Watercooler Moment. Double Overtime in the Thunderdome.

How Jacked Up Does the ThunderDome Look? (h/t @amurawa)

That’s right, we’re passing on the #4 North Carolina vs. #7 Wisconsin snoozer in favor of a high-intensity, mid-major game that went two overtimes and featured enough twists, turns and amazing plays to outdo the entire ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Luckily, our man Andrew Murawa was there for all 50 minutes of the action. Here’s his report (and some highlights from the UCSB side here).

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20 Questions: Which Non-BCS League Will Be the Best This Season?

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the Pac-12 and Mountain West correspondent for RTC and a microsite writer. You can find him on Twitter @amurawa.

Question: Which Non-BCS League Will Be the Best This Season?

In each of the past four years, the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA, Atlantic 10 and Missouri Valley Conference have all been ranked by Ken Pomeroy somewhere between the seventh- and tenth-best conferences in the nation. Going back nine years, at least three of those conferences have been among the top ten conferences in the nation every season, and no other non-BCS conference outside of these four has rated higher than ninth in that span. Now, as good as the Colonial may be this year, as good as the West Coast Conference or even the MAAC may be this season, I’m willing to wager that this year will be no different. One of the MW, the A-10, the MVC or C-USA will be the best non-power conference this season.

The Mountain West Will Take a Step Back With Losses of SDSU Stars (and BYU)

Further, I’ll be willing to wager that the Mountain West, a conference that has only once in that span ranked lower than eighth, will not be the best of those conferences this season. Last year as it rode BYU and San Diego State (not to mention UNLV, Colorado State and New Mexico), it was almost unquestionably the best non-power conference. But, gone are Jimmer Fredette and Kawhi Leonard. And in fact, BYU is gone altogether, as is Utah. UNLV and New Mexico return, and both of them will be very good, but SDSU will take a big step back this season, Colorado State looks to be ordinary, and the rest of the conference ranges from unspectacular to bad.

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20 Questions: Who is the Most Underrated Team in America?

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2011

Brian Otskey is RTC’s Big East correspondent and a regular contributor.

Question: Who is the Most Underrated Team in America?

Selecting an “underrated” team is always a difficult proposition. Plenty of teams could qualify for this distinction but it’s a highly subjective choice, routinely exhibited in national polls where one voter’s opinion can be vastly different from another. When picking an underrated team, I look for a roster with highly talented and experienced returning players who aren’t easily recognized by the average college basketball fan. Additionally, a quality coach with a track record of year to year improvement is an important piece of the puzzle. In order to find the ultimate underrated team, I looked at many schools from all across the country. Cincinnati, Creighton, Kansas (yes, they’re underrated), Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, UCLA, Villanova and Wisconsin received lots of consideration but I ultimately settled on a team that might be overlooked because of who they lost to graduation. The Wichita State Shockers are my choice for the most underrated team in the nation heading into the 2011-12 season.

Wichita State is the Nation's Most Underrated Team

Wichita State loses J.T. Durley, Gabe Blair and Graham Hatch from last year’s team but a returning core of five seniors should keep the Shockers at or near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. Those three players combined for 23.9 PPG in 2010-11 as the Shockers captured the NIT title but head coach Gregg Marshall also returns a plethora of quality senior guards, led by Toure’ Murry and David Kyles, as he begins his fifth year at the helm in Wichita. Murry has great size and rebounding ability for a guard while Kyles is a lights-out long-range shooter, knocking down just under 40% of his triples last year. With Joe Ragland and Demetric Williams adding depth to the back court along with some freshmen such as Evan Wessell, the Shockers will have a deep and talented guard rotation. Senior wing Ben Smith is primed to break out as he takes on a larger role. Smith made 50% of his field goals and connected on 38.6% of his threes last year in only 16.5 MPG. If Smith and Kyles have a good season, Wichita State will put up a lot of points from behind the arc.

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Where 2011-12 Happens: Reason #29 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2011

Another preseason preview gives us reason to roll out the 2011-12 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured the most compelling moments from the 2010-11 season, many of which will bring back the goosebumps and some of which will leave you shaking your head in frustration. For the complete list of this year’s reasons, click here. Enjoy!

#29 – Where Shades of Larry Bird Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons.

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Taylor Brown Cleared, Will Be Back For Bradley

Posted by jstevrtc on September 21st, 2011

Bradley forward Taylor Brown is back playing basketball. After sitting out all of last season while doctors investigated an issue with his heart, Brown has been cleared to play his senior season.

Brown Had To Willingly Decondition His Body and Heart For His Cardiac Workup

Here’s what’s particularly compelling about Brown’s case: as part of his doctors’ investigation over the last year or so, Brown was told to actually de-condition his heart. Obviously, that doesn’t mean he was told by his docs to start smoking and to commence with an all-lard diet, but it does mean that he was told not only to refrain from playing basketball, but also not to do anything active. In short, he was told by his doctors, quite frankly, to do nothing, to allow himself to get into worse shape, because it would help his physicians reach a diagnosis. That might be fantastic medical advice for certain basketball blog writers — such a directive from one of our doctors would be met with a hearty “Can do!” and an immediate trip to the store for more Doritos — but it’s not the easiest thing for someone in their early 20s to hear, and certainly not for an athlete with a future that was getting brighter with every game he played.

After transferring from junior college in 2008, Brown averaged 3.4 PPG and 3.0 RPG in an average 11.5 MPG for Bradley in 2008-09. That ballooned to 13.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG during his sophomore year, and his 12.9 efficiency rating was the best on his team for 2009-10. After sitting out his junior year for the cardiac workup, he’s had to work hard to re-condition himself after the long period of prescribed de-conditioning, and he’ll be back to help the Braves rebound from a 12-20 (4-14 MVC) mark last year.

Patients are told by their doctors to rest or restrict themselves from certain activities, depending on the malady from which they’re suffering, or because it will aid in the workup of a suspected disorder. But there are incredibly few conditions that would require your physician to say, “We actually need your heart to be in a little worse shape than it is now so we can check into this. That’d help us out a lot. Then we’re going to put you through a bunch of heart tests.” Because the working and final diagnoses of Brown’s case have never been released during this process, we won’t disrespect him here by saying what we think it is, but the fact that he’s been cleared to play is even better news than it seems on the surface. We’re just glad he’s OK and we’re looking forward to him playing hoops this season — but probably not nearly as much as he is.

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Morning Five: 09.06.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 6th, 2011

  1. Are we on the verge of the conference realignment free-for-all that we thought was going to happen last summer?  Texas A&M’s insistence on leaving the Big 12 presumably for the greener pastures of the SEC to the east, has the rest of the league running for cover.  Reports over the weekend suggested that once again Texas and Oklahoma are in backroom discussions with the Pac-12 to join the burgeoning west coast league, and like great white sharks in the Pacific, the other four major conferences are circling the remaining schools in hopes of divvying up the rest.  Conventional wisdom is that if Oklahoma bails on the Big 12, the league is effectively finished, but it is the school in Austin who holds the trump card.  One of the sticking points is what the Pac-12 would require UT to do with its Longhorn Sports Network — would it become one of the Pac-12’s new regional networks instead of a ‘national’ channel?  Or will Texas leverage its channel into another sweetheart deal, as suggested as possible on Monday when rumors of an ACC overture to the Longhorns were revealed?  ACC commissioner John Swofford denied that report Monday night, but the possibility of a 16-team basketball league containing Duke, UNC, Maryland, Texas, Syracuse and UConn seems absolutely ridiculous.  In a good way.  The one thing we know from conference realignment madness is that nothing should surprise anyone.  More news on this topic as it merits coverage, but for a comprehensive breakdown of the facts and rumors swirling right now, check out MrSEC’s wrapup from Monday.
  2. Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneurial success story (twice over) Mark Cuban has never been one to hold his tongue on an issue he cares about, and his post on Blog Maverick over the weekend is no different.  Bucking conventional wisdom to a certain extent, Cuban argues that the headfirst plunge by several schools into a group of a few superconferences will turn out to be a “huge mistake.”  He lists several intriguing reasons to support his argument, but the most compelling from our viewpoint was his discussion of how adding schools to a conference will not increase the value of the television contracts of the bigger league.  There must be some exceptions to this ‘rule,’ as in an example where Texas joins any other conference, but Cuban has forgotten more about media rights and deal-making than we’ll ever know so we’re generally inclined to figure he knows what he’s talking about here.
  3. Regardless of how the conference realignment mess ultimately settles out, the development and existence of Texas’ Longhorn Network has led to an arms race among individual schools seeking to reach their fans in the most direct way.  Over the weekend, another Big 12 school announced its response, as the University of Missouri is set to launch Internet-based The Mizzou Network on December 1.  The mostly free channel will broadcast games and competitions from non-revenue sports in addition to ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses at Tiger football and basketball, but it’s clear that the Texas/ESPN deal has put the pressure on athletic departments around the nation to progress or get left behind.  It’s yet to be determined whether a cable television model in the mold of LHN (currently having trouble getting traction with national carriers) or a fully digital network in the mold of Missouri’s (which can reach all of its fans directly) produces better outcomes for the school, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the biggest winners will be fans with team-specific content available to them 24/7.
  4. Now that schools are back in session for the fall semester almost everywhere, this is the time of year we start to see players with too much free time on their hands getting into trouble prior to returning to full-time practice in six weeks.  Over the weekend, Wake Forest sophomore guard JT Terrell was discovered asleep at the wheel of his car and charged with a DWI for a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.  Terrell, a promising freshman last season who averaged 11.1 PPG for the Demon Deacons, has since withdrawn from the school and is reported to be suffering from a “serious medical condition.”  Terrell represents the fourth WFU player to leave the school under difficult circumstances in the year-plus since head coach Jeff Bzdelik arrived. Wake also announced that senior center Ty Walker will not become eligible to join the team until after the fall semester, stemming from a suspension placed upon him in July.
  5. Moving over the Missouri Valley Conference, Drake also announced that two of its players including its leading returning scorer, Rayvonte Rice, will be suspended effective immediately for their alleged role in a petty shoplifting incident.  He and teammate Kurt Alexander, a senior guard, are accused of putting two packages of athletic socks into a bag and exiting a Finish Line store without paying for them.  Rice had one of the best freshman seasons in the history of Drake basketball last year, averaging 13.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG and also leading the team in blocks and steals.  He was a member of the MVC all-freshman and all-newcomer teams and was expected to become an all-MVC performer this year.  The two players told the police officer on the scene that they were “young and dumb” to explain their actions, and to that comment we can do nothing more than shake our heads.  Young and dumb, indeed.
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Summer Updates Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2011

Now that we’ve spent the last six weeks reviewing most of the Division I conferences, let’s take a look back at the entire list with the summer #1 power ranking for each as we head into the fall…  [ed note: to see all of the Summer Updates in order of release, click here]

We currently have openings for conference correspondent roles with the following six leagues. Please email us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com with links to writing samples if you have an interest.
  • Atlantic Sun
  • Big West
  • MAC
  • MEAC
  • SWAC
  • Southland
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Crowning #69, the Wichita State Shockers…

Posted by rtmsf on April 1st, 2011

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.  He was at Thursday night’s NIT Championship and filed the following report.

Graham Hatch was beaming in the postgame press conference. Could you blame him? The senior from Mesa, Arizona, had just played a major part in helping his team win the NIT on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, plus he was wrapping up his collegiate career with a win. Not many players can say that.  Hatch connected on all four of his shots against Alabama, including back-to-back threes that sealed the game for the Shockers en route to their 66-57 win in front of 4,873 fans at the Garden. For his efforts, Hatch was named the NIT’s most outstanding player. He could barely believe it after the game.

 

A Mid Over an SEC Team -- Prelude to Monday Night?

“This is what it’s all about,” Hatch said. “It’s just magical. It’s unbelievable.” For all those who say the NIT is a meaningless tournament, the Wichita State players and coaches were having none of that tonight. Coach Gregg Marshall talked about how special this group of kids, now the single-season record holders for wins in school history (29), is to him but he singled out Hatch and junior center Garrett Stutz. Marshall spoke glowingly about them, saying you won’t find better human beings than these two players. “That’s a fact.”

The first half was well played by both teams but the Shockers (29-8) seized control late, using an 11-1 run over a three minute span in the latter stages of the game to put it away and win their first NIT title. The Crimson Tide had pulled to within four with under six minutes to play but Aaron Ellis made an important jumper with 4:43 to go and then Hatch struck the first of his two blows 26 seconds later.  JaMychal Green led the Crimson Tide (25-12) with 10 first half points but made only one field goal after intermission. Green picked up his fourth foul with 10:59 remaining and was forced to sit on the bench until it was too late. Alabama actually shaved one point off the Wichita State lead in the first five minutes after Green’s fourth foul but couldn’t sustain that momentum long enough for their star player to have an impact down the stretch.  Tony Mitchell led Alabama with 13 points and 12 rebounds but also turned the ball over five times in the loss.

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RTC Live: Indiana State vs. Missouri State (MVC Finals)

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2011

Game #167.  Another NCAA bid will be handed out in St. Louis this afternoon as the MVC Finals tip off.

Three of the four games in the quarterfinal round of Arch Madness went down to the buzzer, but there were no real upsets — the only lower seed to win was Creighton in the 4/5 game, but they beat a team they had tied with for fourth place in Northern Iowa. Saturday, that changed when Indiana State, who finished in third place but had been picked sixth or seventh by many preseason prognosticators, pulled off a stunning upset of Wichita State. The Sycamores now find themselves one win away from an NCAA Tournament berth. Standing between them and the fulfillment of that dream is regular season champ Missouri State and MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems. It should be an exciting Arch Madness Championship; join RTC for a live blog from press row starting at 12:45 Central.

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ATB: Jordan Taylor Goes Jordanesque Against Indiana

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2011

The Lede.  There are only a handful of days left in the regular season.  After 10,000 games, we’ve already eliminated a number of teams from national title contention and we’ll spend the weekend talking about positioning.  Most teams are who we know them to be at this late point in the season — like last call in a college bar, it becomes about finding the best light to present yourself to the evaluators, in this case, the NCAA Selection Committee.  The numbers ultimately will rule the day, but perception and the ‘sniff test’ are things not easily erased from one’s mind.  Let’s see who helped and hurt their positions tonight…

 

Taylor Was Magnificent Tonight (Indy Star/J. Cecil)

Your Watercooler MomentJordan Taylor Dominates Indiana.  The ascent of Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor from solid role player to unknown good player to rising superstar has been remarkable.  So remarkable, in fact, that the Cousy Award folks had originally left him off its list of the ten best point guards in America despite the fact that he is clearly more valuable than half the finalists on the list (Brandon Knight — is this a joke?).  In watching Taylor blow up Michigan State, Ohio State and now Indiana tonight with a career-high 39 points on 11-19 FG (7-8 from deep), we’re regularly astonished with how well he gets his shots off while defended and they still manage to find the bottom of the net.  Many players can shoot the ball when they’re standing open beyond the arc; Taylor, however, is the best player in college basketball shooting the ball with someone right in his face — he regularly takes jumpers where your initial reaction is “wow — tough shot,” only to be surprised when the ball swishes through.  Wisconsin has gone from an unranked team in the preseason to a top ten mainstay in the latter part of the year, and as good as Jon Leuer has also been, the primary reason is Taylor.  He gives Bo Ryan’s team an offensive option that Madison hasn’t seen since Alando Tucker was residing in Madison; and with the defense that his teams always bring to the table, this makes the Badgers just that much more dangerous this March.  If you’re looking for a Final Four darkhorse, you might want to consider this team — they’re every bit as good as all but a few teams in America this year.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Emergence of Scotty Hopson.  In the last three weeks, UT’s star wing has been playing as well as he has at any point in his Tennessee career.  In his last six games including tonight’s win at South Carolina, he’s averaging 23.7 PPG on 52% shooting from the field.  While UT’s record hasn’t necessarily improved as a result of his stellar offensive play — UT has gone 3-3 in those games with two one-point losses — the Vols absolutely must have Hopson play like the star he was supposed to be in order for Bruce Pearl’s team maximize its potential this March.  If his recent play is any indication, the athletic guard may have finally figured out his role as alpha dog on this team, high fade and all.
  • A Fourth Pac-10 Team? Washington probably re-secured its Dance ticket with a nice win over UCLA tonight, so we can reasonably expect that those two, along with Arizona, will hear their names called on Selection Sunday.  Is there a chance that a fourth Pac-10 team, notably Washington State, could sneak into the NCAA’s crosshairs in the next week or so?  After tonight’s home win over USC, if the Cougars can also defeat UCLA over the weekend, Ken Bone’s team would sit at 20-10 (10-8 Pac-10) with a reasonable profile head-to-head against other bubble teams Baylor and Gonzaga (both of whom Wazzu beat earlier this year).  Don’t get us wrong — Washington State would still need to make a run in the Pac-10 Tournament to merit serious consideration, but with the right matchups, the Cougars could find themselves in the finals and pushing the Selection Committee to make a difficult decision.
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ATB: February Parity Turns to March Mayhem

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2011

The Lede.  It was the last weekend in February, and as we come out of it, we’re less clear about who the favorites are to cut down the nets in early April than we have been at any point this season.  RTCs went down in Blacksburg, Boulder, Springfield and more, befitting the stress, pressure and expectations of a season reaching its regular season terminus.  As usual, after a weekend like this, there’s a lot to cover, so let’s jump right in with some of the major moments…

 

An RTC Kinda Weekend

Your Watercooler MomentParity is This Year’s Dominance. It was another weekend where many of the top teams came away with losses.  #2 Duke (#1 AP/#1 ESPN) went to Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Saturday night and left with a lighter load. #3 Pittsburgh (#4 AP/#6 ESPN) dropped a tough Big East road battle at Louisville for the second straight weekend.  #4 Texas (#5 AP/#5 ESPN) suffered a ridiculously bad second half at Colorado and headed back to Austin with two Ls in its last three outings.  #5 San Diego State (#6 AP/#4 ESPN) suffered the ignoble embarrassment of getting Jimmered in its own building by the only team to have proven it can beat the Aztecs this season.  Shuffle the deck for another week and repeat.  The only top teams to come out unscathed this weekend were #1 Ohio State (#2 AP/#3 ESPN), #6 Kansas (#3 AP/#2 ESPN) and #7 BYU (#7 AP/#7 ESPN) — and both the Buckeyes and Jayhawks were part of last week’s poll carnage.  The point we’re making is a simple one: the field is completely wide open this year.  It wouldn’t surprise us nor should it surprise you if none of the eventual #1 seeds make it to the Final Four — the difference between the top seven named above and the next tier of teams is not large.  The four teams we would put on our top line as of tonight — Ohio State, Pitt, BYU and Kansas — are all strong candidates to lose at least one more game between now and Selection Sunday, now only fourteen days out.  This kind of parity among the top teams makes for an exciting NCAA Tournament, but it shouldn’t shock anybody if the seeds that make it to Houston in April add up to a total well into the teens (e.g., 2, 3, 6, 8).

Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. IIThat Stupid Louisville Cheerleader.  If Rick Pitino were a little younger and brasher (say, the Knicks or early Kentucky eras), the Louisville cheerleader who grabbed the ball and tossed it up into the air after what appeared to be Kyle Kuric’s game-sealing dunk would already be encased in concrete in the Ohio River locks.  Instead, the older and somewhat more forgiving head coach will likely only have a horse’s head delivered to the cheerleader’s bed for making his gaffe with 0.5 seconds remaining on the clock.  The sophomoric ball-toss resulted in two technical FTs for Pitt taking a five-point lead down to three, and the Panthers put up a decent half-court heave at the buzzer that would have tied the game.  We can understand a little confusion with respect to the last half-second of time running off the clock, but why touch the ball at all?  That should be the province of the players and game officials, nobody else, and the cheer people should understand that better than most.  Here’s the question on everyone’s mind, though: will Cheer Dufus be back in action or will Pitino have him removed (we’re not sure what “The male cheerleader is coming to an end” means exactly)?

Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. IIITyler Trapani Shuts Down Pauley With an Assist From the Ghost of John Wooden.  It was the last game in Pauley Pavilion, the House That Wooden Built, before it undergoes massive renovations over the next year-plus to bring the building seemingly mired in the 1960s into the modern era.  UCLA was throttling league-leading Arizona and the Bruin partisans were rocking out with every Reeves Nelson dunk, Josh Smith twirl and each  long-range brick from Arizona.  With just a few seconds remaining in garbage time, UCLA’s Jack Haley, Jr., missed a corner three badly short; standing directly under the basket to catch it and lay it in as the final points scored in the “old” Pauley was walk-on Tyler Trapani, The Wizard of Westwood’s great-grandson.  The bucket represented his only two points of the entire season, and it seemed a fitting tribute to finishing off the old barn in its current state.  Pauley Pavilion is one of the temples of the sport, so we’re glad to hear that UCLA is finally updating it — it’s our opinion that modernizing a terrific old venue is much preferred to building an austere and lifeless new one.

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

  • Virginia Tech and Colorado’s RTCs.  Coverage of the court was quick, complete and rowdy, befitting how you should RTC when you take down a top five team in your building.  Virginia Tech’s crowd was fantastic the entire evening, as the below video clearly illustrates (move ahead for the RTC, and here’s a bird’s eye view if you’re into that).  As the second video shows, Colorado’s was also quite good (here’s another from within the maelstrom at center court).  Perhaps more importantly, the huge wins keep both teams’ hopes alive for an at-large NCAA bid in two weeks.  Much was expected from both of these schools prior to season tipoff, but they’ve had myriad ups and downs along the way.  These two huge wins will go a long way toward finding the right side of the bubble in fourteen days.

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