Conference Tourney Primers: Mid-Eastern Athletic

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 9th, 2015

We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.

MEAC Tournament

Dates: March 10-14

Site: Norfolk Scope (Norfolk, VA)


What to expect: Despite losing several key players from last year’s 28-6 unit, North Carolina Central reloaded with talented transfers and dominated the MEAC for the second straight season. Led by Lamar transplant Nimrod Hilliard (11.6 PPG, 6.4 APG) and big man Jordan Parks (14.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG), the Eagles have counterbalanced a slightly less efficient offensive attack with an even more dominant defense, holding opponents to a paltry 41.3 percent effective field goal percentage (third-best nationally) and just 54.7 points per game. The most credible challengers in Norfolk this week will be Norfolk State, Delaware State and Maryland-Eastern Shore – led by Mike Myers, who draws an incredible 9.1 fouls per 40 minutes of action. The Spartans, playing in their home town, probably have the best shot at ending North Carolina Central’s two-year run.

Favorite: North Carolina Central. The Eagles are the most experienced team in the country (per KenPom) and have not lost a MEAC contest since January 11, 2014. Only three conference opponents have scored more than a point per possession against their defense this season. LeVelle Moton’s crew is the clear favorite in Norfolk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Tournament Primer: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Posted by Adam Stillman on March 10th, 2014

Championship Fortnight continues with yet two more conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the next week of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the MAC and the MEAC get started.

Dates: March 10-15
Sites: The Scope (Norfolk, Va.)

2014 meac bracket

What to expect: It’s been two years since #15 seed Norfolk State pulled off a stunning upset of Missouri in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. While the MEAC boasts a different team this time around — North Carolina Central — it has another one that could put a scare into a top seed in the first round. That is, of course, if the Eagles can earn the league’s automatic bid this week. Hampton and Norfolk State will be their main challengers, and remember, the #1 seed has won this tournament only three times in the past 10 years. That tells some of the story as to why the MEAC is only 5-32 in NCAA Tournament games all-time

Favorite: North Carolina Central. The Eagles ran away with this league, winning it by two games over Hampton. Funny story, NCCU played Hampton once this season, but it didn’t count as a league game and I couldn’t find an explanation as to why that occurred. Nevertheless, NCCU has won 17 straight games, including 15 in a row in conference play. The Eagles ranked first in the MEAC in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Snubs Fill Up the NIT

Posted by KCarpenter on March 19th, 2013

The cases for Virginia and Maryland were always tough to make. Both teams were able to hang their hats on seriously good wins, yet both also had some of the ugliest losses on the bubble. That these two teams found themselves on the wrong side looking in Sunday evening isn’t all too surprising. Yet, they move on. Along with Florida State, these ACC teams are set to play in that other national tournament, starting this evening. So if the First Four match-ups aren’t to your taste, there is some fine basketball scheduled for the NIT involving ACC teams tonight.

Virginia and Maryland Have a Shot at Another Tussle in the NIT

Virginia and Maryland Have a Shot at Another Tussle in the NIT

Niagara at Maryland at 7:00 PM

Maryland got a # 2 seed in the NIT and drew a team that won its conference regular season but flopped in the conference tournament. The MAAC’s Niagara is a run-and-gun team that makes up for it’s relatively pedestrian team three-point shooting with skilled ball-handlers who rarely turn the ball over. T.J. Cline is usually the biggest man on the court for Niagara, and he measures out at only 6’8″. However, like the rest of the team, he is a gleeful participant in the perimeter-based attack and has attempted 112 threes this season (leading his team with a 33.9% mark). On the defensive end, the team is effective at forcing turnovers, critical considering Maryland’s difficulty in hanging on to the ball. Of course where Niagara has a fast, agile attack, Maryland has size. No one on the roster can match up with 7’1″ Alex Len, and the trouble that Niagara has in terms of rebounding is a serious problem against an elite offensive rebounding team like Maryland. If the Purple Eagles can scramble and keep forcing turnovers on the defensive end while getting open perimeter looks (Maryland has done a good job contesting threes all season), Niagara has a shot at the upset. Without this, however, Alex Len is well-equipped to dominate this game on both ends.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The 10 Biggest CBB Stories of 2012 — #3: Norfolk State and Lehigh Shock the World

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 30th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

College basketball gave us plenty of memorable moments and stories in 2012. After sorting through the main headlines, we’ve come up with the 10 most consequential items and, for the sake of maintaining publishing sequence symmetry, releasing two per-day over the next five days to lead into the New Year. It was an excellent year for the sport, though I can’t promise you won’t regret reliving at least one or two of the choices. In any case, here’s to summing up a great year and to hoping that 2013 is better than the 365 days that preceded it.

The ocean of opportunity that awaits mid and low-major programs in the NCAA Tournament is typically stifled by the superior talent, resources and coaching acumen of high-major powerhouses. Upsets do happen – you can usually bank at least one 7-10 or 8-9 or 5-12 shocker each year, and it feels like we’re seeing more and more close games in putatively uneven first-round draws – but the gap between a #15 seed and a #2 seed is so far as to draw into question the fairness of even playing the game in the first place. You usually get a national contender from a power six conference going up against a minuscule hoops entity from a lesser league, many of which just happened to get hot enough at the right time to barrel through a conference tournament and into the Big Dance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Who Won the Week? Illinois, DePaul and Fans Everywhere…

Posted by Kenny Ocker on December 14th, 2012


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

WINNER: The Fans

Oregon Pit Crew student fans support Arsalan Kazemi on the night of his debut as a Duck. (Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll)

Fans, this horrible week is over. You’ve been freed, just like Arsalan Kazemi. (Also, can we please ignore the fact that a UO student misspelled “anchor”? I got my degree from there, and so did this photographer, and neither of us seemed to have any issues with that word.) (Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll)

Let’s face it – this finals week was about the worst thing on record. Save for an upset win over Wichita State by Tennessee, which magically scored more than 40 points to shockingly hand the Shockers their first loss, the week was bereft of interesting match-ups. But the good news is, it’s over. (I’ve got a little bit of bad news though: Winter break’s not much better in terms of captivating contests.) Let’s celebrate that and move on with our lives.

(Related winners: None. Related losers: Anyone who had to sit through games last week.)

LOSER: Halil Kanacevic

The 6’8” forward for St. Joseph’s thought it would be a good idea to show support for his Hawks by flipping the double bird to Villanova fans during a Big 5 game after making his only field goal of the night, a three-pointer to give St. Joe’s a 50-47 lead in the second half. Instead, Kanacevic got popped with a technical foul for the display of unsportsmanlike conduct. Late in the game, he then proceeded to miss two clutch free throws with a minute to go that would have stretched the Hawks’ one-point lead. Instead, the Wildcats came back for a 65-61 home win that helped right their ship an embarrassing 18-point defeat to Columbia and Big 5 losses to La Salle and Temple. For his trouble, Kanacevic got suspended for two games as well.

(Related winners: Villanova; Temple, the likely Big 5 favorite. Related losers: St. Joseph’s; Langston Gallaway, the Hawks guard whose six three-pointers and 22 points were lost in the shuffle.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Twenty-One Weeks of Hoops: RTC Welcomes In A New College Basketball Season

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 9th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The interminable offseason breeds countless hours of boredom and frustration. With seven months separating the net-cutting ceremony that signals the end of every college hoops campaign and the opening tip that begins it, perusing the internet and conjuring up ideas to write about on a daily basis becomes an exercise in creative determination. This is not the NBA, where free agency bridges the gap between the Finals and training camp. The college basketball season has a definitive start and end. Though that line is beginning to blur with amplified recruiting coverage and limited summer practices, when the field of 68 is finally whittled down to one, and the soft tunes of One Shining Moment set off an emotional carousel unlike any other in American sports – from utter despair and devastation for the losing fan base to extreme delight and exultation for the national champion – the hardwood action that has so thoroughly captivated fans across the nation over the previous five months with nonstop intrigue and resume-building/crashing drama grinds to a screeching halt. It’s why the National Championship game always feels like a foreboding culmination, like the end of an enchanting joyride that closes with equal parts satisfaction and disappointment. The warped sense of reality defined by conference races, argumentative bubble talk and AP Poll hand-wringing is swept away without but a single warning to prepare for the lull. Amidst all the joy of a championship celebration and the highly-anticipated lead up to the Final Four, there stands the harsh reality of a painfully long college hoops drought. We college hoops scribes have grown to accept this dichotomy as one negative in an overwhelmingly enjoyable state of affairs. Because no matter how much we dread the dry offseason, the gloomy days spent panging for loaded campus gyms, and buzzer beaters, and visible fan passion, the torture is justified by the sweet end.

Three shipside games will christen a new college hoops season (Photo credit: Getty Images).

The journey to that end begins tonight, and not a moment too soon. We here at RTC have a date with college hoops, one that’s seven months overdue. She cannot evade us, nor the rest of the hoops viewing public, any longer, because tonight the lovefest commences. If you are a first-time viewer of the sport, consider this a warning: What you are about to see may distort your expectations. Over the next three days, teams will eschew traditional playing grounds to meet on aircraft carriers and foreign military bases. It is a patriotic inauguration of the sport we love, but it is not – however delighted you may be by the gorgeous vistas and military backdrops adorning the proceedings – the norm. It won’t be long before geeked-up student sections and campus hysteria inhabits your nightly viewing experience. And for that, we are thankful. Ecstatic. Tantalized. However you wish to describe it or appreciate it, the message is the same: the wait is over.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Unibrow & Other CBB Entrants Are Snubbed But Watford Wins at the ESPYs

Posted by EJacoby on July 12th, 2012

Last night were the ESPYs, and somehow, neither of the #15 over #2 shockers during last year’s NCAA Tournament won ESPN’s award for “Best Upset” of the year, and Anthony Davis‘ epic season wasn’t even enough to win over voters in the “Best NCAA Male” category. Not even legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was rewarded for breaking Bob Knight’s all-time wins record. In general, college hoops was vastly overlooked during Wednesday’s 2012 ESPY Awards, but one shining moment came in the form of Indiana forward Christian Watford‘s wild shot to beat Kentucky back in December. “Watford For The Win!” was crowned with the “Best Play” award from the past year in sports; a very deserving honor for one of the defining moments of the 2011-12 college hoops season. ESPN announcer Dan Shulman’s call on Watford’s game-winner over the top-ranked Wildcats sticks as one of the great broadcasting moments in recent memory, as does Dick Vitale’s incomparable reaction and IU head coach Tom Crean’s shocked celebration. It’s hard to find a singular more significant or lasting moment than that one, as Watford beat out a field of 31 other nominees through a lengthy tournament vote. Unfortunately, John Calipari, Anthony Davis, Kentucky, Coach K, the final Border War, Lehigh, and Norfolk State were unable to seize any hardware against their considerably thinner fields of competition.

Watford’s buzzer-beating three-point shot marked the official return of Hoosiers basketball. One of our sport’s bluebloods, Indiana had struggled at the bottom of the Big Ten for several years, and the victory over UK symbolized a resurgence. Indiana quickly jumped into the top 15 of the polls and stayed there much of the season, eventually making a run to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to those same Wildcats in a rematch not played in the friendly confines of Bloomington. But Watford’s shot isn’t forgotten for Hoosiers or Wildcats fans, both of whom were heavily invested in that December game as part of a longstanding border rivalry (which was sadly not renewed for 2012-13), nor the entire world of college hoops, which sent off an explosion of posts and tweets on social media across the country.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

College Hoops at the ESPYs: Handicapping Each Nominee

Posted by EJacoby on July 3rd, 2012

The 20th annual ESPY Awards take place on Wednesday, July 11, and college basketball is well represented at this year’s show. Eight different men’s college hoops players, coaches, teams, or moments are nominated in major awards categories, such as “Best NCAA Male” or “Best Record-Breaking Performance.” Winners are selected through fan voting, which is accessible by clicking here. Besides encouraging all our readers to ‘get out’ and vote for the college basketball nominees, we’d also like to break down why each selection was significant in the world of sports over the past year.

Anthony Davis is nominated for two ESPY Awards (AP Photo)

  • Best Breakthrough Athlete: Anthony Davis – It’s hard to argue against Davis in this category, as the Kentucky forward became the first basketball player since Lew Alcindor (later-to-be-named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969 to win a National Championship as the National Player of the Year and become the #1 overall NBA Draft selection in the same season. And Davis is the first to ever do it as a freshman. AD is also a true breakthrough performer since he wasn’t even on the radar as a major prospect until as recently as two years ago. Nonetheless, he faces stiff competition, mainly in the form of New York Knicks guard and worldwide phenomenon Jeremy Lin.
  • Best Record-Breaking Performance: Coach K’s Wins Milestone – Back in November, one of the great images of the sports year took place when Mike Krzyzewski passed his mentor and former coach, Bob Knight, for first on the all-time wins list.  Even better, he did so at Madison Square Garden with Coach Knight in attendance and awaiting Coach K with a congratulatory hug. Krzyzewski is widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport, and the wins record confirms his spot in history. However, he’s up against Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, who also broke a milestone mark this past year with the saves record. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2011-12 Season Recap: Top 12 Storylines of the Year

Posted by EJacoby on April 6th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Yesterday we captured the most iconic moments of the college basketball season, and today we highlight the most fascinating storylines from the year. What’s the difference? Yesterday’s list comprised of the “WOW” memories, the single moments in time that could be captured in recognizable photos and videos. Today’s list is a more encompassing review of full season narratives, which usually don’t culminate into a single visual. These are the defining stories that will be chronicled in history books to describe the season’s summary. Here are our 12 biggest storylines from 2011-12, in no particular order:

‘One-And-Dones’ Get it Done.

Kentucky's Collection of Youngsters Combined for the National Championship (AP Photo)

We’ll always remember 2011-12 for the Kentucky Wildcats’ start-to-finish domination that began with a #2 preseason ranking and ended with a National Championship as the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Big Blue Nation will remember it as UK’s eighth national title, while the national story focuses more on how coach John Calipari secured the championship with a starting lineup of all freshmen and sophomores. The team’s two best players were freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both of whom are surely headed for the NBA Draft after just one season. Plenty of detractors didn’t think that a team full of ‘one-and-dones’ could mature quickly enough into a championship team, but the Wildcats proved them all wrong. Kentucky was the best team from start to finish, thanks mainly to the play of a bunch of 18- and 19-year-old star players.

Injuries and Suspensions Cost Top Contenders. Kentucky may have been the best team throughout the season, but there were several other elite squads that could have given the Wildcats a run for their money had it not been for costly absences. In fact, all of the other #1 seeds suffered crucial injuries at the very end of the season that may have cost them a chance to win it all. Michigan State lost its best athlete in freshman forward Branden Dawson to a torn ACL injury in the regular season finale, and the Spartans missed his ability during a Sweet Sixteen loss. Syracuse suspended its seven-foot center and best defensive player, Fab Melo, right before the Big Dance and clearly missed the big man during a loss in the Elite Eight. And perhaps the most devastating, North Carolina lost its Cousy Award-winning point guard, Kendall Marshall, to a fractured wrist at the end of its round of 32 victory. The Tar Heels could not recover without their lead guard and lost in the Elite Eight. As a result, Kentucky did not have to face a single other #1 seed en route to its National Championship.

Connecticut’s Title Defense Turns Tumultuous. Selected as the preseason Big East Conference favorites, Connecticut was expected to have another strong season as defending National Champions thanks to all but one starter sticking around combined with a very strong recruiting class. But the presence and leadership of departed star Kemba Walker proved to be invaluable. No Huskies player stepped up this season to lead by example, and a super-talented team struggled through an 8-10 record in conference play and a loss in its first game of the NCAA Tournament. UConn suffered multiple suspensions, the loss of its coach Jim Calhoun for several games due to health concerns, and an overall underachieving season whose results were the complete opposite of the year before.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

2011-12 Season Recap: The 12 Most Iconic Moments of the Season

Posted by EJacoby on April 5th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

A season in sports often gets remembered by a handful of different memories that fans can recall when thinking back on that year. Sometimes it’s a scene from the regular season, such as the 2004-05 NBA year that included the ‘Malice at the Palace’ brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. Other times it’s the final play in the championship, such as the 2001 baseball World Series walk-off base hit by the Arizona Diamondbacks. So what will it be for the 2011-12 year of college basketball? Here’s a reminder of the top moments from the season, which certainly did not lack drama. Which ones will you remember when thinking back on this season? We give you the 12 most iconic moments from 2011-12, in no particular order:

Anthony Davis Blocks Henson at the Buzzer (December 3) – Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis was perhaps the biggest story of this entire season. Taking home nearly every Player of the Year award, Davis’ domination at this level as a freshman was must-see television every time he stepped on the floor. But his rise to true stardom perhaps began when the Wildcats defeated then-#5 North Carolina early in the season at Rupp Arena on a last-second block by the lengthy forward. Davis rejected UNC star John Henson’s final shot attempt to seal the one-point win for Kentucky.

Austin Rivers Silences Carolina Crowd (February 8) – One of the two best buzzer-beaters of the season was Duke freshman Austin Rivers’ silencing of the Dean Smith Center in early February. Down by two at Chapel Hill on the final possession, the freshman knocked down a long three over Tyler Zeller to beat North Carolina and send the Tar Heel crowd into a state of utter shock.

Robinson Rejects Mizzou in Border War (February 25) – In what was the final matchup between Kansas and Missouri as rivals in the Big 12 Conference (Mizzou is off to the SEC next year), the two teams put on a classic showdown in Allen Fieldhouse. Missouri dominated the game until a late KU charge, and it was the All-America forward Thomas Robinson’s rejection of Phil Pressey with seconds left in regulation that sent the game into overtime. Kansas won the game in the extra session to cap off a tremendous game between two top-5 teams.

Watford For the Win! (December 10) – One of the great stories of the season was Indiana’s resurgence as a top team. The Hoosiers had a tremendous year that was highlighted by their victory over #1 Kentucky at home to improve to 9-0 in December. Trailing by two on the final possession, it was this shot by Christian Watford that beat the buzzer and provided us with one of the most memorable shots, and calls, of the season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story