Final Four Previews In-Depth: Florida Gators

Posted by Bennet Hayes on April 4th, 2014

RTC_tourneycoverage

As part of our ongoing NCAA Tournament coverage, RTC is unveiling a detailed look at each of the Final Four teams throughout the week. Kentucky, Wisconsin and UConn have already released. Today: Florida.

Back on December 2, college basketball pollsters would have told you that Florida was the worst of the four teams still standing in this NCAA Tournament. #12 UConn beat the 15th-ranked Gators that night, and both Kentucky (#3) and Wisconsin (#8) rested comfortably among the top 10 teams in the nation. Things have changed quite significantly in the months since. As a result of 30 consecutive victories since that loss in Storrs, Florida now enters the Final Four as the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets, while their three Final Four mates have lost a combined 24 times since the Gators have. It’s been a relentless and astounding string of success for Billy Donovan’s team, but the Gators know that their winning streak will mean far less if it fails to reach 32 games. The ultimate validation is available in North Texas, and Florida appears poised and ready to snatch it.

Before The Winning Began In Earnest, Billy Donovan Had To Navigate His Team Through A Slew Of Early Season Personnel Losses

Before The Winning Began In Earnest, Billy Donovan Had To Navigate His Team Through A Slew Of Early Season Personnel Losses

Pre-NCAA Tournament Capsule. Florida, picked to finished second in the SEC in the league preseason poll, began the season with a rather discombobulated roster. Scottie Wilbekin started the year suspended, Chris Walker was ineligible, and newcomers Dorian Finney-Smith, Kasey Hill, and DeVon Walker all missed time due to injuries. There were even times when Billy Donovan didn’t have enough healthy bodies to scrimmage five-on-five in practice, which made the Gators’ 11-2 non-conference record (which included victories over Kansas, Memphis, and Florida State) a good, if not great, beginning to the season. But Florida was just getting started. With Casey Prather emerging out of nowhere as an All-American candidate and Wilbekin shedding character issues to become one of the best two-way floor generals in the country, Florida ripped off 21 straight victories to seize the SEC regular season and Tournament crowns, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Not everything was easy – five of those SEC wins came by five points or fewer – but the Gators posted the most impressive regular season in college basketball this season. They were rightfully awarded the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and entered the Big Dance on a 26-game winning streak.

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O26 Buzz: This Week’s Storylines

Posted by Nicholas Patrick on January 3rd, 2014

Every Friday throughout the rest of the season, the Other 26 Microsite will dig into some of the top storylines featuring those leagues from the previous week.

1. Eye-Opening O26 Results from the Past Week

Kyle Collingsworth and his fellow BYU Cougars need to get back on track after opening WCC play with consecutive losses

Kyle Collingsworth and his fellow BYU Cougars need to get back on track after opening WCC play with consecutive losses

  • Saturday: UNC Greensboro 55, Virginia Tech 52: The Spartans’ complete list of victories against D-I opponents now includes High Point, Stetson, James Madison, oh, and a member of the ACC.
  • Saturday: Massachusetts 69, Providence 67 (OT): Derrick Gordon’s game-winner gave the Minutemen their fifth victory against power conference opponents.
  • Monday: Southern 116, Champion Baptist College 12: This game was already unsettling by the time CBC scored its first point (at that time, Southern had already put up 44 points).
  • Monday: Louisiana Tech 102, Oklahoma 98 (OT): Alex Hamilton scored 36 to lead the Bulldogs to their first win against a power conference opponent.
  • Monday: Pepperdine 80, BYU 74: The Cougars trailed from the opening minutes and finished a disheartening week that also included a loss to Loyola Marymount to open WCC play.
  • Tuesday: North Texas 61, Texas A&M 41: The Mean Green took charge midway through the first half and never looked back on their way to crushing the Aggies.
  • Thursday: Gonzaga 73, Saint Mary’s 51: If this blowout win over their primary WCC rival is any indication, the Zags may not have a true challenger for the conference crown.

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The Other 26: The Mountain West Enters the Spotlight

Posted by IRenko on December 29th, 2012

I. Renko is an RTC columnist. He will kick off each weekend during the season with his analysis of the 26 other non-power conferences. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

The action was light during this past holiday week, but the Mountain West’s finest took advantage of the lull to thrust themselves into the spotlight with two exciting contests, a pair of one-point games against top 10 teams decided by last-second blocks. In the final of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, San Diego State fell just short against third-ranked Arizona, losing 68-67 when Xavier Thames’ potential winning shot was blocked by Arizona’s Nick Johnson as time expired. Two days later, New Mexico visited eighth-ranked Cincinnati and emerged with a hard-fought 55-54 victory that was sealed by a last-second block from sophomore Alex Kirk. What was most impressive about these hard-fought contests is how both teams showed that even if you take away some of their key weapons, they are deep and versatile enough to compete.

(Getty Images)

Alex Kirk Led a Tough New Mexico Performance Against Cincinnati (Getty Images)

The Lobos distinguished themselves not just with a victory, but the way they earned it. They are accustomed to racking up points at the free throw line, but reached the charity stripe at only a 20 percent rate, far below their season average and good enough for just six points. But they gritted out the win by patiently moving the ball against Cincy’s high-pressure halfcourt defense to find open shooters and cutters. Junior point guard Kendall Williams turned in a performance befitting of a team leader, stepping up to hit several big three-pointers and finishing the game with a team-high 16 points. But it was Kirk who set the tone with his lunch bucket performance, fearlessly hurling himself into battle against Cincinnati’s imposing frontline and surviving with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds, and three blocks, including a game-clinching rejection of a Sean Kilpatrick three-point shot.

The Aztecs, too, can be proud of the fight they showed in Honolulu despite coming up short. Leading scorer Jamaal Franklin was held to just nine points, his lowest output of the season.  But Franklin found other ways to contribute, pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out six assists. And San Diego State found other players to carry the scoring load. Chase Tapley, who had already poured in 46 points in the first two games of the tournament, dropped 19 against Arizona to push his season scoring average to 15.8 PPG. And the Aztecs showed how strong their defense is, holding the Wildcats to 37.3 percent shooting.

This Saturday, UNLV will have a chance to intensify this week’s spotlight on the Mountain West when they travel to North Carolina. In a year when the conference seems as deep as any in the country, the only lingering doubt heading into this past week was whether they had the heavyweights to compete with the nation’s best teams. But as the final week of non-conference play comes to a close, the conference’s top teams are leaving little doubt that they can.

Top Ten Rankings

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ATB: North Texas Struggles, Duke Wins on Back-to-Back Nights, and Memphis Gets Pushed To The Brink By Lipscomb…

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 21st, 2012

ATB

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

Tonight’s Lede. Holiday Break Brings Another Scheduling Dry Spell. Last week, we lamented the scheduling lull brought about by final exams. Players were off studying for those pesky calculus or English or economics exams, writing Shakespeare papers and completing voluminous problem sets, and viewers were left with – gasp! – professional basketball, or Thursday night football or that episode(s) of Homeland you happened to miss during the show’s scheduled airtime. Some even resorted to holiday shopping. Games of interest were few and far between. Then came Saturday’s spate of excellent action, which brought us Butler’s upset of No. 1 Indiana and Arizona’s thrilling win over Florida, and a host of other interesting results. Just one week later, another stretch of boredom is upon us, as teams play out their final games before heading off for holiday break. Saturday’s slate features plenty of enticing fixtures, but the next few days, right up to Christmas, are a barren landscape of hoops nonexistence. If you thought tonight’s offering was inchoate – and it most definitely was – just wait until early next week, when Christmas music and shopping obligations will consume your daily activity, and college basketball won’t be there to offer a convenient diversion. First, let’s savor what did take place Thursday night, and hope that Saturday’s schedule brings enough quality matchups to hold us over through the holidays.

Your Watercooler Moment. McCollum-less Mountain Hawks Add To North Texas’ Misery.

The Mean Green have NBA talent, but as a team, they lack chemistry and coherence (photo credit: US Presswire).

The Mean Green have NBA talent, but as a team, they lack chemistry and coherence (photo credit: US Presswire).

It was easy to buy into the idea of North Texas making a run at the at large pool this season. Not only was future lottery pick and multifaceted forward Tony Mitchell returning for a sophomore season, but the Mean Green returned a capable cast of characters around him. Provided they could handle business against Creighton, Saint Louis, Virginia and Lehigh – winning two or three of these games, depending on league play, would have sufficed – North Texas had a clear shot at a Tournament entry. Creighton destroyed the Mean Green on college hoops’ opening night, which – given the Blue Jays’ impressive season to date – was not all that foreboding. Consecutive defeats at Virginia and Saint Louis all but erased their at large hopes. A home matchup with Lehigh, who announced Thursday afternoon that an ankle injury would force star guard C.J. McCollum to the sidelines (and thus trolling the livelihood of the reported 57 NBA scouts expected to attend), offered a perfect chance for North Texas to get back on track and build some momentum before Sun Belt play. Lehigh picked apart North Texas without its most recognizable stud, thanks primarily to 28 points from senior forward Gabe Knutson and 25 from junior guard Mackey McKnight. Give credit where credit’s due: this is a nice win for the Mountain Hawks. It’s also a huge disappointment for North Texas, who has completely underperformed thus far this season, and isn’t close to the Sun Belt favorite we expected to see heading into the season. Mitchell is an extremely talented player with a bright future, but the pieces around him simply aren’t clicking right; as a result, North Texas will need to brave the vagaries of the Sun Belt tournament to broach the tourney field. That is not what most had in store for the Mitchell-led Mean Green.

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Two Days, Two Games, No Problem. Playing its second game in as many days, Duke welcomed Elon to Cameron Indoor, got 21 points and 15 rebounds from All America hopeful Mason Plumlee and ensured a comfortable victory to set off a nine-day holiday break and tie a bow around one of the most impressive early nonconference bodies of work in recent memory. Unless Duke botches its Jan. 2 neutral court date with Davidson, the Blue Devils should enter ACC play with the No. 1 record intact. One development of note: redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee, the youngest family big man, was resigned to the sidelines after playing just two minutes in Wednesday night’s game against Cornell thanks to reported discomfort caused by the orthotics in his shoe. If Plumlee gets right, the Blue Devils can throw another talented frontcourt player alongside Ryan Kelly and older brother Mason. Read the rest of this entry »
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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On November Rituals, Head-Scratchers, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 13th, 2012

Brian Otskey is a regular contributor for RTC. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. In what seems to have become an annual November ritual, fans and members of the media tend to overreact in making bold statements about teams and players after just one or two games have been played. While I recognize that is the nature of the “what have you done for me lately?” society we live in, fans and the media alike must take a step back. While some early season wins may appear to be huge and some losses head-scratching, we all must remember that the college basketball season is a long, evolving process. The NCAA Tournament doesn’t begin for another four months. Most teams will play 12 non-conference games before they begin 16 or 18-game conference schedules.  It’s OK to say something nice about a team that came up with a great early season win or to be skeptical of a school coming off a loss you might never have expected, but making statements such as “Florida State is a bust because it lost to South Alabama!” is just plain foolish. While a loss like that certainly gives you pause, we’ve seen this movie before time and time again in November, especially as the college season has started earlier and earlier over the years. A loss to South Alabama is hardly a definitive indicator of how Florida State will perform in 2012-13. It’s just one of 30+ games the Seminoles will play this season. With that said, I do have a couple of questions about FSU. One, does the team miss the steady point guard presence of Luke Loucks from a season ago (nine assists, 17 turnovers against USA)? Two, is Leonard Hamilton’s defense not as strong as we are accustomed to seeing? South Alabama shot 9-of-15 from deep and Buffalo shot 50% overall from the floor in FSU’s second game on Monday. Those are examples of legitimate concerns, but not affirmative statements about how Florida State’s season will turn out. The Seminoles have plenty of time to come together and fix their weaknesses. Just don’t bury Florida State, or any other team for that matter, before Thanksgiving for crying out loud.

    How Much is FSU Missing Luke Loucks Right Now? (Reuters)

  2. There were quite a few of those aforementioned head-scratchers over the first four days of the season. In addition to Florida State, teams such as Mississippi State, Virginia, Rutgers, South Florida, Purdue, Drexel and Georgia all started the season on the wrong foot. Other schools including Oklahoma State, Texas and Providence struggled with inferior opponents but managed to hang on and win. In some circumstances like those faced at Mississippi State, Virginia, Georgia and Purdue, these are teams rebuilding after critical personnel losses. While it’s unfair to blast their November performance, these losses could be a sign of things to come. On the other hand, you could say a team like Drexel just had a bad night. The Dragons are a talented bunch and the overwhelming favorites in the depleted Colonial Athletic Association. Above all, however, the worst loss of them all belongs to North Texas. The Sun Belt favorites, who boast the talented Tony Mitchell, lost to Division II Alabama-Huntsville on Monday night. What does this mean? Not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things but it underscores how important it is for teams to put forth maximum effort every time out. The instances in which a team can get away with an off night have shrunk over the years due to parity and better talent assembled on non-power six rosters. When trying to analyze a team at this early stage of the season, don’t dismiss a disappointing loss but don’t throw the team under the bus at the same time. There is a very long way to go. Read the rest of this entry »
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McDermott vs. Mitchell a Fun Show, But the Lesson Lies in Creighton’s Legitimacy

Posted by dnspewak on November 9th, 2012

Danny Spewak is an RTC correspondent and Big 12 microsite writer. He filed this report from Omaha after Creighton’s 71-51 victory over North Texas tonight. You can follow him on Twitter @dspewak.

The Tony Mitchell Show began with a fast-break dunk in the opening minutes and continued with a block, a three-pointer from the wing, another swat, a monstrous slam off an offensive rebound and, finally, a loud, piercing scream of raw emotion directed toward the sold-out CenturyLink Center crowd. The public address announcer continued to call that name in monotone – Tony Mitchell ­– as he racked up nine points, two dunks and two blocks in the first eight minutes of the game to put himself on pace for numbers that would make ESPN look foolish for failing to televise this matchup against All-American Doug McDermott and Creighton.

Doug McDermott Isn’t the Only Bluejay on His Team (ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD)

A funny thing happened, though, as the game progressed. North Texas, the consensus Sun Belt favorite but a team heavily reliant on underclassmen, began to crumble when Mitchell struggled offensively. A Mean Green offensive drought turned into a double-digit deficit, and by the end of the half, Mitchell sat on the bench with two fouls as his team fell out of contention. Suddenly, it became apparent that this wasn’t the Tony Mitchell Show or the Doug McDermott Show, nor was this game simply an individual battle between Tony Mitchell and Doug McDermott. Instead, the 71-51 throttling was a testament to the potential and limitless ceiling of this Creighton team. More importantly, it was a testament to the fact that the Mean Green have a long, long way to go. Still, this was no Division II school to open 2012-13 season—instead, the Bluejays welcomed one of the nation’s top players in Mitchell and a team with serious NCAA Tournament hopes. “I don’t know if I’ve been as nervous for an opening game for this one than I have been in 24 years of doing this,” coach Greg McDermott said. “I thought it was a great idea when we scheduled it, and then all this week I thought it was a terrible idea.”

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Five Mid-Majors You’re Likely to Hear From Next March

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 6th, 2012

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

There exists in college basketball a certain romanticism that distinguishes it from every other sport. It shines through in March, when the sport’s preeminent end-of-season tournament provides a glimmer of hope for Division one teams, no matter how small, unknown or minimally-funded, to break through on a national stage. For the mid-majors, this is prime time. Unlike their high-major counterparts, the little guys’ path to the field of 68 is restricted. Most smaller leagues only receive one Tournament bid, which is normally decided through conference tournaments. It’s what makes championship weekend – when one-bid leagues fight tooth and nail for that coveted Tournament bid – such a compelling series of high-stakes contests. It’s also why predicting each smaller league’s participant(s) is inherently difficult. In a do-or-die knockout setting, anything can happen. So when I look back on my five mid-major Tournament breakout picks (the subject of the following list) five months from now, I’ll probably be kicking myself over a lack of informed judgment and insight. The hope is that at least one of my designated team breaks the field and makes some noise once there. If not, well, that’s why the NCAA Tournament is such a spectacle – because you just never know.

A word of caution: you’ll notice the list fails to include teams from the A-10, Missouri Valley, C-USA, West Coast Conference or Mountain West. I chose to exclude those leagues not because I don’t think any of their teams are capable of making NCAA Tournament runs; it’s quite the opposite actually. All three will likely send multiple teams to the Big Dance, so I’ve decided to leave them out for the sake of novelty. With that out of the way, we March on (pun totally intended).

North Texas 

A future lottery pick, Mitchell leads a strong North Texas squad (Photo credit: US Presswire).

If this is the first time you’re hearing the name Tony Mitchell, it will not be the last. Mitchell (6’ 8’’, 235 pounds) almost certainly would have been a first round pick in last summer’s NBA Draft. Instead, he’s back for his sophomore season after missing out on an NCAA bid last season when North Texas fell to Sun Belt upstart Western Kentucky in the conference tournament final. It’s a shame, too – no offense to Western Kentucky, but there is not a single person who wouldn’t have enjoyed watching Mitchell in a potential #1-#16 matchup with Anthony Davis and Kentucky. We aren’t always that lucky. Anyway, with Mitchell back in the fold, the Mean Green are more than capable of broaching the field this season, and the talented forward isn’t the only reason why. Point guard Chris Jones and swingman Jordan Williams, both double-digit scorers who were declared ineligible in January due to academic issues, are cleared to take the court again this fall. Oklahoma State transfer Roger Franklin returns for another season. Off-guard Alzee Williams, who averaged 15.8 points per game over his final 10 games, will stabilize the backcourt. The deep guard rotation will prevent teams from keying in on Mitchell, who should only improve in his second collegiate season. We will get an early taste of North Texas’s Tournament bona fides on November 9, when the Mean Green take on Creighton in Omaha. Mitchell vs Doug McDermott to kick off the 2012-13 college basketball calendar? Yes, please.

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Big East M5: 10.29.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 29th, 2012

  1. Basketball Prospectus’ Dan Hanner unveiled his preseason basketball rankings using a brand new methodology: “Using 10 years of historical trends, I projected the performance of every D-I player, and then projected lineups for all 345 teams.”  The results are… interesting. Louisville remains the top ranked Big East school, though they’re a bit lower than most of the polls have them ranked, at #10.  Syracuse is right behind the Cardinals at #11. Pittsburgh ranks surprisingly high at #19, with Marquette, Notre Dame, and Georgetown falling in behind the Panthers at #21, #22, and #27, respectively. Rutgers ranks shockingly high at #43, and Cincinnati is listed all the way down at #52. The other Big East schools rank as follows: #58 Villanova, #69 Seton Hall, #71 South Florida, #76 St. John’s, #105 DePaul, #107 Connecticut, and #122 Providence.
  2. Seton Hall won its first exhibition, a game against D-II Wilmington University, 113-72.  Brandon Mobley led the way for the Pirates, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds.  Iowa transfer Kyle Smyth had a great game as well, going 4-8 from behind the arc en route to a 16-point, eight-assist, three-steal performance.  Fuquan Edwin sat out due to a violation of team rules, although he is not expected to miss much more time.
  3. Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant is expected to be one of the team’s breakout performers this year, and to do it, South Bend Tribune‘s Tom Noie believes that the guard could stand to “be more selfish.”  Grant is Notre Dame’s best playmaker, as evidenced by his team-leading five assists per game, but he can also score in multiple ways, and the Irish would like to see him get to the line more because of his acumen from the stripe (81.9% FT).  In the past, Grant hasn’t needed to be “the guy,” but he seems to be taking to his new leadership role: “I like having the ball in my hands being able to make plays for myself and for others,” he said. “The more I have the ball in my hands, the more I can be good.”
  4. DePaul received its second commitment for the class of 2013 in center Forrest Robinson. Robinson is currently enrolled at South Plains Junior College after spending his first year in college at North Texas, where he averaged 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.  According to Rivals, the 6’10” Robinson had offers from Arkansas, Houston, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, USC, and Utah before choosing North Texas, and most recently chose DePaul over Bradley, Mississippi State, Saint Louis, and  Tennessee Tech.
  5. Syracuse isn’t just known for Jim Boeheim and the Orange basketball program; the school also has a pretty decent men’s lacrosse program. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams and forward C.J. Fair recently took to the lacrosse field to test their skills with the 11-time national champions and the results were mixed at best.  College Crosse has a full breakdown of the latest edition of the Post-Standard‘s ‘Mike & C.J. Show’ here.
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Analyzing the Big 12 Early Season Tournaments: Kansas State Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 9th, 2012

We’re just four days away from the official opening to the 2012-13 college basketball season as schools will be able to start officially practicing Friday night. Before then, though, we’re going to take a look at the various pre-conference tournaments that have become synonymous with the first month of college basketball. Nearly every Big 12 school is competing in one of those tournaments this season and we’ll take time each day this week to preview each bracket, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico to New York City. On Tuesday we took a look at Texas and Kansas. Today, it’s Kansas State and new head coach Bruce Weber. 

NIT Season-Tip Off

Dates: November 12-13, November 21, November 23
Location: Campus sites and Madison Square Garden
Major Teams: Michigan, Cleveland State, Pittsburgh, Lehigh, Robert Morris, Kansas State, North Texas, Virginia, Delaware

Bruce Weber is Firmly on the Hot Seat; How Will his Team Respond? (AP Photo/M. Conroy)

There’s no acclimation period for Bruce Weber at Kansas State. No rebuilding project, no waiting game, and, most importantly, no excuses for the Wildcats not to reach Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-Off this November. Weber, whose Illinois program slowly crumbled and led to his eventual dismissal, found a terrific gig in Manhattan and inherits an experienced roster capable of immediate results. That’s both a blessing and a burden. With an All-Big 12 wing in Rodney McGruder, strong guards, good depth and a defensive mentality already instilled by Frank Martin, it would be a colossal disappointment not to reach at least the semifinals. That’s a tough expectation, though, since Tony Mitchell and North Texas presumably await the Wildcats after an opening round game against Lamar. Kansas State would play this “Midwest Championship” at Bramlage Coliseum, but the Mean Green have the best player on the floor and seem primed for a big year after underachieving a bit with its young talent a year ago.

If Kansas State can slip by North Texas, it’s not necessarily an underdog compared to the rest of the PNIT field. At the top of the bracket, Michigan will play the role of the heavy favorite, thanks to that star-laden backcourt and return of Trey Burke. The top-seeded Wolverines could potentially face Pittsburgh in the semifinals, a program looking to rebound from an unprecedented down season on the shoulders of Tray Woodall and notable transfer Trey Zeigler. At the bottom of the bracket, second-seeded Virginia’s defense should be light years ahead of everybody else, but Tony Bennett’s team may struggle to find its offensive identity in November after losing Mike Scott. That could be one heck of a drag-it-out slugfest between KSU and Virginia in the semifinals at the Garden.

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Morning Five: 05.04.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 4th, 2012

  1. In just the last three days, the Atlantic 10 has added Butler, the Mountain West has eviscerated the WAC with its additions of San Jose State and Utah State, and now Conference USA has finished it off as a major conference by grabbing Louisiana Tech to go along with the A-10’s Charlotte and the Sun Belt’s North Texas and FIU. There will be a quiz on all of these moves in mid-August. What does this mean from a college basketball perspective? Probably not much. Neither Charlotte nor Louisiana Tech have been relevant in a long time, and although North Texas made the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2010, winning in the Sun Belt is less challenging than it will be dealing with UTEP, Tulsa, Southern Miss, and UAB in a revamped Conference USA.
  2. A little under two years ago we touched on an ESPN story about a high school basketball player named Jerry Joseph who may have actually been a 22-year old named Guerdwich Montimere. It was a bizarre story at the time, and it got only weirder as ultimately Joseph/Montimere was convicted and sent to prison for sexual assault on an underage high school student and tampering with government records. In a recent column for ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Wright Thompson attempted to connect all the dots of the saga in a meaningful way, putting a story behind the story of a wayward young man who no doubt got lost in the hype and fame of being the big man on campus. Great read.
  3. Illinois fans caught a glimpse into the mind of one of their incoming transfers when Sam McLaurin, a senior at Coastal Carolina who will take advantage of the one-year graduate school exception, announced (via Twitter, of course) “F— it im going to Illinois #illinination” on Thursday afternoon. McLaurin, a 6’10” power forward who averaged 10/8 last season, will provide some additional frontcourt depth in the wake of Meyers Leonard’s departure to the NBA. He later apologized for his choice of words (“Hey everyone sorry about my language last night. I was just extremely excited to be apart of #illinination”), but we doubt anyone from Waukegan to Carbondale will care much so long as he can bring his numbers every night next season.
  4. In one of the stupider bits of news to come out of our game this offseason (and there are plenty of candidates), Kentucky and Indiana have apparently decided to not renew its annual rivalry that dates back a half-century. The crux of the issue appears to be that UK wanted to move the series back to a rotating neutral site arrangement (likely splitting time between Indianapolis and Louisville, as it did from 1991-2005), while IU insisted on keeping the home-and-home series that had been in effect for the last seven years (and, of course, prior to 1991). If you read the tea leaves, and Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart suggests as much, it was John Calipari not “thrilled about going back to Bloomington” that appears to be driving this ridiculous decision. Look — we understand that a national championship coach typically gets what he wants when he wants it, but as Andy Glockner argues very well in this piece, that doesn’t mean that he’s right for wanting it. College basketball loses when rivalries like these end, and this is especially true now that IU under Tom Crean appears to finally be coming back around. Fix it.
  5. What’s this, a MAY version of Luke Winn‘s Power Rankings? That’s right, now that the NBA Draft deadline has passed and we have a better sense of where the top recruits are headed next season, Winn put together a list of 16 teams that mimics the RTC Top 25 (released Tuesday) at the very top, but has some significant differences with respect to where we ranked schools such as Syracuse, Michigan State, and Arizona. As always, you’ll learn quite a few things that you didn’t already know about people, places and things surrounding the game, so make sure to check it out before you head into the weekend.
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As NBA Draft Deadline Passes, A Reminder of NBA/NCAA Rules Discrepancies

Posted by EJacoby on April 30th, 2012

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

The NBA’s deadline for players to enter the 2012 NBA Draft passed over the weekend, with the biggest news coming from North Texas that star big man Tony Mitchell is returning to school. Why the minimal buzz about the deadline? It’s because the NCAA’s own deadline had already passed back on April 10, the date by which players had to withdraw from draft consideration if they had previously declared but wanted to retain college eligibility. It’s a confusing rule that’s just one of many areas of discrepancy between the NBA and NCAA as far as eligibility is concerned. For two associations that depend on each other so much, they often act more like competitors than allies. From the NBA age minimum to NCAA amateurism to the different draft deadlines, there are several areas of contention worth reflecting on.

Tony Mitchell is Staying at North Texas, a Decision He Had to Make Before Sunday's NBA Draft Deadline (AP Photo)

On Friday, NBA Commissioner David Stern appeared on Dan Patrick’s radio show where he mentioned that he’d like the league to adopt an even more restrictive age minimum on incoming players. For Stern, the ‘one-and-done’ format still doesn’t adequately solve the problem of making sure players are prepared enough to contribute immediately to his league. But as we’ve seen over the past 10-plus years, there are plenty of 19- and 20-year-olds that are able to contribute at the NBA level right away, and it wouldn’t be fair to stall their professional earning potential just because NBA general managers want a better read on any and all potential draftees. And that’s the problem; Stern is focused solely on the NBA and has no reason to worry about the college product or its student-athletes. The differing motives between the NBA and NCAA continue to be a potential long-term concern.

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Morning Five: 04.19.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 19th, 2012

  1. The top of the ACC might look a little different next season after C.J. Leslie announced that he would will return for his junior season at North Carolina State. An argument can be made that the return of Leslie, who would have been a borderline first round pick this year, could shift the balance of power in the ACC next season. We will always assume that Duke and North Carolina will be up there too, but both teams lose significant pieces from their teams and frankly Duke overachieved last year. With Leslie returning and a very solid freshman class coming in it does not seem that far-fetched that the Wolfpack could be considered the favorites in the ACC next season, which is something that we have not seen for a very long time.
  2. With most of the top incoming recruits committed the battle for the few remaining top recruits is heated and that certainly is the case for Tony Parker. The 6’9″ 280-pound high school senior has narrowed his list to Duke, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio State, and UCLA. Although reports earlier this week indicated that Parker was headed to UCLA, but Parker’s high school coach denies that anything has been set and will announce his decision on Monday. If Parker is indeed headed to UCLA, it could give the Bruins a legitimate argument for the top class in the country. Of course, it would also lead to plenty of Josh Smith jokes (you can figure those ones out yourself).
  3. For much of the past year we have been keeping an eye on Connecticut‘s 2013 APR ban and their eventual failed appeal. For the most part we ignored the similar plight of Toledo, but now the Rockets will be joining the Huskies on the sideline as they will also be banned from the 2013 NCAA Tournament due to their low APR scores. Obviously Toledo’s absence will be much less noticeable than Connecticut’s (primarily because they probably would not have made it even if they were eligible). Toledo seems to be holding out hope that the NCAA will allow them to count their 2011-12 APR score which would allow them to sneak over the low threshold. UNC-Wilmington appears to be in a similar situation. Since the NCAA did not grant an exemption to Connecticut we are not sure how the NCAA would let them get away with that now.
  4. With Johnny Jones having left to take over at LSU the administration at North Texas has been looking for his replacement. However, unlike many schools they do not appear to be in a hurry to name his replacement. According to the school’s athletic director they are looking at a variety of potential replacements including a current assistant coach at the school, a few fairly big-name former coaches, and a few other assistants. The school claims that it plans on having made a decision within the next ten days so it should be not too long until they have a coach, but we would not expect anything in the next few days.
  5. Frequent readers of this site are aware that we rarely talk about women’s college basketball and when we do it is for a major issue. This one definitely qualifies. Just a year after she revealed that she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Pat Summitt has given up her title as head coach at Tennessee. Summitt will have the title of Head Coach Emeritus that allows her to come to practices and participate in on-campus recruiting, but the team’s actual head coach will be Holly Warlick. We are not a women’s college basketball site or we would have probably devoted the next week to posts about Summitt so we will sum it up with this: 1,098 wins, 38 seasons, 18 Final Fours, and 8 National Championships. Greatest women’s college basketball coach ever.
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