The Other 26: Let the Madness Begin

Posted by IRenko on March 2nd, 2013

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.

As the calendar turns to March, let us declare: Let the Madness begin. The NCAA Tournament is still three weeks away, but the fight to get there begins in earnest this coming week, as 12 mid-major conferences will kick off their tournaments. The Big South and Horizon League will have the honor of kicking things off on Tuesday night, with their first round tournament games. Ten more conferences will follow suit with the first auto-bids being awarded a week from today in the Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley.

We’ll be back next week with updates on all the action, but until then, there is still the homestretch of the regular season to attend to. So let’s move on to our updated Top 10 rankings, weekly honor roll, and (regular season) games to watch this week.

Top 10

RTC -- TO26 (3.2.13)

Honor Roll

The Honor Roll is our weekly fixture highlighting the teams, players, and performances that impressed us in the past week.

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Award Tour: Trey Burke Is The Best Player In The Country

Posted by DCassilo on February 8th, 2013

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

After weeks and weeks of coming close, Trey Burke has finally broken through and grabbed the #1 spot. It’s a long time coming, as Burke embodies everything you want in a player. He’s a scorer that can take over the game. He’s an unselfish player that likes to get his teammates involved. He’s a leader, who steps up in big moments and keeps his team focused. Look no further than his block of Aaron Craft’s potential game-tying shot on Tuesday as to why there’s nobody like him in the country. Michigan is in good hands come March.


10. Victor Oladipo – Indiana (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 13.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.3 SPG

The Hoosiers can beat any team on any given day if Victor Oladipo has a good game.

The Hoosiers can beat any team on any given day, if Victor Oladipo has a good game.

I’ll reluctantly include Oladipo, partly because there’s no one better and partly because you almost have to at this point. I don’t blame him, but the hype surrounding him has really surprised me. I just don’t see why people say he’s better than some one like Otto Porter Jr., who puts up equal if not better stats, when Oladipo has Zeller down low and Porter Jr. lost his second-best player to suspension. This week: February 10 at Ohio State, February 13 vs. Nebraska

9. Nate Wolters – South Dakota State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 22.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.5 APG

I don’t care what conference he’s in and how good his team is, Wolters is without question one of the 10 best players in the country. In case you missed it, he scored 53 points against IPFW on Thursday night. And as his numbers above show, he’s well-rounded too. This week: February 9 at Oakland, February 14 vs. IUPUI

8. Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown (Last Week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG

Porter Jr. played just once this week and had 11 points and seven rebounds in a win over St. John’s. He’s shot at least 50 percent from the field in five of his last six games. This week: February 9 at Rutgers, February 11 vs. Marquette

7. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG

It was a rough week for Kansas, but McLemore was only partially to blame. He had 23 points, his second-most in Big 12 play, in the loss to Oklahoma State, so he can be absolved for the game. Against TCU, though, his 0-for-6 3-point shooting was part of a dreadful night for the Jayhawks. This week: February 9 vs. Oklahoma, February 11 vs. Kansas State Read the rest of this entry »

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The Other 26: Reshuffling the Top of the Deck

Posted by IRenko on January 26th, 2013

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.

It was a wild week for the TO26’s best teams, as seven of the teams ranked in our top ten — including our top five — all suffered losses. With Gonzaga, Creighton, VCU, Butler, and UNLV all going down, who has a rightful claim on the number one ranking?  Does New Mexico slide all the way from 6th to 1st after their win over Colorado State?

Not quite.  Yes, Gonzaga lost to Butler in a game played without Rotnei Clarke, Butler’s leading scorer. But it was in a hostile road environment, and even under those conditions, Gonzaga had a victory in hand with just a few seconds left on the clock. And on Thursday, the Zags followed up the loss with a 20-point drubbing of conference rival BYU. So Mark Few’s men will continue to hold the top spot in our rankings. But all of the action elsewhere will produce a substantial reshuffling. Without further ado, on the substantially revised Top 10, our weekly Honor Roll, and a few games to keep an eye on as the week unfolds.

Top Ten

RTC -- TO26 (1.26.13)

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2012

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at or on Twitter @Zachbird_nerd

Reader’s Take 


The Week That Was

  • Conference play opens up: Southland Conference play has opened up and even though we are just a few games into the conference schedule, the games have already been exciting and closely contested and featured some real nailbiters. Out of the 12 teams in the conference, just four of the teams remain unbeaten as this season already looks to be competitive. Every season proves that the later we get into these games, the more dominant teams start to show. It will be exciting to see which teams emerge as contenders for the conference title and whether or not there will be a surprise team this year.
  • Mike James repeats as Player of the Week: Lamar senior guard Mike James has been sensational this year. In three out of the last four weeks, he has been named conference “Player of the Week.” His recognition comes after he averaged 26 points in the first two games of conference play. In one of those games, against A&M Corpus Christi, he finished with a season high 31 points. Against Central Arkansas, the senior was able to put up 21 points in an easy victory for the Cardinals. During those two games, James shot 65% from the floor (19-of-29) including 85% from three-point territory (6-of-7).
  • Two top teams clash early in conference play: Early into the Southland Conference schedule, fans were treated to a delight as last year’s regular season conference champion McNeese State took on Pat Knight’s Lamar Cardinals. Before the season, the Cowboys were predicted to win the conference, but they struggled during their non-conference schedule. Lamar on the other hand was looking great despite having played three of the top 10 teams in the country. That being said, both teams battled to a close contest as the Cowboys eventually won a close one, 57-54, proving that experience matters. These teams still have to play one more time this season, and just like this meeting, expect it to be a good game.

LaMarcus Reed III Has Been One Of Many Standouts For Texas-Arlington (

Power Rankings

  1. Texas-Arlington (10-5, 3-0): Three games into conference play and no team has been more impressive than the Mavericks. In their three Southland games against SE Louisiana, Nicholls, and SHSU, they have won by an average margin of 31 points. They have been doing it on both sides of the ball as well. As a team, the Mavericks are shooting 46.5% from the floor and are holding teams to shooting just 34% and 16% from beyond the arc. Senior LaMarcus Reed III has been a leader for the Mavericks, averaging 16 points in those three games. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take


The Week That Was

  • Lamar battles tough opponents: Pat Knight has certainly had his hands full during his time as the Lamar head coach. So far this season, the Cardinals have battled some quality top-10 opponents that included Louisville and more recently, Ohio State and Kentucky. Despite losing all three of those games by an average margin of 20 points, the Cardinals have actually been quite competitive in those games and seen some different players step up. While those games have added losses to the Cardinals record, Knight is pleased with what he is seeing. In fact, he thinks these tough games will help the Cardinals, stating: “This is just going to help us in conference.” They will open up conference play on January 4 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
  • Fortenberry missing playing time: Southeastern Louisiana’s leading scorer, forward Brandon Fortenberry, missed his third straight game when the Lions traveled to take on South Carolina. In his absence, the team is 1-2, and struggling offensively. On the road against Arkansas and South Carolina, the Lions shot just 33% from the floor including 28% from three-point territory. In his absence, senior guard Elgin Bailey returned and has been the team’s predominant scorer averaging 13.5 points per game. In that span of three games, Bailey is also averaging nine rebounds per game. While Bailey has been a big contributor, the Lions are hopeful that Fortenberry will be ready for conference play which begins on January 4 when the team travels to UTA.
  • Ingram named Conference Player of Week: Texas-Arlington forward Bo Ingram was selected as this week’s Southland Conference Player of the Week. Over the past week, the Mavericks competed in the Athletes in Action tournament that saw the Mavericks go 2-1. In that three-game span, Ingram averaged 19.3 points per game, including 21 points against both Utah State and Saint Peter’s. During the tournament, Ingram also averaged 5.3 rebounds per game, including 11 offensive rebounds. Ingram is peaking at the right time and they are hopeful that it will continue as conference play begins January 4 for the Mavericks. They will open up conference play against Southeastern Louisiana and that game is scheduled for 7 PM.

Texas-Arlington's Bo Ingram Had An Outstanding Week (

Power Rankings

  1. Lamar (8-5): Despite going just 1-2 over the last two weeks, Lamar has continued to impress. The team faced and defeated Rice by the score of 87-81, before stepping up and playing some big names. First the Cardinals traveled to Columbus to take on the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes before heading over to Lexington to take on the #3 Kentucky Wildcats. Both games ended in losses for Pat Knight’s squad. However, they were able to keep it competitive and playing these caliber of teams in their non-conference schedule will help out the Cardinals when they open Southland Conference play. Senior guard Mike James has been impressive for the Cardinals, averaging over 21 points a game over the last two weeks, including a 29-point performance against Kentucky.
  2. Texas-Arlington (6-5): From a fan’s perspective, no team has been more fun to watch over the last two weeks than the Mavericks. The team may be 2-2 over that time period, but the team had its share of nail biters as each game was close. The first set of games for the Mavericks required them to travel to Tulsa and then play at Utah State. Despite hanging in there with Tulsa, the Mavs lost by five, 80-75, in overtime. They would also fall at Utah State, 73-69, despite a 21-point performance by senior forward and Southland Conference Player of the Week Bo Ingram. However, the Mavs would get back on track as they traveled back to Arlington and defeated Kent State, 74-73, and St. Peter’s, 73-68. Against St. Peter’s, Ingram had another 21-point performance, shooting 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd

Readers Take


The Week That Was:

  • LaQuentin Miles named Southland Player of the Week – On Monday, Central Arkansas guard LaQuentin Miles was named as Southland Conference Player of the Week. In the last two weeks, Miles averaged 19 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game as he helped Central Arkansas win two of their three contests. His standout game came against Henderson State, when he scored a career-high 29 points while picking up 12 rebounds, giving him his fourth double-double on the young season. Against SE Missouri, Miles added 16 points, and against Arkansas State, he scored 12. Currently, Miles leads the conference in scoring average with 19.3 points per game, and also ranks third in field goal percentage (55.4%), and is tied for sixth in rebounds per game (7.0).
  • Young Sam Houston squad continues to deal with injuries to bigs – It’s been a rough season for the Bearkats so far, and most of the struggles have come due to the team being undersized. Antuan Bootle, the team’s only returning starter from 2010, was injured after the first game of the season against Howard Payne. After a loss at Texas A&M, coach Jason Hooten frustratingly mentioned at his press conference that the team had only suited up six out of his 13 scholarship players.  Freshman Michael Holyfield has been taking the role of the team’s big man (Holyfield is dealing with an injury of his own after suffering a broken nose during a practice).
  • Lumberjacks Drop Etech Classic Finale – In the finale of the Etech Lumberjack Classic, the Lumberjacks fell just short against Florida International, losing 58-56. This was the first loss for the Lumberjacks in three years of the tournament. It looked early that it would be another tournament victory for the Lumberjacks as they were able to fight and claw their way back into the contest after trailing early. With 12 minutes to go, the Lumberjacks lead by six points. However FIU battled back and with under two minutes left to go they held on for a 58-54 win.

Central Arkansas Guard LaQuentin Miles Has Been A Conference Standout This Season (AP)

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 3rd, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take:


The Week That Was:

  • Logging Miles: Lamar guard Anthony Miles was named Southland Conference Player of the Week for his performance last week. Miles averaged 24.5 points and six assists per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds in two road wins for the Cardinals. Game-by-game, Miles dropped 18 points against Tennesee-Martin, where he shot the ball for 63% on 7-11 shooting as Lamar won, 80-69. Then Friday against Tennessee Tech, he scored a career high 31 points and dished out eight assists. The Cardinals dominated TTU in that one, 85-65.  Collectively, he shot 15-25 from the field, 3-5 from three-point range and 16-19 from the free throw line last week.

Anthony Miles Has Been Great For Lamar So Far This Season

  • Roadrunners Get A Boost: In the 2010-11 season, Melvin Johnson, III, was a critical weapon for the Roadrunners down the stretch and helped them reach the NCAA Tournament. After serving a two-game suspension for violating team rules, Johnson returned to the floor. Before the season, Johnson was expected to be among the top conference players. With him in the lineup, the Roadrunners are 3-3 this season, defeating UTEP, Fresno State and Cameron. In his six games this season, Johnson has had limited time on the court, averaging 10 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
  • Sam Houston State Slammed By Injuries: The Colonials had a relatively young team coming into the 2011-12 season with only one returning starter, forward Antuan Bootle. After the opening game of the season, Bootle has been saddled with a foot injury. Against Notre Dame, forward Steve Werner was also injured. Since then, Werner has played limited minutes and did not suit up Tuesday when the team took on Dallas Christian. Not being able to pass the ball inside has really hurt the Bearkats, who are shooting just 38.5% from the field and 23.8% from beyond the arc. Head coach Jason Hooten is optimistic and feels if his team can battle through these injuries, they’ll be stronger in conference play.

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC Correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at or on twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take


The Week That Was

  • Pat Knight Era Begins at Lamar: The Pat Knight era at Lamar University began in earnest last Friday as the Cardinals took on Arkansas State in their home opener. Knight and the Cardinals picked up the win, 65-62, as Brandon Davis led all scorers in the game with 17 points for the game. Devon Lamb also contributed 13 points and picked up 15 rebounds. After that, the team traveled and lost to #8 Louisville, 68-48. Knight and his team endured its first loss of the season. Despite the score, Lamar was able to hang with Louisville for awhile before Rick Pitino’s team took control of the game. Two days later the team fell in their second consecutive game at Ohio in overtime, 85-78, but followed that up with an 18-point pasting of Charlotte on Saturday night.

Pat Knight Takes Over at Lamar

  • Sam Houston A Growing Team:  Last season, the Bearkats won the Southland Conference West Division. However, they lost numerous players including Conference Player of the Year Gilberto Clavell.  This season, Sam Houston has just three returning players, including one starter (Antuan Bootle), so SHSU is still looking to find its identity. In the season opener, the team beat Howard Payne, 76-42, and shot the ball at 40% from the field and 12.5% from three-point range. In the second game of the season, the team traveled to South Bend, dropping a 74-41 game to Notre Dame. SHSU had trouble shooting, with a clip of just 34% from the field, faring even worse from the perimeter. Overall, the young team is shooting 37.2% from the field and 16.1% from beyond the arc. They have also turned the ball over 33 times in two games as they struggle to find consistency.
  • Southland Schools Battle Power Conference Squads: Four schools in the Southland Conference battled teams from the Big 12 and Big East. Last Friday, Texas A&M-CC lost to Oklahoma State; then, on Sunday, November 13, Lamar traveled to Louisville and lost, followed by a game on  Wednesday, November 16, where Sam Houston State traveled to Notre Dame while UTSA lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma State. Despite not having their leading scorer, Melvin Johnson III, who was serving his second game of suspension for violating team rules, UTSA built a lead before a miracle sequence from Cezar Guerrero eventually sunk the Roadrunners.

Power Rankings

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RTC Conference Primers: #28 – Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 6th, 2011

Zach Birdsong of The Houstonian is the RTC correspondent for Southland Conference. You can find him on Twitter at @zachbird_nerd

Readers’ Take I

Top Storylines

  • McNeese State Returns Championship Squad: Last season, the McNeese State Cowboys finished conference play with an 11-5 record. That was enough to claim the regular season league title, but the team was knocked out of the conference tournament by UT-San Antonio. McNeese returns eight players from last year’s team, though, including team MVP and All-Southland Conference forward Patrick Richard. With an experienced team, the Cowboys are hoping to break through to win the conference tournament and get to the Big Dance for the first time in ten years.
  • A Knight In Sight: Pat Knight, son of legendary head coach Bobby Knight, was signed as Lamar‘s new head coach. After being fired from Texas Tech back in March, the Cardinals signed him to take over the program in April. With a new setting and bringing his Big 12 experience to the Southland, it will be interesting to see if Knight can improve on last season’s disappointing 7-9 finish.
  • Bearkats Move On Without ClavellSam Houston State will be without star forward and Southland Conference Player of the Year Gilberto Clavell, as he graduated in May. Clavell averaged 19.5 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. Head coach Jason Hooten will be bringing in a younger team as he looks to limit any slippage as a result of Clavell’s departure.

Pat Knight Is Ready To Lean In For His First Season At The Helm Of Lamar's Program.

Predicted Order of Finish

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O26 Primers: Conference USA, Mountain West, Southland, SWAC and WAC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 9th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

With three conference tournaments concluding last night, it is only appropriate that five more get underway today. Conference USA and the Southland Conference are two of the most balanced leagues in the nation, while the WAC and Mountain West were just the opposite as they were dominated at the top. The SWAC is always a bit of a mystery come Championship Week and tournament time, but Texas Southern is the class of the league this year and will no doubt do their best to bring respect to the league if they are fortunate enough to advance to the Dance.

Conference USA

The Favorite: UAB won the regular season title with a 12-4 record, but that means very little in the ultra competitive CUSA this season as five teams are just behind the Blazers. There is something to be said though about UAB’s strong play down the stretch and the steady play of Jamarr Sanders and Cameron Moore. These reasons alone amidst several injuries that Mike Davis‘ club has overcome makes UAB the slight favorite over the rest of the bunch.

Dark Horse: Southern Mississippi is one the teams that are nipping at UAB’s heels. Although they fell in their last three games of the regular season, Larry Eustachy’s squad proved throughout the year they can beat anyone in the conference. Having Gary Flowers roam around the pain never hurts either.

Who’s Hot: UAB has won their last four games and seven of eight heading into the tournament. As well as UAB is playing, it would be very easy for that to stop on a dime. Throughout each week during the conference schedule, it appeared that one team in CUSA was emerging as the top dog, but they would quickly fade. Can UAB keep their streak going all the way into the NCAA Tournament?

Player to Watch: Papa Dia, Southern Methodist’s senior forward all the way from Senegal, is enjoying the best season of his career as he is averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. In each of the previous three seasons, SMU has been below .500; Dia and his teammates clearly have something to prove in this tournament.

First-Round UpsetCentral Florida over East Carolina. UCF was the nation’s favorite story in the early going as they jumped out to a 14-0 record with wins over Florida, Miami (FL), and Princeton. The Knights then went onto lose eight straight games, thus proving that their early success was a fluke. Now, UCF has won five of seven games and if they can regain that success they had in those 14 games, a victory over East Carolina is absolutely within reach.

How’d They Fare? After going 7-9 in the conference, Houston caught fire in the tournament to surprise everyone by winning the title. In doing so, the Cougars stole a bid from a team on the bubble and earned a #13 seed in the Tournament where they lost to Maryland 89-77. UTEP—the team Houston beat to advance onward—was trounced by Butler as a #12 seed.

Interesting Fact: The last team to win an NCAA Tournament game hailing from Conference USA not named Memphis was Louisville in the 2005 Tournament. The ‘Ville advanced all the way to the Final Four that year where they lost to Illinois 57-52 in the semifinals. Both UAB and Cincinnati also won Tournament games that year.

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