Where 2014-15 Happens: Reason #10 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2014

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2014-15 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight rather than 30 days from now. Over the next month you’ll get one reason per day until we reach the new season on November 14. We’ve captured what we believe were the 30 most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. For all of this year’s released posts, click here

#10 – Where You Won’t Play Us? Fine. Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-122012-13 and 2013-14 preseasons.

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Big Ten M5: 11.03.14 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 3rd, 2014

morning5_bigten

  1. Can you believe that this upcoming year is Tom Izzo‘s 20th season in the Big Ten? Time certainly flies, doesn’t it? After this season he will become the third most-tenured coach in the nation after Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. The Detroit Free Press recently asked the Michigan State head coach about the unexpected journey from when he first took the job in the mid-1990s to today. Regardless of when he retires from the game, Izzo will without question be one of the top four or five coaches in the history of Big Ten hoops. It is unlikely that he will get to his seventh Final Four this year without a true scoring threat on the roster, but it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to bet on him returning to the promised land before he retires in the next decade or so.
  2. Leadership is absolutely essential on a Final Four contender, and Michigan had two excellent ones over the past two seasons: Trey Burke during its run to the national championship game in 2012-13 and Nik Stauskas during its Elite Eight run last year. One of the reasons why the Wolverines aren’t likely to be a contender this season is their clear lack of leadership, but head coach John Beilein doesn’t seem to be worried about that too much. Junior wing Caris LeVert should carry most of the offensive load this year but he has long way to go before he can prove leadership similar to Stauskas or Burke. When asked about his ability to lead, LeVert said, “I think naturally, I’m kind of wanting to lead by example more, but the coaches have been pushing me and my teammates as well, to kind of talk more and be more vocal, on the court as well as off the court.”
  3. Indiana sophomore wing Devin Davis was seriously injured over the weekend in an accident involving a vehicle near Assembly Hall. According to his family, Davis is recovering very well, which should be positive news for Tom Crean’s squad. The following is the official statement: “As all parents can understand, the last 40+ hours have been difficult for us and for all of those who care about our son. Devin’s condition is improving and we know that there is a road to recovery ahead.” Davis only averaged 2.5 PPG last year and wasn’t expected to have a tremendous impact for the Hoosiers this season, but an event like this could have an adverse effect on the overall morale of a young team two weeks before the season tips off. His recovery is in all of our thoughts.
  4. With only two weeks left until season tip-off, scrimmages are useful for coaches to figure out their rotations. While Ohio State has a lot of question marks on offense with the departure of LaQuinton Ross, freshman D’Angelo Russell has provided some hope for the Buckeyes’ fans after his most recent performance. In addition to his scoring, he also comforted Thad Matta with his passing because he needs more ball-handlers to complement Shannon Scott. Speaking of Scott, he too had a good performance and should be one of the best guards in the Big Ten as a senior because he can push the pace faster than Aaron Craft.
  5. Continuing with the theme of scrimmages, Maryland‘s exhibition win on Saturday night provided more information about what to expect from the Terps in their first Big Ten season. The new-look team shot a whole bunch of perimeter jumpers — making 14 of 27 threes — which could be a consistent theme with this squad. Dez Wells in particular will need to be more consistent offensively if the Terps expect to have any shot of competing for an NCAA Tournament bid this season. He he shot a dismal 30.4 percent from deep last year, but he can do more damage in taking his man off the dribble than merely settling for deep jumpers.
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Where 2014-15 Happens: Reason #16 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2014

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2014-15 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight rather than 30 days from now. Over the next month you’ll get one reason per day until we reach the new season on November 14. We’ve captured what we believe were the 30 most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. For all of this year’s released posts, click here

#16 – Where Defense Wins Championships Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-122012-13 and 2013-14 preseasons.

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Big Ten M5: 10.17.14 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on October 17th, 2014

morning5_bigten

  1. As Tom Izzo enters his 20th season as head coach at Michigan State, he’ll have to deal with the losses of three major contributors from last season — Keith Appling, Gary Harris, and Adreian Payne. With only an average recruiting class entering East Lansing, he’ll have to rely on players from last year’s roster to improve. Specifically, the Spartans will look to senior Branden Dawson to keep them competitive in the B1G and possibly challenge for a conference championship. On Thursday at the Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, Izzo said that he’s trying to get Dawson to mold his game like another former Spartan standout, Draymond Green. With the significant loss in production from last year, it would certainly help if Dawson played like Green — who averaged a double-double his final year — this season.
  2. As mentioned, yesterday was Big Ten Media Day, and these events usually produce some notable quotes from the assembled coaches. One comment that caught my attention was Michigan head coach John Beilein’s response to a question about the presumed gap between Wisconsin and the other teams in the conference, stating that “the rest of the league is not far behind on a national stage.” It seems like Beilein is confident that, by the end of the season, several other Big Ten teams will join the national conversation, and maybe Wisconsin won’t run away with the conference championship after all. It’s not an outlandish statement by any stretch, because with coaches like Beilein, Izzo, and Thad Matta in the league, it is always difficult for any team — no matter how talented or experienced — to run away with the conference title.
  3. Of all the familiar faces that left the Big Ten this offseason, the most recognizable of those was probably that of the Buckeyes’ Aaron Craft. The highly decorated four-year player’s strength were intangibles like leadership and tenacity that could not be measured in a stat line. Shannon Scott, a 6’1″ senior guard who averaged 26.9 MPG last season, will attempt to replace Craft at the point guard slot this season. Scott’s numbers weren’t too far removed from Craft’s contributions in 2013-14, so his ability to produce is not really in question. But taking a leadership role could be an issue for Craft’s replacement, as Thad Matta stated on Thursday, “he’s always played a supportive role from teams he’s been on in high school to AAU to here.” The Buckeyes have a nice group of talent once again this season, but if Scott can’t effectively take an on-court leadership role, the Buckeyes will struggle to regain national power status.
  4. One familiar face that did return was Purdue big man and conference-leading shot-blocker, A.J. Hammons. While Hammons improved his block and defensive rebounding percentages from his freshman to sophomore seasons, he did not improve nearly as much offensively. Therefore it must be reassuring to Matt Painter to hear Hammons say that he realizes he has to be more of a leader on offense or Purdue won’t go very far this year. If the Boilermakers have any shot of making a run at the NCAA Tournament — and possibly saving Painter’s job — it will require Hammons to be the focal point of the team on both ends of the court.
  5. Finally, Illinois fans received sad news on Wednesday when they learned former assistant coach and Peoria High School legend, Wayne McClain, had passed away. On Thursday we learned even more about what seemed like the coach’s sudden death. McClain had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013, but only he and his doctors knew about it — not even his wife nor his son Sergio, who played at Illinois from 1997-2001. The younger McClain only found out about his illness by looking through his late father’s smart phone and reading a journal he had written. Wayne McClain was apparently telling his family that he was going to regular doctor visits when he was actually receiving chemotherapy. When his options for treatment ran out, he still kept his illness a secret. It’s hard to imagine most people doing the same, but from reading interviews with his former players and colleagues, McClain seemed to be dedicated to selflessly helping others and not making things about himself. The basketball world seemed to lose a good one this week. Rest in peace, coach.
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Your Way-Too-Early Big Ten 2014-15 Power Rankings

Posted by Brendan Brody on April 10th, 2014

The Big Ten was once again a juggernaut during the 2013-14 campaign, as the league was arguably the best conference in America, or at worst second behind the Big 12. There were six teams invited to the NCAA Tournament, three of which made the Elite Eight, and the league was also the home of the NIT Champion. One thing that cannot be disputed is that the bottom half of the league’s teams were much better. This meant that some games that were considered big upsets early became much less surprising as the season went on. With this year in the books, the league is set to add newcomers Maryland and Rutgers to the mix for 2014-15. With 14 teams and a plethora of players slated to return, it’s time to construct some kind of pecking order as we head into the long offseason.

Look for Nigel Hayes to take on a much bigger role for Wisconsin next season. (AP)

Look for Nigel Hayes to take on a much bigger role for Wisconsin next season. (AP)

  1. Wisconsin: The Badgers are only projected to lose starting guard Ben Brust right now. Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky could both leave school, but neither is anything close to a certain first round pick. If they return, the Badgers would have four upperclassmen starters in the lineup, plus sophomores Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes ready to take on bigger roles. This team could be scary.
  2. Michigan: While the Wisconsin situation looks much more settled, Michigan is an absolute wild card at this point. The Wolverines could very well lose any combination of Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Stauskas is the only player who is thought to be a certain first-rounder, however, and a team that brings back Robinson, McGary, Caris LeVert, and Derrick Walton Jr. could easily build off of their Elite Eight appearance and battle Wisconsin for the league title.
  3. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have the best recruiting class in the Big Ten coming in, with D’Angelo Russell, Keita Bates-Diop, and Jae’Sean Tate on the majority of the top 100 lists. Combine this infusion of young talent with a solid group of upperclassmen and graduate transfer Anthony Lee coming in from Temple, and Ohio State should be better next year than it was in 2013-14. Read the rest of this entry »
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Rushed Reactions: #11 Dayton 60, #6 Ohio State 59

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 20th, 2014

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Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion@RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

Dayton pulled off a stunner in Buffalo. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

Dayton pulled off a stunner in Buffalo. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

  1. The Battle of Ohio was even better than expected. When this game popped up on Selection Sunday, it was tabbed as one of the better round of 64 matchups, and it more than lived up to the hype. There were several huge momentum swings throughout the game, both fan bases had their moments, and the final five minutes – a taut five minutes – was rife with huge plays. The first game of the day will be tough to top throughout the rest of this round’s action.
  2. These Flyers are resilient. Sam Thompson sparked a big Ohio State run midway through the second half to put the Buckeyes back on top, and it looked like danger zone for Dayton. Unable to get any looks underneath and completely out of sync offensively, the Flyers very well could have faded into oblivion over the final 10 minutes. Instead, they kept attacking in transition and never hung their heads on the defensive end. It paid off. They reached the bonus relatively early on, hit some free throws, and kept the game tight. And when Aaron Craft’s layup fell through with 10 seconds on the clock, Archie Miller’s guys confidently ran the ball up the floor, got it into Vee Sanford’s hands, and he made the magic happen – a Raftery-sizedkiss off the glass to finish off the upset.
  3. Aaron Craft’s career ends. Regardless of how you feel about Craft, you should not remember him for the bad intentional foul he committed late in the second half. Instead, the lasting image should be the way he responded – by attacking the rim and making several enormous baskets down the stretch. If that Sanford shot had rimmed out, we’d be talking about Craft as the hero, again. Hate him, love him, the guy is a tough player who did a lot of great things in Columbus over the past four years. Remember that side of it.

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Big Ten Weekend in Review: The Plot Thickens

Posted by Brendan Brody on February 17th, 2014

After Michigan got beaten pretty badly at home against Wisconsin early Sunday afternoon, Michigan State knew that all they had to do was beat Nebraska at home to take over sole possession of first place in the league. The broadcasters even said that the Spartans were watching the Michigan game in the locker room before their game. So of course Sparty got upset by the Cornhuskers because nothing is normal in the 2013-14 Big Ten season. With Wisconsin and Iowa winning over the weekend, there are now four teams within two games of the top spot. With all of these teams playing against each other next weekend (Michigan State at Michigan, Wisconsin at Iowa), absolutely nothing has been settled with three weekends left in the conference schedule. Minnesota got an important win at Northwestern to keep their tourney hopes alive, Purdue annihilated Indiana, and Ohio State and Illinois combined for a whopping 87 points. Here’s the rest of the weekend rundown.

Frank Kaminsky posted his third double-double of the season by scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in Wisconsin's weekend win at Michigan. (Getty)

Frank Kaminsky posted his third double-double of the season by scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in Wisconsin’s weekend win at Michigan. (Getty)

Player of the Weekend: Frank Kaminsky: This was probably the closest contest so far in the seven weeks of doling out this prestigious award. Sterling Carter and Melsaan Basabe were also worthy candidates, but Kaminsky gets the nod. He destroyed the Wolverines all day, and surprisingly did the majority of his damage inside the paint. In his other games this season where he’s gone for over 20 points, he did so by taking a good number of threes. Specifically, in his 43-point monsoon against North Dakota, Kaminsky went 6-for-6 from three and 4-for-7 on two’s. Sunday afternoon, he only took 2 shots from behind the arc. He was 10-for 14 on two’s and did a good deal of damage on the boards (4 offensive rebounds, 11 total). Kaminsky was as aggressive as he’s been all season trying to corral rebounds, and he attacked the basket the whole game. If he and Nigel Hayes can provide consistent paint points for the Badgers to go along with the ever-present outside attack, then Wisconsin just got a lot more dangerous.

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The RTC Podcast: No Team is Safe Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2014

Another weekend down means another RTC Podcast. In this week’s edition, the guys were pleased to welcome Sports Illustrated columnist and all-around good guy, Luke Winn, who regaled us with stories about some of his favorite pieces over the past few years, a couple of teams that he believes might be overlooked according to the national polls, and his favorite graphic that he’s created in the always-entertaining and informative Power Rankings column. Aside from Luke’s visit, we also found time to run down what was a simply ridiculous weekend of college basketball — Super Saturday, instead — and examine the week’s most compelling upcoming games. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts the proceedings.

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast/podblast on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-5:51 – Arizona Loses In More Ways Than One
  • 5:51-12:34 – Duke-Syracuse Lives Up To The Hype
  • 12:34-20:42 – Slew of Other Top 10s Fall (And in OK St’s Case Fall Again)
  • 20:42-33:05 – Rush The Takes: Luke Winn
  • 33:05-37:32 – Kentucky Takes a Tumble in the Ranks
  • 37:32-41:55 – Randy Overrating Cincinnati???
  • 41:55-47:08 – Ohio State And Wisconsin – Someone Technically Won
  • 47:08-51:06 – Virginia Leaps Ahead of Pitt in ACC Power Rankings
  • 51:06-58:47 – Week Preview
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The RTC Podblast: Time and Score Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 31st, 2014

Welcome back to the RTC Podblast. In this week’s edition, the guys take a look back at a week filled with some strange upsets, including what might be the only time in the history of podcasts that the Northwestern fight song was used, a discussion of time and score (also known as a 13.5 second interlude), and a look ahead to a ridiculously strong Saturday of college basketball. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts.

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast/podblast on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-5:56 – Wild, Wild Midwest
  • 5:56-9:28 – Iowa Comes Up Short… Again
  • 9:28-13:02 – Kentucky Falls At LSU
  • 13:02-18:44 – Louisville Fails to Validate Randy’s Belief
  • 18:44-24:30 – Busy Weekend Preview
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RTC Bracketology: January 23 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 23rd, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Over the past six years, Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s No. 11 bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

The movement in my newest batch of bracketology focuses completely on the Big Ten. Ohio State continues to slide after a loss to Nebraska earlier this week and still lacks a single quality win. The Buckeyes are No. 9 seed, based mainly on their high RPI and the eye test which seems to suggest Ohio State is a lot better than its recent record.

Some other notes about the January 23 edition:

  • Wisconsin started 16-0 and has now lost three consecutive games after a loss at Minnesota Wednesday night. The Badgers are now a No. 3 seed and at No. 9 on the S-curve. Villanova, despite getting destroyed by Creighton Monday night, stays on the No. 2 line for now. The Wildcats would have been the fourth No. 1 seed if the ‘Cats had won against Creighton.
  • Michigan is flying up the board and is now a No. 3 seed after a big win over Iowa on Wednesday night. The win over the Hawkeyes followed another big win over Wisconsin last Saturday. Minnesota is also moving up and is a No. 6 seed after beating the Badgers.
  • The last eight teams in the at-large field continue to look like a bunch of mediocre clubs with hardly anything separating them. Arkansas lost on the road Wednesday night at Tennessee, eliminating the Razorbacks’ chance of moving back into my field. Arkansas is now 2-22 on the road under head coach Mike Anderson and 44-5 at home. I need someone smarter than me to figure that one out. I’ll keep the Razorbacks outside of my field until they can beat anyone on the road, no matter what they do at home. Considering the Hawgs have only one more chance for a big win this year (vs. Kentucky, at Rupp) it’s likely they are done barring some kind of unbelievable turnaround in road games. Don’t count on it.
  • The SEC has four teams in my latest field, but No. 12 Missouri barely made it after a loss to LSU this week. No. 10 Tennessee only made it because there really is a lack of quality teams in the lowest at-large seed lines and at least the Vols have a couple of good wins.
  • The Pac-12 seems to be racing the SEC to get as few NCAA Tournament bids as possible. No. 1 Arizona is a lock, but teams like No. 10 California (which lost to USC Wednesday night) continue to dare the committee to only take two or three teams from the conference. No. 9 Colorado can’t help that Spencer Dinwiddie was injured against Washington, but the Buffaloes are now thrown into a group of Pac-12 bubble teams that they likely would have been head and shoulders above. No. 9 Oregon, No. 11 Stanford and No. 9 UCLA all appear to be very up and down this season.

The full bracket is after the jump.

NOTE: Teams in all capital letters are projected auto-bid winners.

 

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RTC Bracketology: January 20 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 20th, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s No. 11 bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

A lot changed in my bracketology following a crazy weekend of college basketball. I’m going to try to break it down and make it as simple and as easy as possible. First, let’s start at the top.

  • Villanova replaces Wisconsin on the No. 1 seed line after Wisconsin lost twice last week. The Wildcats simply have a better resume than Florida, who is No. 5 on my S-curve despite a loss to Wisconsin earlier this season. Remember, the Gators were not completely healthy in their loss at Wisconsin. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who has become the go-to guy for Florida in the final minutes of games, missed the final few minutes of the last second loss at Connecticut.
  • Wichita State stays on the No. 3 seed line despite being undefeated. The Shockers simply do not have the profile of a No. 1 or No. 2 seed at this point. Gonzaga didn’t last year at this time either, and still ended up on the No. 1 line, so stay patient Shocker fans.
  • Oklahoma has jumped up to a No. 4 seed after wins against Baylor and Iowa State. The Cyclones stay as a No. 3 seed, but are sliding. Baylor falls to a No. 8 seed after a couple more losses. Ohio State is also sliding — the Buckeyes’ profile looks nothing like the seed of a surefire NCAA Tournament team, although that is where most bracketologists continue to seed them as a No. 3 or No. 4 seed.
  • Anyone wanting a prediction from me can write this one down: Kansas will end up with a No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks have a tremendous profile like always, and are playing their best basketball of the season.

I think that’s enough for now. If you have questions (and surely you do), please tweet me @bracketexpert.

First Four Out: VCU, Illinois, Arkansas, Southern Mississippi.

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RTC Bracketology: January 18 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 18th, 2014

bracket pic

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert.

Going into Saturday, this has been a crazy week in college basketball. Let’s review:

  • Baylor is sliding after getting destroyed by Texas Tech.
  • Ohio State continues to have zero good wins and has now lost three straight games.
  • Wisconsin lost its first game of the year at Indiana Tuesday night.
  • Kansas knocked off Iowa State Monday night and continues to move up in my bracketology rankings.

I listed Kansas as a No. 1 seed in my preseason bracketology because the Jayhawks earn No. 1 seeds more consistently than any other team in the country. Kansas always schedules well and it pays off. The Jayhawks are up to No. 2 in my latest bracket and are nearing the No. 1 seed line at this point. Wichita State remains on the No. 3 line despite being undefeated. It’s nothing personal against the Shockers — really, it’s not. They just don’t have the profile of a top two seed at this point. Colorado lost Spencer Dinwiddie to an ACL injury earlier this week and the Buffaloes lost to UCLA  a few nights later. I’ve moved Colorado down because of Dinwiddie’s loss. For now, I’m keeping New Mexico State and Belmont in the bracket below despite losing games this week and technically falling out of first place. It’s still early in the year and for one night, I am willing to give those teams the benefit of the doubt.

Here is the complete field, seeded #1-#68:

First Four Out: Arkansas, Stanford, Indiana, Saint Mary’s

#1 Seeds:
ARIZONA (Pac-12/WEST)
SYRACUSE (ACC/EAST)
WISCONSIN (Big Ten/SOUTH)
Michigan State (Midwest)

#2  Seeds:
Villanova
FLORIDA (SEC)
KANSAS (Big 12)
San Diego State (MWC)

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