The RTC Podcast: The KenPom Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 14th, 2014

Running very late with the post this week, but this week’s RTC Podcast has already been up on iTunes since Monday night (even more reason to subscribe and automatically get the updates as soon as they drop!). As always, Shane Conolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, guiding us through a really interesting weekend of action that included a number of upsets within conference play and some very early takeaways about a number of highly-ranked teams. There will of course also be an interesting series of emails and a fired-up #rootforthesuit segment.

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We’re also pleased to bring back the Rush the Takes segment, featuring advanced metrics guru and bowling aficianado Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) this week. You’ll learn about a team that Pomeroy the fan disagrees with Pomeroy the statistician, and understand a little better what the future of advanced metrics holds in the arena of college basketball. Pomeroy gives a really good interview, and we hope that you’ll give it a listen.

  • 0:00-8:41 – Iowa Hands Ohio State Another Loss
  • 8:41-13:08 – Examining Other Upsets
  • 13:08-19:16 – Iowa State Can’t Muster Enough Hilton Magic Against Kansas
  • 19:16-30:21 – Rush The Take With Metrics Guru Ken Pomeroy
  • 30:21-34:58 – Most Indispensable Player
  • 34:58-39:41 – Piece of Memorabilia Worth $119,500
  • 39:41-42:21 – #rootforthesuit
  • 42:21-47:19 – Week Preview
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RTC Bracketology: January 13 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 13th, 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.

There was a lot of movement in my bracketology this weekend. After  a loss to Clemson, Duke is now free-falling. North Carolina, sitting at 0-3 in the ACC after a loss at Syracuse, has fallen all the day to the No. 8 seed line. Ohio State, a team which really has a lackluster overall profile after back-to-back losses to Michigan State and Iowa, has now fallen to my final  No. 3 seed position. The Buckeyes had risen to a No. 1 seed in a bracket I released last week. Colorado and Oregon are also falling quickly. The Buffaloes have the better resume but are preparing for bad news about leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie, who went down with an apparent knee injury last night in a loss to Washington. If Dinwiddie is out for the year, you will see that reflected in my next bracket. Among the teams moving up include Oklahoma, which handed Iowa State its first loss of the season over the weekend. San Diego State has also continued to climb and is nearing the No. 2 seed line, but stays as a No. 3 for now. Iowa also leaped up to the No. 5 line after one of the best resume-building wins of the year at Ohio State.

Last Four In: Indiana State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Georgetown
First Four Out: Arizona State, St. Mary’s, Boise State, Southern Mississippi

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The RTC Podblast: The Comeuppance Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 10th, 2014

Welcome back to the RTC Podblast. With a loaded week of big games this week, there was plenty to talk about, including Arizona-UCLA, Memphis-Louisville, Michigan State-Ohio State, Iowa State-Baylor, and Randy’s annual comeuppance. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) leads us through the discussion, with an added cherry on top looking forward to a mildly entertaining group of games this weekend.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-5:34 – Memphis Proves Randy Wrong
  • 5:34-9:44 – Arizona Escapes Pauley Pavilion Unscathed
  • 9:44-15:19 – But Ohio State Doesn’t Escape East Lansing
  • 15:19-16:08 – Iowa State Rolls Baylor
  • 16:08-19:19 – Saturday Games Preview
  • 19:19-21:51 – Sunday Games Preview
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RTC Bracketology: January 10 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 10th, 2014

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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.

Our latest bracketology shows a little bit of movement at the top. After Michigan State‘s big win over Ohio State Tuesday night, the Spartans jump to the No. 1 line. Iowa State continues to climb and is up to No. 6 overall on my S-curve, while Wichita State is up to No. 9. I’m still doubting that the Shockers can get a No. 1 seed unless they finish the regular season with an unblemished record (or at most one loss), so for now they remain on the No. 3 seed line despite remaining undefeated.

The "Most Annoying Team in America" to Bracketologists (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

The “Most Annoying Team in America” to Bracketologists (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

North Carolina remains the most annoying team in the country. The Tar Heels lost to Miami (FL) earlier this week to add another awful loss to a resume full of them. Of course, the Tar Heels also have three of the best wins in the country over Michigan State, Kentucky and Louisville.. The Tar Heels are like many of my ex-girlfriends, bipolar and unpredictable.

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

LAST FOUR IN: Georgetown, Texas, Oklahoma, Dayton
FIRST FOUR OUT: California, SMU, North Dakota State, St. Mary’s

#1 Seeds:

  • ARIZONA (Pac 12/WEST)
  • WISCONSIN (Big Ten/SOUTH)
  • SYRACUSE (ACC/EAST)
  • Michigan State (Midwest)

#2  Seeds:

  • Ohio State
  • IOWA STATE (Big 12)
  • FLORIDA (SEC)
  • Oklahoma State

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Big Ten M5: 12.16.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on December 16th, 2013

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  1. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has suspended redshirt freshman forward Kenny Kaminski indefinitely. Izzo had already suspended the freshman earlier this season, but this time there is no timeline for the return. After a close win over Oakland on Saturday, Izzo said, “Kenny Kaminski’s got to grow up, he’s just got to grow up. And I’m gonna keep suspending him or sitting him out until he takes care of all his business that he’s got to take care of, whether it’s in school, off the court.” Regardless of Kaminski’s playing time, the Spartans need to make sure they enter the Big Ten season with good chemistry, and most importantly, good health. If Izzo can get a healthy Gary Harris back in the lineup, his team should be in good shape to contend for the Big Ten title.
  2. Before writing about college basketball for Grantland, Mark Titus rode the bench at Ohio State during the 2006-07 season when the Buckeyes made it to the national title game. Titus was a walk-on who didn’t play much during his time at Columbus, and Thad Matta doesn’t want Jake Lorbach, another walk-0n, to play like Titus. “He [told me], ‘I don’t want another Mark Titus. So just try not to do that.’ But sometimes you can’t help yourself,” Lorbach said. The 6’7″ forward has averaged only 1.5 PPG and is not expected to contribute immediately, but after a year under his belt, he may be able to play a reserve role on the team.
  3. After a tough loss to Notre Dame at the Crossroads Classic on Saturday, Indiana still hasn’t secured a marquee win during the non-conference season. Inside The Hall‘s Jordan Littman discusses the Hoosiers’ ongoing search for an identity. After the game, Tom Crean said, “Our identity has got to be in the fact that going into the game, we were fifth in the country in field goal percentage defense, we were No. 1 in the country in rebound margin, we were way up in the country in getting to the free throw line.” Noah Vonleh needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble against tougher opponents because his time on the court is too valuable. When he is on the court, the Hoosiers can rebound with reckless abandon, but without him out there, they lose their only strength at this juncture of the season.
  4. John Groce’s Illini lost a close one to Oregon over the weekend, but the Illinois fan base did an excellent job of representing its team on the west coast. According to Illiniboard, 15 percent of the 10,000 fans in the arena were supporting the Illini, which is pretty impressive for a road game taking place in Portland. Groce’s squad led for most of the game in front of the raucous crowd, but it couldn’t find any kind of offense over the past five minutes of the game when the Ducks were able to get to the free throw line consistently. After two close losses to Georgia Tech and now to Oregon, the Illini need a win over Missouri next weekend before beginning conference play. The annual “Bragging Rights” game will take place on Saturday in St. Louis.
  5. One more shot against Arizona and Michigan could have erased its disappointing non-conference season, but the Wolverines will need to wait a bit longer to regain their confidence. John Beilein’s team almost pulled off the victory over #1 ranked Arizona on Saturday afternoon, but it couldn’t close the deal over the last minute. When asked about beating good teams afterward, Beilein said, “The devil’s in the details.” Despite the loss, Caris LeVert continued to impress with 15 points, but he and his teammates couldn’t handle Arizona’s size and athleticism at the end of the day. After a tough first month of action, the Wolverines won’t have it easy against conference competition because the tougher defensive units in the Big Ten have traditionally given Beilein’s offense trouble scoring.
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The RTC Podblast: Episode 1.5

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2013

And we’re off and running with the regular season as well as the weekly RTC Podblast. In case you’re not aware of what this feature is all about, this is where we reset the week’s action and look ahead to the coming weekend of games in a shorter, sleeker, bite-sized format. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, and in this week’s podblast, the guys break down some positives and negatives for each of the four teams in the Champions Classic, discuss a couple of other games from the Hoops Marathon, and look forward to the two biggest games of the weekend. The full rundown is below.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-1:15 – Introduction
  • 1:15-7:26 –  Sparty Spoils Kentucky’s 40-0 Dreams
  • 7:26-11:22 – Kansas (not the Fighting Wiggins) beats Duke (not the Fighting Jabaris)
  • 11:22-13:14 – The Old Dominion Battle (That didn’t involve ODU)
  • 13:14-14:33 – Florida Battles Wisconsin Despite Missing Pieces
  • 14:33-16:34 – Ohio State-Marquette Preview
  • 16:34-20:03 – “Randy Bowl” (Michigan-Iowa State) Preview/Wrap
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Running Down Our Big Ten Preview Posts

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 8th, 2013

Folks, the season is finally here! With three ranked teams in the top-10 of the national polls, the Big Ten is ready to once again make its case as the deepest conference in college basketball. Over the next five months, our team of Big Ten writers – Jonathan Batuello, Brendan Brody, Deepak Jayanti, Max Jakubowski and Alex Moscoso — will provide our insights about the conference we love. To prepare you for the season, we’ve outlined all the posts we’ve written about each of the 12 teams in the league, listed below (sorry, Minnesota, we owe you one).

Which Big Ten Team Will Be Playing Into April Like Michigan Was Last Year?

Which Big Ten Team Will Be Playing Into April Like Michigan Was Last Year?

Overall League Coverage

Michigan State

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Morning Five: 10.28.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2013

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  1. For the fourth consecutive weekend (ugh), several schools around the country staged their Midnight Madness events. The headliner over the last three days was at North Carolina, where the Tar Heels’ annual Late Night With Roy event featured big cheers for troubled guard PJ Hairston. At Seton Hall, eating contest legend Takeru Kobayashi was brought in to wow the crowd as he went head-to-head in a hot dog eating contest with Pirates’ head coach Kevin Willard. Willard didn’t even try to get one down, preferring to spend the minute-long competition watching Kobayashi house a total of 10 without so much as an extra breath. Perhaps more impressively, Kobayashi then drained a gallon jug of milk in just 15 seconds. Over at Villanova, Nicki Minaj performed during its Hoops Mania event, while Kansas State created some buzz with its Fresh Prince of Manhattan skit. The most impressive item out of the weekend, though, may have come from Providence‘s Brandon Austin, who shut down the proceedings with a simply ridiculous between-the-legs, 360-degree windmill dunk. All good fun, but after literally a month of these Madnesses, can we get to some real basketball soon? Eleven days.
  2. With just over a week remaining before bona fide games tip off, the NCAA is releasing decisions on player eligibility with gusto. Last week it was Georgetown receiving the good (and astonishing) news that former UCLA center Josh Smith would be eligible to play immediately; Oregon got similar news on Friday when the NCAA cleared Houston transfer Joseph Young to play immediately for Dana Altman as well. Young is an exceptional scoring guard who averaged 18.0 PPG last season and brings to Eugene the 26th-best offensive rating in college basketball (124.1 last season). In a now-loaded backcourt featuring Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Young to go along with transfer Mike Moser in the frontcourt, the Ducks are suddenly looking like one of the top two or three teams in the Pac-12 again. Interestingly, transfers Young and Smith will face each other in their first game of the season between the Ducks and Hoyas in South Korea on November 8.
  3. Just a few days after Tim Floyd revealed that Kentucky and UTEP were exploring a 2016 game to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Brown vs. Board of Education national championship match-up, word came out that John Calipari’s program is seeking to spearhead another Champions Classic-style event involving the nation’s top basketball schools. According to ESPN.com‘s Andy Katz, Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina and Ohio State are negotiating a three-year event that would mimic the Champions Classic with each team rotating through the others in alternate years. The unnamed event would begin in 2014-15 and would move between Brooklyn, Indianapolis and Las Vegas during the first three-year window. When the Champions Classic was first developed, we wondered if some of the other all-time great basketball schools such as UNC and UCLA would ever have a chance to participate; with this new event now in the pipeline, we’ll just about have it covered. Serious question, though — with a combined 24 national titles among this group, shouldn’t the new event supersede the other for rights to the name “Champions Classic?” And what happened to Indiana (five titles compared with Ohio State’s one)?
  4. The Miami/Nevin Shapiro scandal has come and gone with Frank Haith getting off relatively easy (a five-game suspension) and the Hurricane basketball program moving forward in decent shape. But, as the Miami Herald reports, former assistant coach Jorge Fernandez’s professional life has been destroyed as a result of admitted violations relating to providing free airline tickets to players and later lying to the NCAA about it. The article correctly points out that it is often the low-level assistants in these scandals who suffer the brunt of the punishment, as Fernandez notes that a two-year ‘show cause’ penalty has shut him out of the coaching profession and caused the matter of providing basic needs for his family very difficult. Some coaches around the country have rallied around him throughout his ordeal, but many others have not, and it’s uncertain if or where he will be able to land after his penalty has ended. It’s another one of those stories that makes people shrug their shoulders at the stark inequities built into the NCAA’s byzantine system of enforcement and punishment.
  5. It got lost in the late week news cycle, but some big news relating to the Ed O’Bannon case against the NCAA was released on Friday afternoon. Federal district judge Claudia Wilken denied the NCAA’s motion for dismissal, paving the way for O’Bannon and the other plantiffs to move forward and eventually receive a trial on the merits of the case. The primary issue here was the relevance of language in a 1984 case from former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens that, while not part of the holding of that lawsuit, has been relied upon by the NCAA to retain its amateur model: “In order to preserve the character and quality of the [NCAA’s] ‘product,’ athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class, and the like.” Wilken rejected the notion that Stevens’ language represented any particular binding precedent, and in so doing, has removed a major procedural barrier assuring that the plaintiffs will get their day in court. Wilken will next rule on class certification of the case, potentially allowing thousands more plaintiffs to sue the NCAA and correspondingly raising their potential liability well into the billions of dollars.
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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #21 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 25th, 2013

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Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 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. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the 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. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#21 – Where Gettin’ a Little Crafty Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

 

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Morning Five: 09.04.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 4th, 2013

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  1. Labor Day is in the rear-view mirror now, so prepare yourselves for two solid months of preview material from the college basketball writing industry. Frankly, in the need to fill space with relevant content, we all probably overdo it a tad, but with the start of practice mere weeks away and preview magazines already hitting the newsstands, it’s hard to not get excited. SI.com‘s Andy Glockner has put together his third annual “non-conference primer” for us, which, if you’re not familiar, breaks down the slates at a number of the top programs in America. He slots 13 schools into four separate categories ranging from “This is how you do it” (Kansas) to “Not good enough, given context” (Louisville, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and UCLA), and there’s not much room for disagreement. Even more agreeable is that simply reading about some of these games is more than enough reason to start daydreaming.
  2. One of the schools that falls into Glockner’s “Certainly acceptable” category is Michigan, which boasts non-conference games with Duke, Stanford, Arizona, Iowa State and possibly a rematch with VCU in the Puerto Rico Shootout. The rise of John Beilein’s Wolverines over the last few years has been well-documented as a trademark success story where great coaching, recruiting and player development all intertwined, and now Michigan fans everywhere can get the inside scoop on the progression with former walk-on Josh Bartelstein’s new eBook, “We On.” Bartelstein originally started blogging behind-the-scenes for MGoLive.com with his “Bartelstein Blog” while Michigan was sitting at 1-6 in the Big Ten during his sophomore year. The Wolverines went on to make the NCAA Tournament that season, following it up the next two years with a Big Ten championship and a trip to last year’s national title game. With a courtside seat for all the fun, Bartelstein’s documentation of the rise of Michigan basketball will sell for $7.99 and is sure to inspire some copycats along the way. Does Andrew Wiggins blog?
  3. One basketball player who wouldn’t have trouble finding a willing readership if he ever decided to blog is LeBron James. The two-time NBA champion never attended a single day of college, but when you’re as marketable as he is, you don’t have to. The Ohio State University has already claimed James as its own (remember, James’ talents are originally from Akron), wearing his line of basketball shoes and gear since 2007. Never one to miss a great recruiting opportunity, Thad Matta has decided to dress up the Buckeyes’ locker room with a nameplate and locker filled with James’ OSU product line. This is simply brilliant — we’re guessing that most 16- and 17-year olds don’t realize that James was a prep-to-pros kid a decade ago — so, in the worst case, recruits are impressed by the school’s association with the World’s Best Player; in the best case, they might believe he actually played in Columbus. That sound you just heard was John Calipari getting out his hammer to nail a photo montage of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett on the wall of the locker room at Rupp Arena. Hey, friends of the program…
  4. One of the nastiest rumors of the summer involved Louisville hardwood hero Kevin Ware, he of the gruesomely snapped leg against Duke in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. We won’t lower ourselves to discuss the content of the Kentuckiana rumor-mongering other than to say that his head coach, Rick Pitino, summarily dismissed any accusation that Ware had been suspended from the team. Pitino also said that Ware was recovering nicely but he is still a month to six weeks from getting back onto the basketball court, and even then, he’s likely to have some issues trusting his body for a while. With all the depth that Louisville will have in this year’s backcourt, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to foresee a redshirt year for the junior should he take a bit longer to come around after what was such a devastating injury. And who would blame him (other than the conspiracy theorists, of course)?
  5. We’ll end with a sad note today as Butler’s friendly canine mascot, Blue II, passed away over the Labor Day weekend. The English bulldog became synonymous with Butler basketball as the school spent the better part of his nine-year lifespan rising from the role of plucky mid-major to that of a national program. His final blog post located here, entitled “I Leave You With ‘Thanks,'” is pretty much the tear-jerker that you’d imagine it would be, inasmuch as you can suspend reality to give the slobbery mascot his own voice. That suspension of belief wasn’t very hard for this writer, nor would it likely be hard for many millions of other dog owners who too consider man’s best friend an indispensable part of the family. A snarky commenter on Twitter yesterday suggested that, given the short life span of dogs, it’s best to consider them merely as pets and remain “detached” so as to not suffer after they’re gone. To that we say, that’s no way to live, sir, no way to live at all. Rather, we should strive to attach with all your heart’s desire — these furry little creatures will never let you down. RIP, Blue II.
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Analyzing Lindy’s and Sporting News’ Preseason Top 10 Rankings

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 30th, 2013

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

College football’s season kickoff Thursday night offered another small reminder that Division I’s basketball brethren aren’t too far away from getting things started themselves. People have begun analyzing and prognosticating how the upcoming season – expected to be one of college hoops’ best in the past decade – will shake out, which teams will win which leagues, who can compete for a national championship, which likely one-and-done freshmen will leave the most memorable imprints on the game. All of this stuff is fun and exciting and at the same time frustratingly titillating, and the rush of emotional anticipation will resonate even more acutely as we move closer to November. Two notable preseason rankings were unveiled this week, and while there will be many of the same rolled out over the next two months, the relative dearth of interesting college hoops news this week was just the invitation I needed to dissect the contents of a pair of speculative team orderings.

Pushing Louisville down to 7th was a big oversight by Lindy’s (Getty Images)

The two rankings come courtesy of Sporting News and Lindy’s. Nothing about either list was particularly surprising or puzzling, with the inexplicable exception of one certain defending national champion being excluded from one of the top 5s (more on this below). There isn’t too much to dig into here, but if it means discussing the best teams entering college basketball this season in a totally speculative context, I’m not going to say no. If there is a fun aspect to the college basketball offseason, it is this: criticizing other people’s rankings.

  • Talking point No. 1, undoubtedly, is Louisville’s shocking No. 7 ranking on Lindy’s top 10 list. Not only are the Cardinals expected, in many corners, to compete for a national championship, they bring back the core of the team that won the national championship last season. What compelled the college hoops hive minds at Lindy’s to push the Cardinals down six spots from their championship perch, I can’t possibly begin to explain. Save for the loss of shot-blocking center Gorgui Dieng, Louisville is just as deep and talented as it was last season. Protecting the rim could be an issue, especially if 6’8″ forward Montrezl Harrell doesn’t morph into the formidable post defender Rick Pitino needs to make his high-pressure defense flourish, but the Cardinals should again rank among the nation’s top five or so defenses; return one of the most talented backcourts in the country, including Ken Pomeroy’s 2012-13 Player of the Year, Russ Smith; and have the added motivation of – and this almost sounds insane, considering where UL finished up last April – trying to dethrone Kentucky from its preseason national championship front-runner status. That rivalry is vicious and impassioned and highly entertaining in any season. Imagine what it will be like this year, with a reloaded Cardinals team and UK welcoming in the most highly rated recruiting class since the Fab Five. The Bluegrass rivalry tangent misses the point, sure, but whatever measure you wish to use to vet Louisville’s preseason merits, a No. 7 ranking seems drastically low. Maybe it was a typo (ed. note: European sevens sometimes look like US ones.)?

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Morning Five: 08.14.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 14th, 2013

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  1. There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating (yet printable) than good ideas gone bad. Several years ago the Big 12 and Pac-10 tried to capitalize on the popularity of the ACC/Big East Challenge by staging its own “Hardwood Series” event. The only problem was that it started sometime in November and ended around Christmas. It was no more a real “event” than Congress is the voice of the people these days. That same year, the Big East and SEC got into the act, staging a somewhat better neutral-site series that at least took advantage of proximity in time (the games were usually on back-to-back days, but didn’t include enough teams). Still, it was tough to jazz big state school SEC fans up about playing small (mostly) Catholic schools like Villanova and St. John’s — the match-ups just didn’t make for a good fit. The SEC and Big 12, however, represent like upon like. Both leagues are full of mostly rural states that care a lot about college athletics, even if football will always trump basketball in most of those places. An SEC/Big 12 Challenge, at least on paper, had real promise. Alas. The 2013 schedule was released yesterday, and the powers-that-be have fallen into the same trap that the Pac-10 and Big 12 engineered back in 2007 — the games begin on November 14 (Texas Tech @ Alabama) and end December 21 (Oklahoma @ Texas A&M), some 37 days apart. Furthermore, the two best games — Kentucky at Baylor on December 6 and Kansas at Florida on December 10 — were already scheduled regardless of this event. Memo to SEC and Big 12 bigwigs — if you want people to really care, get it right next year.
  2. From a possible good idea gone bad to a possible bad idea gone good, Andy Glockner of SI.com used his Twitter cachet to put together a pretty phenomenal list of “rappers taking stage names that include small D-I basketball programs” last night. The derivation of the list came from a social media-fueled hubbub surrounding a rapper named Kendrick Lamar, who apparently decided to bring back some of the gangsta vibe of one-upmanship prevalent to the genre two decades ago, long before Jay-Z, Kanye and Dre completely monetized the industry. Our two favorites from the list were, without question, Big Daddy Duquesne and A Tribe Called Quinnipiac, although Florida Gulf Coastface Killah is damn good too. What, no Wichi2pac Shakurs? No Beastie Boise? Dayton La Soul? OK, we’ll stop now, but hey, it’s August.
  3. There was actually one piece of substantive news yesterday in the college hoops universe, and if this the entirety of this saga is any indication, absolutely no one will notice. The NCAA ruled on Tuesday that San Diego will not face any additional sanctions related to the Brandon Johnson game-fixing charges, and there’s no reason why it should have. The school had already admitted a secondary violation based on his efforts to point-shave and later solicit teammates to help him during the 2009-10 season, and there was no evidence that any additional staff members or other athletes had any knowledge of the criminal activity. Johnson is currently serving a six-month sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to a solicitation charge, while his former assistant coach TJ Brown is serving out a one-year sentence for his part in the scheme. Meanwhile, similar crimes are without a doubt being concocted and/or facilitated throughout the game, but all you’ll hear from the media and talking heads is a whole lot of crickets. It’s a very strange phenomenon.
  4. If you have unlimited funds lying around in an offshore account somewhere, you might want to take a look at this offering. Former Ohio State Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas is auctioning off all of his prized memorabilia, including his 1960 Olympic gold medal (considered one of the best basketball teams ever assembled), his 1960 OSU national championship ring, his 1973 New York Knicks championship ring, and his 1979 HOF induction ring. According to Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger, Lucas’ haul at the minimum auction prices along would total over $500,000 — and there’s no doubt that a collection of such rare pieces will fetch quite a bit more than that. If you do have money to burn, the items are located here, and we have to admit that the 1971 SF Warriors practice jersey for only $500 looks rather enticing.
  5. Let’s finish with some recruiting news, or quasi-news, as it were. The consensus top player in the 2014 class, Jahlil Okafor, and a top five player in his own right, Tyus Jones, have talked extensively about playing together in college. Many of the recruiting pundits seem to believe their package deal is a strong likelihood. On Tuesday, Jeff Borzello reported that Jones released his list of official visits, which included three crossover visits with Okafor at Baylor, Kansas and Duke, but visits at different times at Kentucky. Is there meaningfulness behind the shared visits — does it mean that Scott Drew, Bill Self and Coach K are the finalists for the duo’s services? Or is it all simply much ado about nothing, something to pass the time as we slowly slide toward fall. We’ll find out soon enough.
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