The RTC Podblast: Episode 2.5

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2013

Two weeks into the regular season and plenty, plenty, plenty of games and storylines to talk about. We’re back with the second RTC Podblast of the year, our shorter-and-sweeter Friday review of a few of the week’s highlights and look-aheads to the weekend’s upcoming big games. Your host, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) leads us through a discussion of the trials and tribulations of Memphis basketball, a status check on Oklahoma State, some Iowa State discussion, and a number of other interesting things, all in a tidy 20-minute blast. The complete 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.

  • 0:00-3:58 – Memphis Proves Randy Right
  • 3:58-8:57 – Oklahoma State-ment
  • 8:57-11:35 – Ranking the Terrific Tuesday Performances
  • 11:35-14:37 – Cyclones With Another Impressive Win
  • 14:37-20:55 – What We Look For In The Holiday Tournaments
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Forgotten Sophomore Marcus Smart Reminds Everyone He’s Still Around

Posted by Eli Linton on November 20th, 2013

Eli Linton is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after last night’s game between Oklahoma State and Memphis in Stillwater. 

After what we have seen on display early this season from an outstanding freshman class led by Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart went into Gallagher-Iba Arena on Tuesday night as the forgotten sophomore, but he left as arguably the best and most complete player in the nation. No.7 Oklahoma State sent a message to the rest of the college basketball world, dismantling No.11 Memphis, 101-80, behind a first half explosion from Smart, who turned in the best performance of the season so far. The game that was supposed to be a showdown between two very talented backcourts ended up instead as a showcase of Smart as a superstar talent, and left everyone wondering just how far this Oklahoma State team can go this season.

Smart Was Sensational on Tuesday Night (

Smart Was Sensational on Tuesday Night (

In just 16 first half minutes, Smart unleashed 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Memphis, by comparison, scored 32 points in the entire half and went 11-of-31 from the field. The greatest stretch of dominance from Smart happened during a two-minute window in the first half, when he scored 12 points on four straight possessions. He finished with a career-high 39 points, five steals, four rebounds, and four assists. “When he scores like that, he could be the best player in college basketball,” said Memphis coach Josh Pastner after the loss. “There is a reason why he was a first-team All-American. Tonight he was tremendous.”

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Vegas Odds to Win It All: Season Opener Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2013


It’s opening week and we’ve already gotten a taste of what’s to come through the first weekend of college basketball. As we head into the start of the 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon tonight, culminating in tomorrow night’s top-five double-header at the Champions Classic, it’s time to take a look at how oddsmakers view the upcoming season. As we mentioned last week upon the release of the RTC Preseason Top 25, there appears to be a consensus top five (Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, Duke and Kansas), followed by a second-tier group of six more teams (Arizona, Florida, Ohio State, Syracuse, Oklahoma State and Michigan). Although the order might be a little different, that is also more or less how Las Vegas is viewing the 2013-14 national championship race. Keeping in mind that unlike those of us who can make any ridiculous prediction we can think of without an appreciable fear of repercussion, oddsmakers stake their livelihoods on this practice. Therefore, they generally have a good idea of what they’re doing.

Let’s first take a look at the odds below (NCAA basketball lines taken from a prominent international sportsbook, where the listed odds are not much different from those in Vegas), then we’ll analyze some takeaways after the jump below. (ed. note: for those unfamiliar with futures odds, +380 represents the amount of money a potential gambler would receive back if he placed a $100 wager on that team and it won.  He would, in other words, win back 3.8 times his original wager.)

2013-14 vegas odds

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The RTC Podblast: Big 12 Preseason Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2013


We’re just a few more days from the start of games across this fair nation, and that means it’s time to preview each of the major seven basketball conferences on the RTC Podcast. Last week we dropped previews for the Big East (Tuesday), Big Ten (Wednesday), SEC (Thursday) and Pac-12 (Friday); this week we’ll have the Big 12 (Monday), ACC (Tuesday) and AAC (Wednesday). As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our talented and engaging host, leading the group through a series of topics and questions related to the upcoming season. For this podblast, we invited RTC Big 12 microsite correspondent Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) to the program, as he tried to make a case that Rick Barnes can save his job at Texas (hint: he couldn’t).

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 don’t forget to check out our 2013-14 Preseason Podcast, the National Edition, and feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around.

  • 0:00-13:31 – Kansas vs. Oklahoma State (and Wiggins vs. Smart)
  • 13:31-17:22 – Big 12 Second Tier (Baylor and Iowa State)
  • 17:22-20:32 – Best of the Rest
  • 20:32-22:18 – What to Do With Rick Barnes
  • 22:18-24:55 – Iowa State a Contender for Randy’s Favorite Team
  • 24:55-26:31 – POY debate
  • 26:31-28:43 – Battle for Third Best Player
  • 28:43-30:14 – Under the Radar Big 12 Players
  • 30:14-31:55 – Bold Big 12 Predictions/Wrap
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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #27 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2013


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.

#27 – Where Unfinished Business 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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The Five Big 12 Players and Coaches Under the Most Pressure This Season

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 21st, 2013

With a new season comes new expectations across the Big 12. And pressure. Some coaches and players will be under more scrutiny than others as the season tips off next month, but more than a few will be dealing with it all season. Let’s take a look at the five people facing the most pressure in the Big 12 this year:

Rick Barnes

Rick Barnes' Seat is the Warmest in the Big 12

Rick Barnes’ Seat is the Warmest in the Big 12

When you type ‘Rick Barnes’ into a Google search, the first suggestion is ‘hot seat.’ That’s not a good sign for the 15-year head coach of the Texas Longhorns. Barnes is an interesting case because he coaches at a school with the facilities and recruiting advantages of a top 15 program but the expectations of a Missouri Valley school, it seems. He has brought in plenty of talent to Austin, including Wooden Award winners T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant. Ford and Barnes led the Longhorns to the 2003 Final Four, but that was now over a decade ago. Since then, Barnes has been to two Elite Eights and advanced past the first weekend only one other time. In the last five seasons, he has won as many NCAA Tournament games (two) as Florida Gulf-Coast. That’s not a good look for someone with the advantages Barnes has at his disposal at Texas. And with the transfer of would-be returning scorer Shelden McClellan as well as the head-scratching departure of sophomore Myck Kabongo (who subsequently went undrafted over the summer), Barnes does not appear to have the roster capable of silencing any critics.

Marcus Smart

Last season Smart averaged 15.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG while earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors as a true freshman. He was also expected to be a top-five selection in the NBA Draft, so it shocked most of us when he decided to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. Earlier this week, however, he told John Helsley and Gina Mizell of The Oklahoman that re-fracturing his wrist in the NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon kept him from dribbling a ball until May, making him a bit uneasy about entering the NBA at less than 100 percent. With motives like that, it makes his decision to return less surprising and more logical, thus taking some pressure off the 6’4″ guard. But being expected to duplicate his fantastic freshman campaign won’t be easy.

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Morning Five: 10.11.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 11th, 2013


  1. In a week full of trash talk, hype machines and other nonsense, how about this for a heartwarming story of substance?‘s Andy Katz revealed the story of Robert Kirby, a 53-year assistant coach at Memphis who recently donated one of his kidneys to his sister, Virginia Kirk, as she gradually slid toward renal failure. It was similar to the conditions that took their mother’s life some 17 years ago, but she wouldn’t allow any of her 13 children to become a donor. Kirby wasn’t about to allow that to happen to his older sister this time around, so after become approved as a match, he underwent the procedure to remove the kidney on Tuesday and was went back home yesterday. He’ll be back on the sidelines at Memphis very soon, perhaps a few ounces lighter but no worse for the wear. Major props are due for the longtime assistant still looking for his first head coaching job, but if his selflessness in this situation is any indication of his integrity and loyalty, we hope some enterprising school in need of a head coach next April gives him a good look.
  2. While we’re on the subjects of perseverance and selflessness, America’s favorite bench-warmer in last year’s Final Four is well ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation. Kevin Ware, the Louisville guard who broke his leg so horrifically in last year’s Elite Eight contest against Duke, is, according to his head coach, going to be in uniform for the Cardinals’ first regular season game against College of Charleston on November 9. Rick Pitino stopped short of saying that Ware would play in that game, but considering that he’s already been practicing and still has several weeks left to prepare for his return, we’d have to believe that there’s a reasonably good chance that he’ll be play in that game. And while all anybody really wants is for Ware to find his fortitude so that he can contribute again, the fact is that Louisville is a better team when he can bring his energy, speed and defensive intensity off the bench.
  3. For years we’ve derided the fact that what we still call “Midnight Madness” really doesn’t have much in the way of midnight associated with it anymore. For those of you who may not remember how it was named in the first place, it had to do with the NCAA’s mandated start of practice, which for many years was at the stroke of midnight on October 15. In later years the NCAA moved the start date to the weekend closest to October 15, and of course now teams can have it in late September. All this maneuvering has taken some of the fun out of it, so we’re always looking for the new and creative ways that schools choose to celebrate the new season. Cincinnati is one school trying something different. The Bearcats will have their “Midday Madness” next Friday, October 17, at Noon in downtown’s Fountain Square. The event, featuring some light scrimmaging and fan-friendly competitions, will be open to the public and will provide a nice fall afternoon respite for the office drones working nearby. Sure, it’s a little hokey, but it is a creative way to reach fans in a way that UC otherwise wouldn’t. We like it, and wish more schools would follow their lead in coming up with interesting ideas.
  4. Over the last five seasons, Steve Fisher’s San Diego State program has averaged a total of 27 wins per year as he has built the program into one of the very best in the west. He’s done so on the backs of stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and a host of others, but none of those players were exceptionally rated prospects when they arrived on campus. That may be changing, with news on Thursday that top-20 recruit Malik Pope (Elk Grove, CA) has committed to SDSU. Kansas and Gonzaga were also in the mix for Pope, but the 6’9″ wing (you read that correctly) was impressed with how Fisher’s program didn’t back off of him when he broke his leg twice in the last eight months (the injuries will cost him his senior year). San Diego State’s class is already among the best in program history, and if the Aztecs lock down their final target, Zylan Cheatham, it would be safe to call this group a top 25 class that would benefit the school for years to come.
  5. The last time Kansas did not win at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title was in 2003-04, Bill Self’s first season in Lawrence. The Jayhawks finished two games behind a Tony Allen and John Lucas III-led Final Four Oklahoma State team. Ten years later, Big 12 coaches are not about to make the mistake of leaving KU off the preseason top line in the league standings, even if the roster features zero returning starters. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, returns five starters to a young squad led by NPOY candidate Marcus Smart. So what did the coaches do? They split the difference. Kansas and Oklahoma State received the same number of votes (77 total, five first place votes each), ensuring that proper respect was given to both the team with the most returning talent and the team with the most incoming talent. It will be a mighty fun race in the Big 12 this season. Oh, and the Rick Barnes dead man walking watch? Eighth.
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Morning Five: 08.08.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 8th, 2013


  1. We mentioned in this space yesterday that Jahii Carson along with Marcus Smart were not only two of the best point guards in college basketball, but that they are also both rising sophomores who have already publicly stated that next season will be their last in the amateur ranks. Both players are likely to have All-America campaigns ahead of them, but Smart in particular is on everyone’s short list as a NPOY candidate, and with good reason. The latest published results of a poll of coaches from staff shows that Smart is the most coveted player in all of the land, coming in with a bit more than one-third of the vote (34%). Next on the list was Creighton superstar Doug McDermott (24%), followed by wunderkind Andrew Wiggins at Kansas (15%). A number of other players received votes, including Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Michigan’s Mitch McGary and Syracuse’s CJ Fair, but the naming of five other freshmen after Wiggins reveals just how strong this year’s incoming class is perceived to be. One notable omission from the list was Louisville’s Russ Smith (his teammate Montrezl Harrell actually received a vote instead), but as the article notes, the choices make clear that coaches value experience and sustained leadership over unproven (or sometimes unstable) commodities. While all this conjecture is great, it’s ultimately meaningless until we start the games in November.
  2. And what about those games, the reason we all watch these players in the first place? Wednesday was a good day for folks like us — fans of the sport who like to have concrete games on the schedule to sink our teeth into. ESPN released its Big Monday lineup for 2013-14, and the most notable thing about the 16-game set over eight weeks is that the new slot of ACC games at 7:00 PM ET considerably resembles vintage Big East offerings. The Big 12 still carries the 9:00 PM slot (Andrew Wiggins, anyone? Kansas is involved in half of the broadcasts), but half of the ACC Big Monday games will involve teams who were still Big East entities as recently as 40 days ago. One game in particular — Notre Dame vs. Syracuse on February 3 — comes straight from the old Big East rivalry playbook. Welcome to the new ACC, indeed. Now can we get a west coast flavor at Midnight ET to sweeten the deal even further, like we used to have with the Big West and UNLV slotted there once upon a time?
  3. Some other interesting scheduling news hit on Wednesday surrounding the build-up and planning for Super Bowl XLVIII in New York City, as it appears there will be a basketball extravaganza at the World’s Most Famous Arena on the Saturday before the NFL’s title bout. Madison Square Garden, in partnership with Fox Sports 1, will host a hoops triple-header to give people in town for the football game a little something to feast on beforehand. St. John’s will play an as-yet-undetermined Big East opponent in the early afternoon slot (Marquette is rumored to be that team), followed by a blockbuster Georgetown-Michigan State match-up in the late afternoon, and capped off with an NBA tilt between the Knicks and the Miami Heat in the evening. It’s an impressive lineup, for certain, and is suggestive that programmers of college basketball really need to learn to capitalize on those empty weekends starting in late January and through to mid-March… before March Madness hits in earnest and captures the attention of everyone else.
  4. Is it too early to already be looking forward to games the following season? We’re talking about 2014-15 here, but hey, it’s a light news cycle. It’s always, always, always a good thing when top 10 programs meet in non-conference match-ups during the regular season, and it appears we’re going to have a good one when regional rivals Louisville and Indiana will face off in the Jimmy V Classic on December 9, 2014. Although the two rosters are likely to look considerably different than they do even this coming season, both Tom Crean and Rick Pitino are recruiting so well that you can count on this being a fantastic game. Even if it won’t tip off until some 16 months from now.
  5. It must have been Pac-12 preview Wednesday around the interwebs yesterday, as both and featured the much-maligned basketball league with a summer update post. The WWL’s piece is more comprehensive in scope, but Andy Glockner’s writeup is the better read. They both have high hopes for Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats, while agreeing that the league as a whole is once again on the uptick after a period from 2010-12 that was as bad as many have ever seen. There’s a lot of good information in both pieces, though, so we suggest that you check it out lest you find yourself come November wondering why the league has three or maybe even four teams ranked in the preseason AP poll.
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Morning Five: 07.17.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 17th, 2013


  1. We’re more than officially in the dog days of summer but only the truly committed scribes work all summer covering the sport we love. Seth Davis is one national commentator who came out of his slumber this week to report from Las Vegas with a Hoops Thoughts column on Michigan’s Mitch McGary. The rising sophomore took the college basketball world by storm last March, going from a role player to a key cog for John Beilein’s national runners-up, but as McGary explained to Davis: “So far I’ve only cracked the glass. Next year I’m trying to break through it.” The piece delves into some of McGary’s lesser-known history, specifically his struggles with academics as a result of ADHD, his workout and diet regimen that he enabled midway through last season to give himself a shot at more mobility (and playing time), and his non-decision to enter his name into the NBA Draft because he simply enjoys college life. Great read, especially in mid-July.
  2. Another likely star returning to school for 2013-14 is Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, fresh off a FIBA world championship in the U-19 division. USA Basketball announced its National Team Mini-Roster on Tuesday, and the rising sophomore Cowboy was the only collegian of 29 players selected. The group of mostly young, rising NBA stars will meet in Las Vegas to compete next week, although no roster spots on Team USA are officially up for grabs. This is simply an opportunity for the players to prove themselves against their peers for future international events. Smart of course is unlikely to make the men’s national team roster for the Worlds in 2014 or the Olympics in 2016, but playing against the likes of Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, George Hill, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and John Wall at his point guard position cannot hurt his overall development. Watch out, Big 12.
  3. Louisville‘s visit to meet President Barack Obama will occur next week, on July 23 at the White House. The school waited a bit longer than normal to schedule the event, so that players Montrezl Harrell and Luke Hancock could attend the event after stints in summer international tournaments. While in The District, the team will also make time to tour the Capitol Building with senator and minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY). When McConnell isn’t busy tormenting his Democratic opposition in the back rooms of DC, he spends quite a bit of time in Louisville taking in the Cardinals’ biggest games. Although as far as celebrity fans go, we’ll stick with Ashley Judd 70 miles down the road. Sorry, Mitch.
  4. Tuesday was the start of SEC Football Media Days, and why do we care? Well, in large part because South Carolina head coach and immodest rabble-rouser Steve Spurrier again went on record stating that the entire SEC — according to him, all 28 football and basketball coaches — is in favor of payments to their revenue-producing players. The stipend he mentioned yesterday amounts to approximately $3,600 per player per year and a little over a quarter-million dollars in annual costs — a relative pittance in a business that regularly deals with annual budgets in the eight- and nine-figure range. And why wouldn’t they want to pay players? It would give them yet another carrot in the recruiting wars against some of the smaller schools and conferences, while correspondingly eliminating much of the regulatory nonsense with monitoring and enforcing illegal benefits that amount to a night out for dinner and a movie.
  5. While on the subject of football crossing over with basketball, Colorado quarterback Shane Dillon announced on Tuesday that he is giving up the gridiron effective immediately so that he can pursue his passion on the hardwood at another school. A 6’5″ wing in high school where he averaged a robust 25/12 for Christian High School in southern California, Dillon suffered a shoulder injury and was looking at starting next season third on the depth chart for the Buffaloes. He asked Tad Boyle if he had room for him on his team, but all the scholarships were filled and Dillon isn’t willing to walk on. He’ll look to make his transfer decision in the next few weeks, with a school in the WCC and Big West perhaps his most likely destination.
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Rushed Reactions: #12 Oregon 68, #5 Oklahoma State 55

Posted by rtmsf on March 21st, 2013

RTC is reporting on the NCAA Second Round games at the San Jose pod today.

Three Key Takeaways.

Oregon Is a Dangerous Team As a Clearly Underseeded #12

Oregon Is a Dangerous Team As a Clearly Underseeded #12

  1. The Ducks Were No #12 Seed. And they played like it. From the opening tip of this game, Dana Altman’s team played with a moxie and a poise that said, “no way in hell are we a #12 seed!” A lot of pundits suggested that the Ducks would play today as if they had been slighted, and they did. They stepped on Oklahoma State’s neck early, running out to a 19-12 lead and never really looking back. OSU struggled shooting the ball throughout, ending up with a brick-laying 39% performance. For every mini-run from the Cowboys, Oregon always had some kind of an answer — it was clear to everyone in the building, and many of those were Oregon partisans, that the Ducks were the better team. We’re not sure what the NCAA Selection Committee was thinking with that #12 seed, but this proves even more than before how much of a whiff that decision was.
  2. Marcus Smart, Not Impressive. (note: after the game, Smart’s right hand was wrapped in ice and he said it was “killing him.” – even if the injury gave him problems after that point in the game, he still could have performed better prior to that point) I voted for Smart as the National Freshman of the Year for the USBWA last weekend, and after this performance — 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting, eight rebounds, four assists, five steals, and five turnovers — I’m not sure what to think. He filled the stat sheet, sure, but he never once really wowed me with either his game or his leadership. I know he’s probably capable of much more, but a truly great point guard gives his team what it needs to succeed. Today, Oklahoma State needed him to go off for 25 points because his typical scoring mates such as Le’Bryan Nash (10 points) and Phil Forte (five points) weren’t actively involved.
  3. Dominic Artis is Back and Oregon is a Different Team Because of It. Oregon rose to the top 10 in America driven by its dynamic point guard Dominic Artis before his midseason injury. In the last two weeks as he’s worked his way back into the lineup, he hasn’t looked quite as dynamic or on top of his game as he had before the injury. In the last six games, for example, he had scored a total of 20 points and grabbed two steals. Today against Oklahoma State, though, he scored 13 points and ripped off four steals from a very athletic backcourt. When Artis is performing like this along with contributions from Kazemi and Dotson, Oregon is very tough to beat. Certainly as Oklahoma State found today.

Star of the Game. Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon. If you can forgive his two #rimstuff missed dunks today, he was the best player on the floor for the Ducks. He was obsessively active around the rim on both ends, grabbing a ridiculous 17 rebounds (six offensive) while also going for 11 points in the win. His teammates Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis were also instrumental to the victory, but Kazemi as the transfer senior wasn’t going to waste his opportunity to get an NCAA win for the first time in his career.

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