ATB: Zags Seem Wobbly While Washington Does Not

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2011

The Lede.  To give you a sense of what tonight’s basketball landscape looked like, it was a Pac-10 game that commanded the most national attention.  A lot of games out there, but few that were all that interesting.  Still, it’s our job to find those nuggets, so here goes…

Santa Clara's RTC Was Delayed by the Players' RTCrowd (h/t DLeung)

Your Watercooler MomentGonzaga in Trouble.  Hear us out, first.  We’ve seen Gonzaga play at least a half-dozen times or more this season, and the excuses made for Elias Harris’ injury notwithstanding, we’re still waiting to be impressed.  Tonight’s loss at Santa Clara where Kevin Foster went all kinds of crazy for a career-high 36 points did not help Gonzaga’s standing in our eyes.  Given that this was their first true conference road game and SCU isn’t very good, we’re starting to wonder if Mark Few’s team could be on the verge of a giant letdown this year — yes, to the point where the Zags don’t even make the NCAA Tournament.  Consider that coming into tonight’s game, GU was #46 and Pomeroy has them at #36, neither spots what you would call in the true safety zone for an NCAA bid; then, also consider that we think the Zags are looking at one, possibly even two, losses to St. Mary’s in addition to whomever else rises up to defeat them on the road this year (USF again?  LMU?  Portland?).  Another problem is the non-conference schedule — in a different year, wins over Baylor, Xavier, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest and (projected) Memphis would be more meaningful than they are this season.  The Zags’ only true quality win this year was way back in November over Marquette at the CBE Classic.  Pomeroy projects Gonzaga to go 12-2 in the WCC this year, which means a single loss more at St. Mary’s, but frankly, we think they have a few more stinkers left in their queue this season.  Call us crazy, but we think there’s a better-than-even chance that the mainstay program from Spokane will be sweating bullets come Selection Sunday this year.

Tonight’s Quick Hits….

  • Isaiah Thomas’ Slide Save Into the Tunnel.  After this season is completed and in the books, if there’s a single play that will define the success that Washington enjoyed, it will be the incredible dive and save behind his back that Isaiah Thomas made in the second half of tonight’s game against Arizona that resulted in his body sliding at least twenty feet into the corner of the arena as well as a bucket on the other end for his team off the break.  It was one of the most fantastic hustle plays we’ve ever seen in the collegiate game, and needless to say, we’ve logged quite a few hours over the years.  The play epitomized why this Washington team has a chance to do something special this year — since Abdul Gaddy’s ACL injury, Thomas has stepped into the point guard role assiduously, upping his scoring to just over 20 PPG and his assists to over 9 APG, including double figure dimes in his last two games.  The guy is simply giving an all-out effort each night and, as Sean Miller said after the game, Thomas should be getting more credit for his play than he is getting.
  • Klay Thompson’s Near Trip-Dub.  Washington State’s Klay Thompson was all over the place in the Cougars’ win over struggling Arizona State tonight.  The 6’6 junior is no stranger to filling up the stat sheet, but this evening’s performance was particularly exceptional.  Not only did he shoot his way to 22 points, but he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out nine assists, ripped three steals, blocked a couple of shots and committed four fouls just for good measure.  The assist total tied a season high while the rebound total was two off, but it was the closest he’s gotten this season to an elusive triple-double.  With Reggie Moore back tonight, we still believe that Wazzu is one of the better teams in the Pac-10, but they have some work cut out for them to catch cross-state rival Washington.
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Weekend Check-Ins…

Posted by rtmsf on November 29th, 2010

Remember, every Friday is mid-major day here at RTC.  Half of the mid-major leagues are covered one week, with the other half the next.  Here are last week’s Check-Ins in case you missed them while dealing with the holiday weekend…

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.06.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2010

Folks, it’s March and we’re now approximately eight days until Selection Sunday sets the sports world on fire.  By our count, there are about twenty teams fighting for half as many at-large spots, and this weekend’s games will have increased importance in the all-too-important ‘sniff test.’  The NCAA Selection Committee is made of humans just like the rest of us, and if they see a couple of teams look great on tv this weekend, it could be the little extra push needed to earn a Dance card next Sunday.  But it’s not just about those so-called bubble teams; it’s also about positioning.  Which team will step up in the last week to grab the likely one remaining #1 seed, along with Syracuse, Kansas and Kentucky?  Who will be able to secure a top four regional seed in order to play closer to home?  There are so many questions unanswered still remaining.  Today is the last Saturday of the regular season, and as always, we’ll be with you on Boom Goes the Dynamite throughout the day.  Below are the key games we plan on keeping an eye on — of special note is that three more automatic bids will be delivered today, in the Big South, Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley Conferences.

  • Noon – West Virginia @ Villanova on CBS – RTC Live
  • Noon - Texas A&M @ Oklahoma on ESPN
  • Noon – Cincinnati @ Georgetown on ESPN360
  • 1 pm – Tulsa @ Memphis on CBS College Sports
  • 1:30 pm – Maryland @ Virginia on ESPN360
  • 2 pm – Kansas @ Missouri on CBS
  • 2 pm – Syracuse @ Louisville on ESPN
  • 2 pm – Notre Dame @ Marquette on ESPN360
  • 2 pm – UConn @ USF on The Big East Network
  • 2 pm – Notre Dame @ Marquette on The Big East Network
  • 2 pm – South Carolina @ Vanderbilt on ESPN2
  • 4 pm- UCLA @ Arizona State on CBS
  • 4 pm – Texas @ Baylor on ESPN
  • 4 pm – Big South Championship: Winthrop vs. Coastal Carolina on ESPN2
  • 4 pm – Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech on ESPN360
  • 6 pm – Tennessee @ Mississippi State on ESPN
  • 6 pm – Atlantic Sun Championship: ETSU @ Mercer on ESPN2
  • 8 pm – OVC Championship: Murray State vs. Morehead State on ESPN2
  • 9 pm – UNC @ Duke on ESPN
  • 9 pm – New Mexico State @ Utah State on ESPN360

We will be back at 11 AM for our continuing coverage so check back then and feel free to comment or ask questions in the comment section.

11:00: Nice showing by the Duke student for GameDay. Not going to be Kentucky because of the smaller student body and smaller arena.

11:10: Ugh. Speedo guy segment coming on GameDay. I will be switching the channel for a few minutes when that segment is going to start. Way to show segments that your audience will be interested in. Would they do a “Bikini girl” segment or would that not be PC?

11:20: Coach K does not approve of “Speedo guy”. I think we have finally found something that UNC fans will agree with him on. Seriously ESPN. Why are you featuring this idiot?

11:25: Be back in 5 minutes. Tell me when it is over.

11:30: Back again. Knight does not look amused, which amuses me.

11:40: Hey Lunardi. We had Zach Hayes on this over a month ago. This is why you don’t want a 96-team tournament. Also DeCourcy was right on expansion.

11:45: So Sherron Collins was a great athlete in high school, plays video games, and like macaroni. I’m glad we found that out. Why can’t GameDay do legit segments like the one on the Syracuse zone they did earlier this year?

Noon: Hubert picks UNC. Big surprise. Knight and Bilas are calling for a Duke beat down. I’d go with something in between the two.

12:05: Three interesting games on right now none of which is the FSU-Miami game that ESPN2 decided to show over Cincinnati-Georgetown. The best of the three games is clearly the West Virginia-Villanova game, which we are doing a RTC Live for so be sure to check that out.

12:15: Interesting news: Both Luke Harangody and Austin Freeman will play today according to Seth Davis and Jeff Goodman respectively.

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ATB: Cornell Shoots Their Way to Third Straight NCAA Bid

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2010

Big Red Freshness Lasts Right Through It. Cornell 95, Brown 76.  It probably took a little longer than the nervous Big Red faithful hoped to put away the pesky Brown Bears tonight, but in the end, it was simply a formality because Cornell players were so narrowly focused on winning their third straight Ivy League title and NCAA bid that there was no way they were going to lose this game tonight.  How focused were they?  Try a season-best 57% shooting and an utterly ridonkulous 20-30 from deep tonight.  At one point during the conflagration of shot-making by the Big Red, they hit eight treys in a row en route to an 11-13 first half.  But it was the second half where Cornell exhibited its dominance, using a 14-4 run early to take control of the game and ensure another title coming to Ithaca this season.  All five starters reached double figures, but it was lesser-known forward Jon Jaques who took the scoring honors with 20/7 tonight (including six threes).  In all, four players had four or more threes, which we figure has to be some kind of a record for versatile and voluminous shooting!  Cornell will now wait to see where their NCAA seed lies, but the smart money is on a #12 seed when the brackets are released.  Anyone up for a #12/#5 upset this year?

Will 3d Time Be the Charm For Cornell? (Ithaca Journal/G. Ertl)

RTC Live.

  • Wichita State 73, Missouri State 63.  On Quarterfinal Friday in St. Louis, top seed Northern Iowa defeated Drake, Bradley upset Creighton and Illinois State won the nightcap. And in the game you followed here on RTC Live, Wichita State held off Missouri State, 73-63. A close, hard-fought and well-played game, the Shockers were paced by Garrett Stutz, whose play in the paint helped them overcome hot outside shooting of the Bears. Stutz finished with 19 points and 6 rebounds, and converted on back-to-back possessions during a key stretch of the second half to help them pull away. The Shockers advance to play the Redbirds of Illinois State tomorrow afternoon here in St. Louis.

Conference Tourneys.  Eight conference tourneys tonight, and a ridiculous thirteen tomorrow.  Let’s see what was interesting…

  • Ohio Valley.  The top two teams — Murray State and Morehead State — both advanced tonight to the finals on Saturday.  Murray has put together a phenomenal 29-win season, so it’d be a shame to see them miss out on the NCAAs, but Morehead is the only OVC team to have beaten the Racers this year.  It was Morehead tonight, though, not Murray, who had the comfortable win in the semis.  Should be a great one on Saturday for the auto-bid.
  • Atlantic Sun.  #6 seed Mercer continues to use its home court advantage to knock off higher-seeded teams with tonight’s victory over #2 Jacksonville.  #5 East Tennessee State was able to get by #8 Kennesaw State whom had knocked off top seed Belmont last night.  So it’ll be Mercer vs. ETSU for the automatic bid.  The Bucs will be playing in their third A-Sun title game in four years, and will be looking to win back-t0-back NCAA bids despite having not finished first in the regular season in either of the last two years.
  • Horizon.  In the Horizon second round tonight, #7 Detroit continues to turn heads with another upset win behind Eli Holman’s dub-dub (16/11), while #4 Milwaukee earned the pleasure of facing #1 Butler in the semifinals on Saturday by defeating #5 Cleveland State.  The Titans will play #2 Wright State in the other semifinal — neither of the top two seeds have played yet in this tournament, while Detroit has already played two games and Milwaukee one.

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ATB: Not Michigan State, Villanova or Tulsa? What?

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010

Feeling Title-y.  There were three conference championships won tonight around the nation, and you can count the number of people on one hand who had these three picks back in November.

  • #7 Ohio State 73, Illinois 57.  Evan Turner put in his usual work (16/12/5 assts) for the Buckeyes and Jon Diebler rained seven threes as OSU pulled away in the second half to win at least a share of the Big 10 regular season title.  Both Purdue and Michigan State will need to win both of their remaining games this week to tie the Buckeyes at the top of the standings, but regardless, OSU will be the top seed in next week’s Big 10 Tournament.  If you’re looking for a darkhorse Final Four candidate, look no further than this Buckeye team with NPOY Turner leading the charge.  We heard that they RTC’d tonight in Columbus to celebrate the championship, but we’ve yet to have visual confirmation of this.

Who Had OSU as Big Ten Champs in November? (AP/T. Gilliam)

  • #1 Syracuse 85, St. John’s 66.  Newly-minted #1 Syracuse put five players into double figures in an easy win that captured the Big East regular season title outright tonight.  The Orange were led by Arinze Onuaku’s 21/8 as the senior played in front of his mother for the first time in his career.  SU will now travel to Louisville for a Saturday matchup against one of the two teams that has beaten them this year, while the presumably-motivated Cards will be playing for their postseason lives as they simultaneously close down Freedom Hall.  Will Jim Boeheim’s kids have the focus needed to overcome the expected Cardinal surge with their top seed in the Big East Tournament already sewn up?
  • #21 UTEP 80, Marshall 76.  The Miners clinched the CUSA regular season title with a strong second half showing led by star Randy Culpepper, who poured in 22 of his 31 points after the break.  UTEP has now won thirteen in a row and they’re doing it with great defense and balanced scoring from the aforementioned Culpepper and big men Derrick Caracter (14/9 on the year) and Arnett Moultrie (10/7 on the year).  Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside threw up another ridiculous line (20/14/6 blks), but it wasn’t enough for the Herd, who now drop to 10-5 in the conference.  UTEP is ranked #50 in the RPI, but you’d have to believe a strong showing in next week’s CUSA Tourney will get them in.

Teams That Helped Themselves.  There were a lot more teams that seemed more interested in hurting themselves than helping themselves this evening.

  • Clemson.  The Tigers guaranteed themselves a winning ACC record with tonight’s win over Georgia Tech, in so doing also likely cemented a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  With a win on Saturday at Wake Forest, Clemson will also earn a first-round bye into the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament next week.
  • Marquette.  The Golden Eagles were already in the NCAA Tournament, but their win tonight solidifies things and also gives MU a shot at the prestigious double-bye in the Big East Tourney next week.  Now at 11-6 in conference, they need Pitt to lose twice this week, but at worst with this win Marquette will end up with the #5 seed.
  • Missouri.  Mizzou played with fire in allowing its game with Iowa State to go into overtime, but Zaire Taylor’s driving two at the buzzer gave them the escape they needed to make a claim on third place in the Big 12 standings.  Taylor essentially won the game for the Tigers, with three clutch shots in key situations.  They’ll have an opportunity to make some noise on Saturday when they host Kansas in Columbia.

Teams That Hurt Themselves.

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Thus Begins Championship Fortnight…

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2010

You know why we don’t need NCAA Tournament expansion to 96 teams?  The are a lot of other good reasons, but the simplest reason is that we already have it.  In fact, about 300 of the 347 Division I teams have an opportunity starting tonight to ‘play their way into’ the NCAA Tournament.  It’s easy — survive and advance.  As long as you win, you’re still alive.  And if you win three or four games in (mostly) consecutive days, you’ll see Greg Gumbel reading your name off the Big Board on Selection Sunday.  Keep winning beyond that and suddenly you’re channeling NC State circa 1983.

Tickling or Madness?

There will be thirty conference tournaments played from coast to coast (and all points in-between) in the coming days, with the Big South, Ohio Valley and Horizon all starting postseason action tonight.  The Atlantic Sun and Patriot will get going tomorrow, and by Saturday night, we’ll have already crowned the first three automatic bids.  Twenty-seven more (plus the Ivy) will be decided over the course of the following week of play.  It seems like a lot to keep up with (and it is), which is why we’ve come up with an internal tracking matrix (below) that we’re happy to share with everyone.

During our nightly ATBs, we’ll be keeping you updated as well, but here’s the high-level view of the world.  Strap in folks, because March is here!

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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on February 21st, 2010

Greg Waddell of Murray State News is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Standings (as of 2/18)

Team of the Week – Murray State captures the honor this week at the Racers continue a run of dominance through the OVC. Sitting at 16-0, Billy Kennedy’s team secured the regular season crown on Tuesday in a 80-68 win over Southeast Missouri State. Joe Lunardi of ESPN currently has Murray as a No. 13 seed in the NCAA tournament, playing Temple in Spokane.  It will be interesting to see how the brackets unfold if Murray falls in the conference tournament as the OVC has typically been a one-bid conference.  As Doug Gottlieb noted, it may be hard to turn down a Racer team with only four losses.

Player of the Week- In an unorthodox move, this week’s edition will nominate two players for the top honor.  Seeing as how coverage is divided into a bi-weekly segment it would only seem fair to have two winners.  Week one winner, Nick Murphy of Jacksonville State averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per game as the Gamecocks split a pair of games from Feb. 8 through Feb 15 while week two winner Mark Yelovich from SIU – Edwardsville earned the award after dropping 34 points on the University of North Dakota.

Play of the Week – Instead of the typical game of the week, this edition will instead focus on a single play.  This week’s honor goes to Isaiah Canaan, a freshman on the Murray State basketball team, after a half court shot from his knees earned the guard the top spot on the Sportscenter Top 10 and an interview with Jay Crawford on ESPN2 First Take.  The heave has been mentioned as a possible nominee for an ESPY as Play of the Year.

League Notes

  • According to OVCSports.com the OVC has a conference RPI of 19th nationally entering this week, a 10-spot improvement over two seasons ago.
  • Also as of now seven OVC teams have clinched a spot in the eight-team tournament as Tennessee State, UT Martin and SEMO fight for the final spot.

Roundups

  • Murray State.  The Racers wrapped up a conference championship and no. 1 seed in the OVC tournament Tuesday, coasting past the Redhawks of SEMO 80-68.  Senior Danero Thomas recorded 18 points in the win and Isaiah Canaan hit a circus shot from half court to earn a date with ESPN.  This season has been All-Racers thus far. Can it continue? We’ll see.
  • Morehead State.  The Eagles played one of the toughest conference games this week, taking on Eastern Kentucky in a battle of the OVC’s No. 2 and 3 teams.  Kenneth Faried was, well, Kenneth Faried, notching 15 points and 16 rebounds for the his 20th double-double on the year. Maze Stallworth added 20 points and four three-pointers and State rolled, clinching second place in the conference in the process.
  • Eastern Kentucky.  The Colonels played admirably but fell just short against Morehead, stumbling 77-64. Josh Taylor played well for EKU, notching 21 points in the loss, but it just wasn’t enough.  Eastern will get a shot at Murray State on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m.
  • Austin Peay.  The Govs had an exciting week as they opened play against Jacksonville State, drubbing the Gamecocks 83-63, before edging the Golden Eagles on Tennessee Tech in overtime. Austin Peay got a little help from two players this week, as Anthony Campbell and Wes Channels team to lead the team in scoring both games. The highlight of the week came in the second contest as Channels dropped 24 with Campbell adding 23.
  • Tennessee Tech.  Overtime is just not good to the Golden Eagles as both games this week went to extra periods and both ended with losses. Tech is now 1-4 in extended play this season with Elijah Muhammed remaining one of the few bright spots after notching 26 points and 8 assists against Tennessee State and 15 against Austin Peay.  Frank Davis added 15 in the loss to Peay.
  • Jacksonville State.  Jacksonville State had another bad week, stumbling in back to back games at Austin Peay and Tennessee State.  Dominique Shellman and John Barnes recorded 13 points apiece in the loss to the Govs.
  • Eastern Illinois.  Eastern Illinois only played one game this week but that one game was a win, knocking off UT-Martin 83-68. Zavier Sanders, notched 16 points on eight of 10 shooting, to lead the Panthers.
  • Southeast Missouri State.  SEMO played an integral role in Murray State’s conference championship Tuesday. Mainly in that they lost, but it’s a role they played nonetheless.  There really isn’t anything to positive to say about the Redhawks at this point other than Marland Smith (19 points) and Derek Thompson (17 points) played well in the loss.
  • Tennessee State.  The Tigers managed a two game winning streak this week, knocking off the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State in succession.  Jeremiah Crutcher and Robert Covington teamed up for 48 points (24 apiece) in the win against Tech and Jacquan Noble dropped 18 points in the win over State.
  • UT Martin.  Marquis Weddle was the only thing to write home about again as the Skyhawks lost their only game of the week.  Weddle scored 18 points but it just wasn’t enough.  Maybe next week.
  • SIU Edwardsville.  Playing a JV team this week, the Cougars picked up their fourth win of the season as Mark Yelovich exploded for 34 points against North Dakota.  That was pretty much the only bright spot for SIU-E
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ATB: DeMarcus Cousins Laughs Last, Laughs Best…

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2010

Kentucky Survives in Raucous Starkville.  #2 Kentucky 81, Mississippi State 75 (OT).  After several days of fielding phone calls from Mississippi State fans who ranged in temperament from delusional to deranged, DeMarcus Cousins and his team had the last laugh tonight in Starkville as water bottles and sodas rained down on the court in the closing minutes of this one.  Coach John Calipari was so giddy afterward that he even played up the hostility of the situation in his interview with Jeannine Edwards, ducking for cover at one point and running over to corral his players at another (wow, consider just how different things were last year at this time with respect to UK’s head coach and Miss Edwards).  The story of this game, however, was in the way that Kentucky was able to overcome a seven-point deficit in the last three minutes after having looked shaken and stirred in the previous few as MSU built its lead with inside star Jarvis Varnado on the bench fouled out.  Cousins held up his end of the bargain with MSU fans by dropping 19/14/3 assts, including seven huge offensive rebounds, several of which he converted at key points in the second half to keep the Cats afloat.  Patrick Patterson added a dub-dub himself (19/10), while John Wall ended up just shy of a triple-double with 18/10/8 assts/3 stls.  Come March, when the rest of the country decides to tune back into college basketball, all anyone is going to hear about is the mercurial Wall; but to those of us who know better, it will be Cousins that makes the difference if Kentucky is to make a serious run at the national title.  He has a knack for corralling the ball on the offensive end of the court (the #1 offensive rebounder in America), but he’s probably just as effective at converting those extra possessions into points with his soft touch around the bucket (note: if anyone has hard stats on this, we’d love to see them).  MSU had numerous chances to put a signature win on their NCAA resume, but like much of their season this year, they were close but not close enough.  The Bulldogs played the game without leading scorer Ravern Johnson, who was suspended for conduct detrimental prior to his team’s biggest game of the season, and Varnado had at least two silly fouls that would have allowed his presence to stay on the court longer than 23 semi-effective minutes (10/5/2 blks).  If any one of those decisions were different, perhaps MSU wins the game and we’d have a photo of their fans RTCing underneath this writeup.  But as it happened, Bulldog fans will instead by remembered for their unsportsmanlike behavior, and they’ll have to settle for screaming into DeMarcus Cousins’ voicemail as he moves on to the more important things like winning SEC titles and gunning for the Final Four.

Holla Back At Ya!

Regular Season Champs. Two clinchers tonight…

  • #24 Northern Iowa 70, Creighton 52.  No Jordan Eglseder, no problem.  Even without the big man who was suspended for three games after his arrest for DWI over the weekend, UNI clinches its first outright MVC regular season title with an easy win over the Bluejays.  The Panthers hit thirteen treys for the game, including a 5-10 effort from Ali Farokhmanesh.  It will be a very interesting Bracketbuster game on Friday night when UNI hosts the co-leader of the CAA, Old Dominion.
  • Murray State 80, Southeast Missouri State 62.  Murray moved to 16-0 in the OVC tonight, clinching their 21st regular season title and the top seed in the OVC Tournament next month.  The Racers now have the nation’s longest winning streak (at sixteen) and put twelve players into the scoring column this evening.  This is a team that has six players averaging between 9.5 – 10.8 points per game that nobody will want to see as their first round opponent on March 14.

Other Games of National Interest.

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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

Greg Waddell of Murray State News is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Standings: (as of 2/7)

Team of the Week –  Rivals Murray State and Morehead State share the honor this week as both teams played admirably in their games.  Murray continued its reign of dominance over the OVC, squeaking past hated rival Austin Peay 65-63 in the Regional Special Events Center while Morehead roared to a 84-75 win over Tennessee Tech to sweep the season series and capture 13 of their last 14 games. The two teams will square off on Feb. 25 in Morehead, Ky., in a game that could determine conference supremecy.

Player of the Week – In a closely contested battle, Morehead State forward Kenneth Faried edges Tennessee-Martin guard Marquis Weddle for the title of Player of the Week in this edition. Although Weddles’ play (24 ppg and 6 rpg) over the week was superb, Faried claimed the award by showcasing an all-around game more suited for the NBA than the OVC, notching a dominant performance over the weekend against Tennessee Tech to raise his averages for the week to 19 points and 14 boards. During the stretch Faried recorded his 17th and 18th double-doubles of the season including his ninth straight.

Game of the Week – Murray State 65, Austin Peay 63. When rivals collide, crazy things tend to happen. This edition’s game of the week was just another example as it took every ounce of magic the Racers had to keep the team’s conference mark unblemished for one more game, edging the Govs on a last second shot by junior guard Isacc Miles. Although Miles provided the heroics, Danero Thomas provided the steady hand as the senior forward from Louisiana paced the Racers with 23 points and 11 rebounds. On the other side, Anthony Campbell played well for Austin Peay, nearly recording a double-double with 20 points and eight boards. 

League Notes

ESPN released its schedule of games for its Bracketbuster series on Feb 1.  All 11 OVC schools will participate in for the fifth straight season with games taking place on Feb. 19 and 20. OVC schools are 16-29 all-time in the event, including a 3-7 record last season.

  • Oral Roberts at Austin Peay
  • Northern Illinois at Eastern Illinois
  • Winthrop at Eastern Kentucky
  • Presbyterian at Jacksonville State
  • Morehead State at Illinois State
  • Morgan State at Murray State (TV – ESPNU)
  • Southeast Missouri at Miami (Ohio)
  • SIU Edwardsville at Cal State Fullerton
  • Tennessee State at Central Michigan
  • Tennessee Tech at Appalachian State
  • UT Martin at Ball State

Team Roundups

  • Murray State.  The Racers continued their unbeaten streak through conference play, knocking off Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay in dramatic fashion.  Against Tech, MSU started off slow but a second half surge allowed them to pull away easily behind B.J. Jenkins’ 17 point outburst. Jenkins also added five rebounds in the rout.  The Austin Peay game was a different story altogether though as the Racers struggled to put together any rhythm and fell behind early.  Isacc Miles, who struggled to score the entire game, put the team on his back in the final two minutes, scoring seven points including a dagger at the buzzer to knock off the Govs.  Danero Thomas was a workhorse throughout the game for Murray State, recording 23 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Morehead State.  This past week was a good one for the Eagles as they swept the season series against Tennessee Tech while also extending their win streak to 13 of their last 14 games.  Kenneth Faried was a monster down low for Morehead State as the forward from New Jersey did everything but get the team water.  Against the Golden Eagles he was especially dangerous, cleaning the glass for 17 rebounds while adding 26 points, but the game before was a relataively pedestrian one for the big man as he recorded only 12 points and 11 boards. Teammate Maze Stallworth picked up the slack though, dropping 26 points and 11 rebounds.  Farried’s two double-doubles push his season total to 18 and nine straight.
  • Eastern Kentucky.  The past week was also good for the Colonels and Papa Oppong as they jumped out to two wins behind the guard’s stellar play.  In the games Oppong put on a shooting clinic for the opposition dropping two games of double-digit scoring in which he recorded 20 and 19 points respectively.  The highlight of the week as the Colonels knocked off Jacksonville State on a Justin Stommes layup with 21 seconds remaining.  EKU escaped to play another, notching their seventh straight home win against the Gamecocks.
  • Austin Peay.  Despite dropping the heartbreaker to Murray, the week wasn’t all that bad to the Governors.  Forward Anthony Campbell lit up the nets for 20 points on six of 10 shooting against the Racers while adding eight rebounds.  He was equally impressive from the floor in Austin Peay’s win over Tennessee Martin and he notched 13 points and 10 boards.  Center John Fraley had his way with the Skyhawk defense in the win as he cleaned the boards for 14 rebounds and added 13 points as well.
  • Tennessee Tech.  And now to the bad…  Very few things went right for the Golden Eagles this week as they dropped tow straight games.  Kevin Murphy was one of the lone bright spots in the 76-58 shellacking at the hands of Eastern Kentucky as the guard netted 16 points.  There are no moral victories in conference play so although the margin against Morehead State was a little smaller, a loss is still a loss in the books. Jud Dillard did everything he could to help Tech in the Morehead game, but sometimes that not enough as his 25 points and 12 rebounds just couldn’t get them over the jump. Maybe next week.
  • Jacksonville State.  Another 0-2 week for the Gamecocks was made a little bit worse by a close loss at the hands of EKU on Saturday.  Nick Murphy was a monster in the first game, a 94-75 loss to Morehead State but the problem is he was the only one to show up, his 22 points and 12 rebounds just not enough to offset the point differential.  Jacksonville State rebounded nicely against EKU but ran out of gas in the end as a crucial play by Eastern’s Justin Stommes put them down one and a timely charge call on the next possession ended their chances at a W. Trenton Marshall scored 19 points and added five boards in the loss.
  • Eastern Illinois.  They fall in the bottom part of this list because they only played one game this week.  That one game was a win, but coming against one of the weaker teams (SEMO) in the league doesn’t help.  Jeremy Granger roughed up the Redhawks for 19 points on nine of 15 shooting and James Hollowell added 10 points and 5 rebounds for the victors.
  • Southeast Missouri State.  Things got worse for the Redhawks as their only win this week came against a team technically not even in their league…literally.  After a loss to the Panthers, SEMO took on lowly SIU-Edwardsville, currently 3-20 overall, to claim an ugly win. Sam Pearson scored 11 points and added four rebounds in the loss while Marland Smith netted 17 points and five rebounds in the win.
  • Tennessee State.  Tennessee State doesn’t fall this low because of a lack off effort, just a lack of production.  Despite Robert Covington’s outburst of 19 points and eight rebounds the Tigers failed to match up with Murray State, and squandered an early lead before falling by 22 (76-54).  Jacquan Nobles and Will Peters did everything they could against Tennessee- Martin and their combined 39 points (Nobles-20, and Peters-19) helped TSU squeak past Martin 74-68.
  • UT Martin.  Marquis Weddle is an animal; his team…not so much.  Despite two 20-point games (23,25) against quality opponents in Austin Peay and Tennessee State the Skyhawks just couldn’t pull off a win in the end. The loss of a player like Lester Hudson would hurt any team but Martin must find a way to help out Weddle if they expect do anything come tournament time.  
  • SIU Edwardsville.  SIU- Edwardsville is doing a valiant job despite the odds stacked against them.  The talent on their team will get better and better in future seasons but they aren’t there yet and it’s no ones fault.  Nikola Bundalo did his best against SEMO, notching nine points and 13 rebounds, but Edwardsville found itself overmatched in every facet of the game and went home with a tough 68-49 loss.
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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on January 2nd, 2010

James Horne of the Clarksville (TN) Leaf-Chronicle is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Current OVC Standings (as of Jan. 2, 2010)

  1. Murray State 2-0 10-3
  2. Austin Peay 2-0 8-6
  3. Jacksonville State 1-0 5-6
  4. Eastern Kentucky 1-1 8-5
  5. Eastern Illinois 1-1 7-5
  6. Morehead State 1-1 6-6
  7. Southeast Missouri State 1-1 4-8
  8. Tennessee Tech 0-1 6-6
  9. Tennessee State 0-2 3-10
  10. UT Martin 0-2 2-9
  11. SIU Edwardsville% 0-0 2-12

% – SIU Edwardsville joined the OVC in July 2008. The program is reclassifying to Division I and not playing a full OVC schedule until 2011-12. They are not eligible for the OVC Championship or postseason play until 2012-13.

THIS WEEK IN THE OVC

PRIME-TIME BATTLE. The New Year begins with a top-notched showdown in the OVC and it will all be televised on ESPNU when defending tournament champion Morehead State (6-6, 1-1 OVC) welcomes in Austin Peay (8-6, 2-0 OVC) for a game at 8 p.m. (CST) Saturday night.  It’s not lost on anyone involved that the Eagles upset the Govs 67-65 in two overtimes to win the 2009 OVC crown last March.  And it helps that Morehead State and Austin Peay were picked to finish first and third (by the conference and RTC) in the preseason.  Morehead State junior center Kenneth Faried, the Preseason Player of the Year, continues to dominate the league by averaging 16.5 points (third in the OVC) and 12.2 rebounds a game (tops in the OVC).  He will be challenged by the Govs senior guard Wes Channels, whose 15 points a game is sixth in the league.

ONLY ONE? By the time Tuesday rolls around Murray State (10-3, 2-0 OVC) could be the last unbeaten left.  The Racers don’t play Saturday and, while not an easy task, face OVC-winless UT Martin at 7 p.m. (CST) Monday.

THIS WEEK’S RESULTS

Monday, December 28

  • Morehead State 66, @South Dakota 64
  • UMKC 63, @SIU Edwardsville 54

Tuesday, December 29

  • Eastern Kentucky 76, Morgan State 62 (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
  • @#16 Ole Miss 90, Jacksonville State 75
  • @Saint Louis 60, Eastern Illinois 42

Wednesday, December 30

  • @UT Martin 71, Westminster 59
  • Chattanooga 68, Eastern Kentucky 54
  • Murray State 82, @SIU Edwardsville 51
  • @Tennessee Tech 95, Union College 46
  • @Alabama 77, Tennessee State 65

THIS WEEKEND’S GAMES

Saturday, January 2

  • Jacksonville State at Eastern Illinois, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee State at Eastern Kentucky, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee Tech at Southeast Missouri, 7:45 p.m.
  • Austin Peay at Morehead State, 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Monday, January 4

  • Austin Peay at Eastern Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.
  • Tennessee State at Morehead State, 6:30 p.m.
  • UT Martin at Murray State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee Tech at Eastern Illinois, 7:30 p.m.
  • Jacksonville State at Southeast Missouri, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, January 5

  • Milwaukee at SIU Edwardsville, 7:00 p.m.

KEY MATCH-UPS

  • Austin Peay at Morehead State: Rematch of 2009 OVC Tournament Championship Game won b y Morehead 67-65 in two overtimes.
  • UT Martin at Murray State: Racers could end up as lone OVC undefeated so early in New Year.

CONFERENCE/TEAM NOTES

OVC. APSU’s Wes Channels and UT Martin’s Marquis Weddle were named Co-OVC Players of the Week.

  • AUSTIN PEAY GOVS (8-6, 2-0 OVC). Govs went 5-2 in December with losses at No. 3 Kentucky and Missouri. Govs lead series with Morehead State 48-47.
  • EASTERN ILLINOIS PANTHERS (7-5, 1-1 OVC). Panthers 5-2 on road in non-conference.
  • EASTERN KENTUCKY COLONELS (8-5, 1-1 OVC). Leads OVC in 3-point field-goal percentage at 41.4 percent (137-of-331 in 13 games)
  • JACKSONVILLE STATE GAMECOCKS (2-4, 0-1 OVC). First-place Gamecocks went 0-3 on road in non-conference
  • MOREHEAD STATE EAGLES (6-6, 1-1 OVC). Looking to beat APSU fourth straight time.
  • MURRAY STATE RACERS (6-1, 1-0 OVC). Could be lone league undefeated by Tuesday.
  • SOUTHEAST MISSOURI REDHAWKS (4-8, 1-1 OVC). The Redhawks broke a 27-straight conference game losing streak, then longest active streak in the nation, with a 74-66 win over Tennessee State on Dec. 5, 2009. Still only one home win.
  • TENNESSEE STATE TIGERS (3-10, 0-2 OVC). Only OVC team with one win at home, on road and at neutral site.
  • TENNESSEE TECH GOLDEN EAGLES (6-6, 1-0 OVC). Only team to win at least three at home and on road in non-conference (Murray State five at home, three on the road is the other)
  • UT MARTIN SKYHAWKS (2-9, 0-2 OVC). Skyhawks 0-6 on road in non-conference.
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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009

checkinginon

James Horne of the Clarksville (TN) Leaf Chronicle is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Current OVC Standings (as of Dec. 4, 2009)

  1. Murray State  (1-0, 6-1)
  2. Eastern Illinois  (1-0, 4-2)
  3. Austin Peay  (1-0, 4-4)
  4. Morehead State  (1-0, 2-3)
  5. Tennessee Tech  (0-0, 3-5)
  6. Jacksonville State  (0-0, 2-4)
  7. Eastern Kentucky  (0-1, 5-2)
  8. Southeast Missouri State  (0-1, 2-6)
  9. UT Martin  (0-1, 1-4)
  10. Tennessee State  (0-1, 1-7)
  11. SIU Edwardsville  (0-0, 0-6)

THIS WEEK IN THE OVC

LOOS ASCENDS: Undoubtedly the biggest story in the OVC this week is about a coach.  Austin Peay’s Dave Loos just won the 400th game of his 24-year career in the Govs’ 76-71 overtime win over Southeast Missouri on Dec. 3. That made him 400-318 all-time.  With a victory over EIU on Dec. 5, Loos would tie would tie Cal Luther – former coach at Murray State and UT Martin – for the most victories in OVC history with 319. Loos has been with Austin Peay for 20 seasons and owns a 318-265 record. Loos is already Austin Peay’s all-time winningest coach.

EAGLES VS. RACERS: The two teams picked to win the OVC this year meet for the first time in Murray, Ky., on Dec. 5.  Both defending champion Morehead State and Murray State were the preseason choice to win the league as both gained 10 first-place votes and 154 points.  The Racers have actually won six in a row since a season-opening loss five-point loss to No. 12 California. Murray State has won those five games by an average of 32.2 points.  Morehead State junior Kenneth Faried had his third double-double in four games this season, scoring 12 points and pulling down 15 rebounds in 34 minutes of play in a loss to Kent State on Nov 29. Faried has had a double-double in every game except the team’s season-opening loss at No. 4 Kentucky.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #24 – Ohio Valley

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2009

seasonpreview

James D. Horne is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.  He covers Austin Peay for The Leaf-Chronicle and co-hosts The Afternoon Blitz from 4-6 p.m. on AM 540 in Clarksville, TN.  Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Morehead State (13-5)
  2. Murray State (13-5)
  3. Austin Peay (12-6)
  4. Eastern Kentucky (10-8)
  5. Eastern Illinois (9-9)
  6. Jacksonville State (9-9)
  7. Tennessee Tech (8-10)
  8. UT Martin (6-12)
  9. Tennessee State (4-14)
  10. Southeast Missouri State (2-16)

All-Conference Team:

  • Wes Channels (G), Austin Peay, 6’3, 210, Sr, 16.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 71 3-pts
  • Romain Martin (G), Eastern Illinois, 6’3, 185, Sr, 15.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 74 3-pointers
  • Maze Stallworth (F), Morehead State, 6’4, 215, Sr, 12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 38.0 3-pt%
  • Danero Thomas (F), Murray State, 6’4, 190, Sr, 12.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 spg, 41.8 FG%
  • Kenneth Faried (C), Morehead State, 6’8 215 Jr, 13.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 56.0 FG%

6th Man. Anthony Campbell (F), Austin Peay, 6’6, 185, So, 7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 50.0 FG%

Breakout Player.  Ivan Aska (F), Murray State, 6’7, 230, So, 10.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 51.6 FG%

Coach of the Year. Donnie Tyndall, Morehead State

Player of the Year. Kenneth Faried, Morehead State

ovc logo

What You Need to Know:

  • The OVC loves its basketball as much as the ACC, Big 12 and Big East do; they just play on a much smaller scale.
  • The OVC is the eighth-oldest NCAA Division I conference and expanded in 2008 with the addition of SIU-Edwardsville.
  • This year the most dominant player in the league will be Morehead State junior center Kenneth Faried, a big man who could play in any league, and whose coach, Donnie Tyndall, is building a power on the footsteps of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Murray State and Austin Peay just may have the fiercest rivalry in all of college basketball, at least those not in a power conference, and have been at the top of the league for over a decade.  Senior guard Wes Channels will lead the Govs and senior forward Danero Thomas leads the Racers.

Predicted ChampionMurray State (NCAA Seed: #16).  The Racers have been on the verge of returning to their perch in the OVC and this should be the year they get back. But if they don’t in Billy Kennedy’s fourth season a change could be made.

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