Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on March 1st, 2013


Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

This weekend has several important conference re-matches and as well as first time clashes between conference leaders. It should be an action packed weekend. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#10 Louisville at #11 Syracuse – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (*****) 

  • Syracuse has lost two straight and five of their last nine. They have been inconsistent on offensive, particularly from the outside. They go up against a Louisville squad that is no stranger to struggles this season either. The Cardinals hit a three-game slide at the end of January that had a few folks questioning where this team was headed. Since that time though, they are 7-1 and only one game back in the Big East. Syracuse beat Louisville 70-68 in January in a close contest that came down to the final possession. The Cardinals have clearly struggled against long, athletic teams. Asking 6’0″ Russ Smith and 6’0″ Peyton Siva to guard 6″6″ Michael Carter-Williams and 6’4″ Brandon Triche is a tall order to say the least. Look for the Orange to exploit the mismatch at guard all night. Rick Pitino must game plan to help his guards, otherwise it could be another tough one for Louisville. The Cardinals also need Gorgui Dieng to contribute more on the offensive end. His size will help free up Smith and Siva on the outside. Expect another close battle at the Carrier Dome as these two teams battle for conference and tournament seeding.

    Peyton Siva orchestrated Louisville's offense with 10 points and 10 assists

    Peyton Siva has a lot to prove in the second go around with the Orange.

#20 Butler at Virginia Commonwealth – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (****) 

  • While Butler has amazing wins against Indiana and Gonzaga, they have struggled against the top Atlantic 10 teams. They are 0-3 against Saint Louis and LaSalle and now face VCU for the first time this season. VCU is also winless against Saint Louis and LaSalle, so Butler is not alone in their struggles. The key to this match-up will be turnovers. VCU creates turnovers on 27.3% of an opponents possessions. Butler turns the ball over on 20% of its offensive possessions. The Bulldogs cannot afford to empty possession in this game, otherwise they will lose. They must get into the half-court offense and establish 6’11” Andrew Smith early. Smith’s match-up against VCU’s Juvante Reddic will be critical. Butler needs Smith’s offense to win this game. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on February 8th, 2013


Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Bubble watching has officially begun, which means March is just around the corner. With less than a month to go in the season, everything is still up for grabs in what has been a truly unpredictable season in college hoops. The Big Ten and Big East lead a solid slate of games this weekend. With epic snow hitting the east coast, it looks like most people will have to sit at home and watch hoops. Sounds great to most of us, I’d assume. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#1 Michigan at Wisconsin – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

Tim Hardaway Jr has had significant ups and downs so far this year.

Can Tim Hardaway Jr. continue his hot shooting from the outside against a strong Wisconsin defense?

  • On a per possession basis, we will see the best offense (Michigan) in the Big Ten versus the best defense (Wisconsin) in the Big Ten in this game. Michigan’s poor two-point shooting against Ohio State was very out of character for John Beilein’s squad. Fortunately for the Wolverines, their three-point shooting was able to carry them to a victory. Michigan went 14-24 from deep against the Buckeyes. Don’t expect Michigan to have the same success from outside against Wisconsin, as the Badgers have the best three-point defense in the conference. Watch to see if UM can bounce back inside the arc. When Michigan’s Mitch McGary is in the game, the match-up between him and Jared Berggren should be fun to watch on the inside and a key factor in the outcome. McGary is coming into his own and will be needed down low for second chance points. Expect this game to be a slow, mistake free contest. Execution of the half-court offense will be critical for both sides. The Wolverines definitely have the advantage there. Wisconsin needs to force Michigan to make tough shots. If Michigan is able to get open looks in the half-court, it will be along afternoon for the Badgers.

#2 Kansas at Oklahoma – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (***)

  • Just when it looked like Kansas was going to run away and hide with the Big 12 title, Jayhawk Nation got shell shocked with two consecutive losses. Not only did they lose twice, but they lost at home and then against TCU, the only team in the conference without a win. Many are calling the TCU loss the worst in Kansas history. While that may be an overstatement, Bill Self certainly has to be concerned with his team’s effort as of late. The two losses are character tests for the Jayhawks, which is what makes this road game against Oklahoma so important. It’s not all roses for Lon Kruger and the Sooners, however. They are in the midst of their own two-game slide. Oklahoma has been up and down this season and could use a big win at home to boost their tourney chances. KU has been shooting awful in the past two games, particularly from three. They are 11-46 from downtown in that stretch. Look to see if the Jayhawks try to get in the lane more often with their big guards. Given Oklahoma’s mediocrity on offense and defense, this looks like it could be a bounce back game for KU. But given what we’ve seen so far in college hoops, nothing is for sure. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Big East Monday Primer: Post-Super Bowl Edition

Posted by mlemaire on February 4th, 2013

The season is entering the home stretch and the games are getting more important by the day. To reflect that, we are putting together a Monday Primer which will basically recap important things from the weekend and then look ahead at important games during the week. Hope you enjoy!

What Happened This Weekend

1. Villanova undid all of the hard work they did in back-to-back wins over Louisville and Syracuse by losing at home to lowly Providence. The Friars had only nine players available and the Wildcats still couldn’t capitalize, shooting 27 percent from the field and making just 2-of-15 three-pointers. They had a chance down the stretch when they tied the game up with less than a minute to play but Bryce Cotton hit a big three to seal the win for the Friars. The Wildcats are young, so inconsistency isn’t unexpected, but it seems pretty clear this is not an NCAA Tournament team.

After last week went great, this week it was back to a lot of this for Jay Wright (Photo credit: H. Rumph Jr/AP Photo).

After last week, this week it was back to a lot of this for Jay Wright (Photo credit: H. Rumph Jr/AP Photo).

2. Pittsburgh scored the big upset of the weekend and added a good win to its resume by pulling away from No. 6 Syracuse in the second half. This really doesn’t even count as much of an upset considering Pitt has no business being unranked given their efficiency on both ends of the floor, but it is still an important win for the Panthers. Pitt is basically 10-deep, talented, and coach Jamie Dixon has the team rolling as they are winners of five of their last six. If they take care of business tonight against Seton Hall, they should be in great position for the home stretch.

3. It was the same old story this weekend for DePaul, which nearly staged a tough second-half comeback against Notre Dame only to lose by eight points in overtime. The Blue Demons have lost six straight and have just one conference win. Its still just his third season but given the lack of overall improvement in the league standings, the seat under coach Oliver Purnell might be getting a little warm. His team may need to show some signs of life if the program is going to give him another year to right the ship.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Louisville’s Decisive Win Shows Progress, Shifts Scrutiny to Marquette

Posted by Will Tucker on February 3rd, 2013

Marquette took the outright lead in the Big East when Syracuse lost at Pittsburgh on Saturday. That distinction was short-lived, as the Golden Eagles emerged from their game against Louisville the next day with a humbling 70-51 defeat and the league’s upper echelon nipping at their heels. Beneath Marquette and the slumping Orange suddenly lie four teams a half-game behind at 6-3, including the resurgent Cardinals. The game put to bed several of the lingering misgivings about whether Rick Pitino’s team had really turned a corner after  its close win over Pitt last Monday. Rebounding and shooting percentage defense had been of particular concern. The win over the Panthers was a messy affair in which neither team could corral many defensive rebounds. It had also marked the third time in four games that the Cardinals gave up more than 44% shooting from beyond the arc.

(Credit AP)

Louisville’s transition offense got back on track against Marquette (Credit AP)

Neither issue manifested against Marquette, though. After a vexing first five minutes in which Louisville failed to make a field goal, Pitino plugged in energetic backups Montrezl Harrell and Stephan Van Treese. In about 10 first-half minutes apiece, the big men combined to hit each of their three shots (all dunks) and grab five offensive rebounds. Their enthusiasm also lifted the play of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, who entered halftime with a cumulative 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists and would finish the game with 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting. Fundamentally sound rebounding from every position and stingy man-to-man defense catalyzed a 37-15 run that sent the Cardinals to halftime with a 14-point lead.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Walk-on Contributions Help Louisville Exorcise Late-Game Demons Against Pittsburgh

Posted by Will Tucker on January 29th, 2013

Will Tucker is an RTC correspondent and Big East microsite writer. He filed this report after Monday night’s Louisville-Pittsburgh game.

Louisville endured a three-point shooting onslaught from Pitt down the stretch to hold on to a 64-61 victory on Monday night in the Yum! Center. The Panthers hit five of their eight threes in the final seven minutes, but the Cardinals made the necessary plays in the final possessions — demonstrating a resilience conspicuously absent in close losses to Syracuse and Georgetown. Most impressive was the fact that the Cardinals pulled out the win in spite of sudden attrition on its wings. Wayne Blackshear (sprained shoulder) and Kevin Ware (unspecified suspension) weren’t in the lineup, subtracting 38 reliable minutes per game from Rick Pitino’s rotation.

(Credit Andy Lyons)

Louisville’s Tim Henderson played 14 sound minutes off the bench (Credit: Andy Lyons)

Leading up to the game, the two teams appeared headed in vastly different directions. Louisville had lost three consecutive Big East gut-punches and was facing the possibility of a 4-4 record in conference play less than two weeks removed from a #1 ranking in the polls; Pittsburgh had won four straight, capped off by an emphatic 38-point win over DePaul. Rick Pitino’s team needed no extra motivation (nor anxiety) to get up for Pitt, but that’s exactly what they got when they learned in the past couple days that Blackshear and Ware would sit out.

The outlook was bleak on paper, with the eighth-most efficient offense in the country entering the Yum! Center. Who would defend Pitt’s Lamar Patterson and Tray Woodall, who were shooting 39% and 37% from beyond the arc, respectively? Louisville’s lineup was about to get smaller, and it had already allowed Big East foes to shoot more than 34% from outside (fourth worst in the league). Could UofL’s increasingly anemic offense survive the void left by Blackshear’s scoring, which accounts for 12% of their points in league play?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Rushed Reactions: Starks and Bowen Deal Louisville Its Third Straight Loss

Posted by IRenko on January 26th, 2013


I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s game between Louisville and Georgetown. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

“Some people panic, but we don’t panic at Louisville,” said Rick Pitino after his Louisville team lost its third straight game on Saturday, falling at Georgetown, 53-51. “We’re judged in March,” he said, adding that he was happy that the Cardinals “played their tails off tonight” and that what ails the team are “little things that are correctable ” For his part, Georgetown head coach John Thompson III wasn’t about to downgrade his opponent either after his team’s big win: “Let’s get this straight. [Louisville is] a helluva team. That’s one of the best teams in the country.”

No single factor explains the Cardinals’ slide since being ranked as the very best team in the country two weeks ago. After the loss to Syracuse, a terse and somewhat ill-tempered Pitino had no particular diagnosis, suggesting only that it was a good basketball game and Syracuse made the plays they needed to make. Against Villanova, Pitino pointed to poor free throw shooting (12-of-24), especially down the stretch, as the culprit. What were the difference-makers in the Georgetown game? Here are the three key factors that produced a Georgetown win:

  • The Failure to Block Out and Aaron Bowen’s Acrobatic Tip-In — Pitino identified his team’s failure to block out as “the difference-maker.” Indeed, watching the game, you would not have guessed that Louisville was a strong defensive rebounding team and Georgetown a weak offensive rebounding team. But the Hoyas managed to score 13 second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds. No offensive rebound was bigger than redshirt sophomore guard Aaron Bowen’s athletic putback to give the Hoyas a 52-50 lead with 3:36 remaining, a score that would prove to be the game-winning basket. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Bowen’s teammate Markel Starks. “When the shot went up, he just came out of nowhere… it was unbelievable.” It wasn’t the first time that Bowen’s aggressiveness on the glass paid off for the Hoyas. Late in the first half, after an 8-2 run by Louisville cut Georgetown’s lead to two, Bowen attacked the glass after a missed Starks jumper, and managed to knock the ball towards Nate Lubick, who converted a layup. Since the suspension of Greg Whittington, Bowen has found himself thrust into far more playing time than he’s ever had and on Saturday he made it pay off. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng the Key to What Could Be a Historic Defense

Posted by Will Tucker on January 19th, 2013

The narrative of today’s defensive match up between #1 Louisville and #6 Syracuse has already been explored extensively. A collision of defensive juggernauts: the nation’s first and third most efficient defenses, respectively. The two lead the Big East and are top-five nationally, again, in creating steals. The Cards check in at #2 in the country in turnovers generated; the Orange: #8. Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams leads the conference with a staggering 3.18 steals per game and combines with Brandon Triche to produce 4.8 SPG; Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are top-five, producing a cumulative 4.6 pilfers.

Gorgui Dieng is the final piece of Louisville's defensive puzzle

Dieng elevates Louisville’s defense from very good to great

On paper it’s a push, and a juicy storyline to hype. In reality, Syracuse fields an excellent defense, but Louisville’s has the potential to be historic, and it’s just now hitting its stride.

Team defense: a body of work

Heading into today’s game, Ken Pomeroy reports an adjusted defensive efficiency rating of 79.5 for the Cards. To put that in perspective, Anthony Davis’ imposing defense at UK finished their title run with an 88.2 rating––in other words, those dominant Cats gave up almost 9 points more per 100 possessions than this Louisville team has thus far. Matt Norlander points out, “No team has finished a season by cracking the 80 barrier,” and the 82.2 Kansas posted in 2007 remains the stingiest finish in the past decade (h/t @loverofthegame_). Certainly, the regular season is barely halfway over and several potent offenses await Louisville in the Big East schedule, but they’re off to a good start.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on January 18th, 2013


Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The top teams in several conferences go head-to-head and a non-conference mid-major battle in the midwest should provide a spectacular weekend of college hoops. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

#6 Syracuse at #1 Louisville – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (*****)

Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino Meet on Saturday Again...

Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino Meet on Saturday Again…

  • The cream of the Big East crop lock up in what should be an epic defensive battle. This may be the best defensive match-up we will see all season. Jim Boeheim’s match-up zone versus Rick Pitino’s press will be fun to watch. Louisville is known for its ability to create lots of turnovers, but Syracuse is almost just as good at causing teams to make mistakes. Additionally, Syracuse blocks a bunch of shots and locks down the perimeter. Louisville counters with its own shot-blocker deluxe in Gorgui Dieng. The question for Syracuse is how they will break the Louisville press — look to see if they use their length to make passes over the top of the Cardinals’ defense to get down the court.  Also, watch the guard match-up between Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse and Peyton Siva and Russ Smith of Louisville. Triche and Carter-Williams have a significant size advantage that could make scoring from the Louisville backcourt limited, although Smith just seems to find ways to score anyway. Ultimately, this game will come down to whose defense plays better, but this game is shaping up to be a classic.

#17 Missouri at #8 Florida – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

  • Florida is coming off a dominant win against Texas A&M and is beginning to separate itself from the rest of the SEC. A win by Missouri on the road would be huge for the Tigers as they head into a stretch of games against the bottom tier of the league. Missouri needs to find a way to control the offensive boards without Laurence Bowers available if they are going to have a shot at winning this game. The Gators have been one of the toughest teams to shoot against this season, so don’t expect the Tigers to get a lot of great looks. However, as one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country, the Tigers have a chance if they can get put-backs and tip-ins. The key will be the battle down low between Alex Oriakhi and Patric Young so pay close attention to those two big men battling inside. Also, keep an eye on Missouri’s perimeter defense. Florida is taking 40% of its total shots from three — if the Gators’ shooters  are hitting from the outside, it’s going to be tough sledding for Missouri in its first SEC trip to Gainesville.

Oregon at #21 UCLA – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (****)

  • The Pac-12 is looking like a three team battle between Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon. With the Ducks already knocking off the Wildcats, they can make a huge statement early in the conference season with a road win against the Bruins. It won’t be easy, however, as UCLA has quietly put together a 10-game winning streak including back-to-back road wins against Utah and Colorado. Keep a close eye on turnovers in this game. Oregon is turning the ball over frequently at a rate of over 21% of its possessions. We have seen road teams get down early recently because of multiple mistakes in a hostile environment. If the Bruins can create turnovers early with some tough defense, it will make things very difficult for the Ducks in Pauley Pavilion. Also, watch the rebounding numbers. The Ducks are a far superior team on the glass at both ends. UCLA’s Kyle Anderson and the Wear brothers need to box out. Rebounding will keep Oregon in the game and could prove to be the difference if they are able to avoid turnovers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Top 25: Week 9

Posted by KDoyle on January 14th, 2013

And then there were none. We entered last week with four undefeated teams — Duke, Michigan, Arizona, and Wyoming — but all faltered. Michigan was technically the last remaining undefeated team, but that lasted for less than 24 hours as the Wolverines lost Sunday afternoon to Ohio State in Columbus. Due to the crazy week that was, Louisville now moves into the #1 spot for the first time this season. The Cardinals’ lone loss came against Duke in the Bahamas back in November, and they hold the slimmest of edges on the Blue Devils in our poll (more on that after the Qn’D). It was also a tough week for two Big East teams while the Pac-12 is experiencing a resurgence with two teams entering the RTC25.

The Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…

Week 9

Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big East M5: New Year’s Eve Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 31st, 2012


  1. Early in the season, one of the things that the 2012-13 Syracuse Orange seemed to have on the 2011-12 edition was reliable three-point shooting. James Southerland and Trevor Cooney can both act potentially as knock-down shooters for Jim Boeheim. Syracuse has struggled to score recently, and poor outside shooting is one of the main reasons for this lull. The Orange are now shooting 32% from behind the arc this season, and are just 5-of-33 since halftime of the win over Detroit. Boeheim acknowledges this issue, but doesn’t offer up much in the way of a detailed solution after Syracuse’s win over Alcorn State: “Well, it is what it is… Whatever the stats are, they don’t lie. Shooting stats don’t lie. Some people think they do. But they don’t.”
  2. With a dwindling lead against archrival Kentucky, Louisville’s Russ Smith started doing what he’s done all season – he made huge plays. Pat Forde describes how strange it is for Cardinals fans to think of Smith as their star, even this far into the season: “The improbable rise of Russ Smith as a s-s-s-star (hard to type with a straight face) has keyed everything Louisville has done last March and so far this season.” Louisville is right about where most people expected they would be, but Smith’s breakout has shifted the focus off of Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, the players that people expected to lead the Cardinals to a great 2012-13 season.  Siva, Dieng, Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, and a slew of other Cardinals are still very dangerous college players, and when combined with the dynamo Smith, who is averaging a shade under 20 points per game, Louisville is set to make major noise come March.
  3. GoLocalProv sports writer Scott Cordischi thinks that Providence coach Ed Cooley needs to ‘cool’ it down with regards to calling out his players after games. When asked a question about LaDontae Henton’s stretch of 24 straight points for the Friars in a loss to Brown, Cooley ignored Henton’s offensive outburst and put down his defensive performance, calling it “awful.” Cordischi also notes that Cooley alluded to the team as soft with regards to Bryce Cotton’s injuries, and earlier in the year diminished a 13-assist effort by Kris Dunn in his first collegiate game, calling it “gross.” While many coaches in all sports use the media to motivate their teams, I can see where Cordischi is concerned that Cooley is being too negative with respect to his players. Losses to teams like Brown are frustrating, but those thing will happen with a young, raw team like Providence.
  4. The transfer of Malcolm Gilbert from Pitt to Fairfield may be disconcerting to some Panthers fans, but it isn’t coming as a huge surprise to Jamie Dixon. Gilbert has always wanted to play with his brother Marcus, who is a freshman forward for the Stags, and he will have a chance to do that next season by leaving between semesters. Pitt fans may worry about this becoming a trend for Dixon’s program after losing Khem Birch last season, but the guys at Pitt blog Cardiac Hill don’t seem to be too worried, as this transfer seems to be more about an opportunity elsewhere rather than an issue with Dixon or the Panther program.
  5. USF star Anthony Collins was taken off the floor on a stretcher after being kneed in the head while diving for a loose ball during a 61-57 win over George Mason. After the game, Stan Heath said that Collins had feeling in all of his extremities, which is obviously a positive sign, but it is always jarring to see a player taken out of a game like that, especially in today’s sports world where concussions and head injuries are so prominent in the public consciousness. The Bulls also lost Victor Rudd to a concussion in the second half, and are very banged up heading into Big East play.
Share this story