NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: Sweet Sixteen, Friday Night

Posted by KDoyle on March 29th, 2013

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We continue the Sweet Sixteen tonight with games from the South Region in Arlington, Texas, and the Midwest Region in Indianapolis. Here are the breakdowns for tonight’s games.

#1 Louisville vs. #12 Oregon Midwest Regional Sweet Sixteen (at Indianapolis, IN) – 7:15 PM ET on CBS

It's Russ' World, We Just Live In It (Credit Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It’s Russ’ World, We Just Live In It (Credit Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Midwest Regional descends on Indianapolis this weekend, with Louisville and Oregon kicking off the action in a matchup of red-hot teams. If not for Florida Gulf Coast’s otherworldly Tournament performance last week, we would likely be looking at the two most impressive teams of the first weekend. As the top overall seed in the Tournament, Louisville’s tour de force in Lexington may not have been unexpected, but it did drive home the notion that the Cardinals are still the team to beat – in this region, and beyond. On the flip side, Oregon’s pair of resounding victories were not expected (despite getting significant play as the most underseeded team in the field on Selection Sunday), but have quickly afforded the surging Ducks a lot of respect. They will head into a virtual road game as massive underdogs on Friday, but the last two weeks have proven that this is a talented and tough basketball team.

Do not expect Oregon to struggle with the aggressive Louisville defense as much as North Carolina A&T and Colorado State did. A quick briefing of the Oregon statistical profile may suggest otherwise – the Ducks are 264th nationally in turnover percentage – but that number is a bit misleading. For one, quick tempo teams are generally going to turn the ball over more, and Oregon plays fast (48th nationally in possessions per game). Also remember that starting PG Dominic Artis (I know, I know — how could we forget at this point?) missed more than half the Pac-12 season, and that backup PG Johnathan Loyd is just now beginning to hit his stride. These two guards will come as close to replicating the quickness and athleticism of that Louisville Siva-Smith combo as any duo the Cardinals have seen all season. Throw in athletes almost everywhere else on the floor – Emory and Dotson on the wings, Kazemi and Woods in the post – and there can be reasonable expectation that Oregon might actually be able to weather the turnover storm that has felled many Louisville foes.

If Oregon can manage that turnover battle, expect this to be a 40-minute game. Points will not come easily for the Cardinals against a well-school (and athletic) Oregon defense, and the Ducks are also a better rebounding team — at least on paper. Dana Altman’s X-factor will be the burgeoning freshman Dotson. If Dotson and others – here’s looking at you EJ Singler — can replicate the three point barrage that undid Saint Louis, Altman’s group has a legitimate change to swing the upset. Too much to ask for? Probably. This is not your typical #12 seed (how is Oregon a #12 seed again?), but they have run into a #1 seed that is playing its role all too well. I expect Oregon to prove a worthy challenger in all facets – managing turnovers, defending the dynamic Louisville backcourt, finding ways to score themselves – but ultimately they run into a team that is just a little better across the board. The Ducks will hang around, but Louisville should be safely bound for the Elite Eight.

The RTC Certified Pick: Louisville

#1 Kansas vs. #4 Michigan – South Regional Semifinal (at Arlington, TX) – 7:37 PM ET on TBS

The last time Michigan advanced this deep into the NCAA Tournament was all the way back in 1994 with the Fab Five coached by current San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher. Ranked in the Top 10 for much of the season, John Beilein’s team certainly won’t be content just advancing to the second weekend; it is Atlanta or bust for the young Wolverines. To advance to Sunday’s South Regional Final, they will have to knock off a team with a wealth of NCAA Tournament experience in the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas advanced to the championship game last season losing to Kentucky, but are missing two key components of that squad—Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. While Bill Self has led Kansas to another very successful season—a Big 12 regular season and tournament championship and 30+ wins for the fourth straight year—this edition of Kansas basketball is lacking a rock-solid point guard and dominant scorer. One could certainly make the argument that freshman Ben McLemore is that scorer, but he has largely been a no-show in Kansas’ first two games scoring just 13 points on 2-14 shooting from the field. The combination of Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe at point guard has dished out 11 assists to ten turnovers. Nobody will argue their frontcourt dominance anchored by the defensive prowess of Jeff Withey, but seniors Kevin Young and Travis Releford are prototypical role players and not go-to threats. As such, when looking up and down the roster, this has been yet another good coaching job by Bill Self. If Kansas is to defeat Michigan and advance to Atlanta, Ben McLemore must play up to his Top 5 NBA Draft pick ability. Kansas’ most glaring weakness happens to be Michigan’s clear strength: point guard play. This game will be decided in the backcourt, and Trey Burke along with Tim Hardaway Jr. are simply playing much better basketball than Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore. Also, let’s not forget the emergence of freshman Mitch McGary who has stepped up in a big way with Jordan Morgan’s nagging ankle injury. Morgan may return to the regular rotation tonight, but he is just 6’8” and would struggle handling Jeff Withey on the insdie. John Beilein doesn’t expect McGary to have a double-double kind of game like he had against Virginia Commonwealth, but if he is able to neutralize Withey then it is mission accomplished. Kansas would be the first one to tell you that they played just 20 good minutes of basketball in their first two games. If they get off to another slow start out of the gate like they did against Western Kentucky and North Carolina, they’ll be hard-pressed to climb their way back into the game.

The RTC Certified PickMichigan

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Morning Five: 09.10.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 10th, 2012

  1. The biggest news from the weekend was without question the bombshell that dropped Friday that former Duke forward Lance Thomas is being sued by a New York City jeweler who caters to professional athletes for an unpaid debt of $67,800 — credit that was extended to Thomas upon a down payment of $30,000 and purchase of several items during December of his senior season. This is the same senior season that led to Duke and Mike Krzyzewski’s fourth national championship won over upstart Butler; the same senior season where Thomas started in most of the Blue Devils’ games and contributed five points and five rebounds in roughly 25 minutes per game. Right now, there are more questions than answers — where did Thomas get such a large sum of money to make the down payment? Why would a jeweler give a college student of marginal skill such exorbitant credit? What happened to the jewelry, and did anyone at Duke see him wearing it? Right now, all we know is that the NCAA and Duke both say that they are aware of the issue, but you’d better believe that a nation full of fans of schools other than Duke will be watching this one very, very closely.
  2. Of the six power conferences, the Big East has without question been the one most expendable because of its relative lack of marquee football programs. In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, it has expanded its gridiron presence to include schools from all four US time zones which hasled to understandable mockery over the word “East” in its moniker. Last week former interim commissioner Joe Bailey stated at a sports business conference that the league was investigating a name change to better fit its new national geographic presence. Within minutes of this news releasing, Twitter had a field day making fun of it, no doubt sending current Big East commissioner Mike Aresco into panic mode. Putting the matter to rest on Saturday, Aresco said that there are no plans to change the name, citing “tremendous brand equity” in the conference’s geographic misnomer. Let’s hope for Aresco’s sake that the equity he refers to is more Apple than Enron.
  3. The third buzzworthy item from the weekend related to a comment made by NCAA executive VP for championships, Mark Lewis, late last week. In a conversation with ESPN.com, Lewis said he pulled out a US map and openly wondered why the population-heavy east and west coasts were effectively shut out of the possibility of hosting a Final Four because there are no domed stadiums located in those areas (every Final Four from 1997 to present has been in a dome). The eight existing viable locations — Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and St. Louis — are generally found in the nation’s mid-section, far from the media hype machines located along the seaboards. The primary impact, of course, would be on the ticket market. Domes are set up to hold upward of 70,000 fans, whereas traditional basketball arenas top out in the low 20,000+ range. We’ve been to a number of Final Fours over the years, and in general have to agree with Mike DeCourcy who argues that the buzz and energy of the building filled with that many people surpasses the tradeoff of a more intimate environment. As a compromise position, we’d offer this suggestion — limit the regional rounds to traditional arenas only, allowing the NBA cities located up and down both coasts regular hosting opportunities; but keep the Final Fours in the dome environments, allowing huge fanbases as well as the general public a reasonable chance to experience one of the great spectacles in all of sports.
  4. As we inch closer to the 2012-13 season, UNLV basketball continues to receive positive attention. The Runnin’ Rebels are loaded with talent and expectations are sky high in the desert. With good attention and expectations comes demands, and the Nevada Board of Regents made an effort to keep head coach Dave Rice happy by approving a raise to a base salary of $600,000 and an extension through the 2016-17 season. Rice’s first season featured the emergence of star forward Mike Moser and a 26-9 overall record although it ended prematurely in the Rebs’ first game of the NCAA Tournament. Next year’s team will add star recruit Anthony Bennett and transfer Khem Birch to bolster the front line along with Moser, making UNLV a chic preseason pick to make a run at the 2013 Final Four.
  5. The 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame class was inducted on Friday night, and as always, college basketball was well-represented. The biggest name from our game was Virginia’s three-time NPOY Ralph Sampson — for those of you under 40, read that part in italics again — a player who was so utterly dominant during one of the most talented eras the sport has ever seen that his NBA career (only four All-Star appearances) pales in comparison. Other college stars of note were UCLA’s Jamaal Wilkes (two-time first-team All-American), UCLA’s Don Barksdale (second-team All-American), Reggie Miller (two-time first-team Pac-10), Iowa’s Don Nelson (two-time All-American, although he was selected for his coaching), Bradley’s Chet Walker (two-time All-American), New Mexico’s Mel Daniels (second-team All-American) and referee Hank Nichols. An interesting non-basketball-playing inductee was Nike CEO Phil Knight, whose impact on the sport through his sneakers and corollary marketing efforts have been incalculable.
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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Round One, Game Three

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 7th, 2012

Our third matchup of the summer pits the third seed, myself, Connor Pelton, up against sixth seeded Ben Knibbe (UW Dawg Pound). The winner of this one is off to the semifinals, where it will meet the winner of our matchup to be revealed on Tuesday. Below are the rosters, followed by some commentary:

Connor Pelton

  • Head Coach – Slats Gill, Oregon State
  • Guard – Reggie Miller, UCLA
  • Guard – Isaiah Thomas, Washington
  • Guard – Chauncey Billups, Colorado
  • Guard – Baron Davis, UCLA
  • Forward – Kiki Vandeweghe, UCLA
  • Forward – Klay Thompson, Washington State
  • Forward – Richard Jefferson, Arizona
  • Forward – Jon Brockman, Washington
  • Center – Steve Johnson, Oregon State
  • Center – Robin Lopez, Stanford

Connor’s Take:

Before I tell you why my team is so much better than Ben’s, let’s first take a look at my seven-man rotation; which is undoubtedly the best in this entire fantasy league. We start in the backcourt, where I was able to pick up two of the clutchest players in not only Pac-12 history, but the NBA as well. Chauncey Billups is our designated starting point guard, if only because Reggie Miller needs to be available at any time to knock down the three. In late-game situations, however, Lute Olson’s famed zone defenses won’t be able to match up and prevent both of these clutch guards from knocking down the winning jumper. You surely already know of Miller’s exploits in the waning minutes of a game (eight points in 11 seconds, anyone?), but Billups hasn’t gotten the nickname “Mr. Big Shot” for no reason. In one of Billups’ best NBA seasons’ (2007-08 with Detroit), he averaged 38.5 points per 48 minutes of clutch time (defined as fourth quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left, and neither team ahead by more than five points).

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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League: Recapping Round One

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 2nd, 2012

In an attempt to pass time throughout the long summer months without basketball, eight Pac-12 writers will be attempting something different this offseason. Beginning this week, the following Pac-12 writers (in first round drafting order) will participate in a fantasy style snake draft of the all-time Pac-12 players and coaches:

1. Andy Wooldridge (Building the Dam)
2. Jack Follman (Pacific Takes)
3. Ben Knibbe (UW Dawg Pound)
4. Connor Pelton (Rush the Court)
5. Drew Murawa (Rush the Court)
6. Mark Sandritter and Jeff Nusser (CougCenter)
7. Adam Butler (Pachoops)
8. David Piper (Addicted to Quack)

The purposes of the fantasy league are: (1) to determine the top 80 players and eight coaches to have ever played/coached for a current Pac-12 school, and (2) to have fun and pass time throughout the long summer months without anything but MLB and soccer. The only guidelines for the draft are that a coach must have been a HEAD COACH at a current Pac-12 school to be eligible, while players have had to PLAYED at a current school to be eligible. After the draft, all eight teams will be placed into a bracket and will advance based on a vote by you, the readers. So far, one round of the draft is complete. We recap it below.

Round One

#1 (Andy Wooldridge) – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Lew Alcindor, Center, UCLA

No question on this one. Two-time Player of the Year, three-time First Team All-American, three National Championships, and three NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards make Abdul-Jabbar/Alcindor an easy choice at number one.

Lew Alcindor is Our Overall #1 Pick

#2 (Jack Follman) – Bill Walton, Center, UCLA

Walton’s accomplishments are very similar to that of Abdul-Jabbar’s. Walton was named Player of the Year twice, was a three-time First Team All-American, and won a pair of National Championships. While Jabbar was a no-doubter at number one, Walton was the easy second choice.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 04.04.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 4th, 2012

  1. With the college basketball now, sadly, in the books, things are about to slow down here just a bit. But, we’re still going to keep you up to date on the Pac-12 as the interminable offseason rolls on. While we may not have Morning Fives on a regular basis, we will crank them out from time to time when we have Pac-12 hoops related content. Beginning this afternoon, we will begin posting report cards for each conference teams, and throughout the summer we’ll keep you posted on what these teams will look like in the future. And, we will hopefully toss in some fun little things from time to time as well.
  2. The most important Pac-12 news of the last couple days is Tony Wroten’s decision to forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility and enter the NBA Draft; he’ll hire an agent, precluding any chance of a change of heart. Coupled with the graduation of senior Darnell Gant and the previous decision of Terrence Ross to go pro, Washington will lose a shade over 52% of their scoring from this year’s team. Still, Lorenzo Romar will get senior guard Scott Suggs back from a redshirt season due to injury, while redshirt freshman point guard Andrew Andrews, who sat out last season year due to the combination of Wroten and Abdul Gaddy already locked in at the point, should be ready to make an immediate impact. As for Wroten, projections on his draft status show him currently a late first round pick, but he’ll need to impress between now and the June draft in order to secure first round status and the guaranteed contract that goes with it.
  3. Utah fans got news on Wednesday of another outgoing defection, as it was announced that freshman forward George Matthews would be transferring out of the program, making him the fifth player to transfer out since the end of the season. Matthews was the most highly regarded of last year’s six-man recruiting class, but he struggled with injuries in the offseason and was never truly healthy this season. Still, this is not exactly a blow to Utah’s plans. They needed to cull the flock a bit in order to make room for next year’s incoming recruits, and, really, this roster needed to be remade in a bad way. Part of that remake is the addition of 5’9” point guard Brandon Taylor who’ll join the team next year as a freshman and have a chance to compete for starters’ minutes from day one.
  4. While here on the second day of the offseason, it still seems quite a long way away, little by little we’re hearing about games being scheduled for next year. On Wednesday word filtered down that UCLA would be playing San Diego State in the Wooden Classic on December 1. While this is not official yet, it marks a couple of interesting occasions. First, and perhaps foremost, it represents the return of the Wooden Classic to a weekend non-conference game for UCLA early in December, rather than the thrown-together Thursday night conference matchup with Arizona that took place last year. Hopefully there will be another interesting game of some sort on the same card as the SDSU/UCLA game and the event to honor one of college basketball’s most enduring icons will be on safe footing against. Secondly, it also marks the first time these two teams will have met in the Steve Fisher era with the Aztecs and the first time since 1991. With SDSU welcoming in some high profile transfers and UCLA potentially sporting one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, this could be a game to watch in next year’s non-conference slate.
  5. Lastly, on Monday the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced their 2012 inductees, and a couple of Pac-12 players were on the list – UCLA’s Jamaal Wilkes and Reggie Miller. While both are probably more well known for the exploits at the professional level, each excelled with the Bruins. Wilkes won two championships under John Wooden (‘72 and ‘73) and was twice a first-team All-American (’73 and ’74), averaging 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game over his three-year career in Westwood. Miller certainly didn’t have anywhere near the team success that Wilkes did with the Bruins (although he did lead UCLA to the first-ever Pac-10 conference tournament title in his senior year), but was a spectacular talent, averaging almost 24 points per game over his final two seasons.
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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIV

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 7th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse digs a rout out west and credits the Thompson men in their handling of Klay’s mistake, and tells the Longhorns and Hokies what he thinks of ‘em.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED..…Rick Pitino saying that there were no hard feelings about the Louisville cheerleader who gave Pitt a chance to tie the game last Sunday by running onto the court and hurling the ball skyward, earning a technical. He went on to say that the overzealous student should “enjoy your moment of glory.” But while Rick might have been all chummy the next day, that frankly was not the case after the game. Click this link and listen to the audio of his press conference: “I’m sure it was unintentional, but you could actually lose a game that way …. But hopefully he’ll learn the rules of basketball next time.” Pitino might have been in his happy-go-lucky PR mood after taking 24 hours to calm down, but his gut reaction is pretty hilarious – don’t EVER touch my ball.

Pitino Showed His Mellower Side During Cheerleadergate

I LOVED……a subconscious admission of a classic Duke flop tactic (P.S., I’m neutralizing the upcoming Duke hate by giving Nolan Smith mad props for single-handedly keeping the Devils in the game against UNC this weekend). While watching the UK/Vanderbilt game this week, I saw a guard draw a three-shot foul by sticking out his legs on a jumper and acting his way into the call. The side announcer (I want to say it was Jimmy Dykes) proceeds to say, “Over the years, Duke’s shooters. You go back to even guys like J.J. Redick. So good and so clever. (Jon) Scheyer. Nolan Smith right now…just enough of a foot out when you’re in the air to draw contact.” THREE Duke players, NO ONE ELSE! It was quite humorous, and come on – you’ve got to give credit first and foremost to Best Actor nominee Reggie Miller, who invented that move long ago.

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This is Stephen Curry’s tournament

Posted by nvr1983 on March 28th, 2008

I’m not really sure what to say at this point. Even though everybody knew about Davidson and Stephen Curry coming into the tournament, I don’t think anybody outside of the most loyal Davidson fans expected them to run through 3 perennial powers (Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin) on their way to the Elite 8. To be honest, Davidson completely dominated the 2nd half against Wisconsin tonight and if they played again I would probably take Davidson (that was rtmsf predicting a Wisconsin win in the preview although I can’t claim that I would have picked Davidson either).

Curry and Davidson are pushing back against the major conference powers

Curry dropped 33 on Michael Flowers bringing his tournament total to 103 points. I hope everyone enjoyed his ability to move off screens to score against an exceptional defender. It reminded us a little of how Reggie Miller used to operate minus all the flopping and leg-kicking.

While Curry will get all the headlines, the real story for me was Davidson holding Wisconsin to 37.8% from the field. For now, I hope all the Davidson fans enjoy the victory particularly all the kids who the school brought up to Detroit for the game. Next up is the winner of Kansas-Villanova. . .

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