Big Ten Morning Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on March 7th, 2012

  1. What can we expect from Ohio State this weekend in Indianapolis? Many are unsure, and that includes the Columbus Dispatch’s Rob Oller. The Buckeyes are just 4-3 in their last seven games, and it’s hard to say how that Sunday date in East Lansing would have gone if Michigan State had Branden Dawson for the duration. But Ohio State has battled through its late-season troubles for a share of the Big Ten title. The question is, where do they go from here? Is this the same team many people thought could run the table in the Big Ten? They’ve had role players step up in the last few weeks, but does Thad Matta’s group have the depth to make a run? Only one way to find out.
  2. As of Tuesday, ESPN‘s Joe Lunardi had Northwestern as one of the last four teams in his mock NCAA Tournament bracket. But CBSSports.com‘s Jerry Palm tells Teddy Greenstein that Northwestern needs to win two games in the Big Ten Tournament to seal a bid in the Big Dance. That would mean a win against Minnesota on Thursday, and then an upset of two-seed Michigan on Friday in the second round. It seems the Wildcats’ fate is in their own hands.
  3. Fran McCaffery made no bones about his thoughts on the All-Big Ten teams and how it relates to his Hawkeyes. McCaffery said on his weekly radio show early this week that he believes Matt Gatens should have been on the first team. “I voted him on the first team,” McCaffery said. “I think Matt Gatens is one of the five best players.” McCaffery also said he felt Gatens — a second-team media selection and third-team coaches pick — also should have been on the All-Defensive team.
  4. Plenty of college basketball pundits around the country love hammering the RPI, so why not give this system that a Minnesota graduate student came up with a try? Luke Stanke has developed a statistical model that he says can more fairly choose and seed the 68 NCAA Tournament teams and calls it the “Win Index.” Sounds like somebody’s got a lot of free time on his hands.
  5. It hasn’t been an easy road back for Purdue senior Robbie Hummel, but he was rewarded this week by being named to the All-Big Ten first team for the third time in his career. Hummel, who was part of the “Baby Boilers” class that helped bring Purdue back to the college basketball forefront, is averaging 22.6 points and 9.6 rebounds in Purdue’s last seven games. Hummel is the 18th Big Ten player to earn three first-team berths, and the first since Michigan State‘s Mateen Cleaves in 2000.
Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 03.06.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on March 6th, 2012

  1. The Big Ten Championship may be split three ways, but don’t tell Michigan that it doesn’t mean something.  The Wolverines did their part by beating Penn State on Sunday and then watched as OSU got past MSU and helped turn Michigan into co-champions.  Disappointment reigned in East Lansing, but for the Maize and Blue, they feel like they’ve earned this banner.  Michigan hasn’t won a conference title since 1986, so even an tri-shared one is a big deal for John Beilein and his players.
  2. There may be a bitter taste in Spartan fans’ mouths after missing an opportunity to claim an outright championship on Sunday, but Michigan State has plenty to be proud of regarding this season and they also have individual hardware to remember it by.  Tom Izzo and senior forward Draymond Green picked up some honors, as Izzo was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and Green was named Big Ten Player of the Year.  For Izzo, it is his third COY award, and Green was also the only unanimous selection to the all-Big Ten first team as well as being voted onto the all-defensive squad.
  3. One of the best debates in the conference this season was whether Cody Zeller or Trey Burke was having a better freshman season.  Both made a huge impact on their respective teams and both were named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year.  Each player was also named to the all-Big Ten second team, cementing their spot as big-time players in the conference, even as true freshman.  Burke was chosen by the media, and Zeller by the coaches in the award voting.  Let the debate continue!
  4. For Robbie Hummel, his journey at Purdue has been both successful and frustrating.  His battle with multiple injuries is well-documented, but his play on the floor has always been top-notch when his body has cooperated.  Hummel became just the third player in Purdue history to be named to the all-Big Ten first team three times in his career.  All the rehabilitation and hard work Hummel had to put in just to get back on the court was well worth it, as he returned to form and had another great season for the Boilermakers.
  5. Iowa was represented on the postseason award squads, with senior Matt Gatens named to the all-Big Ten second team by the media (third by the coaches), and freshman forward Aaron White selected to the all-Big Ten freshman squad.  But head coach Fran McCaffery still had some questions about where his players and others were placed.  McCaffery thought Gatens deserved all-Big Ten defensive team honors, and had other questions about guys like Cody Zeller and Tim Frazier.
Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on March 2nd, 2012

  1. Because of a couple of injury setbacks, Robbie Hummel isn’t the physical player he once was, or he would likely be challenging Draymond Green and Jared Sullinger for Big Ten Player of the Year honors. But the senior has kept his head up through it all and deserves recognition for the way he has finished his career at Purdue. Hummel has really turned it on the last few games, determined to end his time in West Lafayette with a bang.
  2. For weeks, we have been marveling at all the things that Tom Izzo has his Michigan State squad doing right. Now, we are looking at all the things that must change in order for the Spartans to finish the season undefeated at home with a win against Ohio State this weekend and secure the Big Ten title outright. What a difference a loss makes. True enough, Izzo has been saying all season that this team has a high ceiling, but its margin for error can be quite small. Those errors were at work this week in a 70-55 loss to Indiana. Matt Charboneau asks whether Keith Appling can regain his confidence, Brandon Wood can play consistently, and Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne can defend regularly? And can they do it in time to make it count?
  3. Heading down to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament? Tickets? Check. Hotel? Check. Places nearby to eat and enjoy the game? Check. The Indianapolis Star has the all-important guide to where Big Ten fans can enjoy the tournament (outside of Conseco Fieldhouse, of course) during the Tournament. Make sure you check it out so you don’t accidentally stumble into your rival’s bar.
  4. If only Indiana could play all of its NCAA Tournament games at Assembly Hall, then it would certainly be a favorite to reach the Final Four. Still, Grantland’s Shane Ryan says, the Hoosiers could be difficult to deal with come the Big Dance. Indiana has beaten three Top 5 teams this year (Ohio State, Kentucky, and Michigan State) and Ryan says this group is similar to a past Indiana team that garnered some March success. Can Tom Crean replicate that magic?
  5. If you could become just the fifth player in your program’s history to score 1,000 points, pull down 500 rebounds and register 150 blocks and still have your career be considered “underwhelming,” would you take that? That’s how Chip Scoggins sees Ralph Sampson III‘s career at Minnesota as it comes to a close. Scoggins says that, despite having started 113 games for the Golden Gophers, Sampson’s impact on the program has been minimal. What do you think? Would you have expected or hoped for more?
Share this story

Big Ten Writer Roundtable: Four Questions As the Regular Season Winds Down

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on March 1st, 2012

Big Ten contributors Joey Nowak (@joeynowak) and Ryan Terpstra (@terphimself) give their thoughts on four conference questions as just a few more games remain in the regular season, and the Big Ten champion has yet to be decided.

1) Will we see an outright Big Ten champion?  Or is the conference title possibly going to be shared?

Joey:  In other words, will Michigan State beat Ohio State this weekend? I think the answer is yes. It’s hard to watch the Spartans, after how badly they tanked last season, and try to avoid becoming too enamored with them this year. But time and time again they have proven that this really is a special squad that gets it and is tune with so many important factors required to win.

They are one of  just 12 teams in Division I that is undefeated at home (three in the power conferences) and there are too many intangibles working in their favor this weekend: playing at home, Senior Day honoring Draymond Green, Austin Thornton and Delvon Roe, and the motivation to win a title outright while denying Michigan and Ohio State, of all teams. Not to mention how entirely out of sorts Ohio State has seemed lately. It will be a dogfight, but I think the Spartans beat the Buckeyes and claim a completely unexpected Big Ten title all for themselves.

Can Ohio State stop Michigan State's quest for an outright Big Ten Title? (Associated Press)

Ryan:  As much as people in Ann Arbor are hoping to sneak in and grab a share of a conference title (wow, Michigan fans rooting for Ohio State?  Can it be true?), I think that Michigan State is going to get to job done because they are so potent at the Breslin Center. The only thing I would worry about for the Spartans is getting TOO hyped up, which can happen when young men are trying so hard to defeat a quality opponent. The Spartans obviously don’t lack for motivation, and the bigger question to me is what’s going on with the Buckeyes? Jared Sullinger had to bail them out against Northwestern; a team that is very tough this season, but on paper can’t handle Ohio State’s frontcourt. With Sullinger admitting that he has been thinking out the referees and how they are officiating his post game, I’m wondering if that will come back into play in what I would expect to be a very physical game in East Lansing. I think Michigan State hangs another Big Ten banner for Tom Izzo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Northwestern’s Hard Knock Life, Bubble Bumps At USF & CSU, and Early Conference Tourney Action…

Posted by rtmsf on March 1st, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. From this point forward until Selection Sunday, it’s busy season. Between all the conference tournaments and the wrangling of the power conference teams trying to peacock their way onto the right side of the bubble, there are no more quiet nights around the world of college basketball. And why should there be — after all, it’s March. Several teams across the landscape tonight helped their cases in this, the last week of the regular season, but it was one hard-luck squad that caught our eye as the most compelling storyline for what they were (once again) unable to do — win a ‘necessary’ game. Let’s jump in…

Your Watercooler Moment. Northwestern’s Tortured Souls.

Northwestern Can Never Seem To Catch A Break (Chicago Tribune/N. DiNuzzo)

There are tortured souls, and there are fans of teams that reside on the north side of Chicago. The Cubs are perhaps American sports’ longest running laugh-a-thon, but for Northwestern basketball fans, they’ve simply never even reached the status of relevance. At least the Cubs actually won the World Series in 1907 and 1908 and have made the MLB playoffs as recently as four years ago. The Wildcats? Oh-fer. In 73 years of NCAA Tournaments, Northwestern has never received an invitation to college basketball’s marquee event. Under Bill Carmody, they’ve been close — a seventh-place Big Ten finish in 2009, an eighth place finish in 2010 — but there always seemed to be a couple late season heart-breakers that sealed the Wildcats’ fate. This year has been particularly brutal, especially in winnable home games. A one-point loss to Illinois; a two-point defeat to Purdue; an overtime L to Michigan… and then tonight’s game against Ohio State. After a late 8-0 run punctuated by an Alex Marcotullio three-pointer tied the game at 73-all with 7.7 seconds left, Northwestern could taste the capstone victory it needed to finally solidify its spot on the sweet side of the bubble. Instead, OSU’s Aaron Craft immediately drove the ball upcourt to find his All-America big man, Jared Sullinger (22/18), on the right side of the lane for a relatively easy turn and punch off glass to give the Buckeyes a two-point lead. John Shurna’s half-court shot to win fell short, and Northwestern fans once again walked out of the arena with disappointment written on their faces. Of course, the season isn’t over yet, and the Wildcats will play at Iowa on Saturday to try to get to 8-10 in the Big Ten race, and there’s still the Big Ten Tournament next week. Still, beating a top 10 team like the Buckeyes would have really helped their resume, and if Carmody’s team is once again left to the NIT again on Selection Sunday, they’ll look back at this game as yet another golden opportunity missed. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

Share this story

Checking In On… the Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 28th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter at @Bill_Hupp for his thoughts on hoops, food, box fans and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • Spartan Success: Despite losing guys like Korie Lucious, Kalin Lucas and Delvon Roe, the Michigan State express rolled on. Perhaps no other coach in the country teaches a system and its principles quite like Tom Izzo. Surprise losses on Sunday by both Ohio State and Michigan, however, meant that MSU’s weekend destruction of Nebraska clinched them of the at least a share of the Big Ten title. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • Chicago (Evanston) Hope: That wind you felt coming from Chicago might have been a collective sigh of relief from Northwestern fans after senior leader John Shurna sank two free throws with mere seconds to play to help the Wildcats escape Happy Valley with a 67-66 win. Two straight gut-wrenching losses in one week might have been more than Northwestern could have overcome as they sweat out life on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
  • Lousy in Lincoln: It’s no secret that Nebraska has struggled on offense this year. But not since 1961 has Nebraska been so putrid on offense as they were when they were embarrassed by Michigan State, 61-34, at home over the weekend. The Huskers shot under 30% for the game and the loss of leading scorer Bo Spencer to an injured ankle near halftime only hampered their scoring efforts.

The Perennial Lesson In College Basketball 101 Is To Never Count Out The Michigan State Spartans.

Power Rankings

  1. Michigan State (24-5, 13-3) – As good as Michigan State has been this season, how would the Spartans be if Delvon Roe hadn’t been forced to drop basketball due to chronic knee problems? Roe’s presence would have given them more depth and would have taken the load off of Draymond Green at certain points. But it also forced youngsters like Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne to grow up quickly. While they’ve struggled with consistency, those guys are a big part of why the Spartans are Big Ten champs.
  2. Ohio State (23-6, 11-5) – Strange times in Columbus. After riding a 39-game winning streak and destroying most visitors who dared enter Value City Arena, the Buckeyes have now lost two of their last three games at home. Jared Sullinger has seemingly disappeared in big games and crucial moments this season. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 28th, 2012

  1. At the season’s onset, Ohio State was an easy choice for the Big Ten title, a likely Final Four participant and a trendy choice to be cutting down the nets in New Orleans. It was practically national title or bust for Thad Matta, who is yet to win the big one. Now, things are slipping away in front of our eyes. You can’t help but get a sense that the Buckeyes are close to implosion, particularly after Matta uncharacteristically practically threw his players under the bus after a Senior Day loss to Wisconsin on Sunday. Weeks ago, we were wondering if Ohio State could run the table in the conference. At this rate, we might be wondering just how many more they can win.
  2. Many left Purdue for dead when Matt Painter made the widely-publicized decision to kick Kelsey Barlow off the team prior to the Michigan State game earlier this month, but the Boilermakers have responded like few expected they would. Other conference teams seem to have benefited from “addition by subtraction” in recent memory (looking at you, Michigan State). Could this be the case with the Boilermakers? They have won four of their last five, with a great shot to make it five of six with a home meeting against Penn State up next. Robbie Hummel clearly does not intend on ending his career at Purdue quietly. Does anyone want to play the Boilermakers in the Big Ten Tournament?
  3. To fully realize just how unselfish this Michigan State team can be, you need look no further than the inside play of Derrick Nix. Tom Izzo likes to call his junior center “Tragic Johnson” — a play on the former Michigan State superstar point guard’s nickname — for Nix’s desire to pass the ball. At times, Nix would be almost better off just going up for the basket rather than looking for the extra pass. But that unselfishness is what brought the Spartans to this surprising share of the Big Ten title, the Detroit Free Press‘ Michael Rosenberg writes. “We always talk to him about that,” senior captain Draymond Green said of Nix. “He’s so unselfish. But how can you get mad at somebody for being unselfish?”
  4. Bruce Weber probably feels like he’s on an island right now, with his Fighting Illini having lost nine of their last 11 games. It’s all but certain that this will be his last season in Champaign, but Weber has the support of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.  “I’ve known Bruce a long time. I think the world of him as a person,” McCaffery said Tuesday. “I think he’s done a terrific job there. He’s had phenomenal success. I feel for him. I wish nobody in our business would have to go through it.”
  5. Speaking of Illinois, can we talk about the basketball program without focusing on the head coach’s job security? (Certainly, Bruce Weber would appreciate it.) In honor of the Assembly Hall’s 50th birthday, the News-Gazette‘s Paul Klee pens a nice tribute to the Fighting Illini’s home digs. And it’s not just the Illini that have called it home. Frank Sinatra, Garth Brooks, Prince, Elvis and more have all called the place home, if only for a day or two. With an important home game against Michigan up next for Illinois, maybe the facility can deliver the team a present of its own.
Share this story

Big Ten Game On: 02.25.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 25th, 2012

Six games this weekend in the Big Ten, and tonight features two of the conference leaders.  Let’s get to it.

Purdue @ #11 Michigan, 6 PM, BTN

Michigan's Senior Night against Purdue will be a big game for Zach Novak and Stu Douglass (US Presswire)

  • The Boilermakers need a win over a ranked opponent really bad.  Like, really, REALLY bad.  That’s because Purdue is 1-5 against teams in the RPI Top 25 and 4-7 against the Top 50.  A win would obviously help those stats out, and possibly put an end to the bubble talk surrounding the Boilermakers’ chances for an invite to the NCAA Tournament.  Robbie Hummel is doing his part, shooting 50% from the field and averaging 24.8 PPG over his last four contests. He also dropped a stat line of 16 points, five boards, and six assists the last time these two teams met, and will be expected to lead again.  Matt Painter will have to devise a plan to slow down the smoking-hot Wolverines, who have won five of their last six and have yet to lose at home this season.  It will be an emotional Senior Night in Ann Arbor, as fan favorites Zach Novak and Stu Douglass will be honored.  Douglass hasn’t missed a game in his Michigan career, while Novak was named the program’s first Academic All-American since 1984.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 02.23.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 23rd, 2012

  1. No one was surprised that Indiana was able to easily handle their non-league match-up with North Carolina Central last night.  Cody Zeller had another solid game, as the freshman dropped in 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the way.  The victory gave IU 21 wins on the year, and with their NCAA ticket punched, the fan base is one again rabid for Hoosier basketball.  There is no question that Indiana has great fans, but with some lean years in the first few seasons under Tom Crean, the Crimson and Cream faithful are glad that their program is once again back to meeting expectations.
  2. One team still looking for a guaranteed invite to the Big Dance is Purdue.  Matt Painter is trying to lead the Boilermakers to their 6th straight tournament appearance, but it will be more difficult after the recent dismissal of Kelsey Barlow.  The versatile Barlow often guarded the opposing team’s best scoring option, and now Purdue will have to adjust its defensive schemes.  One player who has picked up his game recently is Robbie Hummel, who torched Nebraska for 29 points in the team’s 83-65 win last night.  With 18 wins and three games left to play, Purdue has to win two of its next three to get to that magic 20-win plateau that many believe will get the team into the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Michigan’s rise to the top of the Big Ten has been a story worth watching this season.  But while young players like freshman point guard Trey Burke and sophomore shooting guard Tim Hardaway, Jr., have been getting the most press, the reason the program has been able to rise back up is also due to the efforts of two seniors.  Zach Novak and Stu Douglass were two unheralded recruits that have bought into the John Beilein system, and have made big plays and big shots throughout their careers.  The 6’4″ Novak has played out of position (at power forward) his entire career, and still has managed over 1,000 career points. Novak and Douglas also each rank in the Top 10 all-time in minutes played and three-pointers made in Michigan history.  They are a big reason why Michigan could win its first Big Ten title in 26 years.
  4. In a game that probably drew an audience of opposing fans as well as Michigan State fans, the Spartans were able to avoid an upset at the hands of Minnesota last night, 66-61.  The Gophers built a big second-half lead but were unable to hang on down the stretch, committing several turnovers and not finding good looks offensively.  For MSU, it was another example of being able to adjust and overcome in a difficult situation.  Keith Appling had two brutal fouls late in the game, sending a jump-shooter to the free throw line both times, but he atoned, going 6-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch to squash any Gopher comeback attempt.
  5. The Big Ten regular season has just a few games left and for seniors like Penn State’s Cam Woodyard that means only a few more guaranteed chances to play before the Big Ten Tournament.  Woodyard has experienced a lot of ups and downs in his Nittany Lion career; winning an NIT championship as a freshman, and also losing 12 games in a row his sophomore season.  He’s stepped his game up this season, and will be a key for Pat Chambers as Penn State tries to mount some late-season magic these next couple weeks.
Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 02.20.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 20th, 2012

  1. Michigan got an exhilarating win Saturday night against Ohio State giving themselves a legit chance at the school’s first Big Ten title since 1986. Not only was the game itself memorable, but the atmosphere at the new Crisler Center was a “special one” according to John Beilein. The crowd helped spur the Wolverines on an early 6-0 run, and played a big factor on defensive possessions down the stretch. Another factor was sophomore center Jordan Morgan getting a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards while battling all night with Jared Sullinger.
  2. After Ohio State’s fall on Saturday, Michigan State answered the bell by beating Purdue, and putting themselves in great position in the conference standings by going a game up in first place. But the Spartans comeback win would not have happened if it weren’t for a challenge laid out to Draymond Green by Tom Izzo. Robbie Hummel torched Michigan State for 18 in the first half, and Izzo tasked Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Green to slow the Boilermaker star down. Day-Day was able to do so, proving once again his leadership ability along with a great stat line of 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists.
  3. This weekend the Big Ten had it all: big wins, big statements, and a big upset. Iowa scored the big upset with an unexpected 12-point win over Indiana. Matt Gatens is a senior who has stayed around and dealt with a lot of turnover during his Hawkeye career, but he is making the most out of the final stretch of games, dropping 30 points in a career-high effort against the Hoosiers. Iowa is now 14-13 overall, 6-8 in conference, and needs a surge to get invited to postseason play.
  4. Wisconsin has been an effective team this year, just not at shooting. The Badgers have struggled with their offense all season long, and it has been a battle to win games in the Big Ten only averaging just over 60 points per game. On Sunday, the lids came off the rims for the Badgers as they drained 5 three-pointers in 2 minutes and 34 seconds. Bo Ryan’s club held a 33-12 advantage from three-point land, which was a key in the victory over Penn State.
  5. As much action as there has been on the court lately, there has been just as much in the circus that has been the Bruce Weber – Mike Thomas quote battle. Many expect this to be the last season for Weber on the Illinois sidelines, but if there is a new search for a coach, some introspection should be in order. There are reasons why a quality Big Ten program is struggling, and not all of them have to do with the X’s and O’s of what happens out on the floor.
Share this story

Morning Five: 02.20.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 20th, 2012

  1. Western Kentucky announced yesterday that its new head coach was its current head coach. Despite starting his career at 4-7 since taking over for Ken McDonald, the school has opted to retain the services of Ray Harper. Citing the difficult circumstances that Harper inherited with taking over the team in early January, the school claimed it had “total confidence his ability to return our program to prominence”. Based on his record at the Division II level where he was named national coach of the year four times in nine season while winning two national titles and claiming four runner-up finishes (one was later vacated) the Hilltoppers might be moving in the right direction very soon.
  2. Critics of the NCAA will have one less thing to rail against at schools opposing the previously accepted proposal allowing schools to award mulityear scholarships failed to reach the veto threshold. When the rule was passed in August 2011 it was hailed as a small, but important concession for athletes, whose scholarships and academic/career goals can swing with a coaching change or an injury. However, a few months later, a large number of schools petitioned the NCAA asking for a repeal of the rule leading to Friday’s vote. Needing 62.5% (more than 206) of the 330 institutions to vote against it for a repeal, the schools were only able to get 62.12% (205 votes) so when the NCAA parades around its new multiyear scholarships remember that it was two votes away from having it repealed and not everybody voted (the NCAA would only say more than 90% voted).
  3. There are a lot of way to have your bubble burst and Purdue appears to have taken the most publicly embarrassing one. On Friday, the team suspended starting point guard D.J. Byrd and dismissed starting guard Kelsey Barlow following an incident that morning where Byrd was arrested for public intoxication while Barlow, who had been thrown out of the bar earlier that night apparently came back with several teammates including Robbie Hummel where Barlow reported hit a bouncer and was arrested. Even though they are still technically in contention for a NCAA Tournament bid with every other team bubble team falling apart this seriously damages their chances of making any kind of run.
  4. It will be an eventful few days for several members of the 1988-89 North Carolina State team. On Saturday, in one of the more bizarre interactions between an official and the crowd that we have seen, veteran official had Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta removed from the stands in a game between NC State and Florida State even though they did not appear to do anything that you typically see fans get ejected for and afterwards did not offer any explanation for his actions. Yesterday, the school announced that tomorrow it would honor that Wolfpack team that Corchiani and Gugliotta were on in a tribute to the team before Tuesday’s game against North Carolina as part of its inaugural “Wolfpack Unlimited” award that honors the spirit of Jim Valvano. According to Debbie Yow, the school’s Athletic Director, the 1988-89 team was up for consideration before Saturday’s events although she did not specify how those events impacted her choice.
  5. “A season with few bright lights grew even dimmer Friday.” That opening sentence from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sums up our thoughts on Georgia Tech dismissing Glen Rice Jr. from its team. Normally, the loss of a player who leads your team in scoring, rebounds, and steals is crippling, but when you had already lost 12 of your last 14 you cannot get much worse. This suspension is Rice’s second of the season as he was also suspended for three games earlier this year for violating unspecified team rules and while the school would not go into detail about what led to the dismissal they did say that it was not basketball-related. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets their last four games are against four of the teams they are competing against to stay out of the ACC’s cellar. With three of those games at home perhaps they can avoid finishing dead last in the conference.
Share this story

Set Your TiVo: 02.17.12 – 02.19.12

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 17th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

While BracketBusters is always solid, the overall slate over the next few days is full of good, but not great, games. Still, tune in to these games as conference races head down the stretch and the NCAA Tournament field begins to take shape.

#13 St. Mary’s at #24 Murray State – 6:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN (****)

  • Since losing to Tennessee State, Murray State has rebounded with two wins over Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State. On Saturday night the Racers will get their chance to show the nation they are for real. Playing at home in front of a juiced up crowd on national television, there is no excuse for Murray State to come out anything less than fired up. The three point line is this team’s best friend on both ends of the floor and it will be important against St. Mary’s. Murray State shoots 41% from deep (#8 nationally) and defends the arc very well. Against a St. Mary’s team that ranks a putrid #305 against the triple, that’s a huge advantage for the Racers at home. Steve Prohm should do everything in his power to ensure Isaiah Canaan (47.3%) and Donte Poole(39.3%) get quality shots from the arc against the porous Gaels’ defense. Defensively, the Racers must lock down the arc as they usually do. St. Mary’s shoots a lot of threes and while they don’t make a great percentage they do get just a shade under 30% of their total points from the arc.

    Isaiah Canaan And Company Could Have A Big Day From Behind The Arc Against St. Mary's Average 3-Point Defense (Getty)

  • St. Mary’s has lost two of its last three games after starting the season 22-2. The Gaels are still a likely NCAA Tournament team, but a win here would ensure their place in the field of 68 for sure. In order to win on the road in a tough environment against a good team, St. Mary’s must use its edge on the offensive glass, make threes and get to the foul line. With strong rebounders like Rob Jones and Brad Waldow, St. Mary’s has a clear size edge over Murray State. Only Ivan Aska and Ed Daniel see significant minutes for the Racers inside, two of only three players on the roster who are at least 6’7” tall. While the Gaels have a huge edge inside, they’re going to have to overcome Murray State’s strong perimeter defense. Matthew Dellavedova and Clint Steindl are going to have to hit threes for Randy Bennett’s team to come out on top. Thirdly, St. Mary’s should look to take advantage of a Murray State defense that ranks in the bottom half of Division I in defensive free throw rate. The Gaels get to the line fairly well and make 71.9% of their free throws. It’s so important to control tempo and keep the crowd out of the game and getting to the charity stripe while controlling the boards definitely helps in achieving that goal.
  • This should be a very close game but the edge has to go to the home team. St. Mary’s is struggling a bit right now and Murray State seems to have righted the ship since suffering its first loss. One concern for the Racers is their turnovers (14 per game). If Murray State controls the ball, plays well on the perimeter and gets to the free throw line at its usual clip, this will be the Racers’ game to lose.
Share this story