Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on March 8th, 2013

setDVR

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

With the first tickets to the Big Dance being given out this weekend and regular season titles still up for grabs in the Big East, Big Ten, ACC, and A-10, it should be one amazing weekend of college hoops. It’s the most amazing time of the year, so sit back and enjoy. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#17 Syracuse at #6 Georgetown – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

Better Make It a Double.

Boeheim is looking for answers at Syracuse.

  • Syracuse broke a three-game losing streak this week against DePaul while Georgetown lost for the first time in 11 games against Villanova. With the loss, the Hoyas dropped into a three-team tie for first place in the Big East with Marquette and Louisville. The Orange have struggled recently and had a tough time against the Hoyas defense two weeks ago at the Carrier Dome. Jim Boeheim’s team only went 4-20 from downtown and could not get anything going from their guards. The Hoyas struggled on offense as well but were able to rely on Otto Porter once again who put in 33 points. In order for Syracuse to snap out of this funk, they need to get more production from guards Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams. If both players can take better shots by driving the ball to the hoop, we will see a completely different Syracuse team. Georgetown put Villanova on the foul line 42 times earlier this week. Given the size of Triche and Carter-Williams, both players should be going straight to the basket in an attempt to draw fouls or get lay-ups. Keep a close on both players, as they are the keys to this game. If they are settling for jumpers, Syracuse is going to struggle again.

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March Losing Streak Suddenly Raises Doubts About Canes

Posted by BHayes on March 7th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The Miami Hurricanes spent January and February making believers out of skeptics, filling a bandwagon that had never, ever been even close to full. It takes no stretch of the imagination to believe in a Duke or a Carolina team that races out to a hot ACC start, but Miami? A program with just six NCAA Tournament appearances in its history? For us to trust the Canes, they had to be spectacular – and spectacular they were. Thirteen ACC wins in a row, including a sweep of UNC and a blowout win over Duke, practically sealed the ACC regular season title, and all this before the first day of March. They looked like the best team in the league, and a legitimate national title contender to boot.

Jim Larranaga Could Not Have Loved Miami's Effort This Evening, But The Canes And Their Head Man Still Harbor Large Tournament Hopes

Jim Larranaga Could Not Have Loved Miami’s Effort This Evening, But The Canes And Their Head Man Still Harbor Large Tournament Hopes

Both those proclamations may still be true, but back-to-back losses to begin the most important month in college basketball will again have the magnifying lenses hovering over the Canes. The loss at Cameron on Saturday (by just three points and with Ryan Kelly not only active but also having the game of his life) did little to damage Miami’s long-term prognosis. They still looked like the tough, veteran team that had ripped through this ACC slate — no problems there. But with that defeat now a part of a losing streak after tonight’s egregious home loss to Georgia Tech, we start to worry a little bit. There are questions again, and the doubt seeps back in with disturbingly little difficulty, because why did we really believe in the Miami Hurricanes to begin with?

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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on March 5th, 2013

It was a boring penultimate weekend of Atlantic Coast Conference play where everything went according to plan and nothing exciting happened. Just kidding: It was a in fact a sensational weekend of games with some big time performances and massive upsets. There were also a couple of dull games where teams with “North Carolina” in their name easily defeated overmatched foes, but let’s try our best to ignore that as we examine some late lessons of the season.

  1. Boston College Really Likes Playing Teams That Just Beat Duke. In fact, the Eagles have proven themselves as the masters of the hangover game. A win over Virginia is more impressive than a win over Maryland, but what remains far more interesting is BC’s penchant for killing other team’s vibes. All but one conference victory (an early season tilt against Virginia Tech) has come after an opponent has won its previous game. Does this mean anything? Probably not, but if I was going to face Boston College after I had just won a game, I would do my best not to overlook the Eagles.
  2. Duke’s Win Over Miami Was Surprising For The Wrong Reasons. Let’s be totally clear: Ryan Kelly’s 36 points on 14 shots was one of the most sensational individual performances in all of college basketball this year. It also probably feels good for Duke fans to get revenge after Miami’s victory early in the season. Still, if I’m a Duke fan, I’m a little concerned. The Blue Devils were supposed to win this game, with most betting lines putting the team as a 5.5 point favorite. Kelly puts in one of the single most impressive and surprising performances of the year… and Duke only wins by 3 points at home? It was a big victory, no doubt, but shouldn’t it have been a lot bigger?

    While Ryan Kelly's outstanding performance was great in the Duke win, the narrow victory might be a cause of some concern (Lance King)

    While Ryan Kelly’s outstanding performance was great in the Duke win, the narrow victory might be cause for some concern. (Lance King)

  3. Wake Forest Has Become Ridiculously Good At Drawing Fouls. Technically, Boston College and NC State have been better than the Demon Deacons in conference play, but you wouldn’t know that by watching the game against Maryland. In the first half, Wake was in the bonus with 9:47 to go in the period. In the second half, they were in the bonus with 16:13 left. That’s right. They reached the bonus before the first official timeout of the second half. James Padgett fouled out after 17 minutes, and in 10 minutes of play, Shaquille Cleare tallied four fouls. The Deacons ultimately lost this game, but this kind of foul-drawing performance suggests that this team might be particularly well-positioned to exploit the teams that foul the most in the conference — namely Virginia Tech, Virginia and Duke. Read the rest of this entry »
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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Virginia, North Carolina, National COY, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 5th, 2013

tuesdayscribbles

Brian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. If there is one team that personifies this rollercoaster season of unpredictability, it is probably Virginia. Last week was the Cavaliers’ season in a nutshell as they toppled Duke in Charlottesville before laying an egg at Boston College on Sunday. At 20-9 (10-6), Virginia sits squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble with two regular season games to play. In my heart of hearts, I believe this is a tournament-quality team. Virginia has impressive victories against aforementioned Duke as well as NC State, North Carolina and a huge road win at Wisconsin earlier in the season. Additionally, the Cavs sport wins over bubble buddies Tennessee and Maryland (on the road). Unfortunately for Virginia, the story doesn’t end there and turns sour rather quickly. Tony Bennett’s team has lost a stunning seven games to sub-100 RPI opponents, six of them coming on the road or at a neutral site. The loss to #315 Old Dominion is particularly puzzling. With just a 2-6 road record in conference play, an RPI in the 60s and an embarrassing non-conference strength of schedule, Virginia is not in a great spot despite its good wins. Joe Harris and the Cavs need to take care of business against Florida State and Maryland before putting together some kind of ACC Tournament run. This is one of the more bizarre NCAA resumes I’ve ever seen and one sure to create a lot of debate in the committee room.

    Joe Harris and Virginia haven't been consistent

    Joe Harris and Virginia haven’t been consistent

  2. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s comments after his team’s loss to Virginia created a stir throughout the college basketball world over the last few days. Coach K complained about his team not being able to safely get off the floor while Virginia’s students rushed the court after their team’s big win. While the video does show the Duke team unable to enter the tunnel and head to the locker room, I feel Krzyzewski is out of line. His team was protected by multiple arena security personnel who formed a human wall between the Duke team and the Virginia students. At no time were the Duke players in any danger. I understand why things this man says get noticed, after all he is the sport’s winningest coach. But why does everything Coach K says have to be taken as gospel? Let the kids have some fun and stop with the “get off my lawn!” attitude. Unless your team is in danger of being hurt, comments like these serve as a distraction and quite honestly look like sour grapes to me.
  3. After suffering the loss to Virginia, Duke rebounded in a big way by taking down Miami and exacting a measure of revenge for the blowout loss earlier this year in Coral Gables. It was a struggle though as the Blue Devils needed a career-high 36 points from Ryan Kelly (in his first game back since January 8) just to win by three on their home floor. While Kelly clearly sparked Duke offensively in this game, he makes a bigger difference on the other side of the basketball. Kelly is an outstanding defender because he’s a tall, agile forward who can get up into a player on the perimeter and force him to shoot over or pass around Kelly, often going east-west instead of north-south. Kelly’s presence on the floor did not make a huge difference in this particular game when it comes to Miami’s offensive efficiency but he did frustrate the Hurricanes from the three point line. Miami shot just 6-21 from deep and a big reason for that was Kelly and his length. As we head into postseason play, Kelly’s return will make a huge difference on the defensive side of the ball for Duke. Anything he does offensively is gravy for this team. Duke is undefeated with Kelly in the lineup and that bodes well for the Blue Devils as they look to grab a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and make a run at the program’s 16th Final Four appearance. Read the rest of this entry »
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Will Kansas Get a Number One Seed? Handicapping the Race…

Posted by KoryCarpenter on March 4th, 2013

Less than a month ago it seemed ridiculous to mention ‘Kansas’ and ‘#1 seed’ in the same breath. They had lost three in a row for the first time in forever and dropped a game to the worst team in a power conference, falling to #14 in the AP poll on February 11. But then things started happening between then and now that needed to happen for Kansas to be in the discussion for a top seed so late in the season. Teams ahead of the Jayhawks started losing. Butler lost three times. So did Michigan State. Arizona and Syracuse each lost three games. Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, and Miami (FL) lost twice, as did Duke (although they were without Ryan Kelly in both instances). Kansas, on the other hand, is 6-0 since losing to Oklahoma on February 9. Louisville and Gonzaga are the only other teams from the top 14 in the AP poll three weeks ago that are undefeated since. And neither Louisville nor the Zags have the resume of Kansas in that stretch. The Jayhawks have beaten then #10 Kansas State at home and #14 Oklahoma State on the road — both RPI top 50 wins — as well as Iowa State on the road, a likely NCAA Tournament team with a #53 RPI ranking.

Bill Self Could Capture His 5th #1 Seed In 7 Years (Photo credit: AP Photo).

Bill Self Could Capture His 5th #1 Seed In 7 Years (Photo credit: AP Photo)

Barring two losses through the Big 10 Tournament (between three and five games), Indiana is a virtula lock for a #1 seed. Here’s what the other top teams look like, with resume boosters in bold and resume killers in italics.

Kansas

  • 25-4 overall
  • SOS: 13
  • RPI: 4
  • 9-3 in road/neutral games
  • 9-3 vs the RPI top 50
  • Good Wins: St. Louis (RPI #30), at Ohio State, at Oklahoma State, Kansas State (twice)
  • Bad Losses: TCU
  • Remaining Games: Texas Tech, at Baylor

Miami (FL)

  • 23-5 overall
  • SOS: 4
  • RPI: 3
  • 10-5 in road/neutral games
  • 6-2 vs the RPI top 50
  • Good Wins: at North Carolina State, North Carolina (twice), Michigan State, Duke
  • Bad Losses: Wake Forest, Florida Gulf Coast, Indiana State
  • Remaining Games: Georgia Tech, Clemson

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RTC Top 25: Week 16

Posted by KDoyle on March 4th, 2013

Despite dropping a game at Minnesota last week, Indiana remains the #1 team in the RTC25 for the fourth straight week. In fact, Indiana was the clear choice for the top spot by garnering six #1 votes and three #2 votes. Duke and Gonzaga both follow the Hoosiers, but their average rank was 4.00 compared to Indiana’s 1.33, showing just how confident RTC voters were in picking the Hoosiers. Interesting to note that #4 Louisville also picked up a first place vote, and the argument can certainly be made that they deserve more consideration as the #1 team. Since losing three straight in late January, the Cardinals are 8-1 with their lone loss coming in five overtimes at Notre Dame. Further down in the RTC25, North Carolina finally makes a return tied at #23. The Heels were ranked #14 in the preseason poll, but have been unranked ever since Week Three. Winners of its last five games, North Carolina is playing their best ball of the season.

More good stuff with the Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…

Week 16

Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.

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ACC M5: 03.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. New York Times: In one of the best, most entertaining college basketball games of the season, Duke outlasted Miami 79-76 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. There are two important notes from the game: one–which trumps everything by a wide margin–was Ryan Kelly‘s unbelievable return; the other was Miami‘s comeback that wasn’t meant to be in the final two minutes. Kelly was phenomenal, and Miami clearly had no idea what to do to stop him. Without him, Duke might have been blown out again. The second story is how the game changed in the final 120 seconds. Duke went from up ten to giving Miami a chance to tie or take the lead down the stretch. Free throw shooting woes (the Blue Devils went 4-8 from the charity stripe after going up ten) and turnovers were at the center of the collapse. Duke had a chance to execute and win by 10-15 points. Instead, Miami charged back and got two good looks at overtime. That says a lot about both teams.
  2. Roanoke Times: It seems like a long time ago, but Erick Green couldn’t always score at will at the college level. His freshman year he averaged 2.6 points on less than 30% shooting in less than 13 minutes of play a game (with an offensive efficiency of 81.5 using 15.5% of his team’s possessions). This year he’s averaging 25.0 points a game on 48% shooting in over 35 minutes (with an offensive rating of 121.2 using a ludicrous 31.5% of possessions). That’s some terrific development. Green doesn’t get a lot of help from his teammates, Virginia Tech just isn’t deep or talented enough to compete on a nightly basis in the ACC, but he’s worth the price of admission on his own.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Joe Harris got much deserved love for his career performance in Virginia’s win over Duke last week. He’s one of the most underrated players in the ACC, and talented seniors like him (think Jacob Pullen or Mike Scott) deserve their chance to dance. But he’s not even the most underrated player on his team. Junior Akil Mitchell is a huge part of Virginia’s success. Against Duke he finished with 19 points and 12 boards (and held Mason Plumlee to a pedestrian ten and seven). Like two of Charlotte Christian’s other famous alumni (Steph and Seth Curry), Mitchell never got offers from the North Carolina schools. He ended up at Virginia, and his athleticism and strength anchors Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense.
  4. Winston-Salem Journal: Wake Forest retired Chris Paul‘s jersey at its loss against Maryland. Paul may be the most fluid basketball player in the world (though Kyrie Irving has a lot of his playground ball-handling), and he’ll always be one of my favorite ACC point guards (right up with Ty Lawson, Greivis Vasquez, Tyrese Rice and many more). He led Wake Forest to two of the best offensive seasons in recent memory and was the best–and most fitting–player to suit up for Skip Prosser. Paul’s likability (save the Julius Hodge incident) is as strong as any player in the NBA. This was a good move by Wake Forest.
  5. Charlotte Observer: The ACC Tournament is up for grabs this year. Duke and Miami are the definite favorites to cut down the nets in Greensboro, but don’t cut out a surging North Carolina team, a dangerous NC State team or a better-than-its-resume Virginia squad. At the bottom half of the league there’s a mirrored cluster of teams with Florida State and Maryland in the middle. Seeding is far from decided and it will be complex (expect a comprehensive post later this week), but the conference tournament should be a lot of fun.

EXTRA: Court rushing became a topic of much conversation after Mike Krzyzewski blasted Virginia security for not protecting his team from the throngs of students. First, Coach K has a history of deflecting attention after losses (though Kelly’s performance against Miami did more than this ever could). But there are very real safety concerns with court storming. Fans often get hurt, and it’s a surprise more players aren’t injured. Also, what would happen if a fan charged a player and the player retaliated? Most of the time, the onus is put on players to ignore bush league behavior from fans. But when things get physical, that’s not fair to the players. I hope the ACC doesn’t establish a fine for teams rushing the court, but implementing a uniform procedure across the league with potential fines for not maintaining safety is something more attractive.

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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on March 1st, 2013

setDVR

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. 

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Morning Five: 02.25.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2013

morning5

  1. As Seth Davis noted on CBS on Saturday we finally have a target date for Ryan Kelly‘s return to action. The 6’11” senior forward has set March 5, Senior Night against Virginia Tech, as the target for his return to the court. It seems strange that a player who is at best the second best player on a Duke team without a surefire NBA star and a player who is at best a borderline second round pick could change the entire national championship picture, but that is the reality of college basketball this year. While most analysts expected the Blue Devils to miss Kelly’s outside shooting and length it was in fact his interior presence on the defensive end that Duke missed the most. If Kelly can make a return and be back near 100% by the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament the Blue Devils could be serious title contenders.
  2. If you thought that the Miami investigation fiasco would finally lead to changes at the top of the NCAA, you would be wrong as the “Executive Committee unanimously affirmed its confidence in Mark’s leadership as president”. At this point we don’t know what exactly would make the NCAA’s leadership acknowledge that there was a problem with the organization and more specifically its upper levels. Obviously any organization is fallible, but most organizations eventually own up to their mistakes. The NCAA’s continued lack of self-awareness never ceases to amaze us and
  3. After suspending its leading scorer DeMario Mayfield indefinitely at the end of last month for a violation of an athletic department policy, Charlotte finally dismissed Mayfield from the team on Friday. Mayfield, who had transferred from Georgia, has had his share of disciplinary issues over the years as he was suspended for one game last season for a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession (later dropped) and two games at the beginning of this season for another violation of team rules. While the 49ers managed to win at Butler in Mayfield’s absence they are only 2-3 since he was suspended indefinitely and his dismissal makes them a less dangerous team in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
  4. Over the year we have heard about several coaches using advanced statistics when planning for games, but we have seen relatively few profiles on Ken Pomeroy, who is basically the leader of the revolution in college basketball. The profile of Pomeroy and his influence on college coaches by David Teel is one of the better ones that we have seen. We were aware of Pomeroy’s background as a meteorologist, but had no idea about his time at Virginia Tech watching some awful basketball that eventually led to his creation of his popular site. With the rapid growth of competing websites we will be interested to see how long Pomeroy can keep his place as the leader in the field or whether some upstart will eventually take over.
  5. One of the interesting aspects of running any university with a top-tier athletic program is managing the dichotomy of having a mission to be a world-class educational institution and being full of people who are probably a little too involved with their team as most fans are. In his essay in The New York Times Bill Morris examined the challenges in doing so at Duke and found that the balancing act can be challenging for administrators. While we would agree with Morris we would also push it beyond the Dukes of the world and expand this question to any university administrator that wants to provide the best educational opportunity for his or her students, but must balance that with the wishes of the students and alumni who often are more interested in the on-field/-court product.
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Morning Five: 02.22.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 22nd, 2013

morning5

  1. We have already talked about the mock brackets in this space quite a bit, but Seth Davis offered one of the better summaries of the more detailed aspects of how the brackets come together (based on geography more than the imaginary S-curve, etc) in his weekly Hoop Thoughts column. Even if you have had more than enough information about a fake bracket, the column also has quite a bit of other interesting information including an update on the potential return of Ryan Kelly for the ACC Tournament and why conference realignment might help push Shaka Smart towards a new job.
  2. We seem to see multiple columns coming out everyday for the past week hyping Victor Oladipo as a potential player of the year candidate and now we actually have some proof of his legitimacy as a candidate with the voters as he has moved up to #2 in Michael Rothstein’s straw poll. We aren’t quite sure what the sampling error is with this poll, but it seems like Trey Burke has a fairly comfortable lead. Still with Indiana in excellent position for the #1 overall seed (if there was a #1 overall seed) and a potential showdown with Burke on the last day of the regular season looming Oladipo is still within striking distance. We don’t particularly care about regular season awards, but given how under-the-radar Oladipo was at the beginning of the season it would be a remarkable turn of events.
  3. While we will be sad to see some traditional rivalries go we are more ambivalent to change in rivalries that conference realignment will bring, but there are a few rivalries that we will particularly miss. One of those is Syracuse-Georgetown (or Georgetown-Syracuse depending on your perspective). With the last game at the Carrier Dome coming this Saturday, Syracuse.com took a look back at the top ten moments of the rivalry. We are guessing based on our demographics that the vast majority of you saw less than half of these moments and because the rivalry isn’t promoted to the degree of another rivalry two teams wearing different shades of blue most people are not as familiar with these moments.
  4. With seven African-Americans occupying the fourteen heading coaching positions in the SEC the conference has  tied the ACC during the 2008-09 season for having the most African-American coaches in one conference at any one time. When you include Frank Martin, a Cuban-American, the conference actually has more “minority” coaches (eight) than Caucasian coaches (six). While we still have a long way to go as a country with race relations and hiring even with something as seemingly trivial as men’s college basketball coaches it is worthwhile praising a conference that has long born the stigma of having a strained racial history.
  5. Our last item is a bittersweet congratulations to Dick Kelley, the assistant athletic director of media relations at Boston College, who along with Beckie Edwards received the US Basketball Writer’s Association Most Courageous Award. Edwards has her own harrowing story (coming out about the sexual abuse she suffered as a young child at the hands of her father), but for the purposes of this column and the fact that we know Kelley and not Edwards we will focus on his story. Kelley, who was the first person to credential our site as a media entity in 2008, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2011, which has confined him to a wheelchair. Although we have not seen him recently due to our relocation we want to send him our best wishes.
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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On the Big East Race, Duke, Michigan and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 19th, 2013

tuesdayscribbles

Brian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. As we hit the stretch run of the college basketball season, tight conference races begin to captivate the nation. There are terrific regular season title races going on in a bunch of conferences, including the Atlantic 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten but the best race is happening in the Big East. In the conference’s final season as we have come to know it, three teams are tied atop the league standings at 9-3 heading into Tuesday’s action with three more nipping at their heels. It’s only fitting that two of the Big East’s heavyweight rivals, Syracuse and Georgetown, are among the group at 9-3. Joining them is an upstart Marquette team, picked seventh in the 15-team conference. Right behind the leaders is a team some seem to have forgotten about at 9-4, the Louisville Cardinals. Notre Dame at 9-5 after an important win at Pittsburgh last night and 7-5 Connecticut round out the teams within two games in the loss column. The great thing about this race is the best games are still to come. Syracuse and Georgetown hook up twice down the stretch, including on the final day of the regular season. The Orange have the toughest schedule with the aforementioned games against the Hoyas plus a trip to Marquette and a visit to the Carrier Dome from Louisville still on tap. Marquette plays four of its final six games on the road beginning this evening but gets Syracuse and Notre Dame at home where the Golden Eagles have won 23-straight games since a loss to Vanderbilt last season. Luckily for Marquette, its four road games are against a hit-and-miss Villanova team, St. John’s and two of the teams near the bottom of the league standings. It’s never easy to win on the road but Marquette has a somewhat favorable schedule. In the end, my money would be on a 13-5 logjam between Syracuse, Georgetown and Louisville with tiebreakers determining the team that gets the top seed at Madison Square Garden next month.

    Otto Porter and Georgetown will have a say in the Big East title race (M. Sullivan/Reuters)

    Otto Porter and Georgetown will have a say in the Big East title race (M. Sullivan/Reuters)

  2. For the final time this Saturday, ESPN’s BracketBusters event will pit non-power league teams against one another, some in major need of a resume-building win as the regular season begins to wind down. Denver against Northern Iowa and Ohio at Belmont are solid matchups but the best game by far is Creighton visiting St. Mary’s on Saturday.The Bluejays have lost five of their past nine games heading into tonight’s game with Southern Illinois, one they should win, after a 17-1 start to the season. Quality non-conference wins against Wisconsin, Arizona State and California (all away from Omaha), plus a good home win over a solid Akron club, have Creighton in a pretty good spot for a bid relative to other teams in the mix. The problem for Greg McDermott’s squad is that it hasn’t done much of anything in calendar year 2013. The good news for Creighton is the NCAA Selection Committee says wins in November and December mean just as much as February and March. As long as Creighton splits its upcoming games with St. Mary’s and Wichita State, I feel that should be good enough to merit an NCAA berth no matter what happens in the Missouri Valley Tournament. As for St. Mary’s, it is even more desperate. The only semblance of a quality win on the Gaels’ resume are wins at BYU and Santa Clara, the former coming thanks to Matthew Dellavedova’s miracle buzzer beater in Provo. To have a chance at the NCAA’s I feel St. Mary’s has to beat Creighton and run the West Coast table while making the finals of the conference tournament. There just isn’t enough meat on its resume to justify a bid despite having one of the nation’s strongest offensive attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on February 18th, 2013

It was a good weekend for basketball fans in the ACC though fans of individual teams may be feeling more ambivalent. Of the six games this weekend, all but one of them had a final margin of four points or less. In fact, if North Carolina State hadn’t managed a four-point overtime win, all but one of the games this weekend would have had a final score where the outcome was within one possession.  Even the single game that wasn’t close had its own fascinating subplot and March ramifications. It was a good weekend for close games, but did we learn anything?

  1. Duke Is Fouling Too Much. On the season, Duke has been fouling opponents at a nice and low rate, posting and opponent free throw attempted to field goal attempted ratio of 30.5%. In conference, however, Duke has jumped in this metric to 36.4%. Amazingly, like many of Duke’s problems, this rise can probably be accredited to the injury of Ryan Kelly. Kelly’s replacements foul at a very high rate while still allowing a conference-worst 49.5% shooting from inside the arc. Physical defense that prevents easy buckets can sometimes be used to excuse high fouling rates, but Duke’s interior is offering up the worst of both worlds. On Saturday, Duke forced 26 turnovers against Maryland and shot nearly 50% and the Terrapins still won.
  2. Marcus Georges-Hunt Belongs On The ACC All-Freshmen Team. There are probably three sure-fire picks on the ACC All-Freshman Team: TJ Warren, Olivier Hanlan, and Rasheed Sulaimon. Those three have all proven to be valuable contributors to their respective teams. With apologies to Daniel Miller, Georges-Hunt often looks like the best player on his Georgia Tech team. Against Wake Forest,  Georges-Hunt scored a game-high 16 points including many critical buckets down the stretch to lead the Yellow Jackets to victory. With the exception of Hanlan, few freshmen are as critical to their team’s success as he is to Georgia Tech. Read the rest of this entry »
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