The RTC Big Four State Tournament: First Round

Posted by rtmsf on September 1st, 2010

A few weeks ago, the four major college basketball programs in the great state of Indiana announced that they would be starting an annual event called the Crossroads Classic, pitting each school against one of its other state rivals (Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler) in an annual basketball orgy of Hoosierness.  We here at RTC loved this idea, and immediately started thinking of other states in the union who could put on a similarly extravagant annual show of hoops.  We were about 99.7% finished with our research when Matt Snyder of Fanhouse published this piece listing the top twenty states that could hold similar in-state classics, causing us to scramble to check the integrity of our passwords (“RTC” doesn’t cut it?) and servers throughout the network.

Indiana's New Crossroads Classic Inspired Us

Seriously, though, Snyder did a great job with the idea; he just beat us to the punch with it.  So we went back to the drawing board and thought about ways to use our research in a constructive way that didn’t rip off the Fanhouse post.  What we came up with is what we’re calling the 2010 RTC Big Four State Tournament.  Here’s how it works.

  1. Similar to the Fanhouse post, we picked the top four programs in each of the 33 states (including DC) with at least that many D1 universities.
  2. We then chose the top sixteen states based on the current status and power of those four programs within each state.
  3. Next, we chose a starting lineup ”dream team” of players from those programs in each state, thinking about how to best integrate them by position (three guards & two bigs; or vice versa).
  4. We also chose two subs — one guard and one big man — as well as a head coach.
  5. We limited each school to two starters and one bench player for a maximum of three per team (sorry, Duke).  We also made sure to include at least one player from each of the four chosen programs (hi, Seattle).
  6. Finally, we seeded the sixteen teams into our bracket and analyzed the matchups.  We encourage you to use the polls below to do likewise.

Which state do you think has the strongest cadre of players from among its Big Four programs?  Here’s our bracket:

We’ll analyze the left side of our bracket today, and the right side tomorrow.  Make sure to put your choices in the appropriate poll box.

#1 Indiana vs. #16 Utah

The most lopsided first round battle pits top seeded Indiana against a Utah squad filled with mid-major flavor. For Utah to avoid embarrassing themselves, they’ll need a heroic effort from elite scorer and potential first team All-American Jimmer Fredette. Much like BYU was vulnerable on the rare occasion when Fredette didn’t deliver, this Utah team void of talent from top-shelf Division I programs will need their do-everything point guard to put on his Superman cape. We suspect Fredette will keep Utah competitive for most of the first half. Tai Wesley is crafty enough to lure Matt Howard into foul trouble and, given the season Weber State just concluded, their representatives are far from slouches. In a near carbon copy of BYU’s second round contest with Kansas State, though, it would be a surprise if Fredette didn’t wear down under the intense man-to-man defense of Shelvin Mack and the common double team. Because of our conditions for picking these teams, sure, but an Indiana team loaded enough to bring a talent like JaJuan Johnson off the bench isn’t going to lose to a primarily one-man squad. The Hoosier State representatives pull away and win by 20+.

RTC Choice: Indiana 84, Utah 62.

#4 Texas vs. #13 New York

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First Round Game Analysis: Friday Afternoon

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Friday afternoon games.


12:15 pm – #2 West Virginia vs. #15 Morgan State  (Buffalo pod)

West Virginia enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation. They squeaked out an enormous road win at Villanova to end the regular season then swept through Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Georgetown en route to a Big East championship riding the heroics of Da’Sean Butler. The Mountaineers are an extremely gifted rebounding team; in fact, sometimes their best offense comes after a missed shot. They feature multiple weapons that can step out and shoot a mid-range jumper or three from Wellington Smith to Kevin Jones to the all-around dynamo Butler. Also, few teams can match West Virginia’s intensity in the halfcourt defensively. Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman will need a gigantic scoring output from their own star, Baltimore native Reggie Holmes. Holmes scored 25 or more points fifteen times this season, averaging 21.3 PPG and ranking in the top-50 in percentage of shots taken. The Bears also feature a rugged forward named Kevin Thompson who comes in at fifth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. In fact, Morgan State ranks 11th in the country as a team in that very category. Unfortunately for the underdogs, West Virginia is never outworked on the glass, not with Jones, Devin Ebanks and Bob Huggins prominently involved.

The Skinny: This one shouldn’t be close from the tip. Morgan State dominated the MEAC all season, but West Virginia is flying high at this point. Expect the Mountaineers to dominate by 25-30 points.

12:25 pm – #6 Xavier vs. #11 Minnesota  (Milwaukee pod)

The answer to which team will win this game depends entirely on which Gopher team shows up to play in Milwaukee.  Will it be the defensive juggernaut that held Purdue to 11 first  half points last Saturday, or will it be the team that got obliterated by Ohio State 52-29 in the second half on Sunday?  Tubby Smith’s team has been schizophrenic like that all year, following up strong wins with disastrous performances (two losses to Michigan?  really?), which probably explains why they were a bubble team up until Sunday evening.  Xavier comes into this one with the stronger resume, but it’s difficult to say if the Musketeers are the better team.  When he plays under control, XU’s Jordan Crawford is a talent, and his supporting case of Jason Love on the interior and Terrell Holloway running the show makes for nice balance throughout the Xavier lineup.  The question we have is who will win the defensive battle, though.  Xavier defends the three really well, while Minnesota behind Blake Hoffarber and Lawrence Westbrook both shoot it equally as well.  This game is essentially a tossup (Vegas agrees, setting Minny as a one-point favorite), and we really liked the first seven halves of basketball that the Gophers put up in Indianapolis on a neutral floor last week, so we’re going with the extremely mild 6/11 upset here, in a close game that comes down to the last possession. 

The Skinny: Despite the seedings, this is a tossup game and we like the Gophers to win it on the last possession. 

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Bracket Prep: Northern Iowa, Old Dominion, Siena, St. Mary’s

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

As we move through the next few days when automatic bids will be handed out on a regular basis, we’re going to break down the teams for you so that you can start thinking about your bracket ahead of time.  The pearls of wisdom are meant to help you better understand what these teams are good at and how to make fair comparisons between them — all too often, the capsules you see have a lot of information in them, but very little of it is actually helpful.  If you have additional ideas, leave them in the comments.  For the good/bad matchups, we’re not necessarily saying that Team X will win; we’re simply pointing out that in an ideal situation, some of that team’s strengths will be more likely to manifest against those particular opponents — so save the emails.  We’re still catching up, but these should be the teams through the early part of the week.

#5. Northern Iowa Panthers (28-4, 15-3 MVC) – automatic qualifier

NCAA Seed Range: #7-#9

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom:

  1. It’s all about methodical offense and sticky defense for the Panthers.  This team will not beat themselves with mistakes, so you’d better be disciplined in your approach if you hope to beat them.  Sixty points is the magic number — the Panthers were 16-0 this year when reaching that score.  Possession basketball is the key; a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes against UNI is nearly impossible to recover from, as they take care of the ball (only 10.5 turnovers/game) and hit free throws (75.5%).
  2. Not many mid-majors have a legitimate seven-footer but UNI’s Jordan Eglseder is one such player.  He only plays about 22 minutes per game, but he’s an effective scorer in the low post, draws a lot of fouls and is one of the best per-minute rebounders in the nation on both ends.  He’s not a game-changer in the sense that he will own the paint, but he is a tough wrinkle to prepare for in the game plan.
  3. The Panthers beat up on some bad major conference teams this year (Iowa, Iowa State, BC) in addition to knocking off some mid-major powers in Old Dominion and Siena.  The one confounding loss was to DePaul in the Virgin Islands early in the year where Mac Koshwal (12/19) dominated Eglseder (2/6) inside.  Don’t assume that as a trend, though, as Eglseder played well against ISU’s Craig Brackins (20/14) and Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson last season (13/5).

Good Matchups:  Wake Forest, Clemson

Bad Matchups: Marquette, UNLV

#6. Old Dominion (26-8, 15-3 CAA) – automatic qualifier

NCAA Seed Range: #9-#11

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom:

  1. There’s no one player you have to stop to beat ODU, but if you can slow down 6’10 center Gerald Lee, you’ll have a better chance.  The versatile big man was seen in the CAA Tournament taking the ball upcourt against pressure on occasion, in addition to lending his usual 15/5 and 54% shooting from the field.  He has six teammates who contribute between six and nine points per game, so keying on any one of them is precarious because the Monarchs share the wealth.  They only had six occasions where a player scored 20+ points in a game this year, and five of those were Lee (Marsharee Neely was the other).
  2. ODU is another one of those mid-majors that thrives on possession basketball.  They limit your possessions by defending and rebounding among the best in the nation.  They also gang-rebound on the offensive glass, giving themselves an extra chance on nearly half of their scoring opportunities.  Those extra chances help to make up for what is a fairly lousy three-point (31.5%) and two-point shooting percentage (49.4%).
  3. ODU’s signature win was at Georgetown during Snowpacalypse I in December.  They did it by forcing GU point guard Chris Wright into a difficult game (2-8 FG; 4 pts) and collecting eighteen Hoya turnovers.  It should be noted that if you can turn over the Monarchs, as Missouri, Northern Iowa and Dayton successfully did in the nonconference slate, they struggle scoring enough points to win.

Good Matchups:  Oklahoma State, Texas

Bad Matchups: Clemson, Richmond

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MAAC Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

LYNDHURST, NJ – The MAAC tournament begins on the men’s side on Friday at the Times Union Center in Albany. The distinction has to be made as the women tip off on Thursday. The MAAC showcases both the men’s and women’s events at the same locations giving fans the opportunity to see the respective programs of all ten members.  Siena is a clear cut favorite. The homecourt advantage and rabid following doesn’t hurt but Siena is a talented, battle tested and well-coached club. They have one loss in the MAAC, a late season setback at Niagara which might have been a blessing in the long run.

The bracket:

All conference honors went to the following:

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

LYNDHURST, NJ – The regular schedule winds up this weekend with the postseason tournament beginning on Friday in Albany. Siena is in the driver’s seat as regular season champion, top tournament seed and host of the get together in New York’s capitol city.  The Saints’ BracketBuster setback at Butler all but insures Siena will have to cut down the nets at the Times Union Center to get to the Big Dance. Something they are in very favorable position to do.

Player of the Week: Ryan Thompson (G/F), Rider - Averaged 29.5 PPG, 4.5 rebounds and assists in two games. Scored 21 in a win at St.Peter’s and followed up with a carrer-high 38 in an OT loss at Hofstra.

Rookie of the Week: Colin Nickerson (G), Fairfield – Averaged 16.5 PPG and shot 65% from the field in two games for the Stags. Set a career high of 13 against Manhattan than surpassed it with 20 points at Vermont.

Milestones and Notes

  • Iona’s nine conference wins is the fifth highest total since the Gaels started MAAC play in 1981-82.
  • Derek Needham set the freshman scoring record at Fairfield. Needham broke the mark of 427 set by Fordham assistant Joe DeSantis in 1976.
  • Frank Turner of Canisius enters the final weekend with 593 career assists leaving him just shy of being the seventh MAAC player to hand out 700 assists. Turner tied the school record with 121 games played, a mark he is set to eclipse this weekend.
  • Ryan Thompson, with 1,809 career points, is fourth on Rider’s all time scoring list. Older brother Jason (‘08) is in third at 2.040 points.
  • Speaking of Rider, juniors Mike Ringgold, Justin Robinson and Jharmar Youngblood all joined the school’s 900-point club recently.
  • St. Peter’s’ fifteen victories is the most in four years. Ten MAAC wins is the best showing since the 2004-05 campaign.
  • On Senior Day at Siena this Sunday, the school will honor the most successful senior class in program history.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Improved to 4-1 all time in BracketBusters with a win over James Madison. The victory gave Canisius its 13th win, the most in Tom Parrotta’s four year tenure. Win also gave the Golden Griffins their first winning season at home in five years. Frank Turner had an excellent 16 point, 13 assist game in his final Koessler Athletic Center appearance.  Junior forward Greg Logins added 15 points, 8 rebounds against JMU. Another junior, Tomas Vazquez-Simmons, had 4 blocks against the Dukes , giving him 199 rejections for his career.
  • Fairfield – Ended the regular season with an 8-7 road record including 6-3 in MAAC play. Derek Needham and Anthony Johnson continued their fine play for the Stags. Fairfield did get an additional lift from freshman Colin Nickerson, with a good scoring week including a 20-point outing at Vermont. Stags wind up the regular season at home against Iona and Niagara.
  • Iona – The 69-53 BracketBuster win over William & Mary was the Gaels’ 20th of the season. It was the first 20-win season in four years and 14th in program history. Gaels finished heir non-conference slate 9-3. Scott Machado scored 17 in the William & Mary game. Junior Alejo Rodriquez added 12 points and 8 boards. Iona finishes up in control their seeding destiny . The Gaels visit Fairfield (tied for second) and St.Peter’s (a game behind Fairfield and Iona).
  • Loyola – Dropped a heartbreaker on Senior Day as New Hampshire hit a shot with 0.7 seconds remaining for a 61-60 decision. Senior forward Jawan Wright continued his fine play of late with his third straight double figure outing with 10 points. Junior guard Jamal Barney returned after a six game absence and scored 16 points. Greyhounds entertain Canisius and Manhattan and already know they have drawn the Jaspers in next week’s MAAC tournament in Albany.
  • Manhattan – Split the week losing to Fairfield and defeating Towson in the BracketBuster. Junior guard Rico Pickett averaged 17.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG over the two game stretch. Manhattan opened the Towson game with a 20-0 run in arguably their best performance of the season. Senior forward Brandon Adams had a career high 18 points. Jaspers dished out 22 assists and shot 53% from the field in that  win over Towson.
  • Marist - Lone game was a 66-65 to UC Irvine in the BracketBusters. Marist is 2-3 in those BracketBuster games. Trip to California was a homecoming for freshman guard Devin Price and sophomore guard Mike Taylor. Price enjoyed the trip with a career high 18 points which included four three pointers. Freshman guard Candon Rusin scored 10 points and has double digits in five straight games.
  • Niagara – Won their third straight and five of the last six, defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee 85-79. Niagara has now won four straight BracketBuster games.  Anthony Nelson scored 10 straight down the stretch to pull out the win at UMW. Nelson finished with 14 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds while Tyrone Lewis buried six first half treys on the way to a 23 point performance.
  • Rider – Dropped an overtime BracketBuster game at Hofstra. The game featured Charles Jenkins of Hofstra, last years’ MET Player of the Year, who scored 31 points. Rider countered with MAAC POY candidate Ryan Thompson with a career high 38 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Thompson has come on strong down the stretch averaging 25.4 PPG the last seven games. Broncs have won five of those last seven and finish up at home hosting Siena and Canisius their last two regular season contests.
  • St. Peter’s – Went 1-2 for the week but are still in a good position. Peacocks can finish as high as third and no lower than fifth depending on what happens the last two games. The lone victory was on the road where the Peacocks used a 19-4 second half run to stop the Greyhounds 69-61. In between were home losses to a surging Rider club and a BracketBuster against Buffalo. Wesley Jenkins and Nick Leon (outside) and Ryan Bacon (inside) continued their fine play for John Dunne’s club.
  • Siena – Dropped a BracketBuster game of note at Butler 70-53. The 53 points were Siena’s lowest in a single game in over two years. Saints have lost have lost all four of their games to top 50 opponents. The contest with nationally ranked Butler was Siena’s last opportunity to put themselves into at large consideration for the NCAA tournament, should they fail to win the MAAC tournament. Clarence Jackson paced Siena, who led Butler 31-28 at the half, with 24 points.  Ryan Rossiter has been the most consistent Saint the last two months averaging double figures in scoring (14.3) and rebounding (10.7).
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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 13th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

JERSEY CITY, NJ – During a timeout at the Canisius-St.Peter’s game, the PA announcer was putting an advertising pitch in for the upcoming MAAC postseason tournament in Albany. “See who will emerge as the MAAC men’s and women’s champions in 2010,” the announcer said.  At which yours truly remarked to a press row neighbor, ‘Siena and Marist.’ The neighbor chuckled but didn’t disagree.

The Marist women are a clear cut favorite but that’s another story. On the men’s side Siena is ahead of the pack. It’s ‘their championship to lose’  as they say and not because it is being contested on their Times-Union homecourt. Siena is extremely talented, battle-tested and well-coached. A very imposing combination indeed.

Notes and Milestones

  • St. Peter’s overtime win over Canisius on Super Bowl Sunday earned the Peacocks a 4-0 sweep of Niagara and Canisius for the first time in program history.
  • Siena’s Ronald Moore scored the 1000th point of his career in the win over Iona. This marks the second straight season Siena has three 1000-point scorers on the floor the same time.
  • The win over Canisius was St. Peter’s’ second OT win of the season. The last season that happened was during 2005-06 when the Peacocks won three of four extra session meetings.
  • Frank Turner became the sixth player in Canisius history to attempt 600 free throws. Turner hit the charity stripe mark in the loss at Niagara.
  • Iona hit the 18-win mark for the 19th time in the program’s 70-year history. The Gaels hit double digits in conference wins for the 13th time in 29 MAAC seasons.
  • The schedule for ESPN’s BracketBusters is set. Rider at Hofstra is a ‘rematch’ from the days both schools were in the old East Coast Conference. Arguably the marquee matchup of the MAC schools (see full schedule below) is Siena at Butler on Saturday February at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Player of the Week: Alex Franklin (F) , Siena – Scored 23 points and added 7 rebounds in Siena’s win over Iona. Franklin was 7 of 9 from the field and 9 for 12 from the line.

Rookie of the Week: Derek Needham (G), Fairfield – Needham scored 20 points, his second straight 20-point outing, in the win over St. Peter’s. He added 5 rebounds and four steals in 37 minutes in that contest.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Dropped three games last week. Included were losses at Iona, Niagara and St. Peter’s. The game at St. Peter’s was an overtime contest. Turnovers were the story as the Griffins committed 64 for the three games, including 22 against St. Peter’s. Frank Turner continued his fine play and the senior guard tied the game at St. Peter’s with a coast to coast trip that ended with a buzzer-beating driving layup.
  • Fairfield – Earned their 10th home win of the season with a victory over St. Peter’s. Last time the Stags reached double figures in home wins was  the 1995-96 season when they eventually went to the NIT. After allowing 88 points to Rider two games prior, Fairfield held St. Peter’s to a season-low 46 points. Defense has been a key as the Stags have allowed less than 60 points in nine of its sixteen wins this season. Anthony Johnson, the MAAC leader in blocked shots, rejected eight against St. Peter’s.
  • Iona - Took two of three with the lone blemish a loss to Siena, something everyone in the MAAC is experiencing these days. The loss to the Saints snapped the Gaels’ eight-game win streak, their longest in a decade. Junior Alejo Rodriguez narrowly missed his fourth straight double-double in the win over Marist. Sophomore guard Scott Machado contributed steady scoring with a carreer high 24 points at Siena followed by 17 at Marist.
  • Loyola (MD) - Swept a road weekend for the first time in three years with wins at Rider and Manhattan. Greyhounds had five double figure scorers against Rider. It was the first time since January 2009 the Greyhounds performed that feat as no Loyola player attempted more than eight shots in the contest. Loyola clicked on both ends at Rider as they shot 54% for the game while holding the Broncs to eight field goals  in the second half. Shane Mack collected his first MAAC double-double in that game with a 12 point, 12 rebound outing.
  • Manhattan – Split two conference games last week. Senior guard Darryl Crawford led the way with 20 points and 4 rebounds in a win over Marist. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak and was the Jaspers’ first since January 8th. Manhattan dropped a tough 62-56 decision to Loyola on Super Bowl Sunday. Crawford and Rico Pickett shared scoring honors with 19 apiece against Loyola. Pickett still paces MAAC scorers with 20.9 PPG in MAAC play.
  • Marist – Dropped both of their conference games. Freshman guard Candon Rusin led the Red Foxes both games in scoring and had a weekly high mark of 17 points in the loss to Iona.  Rusin has hit a three pointer in 21 of Marist’s 24 games this season. Junior forward Keory Bauer who tends to favor the perimeter, used his 6’9 frame underneath to pull down 10 rebounds against Iona. Marist plays four of its last five regular season games away from home. Their final home game is a February 26 meeting with St.Peter‘s.
  • Niagara – Used defense to defeat rival Canisius 66-54. Niagara held the Golden Griffins to 4 of 15 shooting, forced nine turnovers and blocked three shots the final ten minutes. Anthony Nelson scored all of his 17 points in the second half for Niagara. Bilal Benn pulled down 11 rebounds in the win.
  • RiderJustin Robinson scored 19 points in the loss to Loyola. Robinson and teammate Ryan Thompson are the two leading free throw shooters in the MAAC. Rider had five players in double figures against Loyola. The Broncs play four of their last five games at home.
  • St. Peter’s – Bounced back from a loss at Fairfield to defeat Canisius in overtime at Yanitelli Center. The Peacocks are guaranteed a .500 MAAC record for the first time in four years. Their 14 wins is the most by a Division I school in the state of New Jersey. Wesley Jenkins led the way against Canisius with 25 points  and 10 rebounds while Darius Conley also added a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.
  • Siena – Captured a showdown with Iona 88-68 before a sold out Times-Union Center. Win pushed the home court win streak to 33 games, second longest in the country. Ryan Rossiter has posted a double-double in eight of his last nine games and the junior forward has done it thirteen times this season. Since the New Year six Player of the week awards have been cited. Alex Franklin winning the most recent makes it four out of six for the Saints.

Upcoming…The BracketBusters

February 19 –

  • William and Mary-Iona

February 20 –

  • Siena-Butler
  • New Hampshire-Loyola
  • Buffalo-St.Peter’s
  • Towson-Manhattan
  • Fairfield-Vermont
  • Rider-Hofstra
  • Marist-UC Irvine
  • James Madison-Canisius
  • Niagara-Wisconsin Milwaukee

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on February 9th, 2010

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every week as the season progresses.

1. One team that I believe could make a run for the Final Four that people seem to be slightly ignoring is Wisconsin. The Badgers should be favored in every game the remainder of their schedule other than possibly at Minnesota or at Illinois. Remember, Wisconsin already played their six games against fellow Big Ten contenders Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State and emerged clean with a 3-3 split. Finishing the season on a 6-1 run basically guarantees the Badgers a top-three finish depending on the fortunes of those rival teams and that could put Wisconsin in the tremendous position to play their first two NCAA games in nearby Milwaukee. Bo Ryan’s team is incredibly efficient, ranking in the top-20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They’re top-40 in the nation in two-point FG%, FT%, blocks and steals and rank just below in effective FG%. The Badgers boast tremendous computer numbers- #9 RPI, #10 SOS, #53 non-conference SOS- and have three wins against the RPI top-15. Not many teams can match that overall portfolio. Throw in the committee factoring in the Jon Leuer injury, and it’s entirely plausible Wisconsin could go from being predicted ninth in the Big Ten to earning a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Throw Bo Ryan’s name in there along with Jim Boeheim, John Calipari and Steve Alford for National Coach of the Year.

Trevon Hughes has emerged as a star during his senior year

2. One team that no high-major wants to see in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is Siena. We know their recent history of winning tournament games, toppling 4-seed Vanderbilt two years ago and pulling out a 2OT classic over 8-seed Ohio State a season ago largely due to the heroics of Ronald Moore. While the Saints did blow their chances to pick up quality wins out of MAAC play- losing to Northern Iowa, Georgia Tech and Temple- Siena is inching towards the polls, boasting an unblemished 13-0 conference record and a winning streak that stretches back to mid-December. A win in Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler on February 20 would make it an absolute certainty Siena earns a bid regardless of the MAAC Tournament, but even with a loss the Saints should run through their conference regular season and postseason at 21-0 and garner a seed in the 9-11 range. Other than Kenny Hansbrouck, head coach Fran McCaffrey has nearly his entire squad returning from that Ohio State victory. Moore is averaging an incredible 8.1 APG to lead the nation while Edwin Ubiles appears to be inching towards 100% after a banged-up start to the campaign. Ryan Rossiter has developed into a legitimate low-post threat and effective rebounder and fellow frontcourt mate Alex Franklin is one of the most efficient scorers around. There’s plenty to like with regards to Siena’s chances to pulling off another first round upset: top-50 efficient offense, tremendous coaching, four double-digit scorers and, most notably, the experience of success in March.

3. There are a few reasons why the Atlantic 10 has earned an astonishing six bids in Monday’s bracket: 1) the Pac-10 turning into a one-bid league, 2) Big Ten teams like Michigan and Minnesota disappointing and 3) a mediocre middle of the Big East. Most of all, though, the league is just really good. The top-flight teams all challenged themselves out-of-conference and picked up impressive wins to show for it, from Temple knocking off Villanova, to Richmond downing Missouri and Florida, Rhode Island beating Oklahoma State and Charlotte dominating Louisville in Freedom Hall. With the exception of Rhode Island, all of the other five bid-earners have a win over the RPI top 25, and the Rams have the highest overall RPI of the bunch mostly because they played the 28th strongest non-conference schedule in the nation. Dayton could be the team closest to the bubble; if they had fallen to Xavier at home on Saturday, the Flyers likely would have been on the outside looking in this week. Still, Dayton did beat Georgia Tech in November and if they can split their two challenging road games at Temple and at Richmond in February, Brian Gregory’s team should be in decent shape. I’d fathom that Charlotte is still the most likely team to fall out even if they currently sit at the top of the standings. They barely edged George Washington and Fordham on the road this week and still have four games against these NCAA contenders, including roadies at Dayton and URI.

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

JERSEY CITY , NJ – Siena took their unblemished MAAC record into Yanitelli Center on Thursday evening and edged St. Peter’s 66-58 . The Peacocks had been riding a five-game win streak and Siena was without the services of injured senior forward and offensive threat, Edwin Ubiles. In addition, a crowd of 1,609, one of St. Peter’s biggest this season,  was animated and provided an intense and exciting atmosphere.  Junior forward Ryan Rossiter was huge with a 21 point, 9 rebound night for the Saints. In the final minute Alex Franklin, nine points on the night, muscled his way in the paint for a crucial field goal for the Saints. Siena closed out the final seconds from the charity stripe.  “We never gave up the lead (in the stretch) and we got stops when we needed to,” said Siena coach Fran McCaffery.  “We came in and prepared for a close game. St.Peter’s is too good a team. You are not going to blow them out.”

Player of the Week.   Alex Franklin (F), Siena – Franklin averaged 24.5 PPG, 9 RPG and 2 BPG during the week. He scored a season high for Siena with a 27-point outing in the win over Manhattan.

Rookie of the WeekRashard McGill (G), Iona – Hit for 9 PPG while averaging 5.5 RPG as the Gaels went 2-0 for the week. McGill scored a career-best 13 points and added 7 rebounds in the Iona win at Manhattan.

Milestones:

  • Jeron Belin became the 29th player in St.Peter’s history to hit the 1000 point mark.
  • Ronald Moore of Siena inched closer to the all time and season record for assists. Moore is also targeting the all time MAAC assist total.
  • With 15 wins, Iona coach Ralph Willard’s Iona club already eclipsed the win total of the past two seasons.

Standings and tempo free breakdowns (courtesy of Basketball State). Only MAAC games are computed. Efficiency margin is the difference between offensive and defensive efficiency. Like a checking account, positive is good, negative not so good.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Split with New Jersey based schools, defeating Rider before dropping a decision to St. Peter’s. Progress!  The Griff win over Rider was number ten of the season and fifth in the MAAC. Last season Canisius put the uniforms away with ten wins  overall and just four in conference. The Canisius win over Rider saw the Griffs commit only seven turnovers and shoot 88 % from the charity stripe. Senior guard Frank Turner continued his torrid play averaging 19.5 PPG for the week.
  • Fairfield - Split the last two games, defeating Marist and losing at Iona. Anthony Johnson had a double-double week with 16.3  PPG and 11 RPG . The Stag center has eight double-doubles on the season.  Derek Needham continues his outstanding play at the point. A freshman, Needham is set to crack the school’s top ten single-season list in assists. Fairfield held Marist to 50 points, the eighth time they have held an opponent under 60 points this season.
  • Iona – Extended the win streak to six with victories at Manhattan and at home against Fairfield. Jermel Jenkins preserved the win at Manhattan with a late steal then matched his career high with 14 points and 7 assists against the Stags. Gael reserves outscored Fairfield’s bench 50-5 in the 68-58 decision. Iona’s 15 wins and .715 winning percentage is the highest among the fourteen Division I programs within a 30-mile radius of Madison Square Garden.
  • Loyola (MD) – Finished a stretch of three road games in seven days with a win at Marist. That was just after taking Siena to the wire in a six-point decision. Loyola had a seven-point lead before the Saints closed out with a 17-4 run. Loyola did not score a field goal the last eight minutes in that contest. Senior Garrett Kelly was a surprise against the Saints . He entered the game with eight career points and no treys. Kelly scored 11 points and canned three beyond the arc. Against Marist the Greyhounds shot 58.6 % the first half and never looked back.
  • Manhattan – The Jaspers close out January on the road. Manhattan has lost six of seven conference games in January but the first four by a combined total of 12 points. Guard Rico Pickett averaged 22 PPG for the week. Pickett hit 50% (8 of 16) from three and pulled down 4.7 rebounds per game. The rebounding leader is a guard — Darryl Crawford with 6.1 RPG. Crawford is also scoring 14.7 points per game. The Jaspers are the MAAC leaders, committing only 11 turnovers per game (a conference best 14.5 TO Rate).
  • Marist – Dropped games to Fairfield and Loyola. Junior forward Corey Bauer set the pace with a 16 PPG and 7.5 RPG week. Bauer hit for 21 against Loyola which tied the high scoring game for a Marist player this season. Sam Prescott, Marist’s freshman guard, also had 21. Ironically Prescott’s performance was against Loyola on January 15th in Baltimore.
  • Niagara – Dropped home games to St. Peter’s and Rider. Tyrone Lewis was out both games with an injury. Sophomore Austin Conley got the starting nod in Lewis’ absence. Conley had a career-high 13 points against Rider. Demetrius Williamson paced the Purple Eagles with a 20 PPG scoring mark over the two games. The loss to Rider left Niagara at 11-11. The last time they were 11-11 in late January was 2007 when they went on a 12-game winning streak that included a MAAC title and a first round NCAA Tournament victory.
  • Rider – Lost at Canisius where they had won six of the last eight and won at Niagara where they hadn’t in eight years. At Niagara, the Broncs erased an 11-point deficit and won on Novar Gadson’s tip-in. Gadson finished with 11 points and 11 boards. Rider has played 15 of its first 22 away from home. They return to Alumni Gym to play six of their final nine regular season games. Junior Justin Robinson canned five three-pointers at Canisius. Robinson has hit 15 consecutive free throws. Earlier this year he hit 26 straight from the charity stripe.
  • St. Peter’s - Swept Canisius and Niagara on the road to improve to 13-7, their best record after twenty games in eight years. Balance is a key. Nick Leon and Wesley Jenkins are factors outside while Ryan Bacon mans the paint. Against Canisius however, the leading scorer was junior forward Jeron Belin with 16 points. Bacon tied a career high with 16 rebounds against Niagara. Leon had 19 in the game, 18 of which came in the second half.
  • Siena – Entered the week on an eleven-game win streak, the second longest in program history and third longest current win streak in the country. Siena has a 32-game home winning streak and dominates virtually every statistical category in the MAAC. The only negative point to date is the medical report. Kyle Downey broke his foot on January 19th in practice and is out indefinitely. Edwin Ubiles missed several games with soreness in his back and shoulder and freshman guard Jonathan Breeden missed several contests with a migraine headache. Point guard Ronald Moore continues to excel with a gaudy 8.1 APG mark, the nation’s best.

Upcoming games :

January 30 – Rider at Fairfield

January 31

  • Niagara at Loyola
  • Manhattan at St.Peter’s

February 1 – Canisius at Iona

February 5

  • Iona at Siena
  • St.Peter’s at Fairfield

February 7

  • Iona at Marist
  • Loyola at Manhattan

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ATB: Gator Chomp & Upset Friday Night

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2009

atb

Gators Chomp Spartans. Florida 77, #2 Michigan State 74.  We’re still trying to figure out why this was a semifinal game at the Legends Classic instead of the title tilt tomorrow night, but we’re sure there was a method to the madness somewhere in that decision.  So given that the game was only available on something called HDNet, we’re trying to figure out how this happened.  First thought — had to be hot shooting by the Gators, right?  Errr, nope.  Florida shot 41% from the field compared to MSU’s 53% for the game.  Ok, a bunch of threes then?  Nope again.  UF hit more than the Spartans, but a margin of five to two from deep isn’t exactly dominant.  Second chance points?  Wrong again.  MSU dominated the boards to the tune of +15 overall and +5 on the offensive end of the court.  No, the only two areas of the game where Florida outperformed the second-ranked Spartans were on turnovers (forcing 22 vs. their own 12) and getting to the foul line (25 attempts vs. MSU’s 14).  Well, that, and Erving Walker’s three (his only one on a 12/7/3 stls night) from NBA range to put the Gators up 72-71, providing just enough cushion down the stretch with some additional FTs to hold off the Spartans’ last-ditch efforts by Durrell Summers to tie the game and send it into OT.   We’re not about to say that the Gators are anywhere near back to where they are nationally relevant again, but this is their biggest win since 2007, and we will give some props to John Stevens for having ranked Florida in the three RTC Top 25 polls so far this season — maybe he knows something that the rest of us don’t?  Florida will advance to play Rutgers in the championship game of the Legends Classic tomorrow night, while Michigan State gets UMass in the consolation game.

kenny boynton fla

WCC Continues to Impress.  The WCC continues to flex its mid-major deltoids this season.  With wins over Wisconsin, Minnesota, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Oklahoma and now Houston, the top half of this league is not messing around.  And why should it – there’s some good basketball being played in this league, and if the bottom-feeders like LMU and USF can manage just halfway-decent records in the OOC, the league could be looking at three solid NCAA bids again this year (as in 2008).

  • Portland 61, #16 Minnesota 56.  If you haven’t caught the Portland Pilots on tv yet this season, make a point of watching these guys on Sunday night in the 76 Classic title game against West Virginia — they’re really entertaining in a plucky Gonzaga-ten-years-ago sort of way.  Their mixed defenses left the Minnesota big players who had such nice games last night — Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson, III — confused and relatively unproductive tonight.  TJ Campbell was superb for Portland, carving out 23/5 to supplement the work that Nik Raivio (9/11) and Robin Smeulders (13/6) were putting in.  Minnesota shot only 33% from the field and a terrible 16% from deep, and got killed on the boards, but they managed to turn UP over just enough to stay in the game throughout.
  • San Diego 72, Houston 65. USD moves on to the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout, where they will face Washington State, arguably the weakest opponent they will have faced while in the frozen northern environs of Palin-land this weekend.  Clinton Houston (irony?) led San Diego with 21 pts, while Brandon Johnson stepped up to drop 13 of his 15 in the second half to ensure the win.

Other Upsets Tonight.  We were all set to destroy the SEC for another terrible night before we saw the Florida-MSU score, which saves considerable face for the league.  But we’re definitely watching you, SEC.  The Big Ten didn’t have a great night either, but at least they lost at neutral sites to teams that are better than their ranking.

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2009

checkinginon

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences,

NEW YORK CITY – The consensus is Siena is the favorite. Judging by early returns, hold off on engraving the championship trophy and sending it to Albany.

MAAC STANDINGS

  1. Iona                       2-0
  2. Siena                     2-0
  3. Rider                     2-1
  4. Fairfield                2-1
  5. Loyola                   2-1
  6. Manhattan         1-1
  7. Niagara                 1-1
  8. St. Peter’s            1-1
  9. Canisius                0-1
  10. Marist                   0-2

PLAYER of THE WEEK: Mike Ringgold 6’7 JR F, Rider. Ringgold scored 21 points and added 6 rebounds in the big victory over # 18 Mississippi State.

ROOKIE of the WEEK: Derek Needham 5’11 FR G, Fairfield. The Stags entered the season looking for help at the guard spot. Needham is filling the bill. Over the first two games, the Dalton, Illinois native averaged 16 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

impactcountry(2)

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: February/March (Part One)

Posted by zhayes9 on October 25th, 2009

seasonpreview

The final two-part edition of our Top 65 games delves into the exciting stretch run of the final five weeks. These highlighted games should have tremendous implications on seeding and conference standings with heated rivals doing battle in the final push towards March Madness. Here’s a preview of what’s guaranteed to be the best slate of games 2009-10 has to offer (top games of November/December and January in case you missed it):

Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

February 1- Texas @ Oklahoma State (#33 overall)- Hard to imagine you won’t see plenty of scoring in this Big 12 clash. The point guard situation is a bit dicey in Stillwater with Byron Eaton’s departure, but Travis Ford loves to run and James Anderson can score with the best. Expect this to be one of the toughest tests for Texas in their pursuit of a regular season Big 12 title.

February 6- Texas @ Oklahoma (#25 overall)- This could very well be another test. Two freshmen will have to fill major roles for Jeff Capel’s squad with Tommy Mason-Griffin helping out Willie Warren in the backcourt and Tiny Gallon bulldozing opponents in the paint with Blake Griffin in LA. It’s entirely possible defensive stud Avery Bradley could earn the job of trying to lock down the quick Warren.

95208122242_Oklahoma_v_Rice[1]

February 6- Villanova @ Georgetown (#31 overall)- A Big East clash in February between two teams that have top-three aspirations in the conference. The point guard duel is a dandy with Chris Wright of the Hoyas matched up with Scottie Reynolds of the Wildcats. This should prove a worthy test for Villanova’s thin frontline trying to contain Greg Monroe, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.

February 6- Michigan State @ Illinois (#37 overall)- The orange-clad students right on top of the floor will be out in full force to support their Illini in hopes of knocking off the loaded Spartans. With Chester Frazier departed, it could be the freshman guard D.J. Richardson trying to contain potential All-American Kalin Lucas. There’s some tremendous outside shooting in this one from State’s Durrell Summers to the Illini’s Demetri McCamey.

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