RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Mid-South Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 7th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South and Deep South) are located here.

It’s time for the fifth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of landlocked states that produce some really good basketball players – the Mid-South.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

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

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  • James Anderson – Jr, F – Oklahoma St. An obvious and unanimous choice for our Mid-South list, James Anderson cannot be blamed if he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder right now.  Let’s see:  he’s the third-leading returning scorer in the Big 12  for the upcoming season; last year the guy averages 18.2 points, 5.7 boards, shoots over 48% from the field as well as over 82% from the line and 41% from beyond the three-point line… and he gets left off the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list.  Anderson has coolly acknowledged his surprise at this slight, and we think he’s well within his right to do so.  No doubt this will provide motivation for the versatile forward as he embarks upon his junior season for a Cowboys squad that needs him in the leadership role.  Gone are Byron Eaton and Terrel Harris, leaving only Anderson and Obi Muonelo in terms of returning double-digit scorers.  That’s over 27 points a game for which to compensate, so Anderson will get the touches, without question.  Last year was the first trip to the NCAA Tournament for Oklahoma State in the last four years, and despite the aforementioned losses, Cowboy fans are most assuredly expecting another bid this season.  If it’s going to happen, it will be on Anderson’s shoulders.  We know that making our Impact Players list for the Mid-South region isn’t the same as making the preseason Wooden Award Top 50.  But at least we can say… hey James… we got your back, man.
  • Patrick Patterson – Jr, F – Kentucky. Patrick Patterson didn’t need a ton of motivation to return for a junior season in Lexington. The potential NBA riches were surely enticing, but with the news of John Calipari’s hire and subsequent commitments of a recruiting class for the ages, Patterson found himself in a spot where another season at Kentucky may mean a national championship, a far cry from the tumultuous two campaigns he spent in the Bluegrass State under the tutelage of Billy Gillispie. Patterson is a physical specimen in the paint for Kentucky and coach Cal has to be absolutely salivating at the thought of pairing Patterson and diaper dandy DeMarcus Cousins there to complement John Wall, Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe on the perimeter (just think if Jodie Meeks had stuck around). Patterson nearly finished with a double-double last season at 17.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg, including a dominant 22/15 performance at future #1 seed Louisville, a 19/16 vs. Miami and 21/18 vs. Auburn. In fact, Patterson led the SEC with 15 double-doubles in 2008-09 and was the only player in the conference to finish in the top five in scoring and rebounding. A wildly underrated part of Patterson’s game is his 77% ft to go along with an efficient 60% from the field overall. Most NBA scouts think Patterson will only get stronger and continue to improve with another season in college, a scary thought for opposing SEC coaches and forwards, and a delightful proposition for Calipari. The 6’8″ big man already possesses an NBA-ready frame, a beast on the blocks that loves to bang inside and fight for any rebound in his vicinity. If Patrick Patterson gets the ball deep, he will score. Period. And with John Wall, possibly the top point guard in the nation this season, making those entry passes, Patterson should be able to average a double-double for Kentucky, only adding to the 1,000+ points he’s already totaled as a Wildcat. Barring injury (which isn’t a certainty as PP battled a stress fracture in his ankle in 07-08), Patterson seems about as surefire as anyone in the country to earn national accolades this season. But with realistic hopes of a Final Four at Kentucky for the first time in Patterson’s career, it won’t be about personal accomplishments for the determined forward; it’ll be all about wins.

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RTC Class Schedule 2009-10: Villanova Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on October 1st, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

There’s not a single program in the entire 16-team Big East in as strong a shape as the Villanova Wildcats.

Even in a league loaded with top-ranked mainstays like Louisville, Connecticut, Georgetown and Pittsburgh, it’s Villanova in the best position to dominate the pre-eminent college hoops conference in the land for the foreseeable future. Their coach, Jay Wright, is the ideal face of a dominant program, a terrific leader and communicator who has done a phenomenal job recruiting since arriving at Villanova, from assembling the guard-oriented Foye-Ray-Lowry-Nardi foursome to the 2009-10 class of top-50 quartet Mouphtaou Yarou, Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek and Isaiah Armwood. They play in the strong media market Philadelphia and at the NBA-fitting Wachovia Center. Last season, the Wildcats won 30 games and reached their first Final Four since 1985.

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Wright has built such a program that another Final Four remains a viable expectation for Villanova fans heading into 2009-10. Along with the star-studded recruiting class, Wright returns potential All-American guard Scottie Reynolds to team up with junior Corey Fisher for a tremendous backcourt, a strength that’s par the usual since Wright took the helm in Philly. Duke transfer Taylor King and sharpshooter Corey Stokes can certainly stretch the floor and hit big outside shots this season. Losing senior leader and double-double forward Dante Cunningham, along with glue guy Dwayne Anderson, stings, but Reggie Redding and Antonio Pena are experienced cogs. Most importantly, the #2 recruiting class in the nation (behind Kentucky) should provide a huge boost immediately for a squad that will likely be named the Preseason Big East favorites.

How does the schedule look for the Wildcats? Let’s take a peek:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 5. Incredibly, Villanova only has five true home games in the non-conference slate. Two of their road games are in the city of Philadelphia with back-to-back short trips to St. Joseph’s and Temple scheduled. Their other three Philly foes- La Salle, Drexel and Penn- will face the Wildcats at their on-campus arena. There’s some potential for difficult games on Jay Wright’s schedule, but no truly elite opponents in November and December. Villanova will travel to DC to take on ACC contender Maryland at the Verizon Center in what should be their most challenging test. A trip to Puerto Rico in November could pit the Wildcats against either Dayton or Georgia Tech in the second round and either Mississippi or Kansas State in the final. The second round could be trickier than the final as Dayton and Georgia Tech are borderline top-25 teams with talented frontline players Chris Wright (Dayton) and Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech) that should be hard to handle for an inexperienced frontline.

Cupcake City: While no single challenger blows you away, the only true “cupcake” on the non-conference schedule is the first contest of the year against Farleigh Dickinson. The other home games shouldn’t prove too much of a test- Penn, La Salle, Drexel, Delaware and a neutral site game vs. Fordham. The Wildcats also face George Mason in the first round in Puerto Rico. None of those CAA/Atlantic 10-type teams will prove huge tests for Wright’s squad, but credit the Villanova coach for going light on the lightweights.

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More on Gladwell’s Full-Court Pressure Argument…

Posted by rtmsf on May 13th, 2009

We think we’ve isolated what Gladwell’s problem derives from on the fallacious full-court press argument he made last week.  Put simply, he’s drinking the Rick Pitino kool-aid.  We don’t blame him, Pitino is an engaging guy who can sell ice cubes to eskimos, and Gladwell wouldn’t be the first to slurp it all up (ask Karen Sypher or any Boston Celtic fan ca. 1997-98).  But it appears that Pitino is his sole source of information when it comes to how underdogs win basketball games, and somehow Coach P has convinced Gladwell that much of his collegiate success is based on undertalented yet hungry players who were able to maniacally pressure Goliaths into turnovers and easy buckets.  It’s almost as if Gladwell doesn’t realize that Pitino has been a Goliath for most of his career, nor does he realize that there are probably better ways of accomplishing a similar result (i.e., slowing games down to a crawl).  In this week’s back-and-forth with Bill Simmons, Gladwell writes:

You’re right. I am a bit obsessed with the full-court press at the moment. I just did a story for The New Yorker about how underdogs beat favorites, which had a lot about basketball in it. For the story, I went down to Louisville and had a long chat with Rick Pitino. He argued that the press is the best chance an underdog has of being competitive with stronger teams, and I think his record proves the case. That Providence team he took to the Final Four in 1984 has to have been just about the least talented team EVER to reach that level.  Then, of course, Pitino takes one of his first Louisville teams to the Final Four in 2006 and this season’s team to the Elite Eight, and no one’s going to argue that either of those teams were filled with future Hall of Famers.

pitino-white-suit

First of all, it was 1987, not 1984, when Pitino’s Providence team went to the F4, and we contend that it was Pitino’s early-adoption of the just-instituted three-point shot that gave his team a competitive advantage that season more than their use of full-court pressure defense.  PC set records that still stand today at the school for taking (665) and making (280) threes (over 8 per game), led by their sharpshooting guards Delray Brooks and of course, Billy Donovan.  Traditional powers from the early to mid-80s such as Georgetown and Louisville were slower to utilize the new shot, and as such, they quickly became less relevant over the next several years until they realized its value.   Providence’s full-court press was important to achieving that success, but the three-point shot was decidedly more important.

Secondly, least talented team EVER to make the F4?  George Mason 2006, Wisconsin 2000, LSU 1986, among others… say hello.

Finally, his record proves the case?  How?  Pitino is a masterful recruiter, and this is nothing new to anyone who has followed college hoops during the last twenty years.  While it’s true that his BU and Providence teams weren’t particularly talented, his teams dating from 1992-97 at Kentucky and 2002-09 at Louisville were mostly loaded.  We thought the argument Gladwell tried to make here is that the full-court press levels the playing field for the Davids of the world vs. the Goliaths, right?  How is using Rick Pitino’s teams, the majority of which were exceptionally athletic AND talented, as your example of this?  The 2005 Louisville team (Pitino’s fourth season at the school, btw) went 33-5, had an all-american wing playmaker in Francisco Garcia and a very good point guard named Taquan Dean to go along with the standard Pitino cast of numerous replaceable parts – all long, lean and athletic.  That team was a #2 seed (corrected: #4 seed) in a region where the common perception was that the Cards were a better team than the #1 seeded Washington Huskies.  This is supposed to be a scrappy group of underdogs?  And who among our faithful readers is going to swallow the argument that the 2009 Louisville team (a #1 seed and preseason favorite along with UNC and UConn) wouldn’t have been nearly as good without their press, as Gladwell implies.  What about Earl Clark?  Terrence Williams?  Does he not realize that these two were among the best dozen or so players in college basketball this season?

And what about this indefensible jewel regarding Louisville center (and freshman all-american) Samardo Samuels?

When we were talking, Pitino called over Samardo Samuels, who is, of course, Jamaican — his point being that this was his ideal kind of player, someone who substituted for a lack of experience with a lot of hunger. There is something weird, isn’t there — and also strangely beautiful — about a coach who deliberately seeks out players who aren’t the most talented?

Right.  The same player who was the 2008 USA Today POY at the high school level and rated #9 overall in his class by Rivals isn’t the most talented.  Jamal Mashburn, Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, Derek Anderson, David Padgett, Juan Palacios, Derrick Caracter, Jerry Smith  and many others were also lesser-talented players whom Pitino plucked from the bottom of the barrel because of their innate hunger (not talent).   (Amir Johnson, Sebastian Telfair and most recently Jeremy Tyler are additional lesser-talented players whom Pitino sought for their hunger only to be disappointed when they headed straight to the pros… because they were less talented.)

Yeah, Samuels is Undertalented

Yeah, Samuels is Undertalented

Gladwell has fallen hard for the Pitino pitch.   Here’s more.

There are two other things here that fascinate me. After my piece ran in The New Yorker, one of the most common responses I got was people saying, well, the reason more people don’t use the press is that it can be beaten with a well-coached team and a good point guard. That is (A) absolutely true and (B) beside the point. The press doesn’t guarantee victory. It simply represents the underdog’s best chance of victory. It raises their odds from zero to maybe 50-50. I think, in fact, that you can argue that a pressing team is always going to have real difficulty against a truly elite team. But so what? Everyone, regardless of how they play, is going to have real difficulty against truly elite teams. It’s not a strategy for being the best. It’s a strategy for being better. I never thought Louisville — or, for that matter, Missouri — had a realistic shot at winning it all in the NCAAs this year. But if neither of those teams pressed, they wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Let’s break this down again, because it’s clear that Gladwell does not understand why he’s wrong about this.  Louisville and Missouri have elite talent and elite athletes at the college level.  Their pressure defense only makes them better because they’re already really good to begin with.  These two teams are not and never were underdogs in the David mold.  They’re excellent college basketball teams and that statement would be true no matter what style of defense they chose to play.  The elite teams that Gladwell mentions a pressing team will always have trouble against – yeah, what he’s failing to recognize is that Louisville and Mizzou are the Goliaths in that scenario.

A true David in the college game is a team that is outclassed from a talent and/or athletic perspective.  Often it’s both.  If a team deficient in one  or both of these areas tries to press a legitimate Goliath such as a UConn, Michigan St. or Oklahoma this year, they’d have gotten crucified.  A pressing team at the collegiate level must, must, must have good athletes (and enough of them) to become successful; otherwise, the elite guards populating rosters on the Goliaths will absolutely destroy it.  There’s a reason that the few pressing teams that pull major upsets in the NCAA Tourney, while somewhat lacking on skill, are always full of guys who can run, jump and terrorize teams with their long arms and defensive activity.  We’re thinking of Bruce Pearl’s teams at UW-Milwaukee and Mike Anderson’s UAB teams as good examples.  Short on individual talent, but long on athleticism.

So what do you do if you’re a David who is  short on both?  Gladwell suggests that full-court pressure evens things up, and uses his junior high girls basketball example as evidence to that fact.  The problem, which we covered in our previous examination of this topic, is that at the collegiate level, a team that is significantly less skillful and less athletic than its opponent will suffer extreme humiliation by employing this strategy.  The proper way to combat this is to instead slow the game down, limit possessions, run an efficient offense and play hard-nosed halfcourt defense.  Princeton did this to UCLA, Bucknell did this to Kansas, Vermont did this to Syracuse, and there are many, many other successful examples.  Seriously, does anyone in their right minds believe that those three teams could have pulled the upsets by pressing the Goliath?

It’s preposterous, yet that’s what Gladwell would have us believe.

You Need Athletes to Make This Work

You Need Athletes to Make This Work

The bottom line is this.  Successful pressing requires athletes at the elite level of college basketball.  If you do not have athletes (and most Davids don’t), then you will get run ouf of the gym as Goliath scores layup after dunk after layup on your smaller, slower team.  Your best strategy is instead to slow the game down and limit possessions while playing smart basketball on both ends.  We see upsets like this nearly every year in the NCAA Tournament.  The one caveat, however, is if you have players who can match up reasonably well with a Goliath from an athletic standpoint, then you may consider pressing as a viable strategy.  The problem with this, of course, is that it’s fairly rare in the college game that a true David will have that kind of athletic stable at their disposal.  If you’re lucky enough to have both talent and athletes to run a press (as Pitino has had throughout much of his career, along with Nolan Richardson and some others), then such a strategy can devastate opponents – the real question should be why more Goliaths don’t institute the full-court press, rather than Davids.   This is why we continue to argue that full-court pressure defense is a better strategy for an elite team rather than an underdog – those teams already have the proper tools of talent and athleticism to employ it.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: Elite 8 Day Two

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2009

dynamiteAfter last night’s fantastic games (especially the Villanova-Pittsburgh game last night–probably the best game I have ever been to), we are hoping that today’s match-ups can equal what we saw last night. One of the more interesting things from the coverage last night (other than the fact that CBS cut to their regularly scheduled programming soon after the game was over according to reports that I have heard) is how little publicity ESPN and other media entities are giving the Scottie Reynolds mad dash to win the game. I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this since I was at the game and out for a couple hours after the game ended.

Anyways, here’s your schedule for today:

  • 2:20 PM: #2 Michigan State vs. #1 Louisville
  • 5:05 PM: #2 Oklahoma vs. #1 UNC

Even though the late game is getting a lot of the hype for the Blake Griffin vs. Tyler Hansbrough massacre match-up, I think the early game might be a better game. I think people are giving Louisville too much credit for destroying a very mediocre Arizona team and Kalin Lucas will do a much better job navigating the Cardinals pressure than any point guard they have faced this year.

Let me know what your thought in the comment section and I’ll be back a little after 2 PM to get things started.

2:15 PM: What happened to the guy posing with Magic Johnson? It looks like he got into a bar fight, but he looks like he’s pushing 70.

2:20 PM: Interesting fact regarding the coaching match-up today: Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo have never coached against each other.

2:22 PM: How crazy would Gus Johnson have been if he was calling the game in Boston last night? I’m pretty sure he would still be yelling today.

2:25 PM: Slow start for both teams (2 points combined in the first 3:30). I’m guessing this is just a bit of nerves. Hopefully the level of play will pick up.

2:30 PM: “Everywhere he (Pitino) goes success follows” – Gus Johnson. The residents of Boston would beg to differ.

2:43 PM: The teams still seem to be feeling each other out and the game seems to lack a real flow to it. Midway through the first half the teams are on pace to scored 92 points combined (a game after Louisville scored 103 points by themselves). How long the Spartans can maintain this pace before they need to go to their relatively inexperienced reserves?

2:50 PM: One thing to keep your eye on if the game is close late: free throw shooting. I harped on it last night after the Pitt-Nova game, but the Cardinals shoot an atrocious 64.4% as a team while the Spartans shoot 69.6% as a team. In fact, that may actually understate the difference in free throw shooting between the two teams. Louisville only has one starter who shoots over 67% from the line (Edgar Sosa at 74.2%) while Michigan State has 2 starters  who shoot 80% or better from the line (Kalin Lucas and Goran Suton) in addition to a key reserve (Chris Allen).

3:00 PM: I just stumbled across this article from 2 days ago where Rick Pitino says that the responsibility of watching over a basketball program rests on the coach’s shoulders. He says they aren’t directed at anybody in particular, but if Louisville makes it to Detroit Jim Calhoun might want to speak to Pitino outside. . .

3:08 PM: Great feed there by Edgar Sosa. This game is really starting to pick up. Could we have a repeat of yesterday? I think this could be another great game, but I have my doubts about UNC-Oklahoma. I have a feeling that the Tar Heels could run away with that game.

3:11 PM: Michigan State goes into half leading by 3. Izzo has to be thrilled that his team adjusted to the Cardinals’ pressure so quickly now he just has to hope their legs hold up.

3:15 PM: Scott, I think Pitino will make a few adjustments and the Cardinals will probably come out of halftime with the pressure cranked up to 11. If Michigan State can weather that storm and keep it within 5 points midway through the 2nd half they should be fine. The one interesting thing about the lack of respect Louisville has gotten this year is that I don’t think they will feel the pressure that the typical #1 overall seed would in this situation. I mean obviously there is some pressure trailing at halftime of an Elite 8 game, but I don’t think they will have the typical pressure of expectations that a #1 overall seed would have.

3:30 PM: BS, I’m sure you’ll get your wish (at least the dunking on part, but probably not the broken collarbone stuff). As for questioning the hatred of Hansbrough, it’s definitely out there. I think the reason Eric Devendorf was at another level is that he’s a lot more demonstrative and there was the accusation and suspension for striking a female student even if the charges were later dropped. I’m sure if you go to Durham, NC you will find quite a bit of hatred of Hansbrough. To be honest though, when I spoke with Hansbrough earlier this year he seemed to be a nice enough guy even if he seemed a little too intense almost an hour after the game.

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Midwest Region Game-By-Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by zhayes9 on March 18th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

#1 Louisville vs. #16 Morehead State

For Louisville to win: It’s pretty simple for Louisville in this 1-16 matchup: do exactly what has gotten you to the point of receiving the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They shouldn’t have much problem playing their usual lockdown defense, employing their frantic press and letting the pure athletic ability of guys like Earl Clark and Terrence Williams completely overwhelm the star-struck Eagles.

For Morehead State to win: The triumphant winners of the inaugural Play-In game, Morehead State will need a God-delivered miracle to prevail over Louisville. They hope their stud big man Kenneth Faried (13.9 PPG, 13.1 RPG) can push around Clark, Williams and Samardo Samuels enough inside where it becomes a guard-oriented shooting contest. Hope that Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles, Andre McGee and Co. reverts back to their November shooting woes and pull off the monumental upset.

#8 Ohio State vs. #9 Siena

For Ohio State to win: The Buckeyes will need to play steady, Big Ten-like team defense on Siena’s trio of scorers and run a bunch of isolation plays down the stretch for their superstar Evan Turner (17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG). At times Turner can penetrate and score at will; Siena simply does not have that type of talent on their roster. They also need to utilize B.J. Mullens inside due to Siena’s lack of height.

For Siena to win: The Saints have been led all season by their own Big Three- Kenny Hansbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin. Receive balanced scoring out of those three like they’ve perfected all season (all average between 14.8 and 13.6 PPG) and they could surely take down the Buckeyes. The Saints will also be shorthanded inside trying to box out bodies like Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens. They’ll need Ryan Rossiter and Franklin to pound the boards constantly.

#5 Utah vs. #12 Arizona

For Utah to win: Luke Nevill outplaying Jordan Hill would be nice. Seriously, this is one of the best first-round matchups in the entire tournament. If Nevill can get Hill into foul trouble, the entire complexity of this game changes. Nic Wise and Chase Budinger love shooting it from the outside and the Utes wouldn’t mind getting into a three-point contest with Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha both over 40% from downtown.

For Arizona to win: Even though Arizona is the 12-seed, not many would refute that the Wildcats have the superior talent in this game. They can escape all of the regular season’s distractions now and out-talent the Utes. Nic Wise needs to have a quality outing for Arizona to win; when he’s hitting threes and running the offense with ease, Budinger gets open shots, Hill gets touches inside and Arizona can beat anyone.

#4 Wake Forest vs. #13 Cleveland State

For Wake Forest to win: The Demon Deacons need to avoid underestimating a clearly inferior opponent. As with losses to Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia Tech, the young Deacons have played down to their competition. The Vikings went into the Carrier Dome and won this season when Syracuse did the same thing. Hopefully Jeff Teague and James Johnson come out right away with a fire in their collective bellies.

For Cleveland State to win: One thing Wake Forest does not do well at all is make threes. Their entire offensive game is generated by penetration and mid-range jump shooting. Coach Gary Waters should pop in the game film from Wake’s latest loss to Maryland and examine how the Terps chopped up the inconsistent Deacon defense. Cedric Jackson is the perfect point guard to lead the way.

#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Dayton

For West Virginia to win: The Mountaineers simply need to play like they did last weekend in the Big East tournament. Set screens to free deadeye shooter Alex Ruoff, let DaSean Butler work his multi-faceted offensive game, continue to witness Devin Ebanks mature into an elite scorer and rebounder and hope Darryl Bryant keeps distributing like a senior.

For Dayton to win: It’s going to be awfully difficult as West Virginia seems to be picking up steam lately and you know Bob Huggins will have them prepared and intense. Not only will stars Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson need to play outstanding games, but their deep bench must contribute offensively. It’s all about keeping West Virginia off the boards and hoping Ruoff has a bad day from the outside. If that happens, the Mountaineers can look very confused offensively.

#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State

For Kansas to win: Ben Woodside is not only the Bison’ top scorer, he’s the engine behind their incredibly efficient and unselfish offensive game plan. He’s quite a task for Sherron Collins in the first game of the tournament. If Collins can shut down Woodside on the defensive end, North Dakota State should have trouble scoring with the Morris twins, Cole Aldrich and others blocking shots inside. This young Jayhawk team will live and die with the play of their junior leader Collins.

For North Dakota State to win: They need to play some semblance of tough defense. We all know the Bison can score points in bunches and have some prolific offensive options, but the only way the Bison will be fitted for Cinderella’s slipper is if they can contain slashers Collins and Tyshawn Taylor and bang bodies with the Morris twins and Aldrich. If they fall behind early, it is imperative they stick with their offense that’s gotten them this far instead of panicking.

#7 Boston College vs. #10 Southern California

For Boston College to win: The Eagles can sometimes look really crappy on defense. The Trojans have so many weapons, BC needs to play inspired defense to win this game. The most arduous task will be to contain Taj Gibson inside with Joe Trapani and Josh Southern. Gibson has an NBA-body and tremendous scoring potential. Trapani and Southern must play defense inside similar to their effort in Chapel Hill when they knocked off the Tar Heels.

For Southern California to win: Stud freshman DeMar DeRozan played like a possessed man during the Pac-10 tournament and USC finally came together to play up to their potential. If DeRozan outplays Rakim Sanders and explodes to the rim with ease, the entire USC offense improves drastically. Defending Tyrese Rice will also clearly be imperative. Should Daniel Hackett hold Rice, the Trojans will win.

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Robert Morris

For Michigan State to win: The Spartans clearly have enough talent to win this 2-15 game easily. If only a couple of their many weapons are flowing offensively, they should be fine. Izzo’s boys are also in the top ten in defense and rebounding. Overwhelm the Colonials with the talent of Lucas, Morgan, Suton, Summers and they’ll prevail by 20+.

For Robert Morris to win: For the Colonials to pull another Duke-Belmont 2-15 scare, they’ll need to play their usually efficient offensive game. Their entire team shoots 48% from the floor and Jeremy Chappell is especially remarkable- 16.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 47% FG, 85% FT, 41% 3PT, 2.5 SPG as one of the most unheralded all-around players in the nation. If Chappell has a monster performance and Michigan State can’t get into any flow offensively, the Colonials have a shot.

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NCAA Basketball 2009: The BCS Version

Posted by nvr1983 on March 16th, 2009

bcs-fail

With the release of the brackets on Sunday evening there has been quite a bit of controversy (Arizona over St. Mary’s being the predominant gripe) and there have been some interesting moments with Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps ganging up on Dick Vitale and almost bringing him to tears. However, it was nothing compared to the furor that we saw when the BCS released its final poll that determined the BCS bowl games and more importantly the national championship. We thought it would be a fun exercise to try to make a mock BCS basketball system. I used the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls as the human polls and ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI, KenPom.com, and Sagarin’s ratings as the computer polls. There are a couple polls I excluded for other reasons: Kenneth Massey’s (wasn’t updated yet) and Jerry Palm’s (not free). I did not throw out the high and low computer polls for two reasons: (1) we only had 3 available and (2) they were fairly similar with a few exceptions (Gonzaga in the RPI, but they weren’t going to be a factor anyways because of Memphis). ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI didn’t include the games from Sunday, but after looking at the final results they would not have had any impact on the rankings  based on the teams involved. Here are the results:

bcs-2009

If you want to try and follow along, here are the BCS criteria.

Now onto the match-ups. . .

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QnD Midwest Region Analysis

Posted by zhayes9 on March 15th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

Favorite
Louisville, #1 Overall Seed, 28-5 (16-2), Big East Regular Season and Conference Champions

Should They Falter
Wake Forest, #4 Seed, 24-6 (11-5). Even more than Michigan State in the Regional Final, Wake could present the biggest match-up problem for Louisville.

Grossly Overseeded
Utah, #5 Seed, 24-9 (12-4). Utah tied for the Mountain West regular season title and tournament (carried by great computer numbers), but how can anyone say this team should have a higher seed than UCLA, Clemson, or West Virginia?

Grossly Underseeded
None. With the exception of Utah, the committee did an excellent job seeding this region.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower)
#12 seed Arizona. The last team in the field lucked out with an over-seeded Utah team then could throw their match-up zone at a Wake team that hasn’t handled a zone defense all season.

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower)
#6 seed West Virginia. If Alex Ruoff has a tremendous tournament and Devin Ebanks continues to progress into stardom, they have the personnel. A freshman PG worries me though.

Carmelo Anthony Award
Sherron Collins, 18.3 PPG, 5.0 APG, 38% 3PT- As Sherron Collins goes, the Kansas Jayhawks go. He has the chance to take this young team under his wings and lead them to another Final Four.

Stephen Curry Award
Ben Woodside, 22.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 43% FG- Many college hoops diehards know Woodside and his scoring prowess already. Most casual fans will be introduced to him for the first time and his Cinderella Bison.

Home Cooking
Louisville, 1, 152 miles to Dayton. Ohio State, 71 miles to Dayton.

Can’t Miss First Round Game
#7 Boston College vs. #10 USC, Friday. A very evenly matched game between two teams with studs like Tyrese Rice, Rakim Sanders, DeMar DeRozan, and Taj Gibson. Can the Trojans keep it going?

Don’t Miss This One Either
#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State, Friday. An inexperienced and slumping Kansas team battling a fifth-year senior laden Bison squad. Could we have an upset brewing in Minneapolis? Don’t miss this one.

Lock of the Year
West Virginia will make the Elite 8. They’ll take down Dayton, North Dakota State and Michigan State en route to a rematch with Louisville.

Juiciest Potential Match-up (Purists)
#6 West Virginia vs. #2 Michigan State, Regional Semifinal. Two of the best rebounding and fundamentally sound teams in the nation could do battle for a spot in the Regional Final.

Juiciest Potential Match-up (Media)
#1 Louisville vs. #4 Wake Forest. The amount of talent on the floor in this game (Samardo Samuels, Earl Clark, Terrence Williams, Jeff Teague, James Johnson, and Al-Farouq Aminu) will have NBA scouts drooling.

We Got Screwed
Kansas, #3 Seed, 25-7 (14-2). Besides the fact that Kansas deserved a #2 seed over Oklahoma, they have to face the most dangerous #14 seed in the tournament (North Dakota St.) and the most dangerous #6 seed in the second round (West Virginia). I would feel a lot better about Kansas matching up with the other #6 seeds.

Strongest Pod
#2 Michigan State, #7 Boston College, #10 USC, #15 Robert Morris. BC-USC could be a fun 7-10 game while Robert Morris is no slouch for the Spartans.

Upset Special
#14 North Dakota State will beat #3 Kansas in the first round.

Region MVP
Terrence Williams, Louisville.

So-Called Experts
The general consensus seems to be Louisville and I tend to agree. Sorry for going chalk, folks, but they’re easily the best team in this region.

Vegas Odds to Win Region


2009-midwest-odds

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Big East Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East ConferenceHe will be live-blogging all the action from his executive suite at MSG this week. 

Schedule:

Tuesday, March 10th / First Round
– Game 1: #9 Cincinnati vs. #16 DePaul
– Game 2: #12 Georgetown vs. #13 St. John’s
– Game 3: #10 Notre Dame vs. #15 Rutgers
– Game 4: #11 Seton Hall vs. #14 South Florida

Wednesday, March 11th / Second Round
– Game 5: Game 1 Winner vs. #8 Providence
– Game 6: Game 2 Winner vs. #5 Marquette
– Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs. #7 West Virginia
– Game 8: Game 4 Winner vs. #6 Syracuse

Thursday, March 12th / Quarters
– Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. #1 Louisville
– Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs. #4 Villanova
– Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. #2 Pitt
– Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs. #3 UConn

Friday, March 13th / Semis
– Game 13: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner
– Game 14: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner

Saturday, March 14th / Finals
– Game 15: Game 13 Winner vs. Game 14 Winner

It is only fitting that the biggest conference in college basketball have the biggest tournament. For the first time, the Big East is inviting all 16 teams to MSG for a five day extravaganza. The BET is always full of exciting moments – from Ray Allen vs. Allen Iverson in 1996 to Taliek Brown’s banked in 30 footer in 2002 to Gerry McNamara’s superhuman performance in 2006. With the number of good teams and absurdly high number of talented players, this year’s edition of the BET should not disappoint.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.01.09 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2009

dynamiteWell it’s finally here. The month of March is upon us. Here at RTC, we’ll be coming up with a ridiculous number of posts (I’m not sure how we will be able to do it with our other “lives”) so be sure to check back throughout the month as we will have posts for conference recaps, our unique bubble watch, frequent bracket updates by our resident bracketologist Zach, our favorite NCAA tournament memories, and the most comprehensive NCAA tournament preview anywhere. Ever.

11:00 AM: Just to set the table for today (and before I run out to grab some lunch before the games start), we’ll be following all three of the major games today, which will all be on CBS. At noon, Dominic James-less #10 Marquette will travel to #6 Louisville. Then at 2 PM, #8 Missouri will travel to Lawrence to take on the defending national champs, #15 Kansas. (CBS will also be airing the Tennessee-Florida game at 2. We will be very unhappy if we end up with that game instead.) The last time these teams met, Missouri shocked the Jayhawks with a Zaire Taylor 10-footer to hand Kansas its only loss in their last 13 games. A win here for Kansas would essentially seal the Big 12 regular season title for Kansas since they own the tie-breaker over Oklahoma (thanks to Blake Griffin‘s absence). Finally at 4 PM, #9 Michigan State will go to #20 Illinois. Like the preceding game, a win here would essentially clinch the Big 10 regular season title for the Spartans. In addition, we will be following the aforementioned UT-UF game (hopefully online instead of on our TVs) as well as a handful of bubble match-ups (Providence at Rutgers, Cincinnati at Syracuse, Michigan at Wisconsin, and West Virginia at South Florida).

11:50 AM: If any of you are wondering if I might decide to ditch this and go outside to enjoy the beautiful March weather, here’s your answer. On a side note, I just saw myself on ESPN for the second time this season (thanks to the miracle of HD).

11:55 AM: Wow. I just saw the Blake Griffin play from yesterday where we went over the scorer’s table. Pretty impressive after his concussion against Texas.

Noon: CBS just announced they will be have an interview with Jamie Dixon at halftime. So the Pittsburgh fans might want to tune in for that if a top 10 match-up in their own conference wasn’t enough.

12:05 PM: Rick Pitino is wearing his Colonel Sanders suit for the white out. As the CBS guys mentioned, last year he had to switch at halftime. Let’s see if it is more effective this year.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Until Tuesday night, it was a relatively uneventful week in the Big East. The teams that should have won got the Ws, while the teams that were supposed to lose generally lost. That is, until Providence knocked off Pitt in front of packed house at the Dunk (for the record, Friar fans had one of the best ‘rushings of the court‘ that I have seen in a long time – they absolutely swallowed up the three Friar players in the center of the court).

Back to the point, not only were there not many upsets during the week, their weren’t that many outstanding performances. Weyinmi Efejuku of  Providence had 31 in a loss to Notre Dame. Ryan Ayers scored 28 in that same game, but earlier in the week struggled as the Irish lost to West Virginia. Luke Harangody had 26 and 13 in the Irish loss, but was non-existent until the final few minutes (when the game was decided) against Providence. DeJuan Blair’s 20 and 18 against DePaul (which should technically make the performance not count … it’s DePaul) is overshadowed by his 17 and 8 (and 5 turnovers and 5 fouls) in the loss to Providence.

You get the point.

Why should I be pointing that out to you? What is the significance of it? Is it just so I don’t look like a fool making my Player and Team of the Week picks?

Not exactly. It should show you that no team or player in the Big East (save for Providence, the damn Friars ruined my whole column) is stepping up to make a run at the NCAAs. As of this moment, the league should expect seven teams. After this win, Providence may be the eighth.

But Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Georgetown all still had a realistic chance to get in by winning. Cincy’s loss to Louisville gives them a two game losing streak. A win at South Florida is not going to be enough for the Hoyas, who have now lost 9 of 11. Even Providence had lost two straight before the upset of Pitt.

Notre Dame is the only team that looks to have a little bit of life left in them. They have now won three of four, including wins over Louisville and Providence, with the loss coming at West Virginia. If the Irish can keep up their winning ways, there is a good chance the Big East could actually end up with nine tourney teams.

For the record, I’m sick of everyone talking about the Big East as the toughest conference in the country.

It isn’t.

Let it go.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Player of the year.

How do you define it. Who put up the best stats? Who is the best player on the best team? The most valuable player? Maybe the guy that, if you were to have a draft involving every player in the league, you would pick first?

My criterion is simple – who is the best player? Easy enough, right?

As of now, there are only four players that should be considered for the award, and another few that deserve a mention in the conversation.

  1. DeJuan Blair, Pitt – 15.7 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 5.8 Orpg, 60% FG
  2. Jerel McNeal, Marquette – 19.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 spg, 44% 3PT
  3. Terrence Williams, Louisville – 12.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.93 a/t
  4. Hasheem Thabeet, UConn – 13.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 4.3 bpg, 64% FG

Others deserving mention: Luke Harangody, Jonny Flynn, Jeff Adrien, Levance Fields, and Da’Sean Butler.

Right now, I have no idea who deserves the award. Two weeks ago, I thought McNeal would run away with it. Last week, I thought Thabeet would made a run at national player of the year. This week, well, just scroll down and read about the player of the week.

There are great arguments to be made for each of these four, as well as the five players deserving mention (I mean, Luke Harangody is the only player in the country to be in the top five of points and rebounds per game, and barely cracks the top five for Big East POY?).

What it is going to come down to is who leads their team to the Big East regular season title. Each of the four players listed are the MVPs of the four teams currently tied (in the loss column) atop the Big East.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.08.09 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 8th, 2009

dynamite1

We’re back today with another edition of BGTD. Today’s edition won’t be a long as yesterday’s BGTD because today’s games aren’t nearly as good as yesterday, but there are several worth watching. For a quick run-down of the games we’ll be focusing in on today, check out today’s Set Your Tivos. As always, you’re invited to join in on the comment section to tell me if something interesting is happen elsewhere or to correct my mistakes.

12:15 PM: Not much is going on yet. Just a couple of games featuring teams near the bottom of the Big East and MAAC. In the Big East contest, Seton Hall leads Rutgers by 2 with 11:49 left in the first half. Meanwhile, in the MAAC, Canisius is beating St. Peter’s 31-19 with 4:02 left in the first half. And that’s the last time you will hear any of those programs mentioned today (and for probably quite a while) unless something crazy happens (like a brother walking out on the court). I’ll be back around 1 PM when the real games start.

1:00 PM: Ok. We finally have some decent games getting underway pretty soon. Purdue at Illinois on CBS and Alabama at LSU on ESPN360. We’ll be following these games on BGTD.

1:20 PM: Pretty entertaining start with Illinois up 11-7 on Purdue with 15:41 left in the first half. It looks like we might have an entertaining Big Ten game today.

1:30 PM: Illinois is holding onto a 6-point lead with less 9:53 left. Matt Painter needs E’Twaun Moore to step it up (0 points so far) if he wants to steal one on the road. In other news, the CBS guys just made a joke about Jeffrey Jordan getting a scholarship.

1:45 PM: Illinois has opened up a 10-point lead with 4 minutes left. If the Boilermakers aren’t careful, they could get run out of the gym by halftime. In the SEC, LSU has a 13-point lead on Alabama with less than 4 minutes left in the half.

1:55 PM: Nice little run by Purdue to cut it to 3, but Demetri McCamey just converted a 3-point play to slow some of their momentum. Purdue responds with a basket to make it a 4-point game at half. Moore has just 2 points at half. Purdue has to be happy to go into half only down by 4 with Moore’s low output.

2:00 PM: Louisville and St. John’s are playing a close game midway through the first half. LSU is up by a dozen at half. We’ll be back in a bit when something interesting happens. I’ll probably be following the Purdue-Illinois game, but will be keeping an eye on the Louisville game.

2:05 PM: Seth Davis says Alabama is willing to pay north of $2 million per year for a head coach. He calls it “Tubby money”. The two guys he mentioned were Jeff Capel and Mike Davis.

2:15 PM: They just played “American Boy” by Estelle. I know it’s a promo/lead-in to a Grammy Awards mention, but couldn’t they have picked something a little better for a men’s college basketball game?

2:20 PM: Illinois has opened up a 9-point lead as Purdue calls a timeout. The Boilermakers have been lucky to stay in this game without Moore’s scoring and Robbie Hummel‘s continued absence.

2:30 PM: Purdue has cut it back to 4, but has not been able to take the lead as Illinois has led the entire way. Thanks to Scott for pointing out the awful Louisville-St. John’s game, which St. John’s leads 22-19. I’ll keep an eye on the 2nd half on ESPN360.com.

2:45 PM: Quick run-down of the scores. Illinois is up 51-40 on Purdue with less than 9 minutes left in the game. Charlotte is up 55-49 on Dayton with 7:56 left (potential upset there). NC State is up by 14 at half on Virginia Tech. Louisville is down by 1 at St. John’s early in the 2nd half. LSU is crushing Alabama.

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