Can Louisville Adapt to a Life Without Threes?

Posted by Will Tucker on November 15th, 2012

Will Tucker is an RTC correspondent and a Big East microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday night’s Louisville-Samford game.

Louisville overwhelmed Samford in all facets of the game tonight, 80-54, to advance to 2-0 and defend their #2 ranking. The box score and postgame highlights will depict a dominant display befitting of an elite team, replete with a 53-28 rebounding margin, a punishing 38 points in the paint, and numerically terrifying double-doubles from Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng. But any Louisville fan that watched the game and knows a lick about basketball (read: almost all of them) will temper the glowing conclusions you’d reach from a brief recap. Their team shot 1-8 from three in the first half, but elected to judiciously move the ball into the paint more often than jack up threes. When Samford finally packed the paint with a zone defense and served up wide open looks from beyond the arc in the second half, the Cards took the bait and went 6-23, finishing at a 23% that elicited increasingly frustrated collective groans from the 20,016 on hand at the KFC Yum! Center with each successive brick.

Louisville needs to utilize Chane Behanan to score more efficiently

Despite all the things this Louisville team does well (and several things they already do great), their first two games of the 2012-13 season have exposed just how badly they lack a reliable three-point threat. Tonight’s contest refuted any notion that this Louisville team may achieve even average outside shooting. Rick Pitino had displayed uncharacteristic concern over his wings’ jump shots in his postgame press conference last Sunday, after former McDonald’s All-American Wayne Blackshear and transfer Luke Hancock combined to shoot 3-14 from beyond the arc against Manhattan. Tonight, they delivered a dismal 2-18 (11%) performance from outside, while streaky shooter Russ Smith (4-7 3FG) was the only one who salvaged Louisville’s team stat of 7-31 from long range. Blackshear and Hancock, both billed as capable jump shooters, have looked noticeably frustrated in the first two games of the year. Pitino tonight related Hancock to a hitter in a slump, forcing his shot in a fruitless effort “to make contact.” Blackshear, for his part, seems headed in the right direction, appearing much more assertive and confident as he built a somewhat inefficient stat line of 13 points and five rebounds tonight.

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Morning Five: 04.05.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 5th, 2012

  1. A year after announcing in the losing locker room that he would be returning to Ohio State, Jared Sullinger has decided to forego his final two years of eligibilty and will enter the NBA Draft. As we noted after what turned out to be Sullinger’s last game in a Buckeye jersey he still need to work on his game quite a bit. Although Sullinger did show signs of rounding out his game as a sophomore by losing weight and developing an outside shot it was not evident in that game for Sullinger. Sullinger will need to continue developing his game to have a long NBA career. He will still end up being a lottery pick and most likely a top 10 pick despite his limitations, but those flaws probably cap his ceiling.
  2. Sullinger may be joined by another Big Ten underclassman as an initial report indicated that Michigan freshman Trey Burke was going to announce his intent to enter the NBA Draft. A few hours later his father released a statement indicating that Trey had not declared for the NBA Draft yet and was still taking classes at Michigan. While some viewed this as a denial of the earlier report to us it was just semantics as his father never said that Burke was not planning to declare for the Draft. Burke’s decision to continue classes is a little less reassuring to Wolverine fans because Michigan is currently in their Winter Term, which ends in less than two weeks with exam week the following week, so Burke could finish classes to preserve Michigan’s APR score and not affect his NBA Draft stock, which is important because he is a borderline first round pick.
  3. Yesterday, one key member of Kentucky‘s national championship team announced his intention to stay in Lexington as John Calipari announced that he was not looking to pursue a NBA coaching career at this time. The most obvious suitor would be the New York Knicks, who some believe have the inside track to steal him from Big Blue Nation. On some level we could understand Calipari’s desire to stay with a passionate fan base who no doubt reveres him after he brought them their eighth national title, but if Calipari is given a chance to shine on the NBA’s stage (and with the NBA’s millions) it may turn out to too tempting to pass up after his brief run in New Jersey went so poorly.
  4. Alex Oriakhi has listed his preliminary plans for his college visits. The Connecticut transfer will “definitely visit” North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, and Missouri while also listing Xavier, Ohio State, and UNC-Charlotte as potential visits. Outside of the UNC-Charlotte visit, which seems kind of random, the Ohio State visit becomes intriguing with the possibility that Oriakhi could potential step in to replace Sullinger. Clearly, Oriakhi is not quite the same caliber of player that Sullinger was at Ohio State, but he would be a nice bridge to the next dominant big man the Buckeyes want to bring in.
  5. Early this morning, Samford  will introduce Indiana assistant Bennie Seltzer  as its next head coach. Seltzer, who has also worked as an assistant at Marquette and Oklahoma, will be returning to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama for his first job as a head coach. With two new head coaches without any previous head coaching experience in college basketball, Birmingham’s beat writers should be very active next season.
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Morning Five: 03.14.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2012

  1. The big news yesterday was the announcement by Syracuse that starting center Fab Melo would not participate in the NCAA Tournament due to issues with his eligibility. Although the school did not openly admit as much, word has come out that it was due to Melo not being academically eligible, which should not be news to anybody since he missed three games earlier this season while trying to rectify the matter. Most people expect Melo to declare for the draft, which prompted ESPN host Ryan Burr to tweet out a plea for Nerlens Noel to come to Syracuse to fill Melo’s spot next season, which may wind up being a NCAA violation. And of course there is the report from Jeff Goodman that the NCAA is looking at Melo’s schoolwork, which doesn’t sound promising. Overall, it was a pretty bad day for Syracuse fans.
  2. Everybody knows about Anthony Davis, but as Luke Winn points out there is more to Kentucky‘s defense than just the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. As we noted yesterday, Winn tends to delve into fairly advanced statistical analysis, but may be the best in the business at making it accessible to those who are less inclined to look at these type of stats. The radar plot of the #1 and #2 seeds is particularly useful and illustrates the shortcomings of the top seeds although the data points on a certain #1 certain seed will need to be adjusted after yesterday’s events.
  3. Despite a tumultuous few weeks, UCLA decided to bring Ben Howland for at least one more year. For his part, Howland reiterated his love for the program and he would work hard to make it improve (what else did you expect him to say?). With an incoming class that should be solid, but probably won’t be as loaded as some might have expected before the Shabazz Muhammad-financial adviser scandal. Still with the incoming talent and the talent he already has the Bruins should be expected to compete at the top of the Pac-12 next season.
  4. Three other coaches were not as fortunate as Howland and ended up getting their pink slips. The most well-known name was Matt Doherty, who was fired by Southern Methodist after going 80-109 in six seasons. The former Tar Heel coach was not the only coach fired as South Carolina fired Darrin Horn (60-63 in four seasons) while Samford fired Jimmy Tillette (229-219 in 15 seasons). Interestingly, from the reports we have seen Tillette’s firing appears to have been the most confrontational. While Doherty is by far the biggest name thanks to his time in Chapel Hill, Horn has actually gone the furthest in the NCAA Tournament out of the three as he made the Sweet Sixteen in his last year at Western Kentucky before leaving the school. We have not heard any word on who these schools are pursuing, but we suspect all three of the coaches will wind up on their feet somewhere particularly Horn, who was one of the hottest coaches in the country just four years ago.
  5. His father is one of the most famous names in high school basketball and his brother is still the NCAA’s all-time assist leader, but Dan Hurley appears to be making a name for himself at Wagner and others including Rhode Island have taken notice. Yesterday, news broke that Rhode Island had asked for and been granted permission to speak with Hurley about potentially becoming their next head coach. From the look of things at Wagner, this does not appear to be Dan living off the family name either as he has completely turned around the Wagner basketball program taking a team that was 5-26 the year before he was hired to 25-5 in just two season. A move to Rhode Island would be the next step for someone who appears to be one of the rising stars in college basketball.
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Pac-12 Who’s Going Where

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2012

Here’s a look at each Pac-12 team’s postseason capsule, by order of each team’s tip-off. Enjoy!

Oregon

Who, When, Where: vs. LSU (18-14) in Eugene, Oregon, NIT First Round, 3/13, 6:30 PM PDT, ESPN

First Up: What the Tigers lack in scoring they make up in rebounds and points in the paint. LSU averages 37 RPG and they are led by big men Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren. What makes the Tigers dangerous is their ability to adapt to a certain style. They will play at the pace you want the game at, and then beat you with your own style.

Best Case Scenario: With the way Oregon has been playing of late (Pac-12 Tournament notwithstanding), the Ducks can easily make a run in this tournament. With players like Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim that are able to create and knock down their own shots, Oregon should be able to beat LSU in the first round. After that things get much more tough, but I can’t see the Ducks losing a “best case scenario” game until they would likely meet either Seton Hall or Arizona in the championship.

Worst Case Scenario: Even if the Ducks do not play well against the Tigers, home-court advantage should pull them through to the next round. However, they would likely have to travel to Dayton in the second round, and the Flyers pose matchup problems all over the court for Oregon. Expect an Oregon-Dayton matchup to be much like last Thursday’s Colorado-Oregon game. The Flyers stingy defense and potent offense should build a large lead early on against the Ducks, and while Oregon battles to cut the deficit to three with four minutes left, it is never able to come all the way back after a long road trip and an emotinal comeback drians all of its energy.

Devoe Joseph's offensive prowess has the Ducks dreaming of a trip to Madison Square Garden. (credit:Jayne Kamin)

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Checking In On… the Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 28th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer

Reader’s Take

 

Looking Back

  • Davidson created some separation in the South Division, besting Charleston, 87-69, on Saturday. The Cougars then lost at Georgia Southern on Monday to fall behind the Eagles, as well as Wofford, in the South standings. Jake Cohen led the Wildcats as he matched his career-high with 29 points (24 coming in the first half).
  • In the North Division, Elon remained in first place, defeating preseason favorite Chattanooga, 88-87, on Monday.

One for the Record Books

In the final scheduled non-conference game in the SoCon (four will play on Feb. 18 a part of the 2012 BracketBusters event), Western Carolina put itself in the company of Texas, Purdue and Long Island, becoming just the fourth school to ever defeat an opponent by at least 100 points. The Catamounts defeated Toccoa Falls 141-39.

From the Notebook

  • College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins owns 226 wins at a SoCon school (100 at Appalachian State from 1975-81; 126 at College of Charleston) to move into a share of fifth place on the SoCon win list. He matched Duke’s Eddie Cameron (the namesake for Cameron Indoor Stadium) against Elon on Jan. 14. He will take a temporary leave of absence for a non-life threatening health condition beginning this weekend.
  • In its last three games, Samford’s starting five of Tyler Hood, Drew Windler, Jeffrey Merritt, Raijon Kelly and Will Cook has combined to score 70.3 of the team’s 75.7 points per game.

    Davidson's J.P. Kuhlman Reached The 1,000-point Milestone

  • Davidson’s J.P. Kuhlman joined the 1,000-point club on January 14 at Appalachian State, the eighth active player in the league to reach that milestone.
  • Wofford’s Brad Loesing leads the nation in minutes per game at an even 39.0 MPG. He has played in 819 of the team’s 845 minutes this season.

B.M.O.C.

UNC Greensboro’s Derrell Armstrong averaged 27.7 points and six rebounds in the Spartans’ last three games (wins against Chattanooga, Samford and Appalachian State). The junior, who prior to this stretch had averaged 7.9 points per game on the season, notched a season-high 29 points against the Mocs. He hit a season-best five three-point field goals. He followed that performance up with consecutive 27-point efforts.

Power Rankings

Last week’s ranking in parentheses:

  1. Davidson (15-4) (1): The Wildcats remained undefeated in SoCon play thanks to Nik Cochran’s free throw at Chattanooga with 1.2 seconds remaining. Davidson joins Oral Roberts, Middle Tennessee and Saint Mary’s as the only schools in the country with conference records of 9-0 or better. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

Reader’s Take 

 

Looking Back

  • In the only regular-season meeting between Western Carolina and Davidson, the Wildcats established SoCon supremacy by beating the Catamounts, 88-67, in a contest between the early division leaders on Thursday. Jake Cohen, who entered averaging 12.4 points per game, torched the Catamounts for 26 points and connected on all four of his three-point attempts. Davidson has now won 13 of its last 14 SoCon regular-season games, dating back to last season.
  • Meanwhile, College of Charleston – who entered Thursday one game behind Davidson in the South Division – suffered a shocking home defeat at the hands of UNC Greensboro.

Non-Conference Recap

  • Despite the strong non-conference showings by Davidson and College of Charleston, the conference has ranked weaker than in years past. CollegeRPI.com rates the conference 23rd. A year ago they ranked 19th and haven’t finished a year as low as 23rd since 2005-06.
  • In spite of the low rankings, the conference did enjoy a successful non-conference season, at least in terms wins against schools from the BCS leagues. Southern Conference schools picked up five wins against BCS schools highlighted by Davidson finally getting revenge against Kansas, taking down the Jayhawks in Kansas City.

Jake Cohen (15) and Davidson Remain The Class Of The SoCon (AP)

South Rising Up

Led by the Wildcats and the Cougars, the South Division has emerged as the power half of the league. The Cougars picked wins against Clemson and Tennessee and have approached the RPI top 50. The six South Division teams own a 33-11 record at home while the six North Division schools are just 26-16 at home.

Worth Noting

  • College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins owns 224 wins at a SoCon school (100 at Appalachian State from 1975-81; 124 at College of Charleston) to move within one victory of fifth place on the SoCon win list. He can tie Duke’s Eddie Cameron (the namesake for Cameron Indoor Stadium) on Saturday against Elon.
  • Davidson and the Wildcats’ Nik Cochran pace the nation in free-throw percentage. Cochran sits atop the leaderboard at 93.8% and as a team, the Wildcats connect at an 81.1% clip.

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An Analysis of Anthony Davis’ Involvement in Kentucky’s Offense

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 22nd, 2011

In his brief college career, Anthony Davis is better known for his defensive presence as he is still developing his offensive skills. In his power rankings earlier this month, Luke Winn charted Davis’ possessions playing in John Calipari’s offensive sets in the game against North Carolina. A concerning trend emerged that Davis received the ball in the post on just 5.7% of his touches. Winn stated that “one gets the sense that the Wildcats are still figuring out how best to use him on offense, even though he’s shooting 70.9 percent on his two-point attempts.” You may remember we analyzed Kentucky’s use of the post game in a piece just a few days earlier. I believe that Calipari’s use of Davis on the perimeter is done purposely with the intent of opening him up for a cut into the lane to set up the lob pass as you can see in both play #1 and #2 of that post. Davis is not going to overpower opposing big men. His strengths are his quickness and athleticism for a 6’11″ center, and it seems like Calipari is setting Davis up to take advantage of slower fives.

Should Calipari Utilize Davis More Often In The Post?

With Terrence Jones out with a dislocated finger, Kentucky’s biggest (and only) post threat was on the sidelines for Tuesday’s warm-up game with Samford. Davis has not been utilized as a post-up player this season, likely because he weighs all of  220 pounds. However, Samford’s center Drew Windler is 6’9″ and 195 pounds. If ever there was a time to post Davis up, Tuesday night would have been the night. It seemed like now would be a good time to do a follow up on Winn’s original work, so I decided to chart each of Anthony Davis’ touches on offense.

This is a play by play of each possession in which Davis touched the ball within the Kentucky offense against Samford:

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SoCon Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 4th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference, bringing you up to speed, with the SoCon Tournament tipping off Friday.

Postseason Preview

 

College of Charleston remains the favorite to win the SoCon tournament, but Wofford and Furman are able candidates as well. I see Davidson as a possible darkhorse team, with the Paladins also having an outside chance. Here are my predictions:

Friday, March 4:

  • Davidson over UNC-Greensboro
  • Appalachian State over Georgia Southern
  • Furman over Samford
  • Elon over The Citadel

Saturday, March 5:

  • Davidson over Western Carolina
  • Wofford overAppalachian State
  • Furman over Chattanooga
  • College of Charleston over Elon

Sunday March 6:

  • Wofford over Appalachian State
  • College of Charleston over Furman

Monday, March 7:

  • College of Charleston over Furman

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 23rd, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference

[Ed. Note - the following piece was written in advance of Saturday's action.]

A Look Back

As the weather warms, so too does the race for the SoCon conference championship. Andrew Goudelock and the Cougars of College of Charleston still remain the favorite, but four teams are within three games of the Cougars, and with two weeks left, nothing is certain. UNC-Greensboro is continuing its rise out of the cellar, and has boosted their conference win total to five. This wouldn’t be noteworthy, however, if the Spartans hadn’t taken two months to win their first game. While the Spartans are enjoying their rise to mediocrity, Georgia Southern is still waiting for the first conference win.  Standing at 4-24 for the season, only one of the Eagles’ season victories have come against a Division-1 opponent, and it took overtime to decide the outcome. The hottest team in the SoCon right now is the Catamounts of Western Carolina, who have won five straight, and continue to shoot up the standings, led by senior guard Mike Williams.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (20-7, 13-2)- The Cougars have held this spot for about a month now, thanks in large part to their fantastic duo, Andrew Goudelock and Jasper Simmons. I fully expect the Cougars to be the #1 seed in the SoCon Tournament.

A Look Ahead: The Cougars play in the annual ESPN Brackerbusters game against Vermont, and then will host Samford. They finish the season with road games against Appalachian State and Western Carolina.

2. Furman (19-7, 11-4)- The Paladins continue to look up to the Cougars, and down on everybody else. That being said, the Paladins have proved that when do-it-all forward Amu Sakku plays well, they’re one of the toughest teams to beat in the conference.

A Look Ahead: The Paladins travel to Samford and Chattanooga, and will finish the regular season at home against Wofford, in a game that will potentially determine the #2 seed in the SoCon Tournament.

3. Western Carolina (14-13, 10-5)- As mentioned earlier, the Catamounts are the hottest team in the SoCon these days. Mike Williams continues to score (14.9 Points Per Game) and dish out the assists (3.8 per game).

A Look Ahead: Western Carolina will participate in the Bracketbuster games, against Eastern Kentucky. Then the Catamounts will travel to UNC-Greensboro. After that, the Catamounts will finish their season with home games against The Citadel and College of Charleston.

4. Wofford (15-12, 12-4)- The Terriers continue to tread water. They beat all the teams they are supposed to, but when big matchups against teams like College of Charleston and Furman, they Terriers falter. That being said, if the Terriers can win out, they’re looking at being the #2 seed in the conference tournament.

A Look Ahead: The Terriers will participate in the Bracketbuster games, squaring off against Ball State. They finish the regular season with road games against Chattanooga and Furman.

5Chattanooga (14-14, 10-5): If Western Carolina is the hottest team in the league, then the Mocs of Chattanooga are the coldest. Losers of their last four, the Mocs need Omar Wattad to get his scoring touch back; the junior forward has scored just fourteen points combined in his last two conference games.

A Look Ahead: The Mocs host Furman and Wofford, and then finish the season at Samford.

6. Davidson (14-13, 8-8): After four consecutive losses in late January, the Wildcats rattled off five wins in a row, and have won six of their last seven. Davidson has put up impressive rebounding numbers as well; they rank 90 in the nation in rebounds per game.

A Look Ahead: The Wildcats travel to Presbateryian College, then finish the season at home, against Elon and UNC-Greensboro.

7. Appalachian State (12-14, 8-8): The Mountaineers continue to be plagued by their low number of assists per game, 10.5, which ranks 321st in the nation. Donald Sims continues to carry the offensive load, with 21.2 points per game, with healthy contributions from Omar Carter, averaging 16.5 points per game.

A Look Ahead: Appalachian State will participate in Bracketbusters, squaring off against High Point. After that, it’s home games against College of Charleston and The Citadel.

8. UNC-Greensboro (5-20, 5-9): Ok, ok, the Spartans might not deserve this spot, but I’ll give it to them anyway, due to their impressive turnaround. The key to the Spartans recent success? Scoring. Preposterous, I know. The Spartans have score over 85 points in their last three wins.

A Look Ahead: The Spartans travel to Elon, then host Western Carolina. After that, it’s road games against Georgia Southern and Davidson. As crazy as it sounds, the once-winless Spartans have a chance to finish .500 in conference play.

9Elon (11-15, 5-10): Elon finally broke their five-game losing streak with their recent victory over The Citadel. Once considered a dark-horse contender for the conference title, the wheels have seemingly fallen of for the Phoenix.

A Look Ahead: Elon hosts UNC-Greensboro, and finish the season with road matches against Davidson and Georgia Southern.

10Samford (12-15, 4-11): The Bulldogs rank in the 300’s in both rebounding and scoring. Honestly, with those numbers, I’m surprised they have won twelve games all season.

A Look Ahead: Samford hosts Furman, then will travel to College of Charleston, and will finish the regular season with a home game against Chattanooga.

11. The Citadel (9-19, 5-10): Losers of their last six, the Bulldogs continue to freefall down the standings. Senior guard Cameron Wells continues to play stellar basketball, but isn’t getting much help from his teammates.

A Look Ahead: The Bulldogs finish the season with three consecutive road games, at Georgia Southern, Western Carolina, and Appalachian State.

12. Georgia Southern (4-24, 0-15): If nothing else, the Eagles are consistent. They have been ranked in the 12th spot just as long as College of Charleston has been ranked in the top spot. They continue to search for that elusive first conference win.

A Look Ahead: Georgia Southern will finish the season with three consecutive home games, against The Citadel, UNC-Greensboro, and Elon.

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The Week That Was: Jan. 25-Jan. 31

Posted by jstevrtc on February 1st, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor 

Introduction:

It’s Feb. 1. That means there’s only 40 days left until Selection Sunday, or 40 days left for teams to build up their resume so their bubble doesn’t pop. We’re sure there are going to be a lot of heated discussions about teams hovering within that last four in-last four out zone over the next six weeks. Heck, here at TWTW, we’ll probably change our opinion on certain squads three  or four times until the end of the regular season. It should be a crazy six weeks, but we know it’s going to be fun.  

What We learned

After a weekend that saw 13 ranked teams lose (and the entire top 25 go 22-20 for the week, as Seth Davis pointed out on SI.com) the chic thing to do is talk about the gigantic bulging central part of the bell curve that symbolizes this college basketball season. It’s nearly impossible to make sense of who’s good and who’s bad on a weekly basis, as a team is liable to have a monumental win one night and then lose to a lesser school a few days later. Let’s use Georgetown as an example. Just over two weeks ago the Hoyas were a mess at 1-4 in the Big East and losers of four of their previous five games. Now, they’ve won five in a row, including recent triumphs at Villanova and at home against Louisville. Georgetown isn’t the only school that enjoys playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Check out this paragraph from Davis’ Monday column

“Texas can lose at USC and then win at Kansas. Tennessee, which should be this movie’s poster child, can win at Villanova and Pitt (at the Consol Energy Center) and lose to College of Charleston and Charlotte. Louisville loses at home to Drexel but beats UConn on the road. Providence loses to LaSalle but beats Louisville and Villanova. Auburn loses to Samford, Campbell and Presbyterian, but it beats Florida State, which later beats Duke. What, you didn’t know Presbyterian was better than Duke? And on Sunday, St. John’s (which lost to Fordham) blew out Duke.” 

Given all this uncertainty, can anyone honestly say with any assurance that there’s a clear-cut elite set of teams? Ohio State might be undefeated, but the Buckeyes have had their fair share of nail biters over ho-hum teams (Michigan, Penn State, and most recently, Northwestern). TWTW would like to put its eggs into Texas’ basket. The Longhorns are this week’s Team du Jour, having torched four ranked teams in the last 13 days, but you wouldn’t be shocked if Texas didn’t have a hiccup or two to an unranked team before the season’s end, would you?

This Tristan Thompson-Nathan Walkup Encounter Accurately Summarizes Texas' Throttling of the Aggies Last Night (B. Sullivan/Dallas Morning News)

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 30th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

A Look Back

Greetings, fellow SoCon hoops lovers. Let’s jump right into it. All season long, UNC-Greensboro has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Not only had they lost every game, but they were getting run off the court. Nothing was working for them. Two weeks ago, they were at the bottom of my power rankings, and were receiving national media attention for being one of the two remaining zero-win teams in DI hoops. Since then, they have won three out of their last four, with their lone loss coming against first place Chattanooga in double-overtime. Needless to say, I’m excited to see how the rest of their season plays out. College of Charleston is still rolling, especially as Andrew Goudelock continues his offensive domination, averaging 23.6 points per game. Also, Jeremy Simmons’ contributions shall not be overlooked; Jeremy is averaging 13.7 points and pulling 6.4 rebounds per game. Georgia Southern has replaced UNC-Greensboro as the conference bottom-dweller. The Eagles have yet to win a conference game, and things aren’t looking good. The silver lining is freshman guard Eric Ferguson, who is wasting no time becoming comfortable in the college basketball world. He is averaging 13.7 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, and almost two steals per game.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (15-7, 8-2)- The Cougars continue to be the SoCon team to beat. Their first conference loss came at the hands of Chattanooga, in a 91-88 thriller. Saturday’s slip-up against lowly Davidson is an unsightly blemish, but the Cougars should be fine as Andrew Goudelock continues to look like the SoCon POY.

A Look Ahead- The Cougars are in Charleston for home games against Wofford and Furman, two games that won’t disappoint.

2. Wofford (12-10, 9-2)- Winners of six of their last seven, the Terriers seem to have finally pieced it together, thanks in large part to Noah Dahlman, who is averaging 20 points per game.

A Look Ahead- The Terriers travel to College of Charleston (a SoCon must-watch) and The Citadel.

3. Furman (16-6, 8-3)- The Paladins’ offense was seemingly coming together quite nicely until they squared off against Western Carolina, and managed only 16 points in the first half of their loss. Amu Saaka continues to fill out the stat sheet, averaging 16.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

A Look Ahead- Furman takes to the road for showdowns against The Citadel and College of Charleston, the latter of which will be a crucial conference clash.

4. Chattanooga (12-10, 9-2)- Chattanooga, at times, has looked like the most talented team in the SoCon. Just ask College of Charleston. Other times, however, their play has left us all scratching our heads, like last week’s 88-56 loss to Wofford, or their 85-59 loss at Furman. If the Mocs are for real, they need to prove they can hang with fellow conference leaders.

A Look Ahead- The Mocs host Georgia Southern in a big showdown Thursday, especially with a four-game road trip coming up.

5. Western Carolina (9-12, 5-4)- It looked like the Catamounts’ rollercoaster season had taken another turn for the worse when they lost big to The Citadel and College of Charleston. Then, they got a much-needed victory over Furman, and are back in the conference race. Sometimes, all it takes is one big victory. Freshman guard Trey Sumler continues to look more and more comfortable out on the court.

A Look Ahead- Western Carolina will travel to Wofford and Elon, then host UNC-Greensboro, Chattanooga and Samford in a three-game homestretch.

6. The Citadel- (9-13, 5-5)- While the Bulldogs are on a roll, winners of their last four games, it might be too little, too late. The Bulldogs started 2011 with five consecutive losses. If they want to stay in contention for the conference title, they need this winning string to extend.

A Look Ahead- The Citadel will host Furman and Wofford, and then will travel to face the resurgent Spartans of UNC-Greensboro.

7. Elon (10-12, 4-7)- The Phoenix are having no trouble scoring, averaging 75 points per game, thanks in large part to the guard play of Chris Long and Drew Spradlin. Defense was the culprit in Saturday’s 85-76 loss at Chattanooga.

A Look Ahead- Elon hosts Western Carolina, Appalachian State, and College of Charleston after having played five of seven on the road.

8. Appalachian State (8-13, 4-7)- Once considered a likely candidate for the conference crown, Appalachian State has fallen hard, losing six of their last seven. On the bright side, Donald Sims continues to impress at 21 points per game. If there is one player who can challenge Andrew Goudelock for SoCon Player of the Year, it’s him.

A Look Ahead- Things won’t get any easier for the Mountaineers, as they play a pair away from home against UNC-Greensboro, and Elon.

9. UNC-Greensboro (4-16, 4-6)- Break up the Spartans! Ok, ok, they probably don’t deserve to be ranked this high, but I couldn’t resist. In earlier posts, I touted UNC-Greensboro as arguably the worst team in college hoops, so consider this my crow-filled meal. What is the method to UNC-Greensboro’s recent success, you ask? Scoring. Crazy, I know. In winning four of five, the Spartans scored over 70 points for the first time since November 14.

A Look Ahead- The Spartans will host Appalachian State and then hit the road again, traveling to Western Carolina.

10. Samford (11-11, 3-7)- The Bulldogs rank 317th nationally in points per game, and 343rd in rebounds per game. With these numbers, it’s rather impressive they’ve won 11 games already. Jeffrey Merritt is the only player averaging more than ten points per game.

A Look Ahead- The Bulldogs will host Davidson, then hit a three-game road trip, traveling to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, and Western Carolina.

11. Davidson (9-12, 3-7)- At the end of 2010, Davidson had a winning record, and only one conference loss. Since the new-year has begun, the Wildcats are 1-8, their lone win coming against Furman.

A Look Ahead- Davidson will pay a visit to Georgia Southern for a battle of the conference bottom-dwellers.

12. Georgia Southern (4-18, 0-9)- Thanks to UNC-Greensboro’s “turnaround,” we have a new #12. Georgia Southern’s pitiful rebounding, which ranks 314th in the nation, continues to be their downfall, as they have yet to win a conference game. Eric Ferguson, however, is wasting no time with his transition into college basketball. The freshman is averaging almost 30 minutes per game, and dropping 13.7 points per game.

A Look Ahead- Davidson, Chattanooga, and Samford are next on tap for GSU.

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Behind the Numbers: Slow and Steady and Sometimes Weird

Posted by KCarpenter on January 26th, 2011

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC contributor.

This is my favorite part of the college basketball season. Everything is more certain, yet still mutable: we know where things stand, but for most, it’s not too late for a strong push to finish the season. We don’t have to rely on pre-season guesswork or early returns: we have an idea of the mettle of most teams. The hype around fall flavors like Kansas State has been forgotten, and instead, we now read up on San Diego State. Here is the part of the season where we have taken stock of the landscape, the prologue is over, and now, we get to the good stuff: the build-up to conference championships and March confrontations.  That said, the landscape of college basketball is as interesting as it’s ever been. It would be wrong of us to move along too quickly without stopping to admire some of the interesting and stylistically odd teams that this season has given us. And speaking of moving too quickly, let’s take some time to look at some of the more interesting slow-as-Christmas teams in the country.

Ryan's System Works For Him

In Madison, they are, as always, playing Bo Ryan’s brand of basketball, but this year the team has achieved a special level of Ryan-ness. With an emphasis on fundamentals, this Wisconsin team is the pride of sanctimonious gym teachers across this fair land. The team rarely ever turns the ball over, easily leading the nation by surrendering the ball only 13.5% of the time. As a team, the Badgers are the best free throw shooting team in the nation, making 81.9% of their free throws. With those two distinctions, Wisconsin is now, if it wasn’t already, officially, the epitome of dad-basketball across the nation. Unfortunately, the meticulous style of play also means that Wisconsin leads the nation in one more category: slowest pace. The Badgers average 58 father-pleasing possessions a game.

At Samford, they are playing slowly as well, and while the style of play isn’t exactly dad-pleasing, it’s certainly interesting. It’s mostly confusing, but technically superlative in quite a few ways. Samford leads the nation in assist-to-field-goal ratio, which may or may not mean anything. They also easily lead the nation in proportion of three point shots taken, shooting 56.1% of their shots from beyond the arc. They are also the worst team in the nation at offensive rebounding, grabbing only 19.1% of available boards. I have not seen Samford play, but from the numbers I’m picking up on the kind of mad-genius idea that few coaches and teams have the stomach to implement.

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