Vegas Odds: Conference Tourneys – SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

Yesterday we ran through the current Vegas odds for four of the major conference tournaments getting under way early in the week. Today we’ll take a brief look at the remainder — the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, and SEC. The SEC tips off tonight with the rest lacing them up on Thursday afternoon. As usual, there are some disparities between overall public perception and the mathematics that Vegas assigns to these teams — we’ll note some of those differences below (all oddreported from 5dimes.com on Tuesday night).

sec tourney 13 odds

It’s no surprise that the Gators are a heavy favorite in Nashville this week, but #6 seed Missouri coming in with the next highest odds might be. The Tigers would have to win four games in four days, which is always difficult but not impossible. Vegas has little faith in #3 seed Ole Miss and #4 seed Alabama, as exhibited by their relatively low odds. The bottom line is that this tournament is Florida’s to lose, but after that it’s pretty wide open.

acc tourney 13 odds

#1 seed Miami (FL) may have won the regular season by a game in the ACC standings, but that doesn’t mean Vegas has to oblige with the notion that the Hurricanes are better than #2 seed Duke. The Blue Devils are a significant favorite over the rest of the field in Greensboro, and the odds realistically only give the top half of this league any kind of a chance. One team to watch is #5 seed NC State, who will have to win four games in four days — Vegas is still relatively high on the Wolfpack despite an incredibly inconsistent season.

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The RTC Podblast: SEC Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

The SEC Tournament begins tonight, presumably in front of dozens of people with the #11-#14 seeds in action, but that won’t stop us on the RTC Podcast. We invited SEC microsite writer Brian Joyce (@bjoyce_hoops) along for the discussion. The group breaks down a fairly wide open field, and wonders whether Florida is going to roll through this tournament or run into some additional problems. Feel free to hop around to your areas of concern using the handy outline below, and make sure to check back frequently this week as we’ll be rolling out a new podblast for each of the six major conference tourneys.

  • 0:00-3:55 – Florida Wins the SEC Because of Their Talent or Everyone Else’s Lack of Talent?
  • 3:55-6:13 – Non-Gator Favorites in the SEC Tournament
  • 6:13-15:36 – SEC Teams Trying to Win Their Way into the NCAA Tournament in Nashville
  • 15:36-17:42 – SEC Player Poised for a Breakout
  • 17:42-18:48 – Players We’ll Miss in the SEC
  • 18:48-20:14 – Best Potential Match-ups
  • 20:14-22:46 – NCAA Prediction for Florida/Wrap
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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #25 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#25 – Where This is Our Super Bowl Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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Does the New SEC Non-Divisional Format Help Its NCAA Profile?

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2011

Yesterday the twelve SEC head basketball coaches voted to remove the east/west divisional format from their league.  Pending what amounts to a rubber-stamping approval process from the league presidents, the conference could move to a standard twelve-team format as utilized by the other major basketball leagues as soon as next season.  The impetus for this change has been the serious imbalance between the two divisions for a while now.  In 2010-11, five SEC East teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament (versus none from the SEC West), and in 2009-10, four SEC East teams received golden tickets while its western counterparts were left at home.  To put an exclamation point on it, in the last five seasons, a whopping 18 SEC East teams have been invited to go dancing (out of 30 possible bids) against only five from the much-weaker West division.

The SEC is Trying to Avoid 12-4 Teams Like Alabama Left Out of the NCAAs

The SEC coaches know that NCAA bids are where they earn their paychecks and job security, so they’re seeking better ways to position themselves to get more teams into March Madness.  What was once a consistent six-bid league has fallen to an average of four the last three seasons, and as already discussed, the vast majority of those are coming from one division.  The idea to have a single conference race where schools are ranked and seeded for the conference tournament #1 to #12 is highly dubious given unbalanced scheduling (the intra-divisional teams will stay play each other twice in 2011-12) — does Alabama’s 12-4 mark (8-2 against the SEC West) from last season correlate to Kentucky’s 10-6 record (7-3 against the tougher SEC East)?  From an NCAA profile perspective, is it better for a school to tout its status as #1 in the SEC West or #5 overall, as Mississippi State (9-7) dealt with two seasons ago?  Fourth versus fifth place may not matter much in a deep league like the Big East, but in the SEC, it could mean the difference between caviar dreams in the NCAA Tournament or franks n’ beans in the NIT. 

Along the lines of those questions, we thought it might be interesting to examine the last two SEC Tournaments through the old and new formats to determine if the coaches’ stated goal to create more NCAA bid opportunities for the league makes better sense without divisions.  The brackets on the left hand side represent the old divisional format (#1 to #6 in both divisions), while the brackets on the right represent the new format (#1 to #12 regardless of division).   NCAA bubble teams in both years are signified in red.       

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Morning Five: 06.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2011

  1. UConn head coach Jim Calhoun cannot go to any public engagement this offseason without considerable analysis as to what his future plans may hold.  The latest such situation was Wednesday, where the three-time national championship coach spoke at the commencement ceremonies of one of his first employers, Dedham (MA) High School.  Despite a lightning storm in the area, Calhoun said that he envied the 176 graduates “for all the great things that [they] have left ahead” of them, but in an interview afterward, he said he wasn’t even thinking about his future at this time.  Unless Calhoun plans on pulling a Dean Smith and leaving the UConn program in the hands of his assistant coach, George Blaney (playing the save-the-day role of Bill Guthridge), we don’t see him retiring yet.  Having now had two months to reflect on his latest title and career, we think he knows what he’s going to do at this point — it’s just a matter of when he wants to announce it.
  2. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen something like this before, but in the wake of the Jim Tressel mess at Ohio State, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is asking Wildcat fans around the country to drop dime on UA players if they “ever know of a situation where a student-athlete is receiving an extra benefit (something that the rest of the student body would not receive).”  It’s certainly an innovative approach to a ubiquitous problem, and Byrne deserves accolades for at least acknowledging the possibility that Arizona players might do the wrong thing every once in a while.  Still… can you ever imagine an AD at an SEC school doing something like this?  They’d rather eat their own babies than support such a transparent nod to ethics.
  3. Speaking of the Southeastern Conference, the coaches on Wednesday voted in support of scrapping the East and West division format that it has had for two decades.  The reasoning behind this change is to reward the top four teams in the conference regardless of division by giving those schools byes into the SEC Tournament’s quarterfinals, and through some vague and undefined notion, help the overall profile of the league when it comes to postseason selections.  Considering the stark imbalance in recent years between the two SEC divisions — nine East teams have made the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons versus none from the West — we’re having trouble understanding how removing two byes from the weaker division actually helps the conference profile.  Consider a 9-7 Mississippi State team, the West division winner, in 2009-10.  The Bulldogs received a bye to the quarters and were able to rest while #3 Tennessee (11-5, East) and #4 Florida (9-7, East) played in the first round on Thursday; MSU was then able to beat UF and #2 Vanderbilt (12-4, East) in succession before dropping an overtime game to #1 Kentucky (14-2, East) in the finals.  Although the Bulldogs didn’t get an NCAA bid, its bye to the quarters undoubtedly helped its postseason profile, and if they’d been the overall #5 seed instead, we’re not convinced that they’d have been able to make a similar run.
  4. From the players behaving badly department (noticeably quiet lately, to be honest), Syracuse’s Fab Melo was arraigned on Wednesday for a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief related to “reaching through the open driver’s side window of a 2003 Chevrolet Impala, and breaking the turn signal control arm making the turn signal, headlight high beam control and windshield wiper control inoperable.”  Well, that’s certainly one way to do it.  The driver in question was allegedly a female SU student who has also filed a restraining order against Melo.  Something tells us that Melo is already running the stairs of the Carrier Dome over this.
  5. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Joplin, Missouri, Frank Haith’s program and local school Missouri Southern are attempting to put together a charity basketball game in October to raise money for the victims of the three-quarter mile-wide tornado last week.  Mizzou already has its maximum allotment of two exhibition games scheduled for next season, but the Tiger program is applying for an NCAA waiver to allow it to play the Division II program in Joplin.  As Missouri Southern head coach Robert Corn said in response to the waiver, the NCAA has “no heart” if the governing body chooses not to allow it.  Agreed.
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Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Sunday

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten & SEC.

ACC Tournament - by Kellen Carpenter

  • Early in the game, during a media timeout, one of the North Carolina cheerleaders lost her balance and fell down on the male cheerleader who was trying to hold her up. She ended up busting either his nose or lip and proceeded to bleed all over himself, the fallen cheerleader and the court. It took some extended minutes for the glove-wearing bio-hazard team to find and clean up all the blood. It was that kind of day for the North Carolina team and fans.
  • There was buzz more than an hour before tip-off and it grew steadily from there. The crowd was full of North Carolina partisans, but Duke has had the second most fans here all week. The stands were filled and the crowd cheered frequently and often. While the crowd was excitable and loud, the game lacked the rancor of the two previous Duke games. My favorite part about the crowd, however, were the proud representatives of the teams who had already fallen. Clemson sweatshirts and Virginia Tech hats abounded amongst the faction of spectators who often refused to cheer for either team.
  • Nolan Smith may not have had the gaudy offensive performances of Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette this week, but his performance on the offensive end has been spectacular and his performance on the defensive end has won the Blue Devils games. Just as Smith disrupted Virginia Tech’s offense by neutralizing Malcolm Delaney, Smith made the Tar Heel offense grind to a halt with his aggressive defense on Kendall Marshall.
  • In the past two games, Marshall was slowed down and rendered ineffective as teams have discovered the key to stopping him. Marshall is slow and needs space to make passes or drives. Aggressive, close defense on Marshall prevented him from scoring and making plays. Smith came out on Marshall as soon as he got across the half court line and challenged Marshall to try to get past him or pass with heavy pressure. It worked. Marshall had five turnovers to only five assists. He went 3 of 10 from the field. Marshall’s ability to make plays has been the driving force behind this Tar Heel team. Stopping Marshall is the key to stopping North Carolina, and unfortunately for the Heels, it’s now painfully clear how this can be accomplished.
  • The Comeback Kids couldn’t find one more miracle. After the game, Roy Williams said he didn’t understand why UNC had continually fell behind early in their tournament games. I’m not sure either, but I have some guesses. Roy’s insistence on getting early touches for the big men makes UNC’s offense incredibly predictable at the beginning of games. By refusing to shoot threes early in the game, Roy has made it easy to clog the paint and focus in on UNC’s focus.
  • Ryan Kelly, despite looking like a very tall version of Neville Longbottom, has actually settled into a nice impersonation of Manu Ginobili as a big man, or maybe Andrei Kirilenko when he came off the bench. In the sixth man role, Kelly played the fourth most minutes for Duke tonight and had a very impressive all-around game. In addition to nine points and three rebounds, he contributed three blocks and three steals on defense and served as a more reliable scoring threat than either of the Plumlees. This new role suits Kelly, and Coach K said he believes that Kelly has played the best basketball of his life in these past three days. In any case, it’s one more nasty surprise Duke has in store for it’s opponents in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Watching Duke play it was almost inconceivable to me that a Duke team that so effortlessly ran the table in the conference tournament and only had four losses, none of them bad over the course of the season, might not be a number one seed. They are playing some of the best basketball in the nation this past week, as they have all season.  I understand that many teams have a better collection of “best wins,” but Duke is a seriously dangerous team that has gotten better over the course of the season.
  • The last thing that really stood out throughout the course of the tournament was how much Greensboro, as a city, seemed genuinely excited to host. The way that every single business I saw had some sign or deal for ACC fans, the fact that the ACC Hall of Champions stands right next to the Greensboro Coliseum, and just the general excitement about town paints a picture of a place that really, really cares about hosting conference tournaments. It seemed like these were most important days of the year for Greensboro, and that’s a real credit to an otherwise small and sleepy city in North Carolina.

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RTC Live: Kentucky vs. Florida (SEC Championship)

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2011

Game #219.  The top two programs in the SEC meet on Sunday afternoon with a championship on the line.

In yesterday’s semifinal matchup with Vanderbilt, Florida guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker took over in the second half to recover from a 12-point deficit.  The two guards shot a combined 8-15 from behind the arc, an uncharacteristic number from a pair that often struggles from three.  The team as a whole shot 11-21 from three.  The Gators had to make a second consecutive second half comeback to get the win.  Kentucky on the other hand easily cruised past SEC West leader Alabama, leading at one point by as many as many as 26.  Kentucky Coach Calipari shrugged the performance off as one of those days where you just can’t go wrong saying, “We’d have smacked anybody the way we played today.”  He also expressed his displeasure with Kentucky’s seven turnovers saying that only having seven turnovers is a sign his team isn’t playing fast enough.  Not a lot of coaches out there demanding more turnovers.

Today in the SEC Championship we have the two best teams in the league.  They split wins during the season with the home team winning each time.  These two programs have learned a special disgust for each other.  Yesterday during the Florida/Vanderbilt game a picture of Joakim Noah was displayed on the giant screen as the SEC Tournament stars were honored.  That picture caused loud boos from the many Kentucky fans in attendance, so many that they drowned out the Florida cheers.  This should be an exciting matchup.  Kentucky wins it 71-68.

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Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Saturday

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 13th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East (pending), Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West,  Pac-10 & SEC.

ACC Tournamentby Kellen Carpenter

  • Despite a collective freak-out Nolan Smith is obviously fine. He torched Virginia Tech en route to a 27-point performance. He played 39 minutes and didn’t limp. After the game he said that he had woken up and felt pretty good, was given a shot for the pain and that was that. Smith also basically admitted that there was no injury that was going to stop him from playing the last, precious few games of his college career. Bold words.
  • There were other bold words that came from a raucous Coliseum crowd. An insistent six year-old Duke fan had one message and one message alone for Virginia Tech’s star whenever he went to the free throw line: “Delaney! Give me your money! Give me your money!” A Hokies fan, noting that an inordinate amount of time seemed to be taken up wiping the floor, was adamant in his commands to the Plumlee frontcourt: “Stop peeing on the floor, Plumlee!” This apparently applied to both. The winner of the impromptu ACC semifinals heckling contest, however, was an older Clemson fan. For some reason that I do not know, this fan spent the entire game heckling. He didn’t heckle the Tar Heels and he didn’t heckle the referees as a group, but rather singled out referee Les Jones. For forty solid minutes, he yelled at “Leslie” about every single thing. It was weird and oddly masterful. Kudos to you, demented stranger.
  • The Tar Heels sent out a mixed message. Dexter Strickland joked on Twitter this afternoon that they were calling his team “The Comeback Kids,” after UNC turned yet another double digit deficit into an overtime win. Kendall Marshall, who played forty minutes, simplyannounced, “I’m tired.” Harrison Barnes didn’t tweet anything, because he is too cool for Twitter.
  • Harrison Barnes, in the best individual performance of the tournament, hung 40 points on the Tigers. That’s impressive enough, but the really impressive part is how he did it. He scored his 40 on a mere 17 shots. He made 6 of 8 three-pointers and 10 of 11 free throws. He had 8 rebounds, four of which were offensive boards. When you play like that, you are, factually, too cool for Twitter. Carolina fans will lift a drink to play that speaks for itself.
  • After both games were finished, the buzz around the Coliseum was palpable. It’s been ten years since Duke and North Carolina have met in the ACC finals, and the town, as a whole, seems legitimately excited about it. A rubber match to the split series is something that everyone involved with both teams’ desires. With a number one seed potentially at stake, and a not insignificant amount of pride, both seem poised to deliver a memorable showdown. Given North Carolina’s apparent propensity for dramatic tournament finishes, the chances of a great game happening seem awfully high.
  • While the rivals exult, Virginia Tech and Clemson fret. Both improved their NCAA stock, but neither was able to seal their destiny with a signature win. There is a degree of optimism for both teams and Seth Greenberg joked that he wasn’t going to sleep because he was so excited about the Hokies chances. A solemn Malcolm Delaney just shook his head and firmly disagreed: After all that had happened over his four years at Virginia Tech, he going to expect the worst and wasn’t going to believe it until he heard it himself. While I’m hopeful for Virginia Tech’s chances, I’m with tough and wise Delaney on this one. That said, I wish him the best. That kid is too tough and too good to never make it to the Big Dance.

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Set Your Tivo: Selection Sunday Edition

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 13th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

We finally made it. It’s Selection Sunday and one of the best Championship Weeks ever played concludes today. I’d like to thank any reader out there who has read even just one of these daily features this season. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe even learned something you didn’t know about a team(s) from following Set Your Tivo. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

ACC Championship (at Greensboro, NC): #5 Duke vs. #6 North Carolina – 1 pm on ESPN (*****)

Barnes and the Heels Could Snag a 1-Seed Later Today With a Win

The greatest rivalry in college basketball for the third time this year on the last day of the season? Sign me up. In an ACC year full of mediocrity, the two top dogs stepped up and have successfully found their way to the title game today. As you know, these teams split the regular season series with each winning on their home floor. The rubber match will be in Greensboro today, about an hour west of each campus and right in the heart of Tobacco Road.

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BGTD: Friday Afternoon Tourney Sessions

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2011

Throughout conference tournament weekend, we’re going to pop in with some BGTD-style analysis at least twice a day.  Here’s Friday afternoon’s coverage…

  • OSU Survives.  Northwestern seems to play the #1 Buckeyes as well as anybody, taking Thad Matta’s team to the brink twice this season, and losing both.  No other Big Ten team played OSU as closely as the Wildcats did this year, not even Purdue and Wisconsin, the two teams who beat the Buckeyes once each but were blown out in Columbus.  Jared Sullinger did his thing dominating the inside (20/18), but the key takeaway from this game is that in two contests this season, Bill Carmody has found a way to slow down Jon Diebler’s scorching three-point attack.  Recall that Diebler had hit a ridiculous 17-20 in his last two games and is over 50% for the season, but in the close games against the Wildcats, Diebler was only 2-8 from deep and 5-14 overall.  Slowing him down is absolutely essential to knocking off the Buckeyes, so you’d better believe that coaches over the next three weeks will be studying the Northwestern game films very carefully for clues.
  • Michigan Surges. We couldn’t really figure out what happened to the Wolverines last season, but we knew that something was structurally wrong because John Beilein is an excellent coach.  He’s proving it again this year, as Michigan has now won nine of 12 games after today’s comeback victory over Illinois, with the three losses being by one point to Wisconsin, two points at Illinois and eleven points at #1 Ohio State.  At the under-8 timeout, the Wolverines were down nine points and struggling to put points on the board (only 42); from that point on, UM went on an 18-4 run, holding Illinois to a single field goal down the stretch by making several big plays to finish it off.  Michigan is playing well, and their style is very difficult to prepare for — don’t be surprised if Darius Morris, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and company give the Buckeyes all they want tomorrow and make a run at the Sweet Sixteen next week.
  • Carolina: Master of Close Wins.  Everyone knows that the Tar Heels have been on fire, winning eight in a row and thirteen of their last fourteen games and making a case for an outside shot at a #1 seed next week.  What’s interesting to us is how Roy Williams’ relatively young team is consistently  coming back to win close games — today’s buzzer-beater by Tyler Zeller underneath against Miami (FL) is only the latest example.  The Heels were down nineteen points with around ten minutes to go, but somehow, someway, led by Kendall Marshall’s artistry and some timely three-point shooting, they went on a 27-6 run to close out the game and get the victory to move into the ACC semifinals.  Whether these close wins against average competition (six ACC wins by one possession) represents a weakness or a strength, we’re not quite sure, but Carolina is showing an ability to make the right plays in the clutch.
  • Do You Leave Alabama Out? If the intent of the NCAA Tournament is to invite the 37 best at-large teams to dance, then we’re not sure you can leave Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament.  In a recurring theme this weekend, the Tide roared back from fourteen down in the last seven minutes to force overtime where they were then able to pull out the key victory against Georgia.  That gives Anthony Grant’s team 13 SEC wins out of 17 tries, and although the conference is exceptionally weak, especially on the West side, it’s difficult for us to fathom that Alabama isn’t one of those top 37 right now.  We think the Committee will see it the same way, and Alabama will be in one of the First Four games on Tuesday or Wednesday night.
  • A-10 Craziness.  The top half of the Atlantic 10 bracket was blown up this afternoon with #9 seed Dayton getting out to a big lead early against #1 Xavier and holding on down the stretch; and, #12 St. Joseph’s knocking out #4 Duquesne in overtime.  This sets up a Saturday semifinal between a #9 and a #12 seed that nobody who follows this league could have seen coming.  Bubble teams around the country are rooting for #2 Temple to run its way to the title game and easily handle one of these two; otherwise, the Atlantic 10 will be guilty of bid larceny on Sunday.
  • Bubbling Up.  Clearly, Alabama, who may have played its way into the First Four with today’s win over Georgia… Clemson, who crushed BC in a possible knockout game in the ACC Tourney…
  • Bubbling Down.  Georgia, who may have played its way out of the Tournament with its collapse and unfortunate timing on the time out at the end of regulation…  Boston College, who never showed up against Clemson…
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RTC Live: SEC Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2011

Games #201-202.  It’s SEC Friday in Atlanta and we’re going to focus on two of the more important bubble games of the day here.

1 pm.  Georgia vs. Alabama. “Everybody says, ‘Well, the SEC is down,’Well, the top sure isn’t down. I have no idea where either of us sits in the eyes of the committee, and we can’t control that. All we’re going to worry about is trying to advance in this tournament.”  Those of the words of Georgia Coach Mark Fox and this game is huge in determining if the SEC has any chance at getting six tournament bids.  The bottom half of the SEC is terrible.   If the Bulldogs win this game, they’re all but guaranteed to make the tournament.  The Dawgs’ Trey Thompkins says he is as healthy as he has ever been and played great yesterday in a 69-51 win over Auburn where he scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.  That’s a point for Georgia.  Alabama closed out the season with a win over Georgia in Tuscaloosa 65-57 last Saturday, so definitely a point for Alabama, but the Tide lost two straight to Mississippi and Florida; and with three losses to sub-100 RPI teams and a terrible preseason record, the Tide has to feel like this is a must-win game despite the 12-4 conference record.  I’m taking Georgia 63-60.

7 pm. Tennessee vs. Florida.  Tennessee’s RPI is due to a SOS ranking that is number 2 in the country.  The Volunteers are also 7-6 against the RPI top 50.  Most of the “experts”  say Tennessee is in, but with a poor home record where the Vols lost eight games at home, a 4-6 record in their last 10 games and a sub 200 RPI loss to Charlotte, why not just win the game and put doubt to rest?  It wouldn’t be the first time the selection committee left out a top 40 RPI team.  Florida is playing for seeding right now.  The Gators are probably sitting on a number three seed and not likely to move up, but they could certainly still drop with a poor showing in the SEC Tournament.  Lots to play for here.  Florida wins it 70-64.

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Set Your Tivo: 03.11.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 11th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

One auto bid and a host of major conference games are on tap today, two days out from Selection Sunday. The afternoon session features plenty of bubble teams making their closing arguments to the Selection Committee. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

SEC Quarterfinals (at Atlanta, GA): Georgia vs. Alabama – 1 pm on ESPN FullCourt (***)

We’ve heard all kinds of things about this game from an elimination game to a play-in game. Whatever it may be, one team will be looking better than the other by the time it’s over. Alabama beat Georgia in the regular season finale six days ago and now they meet again in another game with major NCAA implications. RTC’s resident bracketologist had Georgia in and Alabama the first team on the “out” list as of last night while Joe Lunardi over at ESPN has the Bulldogs as the last team in the field and the Crimson Tide in the same position as RTC. This game will be played almost exclusively in the paint as neither team shoots it well from deep. Both teams rank in the top 20 in interior defense but Georgia has to avoid turnovers to win. Alabama thrives on giveaways despite their slower tempo, ranked #28 in defensive turnover percentage. Georgia committed 16 turnovers in the loss to the Tide last week and lost the game despite out-shooting Alabama from the floor. Senario Hillman leads Alabama in steals and will look to harass the Georgia guards all game long. The battle in the paint between Trey Thompkins and JaMychal Green could determine the outcome of the game if the Bulldogs don’t turn it over often.

Big Ten Quarterfinals (at Indianapolis, IN): Michigan vs. Illinois – 2:30 pm on ESPN (***)

Illinois is generally considered to be in the field of 68 but Michigan could really use a win. The Wolverines are likely in as of now but a loss here and other results around the country could make it a very close call on Sunday. The Illini won the only meeting of the regular season, a two point win in Champaign on February 16. Michigan protects the ball very well but rebounding and defense did them in against Illinois in that game. John Beilein would love to play this game in the half court where his team can probe and dissect the Illinois defense, although the Illini rank tenth in three point defense and Michigan fires up almost 23 triples per game. With two dynamic playmakers in Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway Jr, Michigan can break a team down off the dribble of spot up for a three. This is a game they definitely can win but a better effort on the glass is needed. Michigan ranks near the bottom of D1 in offensive rebounding percentage (that will happen when you shoot so many threes) and was out-rebounded in the loss to Illinois last month.

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