Big East Morning Five: 12.02.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 2nd, 2011

  1. We know there is only so much of the Bernie Fine scandal that people are willing to stomach, but like it or not, the story isn’t going away for awhile. For those interested in the latest developments, Syracuse Chancellor, Nancy Cantor, wrote a short but detailed open letter to USA Today explaining the university’s decision to fire Fine and why it didn’t happen sooner. The crux of the letter is that the SU claims it didn’t know about the recorded conversation between accuser Bobby Davis and Fine’s wife, Laurie. Cantor basically explained that if Syracuse had been made aware of the tape’s existence earlier, Fine would have been fired at that time. She also calls out ESPN and the Syracuse Post-Standard, saying, “those who held onto the tape for nearly 10 years owe everyone an explanation”. Both ESPN and the Post-Standard have offered their rationale for not releasing the tape earlier, but for some people, that still isn’t enough to be fully exonerated. It is hard to paint Syracuse as a university in a negative light. Cantor is justifiably trying to do everything she can to make it clear how different this case is from the Penn State scandal, and it certainly seems like the news outlets are the people who are under the microscope now, an interesting turn of events given all that has happened in the past month.
  2. Even after all of the unnecessary attention he has placed on himself in recent days thanks to his use of social media, disgruntled Connecticut center Alex Oriakhi continues to get himself in trouble using Twitter. First, it was a since-deleted tweet where he called Jim Calhoun a “mumu,” which Oriakhi said is Nigerian for boss. Pretty much everyone else disagreed and said the word means idiot. Apparently, Oriakhi isn’t even the only member of his own family to struggle with the perils of social media, as both sister and father have gone after The UConn Blog after the outlet wrote a story about the twitter controversy. Personally, while I think that the Oriakhi family only made things worse by going after a blogger, I also think this is being made out to be a bigger deal than it really is. I agree that Oriakhi is a captain and veteran leader of the Huskies and as such, should be acting far more mature than he is. But I think to say that his father’s and sister’s comments make Alex and Connecticut look bad by extension is stretching things quite a bit. Most families do not enjoy negative coverage of their children. I don’t think there was anything unfairly negative in either of the stories, but I think the real story here is that Oriakhi and Jim Calhoun need to sit down and work this out. No matter what people believe, UConn needs a happy and focused Alex Oriakhi, and if he plans on continuing his basketball career at the next level, he is going to need to drop this whole malcontent act and start earning his playing time back. This is exactly the kind of non-troversy that ends up being a bigger distraction than it should be.
  3. In what might end up being the best game of the SEC/Big East Challenge, Georgetown coach John Thompson, III, said junior forward Hollis Thompson “did what Hollis does,” which apparently is hit long, contested, game-winning three-pointers. It wasn’t a particularly well-played game by either team, but the Hoyas upset No. 12 Alabama 57-55, proved they don’t need to have a star player to be a good team, and chalked up a resume-building win that will pay dividends when Selection Sunday rolls around. Georgetown got 22 points from guard Jason Clark and survived a dunkfest from Alabama’s Tony Mitchell and now have the look of a conference contender after so many predicted a big slide this year following the departures of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. I would still say this team’s ceiling is probably a Sweet Sixteen appearance given their youth and lack of depth, but there are some talented young players on this Hoyas team, and Clark and Thompson are legitimate offensive threats and two of the better players in the conference. On a completely unrelated note, it baffles me that Georgetown freshman Otto Porter could play 35 minutes of basketball and only score two points, grab two rebounds, and dish one assist. Are we sure he really played 35 minutes? Did his teammates forget he was on the floor?
  4. You didn’t think the Big East was going to let West Virginia have all the legal fun did you? Just one day after WVU filed to have the Big East’s countersuit dismissed because Rhode Island courts shouldn’t rule on West Virginia business, the Big East fired back and filed to have the West Virginia lawsuit dismissed on the basis that the Mountaineers haven’t provided much evidence to prove that conference bylaws are invalid. West Virginia has already paid half of the $5 million exit fee to the conference and they would like to have the lawsuit fast-tracked so a decision can be made by June 30. However, circuit judge Russell Clawges didn’t give a lot of hope that timeline could be honored, and this looks like a legal dogfight that could drag out for a very long time. It makes sense for West Virginia to want to move on as quickly as possible. Both sides have said some not-so-nice things about each other and I seriously doubt at this point the Big East even wants the Mountaineers in the conference, football revenue and all. But their hands are tied by the precedent rolling over could set. Letting West Virginia leave early could impact Syracuse and Pittsburgh, both of whom have also decided to leave the conference, and then the Big East would have a real mess on its hands. Stay tuned, because there will be plenty more of this story as it unfolds.
  5. In dire need of some good news given the uncertainty surrounding their coach’s health and the fact they were just shellacked by Kentucky on the road, St. John’s scored a little victory — at least in theory — when recruit Amir Garrett tweeted he could be suiting up for the Red Storm in just three weeks. If three weeks is in fact an accurate estimate, that means Garrett could return before the conference opener and he would be a welcome addition. This is excellent news for Steve Lavin’s club as their bench is thin and Garrett is an athletic wing player who can guard multiple positions and run the floor. Just don’t expect his arrival to drastically change St. John’s fortunes. This is still a very young team as they showed against Kentucky and at 4-4, they don’t look like a team headed towards the Tournament, especially if Lavin’s health and availability remain in limbo. The good news is that Garrett doesn’t have the look of a one-and-done player, especially considering he also has a bright future in baseball, so getting him on the floor and acclimated to college basketball will only help the Johnnies next season, when the team should be more experienced and also better.
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Night Line: Sims, Georgetown Becoming a Surprise Force in the Big East

Posted by EJacoby on December 2nd, 2011


Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist. You can find him @evanJacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

Amidst all the disappointing results coming out of the Big East Conference so far this year, the Georgetown Hoyas are the league’s most pleasant surprise, quickly developing into an impressive team on both ends of the floor. After playing well in its first six games, John Thompson, III’s team officially confirmed its status as a legitimate Top 25 team with a hard-fought win at Alabama on Thursday night. Thanks to the tremendous improvement of center Henry Sims, the Hoyas look like one of Thompson’s teams of old, running a crisp Princeton offense with a go-to big man in the high post, a la Greg Monroe or Roy Hibbert. A team that was picked to finish 10th in the Big East preseason poll, Georgetown suddenly looks like a legitimate contender in the league.

Georgetown Outlasted Alabama, Adding to Its Impressive Early Season Record (AP/R. Sutton)

Thursday’s road win at No. 11 Alabama should open plenty of eyes across the country, in case they weren’t focused on the Hoyas during their solid run last week in the Maui Invitational. With his team down by one, Hollis Thompson sank a game-winning three-point shot with two seconds to play for the win. In the process, Georgetown snapped the nation’s fourth-longest home winning streak, 24 wins in a row for the Tide in Tuscaloosa. The Hoyas are now 6-1 with two wins over top-15 opponents away from home, the other coming against Memphis in Maui. Their only loss was a slim defeat to Kansas in that same Maui tournament. Georgetown’s resume is shaping up nicely, and Hoya Paranoia is most definitely back in action.

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The Big East and SEC Join Challenge Week

Posted by nvr1983 on December 16th, 2010

Given the growing popularity of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge over the past few years it seemed inevitable that the other power conferences would join the fray and earlier today the Big East and SEC announced that they would be expanding their relatively under-the-radar SEC/Big East Invitational into a more comprehensive Big East/SEC Challenge. Over the past four seasons the two conferences have engage in a series of 4 games to decide a winner. To date the conferences are tied 1-1-2 with the conferences splitting the overall games 8-8.

We could be seeing more huge SEC/Big East games in the future

While the SEC/Big East Invitational has yielded a few good match-ups over the past few seasons with the most recent being Tennessee‘s big win at Pittsburgh the fact that it only involves 4 match-ups between the conferences limits the ability of fans of either conference to confidently claim superiority based on these results although we have a sneaking suspicion that the Big East fans would have a stronger argument over the past few seasons. The new format would involve 12 games meaning that all the SEC teams would play every year and 12 of the 16 (then 17) Big East teams would participate each year. Because only the SEC teams would get to play every year the home-and-away rotation would be based on the SEC team. The games will be played over 4 days beginning on the Thursday after Thanksgiving. Keeping the Challenge to a confined period should keep fans interest and avoid some of the pitfalls that plagued the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series that is coming to an end. In a somewhat amusing move the name will alternate each year from the Big East/SEC Challenge in 2011 to the SEC/Big East Challenge in 2012 and so on. The match-ups have not been announced yet, but will be broadcast on one of ESPN’s family of networks starting on December 1, 2011.

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Set Your Tivo: 12.08.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 8th, 2010

***** – 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.

Two clashes featuring SEC East schools headline tonight’s slate, plus we have a couple interesting west coast games later tonight. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#24 Vanderbilt @ #15 Missouri – 9 pm on ESPNU (****)

Vandy's Festus Ezeli is Playing Great This Year

Vanderbilt has flown under the radar for the most part but they’ve now been recognized and cracked our RTC Top 25 this week. Kevin Stallings seems to produce a solid program every year in Nashville, winning at least 20 games in five of the past seven seasons. Vandy is 7-1, their only loss coming by three to West Virginia in Puerto Rico. The Commodores knocked off North Carolina to finish third in that tournament, the first win in a five-game winning streak since the WVU game. Vanderbilt is a solid defensive club that also likes to play at a quick pace, something they’ll see a lot of from their opponent tonight. Missouri loves the pressure defense and fast pace, ranking #14 in tempo. Mizzou is a prolific offensive team because of all the extra possessions they create, averaging 85 PPG on 48% shooting. The Tigers love to force turnovers (#8 in defensive turnover percentage) and should get quite a few against a Vanderbilt team ranked #226 in turnover percentage, but defense has been a struggle for them. Missouri is ranked in the 200’s in effective field goal percentage against, three and two point defense as well as opponents free throws per field goals meaning they foul a lot. Mike Anderson’s team also gives the ball away an average of 15 times per contest, less than they force but still a cause for concern. Aside from the great game against Georgetown last week, Missouri hasn’t been tested by a strong opponent. They were down early against the Hoyas and it was interesting to look at the box score and see the minutes break down for the Mizzou players. Anderson stuck with his starters, playing them for 202 of the 225 (90%) available minutes in the game. While it’s inconclusive, that may have resulted in lots of tired legs towards the end of regulation and certainly in the overtime session. Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon anchor the Tiger back court. Dixon takes great care of the ball, averaging 2.56 assists for every turnover, and will match up against Brad Tinsley (9/5/5), also a good distributor. Denmon is Anderson’s biggest three point threat, hitting 56% of his treys this season. Denmon against Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins will be a great matchup to watch. Jenkins, one of the best three point shooters in the nation last season at 48%, struggled early but has hit 14-29 (48%) over his last four games, right on his number from last year. Overall he’s still at 38% but leads the team in scoring at 19 PPG. Jenkins struggled in Vandy’s last game against Belmont but expect him to be fired up and ready to go against a guy like Denmon. The Commodores need a good outing from Jenkins to be able to win but they also have a secondary deep threat in Jeffery Taylor, something Missouri doesn’t have at this time with their other shooters struggling a bit. As a team, Vanderbilt attempts an average of 21 three’s a game. Another great matchup will occur in the paint between Mizzou’s Ricardo Ratliffe and Vandy’s Festus Ezeli. Ezeli has three inches and 15 pounds on Ratliffe but the Missouri forward is more athletic and can move the Nigerian center around. Ezeli averages 13/8 on 67% FG while blocking two shots a game. Ratliffe will have his hands full but should be able to draw fouls with his superior athleticism. With Ezeli in the fold, Vanderbilt has a rebounding advantage and they do a great job keeping their opponents off the offensive boards. That’ll be important against a Missouri team that’s always looking for extra shots and possessions. Should this game come down to free throws, advantage Vandy. The Commodores shoot 76% from the line as a team led by Jenkins’ 91%. Vanderbilt can definitely win this game but it’ll be tough in the raucous environment of Mizzou Arena. While this game probably won’t be as good as the Mizzou/Georgetown game, expect a great one in Columbia this evening.

SEC/Big East Invitational: #21 Kentucky vs. #22 Notre Dame (in Louisville, KY) – 9:30 pm on ESPN (****)

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That’s Debatable: On the Conference Challenges…

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2010

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at rushthecourt@yahoo.com

This Week’s Topic: The ACC/Big Ten Challenge just ended, and the Missouri Valley/Mountain West Challenge began last night.  The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series gears up in earnest this evening after one game last weekend.  The Big East/SEC Invitational starts next week.  Are you a fan of these conference challenge events and what would you suggest to the powers-that-be to improve them?

Brian Otskey, RTC Contributor

These inter-conference events are good publicity generators and certainly give teams opportunities for quality wins early in the season. I’m a fan of the concept but aside from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, these events do not receive enough national coverage. ESPN is obviously the driving force behind the ACC/Big Ten but I’d like to see them become more involved in the other events. The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series would be a good start. ESPN televises some games but most are on FSN, stretched out over almost a month. Then we have the Big East/SEC Invitational. The Worldwide Leader covers it but the event has just four teams from each league competing. I realize the Big East is a 16-team monstrosity but why can’t we have 12 Big East teams play all 12 SEC teams over three days? Instead we have two games per night at neutral locations played over two non-consecutive days, hardly creating any buzz. When it comes to the Mountain West and Missouri Valley, let’s face it: most casual fans don’t care about non-name teams competing against each other. It’s a sad reality for us diehards, but casual fan interest makes the money and drives ratings.

David Ely, RTC Contributor

I think any event that prompts teams from the big conferences to play each other rather than the smaller schools is a good idea. Duke playing Michigan State is much better for the sport than Duke-UNC-Asheville or Michigan State-Eastern Michigan. That being said, there are things that could be done done to re-energize these events. I for one am tired of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It’s time to mix up the conferences. Give me an ACC/Big East Challenge to pit the two supposed basketball meccas against each other in a winner-takes-all series. How about a Big Ten/Big 12 Hardwood Series? There’s already a little bit of bad blood between the two conferences because of football realignment. Basketball should capitalize on that hatred. Whoever wins the first series gets the Texas football program? 

Zach Hayes, RTC Editor/Contributor

I’m a huge fan of these conference challenge events. It forces coaches to play true road games against quality opponents and sets up marquee matchups that normally may not occur. Two years ago, I distinctly remember Duke was sent to Purdue in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in a battle of top-10 teams. Because Coach K prefers to play neutral site games in most years rather than visit the home floors of elite non-conference competition, that Duke-Purdue game felt like a rare treat that wouldn’t have happened if the ACC-Big Ten Challenge was never invented. As someone that appreciates the mid-major game, the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge, while it lacks a premiere TV deal, is a fantastic way for quality Cinderella candidates to face off in December. The only change I would make is moving the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to open the season in mid-November. This solves the problem of a lackluster, trickling start to the college hoops season and instead the campaign would open with a bang that Michigan State-Duke or Purdue-Virginia Tech provides. Surely those two conferences would welcome the change as well, with basketball-starved fans tuning in to ESPN in even greater droves than in the current setup.

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Morning Five: 06.10.10

Posted by rtmsf on June 10th, 2010

  1. Is it just us, or does this feel like the busiest June in college basketball history?  Between Wooden’s passing, every college coach of note contemplating a chance to coach LeBron James, the insanity of conference realignment, and the endless discussion of violations and sanctions, you’d think that we were in the middle of January.  Whew.
  2. The good news: Kansas cleared its AD Lew Perkins of any wrongdoing amidst allegations of trading tickets for athletic equipment.  The much, much worse news: he may no longer have a BCS conference in which to sell or trade those tickets.
  3. Would Tom Izzo realistically leave his successful program at Michigan State to take a shot at coaching LeBron James in the NBA?  According to various reports last night, the answer is yes.  The MSU coach will visit Cleveland Thursday and his Spartan players already have a sense that he might be leaving for this opportunity, the latest of many in his career.  Reportedly Cleveland is offering Izzo twice his current salary of $3M per year, and of course, the opportunity to coach the player widely regarded as the greatest of his generation for the next decade.  This is a very interesting dilemma for the fiery Michigander.
  4. Get excited now, kids — the SEC/Big East Invitational matchups were announced yesterday.  The headliner is that Kentucky will play Notre Dame in Louisville’s Freedom Hall after Seton Hall and Arkansas tip it off in the first game on December 8.  Three days later, Rutgers will face Auburn and Pitt will host Tennessee in the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.  Contain yourselves.
  5. As much as we like to poke fun at Digger Phelps in his role as ‘analyst’ on ESPN, we’re happy to hear that he’s recovering nicely after having prostate cancer surgery in recent days.  Quick question, though — why did Digger choose to have this surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle?  We thought he was pretty much an east coast guy.
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ATB: Is Syracuse the Best Team in America?

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2009

atb

Light Night. We’re more or less heading into Finals Week across the nation, and aside from a few interesting games here and there around the country, ATBs are going to be fairly light for a while.  There’s no exams at RTC, though, so we’ll continue to keep you updated even as you head to the eggnog bowl for the third time this evening… but we’re not counting.

syracuse florida

Is Syracuse the Best Team in America? Syracuse 85, Florida 73. It’s a fair question.  Of the top 6-8 teams, all of whom are unbeaten so far this season, does any team have as impressive of a resume as double-digit wins over Cal, UNC and now Florida?  Doubtful.  And so long as the Cuse is getting unbelievable efficiency at the offensive end (#1 in eFG% and two-point FG%), it’s unlikely that they’re going to lose many games this year.  We talked about it back at the CvC, but there seems to be something about this Orange team — that little something extra — that makes them special, and maybe that’s why we continue to see Jim Boeheim smiling so much these days.  Tonight Syracuse had two players with dub-dubs in Rick Jackson (21/11) and Wesley Johnson (17/10) to withstand the Florida runs keyed by some deep three-point shooting in timely spots (12-30).  Kenny Boynton (20/7 assts) and Erving Walker (14/6 assts) had nice games for the Gators, but the starting UF frontcourt was virtually nonexistent on offense (18 pts) and downright bad on defense (outrebounded by twelve), which is something Billy Donovan’s team is going to face as a problem all season.  Syracuse moves on to another trio of easy home games, but a date at rising Seton Hall on 12/29 looms as another big test for Jim Boeheim’s team, who we believe may just be the best team in America right now.

SEC/Big East Invitational.  The Invitational ended at 2-2, with two good games and two terrible games over the two nights.  If this thing ever wants to be taken seriously, the organizers really need to sack up and get a 10-12 team event over two or three nights.  What’s the problem with that format?

  • Mississippi State 76, DePaul 54. This was a terrible mismatching of teams, and we’re wondering what was going through the heads of the people who chose this game as a featured matchup between conferences, but MSU dominated DePaul from the opening tip tonight and never let up throughout.  The Blue Demons were held to 28% shooting by the staunch MSU defense, and in a weird coincidence, all three of DePaul’s losses have come at the hands of SEC teams so far this year (ed. note: there will be more).   Jarvis Varnado had 12/14, while four other Bulldogs reached double figures in the blowout win.

Other Games of National Interest.

  • #14 Michigan State 88, Oakland 57. Here’s all you need to know about this game. MSU held Oakland’s Johnathan Jones to a mere two assists.  JJ was only the nation’s leading assist leader last season at 8.1 per game (and coming into tonight at 6.0 APG this year), and the MSU defense completely shut him down.  The Spartans got 19/12 from Draymond Green, and Kalin Lucas chipped in with 19/4 assts in an effort that Tom Izzo had to be pleased with tonight.  Oakland’s Keith Benson had 21/11 in the losing effort.
  • #19 Cincinnati 63, Miami (OH) 59. Someone explain how Miami can take Kentucky and Cincy to the wire, yet lose to Towson and Louisiana Tech?  The interesting thing about this game is that UC’s Lance Stephenson had his best game of his young career with 17/8/3 assts/3 stls.  Stephenson is exhibiting a well-rounded game during his last couple, and that means nothing good for the rest of the Big East if he starts to take off.
  • Colorado State 77, Colorado 62.  Cory Higgins had a miserable evening, shooting 1-10 and 0-4 from deep, finishing with 11 points, a full ten points under his average.  CSU got a key Mountain West victory over a Big 12 team for the first time this season, as Travis Franklin had 22/10 in the victory.
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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. III

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2009

backdoorcuts(2)

Backdoor Cuts is a college basketball discussion between correspondents Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore (and this week guest player Mike Walsh) that will appear every Wednesday in Rush the Court. This week they challenge each other to write about the conference challenges while excessively using the word “challenge” — before the new guy decides to monopolize the column for “Holy War” purposes.

DAVE ZEITLIN: With the Big Ten/ACC challenge finished, the SEC/Big East challenge coming up and the Pac-10/Big 12 challenge going on forever, we thought it was time to hear who your favorite RTC writers believe to be the best conference this season. Let’s call this the Dave Zeitlin/Steve Moore Challenge. Only nobody wins. And there’s no hard work or sweat involved (except maybe for Steve, whose fingers sweat when he types too fast). Here goes anyway:

Before the season started, it seemed like the Big East and ACC would be a little bit down, while the SEC and Big 10 would be a little bit up — and I think, for the most part, that’s held up so far. But even with Coach Cal (Steve’s hero), Billy Donovan and everyone’s favorite orange Jew leading a reloaded SEC East, I don’t think the conference has made up enough ground from its woeful 2008-09 performance (when only two teams finished in the top 50 of the RPI). The ACC is clearly down after losing the challenge to the Big 10 for the first time ever, and, despite their challenge triumph, I don’t think the Big 10 should stand at the top, especially after Evan Turner’s unfortunate injury. The Pac-10? Please.

So where does that leave us? I think the discussion at this point should come down to the Big East and the Big 12. The Big East may be a little down from last year when they were stacked top to bottom, but the conference still has three teams (Villanova, Syracuse and West Virginia) in the top 10. The Big 12, meanwhile, might boast the best two teams in the nation (Kansas and Texas) while also featuring teams like Texas Tech, which is coming off the biggest win in the coaching career of Pat Knight, who I like far better than his father.

So … Big East or Big 12? Big 12 or Big East? Even though I grew up watching the Big East and rooting for ‘Cuse, I’m going to give the nod to the Big 12 right now. Now I’ll let Steve crunch some numbers for you and disagree with me.

challenge

STEVE MOORE: What, no America East/Ivy League challenge? Oh…wait, that happened Tuesday night when Penn lost AGAIN to those fighting Great Danes of Albany.

As the official RTC correspondent for the ACC, I can say that the Big Ten/ACC Challenge didn’t really say much about the strength (or lack thereof of the ACC). Duke is still a better team than Wisconsin, but playing in Madison is tough. The real swing came at the bottom of the ACC (Florida State, Virginia, etc.), which is much weaker than the bottom of the Big Ten.

For my money, the Big East is the best conference in the country, and it’ll be hard for anyone to compete with that over the next few seasons. Continuing — and this is a very abstract belief on my part with no real evidence to back it up — the league seems to have more programs that are intent on competing year-to-year, i.e. not necessarily recruiting guys who are clear one-and-doners, but going more for the long-term kids. Look at the roster Jay Wright has at Villanova, or Syracuse, or West Virginia. Lots of sophomores, juniors and even the rarest of college basketball species: SENIORS! Sure, the bottom of the Big East is pretty putrid (see DePaul, South Florida), even though they all have winning records right now on a steady cupcake diet.

Texas and Kansas are obviously great teams, and the Big 12 is clearly in the discussion. But it’s really hard to even have this debate so early in the year. Texas Tech’s win over Washington was nice, but I can’t take the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge seriously considering how terrible the Pac-10 is this season.

That’s it for my abstract, totally baseless arguments on the subject. At least for now. I’m tired, and have no brain space for stats and numbers. I’ll leave that to the Ivy Leaguer…

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RTC Live: Kentucky vs. Connecticut

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2009

RTCLive

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is, without question, the best conference competition. The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series is stretched over such a period of time that it becomes a hassle to follow, and the Pac-10 is so bad this year that it isn’t competitive. The SEC/Big East Invitational is even worse. Only four teams from each league compete, and in general there are only two really good games despite the depth of quality teams in both leagues.

That said, this year the two good games are very good games. We will worry about tomorrow’s Syracuse-Florida game tomorrow, because tonight we will be bringing you RTC Live form the Garden once again as UConn and Kentucky do battle. There is intrigue throughout this game. What is UConn going to do about John Wall? Can Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson slow him down? Will Kentucky take advantage of their size on the inside like Duke did? Is UConn going to rebound the ball? Who is going to defend Patrick Patterson? How many highlight reel dunks are we going to see tonight?

Hell, I’m even curious to see who gets more fans at the Garden. We all know how well Big Blue Nation travels.

But the focus is going to be on the two coaches. Jim Calhoun and John Calipari genuinely hated each other when Cal was back at UMass. Calhoun was just starting to assert the Huskies as a national power, when the brash, young Calipari came to Amherst. While the tensions have surely fizzled in the 13 years since Kentucky’s Cal was at UMass, you can bet that neither of these two gentlemen forgive and forget easily.

Oh, what a night it should be at the Garden. Is it 9:30 yet?

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ATB: Northwest Passage

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2007

ATB v.4

12.05.07

Game of the Day. #7 Washington St. 51, #18 Gonzaga 47. How fun would it be to watch a game at the Kennel? It wasn’t too much fun for the Gonzaga fans tonight as they watched their Zags lose for only the second time in that building and in the process, score their lowest total of points in almost eleven years. Although the stats would lead someone to believe that this was an ugly game, we didn’t really see it that way. There were enough bricks on both sides (esp. Gonzaga) to build a smokestack, sure, but the game was intense, defensive-minded and filled with show-stopping plays. For the second time in a week (Baylor), Wazzu went into a veritable lion’s den and slugged its way to a close win. This team is experienced, doesn’t panic and makes smart decisions with the ball – its only real weakness is a style of play that allows teams to stay in the game with them (i.e., Gonzaga shot 26% but was still in the game until the last ten seconds). It didn’t hurt that Kyle Weaver (12/6) seemed to make every big play for the Cougars each time the Zags crept withing striking distance. His airball rebound-turn-putback sequence was sick. On the Gonzaga side, Matt Bouldin (0-9 FG), Jeremy Pargo (3-11) and Austin Daye (1-12) should be ashamed of themselves for their performances at home tonight. We were really high on the Zags early, even going so far as to pick them for the F4, but their inconsistent performances are making us a little wary – still, we’ll wait to pass ultimate judgment until we see how they play once Josh Heytvelt returns.

Other Good Games. Syracuse 70, Virginia 68. Regrettably, we didn’t get to see anything but the last four minutes of this game. This is a very good win for Syracuse, especially in light of its loss at home to UMass last week. From what we can tell, UVa’s Sean Singletary was ill, and it showed in his shooting numbers (10/9/5 assts on 3-14 FG and 2-8 FT) and cramping at the end of the game. Virginia isn’t a one-man team by any stretch (Adrian Joseph had 19/13), but they’re typically not going to beat quality opponents unless SS has a solid game. Tonight was no exception. The Cuse’s Donte Greene (20/10) and Paul Harris (10/14) each had dub-dubs in the road win.

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SEC/Big East Invitational. What a joke this thing is. Hey, here’s an idea, let’s copy the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, except instead of, like, matching up teams based on relative abilities, we’ll just throw a bunch of cannon-fodder SEC teams out there against some good-to-great Big East teams and see how it washes out. Who came up with this plan – the Big East RPI Improvement Committee? Ok, we give them one mulligan. Georgetown v. Alabama was supposed to be a game between two top 25 teams, but then Ronald Steele went and got hurt again. Still, Bama put up a solid fight tonight in Birmingham (#5 Georgetown 70, Alabama 60), which is more than we can say for their mortal enemies over on the Plains. Thuggins and his band of merry men stormed Auburn like Sherman coming back through the South – the Tigers were down 28-6 before they knew what hit them. West Virginia 88, Auburn 59. Now let’s all put our hands together and furiously clap with excitement over tomorrow night’s slate of South Carolina v. Providence and LSU v. Villanova. Anyone got the Big East to go 4-0 in this event? We do.

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Upset of the Day. Charlotte 75, Davidson 68. We love Davidson, but after their recent losses at Eastern Michigan and now at Charlotte, they’re going to need to win the SoCon to make the NCAA Tourney (we’re assuming they will not beat UCLA this weekend). Stephen Curry ripped off 31, but he’s just not getting any offensive help from his frontcourt (7-22 shooting). Charlotte’s Leemire Goldwire sensed a shootout with Curry and ultimately one-upped him with 34 of his own points. Charlotte, with two solid wins in a row, is a team to keep an eye on going forward.

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #4 Kansas 85, E. Washington 47. Too bad Rodney Stuckey is already in the NBA.
  • #8 Texas 88, North Texas 72. The DJ blew up with 29/10, representing our #1 vote well.
  • #17 Pittsburgh 73, Duquesne 68. Pitt really struggled to win this crosstown rivalry game.
  • #18 Clemson 82, East Carolina 67. We’re not voting for you Tigers until you win ACC games.
  • #21 Xavier 79, Creighton 66. Drew Lavender with 28/10 as Creighton takes its first loss.

Other Notable Scores.

  • Florida 91, Florida A&M 52. UF now 4-1 against other Florida teams.
  • Drake 79, Iowa St. 44. Wow, how do you win at Oregon St. then get drilled by Drake?
  • George Mason 57, Hampton 54. Mid-major nirvana in Fairfax.
  • Purdue 70, Ball St. 57. How’s that Ronny Thompson thing working out for Ball St.?
  • W. Kentucky 69, Nebraska 62 (OT). WKU couldn’t afford to drop this BCS win at home.
  • Oklahoma 81, Tulsa 55. OU had a thirty-pt lead at the half.
  • Vanderbilt 83, Wake Forest 80. Vandy remains unbeaten behind Shan Foster’s 26 and Andrew Ogilvy’s 23.
  • Georgia Tech 72, Georgia St. 67. From what little we saw, Ga Tech sleptwalk through this one.

On Tap Today(all times EST). Yeah, a few tv games, but um, good luck with that.

  • Providence (-3.5) v. South Carolina (ESPN2) 7pm – set your alarm for more of the thrilling Big East/SEC Showdown!
  • Connecticut (-17) v. Northeastern (ESPN FC) 7:30pm. ugh.
  • Ill-Chicago (-5.5) v. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (ESPN FC) 8pm - if you’re going to show mid-majors, pick GOOD teams!
  • Villanova (-9.5) v. LSU (ESPN) 9pm – we cannot get over the garbage the SEC trotted out for this event.
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