Bubble Trouble: Volume II

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 11th, 2012

In this weekly piece we will be comparing blind tournament résumés. Each week we will take three Pac-12 teams that are on the bubble and compare them to three national teams that are facing the same fate. Since the Pac-12 is in such a down year, we realize that we are going to run out of NCAA Tournament bubble teams pretty quickly. That’s why in the coming weeks you will see some NIT and even CBI bubble predictions. If you did not see last week’s post explaining everything, please go here.

*All numbers and rankings as of February 11

Team 1 Team 2
Winning Percentage: .680 Winning Percentage: .666
RPI: 63 RPI: 58
SOS: 62 SOS: 66
Quality Wins (Opponents’ RPI Rank): 47 Quality Wins (Opponents’ RPI Rank): 28, 48
Bad Losses (Opponents’ RPI Rank): 106, 72, 75, 76 Bad Losses (Opponents’ RPI Rank): 203, 82, 77

This is a very close battle. We’ll start by calling the winning percentages, RPI’s, and SOS’s even; There’s just not too big of a difference in any given category to give the edge to a specific team. Team two, however, edges out their counterpart in quality wins. I’m going to call the bad losses even, because even though team one has four of them to team two’s three, three of their four are all ranked in the seventies of the RPI. Team two has a 200-level loss in there, which is a big no-no on a résumé. I’m still taking team two to edge out team one, but I honestly wouldn’t feel good sending either of these teams to the Big Dance. Click the jump to see whom the résumés really belong to. Read the rest of this entry »

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With Temple’s Road Win at St. Louis, A-10 Race Even Murkier Than Before

Posted by dnspewak on January 12th, 2012

Danny Spewak is an RTC correspondent. You can follow him @dspewak on Twitter. He filed this report following Temple’s victory at Saint Louis on Wednesday.

Saint Louis looked nothing like one of the Atlantic 10’s top defensive teams on Wednesday. Exploiting a mismatch with its four-guard attack, Temple overcame a sluggish effort from senior point guard Juan Fernandez to knock off the Billikens 72-67 at Chaifetz Arena, avoiding an 0-2 start and leaving the A-10 standings as messy as ever. SLU (13-4, 1-2 A-10) could not handle the physicality of the Owls’ guards, especially Khalif Wyatt. The junior led all scorers with 22 points, and his team shredded Rick Majerus‘ man-to-man defense all night to score 44 points in the paint. Temple (11-4, 1-1 A-10) shot 59% in the second half and 56.6% overall, marking just the second time this season Saint Louis could not hold an opponent to less than 50% shooting. And it all happened without normal production from Fernandez, who scored just two points on a 1-8 effort from the field.

Saint Louis Drew Its Second Largest Crowd of the Year

The Billikens never led in the second half, though they did cut Temple’s lead to a single point on two occasions. Even with an animated home crowd behind it — the 8,760 fans marked its second-highest attendance of the season — Saint Louis could not get the defensive stop it needed in the final two minutes. After Kwamain Mitchell‘s three-pointer pulled SLU to within 62-61 with 2:14 remaining, Aaron Brown immediately responded with a three-point play. Then, a turnover led to a thunderous alley-oop in transition by Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, sealing the Billikens’ first home loss of the season.  “You have to buck up and gets stops,” senior forward Brian Conklin said. “And we’re not doing that right now.”

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Morning Five: 12.20.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 20th, 2011

  1. If you want to get upset with a coach and a school for abusing its control over a player, check out Todd O’Brien‘s first-person account of his attempt to try to play for UAB as part of a graduate school transfer, but being thwarted by Phil Martelli and St. Joseph’s. O’Brien chronicles his attempts to gain his release from the school and the denials by what appears to be an increasingly petty Martelli. Obviously, we are only getting one side of the story here, but St. Joseph’s appears to have been offered a chance at offering an appropriate rebuttal and issued what amounts to a non-denial denial. This story won’t get as much attention as all the reports about players behaving badly or being offered extra benefits and it is a very rare occurrence (this is the first time it has happened in NCAA history), but it should not get swept under the rug.
  2. The latest Hoop Thoughts column by Seth Davis touches on a variety of topics including Khem Birch and other prominent freshmen who have left school after one semester or less. One of the interesting points that Davis makes is a reference to a piece by Luke Winn this summer that showed that players who switched high schools were more likely to decommit. Obviously, leaving a school after you have already enrolled there is a big step from switching commitments as a high school player, but it does suggest a certain lack of loyalty and stability. As our previous point noted, this issue can get more complicated if a school is unwilling to accept a young adult’s change of heart. If you caught Seth’s Twitter rant last night, you can be sure his Hoops Thoughts column may have looked very different if it were released today.
  3. One of the aforementioned freshmen who left school early (and attended multiple high schools) is Jabari Brown, the five-star recruit who left Oregon after less than a semester. Brown left Eugene under unclear circumstances and was soon followed be fellow freshman Bruce Barron. Reports yesterday indicate that Brown is headed to Missouri and cited his mother as saying that her son had a “good fit” with the system and Frank Haith. If Brown enrolls at Missouri, he could become eligible as early as next December and would be a big addition to a team that will lose quite a bit to graduation.
  4. Speaking of Oregon, the school was a victim of a cyber attack in the wake of its 67-54 loss to Virginia. The school’s website had a fake quote sheet for Oregon’s Dana Altman in which he was critical of the team’s pregame spaghetti and said he “wasn’t that impressed” with Virginia’s Mike Scott. The page has been scrubbed from the Internet although if you play around with Google Cache you can easily find it (ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan got a screen cap of it before it was taken down). We are sure that the people at Oregon were not amused by the stunt, but the fake quotes were fairly benign (other than the Mike Scott one) so while we don’t condone hacking this was pretty humorous (unless it happens to us).
  5. We usually try not to question the medical/personnel decisions of coaches and teams here, but the decision by Thad Matta to play Jared Sullinger today against Lamar is a strange one. As the interview session continued, Matta appeared to back off his assessment that Sullinger would play today and moved towards something more akin to probably play. Ohio State would be wise to remember that it was just this past Saturday when Sullinger, who was already battling back spasm, had to get x-rays on what appeared to be broken foot that turned out to be negative. If Matta has any doubt in his mind about Sullinger’s health, he should rest him for both Sullinger’s future and for that of this Buckeye team. The Buckeyes could probably play without Sullinger and any starter not named Aaron Craft and easily beat Lamar in Columbus.
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ATB: Weekend Edition — Indiana’s Statement Win, a Crosstown Blowup, & Dunkdafied…

Posted by rtmsf on December 12th, 2011

This Weekend’s Lede. Saturday was one of the wildest afternoons of college basketball in recent memory. Within a five-hour window from around 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM EST, we experienced one of the ugliest incidents in the modern history of college basketball, followed by both the nation’s #1 and #2 teams losing their first games of the season on the road. The afternoon’s action had the feeling of March in the intensity and drama of the games played, but the added bonus of insane home crowds hungry for key December victories over a bitter rival or, just because. Let’s jump into a busy weekend of storylines…

Your Watercooler Moment. Malice in the Cintas.

We will have much more to say on this in our sister ATB focusing exclusively on the events that occurred with 9.4 seconds remaining in the Crosstown Shootout on Saturday (the post will go live at 6:45 AM EST). Look, we all know that fights sometimes happen in sports, and they’re more likely to happen in volatile situations involving bitter rivals who don’t like each other. The fight was bad enough — in our view, Cincinnati’s Cheikh Mbodj should face criminal battery charges for his stomp to Kenny Frease’s head while the player was already lying on the floor — but the real shame in all of this was the aftermath. Not only did Xavier completely embarrass itself as a school and program in allowing Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons to get on the dais and act like they were representing XU straight outta Compton, but both schools failed to step up Sunday and properly punish the players involved — the most any player was suspended was six games (UC’s Yancy Gates, Octavius Ellis and Mbodj). We hate to say it, but the image-conscious NBA would have been much harsher in its punishments of these players, and given that all of the adults at both schools went to great pains afterward to suggest that such an out-of-control incident was unconscionable, this appears to be yet another example of actions speaking louder than words.

Grab a Coffee While You’re At It. #1 Kentucky Loses at the Buzzer.

Rules for rushing the court are mostly general guidelines that come down to whether it feels right given the specifics of the situation. There are few scenarios that will feel better than Indiana’s buzzer-beating win over #1 Kentucky on Saturday evening. All of the following boxes were checked: 1) IU beat the #1 team in America; 2) on a buzzer-beating shot; 3) after it appeared the Hoosiers had blown the game; 4) versus a bitter rival; 5) in a statement win for the program that announced its status as a national player again. You simply won’t find many more perfect situations for an RTC, and Hoosier fans responded appropriately, filling the court from all corners of the arena with exalted jubilation. It was an outstanding game, and an even more outstanding RTC. For some great reactions recorded around the interwebs, check out some of these: a real-time call by IU’s play-by-play radio guy, Don Fischeran IU dad goes crazy in his house; a Bloomington bar called Nick’s explodes when Watford’s shot goes down; the scene at floor level for the final play and the ensuing RTC.

Perhaps the best thing we’ve seen from this weekend is this mash-up put together by an IU student (@dbaba12) which shows clips from the camp-out, the game itself (including his halftime prediction of an RTC), the final play, and the aftermath. It’s stuff like this that reminds us why we love college basketball.

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ESPN’s Toughest Arenas Survey: Analyzing Coaches’ Responses

Posted by rtmsf on September 7th, 2011

ESPN.com had an interesting series of stories that went up today regarding various folks’ favorite college basketball arenas to visit and the toughest ones to play in.  As always when you read blurbs of primary source information, it’s enlightening to see the reasoning behind their choices.  For example, we never knew that NC State’s old home was such an ACC snake pit, but ESPN commentators Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis both independently cited Reynolds Coliseum as the toughest arena they ever played in. Davis even claimed that he never scored “on the opposite basket away from our bench in the first half” due to the flustered situation he found himself in all four years he visited Raleigh.

A number of media types also weighed in with their favorite places to experience a game, and several of the old faithfuls represent well here — Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium (3 votes), Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse (2 votes) and the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden (2 votes) — along with a few other tried-and-trues including Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stanford’s Maples Pavilion, Penn’s Palestra, and UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion (1 vote each).  But it was the list provided by Dana O’Neil (excellent usage of “sepia,” by the way) from her interviews of several head coaches back in July on the recruiting trail that really caught our eye. First, here’s her list:

Fifteen prominent coaches chose nine different arenas between them.  Three of those are already retired to the dustbin of history, and three others are clearly a personal house of horrors to specific coaches.  Not many people in this business will choose a place like Murray State Arena over somewhere like the Kohl Center or Breslin Arena, but Big Ten coach Bruce Weber did.  The remaining joints are again places we’re all familiar with as incredibly difficult to walk out with a win, but we quickly noticed that there was something peculiar about the responses among O’Neil’s interviewees.  Take a closer look — of the 15 coaches, only one of them gave an answer that includes a site where his team must regularly play games.

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Who’s Got Next? Pangos All-American Camp, Perry Ellis News, Archie Goodwin Injury and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 7th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.


The stars were out to shine this weekend as the best players in the country went at it during the Pangos All-American Camp. The top two prep players in the country, centers Andre Drummond (#1) and Isaiah Austin (#2 — Baylor) put on a show Friday and two of the best power forwards in the country, Mitch McGary and Robert Carter (#34), battled it out at the Under Armour Best of the Best Camp. However, amidst all the big men competing against each other, one wing player stole the show at Pangos and showed why he could be considered the best player in the Class of 2012. There is also a lot of new news today regarding new lists, new timetables and when top prospects will take visits so make sure you don’t miss the latest Who’s Got Next? column.

What They’re Saying

Five-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson has many great things to say about Archie Goodwin (#19).

  • Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson on junior Archie Goodwin (#19): “Archie’s gonna be a special player. I think he’s far ahead of where I was going into the 12th grade, so I was really surprised. He makes great plays that can’t be taught. The sky’s gonna be the limit.”
  • Sonny Parker on where his son, sophomore Jabari Parker (Watch List), wants to play college: “I asked him if he had a top five, and he said, ‘Dad, wherever I’m going to get an opportunity to play.’ Let’s put it this way, he’s an elite player, and he’s going to go to an elite school. Whatever school he goes to, I know he wants to win a national championship.”
  • Junior Justin Anderson (#45) who he’s recruiting: “I’m really working on [class of 2012 point guard] L.J. Rose (#20)… we’re trying to get him at my high school (Montrose Christian) and at UVA. Right now, we’re really pushing for him.”
  • Junior Shabazz Muhammad (#3) on who he’s been talking to lately: “I talked to [Arizona head] coach [Sean] Miller two days ago, I talked to [Duke head] coach [Mike] Krzyzewski two days ago, I’ve been e-mailing [Kentucky head] coach [John] Calipari, I talked to [UCLA head] coach [Ben] Howland, I talked to Memphis.” On his visit to Arizona: “I enjoyed myself a lot, it was a great experience for me. All in all it was a great time and I had a great experience their.”
  • Junior Anthony Bennett on the schools that are recruiting him the hardest: “Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, West Virginia, Florida.” On when he will make a decision: “Probably late next year.”
  • Sophomore star Nerlens Noel (Watch List) on a timetable for hist list: “I think I’m going to put out a list by the fall, maybe after this summer.”

What the Ellis Family is Saying

Do you see the resemblance between Grant Hill and Perry Ellis (#10)? Coach K does.

Fonda Ellis, the mother of Class of 2012 power forward Perry Ellis (#10) said many interesting things a couple of days ago when she talked to National Recruiting Spotlight about her son’s interest in Duke (to see more analysis of this make sure you check out the “What You Missed” section). Perry also said a couple of noteworthy things so we compiled the best quotes that the two recently said.

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Who’s Got Next? Updating the Class of 2011 Rankings…

Posted by Josh Paunil on April 26th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Each week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.


This week has been full of events ranging from my final class of 2011 rankings to high-profile commitments to big-time performances to much rumor mill chatter. Players being lost in their recruitment, underclassmen making names for themselves and conference champions rescinding scholarship offers from top-five recruits are just a few things that happened in a very eventful week in the world of college basketball recruiting.

What We Learned

Former class of 2012 top-15 prospect small forward Alex Murphy (#34 – Duke) decided to join the Blue Devils a year early.

Murphy Heads to Duke a Year Early. Former class of 2012 top-15 prospect small forward Alex Murphy (#34) decided to join the Blue Devils a year early (to see why, check out the “What They’re Saying” section below) as he has already passed the necessary courses to graduate and has been in high school for four years. There was speculation since he first committed to Duke that he would reclassify to the class of 2011 and the fact that he never denied it just added to the conjecture. The scouting report on Murphy is that he has a very nice shooting stroke from both the perimeter and mid-range game and is a superb slasher who finishes well around the basket. Given his length and athleticism, he is also versatile and will be able to play either forward position for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. However, he needs to add strength to his frame and become a better rebounder, but there have been rumors that he will redshirt so if true he will have another year to develop both of those attributes.

Kevin Ware is a Knight… I think. Shooting guard Kevin Ware committed to Central Florida Monday joining an impressive class including center Michael Chandler, small forward Rod Days and power forwards Wayne Martin and Kasey Wilson. However, we don’t know whether Ware still wants to be a Knight. Since he already signed a letter of intent with Tennessee (which they released him from after Bruce Pearl was fired), NCAA rules prohibit him from signing another one in the same year with UCF, so Ware is free to do whatever he wants. The first thing that raised eyebrows about his future college choice was the fact that he was announced as “undecided” in the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic over the weekend (although his stepfather later said he filled out the forms before he committed and didn’t feel like changing it). The next thing that made people question his commitment was when a Louisville website reported that Ware told them his recruitment to UCF wasn’t a done deal and that he was “absolutely” still considering Louisville (see the “What They’re Saying” section for Ware’s quotes on this). Also, he reportedly told fans at the Derby Classic while signing autographs that he was still considering the Cardinals. The excuse for all of this that has been picking up steam lately is that Ware was simply afraid of potential backlash from Louisville fans at the event, which is plausible since Ware tweeted he was afraid of a backlash before he left for it. We still don’t know what is going on with him but hopefully by next week we will have a clearer picture of his college choice.

UNC Rescinds Shabazz Muhammad Scholarship Offer. In a surprising move, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams pulled the scholarship offer from junior small forward Shabazz Muhammad (#5) this week while at the same time offering his teammate, small forward Rosco Allen (#27). It has seemed as though Carolina was losing steam with Muhammad ever since he didn’t attend the North Carolina vs. Duke game at Chapel Hill (although a reason to why he missed it was never confirmed), and the rumor going around now is that he is close to making a commitment elsewhere. The other schools that he would be presumably choose between are Duke, Kentucky, Texas and UCLA. Muhammad is an impact player who will start from day one no matter the program he goes to since he is such a prolific scorer on the offensive end and is so athletic and versatile. He is a better scorer inside the arc than anyone else in the class of 2012 but needs to work on consistently rebounding and improving his ball-handling to become a complete player.

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Conference Report Card: Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 8th, 2011

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Looking Back

2011 was business as usual it seems as two teams, Temple and Xavier, combined to represent the conference in the AP Poll for 11 of the poll’s 19 weeks. Three teams (Richmond, Temple and Xavier) were invited to the NCAA for the fourth consecutive year with two advancing to the second round and one advancing to the Sweet 16 before bowing out. The steady progress, if not the deeper advancement, into the NCAA Tournament field should give the conference cause for celebration. If the A-10 has not gained ground, it certainly hasn’t lost any ground either. The conference beat its Performance Against Seed Expectation (PASE – the number of wins earned in the NCAA versus the historic record for the assigned seed), 2.57, by winning a total of three games in tournament play. This year also marked the sixth consecutive postseason where the conference received at least one at-large bid. And for the second consecutive postseason, seven conference members in all (50% of the conference membership) played on after the final buzzer sounded in Atlantic City. The conference placed two teams (Dayton and Rhode Island) in the NIT and two others (Saint Louis and George Washington) in the CBI in 2010, with Dayton winning the NIT and Saint Louis losing in the CBI Finals to VCU. This postseason, only Dayton made the NIT, while Duquesne, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure were invited to the CBI. Unfortunately none of them advanced beyond the second round.

So why are conference observers edgy? Despite the “all steady” in the NCAA Tournament, teams from two other non-BCS conferences, Virginia Commonwealth of CAA and the Horizon League’s Butler were represented in the Final Four, with Butler advancing to Monday night for the second consecutive year. The Atlantic 10 has not sent a team to the Final Four since the Massachusetts squad of 1996, whose Final Four appearance was later vacated by the NCAA, and has had only one representative (Xavier in 2008) [ed. note: corrected]  in the Elite Eight since the 2004 Tournament when Saint Joseph’s lost to Oklahoma by two points, 64-62, in East Rutherford, New Jersey on the same weekend that Xavier was eliminated by Duke, 66-63, in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Xavier’s Tu Holloway enjoyed a terrific season for the Musketeers. (credit: AP)

Final Ranking, Team-by-Team

  1. Richmond (28-8, 13-3) #12 seed: Coach Chris Mooney’s Spiders had several outstanding performances out of conference including their 65-54 win over Purdue (#3 seed NCAA), but those were negated by head-scratching losses to Iona aand Bucknell. The same held true in conference play, where wins over Dayton and Duquesnewere undermined by a home loss to Rhode Island early in conference play. The Spidersearned a #3 seed in the conference tournament where they knocked off #2 seed Temple that was dealing withinjuries and earned the conference’s automatic bid witha 67-54 win over Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Tournament finals. The Spiders beat #5 seed Vanderbilt (69-66) and #13 seed Morehead State (65-48) to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and a date with#1 seed Kansas. The ride ended witha 77-57 loss, but Mooney signed a contract extension which should keep him at Richmond for the foreseeable future. Mooney loses four key members of the squad this season, but returns 11 players, including two who started multiple games this season, for 2011-12. GRADE: A
  2. Temple (26-8, 14-2) #7 seed NCAA: The consensus favorite to win the conference regular season, the Owls stumbled in the Old Spice Classic, dropping two of their three games in Orlando. Coach Fran Dunphy’s squad dropped a third out of conference game to Villanova on the eve of conference play, but ran off three wins to start conference play. Back-to-back losses to Duquesne and Xavier put the Owls in second place in the conference, which is where they finished the regular season. Injuries sidelined sophomore Michael Eric, reducing an already short frontcourt rotation, for the last two weeks of the season. Scootie Randall also battled injuries as the season wound down, leaving Dunphy with a seven-man rotation for the Atlantic 10 tournament. A semifinal loss to Richmond ended Temple’s bid to earn the conference’s automatic bid for a third consecutive year, but the Owls secured a #7 seed to the NCAA Tournament and an in-state match-up with Penn State in the first round game, which they won 66-64 on a last second shot by Juan Fernandez. In the second round, they pushed #2 seed San Diego State to the limit before falling in double overtime. GRADE: B+ Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2011

Games #205-206.  It’s time to get serious in Atlantic City as two Cinderellas meet in one game with two conference heavyweights in the other.

1:00 pm Dayton vs. Saint Joseph’s. The first semifinal features the Accidental Tourists of the tournament. Neither Dayton nor Saint Joseph’s was supposed to survive the first round, much less advance to the semis. Friday’s quarterfinal round opened with a bang as #9 seed Dayton (21-12) ran up a nine-point first half lead over #1 seed Xavier (24-7), 36-27, and held on to win a by single point, 68-67. The game was decided on Xavier’s last possession, Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Tu Holloway’s “one-legged” runner was wide of the mark. The Flyers advanced to a semifinal meeting with Saint Joseph’s (11-21). The Hawks, who logged loss #20 at Massachusetts on February 23, are riding a 4-1 run that includes a three-game winning streak. The Philadelphia media labeled each of their last three games an elimination game – lose and they start the offseason. Coach Phil Martelli’s charges beat Charlotte in Charlotte to clinch the #12 (and last) seed in the tournament, then beat #5 seed George Washington University at George Washington, 71-59 in overtime, to advance to the quarterfinals…where they disposed of #4 seed Duquesne (18-11), 93-90, also in overtime.

3:30 pm Temple vs. Richmond. The evening bracket behaved as high seeds won out, but this semifinal match, #2 seed Temple (24-6) vs. #3 seed Richmond (24-7), features two very well-coached, veteran NCAA-bound teams. Execution and discipline should make this game every bit as entertaining as the first semifinal. Temple will look to junior guards Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore who have clicked very well with senior forward Lavoy Allen to produce a defensive juggernaut. Richmond features two All-Conference seniors, Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson, who can attack the basket or hit from the outside.

Join RTC Live at 1:00pm from the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for Dayton vs. Saint Joseph’s, followed at 3:30 pm by Temple vs. Richmond.

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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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