ACC Regular Season Crown at Stake: Previewing Syracuse vs. Virginia

Posted by Lathan Wells & Chris Kehoe on February 28th, 2014

Saturday’s game between Virginia and Syracuse will crown this season’s ACC champion, but it’s also a showcase of two teams coming in with very different levels of confidence. While Virginia is riding a hot 12-game winning streak, Syracuse is entering the contest having lost two of its last three games. Both of these teams play notoriously slow, but the likelihood of this one becoming a runaway in either team’s favor is also highly unlikely. While Syracuse is quite literally one of the slowest teams in the nation, Virginia is only one spot ahead of the Orange, ranking 344th in adjusted tempo out of 351 total teams.

A rejuvenated Tyler Ennis is paramount to Syracuse securing a regular-season title in its first ACC season (apsports.com)

A rejuvenated Tyler Ennis is paramount to Syracuse securing a regular season title in its first ACC season. (apsports.com)

Over the last few weeks, Syracuse has eked by in numerous close victories with controversial finishes before managing to drop its first two games of the season in both embarrassing (Boston College) and enraging (Duke) fashion. Tyler Ennis’ seeming invincibility has worn off somewhat as he has cooled off offensively, showing a human side to his unshakably calm demeanor. Part of Syracuse’s weakened state can be attributed to one of head coach Jim Boeheim’s major criticisms: an unbalanced and back-loaded schedule that has Syracuse finishing its inaugural ACC season with four of its last five games on the road. Syracuse’s play of late even has some ESPN analysts like John Gasaway indirectly stating that it may be the first #1 seed to ever fall to a #16, showing just how far the national perception of the Orange has fallen over the recent bumpy stretch.

On the flip side of the coin, Tony Bennett’s Virginia squad is riding an epic wave of momentum that is well on its way to carrying his team to its first sole claim on the ACC regular season title in over three decades. Virginia has won a school record 17 straight games at home and is sitting in sole possession of first place in the ACC at 15-1. Since a brutal 35-point road loss to Tennessee before the new year, Virginia appears the part of a conference champion, winning numerous low-scoring affairs with stifling defense (no ACC opponent has score more than 70 points). Unlike Syracuse’s schedule, the Cavaliers have the boon of three of their last four ACC contests occurring at home in John Paul Jones Arena. While Virginia may not have a single elite scoring option like the Orange’s C.J. Fair, leading scorer Malcolm Brogdon is more than capable of taking over a game and the Cavaliers boast three players who average between 7.9 and 11.5 PPG. So while Syracuse comes into Charlottesville with their pride wounded after a scorching start, Virginia’s confidence has never been higher in its attempt to prevent a newcomer from claiming the conference title in its first season.

ACC Microwriters Chris Kehoe and Lathan Wells will focus in on the key questions surrounding this marquee ACC match-up, tipping off at 4:00 PM ET on Saturday (ESPN).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Weekend Preview #9

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 28th, 2014

It’s the next to last weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings and the four factors, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcomes of these games. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of February 26, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST). This weekend features a battle for first place, with the winner likely headed to the ACC Tournament in Greensboro as the top seed.

Saturday - Syracuse (26-2, 13-2 ACC) @ Virginia (24-5, 15-1 ACC) – ESPN (4:00 PM)

Joe Harris and Virginia Hope To Lock Up ACC Regular Season Title. (Photo: VirginiaSports.com)

Joe Harris and Virginia Hope To Lock Up ACC Regular Season Title.
(VirginiaSports.com)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#4) Virginia 58-53 (#10) Syracuse

Syr-Va

This match-up will probably decide the ACC regular season title. Virginia could be the least publicized 15-1 major conference team ever. With Syracuse, Duke and North Carolina getting most of the national attention, the Cavaliers have methodically taken care of business and rolled through conference play. They also seem to be on the upswing, winning their last two games by over 20 points after three straight single-digit victories. Malcolm Brogdon continues to be a model of consistency. It’s almost unreal to look at his game-by-game scoring totals. Not only has he scored in double figures in every ACC game, but he has scored in the 12- to 17-point range in 14 of the 16 games. And in the other two contests, he had 11 once and — you guessed it — 18 in the other. The good news for Syracuse is that Jerami Grant is expected to play in the game. The sophomore missed the entire second half of Monday’s contest at Maryland with a lower back issue. In that game, the Orange won another nail-biter, bringing their record in close games (decided by five points or less) to a rather fortunate 6-1. For Syracuse to get Virginia in a close one, it better shoot much better than the team has lately. In the last four games, the Orange have averaged an extremely low effective field goal percentage (39.0). That doesn’t match up well with Virginia’s league-best defense.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Otskey’s Observations: Episode XIV

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on February 26th, 2014

Each week throughout the season, RTC columnist Brian Otskey (@botskey) will run down his observations from the previous week of college basketball.

Wichita State Deserves a Number One Seed

There is a vocal group out there making it known that Wichita State should not receive a top seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament. They argue that the 30-0 Shockers “haven’t played anyone” and that alone should disqualify Gregg Marshall’s team from landing on the No. 1 seed line when the brackets are released two and a half weeks from now. We can debate the merits of the RPI all we want, but the fact is it remains one of many important selection criteria. Wichita State’s non-conference schedule ranks No. 34 in that metric, which is actually pretty good. By comparison, it is only four spots lower than Georgetown, a middling Big East team about whose schedule people have been raving. Perception is indeed a funny thing.

Ron Baker should be angry if his Shockers don't get a No. 1 seed. (photo courtesy rantsports.com).

Ron Baker should be angry if his Shockers don’t get a No. 1 seed. (photo courtesy rantsports.com).

Wichita State cannot control the strength of its own league, which also happened to lose Creighton to conference realignment this season. There is something to be said, however, for taking every team’s best shot each and every night and still winning with relative ease. The Shockers beat the second best team in the Missouri Valley, Indiana State, in convincing fashion in Wichita and won the return meeting in Terre Haute comfortably. Out of conference, the Shockers challenged themselves with games at Saint Louis, Tulsa and Alabama, along with a visit by Tennessee to Wichita (Note: Game was played off campus and not at the Roundhouse). Wichita State also played BYU in a two-day event at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. The Shockers have certainly not faced a murderer’s row type of schedule, but at 30-0 with a top 35 non-conference slate, that is good enough to be rewarded with a No. 1 seed. In the next two weeks you will hear a lot of pundits talk about tournament resumes, good wins and bad losses. Just remember, Wichita State doesn’t have any bad losses. It has NO losses, period. Dear Selection Committee: Do the right thing and give this team a No. 1 seed!

Jim Boeheim’s Meltdown Masks Syracuse’s Real Issue

Say the word “Syracuse” this week and most people will immediately think of Jim Boeheim’s classic meltdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium where the iconic Orange coach was ejected from a regular season or postseason game for the first time in 38 years as a head coach. While that was certainly a memorable moment, it masks the nosedive that Syracuse’s offense has taken over its last four games. Over the Orange’s first 24 contests, they recorded an offensive efficiency below 102.1 points per 100 possessions just twice (in wins over Miami and North Carolina). Over the last four games, Syracuse’s offensive efficiency has been 92.5, 94.3, 99.6 and 88.6. Ironically the 99.6 number was in the loss to Duke, but the Blue Devils are the best offensive team Syracuse has faced all season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 02.26.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 26th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Akil Mitchell‘s offense is starting to come around. His defense has been elite all season, but his offense has taken a major step back from last year. His numbers still don’t match the double-double machine he was, but his shooting splits (not counting the free throw line) are almost identical to 2012-13. The good news is that his rebounding is back at an elite level. This year the Cavaliers don’t need him to shoulder nearly the same offensive load, but he’s absolutely critical for the Cavaliers on the boards.
  2. Syracuse Post-Standard: So the ratings are back from Syracuse-Duke and it’s safe to say the ACC will want these two schools to play multiple times a year. ESPN’s broadcast on Saturday night outdrew Lebron versus Durant two nights earlier, making it the highest rated sports event of the week (on cable). It also nearly doubled the ratings for North Carolina-Duke last Thursday night, which were admittedly split between ESPN and the local networks. Also, please enjoy more Jim Boeheim memes in the bottom slideshow.
  3. Charlotte Observer: Tyler Lewis finally has the starting point guard job at NC State. When Cat Barber started earlier this season, it looked like Lewis might be destined to become a role player coming off the bench. But as Barber’s freshman mistakes mounted, Mark Gottfried started going to Lewis more often. Lewis still can’t keep opposing guards in front of him, but there’s no denying that the Wolfpack’s offense looks best when he’s at the helm. He needs to improve his defense to keep the job in the long term because Barber will assuredly improve his consistency as he gets older.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Don’t look now but Marshall Plumlee is looking like a talented basketball player. It’s weird to say that there weren’t high expectations for a McDonalds All-American, but Plumlee never got much attention last season or for much of this one. Plumlee isn’t likely to see a huge boost in minutes next year (unless the Blue Devils want to go massive with him and Jahlil Okafor on the floor), but he already looks like a totally different player. He’s become much more confident, and therefore, effective. His shot-blocking and rebounding could end up being the Zoubekian post presence many have suggested that the Blue Devils need to make it to the Final Four.
  5. Blogger So Dear: Wake Forest showed some fight last night, playing spoiler at a sparsely attended game in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons beat Clemson, probably putting the Tigers on the wrong side of the bubble for good (barring a miraculous ACC Tournament run). Most importantly Jeff Bzdelik’s team showed a spark in the second half that had been missing the last couple of games. His team hasn’t quit yet, and still has an outside shot of finishing .500 with winnable games against Boston College and Miami (though that’s on the road) coming up.
Share this story

College Basketball by the Tweets: Nerd Nation, Jim Boeheim, Pizza and More Jim Boeheim…

Posted by Nick Fasulo (@nickfasuloSBN) on February 25th, 2014

bythetweets

Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

There are Internet trolls who are too afraid to show their face, and human trolls who do this, with a man purse, and a big, fat smile on their face.

Nerd City, Kid

Prior to Stanford’s game against UCLA, ESPN announcers Miles Simon and Dave Flemming (a Stanford alum) got into the spirit of The Farm by sporting the famous nerd glasses that have come to define many of the school’s athletic programs.

Boeheim Sign Stolen

This kid had dreams of being the funniest guy in Cameron Indoor on Saturday, only to be “arrested” by the no-fun police. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Top 25: NCAA Tournament Prognostication Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa on February 25th, 2014

Yesterday we released our regular weekly RTC Top 25, where each of eight voters picks their Top 25 in much the same manner as any Top 25 poll across the land. Today, however, we asked that same panel of voters to pick a Top 25 with a different, more focused, question: Rank the top 25 teams in the nation according to their likelihoods to advance the furthest in the NCAA Tournament. In other words, the teams you see pollsters below picking #1 are not necessarily the teams that are the best in the nation today, or those with the best resumes, but rather the teams our eight pollsters view as most likely to emerge from March Madness with the honor of cutting down the nets in Cowboys Stadium. Let’s get right to it, then stay with us for plenty of analysis after the jump, comparing the selections of the different pollsters as well as comparisons between our normal Top 25 and this special edition NCAA Tournament Prognostication Top 25.

rtc25ncaaprog

 Quick n’ dirty analysis:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The RTC Podcast: Jim Boeheim Meme Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2014

One week until the first conference championship tips off (Patriot League), two weeks until Championship Week begins, and three weeks from Selection Sunday… it’s time to get serious about college basketball. Or something like that, which is probably why we spent the first 10 minutes of this week’s RTC Podcast talking about the inanity and insanity of Jim Boeheim, Jim Boeheim memes, and the magic of Tobacco Road. We also found time to discuss the sport’s most loved and hated players this season, what it means to “peak” at the right time, and preview our special NCAA Tournament Prognostication Top 25 (due out a bit later today). As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts the proceedings. Have a listen.

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast/podblast on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-12:26 – Questionable Call and Boeheim Freak Out Loses the Game (But Wins the Internet)
  • 12:25-16:15 – What’s Next for Syracuse
  • 16:15-20:28 – Big Weekend in the Big Ten
  • 20:28-22:21 – What It Means to Peak at the “Right Time”
  • 22:21-26:01 – Crucial Games in the American
  • 26:01-28:25 – Other Notables From a Busy Weekend
  • 28:25-32:50 – Concern Level for San Diego State
  • 32:50-33:21 – Brief Congratulatory Interlude for Kansas
  • 33:21-38:26 – Most Liked and Disliked Players in College Basketball
  • 38:26-45:07 – Previewing the NCAA Tournament Prognostication Top 25
  • 45:07-50:03 Week Preview/Wrap
Share this story

ACC M5: 02.25.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 25th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. GoHeels.com: It may get a little dusty, so make sure to grab the tissues before reading Adam Lucas’ story on Meredith Stapleton‘s trip to see North Carolina beat Duke. Sometimes sports fandom eclipses the event itself. This qualifies. It’s a moving and expertly written story that captures exactly what the game meant for one fan among over 20,000 others.
  2. Sports Illustrated: Seth Davis talked with Tony Greene, the referee who made the controversial call in the Syracuse-Duke game before ejecting Jim Boeheim. Unsurprisingly, officials around the country sent messages of support to him afterward. That doesn’t mean he got the call right, though. Davis and Greene don’t discuss the call itself, although he lauds Greene for his demeanor after ejecting Boeheim. That said, how many refs act differently? Their job is to keep their cool, especially after throwing someone out.
  3. Baltimore Sun: Speaking of Boeheim, he was in top salty form after the Orange eked out a win last night at Maryland. After the game, Mark Turgeon noted that he thought a foul should have been called with under 10 seconds left that would have sent the Terrapins to the line down one. Boeheim had this to say: “They shot 27 free throws. If anybody is going to complain about the officiating, I’m going to complain. And I think I did enough of that Saturday. Five times that we saw them going to the basket that there was no foul and there was a foul called five times. You want to talk about one play? I’ll talk about five times. If they didn’t turn it over 18 times, they wouldn’t have had to worry about that.” Unfortunately for everyone in attendance, he didn’t drop the mic.
  4. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: If Pittsburgh is going to take its program to the next level, Jamie Dixon needs better players. There’s no denying that he’s a great coach and one of the best developers of talent in the ACC. But you just can’t win it all without five-star recruits. Interestingly, it appears Dixon is doing his best to bring more life to his recruiting. Whether that’s because of the rule changes, conference realignment, or at the athletic department’s behest, we’ll never know.
  5. Syracuse Post-Standard: Good look at foul differentials across the ACC. North Carolina had the biggest road-home swing, with a -24 foul differential on the road and an equal and opposite number at home. Syracuse, unsurprisingly has the best home differential. Maryland is the worst at home and on the road. One thing I’d like to see removed from the analysis is garbage-time fouls, which likely skew away splits (where you’re more likely to be losing at the end of games).

EXTRA: I’ll leave you with this, courtesy of Bomani Jones.

Share this story

RTC Top 25: Week Fifteen

Posted by Walker Carey on February 24th, 2014

The story of last week in college basketball was previously-unbeaten Syracuse suffering its first two losses of the season. On Wednesday, the Orange were stunned at home in overtime by Boston College – a team that entered the game with a 6-19 overall record. Hoping to dust off Wednesday’s disaster, Syracuse traveled to Duke on Saturday for a rematch of February 1′s instant classic. The Blue Devils prevailed in the rematch thanks in large part to a controversial charging call that went against Syracuse and led to coach Jim Boeheim’s ejection in the final 10 seconds of the game. Duke’s victory was much needed for the Blue Devils’ slim hopes in the ACC race after it had suffered its fourth conference loss on Thursday at North Carolina. Atop the Big Ten standings, Michigan was able to gain a one-game lead in the loss column over second-place Michigan State after the Wolverines completed their season sweep of the Spartans in Sunday’s 79-70 victory in Ann Arbor. The conference race in the AAC became even tighter Saturday when Louisville knocked off Cincinnati to trim the Bearcats’ conference lead to merely a half-game there. Both teams will be tested this Saturday, as the Cards will travel to Memphis and the Bearcats will travel to Connecticut. As the season continues into its final stretch, it will be very interesting to see how these conference races end up shaking out. The quick n’ dirty analysis of this week’s poll is after the jump.

rtc25 02.24.14 Quick n’ dirty analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Bracketology: February 24 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) on February 24th, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

This weekend was supposed to clear up the NCAA Tournament picture, but it didn’t really help much at all. However, a couple of things are obvious right now. Florida had moved to my No. 1 overall seed with Syracuse’s loss to Boston College last week and another Gators’ win over the weekend did nothing to change that. Syracuse‘s second straight loss moved the Orange down to the No. 3 overall seed, and Duke, despite a Thursday loss to North Carolina, remains a solid No. 2 seed.

The movement in this week’s bracket involves Wisconsin, which is a common theme this year. It seems like the Badgers have been on every protected seed line over the course of the last month. The Badgers are now back at a No. 2 seed, and if they can win the Big Ten Tournament, they might still have an outside shot at a No. 1 seed.

Moving down the bracket, the bubble is a headache waiting to happen. Actually, it’s a headache happening right now, as I type this. I haven’t changed the teams at the bottom of my bracket very much lately, because I still feel firm in the best at-large resumes and nothing lately has really changed anything.

If you want an example of how crazy it is around the bubble cut line, look at Arizona State.  A week after beating Arizona, the Sun Devils were blown out by Utah on Sunday night. Yet, I still have the Sun Devils as a No. 8 seed. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, which may have the worst profile of any consensus top 30 team in history, continues to slide after a bad loss to Florida State. Seeding the Panthers is a  huge guessing game right now. Will the committee seed them based on their profile, which clearly makes Jamie Dixon’s team one of the last teams in or out of the field, or based on the way most observers view the team (not including this one): As a Top 25 team that has had a few bad breaks, like the last second Syracuse buzzer-beater? I’m guessing it will be somewhere in the middle right now.

The complete bracket is after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 02.24.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 24th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. WRAL Sports Fan: What a game. Before we even get to the controversial call, Syracuse and Duke on Saturday night was another evenly-matched contest in one of the best atmospheres of the season. One thing that is lost in the early season tournaments that are increasingly drawing better lineups is the raucous home environments. Moving forward, I thought the call should have been a block (especially under the new rules), but it was a closer decision than many gave it credit for. To me Rodney Hood was set (his feat “shuffled,” but didn’t go anywhere), but he never quite got squared up with CJ Fair. A tough 50/50 call was bound to go against the Orange late there, but it’s unfortunate that it somewhat overshadowed a second terrific game. So with that said, let me second Adam Gold in saying that the ACC has to find a way to make this happen twice a year (and go ahead and queue up the same piece with North Carolina and Louisville for next season).
  2. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Oh, and there was Jim Boeheim‘s rant that resulted in his ejection. It was epic. It was a perfect “10″ in photoshop-ability. He also embraced it after the game, saying “I thought I got out there pretty good. I was quick; I stayed down; I didn’t get injured.” It was Boeheim’s first ejection in a non-preseason game, and to be clear, I don’t blame him for losing it. I don’t think he was “making a point” to the league or its officials, but I also don’t think the two techs cost his team the game either. Long story short: enjoy the meme.
  3. Sports Illustrated: Lastly, here’s a good preview from Pete Thamel that looked at the relationship between Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim. Other than their penchant for salty press conferences, age, and  significant figures in the wins column, there aren’t all that many similarities between Coach K and Boeheim. But their differences also probably help each other somewhat. Boeheim pointed to Krzyzewski’s ability to teach mental preparation. My guess is that Krzyzewski has learned some things beyond the intricacies of the 2-3 zone from Boeheim too.
  4. Washington Post: It’s always a treat when John Feinstein writes on the ACC. This time, he writes about Virginia and the 180 that the team did after Tennessee took them behind a woodshed in Knoxville. The Cavaliers now sit in control of their own destiny in sole possession of first place in the ACC. Likely favored to win the (increasingly unbalanced) ACC regular season title, they will almost certainly get a double-bye in next month’s ACC Tournament. The one big test remaining for Tony Bennett’s team — Syracuse at home — will also be a chance to confirm to the Selection Committee that this team is as good as its record.
  5. Tomahawk Nation: Leonard Hamilton‘s team has revived its NCAA chances with a win at Pittsburgh yesterday. Meanwhile, the Panthers likely earned themselves a very uncomfortable position on the bubble. One surprise is how much success that ACC teams are having at Pittsburgh this season, a school known for its great home-court advantage. Part of that may be that this team has over-performed against mediocre and poor teams. Regardless, we should have plenty to talk about with the NCAA Tournament bubble in this league during the last couple of weeks of conference play.
Share this story

The RTC Podblast: Wacky Week Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 21st, 2014

Start your weekend off right, with the RTC Podblast, a quick review of the week that was and a look ahead to the weekend that comes. It was a wacky week of college basketball, with some really odd results, but as we approach the two-week mark until the end of the regular season, it’s likely to only get nuttier as desperation sets in for many teams. Join us as we do our best to work through some takeaways from all of the action.

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast/podblast on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-4:18 – BC Stuns Syracuse!
  • 4:18-10:41 – UNC Rushes the Court Against Duke (oh yeah, they won the game too)
  • 10:41-18:10 – Weekend Preview
Share this story