Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes.

  • California’s 66.7% from the field against Oregon was the best any Pac-10 team has registered in conference play this year.  Theo Robertson of the Golden Bears still leads the nation in 3-point percentage shooting at a 55.2% clip. 
    Patrick Christopher is just 13 points shy of 1000, at 987.  Jerome Randle is right behind at 957.  Randle also is ninth in career 3-point field goals made at 125, and tenth in career assists with 313. Randle is also first in career free-throw percentage at 85.7%.
  • This is just the third time Washington has started 6-1 in the last 25 years.  Washington has won 13 out of their last 14 games. It is the first time the Huskies have been in sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 since January 2005. It is just the third time Washington has started 6-1 in the last 25 years.  The only time the Huskies ever had a better start through seven games was 1953 when they went 7-0.  Last week Washington averaged getting to the free throw line 41.5 times a game.  If they keep getting to the line this much they will be hard to beat.
  • Arizona forward Jordan Hill’s 30 points and 18 rebounds against Houston, was his first game of his career that he broke the 20 point and 15 rebound plateaus.  Blake Griffin on the other hand has put together 10 such games so far this year. Aubrey Coleman’s face stomp of Chase Budinger was the most classless act I have seen in years.  He should have been suspended multiple games for that.  Each high-five he got while leaving the game, should have added a game to it.
  • Oregon State’s three victories so far match their total of the last two seasons combined.
  • Joe Lunardi currently has Arizona State, California, UCLA and Washington getting in the dance.  It is hard to see any other Pac-10 teams really making a push.  USC has been too inconsistent still and they are the only other team with a shot in my mind.

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ATB: Blake Griffin Wasn’t Using Those Anyway*

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2008



Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Challenge. We’d hoped to have gotten a preview up on these games this afternoon, but we were epically busy today, so it didn’t happen.  Nevertheless, we probably would have chosen UCLA, USC and Oklahoma St.  But we have to say that the two marquee games tonight were considerably more interesting than the premier games of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge the last two nights (Duke v. Purdue and UNC v. Michigan St.).  We had the good fortune to watch both of these game in their entirety.

  • Oklahoma 73, USC 72. As soon as you’re prepared to completely right off Tim Floyd and his Trojans, they have a game like this where it makes you reconsider every lackadaisical stereotype that you held about his team.  Of course, the stereotype for punkish behavior – yep, still got that one.  We’re sure you’ve already seen it, but in case you haven’t, USC freshman goon forward Leonard Washington introduced himself to all-world Blake Griffin with a rogue elbow to the family jewels as they ran upcourt in the second half (see below).  He was ejected for the manuever, but Griffin was forced to leave the game for a while, whereupon USC immediately started cutting into the 6-8 pt lead.  The game remained tight until the very end, when OU made just enough FTs to hang on.  USC competed well in the hostile environment, though, shooting 50% from the field and 8-11 from three; Dwight Lewis had 25 and Taj Gibson chipped in a double-double (12/10).  Most importantly, even though Griffin still had 25 pts, OU kept him off the boards to the tune of 6 total (13 below his average) and  only 1 offensive, so limiting those second-chances helped keep the Trojans in the game.

  • Texas 68, UCLA 64. When these two teams get together, you can count on physical defense, high-flying athletes, and (usually) a bricklayer’s convention.  That was pretty much the case tonight, as the two teams combined for 50-122 (40.9%) from the field and 16-29 (55.2%) from the line.  Still, the duel between all-american guards Darren Collison and AJ Abrams was well worth the price of admission.  Early in the game it appeared that Collison was going to shoot 70% for the remainder of the season, as everything he threw up was hitting the bottom of the net.  But it was Abrans who had the last laugh again this year, as his huge three with just under three minutes remaining gave Texas a more comfortable six-point lead and forced UCLA to begin rushing possessions.  Damion James added 13/13 for Texas, but UCLA is going to have to get more help for its upperclassmen from their uber-hyped freshmen (1-12) tonight.  Their rookie quintet will ultimately determine the success of their season.
  • Washington 83, Oklahoma St. 65. UW is difficult to figure this year.  They’ve looked downright awful at times, and like a tournament team others.  Tonight was the latter, as Jon Brockman dropped 16/11 in the home win.  What has happened to OSU’s James Anderson?  Big things were expected for this sophomore guard, but in his last four games he’s put up only 11ppg on 14-44 shooting.

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ATB: All Ends to Friday

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2008


Game of the Day. Xavier 63, Virginia Tech 62 (OT).  This ending was almost as ridiculous as the Brandon Roy nonsense from a couple of weeks ago.  After it appeared the Va Tech had won the game on a layup by Jeff Allen with under three seconds remaining, Xavier threw it up ahead to Dante Jackson, who at that point was 0-8 with 2 pts in the game.  So of course he throws in a bank shot from 50 feet to win (see below).  This was easily the best game-winner of the young season, and will probably be in the running for best of the season this year.  XU’s Derrick Brown led the Musketeers with 16/6, but Va Tech may not have been in that position if their star had shown up on the offensive end – AJ Vassallo had a mere 4 pts on 2-13 (0-6 3FG) shooting, 15 pts below his average.  At least he stepped it up otherwise, though, with 10 rebs and 8 assts.


  • Duke 71, Michigan 56. Hey, Duke won another tournament title at Madison Square Garden!  Never seen that before!  Coach K is only 94-10 in November at Duke, so if you didn’t see this one coming, then you haven’t watched college basketball in the last three decades.  It got us wondering, how many of these tourneys has Coach K won over the years?  Surpisingly, he’s only won three of the five PNITs that he’s been in (1985, 2000, 2008) – sure feels like more. The Blue Devils relied on a balanced attack–both in terms of depth and playing both halfs (looking at you Henderson and Singler)–to vault themselves into a #1 seed in everyone’s Week 3 NCAA tournament mock bracket. On the other side, John Beilein and the Wolverine faithful should leave New York City happy though as their win over #4 (not for long) UCLA has served noticed that the Wolverines should be significantly better than last season’s 10-22 record. Perhaps the biggest thing last night’s win over UCLA may have done is make more recruits think about heading up to Ann Arbor so one day Beilein can start more Manny Harrises (game-high 25 points) and less. . .well everybody else on his team. We may find out just how far along these Wolverines have come on December 6th when they get a rematch against Duke in Ann Arbor.
  • UCLA 77, S. Illinois 60. UCLA improved its east coast record to 2-3 under Howland by pulling away from SIU in the last quarter of this game today. The Bruins relied on a 20-2 second half run to win this game. This trip to MSG should be a useful motivation tool for Ben Howland to motivate his team, which is made up of hyped freshmen and remnants of a team that has made 3 straight Final 4s. The Bruins relied on their veteran leaders (Alfred Aboya, Josh Shipp, and Darren Collison) to win the game as that trio combined for 49 of the Bruins’ 77 points. If Howland is going to make a 4th consecutive trip to the Final 4, his freshmen will have to grow up fast.

More Paradise Jammation.

  • Miami (FL) 70, Southern Miss 60. Honestly, I’m more interested in what Larry Eustachy was doing between games in the Virgin Islands than this game. However, I suspect that most of you are here for some keen insight into the game. Cliffs Notes summary: Lance Hurdle led the Canes to a victory despite an off night from Jack McClinton. I wouldn’t read too much into this game as a top 25 team should win games against teams like Southern Miss fairly easily, but it is still November so I’ll give The U the benefit of the doubt tonight, but they will have to step it up when they face the winner of. . .
  • UConn 89, Lasalle 81. Speaking of teams that didn’t quite play up to expectations, #2 UConn struggled to put away LaSalle, a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic 10 team. Jim Calhoun got big games out of Kemba Walker and Jeff Adrien to avoid the huge upset against the Explorers (seriously, what kind of nickname is that?) who shot 50% from the field. However, the biggest story of the night (other than Psycho T returning) was the return of A.J. Price, who was solid if not spectacular in his return. In a related story, Price maybe getting a Facebook invite from Cameron Newton that is assuming, um, Newton can find a computer to log onto the site.
  • USC 73, UT-Chattanooga 46. It’s the return of Taj Gibson who was AWOL for much of last season (I’m not sure who to name that type of performance after–Taj Gibson or Steve Slaton? We’re a college basketball site, so I’ll go with “pulling a Taj Gibson”.) Gibson paced the Trojans with 17 points and 15 rebounds. For the adolescent girl demographic, the big news of the night was that Lil Romeo took his first college shot. . .and missed.
  • San Diego, 73, Valparaiso 66. The Toreros were led by center Gyno Pomare’s 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Toreros, who knocked off UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year as a #13 seed face the winner of. . .
  • Wisconsin 60, Iona 58 (OT). The 25th-ranked Badgers snuck by the Gaels behind 21 points from Trevon Hughes. Somehow, the Badgers won despite going 15 of 48 (31.2%) from the field. So basically, it was a typical Bo Ryan win. I can’t wait to put my Big 10 TV channel to use this year.

Other Games of Mild Interest.

  • Utah 83, Ole Miss 72. The SEC is now 21-7 with losses to Mercer (x2), VMI, Utah, Illinois, Loyola (IL), and UNC. Other than UNC, not exactly murderer’s row there.
  • Syracuse 86, Oakland 66. Jonny Flynn brought 18/4 off the bench to assist four others in double figures, but most importantly, SU held Oakland’s Johnathan Jones to 7-23 shooting and only 16 pts.
  • Pitt 86, Akron 67. I’ll just leave you with this quote from Akron coach Keith Dambrot about Sam Young:
  • Sam Young physically reminds me of LeBron. Obviously, he’s not as good a player as LeBron, but he’s got that quick-twitch strength and ability to put the ball down. He’s a tough matchup.

    I will be waiting to see Young try LeBron’s patented bullrush to/through the basket this year.

  • Davidson 97, Winthrop 70. Stephen Curry with a ho-hum 30 points and 13 assists. The bigger news for Bob McKillop is the 20 and 15 from Andrew Lovedale. If the Wildcats can get a legitimate inside game going this year, they could be an extremely tough out in March with Curry bombing away from outside.
  • Memphis 84, Seton Hall 70. Not much to say here. Memphis took an early lead and never looked back. One interesting stat: 30/46 or 65.2%. I’ll let you guess what that represents. (Hint: Don’t ask John Calipari about it.)
  • Maryland 89, Vermont 74 (OT). That’s not a typo. The Terrapins outscored the Catamounts 17-2 in the 5-minute OT period. I think even Gary Williams will have to be happy with how his team finished the game. He may be a little pissed off about the other 40 minutes though. . .
  • Tennessee 76, MTSU 66. A thoroughly unimpressive win for the Volunteers. Do top 25 teams really struggle to put away Middle Tennessee State?
  • Notre Dame 65, LMU 54. Luke Harangody with a beastly 27 and 17. Hasheem Thabeet is still not impressed. . .

On Tap Saturday (all games EST):

  • Delaware State at Kentucky – Noon
  • Drexel at #22 Georgetown – 1 PM
  • Gardner-Webb at #12 Oklahoma -2 PM
  • Indiana (PA) at #6 Pittsburgh – 4 PM
  • Morehead State at #3 Louisville – 5:30 PM
  • Wisconsin-Milwaukee at #15 Marquette – 8:30 PM
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2008-09 Conference Primers: #4 – Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2008

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. UCLA (25-4, 15-3)
  2. Arizona St. (20-8, 11-7)
  3. USC (17-11, 10-8)
  4. Washington St. (17-12, 10-8)
  5. Washington (18-12, 9-9)
  6. California (14-15, 8-10)
  7. Arizona (13-16, 8-10)
  8. Oregon (11-17, 7-11)
  9. Stanford (12-17, 6-12)
  10. Oregon St. (7-22, 3-15)


WYN2K.  This is not the same Pac-10 conference as last year, plain and simple.  Gone are lottery picks OJ Mayo (USC), Russell Westbrook (UCLA), Kevin Love (UCLA), Brook Lopez (Stanford) and Jerryd Bayless (Arizona).  Gone are Robin Lopez (Stanford) and Ryan Anderson (Cal), also first-rounders.  Gone are Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (UCLA) and Davon Jefferson (USC), who went in the second round and not at all, respectively.  This year’s Pac-10 transition isn’t just limited to players.  There are new coaches at Oregon St. (Craig Robinson), Stanford (Johnny Dawkins), Cal (Mike Montgomery) and Arizona (Russ Pennell).  It’s safe to say that no other major conference will look as significantly different from last year as the Pac-10 in 2008-09. 

Predicted Champion.   UCLA (NCAA #1)Perhaps the only consistency in the Pac-10 this year will be he continued dominance of Ben Howland’s UCLA Bruins over the rest of this conference.  After three straight Final Fours and another superb recruiting class matriculating in Westwood, Howland has built his program to the enviable point where he can lose two lottery picks and another starter as early entries to the NBA Draft and not expect his program to suffer major slippage.  While we don’t believe that this version of UCLA will be as good of a team as the 2007-08 edition, the Bruins’ position relative to the rest of the conference may actually be stronger this time around.  He returns an all-american PG, Darren Collison, who has played in three F4s and led the nation in 3FG% last year (.525, min. 80 attempts).  More importantly, Collison has a chip on his shoulder after a miserable national semifinal performance against Memphis last year (2 pts, 5 tos, 5 fouls) – when he’s directing his team effectively, there are few teams in America that can overcome their bruising defense and efficient offense.  The national #1 recruiting class is headlined by all-world guard Jrue Holiday, who is expected to start from day one.  His talent, along with a cadre of perimeter (Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson) and inside players (J’Mison Morgan, Drew Gordon), will give Howland numerous lineup options to throw at opponents.  Furthermore, UCLA returns a finally-healthy Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya to provide experience and a steady hand at crunch time.  As we said before, we don’t believe this UCLA team will be as good as last year’s squad, but it probably doesn’t have to be.  The Pac-10 has dropped in talent significantly, and UCLA should be able to roll through to another fantastic record and possible high RPI rating to garner another #1 seed out west.  Here’s a pretty good indication of why Darren Collison is so important for this team.

NCAA Teams.  We’re not sure that we see more than four NCAA teams in the Pac-10 this year, which sent six to the Big Dance last season and arguably deserved seven (Arizona St.).  In the best-case scenario, things come together for certain teams and the league hopes for five on Selection Sunday, but there’s a more realistic chance that there will only be three NCAA selections made on that day. 

  • Arizona St. (NCAA #4)Herb Sendek’s coaching resume shows that once he gets a program to the 20-win plateau for the first time, it typically stays there.  In other words, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that ASU, who is returning its top eight players from a 21-13 NIT quarterfinalist, will regress this season.   The key player, of course, is James Harden, a coulda-been-one-and-done, who lit up the conference for 18/5/3 assts, including 41% from behind the arc (and 53% overall).  Harden is a future lottery pick in a league where the only other potential such picks are freshmen (DeRozan, Holiday).  Pac-10 teams are not going to enjoy their trips to Tempe this year.
  • USC (NCAA #8) – We struggled in making this selection, but the thing that pushes USC into the top three of the Pac-10 is simply, talent.  Other than UCLA, no other program has as much pure talent that it can put on the floor.  Undisciplined, maddening talent – sure – but that’s Tim Floyd for ya.  Demar DeRozan wll be a highlight reel for his one year in LA, but he has considerable help next to him, assuming they can all learn to share the ball and play together.  Daniel Hackett, Taj Gibson and Dwight Lewis are all talented players, and if UNC transfer Alex Stepheson is deemed eligible to play for the Trojans this year, USC has enough talent to make a run at the Pac-10 title.  We don’t expect that to happen because Ben Howland is Ben Howland and Tim Floyd is Tim Floyd, but the talent differential excuse doesn’t hold water anymore. 
  • Washington St. (NCAA #10) – We’re taking a bit of a risk with Wazzu at fourth and a bubble team for the NCAAs, but we truly believe that Tony Bennett is a system coach.  Like Bo Ryan at Wisconsin, the names on the backs of the jerseys are largely irrelevant to the success of the program.  They’re going to run their slower-than-Xmas stuff no matter which faces are running around out there, and in so doing, dare the rest of the Pac-10 to figure it out.  Now we’re not saying that the losses of Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill won’t hurt – after all, that trio was the most decorated group of players in Washington St. history; but with center Aron Baynes returning along with guard Taylor Rochestie and small forward Daven Harmerling, Bennett has more than enough experience to continue confounding skeptics up in Pullman. 

NIT Teams.

  • Washington (NIT) – This program has seemed to be in a funk ever since Brandon Roy left the dreary environs of Seattle.  If the Huskies are going to take advantage of a weaker Pac-10 to make a run at the NCAA Tournament (or the NIT), they’re going to have to get another superb season from PF Jon Brockman (18/12 on 54% FG).  But that won’t be enough without improved performances from Quincy Pondexter and Justin Dentmon on the perimeter.  Freshman Isaiah Thomas is getting some hype from Husky fans – perhaps he can push them over the top. 


  • California – The story here is obviously Mike Montgomery’s return to college coaching at his former employer’s bitterest rival.  Had Cal held onto star player Ryan Anderson, we would have considered the Bears as a bubble NCAA team.  We do think Monty will get there eventually, as he did at Long Beach St. and Stanford (not exactly powerhouses when he arrived), but he’s not a quick-fix guy and it will take time to undo the culture of mediocrity left by Ben Braun. 
  • Arizona – On talent alone, with Chase Budinger, Nic Wise and Jordan Hill, the Wildcats should be a top three Pac-10 team.  However, with the fiasco that unfolded last month and the eyebrow-raising hire of the fomer Arizona State radio announcer Russ Pennell as the head coach, we’re not sure anyone will actually want to play for UA this season.  Putting them seventh was a gift. 
  • Oregon – We still can’t figure out how Ernie Kent got a big contract extension, but we suppose it doesn’t take much to satisfy people in Eugene.  At least until Mark Few takes an interest in coaching in the Pac-10.  With only one significant player returning, the 5’6 Tajuan Porter, and nine new faces, we just don’t see the Ducks making a return trip to the NCAAs this season.
  • Stanford – We think Johnny Dawkins is in for a surprise in Palo Alto this season.  Nobody has any clue as to how good of a coach he will be, but we can say with a degree of certainty that the only thing keeping the Cardinal afloat last year was the interior presence of the comical Lopez twins.  The guardplay was relatively abysmal (39.5% shooting), and oh, well, now the Lopezes are gone.  Good luck with that, JD. 
  • Oregon St. – Hey, did you guys hear that new head coach Craig Robinson is Barack Obama’s bro-in-lawWe hadn’t either.  Screw Corvallis, with Robinson’s financial resume, he should be in DC helping Barry fix the economy.  Seriously though, last year, OSU might have been the worst major conference team we’d ever seen (Indiana has a shot at bettering that this year).  Ferguson had success at Brown, though, which is a herculean task in its own right, so maybe he can get a few Ws in Corvallis this season.  Three or four would be miraculous. 

RPI Boosters.

  • Washington v. Kansas  (11.24.08)
  • UCLA @ Texas  (12.04.08)
  • USC @ Oklahoma  (12.04.08)
  • Arizona @ Texas A&M  (12.05.08)
  • Gonzaga @ Washington St.  (12.10.08)
  • Arizona v. Gonzaga  (12.14.08)
  • Kansas @ Arizona  (12.23.08)
  • Notre Dame @ UCLA  (02.07.09)

Important Games.

  • UCLA @ USC  (01.11.09)
  • Arizona St. @ UCLA  (01.17.09)
  • USC @ Washington St.  (01.24.09)
  • USC @ UCLA  (02.04.09)
  • USC @ Arizona St.  (02.15.09)
  • Washington @ UCLA  (02.19.09)
  • Arizonan @ Arizona St.  (02.22.09)

Neat-O Stat.  The Pac-10, with only ten conference members, is the only BCS league that plays a true round-robin schedule of home/away games with every other team.  We like this because it gives a true measure of the strength of each team relative to one another in the conference.  There are no plans on the horizon to expand the Pac-10 to twelve members (for football reasons, the NCAA requires twelve teams to have a postseason championship game). 

65 Team Era.  The Pac-10 has traditionally been the weakest of the six major conferences in its NCAA Tournament performance, going 127-96 (.570) over the era.  The league simply doesn’t put as many teams into the Tournament as its peers, earning 4.1 bids per year – the next lowest is the Big 12 with 4.8 per year, and the “Super Six” average is 5 bids per year.  As might be expected as a correlation to that fact, the Pac-10 is also last among the six conferences in #1 seeds (12), S16s (36) and F4s (9).  UCLA can’t do it all, folks!

Final Thoughts.  UCLA has led the re-emergence of the Pac-10 conference as a basketball powerhouse the last several seasons, but turmoil among several previously consistent programs (Arizona, Stanford) has put the possibility of UCLA and the Nine Dwarves back into the conversation.  One thing that we can be certain of is that Ben Howland will win and win big as long as he’s residing in Westwood.  He hasn’t won a national title yet, but it seems a foregone conclusion that one of these years he’ll break through and win the brass ring.  The rest of the Pac-10 is going to have to figure out a way to recruit on par with UCLA as well as perform in March before this league will be considered a national power again.  We know that Pac-10 schools can attract star talent across the spectrum, but can they be coached up to taste national success?   

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Some Exhibition Nonsense

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2008

We don’t put any much stock in Exhibition Games, because, well, they’re exhibitions.  But maybe we should – last year, Findlay defeated Ohio St. and Grand Valley St. beat Michigan St., and both of those teams had worse seasons than expected (OSU in particular – NIT).  Someone should do a correlation on this.  Anyway, here are some exhibition tidbits for the discerning fan…

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Midwest Regional Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2008

The rest of the previews are going to be much shorter than the East Regional Analysis because the other regions aren’t as loaded. Ok, you got me. That preview took way too much time given my schedule. Plus, the other regions suck. . .

#1 Kansas: Bill Self leads a loaded Jayhawk team into the tournament. They have all the tools–experience and talent in both the backcourt and frontcourt–that they need to win (although they are one of the few teams in college basketball that doesn’t take advantage of the short 3 point shot). The question is that will Kansas end its reputation for choking in the tournament. With a few exceptions (1991, 1993, 2002, and 2003 come to mind), the Jayhawks have found a way to lose to vastly inferior teams. The most notable example are 2005 and 2006 against Bucknell and Bradley respectively. We think the Jayhawks are too talented for that to happen, but the Jayhawks have proven us wrong before. Schedule/Roster.

#2 Georgetown: As we stated in our Big East finals review, we noted that the Hoyas have all the tools to win the tournament. They have experience, a very good backcourt, the nation’s best 7-footer, and a solid coach. Before the bracket came out, we were worried about Hibbert’s tendency to disappear for stretches when he should be able to dominate. However, their road to the Final 4 seems particularly favorable, which means they are a trendy pick to make it to San Antonio. Schedule/Roster.

#3 Wisconsin: While we don’t think the Badgers have much of a chance of winning the NCAA title, they definitely deserved a 2 seed over Duke. Like your typical Bo Ryan team, they play excellent defense. Led by Brian Butch and Michael Flowers, the Badgers are team capable of making the Elite 8, but will have a difficult road getting there (probably USC and Georgetown). Schedule/Roster.

#4 Vanderbilt: Vandy is an exciting team to watch and capable of beating anybody (ask Bruce Pearl). They have a solid all-around lineup with 3 seniors. However, their mediocre defense all but guarantees they will trip up somewhere along the line. Schedule/Roster.

#5 Clemson: With a win over Duke and three close games against UNC, Clemson can play with anybody in the country when they are on. The Tigers are athletic and had a nice run in the ACC tournament, but their awful FT shooting will catch up with them making them unlikely to advance past a round or two. Schedule/Roster.

#6 USC: We think that everybody knows about and has seen USC at this point. OJ Mayo has turned the Trojans into one the tournament’s most talked about “sleepers”. After reaching the Sweet 16 last year before bowing out to UNC, Tim Floyd added 2 “diaper dandies”. Ok, so maybe that isn’t 100% accurate since Mayo and Jefferson are closer to Depends than Huggies and Mayo’s recruitment was more like OJ adding the Trojans to his schedule. One of the interesting and challenging things for the Trojans has been how the freshman were integrated into a team that was already good. After struggling early, USC has come together at the right time. Mayo has reined in his tendency to dominate the ball although he still lapses into his old habits occasionally. The Trojans NCAA fortunes will like ride on which Taj Gibson shows up. Gibson, who has been college basketball’s version of Steve Slaton, will need to come up big if the Trojans want to make a deep run. Either way, we enjoy having another guy named OJ at USC. We hope that he has better “luck” with relationships. Schedule/Roster.

#7 Gonzaga: At this point, Gonzaga is way past the point of being a Cinderella. This team has a lot of talent including several guys with pro potential. They have a solid squad with 4 guys averaging double figures. Their first round matchup with Davidson will be a must-watch. Schedule/Roster.

#8 UNLV: These aren’t your old school Running Rebels. Lon Kruger returns a very different team from last year’s Sweet 16 team as most of the roster changed (including his son). Their own hometown doesn’t seem to believe in them, as Vegas has put UNLV (the higher seed) as 2 point underdogs against Kent State. Schedule/Roster.

#9 Kent State: As we noted above, Vegas has Kent State as 2 point favorites. Apparently they don’t agree with the selection committee. The Golden Flash should be a tough matchup as they feature a balanced attack with 4 scorers in double figures. Schedule/Roster.

#10 Davidson: Led by Stephen Curry and coming in with a NCAA-leading 22 game winning streak, Davidson is a very dangerous team. The committee made an interesting decision to pit them against Gonzaga. This can be interpreted in one of two ways: knock out a dangerous mid-major in the first round or ensure a dangerous mid-major in the second round Schedule/Roster.

#11 Kansas State: We would love to see Michael Beasley make a run deep in the tournament, but with his sidekick Bill Walker most well-known for peeing in a towel and going 0-for-14 against Texas it will be a short run for the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Schedule/Roster.

#12 Villanova: Jay Wright’s team was likely the last at-large team invited to the tournament. They are a young team with some talented players (most notably Scotty Reynolds), but they appear to be a few years away from being a threat to make a run (assuming nobody does anything stupid by leaving school early). However, Clemson’s awful FT shooting may let them stay in the game and allow Villanova’s talented players to steal a game. Schedule/Roster.

#13 Siena: Before you get too excited about their win over Stanford, you should remember that Brook Lopez was suspended earlier this season making Stanford a very different team in November. With a young team and the talent to beat Stanford (even if it wasn’t at his peak), Siena will be a very dangerous mid-major in a few years. However, their matchup with Vanderbilt will be a stiff challenge even if Vandy is soft defensively. Schedule/Roster.

#14 Cal State Fullerton: A team full of transfers (literally everybody transferred from somewhere else), CSF is a team that likes a fast pace, but will find out in the first 10 minutes that Wisconsin prefers a slow pace. They will quickly learn that it is easier to slow a game down than it is to speed it up. Schedule/Roster.

#15 UMBC: The winners of America East, a horrible conference except when Germain Mopa Njila becomes a household name for 15 minutes, UMBC should enjoy their hotel and the scenery because Georgetown is too talented and has too much experience to let UMBC hang around. We think. . . Schedule/Roster.

#16 Portland State: We’ll save both you some time (and us some research time). No #16 has ever won a first round game. Schedule/Roster.

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ATB: Hey Mr. DJ, Keep Playin That Song…

Posted by rtmsf on December 3rd, 2007

ATB v.4


Game of the Day. #8 Texas 63, #2 UCLA 61. One thing lost amidst last year’s undoubtedly deserving Kevin Durant hype at Texas was that Rick Barnes brought in five other talented freshmen in the class of 2006 who accounted for nearly half of UT’s points and rebounds in their 25-10 campaign. Everyone already knows about the head point guard capabilities of DJ Augustin, but players such as Damion James and Justin Mason have been largely overlooked. No longer. Tonight the Horns, led by those three sophs + juniors Connor Atchley and AJ Abrams, went into Pauley Pavilion and earned a far more impressive win than the Durant-led Horns had all of last season. Midway through the first half, UCLA went through yet another of those confounding Howland-era droughts, going almost nine minutes without a field goal, and in the process allowed Texas to take a commanding lead during a 17-0 run. Augustin (19/4) in particular shredded the vaunted UCLA defense, repeatedly showing his Steve Nash-tutelage in the form of stepback jumpers and blow-by abilities. The expected UCLA run came in the second half, as Mbah a Moute (14/7) and Shipp (11/7/4 assts) led the charge. UCLA took back the lead at the 12-minute mark, and had a three-point lead as late as 1:15 remaining. Then the unexpected occurred, as Connor Atchley made a clutch three to tie the game with 1:00 left, and UCLA missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on its next possession. After forcing DJ Augustin into a horrible leaning airball from the right side, Kevin Love & Co. didn’t block out, allowing Damion James (19/10) to rise over the top for a strong throwdown and a 2-pt Texas lead with 0:09 on the clock. UCLA ran it upcourt and got a great look for Mbah a Moute from three, but it was off the mark and Texas secured a tremendous early-season win against the #1 team in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, breaking UCLA’s 25-game homecourt winning streak. We don’t have the database to check this, but we gotta figure this is one of the only times in Texas basketball history the Horns have beaten a #1 team on the road. More importantly, this win announced to the college basketball world that a Texas without Kevin Durant will be dealt with this season. Right now, no other team has two quality wins as impressive as their neutral court dismantling of Tennessee and this road win at UCLA. As for the Bruins, the key stat Howland should be worried about is rebounding (+2 Texas) – considering the size and prowess of Love, Mata-Real, Mbah a Moute in the paint, they simply got outworked tonight on the boards, and it came back to bite them hard on the putback by James that won the game.

More Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Arizona 78, #9 Texas A&M 67. With seven minutes to go in the first half, TAMU was already up twenty on Arizona and we were making plans to go get our Xmas tree. Arizona was once again showing absolutely no signs of life, letting yet another team brazenly come onto their court and push them around. That’s when UA freshman Jerryd Bayless (26/3/6 assts) decided to step up and make his presence known, sparking a late first-half run and leading the way in the second half for Arizona to get back and ultimately win the game. Will this game act as a turning point for Arizona? #4 Kansas 59, #25 USC 55. We admit that our expectations for this game were pretty low. Even though the game was at the Galen Center, we thought KU was way too disciplined, experienced and talanted to let USC’s young freshmen take this game. We were wrong in the sense that USC was able to hang with the Jayhawks the entire way. But we were right in that Kansas Mario Chalmers made the plays it needed to win the game. Chalmers’ 26-footer with 24 seconds left to essentially salt the game away was one of those shots where you initially think “he must have panicked” until it falls through the bottom of the net (which it did, dead center). Still, USC didn’t even play very well and was right there at the end – OJ Mayo was 6-21 from the field, Taj Gibson pulled another disappearing act (2 pts and fouled out again), but only Davon Jefferson (17/3) had a good game. We’re still not sure whether that tells us more about Kansas or USC long-term, though. Stanford 67, Colorado 43. Um, so much for Stanford having trouble with another road game, as someone in this space implied yesterday. Nebraska 62, Arizona St. 47. We obviously didn’t watch this game, but an eight-minute scoring drought by ASU that finished them off sounds an awful lot like Herb Sendek to us.

Big 12/Pac-10 Final Thoughts. The final tally was 6-5 in this matchup, with road teams winning five of the games. What did we learn? Probably not much, but looking at this slate beforehand we probably would have predicted the Pac-10 to win a couple more of these games, which may suggest that the league is a tad overrated from where pundits were projecting. Obviously, the bottom-dwellers of Oregon St. and Arizona St. are terrible teams. Washington and Cal are probably NIT-worthy. That leaves USC, Arizona, Stanford as NCAA first-weekend teams, with Oregon, Wazzu and UCLA as the likely second-weekend teams. In the Big 12, we see more talent at the top level with Texas, Texas A&M and Kansas. K-State, Baylor, Missouri and the Oklahomas will sort themselves out as NCAA/NIT-worthy, while Colorado, Texas Tech, Iowa St. and Nebraska look to be pretty bad teams this year.

Notable Scores.

  • Miami (FL) 66, St. John’s 47. Is Miami for real this year?
  • East Carolina 68, George Mason 65. Tough home loss for GMU today – let’s hope this doesn’t bite them come March.
  • VCU 85, Maryland 76. Eric Maynor blew up for 25/8 in the upset of the Terps. What’s going on, Gary?

On Tap Today (all times EST). Probably a night better spent doing something else, like, we dunno, talking to your wife/girlfriend.

  • Florida (NL) v. Jacksonville (ESPN FC) 7pm – Florida continues its quest to dominate the Sunshine State.
  • Arkansas (-10) v. Missouri St. (ESPN FC) 8pm. this border war game should be intriguing.
  • Wisconsin (-23) v. Wofford (ESPN2) 9pm – ESPN was obviously hurting for programming opposite MNF tonight.
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ATB: Wed/Thurs Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2007

ATB v.4


ACC 8 – Big Ten 3. Wed. night was the second marquee night of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, and the ACC carried a commanding 5-1 lead into the night’s games. After UNC (v. Ohio St.) and BC (v. Michigan) picked up road wins to go with Maryland’s home victory v. Illinois, the ACC had once again dominated this event (Penn St. and Michigan St. home wins made the final tally 8-3). What accounts for this annual decimation? One reason is that the ACC protects home court much better than the Big 10, going 28-1 in friendly venues during the last six years of this event (B10: 18-13 over the same period). Another reason is that the strength of the bottom of the ACC is consistently better than its Big 10 equivalent – ACC bottom-feeders throughout the series such as Clemson, Florida St. and Virginia have comprised an 18-8 record, while Big 10 equivalents Minnesota, Penn St. and Northwestern were 7-18 over the same timeframe. How thorough is the annual beatdown? Michigan St. is the only B10 school with a winning record in this event (5-3), while only four ACC schools have more losses than wins.

ACC/Big 10 Challenge. #13 Michigan St. 81, NC State 58. This was just a good old-fashioned whipping. Goran Suton scored all sixteen of his points in the first half en route to a dub-dub (16/12), as the Spartans rolled out to an early twenty-point margin and coasted home the rest of the way. MSU”s patented bruising defense held the Wolfpack to 35% shooting, which is showing signs of rising to the level of some of Izzo’s better defensive teams from the early 2000s. Through six games, the Spartans are holding teams to 38% from the field and 31% from three. #3 UNC 66, Ohio St. 55. In a brickfest game (UNC: 38%; OSU: 27%), Ohio St. ran into a looooong drought (missing 17 straight shots) in the second half that gave Carolina the boost they needed (w/o Ty Lawson) to avoid the upset bid. We watched this game in its entirety, and while we’d love to say great defense carried the day here, it just looked like sloppy basketball to us. Wayne Ellington looked great (23/8) for the Heels, but Psycho T struggled against the more athletic Othello Hunter inside (memo to NBA scouts: hustling 6’8 post men with limited range only gets you so far). There was one jawdropping sequence where Hansbrough simply could not get his shot up over Hunter (6 blks), who repeatedly threw it back into his face. By the same token, Kosta Koufos was a veritable no-show (4/3) for the Buckeyes. The other surprise of the night was the inspired play of OSU freshman Jon Diebler, whose four first half threes kept OSU in the game. Boston College 77, Michigan 64. This is a game that the Big 10 really needed to win, and UM couldn’t get it done at home against BC. A tight game opened up with about 8 mins remaining when BC went on a 12-2 run to essentially salt the game away. RTC whipping boy Tyrese Rice blew up for 28/8/5 assts (eff: 30), as Michigan simply had no answer for him. Maryland 69, Illinois 61. In a battle of two teams that will likely be up-and-down and hard-to-figure all year, the Terps were led by Eric Hayes’ career-high 18 pts in the win over the Illini. Penn St. 66, Virginia Tech 61. In a battle of conference bottom-feeders, Penn St. was led by Mike Walker’s 17 off the bench.

Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. #16 Oregon 80, Kansas St. 77. Notwithstanding the Bill Walker watersports moment, this was a really entertaining game. Both teams went back-and-forth throughout the second half, but K-State’s fate ultimately rode on their inability to make a foul shot in the OT. The Wildcats missed three straight front ends as Oregon pulled away in the overtime. The end-of-game sequence was a wild finish, as Oregon’s Maarty Leunen shot three times (and was fouled but not called on at least two of them) from point-blank range, rebounded his own misses, and finally received the foul call on the fourth attempt (6 seconds remaining). After hitting one of two FTs, KSU’s Jacob Pullen dribbled length of the court in four seconds, only to charge into an Oregon player as his made layin was waved off. Oregon then threw it length of the court, but the ball was intercepted by K-State at the opposite foul line. An immediate timeout led to the Bill Walker fiasco and a pretty good look that missed from Michael Beastley (24/12). Oregon’s big four combined for 53 pts, but we were most impressed last night by Joevan Catron (15/8), who took the key charge with two seconds left and showed a lot of heart and hustle for the Ducks last night. #25 USC 66, Oklahoma 55. The other B12/Pac-10 game of the night was at USC, and the Trojans are continuing to show improvement with their young freshmen leading the way. Davon Jefferson had 23/9 and OJ Mayo had 18/5 (but zero assts), but Mayo was the key player (scoring 11 in a row) during a second-half stretch that increased the USC lead from 2 to 12 and effectively put the game away. Where has Taj Gibson (2/3 in only 9 foul-plagued mins) gone?

More Overtime Goodness. #18 Gonzaga 70, St. Joseph’s 65. We wish we could have seen this one, but again, this one was on the U and Comcast hates us. Supposedly St. Joe’s came storming back from a 17-pt first half deficit and led for most of the second half until a late Matt Bouldin three gave Gonzaga the lead again. In the overtime, both teams mostly traded FTs until Gonzaga secured the win late. This was a very good road win in a hostile environment for the Zags. St. Joe’s was led by Pat Calathes with 24/7 in the losing effort. Vanderbilt 91, South Alabama 88. This double-OT jewel of a game wasn’t on tv anywhere we could find, but it appears that Memorial was rocking last night when the Commodores stayed unbeaten at home. Vandy came back from an 8-pt deficit in the mid-second half to take the lead, but a Ronald Douglas tip-in with 0.8 left sent the game to OT. Vandy had a shot to win in the first OT, but good foul shooting in the second OT ultimately put the game away for the Dores. Andrew Ogilvy led VU with 19/8 while Shan Foster contributed 26/4.

Upset Special. Massachusetts 107, Syracuse 100. In a tremendous boost to the credibility of Travis Ford’s rising UMass program, the Minutemen went into the Carrier Dome on Wed. night and beat the Orange in a high-scoring affair that saw the opponent score more points than any other team in the Dome’s history. Gary Forber (23/6/7 assts) hit a key three with just over a minute remaining to give UMass a six-point lead and the Orange were finished. Big numbers from many players on both sides – for UMass, Ricky Harris had 25; for Syracuse, all five starters had double figures, led by Eric Devendorf with 23 and three other players with 20 each (Greene, Flynn, Onuaku).

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #2 UCLA 83, George Washington 60. Collison comes off the bench to give the Bruins 14/5. Love with another dub-dub (12/12).
  • #4 Kansas 87, Florida Atlantic 49. Another KU rout as B-Rush goes for 17 pts off the bench in 19 mins of action.
  • #5 Georgetown 66, Old Dominion 48. Georgetown returns favor from last year, holding ODU to 31% shooting. Gerald Lee (24/12) was the only bright spot for Old Dominion.
  • #8 Texas 98, Texas Southern 61. Texas continues to impress – DJ Augustin led with 20 pts.
  • #9 Texas A&M 76, Alabama 63. Another balanced, efficient performance from the Aggies. Bama is just so limited beyond Hendrix (19/12) and Gee (19/3).
  • #21 Xavier 93, Oakland 68. All five starters hit double figures for the Muskies.

Other Notable Scores.

  • California 74, Nevada 68. Great road win for Cal, as Ryan Anderson went for a career-high 36/13 to counteract Marcellus Kemp’s 26/5/4.
  • Seton Hall 65, Princeton 55. The Hall is off to its best start since The Beard was roaming the sidelines (19 yrs).
  • Kent St. 81, St. Louis 40. Wow – has Majerus ever lost by this much before? Statistical oddity – KSU was 100% from three (3-3), while SLU was 0% (0-11).
  • Wichita St. 62, Appalachian St. 53. App St. continues to struggle with another home loss.
  • Hampton 64, VCU 55. VCU has been extremely disappointing so far as well (Maynor – 22 pts).
  • Charlotte 63, Wake Forest 59. Solid CUSA win over an ACC team.
  • Colorado 60, Air Force 50. Jeff Bzedlik’s return to AFA as an opponent went much better than the game at CU (lost 84-46).
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