Morning Five: 08.15.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 15th, 2013


  1. August is without question the slowest month in the college basketball calendar, but a couple of key releases of information on Wednesday allowed for some pizzazz in an otherwise dry landscape. First and foremost, ESPN’s 2013-14 Gameday schedule was announced, and the early returns on the eight-game slate are quite favorable. In fact, a reasonable argument could be made that the schedule contains the best (on paper) games in the ACC, AAC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC this year. The “mid-major” game between Memphis and Gonzaga is certainly no slouch, and the second ACC game (depending on which between Syracuse-Duke and UNC-Duke is “the best”) is another great match-up. Even the Pac-12 either/or battle between Arizona-Colorado and UCLA-Stanford has promise. We don’t have the entire history of Gamedays in front of us at the moment, but there’s little doubt that we’ve enjoyed a group of games that (again, on paper) has had the star power and quality of these eight. Absolutely. Cannot. Wait.
  2. The other promising news that came out of Wednesday was also of a scheduling variety, although not related to the upcoming season. The Champions Classic, a fantastic event that pits blue-blooded powerhouses Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State against each other on a round robin three-year basis, is set to extend its contract for another three seasons (2014-16, according to Tom Izzo). As one commenter notes below that revelatory tweet, it would be great if the organizers of the event continued to spread the love around the country so that places other than New York, Atlanta and Chicago would have an opportunity to host the proceedings. Roger Kuznia at TSN believes that the event should open itself up to more schools (such as UNC, UCLA, Indiana, Syracuse, Louisville and Arizona) so that one of the marquee nights of the early season doesn’t begin to lose its luster, and it’s a fair point. We’d like to see a two-night, eight-team event where schools rotate through (avoiding conference foes, of course), with perhaps an opportunity to earn their way into or out of future events based on their performances. Either way, we’re still glad to see the existing format headed to another rendition.
  3. The NCAA also released its attendance figures for the 2012-13 season on Wednesday, and as always, the aggregate numbers only get you so far to a real understanding of the topic. We hope to have more analysis on this later today, but for now, The Dagger‘s Jeff Eisenberg does a pretty good job breaking down some of the key stats. That a school like Creighton outdrew a school like USC by more than four times the number of fans per game is a testament to how whacked the BCS system is when it comes to college basketball. The Mountain West also outdrew the Pac-12 by more than a thousand fans per game, and you have to once again address the chicken/egg argument of what drives what when it comes to on-court success. Do fans who demand success at the best programs foster the overarching pressure to win from their teams; or do the teams that win boil up interest by virtue of people’s willingness and desire to associate with winners? It’s obviously a combination of both factors, but we have to believe there’s a pretty strong correlation between fans actually caring (and showing up regardless) and success on the hardwood. The NCAA should do that analysis.
  4. Asking a group of college coaches to name the best current coach in the sport would no doubt result in a plurality of names ranging from Mike Krzyzewski to Bill Self to Rick Pitino to several others. But asking a group of college coaches (or anyone, really) to name the best current recruiter in the sport leaves no room for debate — we’re honestly surprised that the numbers taken by‘s crew didn’t approach 100 percent in favor of Kentucky’s John Calipari. In fact, the man who has inked 15 of the last 50 recruits ranked in the RSCI top 10 (think about that for a second…) didn’t even receive a majority of the votes (49 percent). Still, nobody else was close, as Kansas’ Bill Self (8 percent), Duke’s Coach K (6 percent), Florida’s Billy Donovan (5 percent) and Marquette’s Buzz Williams (5 percent) filled in the other blanks. It’s somewhat interesting that North Carolina’s Roy Williams didn’t receive a single vote — it wasn’t all that long ago that he was considered the best in the business in this regard.
  5. It’s called subsequent remedial measures (SRMs) in the legal realm, but what it essentially amounts to are actions made by an entity to mitigate future liability based on an alleged previous wrong (already under litigation). The idea is that SRMs cannot be used to “prove” that the responsible party is guilty of any previous wrongdoing based on those later actions, and it makes sense from an evidentiary sense (the case needs to be proven by intent used at the time of the infraction). But it sure as heck looks bad from a public relations perspective, and that’s exactly what both the NCAA and several of the major BCS conferences are doing now that the Ed O’Bannon/EA Sports case is taking on a life of its own. The SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 announced this week that it will follow the NCAA’s lead and no longer allow EA to use its trademarks in its college football video game. It’s not all that important with respect to the O’Bannon case, but it’s very important in terms of
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Morning Five: 08.30.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2012

  1. Is before college football kicks off too early for the 2012-13 All-America team to come out? Not if you’re the bible of preseason college basketball, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. Chris Dortch, its longtime editor-in-chief, tweeted out the annual’s five selections for next season’s individual honors. The recipients are Florida State’s Michael Snaer and Louisville’s Peyton Siva at the guard slots, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas as the forwards, and Indiana’s Cody Zeller at center (the cover featuring all five players is shown here). We’ll break these selections down a little more later today but some notable omissions on the first team are Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Michigan’s Trey Burke, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, North Carolina’s James McAdoo, and NC State’s CJ Leslie, among many others.
  2. Speaking of college football, tonight represents the start of the gridiron season as we head into Labor Day Weekend. And as everyone reading these words knows, Labor Day Weekend represents the beginning of fall. And fall means Midnight Madness really isn’t very far away — 43 days to be exact. Many schools have had their events scheduled for a while, but Pittsburgh has decided to shake the negativity off of last year’s disappointing season by doing something completely different. The Panthers have not hosted a Madness event since 2003, but to celebrate the school’s 225th anniversary and Homecoming weekend, Pitt is planning on building an outdoor “arena” and holding court under the stars. In the case of rain or a particularly bad cold snap (not unheard of in western Pennsylvania that time of year), the event will move indoors. But given the huge success of last year’s Carrier Classic playing a real game streetball style, we hope that this thing goes off without a hitch. Maybe someday this trend will result in real games hosted from Rucker Park to the Venice Beach asphalt — all the guys who grew up watching the And-1 mix tapes can dream, right?
  3. It’s not very often, well, ever, that we get a tip about something called the “Jewish Dwight Howard.” Yet that very email dropped into our inbox yesterday and, sure enough, Northwestern announced on Wednesday that it was adding a preferred walk-on by the name of Aaron Liberman to its roster. The 6’10” big man hails from California but spent last year in Israel, and will now join a Wildcat front line that boasts five players 6’8″ or bigger. Despite choosing to walk on for Bill Carmody, he received interest from a number of schools including Boston College, USC, Pepperdine, and Yale. Whatever the case, we can’t wait to see Liberman, replete with his yarmulke on top of his head, enter a game next season. Let’s hope that his college career turns out a little better than Tamir Goodman, the “Jewish Jordan,” did 10 years ago.
  4. While on the subject of big men, we realize that this is not going to be a popular position for many basketball fans, but the Pac-12 Networks announced its hoops schedule of over 150 games next season along with the caveat that Bill Walton will return as a color analyst after two years away from the business. He will also do some Pac-12 games for ESPN from time to time. Love him or hate him, Big Red has a certain giddy excitement and accompanying way with words that is utterly unique to him and him alone, and for that reason, we’re excited to have him back in the fold. Now… about figuring out where on our cable package the P12 Network actually resides…
  5. Indiana’s Tom Crean took a considerable amount of heat earlier this week for his (mis)handling of scholarships that resulted in fifth-year senior Matt Roth losing his scholarship from the school. With a top recruiting class entering Bloomington, Roth ended up as the odd man out heading into next season. But in an interview that Roth gave to earlier this week, Roth quite clearly stated that he had no hard feelings against Crean and had been completely aware dating back to the end of last season that losing his spot was a distinct possibility. While it’s great that Roth feels like he was informed, that doesn’t make Crean’s decision to recruit over him any more tolderable. Yes, college basketball is big business, and yes, players are not guaranteed four-year scholarships… but, does that make it right? Every coach in America gets 13 scholarships to play with — if he can’t win with 12 spots filled with elite talent, he’s not going to win.
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Piecing Together an ESPN Television Schedule

Posted by rtmsf on August 16th, 2011

On a day when much of the national conversation is on Yahoo Sports’ hard-hitting expose of Miami football (with a touch of basketball thrown in), we here at RTC are really starting to get a jones for hoops again.  Maybe it’s the interminable summer heat of mid-August or the days starting to get noticeably shorter, but even though we’re still a good distance away from practice, much less real games, we’ve been spending more of our free evenings re-watching 2011 NCAA Tournament classics like Kentucky-Ohio State and Butler-Florida.  While Brandon Knight’s and Shelvin Mack’s heroics serve to get us in the mood, we can’t help but look to the future and get excited about the unknown delights that are awaiting us in the 2011-12 season.

We mentioned last week that ESPN had released its 2012 Gameday schedule, and today ESPN gave us the SEC half of the Super Tuesday night games during conference season.  By adding the Big 12 half of Big Monday, which was released a few weeks back as well, we’re already considerably on our way to a January/February schedule to get excited about.  Here’s the so-far list, broken out by week and with a comment associated with each:

Tasty treats, indeed.  Of course, there’s a lot still pending both in terms of the conference and non-conference schedules, but we’ll try to update this in coming weeks as the other halves of Big Monday and Super Tuesday come available, in addition to the full schedules for Wednesday Night Hoops and the Thursday Showcase.  Even though literally hundreds of games can be found on the various tentacles of the WWL’s family of networks, its primary channel (ESPN) is still the flagship and reaches the most homes.  Therefore, these are often the games that they think deserve the most marketing and hype during the season.

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The Case For Friday Night Hoops

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2010

We’ve had this idea banging around in the cobwebs of the dome for some time now, but it really hit home for us last week.  On an evening where most of the nation was still snowed in and wanting something good to watch on television besides the Olympic Opening Ceremony FAIL (seriously, how long can you enjoy the procession of competing nations before losing interest around Finland?), we were treated to what might have been the absolute best college basketball game of the entire season:  A triple-overtime thriller between Pitt and West Virginia in the return game of their bitter Backyard Brawl rivalry.  It was 55 minutes of pulsating basketball with more swings than a John Mark Karr fantasy camp.  And yet, all we could keep thinking was…  why don’t we get this pleasure every Friday night?

More of These Games on Friday Night, Please.

Tonight, as part of Bracketbusters, we’ll get another interesting game between #24 Northern Iowa and Old Dominion on ESPN2, but in general Friday night college basketball after conference play begins is a vast wasteland relegated to the Ivy League, Big Sky, MAAC and a few others, with hardly any televised presence to speak of.  When you consider that on an average Saturday during league play, there are over 140 games with more than two dozen televised in some national platform, wouldn’t it make a teeny bit of sense to put a couple of those marquee matchups on one of the ESPNs each Friday night?  So with a tip of the hat to ESPN programming director Dave Brown, here’s our case for Friday Night Hoops.

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An RTC Public Service Announcement…

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2009

And now, with your RTC public service announcement…

ESPN Full Court will be FREE, as in zero dollars, for the week of Jan. 12-17, as part of a promotional teaser to inspire you to buy the second half of the season for the low, low price of $75*. 

ESPN Full Court Logo

Here are a few of the nationally prominent games featured this week that you shouldn’t miss because they’re free (the full schedule is here):

  • Tues 1/13 – Kansas St. @ Kansas
  • Wed 1/14 – Wake Forest @ BC
  • Sat 1/17 – Arkansas @ Florida
  • Sat 1/17 – Syracuse @ UConn
  • Sat 1/17 – Wake Forest @ Clemson (possible battle of unbeatens)
  • Sat 1/17 – South Carolina @ Tennessee

Check your local cable or dish provider for the channel listing and times.

* – actually not that low of a price

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