RTC 2010-11 Impact Players – South Atlantic Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 11th, 2010

It’s October.  The leaves are starting to turn colors.  Halloween candy is already in the stores.  There have been a few nights where you may have even turned on the heat.  Midnight Madness is imminent and RTC is full bore into the 2010-11 Season Preview materials.  For the second October in a row, we’re bringing you our RTC Impact Players series.  The braintrust has gone back and forth on this and we’ve finally settled on a group of sixty players throughout ten geographic regions of the country (five starters plus a sixth man) to represent the who and where of players you should be watching this season.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen every one of these players ball at least once by the end of February, then you need to figure out a way to get a better television package.  As always in a subjective analysis such as this, some of our decisions were difficult; many others were quite easy.  What we can say without reservation is that there is great talent in every corner of this nation of ours, and we’ll do our best to excavate it over the next five weeks in this series that will publish on Mondays and Thursdays.  Each time, we’ll also provide a list of some of the near-misses as well as the players we considered in each region, but as always, we welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments.

You can find all previous RTC 2010-11 Impact Players posts here.

South Atlantic Region (VA, NC, SC)

  • Kyrie Irving – Fr, G – Duke. To get an idea how highly touted Kyrie Irving is, consider this: coming off a season where Duke won the national title and only lost one key playmaker on offense, most people believe that the Blue Devils will run their offense through the talented freshman from New Jersey who many recruiting experts rank among the best to ever come from the state that has produced so many great college players, including Duke legends Bobby Hurley and Jason Williams. His development during his sophomore year of high school when ESPN analysts stated that he “would be a top 300 player nationally in the 2010 class” and then said a few months later “could be an impact player in the Atlantic 10 or a high-major role player” to his senior year when he was a top five recruit (#1 according to some services) and those same recruiting analysts were stating “it will be shocking if he isn’t an all-conference performer and possible all-american his freshman season” portends the potential for his development into a truly special player. Irving is one of the rare players who arrives on campus with the ability to both score and distribute the ball to his teammates. After all the talk about how Coach K had lost his edge in recruiting, Irving might be his most dynamic recruit since Williams arrived in Durham back in 1999. Despite only being on campus for a few months, his Blue Devil teammates have probably already begun to appreciate his high basketball IQ, competitiveness, and all-around ability.  Even though many will question his inclusion on our Impact Player team over his more proven teammate Nolan Smith, Irving has demonstrated a skill set in high school that goes beyond what Smith has demonstrated even with three additional years of experience under the watchful eye of Coach K. If Irving is able to make a smooth transition from the high school game to the college game (and having Singler, Smith, Seth Curry, and the Plumlees around should help), his game could make the Blue Devils heavy favorites to repeat when March arrives. With Irving’s game we don’t think it will be question of if but rather when he feels truly comfortable at the college level, so all the Duke haters should be preparing for a long season ahead.

Kyrie Irving Could be the Best Duke Guard Since J-Will

  • Malcolm Delaney - Sr, G – Virginia Tech. If you’re a Hokies fan and a Twitter fiend, back on May 8th you were probably just a little surprised but very happy that Malcolm Delaney tweeted that he was going to put off NBA riches for a year and return to school for his senior season. Nobody, however, could have been happier than Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg. We shudder to think at the number of blood pressure medications that man must be taking these days, having seemingly been the victim of more last-second heartbreakers and burst NCAA Tournament bubbles (are we allowed to refer to “the bubble” in October?) than any one man should ever be expected to endure, but the return of Delaney to Blacksburg should have lowered Greenberg’s systolic by about 20 points. It probably went back up over the summer, though, after Greenberg lost two of his forwards for the season — specifically presumptive sixth man J.T. Thompson to a left ACL tear and Allan Chaney to viral myocarditis (a condition slightly less than 0.6% of all people in America have) — and has another one in Cadarian Raines recovering from surgery in March to repair a re-fractured left foot. The importance of Delaney, then, and the impact he’ll have in this geographical region become obvious. VT will have to go small, and that means more touches for Malcolm, who we’re guessing will have no problem taking on more responsibility in terms of both scoring and rebounding, and we’re saying this about the top scorer in the ACC last season (20.2 PPG). He played an average of 35.8 MPG last year (4th ACC, 58th nationally) and we wonder if he’ll even sit at all this season. Most importantly, if the Hokies are going to attempt to return to only their second NCAA Tournament in the last 15 years (and what would be Delaney’s first), Greenberg will be counting on emotional and vocal leadership on the floor and in the locker room from Delaney, his RTC South Atlantic Impact Player and ACC Player of the Year candidate.

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Morning Five: 04.29.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on April 29th, 2010

    1. We asked the question in yesterday’s Morning Five, and today we got the answer — well, not really.  New NCAA prez Mark Emmert simply said (despite the headline of the linked article) he’d reserve comment about tournament expansion until the current 68-team proposal is approved.  That approval will likely come today, so we’ll be on the lookout for Emmert’s tabled comments on the matter, that’s for sure.
    2. You won’t be hearing anything about PTPers or dipsy-doo-dunkeroos or the Bald Dome Index on any of the Turner stations when they start covering the NCAA Tournament.  Dick Vitale has no interest in ditching his analyst’s seat in the studio at ESPN for a color commentating spot at Turner.  No matter your opinion on his announcing style, you’ve got to hand it to the guy: his enthusiasm for this game is still unmatched, he’s still adored by coaches and players, and, considering he’d be 84 the next time he could possibly do color for an NCAA Tournament game at ESPN, his loyalty to his current employer is admirable.
    3. C. J. Leslie has decided to stay at home and play for North Carolina State, disappointing reported fellow finalists Connecticut and Kentucky in doing so.  Leslie, a 6’9 and 205-pound power forward, is ranked 11th in the ESPNU-100 list of high school seniors, and happy Wolfpack supporters are beaming about the prospects of how he’ll meld with point guard prospect Ryan Harrow, ranked at 39th in the same list.  Add underrated 6’4 shooting guard Lorenzo Brown into the mix, and you’ve got an NC State squad that’s gong to be a lot of fun to watch next season.
    4. Chuck Driesell has decided to bid a fond farewell to his assistant coaching position at Maryland to become the new boss at The Citadel.  And if the last name and the Maryland ties didn’t clue you in…yes, it’s Lefty’s son.  Despite a 20-13 (15-5) record in 2008-09, the Bulldogs slipped to 17-16 and 9-9 in a tougher-than-expected Southern Conference last season.  After four years at the helm in Charleston, Ed Conroy now departs for Tulane, so it’s now on Driesell to lead The Citadel to their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.
    5. More on this as it comes in, but Seton Hall forward and recent NBA Draft declarer Herb Pope fell ill and then actually collapsed during an afternoon workout at the school, and was rushed by squad to a local hospital.  The initial AP report (understandably) did not comment on Pope’s status or diagnosis, though one New Jersey-based site states he is indeed listed in serious condition.  We hope for the best and we’ll have more info as it’s available.
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      Southern Conference Tournament Preview

      Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2010

      Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

      Southern Conference Championship- Predictions

      First/Second Rounds

      March 5

      (3S) Davidson vs. (6N) Elon – Davidson has had a better year than what people expected after losing Stephen Curry to the NBA draft. The Wildcats should win by double digits against a bad Elon team.

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      Checking in on… the SoCon

      Posted by jstevrtc on December 19th, 2009

      Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

      Standings (conference/overall)

      NORTH

      1. Western Carolina  2-0 / 10-1
      2. Appalachian State  1-1 / 6-4
      3. Samford  1-1 / 3-7
      4. Elon  1-1 / 3-8
      5. UNC Greensboro  1-1 / 2-6
      6. Chattanooga  0-1 / 5-5

      SOUTH

      1. Charleston  3-0 / 5-3
      2. Furman  1-1 / 5-3
      3. Citadel  1-1 / 6-5
      4. Davidson  1-1 / 3-7
      5. Wofford  0-2 / 5-6
      6. Georgia Southern  0-2 / 3-9

      Quick Hits. After making a call to my old boss at Western Carolina I made the three-hour trip from Atlanta, GA, to Cullowhee, NC, to see this impressive Western Carolina team in person take on my alma mater, the Campbell Fighting Camels, on December 10th.  Having previously covered both teams I knew this game was going to be a good one.  Western Carolina can really shoot, hitting ten threes including four from its senior point guard Brigham Waginger. The one player who impressed me the most was junior-college transfer Mike Williams who the fans call “And One” because he makes a ton of lay-ups while getting fouled, as you’d guess.  Williams was lightning quick and scored 16 off the bench to key the win for the Catamounts 66-59. Campbell ran a nice half-court trap that forced Western Carolina into 15 turnovers and Jonathan Rodriquez scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds but it wasn’t enough.  Watching the hottest team in the SoCon live gives you a different perspective on how good this team really can be. Two days later they defeated Louisville on the road and ran their win streak to nine straight games thanks to 23 points from Mike Williams.  In the college insider mid-major top 25 rankings the Catamounts are currently ranked 8th and are receiving votes in the national Top 25 poll. Keep a close eye on this team as they head on the road to play Clemson before Christmas.

      Other NotesCollege of Charleston is really coming on strong and showing why they are also a favorite to win the Southern Conference crown come March.  Now 5-3 overall and starting 3-0 in conference has put the Cougars right where they want to be.  With the non-conference schedule about to end, the conference season will really start to shape things as a whole proving what teams are looking to make a push come time for March Madness.

      Most Disappointing Teams. In recent weeks the two biggest disappointments have been Georgia Southern who is now 3-9 and 0-2 in the conference. The Eagles have lost five straight games and are giving up 76 PPG, which doesn’t help.  Also, Davidson has been hit by a tough opening schedule, as they are 3-7 overall and 1-1 in the conference.  The Wildcats are trying to earn some non-conference wins in the upcoming weeks.

      Sizzling players. There are three players who really have stood out this week with Donald Sims from Appalachian State third in the conference in scoring at 16.9 points per game. Andrew Goudelock from College of Charleston averaging 16.8 has really been scoring to help the Cougars open up 3-0 in conference play. Finally junior-college transfer Mike Williams from Western Carolina who is averging 10.7 points per game off the bench but dropped 23 points against Louisville in the upset.

      Upcoming Important Match-ups:

      • Sat. Dec. 19 College of Charleston @ Clemson 7:30 p.m. – Another chance for a SoCon school to knock-off an ACC opponent.
      • Sat. Dec. 19 Wofford @ South Carolina 7:00 p.m. – Wofford looking for two wins against SEC opponents with Georgia being the first.
      • Tues. Dec. 22 Western Carolina @ Clemson 7:30 p.m. – A chance for the Catamounts to continue its winning streak against an ACC opponent.
      • Tues. Dec. 22 Georgia Southern @ Georgia State 7:30 p.m. – Two mid-majors renew its in-state rivalry.
      • Wed. Dec. 23 College of Charleston @ Hawaii 12:30 a.m. ESPN 2 – Christmas Tournament in Hawaii for CofC hoping to earn some wins for the SoCon.

      Team Breakdowns:

      • Appalachian State (6-4). The Mountaineers continue to be a sneaky team with a 1-1 record in the SoCon after a key road win against Wofford, 77-76, with Donald Sims scoring 25 points. Appalachian State followed that up with a 113-91 victory against Milligan on December 17th. Donald Sims led the way with 23 points to run the win streak to two games.
      • Chattanooga (5-5). The Mocs have been in the middle of the pack in the SoCon but have dropped two of their last three games including a 19-point loss to Elon to fall to 0-1 in conference play. They responded with a 22-point win against Mississippi Valley State 82-60 on December 12th. On December 14th the Mocs lost to Georgia Tech 95-64 but Ty Patterson did have 22 points in the defeat.
      • College of Charleston (5-3). The Cougars have hit their stride putting together a 4-game winning streak in December winning three straight conference games to start 3-0. After beating Davidson 67-55 the Cougars followed it up with a tight road win against UNC-Greensboro 67-64 thanks to 28 points from junior Andrew Goudelock.  On December 16th College of Charleston defeated Charleston Southern 87-74 for its fourth straight win.
      • Davidson (3-7). The Wildcats have struggled this season but also have played a strong schedule against some really good teams. Davidson lost to College of Charleston 67-55 to drop to 1-1 in conference play. On December 12th the Wildcats took on mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga on the road losing 103-91. Jake Cohen scored 16 points and has been coming on strong of late. On December 17th Davison defeated New Jersey 90-49 thanks to 23 points from Cohen.
      • Elon (3-8). Elon is sitting at 1-1 in the conference after a key victory against Chattanooga 82-63 on December 5th. The Phoenix traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to take on N.C. State and put a scare in the Wolfpack but fell in the end 79-76 getting 26 points from senior forward Adam Constantine. Elon had a four-point lead with four minutes to play but just couldn’t hold on.
      • Furman (5-3). The Paladins have only had two games in recent weeks both coming as losses with the first a tight 64-57 loss against Western Carolina. Junior Jordan Miller led the team in scoring with 15 points.  Furman then traveled to Clemson on December 13th losing 82-53 with Miller scoring 11 points in the loss. The Paladins sit at 1-1 in conference play.
      • Georgia Southern (3-9). The Eagles have been struggling of late dropping three-straight non-conference games first at N.C. State 75-57 on December 12th and home against Coastal Carolina 69-58 on December 15th.  Georgia Southern lost to Evansville 75-58 on December 17th with Willie Powers scoring 11 points in the loss. The Eagles are also 0-2 on the SoCon hoping to get back on track in the next coming weeks.
      • Samford (3-7). Samford has only played two games, going 1-1 in them. They defeated Spring Hill on December 12th 58-48 with Trey Montgomery scoring 12 points in the victory. Samford then traveled to in-state rival Alabama on December 16th losing 60-45 with Josh Davis scoring 13 points in the loss.
      • The Citadel (6-5). This is a very interesting team that loves to get up a lot of shots.  They defeated Georgia Southern on December 5th 68-43 with Zach Urbanus scoring 20 points. After watching the Michigan State game on ESPNU, you could tell this team could present some problems to other SoCon teams in the future. The Bulldogs lost 69-56 to the Spartans but were within single digits a couple of times in the game as Cameron Wells scored 16 points in the loss.  Also the Citadel hosted Michigan State in that game and really gave the Spartans a scare.
      • UNC-Greensboro (2-6). UNCG has started conference play at 1-1 right in the middle of the pack but has lost two-straight games against College of Charleston 67-64 and Princeton 65-50 on December 13 with Ben Stywall scoring 14 points in the loss.
      • Western Carolina (10-1). The Catamounts are clearly the hottest team in the SoCon and could make the argument for one of the top mid-majors at the moment. They are riding a nine-game winning streak that includes some impressive victories.  First, Western Carolina defeated Furman 64-57 to open up 2-0 in conference play. Then the Catamounts defeated a solid Bradley team on the road, 75-67, on December 7th. On December 10th they kept the winning streak going against Campbell 66-59 thanks to 16 points from Mike Williams.  Western Carolina finished the run by going on the road and stunning Louisville 91-83 thanks to 24 points off the bench from Mike Williams, who earned SoCon player of the week thanks to that performance.
      • Wofford (5-6). The Terriers have lost two of its last three games and started 0-2 in the conference by only a combined six points. The second loss came to Appalachian State 77-76 at home with Noah Dahlman scoring 25 points in the loss. Wofford then lost 73-62 to Navy on December 12th. Dahlman (18.3 ppg) has been unreal this season leading the team in scoring eight out of the first 11 games this year.
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      RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – South Atlantic Region

      Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2009

      impactplayers

      Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic) are located here.

      Here we are with the third installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the ridiculously loaded South Atlantic region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

      impact_map

      South Atlantic Region  (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

      • Al-Farouq Aminu, Soph, F – Wake Forest.  After a recruiting class compiled by the late Skip Prosser that included first-round selections Jeff Teague and James Johnson, third year coach Dino Gaudio managed to lure five-star talent Al-Farouq Aminu to campus the next season. By all accounts, Aminu had a tremendous freshman season when looking at the big picture. He averaged nearly 13 points per contest, grabbed over eight rebounds a game and shot over 50% from the floor. He starred in Wake wins against BC (26/7), Clemson (21/10) and Duke (15/10). Aminu led all ACC rookies in rebounding, including 11 games as the Deacons team leader while scoring in double-figures 22 times. Due to his superior talent, Wake fans will still maintain they expect Aminu to take it to another level in 2009-10. Too often the 6’9 forward disappeared, though, scoring four points in 28 minutes in a 27-point loss to Miami or nine points in a close loss to bottom-feeder NC State or an 8 point, 2/12 FG performance in the ACC Tournament defeat at the hands of rival Maryland. These peaks and valleys are typical of even the most talented freshmen (besides maybe Kevin Durant), so Aminu shouldn’t be held accountable for Wake’s slide from the #1 team in the land to March goat. But with Teague and Johnson departed, it’s now Aminu’s team in Winston-Salem. With first-round talent and ability, the sky’s the limit for AFA in his second season leading a young Wake Forest squad back to the Dance to avenge last season.
      • Trevor Booker – Sr, F – Clemson. Trevor Booker is the best player that most people still have never heard of.  Consider this: there are three returning players in America who were more efficient than Booker last season and you would have no problem picking all three out of a photographic lineup: Luke Harangody, Patrick Patterson and Cole Aldrich.  But do you even know what Booker looks like?  You will this year, as the beefy, athletic 6’7 forward can do it all and should vault into ACC POY territory with another year under his belt.  Let’s take a closer look.  As a second-team all-ACC selection and the top vote-getter on the all-defensive team last season, he trailed only Ty Lawson among high-usage (>20mpg) league players in eFG% (58%), led the conference in FG% and rebounding (first ACC player to do so since Tim Duncan) and averaged a double-double (15/10) in last year’s tough ACC.  But most importantly to Clemson fans, Booker is only 20 wins away from becoming the winningest player in the history of the Tiger program.  In his three seasons at Clemson, his teams have averaged 24  wins against 10 losses, and the 26 ACC Ws and two NCAA Tournament appearances the Tigers have achieved in large part through his ferocious dunks and tenacious defense represent the best three-year period in the program’s history.  Booker had a slight scare last month with a low-grade stress fracture in his foot, but he’s expected to be completely healthy for the beginning of practice in October.  It’s a good thing, because when Booker hangs up his kicks for the last time as a Clemson Tiger next March, he may very well be in the argument as the most accomplished player in the history of Clemson basketball.

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      09.21.09 Fast Breaks

      Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2009

      It was a very quiet weekend in college hoopsland, which is a good thing, because the RTC staff is working madly behind the scenes to get things together for the upcoming season.  You guys realize that we’re seven weeks to the day away from the first game, right (Nov. 9FIU @ UNC in the CvC)?

      • Jeff Goodman wrote a post on his blog last week that asked the question of which teams in 09-10 could be categorized as the deepest in college basketball.  He concluded that Big 12 stalwarts Kansas and Texas along with Kentucky are all bursting at the seams with nasty talent.  We have no dispute with him there – you’d have to be blind to state otherwise.  But after thinking about it a bit, we were left with the so-what question.  Having 10-12 players at your disposal doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you’re willing to use them, and we wondered what Self, Barnes and Calipari’s coaching history could tell us about just how important that depth will be for them this season.  Thanks to KenPom’s site, we did a quick analysis of how these coaches used their benches over the last three years (data was only available from 2007-09).  As you can see in the table below, the two Big 12 coaches are much more likely to ride their starters over the course of a season than Calipari will.  But none of them will often be accused of leading the way in bench usage.  Of course, if we had players like Kevin Durant, Brandon Rush, Derrick Rose and so forth at our disposal, we’d probably be hesitant to bring in their backup also.
      • reserve minutes 07-09
      • Luke Winn broke down his top ten nonconference schedules last week (among the good teams), and we really don’t have much else to say about his analysis, which is spot-on as usual.  Calling out Big East teams Pitt and Syracuse was great, especially since we all know that they’ll use the excuse of being young this year (true), even though they always pull this never-leave-home stuff in the preconference slate (also true).  We also noticed another oddity in Winn’s “Major Generosity” section, where he points out that UNC, Georgetown and Michigan St. will visit such titans as Charleston, Savannah St. and The Citadel, respectively, this season.  Strangely enough, these three homestanding schools are within about a two-hour drive of each other.  A weird confluence of luck , friendships and payback games means that the Low Country will be privileged to host three of the best teams in the nation on their turf within a six-week period starting November 21.  If you live around there, get your tickets now – this will probably never happen again!  Oh, and back at ya, Luke.
      • Quick HitsBilal Batley: yeah, this was itThe Jewish Jordan: retires at 27Greg Monroe: ready to forget about last seasonGene Iba: one more season for Hank’s nephew.  Freshmen in 09-10: seems eminently reasonableArkansas Gangbang: someone will be punished for somethingThe New Myles BrandMichael AdamsJunior Cadougan:  Marquette’s presumed starting PG out for the seasonTruck Bryant: was there ever a questionJosh Tabb:  Tennessee guard suspended indefinitely.
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      RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Michigan State Spartans

      Posted by zhayes9 on August 20th, 2009

      seasonpreview 09-10

      Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

      As we continue our ongoing feature RTC’s Class Schedule for the upcoming 2009-10 season, let’s delve into the slate for the national runner-up of a season ago out of the Big 10: Michigan State. The Spartans entered last season with expectations to win their first regular season conference title since 2000-01 and accomplished said feat with a 15-3 Big 10 record, overcoming two stunning losses at home to Penn State and Northwestern along the way. The Spartans entered the tournament with high hopes as a #2 seed and, after dodging two bullets from USC and Kansas, smoked #1 seed Louisville and edged past Connecticut in the national semifinals before running into the buzzsaw known as North Carolina. With 2008-09’s successful season in the past, Tom Izzo is moving on with his point guard (Kalin Lucas), sharpshooter (Durrell Summers), enigma (Raymar Morgan), sophomore stud (Delvon Roe) and emerging big man (Draymond Green) all in the fray. Michigan State fans will accept nothing less than Tom Izzo’s sixth Final Four appearance this season in East Lansing.

      Let’s take an in-depth look at the game-by-game journey Michigan State will have to endure if they wish to meet such lofty expectations. The official schedule can be found here:

      4390903142044_Ohio_St_v_Michigan_St[1]

      Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 9.5. Tom Izzo never backs down from a challenge. Last season, Izzo traveled to the loaded Old Spice Classic, a trip halted by a stunning defeat at the hands of Maryland. He also faced Texas in Houston and North Carolina at Ford Field for the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Both the latter contests will also be featured in the 2009-10 edition of Michigan State’s non-conference slate, but this time as true road games rather than semi-neutral floors. That’s right, on December 1 the Spartans will play UNC in Chapel Hill and, on December 22, Texas in Austin. Rarely do you see a team with the status of Michigan State play such challenging road contests in non-conference play. Victories in either venue will provide Izzo with a significant quality win to tout during arguments for top seeds in March. Izzo also signed up his Spartans for the Legends Classic in November in Atlantic City where he’ll face Florida and either Rutgers or Massachusetts in the final (you’d think it would be Florida-Michigan State in the final, but I digress). Another program with a perennially loaded non-conference slate is Gonzaga. Mark Few’s team will travel to East Lansing for one of the top November contests, even with Austin Daye, Jeremy Pargo and Josh Heytvelt departed.

      Cupcake City: In between the two road games in North Carolina and Texas, Michigan State packed in some much-deserved cupcakes. The challengers will be Wofford, The Citadel (that game being played in Charleston, oddly enough), Oakland and IPFW. While The Citadel had a surprising 20-win campaign last year, the only team that may be able to stay on the floor with Michigan State is Oakland, a 23-13 squad from a year ago that nearly toppled North Dakota State in the Summit final. Michigan State will also face Florida Gulf Coast and Texas-Arlington at home.

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      Southern Conference Tourney Preview

      Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2009

      Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Southern Conferences.

      Favorite: Davidson

      Stephen Curry is back to full strength from his ankle injury. That is the single most important factor in the Southern Conference tournament. Curry just was voted the Southern Conference’s Player of the Year for the second straight year. Davidson started out conference play by winning 15 straight games before hitting a rough patch and going 2-2with both losses at home. Since then, Davidson has won their final three conference games by an average margin of 25 points.  First teamers Curry and Andrew Lovedale have led this team back to the brink of the NCAA tournament. They are sitting on the other side of the bubble right now, so a Southern Conference Tournament Championship is what they need to feel secure come Selection Sunday. We all would like a chance to see Curry and Davidson tackle the giants in the tournament again. With an 18-2 conference record, they are heavy favorites.

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      Conference Primers: #17 – Southern

      Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2007

      Season Preview Banner 3

      Predicted Order of Finish:

      South

      1. Davidson (23-5) (18-2)
      2. Georgia Southern (17-12) (12-8)
      3. College of Charleston (15-12) (11-9)
      4. Wofford (15-14) (10-10)
      5. Furman (10-18) (8-12)
      6. Citadel (5-24) (3-17)

      North

      1. UNC-Greensboro (18-11) (13-7)
      2. Appalachian St. (18-13) (12-8)
      3. Western Carolina (15-15) (10-10)
      4. Chattanooga (11-15) (9-11)
      5. Elon (6-22) (4-16)

      SoCon Logo

      WYN2K. The Southern Conference has a reputation as a league on the rise, and deservedly so. After stellar regular seasons in 2006-07 from division winners Davidson and Appalachian St., including five wins over BCS schools among the league members (the highest total wins among the conferences we’ve rated thus far), the league has its sights on breaking into mid-major territory. If this is to ultimately happen, it will likely be led by Davidson, who with spectacular sophomore guard Stephen Curry, will challenge itself with several elite OOC games this season. Even though the league has been a one-bid conference throughout the 64/65 team era, last year Appalachian St. was very close to earning an at-large NCAA bid before ultimately settling for an NIT berth. And with the name cachet of Bobby Cremins bringing in exceptional recruits at College of Charleston, this league could be knocking on the door for two bids sooner rather than later.

      Predicted Champion. Davidson (#9 seed NCAA) is the clear choice here. Davidson returns all five starters from the team that pushed extremely talented and athletic Maryland in the NCAA first round last year (down only four after the last tv timeout), including the aforementioned Curry, who had sick numbers for a freshman guard (22 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg, 2 spg, .408 3fg%, .855 ft%) including a run of 26.1 ppg the last ten games. But this is no one-man show. Aside from excellent point guard Jason Richards (#2 nationally in total assists), post men Thomas Sander and Boris Meno also both had outstanding seasons manning the inside, clearing boards and playing tough defense. Coach Bob McKillop also adds two significant recruits – Aaron Bond, who received some Burger Boy consideration last year; and his son, Brendan McKillop, who turned down ACC teams Virginia Tech and NC State to play for his pops. Knowing that Davidson needs a high RPI to offset any chance of being left at the altar should the Wildcats stumble in the conference tourney, McKillop has beefed up the OOC schedule considerably, setting up made-for-tv games with local bullies UNC and Duke in Charlotte and a trip to Raleigh to play NC State. Another road trip will include a game vs. UCLA at the Wooden Classic. All four of those teams are ranked in the Top 25.

      Others Considered. We don’t expect another team to push Davidson like Appalachian St. did last season, but if Davidson gets lackadaisical or suffers a significant injury, we’d expect UNC-Greensboro to be next in line. Believe it or not, Curry didn’t win conference POY last year, and it’s not a sure thing that he will this year either. This is due to the fact that UNCG has a 6’6, 230 lb. Sir Charles clone named Kyle Hines returning in the post. Hines has scored in double figures in fifty straight games, and the last time a team went single coverage on him, he dropped 38 on their heads. Although #2 scorer Ricky Hickman is gone, UNCG returns a trio of talented sophomore wing scorers who all showed promise of bright futures. Appalachian St. is another team to watch despite losing three key seniors. The key is that two post men, Donte Minter (who should be healthy this year) and Jeremy Clayton, are returning, and in a league of little size, this could carry them a long way. One concern is the loss of heady PG DJ Thompson, who led the team’s uptempo attack, along with two other guards that saw significant time. Georgia Southern is another team on our radar, simply because they have an all-conference performer in the post (Louis Graham – #18 nationally in defReb%) and at the point guard position (Dwayne Foreman – #32 nationally in asstRate). And although College of Charleston lost three starters and a transfer from a 13-5 team, Bobby Cremins brought in the best recruiting class the league has seen in some time, and we should keep an eye on his team for that reason alone.

      Games to Watch. The SoCon is going to a 20-game round robin conference schedule this season, which is the largest we’ve ever seen. Next year when the league expands to twelve teams with the addition of Samford, we suspect there will be a push by league coaches to return to a more reasonable sixteen game schedule. But for this year, it guarantees that Davidson will have to visit every road arena to test its mettle.

      • Davidson @ Appalachian St. (11.26.07) & Appalachian St. @ Davidson (02.27.08)
      • UNCG @ Appalachian St. (01.12.08) & Appalachian St. @ UNCG (02.16.08)
      • Davidson @ UNCG (02.13.08) & UNCG @ Davidson (02.19.08)
      • Southern Conference Championship Game (03.10.08) ESPN2

      RPI Booster Games. We alluded to it above, but the SoCon went 5-38 (.118) against BCS teams last year (Appalachian St. – 2; Davidson – 1; Furman – 1; Wofford – 1). The number will be reduced this year, thanks to the additional conference games, but we expect a similar showing.

      • UNCG @ Georgia Tech (11.09.07)
      • Western Carolina @ Cincinnati (11.10.07)
      • Davidson vs. UNC (Charlotte) (11.14.07) ESPN
      • College of Charleston @ Arkansas (11.15.07) ESPNU
      • Chattanooga @ S. Illinois (11.22.07) ESPNU
      • Wichita St. @ Appalachian St. (11.28.07)
      • Davidson vs. Duke (Charlotte) (12.01.07) ESPNU
      • Tennessee @ Chattanooga (12.04.07) ESPNU
      • Davidson @ UCLA (12.08.07)
      • Georgia Southern @ Florida (12.15.07)
      • Western Carolina @ Illinois (12.17.07)

      Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. This one is interesting, because if Davidson performs well against the ACC trio + UCLA, has a great SoCon record (like 18-2), yet loses in the conference tourney, we believe that this will be a two-team league.

      Neat-o Stat. The Citadel must be one of the most historically horrific basketball programs in the NCAA. It joined the Southern Conference in 1937, and has yet to see its first NCAA or NIT bid. Pat Conroy wrote of his losing season there in the 60s, and not much has changed since. His cousin, Ed Conroy, will begin his second season at the school with what he calls the youngest team in America – 15 freshmen (incl. redshirts), one sophomore, one junior and one senior. Good luck, Ed, you’re going to need it.

      64/65-Team Era. The SoCon has been a one-bid league throughout this era, and it will probably remain so this year (unless Davidson lays an egg in the conference tourney). The conference record (3-23, .115) reflects the success of two Tennessee teams, one of which is no longer in the league. In 1992, #14 ETSU defeated #3 Arizona 87-80 in one of Lute Olson’s earlier tankjobs, and in 1997, #14 UT-Chattanooga went to the Sweet 16 by defeating #3 Georgia (the year prior to Tubby Smith winning the NCAA title at Kentucky) 73-70, and #6 Illinois 75-63. Since then the conference (as an average #13.6 seed) has lost ten straight first round games by an average of 13.0 pts – not too encouraging. Still, the last four years show improvement, as the league representative has only lost by an average of 9.8 pts. Below is a nice clip of Curry dropping three of his thirty against Maryland.

      Final Thought. This league is all about Davidson this year. The MSM will remember the Wildcats’ performance against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament and pundits like Dickie V. will be touting Curry as a PTPer all season long. Even if Davidson merely pulls one upset against the four ranked teams it plays in the pre-conference schedule, that’ll be enough to entice everyone to claim it as their Cinderella come March. But there are other good teams in this conference, so Davidson shouldn’t be reading its press clippings too closely. Several other teams could surprise much as Davidson did last year, and the level of talent entering the league is rising. It should make for a very fun SoCon season this time around.

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