NCAA Tournament Tidbits – 03.17.2011

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 17th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • When Jay Wright speaks, his Wildcat squad listens. The veteran coach knows how to communicate with his players and that is one of the reasons he has had such a successful tenure.
  • A key for West Virginia‘s resurgence this season has been the turnaround of senior guard Casey Mitchell. Mitchell, who was thought to be a consistent player for the Mountaineers, battled inconsistency and conduct problems throughout the early part of the season.
  • UNC head coach Roy Williams revealed guard Dexter Strickland has been battling a knee injury for a few weeks. Strickland’s health will be a key to Carolina’s chances of making a deep run.
  • Marquette has struggled with defensive inconsistencies all season, but they have had great success getting to the hoop and drawing fouls. Look for Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom to exploit the Musketeers in an attempt to get easy hoops.
  • #13 seed Princeton is seeking a monumental upset as they prep to face Kentucky. The Tigers do have a history of pulling huge shockers in March, as they stunned defending champion UCLA in the first round in 1996.

Southeast

  • Kansas State standout guard Jacob Pullen is battling the flu, but is expected to be a full participant in tonight’s tilt with Utah State. If Pullen is not 100%, one can assume Utah State’s chances for an upset get significantly stronger.
  • The fresh infusion of talent provided to Gonzaga by the emergence of Marquise Carter, David Stockton, and Sam Dower have been key to the Zags’ late season run. The play of all three will undoubtedly dictate if Mark Few‘s squad will make any noise.
  • Tom Izzo knows this season did not go exactly the way he wanted it to, but an experienced squad can be a huge factor if the Spartans make a run. Izzo is a great veteran coach, who has Final Four experience, so a big run may not be that surprising.
  • St. John’s associate head coach Mike Dunlaphas interest in the opening at Wyoming. Dunlap has a great track record as an assistant and a lower-level head coach and could thrive as the head man at Wyoming.
  • An interesting story has emerged about how Old Dominion head coach Blaine Taylor has endured bouts with alcoholism. His road to redemption is quite inspiring, as he did not let his demons put an end to his career.

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Around The Blogosphere: March 9, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on March 9th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • #18 UConn 97, DePaul 71: “The five-year hex hovering over the Huskies at Madison Square Garden has been lifted. And all it took was playing one of the worst teams in major college basketball. But as is UConn’s tradition when playing in NYC in March, it wasn’t pretty.” (The UConn Blog)

News/Analysis

  • Jalen Rose Discusses Fab Five Documentary: The former Fab Five member talks about the documentary that will premiere this Sunday at 9 PM on ESPN. (UM Hoops)
  • Debunking the conference tournament myth: Questioning some common assumptions about conference tournaments. (Card Chronicle)
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Set Your Tivo: 03.06.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 6th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

What a Saturday it was. The final day of the regular season for BCS teams is today while another ticket will be punched, this time out of the Missouri Valley. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

#22 Kentucky @ Tennessee — 12 pm on CBS (****)

Knight Could ruin UT's Senior Day If He Gets Hot

Tennessee likely locked up a bid Thursday night at South Carolina but a loss today would drop them to 8-8 in the SEC. A win in the conference tournament would be advisable but their solid non-conference resume and strong schedule should probably be enough to push the Volunteers over the top.

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Set Your Tivo: 03.03.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 3rd, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

It’s a light night across the college basketball landscape but two teams will look to increase their NCAA chances with a win tonight. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Tennessee @ South Carolina – 7 pm on ESPN (***)

Hopson Should Have a Big Night Tonight

The Volunteers are likely in the NCAA Tournament with their quality wins against the second-ranked schedule, but it would be in their best interest to win at least one of their final two games. It’s possible that Tennessee could lose both and fall to 7-9 in SEC play heading into the conference tournament and therefore need at least a win or two. After tonight, the Vols host Kentucky in the regular season finale on Sunday.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.22.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 22nd, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Illinois and Tennessee will look to lock up bids on the road tonight while Michigan State and Minnesota fight for survival. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Illinois @ #1 Ohio State – 7 pm on ESPN (***)

We Have Weber And Illinois In...For Now

After starting the season 24-0, Ohio State has lost two of its past three games, both coming on the road. The Buckeyes return home to Columbus tonight to take on an Illinois team looking for that marquee road win that will push them off the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament. At 17-10 (7-7), Illinois is probably in the field as of now, but still has work to do. With a road game at Purdue still to follow, it seems the best the Illini can do is 9-9 in league play, although a win tonight would give them a great shot to go 10-8 while also locking up a bid.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.08.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 8th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

An intriguing non-conference game, Bruce Pearl’s return and an ACC bubble battle headline tonight’s schedule. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Xavier @ Georgia – 7 pm on ESPNU (***)

Mack Is Still An Underrated Coach, In Our Opinion

These teams last met in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, the year Dennis Felton’s Georgia team made an incredible run through the SEC Tournament to steal the automatic bid. Xavier has won eight of nine games coming into tonight’s matchup while Georgia has won two straight after starting 3-4 in SEC play.

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The Week That Was: Jan. 25-Jan. 31

Posted by jstevrtc on February 1st, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor 

Introduction:

It’s Feb. 1. That means there’s only 40 days left until Selection Sunday, or 40 days left for teams to build up their resume so their bubble doesn’t pop. We’re sure there are going to be a lot of heated discussions about teams hovering within that last four in-last four out zone over the next six weeks. Heck, here at TWTW, we’ll probably change our opinion on certain squads three  or four times until the end of the regular season. It should be a crazy six weeks, but we know it’s going to be fun.  

What We learned

After a weekend that saw 13 ranked teams lose (and the entire top 25 go 22-20 for the week, as Seth Davis pointed out on SI.com) the chic thing to do is talk about the gigantic bulging central part of the bell curve that symbolizes this college basketball season. It’s nearly impossible to make sense of who’s good and who’s bad on a weekly basis, as a team is liable to have a monumental win one night and then lose to a lesser school a few days later. Let’s use Georgetown as an example. Just over two weeks ago the Hoyas were a mess at 1-4 in the Big East and losers of four of their previous five games. Now, they’ve won five in a row, including recent triumphs at Villanova and at home against Louisville. Georgetown isn’t the only school that enjoys playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Check out this paragraph from Davis’ Monday column

“Texas can lose at USC and then win at Kansas. Tennessee, which should be this movie’s poster child, can win at Villanova and Pitt (at the Consol Energy Center) and lose to College of Charleston and Charlotte. Louisville loses at home to Drexel but beats UConn on the road. Providence loses to LaSalle but beats Louisville and Villanova. Auburn loses to Samford, Campbell and Presbyterian, but it beats Florida State, which later beats Duke. What, you didn’t know Presbyterian was better than Duke? And on Sunday, St. John’s (which lost to Fordham) blew out Duke.” 

Given all this uncertainty, can anyone honestly say with any assurance that there’s a clear-cut elite set of teams? Ohio State might be undefeated, but the Buckeyes have had their fair share of nail biters over ho-hum teams (Michigan, Penn State, and most recently, Northwestern). TWTW would like to put its eggs into Texas’ basket. The Longhorns are this week’s Team du Jour, having torched four ranked teams in the last 13 days, but you wouldn’t be shocked if Texas didn’t have a hiccup or two to an unranked team before the season’s end, would you?

This Tristan Thompson-Nathan Walkup Encounter Accurately Summarizes Texas' Throttling of the Aggies Last Night (B. Sullivan/Dallas Morning News)

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Around The Blogosphere: February 1, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on February 1st, 2011


Sorry for the delay in publishing our ATB2, but we had some scheduling issues that prevented us from publishing at our regular time so today you our longest version of ATB2 to date. One quick thing to point out is that we used the team rankings from the time that the games happened when listing the results so teams that played on Saturday and Monday could have a different ranking for the two games. If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • #1 Ohio State 58, Northwestern 57: “No Shurna, no problem. Almost. Facing an uphill battle, albeit at home, without their 19 ppg scorer, Northwestern gave Ohio State all they could handle before a Jared Sullinger free throw with 3.5 seconds left gave the Buckeyes a 58-57 victory moving them 22-0 overall and 9-0 in conference play. Sullinger’s 21 points and eight rips paced the good guys and Aaron Craft was also a beast adding 13 points while William Buford chipped in 11.” (Eleven Warriors)
  • #2 Texas 69, #15 Texas A&M 49: “Looking to snap a six-game losing streak in College Station, the Texas Longhorns (19-3, 7-0) blew out Texas A&M (17-4, 4-3) early in the game, opening up a 25-point halftime lead before coasting comfortably to a 69-49 win. In building a commanding 45-20 halftime lead, the Longhorns nearly scored as many points in the first half as the Aggies did in the entire game. Though the Longhorns were absolutely brilliant offensively in the first half, the big story continues to be the unbelievably dominant performance by this Longhorns squad on the defensive end. Following Texas A&M’s 17-55 shooting night, through seven conference games Texas’ Big 12 opponents are now shooting just 36% from the floor. And counting the Aggies’ woeful 1-for-12 performance from downtown tonight, Big 12 opponents have now connected on just 19 of 100 three pointers attempted. Like I said on Saturday night, if this holds we’re not just talking about Rick Barnes’ best defensive team, but one of the best defensive performances in college basketball across the past decade.” (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • #5 Kansas 90, Kansas State 66: “With Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale looking on, ESPN aired 2+ hours of great KU advertising as the Jayhawks destroyed Kansas State by 24 in a scoreline that probably flatters the Wildcats a bit. The Wildcats were under 20% from the floor for much of the game (and finished with just a 39% eFG), and it’s hard to believe that at one point the game was tied at 9. Oh wait, that was Markieff Morris 9, K State 9. My bad. The Morris twins were as advertised tonight, combining for 30 points and 18 rebounds. K State’s defense isn’t bad (33rd nationally according to KenPom) and Kansas absolutely destroyed them. After some of our recent struggles, especially last week against Texas, it was nice to see the offense get back on track tonight.” (Rock Chalk Talk: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)
  • #6 Texas 71, #11 Missouri 58: “The Longhorns started the game on a quick 10-0 run and really, never looked back. The lead was as big as 18 points in the first half, but the ‘Horns let Missouri cut the advantage to just 11 points after a final minute three by Phil Pressey. Missouri played better in the second half and was the beneficiaries of horrific free throw shooting by multiple Longhorns. The Tigers got the lead to eight points, but Texas pulled away late with buckets by Jordan Hamilton and Cory Joseph, solid work on the glass by Tristan Thompson and Hamilton, and better free throw shooting by J’Covan Brown.” (Burnt Orange Nation: Part 1 and Part 2; or Rock M Nation)
  • Louisville 79, #8 UConn 78 (2 OT): Breaking down the most exciting game of the weekend through 18 thoughts. (Card Chronicle)
  • Marquette 76, #10 Syracuse 70: “Late in the game Saturday, Syracuse has a chance to steal a win from Marquette and get off the schnide. All they seemed to need was one Eagle possession that ended with a score. If they could get that and then make something happen on their end of the floor, they stood a chance. In those two key possessions, Marquette’s Jimmy Butler hit three-pointers. One was a shot-clock beater and the other was a circus shot from far beyond the arc. Marquette won 76-70. That sums up what’s going on with Syracuse basketball. Not to absolve them of blame, but the Basketball God simply do not want SU to win basketball games right now. Opponents are hitting three-pointers at absurd levels and at any given crucial moment, way beyond what’s explainable by bad defense. We have lost the favor of the Gods. I’m not entirely sure why and I don’t know how to fix it. But we better figure it out ASAP cause the season is starting to slip away.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician or Cracked Sidewalks)
  • #12 Purdue 73, #19 Minnesota 61: Purdue showed signs of turning things around with a huge win at home over the Gophers. (Boiled Sports or The Daily Gopher)
  • #14 Kentucky 66, Georgia 60: “Well, that was just lots of fun, wasn’t it? For a half, anyway. Outstanding effort by the Georgia Bulldogs. This was always going to be a tough game for them, especially under the difficult circumstances of their last game against the Florida Gators. But that, as they say, is life in the SEC. The ‘Dawgs came in and laid an egg in the first half. They came back and played well in the second and watched Kentucky lay an egg. In the end, both fan bases got one half of good basketball, and one half of crappy basketball. Kentucky won in the end. Good for us, bad for them.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • #17 Georgetown 62, #14 Louisville 59: “Look out world, Georgetown is a force again. The Hoyas completed an impressive Saturday-Monday stretch, beating Louisville 62-59 in Washington, DC Monday night. This victory came on the heels of a thrilling road victory over Villanova in Philadelphia on Saturday. Georgetown continues to feed off of its senior leaders, with Austin Freeman and Chris Wright setting the tone for this team.  Tonight Wright, the fiery point guard, carried Georgetown. He scored 24 points on 15 shots, while limiting reigning Big East Player of the Week Peyton Siva to 5 points on 5 shots.” (Casual Hoya or Card Chronicle)
  • #21 Georgetown 69, #6 Villanova 66: “The Hoyas are now 5-4 in the Big East, on a four game winning streak with Louisville coming to Washington, DC on Monday night. The eight day layoff between the games against Seton Hall and St. John’s have proven to be crucial for the Hoyas. John Thompson III’s shakeup of the starting lineup has paid huge dividends on the defensive end. The Hoyas of two weeks ago in no way resemble the outfit we saw Wednesday night and today.” (Casual Hoya)
  • #23 Michigan State 84, Indiana 83 (OT): “This was a fun, tightly-contested, up-and-down game from start to finish — even if both teams got a little tired in the waning minutes of regulation and into overtime. And even though it ended in a loss for Indiana, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that it was an encouraging performance, as a lot of the good things Indiana brought against the Illini — heart, execution, intensity and effort — were more than apparent in the Breslin Center tonight. Indiana just ran out of gas in overtime. The Hoosiers went 2-of-10 in the extra frame, and couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end at all. Still, it was there for the taking, as Michigan State didn’t do anything to blow this one open in OT, either.” (Inside the Hall)

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Set Your Tivo: 01.14-01.16

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 14th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Another action-packed weekend awaits grateful hoop fans as we’re about two months away from March Madness. Conference play is really heating up and races are beginning to take shape. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#23 Vanderbilt @ Tennessee – 12 pm Saturday on ESPN (***)

Often Overlooked, Ezeli Is A Workhorse For the Commodores.

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Set Your Tivo: 01.11.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 11th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Three key conference clashes from different leagues take place tonight with two of the home clubs desperately needing a win. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#17 Wisconsin @ #20 Michigan State – 7 pm on ESPN (****)

Leuer Made the Midseason Top 30 Wooden Award List, Yet Many Fans Couldn't Pick Him Out of a Lineup.

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Set Your Tivo: 01.07-01.09

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 7th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

The first big hoops weekend of 2011 features many important games across the land. Here are five key games followed by a host of others. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Cleveland State @ Butler – 7 pm Friday on ESPNU (****)

With Butler’s loss at Milwaukee on Monday, folks in the Horizon League used to the Bulldogs’ dominance are excited that this may be the year someone else takes the title. Cleveland State leads the league by a game over Detroit and Wright State while holding a one and a half game lead over Butler heading into tonight’s game. Should the Vikings win on the road tonight and plow through the rest of their Horizon schedule, expect to see Cleveland State win the league. Obviously we’re a long way off from that but CSU is currently in a nice position. Butler’s problems have been on the defensive end. The Bulldogs have given up an average of 73.6 PPG in their losses while their defensive efficiency has dropped significantly from their top five ranking of a year ago.

The Bulldogs Need Mack Back On Track Tonight, And From Now On

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Set Your Tivo: 01.05.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 5th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

An important in-state rivalry game and a heavyweight clash in the Mountain West headline tonight’s college basketball schedule. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Memphis @ Tennessee – 9 pm on ESPN2 (***)

Each team has faced some turmoil this season but in vastly different ways. Memphis has barely skated by a host of inferior opponents on their way to an 11-2 record while Tennessee has lost four of six after starting 7-0. This is Bruce Pearl’s final game before his eight game suspension begins this Saturday at Arkansas. The Volunteers have struggled defensively during this lackluster stretch of games and allowed Charleston to shoot 58% in the Cougars’ win last week. Tennessee’s defense simply must get better, and that starts with Melvin Goins. Pearl’s senior point guard has a reputation as a great on-ball defender and he’ll need to bring it against a guard-heavy Memphis squad.

After This Rivalry Game, Pearl Will Sit For a While

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