Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day Two

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2009

dynamiteWe’ll be doing a full BGtD today so you won’t have any interruptions in coverage tonight. Honestly, last night’s games were kind of disappointing. PittsburghXavier was entertaining, but that was the only game that I would say was memorable from a pure basketball standpoint. Now the other games did have their own interesting subplots. UConn rolled over Purdue in a game that was close at points in the 2nd half, but I never really got the sense that the Huskies were in any danger of losing. I was particularly impressed with how the Huskies played despite the media circus that is going on around them. Missouri‘s victory over Memphis was entertaining although for me it was marred a little by the atrocious free throw shooting. As we mentioned last night, I really wonder what John Calipari does, if he does anything, for his team’s free throw shooting. At this point, I’m convinced J.J. Redick would have shot 70% from the free throw line if he had gone to Memphis. Also, what happened to vaunted Memphis defense. Missouri has a good offense, but they shouldn’t be able to hit triple digits in regulation against a team that went into the game with the #1 defense according to the Pomeroy numbers. I’m sure some of you took great pleasure in watching Villanova pick apart Duke leading to another early March exit for Coach K, but the game wasn’t exactly exciting if you didn’t have a rooting interest for (or in most people’s case against) a team.

The line-up for tonight should give us a couple of interesting games:

  • 7:07 PM: #12 Arizona vs. #1 Louisville
  • 7:27  PM: #3 Syracuse vs. #2 Oklahoma
  • 9:37 PM: #3 Kansas vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 9:57 PM: #4 Gonzaga vs. #1 UNC

We’ll be back around 7 for the start of tonight’s action. Leave your comments/questions and we’ll respond to them as soon as we start.

6:55 PM: A couple quick pieces of news to pass along in the midst of this Billy Gillispie madness and these somewhat important games tonight. Clemson‘s star forward Trevor Booker will return for his senior year. The news out of Iowa isn’t as good after Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, and David Palmer announced that they are transfering, which means that Todd Lickliter will need to replace 2 starting guards and a reserve forward.

7:10 PM: Chase Budinger makes a great play to temper Louisville’s great start. He’s going to need to have a great game tonight. If both teams use the press tonight, we’re going to get a blowout (and I think it will end up going in Louisville’s favor).

7:12 PM: I should warn you that I’m a big Chase Budinger fan so you’ve been warned. I haven’t seen a lot of him this year (stupid west coast starts), but I think he has the makings of a very solid NBA player.

7:14 PM: That’s not a good stat for Arizona. Only 6 Wildcats have scored in the NCAA tournament.

7:19 PM: Great play by Edgar Sosa feeding it to Preston Knowles. This pressure is going to kill Arizona if they only go 6 deep.

7:28 PM: I don’t think it will matter tonight, but I hope you paid attention to that FT statistic. Louisville shoots 63.8% as a team (307th out of 334 teams). That will come back to bite them. Just ask John Calipari. Actually he probably wouldn’t admit it because his team was just as bad last night. . .

7:30 PM: I think that any Blue Devil who mentions that they made the 1994 title game should put an asterisk by it on their resume saying that they rode Grant Hill‘s coattails there. If you don’t agree with me, see what happened the next year even if Coach K missed the last 2/3 of the season.

7:31 PM: It looks dead in Memphis. What do you guys think? I’m guessing it’s only 20% full. UNC fans must have bought up most of the stadium.

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Big 10 Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by nvr1983 on March 11th, 2009

Josh & Mike from Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.

The Season That Was
Politicians often talk about “Two Americas” – there’s the super-rich, lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills, and then there’s the rest of us. Well, this year, there were “Three Big Tens.” First, there was Michigan State, who won the conference title in a walk by four games. That’s the largest margin in a very long time (over 10 years). And just like this little credit crisis hasn’t forced Warren Buffett to fly coach [Ed. Note: Having read about Warren, he might fly coach anyways.], Raymar Morgan‘s long bout with pneumonia didn’t slow down the Spartans one bit. We predicted Michigan State to win, we just didn’t know it would be this easy.

Then there’s the middle, which was filled with parity. Second place through ninth place was separated by 3 games. Call it the Big Ten’s middle class. Purdue didn’t develop into the team everyone thought they would. Sure, Robbie Hummel‘s extended absence hurt, but it was really the big steps back taken by E’Twuan Moore and Keaton Grant that made the biggest difference. Illinois actually overachieved this season, after last year’s debacle. The truth is that the Illini weren’t that bad last year, but suffered a lot of close losses. A big turnaround was to be expected. But to go from 16 wins to 23 (and counting) without adding a single player of significance was beyond optimistic. That’s exactly what Bruce Weber‘s team did though. Wisconsin will see their streak of 30-win seasons come to an end this year, and despite what you might read or hear about this team, it was the defense that let them down. In fact, the Badgers sported the league’s best offense on a per possession basis. But without twin towers Brian Butch and Greg Steimsma, opponents shot much better from inside the arc.

Penn State continued its happy-go-lucky ways, going 10-8 in conference play despite being outscored (handily) by its opponents. But good for the Nittany Lions, it’s wins that punch Dance tickets, not scoring margins. Ohio State might have had the most talent in the league, but finished right in the middle of the pack. We said that before the season started that Ohio State would be hard-pressed to improve on last year’s performance. We were right – Thad Matta is finding out that landing All American Recruits isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Speaking of attrition, Northwestern had virtually none, and that went a long, long way into fueling their best post-war season. The Wildcats will come up short for landing an NCAA Tourney bid unless they win the conference tournament, but that shouldn’t diminish the job Bill Carmody‘s done. Another turnaround was present in Ann Arbor, where John Beilein has Michigan on the brink of their first NCAA Tournament appearance in over 10 years. The Wolverines have looked like giant killers that took down Duke, UCLA, and nearly UConn; but this is also the same team that was outscored by opponents in conference play. They need to find that early-season magic for the stretch run. Minnesota has been somewhat of an oddball team as well this year in that this is the worst field goal shooting team in the conference, but they’re also tied for the best free throw shooting team in the conference. Clearly they have the talent to score more, but it just hasn’t happened.

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Checking in on the… Big 10

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2008

Josh & Mike of Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.

Looking Back

It was a fairly uneventful week for the Big Ten, as most member squads feasted on cupcakes while preparing for finals. There were, however, a few exceptions. Ohio State won a defensive struggle against previously-undefeated Butler, giving the Buckeyes their third straight win over a top 40 team (according to Pomeroy). Ohio State continues to look a lot better than we Geeks expected, and it’s all due to the nation’s best defense according to adjusted defensive efficiency. Dallas Lauderdale’s insane shotblocking rate has been a huge part of that effort.

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2008-09 Conference Primers: #6 – Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2008

Josh & Mike at Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.  

  1. Michigan State  (29-6, 16-2)
  2. Purdue  (27-7, 15-3)
  3. Wisconsin  (24-8, 13-5)
  4. Ohio State  (20-12, 10-8)
  5. Illinois  (18-13, 9-9)
  6. Minnesota  (21-10, 9-9)
  7. Michigan  (16-14, 8-10)
  8. Penn State  (18-12, 7-11)
  9. Northwestern  (13-17, 6-12)
  10. Iowa  (12-18, 4-14)
  11. Indiana  (8-20, 2-16)

big-10-logoWYN2K.  This is not your father’s Big Ten, or rather, it’s not your older brother’s Big Ten.  Gone are dominating big men of the past, such as Greg Oden, DJ White, Kosta Koufos, and James Augustine.  They’ve been replaced by guards such as Manny Harris, Kalin Lucas, E’Twaun Moore and Demetri McCamey.  A solid big man (such as the perennially-underrated Goran Suton and incoming freshman B.J. Mullens) is a luxury that most Big Ten teams will not enjoy.  You’ll see a lot of lineups featuring one player at 6’7 or taller.  Some might hope this will spur the Big Ten into faster play, but, as Northwestern proved last season, guard-oriented teams can be every bit as slow as tall teams.

Predicted Champion.  Michigan St.  (NCAA #2).  There are two things everyone can agree on for season predictions: Michigan State and Purdue promise to be the two toughest teams, and Indiana promises to finish in the basement.  Beyond that, there’s a lot of uncertainty here.  We like the Spartans to take the title.  Part of that is talent (the roster features ten top 100 RSCI players), and part of that is schedule (MSU gets one game against the formidable Wisconsin, while Purdue has only one game against lowly Indiana).  Also, in a guard-heavy conference, picking the team with the best frontline (Suton, Diaper Dandy Delvon Roe, and conference Player of the Year candidate Raymar Morgan – see below) isn’t a bad strategy.  Sort of a “land of the blind” kind of thing.  In our estimation, the Boilermakers feature the best starting five, but they have depth issues.  Still though, it would not be a shock if Purdue came out on top.

NCAA/NIT Teams.  We think this is a 4-bid league, but that fourth bid is hardly a shoe-in.  Yes, the Big Ten is down (again), but we see a lot more parity in the middle of the conference.  Fourth place through seventh is really up for grabs, and we think that makes for a lot of NIT teams.  In fact, the Big Ten could send more teams to the NIT than to the NCAA tourney.  We think the top 3 teams (MSU, Purdue (NCAA #4), and Wisconsin (NCAA #8)) are near-locks for the NCAA Tourney, the next three (Ohio St. (NCAA #11), Illinois, and Minnesota) promise to be bubbilicious, and the next three (Michigan, PSU, and Northwestern) figure to be in the NIT hunt. 

Others.  Iowa and Indiana almost certainly aren’t going anywhere, at least this season.  Both teams are in the rebuilding mode, with Todd Lickliter still working to get “his players” into his system (does he really have a system though?).  Indiana is sort of like how we look after a three-day weekend in Vegas – humbled, confused, full of regrets, and ready to move on.  Coach Tom Crean already has several impressive recruits lined up for the next season – so get your licks in now, Big Ten, because IU will be back sooner rather than later.

Important Games.  The biggest non-conference game on the schedule, without question, is on December 3rd, when UNC faces Michigan St. at Ford Field, site of this year’s Final Four.  It might be the first of two meetings between those teams at that venue.  We’re also interested to see the Davidson-Purdue matchup on December 20th (that Steph Curry is fun to watch), and the December 2nd Duke-Purdue contest that might be the best game between teams with so much talent concentrated on the perimeter.  In conference, the two meetings between Purdue and MSU are the must-see events that likely will determine the conference champ.

Neat-o Stats. 

  • Since 1980, no conference has had more NCAA Tournament appearances than the Big Ten (144).
  • In each of the past 4 seasons, Indiana has a better winning percentage as the underdog than as the favorite.
  • Since 1998, the Big Ten is the 3rd best conference by RPI.
  • The Big Ten is 30-56 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and has never actually “won” the event in nine tries.  The only team not playing in the challenge this season is NC State – which finished dead last in the ACC last season.

(h/t to for some of these)

65 Team Era.  The Big 10 during this era has earned more NCAA bids than any other conference (133), and its record is fourth-best of the period (194-130, .599), including 18 #1 seeds (2d), 47 Sweet Sixteens (4th), 16 Final Fours (2d), and 3 titles (4th).  Even in the 2000s, when there’s been a perception that the league has been ‘down’ relative to the 80s and 90s, the Big Ten has put six teams into the F4, including two in 2005.  We’ve been guilty of ragging the B10 for its ‘boring’ style of basketball, but we can’t argue with its results – and there’s a strong likelihood of seeing another Big Ten team in the F4 this year. 

Final Thought.  The Big Ten will not be the best conference in college basketball, but it should be home to some of the best guards in the country.  The conference received a big infusion of point guards last season, and the best of the bunch, Kalin Lucas, is one of the ten best PGs in the country.  And while super sophomore Manny Harris gets a lot of deserved praise (a lot), we think an even better sophomore shooting guard plays in West Lafayette.  And he might not even be the best sophomore on his team.  We also like last-secondshot-specialist Blake Hoffarber’s chances to become a household name.  Also, the increased parity should make for a lot of close games.  Expect to see very few blowout wins.  Except against Indiana (sorry, Hoosiers).

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