RTC Top 25: Week Five Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on December 22nd, 2015

After a relatively quiet week on the college hoops hardwoods, here’s this week’s RTC25. Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

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RTC Top 25: Week Two Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on November 30th, 2015

Feast Week brought chaos. A lot of chaos. Six RTC25 teams lost twice and several more experienced one setback. Amid the chaos, previously unranked Syracuse and previously-#22 Xavier were able to grab several impressive victories and show they will be forces to reckon with for the balance of the season. The Orange were the surprise champions of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament after earning wins over Charlotte, #24 Connecticut and #18 Texas A&M. Jim Boeheim’s unit was led to the title by the stellar play of seniors Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije along with the emergence of freshmen Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon. Xavier was equally as impressive in taking home the AdvoCare Invitational crown. The Musketeers notched victories over Alabama and USC before blowing out Dayton in the tournament’s title game, and the relative balance of Chris Mack’s lineup was on display all weekend. After very impressive Feast Week performances, it will be intriguing to watch whether the Orange and Musketeers can keep the good vibes rolling through the non-conference portion of the season. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty is after the jump.

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Quick N’ Dirty Thoughts.

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Morning Five: 05.22.14 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 22nd, 2014


  1. As we head into Memorial Day weekend, the long summer of college basketball purgatory awaits — June, July and August are fun months for many other reasons, but getting your college hoops fix isn’t one of them. Message boards and social media will remain active, of course, and we’ll do our part here from time to time as well, but at the end of the day, we’re all daydreaming about how next season will play out. The Sporting News waited a little longer than most outlets to release its post-early entry Top 25 for the preseason, but the timing works because it gives us something to chatter about. Perhaps the most surprising selection here is that TSN went against the grain in choosing a team not named Kentucky as its overall #1 team, but there are a few other surprises scattered about the list (particularly at #5). If you need a comparison Top 25, here’s RTC’s version from about a month ago.
  2. One of the teams looking to reload after losing Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins to next month’s NBA Draft will be Kansas. With another elite recruiting class headed to Lawrence, however, headlined by star forwards Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, the Jayhawks populate most pundits’ preseason top 10s. Bill Self’s squad might find itself rising in everyone’s mind by October, as Kansas on Wednesday added another impressive piece to the class in Ukrainian guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk — good luck pronouncing that one — a tall but talented shooting guard who has been favorably compared with former Michigan star Nik Stauskas. With a ton of frontcourt talent on board as well as Wayne Selden and now Mykhailiuk joining the program, Self only needs to figure out his point guard situation in order to roll out another big-time National Championship contender.
  3. Speaking of one-and-dones, seemingly everyone who has a stake in the game is sick of them. Whether you’re in favor of going back to the preps-to-pros of the multi-year NFL model, people seem to agree that something needs to change. For the good of the game and all that. The Pac-12 on Wednesday took its own shot across the bow of the NBA’s dominion by releasing a letter addressed to ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC schools suggesting as one of its key reforms the following admonition: “Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.” Of course, the NBA, under the new leadership of Adam Silver, appears to have prioritized a two-and-through model for its next round of player negotiations, but there’s certainly no guarantee that such a change in rookie eligibility will occur. But freshman ineligibility as a measure of pushback? It would only serve to further marginalize college basketball as a major American sport. 
  4. Remember Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s former VP of Enforcement who was run out of the organization on a rail after the disastrous investigation of Miami (FL) athletics and the influence of Nevin Shapiro? After a 14-month hiatus doing consulting work, she’s back in college athletics, now as the new Deputy Commissioner of the Horizon League. Her new responsibilities will include oversight of the league’s 19 championships, student-athlete development, finances, corporate sponsorship and branding, all interesting and important aspects of an organization that has little to do with her previous role involving enforcement. Still, her breadth of experience and without question also her ties to the inner workings of the NCAA right down the street from HL offices are attractive qualities, and everyone deserves a second chance to prove their value and integrity. We wish her and the conference well on their new endeavor.
  5. Some transfer news from the midweek: Creighton picked up Cal transfer Ricky Kreklow; Michigan State’s Russell Byrd plans to play at NAIA school Master’s College; and the nation’s top returning scorer, Niagara’s Antoine Mason, is on the move for his final season of eligibility. All three will be eligible to play next season (Kreklow and Mason are set to use the graduate transfer exception next season, while there is no transfer penalty for Byrd to drop to the NAIA), but it is the free agency of Mason that might be the most interesting of this group. The 6’3″ guard and son of former New York Knick Anthony Mason will no doubt be a hot commodity in coming weeks for schools seeking to add some immediate scoring punch to their backcourts. The caveat with Mason, of course, is that he’s a high-volume, low-efficiency guy who took as many shots as he liked for a 7-26 MAAC team last season. If a high-major coach can get through to him to cut way back on his three-point attempts (28.6% on 168 attempts last season) and focus on driving the lane to draw fouls and get to the line (where he shoots a much nicer 72.8%), then Mason could become a key contributor on a contender next season.
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The RTC Way-Too-Early 2014-15 Top 25

Posted by Walker Carey on April 8th, 2014

If preseason Top 25s are an exercise in futility, polls the day after the national championship game are an exercise in imagination. We readily admit that we don’t know exactly what rosters are going to look like next season with early entry announcements, transfers (both in and out), late signees, and the inevitable summer run-ins with trouble still pending. So we will try to project, using the partial information that we have, which are the 25 teams most likely to win a national title next season. After the NBA Draft deadline has passed, we’ll do a more educated Top 25, but until then, this is what we came up with. The quick n’ dirty analysis of this way-too-early poll is after the jump.


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The RTC Podblast: Scott Van Pelt Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2014

As we count down the hours until the beginning of March, the RTC Podblast crew is excited to welcome ESPN Sportscenter anchor and all-around good guy Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) to this week’s edition. We recorded before several of last night’s upsets, but we did get some conversation in about Kentucky’s home loss to Arkansas, a discussion about the teams we think are truly most likely to win the national title, and a hard look at the best games in a fairly loaded weekend of action. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts the proceedings. Have a listen.

Scott Van Pelt Riffed on ACC Basketball and What He Loves About March Madness

Scott Van Pelt Riffed on ACC Basketball and What He Loves About March Madness

Also, as we head into March and the insane number of podcasts/podblasts that we plan on dropping throughout the month, remember to make sure to subscribe on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device. The turnarounds are going to be quick!

  • 0:00-6:33 – Arkansas Completes Kentucky Sweep in Rupp
  • 6:33-9:51 – Arizona Dominant Once Again?
  • 9:51-15:37 – Reactions to March Prognostication Rankings
  • 15:37-25:28 – Rush the Take – Scott Van Pelt
  • 25:28-32:51 – Weekend Preview
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RTC Top 25: Week Four

Posted by WCarey on December 9th, 2013

Michigan State‘s early season stronghold on the top spot in the rankings has come to an end, as the Spartans were upset victims last Wednesday at home against North Carolina. The Spartans were not the only top 10 team to suffer a loss last week, as previously third-ranked Kentucky fell to Baylor on Friday in a game played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Previously sixth-ranked Kansas returned to action for the first time in a week on Saturday and was promptly defeated via a buzzer-beater from Colorado. As upsets of top teams has been a trend thus far, new #1 Arizona was able to remain on the winning track with a blowout win over Texas Tech and a narrow home victory over UNLV. Considering all the ranked teams that have fallen so far this season, it is safe to say that this week’s Top 25 should be on the lookout for upset-minded squads seeking a highly-ranked scalp. The quick n’ dirty analysis of this week’s poll is after the jump.

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 Quick n’ dirty analysis.

  • There Is No Clear #2 Team. Arizona earned every vote for the #1 spot this week, but there was no such consensus when it came to the next team. #2 Syracuse, #3 Louisville, and #4 Ohio State all received votes for the #2 team in the country with the Orange ultimately receiving the nod with an average ballot placement of 3.0. This is quite different from last week when Arizona received every #2 vote from our pollsters. This has been quite the uncertain year thus far in college basketball and the lack of consensus after #1 serves to illustrate that.

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Morning Five: 05.01.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 1st, 2013


  1. One of the problems with the NCAA is its stark lack of investigative power. Sometimes what is obvious to everyone cannot be properly investigated and proven because the organization is a private entity, and as such, does not possess subpoena power. In short, they can’t make people do much of anything that would help punish wrongdoers. They pretty much have to depend on folks stepping forward of their own volition or some kind of whistleblower situation where they are provided clear evidence of illicit activity. Enter Duke and Lance Thomas. Even though it is abundantly clear that Thomas received a loan for jewelry where it was unclear how he could pay for it while still enrolled at Duke, the NCAA was unable to get anybody — Thomas, the jeweler, his dog — to talk about the situation. No proof equals no violation, and if you follow it out to its logical conclusion, that means no negative consequences for Duke — especially for the 2010 national championship team (of which Thomas was a starter). Is it fair that such a clear NCAA violation is unprovable? At what point is it acceptable to apply a standard of strict liability where the preponderance of the evidence is greater than what can be proven? These are the kinds of questions that the NCAA really needs to clarify if it ever wants to be taken seriously by the media and public at large when it comes to these situations. Until then, people will continue to assume an agenda-driven basis for how it metes out punishment, and that’s never a good thing.
  2. The NBA Draft deadline was Sunday night and we here at RTC found time to release our post-deadline Top 25 yesterday. We weren’t the only ones. SI.com‘s Luke Winn came up with his post-deadline Power Rankings, and go figure, but our top four is exactly the same as his. Of course, the big difference is that you’ll learn more about TJ McConnell, Shabazz Napier, and Luke Hancock than you ever knew was possible. As we start to hit the long, dry desert of college basketball news from now until October, make sure you read this one as one of your jumping-off points into the summer.
  3. While on the subject of next season, ESPN.com‘s Fran Fraschilla gives us his take on what some of the more prominent returnees can improve their overall effectiveness next season. From probable preseaseon NPOY Doug McDermott to All-America candidates Jahii Carson, Glenn Robinson III, and Gary Harris, the ex-coach evaluates what these players need to do to maximize their collegiate careers. If you said that Carson needs to figure out his left hand, Robinson should understand screens better, and Harris needs to work on ball control, then you’re well on your way to working for the WWL someday.
  4. The last time a prominent player headed south from Rutgers to Florida, it worked out pretty well for the Gators. Mike Rosario headed to Gainesville two summers ago, and in the interim, he learned the difference between scoring and shooting, found that the game works a little better when he passes the ball on occasion, and became a much more effective and efficient all-around player in fewer minutes per game. Can lightning strike twice from New Jersey to Gainesville? Rutgers’ Eli Carter announced on Tuesday that he too was transferring to Florida, and the current Scarlet Knights gunner (14.9 PPG on 31.0% usage) is hoping to find the same uptick in his game after the transfer. Carter will face a similar backlog in backcourt talent but Billy Donovan has shown that he’s more than willing to give players like him a chance to succeed.
  5. And then there’s this from Lexingtonia. Ships passing, man; ships passing. Next year is going to be some kind of awesome.


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The RTC Way-Too-Early 2013-14 Top 25

Posted by AMurawa on April 9th, 2013

If Preseason Top 25s are an exercise in futility, polls the day after the national championship game are an exercise in imagination. We don’t know exactly what rosters are going to look like next season, what with early entry announcements, transfers (both in and out), late signees and the inevitable summer run-ins with trouble still pending. So, below, we’ll try to project, using the partial information that we have, just who are the 25 teams most likely to win a national title next season. After the NBA Draft deadline has passed, we’ll do a more educated Top 25, but until then…

  1. Kentucky – Many will be leery to pick the Wildcats #1 based on the missteps of 2012-13, but the talent here is hard to deny. Joining returnees like Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, John Calipari adds another stellar recruiting class with (so far) four top-10 recruits (Julius Randle, the Harrison twins and James Young) and another pair in the next 10 (Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee). The program will again have a huge spotlight on it as they try to get six or more future first-round draft picks to play nice together, but despite his failures this season, Calipari has done enough to earn the trust that he’ll fold these guys into a cohesive unit. They may not be the best team at the start of the year, but they’re the favorites to cut down the nets in Cowboys Stadium next April.

    The Harrison Twins Are Just A Small Part Of The Talent John Calipari Will Have In Lexington Next Year

    The Harrison Twins Are Just A Small Part Of The Talent John Calipari Will Have In Lexington Next Year

  2. Florida – After a down year in the SEC, we’re projecting a return to dominance at the top. The Gators lose Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Erik Murphy, but with ESPN’s #9 recruit, point guard Kasey Hill, and #14 recruit, power forward Chris Walker, coming in, along with a pair of newly eligible frontcourt players in Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris, Billy Donovan’s squad could be even better.
  3. Arizona Sean Miller’s got a ridiculous front line chock full of McDonald’s All-Americans, with Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett all expected back and Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson arriving. Throw in Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell as a true point and Nick Johnson back for his junior campaign and this Wildcats team should dominate the Pac-12.
  4. Duke – Coach K loses a lot, with Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly all gone, but Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon will be joined by Andre Dawkins returning from a year off and elite recruit Jabari Parker arriving for his freshman year. If the Blue Devils can find some toughness up front from guys like Amile Jefferson, Alex Murphy and Josh Hairston, they’ll again be in the thick of things.
  5. Michigan State – Let’s make the assumption that a 6’10” guy with jump-out-of-the-gym ability and a nice three-point stroke like Adreian Payne is heading to the NBA. Nevertheless, with Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine returning and Tom Izzo back on the sideline, pencil the Spartans in as a the Big Ten favorite. Read the rest of this entry »
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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Illinois, Undefeated Teams, A Blown Call Nobody Noticed, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 11th, 2012

Brian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

  1. Illinois fans, here is my mea culpa. I was wrong not to rank your team. On Saturday night, the Fighting Illini ventured up to Spokane and walked out of the Kennel with the best win of any team to date. Yes, better than Duke’s wins over Louisville and Ohio State. Why? There has not been a road win of this magnitude by any team through this early point in the season. The Illini proved they’re for real with a dominant second half against a very strong Gonzaga team. After taking the opening punch and falling behind 8-0 right out of the gate, John Groce’s team didn’t panic and made fantastic adjustments. Gonzaga’s game plan was clearly to feed the ball inside and try to dominate a less than imposing Illinois front line. Illinois’ defense suddenly picked up later in the first half, swarming the Gonzaga big men and forcing the Bulldogs into an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers. Illinois was able to speed the game up a bit and prevent Gonzaga from setting up its half court offense effectively. The Zags attempted 18 threes which is right about their season average but a lot of them were rushed and not something the game plan should have called for against an Illinois team without a significant inside presence. Brandon Paul looked like an All-America candidate with his performance not just on the offensive end but defensively against Pangos and the Gonzaga guards as well. Can Illinois keep this level of play up? I’m not sure but I know one thing: The Illini are way better than I thought. This team’s over-reliance on the three-point shot is concerning and is bound to catch up with them at some point, but Illinois has already proved it will be a factor in the loaded Big Ten.

    Brandon Paul Looked Like An All-American Candidate On Saturday Night In Spokane. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

  2. Another impressive performance played out in a different fashion on Saturday night in Clemson, South Carolina. Trailing Clemson by six points midway through the second half, Arizona absorbed the hit and put the pedal down in impressive fashion with a 26-5 run down the stretch to come out of rowdy Littlejohn Coliseum with a sneaky good road win. It was an impressive showing because this Arizona team had been highly touted but untested coming into the game. The Wildcats passed that test with flying colors as they head into a Saturday showdown with Florida in Tucson. Mark Lyons took control in the final minutes for Arizona but contributions from Nick Johnson (13 points, five steals) and Solomon Hill (10 rebounds despite an awful shooting night) illustrate the talent and depth of Sean Miller’s team. Although he didn’t have a great game, I was thoroughly impressed with the physique of freshman Kaleb Tarczewski. It was the first time I’ve seen him play and his body appears mature beyond his age. He’ll be a load for any opponent in the post. Arizona is clearly the best team in the Pac-12 and has the pieces to make a deep run in March. With the gritty Miller at the helm and a boatload of talent, this team will keep getting better as the year moves along. Make sure you watch the Wildcats take on Florida this Saturday night in what could prove to be the best non-conference game of the season.
  3. Another week, another confounding loss for Baylor. Just when you thought the Bears were turning the corner after winning at Kentucky, they put together an absolute stinker of a loss at home to a mediocre Northwestern team that had just suffered back-to-back home losses to Maryland and Illinois-Chicago. Baylor was dominated on the glass by a Northwestern lineup that isn’t all that physically imposing and allowed the Wildcats to shoot 51% for the game. It is inexcusable for a team with Baylor’s talent to have three losses at this point in the season but you know what I like to say, nobody does less with more than Scott Drew. When you look at the statistics, Baylor appears to be a pretty good team. But the chemistry and focus clearly is lacking, otherwise this team wouldn’t have lost to Charleston and Northwestern on its home court. Baylor is a highly talented team and has actually improved its turnover numbers significantly from previous years. Pierre Jackson is playing like one of the best point guards in America and Drew has seen junior forward Cory Jefferson take a huge step forward. Baylor has two more non-conference challenges before Big 12 play begins, against BYU in Waco and a tough trip to Gonzaga in back to back games at the end of this month. Even if the Bears enter Big 12 play at 8-4, I still believe this team is good enough to eventually earn a Top 25 ranking and fit solidly in the NCAA Tournament. At this point however, Baylor just isn’t there yet. Read the rest of this entry »
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Happy with Only Two Ranked Pac-12 Teams? You Should Be

Posted by KDanna on October 18th, 2012

The USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll, released yesterday, revealed two Pac-12 teams ranked in the Top 25: Arizona at No. 11 and UCLA at No. 13. While the Pac is the only power conference to have as few as two teams in the top 25, Pac-12 followers should not feel slighted in the slightest.

The Bruins and Wildcats give the Pac-12 the best chance to restore the conference to what it was a few years ago. (Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images).

The major reason for the top-15 rankings for UCLA and Arizona is pretty clear — stellar recruiting classes that feature three five-star talents and one four-star guy for each. With names like Shabazz Muhammad (assuming he plays), Kyle Anderson (assuming he plays), Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley, there is no dearth of talent coming into Westwood and Tucson this year. And surely, with the No. 2 and No. 3 recruiting classes in the country (in addition to high-profile transfers Larry Drew II and Mark Lyons), the Bruins and Wildcats are deserving of preseason recognition. No. 11 and No. 13, however, might be a little high for two teams relying heavily on players who have yet play in a collegiate game. High preseason rankings for super-frosh-dominated teams are nothing new in college basketball; after all, Kentucky was No. 5 in the 2009-10 USA Today preseason poll because of a John Wall-DeMarcus Cousins combination that had yet to play in a game led by a coach who hadn’t yet handled a power conference school as the head man. And certainly, the expectations and hype surrounding the 2012-13 Bruins and Wildcats are more modest than that Kentucky team three years ago. All signs are pointing to these freshmen being great, but until they step on the court in November, you don’t really know what’s in store. And it’s not like these teams haven’t had to deal with a flamed-out recruit or two in recent years…

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