Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.07.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2009

dynamite

We’re back for the final weekend of regular season Boom Goes the Dynamite for this college basketball season. The highlights of the weekend are obviously the two top 10 match-ups (in Pittsburgh on Saturday and in Chapel Hill on Sunday). We would love to provide you with another RTC Live from those site, but apparently we’re not big enough for them yet. (The onus is on you to spread the word.)

In any event, we’re going to make lemonade out of those lemons so we’ll be providing coverage from our bi-coastal offices covering all the action. Today is loaded with 15 of the top 25 playing with the other 10 playing on Sunday. We will be trying out best to provide you with wall-to-wall coverage of the top teams in action as well as RTC Live from several different locations:

In addition to our on-site correspondents we will be focusing in on a few key games for the majority of the day while also channel surfing over to the other games when the situation merits it. Here are the primary games that we will be covering today:

  • #1 UConn at #4 Pittsburgh at Noon on CBS
  • Michigan at Minnesota at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com
  • #25 Syracuse at #15 Marquette at 2 PM on ESPN360.com
  • #12 Missouri at Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
  • California at #21 Arizona State at 2 PM on CBS
  • Oklahoma State at #5 Oklahoma at 3:30 PM on ABC
  • Texas at #9 Kansas at 4 PM on CBS
  • Washington State at #13 Washington at 5:30 PM on CBS
  • Wright State at #22 Butler at 7 PM on ESPNU
  • #6 Louisville at West Virginia at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com

As you can tell it’s a pretty ambitious schedule so we are asking you, our loyal legion of RTC followers, to help alert all of us if something interesting is happening. You can contribute by leaving a message in the comment section so we all can follow it.

One piece of RTC breaking news, UNC point guard Ty Lawson injured his left big toe yesterday in practice.

11:30 PM: ESPN GameDay is live from Morgantown, WV and they’re doing their own version of Make Your Case. I feel a little bit like Bill Simmons after ESPN stole his Mount Rushmore, but they aren’t paying me a million dollars a year.

11:45 PM: A couple pieces of NCAA tournament news to wrap-up before we focus on our TV for the next 12 hours: Cornell became the first team to officially get into the tournament last night by winning the Ivy League title and 3 others will join them when the Atlantic Sun, Big South, and Ohio Valley have their championship games today.

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Checking in on the… Big South

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

The Big South had a small tremor at the top, but it still divides out into three tiers as we work through early February:

The Dynamic Duo
VMI and Radford are on top of the heap these days and rightfully so. With VMI’s rapid-fire assault and Radford’s inside-outside game, they have been the two teams to beat in Big South play this season. VMI’s hold on the lead took a blow with a surprising home loss to UNC-Asheville (103-95) that, coupled with a Radford win at Winthrop the same night (59-55), created a deadlock at 9-2. Strangely enough both the Keydets and Highlanders have suffered a pair of home losses yet they remain spotless on the road in conference play.

Fight to the Finish
The middle ground in the Big South battle finds five teams clustered together as we march into the second half of the conference schedule. Don’t forget that the top four teams will host quarterfinal games in the conference tournament so getting one of those four seeds carries a lot of weight. If one assumes that two of those slots belong to VMI and Radford (a sensible assumption although still far from a lock), that means only two of these five will earn the bonus home game. Presbyterian College’s ineligibility for postseason play this year bumps the Blue Hose from the group, so here’s who’s in the hunt: Liberty (7-5, fresh off of a 95-90 loss at GWU), Gardner-Webb (also 7-5, thanks to that big win over the Flames), UNC-Asheville (6-6, with a clutch win over VMI on the resume now), and Winthrop (struggling at 5-7 but the four-time defending champ is still in the discussion).

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Stat Nerds of the World, Unite.

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2008

If you know anything about us here at RTC, you know that we love numbers.  We love breaking down game stats and looking for secrets in the offensive and defensive efficiency ratings that will help us better understand why Team X is playing so poorly or why Team Y is much better than their ranking.  We also love statistical oddities – little factoids of generally meaningless but still interesting data that we can bring up at RTC office parties and cocktail functions so that we’ll seem edumacated and wicked smart about the ins and outs of college basketball.  Or at least so that we can impress Dickie V when we next run into him at a spring training Rays game.  Yeah, that.

stat-nerds

So here are a few of the statistical items that we find interesting as we approach conference season – perhaps you will also.  (all stats furnished by basketballstate.com)

  • These guys had better avoid foul trouble. UAB’s Robert Vaden, Texas’ AJ Abrams and Virginia Tech’s AD Vassallo each average over 36 minutes per game for their teams.
  • Get these men the ball! Among players scoring 15+ ppg, St. Joseph’s Ahmad Nivins (74.2%), Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson (71.5%), Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin (67.9%) and Michigan St.’s Raymar Morgan (65.3%) are burning up the nets.
  • Double-Double Trouble. Of the 19 players averaging double-figure rebounds, all of them also average double-figure points.  But only two of them are 20/10 guys – Blake Griffin (23/14) and Notre Dame’s Luke Harongody (23/12).  Patrick Patterson is just a whisker shy of 20/10 (19.6/9.5).
  • Betcha Didn’t Know That…
    • Stephen Curry leads the nation in scoring (30.0), but Tyler Hansbrough puts up the most points per 40 minutes (34.4)
    • North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside, he of the 60-pt explosion two weeks ago, is #2 in the nation in assists (7.6 per game).  Or that Davidson’s Mr. Curry is 12th nationally in dime-dropping.
    • Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks is averaging 24.2 ppg so far this season.  The last Wildcat to average that many points per game was Dan Issel in 1969-70 (33.9).
    • VMI’s brother tandem Travis and Chavis Holmes are 1-2 nationally in pilfering the ball (4.0 and 3.7 spg).
  • Tempo Free Stats.
    • UNC is the most efficient offensive team in the nation (1.19 points per possession), but did you know that Purdue is the most efficient defensive team around (0.79 ppp)?
    • The tops of the ACC and Big East have extremely efficient teams on both ends of the court – UNC, Wake Forest, Duke, UConn, Pittsburgh and Georgetown all have large differentials (approaching or above 0.3 ppp) resulting in an extra point every three or four possessions down the court.
    • The slowest paced “good” team is Wisconsin, with 61.4 possessions per game.  UNC, unsurprisingly, is averaging 79.3 possessions per contest.
    • Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and West Virginia own the boards, each team getting at or nearly 60% of the available caroms.  It’s difficult to find a “good” team that can’t rebound the ball, but Creighton is the best candidate for this award, only getting its Blue Jay hands on 48.2% of rebounds.
    • Notre Dame only turns the ball over one of every eight possessions (13%), but Kentucky gives it away nearly a quarter of the time (24%) and has still managed to go 10-3 thus far.  Incidentally, the Irish also rarely foul opponents (#1 in the nation with only 11.8 per game).  Tennessee, with all of its reaching and grabbing pressure defense, garners 21.3 fouls per game.
    • Georgetown, Connecticut, Xavier and Oklahoma live at the foul line, each getting a quarter or more of its points from the charity stripe.  Illinois, on the other hand, only gets about 14% of its points from the line.
    • The best offensively efficient performance by one team in a legit game this season so far was UNC  vs. Notre Dame, where the Heels averaged an astonishing 1.53 ppp in that demolition.

Got any others?  Feel free to pass them along in the comments!

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Checking in on the… Big South

Posted by rtmsf on December 13th, 2008

Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer for Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

A Conference Upside-Down?

Here we are approaching the middle of December, each Big South team with one or two conference games under its belt, and already the plot has taken unexpected twists that could signal a changing of the guard..  The top three teams in the standings have yet to take a loss in conference play, even though none of those squads was forecast to finish in the upper half this year: VMI (2-0), Presbyterian (2-0), and Charleston Southern (1-0).  At the same time, three teams with largely higher expectations have not scratched out a conference win so far: Coastal Carolina (0-1), High Point (0-2), and Winthrop (0-2).

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Checking in on the… Big South

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer for Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

The launch of the 2008-09 season has seen some national attention and notable success for the Big South, mixed in with some results below expectations as well.  Here’s the rundown:

Out of Conference…

After well over a dozen games so far against major conference squads, most have naturally gone to the favorites on their home courts, but Big South squads certainly turned heads with two quality upsets.  VMI struck first by dumping Kentucky 111-103 at Rupp Arena.  It was the first win for the Keydets against a team from the SEC since 1975-76 (Tennessee).  Of course, it’s the second consecutive year for the Wildcats to fall to a current Big South school: Gardner-Webb defeated UK as an Atlantic Sun team last year.  Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, Liberty added a notch in the upset column for the Flames by upending the Virginia Cavaliers 86-82.  UVa had already collected wins over VMI and Radford, but the ACC’s Cavs failed to sweep the Virginia set of Big South hoopsters thanks to LU.  Outside of those two big games, there were some close results, but let’s not resort to discussing any clichéd “moral victories” versus the big boys of the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, etc.  (Note—major upcoming match-ups between Thanksgiving and Christmas include a trio of biggies for UNC Asheville: North Carolina, Tennessee, and Duke!)

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After the Buzzer: Another Nightmare in Rupp

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2008

afterbuzzer1

Upset of the Night.  VMI 111, Kentucky 103.  Well, for the second consecutive year we’ve not even made it to Thanksgiving before we have a nominee for biggest upset of the year because a small college from the South went into Rupp Arena and beat the Kentucky Wildcats on their home court.  Last year it was Gardner-Webb; this year it was VMI, who was picked seventh in the Big South and last defeated a BCS team four seasons ago.  The Cats aren’t ranked this season, but they arguably have more raw talent than they had a year ago.  Most pundits have UK finishing second or third in the SEC East and making its 17th straight NCAA Tournament in 2009.  They still might, but watching tonight’s game showed some serious issues with turnovers (too many players leaving their feet to pass the ball), defensive rotation (or a complete lack thereof), shot selection (how does all-american Patrick Patterson only get four shots in essentially a Y-ball game?), and myriad mental lapses.  Does Billy Gillispie really understand where he’s coaching these days?  These kinds of losses are barely tolerable at Texas A&M; at Kentucky, people start putting moving signs in your yard after close wins.  He somewhat redeemed himself last season after the G-W debacle by going 12-4 in the SEC and making the NCAA Tournament (1st round loss to Marquette), but big losses to rivals UNC, Louisville and Indiana weren’t forgotten.  A VMI loss to start this season followed by a trip to Chapel Hill next week and some other Ls to follow will not help his cause.  UK fans care about every game – not just the SEC and March Madness.  As Truzenzuzex over at A Sea of Blue put it, Billy Clyde tonight represented an “epic failure of coaching.”  As for the game itself, what can you say other than it was a classic run & gun shootout.  UK shot 54% from the field, mostly from dunk range, but other than Jodie Meeks, couldn’t hit a three regardless of whether anyone was defending it or not (3-16, 19%).  Meeks led the Cats with 39 pts, and Perry Stevenson had 20/14, but VMI’s attack was more balanced, with all five starters plus one bench player reaching double figures.  Travis Holmes led with 30/7 on 10-13 shooting, but the key difference in the statistical battle were the fourteen threes that VMI knocked down.  Frankly, UK’s defense simply wasn’t closing out on many of these wide-open shots.  All that said, when UK went on a 17-0 run in the late second half to cut the lead to 90-89 after having been down 23 earlier in the half, we figured that VMI was finished.  Several more bad possessions by the UK offense and lackluster defense on the other side ensured that VMI still had life, and the Keydets were able to hang on and pull off the monumental upset.  This Gillispie situation will remain interesting throughout the season. 

Other Games of Reasonable Interest. 

  • Pittsburgh 86, Fairleigh Dickinson 63.  The return of Levance Fields is worth a special mention.  Pitt is 52-12 when their oft-injured point guard starts, and a mere slightly-better-than-.500 team when he’s on the bench.  Tonight he showed no ill effects from his twice-broken left foot, contributing 15/8 assts in the blowout victory.  Dejuan Blair had his typical beastly 17/13 inside.  Pitt will have an interesting next game against Miami (OH) on Monday.     
  • UConn 81, W. Carolina 55.  Hasheem Thabeet needs to do more of this (23/17/3 blks).  AJ Price was ejected for a sucker punch flagrant foul – nice to see thing haven’t changed much in Storrs.  He made his triumphant return with a 0 pt, 5 turnover night.  Jerome Dyson had 23, and newcomer Kemba Walker contributed 8/5 in his first collegiate game. 

Small Piece of News.  The injury bug continues at Carolina, as it now appears Bobby Frasor will not play in UNC’s opener against Penn tomorrow because he’s been nursing a sprained left ankle.  You don’t think Frasor’s and Hansbrough’s injuries may karmically have anything to do with this, do ya?  Nah.  Didn’t think so. 

Rundown. 

  • UT-Martin 121, Maryville 56.  Lester Hudson’s line: 27/7/7 asst/8 stls.  Sick.
  • Temple 79, ETSU 65.  Dionte Christmas with 26/11 in first round of Charleston Classic.  Next up is host Charleston.
  • Florida 80, Toledo 58Unrepentent gambler Nick Calathes with 16/4/7 assts.
  • Stanford 75, Yale 67.  Johnny Dawkins gets his coaching career off to a solid start with a road win.  Lawrence Hill’s 22/11 helped. 
  • Howard 47, Oregon St. 45.  The same cannot be said for Craig Robinson at OSU. 
  • Wake Forest 94, NC Central 48.  Al Farouq Aminu had 21/10 in his debut with the Deacs; James Johnson with 19/10/5 asst.  This Deacon team could be very interesting this year.
  • Maryland 81, Bucknell 52.  Gary Williams needed a strong opening win to silence his critics some.
  • Oklahoma St. 76, UT-San Antonio 57.  James Anderson with only 10/7 as the Cowboys rolled anyway.  Byron Eaton led with 27 pts.
  • Oklahoma 83, American 54.  Forgive us, Blake Griffin.  Despite going 5-14 from the line, he was otherwise brilliant (24/18) in a game we thought American had a chance to win.  His reverse dropstep jam was NASTY. 
  • Villanova 78, Albany 60.  Nova put six players in double figures with none of them having over 13 pts. 
  • Texas 68, Stetson 38.  AJ Abrams hit five threes as the Longhorns held Stetson to a miserable 26% shooting night.
  • Arkansas 91, SE Louisiana 87 (OT).  Very close to a dreadful opening night for the SEC, as Arkansas rallied from a late 9-pt deficit to send the game to OT, which the Hawgs won behind Michael Washington’s 30 pts in the extra period.
  • Marquette 95, Houston Baptist 64.  Wesley Matthews had a huge night (28/5/8 asst/5 stls) as Marquette rolled. 
  • Purdue 82, Detroit 50.  Hummell and Moore combined for 31/15 in a balanced effort.
  • St. Mary’s 86, Seattle Pacific 55.  Patty Mills with 15/3/8 asst/4 stls. 
  • Arizona St. 80, Mississippi Valley St. 54.  James Harden dropped 24/10 assts in Sendek’s first opening win at ASU.
  • Davidson 107, Guilford 83.  Steph Curry with 29/3/10 asst/9 stls.  Nine steals???  Ridiculous. 

On Tap Saturday (all times EST):

  • Florida vs. Bradley (ESPNU) – 2pm (CBE Classic)
  • St. Joseph’s @ Holy Cross – 4pm
  • Wisconsin v. Long Beach St. – 4pm
  • North Carolina (-30.5) v. Penn (FSN South) – 4pm
  • South Carolina v. Winthrop (ESPN FC & 360) – 4:30pm
  • Duke v. Rhode Island (ESPNU) - 4:30pm
  • UNLV (-11) v. San Diego (The Mtn.) – 5:30pm
  • Michigan St. v. Idaho – 6pm
  • Cincinnati v. South Dakota (ESPN FC & 360) – 6pm
  • Charlotte v. Old Dominion – 6pm
  • Syracuse v. Le Moyne (ESPNU) – 6:30pm
  • Tennessee (-18) v. Chattanooga (SportSouth) – 7pm
  • Notre Dame v. USC-Upstate – 7:30pm
  • Drake (-6.5) v. Butler – 8pm
  • Memphis (-19.5) v. Fairfield – 8pm
  • Kansas v. UMKC (ESPNU) – 8:30pm (CBE Classic)
  • USC (-19) v. UC Irvine – 10pm
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