Morning Five: 09.24.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 24th, 2010

  1. Put.  The.  Phones.  Down.  UT-Chattanooga was placed on two years probation by the NCAA for “major” violations that AGAIN included a situation where the head coach John Shulman was busily texting recruits during a no-contact period.  The Mocs will not suffer a postseason ban as a result of these violations, but we simply cannot understand why coaches continue to fall victim to such an easily traceable mistake.  Every husband in the entire world knows that you don’t text or call your mistress using the phone that your wife can access — yet coaches seem oblivious to this codified man-law, so time and time again we see problems arise in this area.  Gary Parrish discussed this last week, but coaches have proven to be slow on the uptick here.  Get some burners, fellas — hell, use Skype — just stop this nonsense already.
  2. Speaking of Parrish, his latest article captures John Wooden’s mantra of “don’t mistake activity for achievement” really well.  Too many coaches waste too much time trying to recruit prospects that they never had a shot with to begin with.  To continue with the analogies, it’s like the guy who sadly yet consistently shoots for 9s when everyone in the bar knows that he should be focusing on the 6s.  Finishing second or third in recruiting is like hearing the click with five more bullets in the barrel — you end up in the same place regardless.
  3. Scathing.  That’s how we’d describe the latest piece by Fanhouse’s Ray Holloman about the Bruce Pearl/Tennessee recruiting violations that were exposed last week.  Better than any other article we’ve seen written on this situation, Holloman perfectly exposes the true underlying motives of the “executive officers of a multi-million dollar athletic program.”  The lesson here, and we sorta already knew it: treat these guys like politicians or CEOs by assuming that everything that comes out of their mouths is a half-truth or outright lie.  Start there, and then figure out the rest.
  4. We rarely mention women’s college basketball here but this was too bizarre to ignoreUNC-Wilmington head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke (this is not a joke) apologized for a punishment that her assistant Johnetta Hayes put junior guard Julia Finlay through during practice on Monday.  Apparently Hayes forced Finlay to ‘log roll’ up and down the court at least twelve times in a row during a half-hour period as a penalty for getting booted from practice last week.  She’s suffering from plantar fasciitis, so incredulously, Hayes believed this would be an appropriate punishment in place of the normal sprints a player gets as punishment.  Finlay vomited several times during the “puke-and-roll”, and we’re pretty certain that a little piece of America died as a result of this story.
  5. “Dumb Catholic boys.”  Oh, Bob Knight, always making friends.  Just days after enjoying his roast in Hammond, Indiana, Knight took shots at both the NCAA and Notre Dame during a speaking engagement at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana yesterday.  In reference to whether Notre Dame should join the Big Ten, Knight ripped the ND brass, suggesting that being in the Big East in all sports other than football hurts their recruiting.  Surely this will come up at some point during Gameday with Digger Phelps this coming season, although we think we already know how this ends, right?  Do we even need to say it?
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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day One Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2009

dynamite

IT’S. FINALLY. HERE.

If there’s one thing in life you can count on, it’s that every spring the Taxman will ask for his pittance and the NCAA Tournament will have you screaming at the top of your lungs with excitement. There is no more compelling annual event in all of sports. Every year, schools you’ve never heard of take on the ones you’re sick of hearing about and, for just a moment, a mere sliver of time, they stand as equals, where how well you play the game is all that matters. No computers, no RPIs, no BCS, no BS… just an orange ball and five players a side battling for the same goal – to survive and advance. This is why we’re all here. Let’s tip it off…

If you’re just now managing to get caught up to the fact that the Tournament starts today, get a life make your way over to the RTC 2009 Tournament Portal, which has all the information you’d ever want on the games and to watch for. Game previews, team previews, columns, etc. It’s all there.

Mike Lemaire will start the madness with the first group of games at the Noon hour, beginning with two difficult-to-read 8/9 games. Nvr1983 will be back in his usual spot in the cockpit for the second block of games at 2pm. Schedule below (all times EDT):

Noon Block

12:20 pm – #8 LSU vs. #9 Butler
12:25 pm – #2 Memphis vs. #15 Cal St. Northridge
12:30 pm – #8 BYU vs. #9 Texas A&M – RTC Live is there!

2 pm Block

2:30 pm – #5 Purdue vs. #12 Northern Iowa
2:50 pm – #1 UNC vs. #16 Radford
2:55 pm – #7 California vs. #10 Maryland
3:00 pm – #1 Connecticut vs. #16 Chattanooga

Bridge Game

4:55 pm – #4 Washington vs. #13 Mississippi St.

7pm Block

7:10 pm – #7 Texas vs. #10 Minnesota
7:10 pm – #7 Clemson vs. #10 Michigan
7:20 pm – #3 Villanova vs. #14 American
7:25 pm – #4 Gonzaga vs. #13 Akron

9pm Block

9:40 pm – #2 Duke vs. #15 Binghamton
9:40 pm – #2 Oklahoma vs. #15 Morgan St.
9:50 pm – #6 UCLA vs. #11 VCU
9:55 pm – #5 Illinois vs. #12 W. Kentucky

Let’s get it started….

12:07 pm. Hey All, its your faithful RTC intern here, and this will be my first attempt at Boom Goes the Dynamite. I may have technical troubles so bear with me, but I am diligent, and I will be watching all the games starting with Butler and LSU.

12:10 pm. Questionable music selection, but if you aren’t excited by CBS’ tournament memory montage, then there is something wrong with you. Quick update on point guards Ty Lawson and Chester Frazier: Neither player is 100% healthy, but I seriously doubt those two guys will miss a game, they are just too competitive.

12:22 pm. The tip is up and we are under way. Quick start for LSU and Bo Spencer as the Tigers are up 9-0 zip already and Spencer hit a three, then stole the ball and made a layup. Good timeout by Butler coach Brad Stevens, the last thing he wants is for LSU to take off.

12:30 pm. Since the early flurry by LSU both teams have settled in 11-3. It looks like the Bulldogs will have a tough time on the glass. Matt Howard is going to need to play a huge game if they want to win. In other news, Cal. State Northridge has an early 7-2 lead on Memphis…..upset anyone?

12:35 pm. Quick tangent, I know this Tournament is an advertising bonanza, but do the commerical breaks seem longer than usual or is it just me? Its been 13 minutes since the start of the game and they have played less than four minutes of basketball.

12:38 pm. The Bulldogs don’t have anyone that can match-up with LSU’s Tasmin Mitchell, especially now that Matt Howard is out with two quick fouls. It just seems as if LSU is more physical right now. Score checks: 14-6 LSU, 11-11 CSU v. Memphis, and 11-5 TXAM.

12:43 pm. Important things to know from the first few minutes. Matt Howard has two fouls, so do Robert Dozier and Tyreke Evans of Memphis. Texas A&M has come out on fire and is up 18-7 early on BYU.

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NCAA Preview: Connecticut Huskies

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

UConn (# 1, West, Philadelphia pod)
Vs. Chattanooga (#16)
Thurs., 3/19 at 3 PM
Vegas Line: UConn, -20.5

uconn-vegas

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Storrs, CT
Conference: Big East, at-large
Coach: Jim Calhoun, 553-204 at UConn; 801-341 overall
08-09 Record: 27-4, 15-3
Last 12 Games: 9-3
Best Win: 68-51, at Louisville, Feb. 2
Worst Loss: 74-63, vs. Georgetown, Dec. 29
Off. Efficiency Rating: 114; 20th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 85.6; 3rd

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): PG A.J. Price, 14 ppg, 4.7 apg, 40.8% 3-point shooting; C Hasheem Thabeet 13.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 4.6 bpg; PF Jeff Adrien 13.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg
Unsung Hero: PG Kemba Walker (8.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg off the bench)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Hasheem Thabeet, projected No. 2 pick; A.J. Price, No. 32, Jeff Adrien, No. 39
Key Injuries: SG Jerome Dyson, torn meniscus, out for season
Depth: 25.9% (287th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Depth. UConn is essentially a six-man team without Dyson, getting only cameos of late from PF Gavin Edwards and SG Scottie Haralson. And Calhoun has said recently that Price simply cannot be a 35-minute player because of his ACL injury last year. Four players (Dyson, JUCO transfer C Charles Okwandu and would-be freshmen SF Ater Majok and SG Nate Miles) who would have contributed in the tournament are (in order) injured, academically ineligible, ineligible due to transcript issues and playing in junior college for violating a restraining order.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Price carries the offense on his back and streaky SF Stanley Robinson finds a way to play like a superstar in one or two games.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Thabeet gets in foul trouble and the guards can’t buy a bucket.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2008, lost to San Diego in the first round, 70-69 in OT
Streak: 2nd year
Best NCAA Finish: 1999, 2004 national champions
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.47. On average, the Huskies win 0.47 more games than would be expected based on their seed compared to historical averages.

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: UConn fans want payback against the Motor City for the Huskies’ 2001 NIT second round loss to Detroit Mercy in Storrs. That was the last time UConn took part in the second-tier tournament. I’m sure UConn fans were torn up about it and have thirsted for revenge ever since, although I was 13 and living in another state and a St. John’s fan at the time.
Distance to First Round Site: 239 miles, which is about five hours if you’re on the NJ Turnpike
School’s Claim to Fame: UConn became the first Division I school to win national titles in both men’s and women’s basketball in the same year in 2004. Since Connecticut sports fans have no pro team to root for (though they still pine for the miserable Hartford Whalers), the UConn men and women are pretty much it. Off the court, Meg Ryan and Moby are apparently listed as alumni on Wikipedia. I do not wish to claim Moby as one of our own.
School Wishes It Could Forget: You would think that prior to the ’99 championship, UConn students had no reason to riot. You’d be wrong. Back in 1998, more than 100 students were arrested after flipping and burning a car, throwing rocks and bottles at police and being pepper sprayed by said police, as a part of the annual Spring Weekend (the weekend prior to the last week of spring classes). Unfortunately for car-burning enthusiasts, the traditional weekend party has become slightly more civil since then.
Prediction: With Dyson, it was Detroit or bust. Without Dyson – and with that ‘haven’t-won-a-postseason-game-since-2006′ cloud hanging over their heads – I think most UConn fans would be mildly content with the Sweet 16, and satisfied with a trip to the regional final. UConn has Final Four talent, but no one’s quite sure if they have the makeup to win four, five or six straight in March.

Major RTC stories: RTC Live: Notre Dame at #2 UConn – Saturday 2 PM ET, RTC Aftermath: #2 UConn 72, Notre Dame 65, Jerome Dyson: Done for the Season, and Game Night: Pittsburgh at UConn.

Preview written by Kevin Meacham of TheUConnBlog.com

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NCAA Tournament Preview Portal

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2009

Ed. note – check back often as this post will be updated regularly…

How about those brackets?  If you’re like us, you’ve already figured a way that just about every team will both win and lose its first round game.   For example, Arizona has better talent than Utah, but which Wildcat team will show up – the one from mid-season or the one from the last three weeks?  Decisions, decisions…

ncaa-brackets-image

To help you think more clearly about your bracket as well as to institute some fun into the analysis that you’re no doubt already obsessing over, we have put together a nice breakdown of each region for you.  We’ll give you the teams that are overseeded, underseeded, and are guaranteed to advance.  The best games to watch in the first round and in the later rounds.  The juiciest match-ups for purists and casual fans.  Some sleeper teams for both the Sweets and the Four.  Upsets.  Thanks to the RTC Region correspondents, basically, you name it, we’ve got it.

We will be doing Boom Goes the Dynamite! all weekend starting with Thursday’s games, as appropriate.  Since our manpower will be lower than usual, we’ll be relying on you guys to help us out in the comments as we move through the first 48 games.

We are also privileged to have RTC Live at the Philadelphia pod this weekend.  The games we will be covering are:

Here are the links for each QnD Region Analysis (+ correspondent), which will take you to another page on the site called 2009 Tourney Previews (which can also be accessed through the handy-dandy tab above):

  • East (Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)
  • South (Mike Lemaire)
  • Midwest (Zach Hayes)
  • West (Ryan ZumMallen)

We also have Game-by-Game Analysis for the entirety of the First Round…

Here are some of our other features celebrating what we like to call, “Christmas in March“:

Mascot Death Match – First Round (vote for which mascot would win a battle to the death!)

The Top 3 Sweetest NCAA Moments

Behind the Lines – NCAA Tourney

Some Hooponomics

Columnists

John Stevens from Las Vegas – coming soon…

… and more.

2009 Team Tourney Previews: We enlisted the help of our legion of correspondents and readers to put together previews for all 65 teams in order to give you the most insightful analysis you will find anywhere. We’ll be uploading previews over the next 24 hours so check back frequently.

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ATB: All Ends to Friday

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2008

afterbuzzer1

Game of the Day. Xavier 63, Virginia Tech 62 (OT).  This ending was almost as ridiculous as the Brandon Roy nonsense from a couple of weeks ago.  After it appeared the Va Tech had won the game on a layup by Jeff Allen with under three seconds remaining, Xavier threw it up ahead to Dante Jackson, who at that point was 0-8 with 2 pts in the game.  So of course he throws in a bank shot from 50 feet to win (see below).  This was easily the best game-winner of the young season, and will probably be in the running for best of the season this year.  XU’s Derrick Brown led the Musketeers with 16/6, but Va Tech may not have been in that position if their star had shown up on the offensive end – AJ Vassallo had a mere 4 pts on 2-13 (0-6 3FG) shooting, 15 pts below his average.  At least he stepped it up otherwise, though, with 10 rebs and 8 assts.

CvC.

  • Duke 71, Michigan 56. Hey, Duke won another tournament title at Madison Square Garden!  Never seen that before!  Coach K is only 94-10 in November at Duke, so if you didn’t see this one coming, then you haven’t watched college basketball in the last three decades.  It got us wondering, how many of these tourneys has Coach K won over the years?  Surpisingly, he’s only won three of the five PNITs that he’s been in (1985, 2000, 2008) – sure feels like more. The Blue Devils relied on a balanced attack–both in terms of depth and playing both halfs (looking at you Henderson and Singler)–to vault themselves into a #1 seed in everyone’s Week 3 NCAA tournament mock bracket. On the other side, John Beilein and the Wolverine faithful should leave New York City happy though as their win over #4 (not for long) UCLA has served noticed that the Wolverines should be significantly better than last season’s 10-22 record. Perhaps the biggest thing last night’s win over UCLA may have done is make more recruits think about heading up to Ann Arbor so one day Beilein can start more Manny Harrises (game-high 25 points) and less. . .well everybody else on his team. We may find out just how far along these Wolverines have come on December 6th when they get a rematch against Duke in Ann Arbor.
  • UCLA 77, S. Illinois 60. UCLA improved its east coast record to 2-3 under Howland by pulling away from SIU in the last quarter of this game today. The Bruins relied on a 20-2 second half run to win this game. This trip to MSG should be a useful motivation tool for Ben Howland to motivate his team, which is made up of hyped freshmen and remnants of a team that has made 3 straight Final 4s. The Bruins relied on their veteran leaders (Alfred Aboya, Josh Shipp, and Darren Collison) to win the game as that trio combined for 49 of the Bruins’ 77 points. If Howland is going to make a 4th consecutive trip to the Final 4, his freshmen will have to grow up fast.

More Paradise Jammation.

  • Miami (FL) 70, Southern Miss 60. Honestly, I’m more interested in what Larry Eustachy was doing between games in the Virgin Islands than this game. However, I suspect that most of you are here for some keen insight into the game. Cliffs Notes summary: Lance Hurdle led the Canes to a victory despite an off night from Jack McClinton. I wouldn’t read too much into this game as a top 25 team should win games against teams like Southern Miss fairly easily, but it is still November so I’ll give The U the benefit of the doubt tonight, but they will have to step it up when they face the winner of. . .
  • UConn 89, Lasalle 81. Speaking of teams that didn’t quite play up to expectations, #2 UConn struggled to put away LaSalle, a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic 10 team. Jim Calhoun got big games out of Kemba Walker and Jeff Adrien to avoid the huge upset against the Explorers (seriously, what kind of nickname is that?) who shot 50% from the field. However, the biggest story of the night (other than Psycho T returning) was the return of A.J. Price, who was solid if not spectacular in his return. In a related story, Price maybe getting a Facebook invite from Cameron Newton that is assuming, um, Newton can find a computer to log onto the site.
  • USC 73, UT-Chattanooga 46. It’s the return of Taj Gibson who was AWOL for much of last season (I’m not sure who to name that type of performance after–Taj Gibson or Steve Slaton? We’re a college basketball site, so I’ll go with “pulling a Taj Gibson”.) Gibson paced the Trojans with 17 points and 15 rebounds. For the adolescent girl demographic, the big news of the night was that Lil Romeo took his first college shot. . .and missed.
  • San Diego, 73, Valparaiso 66. The Toreros were led by center Gyno Pomare’s 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Toreros, who knocked off UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year as a #13 seed face the winner of. . .
  • Wisconsin 60, Iona 58 (OT). The 25th-ranked Badgers snuck by the Gaels behind 21 points from Trevon Hughes. Somehow, the Badgers won despite going 15 of 48 (31.2%) from the field. So basically, it was a typical Bo Ryan win. I can’t wait to put my Big 10 TV channel to use this year.

Other Games of Mild Interest.

  • Utah 83, Ole Miss 72. The SEC is now 21-7 with losses to Mercer (x2), VMI, Utah, Illinois, Loyola (IL), and UNC. Other than UNC, not exactly murderer’s row there.
  • Syracuse 86, Oakland 66. Jonny Flynn brought 18/4 off the bench to assist four others in double figures, but most importantly, SU held Oakland’s Johnathan Jones to 7-23 shooting and only 16 pts.
  • Pitt 86, Akron 67. I’ll just leave you with this quote from Akron coach Keith Dambrot about Sam Young:
  • Sam Young physically reminds me of LeBron. Obviously, he’s not as good a player as LeBron, but he’s got that quick-twitch strength and ability to put the ball down. He’s a tough matchup.

    I will be waiting to see Young try LeBron’s patented bullrush to/through the basket this year.

  • Davidson 97, Winthrop 70. Stephen Curry with a ho-hum 30 points and 13 assists. The bigger news for Bob McKillop is the 20 and 15 from Andrew Lovedale. If the Wildcats can get a legitimate inside game going this year, they could be an extremely tough out in March with Curry bombing away from outside.
  • Memphis 84, Seton Hall 70. Not much to say here. Memphis took an early lead and never looked back. One interesting stat: 30/46 or 65.2%. I’ll let you guess what that represents. (Hint: Don’t ask John Calipari about it.)
  • Maryland 89, Vermont 74 (OT). That’s not a typo. The Terrapins outscored the Catamounts 17-2 in the 5-minute OT period. I think even Gary Williams will have to be happy with how his team finished the game. He may be a little pissed off about the other 40 minutes though. . .
  • Tennessee 76, MTSU 66. A thoroughly unimpressive win for the Volunteers. Do top 25 teams really struggle to put away Middle Tennessee State?
  • Notre Dame 65, LMU 54. Luke Harangody with a beastly 27 and 17. Hasheem Thabeet is still not impressed. . .

On Tap Saturday (all games EST):

  • Delaware State at Kentucky – Noon
  • Drexel at #22 Georgetown – 1 PM
  • Gardner-Webb at #12 Oklahoma -2 PM
  • Indiana (PA) at #6 Pittsburgh – 4 PM
  • Morehead State at #3 Louisville – 5:30 PM
  • Wisconsin-Milwaukee at #15 Marquette – 8:30 PM
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2008-09 Season Primers: #16 – Southern

Posted by rtmsf on October 27th, 2008

Andrew Baker is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun and Southern conferences.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Davidson Wildcats  (22-6, 19-1)
  2. College of Charleston Cougars  (20-10, 15-5)
  3. UT-Chattanooga Mocs  (19-13, 14-6)
  4. Georgia Southern Eagles  (18- 11, 13-7)
  5. Appalachian State Mountaineers  (17-12, 13-7)
  6. Elon Phoenix  (14-13, 11-9)
  7. UNC-Greensboro Spartans  (14-15, 11-9)
  8. Furman Paladins  (13-16, 8-12)
  9. Samford Bulldogs  (13-16, 7-13)
  10. Western Carolina Catamounts   (10-20, 7-13)
  11. Wofford Terriers  (9-20, 6-14)
  12. The Citadel Bulldogs  (10-21, 4-16)

WYN2K.  In 1921, the Southern Conference was founded with a hodgepodge of future SEC and ACC members.  Since the league has hosted many different schools who have left for other conferences, the only constants since 1936 have been The Citadel and Furman (Davidson left for three seasons from 1988-1991).  Since 1921, the SoCon has never had two bids into the NCAA Tournement.  That’s the entire history we’re talking about boys and girls, not just in the modern era.  Last year was the best chance the SoCon has seen in a while.  Had Elon beaten Davidson in the conference tournament finals, it would have been a tough justification to leave the Wildcats out.  Davidson looks to be on track for another title, but upsets do happen and should Davidson have the same kind of regular season they had last year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the first two-bid SoCon ever.       

Predicted Champion.  Davidson (#8 NCAA).  The Davidson Wildcats were one of the best teams in the country in the year.  There are several good reasons for this.  Most people will point to one man: Stephen Curry (25.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg) (see one of his explosions last year vs. Chattanooga below).  It is true that having Curry on any team would make them very hard to beat, but Coach Bob McKillop has built a team that is more concerned with ball control and defense.  It also helps that Davidson scored at a clip of 80.9 ppg last year.  Looking at their numbers makes it easy to realize how they went 20-0 in SoCon play last year.  Their numbers last year were astounding, and are the underlying reason they were able to make it to the Elite Eight and one shot away from the Final Four.  Davidson gave up 11.6 to/g and forced their opponents into 16.2 to/g.  That’s a turnover rate of 24% for their opponents as opposed to 16.5% for Davidson, both good for 12th in the nation.  Check it here if you don’t believe me.  Look for Davidson to use ball control and their not so secret weapon, Curry, to continue to dominate the league.  It is very difficult to say whether or not the Davidson is going to sweep the league as they did last year because their 20-0 record was the first time any team in the Southern Conference has won twenty games in league play.  It will be hard to go through the season unbeaten again, as every team who will play the ‘Cats will bring their A game, and even with the addition of Samford, the league’s 12th team, teams will still play a 20-game conference slate.

         

Others Considered.  Who are we kidding, no team is going to get the #1 seed for the Southern Conference Tournament unless something terrible happens to Stephen Curry.  However, the beauty of the oldest conference tournament in the land is that everyone gets a chance at redemption and glory. 

  • College of Charleston looks to be in the best position to pull off an upset down the road.  The Cougars return all of their starters from last season and are led by the 1990 Naismith Coach of the Year, Bobby Cremins.  The Cougars will need to see improvement in their ball control and defensive capabilities if they are to succeed Davidson to the throne.  More turnovers to assists (.910 A/TO) and a turnover rate of 19.6% of the time killed the Cougars in close games last year.  In every game that CofC lost last year by less than 10 points, the Cougars had more turnovers than their opponents.  Their defensive prowess was only mediocre, ranking at 192nd in the land with their opponents connecting on 44.3% of their shots.  Look out for CofC if there is early season improvement in these areas. 
  • UT-Chattanooga also looks to be in a advantageous position for a deep SoCon tourney run.  The Mocs excelled in shooting (45.9% FG) and on the boards last year.  However, turnovers caused them to have a less than impressive 18-13 record last year.  Turning the ball caught up with them, as was the case when the Mocs’ 7-0 SoCon start ended in a disappointing 6-7 record the rest of the way.  The Mocs horrific turnover rate was 24.2% and landed them worst in the SoCon and 317th in the nation.  The Mocs are hoping that incoming freshmen Jasper Williams will provide some depth at the one slot.  If the Mocs don’t see improvement in the turnover category then look for them to slump to another disappointing season. 

Important Games/RPI Boosters.  The Southern Conference will also be looking to improve their OOC record against the major and money leagues, as SoCon teams were only 5-24 against the BCS conferences plus CUSA and Mtn West last year.  However, the SoCon did much better against their mid-major brethren with a record of 30-27 against their contemporaries.  Like most mid-major leagues, the most important game of the season is the SoCon Tournament Final on Monday, March 9th, 2009.  However, there will be plenty of intrigue as the regular season moves forward.  Davidson has again loaded their non-conference schedule with big boys and should they win one or more of those games there is no reason to believe they can get a higher seed than this preview has listed.  The 7th of January could be huge if Davidson and College of Charleston can pull off huge upsets against the boys from Durham and Chapel Hill, respectively.  Here are some important conference and RPI booster games that you should keep an eye out for:

  • Chattanooga @ Tennessee   (11/15/2008)
  • Chattanooga @ Missouri  (11/17/2008)
  • Chattonooga @ Memphis  (11/20/2008)
  • Winthrop @ Davidson  (11/21/2008)
  • Elon @ Virginia Tech  (11/26/2008)
  • South Carolina @ CofC  (11/28/2008)
  • NC State v. Davidson  (12/6/2008)
  • Davidson v. West Virginia  (12/9/2008)
  • Davidson @ Purdue  (12/20/2008)
  • Chattanooga @ Alabama  (12/22/2008)
  • Davidson @ Duke   (01/07/2009)
  • CofC @ North Carolina  (01/07/2009)

Neat-o Fact.  36.  Davidson currently has the longest conference winning streak in the country dating back two seasons.  The last conference loss the Wildcats had was against Appalachian State on January 20, 2007, by a score of 81-74.  Their first conference game is on the 13th of December, meaning the between the time of their last loss and that game that the country will have elected a new President and a new Congress, two world champions have been crowned in every professional and amateur sport, and nearly 13% of Division I members have seen a coaching change.    

65 Team Era.  With Davidson’s three wins last year on its run to the E8, the conference doubled its win total to six during the modern era (6-24, .200).  That record, however, belies just how tough the SoCon representative has traditionally been in the NCAA Tournament first round.  From ETSU to College of Charleston to UT-Chattanooga to Davidson, SoCon teams have made many high seeds sweat bullets to survive and advance, as nine of the twenty-one first round losses of the era were ‘close’ losses (<10 pts), and five of those were a mere possession away (<4 pts), despite a relatively poor average seed of #13.7 over the period. 

Final Thoughts.  While many people will only see the Southern Conference as Davidson’s to lose, there will be other interesting story lines that you should pay attention to that could have effects through this season and spill over into future seasons.  College of Charleston returns all starters from a season that will only be remembered as the season that broke a long streak of winning seasons, and should challenge for the conference tournament title.  Chattanooga will be looking for more consistent point guard play in an attempt to build on season that saw a great beginning but crashed as ball control killed in the long run.  In conclusion, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the first two bid Southern Conference in history should Davidson be upset in the Conference Tournament.     

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