ATB: A Messy Prez Day Weekend

Posted by rtmsf on February 22nd, 2011

The Lede.  What a wild, wild President’s Day weekend it was.  The second-, third-, and fourth-ranked teams all took a loss over the weekend to join #1 Kansas  from the previous Monday night, the first time that such a thing had happened in a little over seven years.  BracketBusters was in full effect across the land, and although there were some interesting games during the event, only a couple of teams actually helped themselves.  Over the three days, we saw RTCs ranging from relaxed ambivalence to firecracker intensity, another bizarre diatribe from Jim Boeheim, and a number of great games befitting the time of the season where so much is on the line.  Let’s jump in…

Note: For our BGTD coverage from Saturday, please see these three posts examining the early games, the late afternoon/evening games, and the BracketBuster games.

No, That's Not the Actual Ref Screaming Amidst the Mayhem... (AP/N. Harnik)

Your Watercooler Moment1, 2, 3, 4… The last time that the top four teams in the national polls lost in the same week of action, Barack Obama was an unknown state senator in Illinois and Saddam Hussein was hiding in a hole in somebody’s backyard.  It was November 2003, and the names Bieber, Gaga and Twitter had no meaning to anybody yet, but UConn, Duke, Michigan State and Arizona each dropped a game over Thanksgiving week that year and the result was a significant re-ordering of the poll.  The big difference this time around is that we’re two weeks from the end of the season as opposed to two weeks from the start, so the likelihood of four established teams dropping games over the same week was far more unlikely.  So what happened, exactly?

We already knew that #1 Kansas lost to K-State in rough-and-tumble fashion last Monday.  But the next three teams waited until the weekend to join the polling bloodbath. It began on Saturday with the first game of the day — Steve Lavin’s rejuvenated and tough-as-nails St. John’s program took down #4 Pittsburgh on the back of Dwight Hardy’s 19 points and his tap dance routine along the baseline to win the game.  It was the cherry on top of the sundae in a season of breakthroughs for the Red Storm program, and as you can see below, Madison Square Garden has become something more than just the place where Amare and (now) Melo play.

A little later Saturday afternoon, #2 Texas was in trouble at Nebraska late when its vaunted defense and some brain-farts on the part of the Huskers led to a ridiculous 12-1 in a span of thirty-four seconds to tie the game in the final minute, 65-all.  What appeared to be a major meltdown in Lincoln, though, turned to bedlam as Doc Sadler’s team regained its composure enough to hit their FTs down the stretch and notch possibly their biggest win in years.  UT is more than its individuals, but when Jordan Hamilton struggles as he did on Saturday (3-16 FG), the Horns have trouble putting enough points on the board against quality teams.  With the win, Nebraska has vaulted itself back onto the bubble — with a favorable schedule down the stretch, the Huskers could potentially get back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in thirteen seasons.  Nice RTC, fellas.

On Sunday it was Ohio State’s turn to again do battle with a Big Ten road crowd and team dead set on knocking off the much-hyped Buckeyes.  Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore ensured that the home crowd got what they paid for, as the senior guard went Kemba/Jimmer on the Big Ten leaders, scoring in just about every possible way en route to a superb 38/4/5 asst afternoon on 13-18 shooting.  His 13-point stretch over the last three-plus minutes of the first half was as impressive an offensive display as we’ve seen all season, punctuated by an acrobatic circus shot layup (see below) that told the viewers that this was going to be his game.  Talk has increased about Purdue as a legitimate Final Four contender after wins over OSU and Wisconsin last week, but the Boilermakers are an excellent home team.  We’re not as sold on Matt Painter’s team outside the friendly confines of Mackey Arena.

There you have it.  Three of the top four losing over the weekend, and nobody having a clue as to how to rank the top six today.  The AP Poll had six different teams receiving #1 votes, while the ESPN/Coaches had five.  Even the RTC poll, consisting of only six voters, had four different teams ranked at the top.  The takeaway from this weekend, and really, much of the season, is that there are a bunch of really good teams but certainly no great ones.  The NCAA Tournament could look a lot more like the 1997 (Arizona), 2003 (Syracuse), or 2006 (Florida) versions given this season’s continuing and obvious level of parity.

Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. IIAnother Diatribe From Jim Boeheim.  Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim must really be frustrated with his team this season.  The smiles and self-knowing mockery that he engaged with the media last season appears to have migrated south with the rest of the snowbirds.  After tonight’s win (note we said “win”) at Villanova, Boeheim again lashed out at the media for its stupid questions and representations about his team. Mike Miller at MSNBC has the goods here (via Soft Pretzel Logic), and we’re a little bit at a loss ourselves as to why Boeheim is acting like such a prima donna lately.  With respect to the questions about “toughening” up one’s team, he can choose to not believe in such a thing but we dare say that he probably does.  Most coaches who have been doing this for as long as he has would probably believe there’s real team-building value in gutting out close wins ten times even if you end up losing a similarly-situated game in the postseason.  We weren’t at the presser in Philadelphia tonight, but it sounded like someone arguing for the sake of being argumentative.  Lighten up, Jim — the university pays you a LOT of money to answer a few minutes of questions after each game, not to berate people and make them feel stupid for doing their jobs.

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

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BGTD: Late Afternoon/Evening Games Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2011

Since we did a separate BracketBusters BGTD today, we’re combining the late afternoon and evening analyses into one post here.

  • Disappointing Weekend Coverage.  ESPN is excluded from this complaint, as the WWL’s wall-to-wall coverage of college basketball makes us very happy from November through March.  But folks, it’s three weeks from Selection Sunday — why aren’t there more networks showing games; and why aren’t there more marquee matchups on a weekend so close to the end of the season?  Granted, Michigan State-Illinois looked great on paper a few months ago, but the schedule today was by and large fairly weak.  If you’re looking for Exhibit A as to why the NFL wants to take over the entire month of February as well, this is it — CBS did a split-coverage game for two hours this afternoon, while none of the other broadcast networks showed anything (why did ABC completely give on hoops?).  Throw in a bunch of ranked teams playing unranked teams today, and you have a sports weekend where college hoops should dominate conversation, except that there’s not much left to discuss than the occasional upset.
  • It’s Not Just St. John’s.  It was an entertaining game in Syracuse this afternoon, with the Orange escaping against an increasingly gritty and tough Rutgers squad led by first-year coach Mike Rice.  With the recruiting Rice is doing in northern Jersey along with the renaissance going on across the Hudson River at St. John’s, New York City area basketball may have finally turned the corner after what seems like a million  years.  SJU is clearly leading the charge with its team of experienced players, but we love the hustle, heart and discipline exhibited by Rice’s players.  They utilized an 11-2 run in crunch time in the Dome to force the Orange back onto its heels, something that simply would not have happened in previous years.  After today’s overtime loss, the Scarlet Knights are only 4-10 in Big East play, but they’ve been competitive in nearly all of those Ls and the close win over Villanova along with today’s close defeat shows us that it’s only a matter of time before Rice’s troops figure it out and cause major problems for the rest of the Big East.
  • Sparty Can’t Be Killed.  As soon as you think the Spartans are dead, they give us another reason to think they still have life.  And life they have after tonight’s ugly yet important win over Illinois on ESPN Gameday.  They did it with an old Izzo standby, strong defense, holding the Illini backcourt to 12-37 shooting from the field.  This was pretty much a must-win for Michigan State, and with four games left (two home; two away), they’ll have more opportunities to improve their resume.  Games at Minnesota and home against Purdue will be tough, but the Gophers are reeling and two other games against Iowa and at Michigan will necessarily have to be victories.  Our gut still says that MSU will do enough to get into March Madness, but this season has been one surprise after another with these guys.
  • Utah State Legitimizes Itself. Much had been written about Utah State’s lack of quality wins this season, but the Aggies really only had one bad loss coming into tonight’s game at St. Mary’s (@ Idaho).  They made sure to leave with the one thing they didn’t have, though, thanks in large part to the forceful inside play of Tai Wesley and his 22/11 night.  During the first half of this game, it appeared that St. Mary’s was going to go on a patented three-point-fueled run led by Mickey McConnell and his thirty-footers, but USU came out in the second half with a clear strategy to a) pound the ball inside; and b) cut off McConnell’s looks.  In doing both, the Aggies went on a huge 27-7 run to start the half and effectively finished the game with ease.  They also put to rest any talk of the bubble for this team, now sitting at 25-3 with three WAC games remaining.  St. Mary’s has Gonzaga and Portland coming to town next week, and the truth is that the Gaels need to win these games.  Their quality wins consist of St. John’s (looking better and better) and Gonzaga.  That’s not much to hang your hat on if you crash and burn down the stretch.
  • Forget the Other Dunk Contest.  Speaking of the SMC-USS game, and then there was this…  say hello to Brady Jardine!

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RTC Live: Utah State @ St. Mary’s

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2011

Game #147.  The Bracketbuster game of the day comes from tiny McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, California between the WCC and WAC leaders.

It’s being billed as the game of the day in the BracketBusters, and without question that assertion is true.  Both Utah State and St. Mary’s are currently ranked in the Top 25 polls (#23 and #25 in the RTC poll, respectively), and while both are presumptively into the NCAA Tournament as things stand right now, neither is an incontrovertible lock.  Utah State comes in at a gaudy 24-3, but the Aggies have zero top 100 wins and are trending in the lower reaches of the at-large pool as it stands today.  St. Mary’s is at 22-5, but the Gaels are coming off an incomprehensible loss at five-win San Diego Wednesday night, the worst team in the WCC.  The key point here?  Both of these perennial mid-major powers need tonight’s win to impress the NCAA Selection Committee.  The victor here tonight could arguably earn a full seed line bump given that their schedules will be relatively soft the rest of the way.  Expect a raucous crowd tonight in Moraga’s McKeon Pavilion, quickly becoming one of the toughest places to play on the west coast.

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ATB: Some Kind of Kemba-ssance…

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2011

The Lede.  Wednesday nights are always chock full of action from coast to coast, and there was no shortage of storylines across the hoops landscape this evening.  From Kemba blowing up to Tai’s rim-rattler to Jenkins’ late explosion to celebrating the first conference champions, it’s all here tonight.  Let’s jump right in…

Kemba Felt Great Tonight, As Did UConn Fans (H-C/J. Wolke)

Your Watercooler MomentThe Kemba-ssance.  Tonight you witnessed the reason why UConn should be a darkhorse pick to go to the Final Four.  This was the Kemba Walker who slashed, dashed, shot and fought his way to the Maui Invitational title three months ago.  This was the player who literally picked his team up, placed it squarely on his back, and carried it to bucket after bucket down the stretch using any means possible.  Such as… finding himself stuck in a spot 18 feet from the basket and nobody to pass to nor a decent look to shoot.  Instead, using the self-assist method, he simply rifled a pass to himself off the backboard, caught it, and laid it in the hole.  We’ve all tried this play in pickup ball, but you rarely see it in games outside of the And-1 Mixtape Tour because it’s simply too risky.  Nevertheless, Walker successfully executed the play, and several others with a high degree of difficulty, which reminds us all that when this player finds a groove, there’s nobody tougher in the country to contain off the bounce.  His 31/7/10 asst night on 13-23 shooting was his best all-around performance since before Christmas, and it makes us wonder if he’s found the lifeblood that made him so spectacular in November and December.  Even if Kemba plays well, the Huskies still need the others to step up consistently — players such as Alex Oriakhi (10/8) or the suddenly effective Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (23/6); but he sure can erase a whole bunch of mistakes, can’t he?  A quick note on Georgetown: the Hoyas’ eight-game winning streak came to an end tonight, but it wasn’t going to go on forever.  They’re still in good position to finish strong and get a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament.

That Backboard ThingTai Wesley Shatters Glass at Halftime.  It’s a shame that it wasn’t during the game, but USU’s Tai Wesley broke the backboard during halftime warmups this evening in a worthless game against NAIA team Montana-Western.  Luckily nobody was hurt, but arena officials managed to break a second one while trying to replace the first, resulting in a 45-minute delay of the game.  With breakaway rims and triple-reinforced stanchions, you hardly see these sorts of things at the D1 level anymore; still, we kinda wish it had happened during the game!

Tai Wesley, USU Halftime Legend (AP/J. Urquhart)

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Illinois, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Memphis & Duquesne.  All four of these teams either on or near the bubble with 24 days left until Selection Sunday helped themselves this evening.  The Illini are clearly the safest of the three (#7 seed in our latest RTC bracketology), but Bruce Weber’s team came into tonight having lost six of nine and really couldn’t stand another loss to a mediocre team like Michigan.  Tennessee is relatively safe (#8 seed), but the Vols needed a win in a big way after three Ls in a row.  You never know what to expect with this UT team, so even a simple home win over South Carolina shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Cincinnati and Memphis, on the other hand, are legitimately on the cut line (#12 seeds) and although the Tigers have never appeared to be an NCAA quality team this season, they’ve done just well enough to remain in the discussion.  Beating second-place UAB tonight to take over the top spot in Conference USA both amazes us and scares us at the same time.  Conversely, Cincy has at times appeared to be a decent candidate for an NCAA bid, but having lost three of four coming into tonight, the Bearcats really needed a nice win over a ranked team for its resume.  Mick Cronin’s team got that win over old rival Louisville tonight.  Duquesne is on the outside looking in in our latest bracket, but with a solid win tonight at UMass the Dukes got off a two-game schneid and are now 9-2 in the Atlantic 10 with a chance to make a strong finish.
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ATB: Not So Super Weekend in College Hoops World

Posted by rtmsf on February 7th, 2011

The Lede.  It might have been a Super Weekend elsewhere in the American sports universe, but this weekend’s college hoops slate left a lot to be desired.  There were few good matchups on paper, and even fewer in practice.  It’s hard to get through approximately 165 games, though, and not have something worthwhile to talk about, so we’ll of course ferret out the best of the weekend here.

Derrick Williams & Arizona Are On the Rise (Az Daily Star/D. Sanders)

Your Watercooler MomentGame of the Year? Arizona Beats Cal in a Regular Season Classic.  RTC Live was lucky enough to be there for the 107-105 thriller, and we’re not sure we’ve seen a more back-and-forth, exciting game in a random regular season setting.  Certainly not in person.  The comparison that immediately comes to mind was the 2007 Texas-Oklahoma State game, another game where nobody outside of certain local viewing areas actually saw the action.   With around ten minutes to go, in what had to that point been a fun high-scoring game that visiting Arizona appeared to be in control of, the Wildcats’ Solomon Hill elbowed Jorge Gutierrez on the break, drawing an intentional foul and handing the momentum back to Cal.  From that point on, with the score 59-54, both teams punched and counter-punched each other in a classic final twenty-five minutes of action with more twists and turns than Highway 1 up the Big Sur coast.  The game ultimately changed hands seventeen times and was tied fourteen other times, including after regulation and a first and second overtime.  So many players stepped up for both sides, including Pac-10 FrOY candidate Allen Crabbe (27/7), POY candidate Derrick Williams (12/18), but the star of stars on this night was UA’s sophomore guard Lamont “MoMo” Jones.  The brash New Yorker hit a tough runner (and-1) from behind the basket to send the game into the first overtime, then drained a 22-footer with six seconds to go in the second overtime to tie the game, then made the go-ahead layup with a minute left in the third overtime.  “Just a day in the life of MoMo Jones,” he said afterward, but with Arizona now at 9-2 in the Pac-10 and a game ahead of UCLA in the loss column and two games ahead of league favorite Washington, people around the country should do themselves the favor to learn that Sean Miller’s desert rats are more than simply a dominant post player on the blocks in Williams.  This Wildcat team is a year or more ahead of schedule, but should anyone who has tracked Miller’s career to this point be surprised?

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

[ed. note: our BGTD coverage of Saturday’s games is located here, in three parts.  Early Games; Late Afternoon Games; Evening Games.]

  • Buckeyes Roll On.  After Ohio State’s Sunday win over Minnesota in Minny, the Buckeyes are 24-0 with its next game scheduled on Saturday, February 12, in Madison.  The last time any team has gone this late in the year with an unbeaten record was Memphis in 2007-08, a team that didn’t lose until February 23 that year.  The last time a power conference team went undefeated this late was the 2005 Illinois Fighting Illini, who ran out to a 29-0 record before losing in the final regular season game against none other than Ohio State.  That Illini team also went to the national title game before losing a close one to North Carolina.  Certainly with a diversified offense that includes Jared Sullinger as its centerpiece (18/13 against the Gophers), OSU has designs on a similar or even better track than their conference brethren from a half-decade ago.
  • A Wildcat Sort of Saturday.  We mentioned the Arizona Wildcats above, but a couple of other sets of Cats had pretty a pretty good weekend as well.  The Northwestern Wildcats kept what little NCAA pulse they have alive with a nice win over Illinois in Evanston, and the Kansas State Wildcats did likewise with a one-point road win over Iowa State.  Jacob Pullen used the bounce to get to the rim for the game-winning layup with three seconds remaining.  Neither of these wins are blockbusters, but they’re the type that you simply must have if you have designs on making a final push.  The Big 10 Wildcats next five games are against unranked teams, while the Big 12 Wildcats face similar in three of the next four — does either team have the guts to save its once-promising season?  Other Wildcat teams — Davidson, New Hampshire, Villanova and Weber State — also won on Saturday.  Apologies to Kentucky and Bethune-Cookman, though, the sole losing felines.
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That’s Debatable: Home Stretch

Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2011

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at

This Week’s Topic: We’re heading into the home stretch of the season, merely five weeks and change from Selection Sunday.  We have a pretty good idea about the contenders and pretenders this season, but give us one team that you look to make a strong push to finish off the season and one team that you expect to tail off the rest of the way.

Andrew Murawa, RTC contributor

For the better part of the last month or two in my MWC Check-ins, I’ve been promising good things to come for New Mexico. With underrated veteran leadership at the point in Dairese Gary surrounded by a group of talented athletes, it was just a matter of waiting for the parts here to gel into a cohesive unit. With Drew Gordon now comfortable in his new digs (he’s scored in double figures in seven straight games and averaged almost 13 rebounds over that span), Philip McDonald and Kendall Williams providing talent on the wing and a pared-down rotation of talented role players, the Lobos are on the move. They dug an awful big hole early in conference play, but they could be a scary team to line up against come the MWC Tournament. As for a team ready to tail off, I’ve never been in love with this year’s Arizona squad. Yes, Derrick Williams is as good as anybody in America, but if opposing defenses can control him and make his teammates win ballgames, the Wildcats could fade fast.

Brian Otskey, RTC contributor

I would have picked Washington to finish strong (they still might) but their embarrassing loss at Oregon State on Thursday scared me away. Instead, I’m going with North Carolina, the team I originally picked to be the surprise team of the second half. The Tar Heels blasted Boston College on Tuesday and have won nine of their last ten games. North Carolina is ranked sixth in defensive efficiency and looks like a safe bet to get to 12-4 in the ACC as a result. With Harrison Barnes looking like the player we all thought he would be and Kendall Marshall now starting, Roy Williams has to be optimistic heading down the home stretch. As for my team that will fade, I’m looking at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers lost their point guard, Al Nolen, to injury and he was the key to their team’s success. Without him, Minnesota will have difficulty scoring. They don’t play great defense and will struggle in their three remaining road games, currently owners of a 2-5 road record. Their schedule isn’t all that difficult but the slide has already started, having lost two in a row. I expect the Gophers to fall towards the NCAA bubble.

Matt Patton, RTC contributor

I think Notre Dame is destined to tail off pretty soon.  The Fighting Irish been playing well over their heads this season, and I’m not very confident in their ability to win in hostile environments.  Give tons of credit to coach Mike Brey, who totally reworked this team after Luke Harangody left last year, and Ben Hansbrough, who started living up to the family name.  Don’t get me wrong, Notre Dame is still a very good team, but it’s not a top ten team.  Contrarily I think Wisconsin is very underrated right now (ironically the Badgers lost to Notre Dame on a neutral site early in the season).  They are undefeated at home with two certified stars in Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor.  This team doesn’t make mistakes, and it’s nearly impossible to come from behind against them between their deliberate (read: slow) pace, ability to avoid turnovers and incredible free throw shooting (81.8%, really?). 

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Morning Five: 01.26.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2011

  1. This idea has been batted around for some time now, but it looks like it’s going to come to fruition.  North Carolina and Michigan State are finalizing a deal to play each other next Veteran’s Day (November 11) on an aircraft carrier in San Diego Harbor.  At first, we wondered why an eastern team and a midwestern team would travel so far to play when they have perfectly good aircraft carriers in their half of the country (Norfolk, Virginia, for example).  And then we realized that the game will occur in November, and well, the game will be outside.  San Diego’s rather predictable weather makes for a safer bet, and a deal should be announced soon for what will make for a rather interesting gimmick game.  Let’s just hope that they properly adjust for the wind coming in off the water.
  2. In advance of tonight’s blockbuster game in Provo, Luke Winn breaks down Jimmer Fredette’s four worst performances of the season for some clues that San Diego State may use to try to contain him.  It was interesting to hear South Florida’s Stan Heath discussing how his team defended both UConn’s Kemba Walker and Fredette, ultimately concluding that Fredette was the tougher cover because “his shooting range is a little more extended [and] while Kemba is quicker and more explosive, Fredette’s changes-of-speed, plus his hops and step-back moves, make him better. And when he elevates to shoot, he really gets up in the air.”  Great stuff.
  3. This commentary by the Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls discusses the gargantuan difference in team chemistry between last year’s Texas team and this year’s edition.  It’s clear that even the locals around Austin are sensing a little something special about the group that Rick Barnes has at his disposal this time around.  For our money, we’d agree; nobody in the country has more upside than this team.  And if Jordan Hamilton can get his Glen Rice on in March, don’t be shocked to see UT playing in Houston in April.
  4. Conference realignment ain’t over.  The Mountain West Conference is meeting in Las Vegas this week and is prepared to offer current WAC school Utah State membership to replace the losses of Salt Lake City-area schools Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independent + WCC).  Last year USU turned down the MWC when it appeared that BYU was planning on leaving the conference for the WAC, causing the league to enact an end-around and effectively blow up the WAC by poaching several of its schools.
  5. With Ohio State’s win over Purdue last night and SDSU on the chopping block tonight at BYU, the talk of unbeaten regular seasons is ramping up.  We’re still a long way from serious consideration of that achievement by one of the final two unbeatens, but Mike DeCourcy harkened back to the 27-0 2003-04 St. Joseph’s team in discussing how the pressure builds with each passing game.  It certainly makes things more interesting for us journo-bloggers out there, eh?
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RTC Top 25: Week 10

Posted by KDoyle on January 17th, 2011

A wild week shook up the rankings last week… so here it is…

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The Other 26: Week 8

Posted by KDoyle on January 7th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.


With the non-conference portion of many schedules coming to an end, it is time for schools that comprise some of the smaller Other 26 conferences to retreat to their small gyms and compete against teams on their own level. In a sense, for many of these smaller conference teams, the non-conference schedule is a mere preamble for league play. The leagues I am referring to—NEC, America East, MEAC, Patriot, etc.—are all destined for just one bid to the NCAA Tournament. In most years, there are usually about a dozen conferences that receive multiple bids, thus leaving 20 conferences with just the auto.

Being a keen fan, follower, and observer of Patriot League basketball, I have come to the unfortunate realization that this league—like many others—is destined for one bid to the Dance every year. What irks me more than anything, however, is when I hear the phrase: “Three games in March.” This expression may vary depending upon the league, but it is the one that is used when describing the Patriot League tournament. Because the PL is comprised of eight teams, in order to win the championship and attain the automatic bid a team must win those “three games in March.”

I do not necessarily disagree with this expression—it is the reality of the Patriot League and many other leagues alike—but it is very bothersome when this becomes a mentality for the fanbases of the teams. It becomes acceptable to lose a non-conference game or a regular season game within the league because these games “don’t matter.” Of course, this is not a universal belief, but it is something I have observed within Patriot League fan circles. I will always recall Herman Edwards’ press conference as the head coach of the New York Jets when he repeatedly said in a stern voice: “You play, to win, the GAME!” It is Herm’s mentality, not the “three games in March” business, that I am a fan of.

The Other 26 Rankings

Tidbits from the Rankings

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The Other 26: Week 7

Posted by KDoyle on January 4th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the college basketball season is nearly half over. It is not all bad though, with conference play beginning we are just another step closer to Championship Week, Selection Sunday, and, of course, the NCAA Tournament. During this time of the year, the Other 26 and BCS largely go their separate ways, only to be reunited just two months later on the biggest stage of them all. As it is every year, the non-conference is nothing more than a tease of what is to come later. What are five major things that we learned during the first half of the year?

  • The top three teams in the Mountain West (SDSU, UNLV, BYU) will all be a force in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Gonzaga and Butler are not as dominant as they have been in past years, but both seem poised to perform well in their conference play as they drastically improved in the latter half of the non-conference schedule.
  • Temple and Richmond can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. In one week, the Owls defeated Maryland and then Georgetown, and then just weeks later they were points away from beating Villanova. As for the Spiders, they have beaten four of five BCS teams they played against.
  • Don’t sleep on Conference USA. Although the league probably will receive only two bids—maybe three—Central Florida, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB and UTEP are pretty darn good.
  • The Mountain West and Atlantic 10 will combine to have more teams in the NCAA Tournament than the ACC and SEC. Okay that is a bit of a reach, but don’t be surprised if this is close to happening. Right now, the only lock in the ACC is Duke, obviously. As for the SEC, it is only Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The MWC will almost certainly have SDSU, BYU, and UNLV, and the Atlantic 10 is a bit of a crapshoot at the top. Over the last three years, however, the A10 has sent three years to the Dance in each year—food for thought.

The Other 26 Rankings

Tidbits from the Rankings

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