NCAA Tournament Tidbits: Championship Edition, Part Two

Posted by Griffin Wong on April 8th, 2015

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Duke

Coach K Addressed the Home Fans on Tuesday in Durham (USA Today Images)

Coach K Addressed the Home Fans on Tuesday in Durham (USA Today Images)

  • Coach K had a response for Bo Ryan’s “rent-a-player” remark that the Wisconsin head coach made after his team’s loss to Duke on Monday. “Duke doesn’t rent a player,” Krzyzewski said. “We have one of the great schools in the world, and when we recruit a young man, we recruit a young man because of three things: One, he has the academic potential to do well at Duke; two, he has the talent to do well; and three, he has great character. All the guys on my team fit that description 100 percent.”
  • Duke‘s freshmen led the Blue Devils to this season’s National Title, but things may not be looking so bright in Durham next season if they all — particularly Tyus Jones, considering Duke’s lack of a point guard option behind him — head to the NBA.
  • Announced as a package deal when the duo committed to Duke as high school seniors, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones share a friendship that “goes beyond basketball.” After the final buzzer sounded on Monday night, the two were found embracing at half-court. “We told each other we loved each other,” Okafor said. “This is what we dreamed of.”
  • Jahlil Okafor may be the consensus All-American, but is teammate Justise Winslow the better NBA prospect?
  • Though Mike Krzyzewski is an old school coach, his ability to adapt was in large part responsible for Duke’s fifth National Championship. From starting three freshmen to playing zone defense to winning the finale without major contributions from Okafor or Winslow, this season was arguably the greatest coaching job of the Duke legend’s illustrious career.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin's Bo Ryan Has Gotten Progressively Closer to the Ring (USA Today Images)

Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan Has Gotten Progressively Closer to the Ring (USA Today Images)

  • Wisconsin will be expected to fall in the Big Ten pecking order next season but the Badgers may end up better than most expect. With the emergence of point guard Bronson Koenig, the Badgers actually look to be in “good hands.”
  • Though he was never expected to leave for the NBA, power forward Nigel Hayes officially confirmed that he will be back next season. “I’m nowhere near good enough to do anything else besides come back,” Hayes said.
  • Many are pressing Sam Dekker for a decision on whether he’ll turn pro this spring, but Dekker first wants to get the bad taste of Monday’s game out of his mouth. “I can’t really worry about it. I’m going to get home, cool down with the guys, do what I need to do, talk to who I need to talk to make an educated decision,” he said.
  • Frank Kaminsky‘s ride in college hoops is over, but the National Player of the Year has a new challenge on his hands with the NBA.
  • Lost among Kaminsky and Dekker’s excellent seasons was the equally outstanding play of senior Josh Gasser. Although he didn’t put up the same numbers as his counterparts, his defense and leadership will be sorely missed.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: Championship Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on April 7th, 2015

RTC_NCAA15

March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Duke

Coach K's Blue Devils Cut Down the Nets for the Fifth Time (USA Today Images)

Coach K’s Blue Devils Cut Down the Nets for the Fifth Time (USA Today Images)

  • Over the past three decades, Coach K has gained a reputation for winning with three- and four-year players. However, in recent years he has changed his strategy a bit and it paid off last night. Duke’s freshmen scored 60 of the Blue Devils’ 68 points, including all 37 of them in the second half. “I’m grateful for those young guys,” senior Quinn Cook said, “because, you know, for them to perform like that on the stage like this says a lot about [their] confidence. I’m just thankful that they came to Duke.”
  • For Duke, it was Grayson Allen who stepped up as an unexpected hero in the second half of the National Championship game. Duke’s least-heralded freshman, a player who averaged just four points per game this season, contributed 16 big points, most of which came when Duke needed them most. “We were kind of dead in the water,” Coach K said. “We were nine points down and Grayson just put us on his back.”
  • Frank Kaminsky kept Jahlil Okafor in check and in foul trouble for most of the game, but Okafor was finally effective in crunch time. Despite only scoring 10 points in 22 minutes of action, Okafor came through with two huge buckets in the final three minutes of the game.
  • It wasn’t Jahlil Okafor or Justise Winslow – the crown jewels of Duke’s freshman class – who came away with Most Outstanding Player honors, but Tyus Jones, the point guard who held everything together for the Blue Devils all season long. With 23 points that included two dagger three-pointers in the final four minutes, Jones earned it.
  • Duke was known for its elite offense this year, but it was its “gritty” play down the stretch that got the Blue Devils to the promised land. “We were close [to being dead in the water],” Coach K said afterward. “Those last eight to nine minutes were spectacular basketball by our kids. Gritty basketball.”

Wisconsin

And the Agony of Being on the Losing End (USA Today Images)

And the Agony of Being on the Losing End (USA Today Images)

  • For Bo Ryan, it was tough to resist ripping the (controversial) officials during last night’s Championship Game loss to Duke. “You just have to be able to handle all the hands and the checking. There was more body contact in this game than any game we’ve played all year and I just feel sorry for my guys that all of a sudden a game was like that,” Ryan said.“I think they had a… they’re struggling with that a little bit. We missed some opportunities, they hit some tough shots, but you know — it’s just a shame that it had to be played that way.”
  • Bo Ryan wasn’t the only Badger to complain about the referees, as sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig got in on the action after the game. When asked about what gave Duke the momentum after Wisconsin had built a nine-point lead, Koenig replied, “Pick which and-one was called for them.”
  • Frank Kaminsky,  to no one’s surprise, had an outstanding game with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but it simply wasn’t enough for the Badgers.
  • With his breakthrough junior campaign now over, the big question in Madison is whether Sam Dekker will return to school for his senior season. Dekker may have a sour taste in his mouth after losing in last night’s National Championship Game, but a phenomenal NCAA Tournament almost certainly solidified him as a first round pick.
  • After last night’s disappointing loss, Bo Ryan seemingly took a shot at Duke and its surplus of NBA-bound freshmen. “All the seniors that I’ve had — hard to say the word. But every player that’s played through the program, okay, we don’t do a rent-a-player. You know what I mean? Try to take a fifth-year guy. That’s okay. If other people do that, that’s okay,” Ryan said. “I like trying to build from within. It’s just the way I am. And to see these guys grow over the years and to be here last year and lose a tough game, boom, they came back.”
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 04.05.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on April 5th, 2015

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Duke

Coach K and Duke Will Compete For Their Fifth Title Monday Night (USA Today Images)

Coach K and Duke Will Compete For Their Fifth Title Monday Night (USA Today Images)

  • Duke has been criticized this season for not being as defensively sharp as some of the past Blue Devils teams. After last night’s dominant Final Four victory over Michigan State, however, the doubters are starting to come around. “A lot of people said we couldn’t play defense,” Duke guard Matt Jones said. “For the most part in the NCAA Tournament, we’ve been a very good defensive team. Now we just have to do it one more time on Monday.”
  • Taunting or not, there’s no doubt that Grayson Allen‘s monster dunk sent a message to Michigan State.
  • On Monday night, Duke will play for a National Championship in the same place where it won its last one: Indianapolis.
  • Jahlil Okafor‘s father believes that his son should have been named National Player of the Year over Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. Okafor will have the chance to prove it on Monday, as the Blue Devils will go up against Kaminsky’s team.
  • Justise Winslow is a name you might want to remember for the future… Take it from Charles Barkley. During the pregame show last night, Barkley referred to Winslow as “Winstons Justice.” Ouch.

Wisconsin

  • Sam Dekker wasn’t as dominant as he had been in the past two games, but he was just as clutch. Tied 60-60, Dekker hit a step-back three to give Wisconsin the lead, then drew a charge on Kentucky’s very next possession.
  • Perhaps Frank Kaminsky‘s 2011 Tweet of “I hate Kentucky” foreshadowed last night’s victory over the previously undefeated Wildcats.
  • Wisconsin did it. Against all odds, the Badgers gave Kentucky its first loss of the season in a matchup they’ve wanted since last March. “This is something we’ve been talking about since day one this season,” Sam Dekker said. “Look where we are now.”
  • Somehow, Trey Lyle’s slap on Josh Gasser wasn’t called a flagrant one foul, but it didn’t matter for Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin lost to Duke earlier this season but the Badgers are far from scared. “They were a tough team,” [point guard Bronson] Koenig said. “They have a great backcourt and they’ve got Jahlil [Okafor]. So it’s going to be a tough game.”

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 04.01.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on April 1st, 2015

RTC_NCAA15

March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Michigan State

Tom Izzo Is Loving This Team (USA Today Images)

Tom Izzo Is Loving This Team (USA Today Images)

  • Of all people, Duke’s Coach K is perhaps least surprised to be facing Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in the Final Four. “Nothing surprises me that he and his program would do,” Krzyzewski said. “They don’t have a team; they have a program. As he develops each team, I don’t know what the time frame of it is until that group understands what the program is about, whether it be offense, defense or just character-wise, but they’re going to keep improving because it’s a program. It’s a program of excellence.”
  • For Michigan State, the emergence of freshman LouRawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn Jr. has been paramount to the Spartans’ turnaround this season. He hasn’t scored much so far in the NCAA Tournament, but that’s not what makes him so valuable. “He does so much for our team that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet,” said senior guard Travis Trice. “He helps break the press, he gets other guys involved. Tum’s also that energy guy. There are times [before or after practice] where guys are kind of tired and Tum’s there with all the energy and boosts everybody up. Tum does a lot of things for us that people really don’t see.”
  • Michigan State may not have as much individual talent as it usually does, but this bunch has played very well as a team. “This is some of the things that has separated this year’s team: from top to bottom there is a – I don’t know if you can use the word, but there is a true love for one another,” Izzo said, “and that is a powerful, powerful thing, so I’m appreciative of those upperclassmen.”
  • Check out Tom Izzo‘s postgame speech to his team after the Spartans punched their ticket on Sunday to the Final Four.
  • With a BCS Bowl victory and another Final Four appearance, it’s a good time to be a Michigan State fan.

Duke

  • No matter the year, the moment, or the personnel on his team, Coach K is consistently great. “There’s not just one way,” [assistant coach Nate] James said. “Some coaches are stuck in their ways, like ‘I want to do it this way, the way I’ve always done it.’ No. If you do it that way, it may hurt this group. He adjusts.”
  • Even though Duke is a mainstay at the top of college basketball, Krzyzewski insists that this team has worked its way to a “magical season,” just like everyone else. “It’s not a birthright; it’s earned each year,” he said.
  • From losing Rasheed Sulaimon to hitting some midseason lulls back in January, this Duke team has learned to be resilient.
  • Is Coach K the greatest college basketball head coach of all time? Chris Chase seems to think so.
  • Duke may be in the Final Four, but Jahlil Okafor hasn’t exactly dominated in March. Is the freshman standout somewhat overrated?

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.31.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 31st, 2015

RTC_NCAA15

March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Kentucky

38-0 and Still Standing. (USA Today Images)

38-0 and Still Standing. (USA Today Images)

  • Duke handled Michigan State in November’s Champions Classic, but a “true” champions classic would see the Blue Devils face undefeated Kentucky for the National Championship game on Monday night. Luckily for college basketball fans, that potential matchup is just one spectacular round away.
  • Big Blue Nation is notorious for traveling to games, but John Calipari isn’t so sure that the Wildcats will have a boost from the crowd in Indianapolis. “My hope is our [fans] have figured out how to get the tickets more than the other people, but you just don’t know,” he said.
  • Despite having a historic level of amateur talent, Kentucky has benefited from keeping that talent grounded off the court. Sports psychologist Bob Rotella visits Lexington every so often to keep the Wildcats loose and motivated. “The challenge, ultimately, is to get really talented people to go after it that intensely, with that much energy,” he said.
  • Kentucky walk-ons Sam Malone and Brian Long may not be heading to the NBA, but after this season, they’ll have played with possibly 21 future and current NBA players.
  • When it comes to getting his players to the professional ranks, John Calipari goes above and beyond the call of duty. Not only does he showcase each of his 10 (nine after junior Alex Poythress’ midseason injury) rotation players, but he even set up a pseudo Pro Day for his players before the season.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.27.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 27th, 2015

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Midwest Region

These guys absolutely rule the college basketball world at the moment. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

These guys absolutely rule the college basketball world at the moment. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • West Virginia’s Daxter Miles talked the talk but it was Kentucky that walked the walk. After Miles declared that Kentucky would be “36-1″ after playing the Mountaineers, the Wildcats proceeded to beat his team into submission by 39 points. The Kentucky players had some responses to share with the world via Twitter.
  • Last night, Kentucky showed what it could do when you make the Wildcats angry. After a historic Sweet Sixteen  beatdown of West Virginia, Ben Cohen asks the question we’ve been asking all year long: Can anyone beat Kentucky?
  • Not only did Daxter Miles‘ team lose the game despite guaranteeing victory, but he finished with no points and just one rebound. Tough day.
  • Notre Dame gained control early and took every punch Wichita State threw at it en route to an 11-point victory last night.
  • Notre Dame could have the offensive firepower to keep up with Kentucky if the Irish are able to hit their threes. But will it be enough to give the Wildcats’ their only loss of the season?
  • Could Gregg Marshall have just coached his last game at Wichita State? Having done wonders for the Shockers’ program over the last several years, will Marshall leave for a bigger job this off-season?

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.25.14 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 25th, 2015

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Midwest Region

This guy is not intimidated by John Calipari and the Wildcats. (Getty)

This guy is not intimidated by John Calipari and the Wildcats. (Getty)

  • Though he’s struggled thus far in the NCAA Tournament, John Calipari’s message to Devin Booker is simple. “We told him after the game, ‘Hey, you’ve got to keep shooting,’ because there’s going to be a game we need him to make shots or we can’t win,” Calipari said. “You can miss all these. It doesn’t matter. The next one’s coming up and we may need you to make some shots.”
  • Bob Huggins has had John Calipari’s number historically, but Kentucky certainly has the advantage by the numbers this time. Here’s what Kentucky blog A Sea of Blue has to say about Thursday’s battle.
  • West Virginia is fast and physical, but Huggins is concerned about Kentucky’s defense, particularly inside the three-point line. “Probably the closest one was Kentucky in 2010. We led by one [actually two, 28-26] at halftime and did not have a two-point field goal (eight three-pointers and four foul shots). I think every time we took it inside the three [point line] we got our shots blocked. I can’t remember anybody who would be as close to this team other than that team,” he said.
  • The odds are against him, but Bob Huggins has a chance to improve on his 8-2 record against his buddy John Calipari on Thursday.
  • The public seems to be praising Wichita State after its upset over Kansas, but don’t sleep on Notre Dame just yet.
  • Pat Connaughton has been huge for Notre Dame on the court, but his leadership away from it is what sets him apart.
  • Alabama is reportedly looking to make a run at Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. Here‘s why Matt Bonesteel thinks Marshall should stick around in Wichita.
  • Wichita State is the lowest-seeded team left in the Midwest Region, but the Shockers have several qualities that previous Final Four teams have possessed.

West Region

Two old friends go at it in the Sweet 16. Will Chris Mack the Pupil get the upper hand? Or will Sean Miller the teacher still show who's boss? (Getty)

Two old friends go at it in the Sweet Sixteen. Will Chris Mack the Pupil get the upper hand? Or will Sean Miller the Teacher still show him who’s boss? (Getty)

  • It’s no accident that Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin teams rarely foul. Averaging around 12 fouls per game, the Badgers rank among the lowest in the country in that metric. Much of this is due to the emphasis put on it by the head coach. “There are a few pillars of the program or things that have been consistent through the years and helped us be successful,” associate head coach Greg Gard says. “And that’s one of them. They understand if they want to get on the floor and play, they’re going to have to be able to play without fouling.”
  • Despite having a reputation as a very well-respected academic institution, Wisconsin hasn’t exactly wowed people with its recent graduation rates.
  • Though he was reportedly doubtful to play earlier this week, Kennedy Meeks worked out briefly on Tuesday and he is still a possibility to play on Thursday night.
  • For Marcus Paige, North Carolina’s Sweet Sixteen game on Thursday will be a bit of a family affair. His sister, Morgan, played at Wisconsin, and now plays professionally in Europe.
  • Xavier big man Jalen Reynolds is being investigated by the school for a recent incident outside of a Xavier dorm. However, Reynolds is still scheduled to play for the time being.
  • Thursday’s Sweet Sixteen battle will be special for Xavier coach Chris Mack. Mack served as Arizona coach Sean Miller’s top assistant for five years before he left Xavier for the desert. “The fact is that it’s hard to play against someone who gave me such an opportunity. We spent so much time in the trenches and he trusted me so much as an assistant coach. I enjoyed my time with him,” Mack said.
  • Both Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson and others surrounding the program seem open about Johnson only being in Tucson for one year, but that isn’t stopping both parties from making the best of the situation.
  • For Sean Miller, coaching against his former team, Xavier, will be tough. “It’s kind of one of those things that when you’re watching the selection show, you’re kind of watching and cheering for them [Xavier coach Chris Mack and former Xavier coach Thad Matta] to go off your board,” [Arizona Director of Basketball Operations Ryan] Reynolds said. Reynolds came with Miller from Xavier to Arizona six years ago.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.24.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 24th, 2015

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Midwest Region

Can Huggins Use His Press to Get WVU Back to the Final Four? (USA Today Images)

Can Huggins Use His Press to Get WVU Back to the Final Four? (USA Today Images)

  • Kentucky may not be 1991 UNLV, but they’re looking pretty darn tough at 36-0.
  • Kentucky has been tested a couple times this season, but West Virginia may provide the Wildcats’ most physical battle yet. The “relentless” Mountaineers are not only strong, but they will also keep up the pressure all game long.
  • For West Virginia, the formula to beating Kentucky will have to involve the press. The Mountaineers have forced 40 turnovers over their past two games, and will need to force a bunch on Thursday to have a chance against the undefeated Wildcats.
  • West Virginia had a huge win over Maryland in the second round of the tournament, but much was made after the game about the way in which coach Bob Hugginsdaughters behaved during and after the game. The daughters were particularly harsh towards Maryland senior Dez Wells, taunting him with references to rape allegations he faced at Xavier. Wells’ case was never taken to court and he received a settlement from Xavier for a wrongful expulsion in 2013.
  • Notre Dame may have one of the best offenses in the country but the Irish wouldn’t have reached the Sweet Sixteen without its defense. Down late against Butler, the Irish came up with a couple huge stops to send the game into overtime. “Everybody talks about our offense,” said senior captain Pat Connaughton. “But to be able to get that stop on the defensive end to send us into overtime and send us to the Sweet Sixteen is something I’m very proud of these guys for.”
  • Steve Vasturia may only be Notre Dame’s fifth leading scorer, but he’s played a huge role in the Irish’s run so far. With much of the defense’s focus on Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton, and Zach Auguste, Vasturia exploded for 20 points against Butler.
  • Kansas may be the blue blood, but Wichita State earned the title of Kings of Kansas for 2015. Making a Sweet Sixteen is always great, but doing so against Kansas made it even sweeter for the Shockers.
  • Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was given resounding boos when showed on the jumbotron at the Kansas/Wichita State game on Sunday. Whether it was the fact that he had both teams on his shirt or his new policy on education funding, Jayhawks and Shockers’ fans came together for that one moment this past weekend.

West Region

  • Check out Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes having some fun with an NCAA stenographer during a media session. Yes, like a court stenographer.
  • Wisconsin is looking forward to Thursday’s matchup against North Carolina. With UNC’s size and athleticism, the Badgers are expecting a fun game.
  • It’s looking more and more like North Carolina big man Kennedy Meeks will be out against Wisconsin. Given Wisconsin’s outstanding front line, this could prove especially problematic for the Tar Heels.
  • Even though coach Roy Williams has a resumé that includes two National Championships, seven Final Fours, and 16 Sweet Sixteens, he’s not taking this most recent trip for granted. However, it can be tough to do so, considering the degree to which excellence is demanded at UNC. “Let’s not have a misconception. These kids have had a pretty doggone good run for the last three years,” Williams said. “We’ve won 25, 24, and 26 [games], and … a lot of teams would like that.”
  • Xavier big man Matt Stainbrook is known for his play on the court, but he’s not actually on scholarship. To make a little cash on the side, Stainbrook drives part-time for the popular mobile application Uber.
  • Though the Musketeers have seemingly flown under the radar, this is Xavier‘s fifth Sweet Sixteen in the past eight years. The only other teams to achieve that level of sustained success are Michigan State, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Arizona. That’s not bad company.
  • Other than Kentucky, Arizona may just be the hottest team in college basketball. The Wildcats haven’t lost since February 7 and have cruised into the Sweet Sixteen. If the Wildcats can keep it up, things may come full circle with a potential Elite Eight matchup against Wisconsin, the team that knocked them out in the same round just a year ago.
  • Arizona sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has played extremely well for the Wildcats thus far. In addition to his ability to lock down just about anyone, Hollis-Jefferson has the athleticism and skill to be a force on the offensive end.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.20.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 20th, 2015

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Midwest Region

The Wildcats Keep on Keepin' On... (USA Today Images)

The Wildcats Keep on Keepin’ On… (USA Today Images)

  • Another game, another victory, and Kentucky is 35-0.
  • Cincinnati is notorious for grinding it out, but it took an incredible shot from Troy Caupain to force overtime and eventually beat Purdue.
  • West Virginia will be one of the toughest tests Buffalo has had all season long. So, what are the Bulls focusing on? WVU’s press. “That [the press] is a great formula for winning a lot of basketball games and they don’t stop, they keep coming at you,” coach Bobby Hurley noted.
  • Many members of the media have been asking West Virginia coach Bob Huggins about his past NCAA experiences, but he’s trying his best to stay present. Huggins: “I don’t look backwards. I don’t have a rear view mirror. I just look forward.”
  • Maryland being back in the NCAA Tournament is a big deal, but coach Mark Turgeon is trying to keep his team loose. With dunk contests and half-court shot contests, it seems like Turgeon is doing a good job.
  • Notre Dame was almost the third #3 seed to go down on Thursday, but the Irish avoided the upset with a two-point win against Northeastern. A popular pick to advance to the Elite Eight before the NCAA Tournament, should the Irish faithful be concerned?
  • Staying true to its reputation, Butler won ugly yesterday. The Bulldogs may not have earned any “style points,” but a win is a win.
  • Wichita State may get great scoring from its guards, but what Indiana is concerned about is the Shockers’ toughness. Relentless on defense and the boards, the Shockers are a pain for anyone to face.
  • Injured in the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana will be looking to get a boost from a (hopefully) healthy Hanner Mosqueda-Perea. It’s not set in stone, but Mosqueda-Perea would be a huge upgrade to the Hoosiers’ front court.
  • With today’s game on the horizon, Kansas Attorney General Derek Smith and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, have been going at it.

West Region

  • Wisconsin may not play the flashiest style, but coach Bo Ryan has a track record of success doing things his way.
  • Oregon may have a lot of new faces on the roster, but this team can play. Here’s some more in-depth information on the Ducks.
  • Oklahoma State didn’t come into the season with high expectations, but the Cowboys begin March play as a #9 seed against Oregon. Travins Ford’s team has been up and down this season, but nobody knows better than he that the past is the past: “We haven’t played or probably succeeded as well as we’d like here lately, but this is a brand-new opportunity for our basketball team.’’
  • Arkansas staved off Wofford last night, no thanks to the Razorbacks’ footwear.
  • The Tar Heels had a big lead for most of the night but they were barely able to hold off Harvard yesterday. It’s safe to say that North Carolina feels fortunate that it won that game. In fact, according to coach Roy Williams, it was the “luckiest I’ve ever felt after a basketball game in my entire life.”
  • Ole Miss had a great win on Tuesday, but Xavier was simply too solid for an exhausted Rebels squad to take down.
  • For Georgia State’s RJ Hunter, hitting yesterday’s late three-pointer to beat Baylor was his “shining moment.”
  • Ohio State has been inconsistent all season, but All-American D’Angelo Russell has the ability to “carry” the Buckeyes deep into March.
  • Arizona wasn’t messing around yesterday as it made quick work of Texas Southern. “I know we won by a big margin,” [coach Sean] Miller said. “But we have high aspirations, and in this tournament, you don’t get a second chance.”

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.19.15

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 19th, 2015

RTC_NCAA15

March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Midwest Region

  • Unsurprisingly, President Obama went with undefeated Kentucky to win it all this year.
  • Facing a tough matchup in Cincinnati, Purdue hopes that its many quasi-elimination games this season will help prepare them for the tournament. “There’s no substitute for the actual thing,” [coach Matt] Painter said. “We have a lot of guys outside of one that hasn’t been here. You still have to play hard. You still have to produce.”

    Even POTUS had to go with undefeated Kentucky this year. (ESPN)

    Even POTUS had to go with undefeated Kentucky this year. (ESPN)

  • Here’s a heartwarming story of how Cincinnati coach Mick Croninindirectly” saved a Minnesota man’s life. After a UC fan saw Coach Cronin take a medical leave for “indescribable” headaches, he was able to diagnose his own illness when the same thing happened to him.
  • Everyone is basically penciling Kentucky into the Final Four, but could West Virginia have something to say about it? With a fast pace and a defense that forces a lot of turnovers, the Mountaineers, at the very least, have a puncher’s chance to make a run.
  • Perhaps no 12-seed has a better shot at pulling the classic upset than Buffalo. With solid efficiency numbers and MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss, the Bulls are legit.
  • After years of frustration, Dez Wells finally has his shot at the NCAA Tournament. Known for his vocal leadership, win or lose, Wells is certain to go out with a bang.
  • With a huge front court, headed by 6’9” 285 lbs Cameron Ridley, Texas will look to “bully” Butler down low. “We need to take advantage of it,” Ridley said. “People should be intimidated to come into the paint against us.”
  • With this disadvantage on the front line, Butler will most likely rely heavily on three ball to best Texas.
  • In what should be a competitive 7-10 game, Indiana and Wichita State will go at each other with the same strength: guard play. While the Hoosiers have Yogi Ferrell, who can absolutely bomb the three ball, the Shockers counter with a trio of Fred Van Fleet, Tekele Cotton, and Ron Baker.
  • Unfortunately for Jayhawks, they will be without freshman sensation Cliff Alexander for at least their first two NCAA Tournament games. Alexander is still awaiting a decision from the NCAA as it investigates eligibility concerns.

West Region

Frank Kaminsky might be the most important player in this tournament. (Reuters)

Frank Kaminsky might be the most important player in this tournament. (Reuters)

  • Wisconsin has played outstanding basketball all season, but do the Badgers have the fire power to challenge Kentucky? Wisconsin may not have the athletes, but it does have Frank Kaminsky, favorite (and voted on by some sources) to win National Player of the Year.
  • How does Oregon coach Dana Altman‘s contract correlate with Oregon’s cost of room and board? It’s pretty hefty, if you ask me.
  • Arkansas will come in as a favorite against Wofford, but the Razorbacks still aren’t completely familiar with the Terriers. Instead, Mike Anderson has his team focused on themselves. “Coach just always tries to preach we aren’t worried about the other team, like, our team is just worried about what we do,” forward Bobby Portis noted.
  • A three-year starter, Spencer Collins is looking to lead Wofford to its first Tourney victory in program history.
  • A Duke alumnus, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker is quite familiar with North Carolina.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.18.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 18th, 2015

RTC_NCAA15

March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Midwest Region

Karl-Anthony Towns has emerged as Kentucky's go-to guy on offense (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Karl-Anthony Towns Was Named an All-American. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Kentucky freshman Karl-Anthony Towns was named a freshman All-American by the USBWA. Despite playing just over 20 minutes per game for the undefeated Wildcats, Towns averaged 9.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Crazy numbers on a per-40 basis.
  • Cincinnati has been a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament but is it a basketball school or a football school? You decide.
  • This may be Buffalo‘s first time in the NCAA Tourney, but don’t tell their fans that. The Bulls’ faithful have responded to their team’s success – Buffalo will “definitely sell out” its allotment, according to associate athletic director Todd Garzarelli.
  • In Valparaiso, the Drews are “more than just basketball royalty, they are the first family.” Having already won three regular season Horizon League championships, coach Bryce Drew loves being a part of the program that has family – including himself – has given so much to over the years.
  • With Seinfeld creator Larry David and Google co-founder Sergey Brin on its roster, Maryland took home a title in a March Madness bracket determined by each school’s alumni.
  • Butler loves to recruit players who can shoot, so how has junior Roosevelt Jones only attempted three jump shots over the past three years? Jones may not be able to shoot, but he’s found a way to make his “floater” game work.
  • Now that Texas is in the Big Dance, it sees its adversity this season as a positive. “That’s one of the advantages we have,” [sophomore Kendal] Yancy said. “We’ve seen everything that can possibly come to us.”
  • According to stat guru Ken Pomeroy, Notre Dame has the second-best offense in the country. That’s great, but will its defense leave the Irish susceptible to an early round exit this March?
  • New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies is confident about his team, but he’s being realistic about facing a blue-blood program in Kansas. “They’re a big-time team, obviously a big-time program,” Menzies said of Kansas. “Great coaching, great coaching staff; it’s an honor to be able to play in this environment.”
  • The Jayhawks may not have landed a #1 seed this year, but they did come in as the second most valuable college basketball program, according to Forbes. Kansas basketball is worth $35.4 Million, ranking behind only Louisville.

West Region

  • After being out for the past two months with a broken foot, Wisconsin point guard Traevon Jackson is finally practicing. It’s unclear whether Jackson will regain his starting spot from sophomore Bronson Koenig – who has played very well in Jackson’s absence – but regardless, adding quality depth never hurts.
  • Oklahoma State may have gotten a little complacent this season, according to its star Le’Bryan Nash, and the key to success in the coming weeks will be regaining that chip on their shoulder. “I mean, sometimes when people are always picked low, they get excited for their success and don’t know how to handle success. Sometimes, we didn’t know how to handle it,” Nash said.
  • Wofford has never won a game in NCAA Tournament, but having been there four out of the last six years, the Terriers just might be due. According to coach Mike Young, “We’ve got a team that’s done it. That’s been there. That’s not going to be in awe of the moment. They will know what they’ve got to do to put themselves in position to win. We’ll be in a much better frame of mind this time around, I feel certain.”
  • Though North Carolina will go as Marcus Paige goes, the emergence of freshmen Joel Berry and Justin Jackson will be critical to the Tar Heels’ success.
  • For Harvard’s freshman guard Zach Yoshor, balancing basketball and his devout Jewish faith has been tough. Though he observes the Jewish Sabbath, he bends the rules when he has to travel for basketball. “It was a really rough decision. I just decided it was something I wanted to do,” Yoshor explained by telephone on Monday. “I knew if I wanted to play, I’d have to travel on Shabbat.”
  • Down 17 at the half, Ole Miss pulled off a stunning comeback in the First Four on Tuesday night. Behind transfers Stefan Moody and MJ Rhett, the Rebels will, somehow, live to fight another day.
  • As Xavier looks to make a run in the Tourney, its seniors are especially driven. “Like Dee [Davis] was telling me the other day, we only have one more loss in us. It’s one loss and you’re done,” [Matt] Stainbrook said. “So we’re trying to win as many games as we can.”
  • While John Heard and Austin Mills found their way to the Baylor basketball program in different ways, the two walk-ons were fortunate to be rewarded with scholarships for this semester.
  • Ohio State coach Thad Matta may be the all time winningest coach in Buckeyes history, but this season has been a rough one. However, Matta and his team will have a chance to turn it around when they face VCU on Thursday.
  • Arizona hasn’t lost since February 7, and much of the Wildcats’ success has been because of junior forward Brandon Ashley. During the Pac-12 Tournament, Ashley averaged nearly 20 points and six rebounds per game. And as we head into the home stretch of the season, Ashley’s contributions will be necessary for the Wildcats’ success.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.17.15 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 17th, 2015

RTC_NCAA15

March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

Midwest Region

  • The obvious front-page story going into the 2015 NCAA Tournament is whether Kentucky can complete its pursuit of perfection. A perfect season would be the first since Bob Knight’s 1976 Indiana team. In a way, the two quests aren’t so different.
  • For a team that lost several leaders from 2014 and coach Mick Cronin to medical issues in late December, Cincinnati has shown incredible “perseverance” this season.
  • Purdue will end a two-year drought from the NCAA Tournament this week when it takes on Cincinnati. Here are 10 moments that brought the Boilermakers back to the Big Dance, courtesy of the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

    The quest perfection begins Thursday for the UK faithful. (Kentucky Athletics)

    The quest perfection begins Thursday for the UK faithful. (Kentucky Athletics)

  • There’s no better place for West Virginia senior Juwan Staten to end his career than in his home state of Ohio. The Mountaineers will take on Buffalo Friday in Columbus.
  • Apparently former Duke standout and current Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley has some moves off the court too. The Bulls appear to be a popular #5-#12 upset pick, and if they can pull it off, who knows what moves Hurley will bring out next?
  • Maryland felt like it was snubbed by the Selection Committee not only in that it was given a #4 seed rather than a #3 seed, but also in that it was placed into Kentucky’s region. However, according to the numbers guys, the Terps were actually overrated and seeded higher than their ability.
  • Texas has a tough road ahead, but considering it got into the NCAA Tournament and avoided the First Four, can the Longhorns really complain?
  • Texas barely squeaked into the tournament, but Butler has reason to be concerned about the Longhorns’ significant size advantage. Texas appears healthy, and has four guys over 6’8” in its front line rotation.
  • As two competitive programs that occupy the same state, why don’t Kansas and Wichita State have a heated rivalry?
  • Notre Dame hasn’t had recent Tourney success, but this year’s team is looking to change that. “We still want to rewrite history here at Notre Dame,” senior leader Jerian Grant remarked.

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