Sylven Landesberg and Great Moments In Israeli Television

Posted by KCarpenter on February 1st, 2012

I love international basketball. I love it because it gives lots of standout college players a place to work hard and earn a spot in the NBA outside of the limelight of the American media-sports-industrial complex. More importantly, however, I love international basketball because it gives lots of collegiate standouts a place to be unabashedly goofy. ACC fans likely remember Sylven Landesberg, the 2008-09 conference Rookie of the Year who seemed poised to break out in a big way after a brilliant freshman season for Virginia. At the end of his sophomore year, Landesberg was suspended from the team for failing to meet academic obligations. He didn’t come back.

Cut to the present: Landesberg plays in the Israeli league for Maccabi Haifa, displaying his legitimate basketball talents as well as his incredibly goofy side. So, without further ado, The Best International Basketball Non-Basketball Video Clip of An ACC Standout (displacing the Italian GQ interview of former North Carolina player Danny Green talking about dancing): Landesberg singing a high-rent karaoke version of “Empire State of Mind” for television.

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The ACC Fan’s Guide to French Basketball

Posted by KCarpenter on October 5th, 2011

The lack of basketball being played right now is upsetting, and though Midnight Madness draws near, the gap between that and actual games is still disconcerting. To add even more heartache, NBA labor talks broke down yesterday making the possibility of at least some professional games soon less likely. The San Antonio Spurs’ French star Tony Parker showed his lack of confidence in the labor process by signing with the French team ASVEL recently. Things are not looking good for basketball fans who want to see their favorite players in action. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so without further adieu, I’d like to present the ACC Fan’s Guide to French Basketball.

The Ligue Nationale de Basketball is actually one of the better international leagues outside of Spain and it has the added benefit of being chock full of former ACC players. The league is divided into two divisions: Pro-A and Pro-B. Each division has eighteen teams and follows a relegation model where the worst two teams in Pro-A are relegated to Pro-B while the winner and runner-up of Pro-B is promoted to Pro-A. For now, let’s just talk about Pro-A, which begins its season on Friday, October 7, conveniently providing the basketball junkie with a quickly delivered fix.

Malcolm Delaney is Gone From Virginia Tech, But For Now, You Can Watch Him In France

The highlight for ACC fans might be seeing recent Virginia Tech standout, Malcolm Delaney playing on Élan Sportif Chalonnais based in Chalon-sur-Saône. Chalon is a talented team and features another ACC veteran in Alade Aminu out of Georgia Tech.  For North Carolina fans, Paris-Levallois Basket offers a chance for Tar Heel fans to witness a reunion of 2005 national champions Jawad Williams and David Noel. For those who want to see a reunion of the 2009 national champions, I have to direct you to Slovenia where Danny Green and Deon Thompson play together for Union Olympija.

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Morning Five: 04.14.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 14th, 2011

  1. Add Illinois forward Jereme Richmond to the group of disappointing freshmen exhibiting their selfishness by skipping the year-end team banquet in favor of “preparing” for the NBA Draft.  As if spending two to three hours eating, laughing and commiserating with your teammates will derail that dream.  Kansas guard Josh Selby did the same thing last week, as he was “working out” in Las Vegas during the KU banquet and couldn’t be bothered with celebrating a 35-3 season with his team.  Interestingly, both players routinely found themselves in their head coach’s doghouse this season, and each at times seemed to think he was a lot better than he was actually performing — Richmond averaged 7/5 RPG in 22 MPG, while Selby went for 8/2 APG in roughly the same amount of time last season.  This is yet another reason why the one-and-done rule needs to go; it gives players like these two prima donnas a false sense of their talent based on high school rankings made not even a year ago.  Speaking of Selby in particular, Gary Parrish deconstructs the Rivals #1 recruit’s draft prospects (being compared to Willie Warren, ouch!) and how he got there — very instructive stuff.
  2. Of course, the biggest NBA Draft news of Wednesday was Arizona’s Derrick Williams taking his prodigious talents to the League.  Thanks to a great March including a game-saving plays against Memphis and Texas and a statement performance against Duke in the Sweet Sixteen, Williams has shot up most draft boards to the point where he’s considered one of the top two picks in the draft.  He will sign with an agent, leaving no doubt that his fantastic two-year career in Tucson is now over.  He will also undoubtedly go down as one of the players who led Arizona back into the national consciousness, something that probably didn’t seem possible so soon a couple of short  years ago.
  3. And a couple more…  Butler’s Shelvin Mack has decided to test the waters but will not sign with an agent, while Memphis’ Wesley Witherspoon announced that he will return for his senior year.  Mack in particular is an interesting case — he performed extremely well last summer against both professional players and his peers, and although he struggled with his shot for much of last season, he came on very strong in the Bulldogs’ run in this year’s NCAA Tournament.  He’s considered a late first round/early second round pick.  Witherspoon is making a good decision, as he had an injury-plagued junior year that didn’t allow him to show the true talent that he possesses — coming back healthy for a senior season will do him a lot of good.  One other note with respect to testing the waters, John Calipari is encouraging all three of his draftable players — Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and DeAndre Ligginsto explore their professional options over the next few weeks.
  4. Note we said “weeks” with respect to the UK players exploring their options above.  The actual deadline for a player to return to school is May 8 this year, which gives players some, but not a lot, of time to assess their prospects before making a final decision.  Yet with today’s shameful ruling by the NCAA Legislative Council to further reduce the amount of time players have to make such a life-altering decision, it begs the question as to who these people are actually working for — the student-athletes that need valid information about their prospects, or the coaches who want to get out onto the golf course (as Mike DeCourcy eloquently argues)?  MD is much more tactful than we’ll be here, but in case you’re wondering where this all came from, a certain ACC coach got very annoyed by having to wait until the very last day of the deadline in 2008 (which was then mid-June) to see what his players would do.  The irony is that Ty Lawson, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington ultimately stayed in school, and that coach won a national title the next season because of their late decisions.  Makes sense, right?
  5. Enough about that.  How about a little post-championship analysis from Luke Winn to finish things off?  The Brooklyn Bohemian comes strong as always with a put-it-to-rest analysis of whether Butler’s miserable shooting night in the title game was a result of an off night or great defense.  You’ll need to read it to see his conclusion, but you should open the link assured that he leaves very little room for debate about the correct one.
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RTC Conference Primers: #2 – ACC

Posted by rtmsf on November 6th, 2009

seasonpreview

Steven Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. North Carolina (13-3)
  2. Duke (12-4)
  3. Clemson (10-6)
  4. Maryland (10-6)
  5. Georgia Tech (9-7)
  6. Wake Forest (8-8)
  7. Boston College (8-8)
  8. Virginia Tech (7-9)
  9. Florida State (6-10)
  10. Miami (5-11)
  11. Virginia (5-11)
  12. North Carolina State (3-13)

All-Conference Team (with 2008-09 per-game averages):

  • Greivis Vasquez (G), Sr., Maryland – 17.5 points, 5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 33% 3-pt
  • Malcolm Delaney (G), Jr. Virginia Tech – 18.1 points, 4.5 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 35% 3-pt
  • Kyle Singler (F), Jr., Duke – 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 39% 3-pt
  • Trevor Booker (F), Sr., Clemson – 15.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Ed Davis (F), Soph., North Carolina – 6.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

6th Man. Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech – 15.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks

Impact Newcomer. Derrick Favors, F, Georgia Tech

acc logo

What You Need to Know.

With Tyler Hansbrough off saving puppies in cell phone commercials, and Greg Paulus quarterbacking a sub-par college football team, who is left to watch in the ACC this year?  Well, as you might have expected, the prime candidates will both wear a shade of blue and still play on Tobacco Road.

But don’t sleep on those in purple, red, or even Yellow Jacket gold.

North Carolina and Duke set a new record for ACC equality this season when they equally shared the top spot in the coaches’ preseason poll. Their Feb. 10 showdown in Chapel Hill is already circled on every hoop fan’s calendar, while their season-ending tilt in Durham (March 6) already has Dick Vitale in a tizzy. The reigning National Champs lost not only Hansbrough, but also Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. And still, they are expected to win the ACC, thanks to a new shift of power to the frontcourt (more on that later). Duke also may rely heavily on its big men, which is a change of pace, since jump-shooting, floor-slapping guards usually reign supreme at Cameron Indoor.

Without those big names, you might think the ACC is lacking in star power this season. But if you want to be the smartest guy (or girl) in the room, tell your friends to watch Greivis Vasquez play. Make them sit down and watch a Maryland game. Just do it. The guy is pure energy, and always looks like he’s having the time of his life. Kyle Singler and even Trevor Booker might be the names you hear in 2010 NBA Draft projections, but Vasquez will have more to do with his team’s success than any other player in the conference.

While the Heels and Devils battle it out, the most interesting ACC subplot may lie in the race for NCAA Tournament berths. Don’t be surprised to hear Digger and Bilas discussing as many as eight or even nine possible candidates come February. While Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest seem like prime candidates for dance tickets (and even top-6 seeds) come March, Virginia Tech, Florida State and even Boston College and/or Miami could be in the conversation with a few key wins.

That’s the one great equalizer for the lower-tier teams in a conference like the ACC. Steal one or two big wins against the Dukes, North Carolinas and Clemsons (especially on the road), and you’ll be hard to ignore in that selection room.

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Summer Bracketology: 07.23.09

Posted by zhayes9 on July 22nd, 2009

Did you all miss Bracketology as much as I did? While the intense days of February and March seem like eons away, here’s a dose of bracket madness to keep you college basketball diehards happy in the heart of Summer 2009. Some brief notes regarding the bracket:

- The preseason #1 seeds are (in order) Kansas, Kentucky, Texas and Michigan State. As the number one overall seed, Kansas plays the closest to home in St. Louis, Kentucky is placed in Houston as higher priority over Texas, and so on. The only #2 seed that was considered for a top seed was Purdue, but I gave the slight Big Ten edge to last year’s national runner-up from East Lansing.

- They lost Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green…and North Carolina is still a #2 seed? It’s true. Due to an outstanding recruiting class, an overall decrease in talent across the board in college basketball (especially from upperclassmen) and returnees like Ed Davis, Larry Drew and Deon Thompson expected to make a significant leap in production, North Carolina will most likely be at the top with Duke as preseason ACC favorites.

- The other difficult call was in the Pac-10 between Washington and California. While the Golden Bears return all of their talent from an overachieving season, I’m in love with the Huskies backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy. As the returning champions, I gave them the slight nod as the #3 seed in the Salt Lake region, with Cal sliding to a #4 seed.

- This might be painful to swallow for all the Big Ten haters out there (I’m definitely not one of them), but it’s going to be the best conference in the land this season. Michigan State and Purdue are both potential number ones, Ohio State returns nearly everyone besides the disappointing B.J. Mullens, Illinois returns a talented group (losing Frazier and Meachem could hurt initially), and both Minnesota and Michigan have plenty returning. You can never discount Wisconsin either.

- The last team in? Vanderbilt from the SEC. The last team out? Pittsburgh from the Big East. Really, I wanted to put the Panthers in, but they lost DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, Sam Young, Jermaine Dixon and Tyrell Biggs. That’s just too much to overcome, even if Jamie Dixon is their head coach and the Petersen Events Center is one of the most difficult places to play.

- The Pac-10 has only three teams in at this point. I expect them to receive more bids when it’s all said and done, but right now I just can’t put anyone else in the field besides Washington, Cal and UCLA. Both Arizona and USC are total messes. Washington State, Arizona State and Oregon State appear to be NIT clubs at this point.

07.22.09 bracketology

Last Four In: Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, LSU

Last Four Out: Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Mississippi, Miami (FL)

Next Four Out: Marquette, Creighton, Florida State, Arizona

Bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7), Big Ten (7), SEC (7), Pac-10 (3), Atlantic 10 (2).

Automatic bids: Binghamton, Dayton, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Kansas, Villanova, Montana, Radford, Michigan State, Long Beach State, Old Dominion, Tulsa, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Akron, Morgan State, Northern Iowa, BYU, Mount St. Mary’s, Murray State, Washington, Holy Cross, Kentucky, College of Charleston, Sam Houston State, Prairie View A&M, Oakland, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State.

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Davidson and UNC Lose 3 Star Juniors: Coach K Pumps Fist

Posted by nvr1983 on April 23rd, 2009

After arguably being the third best team in the state of North Carolina the past 3 years (behind UNC and Davidson in 2008 and behind UNC and Wake Forest in 2009), Duke may have just ended up with the best team on Tobacco Road and the ACC by simply holding onto its stars this off-season with the possible exception of Gerald Henderson. Let’s run through the challengers for Duke in the state of North Carolina (NC State left out for Sidney Lowe obvious reasons).

TP_261586_CASS_fenlons_

Wake Forest? Having lost James Johnson and Jeff Teague to the NBA Draft, Dino Gaudio will be hard-pressed to replicate this year’s success (outside of their embarrassing first round loss to Cleveland State) with just Al-Farouq Aminu returning to lead the Demon Deacons. I’d say they’re going to be worrying more about playing for a NCAA bid than about challenging Duke for the ACC title (although Teague may ultimately return).

Davidson? Although Davidson’s drop-off this year (from a missed Jason Richards‘ 3-pointer at the buzzer away from the Final 4 to a NIT also-ran) made the Wildcats seem like an unlikely threat this coming season, having Stephen Curry in the mix meant that the Wildcats had the potential to threaten any team in the country (even if some people think he isn’t quite all that he’s hyped up to be). However, today in a move that wasn’t surprising to all but the most deluded fans, Curry announced that he will turn pro and hire an agent ending any chance of stealing Pete Maravich‘s career scoring record (done in 3 years without a 3-point line). Good luck playing for a Southern Conference title and a 15-seed for the next few seasons Wildcats.

UNC? Going into the off-season, the Tar Heels posed the greatest threat to Duke next season even with the loss of all-time ACC leading scorer Tyler Hansbrough (I know it sounds weird to me too), Danny Green, and Bobby Frasor (the Deadspin commenters will miss him more than Tar Heel fans will). As all Tar Heels knew the fate of their 2009-10 season hung on the decision of juniors Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. If either of them returned (both returning was just a pipe dream), Roy Williams would have another national title contender with Marcus Ginyard, Tyler Zeller, and Ed Davis returning and John Henson, David Wear, and Travis Wear (and potentially John Wall) coming to Chapel Hill next year. Instead, both Lawson and Ellington declared for the draft today. Assuming that Ty can hire a designated driver from now until the NBA Draft, I don’t expect to see either of them suiting up in Carolina blue again as they are both at their peak value. The Tar Heels are a shoe-in for the NCAA tournament next year and will probably will be in contention for a top 4 seed particularly if Wall decides to not listen to his handler Brian Clifton and play for Roy.

What does all this mean for Duke, which has struggled to live up to its reputation and ESPN’s infatuation since Chris Duhon left?  Although Coach K will have to wait a year to add Seth Curry, and there has been no official communication from Durham, I’d have to guess that it would look something like this. . .

So for all of you Duke haters, get ready for an unbearable next 11 months (especially if the Devils, and not UNC, garner the services of John Wall). For all the Duke fans, the pressure is now back on. Just making it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament won’t cut it this time.

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UNC Overwhelms Michigan St. to Win the 2009 National Championship

Posted by rtmsf on April 7th, 2009

Carolina is the 2009 National Champion.

Head Over Heels (John McDonough/SI)

Head Over Heels (John McDonough/SI)

If we had to pick one series of plays from tonight’s shellacking that perfectly illustrated Michigan St.’s problems throughout, it was a series from early in the second half.  If MSU was to make any attempt at a comeback, it had to happen soon.  Immediately was more like it.  Goran Suton had just hit a three to reduce the lead from 21 to 18, and at the other end, the Spartans forced a contested three that rattled out by Wayne Ellington.  The Spartans’ Durrell Summers looked ahead to start the break, but instead he threw the ball into the waiting arms of the defensive back thief extraordinaire Ty Lawson, who saved it to his Carolina teammate, who then immediately found a waiting Ed Davis underneath the basket, foul, and-one.  Ballgame.

That Kind of a Night for MSU (Andy Lyons/Getty)

That Kind of a Night for MSU (Andy Lyons/Getty)

Yeah, the game was decided in the first five minutes, but that singular play seemed to happen to Michigan St. a hundred separate times tonight.  But by saying it ‘happened to’ MSU doesn’t give the proper amount of credit where it lies, which is that UNC was doing the happening all over the Spartans.  It was UNC’s defense that was forcing all thirteen of those first-half turnovers; it was UNC’s offense that was nailing everything (no rim) en route to a 24-8 start to the game; it was UNC’s preparation and poise that silenced the 60,000 green-clad Spartan fans by the game’s first TV timeout, never to be seriously heard from again.

Once Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green decided to return to Chapel Hill, we wrote last June that UNC was #1 with a bullet, because on paper at least, there is “nobody on the horizon who can pretend to match up with the Heels.”  Part of the reason for this was seredipity – Carolina kept its pro prospects while the teams better than it last year (Kansas, Memphis, UCLA) didn’t.  The silly talk about going undefeated in the preseason was just hyperbole gone wild, but there should never have been any question about which team had the strongest combination of talent and experience returning this season.

The MOP Splits the Double Team (Eric Gay/AP)

The MOP Wayne Ellington Splits the Double Team (Eric Gay/AP)

When the brackets came out, we thought UNC had the easiest road to the Final Four, and we only saw three teams that could realistically give the Heels all they wanted there – Pitt, UConn and Louisville.  UNC avoided playing any of them.  But that’s not their fault or any kind of a hedge against the validity of their 2009 national title – you can only play the teams in front of you, and each of those other schools blew their chances along the way.  Even that’s not to say that any of those three would have necessarily won such a fictional game – it’s only to say that they would have had a reasonable chance to do so.

We won’t bother going through all the particulars of tonight’s game or cast all the platitudes about the illustrious career of Tyler Hansbrough; there’ll be plenty of others who will do that for us.  But what we will do is talk about how tonight Roy Williams went from merely a great coach to one joining the pantheon.  As CBS pointed out tonight during the broadcast, only thirteen coaches have won multiple national titles, and several of those (most recently Billy Donovan at Florida) did so with the core nucleus of the same players.  Ol’ Roy has now done it with two completely different teams, both within the last five seasons.  He’s also been to five of the last eight Final Fours, and to say that he’s figured outthis whole recruiting/coaching/tournament success balance is the understatement of the new millenium.  It seems like eons ago when Williams was known as a coach whose players came out tighter than a drum in big postseason games.  Did you see any tightness among tonight’s players wearing the light blue and white?  We didn’t either.  And at this point, it wouldn’t shock us in the least if Roy gets a couple more of these things before he hangs it up.

Roy Could Realistically Do This a Couple More Times (John Blever/SI)

Roy Could Realistically Do This a Couple More Times (John Blever/SI)

For Carolina fans, this is exactly what they were hoping for when they lured Williams away from Kansas in 2004.  Five short years later, in the 1-and-done era no less, Williams has already equaled the number of national titles that his mentor and resident deity Dean Smith brought back to Tobacco Road.  Enjoy #5, Heel fans, but don’t insult us by claiming six.  Yet.

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NCAA Title Preview: Meet the Real Team of Destiny…

Posted by rtmsf on April 6th, 2009

Much of what has been written in the last 36 hours about tonight’s UNC-Michigan St. showdown in the national title game has applied liberally the use of the word “destiny.”  And on the surface, we can understand some of the hyperbole.  Detroit, in fact the entire state of Michigan, is going through hard times.  Harder than the rest of us, at least.  MSU, personified by its tough-as-nails coach who also happens to be one of the very best preparation NCAA coaches of all-time, has gutted and clawed its way back from multiple injuries this year to put together a Big Ten regular season championship season and two straight victories over #1 seeds from the very talented Big East Conference.  The game is 92 miles from their campus, and roughly 80% of the available 75,000 seats are expected to be filled with green-and-white clad Spartan fans.   Their opponent, UNC, was the prohibitive favorite prior to the season and came into the Tournament as the prohibitive favorite once again (both in the pools and in Vegas).   When the two teams played in this same venue 126 days ago, Carolina looked like it possibly could become the greatest team in the history of history, as it eviscerated, immolated and annihilated Sparty by a score of 98-63.  Despite MSU’s 27-4 record since that point (not dissimilar than UNC’s 25-4 in the same interim), there’s a perception that this is still a team of underdogs, fighting for their town, their neighbors, their state. 

So the narrative seems clear: the NCAA Tournament, the most magical postseason event in all of sports, filled with glorious upsets that have become de riguer in the national consciousness, will once again work its sorcery tonight in Detroit.  Michigan State’s gutty bunch of tough guys who happen to play a little ball will bring home the golden crystal trophy in front of its adoring fans, sorely in need of a caffeinated jolt of good fortune to rally around. 

The problem is… it’s not gonna happen. 

destiny

If there’s a Team of Destiny in this year’s Tournament, it’s the team residing in a state that has also gotten hit fairly hard by the downswing of the textile, banking and tobacco industries.  More contextually, Carolina’s destiny was secured on June 6, 2008, when Ty Lawson, who at the time was leaning toward staying in the NBA Draft, was picked up by Chapel Hill police for ‘drinking while driving,’ a head-scratching offense that may have put just enough doubt in Lawson’s mind about his being a certain first-rounder on draft day. 

So he came back to Carolina, and like dominoes, so did Wayne Ellington and Danny Green.  Tyler Hansbrough wasn’t ever leaving, and suddenly Roy Williams enjoyed a fortuitous situation where a majority of his Final Four team was returning while every other major contender (Kansas, Memphis, UCLA) was getting parceled up like an auction for engine parts.  It’s not just the players who returned, mind you, it’s also how they’ve improved as this season (which could have been their rookie years)has progressed. 

Lawson, Green & Ellington: There's Your Destiny (photo credit: AP/Haraz Ghanbari)

Lawson, Green & Ellington: There's Your Destiny (photo credit: AP/Haraz Ghanbari)

For the fake Team of Destiny to defeat the real Team of Destiny tonight, three things ALL have to happen.  If any one of these three things doesn’t happen, Carolina assuredly will cut down the nets.  The likelihood of any one thing happening is good; of two things happening is not-so-good; and all three, damn near impossible.  Still, these are the three things…

1) Travis Walton must get into Ty Lawson’s head.  Good luck with that.  Lawson is generally unflappable, having committed a ridiculously low six turnovers in 128 minutes of play over four NCAA Tournament games.  Granted, four of those were against Villanova, but he also dished out eight assists and had 22 pts in that game.  Walton, who has harassed AJ Price (5-20) and Terrence Williams (1-7) into terrible games the last two outings, will this time be at a quickness disadvantage.  If he (and by proxy, Izzo) can figure out a way to slow down the mercurial Lawson, then the Spartans will have a chance.  In three of Carolina’s four losses this season, Lawson shot the ball poorly (~33%) and he turned the ball over at least four times per game. 

2) MSU must dominate the boards.  Where MSU excels, they must continue to do so.  Izzo’s Spartans are the #1 reb% team in America, securing 58% of all caroms.  In the game against UNC in December, the Heels actually won the battle of the boards in addition to the score (40-39).  But in the Spartans’ most recent two games, they dominated Louisville and played even with the super-sized UConn frontline through hustle and aggressiveness.  Michigan St. will need a +10 rebounding margin with multiple second-shot opportunities to win this game. 

3) The Spartans Need Others to Step Up.  Against Louisville, it was Goran Suton’s 19/10; against UConn, it was Korie Lucious’ three treys off the bench in the first half.  The Spartans will need someone unexpected to provide offensive punch against a team that is going to score 70+ points against them.   Tom Izzo has a multitude of options, including Draymond Green, Durrell Summers, Chris Allen and Marquise Gray, but he’s going to absolutely have to have one or more of these players contributing points for his team to have a fighting chance tonight. 

franklin-street-unc

Assuming Michigan St. accomplishes all three of these things, they’ll have a chance to win tonight’s title game.  Three of UNC’s four losses were one-possession Ls, so it’s impossible extremely unlikely the Heels will lay an egg and get blown out tonight, no matter what happens.  But like we said above, the odds of all three of these occurrences happening simultaneously tonight are not good.  MSU should feel great about its accomplishments this season, but the ony Team of Destiny for 2009 is going to take another trophy back to the party on Franklin Street tonight. 

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RTC Final Four Preview

Posted by rtmsf on April 4th, 2009

We’re  here.  After five months of winnowing down 341 college basketball teams, we’ve got four teams left standing – UNC, UConn, Michigan St. and Villanoa.  None of the four are surprises (although Villanova probably didn’t expect to be here) but all four are worthy candidates for the crown of 2009 National Champion.  Let’s break down both games for you, and keep in mind that we’ll be running our usual Boom Goes the Dynamite starting about a half-hour before tip at 5:30pm EDT.  See you then…

Dave Zeitlin and John Stevens contributed to this report.

Michigan State (30-6) vs. Connecticut (31-4)

Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Saturday, 6:07 p.m.

Tale of the Tape

ROAD TO DETROIT: Michigan State got by Robert Morris, then knocked off a series of highly athletic teams in USC, Kansas, and Louisville, the last of which destroyed a lot of brackets. Connecticut enjoyed their time in Philadelphia, just throttling Chattanooga and Texas A&M, then outlasted Purdue and Missouri. Advantage: MSU.

COACHES: Two of the biggest and baddest in the business, here. Both have championships to their credit. Izzo has to get his team fired up and prepared for what is basically a home game. Not to question his mental toughness (it’s certainly iron-clad), but Calhoun and staff know that all that awaits them, even if they were to win a title, is more talk about this Nate Miles recruiting thing, and maybe the occasional rogue “journalist.” Izzo’s got it better. Advantage: MSU (but just barely)

BACKCOURT: Kalin Lucas is military-quick and has a couple of fine supporters in Chris Allen and Durrell Summers, but A.J. Price has been superb in the tournament and he’s gotten more than sufficient assistance from Kemba Walker and Craig Austrie. I never thought a team could lose Jerome Dyson and still have a backcourt advantage, but that’s how good the UConn guards are. Advantage: UConn

FRONTCOURT: MSU has one of the best backcourt duos in the game with Raymar Morgan and Goran Suton. Suton seems to get better every game, since he came back from his injury. The problem is, what awaits them is what could be the best frontcourt in the country with Hasheem Thabeet, the inestimable Jeff Adrien, and the underrated Stanley Robinson. Watch the frontcourt battle between these two teams. It’ll be glorious. This is one closer than you might think, but…Advantage: UConn

BENCH: Michigan State utilizes their bench much more than Connecticut; the Spartan bench contributes a full 10% more to MSU’s total scoring than UConn’s (35% to 25%), and they’ll come off the bench with 1-2 more players than UConn on the whole. Advantage: MSU

STYLE OF PLAY: This has been billed as UConn’s speed and fast-break attack versus Michigan State’s slower, plodding style. Be careful, there. UConn averages about 78 points/game, but MSU averages about 72. Both teams have good guards and versatile big men. You might hear that whoever controls the tempo will win this game, but both of these teams have the ability to play at any speed. The winner will be determined by nothing more profound than defense and shot selection. Advantage: Even

X-FACTOR: The freshmen. Delvon Roe and Kemba Walker are significant contributors for MSU and UConn (respectively), to say the least. How will they handle the Final Four stage? Advantage: Even

AURA: Connecticut comes in here with the most mystique, so to speak. They blew out their first two opponents and they’re one of those teams that can deliver a Joe Louis-like knockout punch in short order; seriously, you can lose focus for 45 seconds and by the time you look up, UConn’s got you down 14 and they’ve turned on the full court press. Michigan State paper-cuts you to death with physicality and efficiency on offense, like a tennis player who uses a lot of slices and drop shots, then blows a single 150-mph forehand by you. No real difference, here. Advantage: Even

KARMA: Well, as noted above, UConn has this whole Nate Miles thing I know they’d like to forget, at least for now. MSU must be living right, having made it to the F4 in virtually their backyard. Advantage: MSU

MASCOT: Spartans were trained in the art of war from the age of seven and were so good at it, they considered archery an “unmanly” means of warfare. Huskies are dogs. Cool dogs, cold-weather dogs, high-stamina dogs. But this game will be an actual war. Gotta go with Sparty. Advantage: MSU

RIVALRY: MSU-Michigan is only slightly more relevant these days than UConn-UMass. But still…Advantage: MSU

FAMOUS BASKETBALL ALUMNI: I love Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, Donyell Marshall, and Cliff Robinson as much as anyone. Great basketball players and ambassadors, all. But added together, they don’t equal the plastic end of Magic Johnson’s left shoestring. Advantage: MSU

FAMOUS NON-BASKETBALL ALUMNI: You could probably include Magic in this category as well, given all he’s done outside the realm of basketball. But we won’t do that. UConn has…Meg Ryan? Moby? MSU can boast James Caan and a man by the name of, uh, James P. Hoffa. I’m not messin’ with that. Advantage: MSU

PREDICTION: It’s the feature game of the Final Four (despite being the first game). If Connecticut fans think they can crank up the pace and run MSU out of the gym, think again. Michigan State will run with you. They have the athletes. and they’re the runningest (forgive me) team in the Big Ten, for what that’s worth. This has all the makings of a classic. It involves two teams whose similarities actually outnumber their differences, despite conventional wisdom. We’ve got legendary coaches, fantastic guards, excellent frontlines, and the biggest stage our sport has. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see some extra time played in this one. But in the end, in a great one, Connecticut just has too many options on offense. The Huskies get it done, 81-77.

———————————————————————

Villanova (30-7) vs. North Carolina (32-4)

Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Saturday, 8:47 p.m.

Tale of the Tape

ROAD TO DETROIT: Villanova, the No. 3 seed in the East Region, survived against American, throttled UCLA, humbled Duke and then stunned top-seeded Pittsburgh with THE play of the entire tournament – a coast-to-coast runner from Scottie Reynolds in the final second. North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the South, had little trouble with Radford, LSU, Gonzaga and Oklahoma on its way to the Final Four. Advantage: Nova.

COACHES: The affable, well-dressed Jay Wright is on the verge of cracking the elite echelon of college basketball head coaches. Roy Williams is already there. Advantage: UNC.

BACKCOURT: ‘Nova junior guard Scottie Reynolds had been up-and-down during this tournament before delivering one of the greatest endings in NCAA history. Ty Lawson has been virtually unstoppable since coming back from his toe injury – and Danny Green and Wayne Ellington are pretty darn good, too. Advantage: UNC.

FRONTCOURT: Forward Dante Cunningham leads Villanova in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 ppg). But he’s obviously not at the same level as four-time All-American Tyler Hansbrough. Advantage: UNC.

BENCH: Villanova’s bench may be relatively short but Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher can hit shots and spread a defense, while Antonio Pena can bang inside. Veteran guard Bobby Frasor and 7-foot freshman Tyler Zeller may both play big roles for the Heels. Advantage: Villanova.

STYLE OF PLAY: ‘Nova has kicked it old school during its NCAA run, suffocating teams with its defense and toughness. UNC boasts maybe the best offense in the land. Advantage: The public.

X-FACTOR: Reggie Redding may not be flashy, but the smart, defensive hound has been vital to Villanova’s success and is a favorite of Coach Wright. (He threw the inbounds pass to kickstart the game-winning play against Pitt in the Elite Eight.) Everything is falling into place for Danny Green, who will finally get to play in front of his father. Advantage: Even.

AURA: If you’ve watched any of Villanova’s tournament games, you’ve seen the camera fixated on former coach Rollie Massimino, who led the Wildcats to one of the great championship-game upsets in 1985. Rollie will be there for Saturday’s game, as will probably every other player, coach, cheerleader, band member, fan, booster and groupie from that ’85 team. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, booked their ticket to the Final Four by winning its record 100th tournament game. Advantage: Nova.

KARMA: Villanova was knocked out of the 2005 tournament by UNC thanks to a phantom travel call on Allan Ray. The ‘Cats remember. The Tar Heels’ road to redemption started when Hansbrough and company did the unthinkable by passing up the NBA draft to avenge last year’s first-half debacle against Kansas in the Final Four and win a national title. Advantage: UNC.

MASCOT: A wildcat is a hunter of small mammals, birds and Ginyards. A Tar Heel is apparently derived from North Carolina’s 18th-century prominence as a tar and pitch producer, but their mascot is a ram. I’m confused. Advantage: Nova.

RIVALRY: Dick Vitale may or may not be wearing pants when he broadcasts Duke-UNC games. When Villanova and Saint Joseph’s hook up, it’s referred to as the “Holy War.” Advantage: UNC.

FAMOUS BASKETBALL ALUMNI: Was Kerry Kittles as good as Michael Jordan? How about if Kerry Kittles drank Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff? Advantage: UNC.

FAMOUS NON-BASKETBALL ALUMNI: Don McLean dropped out of Villanova after four months before writing the immortal American Pie. Speaking of great American things, Moonlight Graham and Peter Gammons both went to North Carolina. That’s an impressive baseball combo. Advantage: UNC.

PREDICTION: North Carolina may beat Villanova nine times out of 10. But as Rick Moranis said in the classic sports movie Little Giants, you just have to win one time. (What, you don’t think Little Giants is a classic?) Villanova keeps its magical run going, 75-74.

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Why Villanova Will Win…

Posted by nvr1983 on April 3rd, 2009

As part of our ongoing attempt to bring you the best college basketball coverage anywhere, we enlisted the editors from the finest team-specific blogs we could find to write posts explaining why their team will win tomorrow.

Our first submission is brought to you by Pete of LetsGoNova.com.

Make no mistake about it: Villanova is the underdog tomorrow. North Carolina is favored by 7.5 points in Vegas and by 4 points by KenPom (with a 66 percent chance of victory).

More intuitively, common sense tells us the Tarheels are the superior team. North Carolina features five likely future first-round draft picks: Ed Davis, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson will all cash big NBA paychecks.

Villanova might sneak Dante Cunningham into this year’s second round, but that’s pretty much it in terms of NBA prospects as of right now. (Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds, and Corey Stokes are also plausible NBA candidates, but are not quite there yet.)

The Tar Heels have lost just four games this season compared to seven for Villanova. While the Wildcats squeaked by Pittsburgh last weekend in one of the all-time great NCAA tournament games, North Carolina blew out Blake Griffin and Oklahoma, with a 12-point margin of victory in a game that was not even that close.

Carolina has not really been challenged in the tournament so far, winning four blow-outs. Villanova trailed American by double digits in the second half before coming up with the win. The ‘Cats also played Pittsburgh to a virtual draw for 39 minutes and 55 seconds before Scottie Reynolds entered the pantheon of great NCAA tournament buzzer-beaters to win the game.

Reynolds hits "The Shot" (Credit: Getty Images)

Reynolds hits "The Shot" (Credit: Getty Images)

Villanova was able to blow out both UCLA and Duke, which is a good sign.

North Carolina also will enjoy a tremendous coaching edge. I don’t care how much you like Jay Wright; Roy Williams is one of the all-time greats. I don’t think there can be much debate about that.

Positives for Villanova include a rapid, intense improvement in quality of play late in the season, a versatile bunch of players who can multitask on the court, a superior half-court defense, and a likely favorable crowd in Detroit, especially if Michigan State wins the opener.

Conventional wisdom also says that the Wildcats play “tougher” than the Heels, but I am not so sure toughness matters so much when your opponent has a lineup full of NBA players. (I do think it matters some.) We shall see.

So, in the face of these long odds, how can Villanova actually win the game?

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NCAA Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

North Carolina (#1 seed, South, Greensboro pod)

vs. Radford (#16)
Mar. 19 @ 2:50pm

Vegas Line: UNC -26.5

unc-ncaa-graph

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: Chapel Hill, NC
Conference: ACC, at-large
Coach: Roy Williams (170-37 at UNC, 588-138 overall)
08-09 Record: 28-4 (13-3)
Last 12 Games: 10-2
Best Win: A good case can be made for the thirty-five point stomping of a future two-seed, when UNC topped Michigan State 98-63 back in November in the ACC-Big Ten challenge. Of course it doesn’t really have the emotional resonance of the two wins over Duke (101-87 and 79-71, respectively.)
Worst Loss: With only a few to choose from, I’d go with the loss to Boston College, 85-78, on January 4th.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 123.9 (#1 in the nation)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 90.8 (#20 in the nation)

Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Tyler Hansbrough (21.4 ppg, 8.2 rbg, former Player of the Year, multiple record holder), Ty Lawson (15.9 ppg, 6.5 apg, ACC Player of the Year).
Unsung Hero: Ed Davis (6.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) only gets 18.8 minutes a game, but has come on strong in recent weeks and is a solid third big man for when Hansbrough or Thompson needs a spell.
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Ty Lawson (23rd), Tyler Hansbrough (25th) , Danny Green (42nd), Wayne Ellington (unranked).
Key Injuries: Ty Lawson, injured toe (missed ACC tournament, should play in the NCAA’s) and Marcus Ginyard, left foot stress fracture (out for the season).
Depth: 27.3% (257th nationally); percentage of total minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Penetrating guards that can also pull up the three, lapses on defense.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Ty Lawson is healthy and the team plays like the experienced and talent-laden squad they’ve been all season.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Lawson does not return, or rocks fall on the team bus and everybody dies.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, Final Four team
Streak: 6 years running
Best NCAA Finish: They’ve won it a couple of times; it made the local paper. (1957, 1982, 1993, and 2005)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.34. On average, the Tar Heels win 0.34 more games per year than they would be expected to compared to the historical performances of other teams with a similar seed.

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: (1) UNC has never played a basketball game in Detroit. (2) No current UNC player is from Detroit, or the state of Michigan. (3) They have supplied the Pistons with a number of players, including Robert McAdoo, (1979-81), Pete Chilcutt (1993-94), Kenny Smith (1996-97), Eric Montross (1998-2001), Jerry Stackhouse (1998-2002), Hubert Davis (2002-03), and Rasheed Wallace, and coaches Larry Brown (2003-05), Phil Ford (2004-05), Dave Hanners (2003-05), and Pat Sullivan (2004-05). (4) All of these people know where the secret button is on the court of the Palace that releases the attack bears trained to devour your opponents, and have told that secret to the current UNC team. (5) Doug Moe was drafted by the Pistons in 1960, but chose instead to matriculate from Elon College. The next year he was drafted by the Chicago Packers and went instead into the ABA. (6) There is no six.
Distance to First Round Site:
55.6 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: UNC is the first state university, founded in 1793. And we don’t really care what Georgia has to say about it.
School Wishes It Could Forget: That among its notable alumni currently employed in broadcasting are Rick Dees and Stuart Scott. Yep, we brought you both “Disco Duck” and “Boo ya!” So yeah, that’s our bad.
Prediction: A Final Four appearance is pretty likely, provided everyone is healthy and they can maneuver a tough bracket. Beyond that, it’s a tough weekend; there are good four or five teams who could the Heels fits in Detroit. But what kind of biased blogger would I be if I didn’t pick Carolina to win it all?

Major RTC stories: UNC: #1 With a Bullet, UNC: Let’s Not Go Sucking Each Other’s [redacted] Just Yet, Tyler Hansbrough Out Indefinitely, Hansbrough – For Your Own Good, Play or Get Out, #1 UNC Already Dodging Bullets, UNC Picks Up Another Piece, RTC Live: Take II (Gameday: Miami @ UNC), ATB: Carolina Gets Teague-Bagged, ATB: #1 Goes Down as BC Flies Like an Eagle Over UNC, and Who’s Driving the Ford Now?.

Preview written by… T.H. of Carolina March

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NCAA Basketball 2009: The BCS Version

Posted by nvr1983 on March 16th, 2009

bcs-fail

With the release of the brackets on Sunday evening there has been quite a bit of controversy (Arizona over St. Mary’s being the predominant gripe) and there have been some interesting moments with Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps ganging up on Dick Vitale and almost bringing him to tears. However, it was nothing compared to the furor that we saw when the BCS released its final poll that determined the BCS bowl games and more importantly the national championship. We thought it would be a fun exercise to try to make a mock BCS basketball system. I used the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls as the human polls and ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI, KenPom.com, and Sagarin’s ratings as the computer polls. There are a couple polls I excluded for other reasons: Kenneth Massey’s (wasn’t updated yet) and Jerry Palm’s (not free). I did not throw out the high and low computer polls for two reasons: (1) we only had 3 available and (2) they were fairly similar with a few exceptions (Gonzaga in the RPI, but they weren’t going to be a factor anyways because of Memphis). ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI didn’t include the games from Sunday, but after looking at the final results they would not have had any impact on the rankings  based on the teams involved. Here are the results:

bcs-2009

If you want to try and follow along, here are the BCS criteria.

Now onto the match-ups. . .

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