ACC Team Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Posted by Chris Kehoe on October 31st, 2013

Head coach Brian Gregory has a young team on the upswing in this year’s ACC. However, this Georgia Tech team is still too inexperienced and without enough depth to move far from the lower third of the league. The program has had its fair share of star power over the last few years, with Derrick Favors, Iman Shumpert  and Gani Lawal making the jump to the NBA. Unfortunately Tech has not quite been up to its usual standards as of late, a far cry from the 2003-04 powerhouse squad that romped its way to the national title game. Last season the Yellow Jackets were one game above .500 overall and went a relatively dismal 6-12 in conference play. They lost two starters at the guard position to graduation, but will likely be poised to be better this season thanks to the development of their duo of star freshmen and inclusion of seasoned transfer Trae Golden. Losing senior stalwart Mfon Udofia will not be easy, but he never quite played up to his high school scouting reports as a top-35 recruit and a top-10 point guard. Golden, a transfer from Tennessee, should be more than capable filling in for Udofia at the position.

Georgia Tech Preview

Georgia Tech began last season in ACC play with an 0-5 start, struggling in shooting the basketball both from two-point range and the line, finishing last in the ACC in both. This year’s team will revolve around how effectively their four best players perform. Sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will likely be the focal points, with Golden feeding them the ball early and often. Georges-Hunt is a slashing wing who is adept at finishing at the rim and not turning the ball over. The team’s leading scorer as a freshman, expect big strides from him this season. Carter Jr., on the other hand, is an interior bruiser with a soft touch who averaged close to a double-double and will only continue to grow in his second season. Matched inside with senior center Daniel Miller, Gregory will have one of the ACC’s more versatile and tough interior combinations. In terms of newcomers, none of the freshmen are expected to start this season, but highlighted arrivals  include 6’8” forward Quinton Stephens and New Hampton prep school product Travis Jorgenson. Off the bench expect athletic scorer Jason Morris to provide a needed punch in the second unit with his slashing and high-flying escapades. Backup point guard Solomon Poole should continue his career reserve duties, this time backing up Golden instead of Udofia.

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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Gani Lawal

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Gani Lawal

School: Georgia Tech

Height/Weight: 6’9, 233

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late first round/early second round

Overview: Gani Lawal came to Georgia Tech three seasons ago as a McDonald’s All-American with a reputation as a high-motor rebounder. Over his career with the Yellow Jackets he did nothing to dishonor that reputation, leading his team in both scoring and rebounding the last two season. Last offseason, he tested the draft waters, but wound up returning for his junior year. While his numbers took a bit of a dip in 2009-10, some of that can be attributed to having to share the post touches and rebounds with fellow early entry Derrick Favors. His game, however, did take some strides forward: his mediocre free-throw shooting improved a bit despite a late season dip, he improved his footwork in the post, and he increased his offensive efficiency there. However, he clearly has a limited upside, is not a natural offensive scorer and is limited outside of the paint.

Lawal is an Intriguing Post Prospect

Will Translate to the NBA: Lawal’s work-ethic is impeccable. He’s got a non-stop motor and relishes doing the dirty work inside. He is athletic and a strong rebounder with good size including a 7’0 wingspan, and while limited offensively, is quite aware of that fact and doesn’t force things. He is capable of scoring on the block and around the rim and has a pretty strong left hand for a natural righty. He is also capable of getting up and down the floor well and finishing on the break. While he’ll never be a go-to option at the NBA level, he is capable of being a solid role player, strong defender and strong rebounder.

Needs Work: Nearly all of Lawal’s weaknesses are on the offensive end, and the list is fairly extensive. He doesn’t have much of a face-up game, his handles aren’t great, he doesn’t have a great looking jumpshot and, rightfully so, isn’t very confident in it. He is a terrible free throw shooter, although he showed that he is capable of improving there: he shot nearly 70% from the line prior to the ACC season in 09-10, but reverted to just 46% from the line during ACC play. And, on the defensive end, he could use some work defending on the perimeter. Basically, Lawal is effective in and around the paint; a step or two outside of the lane is where Lawal could use plenty of work.

Comparison Players: He’ll be an NBA role player who contributes defensively and on the glass. He’s Brandon Bass, with maybe an upside of Udonis Haslem, providing energy off the bench, doing the dirty work, and being the type of guy who, when you look at the box scores, you may not even notice: four points on three attempts, five rebounds, a blocked shot in 18 minutes. You know, the kind of guy who is quietly very valuable in the League.

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Comings & Goings: Favors, T. White Declare; Marshall, Charlotte Make Hires

Posted by jstevrtc on April 10th, 2010

The Coaching Carousel keeps on a-spinnin’. Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman reported on Saturday that Pittsburgh associate head coach Tom Herrion has been hired at Marshall.  The Thundering Herd were a nice surprise from the past season, posting a 24-10 record (11-5 CUSA) in 2009-10 under Donnie Jones, who just left for Central Florida after three seasons at Marshall.  With stud freshman and national blocks leader Hassan Whiteside having declared for the NBA draft, and leading scorer Tyler Wilkerson and starting guard Chris Lutz both lost to graduation, Herrion will have his work cut out for him in Huntington.

Ohio State assistant Alan Major will take over at Charlotte and try to get that school back to the NCAA for the first time in six years, which shouldn’t be too hard with the pending expansion.  The 49ers were 19-12 under Bobby Lutz last season and were in the talk for an at-large bid late in the year out of a very tough Atlantic 10, but they put an end to such speculation by dropping seven of their last eight games.  This is Major’s first head coaching job, and it will be interesting to see what kind of talent he brings to Charlotte having spent time under one of the better recruiters in the game in Thad Matta at both Xavier and OSU.

Three more declare, but look for one to return. In a move that surprised nobody, Georgia Tech freshman forward Derrick Favors declared for the NBA draft, joining fellow Yellow Jacket Gani Lawal in that endeavor.  Favors was in the top 50 in both blocks (2.1 BPG) and field goal percentage (61.1%) as a freshman and was second on the Georgia Tech squad (behind Lawal) in scoring at 12.4 PPG.  With those numbers, plus a 6’10, 246-pound frame, Favors is projected to be the third pick in the draft by NBADraft.net.

Mississippi’s Terrico White is also headed for the NBA draft, but don’t be surprised to see him back in Oxford next year.  The 6’5 sophomore forward is not hiring an agent, and it sounds like he’s going through the process just to be evaluated in order to see where he ranks and where he needs to improve his game.  Can’t blame him at all.  Though he doesn’t appear in either round on the current NBADraft.net list, his name did show up there from time to time over last season and he’s listed as the seventh pick on their 2011 draft.  White averaged 15.1 PPG and 4.6 RPG last year for the Rebels and his stock will certainly improve with a year to develop further expertise in the backcourt.  One man who won’t be back next year is VCU’s Larry Sanders.  The 6’11 and 235-pound junior center averaged 14.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 2.1 BPG for the Rams last year and says he plans on hiring an agent.  NBA Draft.net has him projected as a late first-rounder.

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Second Round Game Analysis: Sunday Games

Posted by rtmsf on March 21st, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 16 of the second round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Sunday games.

12:10 pm – #1 Syracuse vs. #8 Gonzaga  (Buffalo pod)

In the CBS national game to start the day, everyone will get this very enticing game between Syracuse and Gonzaga.  Given the way this year is winding up, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Orange without their big man Arinze Onuaku found itself on the short end of the score around 2:30 pm today.  But we still have faith in Syracuse even without the talented center and we think that Jim Boeheim’s team is too good to fall short of the Final Four this early.  The primary problem that the Zags are going to have is one they didn’t have to worry as much about with Florida State, and that is in stopping the powerful SU offense.  With offensive scoring threats at all five positions, Syracuse is in a far more advantageous position than FSU was (with their limited offense) when Gonzaga caught fire on Friday — if the Zags want to get into a shootout with Syracuse, that’s not likely to end well for them. Still, with the way the Big East has had so many early round troubles, and the WCC looking great with St. Mary’s already in the Sweet Sixteen, we’re not ready to dismiss the Zags based on that alone.  The Syracuse zone is likely to be something that Mark Few’s team has not seen with such athletes all season, so even with their ability to put the ball in the hole, we hesitate to think the Zags can consistently score on it.

The Skinny: Gonzaga will push the Orange, but we still like this team to advance and make a serious push for the national title in coming weeks.

2:20 pm – #2 Ohio State vs. #10 Georgia Tech  (Milwaukee pod)

You might not see it on their faces, but the Buckeyes are smiling.  Northern Iowa’s removal of Kansas puts Ohio State in the driver’s seat in the Midwest region.  That said, there’s still no way Thad Matta and Evan Turner are going to let the rest of that team look past their opponents and assume an open road to Indianapolis.  Good thing, because Georgia Tech showed us that they’re not just made up of Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal and a bunch of suckers.  The Yellow Jackets shot 2-10 from the three point line but balanced that by holding Big 12 player of the year James Anderson to a 3-12 shooting night, 0-6 from beyond the three-point arc, and an overall 11 points.  But the most impressive aspect of Georgia Tech’s performance on Friday night — by FAR — was the fact that they went to the free throw line 25 times — and hit 24 of them!  It wasn’t just Lawal and Favors.  Tech played nine players, and eight of them shot at least one free throw.  Evan Turner isn’t just the player of the year in his conference, though — he’s likely the national POY, so the Tech task is that much tougher.  Turner wasn’t himself in their first round game against UCSB, going 2-13 and posting only nine points (though he did contribute 10 boards and five assists).  He’s looking to break out, and knows he’ll have to be at his best.  Lawal and Favors, though, will be looking to get Dallas Lauderdale, Jon Diebler, and Turner in foul trouble early and open poke some holes in that OSU front line.

The Skinny:  You probably don’t want to go with our Midwest picks, since yesterday we took Kansas and Ohio.  It’s not exactly going out on a limb to say that this will be a great second round game, but that stat line of Turner’s shows you that he can play such an important role on the team even when he’s not scoring.  For Tech to win, they’d have to turn in a similar performance at the free throw line, keep Turner under wraps and coax him into a supporting role again, and cool down Jon Diebler.  That’s a tough trifecta to pull off.  We don’t see it happening.  But we didn’t see Northern Iowa dismissing Kansas, either.

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Boom Goes The Dynamite: Second Round 03.21.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 21st, 2010

How’s your bracket?  Probably looking pretty sweet if you went to undergrad at St. Mary’s and then took a master’s at Northern Iowa.  Have they stopped partying at UNI yet?  Or campaniling?  Or whatever they do there?  And if not, who could blame them?

That was yesterday, though.  The Panthers and Gaels will be receiving their Official Cinderella starter handbooks in the mail in a couple of days, so the matter now turns to the Sunday games, and any possible candidates that could join them.  Your lineup:

  • #1 Syracuse vs #8 Gonzaga
  • #2 Ohio State vs #10 Georgia Tech
  • #4 Maryland vs #5 Michigan State
  • #2 West Virginia vs #10 Missouri
  • #4 Wisconsin vs #12 Cornell
  • #3 Pittsburgh vs #6 Xavier
  • #4 Purdue vs #5 Texas A&M
  • #1 Duke vs #8 California

Will Northern Iowa’s dismissal of Kansas inspire other underdogs to greater heights?  Or will it cause the higher seeds to sharpen their focus and be even warier of the upstarts?  Keep in mind, things always start and end a tad earlier on Second Round Sunday, and there’s that glut of four games that all start within 30 minutes of each other in the early afternoon.  But no worry, if you can’t see them all — we’ll be here all day, talking about them, updating this post every few minutes, and looking for your comments.  Hard to believe we’ll have whittled the field of 64 down to 16 by Sunday night, and the events of Saturday should drive the point home that we need to enjoy this while it’s here.  We’re here to help.  We’ll start updating the post a few minutes before the first tipoff, and we hope to see you here.

12:00: Here we go, folks!  Day 2, second round.  The day starts with ‘Cuse/’Zags and you see the rest of the lineup above.  Syracuse, Duke, Ohio State…you’ve been put on notice by Northern Iowa.  Let’s see what happens.

12:10: One thing that’s got to make you happy if you’re a Syracuse fan is that Wesley Johnson is being VERY aggressive with the basketball.  Hit his first two.

12:18: See, I don’t think Matt Boldin needs to fire from three for the Zags to put their best foot forward, today.  I think they’ll be better off if he does more creating and dishing, and we know he picks up points that way.

12:27: Goodness, right now it’s Wesley Johnson versus Elias Harris.  Johnson has Syracuse’s first ten and Harris has just made the baseline his second home.

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First Round Game Analysis: Friday Evening

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Friday evening games.

7:10 pm – #8 Gonzaga vs. #9 Florida State  (Buffalo pod)

This is a very tough game to call, so let’s start with what we know about it.  The Zags, no stranger to cross-country travel, come into Buffalo after an 11-day layoff where St. Mary’s took Mark Few’s team behind the woodshed and beat them handily in the WCC Tournament championship.  Florida State comes in having dropped its quarterfinal game against NC State in an effort that had their fans shaking their heads in disgust.  So needless to say, both teams are looking for a fresh start here.  The Zags are always dangerous, and this year’s squad led by Matt Bouldin and Elias Harris has the offensive firepower to score with just about anyone in America.  Merely an ok three-point shooting team, they tend to rely on the drives of Harris and mid-range game of Bouldin to create offense.  However, they don’t tend to respond well to teams that crowd and push them around, but unfortunately, FSU is just such a team.  The Seminoles enjoy the nation’s top defensive efficiency, and while they have the opposite problem of finding points, they should have no problem putting the clamps down on the Zag scoring options.  The question here comes down to whether the FSU defense, anchored by 7’1 Solomon Alabi and 6’9 Chris Singleton’s combined four blocks per game, is better than the Gonzaga offense, and we think that it is.  And as up/down as the Seminoles were in the ACC, they never came close to losing to the likes of Loyola Marymount and San Francisco, as Gonzaga did this year.

The Skinny:  The Zags this year aren’t quite as good as they usually are, and they’re facing a team that will shut down their biggest strength.  FSU wins this one by eight points to get a date with Syracuse.

7:15 pm – #7 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Georgia Tech  (Milwaukee pod)

Here’s another one that’s got people confused.  For good reason, too.  All year long we’ve been waiting on Georgia Tech to do something with all that talent, and now they’re playing better basketball, just in time.  Oklahoma State’s showing against Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament will cost them some support, but we’re going to excuse that performance.  That was a tired basketball team, playing their third game in a six day span with K-State at the end of it — and the Wildcats were coming off of a five-day rest.  Georgia Tech is going to go inside to Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal like crazy, but when the Yellow Jackets actually shoot the three, they shoot it well.  Defending the three is a glaring OSU weakness, so it will be interesting to see how often Georgia Tech eschews their big men in favor of launching it from the arc, because those shots will be there.  So…good outside shooting, great inside players…sounds pretty good for Tech, right?  The question will be whether or not they can get to that point in their offense.  Georgia Tech ranks in the bottom twenty of Division I teams in terms of turning the ball over.  Can the Jackets, then, find a way to keep James Anderson from shredding them or Keiton Page from raining threes?

The Skinny: Oklahoma State won’t have to exert too much energy guarding the three, since Tech’s propensity to turn the ball over will take care of some of that.  The Cowboys have been getting more and more help from their role players, and we feel 9-7 in the Big 12 is better than 7-9 in the ACC this year.  It’ll be a great first round game, but we like Oklahoma State in a close one.

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Daily Diaries: ACC and Atlantic 10 Tournament Finals

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC covered several of the conference tournaments from the sites over the weekend. We had RTC correspondents at the ACC and Atlantic 10 Tournament finals on Sunday; each of them wrapped up the day’s action in these diary submissions.

Atlantic 10 Championship

Temple 56, Richmond 52

  • “It is tough to win both the regular season title and the conference tournament. I have to congratulate Temple on their achievement” said Richmond Coach Chris Mooney to start his last press conference at the 2010 A10 Tournament. His Richmond team had lost to Temple, 56-52, in front of 10,000+ fans at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. The cheers from the arena floor could he heard in the background as the reporters asked Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper to analyze their team’s performance. Richmond came out cold in the first half, missing their first four shots. A dunk by center Darrius Garrett put Richmond on the board, but Temple had already converted three times. Three minutes into the game it was 7-2 Temple, just like the day before, different day and opponent perhaps, but the same start. That was the story of the A10 Championship game. Like their semifinal game with Rhode Island, the Temple Owls scored first and never relinquished the lead. Richmond however was not Rhode Island and the Spiders did not go quietly. The crowd was Temple’s by a 60-40 margin, and when the Spiders came close cutting Temple’s lead to one with 39 seconds left in the game, the Spider faithful came to their feet and gave their team a loud cheer.
  • “Threepeat!” shouted the fans as the Temple team cut down the nets. “It’s the beginning of a dynasty!” a fellow member of the media said as he packed his bags, “They bring back Fernandez, Allen, Eirc and Jefferson. They will own the A10 for at least two more years.” Dynasty talk will have to wait for next season’s previews however, because the talk along press row was whether the game would help Temple’s argument for a #3 (or better) seed.  There is another month to this season, and the growing expectation that this Temple team (and most probably the two other A10 teams who will participate in the NCAAs next week) will play through the first weekend, and possibly into the second weekend.
  • Weather and a leaky roof aside, the A10 Conference Tournament was everything an eastern basketball fan could ask for. Three days of terrific basketball, ten games in all. Throw in an overtime game and two of the last three games decided by six or fewer points and play after play by athletic and skilled basketball players. The work of Kevin Anderson and Juan Fernandez in particular stand out. Anderson put the Richmond team on his back and brought them back against Xavier in the semifinal game. Anderson scored the last four points in regulation to tie the game, and hit the first points in overtime that put Richmond in the lead. Fernandez is a oddity for American audiences. Temple fans remember Pepe Sanchez, an Argentine guard brought over by John Chaney very fondly. Fernandez is about six inches taller and very skilled. In the championship game he called for the ball again and again, taking to the lane or hitting a pull-up jumper, a small lapse at the midpoint of the second half aside, he was composed throughout, chewing on gum, as if to set his internal clock. In the championship game Anderson played 38 minutes and scored 14 points. Fernandez played 38 minutes and scored 18 points: the margin of the game.

Superlatives

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Set Your Tivo: 03.14.10

Posted by THager on March 14th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

SEC Championship Game – #2 Kentucky vs. Mississippi St – 1:00 pm on ABC (****)

Although college basketball coverage has been rare on ABC this season, they will be broadcasting a fantastic game today.  This will be a chance for Mississippi State to avenge their heartbreaking loss to Kentucky earlier in the season.  In the only matchup between these teams, MSU had a 67-60 lead with under three minutes left before imploding.  The Bulldogs failed to capitalize on Kentucky’s 4-24 shooting from beyond the arc and ended up losing 81-75 in overtime.  Although Mississippi State is usually a solid team in the paint, they were outrebounded 49-29 in that game, and Jarvis Varnado will need to top the five rebounds he recorded if they are going to have a chance in this contest.  The Bulldogs, who rank just #60 in offensive efficiency, will likely struggle against a solid Wildcat defense, but guard Dee Bost scored 22 points in the last game and he will provide a change of pace from MSU’s lineup that is stacked with big men.  At the end of the day, Kentucky is still the better team, and will look to win their 26th SEC Tournament today.

ACC Championship Game – #4 Duke vs. Georgia Tech – 1:00 pm on ESPN (****)

The Yellow Jackets may have saved their season with this late run, but a win against Duke is the only way to ensure their name will be called on the selection show later today.  In order to beat a Blue Devils team that has won 11 of their last 12 games, they are going to have to limit their mistakes.  They average more turnovers than assists, and shoot only 65% from the free throw line.  The key for Georgia Tech will be to establish a presence in the paint, as Duke’s best athletes play on the perimeter, while the Yellow Jackets have three solid forwards.  Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors, and Zachary Peacock all average over 10 points per game and shoot over 50% from the floor, and if they can get production from all three forwards, they certainly have a chance to win this game.  GT suffered a 19-point defeat to the Blue Devils in the first game, but in Atlanta earlier this season the Yellow Jackets converted 22 of 28 free throws in a 71-67 victory.  Duke, who ranks among the top three teams in both offensive and defensive efficiency, should be able to contain a GT offense that ranks just #50 in Ken Pomeroy’s offense rankings.

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RTC Live: Georgia Tech @ Maryland

Posted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2010

RTC Live is back in College Park, MD, as the Maryland Terrapins host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Maryland is an interesting team. They haven’t beaten much of anyone this season, and don’t have a the greatest overall profile in the ACC, but nonetheless this team is sitting just a game back (in the loss column) of the Duke Blue Devils for first place in the ACC. Georgia Tech is in a different situation. The Yellow Jackets have struggled mightily to win games on the road this season, and as they are currently sitting at .500 in the league, Tech really needs to start putting together some wins to assure themselves of a decent seeding.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that this game is going to be won in the paint. Georgia Tech has a very, very good front line with Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal, and Zach Peacock. Maryland’s front line consists of a promising freshman and, well, a couple other bodies. The Terps are going to need to compete on the glass.   Another aspect to watch for is Maryland’s press. Tech’s backcourt is a bit up and down and can be turnover prone. Maryland has been running a three-quarter court press this season, and it has been pretty effective at times. If the Terps can rebound, force a few turnovers, and get a game from Greivis Vasquez, they should be able to handle the Jackets at home.

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Set Your Tivo: 1.24.10

Posted by THager on January 24th, 2010

SYT Star System

***** - quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** - best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** - set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** - set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* - don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Georgia Tech @ Florida State – 12 pm on ESPN360  (****)

This contest between two 14-4 teams should be highly entertaining.  FSU’s early season success is starting to look less impressive as their earlier opponents continue to struggle and the Seminoles drag their feet through ACC play.  Nevertheless, the Seminoles have built a solid resume so far and a win over Georgia Tech would only further their tournament potential.  At the beginning of conference play in Atlanta, Florida State handed the Yellow Jackets their only home loss of the season in overtime.  Ryan Reid, a senior who hadn’t scored in double digits in his previous nine games, led the Seminoles with 17 in that game.  Could he have the hot hand again on Sunday?  A more likely scenario would be for the scoring to come from big men Solomon Alabi and Gani Lawal.  Georgia Tech averages more points per game, but Ken Pomeroy ranks their offense 73rd in offensive efficiency, so look for Tech’s offense to slow down against a Seminoles squad that surrenders just 59.8 points per game.  The Yellow Jackets have a respectable 4-2 road record, but given FSU’s performances at home this year, and that they won the first matchup in Atlanta, expect the Seminoles to remain a four-loss team.

Cincinnati @ Louisville – 12 pm on ESPN360  (***)

These are the games that the selection committee takes a look at when they decide who gets left out of the tournament.  The 13-6 Bearcats and 12-7 Cardinals have some work to do to play themselves back in, and a win Sunday would be a good start.  With wins over Notre Dame and South Florida in their last two games, UC already appears to be on their way to improving their stock.  The Cardinals, on the other hand, have lost three games in a row, and a fourth consecutive loss will not help their chances.  One of the worst qualities about UL is their inability to finish close games.  Of their seven losses, five have been by single digits, including a heartbreaking collapse in the final minute against Pitt followed by a three point loss to Seton Hall.  Louisville at least has the luxury of playing at home, and Cincinnati is just 1-4 on the road this year.  UC’s Lance Stephenson and Samardo Samuels will be interesting to watch.  Both players are extremely inconsistent, so if one has a hot hand on Sunday they will likely lead their team to victory.

Penn State @ Wisconsin – 2:30 pm on BTN  (***)

Wisconsin has had a respectable 2-1 record since Jon Leuer’s injury, but they have gotten it done in extremely ugly ways.  In their 54-48 win against Michigan last week, they did not take their first lead until there was just three minutes left in the game, largely due to a 6:05 scoreless streak to start the game.  They shot just 34 percent from the field, including 16.7 percent from beyond the arc, which will not cut it every night.  However, it may be enough to get by Penn State.  The Nittany Lions are 0-6 in the Big Ten this year, and have lost to bad teams like Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan.  Teams just don’t win in the Kohl Center, and Penn State is no exception.  Besides junior guard Talor Battle, the Nittany Lions do not have a second option on offense.  With Wisconsin only surrendering 56.2 points per game this year (due largely in part to their ability to run the clock down on every possession) look for even Battle to struggle in this game.  Still, Penn State’s last three losses have come by a total of 10 points, so they may end up losing another close one in Madison.

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ATB: Purdue Gets Painter’s Message

Posted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2010

Message Received, Loud and Clear#15 Purdue 84, Illinois 78.  Matt Painter threw everyone on his team other than E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel under the bus over the weekend in comments he made about the lack of hustle and energy from his players during the Boilermakers’ recent three-game losing streak.  It’s a tried-and-true coaching strategy, and it seemed to work tonight as his team used a strong second half run out of the game to take control of this game and make Painter look like a genius.  Examining the players that Painter referred to in his diatribe, he conspicuously omitted JaJuan Johnson from a preferred starting lineup (composed entirely of Moore and Hummel clones), and that slight resulted in a dominant 24/12/2 blks evening for the big man.  When JJJ plays up to his abilities on the offensive end, Purdue is nearly unbeatable, going 8-1 in the last two seasons when he breaks twenty points.  When he’s held under ten for the game, the Boilermaker record is 6-6 over the same period, including all three losses this season.  Additionally, usual starters Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer were relegated to bench duty tonight, but 7/9/3 assts between the two of them show that they were focused on defense and hustle stats.  Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was sophomore guard John Hart coming off the bench to contribute a career-high 14/2 in eighteen inspired minutes of action.  Believe it or not, tonight was Hart’s first minute of action in a Big 10 game — nice debut, young fella!  Illinois played well enough to win the game on the defensive end, but like so many other Illini games over the year, they simply couldn’t get enough production aside from Demetri McCamey (28/9) and Mike Davis (17/15).  Freshmen guard duo DJ Richardson (12/2) and Brandon Paul (5/3) shot 6-18 from the field, which was surprisingly their best combined output in three weeks, but Illini fans have to be wondering what happened to the pair that combined for 34 points in the big comeback at Clemson in early December.

Johnson Accepted Painter's Challenge Tonight (AP/Robin Scholz)

Watch Out, ACC. #18 Georgia Tech 66, #16 Clemson 64. The Ramblin’ Wreck moved to 3-2 in the ACC with its third win in eleven days over a ranked team (nevermind that pesky loss to UVa sandwiched in between).  And while the win is very nice and worth talking about on its own merits, what we really want to discuss is that the nation’s #2 incoming recruit, Derrick Favors, may have awakened from his season-long slumber to serve notice that the second half of the year may be a somewhat different story for his opponents.  His numbers weren’t Michael Beasley or Blake Griffin-esque (17/14/3 blks), but they do represent his best all-around performance of the season (career highs in pts and rebs), and had he made his FTs (1-5) he would have broken the 20-point barrier as well.  As Favors said after the game, he is ‘playing better,’ and if he is putting it all together just in time for the home stretch of the season, Georgia Tech suddenly becomes the most interesting team in the ACC.  Gani Lawal added 16/10 for Tech and Zachery Peacock (6/5) hit the game-winning FTs with 3.2 seconds remaining.

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