Morning Five: 03.26.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 26th, 2013

morning5

    1. After a run of three straight trips to the Final Four UCLA has floundered despite its rich tradition and fertile recruiting base, which led to the eventual firing of Ben Howland. Many writers have tried to pinpoint the reason that Howland was unable to reach the same level of success he had early in his run at UCLA, but perhaps the most interesting theory we have heard comes from George Dohrmann (you may remember him for being rather unpopular around UCLA) who traces Howland’s downfall to an incident in 2009 where Howland turned his back on a recruit who Howland had offered a scholarship too then waited just long enough where the recruit was unable to secure another equally coveted scholarship offer. We are not quite sure that we put as much weight on that incident as Dohrmann appears to, but it certainly didn’t help. The question is whether UCLA can get a coach who is able to lift them back into contention for national titles. There are some pundits who question whether UCLA can become a national power again (we think it can although obviously never at the level of the Wooden dynasty), but Bill Plaschke is not among them and feels that the firing of Howland was a step in the right direction. If the Bruins are to become a national power again, Plaschke is probably right, but we will need to see who the UCLA administration can bring in to take back the local recruiting scene and make UCLA a premier destination for recruits again.
    2. Apparently beating a coach who was about to be fired (Howland) was not enough for Tubby Smith as he was fired by Minnesota yesterday. In the end, the NCAA Tournament and the season overall was a fairly accurate reflection of Smith’s time at Minnesota–full of ups and downs, which led the team to seemingly surprise and disappoint its fans at the same time. After leaving Kentucky following the decline of the program from a title in his first year (aka Pitino’s leftovers) to one that led it to the hands of Billy Clyde, Smith came to Minnesota with the expectation that he could help turn around a program that had shown great potential at times, but always remained a middle-tier Big Ten program at best. In the end Smith left the program roughly where he found it–the middle to bottom of the conference–after making the NCAA Tournament three times in six years (advancing past their first game only once, which was this year) and never finishing better than sixth in the conference as he finished with a 124-81 record overall and 46-62 in the Big Ten. Those clearly are not stellar numbers, but the question is whether Minnesota can land a bigger name than Smith (certainly nobody with a more impressive mustache than the one Smith sported this season). We have heard Shaka Smart‘s name thrown around online, but we can’t imagine that he would even bother talking to Minnesota when more enticing jobs are available (see above). The one name that would be interesting is former NBA coach Flip Saunders, who coached the Timberwolves and was offered up by his colleague Andy Katz (clearly trying to kill off the competition at ESPN).
    3. If you are looking for your buzzkill story line of the Sweet 16, Tim Layden has you covered as he digs into the resume of Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield. Coming into the NCAA Tournament, Enfield was primarily known for various blogs talking about his wife’s modeling career, but with each win there has been increasing scrutiny on his past including his involvement in a software company TractManager that Layden claims Enfield’s involvement is not as deep as Enfield has previously claimed. Honestly, we think this is basically a non-story and are surprised that SI decided to run with it, but we would not be surprised to see somebody try to make this into a media question on the days leading up to the Sweet 16.
    4. The season just ended, but teams have already started raiding other school’s coaching staffs and Brad Stevens’ Butler program is not immune to it as South Alabama hired Matthew Graves, Butler’s associate head coach. The hiring is not particularly surprising as the Jaguars were looking to replace Ronnie Arrow, who left after just 10 games this past season, but it is somewhat surprising that they would hire somebody who admitted that he “didn’t know a lot about South Alabama except for that moment before I looked into it” (last paragraph). Still the Stevens’ bloodline was probably good enough for a Sun Belt school, but it will be interesting to see if a Stevens disciple can carry on the tradition away from Butler (plenty of coaching trees have shown that results tend to be quite variable).
    5. There have been plenty of sportswriters who say college basketball is dying and have pointed to a few atrocious games this season as evidence, but don’t tell that to the American public at least according to a press release from Turner, which claims that NCAA ratings were the highest they have been for the opening weekend in 23 years. We would like to believe the headline number, but we get the feeling that these are probably more reflective of good numbers relative to the past few years that have been largely aided for the period preceding that in which there was only one channel for the NCAA Tournament to gather its cumulative rating from rather than the four channels viewers currently have to choose from during the opening weekend.
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Pac-12 Pick’Em: Week Three

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 13th, 2012

We are two weeks into our Pac-12 Pick’Em and things are beginning to heat up. Adam and Parker stole the show in our second week of picks, with each of them correctly picking nine of the 12 contests. Parker currently sits atop our leaderboard at 20-5 overall. I was the only one to miss UCLA’s win in Houston on Saturday afternoon, and Drew was the only one to pick Illinois’ upset of Gonzaga in Spokane. Unfortunately for Mr. Murawa, losses by Washington, USC, Fresno State, and California have put him in last place, all by himself. So now, we enter week three. Florida’s visit to Arizona and Kansas State meeting Gonzaga in Seattle headline the list as our games of the week.

Game Connor (19-6) Drew (18-7) Parker (20-5) Adam (19-6)
Jackson State at Washington State WSU WSU WSU WSU
Washington at Seattle University Washington Washington Washington Washington
Dartmouth at Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
Nebraska at Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
UC Davis at Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
UC Riverside at USC USC USC USC USC
Jackson State at Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington
Prairie View A&M at UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA
Florida at Arizona UA 80-75 UF 72-67 UA 76-74 UA 77-68
Gonzaga vs Kansas State GU 81-77 GU 61-50 GU 72-65 GU 88-72
Creighton at California California California California Creighton
Chicago State at Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State

 

Only a couple of differences in opinion this week. Drew was the only one to take the visiting Gators against Arizona, while Adam thinks #16 Creighton will knock off California in Berkeley. Adam also predicted the largest score differential in each highlighted game, taking the Wildcats to win by nine, and the Zags to win by 16.

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RTC Conference Primers: #30 – SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2011

For our complete list of 2011-12 conference primers working backward from #31 to #1, click here.   

Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Southern & Grambling APR Victims.  When the NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate report in May, the SWAC contained two of the five basketball programs facing a postseason ban in 2011-12 as a result of consistently poor scores over several years.  While this news shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed the APR since it was implemented several years ago, the teeth of the rule is finally taking hold on individual institutions.  Southern and Grambling probably were not going to be in a competitive position to make the NCAA Tournament this season anyway, but this is something that each school must take seriously in order to secure their D-I existence.  The two institutions submitted APR improvement plans to the NCAA over the summer, and with good reason — without a considerable short-term jump in scores,  the next penalty is restricted membership in Division I.
  • Will the APR Eliminate HBCUs in Division I?  Southern and Grambling’s APR predicament highlights a harrowing situation among the two Division I basketball leagues comprising historically black colleges and universities.  With the APR cut line increasing from 925 to 930 as of next year, and a corresponding postseason penalty for programs failing to make that cut in the future, the SWAC  and MEAC could face an untenable situation where every one of its members is ineligible for postseason play, and ultimately on restricted status.  If the 930 threshold had been in effect last year, for example, only one school — the SWAC’s Alcorn State, with its 4-24 overall record and 944 APR score — would have been eligible for the NCAA Tournament.  The APR has been shown to correlate strongly with African-American enrollment, and at the low-budget HBCUs that comprise the SWAC and the MEAC, this development presents tremendous cause for concern.  Whether this is purposeful or not, we’ll leave for you to decide.
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O26 Primers: Conference USA, Mountain West, Southland, SWAC and WAC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 9th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

With three conference tournaments concluding last night, it is only appropriate that five more get underway today. Conference USA and the Southland Conference are two of the most balanced leagues in the nation, while the WAC and Mountain West were just the opposite as they were dominated at the top. The SWAC is always a bit of a mystery come Championship Week and tournament time, but Texas Southern is the class of the league this year and will no doubt do their best to bring respect to the league if they are fortunate enough to advance to the Dance.

Conference USA

The Favorite: UAB won the regular season title with a 12-4 record, but that means very little in the ultra competitive CUSA this season as five teams are just behind the Blazers. There is something to be said though about UAB’s strong play down the stretch and the steady play of Jamarr Sanders and Cameron Moore. These reasons alone amidst several injuries that Mike Davis‘ club has overcome makes UAB the slight favorite over the rest of the bunch.

Dark Horse: Southern Mississippi is one the teams that are nipping at UAB’s heels. Although they fell in their last three games of the regular season, Larry Eustachy’s squad proved throughout the year they can beat anyone in the conference. Having Gary Flowers roam around the pain never hurts either.

Who’s Hot: UAB has won their last four games and seven of eight heading into the tournament. As well as UAB is playing, it would be very easy for that to stop on a dime. Throughout each week during the conference schedule, it appeared that one team in CUSA was emerging as the top dog, but they would quickly fade. Can UAB keep their streak going all the way into the NCAA Tournament?

Player to Watch: Papa Dia, Southern Methodist’s senior forward all the way from Senegal, is enjoying the best season of his career as he is averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. In each of the previous three seasons, SMU has been below .500; Dia and his teammates clearly have something to prove in this tournament.

First-Round UpsetCentral Florida over East Carolina. UCF was the nation’s favorite story in the early going as they jumped out to a 14-0 record with wins over Florida, Miami (FL), and Princeton. The Knights then went onto lose eight straight games, thus proving that their early success was a fluke. Now, UCF has won five of seven games and if they can regain that success they had in those 14 games, a victory over East Carolina is absolutely within reach.

How’d They Fare? After going 7-9 in the conference, Houston caught fire in the tournament to surprise everyone by winning the title. In doing so, the Cougars stole a bid from a team on the bubble and earned a #13 seed in the Tournament where they lost to Maryland 89-77. UTEP—the team Houston beat to advance onward—was trounced by Butler as a #12 seed.

Interesting Fact: The last team to win an NCAA Tournament game hailing from Conference USA not named Memphis was Louisville in the 2005 Tournament. The ‘Ville advanced all the way to the Final Four that year where they lost to Illinois 57-52 in the semifinals. Both UAB and Cincinnati also won Tournament games that year.

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The Other 26: Week 14

Posted by KDoyle on February 18th, 2011


Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor

Introduction

If you are a true fan of Mid-Major basketball, then this is the weekend for you. Many fans who find a whole lot of joy in watching teams from the smaller conferences compete, share the common gripe that there is not nearly enough coverage of these teams. Well, at no other point during the season will you see ESPN dedicate an entire Saturday of basketball almost exclusively to the best Mid-Major teams around the nation.

Playing against the same faces within a team’s conference can become monotonous, but the BracketBuster weekend enables 114 teams around the country a brief recess before the final stretch of the regular season and tournament time to play an opponent they would otherwise never play. Although many of these games will have little meaning in the grand scheme of things, there are a select few that have serious implications as several Mid-Major teams partaking in the BracketBuster weekend sit squarely on the bubble.

Brace yourself for a great day of college hoops on Saturday. With so many of the top Mid-Major teams in the country playing—George Mason, Utah State, St. Mary’s, Cleveland State, Old Dominion, Missouri State, and Wichita State—you can bet that at least one of these teams, if not more, will be wearing Cinderella’s slipper come March.

The Other 26 Rankings

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The Other 26: Week 12

Posted by KDoyle on February 4th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor

Introduction

Parity is a great thing in sports. Not many enjoy watching a league where one team consistently dominates the competition and all the others are simply happy to compete with the top team. In the West Coast Conference this was the case for years. Gonzaga would roll right on through league play, win the conference championship, and then head onto the NCAA Tournament. Sure the ‘Zags would be upset on occasions, but those occasions were few and far between. This year, that is hardly the case in the WCC. St. Mary’s is the current leader, but there are a few other teams that are capable of knocking off the Gaels—Portland already has. The WCC is not the only conference where there is parity. How about the wacky Conference USA? It seems that every team in that conference has a shot to win it. The Atlantic 10 and CAA both have a couple teams at the top, but there are several others right below them that are just waiting for the right time to pounce on the top dogs. The MAC is the perfect instance of parity this year. You may call it mediocrity, but you cannot say that 11 teams with records ranging from 3-5 to 6-2 is not parity.

One can argue that parity is essentially synonymous with hope. Fans of every team that is right in the thick of things within their conference have legitimate hope that their guys will pull through and be the last one standing come the conclusion of their conference tournament.

Parity…Hope…Sports

The Other 26 Rankings

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Baylor’s Dunn Suspended For Three Games

Posted by jstevrtc on November 12th, 2010

Baylor guard and scorer extraordinaire LaceDarius Dunn will stay suspended for the first three games of the season in the aftermath of the allegations that he assaulted his girlfriend in a domestic dispute in September. Dunn will therefore miss the games against Grambling State, La Salle, and Jackson State and return against Lipscomb on November 22nd.

The Bears Will Be At Full Strength By Thanksgiving; Dunn Returns 22 November

The details of the incident involving the alleged assault are still hazy. Early reports indicated that Dunn broke his girlfriend’s jaw in the altercation; later, she claimed that there was no assault at all, and she did not pursue charges against Dunn. The McLennan County DA still has the case, as the linked AP report says. Dunn resumed attending classes shortly after the incident but was suspended from all competitive basketball activity. That suspension will end after the Jackson State contest.

 

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RTC Conference Primers: #31 – SWAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 4th, 2010

David Ely is an occasional contributor.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Jackson State (15-3)
  2. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (13-5)
  3. Alabama State (12-6)
  4. Texas Southern (11-7)
  5. Alabama A&M (9-9)
  6. Prairie View A&M (9-9)
  7. Mississippi Valley State (9-9)
  8. Grambling State (7-11)
  9. Southern (3-15)
  10. Alcorn State (2-16)

All-Conference Team

  • Junior Treasure (G) — Texas Southern
  • Tyrone Hansen (G) — Jackson State
  • Savalance Townsend (G) — Arkansas-Pine Bluff
  • De’Suan Dixon (F) — Jackson State
  • Shannon Behling (F) — Mississippi Valley State

6th Man:

  • Cornelius Hester (G) — Alabama A&M

Junior Treasure (with ball) is the best among the bevy of guards featured in the SWAC. (AP/Val Horvath)

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RTC Bracketology Seed Update: 03.14.10

Posted by zhayes9 on March 14th, 2010

From today until Selection Sunday, keep checking Rush the Court for updates on who’s in, who’s out and seeding.

UPDATES ALL DAY TODAY. FINAL BRACKET REVEALED JUST BEFORE 6 PM ET.

(Note: each of the four teams in one seed grouping is listed in pecking order in terms of who is closer to moving up a seed line. This is used to determine game location and matchups similar to Joe Lunardi’s S-Curve listing).

Also: play the NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday challenge at NCAA.com to be your own Bracketologist.

Italics indicates conference leaders/champions.

Last update: 03/14, 3:50 PM ET.

#1 Seeds: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, West Virginia

#2 Seeds: Duke, Ohio State, Kansas State, Georgetown

#3 Seeds: New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Purdue

#4 Seeds: Baylor, Wisconsin, Temple, Tennessee

#5 Seeds: Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Michigan State, BYU

#6 Seeds: Maryland, Butler, Richmond, Xavier

#7 Seeds: Gonzaga, Northern Iowa, Texas, UNLV

#8 Seeds: Notre Dame, Marquette, Clemson, Oklahoma State

#9 Seeds: Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Missouri

#10 Seeds: UTEP, Old Dominion, Saint Mary’s, San Diego State

#11 Seeds: Wake Forest, Washington, California, Siena

#12 Seeds: Utah State, Minnesota, Cornell, Illinois

#13 Seeds: Murray State, New Mexico State, Oakland, Houston

#14 Seeds: Wofford, Sam Houston State, Ohio, Montana

#15 Seeds: Morgan State, UC-Santa Barbara, North Texas, Vermont

#16 Seeds: Robert Morris, East Tennessee State, Lehigh, Winthrop, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Last Four In: California, Utah State, Minnesota, Illinois

Last Four Out: Mississippi State, Florida, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall

Bids per conference: Big East (8), Big 12 (7), Big Ten (6), ACC (5), Mountain West (4), SEC (3), Atlantic 10 (3), Pac-10 (2), West Coast (2), WAC (2), C-USA (2).

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Preseason Bracketology: 11.02.09

Posted by zhayes9 on November 2nd, 2009

seasonpreview

Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist.  He’ll regularly be out-scooping, out-thinking and out-shining Lunardi over the course of the season.

Last Four In: Florida State, Creighton, Xavier, Florida

Last Four Out: Texas A&M, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Wisconsin

Next Four Out: Miami (FL), Missouri, Illinois State, Utah State

Multiple bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (7), SEC (7), Big Ten (6), Big 12 (5), Pac-10 (3), Atlantic 10 (2), Conference USA (2), Missouri Valley (2).

Automatic bids: Boston University, Dayton, North Carolina, Jacksonville, West Virginia, Kansas, Weber State, Radford, Purdue, Long Beach State, Old Dominion, Tulsa, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Morgan State, Akron, Northern Iowa, BYU, Mount St. Mary’s, Morehead State, California, Holy Cross, Kentucky, College of Charleston, Sam Houston State, Oakland, Western Kentucky, Jackson State, Nevada, Gonzaga.

bracketology nov 2 09

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NCAA Preview: Alabama State Hornets

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Alabama State University (#16, South, Dayton sub-pod)
vs. #16 Morehead State
Thurs., 3/17 at 7:30 PM
Vegas Line: Alabama State, +2.5

General Profile
Location:
Montgomery, AL
Conference: Southwestern Athletic Conference, Automatic big
Coach: Lewis Jackson, Overall Record: 64-58
08-09 Record: 22-9, 16-2
Last 12 Games: 11-1, 4 wins
Best Win: 66-60, Jackson State University, 1-3-09
Worst Loss: 79-74, Alcorn State University, 1-26-09
Off. Efficiency Rating: 100.2, 193th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 103; 202nd

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Brandon Brooks, 13.8 ppg, 39.3 3pt%, 2009 SWAC Player of the Year
Unsung Hero: Chief Kickingstallionsims, 9.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1 bpg, SWAC Defensive Player of the Year
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Brandon Brooks has the opportunity to sneak in as a low second-round pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He is deceptively quick off the dribble, and shoots a high percentage for a point guard.
Key Injuries: N/A
Depth: 32.1% (126th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Despite having a seven footer, the Hornets only average about three blocks per game.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: If they can create an inside-outside threat with Brooks and Kickingstallionsims early and often.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Brooks and Andrew Hayles are shooting poorly from the perimeter.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2004
Streak: N/A
Best NCAA Finish: 1st round exit
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): Not enough data (Minimum 8 bids)

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Freshman guard Tramaine Butler is the Hornets’ sole roster member from the Motor City.
Distance to First Round Site: 523 Miles
School’s Claim to Fame: They are the first SWAC regular season champion to win the conference tournament in four years.
School Wishes It Could Forget: It plays in the worst RPI conference in college basketball
Prediction: ASU will get past Morehead St. in the play-in game, and will shrink against the inside game of the Louisville Cardinals.
Major RTC stories: N/A

Preview written by JC of HBCU Sports Blog

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