Experiencing March Madness, Vegas Style

Posted by Sean Moran on March 27th, 2014

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RTC correspondent Sean Moran spent the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend in Las Vegas taking in all of the action on the Strip.

Memphis’ Michael Dixon Jr. steps to the line for two shots with 0.3 seconds on the clock for the Memphis Tigers. The crowd rises in unison. Screams of “MISS IT” are yelled out by one half of the crowd. The other half mutters and prays “please, please just hit the first one.” As the first of two free throws rips through the net, a loud roar erupts, dancing and hugging ensue. At the same time a look of despair appears from the fans hoping for a miss. A game-winner, you might ask? No, just a meaningless free throw that actually meant a whole lot to the fans gathered in Vegas.

March Madness in Vegas where fans hang on every play

The beauty of March Madness in Las Vegas is that the games are always interesting. Sure, the first four days were absolutely insane for the general fan too, with upsets, buzzer-beaters, and overtimes, but add in some gambling and you have March Madness on steroids. The casinos on the Strip open their betting windows early for the rush of college basketball fans streaming in from all over the country. Along with the standing room only sportsbooks, the casinos also offer stadium seating in their oversized auditoriums with big screen projectors to show every game. Fans are cheering, yelling, screaming, cursing, and pleading from 9:00 AM through the final buzzer 12 hours later that night. With overpriced light beers and food galore, everyone tends to get more rowdy as the day wears on.

Thursday started with an upset of Dayton over Ohio State and ended with a bang. Despite the early tip times on the West Coast it was almost impossible to find a seat in the Treasure Island auditorium. The day culminated with three scintillating overtime games in successive fashion along with a Cameron Ridley buzzer-beater for Texas. On day 2 the crowd turned quickly for the underdog right off the bat. Just like Florida Gulf Coast a year ago, the Atlantic Sun conference champion was not backing down against a high-level opponent. Mercer came in as a juicy 13-point underdog, and despite a three-point barrage from Duke, the Bears never backed down. Bold bettors were rewarded with an 8:1 payout on their bet as a few lucky winners cashed a sweet MoneyLine ticket. Even blowouts that the average fan turned away from turned into nail-biting affairs. If you took the “over” in the Baylor-Nebraska game you looked pretty much dead in the water with a 29-16 halftime score. Thanks to 18 fouls from Nebraska and a combined 99 points in the second half, the “over” backers were left shaking their heads in disbelief as the 74-60 final somehow made it past the 130.5 total.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.18.14 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 18th, 2014

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

South Region

West Region

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.17.14 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 17th, 2014

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

South Region

West Region

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Circle of March, Vol. V

Posted by rtmsf on March 7th, 2014

With four days of Championship Fortnight now behind us, we have breached the magical 300-team mark. As of this morning, some 298 teams are unofficially still alive for the 2014 national championship, represented below on the Circle of March. Nine tournaments are in varying stages of progress at this point, with the CAA and SoCon tipping off today. Yesterday we removed only 11 teams from the CoM, but with nearly every league finishing up its regular season this weekend and a number of tourneys picking up fast and furiously, we’ll get below 200 in no time. Note: In order to respect the integrity of the regular season, we will not remove teams until their schedules are finished regardless of their current status (i.e., as of today, six Ivy League teams cannot win the conference’s automatic bid).

circlemarch_3_6 Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.06.14)

  • Monmouth
  • East Tennessee State
  • Tennessee Tech
  • Drake
  • Fairfield
  • USC Upstate
  • Portland
  • Bradley
  • Southeast Missouri State
  • Marist
  • Santa Clara
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Circle of March, Vol. III

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2014

Day two of Championship Fortnight resulted in seven eliminations spread between the Atlantic Sun and Horizon League tournaments. It was a particularly rough night for Florida schools, with three of the state’s 14 D-I programs — Stetson, Jacksonville, and North Florida — finishing off their seasons in the A-Sun. Luckily for the Sunshine State, league favorite and America’s darling, Florida Gulf Coast, easily defeated Stetson to keep its hopes alive for another turn in the spotlight. We’re now down to 323 active schools on the Circle of March. Note: In order to respect the integrity of the regular season, we will not remove teams until their schedules are finished regardless of their current status (i.e., six Ivy League teams cannot win the conference’s automatic bid).

There’s much more to come tonight, with the Patriot League picking back up and the Big South, OVC and NEC all tipping things off.

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Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.04.14)

  • Detroit
  • Illinois-Chicago
  • Youngstown State
  • Stetson
  • North Florida
  • Lipscomb
  • Jacksonville
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Circle of March, Vol. II

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2014

March Madness is officially under way. With the Patriot League’s opening round tipping off last night at campus sites in Baltimore, Maryland, and Hamilton, New York, eliminations have begun. The first two teams to survive and advance in the PL were Lafayette and Colgate, meaning that Navy and Loyola (MD) are the Circle of March’s first on-court casualties of the year. A handful of other schools that were not invited to the conference tournaments got their one-day in the CoM sun and were also removed. The entire group of 11 eliminated teams is listed below the Circle. We’re down to 330 active schools. Note: In order to respect the integrity of the regular season, we will not be removing teams until their schedules are finished regardless of their current status (i.e., six Ivy League teams cannot win the conference’s automatic bid).

Thanks also to everyone who played yesterday’s Circle of March crossword puzzle game. Many of you got at least 10 of the words, and a very few of you got the entire set of 15 (several found other words or just made some up). Here were the hidden words: court, rush, march, champion, upset, bubble, madness, cinderella, dunk, lucky shot, stars, final four, bracket, pool, swish. We’ll be contacting those who were among the winning group very soon. Thanks for playing!

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Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.03.14)

  • NJIT
  • Northern Kentucky
  • Kennesaw State
  • LIU Brooklyn
  • Sacred Heart
  • Jacksonville State
  • Tennessee State
  • Austin Peay
  • Tennessee-Martin
  • Loyola (MD)
  • Navy
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Circle of March, Vol. I

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2014

In this, our third annual Circle of March, we’re going to spend the next five weeks until post-championship Tuesday counting down and eliminating the entirety of Division I basketball until we get to a single, solitary name. The Patriot League Tournament gets under way this evening, and a total of 12 other conference tourneys will tip off this week after that. According to the NCAA, 11 of this season’s 351 Division I schools are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament because of APR scores or because they’re still transitioning up. We have removed those names from the CoM and wish them the best of luck in future seasons — the other 340 schools are represented in the CoM’s inaugural 2014 edition. Because we want every eligible team to get at least one day of run on the Circle, though, we have chosen not to formally remove any of the other already-eliminated schools until Tuesday. Bubble teams also won’t be removed until they’re officially disregarded by the NCAA Selection Committee in two weeks. It just seems nicer this way.

Last year you might recall we added a bit of a game component to the debut CoM. This year’s version is no different, but instead of asking readers to find like groupings of school logos, we’ve added a crossword puzzle element to this one. See if you can locate at least 10 of the NCAA Tournament-related words hidden within the Circle (note: make sure to click on the image for a larger and clearer view). The first 15 people who tweet at us (@rushthecourt) or e-mail us (rushthecourt@yahoo.com) with 10 or more of the correct hidden words will receive a free RTC t-shirt. We’ll also give a t-shirt prize to every 10th person who gets that many right after that. For the first person who identifies all of the hidden words, we’ll have a grand prize. Please, everyone, feel free to SHARE AWAY!

Here is 2014 Circle of March. Welcome to March Madness.

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Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.03.14)

  • Abilene Christian (D-I transition)
  • Arkansas-Pine Bluff (APR)
  • FIU (APR)
  • Grambling State (APR)
  • Grand Canyon (D-I transition)
  • Incarnate Word (D-I transition)
  • Mississippi Valley State (APR)
  • Nebraska-Omaha (D-I transition)
  • New Orleans (APR)
  • Southern (APR)
  • UMass-Lowell (D-I transition)
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Considering Florida: Is NBA Talent Necessary to Advance in the NCAA Tournament?

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 20th, 2013

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

Florida is one of the most debatable teams in the NCAA Tournament. UF should have walked away with the SEC crown on Sunday, but the Gators lost a double-digit lead to the Ole Miss Rebels. And again, UF was on the wrong side of another endgame situation with two crucial missed free throws by guard Scottie Wilbekin. Some believe the Gators have the talent and efficiency to make it to the Final Four, but others think they could find themselves in another close battle where the lack of a go-to guy leaves Billy Donovan’s squad looking for an answer. As Americans fill out their brackets, the debate over Florida begins.

Erik Murphy is an efficient college player, but that success probably won't translate to the pro game.  (US Presswire)

Erik Murphy is an efficient college player, but that success probably won’t translate to the pro game. (US Presswire)

During the SEC podblast last week (a fun 30 minutes of SEC Tournament debate if you haven’t checked it out yet), podblast co-host Randy gave us his gut feeling that Florida will experience an early NCAA Tournament exit (his prediction was that the Gators would leave prior to the Sweet Sixteen). In his commentary, he mentioned the lack of an NBA player in the Gators’ regular rotation, begging the question, have Final Four teams in the last five years had a presence of future NBA talent on the roster? Could some teams experience a situation where the sum is greater than the parts or is NBA level talent ultimately necessary to make it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament?

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A Non-Sports Woman’s Guide to March Madness

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2013

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The RTC Babe is back this year to give her unique take on what we call March Madness.

March Madness is like the guy version of the Oscars. We spend weeks analyzing and guessing who will get a bid and then, once teams are selected, we spend another several days predicting the outcome. I like to think of right now — the days leading up to the Big Dance — as the red carpet. Sadly though there is lot less fashion to critique unless you want to include Digger’s daily tie selections or the occasional coach sporting a bold look (i.e., Pitino’s KFC getup.)

I have noticed a few trends this season, though. Expect to see a fair amount of neon colors on the floor. Especially bright greens and orange hues. But just like last year’s grey fad, this trend will be relatively short-lived in the Tournament. I’d recommend not picking teams with too much brightness in their outfits.

No. Just no.

No. Just no.

Something else I’ve seen a lot of this season is bold patterns. It’s risky, but when worn correctly, can look amazing.

Some Things Just Aren't Good Ideas

Some Things Are Better Ideas Than Others

As far as accessories go, watch for bold statement pieces, specifically those that are giant and head-shaped. They’re a personal favorite of mine. The more crazy heads I see in the crowd, the better I like that team.

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Circle of March, Vol. I

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2013

March Madness is here, and as we put this post together on Tuesday afternoon, the first trickle of conference tournament action has already started with the Big South Tournament getting under way in Conway, South Carolina. Over the next 36 days, we’ll celebrate postseason basketball with our annual visual tribute from 300+ teams down to one, the Circle of March. Assuming our math is spot on, there are 310 Division I teams still “alive” for the NCAA title this season — 37 have already been eliminated for a variety of reasons (ineligibility, failure to qualify for or no conference tournament, not in an auto-bid league, independent, etc.). Those teams are listed below the Circle. The rest of the contenders will slowly be whittled away on a daily basis until we’re left with 68 on Selection Sunday and of course just one team standing tall on the morning of April 9.

To make this year’s CoM a bit more entertaining, we’ve built the logos of all 310 teams into a number of spatially-similar groupings within the Circle. For example, in the area approaching 11 o’clock below, there are a number of images that prominently use birds as their school’s logo. See how many of these groupings you can determine (note: make sure to click on the image for a larger view) — the first dozen folks who tweet at us (@rushthecourt) or e-mail us (rushthecourt@yahoo.com) with 12 or more distinct groupings will receive a free RTC t-shirt. For the person who identifies the most distinct logo groupings, we’ll have a grand prize.

Welcome to March Madness…

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How Many Distinct Groupings of Logos Are in the Circle of March?

Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.04.13)

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Dissecting Joe Lunardi’s First Bracketology: Three Reaches and Three Underrateds

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 14th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn. 

A three-month chasm stands in the way before another new beginning to another college basketball season. The NCAA Tournament won’t take place for another four months on top of that. But even with that distant timetable, the world’s premier bracketologist, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, thought it pertinent to release his early projections for the 2013 Field of 68. From this faraway August vantage point, reasonable cases can be made for most every team’s inclusion. After all, no one has actually played any games; thus we have no hard evidence – beyond what our speculative eyes can gather from offseason work, recruiting hauls, summer practices and European tours – that any team actually deserves a Tournament berth. As such, it’s hard to find great fault with Lunardi’s summer projections, if only because we have no factual evidence to debunk their authority. In fewer than three months, teams will officially begin their RPI-building missions, hoping over the winter span to construct a Tournament-worthy resume. It’s a long and enduring process, but come March, Lunardi usually has a pretty decent sense of whose season-long body-of-work belongs and whose doesn’t make the cut.

It’s never too early to begin analyzing March Madness bracket projections

For such a subjective process, Lunardi has over years of trial-and-error deconstructed the Tournament selection procedure into a predictive science. Fans often take his word as fact, or at least to the point where their Selection Show expectations are tempered by Lunardi’s analysis. In that context, it’s not hard to figure out why, even during these late summer months, his brackets drive both positive and negative discussion. The Lunardi bracket craze has reached yours truly, and as a starved college hoops fan, I couldn’t help but pore over its contents. All in all, the entire field seems reasonable, though I did come upon quite a few intriguing placements. To convey my thoughts in coherent form, I’m laying out three teams whose positions seem to be overstating their talent and three others who were undersold by Lunardi’s layout (“Underrateds”). These impressions derive only from the superfluous knowledge we have of each team at this point in the offseason, and how those vague profiles fit within Lunardi’s bracket. When the season begins, my perceptions will no doubt change, as will Lunardi’s March projections, so understand the limited scope from which these interpretations stand. This is merely an avenue to analyze sports’ greatest postseason tournament in a detached and unbiased way, without much in the way of evidence… more than a half-year in advance.

Reaches

UCLA: one-seed (West)

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Circle of March, Vol. XX (animated)

Posted by rtmsf on April 3rd, 2012

On February 27, we released our first version of this year’s Circle of March, with a little over 320 Division I teams vying for a national championship. Today — 36 days later — we’re down to a single, solitary and deserving champ. Through 20 different iterations of the CoM (you can see the progression below), we’ve come all the way back around. Congratulations to the Kentucky Wildcats, the 2011-12 National Champions.



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