Reviewing the Performance of ACC Teams in Feast Week: Part I

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 27th, 2013

After a lackluster start in non-conference play, the ACC has somewhat rebounded with some impressive showings in the early season tournaments so far. In the seven events that have already completed, the ACC has a record of 12-5 (not counting designated home games related to the events, only the neutral court games). That record includes three championships, one runner-up, and two third place finishes. That’s a big improvement over recent years, considering that ACC schools have only won five such titles in the previous three seasons combined.

Marcus Paige leads North Carolina to Hall of Fame Tip-off Title (Photo: Getty Images)

Marcus Paige leads North Carolina to Hall of Fame Tip-off Title
(Photo: Getty Images)

Leading the way was North Carolina, which bounced back from a home loss to Belmont the weekend before to stun #3 Louisville 93-84 in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut on Sunday. That followed a 82-72 Tar Heels win over Richmond the day before. Marcus Paige was sensational in his new role as North Carolina’s primary perimeter scorer, scoring 58 points in the two contests. He displayed a tremendous shooting touch going 9-of-14 on three-point attempts and 19-of-20 from the free throw line over the weekend.

Similarly, Maryland rebounded from a bad home loss last Sunday to Oregon State, winning the Paradise Jam Tournament title. The Terrapins got to the title game with wins over Marist, 68-43, and Northern Iowa, 80-66. They then beat Providence, 56-52, in Monday’s championship game. Dez Wells was selected as the tournament MVP while averaging 15 points and five rebounds over the three games. He was supported by transfer player Evan Smotrycz who scored 20 points against Northern Iowa and had a double-double (13/11) in the finals.

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A Better Outlook for Vanderbilt?

Posted by David Changas on November 22nd, 2013

It was a summer to forget for Kevin Stallings. After finishing a relatively disappointing 2012-13 campaign with a run to the SEC Tournament semifinals, there was reason for some optimism heading into the offseason. Then Kevin Bright left to play professionally in Germany. And Sheldon Jeter transferred. And, in the biggest blow to this season’s prospects, star point guard and team leader Kedren Johnson was suspended from school. Without those three key contributors, many wrote off the Commodores’ chances for anything but a disastrous season. Picked to finish 10th by the SEC media, the prediction was only that high because the four teams predicted to finish behind them – Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Auburn – are in more dire straits. While the losses of Bright and Jeter hurt — both were expected to be major contributors — Johnson’s departure appeared disastrous. The rising junior would have been an all-SEC selection and was the team’s on-court leader and go-to scorer. With his departures, the Commodores returned only 35 PPG from last season and appeared to be a roster full of complementary players.

Kevin Stallings  (AP/Wade Payne)

Kevin Stallings May Have Some Tricks Up His Sleeve This Year (AP/Wade Payne)

Despite all that happened over the summer and a general expectation of a finish near the bottom of the SEC, Stallings remained optimistic about his team’s prospects during the preseason. And while it’s far too early to say that this team will exceed its low expectations, there are signs Stallings wasn’t just engaging in coach-speak when he talked up his squad. Heading into Friday’s game with Providence at the Paradise Jam, the Commodores sit at 2-1 with home victories over Georgia State and Lipscomb, and an overtime loss at Butler on Tuesday – a game in which they fought back from a 14-point second half deficit to force the extra frame. While the team’s defense appears to have fallen off somewhat (ranking 122nd, down from 51st nationally), the offense, according to Ken Pomeroy, is much improved (177th to 65th). The team heads to the Virgin Islands with a chance to build some necessary confidence against quality competition.

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Examining ACC Teams in Early Season Tournaments: Part II

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 28th, 2013

As part of our preseason coverage on the ACC microsite, we will be looking at ACC teams competing in early season tournaments in a three-part series . Today we present Part II, which includes a look at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, the Paradise Jam, the Progressive Legends Classic and the EA Sports Maui Invitational.  To check out Part I of our series, click here.

These early season tournaments mean different things to different teams. For the traditional powers Duke and North Carolina, these events are just another part of the non-conference schedule, and not usually the most important part. With the national profile of those schools, building a quality non-conference slate is not all that difficult. But for others in the ACC, these tournaments are often the most challenging games those teams will face outside of league play. If you’re a potential NCAA Tournament team, a good performance in one of these events can considerably lessen the pressure to need a great league record to make the field.

Virginia's Early Loss to Delaware Last Season Badly Damaged Its RPI

Virginia’s Early Loss to Delaware Last Season Badly Damaged Its RPI

The opposite is also true, as Virginia found out last year. Losing to Delaware at home in the Preseason NIT gave Virginia a bad early loss and cost the Cavaliers a trip to New York, which would have improved their non-conference RPI and was a primary reason an 11-7 ACC team was left out of the field. Beyond just notching quality wins, the additional benefit is the RPI boost received from merely playing these games against other quality opponents. As Ken Pomeroy wrote in a March 2011 article, the RPI may not be a great metric but it is the main way NCAA Selection Committees sort teams. With 75% of a team’s RPI based on opponents’ RPI, poor performances in the non-conference schedule by multiple teams can damage an entire conference’s standing dramatically.

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CIO… the Mountain West Conference

Posted by AMurawa on November 20th, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West Conference.

A Look Back

Let’s be honest. There hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot of worthwhile games on the Mountain West schedule thus far. New Mexico got a piece of Davidson during ESPN’s 24-Hour Marathon, then got three solid games in the Virgin Islands at the Paradise Jam (much more on that below), but beyond that, the only real primo television game was San Diego State and Syracuse playing in slightly better conditions than I play on most days during the summer. Still, we got our first look at some new freshmen (Anthony Bennett – good, Winston Shepard – interesting, Cameron Michael – surprising), some new transfers (Colton Iverson – good, Bryce Dejean-Jones – interesting, Allen Huddleston – surprising) and a couple of new teams (Fresno State and Nevada, who happen to have the only two losses in the conference aside from that immediately discounted SDSU game).

Reader’s Take

 

Team of the Week

New Mexico – While everybody nationally has been talking about UNLV and San Diego State, the Lobos – the defending regular season and tournament champions in the conference – have flown under the radar. Yet, here they are with a 4-0 record, a Paradise Jam championship and arguably the conference’s best wins in the bag. Replacing Drew Gordon is going to be a collective effort as the season goes on, but not only are big guys Alex Kirk, Cameron Bairstow and freshman Nick Banyard ready to chip in any way possible, but perimeter guys like Hugh Greenwood and Kendall Williams will lend a hand on the glass as well. They certainly haven’t been pretty wins so far, but this is just a group of winners with a knack for getting things done, one way or another.

Hugh Greenwood, New Mexico

It Wasn’t Always Pretty, But Hugh Greenwood and New Mexico Earned The Paradise Jam Title Over Connecticut (Thomas Layer)

Player of the Week

Tony Snell, Junior, New Mexico – Last year, Tony Snell’s offensive game was little more than three-point attempts either in spot-up situations or running off of a screen. Almost 70% of his field goal attempts came from behind the arc. Thus far this year, Snell has shown a much more varied attack, even taking his man off the dribble from time to time. While he’s not exactly hitting shots at an exceptionally high rate early on (46.2 eFG% through four games), he’s leading the team with 17.5 points per game, has shown a good ability to find open teammates and continues to use his length to be a frustrating defensive opponent. Oh, and he’s hit a big shot or two, as we’ll get to shortly.

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Checking in on the… Big 10

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

check_in41

Josh & Mike at Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.

Looking Back

The team that’s made the most noise in the Big Ten so far this season is Michigan.  The Wolverines defeated UCLA 55-52 on their way to the Coaches vs. Cancer final, where Duke ran away in the second half.  But it’s a long season, and we still can’t really say if Michigan is that good, or if UCLA is just that bad (probably a bit of both).  What is encouraging, however, was the turnover situation for Beilein’s crew.  The Wolverines have been forcing TOs while taking care of the ball on their end of the floor in this early part of the season, and what’s more, that trend continued against Duke, which is a difficult thing to do (last year, Duke was among the nation’s elite with respect to TOs on both sides of the ball).  This was a staple of Beilein-ball when he was at West Virginia, so it’s more evidence that the players are adjusting to his system.

Oh, and Manny Harris has been unstoppable.  He’s been taking about 29% of Michigan’s shots so far this season, and despite that high shot diet, he has maintained a superb efficiency (96 points on 49 shots).  He’s also been rebounding like a SF and dishing assists like Mike Conley.  He can’t, of course, keep this up.  But the Big Ten is on notice – Manny is now MANNY.

Wisconsin has had a rough go of it early in the season.  While they haven’t lost, they struggled more than they should have against Long Beach State, and Iona took them to overtime.  There hasn’t been a glaring root cause, so this is probably not something to get too worked up over, but this is probably not a 30-win team.

Purdue and Michigan State have coasted in their early season schedules, but things will get more interesting soon.

Illinois posted a road win against Vanderbilt, and while the Commodores likely aren’t an NCAA team, the Illini weren’t exactly flush with road wins last season.  One number that has been of great comfort to Illini fans is the 77% free throw shooting so far this season.

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ATB: Fresh Maui Breezes

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

afterbuzzer1

Maui Invitational. Texas vs. Notre Dame could be the best game of the first month of the new season.  UNC vs. Oregon could be interesting, but won’t be.

  • Texas 68, St. Joseph’s 50.  The Texas defense has been absolutely superb so far this season, holding its three opponents to an average of 46.3 ppg and 29% from the field.  St. Joe’s was no different, struggling to find open looks against the long arms and quick feet of the Longhorns.  Damion James and AJ Abrams combined for 31/8 for the Horns, who will hook up with Notre Dame tomorrow in a blockbuster contrast of styles (ND is averaging 82.3 ppg).
  • Notre Dame 88, Indiana 50. This was a complete mismatch from start to finish, as the experienced Golden Domers meticulously picked apart the green Hoosiers in nearly every way possible.  Notre Dame shot 51% as it brought back to the fore that Indiana simply isn’t going to be very good this season.  Tory Jackson had 21/5/6 assts and Kyle McAlarney contributed 18 (all threes) for the Irish.
  • UNC 115, Chaminade 70. UNC rode a 67-pt second half to the second-worst loss that host Chaminade has ever suffered in this tournament.  Roy Williams kept Tyler Hansbrough on the bench throughout, figuring it best to keep him fresh for what will be a much tougher next two days of games.  Danny Green had a career-high 26 pts, while Ty Lawson added 19/6 assts.  UNC will play a revived Oregon next, but we guarantee that the Heels will put up more of a fight defensively than Bama did.
  • Oregon 92, Alabama 69.  At times during this game, Alabama appeared to be the least prepared and worst coached team in America.  And they were playing a team in Oregon that often appears that way themselves, which should really tell you something.  If we had a coconut for every time Bill Raftery or Jay Bilas said the word “terrible,” our living room would smell like Maui right about now.  UO hit a blistering 54% from the floor while holding Bama to 36%.  In a sidenote, Ronald Steele shot 3-11 from the field and just doesn’t look like the same player he was two years ago (before all of his knee injuries).

CBE Classic. It’ll be Syracuse vs. Kansas in KC tomorrow night for the championship.

  • Syracuse 89, Florida 83. Florida’s ‘improved’ defense got exposed exploited, giving up 89 points and 52% shooting to the more athletic Orange in an entertaining up-and-down game that featured several nice performances on both sides.  Paul Harris contributed 18/11 for the Orange, while Alex Tyus chipped in 24/4 for the Gators.
  • Kansas 73, Washington 54. KU’s Cole Aldrich dominated the more ballyhooed Jon Brockman by dropping 16/9/6 blks (vs. Brockman’s 7/18 on 2-9 shooting) in the Jayhawks’ blowout victory in the semis of the CBE Classic.  The Kansas defense held the Huskies to 29% shooting for the game, and frankly, Washington largely looked out of sorts for much of this game.

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ATB: UCLA is #1

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.19.07

Story of the Day. The marquee games of the day were held in KC in the semis of the CBE Classic at the spanking new Sprint Center tonight. We’re still wondering why Kansas City built this thing (we hear the Sonics are available), but it looked like a nice joint for some collegiate hoops. #3 UCLA 71, Maryland 59. In this game, UCLA only had eight players dress out (Darren Collison in particular is still injured), but the Bruins under Ben Howland do what they always do – they uglified the game and ultimately imposed their will on the Terps. The first half looked like someone had greased the basketball, as both teams combined for 30 turnovers and only 46 pts. Advantage: UCLA, as they took a ten-pt lead into the half. The second half wasn’t as painful to watch, but Maryland never truly threatened to get back into the game – every Terp push seemed to be met with a UCLA player hanging off the rim on the other end. Kevin Love had a nice dub-dub (18/16), but we’re with Vitale in agreement that this kid is shy of 6’9 – maybe we’ll see him again next year after all. The only player that impressed on Maryland was Bambale Osby, who had several ridiculous blocks including one stuff of a stuff on Aboya that had us coming out of our seat. The bottom line is this – when UCLA gets Collison back running the show, they are without a doubt the most difficult matchup in the nation because of their defense, size and athleticism. They’re the only team around that can win games going away while shooting poorly (like tonight – 38%).

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Michigan St. 86, Missouri 83. This was a much better game from a viewing standpoint. MSU looked very impressive in the first half, building as much as a 16-pt lead over the quasi-home team, but Mizzou looked equally as impressive in the second half as they charged back into the game, using the 40MoH pressure defense to fluster the Spartans on numerous possessions. MSU’s Raymar Morgan had a perfect night (19 pts on 6-6 FG and 6-6 FT), but it was Drew Neitzel (21 pts) and Goran Suton (17/8) who made the big plays late to secure the win for Tom Izzo’s team. We still think Indiana is the team to beat in the Big 10, but MSU can prove us wrong tomorrow night against UCLA. As for Missouri, we really like what Mike Anderson has already accomplished there – at any moment, we expect to see those twins he had at UAB throwing over-the-head passes 90 feet. The rebuild is over – Missouri could be an NCAA team this year.

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Maui Invitational. Four games, four ho-hummers. Oklahoma St. 83, LSU 77. We thought this would be a close game, and we were wrong, as OSU ran out to an 18-pt halftime lead before nearly blowing the whole thing down the stretch (LSU got within three at the 1:46 mark). OSU was led by James Anderson (25 pts) and Terrel Harris (24 pts), but neither team really impresses us. Where has Anthony Randolph (5/5/5 turnovers) gone? Marquette 74, Chaminade 63. Visions of Virginia ’83 were dancing in the heads of local fans as Chaminade hung with Marquette for much of this game, but Jerel McNeal and his 22 pts held off the upstarts in the last five minutes for the win. Duke 83, Princeton 61. A completely outclassed Princeton team was overwhelmed from the opening tip against Duke, falling behind 24-4 in the first seven minutes of the game. Kyle Singler continued his impressive November, tallying 21/12 in the blowout. Illinois 77, Arizona St. 54. The nightcap game started much the same way, as Illinois ran out to a 20-0 lead on Arizona St. before coasting the rest of the way. Illinois might be better than we thought, but frankly, we expected a better performance in the first game from Herb’s boys tonight. Oklahoma St. will play Marquette and Duke will play Illinois tomorrow. Our picks – Duke and Marquette.

Paradise Jammy. Baylor 62, Winthrop 54. Is Baylor a team on the rise in the Big 12? It would appear to be so after defeating Wichita St., Notre Dame and Winthrop in successive nights to win the Paradise Jam. We would have picked against Baylor in all three games. Georgia Tech 70, Notre Dame 69. The consolation game featured a three with two seconds remaining from Tech’s Matt Causey that gave the schizo Yellow Jackets the win. ND’s Luke Harangody had 22/11 in the loss.

The Atlantic Sun Strikes Again. Belmont 85, Alabama 83. Is Belmont winning on the road against a BCS team an upset anymore? No, especially against an SEC team these days, as the suckeastern conference has been taking it on the chin lately. Right now, who besides Tennessee (and maybe a very young Florida) looks worth a damn? As for this game, a review of the stats shows that both teams played pretty well – it was just that Belmont converted more plays down the stretch. Specifically, Justin Hare dropped a pullup J from the foul line with 2.2 seconds remaining to put the Bruins up two points. What’s amazing about this is that Hare has achieved Jordanesque end-of-game status at Belmont, as this was the thirteenth time he had hit a shot to win or send a game into OT in his career. Bama’s Richard Hendrix went for 25/10 in the losing effort.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui continues, and the Game of the Year (so far) takes place in KC at the CBE.

  • Indiana (-21.5) v. UNC-Wilmington 7pm – the only reason we wish we had the Big Ten channel is E-Giddy.
  • Marquette (-3) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN) 7pm - we have no idea what will happen in this game, sorry.
  • Connecticut (NL) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – didn’t we just do this?
  • Tennessee (-22.5) v. Middle Tennessee St. (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – will Lofton wake up this season?
  • Maryland v. Missouri (-5.5) (ESPN2) 7:45pm – this should be an exciting, uptempo game.
  • Florida (NL) v. North Florida (ESPN FC) 8pm – when does Florida play a road game again – January?
  • Vanderbilt (-14) v. Valparaiso 8pm – the way SEC teams have been falling…
  • Duke (-7) v. Illinois (ESPN) 9:30pm - Illinois has the inside play to exploit Duke, but whither their guards?
  • UCLA (-3.5) v. Michigan St. (ESPN2) 10pm – blood, guts, and glory. This will be a slugfest.
  • Oregon (-5) v. St. Mary’s (ESPNU) 10pm – upset alert! SMC is legit, but Oregon has looked fantastic thus far. How will the Ducks fare in their first road test?
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