RTC 2013-14 Post-NBA Draft Deadline Top 25

Posted by KDoyle on April 30th, 2013

Although we are less than a month removed from Louisville’s win over Michigan in the National Championship game, it certainly isn’t too soon to look ahead to what the 2013-14 season has in store. With this past Sunday the deadline to declare for the June NBA Draft, we now have a much better idea who the top teams in the country should be once the ball is tipped again in November. In looking at the top of our Post-NBA Draft Deadline Top 25, there are three teams bunched together separated by just three votes — in fact, Louisville and Michigan State are knotted together at the top. It isn’t all too often that a team wins it all, graduates its starting point guard, has its best frontcourt player leave for the NBA, and is still perhaps the top team in the nation, but that’s the case for Rick Pitino and his Cardinals. With Russ Smith and Chane Behanan returning, Louisville will be the early favorites to win the AAC — the ACC, keep in mind, doesn’t come for UofL until 2014. Michigan State received good news on Sunday when Adreian Payne announced he would be returning to East Lansing for his senior season. Payne’s return, coupled with the return of Gary Harris — the Big Ten Freshman of the Year — and Keith Appling, make the Spartans a legitimate championship contender next season. Lastly, there’s Kentucky. Did you really think Cal & Co. weren’t going to be up there? They may not be ranked #1 at this point, but with a downright scary recruiting class incoming boasted by the Harrison twins and Julius Randle — perhaps the top Class of 2013 recruit — the Wildcats’ expectations are sky high. Despite not finishing in the Top 25 and losing at Robert Morris in the NIT, Kentucky will enter 2013-14 as a top three team in the RTC .

The usual Quick ‘n Dirty after the jump…

2013-14 RTC Top 25

Quick n’ Dirty:

Whether it is through an exceptional recruiting class, or an impressive finish to the 2012-13 season coupled with a strong nucleus returning, the following four teams surged upward — and for good reason.

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Morning Five: 04.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 17th, 2013

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  1. In one of the least surprising early entry decisions ever Shabazz Muhammad announced that he would be leaving UCLA after one season during which he became two years older. Muhammad’s recruitment and arrival at UCLA was one of the more controversial ones and portended a career that was more hype than production. After Muhammad was reinstated (in part due to comments made by the boyfriend of a NCAA investigator on a cross-country flight) he showed flashes of ability that reminded people why he was considered the best player in his class for much of his senior year of high school, but those moments were separated by stretches of mediocrity and more ridiculous scandals including the ridiculous Gucci backpack controversy and the recent admission that he was actually a year older than he had previously stated. In the end, Muhammad did not live up to the ridiculous hype given to a recruit of his caliber, but he will probably end up being a lottery pick so we cannot really fault him for heading to the NBA, which he was been destined to do this summer even before he headed to Westwood.
  2. If Muhammad needed any extra motivation to head to the NBA the performance of James Michael McAdoo this past season should help Muhammad feel more secure in his decision to strike while the iron is hot. Now we will start of by admitting that Muhammad was a much more highly touted prospect and produced more as a freshman than McAdoo has done in either of his first two seasons at North Carolina, but McAdoo was considered to be a potential All-American this season. In the end his play was so uninspired that he has decided to return to Chapel Hill for his junior season. Writers and fans can make all of the comments about improving his game that they want, but the fact is that McAdoo probably played himself out of the late lottery this season. With a solid year next season McAdoo could get back into the lottery and make himself more money, but he will have to compete with what is expected to be a much deeper draft class in 2014.
  3. Unfortunately for Roy Williams, McAdoo will not be joined in the locker room by Reggie Bullock, who was named the team’s MVP yesterday and then promptly announced that he would be declaring for the NBA Draft. Bullock showed quite a bit of improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons (or he just started playing on a weaker team that focused more of the offense on him) as his points per game jumped from 8.8 to 13.9 and his shooting (field goal, three-point, and free throw) all improved. At this point Bullock is a borderline late first round pick so it is not unreasonable for him to leave school especially with how loaded next year’s Draft could be, but he needs to shoot well in his workouts if he doesn’t want to have his name called by Adam Silver.
  4. We have no idea who is in Vander Blue‘s ear, but they are costing him a year of free education and are probably sending him straight to Europe or the NBDL as he announced yesterday that he would be entering the NBA Draft. Blue put together a solid junior season, but even the most optimistic projection we have seen for Blue has him projected as a late second round pick. For all of Blue’s ability he cannot reliably hit a college three-pointer (30.3% last season) and he is undersized for a shooting guard, which is a bad combination. While we won’t have to watch Blue deal with the consequences of his decision (don’t watch much NBDL or Euroleague action), we will probably see Marquette suffer as a result of the loss of senior leadership in the backcourt next season.
  5. We already know plenty about the four players we have already mentioned, but there is one intriguing NBA Draft prospect who was highly regarded coming out of high school about  whom we know very little–Norvel Pelle. After failing to meet the NCAA’s academic qualifying standards, Pelle, who was once the #1 center in the class of 2011, has been floating in a no-man’s land and now must prove himself to NBA teams in a series of workouts over the next few months. Pelle certainly has the tools and at 6’1o or 6’11″ he is very close to the magic 7′ mark–time to let the hair grow a little–that gets you drafted as long as you can walk and chew gum a the same time (and sometimes even if you can’t) so we don’t doubt that he will get looks from NBA teams, but he needs to prove himself in workouts if he wants to get drafted.

Bonus: Late last night news broke that Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart would be returning for his sophomore season. Honestly, we have no idea why he would do this as he is a top-five pick on every mock draft we have seen. With how loaded next year’s incoming freshman class is there is no guarantee that he will improve his draft position. He clearly has some things that he can work on with his game (29% from 3 and 1.25 assist-to-turnover ratio), but we have no idea why he would have to work on that in Stillwater. Having said that the Big 12 suddenly got a lot more interesting next season.

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Rushed Reactions: #8 North Carolina 78, #9 Villanova 71

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 22nd, 2013

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Brian Goodman is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Kansas City pod of the West Region.

Three Key Takeaways:

PJ Hairston and Friends Survived the Villanova Comeback

PJ Hairston and Friends Survived the Villanova Comeback

  1. UNC showed it’s an improved team, but still highly vulnerable. For most of the first half, North Carolina dissected the Wildcats in as precise a fashion as you could imagine. UNC quietly stuck to their game plan of keeping their offense perimeter-oriented, rarely foraging into the paint against Villanova’s interior defense (aside from transition opportunities), and converted jump shot after jump shot. The Tar Heels went on a stretch where they made nine out of ten attempts and tallied just one offensive rebound before halftime. P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo took smart, calculated shots within the offense, rarely driving out of control or into the teeth of Villanova’s defense. Things started to become unglued when the Tar Heels got too loose and some of the bad habits that got  them into trouble early in the ACC schedule seeped back in, and Villanova erased a 20-point lead. At that point, though, North Carolina started hitting jump shots again and surged back ahead for good on a Bullock three.
  2. Villanova failed to capitalize on opportunities. It may sound off, given the fact that Villanova overcame a 20-point deficit, but missed layups, turnovers and a lack of bench contributions doomed the Wildcats in the second half. Despite manhandling North Carolina on the glass (37-28), Jay Wright’s team couldn’t keep up with the Tar Heels, as they traded twos for threes late in the second half. Given its limitations, Villanova played well on the whole and should be proud of its effort Friday night, but it might be hard for them to shake the idea that it could have been playing Sunday afternoon if not for a few breaks.
  3. UNC’s three-point shooting is good enough to send any team packing. Villanova’s perimeter defense has been suspect all season, a biproduct of the Wildcats’ lack of quickness, but it’s not all that hard to picture North Carolina keeping up their hot shooting. P.J. Hairston led all scorers with five made treys, but two other players hit half their attempts, and if that keeps up, it will be tough for its next opponent (probably Kansas) to key in on any one perimeter threat. The Tar Heels are prone to sloppy stretches, and that showed tonight, but they can hide many of those mistakes with some good old-fashioned bombing.

Star Of The Game. P.J. Hairston - 23 points, 7-of-11 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, three assists – Every time North Carolina needed a basket, Hairston was there to deliver it. Not only was he important to UNC’s hot start, but he helped steady the ship in the middle third of the game. The sophomore is now 25-of-54 from distance (46.2%) in his last seven games.

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NCAA Game Analysis: Second Round, Friday Evening

Posted by KDoyle on March 22nd, 2013

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#2 Georgetown vs. #15 Florida Gulf Coast – South Region Second Round (at Philadelphia) – 6:50 PM ET on TBS

Florida Gulf Coast is one of the better stories in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Only in their sixth year as a Division 1 program, the Eagles are riding their first winning season in history thanks to the hiring of former Florida State assistant Andy Enfield. In Enfield’s first year, they finished 15-17, but were a game away from the NCAA Tournament as they lost to Belmont in the Atlantic Sun finals. This year, Florida Gulf Coast has been the team to beat, and it began with an early season win over Miami (FL). FGCU’s style of play greatly differs from today’s opponent, the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas are predicated on a stingy zone defense that rarely allows for clean looks at the basket, and they play at a snail’s pace. Led by Otto Porter, Georgetown has a legitimate star that can carry them deep into the NCAA Tournament. FGCU very much likes to get up and down the floor with Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson leading the attack. If FGCU is able to get out in the open floor and score in transition, they’ll keep it close for much of the game. Problem is that not many teams control the pace of a game quite like Georgetown—that’s what makes them such a difficult opponent as they force the opposition to play their style of game. Historically, Georgetown has struggled in the NCAA Tournament under John Thompson III as they’ve failed to reach the second weekend in four of six appearances under him, but many believe this is a different Hoya team. FGCU is playing with house money and expect them to make a game of this, but in front of a heavy Georgetown crowd in Philadelphia the Hoyas are simply too much in the end.

Andy Enfield has his FGCU squad playing great basketball. (AP)

Andy Enfield has his FGCU squad playing great basketball. (AP)

The RTC Certified Pick: Georgetown

#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Iona – West Regional Second Round (at Dayton, OH) – 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS
One of the nation’s most balanced teams, the knock on the Buckeyes for the longest time this season was that they didn’t have a secondary scorer to help out junior DeShaun Thomas. We’ll get to that in a second, but let’s just say that Iona never had such a problem. Senior guard Lamont “Momo” Jones has always been the main offensive weapon on this team, never afraid to look for his own shot, but the Gaels have always trusted guard Sean Armand and forward David Laury to chip in heavily in the scoring column. And as a result, the Gaels have one of the most efficient offenses in the mid-major ranks. The problem for Tim Cluess’ team is the complete inability to stop teams on defense; only nine times all season have they held an opponent below one point per possession in a game. Given that Ohio State is one of the best defensive teams in the nation (sixth in defensive efficiency per KenPom.com), you can expect the Buckeyes to at least slow Iona’s prolific offense. And given that Thad Matta has been getting significantly improved offensive play out of guys like Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson, you can expect the Bucks to take advantage of that buttery soft Gael defense. While Momo Jones, et al. have the ability to make some exciting plays when they’ve got the ball, their inattention to details defensively will allow the Buckeyes to have more than their share of exciting offensive plays as well.

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Bracket Prep: South Region Analysis

Posted by KDoyle on March 18th, 2013

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Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), Midwest (11 AM), South (1 PM), West (3 PM). Here, Kevin Doyle (@kldoyle11) breaks down the South Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC South Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCsouthregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Kevin breaking down the South Region, which will drop both on the site and on iTunes Tuesday.

South Region

Favorite: #3 Florida (26-7, 16-5 SEC). A month ago, Florida looked like it was destined for a #1 seed and primed for a Final Four run to Atlanta. The Gators were dismantling SEC teams — albeit some very weak teams — and had their potent offense clicking on all cylinders. But then Florida lost at Missouri, and then at Tennessee, and then at Kentucky. Questions began to arise, and rightly so. A team of Florida’s talent and experience should not be losing to SEC teams that will not even make the NCAA Tournament. They seemed unbeatable in the 2012 portion of the schedule, but played down to their level of competition in the SEC. That being said, it would not be smart to pick against Billy Donovan. Donovan has led Florida to the Elite Eight the past two seasons, and done so with largely the same group he has this year. Two seasons ago it was a loss to Butler as a #2-seed and last year a loss to Louisville as a #7-seed. Of their eight impact players, seven are upperclassmen and have extensive experience in the NCAA Tournament. Veteran leadership and NCAA Tournament experience cannot be discounted, and Florida has both in spades. In the “for what it’s worth” department, Pomeroy has Florida ranked #1 overall in his season-long rankings (fifth in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency).

Is the Third Time the Charm for Boynton and His Gators?

Is the Third Time the Charm for Boynton and His Gators?

Should They Falter: #2 Georgetown (29-5, 15-5 Big East). Recent history is not on Georgetown’s side as John Thompson III has made a habit of exiting the NCAA Tournament too early. In fact, in the six NCAA Tournaments that JT3 has led the Hoyas to, they haven’t made it past the first weekend four times. The Hoyas won’t win any style points, but that doesn’t much matter. What they lack in flash they have in tough defense and methodical but effective offense. Not to mention that the Hoyas are also fortunate to have Otto Porter, the Big East Player of the Year, on their side. The emergence of Markel Starks as a second dependable scorer adds another dimension to the offense beyond him, though. Their adjusted tempo ranks 313th in the country — in other words, a snail’s pace — and inability to score in stretches on the offensive end doesn’t make them a sexy team to watch, but Georgetown is very comfortable playing grind-it-out kind of games making them an apt postseason team.

Grossly Overseeded: #7 San Diego State (22-10, 10-8 Mountain West). The Aztecs began the season with a 14-2 record and a 2-0 mark in Mountain West play, and appeared to be the class of the league alongside New Mexico. Since that blistering start, San Diego State is a pedestrian 8-8 and finished 9-7 in the MW. It is almost unfathomable that the Aztecs earned a much better seed than Pac-12 champion Oregon — prepare yourselves to hearing a lot about the Ducks’ seed in the coming days —and even a higher seed than fellow Mountain West member Colorado State. SDSU benefited from having a strong RPI (#28) and a challenging schedule which ranked in the top 20, but many prognosticators had them wearing road jerseys in their opening round game, not home whites.

Grossly Underseeded: #8 North Carolina (24-10, 14-7 ACC). After getting embarrassed by Miami and then suffering a tough road defeat to Duke, North Carolina looked like it was headed to the NIT; the Tar Heels had a 16-8 record and were just 6-5 in the ACC at the time. Roy Williams’ young group may have had unfair expectations placed on it in the preseason, but there is little doubt that they should be an NCAA Tournament team now. Their talent and maturation as a team began to show in the second half of ACC play by winning eight of their last 10 games including a narrow loss to Miami in the ACC Tournament Championship. North Carolina’s seed was hurt by having a 2-9 mark against the RPI top 50, but the way in which Carolina concluded the regular season shows that it was playing closer to the caliber of a #5 seed and shouldn’t be marred in the dreaded #8/#9 match-up with the top seed looming.

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Rushed Reactions: North Carolina 79, Maryland 76

Posted by mpatton on March 16th, 2013

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Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after the ACC Tournament semifinal between North Carolina and Maryland on Saturday afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team's loss.

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team’s loss.

  1. Maryland Looked NCAA Good: This hasn’t been the case most of the year, but Maryland looked like an NCAA tournament team this weekend. The past couple of weeks, the Terrapins have looked much better. They’ve improved as much as any group in this league other than possibly Boston College. After the game, Mark Turgeon heaped the praise on Nick Faust, but credit also goes to the more active Alex Len and Dez Wells. Turgeon’s team — known to be very turnover prone — only finished with 10 turnovers against a very active defensive team (Faust, Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen combined for three between them). This team may not make the Big Dance, but there’s a lot to be positive about in College Park going forward.
  2. North Carolina Rebounding Struggles: The biggest concern people should have coming out of the game about the Tar Heels is one that will certainly rear its head against Miami. North Carolina couldn’t keep Maryland off the offensive glass. Despite only a 13-9 advantage on the offensive glass, the Terrapins owned a remarkable 24-4 advantage in second-chance points. Charles Mitchell had three offensive rebounds in 12 minutes. Jake Layman added two in 14 minutes. Len added three more. That could kill North Carolina against a team as big as Miami.
  3. Layman’s Reduced Role: After playing most of the game against Duke and acting as the Ryan Kelly stopper, Jake Layman saw his role dramatically reduced (even after starting) against North Carolina. Mark Turgeon turned to Logan Aronhalt instead, looking for another shooter and not needing Layman’s size. However the shift showcased Maryland’s youthful depth. Not only can the Terrapins execute hockey-style front line changes with Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, they have the ability to adapt their backcourt as well.

Star of the Game: Reggie Bullock deserves a ton of credit. He shut down Dez Wells for much of the game with terrific defense, and ended up tied as North Carolina’s leading scorer with 15 points on 10 shots, four assists and no turnovers. Bullock is the best player North Carolina has on both ends of the floor. He’s a ballhawk on defense and the most consistent shooter on the roster. The only thing missing from Bullock’s game is the attitude that he needs to shoot more and take over games. 

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ACC M5: 03.13.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 13th, 2013

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  1. Raleigh News & Observer: This is a phenomenal profile of Reggie Bullock and his hometown of Kinston, North Carolina from Andrew Carter. Bullock is the best player to come out of the small town since Jerry Stackhouse, whose presence is still felt throughout the local area. Carter looks at Bullock’s life, describing the impoverished town and the “it takes a village” mentality that town took to help him get to the University of North Carolina.
  2. Independent Weekly: I agree with Neil Morris in principle that the “hype” needs to be restored to conference tournaments — especially as the top conferences get more and more spread out. But I totally disagree with his solution, which is to make the conference tournament winner the only team available for a spot on the top seed line. All this does is make one seeds weaker and further cheapens the 30 games prior for a team good enough to earn a top seed despite losing in its conference tournament. The key for the ACC is picking its sites wisely (and having more competitive teams). 
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Coming into this season, I was very skeptical Virginia would be able to replace Mike Scott. Last year Joe Harris was a decent second option and Akil Mitchell might have been an afterthought. This year Harris is as good a scorer as anyone in the league, becoming more efficient (specifically from beyond the arc), and Mitchell is a terror inside. He went from very good rebounder to arguably the conference’s best. The two together more than make up for the loss of Scott.
  4. Fayetteville Observer: This is a storyline that should be getting more play (although I hesitate to write that about a prominent Duke story that deserves more attention). We know Duke is much better on both ends of the court with Ryan Kelly, but neither he nor Seth Curry is healthy. More specifically, neither has practiced much this season thanks to nagging injuries. That could lead to a major conditioning issue in the rapid-fire postseason (the NCAA tournament is more forgiving than conference tournament, though). Mike Krzyzewski needs to be wary of how he uses those two guys in particular to make sure that neither runs out of gas.
  5. Washington Post: Erick Green became the first player since Len Bias to win the ACC Player of the Year for a team finishing under .500 in conference play. It was the right call, so props to the ACC media for recognizing his amazing season: Green was the first ACC player since 1957 to lead the country in scoring, and was the first major conference player to do so in nearly 20 years (Glenn Robinson, Purdue). Now Green just needs an encore to finish the season right.
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ACC M5: 03.12.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 12th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ACC: The official first teams were released yesterday. As the blogosphere has become more involved in the voting, I’m starting to think we’ve seen the last of unanimous all-conference voting. This year, Mason Plumlee came the closest, finishing on the first team on 73 of the 77 ballots. The only really egregious misplacement — apart from the media leaving Michael Snaer off the all-defensive team — was filled by James Michael McAdoo on the second team. McAdoo is a very good player, but he often hurts North Carolina as much as he helps with his poor shooting and turnover-prone nature. On the other side of the coin, Devin Booker is criminally underrated and Reggie Bullock is a few spots too low.
  2. The Business Journal: They had to log some overtime, but the first phase of renovations to the Greensboro Coliseum are on schedule for the ACC Tournament. The main upgrades (so far) are in seating, which should be significantly more comfortable (both because the seats are wider and have cushions) along with some higher-end meal options. The renovations should help Greensboro in its quest to compete with future sites (Madison Square Garden), but its ACC heyday is done.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs hints at what stat guru Ken Pomeroy alluded to last month. A conference’s strength on the road versus home has very little to do with how good the conference is. The same can be said for teams, though road wins do say something about a team’s poise. A good example of this is Duke last year compared with Duke this year. Last year the Blue Devils were perfect away from home in conference play, but they clearly weren’t as good as this year’s group, which has struggled away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  4. Sports Illustrated: The big news Monday was that Notre Dame will join the ACC next year for basketball. The Fighting Irish also managed to avoid paying an exit fee by virtue of the “Mutual Commitment Agreement” that is also getting the Catholic Seven schools out free. This either means that Notre Dame joined forces with the basketball schools or was allowed its own agreement based on its independent status in football. Regardless, the Irish are coming our way very soon.
  5. New York Times: Connecticut is one of the only Big East members left without a home. Truthfully, despite its recent success, the school may want to consider dropping football (or playing football in a different league) in order to join the Catholic Seven. Barring more conference realignment, the Huskies are probably out of the ACC. That’s thanks in large part to Boston College, who reportedly doesn’t want another school encroaching on its New England market and doesn’t want the ACC any closer to requiring its members to join the ACC for hockey (which would mean the Eagles lose their direct connection with the prestigious Hockey East).
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Duke Reminds Everybody That It Might Be The Favorite In March

Posted by KCarpenter on March 10th, 2013

It was over at the half. Coaches sometimes hate when others say that, but in Duke’s 69-53 victory over North Carolina, both Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski largely agreed–it was over at the half. Seth Curry was unstoppable, going 8-for-10 in the first stanza. He was closely guarded by Reggie Bullock and others, but in the end, nothing seemed to matter. “He toyed with us,” said Williams, and he wasn’t wrong. Curry led the Blue Devils to a 42 point first half (on 69.2% shooting) while a miserable looking North Carolina offense only managed 24 points (on 27.3% shooting).

Coach K Is Working His Magic Again

Duke scored at will, jumping out to a 14-0 run to start the game and one that ultimately decided it. North Carolina had nice spurts as the game went on, and the margin fluctuated, but ultimately the 14 points held up all the way to the final buzzer. Curry cooled off in the second half, and North Carolina did a better job getting close shots at the basket, but ultimately, a strong game plan and Mason Plumlee did wonders for keeping the Tar Heels at a distance. Plumlee looked more comfortable than he has in a long time, racking up 23 points on 15 shots as well as 13 rebounds. Mason’s board work can stand on its own, but it was all the more impressive for the number it did against James Michael McAdoo. While McAdoo had occasional success scoring on Plumlee, he was simply dominated on the boards. Usually playing as Carolina’s only big, McAdoo managed only 3 rebounds in 34 minutes. For reference, Plumlee had three times as many boards on the offensive end as McAdoo had on the defensive end. The Duke big man’s dominance on the boards kept Carolina at bay throughout the second half.

The Tar Heels did make a second half run, technically slightly winning the half 29-27 while shooting 41.4% to the Blue Devils’ 39.1%. Still, after spotting Duke 14 points to start the game and with Plumlee controlling the boards, the greatly improved play in the second half simply didn’t matter. Krzyzewski put it very simply in his post-game comments: “Obviously, we played really well tonight.” With Miami’s recent stumbles, Duke looks like the hottest and most talented team in the conference.

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Rushed Reactions: #23 North Carolina 79, Maryland 68

Posted by IRenko on March 6th, 2013

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I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between North Carolina and Maryland. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three Key Takeaways:

  • One Team is Dancing, and the Other Is (Probably) Not — This was UNC’s sixth straight win and clinched a share of third place in the ACC. The Tar Heels’ recent run, which includes victories over Virginia and NC State, has solidified their hold on an at-large bid. A win over Duke on Saturday would leave no doubt, but even a loss followed by another in the first round of the ACC Tournament should not jeopardize their at-large hopes. Maryland, on the other hand, is headed in the opposite direction. The Terps badly needed this win after recent losses at Boston College and Georgia Tech. Without it, they’ll probably need to beat Virginia on Saturday and make a deep run in the ACC Tournament to have a shot.
  • McAdoo  vs. Len Disappoints — The marquee match-up coming into the game was the battle between big men James Michael McAdoo and Alex Len, but it proved to be a disappointment. Len excited the crowd with some putbacks, but both players looked tentative and ineffective trying to create offense. McAdoo finished with 10 points and two rebounds. Len added just eight points. To some extent, the letdown was a microcosm for their seasons. Both players entered the year with high expectations — perhaps unfairly high — that they haven’t quite matched. McAdoo was in early National Player of the Year conversations, but has drifted well out of the NPOY race as well as NBA Draft lottery projections. Len remains a projected lottery pick, but he has struggled down the stretch, scoring in single digits in seven of last 11 games (after scoring in double digits in 15 of his first 18 games). I don’t pretend to be a draft expert, but one has to wonder if we may see both of these guys back in college uniforms come November.
P.J. Hairston's Aggressiveness and Physicality Helped he Tarheels to the Win in a Hostile Environment (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

P.J. Hairston’s Aggressiveness and Physicality Helped he Tarheels to the Win in a Hostile Environment (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

  • Maryland’s Shooting Woes Continue – UNC offered a great chance for Maryland to break out of its outside shooting slump, as the Tar Heels’ defense is vulnerable to the three-point shot. And, sure enough, the Terps had plenty of good looks, particularly off post kickouts and ball reversals. But they couldn’t capitalize, shooting an ugly 3-of-23 from behind the arc. They are now shooting 17.9 percent from three over their last three games and 27.3 percent over their past six. The Terps tried to compensate for their woeful shooting against UNC by pounding the offensive glass and attacking the paint. They were effective, outscoring the Heels in the paint, 38-16, and on second-chance points, 20-11. But they still lost the game by 11 points, thanks to their disastrous night from outside.

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Even Without Kendall Marshall, UNC is a Better Passing Team This Year

Posted by KCarpenter on March 4th, 2013

Quick gut check: Is this year’s North Carolina team better at moving the ball than last year’s team? My gut told me there was no chance, especially when that team had Kendall Marshall, the all-time ACC single season leader in assists. My gut was wrong. Well it’s possible that this team doesn’t quite have the passing flair of Marshall, but as a team, this group knows how to move the ball better than last year’s squad. The 2011-12 North Carolina team assisted on 58.1% of its made field goals as opposed to this year’s mark of 61.0%. It’s the best mark in the conference, and against Florida State on Sunday, the Tar Heels’ passing acumen was on full display.

A Better Passing Team Without This Guy? Blasphemy! But True.

A Better Passing Team Without This Guy? Blasphemy! But True.

North Carolina assisted on 20 out of 31 made field goals against the Seminoles, a 64.5% mark for the game.  While the Roy Williams era North Carolina teams have always racked up assists at a pretty quick rate, the way that this team does it is fairly unusual. The norm for UNC has been a dominant point guard in the mold of Raymond Felton, Ty Lawson, and Kendall Marshall — floor generals who exert a tight control over the game. Yet young Marcus Paige hardly fits that description. Granted, Paige has been playing with increased confidence and better passing during the Tar Heels’ five-game winning streak, amassing an easy nine assists during the course of the game. But, for the most part, this year, UNC’s assists have come from a three-headed monster.

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Set Your DVR: Week Of 02.11.13

Posted by bmulvihill on February 11th, 2013

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Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

If we’ve learned anything so far this season, the rest of the season will be anything but predictable. Almost every conference is still up for grabs, so we are in for an exciting few weeks as we head towards March. The games this week provide us several battles at the top of each conference that will go a long way in determining who will stand alone at the end of the regular season. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#18 Marquette at #16 Georgetown - 7:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)

  • Six teams still have a legitimate shot at winning the Big East regular season title. Marquette currently sits on top of the standings with Syracuse and Georgetown only one game back. In their previous match-up this season, the Golden Eagles outlasted the Hoyas 49-48 on the strength of their rebounding and free throw shooting. The game was anything but pretty. While shooting was poor on both sides for that contest, the Hoyas have significantly improved their shooting during their current five game win streak. If Georgetown can combine better shooting with a defense that is holding Big East opponents to 42.3% eFG, they become a very difficult team to beat. The Golden Eagles have been living inside the three-point line. They are first in the Big East in two-point field goal percentage at 51.8%. The Hoyas length bothered Buzz Williams’ squad last time out so keep a close eye on how they are shooting on the road this time. However, because Marquette was steadfast in getting into the paint, they got fouled and went to the line. That was the difference in the game. If the Hoyas can play good defense without fouling and hit the boards, they can win the rematch in D.C.
Otto Porter Will Be on Every Gator's Mind In This One (AP/R. Sutton)

Otto Porter and the rest of the Hoyas have improved their shooting significantly during their five game win streak. (AP/R. Sutton)

#14 Kansas State at #13 Kansas - 9:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)

  • Kansas was going to eventually lose at home. However, three straight losses and a game behind Kansas State in the Big 12 standings seemed pretty far-fetched even just 10 days ago. This is a big game for the Jayhawks as they look to tie Kansas State at the top of the Big 12 and avoid back-to-back home losses. Kansas stopped the Wildcats 59-55 in Manhattan a few weeks ago by locking down the interior on defense and preventing second-chance points. In their most recent loss to Oklahoma, the Jayhawks improved their two-point shooting considerably over the last several games hitting 51% of their attempts inside the arc. Look for Bill Self’s squad to continue to take the ball into the paint where they have a size advantage. For Kansas State to win, they need to hit the three-ball. Kansas has shown vulnerability to the three and the Wildcats must take advantage if they want to build on their lead in the Big 12.

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