Morning Five: 05.29.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 29th, 2013

morning5

  1. If you threw a dart at a map of the United States and it landed somewhere in the hills of Eastern Kentucky or Southwestern Virginia, then drew a circle around that location with a radius of roughly 500 miles in distance, you’d pretty much have nailed down the ‘fertile crescent’ of college basketball. With powerful and tradition-rich programs like North Carolina, Duke, NC State, Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, Cincinnati, and Ohio State, along with other well-supported programs like Tennessee, Xavier, Dayton and Wake Forest all within that circle, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that nine of ESPN‘s top 10 rated television markets for college basketball fall within its boundaries. The top 10: Louisville, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Columbus, Charlotte, Knoxville and Nashville. KC, with Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Creighton and Wichita State all somewhat nearby is the only outlier among this group.
  2. You know it’s gotten out of hand if politicians are getting involved, and that appears to now be the case at Rutgers in the latest scandal enveloping the school’s athletic department. Or not getting involved. Or getting involved to say that they’re not getting involved. Whatever. New Jersey governor Chris Christie told listeners on his “Ask the Governor” radio show Tuesday night that he has no plans to intervene in the hiring of new athletic director Julie Hermann. While it’s no doubt true that Christie has much bigger fish to fry than micromanaging every hiring decision at the state university, it’s worth asking whether any senior athletic department staff is paying attention at all (certainly Christie’s political opponents are doing so). The Mike Rice situation followed by the flub with Eddie Jordan’s resume and now this debacle is highly suggestive of an environment where leadership can’t see what they don’t want to see. It’s incumbent on university president Bob Barchi to get this problem fixed, and soon.
  3. The SEC Tournament may seek to reproduce the success that its football and baseball championships have had at permanent sites — Atlanta and Hoover, Alabama, respectively — by moving to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for good following the 2014 event in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Commissioner Mike Slive was careful to avoid saying the word “permanent,” opting instead to call Music City the “primary” site, but the point is that SEC puppet-masters feel that the relatively central geographic location and easy access for large traveling basketball fan bases such as Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and home team Vanderbilt would merit this (as yet unofficial) decision. Can’t say we disagree. The best conference tournaments are generally in a city that really embraces the event every year, and Nashville seems to enjoy its status as a big-time basketball stronghold during the few times it has gotten to hold the event there.
  4. It’s not often we dig into Division II basketball on this site, but it’s also not common for there to be a formal indictment by a grand jury against a player for murder either. San Francisco State wing Decensae White — formerly of Texas Tech and Santa Clara in 2006-09 — was indicted in Georgia on Tuesday for his alleged role in gunning down a rapper named Lil Phat (nee‘ Melvin Vernell III) as he sat outside a hospital where his girlfriend underwent labor in Atlanta. White gained some degree of national notoriety for hitting a half-court game winner against Cal Poly back in February of this season, as the clip was featured on ESPN’s Sportscenter. White and four other men are due for presentment on these charges later this week.
  5. There was one notable bit of transfer news from Tuesday, as Oregon State’s Ahmad Starks has announced that he will spend the last year of his career at Illinois. He will apply for a family illness waiver to play immediately, as his grandmother is reported to be sick in Chicago. This is a good pickup for John Groce’s squad, as the Illini could use some experienced talent — Starks averaged 10.4 PPG and hit 62 threes last season for the Beavers — to pair in the backcourt with returnees Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand as part of a three-guard set. It may not be a group as talented as last year’s Paul/Richardson/Abrams trio, but it should work well within Groce’s trey-happy system.
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Rushed Reactions: OIe Miss 66, Florida 63

Posted by David Changas on March 17th, 2013

rushedreactions

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after this afternoon’s SEC Tournament championship game between Ole Miss and Florida in Nashville.

Three Key Takeaways.

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Ole Miss, 2013 SEC Champs

  1. No More Bubble Worries. After being involved in the bubble discussion for the past several weeks, and nearly seeing its dreams die when it trailed Missouri by double-figures midway through the second half on Friday night, Ole Miss took the issue out of the Selection Committee’s hands and earned its bid to the Big Dance the old-fashioned way. Now, the Rebels can hope to move up the seed line and draw a better spot than it could have anticipated prior to the weekend. The Rebels got their best two wins of the season this weekend, and even if they had already done enough prior to Sunday’s championship game to earn a bid, they now don’t have to worry about heading to Dayton for a First Four game.
  2. The Monkey off his Back. Andy Kennedy has done a nice job at Ole Miss, which no one would argue is an easy place to win.  He has won 20 games in six of his seven seasons in Oxford. But before today, Kennedy had not been able to get the Rebels into the NCAA Tournament. He was convinced that his team was in the Tournament even before the weekend, and certainly after it beat Missouri. Now, he can breathe a little easier and enjoy the Selection Show a little more. Kennedy is also now working under athletic director Ross Bjork, who arrived on campus a year ago. With any change in AD comes questions about whether a coach is the right fit.  With this win, Kennedy went a long way to securing his future in Oxford, as the Rebels’ appearance validates the work he has done at the school.
  3. Florida Struggles in the Clutch.  The numbers don’t lie. Florida is now 0-6 in games decided by single-digits. It’s a theme that started in the Arizona game in December, when the Gators dominated for 36 minutes but weren’t able to close out the final two minutes of each half. The Gators led this one by 12 at the break and appeared to be in control, but a 26-8 Ole Miss run in the first nine minutes of the second half put the Gators in the position of having to win a close game. Florida was dominant in most of its SEC wins, but obviously didn’t perform the way a team with its talent and experience should have in close ones. It’s a perplexing issue, but one of the Gators’ biggest problems is shot selection. They took 31 threes on Sunday, and many came outside the flow of the offense. “I don’t think our guards did a great job in the second half passing and keeping the ball moving,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said after the game. It’s a problem that is hard to correct at this time of year, and could very well doom the Gators in the NCAA Tournament much earlier than a team with as many weapons as they have should expect.

Star of the Game.  Marshall Henderson.  Who else?  The Tournament MVP scored 71 points in the three games in Nashville, and was the reason Rebels were able to win the title. All antics from the junior guard aside, Henderson is a difference-maker for Kennedy’s squad, and is a key reason the Rebels are going to the NCAA Tournament and not making a return trip to the NIT. 

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Rushed Reactions: Florida 61, Alabama 51

Posted by David Changas on March 16th, 2013

rushedreactions

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the SEC Tournament semifinal game between Florida and Alabama in Nashville.

Three Key Takeaways:

fla alabama sec tourney 13

The Gators Survived Alabama’s Upset Bid on Saturday

  1. Florida Run.  The Gators trailed by 10 early in the second half before going on a 13-0 run to completely change the momentum of the game. Florida looked lethargic at that point, and it appeared they may be heading home a day earlier than most expected. However, led by senior point guard Kenny Boynton, the Gators made their run in less than three minutes, and Alabama never got closer than three the rest of the way. Florida outscored the Crimson Tide 34-14 after trailing by 10. “Boynton stepped up to the plate.  He gave them that spark and they kept building on that,” Alabama guard Trevor Releford said after the game. The run the Gators made was similar to the one they made two weeks ago in Gainesville, where they also trailed by 10 to the Tide in the second half. And that was certainly on Alabama players’ minds. Guard Trevor Lacey admitted that he discussed it with his teammates. “We knew we needed to keep attacking them,” he said.  The Gators clearly were not deterred when they fell behind, and showed again why they won the league’s regular season title.
  2. Good Kenny Boynton.  There is no shortage of enigmatic point guards in the SEC, and Boynton may be the leader of that club. The senior often takes shots out of the offensive flow, and has hit only 32.5% of his three-point attempts on the year. As the Gators practiced this week, coach Billy Donovan advised Boynton and fellow senior Mike Rosario to let the game come to them and to take shots only within the flow of the offense. While Donovan has expressed concern with the way Rosario has responded to that admonition, Boynton appears to have taken his coach’s advice. Even though he struggled shooting the ball in Friday’s blowout win over LSU, Donovan was pleased that Boynton dished out seven assists, and didn’t force anything on the offensive end. In this game, Boynton’s play sparked the Gators’ run, as Boynton scored seven of their 15 points. On the day, he led Florida with 16 points, and Donovan has made it clear that he has no problem with Boynton continuing to shoot the ball when he gets good looks, and if he continues to do that, the Gators chances to make a deep March run in a wide-open field are pretty good.
  3. Did Alabama’s Bubble Burst?  With Kentucky falling outside the RPI top 50 after last night’s loss to Vanderbilt, Alabama owns no wins over top-50 teams.  When compared to other bubble teams, that may do in the Crimson Tide. In most years, their resume wouldn’t even merit contention for a spot. But this year, given that the committee is considering so many unimpressive resumes, there’s always a chance. Alabama coach Anthony Grant was quick to point out when asked about the Tide’s chances after the game that whether his team has done enough to make the Big Dance is not his concern. “I don’t deal in that.  [The committee has] a tough enough job,” he said. Instead, he’ll sit back and wait to see what happens, but it’s much more likely that his team will be hosting a first-round NIT game than playing in the Big Dance.

Star of the Game.  Kenny Boynton.   Gators center Patric Young was too much for Alabama to handle, but Boynton keyed their turnaround, and sent Donovan’s team to the championship game for only the second time in six years.

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Rushed Reactions: Vanderbilt 64, Kentucky 48

Posted by David Changas on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Vanderbilt-Kentucky game at the SEC Tournament in Nashville this evening.

Three Key Takeaways:

Vandy Took It to the Wildcats Friday Night

Vandy Took It to the Wildcats Friday Night

  1. Bubble Trouble.  With all of the losses fellow bubble-dwellers have suffered, the path to the NCAA Tournament was clear for Kentucky. Most assumed the Wildcats would clinch a bid with a win over Vanderbilt, which came into the contest with an overall record of 15-16. Instead, they add another loss to a sub-top-100 team (the Commodores currently sit at No. 118 in the RPI). So instead of advancing to play either Missouri or Ole Miss, the Wildcats severely damaged their position with the Selection Committee. They must now wait and see what the committee will do, and whether their resume is enough to earn a bid to the Big Dance. Since Nerlens Noel went out with a season-ending injury, Kentucky is now 4-4, and a blowout loss to a heretofore mediocre Vanderbilt squad coupled with ugly losses at Tennessee, Arkansas, and Georgia, may make it easy for the committee to conclude that the Wildcats don’t deserve a selection. Kentucky looked like anything but an NCAA Tournament team Friday night, trailing Vanderbilt from the outset and falling behind by 20 early in the second half.  The Wildcats looked listless on the offensive end and allowed Vanderbilt to control the game. The Commodores looked like the only NCAA Tournament-worthy squad in this contest.
  2. A Harrow-ing Tale. To figure out what has plagued Kentucky throughout this up-and-down, frustrating campaign, one need look no further than the play it has gotten from the point guard position. In the past John Calipari’s teams have had superb point guard play, from Derrick Rose to John Wall to Brandon Knight to Marquis Teague, but this team hasn’t gotten that. That glaring weakness was especially evident Friday, as Ryan Harrow was nothing short of atrocious. He went 2-of-15 from the field and turned the ball over four times, killing any chance Kentucky had of winning this game. Harrow has shown signs of what brought him so much acclaim when he transferred from NC State, but overall, has not played up to Calipari’s standards. If Kentucky doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament, it can look no further than Harrow’s play for a reason why.
  3. Can Vanderbilt Steal a Bid? According to Commodore coach Kevin Stallings, his team is back to .500 for the first time “in about five months.” It may not have been that long, but it has been an uphill climb for his club. This was a team from which very little was expected, and Stallings said after the game that he couldn’t be more satisfied with the way his club has improved. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been as proud of a team as I am of this one,” he said.  The question for his club now becomes whether it can break through and steal a bid to the NCAA Tournament. After dismantling Kentucky, he likes how his club is playing, and what seemed like an impossibility just a few short weeks ago now is something to at least think about. The Commodores will face either Missouri or Ole Miss in tomorrow’s second semifinal. They were dismantled in Columbia in January, but would have beaten Ole Miss but for a 35-footer by Marshall Henderson that sent the game to overtime before the Rebels prevailed.  To just be in this position is quite an accomplishment, and anyone who has followed this team knows Stallings has done one of his best coaching jobs this season.

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Florida Clearly Ready for this SEC Tournament

Posted by David Changas on March 15th, 2013

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Friday afternoon’s game between Florida and LSU at the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

In the past, the Florida Gators have been accused of not emphasizing the importance of the SEC Tournament.  The Gators have largely sleep-walked through it since a run of three straight championships from 2005 to 2007 – the last two of those teams, of course, went on two win the national championship as well.  Since that time, they have advanced past the quarterfinals only twice, even when they’ve been a superior team versus their early-round opponents.  If Friday’s dismantling of LSU is any indication, this year will be different.  Coach Billy Donovan’s team, which appeared to be a contender for a #1- or #2-seed just a few weeks ago, limped down the stretch in losing four of its last five on the road, including a meltdown in the final eight minutes in the regular season finale at Kentucky.  It is clear Donovan wants this team to right the ship heading into the NCAA Tournament, and the team’s focus in the win over LSU was evident.  The Gators were on from the perimeter – usually a sign that things are going well for them – hitting 11-of-20 from three-point range.  Senior forward Erik Murphy was particularly hot, making 5-of-7 from three point range on his way to a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds.

The Gators Had Their Explosive Game Going Friday Afternoon (AP)

The Gators Had Their Explosive Game Going Friday Afternoon (AP)

Part of the reason Florida struggled down the stretch of the regular season was the absence of junior forward Will Yeguete, who missed six games because of a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery.  He returned in a limited role in the Gators’ third-to-last game against Alabama, but continues to work himself into game shape.  Friday’s 21 minutes were the most he has played since January, and the energy he brings to his team is evident.  At 6’7″, he is the Gators’ most efficient rebounder and best defender. Yeguete is able to guard in the post and the perimeter, and there is no question that he is a key to Florida’s success from here.

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Tennessee Inches Closer to NCAA Bid, Win Over Alabama Could Seal Deal

Posted by David Changas on March 14th, 2013

David Changas (@dchangas) is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Thursday afternoon’s SEC Tournament game between Tennessee and Mississippi State.

While the SEC has endured a significant amount of well-deserved criticism for its share of mediocre (well, bad) basketball this season (the fact that Mississippi State not only didn’t finish last in the league and was even able to win a game in the conference tournament – albeit against equally woeful South Carolina – is Exhibit A of the league’s futility), perhaps no conference presents more bubble scenarios as we roll towards Selection Sunday. Thus, while the usual Kentucky-related buzz is absent from this weekend’s festivities in Nashville except to the extent the Wildcats are on the bubble themselves,  there is a lot of intrigue about which teams will emerge and land a spot in the field of 68. As of now, it is assumed that only Florida and Missouri are locks for the field, with Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Alabama, and Tennessee seeking bids.

Tennessee Bowled Its Way One Step Closer to the NCAAs

Tennessee Bowled Its Way One Step Closer to the NCAAs

Clearly,  no team is more squarely on the bubble than the Volunteers, who dispatched of the significantly undermanned Bulldogs 69-53 behind 17 points from Jordan McRae Thursday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. The win arguably will do nothing to help the Vols’ standing in the RPI and with the committee, but a loss would have crippled Tennessee’s chances to receive a bid. Now, they must face a much tougher test on Friday, as they take on co-bubble dweller Alabama. While some view the contest as a “play-in” game of sorts, Tennessee comes in with a better resume than the Crimson Tide, which has no wins over the RPI top 50. And Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin doesn’t think the bid is in question any longer. “I said after we beat Mizzou that we’re in the NCAA Tournament, so I’ve moved past that,” Martin said, unconvincingly, after the game. Still, for Tennessee, Friday’s game is an opportunity to win another game against a quality opponent and solidify its standing with the selection committee.

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Vegas Odds: Conference Tourneys – SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

Yesterday we ran through the current Vegas odds for four of the major conference tournaments getting under way early in the week. Today we’ll take a brief look at the remainder — the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, and SEC. The SEC tips off tonight with the rest lacing them up on Thursday afternoon. As usual, there are some disparities between overall public perception and the mathematics that Vegas assigns to these teams — we’ll note some of those differences below (all oddreported from 5dimes.com on Tuesday night).

sec tourney 13 odds

It’s no surprise that the Gators are a heavy favorite in Nashville this week, but #6 seed Missouri coming in with the next highest odds might be. The Tigers would have to win four games in four days, which is always difficult but not impossible. Vegas has little faith in #3 seed Ole Miss and #4 seed Alabama, as exhibited by their relatively low odds. The bottom line is that this tournament is Florida’s to lose, but after that it’s pretty wide open.

acc tourney 13 odds

#1 seed Miami (FL) may have won the regular season by a game in the ACC standings, but that doesn’t mean Vegas has to oblige with the notion that the Hurricanes are better than #2 seed Duke. The Blue Devils are a significant favorite over the rest of the field in Greensboro, and the odds realistically only give the top half of this league any kind of a chance. One team to watch is #5 seed NC State, who will have to win four games in four days — Vegas is still relatively high on the Wolfpack despite an incredibly inconsistent season.

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The RTC Podblast: SEC Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

The SEC Tournament begins tonight, presumably in front of dozens of people with the #11-#14 seeds in action, but that won’t stop us on the RTC Podcast. We invited SEC microsite writer Brian Joyce (@bjoyce_hoops) along for the discussion. The group breaks down a fairly wide open field, and wonders whether Florida is going to roll through this tournament or run into some additional problems. Feel free to hop around to your areas of concern using the handy outline below, and make sure to check back frequently this week as we’ll be rolling out a new podblast for each of the six major conference tourneys.

  • 0:00-3:55 – Florida Wins the SEC Because of Their Talent or Everyone Else’s Lack of Talent?
  • 3:55-6:13 – Non-Gator Favorites in the SEC Tournament
  • 6:13-15:36 – SEC Teams Trying to Win Their Way into the NCAA Tournament in Nashville
  • 15:36-17:42 – SEC Player Poised for a Breakout
  • 17:42-18:48 – Players We’ll Miss in the SEC
  • 18:48-20:14 – Best Potential Match-ups
  • 20:14-22:46 – NCAA Prediction for Florida/Wrap
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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #25 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#25 – Where This is Our Super Bowl Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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Does the New SEC Non-Divisional Format Help Its NCAA Profile?

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2011

Yesterday the twelve SEC head basketball coaches voted to remove the east/west divisional format from their league.  Pending what amounts to a rubber-stamping approval process from the league presidents, the conference could move to a standard twelve-team format as utilized by the other major basketball leagues as soon as next season.  The impetus for this change has been the serious imbalance between the two divisions for a while now.  In 2010-11, five SEC East teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament (versus none from the SEC West), and in 2009-10, four SEC East teams received golden tickets while its western counterparts were left at home.  To put an exclamation point on it, in the last five seasons, a whopping 18 SEC East teams have been invited to go dancing (out of 30 possible bids) against only five from the much-weaker West division.

The SEC is Trying to Avoid 12-4 Teams Like Alabama Left Out of the NCAAs

The SEC coaches know that NCAA bids are where they earn their paychecks and job security, so they’re seeking better ways to position themselves to get more teams into March Madness.  What was once a consistent six-bid league has fallen to an average of four the last three seasons, and as already discussed, the vast majority of those are coming from one division.  The idea to have a single conference race where schools are ranked and seeded for the conference tournament #1 to #12 is highly dubious given unbalanced scheduling (the intra-divisional teams will stay play each other twice in 2011-12) — does Alabama’s 12-4 mark (8-2 against the SEC West) from last season correlate to Kentucky’s 10-6 record (7-3 against the tougher SEC East)?  From an NCAA profile perspective, is it better for a school to tout its status as #1 in the SEC West or #5 overall, as Mississippi State (9-7) dealt with two seasons ago?  Fourth versus fifth place may not matter much in a deep league like the Big East, but in the SEC, it could mean the difference between caviar dreams in the NCAA Tournament or franks n’ beans in the NIT. 

Along the lines of those questions, we thought it might be interesting to examine the last two SEC Tournaments through the old and new formats to determine if the coaches’ stated goal to create more NCAA bid opportunities for the league makes better sense without divisions.  The brackets on the left hand side represent the old divisional format (#1 to #6 in both divisions), while the brackets on the right represent the new format (#1 to #12 regardless of division).   NCAA bubble teams in both years are signified in red.       

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Morning Five: 06.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2011

  1. UConn head coach Jim Calhoun cannot go to any public engagement this offseason without considerable analysis as to what his future plans may hold.  The latest such situation was Wednesday, where the three-time national championship coach spoke at the commencement ceremonies of one of his first employers, Dedham (MA) High School.  Despite a lightning storm in the area, Calhoun said that he envied the 176 graduates “for all the great things that [they] have left ahead” of them, but in an interview afterward, he said he wasn’t even thinking about his future at this time.  Unless Calhoun plans on pulling a Dean Smith and leaving the UConn program in the hands of his assistant coach, George Blaney (playing the save-the-day role of Bill Guthridge), we don’t see him retiring yet.  Having now had two months to reflect on his latest title and career, we think he knows what he’s going to do at this point — it’s just a matter of when he wants to announce it.
  2. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen something like this before, but in the wake of the Jim Tressel mess at Ohio State, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is asking Wildcat fans around the country to drop dime on UA players if they “ever know of a situation where a student-athlete is receiving an extra benefit (something that the rest of the student body would not receive).”  It’s certainly an innovative approach to a ubiquitous problem, and Byrne deserves accolades for at least acknowledging the possibility that Arizona players might do the wrong thing every once in a while.  Still… can you ever imagine an AD at an SEC school doing something like this?  They’d rather eat their own babies than support such a transparent nod to ethics.
  3. Speaking of the Southeastern Conference, the coaches on Wednesday voted in support of scrapping the East and West division format that it has had for two decades.  The reasoning behind this change is to reward the top four teams in the conference regardless of division by giving those schools byes into the SEC Tournament’s quarterfinals, and through some vague and undefined notion, help the overall profile of the league when it comes to postseason selections.  Considering the stark imbalance in recent years between the two SEC divisions — nine East teams have made the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons versus none from the West — we’re having trouble understanding how removing two byes from the weaker division actually helps the conference profile.  Consider a 9-7 Mississippi State team, the West division winner, in 2009-10.  The Bulldogs received a bye to the quarters and were able to rest while #3 Tennessee (11-5, East) and #4 Florida (9-7, East) played in the first round on Thursday; MSU was then able to beat UF and #2 Vanderbilt (12-4, East) in succession before dropping an overtime game to #1 Kentucky (14-2, East) in the finals.  Although the Bulldogs didn’t get an NCAA bid, its bye to the quarters undoubtedly helped its postseason profile, and if they’d been the overall #5 seed instead, we’re not convinced that they’d have been able to make a similar run.
  4. From the players behaving badly department (noticeably quiet lately, to be honest), Syracuse’s Fab Melo was arraigned on Wednesday for a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief related to “reaching through the open driver’s side window of a 2003 Chevrolet Impala, and breaking the turn signal control arm making the turn signal, headlight high beam control and windshield wiper control inoperable.”  Well, that’s certainly one way to do it.  The driver in question was allegedly a female SU student who has also filed a restraining order against Melo.  Something tells us that Melo is already running the stairs of the Carrier Dome over this.
  5. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Joplin, Missouri, Frank Haith’s program and local school Missouri Southern are attempting to put together a charity basketball game in October to raise money for the victims of the three-quarter mile-wide tornado last week.  Mizzou already has its maximum allotment of two exhibition games scheduled for next season, but the Tiger program is applying for an NCAA waiver to allow it to play the Division II program in Joplin.  As Missouri Southern head coach Robert Corn said in response to the waiver, the NCAA has “no heart” if the governing body chooses not to allow it.  Agreed.
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Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Sunday

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten & SEC.

ACC Tournament – by Kellen Carpenter

  • Early in the game, during a media timeout, one of the North Carolina cheerleaders lost her balance and fell down on the male cheerleader who was trying to hold her up. She ended up busting either his nose or lip and proceeded to bleed all over himself, the fallen cheerleader and the court. It took some extended minutes for the glove-wearing bio-hazard team to find and clean up all the blood. It was that kind of day for the North Carolina team and fans.
  • There was buzz more than an hour before tip-off and it grew steadily from there. The crowd was full of North Carolina partisans, but Duke has had the second most fans here all week. The stands were filled and the crowd cheered frequently and often. While the crowd was excitable and loud, the game lacked the rancor of the two previous Duke games. My favorite part about the crowd, however, were the proud representatives of the teams who had already fallen. Clemson sweatshirts and Virginia Tech hats abounded amongst the faction of spectators who often refused to cheer for either team.
  • Nolan Smith may not have had the gaudy offensive performances of Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette this week, but his performance on the offensive end has been spectacular and his performance on the defensive end has won the Blue Devils games. Just as Smith disrupted Virginia Tech’s offense by neutralizing Malcolm Delaney, Smith made the Tar Heel offense grind to a halt with his aggressive defense on Kendall Marshall.
  • In the past two games, Marshall was slowed down and rendered ineffective as teams have discovered the key to stopping him. Marshall is slow and needs space to make passes or drives. Aggressive, close defense on Marshall prevented him from scoring and making plays. Smith came out on Marshall as soon as he got across the half court line and challenged Marshall to try to get past him or pass with heavy pressure. It worked. Marshall had five turnovers to only five assists. He went 3 of 10 from the field. Marshall’s ability to make plays has been the driving force behind this Tar Heel team. Stopping Marshall is the key to stopping North Carolina, and unfortunately for the Heels, it’s now painfully clear how this can be accomplished.
  • The Comeback Kids couldn’t find one more miracle. After the game, Roy Williams said he didn’t understand why UNC had continually fell behind early in their tournament games. I’m not sure either, but I have some guesses. Roy’s insistence on getting early touches for the big men makes UNC’s offense incredibly predictable at the beginning of games. By refusing to shoot threes early in the game, Roy has made it easy to clog the paint and focus in on UNC’s focus.
  • Ryan Kelly, despite looking like a very tall version of Neville Longbottom, has actually settled into a nice impersonation of Manu Ginobili as a big man, or maybe Andrei Kirilenko when he came off the bench. In the sixth man role, Kelly played the fourth most minutes for Duke tonight and had a very impressive all-around game. In addition to nine points and three rebounds, he contributed three blocks and three steals on defense and served as a more reliable scoring threat than either of the Plumlees. This new role suits Kelly, and Coach K said he believes that Kelly has played the best basketball of his life in these past three days. In any case, it’s one more nasty surprise Duke has in store for it’s opponents in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Watching Duke play it was almost inconceivable to me that a Duke team that so effortlessly ran the table in the conference tournament and only had four losses, none of them bad over the course of the season, might not be a number one seed. They are playing some of the best basketball in the nation this past week, as they have all season.  I understand that many teams have a better collection of “best wins,” but Duke is a seriously dangerous team that has gotten better over the course of the season.
  • The last thing that really stood out throughout the course of the tournament was how much Greensboro, as a city, seemed genuinely excited to host. The way that every single business I saw had some sign or deal for ACC fans, the fact that the ACC Hall of Champions stands right next to the Greensboro Coliseum, and just the general excitement about town paints a picture of a place that really, really cares about hosting conference tournaments. It seemed like these were most important days of the year for Greensboro, and that’s a real credit to an otherwise small and sleepy city in North Carolina.

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