Morning Five: 09.12.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 12th, 2013

morning5

  1. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of one of the most horrifying days in American history. You undoubtedly read, heard, or watched many individuals discuss their experiences during that day and afterwards. While most of the coverage focused on first responders and people directly affected by the attack the events of that day affected people in this country in all walks of life including college basketball. Jeff Eisenberg was able to speak with several coaches about their memories of that day. In many ways, we have moved on from the events of that day (for better and worse), but as anybody who is old enough to remember the events of that day will tell you it is something we will never forget.
  2. Over the past month USC has picked up several transfers. Yesterday, Andy Enfield picked up his first significant high school recruit as Jordan McLaughlin committed to play for the Trojans. McLaughlin, the #4 point guard and #18 overall recruit in the class of 2014 [Ed. Note: He is #43 according to Rivals], chose USC over UCLA, Indiana, and Kansas. Given the dearth of backcourt talent at USC, McLaughlin should be able to step right into the role of starter for the Trojans. The one issue this will raise for USC is with Katin Reinhardt, who transferred from UNLV to play point guard to increase his chances of playing in the NBA. The arrival of McLaughlin–an actual point guard–might affect the team’s chemistry if Reinhardt is unwilling to accept a subordinate role in the backcourt.
  3. With McLaughlin committing, there is one less elite point guard recruit available and according to reports another one–Tyler Ulis–is on the verge of committing too. Ulis is said to be deciding between Iowa, Kentucky, and Michigan State. Ulis will make his announcement on Friday at 8:20 PM ET with the live coverage being provided by High School Cube News. The addition of Ulis would be big for any of the three programs, but is considered particularly important for Kentucky who lost out on Emmanuel Mudiay and will likely lose Andrew Harrison to the NBA Draft after this season.
  4.  The team that Bobby Hurley inherited at Buffalo contained some excellent building blocks, but the Duke legend also appears to be quite adept at recruiting as he managed to land Lamonte Bearden, a 4-star point guard out of Wisconsin. Hurley managed to convince Bearden to come to Buffalo over Oregon State, Saint Louis, and San Francisco although there are some reports that his grades may have cooled his recruitment by those schools. If Hurley is able to get Bearden to campus and eligible to play, it would be one of the more impressive recruiting jobs for this year’s class that we have seen.
  5. Sports Illustrated released the second part of its five-part investigative series on Oklahoma State‘s football program yesterday. This part focused on the questionable academic standards required of the team. The series has managed to inspire the expected outrage from Cowboy fans, but as we mentioned on Twitter yesterday the outrage seems to be much less than it was for Miami and almost seems muted. As for our overall reaction to this series and others like it is that while we can appreciate the amount of work that goes into it, we feel as though the work and outrage is incorrectly directed at the programs when instead we as a society should be focusing on the culture around these institutions and society at large that allows this type of behavior to happen.
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Morning Five: 08.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. Like many other college basketball sites we have talked quite a bit about Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to commit to Southern Methodist and how it could affect their recruiting forward. One thing that most writers glossed over, but Mike DeCourcy goes in-depth about is Emmanuel’s brother, John Michael, and how he could have a huge impact on the program even if he does not fill up the box score. While we remain surprised that Emmanuel turned down Kentucky and many other top-tier programs to come to SMU, the fact that he would enroll at a school to play with his brother (and a Hall of Fame coach) should not be that shocking. Having said that we will wait until Emmanuel actually matriculates before we are ready to officially put him in SMU’s column.
  2. In the wake of the NCAA laying down the hammer on Johnny Manziel, several media members and a few anonymous coaches/administrators have taken shots at the NCAA, but few individuals have as much reason to criticize the NCAA as former Miami guard Dequan Jones. You may remember Jones as the Miami player who was forced to sit out 11 games of his senior year after the NCAA took Ponzi scheme mastermind Nevin Shapiro’s word that a Miami assistant had asked for $10,000 to get Jones to commit to Miami before the NCAA finally backed down when they could not find any evidence against him (other than the word of Shapiro). As you can imagine Jones was less than thrilled with how the NCAA handled their investigation of Manziel in comparison to how his was handled. We suspect that Jones is not alone among athletes who have previously been targeted by the NCAA and walked away with much larger penalties that what Manziel incurred.
  3. We are a little over a month away from the new Midnight Madness, but there is still some movement within the coaching ranks. Normally the hiring of an assistant coach at a mid (or low)-major would not merit a mention here, but the announcement that former Boston College coach Al Skinner had been added as an assistant on the Bryant staff intrigued us. Gary Williams might remain the most well-known (and successful coach) to grace the Chestnut Hill sidelines, but it is Skinner who remains the all-time winningest coach in school history. Obviously Skinner left under circumstances that can best be described as less than ideal, but if this current stint at Bryant works out for him he could soon be in the running for some fairly prominent coaching vacancies.
  4. It has been a precipitous fall for Anrio Adams. After enrolling at Kansas (arguably the most successful program in the country in recent years) Adams found himself stuck behind Ben McLemore before a series of unfortunate tweets led to Adams’ departure/dismissal from the team. From there Adams wound up at Ohio (a solid, but not elite program). Now after his decision to leave Ohio after just two months to pursue options at the junior college level we have to wonder where he is headed next. Although Adams was probably never headed for the NBA this is not the ideal trajectory for a player who was once a 4-star recruit. We do not know Adams’ motivation for leaving Ohio, but at this rate we do not expect to see Adams playing a meaningful role at the Division I level any time soon.
  5. After a hot streak picking up transfers it appears that at least one of USC‘s transfers–Ari Stewart–will not be playing for the Trojans this season as the former Wake Forest transfer reportedly failed to qualify academically. Stewart, who sat out the 2011-12 as a transfer redshirt, averaged 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last season for the Trojans and would have helped the Trojans on the inside this season. Unfortunately for Stewart he already used his redshirt year when he transferred meaning that his college career is over. Thankfully for Andy Enfield he will have VCU transfer D.J. Haley available this season to take some of the minutes that Stewart likely would have had.
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Big East M5: The Day After Edition

Posted by mlemaire on March 22nd, 2013

  1. bigeast_morning5(2)Yesterday was the true first day of the NCAA Tournament and overall it was a good one for the four Big East teams that played. Syracuse and Louisville cruised to easy victories and Marquette won the most exciting game in the day, rallying to beat Davidson on a gorgeous left-handed drive by Vander Blue in the last five seconds. Of course Pittsburgh ruined a perfect day for the conference by making exactly one of their 17 three-pointers and turning the ball over 15 times in an 18-point loss to Wichita State. The story for Pitt is getting old at this point. No matter how many times they win 25 games in the regular season, until they actually win a worthwhile NCAA Tournament game, their gaudy records won’t mean anything. It would be one thing if the Shockers had played a clean game themselves, but Wichita State was just 2-of-20 from downtown and turned the ball over 11 times themselves. For Jamie Dixon, that job at Southern California that he shot down oh so casually shot down this week is looking real nice right now, because it seems like the Pitt fans are starting to get fed up.
  2. You want to know why Vander Blue is an NBA prospect? Watch his game-winning layup against Davidson five times, heck I could watch it all day. Too often players settle for long jumpers on last-second plays, Blue on the other hand didn’t hesitate at all, blew past Davidson’s Jake Cohen, and finished smoothly at the rim with his left hand. That was a grown man move with the game on the line. It helped that on a day when the Golden Eagles shot just 34. 5 percent from the field, they hit three improbable three-pointers in a row in the final minute of the game. They weren’t open three-pointers either, they were well-defended, and the man who hit two of them, Jamil Wilson, made just two other field goals on 11 shots up to that point. It was a game that will be hard to top today in terms of excitement, late-game heroics, excitable coaches (what’s up Buzz). But after watching Memphis suffocate and swat down Saint Mary‘s offense, the Golden Eagles will not be able to play that poorly on offense and hope to win in the third round.
  3. An unintended benefit of having so many games spread out across the country is that occasionally a good story is written that wouldn’t have a news peg if there wasn’t an NCAA Tournament game being played in that city. Such is the case with this piece about Villanova’s experience in the realignment done well by the Kansas City Star. The Wildcats play North Carolina in Kansas City tomorrow and rather than write yet another preview, the Star chose to go back and time and talk with coach Jay Wright about the uncertainty of watching the Big East crumble and the move into a basketball-centric, new Big East conference next season. Things are settled now and that’s good, because the Tar Heels present a stiff challenge.  Not unlike Pittsburgh, Villanova is back in the tournament after a disappointing season and they will be looking to prove they belong.
  4. The best part about Syracuse’s near-50-point thrashing of Montana other than the near flawless basketball the Orange played was watching CBS Sports analyst Seth Davis act a fool in full-on Syracuse gear. The outfit was Davis manning up after he picked the Grizz to pull of the upset and felt confident to make a bet with Syracuse sports radio hosts, a bet he honored by looking extra-bright on national television. Yesterday I mentioned that another data-based formula showed that Montana was a good candidate to pull of the upset and last night’s beat down was evidence that none of these formulas are bullet-proof. The zone defense and length of the Orange defenders were too much for Montana’s shooters and the game turned into a boat race midway through the first half.
  5. Georgetown has had less obvious and publicized recent struggles in the NCAA Tournament than Pittsburgh but the Hoyas and coach John Thompson III could use a deep NCAA Tournament run this season to assuage some of the concerns that have crept out of nowhere since the team’s trip to the Final Four.  For whatever reason, Florida Gulf Coast has seen a groundswell of support and most of it is seemingly coming from people who have never seen them play. They have a win over Miami and they definitely have an argument about receiving just a No.15 seed given their resume and talent. But they also haven’t seen a defense as long and athletic as Georgetown’s and just as Montana found out today against a hungry Syracuse team, the Eagles are going to quickly learn how hard it can be to score against a premier Big East defense.
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Morning Five: 04.30.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 30th, 2012

  1. Later today Southern Mississippi will introduce Morehead State‘s Donnie Tyndall as its next head coach. Tyndall, who led Morehead State to two NCAA Tournament appearances (including an upset over Louisville in 2011) in six season, is expected to sign a four-year contract at Southern Mississippi. He will be replacing Larry Eustachy, who took the school to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years this season before leaving to take over at Colorado State. Fortunately for Tyndall, Eustachy did not leave the cupboard bare as the Golden Eagles should have a very good team next season. We have not heard any word on potential replacements for Tyndall at Morehead State, but it seems like it would be a good location for a current assistant coach to step into his first head coaching spot.
  2. With all of the recent news surrounding transfers it was surprising to see that Duke transfer Michael Gbinije had decided to transfer to Syracuse. Although Gbinije, who saw little court time during his freshman year at Duke, will have to sit out a year, but the transfer is notable since he will be staying within the ACC with the Orange joining the ACC. Although we are sure that many of you out there are loath to hear the media heap any more praise on the Blue Devils we have to applaud their program for agreeing to do so or at least without all the fuss that other programs have created when a player tries to transfer.
  3. Wisconsin was one of the programs that found itself in the news over issues with a transfer (Jarrod Uthoff) recently and the person who was the symbol of the impeded transfer was Bo Ryan. While the ordeal was a bit of a public relations disaster for Ryan and Wisconsin and Uthoff will be leaving the school it seems like Ryan will be staying at the school through at least 2017 as the school gave him a five-year extension on Friday. Ryan, who has coached at Wisconsin for 12 seasons, has built the program into one of the premier programs in the Midwest and the entire country (probably a top 5 program if you ask Ken Pomeroy). We are looking forward to see what restrictions there are on Ryan if he wants to move to take another job.
  4. Renaldo Woolridge, best known for being the son of former NBA start Orlando and having produced music that pushed the boundaries of the NCAA rule book, will be transferring to Southern California and playing next season after playing three seasons at Tennessee. Woolridge has garnered quite a bit of attention for his musical exploits and his promotion of that music, but to date his production (never averaging more than 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game in any season) leaves quite a bit to be desired. Woolridge only has one season more at the collegiate level to make his mark on the court.
  5. What would a weekend be without a few idiotic run-ins with the authorities? This weekend’s “winners” are Josiah Turner and Pe’shon Howard. We will start with Turner, who decided to transfer from Arizona after a tumultuous freshman year. Turner was arrested this past week on suspicion of driving under the influence. The reports on the arrest do not provide further details including when the arrest happened, but it goes without saying that this will not help Turner in his search to find a program to transfer to although we suspect with his pedigree there will be plenty of Division I programs waiting with arms open for a player of Turner’s caliber. The details on Howard’s arrest are a little more clear as he was arrested at 2:35 AM on Sunday morning for his involvement in a fight out a restaurant in College Park, Maryland. Howard, who missed the last month of his sophomore season after tearing an ACL, was not directly involved in the physical altercation, but was involved verbally. Given the reports on the issue we doubt that Howard will get much more than a slap on the wrist from the Maryland coaching staff.
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Morning Five: 09.14.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 14th, 2011

  1. The NCAA has been getting a lot of criticism lately. Ok, they always get a lot of criticism. Despite what some people thinks sometimes the NCAA gets things right. The case of Lionel Gomis is one example of that. Gomis, who is starting his freshman year at Siena, grew up in Senegal moving from house to house after his mother died when he was 14 and unable to go to school for two years due to financial hardship before he was brought to the US as sports development program enrolling in a school in the United States. Gomis was able to overcome his rough beginnings and receive a scholarship at Siena. However, a NCAA rule that was recently adopted that stated a student-athlete had to complete his or her core curriculum in a five-year period.  Due to the two years that Gomis was not in school in Senegal he failed to meet these requirements so the NCAA said that he would have his eligibility reduced by three years (two years for the time he was not in school in Senegal and one year when he came to the United States and had to be reclassified due to his limited English proficiency). If the decision was upheld, Gomis would have only been able to play one year of college basketball. However, the NCAA ruled yesterday that Gomis would get two years of eligibility back for the time he missed in Senegal although they were sticking with their earlier ruling regarding his reclassification so as of right now he would not be eligible to play until next season. Siena is appealing that part of the ruling, but it looks like the NCAA may have gotten one right (at least partially)
  2. Last week, Billy Donovan welcomed Erik Murphy back to the Florida basketball team without having to miss any playing time after his involvement in an incident in April where he was arrested with two others (Cody Larson and team manager Josh Adel) for breaking into a car outside a bar after getting into an argument with staff about a lost wallet. Larson’s status is a little less certain as he was previously arrested for sharing hydrocodone pills (his account of the story). Larson appears to have gotten a bit of good news as he has avoided any jail time for now after accepting a plea agreement of 200 hours of community service, submitting to a substance abuse evaluation and potential treatment, paying the victim $240 and writing him a letter of apology, paying $200 for costs related to the case, serving one year of supervised probation, and not consuming any alcohol or other controlled substances during that year. The next step is whether or not the agreement will affect his previous case in South Dakota. If a court there decides that it does, Larson may face additional penalties including potential jail time as a condition of his suspended sentence in his home state. Neither UF nor Donovan have released a statement on Larson yet.
  3. Yesterday, we mentioned that the proposal to name the court after Gary Williams at the Comcast Center was facing significant resistance. It looks like it wasn’t that significant as Maryland announced yesterday that it was going to name the court after Williams. We all know what Williams has accomplished and his resume at Maryland stacks up well with any ACC coach of recent vintage outside of Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith, and Roy Williams. Even though naming the court after Williams will cost the school the potential revenue for naming rights for the court it does open up a myriad of advertising opportunities for antiperspirant deodorant.
  4. Normally, the hiring of a Division II coach without a major track record or a history of scandal wouldn’t merit an inclusion in our exclusive Morning Five. However, when the coach is Mark Prosser, the son of the late Skip Prosser, it qualifies. Yesterday, Prosser was named head coach of Brevard College after working as an assistant at Wofford since 2008. For Prosser, who had spent five years as an assistant at Bucknell before going to Wofford, this will be his first college head coaching position. Prosser has a tough task ahead of him as Brevard went 13-14 last year and only his predecessor, Mike Jones, had spent more than four seasons as a head coach at the school.
  5. USC guard Jio Fontan underwent ACL surgery yesterday at a Los Angeles orthopedic center that deemed “successful” although we are not that certain about a claim this early well before many complications can occur. For his part, Fontan appeared upbeat heading into surgery and looking forward to rehab as he sent this tweet prior to his surgery and apparently responding to well-wishers after his surgery via his Twitter account. We wish Fontan the best in his rehab and hope to finally see him playing in a Trojan uniform in the near future.
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RTC Bracketology Update: Selection Sunday

Posted by zhayes9 on March 13th, 2011

Zach Hayes is RTC’s official bracketologist.

UPDATED: Sunday, 4:10 PM ET.

First 4 Byes: Illinois, Colorado, Penn State, Michigan.

Last Four In: Clemson, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Georgia.

First Four Out: Saint Mary’s, Southern California, Boston College, VCU.

S-Curve (italics indicate automatic bids)

  • 1 Seeds: Kansas, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh
  • 2 Seeds: Duke, San Diego State, North Carolina, Connecticut
  • 3 Seeds: Florida, Texas, Louisville, Kentucky
  • 4 Seeds: BYU, Purdue, Syracuse, Wisconsin
  • 5 Seeds: St. John’s, West Virginia, Arizona, Vanderbilt
  • 6 Seeds: Texas A&M, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Xavier
  • 7 Seeds: Georgetown, Old Dominion, Missouri, Washington
  • 8 Seeds: Utah State, Temple, George Mason, Tennessee
  • 9 Seeds: UCLA, UNLV, Richmond, Gonzaga
  • 10 Seeds: Florida State, Marquette, Villanova, Butler
  • 11 Seeds: Michigan State, Illinois, Colorado, Penn State
  • 12 Seeds: Memphis, Michigan, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Georgia
  • 13 Seeds: Belmont, Princeton, Oakland, Indiana State
  • 14 Seeds: Bucknell, Morehead State, Wofford, Long Island
  • 15 Seeds: Akron, Northern Colorado, St. Peter’s, Boston University
  • 16 Seeds: UC-Santa Barbara, UNC-Asheville, Hampton, Arkansas Little-Rock, UT-San Antonio, Alabama State
  • Despite Duke’s ACC Tournament title, in a head-to-head resume comparison with either Pittsburgh or Notre Dame, the Big East duo prevails. Two of Duke’s wins over NCAA Tournament teams came with Kyrie Irving. Duke has substantially less RPI top-25 and top-50 wins and their best road victory on the season is Maryland. Pittsburgh and Notre Dame finished 1-2 in the best conference in recent memory. I could see Duke get the final #1 just as they did last year over a Big East team (West Virginia), but if they do it’s the second straight year it’s undeserved.
  • Kentucky moves up to a #3 seed with their SEC Tournament win. They’re playing at a very high level and the committee will have noticed, thrashing both Alabama and Florida. The Gators remain as a #3 seed with their commendable body of work.
  • Richmond moves up to a #9 seed with their Atlantic 10 Tournament win. No bid stealer today. Georgia is my last team in the field.
  • I have a hunch that St. Mary’s will sneak in over one of the ACC or SEC teams, but I can’t include them purely based on a feeling. Frankly, there’s no argument for St. Mary’s over Georgia. The only argument to leave Alabama out is their horrid non-conference. St. Mary’s has one win over the RPI top-50 and it came in November. That doesn’t cut it.
  • Kansas is my #1 overall seed. It doesn’t really matter. They’ll go to the San Antonio region while Ohio State goes to Newark regardless.
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Checking in on… the Pac-10

Posted by jstevrtc on December 17th, 2009

checkinginon

Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Big West conferences.

Recap:

It was another tough week for the PAC-10 Conference, as their sole remaining Top-25 squad may be unranked by this time next week and the conference won just five of its last twelve games.

It’s also a conference of classes, with Washington and California clearly the best teams (despite recent trouble), then a clear three-team middle class and a dreadful five-team bottom class.  Most teams have scheduled cake opponents to build some confidence before heading into the Pac-10 schedule, but that may not be enough to fool voters into handing out at-large bids come March.  Already, this is looking like a three (ok, maybe four) bid conference.

Power Rankings:

#21 Washington (6-2)

The PAC-10’s last remaining Top-25 team may lose that distinction after a convincing loss to #13 Georgetown at last weekend’s Wooden Classic in Anaheim.  No shame in losing to a very impressive Georgetown team, but you expect a fellow ranked team to put up a fight (I’m getting tired of saying this about the PAC-10 this season).  It’s clear now that there are no offensive weapons besides Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas, and the Hoyas forced 25 Washington turnovers.  Twenty-five!

Washington State (8-2)

The Cougars got another good win this week, beating 5-3 Air Force by a 75-68 score at home.  Leading scorer Klay Thompson put up 19 (six below his average) and Washington State shot 51.0% as a team, with very balanced scoring that puts the PAC-10’s only eight-win team in good position as we near conference play.

California (6-3)

California is out of action this week but will returns with a bang visiting Allen Fieldhouse to take on #1 Kansas next Tuesday.  Obviously, a win would be huge for the sliding Golden Bears.  It’s also extremely unlikely.  Cal hasn’t beaten any of the three best teams they’ve faced so far this season, with losses to Syracuse, Ohio State and New Mexico.  In those three losses, the Bears are allowing 86 PPG.  If California wants to work back into the Top 25, a good showing in Kansas is mandatory.

ASU (7-3)

‘Tis the season to schedule some cake opponents before heading into the conference schedule.  That’s exactly what Arizona State did when they beat lowly Delaware State last week, winning by 40.  It was a morale booster for the Sun Devils after two losses.  But ASU heads right back into its tough schedule with a date against rising San Diego State coming up.  Are the Sun Devils for real?  This game will be a good indicator.

Stanford (5-4)

Stanford continues to surprise and impress, winning a game they should have won (85-69 over UC Davis) and nearly knocking off a very good Big 12 team (71-70 to Oklahoma State).  There’s going to be a great race for third place in the conference this season, with Stanford, Arizona State and Washington State clearly playing some of the best ball in the Pac-10 right now.

Oregon (5-4)

No one expected Oregon to be a Final Four team this year, and for good reason.  The Ducks have a pretty easy schedule and are struggling with it.  This week, they fell to St. Mary’s and then beat up on Mississippi Valley State. That’s all well and good, but consider Oregon’s next three opponents:  Oakland, Idaho State and Arkansas Pine Bluff. Their combined record?  7-21.  All at home!  Someone please tell Oregon that this is the Pac-10 and not the Eugene School District.

USC (4-4)

The Trojans are struggling visibly, but they’ll win some close games in the Pac-10 this season because of their interior dominance.  Forward Alex Stephenson is developing into a force, and Marcus Johnson had a school record 13 blocks in a 59-35 win over Idaho State.  That said, USC only beat Idaho State by six, and suffered through some severe offensive droughts.  The Trojans will likely get steamrolled by Tennessee this Saturday.

Arizona (4-5)

It was going to take some time to evaluate Arizona and determine whether the Wildcats were a poor team, or had just scheduled tough opponents.  After a 63-46 loss to San Diego State, it’s safe to say that Arizona just ain’t that good.  The Aztecs are a very strong mid-major this season, but they played ‘Zona like a mandolin.  They’ll rebound at home against Lipscomb, and then get crushed by North Carolina State and BYU before more of the same in the conference season.

Oregon State (4-5)

The bad news continues with the Beavers’ woeful ways.  Nebraska took a 50-44 win and then Oregon State fell to Illinois Chicago in a 63-61 loss.  Where is the Oregon State team that beat Colorado earlier this season?  They didn’t show up in Nebraska, where the Cornhuskers didn’t score a field goal in the final 6:53 and still weren’t threatened by Oregon State’s laughable offense.  Like the rest of the conference, the Beavers scheduled a pair of juggernauts in Mississippi Valley State and 4-5 Fresno State.  Step your game up, Pac-10.

UCLA (3-6)

The Bruins couldn’t hang with the length or athleticism of Mississippi State in a 72-54 loss, but rebounded with an offensive outburst in a 100-68 win over New Mexico State.  Glory be!  Has coach Ben Howland righted the ship?  The Bruins snapped a five-game skid, had five players in double figures and held the Aggies to 38.9% shooting, but UCLA is hardly out of the woods yet.  They face a high-octane Notre Dame attack and a strong Colorado State before hosting Pac-10 punching bag Delaware State and heading into conference play.

Games To Watch:

  •  #21 Washington vs. Portland – 12/19, 10:00pm
  • Stanford @ Northwestern – 12/19, 2:00pm
  • Arizona State vs. San Diego State – 12/19, 6:30pm
  • USC vs. Tennessee – 12/19, 4:30pm on FSN
  • #21 Washington vs. Texas A&M – 12/22, 11:00pm on FSN
  • Stanford @ #20 Texas Tech – 12/22, 8:00pm
  • Washington State vs. LSU – 12/22 10:00pm
  • Arizona vs. North Carolina State – 12/23, 10:30pm on FSN

 

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Midwest Region Game-By-Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by zhayes9 on March 18th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

#1 Louisville vs. #16 Morehead State

For Louisville to win: It’s pretty simple for Louisville in this 1-16 matchup: do exactly what has gotten you to the point of receiving the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They shouldn’t have much problem playing their usual lockdown defense, employing their frantic press and letting the pure athletic ability of guys like Earl Clark and Terrence Williams completely overwhelm the star-struck Eagles.

For Morehead State to win: The triumphant winners of the inaugural Play-In game, Morehead State will need a God-delivered miracle to prevail over Louisville. They hope their stud big man Kenneth Faried (13.9 PPG, 13.1 RPG) can push around Clark, Williams and Samardo Samuels enough inside where it becomes a guard-oriented shooting contest. Hope that Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles, Andre McGee and Co. reverts back to their November shooting woes and pull off the monumental upset.

#8 Ohio State vs. #9 Siena

For Ohio State to win: The Buckeyes will need to play steady, Big Ten-like team defense on Siena’s trio of scorers and run a bunch of isolation plays down the stretch for their superstar Evan Turner (17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG). At times Turner can penetrate and score at will; Siena simply does not have that type of talent on their roster. They also need to utilize B.J. Mullens inside due to Siena’s lack of height.

For Siena to win: The Saints have been led all season by their own Big Three- Kenny Hansbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin. Receive balanced scoring out of those three like they’ve perfected all season (all average between 14.8 and 13.6 PPG) and they could surely take down the Buckeyes. The Saints will also be shorthanded inside trying to box out bodies like Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens. They’ll need Ryan Rossiter and Franklin to pound the boards constantly.

#5 Utah vs. #12 Arizona

For Utah to win: Luke Nevill outplaying Jordan Hill would be nice. Seriously, this is one of the best first-round matchups in the entire tournament. If Nevill can get Hill into foul trouble, the entire complexity of this game changes. Nic Wise and Chase Budinger love shooting it from the outside and the Utes wouldn’t mind getting into a three-point contest with Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha both over 40% from downtown.

For Arizona to win: Even though Arizona is the 12-seed, not many would refute that the Wildcats have the superior talent in this game. They can escape all of the regular season’s distractions now and out-talent the Utes. Nic Wise needs to have a quality outing for Arizona to win; when he’s hitting threes and running the offense with ease, Budinger gets open shots, Hill gets touches inside and Arizona can beat anyone.

#4 Wake Forest vs. #13 Cleveland State

For Wake Forest to win: The Demon Deacons need to avoid underestimating a clearly inferior opponent. As with losses to Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia Tech, the young Deacons have played down to their competition. The Vikings went into the Carrier Dome and won this season when Syracuse did the same thing. Hopefully Jeff Teague and James Johnson come out right away with a fire in their collective bellies.

For Cleveland State to win: One thing Wake Forest does not do well at all is make threes. Their entire offensive game is generated by penetration and mid-range jump shooting. Coach Gary Waters should pop in the game film from Wake’s latest loss to Maryland and examine how the Terps chopped up the inconsistent Deacon defense. Cedric Jackson is the perfect point guard to lead the way.

#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Dayton

For West Virginia to win: The Mountaineers simply need to play like they did last weekend in the Big East tournament. Set screens to free deadeye shooter Alex Ruoff, let DaSean Butler work his multi-faceted offensive game, continue to witness Devin Ebanks mature into an elite scorer and rebounder and hope Darryl Bryant keeps distributing like a senior.

For Dayton to win: It’s going to be awfully difficult as West Virginia seems to be picking up steam lately and you know Bob Huggins will have them prepared and intense. Not only will stars Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson need to play outstanding games, but their deep bench must contribute offensively. It’s all about keeping West Virginia off the boards and hoping Ruoff has a bad day from the outside. If that happens, the Mountaineers can look very confused offensively.

#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State

For Kansas to win: Ben Woodside is not only the Bison’ top scorer, he’s the engine behind their incredibly efficient and unselfish offensive game plan. He’s quite a task for Sherron Collins in the first game of the tournament. If Collins can shut down Woodside on the defensive end, North Dakota State should have trouble scoring with the Morris twins, Cole Aldrich and others blocking shots inside. This young Jayhawk team will live and die with the play of their junior leader Collins.

For North Dakota State to win: They need to play some semblance of tough defense. We all know the Bison can score points in bunches and have some prolific offensive options, but the only way the Bison will be fitted for Cinderella’s slipper is if they can contain slashers Collins and Tyshawn Taylor and bang bodies with the Morris twins and Aldrich. If they fall behind early, it is imperative they stick with their offense that’s gotten them this far instead of panicking.

#7 Boston College vs. #10 Southern California

For Boston College to win: The Eagles can sometimes look really crappy on defense. The Trojans have so many weapons, BC needs to play inspired defense to win this game. The most arduous task will be to contain Taj Gibson inside with Joe Trapani and Josh Southern. Gibson has an NBA-body and tremendous scoring potential. Trapani and Southern must play defense inside similar to their effort in Chapel Hill when they knocked off the Tar Heels.

For Southern California to win: Stud freshman DeMar DeRozan played like a possessed man during the Pac-10 tournament and USC finally came together to play up to their potential. If DeRozan outplays Rakim Sanders and explodes to the rim with ease, the entire USC offense improves drastically. Defending Tyrese Rice will also clearly be imperative. Should Daniel Hackett hold Rice, the Trojans will win.

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Robert Morris

For Michigan State to win: The Spartans clearly have enough talent to win this 2-15 game easily. If only a couple of their many weapons are flowing offensively, they should be fine. Izzo’s boys are also in the top ten in defense and rebounding. Overwhelm the Colonials with the talent of Lucas, Morgan, Suton, Summers and they’ll prevail by 20+.

For Robert Morris to win: For the Colonials to pull another Duke-Belmont 2-15 scare, they’ll need to play their usually efficient offensive game. Their entire team shoots 48% from the floor and Jeremy Chappell is especially remarkable- 16.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 47% FG, 85% FT, 41% 3PT, 2.5 SPG as one of the most unheralded all-around players in the nation. If Chappell has a monster performance and Michigan State can’t get into any flow offensively, the Colonials have a shot.

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Conference Over- and Underachievers

Posted by jstevrtc on January 28th, 2009

John Stevens is a featured writer for Rush The Court.  His column appears on Tuesdays throughout the season.

All right, now we’re talking.  We’re several games into conference play, now, and the leagues are starting to take shape.  We’ve known the fates of some teams for a long time, both the good (your Carolinas and Dukes, Oklahomas and UConns, etc), and the bad (no need to pile on, here).  The most interesting part of it all, to me, are those teams which are doing a little better than they expected and may be making tenuous hotel reservations for a very large dance in March…and others that are becoming quickly aware that they are only one or two losses away from being tossed into the dustbin of NIT-worthiness.  Even worse, many squads are realizing that they may not even have THAT to worry about, that there will be no post-season, that the only thing they have waiting on them after the basketball season is over is — horror of horrors — going to class.

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Many teams know this is all they have to look forward to in March. (photo credit: photobucket.com)

So who’s not behaving like we expected?  Who has both surprised and disappointed us, in terms of conference play?  Without further delay, I give you…our early-conference edition of Over- and Underachievers.

ACC

Overachiever:  Virginia Tech (14-5, 4-1)

As much as their win over then-#1 Wake Forest turned heads, I think people were just as surprised (at least I was) that they avoided the usual post-big-victory letdown by going to Miami (FL) four days after the Wake win and knocking off what I still think is a very capable Hurricane squad.  I know it’s early.  But right now it’s the Hokies who sit second in the conference, a game behind new national #1 Duke.  Victories like the ones they’ve enjoyed so far can sometimes set the tone for a great season, or they can make you overconfident so that you screw up the rest of your conference schedule.  We’ll see how far they can take it, but you’ve got to give them props to this point.

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Greenberg and Vassallo, Overachievers. (photocredit: daylife.com)

Underachiever:  Georgia Tech (9-10, 0-6)

Whew.  What happened here?  After starting 7-2, something happened just before Christmas and the Jackets just haven’t gotten up from it.  Maybe the competition just got a little better, but with all the talent on this team and a coach like Paul Hewitt there’s just no excuse for going one-for-2009.  Their only victory of this year?  A 5-point win at home against Georgia, a bottom-feeder team in a terrible SEC.  To be completely honest, I’m already tired of talking about them.  Maybe next year Derrick Favors will bring the antidote this program needs.

Big 12

Overachiever:  Missouri (17-3, 4-1)

Hands up, who had Missouri at 17-3 after 20 games?  Yeah, me neither.  The Tigers have great individual talent but have succeeded this year by being the epitome of unselfishness, which has led to efficiency.  They average 19.4 assists per game (2nd nationally), just a ridiculous number.  The only question mark…only three true away games so far.  Probably the only reason they aren’t well-entrenched in the Top 25 right now.

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Missouri’s DeMarre Carroll, a large human, happy about overachieving. (photo credit: daylife.com)

Underachiever:  Texas A&M (15-5, 1-4)

That 14-1 start was lookin’ pretty good, then conference play started.  12 assists per game just isn’t going to get it done (248th in the nation).  Donald Sloan averages the most dimes per game on this team at a mere 3.2.  We’re pretty sure Mark Turgeon is a fine coach, but right now the Aggies are giving the NCAA Tournament committee reasons to deny them entry in March.  They’d best learn to stay afloat for the rest of Big 12 play.

Big East

Overachiever:  Marquette (18-2, 7-0)

Winners of 10 straight.  RPI of 15.  7-0 in a monster conference.  The coolest thing about Marquette is that they’ll beat you any way you wish to get beaten — they can play slow, half-court basketball and cut you to pieces, and they’re also more than happy to outrun you and get it up near triple-digits.  And Monday night was telling — I bet Maurice Acker followed Kyle McAlarney to class today.  McAlarney couldn’t have gotten have rid of him even if he’d cut the brake lines on Acker’s car.  The Jerel McNeal/Wesley Matthews/Lazar Hayward three-headed monster has turned into one of the most fearsome in the game.  DO NOT forget this team when filling out your bracket in the office pool in a month and a half.

Underachiever:  Seton Hall (10-9, 1-6)

The Pirates raised some eyebrows when they started off 9-3 including wins versus Southern Cal and Virginia Tech, and then — sense a trend, here? — conference play began.  Boom, six straight losses.  I think the Georgetown game really showed us something closer to who the real Seton Hall team is, but this conference is going to end up being just too vicious overall for them.

SEC

Overachiever:  Kentucky (16-4, 5-0)

According to a number of my Wildcat connections, before this season, UK supporters were basically ready to give Billy Gillispie another “free-pass” sort of season, inasmuch as a coach can actually have that at Kentucky.  Doesn’t look like Gillispie needs it.  This team is an interesting statistical mix.  They rank 3rd in the country in FG% (50.2%) and 2nd nationally in FT% (79%).  We know about the potency of the Jodie Meeks/Patrick Patterson tandem.  Defensively, they hold opponents to 36.4% a game from the field, which is 3rd best in the nation; and they rank second in the country in blocks per game with 7.5 (and, oddly, second in the conference as well behind Mississippi State’s 8.0/game).  So…great offense, great defense…what’s the problem?  Well, how about 18.1 turnovers per game?  That’s 338th out of 341 Division One teams.  Egad.  Nobody — even Kentucky fans, I don’t think — saw Kentucky improving this fast with so many unknowns starting the year.  Clean up the turnovers and you’re a top five team.

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Class of the SEC? We’ll see… (photo credit: daylife.com)

[Ed. note:  since this was written, Kentucky was defeated by Mississippi on Tuesday night to give UK its first loss in the conference and take them to 5-1.  I think, however, that UK still qualifies for Overachiever status in the SEC so far for reasons outlined above.   --J.S.]

Underachiever:  Arkansas (12-5, 0-4)

If you look at the win-loss pattern on Arkansas’ schedule, you’d say, “Yep, conference play, again.”  I don’t think you can’t say that, here.  It’s baffling, because in an eight-day span less than a month ago, John Pelphrey’s Razorback squad knocked off both Texas and Oklahoma, not exactly a couple of pansies.  It makes absolutely no sense that beginning conference play in a WAY-down SEC (6th in conference RPI, and probably falling) would cause Arkansas any problems at all, but here they sit at 0-4 in the conference, including an inexcusable 22-point home court butt-smoking at the hands of Auburn.  Arkansas is another team that is just loaded with great athletes, and if they straighten up a little the committee will remember those two earlier big wins.  Arkansas reminds me of Avril Levigne.  I’m pretty sure there’s something attractive there…but they’re doing whatever they possibly can to screw it up and make themselves ugly.

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Avril has a message for Mr. Stevens (photo credit: radaronline.com)

This is not a complete list, by any means.  But I think it shows us how breezing through questionable non-conference opponents might not be the best recipe to impress the committee, as attractive as it is to post a nice big number in the pre-conference ‘W’ column.  Everyone knows that late losses simply mean more, that the committee likes you to finish strong.  You can’t allow yourself to be a conference underachiever.  Conference play will give you a bellyache if all you’ve been doing is loading up on cupcakes.

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