Jamelle Horne Joins Bonehead Pantheon

January 20, 2009

Quick… what’s the term for the opposite of good basketball IQ?  A Stephon Marbury?  What do you call a player who consistently makes abominable, indefensible and atrocious decisions on the court?  A Derrick Coleman?  Well, step aside Bonehead Brethren of Years Past, because there’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Jamelle Horne.  The Arizona sophomore, through his complete and utter obliviousness at the end of two key games this year, may have singlehandedly ensured that his school will not play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a quarter-century. 

Lori Sheply/LA Times)

"Oh No! I Did It Again!" (photo credit: Lori Shepler/LA Times)

Arizona now sits at 11-7 and eighth place in the Pac-10 (2-4) after getting swept by the SoCal schools over the weekend.  Their RPI is currently #52, the ship appears to be taking on water, and at this point it’ll take a herculean effort for Russ Pennell to get Arizona back into the mix as a realistic at-large candidate.  But what if instead of 11-7 (2-4), the Wildcats were currently sitting at 13-5 (3-3)?  You’d have to figure they’d be getting votes in both polls as well as being talked about as a dangerous team in the second half of the season. 

This is where Jamelle Horne comes in.  The Arizona wing was lambasted back in November for intentionally fouling a UAB player 60 feet from the basket in a game that was tied 71-71 with one second left.   UAB hit one of two free throws and won the game.  Flash forward to Saturday night at USC.  In a game where Arizona led most of the way, USC had clawed back to tie the score at 64-all when Nic Wise threw the ball away.  USC’s Daniel Hackett grabbed the errant pass and started upcourt.  From the Arizona Star:

Immediately after Hackett crossed the midcourt line, Horne ran into the USC guard with 1.2 seconds left. Having only a prayer of a chance at a game-winning field goal, Hackett instead was given two free throws. He made the first one and that was all the Trojans needed.

We were watching this game live, and let’s be a little clearer than the reporter’s account above.  Horne didn’t just accidentally “run into” Hackett.  He deliberately ran into Hackett in an attempt to cause the referee to blow the whistle.  It wasn’t an intentional foul in the sense that you grab a guy to impede his progress, but it was an end-of-game “intentional” foul designed to stop the clock and put the player on the line.  The kind of foul you only make when you think you’re behind and you need to get the ball back.   (we respectfully disagree with this UA blog’s assessment that the foul was ticky-tack)

Problem was, for Arizona and Horne, the game was (once again) TIED. 

If we were Russ Pennell, we’d strongly consider putting Horne through a battery of memory tests to determine if he has the mental capacity to remember something for longer than two seconds.  Either that, or just sit the kid down at the very end of his bench for the last minute of every game.  It’s simply astonishing that the same player could make such an egregious error twice in a single year, costing his team two Ls as a result.   Time and score, time and score, time and score…  how many times did we hear that growing up?   Either Horne really is not a very bright bulb… or he’s gotta have something else going on

note: we couldn’t find video of the incident, so this walkthrough vodcast will have to suffice.


Checking in on the…Big 12

January 12, 2009

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Conference Standings) (Last Week)
1. Baylor (13-2) (1-0) (4)
2. Oklahoma (14-2)(1-0) (2)
3. Texas (12-3) (1-0) (3)
4. Texas A&M (14-2) (0-1) (1)
5. Kansas (11-4)(0-0) (5)
6. Oklahoma State (12-3) (1-0) (8 )
7. Nebraska (11-3) (1-0) (11)
8. Missouri (13-3) (0-1) (6)
9. Kansas State (11-4) (0-1)(7)
10. Texas Tech (10-6) (0-1)(9)
11. Iowa State (11-5) (0-1) (10)
12. Colorado (8-6) (0-0) (12)

Though Conference play started this past weekend, really to me, the conference season really starts here on Big Monday with one of the bigger match-ups of the season in Texas and Oklahoma and their “golden boy” Blake Griffin. But let’s take a look at the conference as a whole and see if things are where we expected coming into the season:

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

January 9, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

  • Darren Collison has hit a UCLA school-record 40 consecutive free-throws.  The previous record was 36 straight by Henry Bibby in 1972
  • Washington is bringing a nine-game winning streak into the game of the week against California, who is riding an eight-game winning streak. One streak will come to an end.
  • Cal is still first in three-point percentage shooting 98-for-194 as a team for a 50.5 % clip.  The next closest team is Miami Ohio shooting 42.9 %
  • This could be the first time Arizona fails to start 2-2 through the first four games in Pac-10 play since 1983-84
  • The Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor just announced the new inductees.  Led by Detlef Schrempf and Lute Olson, there are ten new inductees.

Player of the week- Patrick Christopher. Christopher put up three 20 point games this week.  He had 23 against Arizona, 20 against Arizona State, and 22 at Washington State.  The Golden Bears went 3-0 in the games.

Honorable Mention: Darren Collison averaged 18 points and 6.5 assists in the Bruins two wins this past week.  He shot 13-for-19 from the field and a perfect 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.  Jeff Pendergraph averaged 18 points and 7.3 rebounds a game in the three games this week.  The Sun Devils went 2-1 and Pendergraph fought through injuries in the last two games.

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Set Your Tivos: 01.08.09

January 8, 2009

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This’ll be  quick one today because our usual writer is busy inviting a bunch of dudes over to his pad for some game involving another collegiate sport tonight.  A sport that tends to have trouble deciding who the most worthy teams are for its championship just about every year.   Our opinion of that faux-championship game is below. 

When Does Utah Play in the Finals?

When Does Utah Play in the Finals?

As for the rest of your evening, while you’re not watching Oklahoma and Florida throw balls all over the field en route to a 65-63 finish, enjoy a warm post-coital buffet of some college hoops.   There’s a surprisingly tasty slate on tap for tonight, with four games involving Top 25 teams.  

7pm

– Wright St. @ Butler on ???.  Wright St. appears to be coming out of the fog that enveloped its team during the first two months of the season, as they’ve won 8 of 9 games with the only loss coming at #4 Wake Forest.  Butler, on the other hand, continues to roll along, but the Bulldogs have had trouble with WSU, losing seven of their last ten against the Raiders including their last two when ranked.  The big question is whether this game’s total will outscore the BCS game’s. 

– Minnesota @ Iowa on ESPN2.  Iowa hasn’t gotten much publicity this season, but the Hawkeyes are 9-0 in their home arena, a place where Minnesota has lost seven of their last eight visits.  Minny’s only other true road test was a one-point win over Colorado St., so we’re a little skeptical about the validity of Tubby’s 13-1 record (best start since 1996-97).  Still, if Minnesota can get a road win in a place they traditionally don’t play well, it would go a long way toward establishing itself as one of the upper elite of Big Ten teams this year.

8:30pm

– Oregon @ Arizona on FSN Regional.   This is a battle between teams who were swept in their first Pac-10 tilts last weekend.  The difference is that at least Arizona was on the road in the Bay Area when they went 0-2.  Oregon plays defense like most teams enjoy suicide sprints; in other words, not at all.  Arizona should have a field day of open looks and easy layups for Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and others to take advantage of.  They just need to make sure that Jamelle Horne is nowhere near the floor at the end of the game. 

10:30pm

– Oregon St. @ Arizona St. on FSN.  Arizona St. may be without the services of forward Jeff Pendergraph tonight, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking in on Herb Sendek’s team for a quick glance at possibly the most complete guard in America, James Harden (23/6/5 on 55%/44% shooting).  OSU is coming off of its first Pac-10 win in nearly two years vs. USC, but that was at home.  Still, OSU has been much more competitive this year. 

– Stanford @ Washington on FSN Regional.  UW is a team that hasn’t been talked about much this year, and why would we?  They’re 10-3, but they’ve lost to nearly every good team they’ve played (Portland, Kansas, Florida).  Stanford got its comeuppence last weekend when Arizona St. dominated them in Maples.  But the Cardinal did recover to beat Arizona, and UW had a nice win over its in-state rival Wazzu, so this could make for an interesting contest.  Both teams have low-grade NCAA aspirations, so they need to win these types of games. 

11pm

– Cal St. Fullerton @ Cal Poly on ESPNU.  The BCS game should be ending around 12:30am due to all the passing and timeouts, so turn this one on for the last five minutes to see CSF’s Josh Akognon play for the first time in your life.  His Titans (6-8 ) aren’t very good, so it’s unlikely you’ll see him in March – this might be your last opportunity to see this fantastic collegian while still in school. 


Bracketology- Never Too Early Edition III

January 4, 2009

Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist.   He’ll be regularly out-scooping, out-thinking and out-shining Lunardi over the next three months.

Some notes before you check out the bracket:

  • You’ll notice I have Oklahoma, a 1-loss team from the Big 12, as a #1 seed over undefeated Wake Forest from the much more strong ACC. The reasoning for this is simple: 1) I take into account what will happen in the future in terms of conference champions, and I have the Sooners projected to win the Big 12 regular season and conference tournament, giving them a huge boost before Selection Sunday and 2) it’s simply unrealistic to have three #1 seeds from the same conference. Although Wake Forest is undefeated and Duke/UNC have 1 loss each, their SOS sits at a dismal #224 with their best wins vs. Baylor and @ BYU, while Duke and North Carolina have more quality wins and better computer numbers. If I’m ranking the top four teams in the nation, Wake is there. But a team finishing in third in the ACC (where I have them projected, could change) simply cannot receive a #1 seed. Sorry Deacon fans.
  • Once again, both Michigan State (#2), Tennessee (#3) and Memphis (#5) are slightly over-seeded for the same reason as Oklahoma. I have those teams winning their respective conference titles.
  • Hard to believe, but Mike Montgomery’s California Bears have earned the right to a #4 seed with their wins @ UNLV, @ Utah and home this week against Arizona and Arizona State. I spent like 15 minutes trying to find the last 4 seed.
  • Notre Dame took the hardest shot, slipping to a #7 seed with their bad loss at St. John’s. That Texas win looks excellent, but they need to take care of at home to avoid a 1-2 Big East start.Georgetown
  • Boston College‘s stunning upset of North Carolina launched them to a #9 seed from the Last Team In.
  • On my bracket, Syracuse and Louisville could meet in the second round. The committee would obviously not let that happen, but I’m leaving it to avoid switching teams to seeds they don’t deserve.
  • George Mason took over the Colonial bid from Virginia Commonwealth while Saint Mary’s (13-1) earned the automatic bid from the West Coast Conference (Gonzaga is still in the field). With Illinois State’s thrashing of Creighton, they claim the Missouri Valley auto bid and jump a few seeds, while Creighton barely misses the field. UNLV now has the Mountain West bid with BYU still making the field. Stephen F. Austin, Oakland, Pacific and Morehead State are also new additions. Arkansas jumps into the bracket with their outstanding record and huge home win over Oklahoma.
  • In the end, four spots remained for 13 teams. Edgar Sosa’s buzzer beater gave Louisville the very last spot, edging out Miami (lacked quality wins), Creighton, Oklahoma State (best win was Rhode Island) and, speaking of which, Rhode Island. Also in consideration were South Carolina (beat Baylor this week but still has a 304 SOS), Washington (lacked quality wins), Utah (bad losses) and Arizona (what happened?). USC almost sneaked into consideration before losing to Oregon State. Yikes.

Last Four In: Louisville, LSU, Missouri, Florida State
Last Four Out: Miami (FL), Creighton, Oklahoma State, Rhode Island
Next Four Out: Washington, Utah, South Carolina, Arizona

bracketology-010409

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

January 3, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

Conference Notes.

  • Last week’s player of the week, UCLA’s Michael Roll, was back in a reserve roll and scored five points in 26 minutes.
  • Early on in the Pac-10 schedule will dictate if the Arizona St. Sun Devils are for real, as , their first two games are at Stanford and Cal.  Four of Arizona State’s wins have come against teams with two wins or fewer,  including winless Mississippi Valley State.
  • In Arizona’s win Chase Budinger played 40 minutes for already the fifth time this season, In all of last year he only played 40 minutes or more four times.
  • Cal is shooting a nation best 50.6 percent from three-point range.  Theo Robertson leads the country at 61.5 percent and Jerome Randle is in fifth at 56.1 percent.
  • Stanford is one of only six teams still undefeated in Division I competition.

Player of the week- Calvin Haynes – Calvin Haynes of Oregon State scored 24 of the Beaver’s 59 points in the victory over Seattle.  He shot 6-for-9 from the field and went 10-for-12 from the stripe.

Honorable Mention: Jrue Holiday of UCLA who scored 12 points, had 10 rebounds, and had 5 assists in the Bruin’s win.  James Harden of Arizona State who scored 24 points this week for the Sun Devils.

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Set Your Tivos: New Year’s Eve Spectacular

December 30, 2008

I’ll be honest with you. This doesn’t even come close to Super Saturday from a couple weekends ago, but it’s certainly better than watching all the specials about how your retirement account fell apart this year or some mediocre college football teams play in a meaningless bowl games that nobody has ever heard of. It certainly should be enough to distract Big Ten fans away from their teams getting blown out in the bowl games. In any event it will get the rest of you ready for Dick Clark at midnight. . .

Noon ET
#15 Michigan State at #21 Minnesota on the Big Ten Network: Both teams are riding high after impressive victories on Super Saturday. The Spartans (9-2) have rebounded from a slow start including a blowout loss to UNC (doesn’t seem that bad any more. . .ok losing by 35 in a virtual home game is really bad) to reel off 5 straight wins including a win against Texas on the 20th. Meanwhile, Minnesota (12-0) has been playing consistently good basketball–quality wins over Virginia and an overrated Louisville team–all year despite coming into the season with modest expectations from the media. While the Spartans are more of a known quantity with a number of marquee players, the Gophers are more of an unknown as their soft early season schedule (only Louisville was a RPI top 100) is the reason they are 12-0 yet only ranked #21 in the country. The key to this game will likely be Spartan sophomore PG Kalin Lucas who comes into the game boasting a better than 6.5:1 assist to turnover ratio. If he continues to play at that level, Tubby Smith will have a tough time matching Tom Izzo and the Spartans.

2 PM ET
#3 Pittsburgh at Rutgers on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com: The Panthers are heavy favorites in this game, but we’ll be more interested in how the Scarlet Knights are performing in the middle of the toughest 3 game stretch in college basketball history (#1 UNC then #3 Pitt then current #2 UConn in the same week). Jamie Dixon should have his guys ready for this game after UConn’s loss to Georgetown a couple night earlier, but you never know with college kids particularly ones who probably went home for the holidays and spent time around people who praised them even more than what they normally hear at school. This is definitely an “upset alert” game, but we think the UConn loss should be enough to keep Levance Fields and the Panthers on their toes.

– Wisconsin at #24 Michigan on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: At first glance this would appear to be a mismatch with the Badgers being unranked and the Wolverines receiving a lot of attention from the media this year, but this game should be very close. Most of you know about the Wolverines (10-2) with losses to Duke (avenged) and Maryland, but the Badgers (9-3) come in with a pretty strong resume too–a blowout loss against UConn along with 2 close losses to Marquette and Texas (by a combined 8 points). Despite their strong starts, both teams still have work to do if they want to guarantee themselves a ticket to the NCAA tournament. As usual the Badgers come in without a true superstar, but have a very balanced attack with 5 players averaging between 7.8 and 12.6 PPG. The Wolverines rely on their stars–Manny Harris (19.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 5.1 APG) and DeShawn Sims (17.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG). I figure the Wolverine fans (and Manny Harris) should be enough to put their team over the top in the Big Ten opener.

4 PM ET
– Iowa at #23 Ohio State on the Big Ten Network: Unfortunately we don’t think we will be seeing Mr. Trillion (Mark Titus) make an on-court appearance because this also figures to be a close game. The Hawkeyes (10-3) haven’t been world-beaters, but they should put up a pretty good fight if Anthony Tucker can rebound from his recent suspension and play up to his early-season form. The Buckeyes looked absolutely awful in their last game a 76-48 loss to West Virginia, which dropped them 10 spots in the polls. If the Buckeyes expect to rebound and contend for a Big Ten title, which they have the potential to do, they will need freshman B.J. Mullens to start playing like the big-time recruit he was out of high school. At the very least, Thad Matta needs Mullens to start playing like the 7-footer that he reportedly is. Seriously, 4.0 RPG in 17.7 minutes per game against mediocre competition isn’t going to cut it for someone who has been hyped as a potential lottery pick. If Mullens can raise his game, he and Evan Turner should be enough to make them contenders for the Big Ten title.

6 PM ET
– UNLV at #18 Louisville on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: I would use an “upset alert” on this one, but with the way Rick Pitino’s boys have been playing this year they haven’t played well enough for me to consider another loss an upset. Louisville has the talent to blow out UNLV, but to date they haven’t shown the ability to translate that talent into performance this season. UNLV certainly hasn’t been playing great this year, but their pressing defense has started to pay dividends recently with a big win over Arizona. Normally a team as talented as Louisville shouldn’t have trouble with a trapping defense of the level of UNLV’s (saw it on Christmas Eve on a replay of the Southern Utah game on Mountain TV–don’t ask), but it might just be enough pressure to rattle a team that appears to be as mentally weak as Louisville. My prediction: Let’s just say I have a strong suspicion that Rick will be giving another long speech after this one.

8 PM ET
#17 Gonzaga at Utah on CBS College Sports: As much as I would like to make this a game about 2 teams (sorry Utah), this game is really all about Gonzaga. The Bulldogs, who were ranked 4th in the nation a couple weeks ago, have lost 3 of 4. We’re willing to let the loss to UConn go (we called it the “Game of the Year (to date)” at the time, but neither team has done much lately to help with that claim), but losses to Arizona and Portland State have basically knocked Gonzaga out of contention for a #1 seed this year. However, Mark Few still has a chance at a #2 seed and spot in the West Region if Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, and company can get back in gear.

10 PM ET

-#1 UNC at Nevada on ESPN2. This is a true road test for the Heels, but it looked better on paper a month ago than it probably will be tonight.  The Wolfpack, with Luke Babbit, Armon Johnson and Brandon Fields, appeared to be ready to compete for another WAC championship and an NCAA bid coming into the season, but they have been nothing short of a disappointment so far, losing to pretty much every good team they’ve played.  Still, there is talent here, and if UNC is looking ahead to hanging out in the seedy casinos afterwards, Nevada could use their homecourt advantage to make a game of this one.  It’s worth keeping an eye on as you lift your glass to toast the new year in the east.


12.29.08 Fast Breaks

December 28, 2008

This is the last installment of Fast Breaks for the calendar year, but it’s a loaded one with lots of news before the New Year’s ball drops.


Bracketology- Never Too Early Edition II

December 28, 2008

Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist.   He’ll be regularly out-scooping, out-thinking and out-shining Lunardi over the next three months.

Rather than wallow in my own pity after my Patriots were knocked out of the playoffs, it’s my duty here at RTC to provide our readers with another Monday morning bracketology. While the week was somewhat quiet due to the holiday, there were some significant upsets (Portland State!) and big wins (Texas winning in Madison) to shake up the bracket from last week’s edition. Once again, I took a still-developing RPI with a grain of salt and factored in non-conference SOS, but mostly I’m just digging through each team’s schedule to find quality wins/bad losses and comparing them to the other teams in the field for seeding.

As always, I mixed in a few upsets in the bracket for fun.

Some quick notes about the bracket:

  • You might be thinking that Tennessee, Michigan State and UCLA are overseeded. While that may be true, I had to factor in each of those teams winning their respective conference tournaments before Selection Sunday, meaning they’d garner three significant wins and take the conference title.
  • The four 1-seeds remained the same from last week: North Carolina, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma (I added the individual regions to the bracket and seeded these four teams closest to home).
  • Texas received the final 2 seed with their road win over Wisconsin, slightly edging out Notre Dame.
  • Baylor edged Syracuse for the final 4 seed. Baylor has a nice win over Arizona State and hung with Wake Forest while Syracuse’s three big wins- Florida, Kansas, Memphis– are all overrated.
  • Biggest jump goes to Butler (10 to 7) while the biggest drop goes to Xavier (3 to 6). Butler won at Xavier on Monday.
  • Kansas also took a three seed drop from 8 to 11 after their second half collapse at Arizona. Much like Illinois over Missouri, that was a very important game for a Kansas team looking for a signature win.
  • Maryland continues to be boosted by their two wins over Michigan and Michigan State
  • Portland State moves from a 15 seed to 14 seed with their shocking win over Gonzaga, with the Zags dropping to the last 3 seed on the table

rtc-bracketology-122808

Conference Winners: Vermont, Xavier, North Carolina, Belmont, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Portland State, VMI, Michigan State, Cal State Fullerton, VCU, Memphis, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Miami (OH), Hampton, Creighton, BYU, Quinnipiac, Austin Peay, UCLA, Navy, Tennessee, Davidson, Lamar, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State

Last Four In: California, Boston College, Kansas, Dayton

Last Four Out: Kentucky, Miami (FL), Cincinnati, Louisville

Departures: Murray State, Stetson

Arrivals: Austin Peay, Belmont

Bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (7), Big 10 (7), Big 12 (6), Pac 10 (5), SEC (3), MVC (2), WCC (2), Atlantic 10 (2), MWC (2).

Not much change from last week in terms of the teams in the field. Next Sunday it could shake up a bit with all of these key bubble games:

Key Bubble Games for 12/29-1/5:

  • Cincinnati at Memphis, 12/29- This would be a stellar win for Cincinnati, who are currently in the last four out.
  • Seton Hall at Syracuse, 12/30- The Hall probably need wins over Syracuse and West Virginia to climb back into the picture.
  • George Mason at Dayton, 12/30- Big game for Dayton in the bubble picture. If Mason should win this game, I may replace Vermont with the Patriots.
  • Oklahoma at Arkansas, 12/30- Arkansas has a shiny record and zero good wins. This would qualify.
  • Northwestern at Penn State, 12/31- Reaching here a bit, but you never know this early.
  • UNLV at Louisville, 12/31- Louisville needs this game at home for a win over an NCAA team.
  • USC at Oregon, 1/2- If USC wants to start creeping back, winning at Oregon is a good start.
  • South Carolina at Baylor, 1/2- See Arkansas for South Carolina.
  • Arizona at California, 1/2- Huge bubble game for both teams.
  • Missouri at Georgia, 1/3- The Tigers cannot afford to slip up here.
  • Tennessee at Kansas, 1/3- Believe it or not, KU is on the bubble. A win over 2-seed Tennessee would go a long way towards securing a bid down the road.
  • NC State at Florida, 1/3- See Kansas for Florida. They’re lacking quality wins.
  • Charlotte at Maryland, 1/3- If Maryland slips up here, they could be out of the field.
  • West Virginia at Seton Hall, 1/3- Seton Hall needs this one at home.
  • Washington at Washington State, 1/3- Washington State dropped from consideration for this bracket. This is the first step in working their way back.
  • Creighton at Illinois State, 1/3- HUGE game in the Missouri Valley.
  • Cincinnati at Marquette, 1/4- Cincinnati with another chance for a big win here.
  • Kentucky at Louisville, 1/4- Biggest bubble game on the slate this week.
  • Virginia Tech at Duke, 1/4- Virginia Tech can creep back into consideration if they can spring a huge upset at Cameron.
  • Arizona State at California, 1/4- California is barely in. A win over Arizona State gives them more comfort.
  • Arizona at Stanford, 1/4Another big bubble game for Arizona.

ATB: Holiday Weekend Wrap

December 28, 2008

afterbuzzer1

Let’s start with some news & notes…

  • Which of the ten (now nine) unbeaten teams are frauds and which are legit?  Not sure we agree about Minnesota, Goodman.
  • On Jan. 7th, ESPN will have its announcers switch roles, using its NBA team of Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Mike Tirico to call the Duke-Davidson game, and its college team of Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale to call the Heat-Nuggets game.  One can only hope that Van Gundy and Jackson will get into an argument over how to best defend Stephen Curry.
  • Just tuning in to college hoops?  Here’s a season recap.  And here’s Jeff Goodman’s Xmas gift column.

Weekend Wrap. The weekend was generally light, with only a few really good matchups.  So we’ll just hit the highlight games in short order tonight.

Saturday Games.

  • LSU 64, Washington St. 52. Is LSU a team to watch in the SEC West?   Well, the Tigers are 10-0 at home and 0-1 on the road against the nation’s 300th toughest schedule.  You tell us.
  • Kentucky 76, Florida Atlantic 69. The Cats struggled in this one as a team, but Patrick Patterson (27/14/3 blks) is entering himself into first-team all-american consideration with his consistently superb numbers.  Consider that PP is averaging 20/10 on 71% shooting and is the second most efficient player in America (behind only Blake Griffin).
  • Louisville 82, UAB 62. Rick Pitino benched Earl Clark and Andre McGee and the Cards responded with the new lineup by pulling away from an overmatched UAB team with little depth.  T-Will nearly had a trip-dub with 21/10/7 assts.
  • West Virginia 76, Ohio St. 48. Unbeaten no more.  WVU put the smack down on the Buckeyes in their house, ending a 14-game winning streak and giving Bob Huggins sweet vindication given his previous snubs by the flagship university of the state of Ohio.   A 27-4 run in the mid to late-second half did the trick.
  • Michigan St. 82, Oakland 66. This game is only notable because Goran Suton started, contributing 16/9 in the process.  A healthy and effective Suton is key to MSU’s season.

Sunday Games.

  • St. Mary’s 87, San Jose St. 78 (Sat.) and St. Mary’s 76, Morgan St. 60.  Don’t look now, but SMC has now won nine in a row against a top 60 schedule.
  • Wagner 68, NJIT 58. That’s 45 Ls in a row now.  The next best chance for a win – try 1/21 against Bryant University.
  • UCLA 78, Lousiana Tech 55. It’s hard to tell whether UCLA is actually improving, but they’ve won their last six by an average of 25+ pts.  Jrue Holiday had 12/10/5 assts/3 stls today.
  • Illinois St. 72, Missouri St. 69 (OT). In a key early-season MVC matchup, ISU stayed unbeaten.  Down 15 in the mid-second half, the Redbirds used a 22-2 run to take the lead and held on in OT.
  • Florida St. 82, W. Kentucky 69. FSU pulled away late against the most schizophrenic team in America behind Toney Douglas’ 27/5/5 assts.
  • USC 66, Oral Roberts 56. Demar DeRozan had his third consecutive solid game (18/5) as the Trojans held off ORU.
  • Virginia 88, Georgia Tech 84 (OT). In an entertaining battle of two teams going nowhere this season, the Wahoos were able to steal a conference road win behind super frosh Sylvan Landesberg’s 26/6/5 assts.  We still can’t figure out why Ga Tech isn’t better than they are with the talent they have on that roster.
  • Lipscomb 74, Indiana 69. This is what we were afraid of with this IU squad.  With 5 minutes to go in the first half, IU led 37-16.  They were outscored 58-32 the rest of the way.  A four-win Big 10 slate should be considered a huge success this year.
  • Florida 74, Winthrop 45. Winthrop (1-10) is an abomination these days.   Halftime score – Florida 53, Winthrop 11.
  • Minnesota 82, High Point 56. Minny is now 12-0, its best start in sixty years.  That Tubby hire looks good right now, doesn’t it?
  • Siena 75, St. Joseph’s 74. Siena rallied from eighteen down to get this win, and in turn, may have saved its season.
  • UNC 97, Rutgers 75. Another methodical blowout win for the Heels.  Hansbrough had 26/10.  Up next for Rutgers…  #3 Pitt, then #2 UConn.
  • Stanford 111, Texas Tech 66.  This was the most shocking score of the weekend.  Certainly right now Johnny Dawkins is looking like a national COY candidate – he’s never lost a game!

On tap Monday (all times EST). Big Monday gets a jump before the new year with a blockbuster game – Georgetown at UConn.  The nightcap – Cincy at Memphis – isn’t half-bad either.

  • Connecticut v. Georgetown (ESPN2) – 7pm
  • Villanova v. Temple (ESPNU) – 7pm
  • Baylor v. Portland St. – 8pm
  • Davidson @ Charleston (ESPNU) – 9pm
  • Memphis v. Cincinnati (ESPN2) – 9pm

Checking in on the… Pac-10

December 27, 2008

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

Conference Notes.

  • Stanford is the only team left undefeated in the Pac-10 at 8-0.  First year coach Johnny Dawkins has the Cardinal off to their best start since 2003-04 when they ran off 26 straight.
  • USC finally beat a BCS opponent by trouncing Georgia Tech.  The Trojans are still way too inconsistent though, the game before they barely could handle North Dakota State.
  • Arizona freshman stud Jeff Withey must have seen something about Kansas he liked because Withey declared he is transferring there as of next semester.
  • The Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch List has been released and it contains five Pac-10 players, senior forward Jon Brockman of Washington, junior forward Chase Budinger of Arizona, senior guard Darren Collison of UCLA, junior forward Taj Gibson of USC, and sophomore guard James Harden of Arizona State. Harden continues to make a strong case for player of the year with his fourth 30-point game this year.  He stands the best chance for it from the Pac-10, with Collison next.
  • The Pac-10 has their defining win with Arizona’s victory over Gonzaga, but still had a weak out of conference showing.  The only teams that are lock for the tournament right now are UCLA and Arizona State, after that Arizona surprisingly looks to be the next best bet, with an ever improving USC closing in.  If Cal or Stanford can keep rolling through once conference play starts they will have a chance.  Washington State needs to win at LSU to stand any chance.

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ATB: Lumps of Coal for Xavier and Gonzaga

December 24, 2008

afterbuzzer1Bad Santas. Portland St. 77, Gonzaga 70. Santa Claus made an early visit to the environs of Cincinnati, OH, and Spokane, WA, tonight, but instead of leaving toys and treats for the tots of Xavier and Gonzaga Universities, respectively, he left a couple of lumps of coal and another undisclosed brownish substance in their stockings.  AP #7 Gonzaga and AP # 14 Xavier, both coming off of devastating Saturday losses (in different ways), were unable to shake off their hangovers from losses to UConn and Duke and instead dropped home games tonight that sent shocks throughout mid-major America.   The more surprising upset of the two took place out west, where Gonzaga was thoroughly outplayed by the scrappier, guttier Portland St. Vikings.  PSU was led by 5’6 Jeremiah Dominguez, who hit seven threes for a sick line of 25/6/5 assts.  Yes, a guy shorter than you outrebounded all but Gonzaga’s 6’11 Austin Daye (9 boards) and 6’10 Josh Heytvelt (8) in this game.  Portland St., who has losses to Hampton and Cal Poly on its resume, never wavered in the face of the superior athleticism and size of Gonzaga.  GU, should have come out ready to eat glass in this one, but instead they allowed their heartbreaking loss to UConn over the weekend to mentally affect their play tonight.  Would that have happened to UNC?  Pitt?  Duke?  UCLA?  Gonzaga needs to get tougher mentally.  Butler 74, Xavier 65. Wasn’t Butler supposed to be rebuilding this year?  Amazingly, eight of Brad Stevens’ top nine Bulldogs are freshmen and sophomores, whereas XU starts two juniors and one senior.  So how is it that Butler was able to come into the Cintas Center and earn a victory in a location where Xavier had won its last fifteen games?  Standard Butler-issue hardnosed defense and poise.  Butler was able to keep Xavier under control from three (7-24) while also winning the battle of ball control (-7 turnovers) in a tough game that Xavier will regret losing come March.  Matt Howard (19/14) and Gordon Hayward (19/10) both provided double-doubles, but the key stat of the game may have been Xavier’s 12-22 from the line.  The 198th best FT-shooting team in America didn’t help their cause tonight, several times failing to convert both FT opportunities down the stretch.  If Gonzaga and Xavier want to be taken seriously as “high mids” vying for the Final Four, they cannot afford to lose home games like these.

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Bracketology – Never Too Early Edition

December 22, 2008

Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist.   He’ll be regularly out-scooping, out-thinking and out-shining Lunardi over the next three months.

Happy Holidays, everyone. My name is Zach Hayes and you might know me as a college hoops writer for the blog Northwestern Wins. Due to the unfortunate folding of that site, the head honchos here at Rush the Court graciously invited me on board as their Senior Bracketologist from now until Selection Sunday. Just think of me as Joe Lunardi but seven inches taller and without a hairpiece. Every Monday morning for the next six weeks or so a new bracket will be revealed until February heats up and multiple brackets per week will be released. I hope you guys enjoy this new RTC feature. For me, it’s just a ton of fun.

Quick disclaimers: The obvious one- it’s probably too early for bracketology (blasphemy! It’s never too early for this, how dare you! You know what I mean). RPI is still rounding into form at this point, and many key numbers I use from ESPN (Wins vs. Top 50, etc.) have yet to be released. I didn’t use much for this first bracket: record, conference strength, SOS, perused the individual schedules for quality wins/bad losses, and took RPI with a grain of salt. On the bracket you’ll notice I also made predictions for the entire tournament based on my matchups.  Syracuse as the monumental upset should surprise no one that follows college basketball.

These seedings are based purely on performance thus far. If I was projecting future performance, I’d probably have Louisville in the tournament because they have to improve, right? Other than some of the mid-major/small conference auto-bids (i.e., I’m predicting Creighton takes the Missouri Valley even though you’d go with Illinois State by default), these are all based on the small amount of games played thus far. As you know, this entire operation will improve once teams complete more of their resumes.

RTC Bracket 12.22.08

RTC Bracket 12.22.08

Some explanations about the first edition (click brackets or right-click/view image to see a larger version):

  • The 1 seeds were pretty clear to me even before I began gathering info: North Carolina, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh. In fact, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma are 1-2 in RPI, respectively. Butler is #4 and Northwestern is #9, so take it for what it’s worth.
  • #2 seed Tennessee and #3 seed Michigan State are probably over-seeded for their performance this season. But I had to take into account that I have both teams pegged to win their conference tournaments, meaning three extra wins before Selection Sunday that will certainly boost their seed.
  • My bracket came down to 12 teams for 8 positions: California, Maryland, Florida State, Stanford, Miami, Boston College, Louisville, Kentucky, Dayton, Cincinnati, Illinois State and Arizona. As much as I wanted to deny Illinois State and Stanford because of their lack of any semblance of a quality win, they’re undefeated and I had to slip them in the field. Maryland has the wins over Michigan and Michigan State and Arizona has the win over Gonzaga, with two of their three losses by the narrowest of margins. Dayton is 10-1 and has the Marquette win, with their only loss at Creighton. Florida State has nice computer numbers and beat California, Cincinnati and Florida, meaning if they’re in, Cal has to be. Painfully, the final seed came down to Louisville (only average win: depleted Mississippi) and Boston College (only average wins: UAB, Providence, @Massachusetts). I went with BC.

Conference Winners: Vermont, Xavier, North Carolina, Stetson, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Portland State, VMI, Michigan State, Cal State Fullerton, VCU, Memphis, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Miami (OH), Hampton, Creighton, BYU, Quinnipiac, Murray State, UCLA, Navy, Tennessee, Davidson, Lamar, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State

Multiple bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (7), Big 10 (7), Big 12 (6), Pac 10 (5), SEC (3), MVC (2), WCC (2), Atlantic 10 (2), MWC (2).

Last Four In: Boston College, Stanford, Florida State, California
Last Four Out: Louisville, Cincinnati, Miami (FL), Kentucky

Any questions please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond.


Behind the Lines – Week 3

December 20, 2008

btl-header

Obsessed With Sports will be providing coverage to RTC throughout the season.

Welcome to the Week Three edition of Behind the Lines. On a weekly basis, we will cover the betting lines that stand out from the week that was in college basketball. This week I am going to do something a bit different. I am going to preview the potentially best upcoming games this week including analysis based on recent previous games played.

It is a slow week except for tonight, which is definitely an exception. There are some great games on tap.

Saturday, December 20th

Michigan St(22) at Texas(5)

Behind the line:  This will be Michigan St.’s first big road test. Texas has shown they they will let opponents stick around in games; a dangerous thing to do with Michigan St.

Arizona at UNLV

Behind the line:  UNLV is going to be favored here (a very small favorite), making this a friendly betting line.

Davidson(20) at Purdue(18)

Behind the line: Davidson will be getting a little more than a handful of points on the road. They certainly have the potential to win the game outright. They have proven they can play on the road as they played @Oklahoma and covered.

Connecticut(2) vs Gonzaga(7)

Behind the line: Gonzaga is actually going to be favored. Personally, I think this UConn team is very good and as underrated as a #2 can be. UConn getting points, definitely a friendly line.

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Set Your Tivos: Super Saturday Edition

December 20, 2008

Super Saturday is a term usually reserved for the final Saturday of the US Open where the two men’s semifinals and the women’s final are played, but this Saturday of college basketball trumps any day at Flushing Meadows (unless we could somehow get a Kournikova-Ivanovic final). Normally I would cover all the interesting games on the docket, but today is so good that I’m only going to cover the ones featuring ranked teams matched up against each other.

No naps this Saturday afternoon

No naps this Saturday afternoon

The Undercard: On any other Saturday, these games would be the headliners, but today they are merely an appetizer to get you ready for the even bigger match-ups to follow.
#22 Michigan State at #5 Texas at 2 PM on CBS: Tom Izzo’s Spartans come into Saturday badly in need of a victory against a quality foe. Although Michigan State comes in with a respectable record of 7-2, they have been underwhelming and certainly nowhere near the level they were predicted to be coming into the season (AP #5 back on November 24th). On the other side, the Longhorns have been surprisingly strong with their only loss coming against Notre Dame (81-80) in what was the best game of the Maui Invitational. Texas has responded well to the setback with wins over 2 ranked teams in December (UCLA and Villanova). The last time Michigan State played a team of this caliber was in their much-anticipated match-up against UNC (clearly Texas isn’t quite at that level), they were blown off the court in a virtual home game. Tom Izzo will need a big game from Raymar Morgan and hope that his defense can contain A.J. Abrams and Damion James if he hopes to steal one in Austin.

#20 Davidson vs. #18 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS: Both teams are all but assured of NCAA tournament bids. However, neither team has a signature win yet. Davidson certainly has the marquee value with national POY contender Stephen Curry, but they lost their only game against a ranked team (82-78 at #14 Oklahoma on November 18th). While the Wildcats can hardly be faulted for losing a road game against Blake Griffin and the Sooners, it still leaves them without a win they would need to merit a potential 5 seed or better. If they are unable to win today in Indianapolis, their only other chance to beat a top 25 team will be on January 7th against Duke at Cameron (ESPN might be hyping that game a little bit in the time leading up to the BCS title game). The Boilermakers are in a similar situation albeit without a star anywhere close to the level of Curry. The Boilermakers lost their only games against ranked teams back-to-back (87-82 in OT against Oklahoma on November 28th and 76-60 at home against Duke on December 2nd) and after tomorrow they don’t have a game against a currently ranked team until February 3rd against Ohio State. This game will likely come down to how well the Boilermakers can contain Curry (31.9 PPG and 6.8 APG) and limit his sidekick on the inside Andrew Lovedale (13.9 PPG and 10.7 RPG). The Boilermakers will counter with a much more balanced attack (4 players averaging between 9.9 and 15.6 PPG).

National POY?

National POY?

#11 Syracuse at #21 Memphis at 6 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The Orangemen (other than Jim Boeheim) responded well to their crushing loss at the buzzer on Monday night. However, they will be without Eric Devendorf for at least 2 games so Jonny Flynn will have to hope that Paul Harris and/or Arinze Onuaku can pick up the slack as John Calipari will almost certainly be focusing on Flynn on the perimeter. The Tigers could use a quality win here as they have lose both of the games they have played against quality opponents (Xavier and Georgetown). Tyreke Evans and Shawn Taggert will need to play well, but this is a game that the Tigers should win.

The Title Bouts: These games are as good as you will find any time this season (in-conference or out-of-conference) until we get to March.
#7 Xavier vs. #6 Duke at 2 PM on CBS: Although this game is a “neutral” site game and quite far away from North Carolina, East Rutherford, New Jersey has become a de facto home for Coach K and the Blue Devils over the past 20 years. Despite that edge, I don’t think Coach K will be starting his bench (including everybody’s favorite whipping boy Greg Paulus) like he did in the Blue Devils last game against UNC-Asheville. Sean Miller didn’t have quite the same luxury in Xavier’s last game as they had to fight hard to beat crosstown rival Cincinnati 76-66 a week ago. Both teams rely on a balanced scoring attack, but the outcome of the game will likely be decided by Duke’s ability to hit the 3. The Blue Devils don’t shoot a particularly high percentage from 3 (32% for the season), but they are such high-volume shooters (20.6 attempts per game compared to 15.3 attempts per game for the Musketeers) that it becomes a major factor in all of their games. Their only loss this year was their rematch against Michigan in Ann Arbor where they opened the game hitting 3 of their first 27 attempts for 3 point range before hitting 4 in a row late to close the gap. The key match-up in this game should be Kyle Singler versus Derrick Brown, which should be interesting to watch if Singler tries to pull Brown away from the basket with his outside shooting. This should be a close game, but look for Duke to win this one as they have had a tendency to pull out big games before conference play starts.

#2 UConn vs. #7 Gonzaga at 4 PM on CBS: This game could have very easily been a 2-4 match-up if Gonzaga hadn’t slipped up last week against Arizona in Tucson. One of the interesting subplots, which I’m sure that CBS will cover repeatedly, is that it was match-up that introduced the nation to Gonzaga basketball less than 10 years ago and propelled UConn to its first Final 4 trip. While I remember the game for its significance for Gonzaga’s program, I had completely forgotten that it gave UConn its first Final 4 trip ever (won the title that year in a nail-bitter over Trajan Langdon’s Blue Devils). This Gonzaga team is significantly different than the one you might see on ESPN Classic. They are no longer just the team that relies on exceptional skill and execution. Now they have the athletes to compete with anybody in the nation. However, UConn has been playing better than anyone in the nation not wearing baby blue so Gonzaga will have its hands full trying to keep up with the Huskies, who have a balanced scoring attack led by Jerome Dyson, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jeff Adrien. Dyson leads the Huskies in scoring at 15.4 PPG and provides Jim Calhoun with a versatile one-on-one scorer. Thabeet, his counterpart on the inside, has finally started to show some of the promise that has had NBA scouts salivating over him in the past as he has started to score on a consistent basis to compliment his always strong defensive presence. The one area that the Huskies need to improve upon if they want to compete for the national title (read: challenge UNC) is for A.J. Price to step up as an elite college PG. His 35% FG and 36% FT isn’t going to cut it in March and may even be a liability in Big East play, which may be more competitive than the NCAA tournament itself on a nightly basis. The Bulldogs have also been playing exceptionally well this year with the exception of their loss last week to Arizona last week. They also come in with a balanced attack, but they are led by PG Jeremy Pargo whose scoring is slightly down (12.1 PPG to 8.9 PPG) from the past 2 season as he has focused more on running the team (3.4 assist:turnover ratio compared to 1.8 last year). To beat the Huskies, Mark Few will need everybody–Pargo, Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, and Matt Bouldin–to be near the top of their games. In the end, the Huskies depth and superior interior defense will probably be too much for Gonzaga to overcome.

Tyler who?

Tyler who?